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Real Wedding at Howsham Hall

Nicola & James - A Dreamy Autumnal Wedding At Howsham Hall

Jessica Jex Updated:
8th of March 2023

A winter proposal that nearly went terribly wrong, a global pandemic that made them doubt their big wedding plans and horrendous rain the day itself, Nicola and James didn't have an easy path to saying I do! Thankfully, this couple was not deterred and despite all of the challenges they had the best day at their dream venue Howsham Hall.

The Proposal

Romantic Rockefeller NYC Proposal
Courtesy of Nicola and James

Nicola and James met on Tinder and just before Christmas in 2017 they took a trip to New York City! While in New York the couple went for a romantic meal at the top of the Rockefeller Center in the glamorous Rainbow Rooms restaurant.

Turns out that James wasn't the only person who was planning to propose that evening and to his disappointment, another couple got engaged not long after they arrived! Nicola said she got a hint from James' reaction that it wouldn't be long until he popped the question to her. She was right!

James decided to go ahead with the romantic proposal he had planned anyway and while they were outside taking in the views he asked a passerby to take a photograph of them... He got down on one knee and it was in this moment when the ring box got caught in his jacket and pulled open, causing the ring to fall out onto the floor and into a nearby air vent! Nicola recalls hearing a 'chink' of the metal on metal and then a scramble to try and retrieve the precious ring.

Thankfully, the vent had a filter which had stopped the ring from falling out of reach and although James couldn't quite get it out, Nicola managed to rescue the special piece of jewellery. James then went back down on his knee to ask the million dollar question and of course the answer was yes! Everyone around them cheered (having watched the nail biting moments before) and the impromptu photographer took the image of the couple's jubilation that you can see above.

The Build Up

Howsham Hall Real Wedding Image

Following their engagement the couple had planned their wedding to take place in May 2020. Having been to several weddings in the area before they fell in love with Howsham Hall as it was new to weddings therefore it would be a unique space for everyone to enjoy.

Howsham Hall was the first venue the couple had looked around but, the instant they stepped into the building, they knew it was right for them. With impeccable service, delicious food and beautiful rooms, they could instantly imagine themselves having their wedding there!

Unfortunately, the global coronavirus pandemic halted their wedding plans when the special day was just around the corner. They were obviously heartbroken, as many other couples were and debated cancelling their current plans to get something sooner at the registry office or abroad but decided that they couldn't not have their wedding at Howsham Hall. So after another date change, it was third time lucky in September 2021.

Pre Wedding Prep

Bride with her Bridesmaids on her wedding morning at Howsham Hall

The couple didn't have a specific theme in mind for their wedding day but definitely wanted something elegant and thankfully the venue perfectly encapsulates that without too much added décor! They decided to have lots of foliage and white flowers as well as a few bits of gold decoration to tie in with the venue.

One of Nicola's bridesmaids is an illustrator and was therefore able to design the original save the dates and invitations as well as place cards, table plans and other stationery on the day. Nicola also knew the MUA, Steph Swaine and knew that she didn't want to have anyone else! So while Steph did the makeup, the brilliant Unity Rhodes did the hair!

Nicola fell in love with a dress that she had seen on a catwalk at a wedding showcase. She loved that she had not seen anything like it and therefore tried it on first! Having then tried on a few more dresses just to make sure, she purchased this gorgeous wedding gown! The dress is style Alika by designer Savin London and Nicola found it at her local bridal wear store Lace & Co.

James decided to get his suit from a tailor close to his hometown in Sunderland. The suits were by designer Marc Darcy and the shop was Master Debonair.

The Cuisine

Howsham Hall Cuisine at Wedding

The couple are self-professed foodies so this was an important factor in their wedding day. Thankfully the in-house team at Howsham Hall is exceptional. One of the first things the event planner at the venue told the couple was how each table has 5 servers so that everyone is presented their food at the same time. Plus, they loved the canapés they sampled so knew that the quality of food was top notch!

For their wedding breakfast, the couple chose to have a starter of prawns on garlic tomatoes, the main was a blade of beef with red wine jus and the dessert was Eton mess. They said it was all delicious!

Nicola doesn't like cake and they had heard that a lot of cake gets wasted at weddings so they decided against a big wedding cake. Instead, they opted for a doughnut tower with limoncello doughnuts and then had a small red velvet cake as the topper as that is James' favourite flavour! These were created by Juniper Cakery and to ensure none of the mouth-watering goodies went to waste the couple had some paper bags on hand so that their guests could take a doughnut home if they fancied!

The Venue

Howsham Hall Wedding Venue

Howsham Hall is a gorgeous Jacobean house full of character and style, just 30 minutes outside of York! The interiors are designed to let in a lot of natural light which makes for incredible wedding photographs and the historical parkland surrounding the country house boasts spectacular views.

Plus, with 11 bedrooms and a huge bridal suite you are sure to relax after your day of celebrating.

On the Day

Real Wedding at Howsham Hall York

On the day of the wedding, Nicola had her dream come true, getting ready with her bridesmaids and her mum in the beautiful bridal suite. James on the other hand had his wish and was transported to the venue in a sleek Dodge Viper.

One of the couple's most treasured moments was the 15 minute private catch up they had immediately after the ceremony. This enabled them to let their newly married status sink in before going to mingle with the guests who were enjoying their beer and prosecco drinks reception just downstairs. A wedding day can be such a whirlwind so it does make those special quiet moments shared together all the more important.

When it was time to get the party started, Nicola and James were pleased to have booked Johnny Ross' DJ and Sax package. The couple loved having live music on the day and we are sure that the guests loved it too!

The Honeymoon

Real Wedding Send off at Howsham Hall

For their honeymoon, Nicola and James travelled to Mauritius to elongate their wedding bubble and to mark the beginning of their blissful married life. They shared that they were a little concerned about the rising coronavirus cases but were so pleased that they went!

Love Nicola and James' wedding? Check out more images below...

Wedding Night at Guides for Brides
Black and White Wedding Imagery at Howsham Hall
Bridesmaids in Pale Pink Sparkly dresses with a bride in a white gown
Bride getting ready with bridesmaids at Howsham Hall
bride, groom and bridal party with coloured smoke
Bride on her wedding day at Howsham Hall
Bride making her entrance at Howsham Hall

Feeling inspired by this real wedding? Why not enquire with the people that made it magical? See the full list below:

Howsham Hall an Exclusive Use Wedding Venue

Your own Country House for a perfect Wedding!

North Yorkshire, York

£9,000 - £18,000


  • Photographer - Sarah Beth Photo
  • Florist - Hare and Howl
  • Cake - Juniper Cakery
  • Wedding Dress - Savin London at Lace and Co Bridal
  • Groom's Suit - Master Debonair
  • Bridesmaids Dresses - Silkfred
  • Hair - Unity Rhodes Bridal
  • Makeup - Steph Swaine
  • Band - Jonny Ross Music
  • Wedding Stationery - North Doodle Co
Jessica Jex, Marketing Assistant at Guides for Brides

About the author

Jessica Jex

Jess is a lover of all things wedding and dreams about being a wedding and event planner once she graduates from her BSc in Management at Loughborough University! She loves seeing how couples personalise their wedding days and what traditions they choose to follow. So, you can often find her figuring out all the latest trends from celebrity weddings and Say Yes To The Dress! Plus, as our office's resident Northerner, Jess is the best person to speak to if you need help planning your wedding in the North of England.

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