Low-Key Love: Laura & Toby at Sandburn Hall

This real wedding may have a relaxed vibe, but it’s one of the most stunning celebrations we’ve seen!

This precious pair created a day so beautiful you won’t mind taking a second look. With lots of greenery and gorgeous details, Laura and Toby’s wedding radiated love and laughter. Thanks to their talented photographer, Dan Sakal, we’re able to swoon over their ultra-romantic, relaxed wedding day at the lovely Sandburn Hall in York.

If you’re dreaming of a day that makes you smile from ear to ear, don’t miss the breathtaking moments from Laura and Toby’s nuptials for ideal inspiration.

The Beginning

“Toby and I met at Leeds University, almost 10 years ago. In my second year, I moved into a house and Toby just happened to live next door. Our first words were actually exchanged over a huge pile of rubbish bags (there was a bin strike in Leeds at the time) – Romantic!”

“After University we moved to London where we’ve been living for the last 7 years, but are about to embark on our next adventure with a relocation to Hong Kong in January.”

The Proposal

“As we’d been together for an age and know each other so well I thought I’d definitely see a proposal coming a mile off, so I’d always challenged him to make it a total surprise, which he managed to pull off! He concocted an elaborate series of lies to get me back up to Leeds for the weekend (something about a work awards ceremony). On the way to the ‘awards’ he suggested we stop by a very low-key student café bar around the corner from where we lived at Uni and where we always used to go for dates. The bar had organised a little private booth at the back with rose petals and candle etc. He proposed and they brought out a bottle of champagne which they had to buy from the local shop as they didn’t serve it (too expensive for the student crowd!). We stayed there for a couple of hours and when we got back to the hotel, my parents where there (Toby has arranged all this in advance with my stepdad but it was a total surprise for my mum too who had been given 20 minutes to get ready and on the road to Leeds!) We all had a dinner together, it was really special.”

The Venue

“I had in mind what kind of venue I wanted, rather than honing on a certain location. We wanted something that felt like an outdoor wedding, even if indoors, so lots of greenery, windows, light etc. We also wanted somewhere that felt quite low key and relaxed as that’s how we wanted the day to feel. We also didn’t want a church wedding as we’re not religious so somewhere that could do a civil ceremony was important. My Mum actually found Sandburn Hall. We fell in love with their walled Rose Garden where they had just started to hold ceremonies, and the Great hall for the evening reception. Also, it was in Yorkshire, where I’m from, so that was a big plus. A few people thought we were mad for planning an outdoor wedding in Yorkshire, but luckily, we ended up in the middle of a three-week UK heatwave, with a beautiful balmy 24 degrees on the day and blue skies.”

“The Garden looked really beautiful – the last time I had seen it before the day was in Winter and covered in snow! The flowers had grown over the archway which made for a beautiful entrance. The flowers in the reception venue also looked even better than we’d envisaged – with hoops hanging from the ceiling with green foliage wrapped around them and a large wisteria ring in the centre. Our music was also definitely a highlight. We had the resident from the Piano Bar in Kensington, Michael G Moore – he played guitar as guests arrived and when I walked down the aisle and then during dinner and into the night played keyboard – guests made requests by sticking post-it notes on the keyboard so everything from Neil Diamond to Adele, and of course ‘Football’s coming home’ about three times (England were doing uncharacteristically well in the world cup at the time of our wedding!)”

The Photographer

“Photography was really important to us. We definitely wanted photos to look more relaxed and ‘un-posed’ with a fly on the wall style, capturing the atmosphere of the day. Dan certainly did that. He made everyone feel so relaxed and was basically part of the party, whilst still managing to corral everyone into being where they should be! He actually offered to give us a practise shoot beforehand which was great as we definitely felt really relaxed on the day which shows in the pictures.”

Trends & Themes

“There wasn’t a theme as such, but the colour scheme etc was kept very natural – greens, whites and natural materials. It felt right with the low-key vibe for the day. There was one thing slightly bizarre element… my husband is a huge animal fan, none more so than the famously ‘misunderstood’ shark. Long story short, I lost a bet and all our tables were named after different species of sharks…Luckily, I put my foot down before it got out of hand. We would have ended up with Jaws for centrepieces if Toby had his way.”


The Wedding Attire

“Working in Fashion I had a pretty clear idea from the start about what I did and didn’t like. My style is quite simple so I thought I’d go for something really paired back, basically a slip dress, however when I started trying them on, I realised they weren’t feeling ‘bridal’ enough. I settled on a simple slip that had a detachable lace overlay, so I could wear something elegant and pretty during the ceremony and then take it off for the evening. I actually ended up buying a sample dress which I would really recommend – so much cheaper and you get it altered to fit to your size anyway, and the seamstress can make it look better than new.”

“My bridesmaid’s dresses were on sale from Coast – I loved the rich green colour and thought they all looked beautiful, and felt comfortable which was key!”

“My husband had a suit made from Suit Supply and then hired the suits for the Groomsmen. He always wanted to opt for classic navy (so he could wear it again!) but opted for a checked waistcoat.”

Memorable Moments

“My step dad’s speech was a highlight – really funny and sensitive in equal measure and got an amazing reaction from the crowd.”

“There was a really lovely moment when we’d gone outside to create an archway with sparklers for Toby and I to walk through for some cool photos. Sadly, Toby’s Mum missed the whole thing as she was in the loo, but everyone corralled around to do it all again so she could be part of it!”

“So many funny moments, many involving kilts and a couple of Uni friends who made too much of the free bar. The bridal and grooms’ parties also stayed for the weekend at the Griffon Forest Lodges next to Sandburn Hall and there were several amusing hot tub related incidents!”

Bridal Advice

“Don’t do things just because they are a ‘tradition’. We didn’t have a cake/ fancy wedding car etc because to us they weren’t a priority and we’d rather put budget to other things, and they certainly weren’t elements we missed. I’m by nature a bit of a worrier, so the best piece of advice I got before the wedding was to remember that all your guest’s vibe off you and your husband. So, if you seem like you’re having the time of your lives, even if the ceiling is falling in, so will they. Luckily, I actually DID have the time of my life so didn’t need to fake it in the end. ?”

Supplier Information

  • Venue:

    Sandburn Hall
  • Photographer:

    Dan Sakal
  • Wedding Entertainment :

    Michael G Moore
  • Bridal Shop/Designer:

    Rime Arodaky from The Mews in Notting hill
  • Florist:

    Floral Lounge
  • Hair Stylist:

    Victoria Ralph
  • Makeup Artist:

    Daryl Jade, Charlotte Tilbury Leeds
Ally Vogl

Ally is the Content and Social Media Exec here at WeddingDates HQ. Beyond being obsessed with all things weddings, she loves a good cup of coffee and splurging on beauty products.

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