nene local | helen dawson


Category: The Great Thrapston Wedding Challenge

The Great Thrapston Wedding Challenge Concludes

It’s been a few weeks since The Great Thrapston Wedding Challenge came to its conclusion, and what a day we had!

A year of planning saw us try to use as many Thrapston businesses as we could, our challenge was ‘Anything we buy for the wedding MUST come from Thrapston’.

Why do that? You may ask… In running the Facebook page Welcome to Thrapston we come across people who say “There’s nothing in Thrapston, it’s a dead town” and we wanted to prove them wrong. We love the vibrant little town we chose to make our home and enjoyed using local companies very much.

Our story began in Tasty Bite Thrapston. Owner, Sarah Whiteside was only too delighted to accommodate our wishes. We married in TBT courtyard garden and our reception was an afternoon tea party in the café itself. The Tasty Bite Café is one of the rare remaining cast iron fronted Victorian buildings in the UK, and is a listed building. We loved the fact it had a good history behind it (with the painting behind the counter, we even had Miss Goss at the wedding who we’re sure many of you know!)tbt

On the morning of our wedding, we’d decorated the garden and inside Tasty Bite with hanging hearts, rose garlands, jam jars with flowers and ribbons. The ribbons were bought for us my Lindsey Burch who’d followed the story and enjoyed our updates on Welcome to Thrapston. The hanging flowers and lanterns we had bought from AmbaScarlett, a little company that sells from the shelves in Tasty Bite!

ambascarlett copy

Sarah planned our wedding banquet, I was able to have some tastings beforehand but all the work fell onto Sarah and her team. Our guests gave them a resounding cheer and all said they would return at their soonest opportunity to Tasty Bite Thrapston.tbt

One of our guests is gluten free and Sarah organised with Farmer’s Market regular DonnaLulu Cooks a platter especially for her…. Michelle is a social media guru and proceeded to Instagram and Tweet her DonnaLulu Cooks plate of goodies as she was so impressed!

Our wedding was carried out by Danetree Ceremonies. Rachel of Danetree Ceremonies worked very closely with us to plan our bespoke ceremony. We wrote our own vows with her help and even had a vow for the wedding guest to say I DO to. It was such a personal ceremony, using Danetree as our wedding celebrant was the right choice.IMG_0841

Walking down the ‘aisle’ in the courtyard garden I wore my Gowns & Garters ‘Sorella Vita’ gown. The ladies in Gowns & Garters were amazing, they recommended the size of gown to order. I was a size 16 at the time (well 18 and in denial actually!) so they ordered a size 16 dress. Both knew I planned to diet but said how it was easier to take a dress in than let one out and having my real size meant I was under no pressure to diet.

By the time the dress arrived I’d had a few sessions with Caroline at Inspired to Change Hypnotherapy to understand more about my weight gain. I’d used her CD each evening and it had begun to work……

I then joined Jo Leeson at Slimming World Thrapston. Gowns & Garters wrote to ask me to book a try on session so that any alterations could be made and Julie performed absolute magic turning a size 16 dress into a made to measure 12, removing 5 inches from the dress but still keeping the lines and shape of the dress, no one would ever know it had been altered – again I was seeing an expert at work in Thrapston!

I had planned to look in Frocks for my dress too, but fell in love with the Sorella Vita one, so I recommended Frocks to Mother of the Groom and my Best Woman, and even some of the guests, who all popped in to have a look and try on some suitable attire. The service they received in Frocks they loved! Advice on style and suitability, with just the right amount of ‘leaving you to try and decide’ were all comments we received about them.300x415_NENE_LOCAL_ONLINE

On our special day I carried a gorgeous bouquet of pink and burgundy roses. Florae Foray a freelance florist on Huntingdon Road made the button holes and bouquet. They often to the window dressings in Frocks too. Becky knows her stuff! She used Pinterest to recommend various roses plus Stocks and St John’s Wort berries for me to comment on and choose from, telling me the various costs of each one. I ended up with the most beautiful bouquet, which smelled divine and was within budget. I was so sad when it eventually died.


Our wedding favours were little bags of sweets. The fabric was bought from Inspired Interiors on Thrapston High Street, they were made by Rachel at Bygone Days and filled with handmade sweets made by Dave Paiyne at Keraiyne Sweets, now sadly passed away.

Two little girls were at our wedding aged 7 and 10 and so Charlotte at Jollys Toys & Games put together a fabulous gift bag for each of them so boredom was never an issue as the adults were chatting!11401100_414497548752796_902126937752792599_n

Before the wedding we had spoken to Simpsons – the local estate agents about using their cars to drive me and my bridesmaids to the wedding from The Bridge Hotel where we’d got married.


We wanted something funky and different, so they ribboned up their Fiat 500’s and they even provided a photographer – it made everyone smile!

Shopping for the wedding ring was of course at Victoria’s Emporium and each time I look at it I recall our special day and my experience in her shop. The advice given was great, Victoria took so much time going through all the options, ensuring we were in budget but had the look I wanted – My ring was made for me and I truly love it.

…and of course, the surprise for my groom was his Star Trek Wedding Cake from Cindy Alderman Cake Design!


We did have an emergency on the day, as no wedding is complete without an emergency is it? My sister in law was doing my hair on the day, plus the flower girl and my sister’s hair. The Sunday before her sciatic nerve got trapped and the poor lamb was in agony. We all had a bit of a panic, but most importantly we ensured she could get to the wedding! I rang Sue from Flair by Sue at home on the Monday (knowing they were closed but in a panic) Apologising profusely for calling her at home. Sue simply said that she could not see the diary until Tuesday ( I needed the appointment on the Wednesday) but rest assured they would fit us all in, no matter what, they would fit us in and not to worry a second longer. Using local businesses and getting to know everyone really does mean better service – what chain of hairdressers would say that – and on their day off….?

The girls and I all got ready in The Bridge Hotel and our poorly hairdresser did manage to do my hair in the end, Thrapston mobile hairdresser Jasmine York stepped up to the mark to do my sisters hair.

We completed our wedding day at The Bridge Hotel. We all walked from Tasty Bite across Thrapston (seeing a few friends to wave to along the way!) to The Bridge Hotel, where it was such a warm evening we sat outside chatting and laughing into the night.


Our day was so special. We’ve got to know so many Thrapston businesses throughout our year working on our day, no one can ever say “There is nothing in Thrapston” we’d always say ‘You just have to look’. The service we received from every local business was so much better than using a faceless chain of shops plus the cost was no more using smaller businesses and in some cases less.

What’s more, we’ve made a whole host of new friends along the way, so many cards were delivered to Tasty Bite for us from people who had heard about The Great Thrapston Wedding Challenge!

crowdThanks to all of Thrapston for making our day so special!

My cake – from Cindy Alderman

During the Great Thrapston Wedding Challenge I was unable to write about a few of my purchases, as they were ‘Top Secret’.

My cake was one of those things, it was even top secret from my partner, who is a big fan of a certain TV show….


Cindy Alderman Cake Design – based on Lazy Acre in Thrapston were wonderful, Cindy is amazingly talented and really enjoyed working to my brief.IMG_0827

She came to Tasty Bite Thrapston to set up on the morning of the wedding and made my groom-to-be speechless with her creation.

I’m not happy to share some pictures of her amazing work.IMG_0824

Follow Cindy Alderman on Facebook


The Great Thrapston Wedding update…

As our Thrapston wedding gets closer, today is a busy day!

We’re having an email conversation with the lovely Sarah from Tasty Bite regarding food, drink and a special gluten free platter from DonnaLulu Cooks.

Strawberry Custard Tart

Strawberry Custard Tart

You can read about our venue here at ‘Tasty Bite’.

We have one gluten free guest and DonnaLulu of Farmer’s Market fame is rustling up a special platter for her, see Donna#s Facebook page here – DonnaLuluCooks.

I’ve also been organising timing with the florist, Florae Foray. Becky has been advising me on times to have things delivered and how to look after them, I cannot wait to see her wonderful work!

I have a little shopping to do, like buying some wedding gift paper from Forget me Not Cards on the High Street, for wrapping a certain flower girls gift…

Then the most exciting part of the day is my trip to Victoria’s Emporium where I shall be collecting my wedding ring.  You can read the ring story here.

…..We’re on the final count down now, and it’s a little scary with so much to do.  I’d like to be able to get everything ready today and leave in situ for a few days but life must go on and so much of the decoration and finishing touches are just a few hours beforehand.

Spray your bridal bouquet so butterflies stay a while and appear in your photographs

Spray your bridal bouquet so butterflies stay a while and appear in your photographs


Victoria’s Emporium for Great Service and Quality

We are blessed to live in a town with so many wonderful shops and businesses. It has made doing The Great Thrapston Wedding Challenge remarkably easy!

Buying everything from Thrapston has been a lovely thing to do but it didn’t mean we haven’t looked around to see what else is on offer, we’ve bought from Thrapston because it’s been the item or service we wanted not because we felt we had to.

One such instance came along when we decided to choose my ring.  Of course, we began in Victoria’s Emporium on Thrapston High Street.  I told Victoria what I was looking for, what I liked the look of and she in turn looked at my engagement ring and advised on the type of gold I should have and also the styles that would suit.  They have a tray of ‘fake rings’ so you can get them all out, have a ‘try on’ session and really take a good look at all the styles next to each other.  Then she orders in the type and carat gold/platinum you require.  I found this worked so well, no one was worried about who might run in the shop at any time and I could have a really good look.

The catalogue Victoria let me take home to look through

The catalogue Victoria let me take home to look through

The next stage was that Victoria took away my ring measurement and a note of all the ones I liked and got prices for me, she returned in a couple of days will copious notes on all types of ring, in different metals so I had lots of information to chose from. She had asked me my budget and kept within it – offering me all sorts from all price ranges not just the top of my budget.

Victoria's notes with carat and price all laid out

Victoria’s notes with carat and price all laid out

At one point I even tried on her wedding ring as it was a shape I wanted to see against my engagement ring!  I felt special in Victoria’s Emporium when we were trying to decide what to buy. It is a memory of the wedding planning I will treasure, as it was a pleasure to choose and be helped and guided by an export.

……We did however take a look around.  Off we drove to Kettering, and proceeded to try and look at rings in a famous High Street jeweller ( I shall mention no names as this story is awful!).  We looked in the window and then went inside and asked to see wedding rings.

Lots of lovely choice in Victoria's Emporium

Lots of lovely choice in Victoria’s Emporium

‘Do you know what you are looking for?’ we were asked. Not really, we just want to have a look, we quite like white gold and we like ones with diamonds inlaid we replied.  The young girl, donned her gloves, got a velvet board and chose three from the window.  None of which looked right with my engagement ring, as she’d not asked to see that first.

So then she got another three, they are all real rings, so they are only allowed to bring out three at a time (I enjoy shopping, I like jewellery, but even I found this tedious!)  After a number of trips back and forth she exclaimed that she didn’t really know my taste.  I had said pretty much the same things to her as I had said in Victoria’s and she managed to question me in such a way to find out my taste.

She then said that they had lots of rings in yellow gold she cold show me but I wanted white gold.  When I asked if I tried one in yellow gold could they then get it in white gold for me, she said yes, then got me three more in white gold…..

Yellow, white gold, platinum and even precious metals I'd not even heard of in Victoria's Emporium

Yellow, white gold, platinum and even precious metals I’d not even heard of in Victoria’s Emporium

I felt I was not listened to, the quality did not look as nice as in Victoria’s Emporium and when we eventually had to leave as our car park ticket was running out, I felt like crying as the tedium of it had just made us feel in a rush to ‘just choose something’ to make it stop.  I think at one point I said I’d make do with a ring from a packet of Haribo instead!

It is sad that many, many people will only visit a well known jeweller as maybe they think an independent store may be more expensive and out of their reach, my advice would be pop into any jewellery store – multiple, high street or independent and just have a good look. No retailer will shoo you away, you will be welcomed and served – and I know which memory I want to attach to my wedding ring.

I'm not showing you a picture of the one we have ordered, it's a secret!

I’m not showing you a picture of the one we have ordered, it’s a secret!