GETTING MARRIED AT MALMAISON
LEEDS CITY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST RACHAEL HOYLE, RECENTLY MARRIED, TELLS US OF HER BIG DAY AT MALMAISON HOTEL
The Best Day of Your Life…….something that every bride will hear a lot before her wedding.
Best day can translate to expensive, extravagant, indulgent and of course memorable. But how much more stressful does that become when there are two brides? Twice as many hormones floating around with two demanding, opinionated, independent women with their own vision of what the perfect day looks like…! who in their right mind would take on that job? Step forward the wonderful team at the Malmaison Leeds! As we enter 2018 Wedding season, I thought I would share with you the story behind my own wedding, the best snaps of the day and to show off my gorgeous wife.
Definitely not a job for the faint of heart, my 2017 wedding was meticulously planned and creatively executed in shotgun- like haste. In only 6 months from a spontaneous proposal to ‘I do,’ we were married like two teenagers with a baby on the way would have in 1952. Unfortunately there was no baby conceived out of wedlock, just a desire to begin our happy ever after as soon as we could. Finding ‘the one’ at any age is an absolute gift, and Nicola and I were so happy to be together and engaged, we wasted no time in looking for the perfect location for the biggest of big days.
Neither myself or my beautiful bride hail from Leeds or even Yorkshire, I’m happy to admit that we did look outside our fair city for the perfect location. We soon discovered that we were more particular and demanding than we first thought. Venue after venue visited and discarded. Too modern, too impersonal, too flashy… expensive… far away… a 2017 wedding started to feel like an impossibility. This bit sounds completely made up, but I swear is true… Nicola just popped into the Malmaison for post work drinks and left with a booking for the wedding. A confident move, made even more so by the fact that she booked it without my say so. What was even more exciting was that her purse came out to seal the deal. A very surprising move considering she’s a farmer’s daughter.
We were captivated by the subtle lighting, the dark woods, the luxury that the pristine surroundings promised. It reminded me of a classy but understated New York bar. During the sampling of our wedding menu, we were thrilled with the flawless food and service from the immaculate, efficient and friendly catering staff. No detail was too small, the wedding coordinator kept in regular contact and found the best Leeds had to offer in our DJ, florist, and were always on hand with advice and styling tips. Each time we visited, usually stressed and obsessing about some small detail, we were always reassured with a nice glass of wine. The hotel is more of a boutique style, intimate and the team close knit and clearly work well together. The same people who helped us on the first day of viewing the lovely hotel, were there to calm the nerves on the big day. I think that in life we should always treat each other well, but a wedding requires a little extra sparkle, and the team at the Mal made us feel looked after and spoiled.
Always one for a bit of history and a decent back story, I love how the people behind the hotel have kept the Mal true to its past. Echoes of Edwardian Leeds are seen in many parts of the hotel. We had drinks in the ‘tramshed,’ mood lighting, dark smooth wood and soft leather made the whimsical part of me feel like I was in a gentleman’s club of the early 1900s, minus the wenches and the threat of syphilis. A haven of quiet calm belies the busy city moving on outside.
Months of dress alterations, hair appointments, delicious pre- wedding pampering sessions soon passed… the wedding diets were abandoned during a few too many pre hen party get togethers with excited friends. The ‘dry before I do’ no booze rule thrown out of the pretty period windows at the Mal cocktail bar. There’s nothing quite as exciting as the build up to a wedding, especially your own. I couldn’t wait to race down the aisle and commit to my lovely girl forever.
Before long we were dancing with Funny girls, eating kebabs on the street, dodging drunken football supporters, and falling into a tiny bed at a Blackpool B&B on our joint hen party.
The day of the wedding was overcast and for me the perfect setting for our bridal photos. The iron coloured clouds a perfect backdrop to the impressive Malmaison building, and the shining cobbles our carpet against our lace and tulle dresses. Nicola looked so beautiful as she walked towards me, any wedding stress melting away as we said ‘I do.’ The rest of the day passed in a prosecco blurred flurry, friends and loved ones showing off their best moves, so many lovely words and happiness.
The day was absolutely wonderful, and people have asked would I make the same choices for my wedding. Do I have any regrets? Yes! I wish I’d tried harder to lose weight, and remembered to carry my bouquet as I walked down the aisle too giddy to realise something was missing. I wish I had tried some of the buffet that I was told was delicious, but that’s it. The Malmaison was the best choice we made for our wedding, no question. A wedding can be as big or small as you want, but what makes it special are the people around you. Craig Robson the hotel manager, drove to Liverpool to collect and then fit a cream carpet on the day of the wedding because he thought that would make us happy (bridezilla anyone?). Leo, the lovely man who calmed down Nicola as she anxiously waited for me to come down. His kind words and support naturally given and meaning so much. Incidentally, the reason for the hold up was not any last minute nerves or cold feet, just the best men deciding they could look as good as the ladies and insisting our make up lady Nyla do something with them!
The day ended far too quickly, and as we woke up in the most delicious bed ever, we decided that we had felt like princesses. We managed to snaffle two breakfasts and lounged around in the Mal bar with our guests as they started to leave. We finally realised it was time to climb out of our bridal bubble and head home, exhausted but so elated.
The months since becoming a married couple have been lovely, and Nicola, forever my bride looks forward to renewing our vows every year. I don’t think we will until at least ten years, but I know as our first anniversary rolls around we will once again sit like princesses in the Mal bar and raise a glass to happily ever after.