Erin and Adam Brierley married at Kedleston Country House, Derby, in August 2019 in front of 45 of their closest friends and family.
Torn between a big wedding or a quick trip to the registry office, the couple decided on a small ceremony with a further 20 guests arriving for the evening reception.
The couple met in their final year of university when they began living in a shared house. Their first conversation was about who bought the best cereal, and from that small bud love blossomed.
After two and a half years together, including four months long distance, Adam decided to pop the question at the fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany. But his plan to make a romantic, public proposal was thwarted when Erin realised what he was about to do and pulled him up from one knee. (She still said yes, though.)
The couple spent three years saving up for and planning their perfect wedding. They chose a simple, elegant theme and added quirky touches such as a taco bar and a cookie bar to replace a traditional wedding cake.
Photography by: Lee Bull from Humpston and Bull
The Wedding Dress and the Rings
Over a year before the wedding day, Erin spotted her dream wedding dress on Instagram. She’d fallen for an Enzoani dress with gorgeous beaded lace embellishments.
“My dress was a full-length mermaid gown with an illusion bodice and low V-back. The top half had beaded embellishments and the bottom half was pure white, which my Mum described as, ‘falling like milk’.
“The dress was called Melinda by Enzoani and I bought it from The Harrogate Wedding Lounge.
“I first saw the dress on The Harrogate Wedding Lounge’s Instagram page. I knew that I wanted something a bit different and I had never seen anything like it before. I wasn’t intending on buying a dress any time soon but I knew when I saw it that I had to try it on.
“It was the first dress I tried on. I then selected and tried on another five just to make sure but neither me nor my sisters and Mum could get over the Melinda and so we knew it was the one.
“My engagement ring is an oval-cut diamond cluster in platinum and I absolutely love it. We didn’t pick it together but for months beforehand Adam would stop me outside jewellers and ask my opinion on certain rings – not very subtle.”
Bridal Hair and Beauty
As Erin doesn’t usually wear much makeup, she decided to opt for something different to showcase her stunning dress. Although her foundation was kept to a minimum to show off her freckles and she chose to vamp up her eye makeup.
“Laura from LH Professional did my hair and Adele Coxon was in charge of makeup.
I am really bad at doing my own makeup, day-to-day I don’t wear much more than mascara and concealer, so the makeup I wore on the day was a huge change!
“For my hair, I wanted a bun which looked loose and textured. I realised I was asking a lot because I also needed it to stay in from 11am to 1am the next day. Both Laura and Adele did amazing jobs.
“I felt that I wanted my wedding dress to be the standout piece and the embellishments meant that it didn’t need much in the way of accessories. I chose silver pearl-drop earrings, a matching bracelet from Ivory & Co, and a silver hair vine which resembled leaves from Eden B Studio.”
The Bridal Party
Who wants bridesmaids when you can have Bride Witches? Erin chose her cousin’s daughter, Daisy, and her sisters, Sarah and Alys, to be her bridesmaids.
“I also had two flower girls in the form of my nieces – Clover and Esmee. They arrived about an hour and a half before the ceremony and immediately demanded a Disney playlist. We had a little dance around the bedroom and it just put my nerves at ease.
“Both the bridesmaid and flower girl dresses were from Debenhams. The bridesmaids all have quite different styles so we debated over quite a lot of them, but they all approved a simple, grey, full-length dress with spaghetti straps. They then turned out to be on sale so only cost £20 each – thrilled!
“I wanted white flower girl dresses (risky!) so we took the girls to Debenhams and Clover, as the eldest, approved a dress with satin top, tulle bottom and flower embellishments from Monsoon.”
Adam decided that owning his suit was the best way to go and ended up stumbling upon the perfect fit in Next for himself and his groomsmen.
“We all wore matching navy checked suits from Next. I had considered having alternating waistcoats for myself and my best man, but wanted to keep it simple so in the end I decided against it. We all wore matching grey ties, with brown belts and shoes. I also had plain silver cufflinks and tie clip, but no watch.
“I had tried on a few suits but none of them seemed quite right. On the day we found the right one I was with Erin shopping for new work trousers. As soon as I put these trousers on, I knew that she would want me to try the rest of the suit on.
“We both really liked it but needed to make sure it suited everybody, so we invited the wedding party to Leeds for a bottomless brunch/groomsmen fitting – everyone approved.
“We all went for a low-key Italian the night before the wedding, it was just nice to relax and spend time with my family.”
The Wedding Ceremony
The couple had hoped that humanist weddings would be legalised before they wed, but this wasn’t to be so they instead settled for a civil service.
“We had exclusive use of the hotel from the Friday afternoon to Sunday morning so myself and my family stayed there the night before the wedding. Adam and his family stayed at a nearby hotel and his Mum drove him and the best man over around 10am on the morning of the wedding.
“I walked down the aisle to a strings cover of Flaws by Bastille, escorted by my step-dad, Paul. He was the perfect companion as he made sure everything went to plan whilst making me laugh and calming my nerves.
“We kept the ceremony short and simple, my cousin described it as the perfect mix of sweet and funny. Both of us had little stumbles when we were repeating the words from the celebrant, I actually interrupted her because I was too eager! We laughed it off along with our guests. There were lots of tears!
“Our rings were from Phillip Stoner in Leeds. Mine is the matching one to my engagement ring and Adam’s is a 4mm palladium ring.”
The Wedding Venue
Erin and Adam chose to take on the entire responsibility of planning their special day. To help relieve some stress, a coordinator at the venue helped everything run smoothly on the day.
“The venue is called Kedleston Country House. We chose it because we knew we wanted exclusive use, an intimate feel and a countryside setting. The Kedleston ticked all the boxes.
“We had a simple and elegant theme of neutral tones – mainly white, grey and green. This was reflected in everything from bridesmaid and flower girl dresses, to stationery and flowers.
“For our wedding breakfast, we had deep-fried brie, balsamic, apples and grapes to start, chicken (or vegetable wellington) in tomato and mascarpone sauce and greens for main and chocolate fondant with raspberry ice cream to finish.
“In the evening we had a taco bar where guests could choose from a variety of fillings and sauces. It went down a treat.”
Wedding décor was kept to a tasteful minimum and the couple chose flowers to be the main source of decoration which they kept adding to in the run up to the wedding.
“My wedding bouquet consisted of roses, eucalyptus, and thistles, along with other flowers that fell within a white and green theme. I wanted it to feel quite wild, not perfectly round as you sometimes see, and our florist did a great job of making my vision a reality.
“We used flowers to overcome what we perceived as a negative of the wedding venue – the car park was visible from the ceremony room. We asked our florist to create a screen of sorts, by hanging flowers and ribbons from both of the windows. This allowed us to still have the light from the windows without focusing on the car park. We also had tied bunches on the chair ends in the ceremony room.
“The centrepieces for the wedding breakfast were also provided by our florist, again a mixture of white and green flowers with thistles. These were placed in mismatching bottles, which we had been collecting for two years in the run up to the wedding. We also had mismatching brass candlesticks (rented from The Rustic Wedding Company) with grey and white candles (from IKEA!).
“Avant Garden did our flowers – I cannot recommend them highly enough. They are so committed to making your day perfect and were so friendly and approachable too.”
Stationery and Special Touches
Instead of choosing an expensive wedding cake, the couple baked cookies together to create a cookie bar. Their wedding favours were also a little unusual as they decided to provide cocktails to avoid wasted gifts.
“Our wedding stationery was created by Amanda Williams at Love Invited, who is actually the person who believed our wedding should be showcased on a wedding site and put in lots of the work to make it happen!
“The stationery was on a white background with grey cursive font and adorned with illustrations of greenery – very in-keeping with the theme. We had the usual save the dates, invites, order of the day and place cards created by her.
“However, we also requested a sign for our Instagram hashtag, a sign which stated we were having an unplugged ceremony, as well as favour tokens to be handed out by our groomsmen. She was amazing, there was absolutely no stress involved in this part of the wedding.
“We provided personalised aprons for the children which allowed them to stay clean during the wedding breakfast! They also received personalised seek-and-find books (e.g. Where’s Clover?) and a pencil case full of colours to keep them entertained.
“For the cookie bar, myself and Adam baked mint choc chip, salted caramel and black forest cookies, two of my friends (Jess and Becky) made fruit and nut and choc chip. They must have been delicious because they disappeared before I got my hands on any!”
Erin’s sister and her maid of honour, Alys, stole the show during her speech after the wedding breakfast which resulted in tears from the bride.
“Alys is known for being quite a socially awkward person and had been managing my expectations for her speech for about a year before the wedding so we really weren’t expecting much.
“She started out by talking about how (although we are the best of friends now) we had a really fraught relationship growing up. She spoke about how we would fight all the time, how cruel I was to her as her big sister and how, amongst many other things, I used to shout at her constantly for waking me up with her singing. She then said it was only right, therefore, to sing to me on my wedding day.
“She was then handed a ukulele and burst into a song she had written just for us. She sang so beautifully about how our relationship has transformed and summed us up perfectly. If you look at the pictures from the wedding breakfast you can see how I was on a roller coaster of emotions – I went from total shock when she was handed the ukulele (she had learned to play especially), to laughter at our in-jokes, to absolutely sobbing by the end!
“Alys recorded the song for me in case I couldn’t catch all the words on the day, but I still haven’t listened to it because I know I’ll be crying all over again.”