A Rustic Celebration in the English Countryside
Photography by Benjamin Wheeler for Lydia and Toby
Drawn to the enchanting gardens of Middleton Lodge, Lydia and Toby were enamored by the rustic elegance and historical charm of this Georgian country retreat, set amongst 200 acres with sweeping views of North Yorkshire, England.
Spilling with character, the venue was surrounded by crumbling walls, an enclosed secret garden overflowing with wildflowers and fragrant fig plants growing wildly throughout. From the subtle floral accents on their table settings to the delicate applique’s on Lydia’s wedding dress, the essence of nature played a large role in the essence of their wedding.
Vows were exchanged in a quintessential English Chapel and the mood was set with an extravagant display of fireworks, disappearing into the vast countryside…
Captured beautifully by The Lane’s Benjamin Wheeler.
Names / Lydia & Toby
Wedding Date / 4th July 2019
Guest Numbers / 178
How We Met
Toby and I met in a nightclub in London in 2013. I’m not sure if I believe in love at first sight, but I knew instantly that there was something special about Toby. He was a true gentleman, didn’t take himself too seriously, loved to dance – and was devastatingly handsome to top it all off! We danced the night away and he took my number before leaving. In an attempt to try and play it cool, I waited 3 months before replying to his message… Thankfully the risk paid off! He took me on our first date to a rooftop in Shoreditch that summer and the rest is history.
Our Engagement Story
We were skiing in the Dolomites, Italy, in a gorgeous little village called Madonna Di Campiglio with a big group of our friends and family. One morning, Toby suggested we spend some time skiing on our own as we had a big table booked for lunch with everyone up on the slopes later that day. Toby is usually a faster skier than me, so I remember stopping on the mountainside and being confused that I couldn’t see him. Unbeknownst to me, he had stopped at the previous chairlift to get the ring out of his backpack and put it in his pocket. He then came skiing down to where I was waiting and told me there a was a problem with his boots and he had to take his skis off. He walked over, lifted up my goggles and got down on one knee in the snow. The setting was so romantic with the snow falling around us and the fir trees lining the run down. It genuinely felt magical and I just remember feeling like the luckiest girl in the world (I still do!). Once we got to the restaurant, my Dad had kept his secret after Toby had asked for his permission, so I ran up to my Mum to tell her the news. From that moment, the whole day is a blur – there was a lot of champagne once the restaurant caught wind of what had happened! There was also a really lovely nordic man having lunch on another table who stood up and sang opera to us! Being able to celebrate with our nearest and dearest was the icing on the cake. I think we’ll struggle to ever beat that apres-ski session!
Marriage to us means…
A promise to always respect one another, to allow each other to grow and to be each other’s biggest supporters, wherever life takes us.
We initially hoped to get married in Spain, but we both have elderly grandparents who would have found traveling quite stressful, so we tried to recreate a destination wedding in the UK instead. Toby grew up in Kent, whilst I am from Liverpool, so we wanted to find somewhere new for both sides of the family which would feel like a little getaway for everybody. We looked at a lot of venues, but it was very tricky to find somewhere that wasn’t too formal or stuffy. We heard about Middleton Lodge after a friend spent a weekend there and as soon as we visited we fell in love with it! Middleton Lodge comprises a Georgian manor house, a Fig House and a cluster of farmhouses nestled on a real working farm in the middle of the picturesque Yorkshire countryside. The food served is all sourced locally and foraged from the kitchen garden, and we loved that there were enough rooms to invite guests to stay with us, as well as a spa, tennis courts, a pool house and woodland walks across the estate to keep guests entertained if they wanted to prolong their stay.
The jewel in the crown has to be their walled garden, which has been carefully restored over the last year by the family who own it. They have managed to keep the style rustic and informal, whilst still maintaining a sense of elegance and history. Despite being in the North of England, we somehow managed to have three days of beautiful weather, so we took the opportunity to host a welcome BBQ at the Main House on the night of our guests’ arrival and a cricket match the day after the wedding.
Event Aesthetic & Inspiration
The style of our wedding was inspired by the rustic yet refined beauty that Middleton Lodge exudes naturally. We loved the crumbling plaster walls with fig plants growing up the insides, the jungle of wildflowers in the walled garden, the woodlands surrounding the estate. This essence of nature flowed through the rest of the wedding. We named our tables after different flowers in the garden and used old terracotta plant pots filled with herbs for the table plan, had edible flowers creeping up the wedding cake, and stamped springs of dried lavender to our guests’ menus. My dress also had tiny flowers appliquéd on to the tulle and scattered down the veil which continued the theme.
Your wedding photographer becomes such an integral part of your day, so it’s important to have somebody you feel comfortable around and who shares your vision. Toby and I had narrowed down a few of our favorite wedding photographers, but Benjamin Wheeler’s pictures stood out by a mile. After we met with him, it was the easiest decision we had to make out of the whole planning process. Ben’s photos are elegant, whimsical and raw and he captured the essence of our day so beautifully. He made it clear from the start that he wouldn’t take us off for hours of private photos – his aim was to capture the story of our most important people, on our most special day, and he couldn’t have done this any better. He is a true talent.
I had absolutely no idea what kind of dress I wanted and initially felt very overwhelmed by so much choice. I took the approach of trying on as many as I could in order to get an idea of what I felt best in. I then started speaking to a dressmaker in Liverpool about designing my own dress and we started working on sketches, mood boards and fabric sampling. One of the dresses I’d put on my mood board was the Ariel gown by Liz Martinez – a young, Israeli bridal dress designer whose styles I adore. Her designs are incredibly ethereal, delicate and feminine and their floatiness makes them light and comfortable to wear. By chance, the only stockist of Liz Martinez gowns in England is Angelica Bridal – which happens to be down the road from our home in Islington. I booked into their trunk show with my mum and Toby’s mum and was thrilled when I saw they had the Ariel dress. I tried it on once and never looked back – it felt like fate! The dressmaker in Liverpool ended up making my Mum’s dress instead – she looked fabulous!
I wore very simple suede sandals by Gianvitto Rossi in a nude tan color.
Toby’s family business is in womenswear, so we were incredibly lucky to have their talented team design and create our bridesmaids’ and flower girls dresses and jumpsuit. We were able to work with the designers, pattern cutters and fabric merchants to create something bespoke that suited everyone – they even hand-stitched their names into the back of each garment. We wanted a heritage color that would suit the venue and we went through tons of Pantone samples before finding the exact shade of blue! It was so much fun to be a part of that process and get the creative juices flowing!
Toby designed my engagement ring. He worked with an Australian company to source the diamond and collected it when he was traveling out there the month before we got engaged. My wedding ring was recreated from a ring of my mum’s, so it holds a lot of sentimental value. The stones were my “something old”, and we worked with a designer in Hatton Garden to create a band that would fit against my engagement ring perfectly.
Jewelry & Accessories
I wore earrings by 14/Quatorze which were designed to resemble delicate sprigs of gypsophila, or “Baby’s Breath”. I love this brand – everything is handcrafted by Japanese artisans and these earrings were made from tiny gold strands with freshwater pearls that branch out from each hoop.
Suitsupply have a bespoke service where you can choose from thousands of fabrics and decide on the exact style of suit. It meant three fits over eight weeks from start to finish for Toby, and being in clothing manufacturing himself, he loved the whole experience and knew exactly what he wanted. He chose a navy wool with a tonal check from the British supplier Holland & Sherry, who has been selling fabric to Savile Row since 1836.
Continuing with the natural, rustic elements, we made our own save the dates and invitations with the help of Bureau Designs. I really loved the deckled edge look of handmade cotton rag paper, which we complemented with hand-dyed habotai silk ribbon and personalised wax stamps. I sketched our own little map of the venue and also took a calligraphy course with my mum to try and ensure they’d look as professional as possible! We continued this theme throughout, printing our menus, table plan and guest itineraries all on the same paper. For the menus, I took sprigs of dried lavender, sprayed each one with matte varnish and then stamped one to each menu with a bronze wax seal.
Our favors were small bottles of sweet wine made in a tiny town in the mountains of southern Spain. My family have been going out to the same town for years and we flew out there a few months prior to the wedding with both of our parents to go wine tasting and pick our wedding wine. We also made little treat bags for our guests’ bedrooms which contained lavender and rosemary bath salts that were handmade by my mum!
Flowers, Bouquets & Styling
The walled garden really spoke for itself here, so we didn’t want to do anything to take away from its natural beauty and chose to keep the color scheme simple. We had white wildflowers in our bouquets and buttonholes and had lots of Mediterranean inspired dark green foliage and olive trees lining the tables. In the church, we had a beautiful floral arch above the altar and placed big urns of white flowers either side. We placed olive trees on the window sills and scattered dark green ruscus around oddly sized brass candlesticks that we’d sourced from antique shops.
One of my oldest friends is a yoga instructor and her gift was to lead a yoga session for the girls on the morning of the wedding. It was such an intimate and special way to start the day and it calmed any nervous energy. Toby got ready with his best men and ushers in the Head Gardener’s Cottage.
We’re both quite creative so decided we wanted to do as much of this ourselves as we could – I was in my element! My Mum played a huge part too and we were also lucky enough to win a competition at a wedding fair we attended in London, which meant we had the wonderful Lou from L27 Weddings helping us with all those finishing touches. She was an absolute dream to work with, as was our on-the-day organiser at Middleton Lodge, Laura, and all our ideas came to fruition exactly how we’d hoped they would.
Our wedding cake had two tiers of lemon sponge with elderflower syrup and two tiers of spiced carrot cake. It was covered with vanilla buttercream and scattered with edible wildflowers and foliage. We had a separate “cheese cake” for those with less of a sweet tooth.
Entrance: Pachelbel’s Canon in D (string quartet)
Ceremony: All You Need Is Love/Stand By Me (string quartet)
First Dance: Grow Old With Me, Tom Odell
We had a string quartet for our ceremony and champagne reception, followed by a DJ in the Fig House who played until the early hours of the morning. We spent a lot of time creating our own playlists for different sections of the day with input from our friends and family. Our first dance was picked because Tom Odell was the first concert we went to together – I think it was only our fourth date.
Food & Beverages
The food at Middleton is always creative and delicious and we love how they use local produce and foraged vegetables from their own kitchen garden. For our wedding breakfast, we had crab salad to start, rack of Yorkshire lamb with pancetta and salsa verde for main and Bakewell tart for dessert.
Our wedding car ended up being our “something borrowed”. It was the most gorgeous vintage blue 2-seater MGA borrowed from some very kind friends. They surprised us on the day by changing the number plate and tying metal cans to the back of it in true retro-style. We absolutely adored it!
We decided to plan our honeymoon for November, so we haven’t actually been yet – we’re going on safari in Tanzania followed by a week on the beach in Zanzibar! We couldn’t face going straight back to work after the wedding though, so we went to Spain with a group of friends for a “buddymoon”. It was the best decision we made, spending proper quality time together, digesting all the wedding buzz and dragging out the celebrations for as long as we could.
Sources of Inspiration
I must confess that The Lane was one of my biggest sources of inspiration throughout the whole planning process. I also exhausted Instagram and Pinterest and was lucky enough to have a very creative mum to hand who came up with so many unique ideas.
A Memorable Moment
We surprised our guests with a firework display later in the evening, which was even better than we could have wished for. Watching the night sky sparkle like that, surrounded by all our loved ones, was a real “pinch-me” moment – it was the best feeling in the world.
If I could give other Brides-To-Be one Piece of Advice
Be present at every moment.
Photography / Benjamin Wheeler
Videography / Gorgeous Film
Bride’s Dress / Liz Martinez
Bride’s Shoes / Gianvito Rossi
Bridesmaids Dresses / Spirit Clothing
Groom’s Formal Wear / Suitsupply
Wedding Rings / Adriana Chedi
Wedding Stylist / L27
Florist / Rigby’s
Stationery / Bureau Designs
Wedding Venue / Middleton Lodge
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