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Real Life Weddings: Laura and Brett Maclennan

When we first met Laura and Brett, we loved their enthusiasm and ideas for creating their perfect wedding in our Turbine Hall! Their approach was that a wedding is one (very special) day, but the priority is what comes afterwards – a happy marriage, which they wanted to enter free from wedding debt. In the first of our ‘Real Life Weddings’ blogs, Laura shares her story and experience of organising a stunning wedding reception at CastleGate. 

“Having been together for nearly six years, Brett and I had often talked about what our Wedding Day would look like. So when he proposed five minutes into 2015, our priority listing began. What did we want for our Big Day?

LBFor our guests we wanted to ensure that:

  • they all had a brilliant time with no waiting around
  • there were no restrictions on numbers
  • everyone left well-fed, well-watered and well-entertained without an excessive cost to them

For us we wanted to ensure that:

  • we had a brilliant time
  • everyone we wanted there had the option to be there
  • ultimately we were married and it was all paid for in advance

We had always talked about doing it our own way without being too traditional or formal. Brett loves a good party and just wanted to dance and laugh with family and friends; I did too but I also wanted to be original and for the day to reflect who Brett and I were as individuals and as a couple.

To this day and forever more, I will never be able to tell you how I came across the webpage for CastleGate’s Blank Canvas Package; but I am so glad I did. Just six days after the proposal, we stood in the Turbine Hall with Becky the Wedding Co-coordinator and just felt that the wedding we wanted could be brought to life there. The major appeal, other than the size, the use of their tables, chairs, sound equipment and fairy lighting was the option to bring in our own caterers and bar. Brett and I had always talked about a free bar of some description, so this clinched the deal.

We gave Becky our intended date (10th April 2015), the registrar confirmed we could have The Haymarket Room and within days, we were due to be married in just 13 weeks!! Why did we give ourselves such a short timescale? We were keen to start a family, but I wanted to be married first. We are both teachers, many of our friends are too, so the Easter holidays seemed perfect. It could accommdate the best man (who works abroad for nine months of the year) and also allowed for a honeymoon within the school holidays!  So with that, the planning commenced!

We decided on Prosecco and orange juice for guests on arrival, and we set up our own bar area with a selection of drinks. Brett had an adults drinking game area ‘for the boys’ and we devised three signature cocktails that our guests signed up for upon arrival that a cousin with his Mixology Licence created for us. With buckets of ice on each table (ice delivered by ASDA direct to CastleGate) and a BYOB poem sent out with the invites, we had a low cost free bar! Everyone LOVED BYOB; to drink what they liked at their own cost was a revelation for them. Our feeling was that guests travel and spend lots to be with you on your day, and knowing in advance that they can control the cost of refreshments is a massive bonus.cocosnap

Brett and I made our own invitations using materials from eBay and Amazon. Two weekends worth of work and they were in the post! Decorating the vastness of the Turbine Room was the next job. I wanted some key colours peppered throughout the day, but combined with my love of lights and candles, to create a romantic atmosphere. I knew from scanning the webpage that I definitely wanted full use of the free fairy lightingcanopy and having been to a party the previous year, our initials in big lights and a photo booth were high on my wish list too. Looking at our budget we factored in these ‘big ticket’ items first, including a band and a dance floor. We then took the rest of the budget and split it between room decorations, food and drink, chair covers and of course, our Wedding outfits and flowers. Coco Luminaire and Snaparazzi provided the most effective initials and brilliant photo booth, and Coolblu provided a LED dance floor. All three of these items helped to create the mood we wanted and the combined total was kept budget-friendly because we were able to be flexible with our specifications. I would recommend these companies without hesitation for their professionalism, communication and friendliness!


Pinterest was my best friend long before Brett proposed, and many of my ideas for decorating the room came from there. Me and my three best friends created simple but effective wine glass centre-pieces using glasses borrowed from friends and family. We attached tissue pompoms and bunting to the lighting, hung paper hearts around the hall and slate hearts to identify certain areas (again sourced from eBay, Amazon and Ikea). The chair covers were sourced online for around £1.25 per chair inclusive of sash and I chose to have sashes in all three of my wedding colours for a bit of variety. We had to put them on ourselves but they were delivered to and collected from the door, and it saved us an absolute fortune.

Our food consisted of a hot buffet meal at 5pm which included chicken curry, hot beef sandwiches, vegetarian chilli and pizzas for the kids. Later on there was a cold ‘old school’ buffet including sandwiches, wraps etc. I prepared the chilli in slow cookers but the rest of the food came from Tasty Tucker in Chester le Street, and went down a treat.

We did something a little different to the norm with our wedding cakes! My ‘hers’ wedding cake was made by Joanne Lee Cake Creations – it was amazing and so unique. The ‘hers’ came from Brett wanting ‘his’ wedding pie! With a bit of chat at Tasty Tucker, his three tiered savoury feast was also born!Details

During the evening, we had ‘The Maclennan Wedding Bake Off’ and some ‘Guess The…’ games, a candy cart and kids games area. This kept our guests entertained and ensured those with children were also kept occupied.

My dress came from First Glance Bridal and due to stock clearance, was an absolute bargain! I didn’t have enough time to order in one made from scratch, so I had to buy from stock anyway, but I fell in love with it. It was not like anything I had seen before and it didn’t matter to me that it didn’t have a price tag of thousands. What was important to Brett and I was the affordability of a marriage, not just one day. Brett and the best man bought suits from Burton. Brett now has a suit he can wear again and again, and I have zero guilt about a dress that made me feel like a Queen for the ten hours I wore it.shoes

My veil and accessories were gifted by my Mum and Gran and my shoes were £24 from Next, decorated with Etsy’s floral and detachable shoes clips! They fit like a dream and I have already worn them again. I also got creative with the ties, matching them to our wedding colours and bridal party roles; Brett had orange, his best man purple and the groomsmen yellow. The groomsmen wore their own suits and my amazing bridesmaid paid for her own dress as a wedding gift.

My now Mother in Law paid for our flowers and I kept them really simple because given the limited time we were in the Registry Office, I didn’t want to spend a fortune to decorate there. I was then able to do what I wanted at The CastleGate with Ikea’s finest faux flowers. The lovely team at Wild and Wonderful then created two amazing bouquets, button holes and corsages to match the ties and colour scheme.

The Photographer and Guestbook were both wedding gifts from close friends, which gave us unique mementos of our day. Brett isn’t one for posing so to feel confident and relaxed with a friend meant we got some natural, nice shots using the amazing backdrop of The Quayside.

The best thing about this whole experience was that once the date was confirmed, everything else just fell into place! Becky and the team at CastleGate were always on hand to answer questions and I cannot recommend highly enough going to one of their Wedding Open Evenings to see the versatility of the room. It can be quite a daunting space to fill. I won’t lie, I walked in the day before and took a very deep breath! But with the right people, a bit of imagination and the brilliant support of the staff at CastleGate, what was in my head became a reality and we truly had THE BEST day of our lives. I knew without a doubt as I left CastleGate on the Thursday evening that I did not have a single other thing to worry about aside from showing up, saying my vows and having a great time.

Photo 11-04-2015 15 09 31

We also managed to stay in budget and have it all paid for upfront – which is just as well because our biggest surprise wedding gift is expected in December and we hear that babies don’t come cheap..!

My advice to anyone getting married…Enjoy YOUR day, make it about you as a couple and what you want from your day and your marriage, regardless of the opinion of others. After all, you are the ones who have to live the ‘happily ever after’. You set the tone and your guests will follow suit.

Finally, give CastleGate a look because it could be everything you didn’t even realise you wanted! xxx”

Quayside 001

For more of our Real Life Weddings blog posts, please click here


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