James and Rachel are our gin drinking, Harry Potter crazy friends from Birmingham. When they started planning their wedding, they asked me to be their photographer, and they asked my wife Ellie who is a wedding Celebrant, to write and perform their ceremony for them.
From Whitby to the Peak District
We made the drive down from Whitby to the Peak District the day before the wedding and got to spend time with James and Rachel’s families who are amazing. Close friends were also there and we got to meet the family dog Pepper who had the honour of being the ring bearer wearing a very smart tuxedo.
James and Rachel wanted a relaxed atmosphere with their families and friends around them, and they choose wedding Hamps Hall and Barn in the heart of the peak district as their venue. With a majority of the guests staying at the venue, everyone mucked in to help get things ready for the wedding.
Rachel is an expert hair stylist and she works at Le Keux Vintage Salon in Birmingham. The evening before the wedding, she spent time cutting and styling hair for guests. Rachel is probably the most chilled out and laid back bride I have ever met, and she was still adding finishing touches late into the evening.
On the morning of the wedding, the whole family gathered to take part in a wedding day breakfast of croissants, ham and cheese which Rachel had discovered online as being a custom. The atmosphere was really relaxed and once again everybody helped out before going off to get ready.
Superhero buckles and garters
James and his groomsmen wore three piece blue suits, and each of them had a Marvel or DC Superhero buckle belt. The bridesmaids wore grey dresses and joined in with the Superhero theme by sporting garters, as did the bride.
The ceremony took place in the barn of the venue, and guests were seated on leather sofas. Rachel and her father Andrew entered the barn to ‘Pachebel Canon in D Major’ and this suddenly merged into ‘The Imperial March’ as a surprise for Star Wars fan James.
Rachel looked stunning in her floor length vintage themed gown which she teamed with a white fake fur trimmed blue satin cape. Guests referred to her as Disney’s ‘Elsa’ from Frozen.
James and Rachel as mentioned, are huge Harry Potter fans, and as Ellie is too, their ceremony contained aspects of Harry Potter. Alice in Wonderland was their décor theme for the evening reception, and Ellie created a ‘drink me’ gin ceremony from Harry Potter potion labelled bottles which were drank from a cauldron as part of their wedding ceremony. They exchanged personalised vows, and a few tears were shed by guests. They signed a certificate inspired by the Mauraders Map, and quotes from Harry Potter were included in their ceremony.
For the evening reception, Rachel changed into a second elegant dress, which made the all important dancing much easier. Their first dance was received by rounds of applause as the newly weds owned the dance floor to ‘Groovy Kind of Love’ by Phil Collins as their first dance took place.
Giant tea cups filled with sweets were in the centre of the table I the marquee for their evening reception. Empty vintage tea cups and saucers were on each table as favours for guests to fill with sweets and take home with them.
A large Mad Haters hat was their card box, and the cake was topped with a Mickey and Minnie Mouse topper Rachel brought back from her hen weekend at Disneyland Paris.
It was a great couple of days, and the newly weds left for their honeymoon in Africa a few days later.
Celebrant: Alternative Ceremonies UK
Venue: Hamps Hall Barn
Dress: Esra from Wed2b
Suits: Charles Tyrwhitt
Ring Bearer: Pepper the pup!
Cake topper: Disneyland Paris
Reception decorations: Various charity shops and wonderful ‘finds’