Champagne and Gold at Lord Ashbrook's Arley Hall Estate

Arley Hall has to be one of my favourite Cheshire wedding venues, set in the heart of the lush, Cheshire countryside. As a local myself, I have spent many sunny afternoons enjoying the delights of the historic Arley estate, the home of the charming Lord Ashbrook.  It is of no wonder that Emma and Tom fell in love with it’s splendour.

Their classic champagne and gold colour palette was a perfect selection to balance the rich tones of the stately home for a summer wedding, together with fresh and contemporary floral styling.  Following in the footsteps of the most famous newly weds, William and Kate, Emma and Tom put their stamp (quite literally!) on their wedding with a beautiful custom designed Monogram that added a certain royal elegance to the day’s proceedings!

Their wedding was beautifully captured by talented Cheshire photographer Phil Drinkwater, a recent addition to TheWeddingVine’s invitation only Premier Portfolio.  Phil’s beautiful images of Tom and Emma’s wedding capture the richness of historic Arley Hall beautifully.


The Proposal

Tom completely took me by surprise when he proposed, we were supposed to be going to a friend’s housewarming party, and staying at a nearby hotel, until  I noticed we were heading in the opposite direction down the M6! Of course, the questions started instantly "Where are we going?" "You’re going the wrong way!"

Before long we arrived at the beautiful Walton Hall in Warwickshire.  The sun was shining and as it was a lovely spring day, we went for a stroll along the riverbank.   Tom stopped by a bench beneath a willow tree, got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Of course I was shocked but over-the-moon and instantly said yes while trying to hold back to tears.

We sat on the bench afterwards admiring the ring and savoring the view, before heading back to the hotel for champagne in the Orangery and a sumptuous dinner in the dining room before phoning our family!

I soon found out that my parents were expecting the news as a few days early Tom had visited them and asked for my Fathers permission! It was an absolutely perfect weekend! I couldn’t have wished for anything more.


The Photographer

One of our first jobs was to find a photographer - Tom and I had agreed in advance what we were looking for and set out scrolling the internet to find a photographer that filled our requirements.  We wanted someone who had a distinctive journalistic style, whose photos captured the emotion of the day. Phil's website instantly caught our eye as his photos stood out from the competition instantly. We went to meet with him, and loved his honestly and passion and most importantly – his work. We were so impressed with the package he offered us that we booked him straight away without meeting any others! Some may say this was stupid but it was gut-decision that has paid off.

The engagement pictures he took are beautiful - we went to Tatton Park in August 2010 and when we saw the results we instantly knew we had found a gem in the rock! Phil captured our wedding day perfectly. Phil and his assistant Karl managed to capture some fun and emotional pictures that cover every moment of our day. We look at our photos over and over again and still find new details we missed the first time. We have received so many complements about our pictures and we have Phil to thank for this. He has given us a wedding gift that we can look at for many, many years to come.


The Wedding Gown and Accessories

After trying on a number of dresses in most of the wedding shops across Chester I decided on a simple Amanda Wyatt dress with a sweat-heart neckline. It had gorgeous lace detail around the neckline and in sections down the dress. The dress flowed beautifully into a long train that really made me fall in love with it. It wasn’t what I had imagined but I loved it.

As the dress had some detail on it I kept the accessories fairly simple, some simple drop earrings and a matching Amanda Wyatt tiara to give some sparkle to my hair!


The Ceremony and Reception

For our ceremony and reception, we decided on Arley Hall and Gardens in the heart of the Cheshire countryside.  It  was a perfect venue as we both grew up down the road from Arley Hall and we had loved the house as children.

It also had the most beautiful manicured grounds and we loved that we had sole use of the house, some of the grounds and the Olympia suite for the whole day - this gave us the private and secluded wedding we were looking for.

For the evening reception we transferred the party to the Olympia Barn at Arley. We loved the modern contrast from a very traditional day venue.  We had full use of the outside courtyard, which we surrounded with candles. A perfect way to end a beautiful day!

The staff at Arley Hall were fantastic - they handled everything from the moments the suppliers arrived on the day. They remembered exactly what I wanted and helped coordinate everyone to achieve this. Whatever we asked for - they accommodated us. Thank you so much to Shelagh and Simon!


The Styling and Finishing Touches

I had in mind a pale and sophisticated wedding so we chose champagne/gold as our colour theme for the day. I felt this contrasted and lightened some of the rich, dark woods used in Arleys furnishings.

We chose champagne coloured bridesmaid dresses with ivory trims to tie them into my dress.

Tom had always wanted to get married in Tails and the venue suited this perfectly - we chose a perfectly complementing champagne waist coat with matching euro-tie and pocket handkerchief.

With the bridesmaids and best men sorted we set out to further define our theme for day - I stumbled across when I was looking for someone to design our wedding monogram and instantly fell in love with her selection of individually designed stationary 'suites'. We decided to have our monogram, invitations, table numbers, place cards etc designed by Sarah from Belletristics. We then printed them ourselves. We LOVED the outcome and this enabled us to carry our individual theme throughout the whole wedding. Our Thank You cards also matched this theme.

Our chair cover supplier was fantastic - we used Sitting Pretty in Appleton, Warrington. Alison allowed me to go round and choose the colour that most complimented our wedding. She listened to what I wanted and selected a few colour themes she thought might work. Of course, I instantly picked the champagne/gold chair ties to finish off the colour theme perfectly.

We chose a local florist and opted for pale coloured flowers to continue to lighten the theme. We chose Gerberas as the main flower for the day and this featured in the Groomsmen Pin-Holes, the Bridesmaids bouquets, as well as mine. It also featured in all the trumpet vases on the tables and the mirrored vases on the Top Table. We loved this flower for its size and we also felt it was a modern flower to contrast a fairly traditional wedding.

We hired a local singer - Simon William to perform for us throughout the day. During the Wedding Breakfast, he began a wonderful Rat Pack set, walking round the tables, singing to all of our guests. This shocked a few of our guests - who at the start couldn’t figure out whether we had put on a CD or whether we had a singer! Simon was utterly FANTASTIC - he sang 'Me and Mrs Jones' to my mother which he changed to 'Me and Mrs Fotherby!’ This went down a storm! Everyone was singing and swaying to his wonderful voice during dinner. He rounded the meal off by getting us all on our feet, linking hands, swaying to 'That’s amore'. Our guests loved this unique addition to our day - it created such a fun and happy atmosphere for the whole day.

In the evening we had a sweet table for the children (and adults) with sweet bags. We used a 'Love is sweet take a treat' sign, also designed in our wedding theme by Sarah from Belletristics.


Memorable Moments

I think some of the most memorable moments from our wedding are:

Walking down the stairs with my Dad, suddenly feeling flutters in my stomach as I started to feel nervous.

The moment the registrar said 'you may now kiss the bride' and my nerves disappeared.

The amazing Best Mans speech which featured a presentation of hilarious photos from throughout the years - Borat even featured at one point!

And finally, Simon Williams singing 'Me and Mrs Fotherby' to my mother during dinner and everyone standing and swaying to 'That’s Amore' after desert. -we loved it!


Words of wisdom:

Don’t stress about the little things – plan it well and far in advance and then relax in the lead up to your big day. Your planning will pay off!

Add your own touch – add some detail to your wedding to distinguish it from the others – whether that be a design theme that follows through from the invites, to the day, to the thank you card or a unique performance such as a singer during the wedding breakfast.

On the day delegate jobs to your bridal party and family, e.g Bridesmaid 1 to check flowers have arrived and are positioned correctly, Bridesmaid 2 to check the tables are laid out correctly – you need to relax in the hours leading up to your big day.


The Dream Team

Wedding Photographer –  Phil Drinkwater Photography

Wedding Venue – Arley Hall and Gardens, Cheshire

Stationary design:

Singer: Simon William

Chair Covers: Sitting Pretty Chair Covers

Make-Up and Hair: Laura Mayers at

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