Yorkshire Wedding - Hayley Rouse - Matthew Knutsen, Rowley Manor

Hayley and Matt in Yorkshire
Gareth Humpage Photography

Hayley and Matt in Yorkshire Gareth Humpage Photography - Credit: Archant

Hayley Rouse’s wedding to Matthew Knutsen had an English garden theme with the ceremony at St Mary’s Church in Cottinham followed by a reception at Rowley Manor. Photography: Gareth Humpage

Hayley and Matt in Yorkshire
Gareth Humpage Photography

Hayley and Matt in Yorkshire Gareth Humpage Photography - Credit: Archant

Matt proposed during a surprise weekend stay in The James Hotel in Soho, Manhattan.

Hayley and Matt in Yorkshire
Gareth Humpage Photography

Hayley and Matt in Yorkshire Gareth Humpage Photography - Credit: Archant

We now live in New York, but as I am from Cottingham originally and my family all still live there, we decided to get married in Yorkshire. St Mary’s Church is my family’s parish church and I used to ride horses at Rowley Manor, where we held our reception, as a teenager with my dad, so both venues had sentimental value.

When we were first looking at reception venues in the area some of the other venues had very strict policies on what we could and couldn’t do but Rowley Manor were open to whatever we wanted to do and the staff were fantastic. We also felt that Rowley Manor had the English old-world charm we were looking for. We ended up booking the entire estate for the whole weekend and putting up a big marquee on the grounds.

We had a lot of guests come from the USA so our theme was ‘English garden’. We played croquet on the lawn, ferried the guests in a vintage double-decker bus and served Pimms cup cocktails.

Our marquee was decorated in white drapery with open sides facing onto the green countryside and the horses in the fields. Inside the marquee we had a variety of tall and low arrangements to create visual impact and follow the theme through. We had a lot of flowers – that was one of our must-haves. Thankfully we had a sunny day which made everything that much more perfect.

Instead of having place cards set out on the table we had them printed in a leaf shape and hung on branches within the marquee to carry on the garden theme.

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Our colour scheme was black, white and green. Our marquee was decorated in white and then there were touches of black and green in our decorations, stationery and in the flowers.

I chose a Monique Lhuillier, ‘Candy’ dress in ivory. I didn’t want a princess style gown but sleek, silky gowns just didn’t suit me either. This dress was the perfect mix of soft elegance and glamour. Because our groomsmen all lived all across the US we decided to ask them just to wear a black suit rather than have matching ones. We then gave them matching ties and the bridesmaids all wore simple, cocktail length dresses from Dessy in a pale rose-bronze colour. My bouquet was white hydrangeas, peonies, anemones and cabbage roses. The bouquet was tied with a simple black grosgrain ribbon. My bridesmaids carried simple bouquets of white cabbage roses and my flower girl carried a mini-pomander of white roses held together by a black grosgrain ribbon.

Given that a lot of our guests were travelling a long way we put together a welcome pack for each of our out of town guests. The packs contained local tourist info brochures, crisps and snacks (all with a British theme – roast beef & mustard flavour, Curly Wurly, Brit Kat etc), notepad and pen, paracetamol, water, polo mints and some Pimms cans, all put together in a jute bag with a Union Jack printed on the front for them to keep as a memento. Each of the bags also contained a welcome note, a map of events so they knew where they were going and a wedding day schedule so everyone knew when they were getting picked up etc.

Instead of a guest book we bought a polaroid camera and asked guests to take a funny picture of themselves using the props we had and write a message to us. The photos were hung on string secured into a wooden frame and so they became part of the decorations by the end of the night and were a real talking point for our guests. At each place setting we had a ‘smile’ card which told guests about the camera and made suggestions about what funny poses they should do. This was a huge hit!

Instead of numbering our tables 1, 2 or 3, each one was given a number that was significant to us and the table number card then had a little explanation. For example, we had a table 15,000 which represented the height in feet of our first skydive together and a table 16 which was the most number of days we’d ever spent apart despite the fact that we started out living on different continents.

We had a computer on a table to the side of the bar running through hundreds of embarrassing photos of the two of us that our parents had spent hours pulling together as a surprise.

My dad made us some lovely wooden signs to use in the wedding. One said ‘Hayley and Matt’ and then below there was an arrow pointing to the church saying ‘I Do’ and then another pointing away from the church saying ‘We Did’. It meant a lot to us to have those little personal touches.

We had an entirely white three tiered traditional cake decorated with white peonies and petals to add texture. The top layer was the traditional fruit cake and the other two were Cointreau and orange and lemon curd.

The Vernon Sisters performed throughout the day at the church, the reception and dancing. In the evening they were joined by a live eight piece band that really helped set the atmosphere. When we first started planning our wedding we said that the band was one of the things we cared about most.

We also had a fantastic DJ who played a great mix of songs to suit everyone. We couldn’t have been happier with him – best DJ we’ve seen.

My advice to other brides? Get a wedding planner! Planning a wedding (especially from abroad) is pretty daunting and hiring Pomp and Ceremony was the best decision we made throughout the process. From the start our planners took everything off our plate and made us feel completely reassured that everything would be perfect. Their vision and creativity helped us to decide what kind of wedding we wanted and from there they went above and beyond to make our dream wedding become a reality. They were with us every step of the way - recommending bridesmaid dresses, arranging photographers, managing all of our suppliers, picking up the cake, managing issues with the stationers, decorating the marquee etc. On the day itself our planners took care of everything so we and our parents were able to completely relax and enjoy it.

Mrs Hayley Knutsen

Useful contacts

Photography: Gareth Humpage Photography, www.garethhumpagephotography.co.uk

Venue: Rowley Manor, Rowley, East Yorkshire, www.rowleymanor.com

Wedding Planners: Pomp and Ceremony, www.pompandceremonyplanning.co.uk