Darren and Amy Walton tied the knot at the beautiful Grange Hotel in Grange-Over-Sands, Cumbria on Sunday 17th July 2011. They wowed American family members who travelled to England especially for their wedding by choosing a stunning Lake District setting. Lively and hugely entertaining Merseyside 4 piece rock and pop band Munch entertained guests during the evening reception, providing some of the most memorable moments of the day.
Where did your wedding take place, why did you choose that venue, and how big was your wedding party?
Our wedding took place on Sunday 17th July 2011 at the Grange Hotel in Grange-Over-Sands, Cumbria. We wanted a beautiful setting in the Lake District mainly because my American family were so excited to come to England for the first time and had visions of rolling hills and countryside filled with sheep, and I couldn't bear to let them down by taking them to the city!
We visited a couple of places in the Lakes, but when we went to the Grange Hotel it just felt right. The hotel was beautiful, well maintained and a really great mix of a stunning Victorian heart with modern updates and additions.
The Grange Hotel has great views from its hilltop position, and near a gorgeous little town with restaurants and shops. It was also a practical choice since it was within walking distance from a train station with direct links to the airport (for all our wayward travellers), and the best value for money venue we had seen.
Our wedding party was constructed in an American fashion with a maid of honour, best man, four bridesmaids, five groomsmen, a flower girl (and a partridge in a pear tree). We had about 63 guests made up of family and close friends, which was all the more impressive since almost half came all the way from America for the occasion.
Did you have a theme for your wedding, and what sort of look and feel did you want to create?
Since we have been together for over 9 years and spent almost half that time living in separate countries, travel has been a huge part of our identity as a couple, and although we didn't initially decide on a theme, this organically came about throughout the planning process.
We had invitations that resembled airline boarding passes, named our tables after places we had been together, had a world map seating plan, luggage tag name cards, a suitcase cake, and postcards with a red English post box in lieu of a traditional guest book.
The inspiration for our colour scheme, shades of blue, was the ocean. The bridesmaids wore deep blue to match the venue decorations provided by Ambience, and the groomsmen a softer blue that tied in with the blue delphiniums in the bridesmaids bouquets provided by Grange Flower Service.
We really wanted to create a fun and laid back feel since our wedding day was the first time our families met and we didn't need unnecessary tension. We did this by keeping the day relaxed with minimal formalities and a really great party atmosphere in the evening.
Please tell us about the running order and format of your day, including details of any live music or entertainment.
Me and my bridesmaids stayed in a stunning suite at the Grange Hotel the night before the wedding, and were woken up early by heavy rainfall (not exactly ideal!) to be beautified by Jo from JoCoole Makeup.
We were served a breakfast large enough for an army on silver platters as we got ready. Despite getting up at about 6.00 am the morning seemed to go really quickly and before I knew it, it was time to get dressed!
In the meantime Darren arrived at the hotel to help set everything up, check everything was running smoothly, get the groomsmen ready, himself ready, and greet guests as they arrived; he definitely had the harder job!
As the guests arrived for our 1.00 pm ceremony, a string quartet serenaded them with beautiful classical tunes and continued the ceremony music through to afterwards when guests mingled. It was really important to us to hire live music as it really creates an atmosphere.
The ceremony was a quick 30 minutes and passed in somewhat of a blur. It wasn't until we walked out of the room as husband and wife that we really got a chance to look at each other; and we both smiled!
Since the weather was still a bit iffy the guests were served Pimms and canapés in the lobby area while we sneaked off to have photographs taken between showers.
Around 4.00 pm we set up a receiving line to greet all of our guests as they entered the reception for the wedding breakfast. We decided to have the speeches and toast first so everyone could relax and enjoy the food. My sister who is usually so strong surprised everyone by breaking down in tears and was unable to finish what she had planned to say; there wasn't a dry eye in the house!
After the meal it was time for the party! We kicked off the evening's wedding entertainment with our first dance to Snow Patrol's “Chasing Cars” played by the fabulous party bandMunch.
After that Munch kept everyone entertained not only with their great tunes but with their hats, which became much abused props on the dance floor.
An enthusiastic groomsman even got in with the drummer, and I believe I saw him strumming a guitar once or twice. Even when the band finished playing they were persuaded into an encore by an eager crowd, and then played some iPod tunes for those that couldn't give up the dance floor.
How big an impact did live entertainment have on your wedding day and would you recommend it to others?
We are so glad that we chose to book Munch! We had initially planned to hire a wedding DJ purely based on budgetary constraints but when we heard the demo by Munch we started to realise how much more could be offered by a live band for hire.
We stretched the budget a bit in order to make the booking and we've never regretted that decision. In fact, we're so glad we did as the evening reception was amazing and provided some of the most memorable moments of the day, and we wouldn't have changed that for the world.
We would definitely recommend that people consider live entertainment hire; it is well worth the cost and a great band creates an atmosphere that a DJ never could.
What were your favourite moments of the day?
It's so hard to choose! For me, personally, the best moments were those where the pressure was off and you could just relax and enjoy being married and being with friends and family. That started the moment we walked out together as husband and wife and continued through the evening.
I think we can also both say that we loved seeing how well our families mixed together and how much fun everyone was having.
What pearls of wisdom or words of advice would you extend to future brides/grooms who are planning their perfect wedding?
I think the best advice is to remember to enjoy your wedding - all parts of it. In the planning stages, it should be a fun time to spend together and not something to stress or argue about. On the day itself you have to try not to worry about something going wrong or what other people are thinking, and enjoy your day. If you're having a great time then chances are it's because everyone else is too.
We are so glad we booked Munch! We planned on hiring a DJ but when we heard Munch’s demo we realised how much more a live band can offer. We stretched our budget and never regretted that decision.
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