Manchester Chetham’s Library wedding with a Harry Potter Theme
Dani, an editor, and Jimmy, a teacher, were keen to embrace all things literary when they married in Manchester last year. They got married at Chetham’s, which is the oldest public library in the English-speaking world, and had a Harry Potter themed reception at the King Street Townhouse Hotel. Read on to discover Dani's bride hacks including how she picked up her unique dress for a fraction of the price and made her own bouquets.
HOW DID YOU GUYS MEET?
We met on a night out in Manchester in the Printworks, which is a stone’s throw away from where we got married. We bonded on our first date over our shared love of both Harry Potter and Coronation Street. We decided to have a Harry Potter-themed wedding as a result… perhaps a slightly less quirky theme than a Corrie one!
TELL US ABOUT YOUR PROPOSAL…
We got engaged in the summer of 2017 in London. We’re both lovers of afternoon tea and Jimmy proposed over afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason. He was so nervous that he barely ate anything – this was the only indication Dani had that something strange was happening. Normally, Jimmy can’t keep his hands off of the sweet treats!
WHERE DID YOU GET MARRIED AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR VENUE?
We’re very much a ‘city’ couple, so we wanted to keep the wedding fairly central to where we live in Manchester and close to public transport links and hotels.
As a book lover and history graduate, I (Dani) always dreamed of getting married in a library. When we visited Chetham’s, we both fell in love with the 15th-century building that the hall and library are housed in. The library is simply breath-taking.
Our reception venue was a 10-minute walk away at the equally stunning King Street Townhouse Hotel. Their terrace has unrivalled views of Manchester Town Hall, providing a gorgeous backdrop for photos. We loved all of the connections to Manchester’s amazing history and architecture that we were able to make with our wedding.
We had approximately 130 guests, so several city centre venues (which, by their nature, are quite small) were ruled out on size alone. We were so thankful to find two perfect wedding venues that were close to each other – they just felt ‘right’ and we knew we had found the one(s)!
WHO WAS YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER AND HOW DID YOU CHOOSE THEM?
Cassandra Lane is a truly spectacular photographer, she was perfect for us and our wedding. She captured the colour and fun of the day beautifully and we loved our photos. The hardest part was choosing which photos to go in our album!
She put us at ease right from the start and especially on our engagement shoot, which took place along Manchester’s historic canals.
Tell me about that dress…
I always knew that I didn’t want a white dress, I wanted my wedding dress to be more unique to me and my love of colour. My favourite colour is light blue and I ended up wearing a duck egg, 50s-style, tea-length dress instead. Even better than this, I found my dream dress in a bridal shop sample sale. Buying the dress brand new would’ve set me back £1,450, but I picked up mine for £250! I paid extra for alterations but, even taking that into account, this was a great bargain!
Who walked you down the aisle?
We decided to meet before the ceremony and walk down the aisle together. This gave us the chance to have our couple pictures taken before the ceremony and allowed us to spend more time with our guests afterwards.
I am also a very emotional person and, by seeing Jimmy beforehand, I was able to walk down the aisle without sobbing!
This was definitely one of the best wedding decisions we made and gave us precious moments together before we became husband and wife.
What did you DIY?
We decided against having flowers at our wedding to save on costs, so Dani made the bridal bouquet, bridesmaid flowers and buttonholes from paper instead. These really fitted in with our library venue and Harry Potter theme too! Pages from old Harry Potter books that we bought for 50p each from a car boot sale were used – a great way to recycle old books! Dani also made some paper flower fairy lights, which we draped around our venues as decorations. Altogether, the paper flowers cost us less than £30!
How did you decorate your venue?
Our centrepieces were piles of our own hardback books that we tied with string. The table names were written onto tags and tied onto the pile of books. Lanterns (from Ikea) with candles in them were placed on top of the books, and then paper flowers/heart-shaped confetti spread around the table. With it being an October wedding, we also had mini pumpkins scattered around the venue along with the paper flower fairy lights.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CAKE…
We had a cupcake tower by Debbie Gillespie with a small cake on top for cutting. The whole ‘cake’ was Harry Potter themed (obvs!) with the small cake being in the shape of a book. Debbie created little models of us both wearing robes, to sit on the book along with our two rabbits, Ruby and Humphrey. We still have pieces of our cake in our freezer – we defrost slices to eat on special occasions.
DID YOU HAVE LIVE MUSIC?
We had a string quartet play the Harry Potter theme tune ‘Hedwig’s Theme’ while walking down the aisle at Chetham’s, which added to the whole ambience of the venue. Warner Brothers actually approached Chetham’s to film the library scenes in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone back in 2001, so it really was the perfect venue for our theme. Sadly, the library was too small for the filming equipment and they went with Oxford’s Bodleian Library instead.
In the evening, we had a DJ from Bloomsbury Music. They did a great job – the dancefloor wasn’t empty once throughout the entire night, which is exactly what we wanted.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CATERING
Catering was done by our reception venue King Street Townhouse and they provided a bespoke afternoon tea as our wedding breakfast. The catering was brilliant, we couldn’t have asked for better!
The chefs created chocolate ‘sorting hat’ mousses that produced different food colourings (red, blue, yellow and green) when our guests started to eat them. They even ensured that we received a sorting mousse in our correct house colours (Gryffindor/red for Jimmy, Ravenclaw/blue for Dani).
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST DANCE?
‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight?’ by Elton John. We chose this as a nod to our love for Disney films, Lion King being one of our faves.
- We exchanged gifts on the morning of our wedding, which were delivered by bridesmaids and ushers. The flowers and accompanying message that Dani received made her cry for the first of many times that day – thankfully the make-up artist hadn’t started before the flowers arrived!
- Having our ‘first look’ in the library before the ceremony with our bridesmaids and ushers was an incredibly special part of the day. It was so intimate and emotional, and great that we could enjoy the build up to our big day together.
- Dani and her dad having an impromptu father–daughter dance after he requested the song that was number 1 when Dani was born be played. Yet more tears came at this moment from the bride and some of the watching guests too!
- The Harry Potter-themed props we bought for the photobooth slowly made their way onto the dancefloor, which was a great way to get more use out of the props once the photobooth had gone… the broomstick was used as a guitar for many a solo!
Was your wedding achieved on a tight budget?
Just before getting engaged, we bought Jimmy’s nanna’s house, which needed extensive renovation work. Spending money on our house while saving for the wedding was incredibly hard at times and we reduced costs on the wedding wherever we could. Our wedding wasn’t ‘cheap’ particularly, but it was certainly the cheapest we felt we could do while having all the people who are important to us there for our special day.
Any tips for saving money?
We made big savings on the dress and flowers, as mentioned. In addition to this, Dani’s dad acted as chauffeur in her mum’s blue Mini Cooper to take us from one venue to another, which saved us from hiring a wedding car. Dani also made most of the decorations – for example, using a heart-shaped stamp to cut out confetti from the Harry Potter books and wrapping our own hardback books in kraft paper in blue and silver (our wedding colours) to use as centrepieces. The bridesmaid dresses were bought in the sale for £40 each, which we thought was a great price considering what could have been spent on them. Finally, booking our venues two years in advance worked in our favour, as we were able to get them for 2018’s prices before the 2019 prices had even been released!
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Photographer: Cassandra Lane | Ceremony venue: Chetham’s Library | Reception venue: King Street Townhouse | Bride’s dress designer: House of Mooshki | Bridal boutique: Lace & Co Bridal | Bride’s shoes: Irregular Choice | Bride’s hair accessories: Accessorize | Wedding rings: Two Become One Jewellry | Bridesmaids dresses: Very | Hair & Makeup: Danielle Horan Hair and Make-up | Groom’s suit: Slater’s Menswear | Cake: Debbie Gillespie| String Quartet: Leo’s Strings | DJ: Bloomsbury Music | Favours: RSPCA badges