Real Weddings

Maggie Sottero for a Woodland Wedding at The Coniston Hotel – Jess and Sam

Alexis Forsyth

A pretty summer wonderland theme combines with a soft pastel palette in today’s dreamy wedding at enchanting UNVEILED Network Member venue Coniston Hotel in Skipton. It’s a blueprint on how to craft an intimate and understated wedding filled with lots of personal touches and we think you’re going to get all the feels when you see the beautiful pictures!

Jess and Sam tied the knot earlier this summer after postponing their big day due to Covid. Their wedding was a much smaller affair than originally planned but that didn’t stop them from crafting the most perfect day – with many of their guests joining them virtually for the ceremony instead. A great compromise during such uncharted times.

With an impromptu piano performance from one of their guests and games like Jenga to get stuck into, this was more than just a wedding celebration – it was a reunion with their nearest and dearest, which as the bride confesses, made it all the more special. Here she is to tell us all about it.

With images by Jenna Kathleen


Jess says: We got engaged at a local festival called Rich-Fest. Sam and his band were playing and he had planned to propose during one of the songs and had invited all of our close friends and family along. Unfortunately, most of them couldn’t come and he decided to propose another time. On the day, after his set, he just couldn’t help himself though! It was raining really badly, and I looked like a drowned rat in a pink plastic poncho which reminded Sam of our time at Leeds Fest – he couldn’t hold back and told me he was going to ask me to marry him that day. He had no ring with him and I thought it was a joke, I cried so many happy tears. We went home and got the beautiful ring he had picked out for me. It didn’t go to plan but it was still very special to us.


Our original wedding date was 24th October 2020, which would have been our six-year anniversary and why we picked it. We had to postpone due to Covid and got the most glorious summer wedding date instead on 5th June 2021.

We got married at The Coniston Hotel in Skipton. We chose this venue as originally we wanted a barn but I was finding it stressful co-ordinating lots of suppliers. We went to see The Coniston Hotel as it had a country style vibe, with the ceremony room boasting exposed brick walls and another featuring beamed ceilings, which we loved. The onsite spa was an added bonus, with the hot tubs overlooking the lake and we enjoyed this with our wedding party the day before.

The grounds are amazing for photo opportunities and, overall, the venue ticked all our boxes while offering a stress-free planning process with the help of the in-house wedding co-ordinators who made our day run just as we imagined, despite Covid restrictions!


We chose a woodland stye theme as we love all things rustic and also love animals. We also wanted to bring some of our personality into our wedding.

We had a pastel colour scheme to draw on a summer woodland palette, with wild style flowers from Sam’s mum’s garden, and pastel-coloured flowers in my bouquet and the top table arrangement. Our choice of suits and dresses also reflected this. I had wanted everything in pink, but realised this was a tad over the top and decided on soft pastels instead, and I’m so glad we did.


My dress was by Maggie Sottero’s Rebecca Ingram range, called Camille. I loved how it had a champagne underskirt and instantly fell in love after trying it on. I purchased it from Heaven Above Bridal in Ossett in September 2019 which has since closed down.


Sam wore a light blue herringbone three-piece suit from Moss Bros with a pink tie to match the bridesmaids. We always knew he’d wear blue; I think it makes his eyes pop! The groomsmen also wore the herringbone suits from Moss Bros but in sage green.


The bridesmaids all had blush pink dresses by TNFC from ASOS. They each chose their own gown but in the same colour. I wanted them to feel themselves on the day and like what they were wearing. After all, they walk down the aisle too!


Our hair and make up was done by Penny O’Callaghan – I found her as I was pointed in the direction of Jodie Makeup and Hair by a friend. Louise and Rowena from the team did our hair and makeup on the day and were both brilliant. I felt so comfortable with Penny and she made me feel at ease on the morning of our wedding.


Our photographer was the wonderful Jenna Kathleen. I had emailed so many photographers before deciding on Jenna. The moment she replied I knew she would be the perfect fit for us. Jenna helped us both feel comfortable in front of the camera with our pre-wedding shoot and we used the images as part of our wedding which was such a great touch. She kept in regular contact despite the changing dates, and we had zoom meetings and met each other’s pets which was such a laugh!

When the day came, having Jenna around just felt like another friend at our wedding. Our photos captured our day perfectly; the intimate moments between Sam and I, the fun that was had with friends and family, and one of our best friends playing the piano while we all had a little sing along. They will fill my heart with joy forever.


My bouquet and top table arrangement were created by The Willow Garden in Hebden Bridge.

All of our centrepieces and other flowers were put together by Sam’s mum, and Jane Austin also painted all of our table numbers, which were of different animals we had handpicked.


We did shot jar favours of Baileys, Whiskey or Amaretto. Each one acted as our place name too, with each guest’s name tied around the jar. We also provided matching silk facemasks which needed to be worn during the ceremony in pink and blue to tie in with our colour scheme.

We used Creative Venue Stylist for our fairy light backdrops in both the ceremony and reception room, along with blossom trees and blossom draped flowers above our top table and welcome sign. They frequently work with The Coniston Hotel and helped us bring our vision to life.


Our cake was a plain white three-tier cake draped with flowers from The Willow Tree and in keeping with our rustic woodland theme. Our good friend, Donna, made the cake for us – she makes lovely cakes and cupcakes alongside other things.


We chose a three-course wedding breakfast, which included sticky toffee pudding for dessert (my fave!). Later in the evening, we served pizzas, too.


Originally, we had a DJ and a band booked along with a horse box photo booth. Unfortunately, none of this was allowed on the day due to Covid restrictions. Sam and I made a Spotify playlist with acoustic versions of our favourite songs and we got a selection of hilarious and classic board games for the evening which went down a treat – we both love a game of Jenga!

One of our best friends, Ben, jumped on the venue’s piano and started playing songs which Sam sang along to (they’re in the band together!). All our guests joined in and it was so lovely to have everyone together again.

Thanks to

The venue is picturesque, full of character, and its super relaxing to use the spa as newlyweds. The wedding team are always on hand to help too. Sharon (senior co-ordinator) was amazing and from the day we first viewed the venue back in 2019 she kept in regular contact for two years and was extremely supportive and flexible during the pandemic.

All of our suppliers were amazing but a special shout out goes to Jenna, our photographer. I would without a doubt recommend her all-day long. We had such a laugh with her. Admittedly, I have high expectations when it comes to communication and customer service and Jenna exceeded these from day one.

I would also recommend The Willow Garden, as my bouquet was stunning. I’ve honestly never loved some flowers so much. I gave them creative control and just advised of our colour scheme and woodland theme – and they nailed it!

Best bit

Our favourite part of the day was obviously marrying each other! But aside from that, the sing along with Ben playing piano was magical and seeing all of our guests sat around, having a laugh and playing games with each other was amazing. Especially as this was the first time we’d seen our closest friends and family all together in a long time. Despite having to reduce our guest lost from 150 to just 30, the day was still amazing.


We haven’t had our real honeymoon yet. We mini mooned in Liverpool for four nights and spent an extra night at The Coniston Hotel and relaxed in the outdoor copper bath tubs at the spa. When we go in March 2022 we are heading to Mexico and staying at Secrets Akumal in Riviera Maya.


You do you! It’s your day and you should 100% do whatever makes you both happy, and have fun with it. Make sure you find suppliers that understand your vision, and have a great spreadsheet to keep everything in one place and keep on top of the budget.

I heard of Brides Up North from Jenna and her page. I love how the blog showcases all sorts of different venue styles, wedding themes and everything in between.

We have no regrets going ahead with a ‘Covid’ wedding. Of course, we would have loved all of our guests to be with us, but we live streamed our ceremony and the other 120 guests were with us virtually – they got dressed up and celebrated with us, which made the day feel extra special.

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