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Today we’re diving straight into Ben and Darren’s wonderful Victoria Baths wedding in Manchester – so first, let’s hear about how it all began….

victoria baths wedding

The Proposal…

It was Ben who popped the question on Christmas morning, 2015. The proposal actually took place in Darren’s parent’s spare bedroom, which, as they admit, doesn’t sound all too romantic!

However, there was plenty of sentiment behind it: over the years, the couple have often bought each other concert tickets for Christmas. This time, Ben created some fake gig tickets that read “Ben & Darren’s Wedding, Date TBC.”  Ben placed them inside an old Ticketmaster envelope. When Darren pulled them out, Ben got down on one knee and popped the question. The couple kept their engagement a secret from their friends until they were all together on New Year’s Eve and they made a big announcement!

Their Victoria Baths Wedding!

Ben and Darren said ‘I do’ in the deep end of Victoria Baths – a partially restored, listed Edwardian swimming pool and Turkish Baths. Once described as “the most splendid municipal bathing institution in the country” and “a water palace of which every citizen of Manchester can be proud of”, there is no doubt as to why this magnificent building won the BBC’s Restoration programme and subsequently a lottery restoration grant.

Back in 2003, and during the BBC documentary, Ben was a student at Manchester University and lived opposite the baths. This venue therefore always had a special place in his heart. The couple also knew that they wanted somewhere unusual for their big day, and Victoria Baths was the perfect choice.

victoria baths weddingThe couple made great use of the space for their Victoria Baths wedding. They had the ceremony in the Men’s First Class Pool and the reception in the Men’s Second Class Pool. They even managed to make use of the Turkish Baths for their drinks reception following their ceremony.

victoria baths weddingvictoria baths weddingBen and Darren also report that this wonderful wedding venue offers couples a lot of control over which suppliers to use. Not only does this allow those planning a wedding to have exactly what they want, it can also help keep costs down too. In addition, the venue is run as a charitable trust, so couples can take great pride in knowing that their wedding is helping to keep this fantastic building and community space afloat.victoria baths wedding

The Suits!

Ben and Darren were adamant that they did not want to get married in identical suits. So, they opted for suits of the same design but in two different shades of blue. They sourced their wedding suits at A Suit That Fits, and both had matching, personalised yellow linings. The couple completed their look with yellow ties, socks and pocket squares, as well as and some statement tan shoes with yellow shoelaces! Definitely dapper, we say!blue suits yellow tiespersonalised wedding suitstan shoes yellow laces

Flowers and Décor!

The couple opted for a pale yellow and pastel pink colour scheme. As well as being fans of these colours, Ben and Darren felt they worked well with the green and cream tones of the venue.

Ben and Darren had a small selection of flowers for the bouquets and buttonholes. These consisted of pink and yellow roses with gypsophila, hand-tied with brown string. For this, the couple enlisted the help of a friend of a friend who, lucky for them, is a former florist! They chose not to have any other flower-related décor as they wanted the stunning architecture of the venue to speak for itself. Well, didn’t it just?!

pink and yellow rose bouquetsyellow rose bouquetspink rose button holesFor non-floral decorations, the couple had an ivy-clad ceremonial arch. They also added some festoon lighting and pink and yellow Chinese lanterns to the reception and dance floor area.

Groomsmen and Groomsmaids!

Well, this duo certainly had an entourage, which consisted of no less than seven groomsmaids and nine groomsmen!

The groomsmen all wore three piece navy suits with grey jackets hired from Suit Direct. They all had matching pink Ralph Lauren dress socks and pink ties. Check out the fab pictures of them all sat on the side of one of the empty pools! victoria baths weddingvictoria baths wedding

Their groomsmaids each chose a light pink dress. Fibre Hairdressing took care of their luscious locks, whilst Alexandra McCabe took charge of all things makeup. Don’t they all look fab-u-lous!

Ben and Darren themselves enlisted the help of Joanne at Barbers Boutique to get them wedding-ready!

same sex wedding suits

The Wedding Food!

The couple wanted laid back food, consistent with the relaxed atmosphere of their Victoria Baths wedding. Therefore, what better a dish than good old pie, mash and peas, which came from one of their favourite Manchester restaurants – Pieminister! They also had the great idea of serving Spanish tapas style sharing platters for starters, to encourage guests who did not know each other to interact over the food. Dessert consisted of petits fours with raspberry coulis.

The Wedding Cake!

Sweet Chorlton supplied their fabulous wedding cake! The couple tell us: “Ryan, who runs the company, was really great. We let him know that we didn’t want a traditional fruit cake. He therefore made up about five different flavours of sponge for us to sample, which he bought to our home. They were all delicious and it was one of the best parts of our wedding planning for sure!” They selected a chocolate orange layer AND a lemon drizzle layer! Anyone else a little bit peckish?!

sweet chorlton wedding cakeBen and Darren had researched on Pinterest the cake design that they wanted. Namely, a textured effect cake in yellow and pink. Ryan definitely delivered – the end result looked and tasted amazing. We know that it went down well with their guests because at the end of their wedding day there was none left!sweet chorlton wedding cakeThe icing on the cake was their bespoke cake topper made by Feats of Clay. Using a photo of the couple and a description of their wedding outfits, they created a miniature Ben and Darren! Just look at the attention to detail – the yellow shoelaces, pink buttonholes and slightly different coloured blue suits. What a wonderful keepsake for the newlyweds.

The Favours!

We love this couple’s choice in favours! What better gift for guests attending a wedding in a old public bathhouse than rubber ducks!rubber duck wedding favours

The Music!

The couple decided to get a live band! The couple are huuuge fans of pop music, Kylie in particular (yay!). So when they came across female fronted pop band Black and Gold, they knew they would have all their guests ‘Spinning Around’ that dancefloor!

victoria baths wedding

The couple had decided long before they were even engaged that they would have Especially for You by Kylie and Jason as their first dance.  Awww… And in true 80’s style, they even managed to perform their version of ‘The Lift’.

dirty dancing wedding danceTo inject a little more ‘Kylie’ into their big day, they walked down the aisle together with their Mums to Suddenly by Angry Anderson. In case you’re not familiar with this song, it was the music used in the episode of Neighbours when Kylie and Jason (aka Scott and Charlene!) got married! We’re just relieved it wasn’t ‘Better the Devil You Know’!!same sex wedding victoria baths

The Fabulous Photography!

These wonderful photographs are the work of How to I Do faves Rustic Lovebirds.

The guys tell us: “there were loads of reasons we knew straight away that we wanted to work with Matt and Sabina from Rustic Lovebirds. The first and most important reason was because of the amazing work they have done in the past, which we had seen online. It fitted perfectly with what we wanted from our wedding photos: lots of stylish, contemporary shots that really capture the mood and magic of the day and venue. The fact they had photographed weddings at Victoria Baths before was a massive bonus and they were so enthusiastic about getting to work there again. They really made us confident that they would do an amazing job.

Matt and Sabina were both an absolute pleasure to work with, both in the pre-wedding chats and also on the day. They made us feel totally relaxed and we almost completely forgot they were there on the day, they blended in perfectly. We could not have been more pleased with the end results.”

We think this speaks volumes. Well done Rustic Lovebirds.

rustic lovebirds

The Best Bits and Words of Advice

Ben’s most memorable bit of the day was saying his vows. Darren’s treasured memory was the first dance! They both loved how the dance floor became packed all night with their friends and family enjoying themselves. same sex wedding Victoria bathssame sex wedding Victoria baths

Advice for other couples? “Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family for help. You’ll be surprised at how many people really want to take part, but also how many people can get discounts through friends, work etc”. A very good point!!!

The couple also tell us that Ben’s sister was key to making their wedding a huge success. “She did so much to help us and has a great eye for decorative detail”. That’s what are sisters for, hey?!

With thanks…

A huge How to I Do ‘thank you’ to this wonderful couple for allowing us to share their Victoria Baths wedding. We wish you a lifetime of love, happiness and Kylie Minogue concerts!

More from How to I Do!

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