Cheshire Weddings - Anne and Neil Hughes, Bowdon Rooms
- Credit: Archant
Where better for Anne and Neil Hughes’ special day than the workplace?
No one knows the Bowdon Rooms better than the man who has been running the business for the last 10 years. So when it came to getting married himself, Neil Hughes used every feature of the beautiful building to good effect.
The 100-year-old-Bowdon Rooms is spread across two floors, and at the top of the building is a real gem, a 1930’s style jazz club with its own private bar facilities, air conditioning and dance floor. Anne wanted to extend the wedding day beyond the usual service and meal, so guests were treated to an old fashioned welcome, with High Tea, Pimms and Real Ale. She had designed the room and had worked with Barkers the Florist from Timperley to create a stunning floral backdrop. Hydrangeas in teapots, rose filled hearts and a centerpiece that hung above the cake from the arched ceiling. ‘We loved this part of the wedding day, the sun was shining as we greeted our guests and we managed to chat to nearly everyone before the registrars arrived. It was the perfect start to our day.’
Guests were taken downstairs just before three o’clock to a composition by Hughie, Neil’s youngest son, and it set the tone for a very musical afternoon. Eschewing convention, Neil and Anne had set the Ballroom out in the round, with Julie the registrar in the middle, surrounded by guests. There were also two aisles, and a live band in one corner with a white grand piano. As the tension rose, Neil and his twin daughters, Ellie and Anouska, took their places at the back of the room and awaited the bride. The music faded, the band began playing and the curtains parted. Anne entered the room through a beautiful floral arch flanked by her two sons Marc and Martyn. Although they had decided not to have a traditional wedding, Anne was now wearing a full length, flowing wedding dress and she looked up to see a surprised Neil who couldn’t keep the biggest smile off his face. Both couples walked down the aisles with their children to Dominic Halpin and The Honey B’s playing a revised version of If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, you better make a pretty woman your wife, and the service began. Guests were welcomed, the bride and groom stood together and they knew the biggest surprise was yet to come.
Everyone sat down for the first reading of the day, but Anne and Neil had kept to the musical theme, and the band began to play Etta James’ signature song At Last. As soon as they started, a door opened to the right and a 70 strong choir entered the ballroom, and you could see the shock on the guests’ faces.
Neil says, ‘we knew this would be a revelation, but what a beautiful surprise it was, a full band playing at your own wedding, backed by our very own choir. It was magical.’
As Neil runs the business, including The Cinnamon Club, he had asked the weekly choir if they would like to perform at his own wedding and was delighted when they said yes. Clare Morel, the choir leader who runs three choirs on Wednesdays, said: ‘We were honoured to be asked. We love singing every week, and it was a challenge we couldn’t refuse. It turned out brilliantly.’
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After the marriage service where the bride and groom had written their own vows, and during the registrar signing the choir sang their second song, Quiet Nights. A beautiful bossa, with a lovely saxophone solo echoing around the cavernous ballroom beneath the chandeliers. Both eldest sons, Marc and Josh were the witnesses.
The first toast of the day by Martyn, Anne’s youngest son. To the bride and groom rang out as photographs were taken, and the choir launched into their final gospel songs.
The wedding theme definitely had a nod to vintage which so suited the venue. There aren’t many ballrooms left, and this fine example in Altrincham with its sprung floor and stage has been lovingly restored by the groom. The personal touches were added by the bride with a lovely high tea designed and produced by her for guests to enjoy before the service. Summer and garden flowers with pastel shades were prevalent. The theme for the menu was Mediterranean where the happy couple have enjoyed many holidays. Tables were named after holiday destinations and the food was Seafood and Chicken and Chorizo Paella, served with some beautiful Spanish Rioja and Viognier.
The overall colour scheme was creams, soft pink and greens, natural summer colours taken from avalanche roses and hydrangeas. Neil purchased 300 metres of light green voile and 100 metres of dark green ribbon and set out to build the wow factor into the century old ballroom. All of this without Anne knowing, although the wedding planners at the venue may have helped!
Says Anne: ‘Neil had a few surprises in store for me and he was keeping very hush, hush about the room decorations for the ceremony so I decided to throw in a surprise of my own. Wedding dress number three! Why stop at two dresses for the big day? And before you know it I had ordered a full length, satin and chiffon wedding dress, again in Ivory, for the ceremony itself.
So from a bride who wasn’t going to have a traditional wedding dress I ended up with three very different dresses for my big day and loved each one of them.
Barkers the Florist, Sarah Berrington
0161 980 3378 www.barkerstheflorist.com
Sarah totally understands the venue and did an amazing job. Barkers did the flowers for the high tea, outside the venue, the pillars, arches and all of the table centres. As well as the bride, and all of the children.
William Ellis Photography
World renowned live music and portrait photographer from Cheshire
The Bowdon Rooms
0161 926 8992
Calmness personified, understands wedding timings perfectly, and manages the day professionally. Arranges all the menus, linen, chair covers and lighting.
Dominic Halpin & The Honey B’s
Surely the best wedding band in the country !
Got everybody on the floor from the 1st song ‘till the last, great comments from the guests.