A rainbow of colour for Mahdieh and Joshua’s Liverpool wedding, by Lisa Howard Photography

Proof that you don’t need to style your day around a restrictive ‘theme’ – Mahdieh and Joshua’s wedding is full of bright colours, and definitely has tons of character. Today’s gorgeous couple fell in love at first sight when they met as students and after getting engaged they spent just over a year planning their big day.

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Their venue is contemporary and deliciously different: the Isla Gladstone, a converted Victorian conservatory set amidst picture-perfect rose gardens and lakes, surrounded by historic stone pavilions.

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Images are by lovely Liverpool wedding photographer Lisa Howard, who covers the whole of the North West. Find out more about Lisa here:

This is a wonderfully colourful wedding with lots of character and some brilliant advice from the happy couple at the end of the feature. If things go wrong, smile and carry on – Mahdieh told me, “We were too busy enjoying ourselves to get stressed out about anything… the little hiccups were mostly just funny!” She’s most definitely my kind of bride… and I hope you enjoy their wedding as much as I did!
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Our wedding report: Mahdieh and Joshua

Wedding photographer’s website:

Were you pleased with your wedding photographer?

Yes!! Gorgeous photos for a very good price and Lisa is very lovely and professional. We loved her and so did our guests!

Wedding venue:

The Isla Gladstone Conservatory in Liverpool

Wedding date:


Can you describe your wedding in a single sentence?

Everything we could have wanted and more 🙂

What was your reaction to seeing your wedding photos for the first time?

Lots of big smiles and “AWWWW!!”s! We were really excited to see them and they were absolutely beautiful! Lisa did an amazing job.

Your wedding style and theme:

We didn’t have one! We had a loose rainbow theme with the wedding party where they all wore a different colour (dresses, braces for pageboys, ties), and the chair ties were all different rainbow colours too. Mostly we just wanted the wedding to be a big, fun celebration that also reflected who we were as individuals and as a couple. It was a big clash of colours and cultures – we mixed up British, Iranian and Islamic wedding traditions, picking and choosing the bits that meant most to us. We didn’t want to have to rigidly stick with any kind of traditions that we didn’t like (for example I wasn’t walked down the aisle), or have to stick to a superficial aesthetic theme either.

Any happy tears on the day?

No, we were too busy smiling until our cheeks hurt!

How did the two of you meet?

We met through someone who was a mutual friend, at their 18th birthday night out. It was about as close to love at first sight as you can get. We got talking and never stopped since!

How long did you spend planning your wedding?

We got engaged in January 2013 and our wedding was in April 2014 so a little over a year. It was enough time to plan everything at quite a leisurely pace especially considering we’re both full-time students so we had a lot of other stuff going on too.

Best bit of budget advice?

Barter!! I managed to barter down the cost of my wedding dress, as well as the venue hire cost, the price of our drinks package, AND we got a load of freebies thrown in like a dancefloor and different coloured lights for the evening. If you don’t ask, you don’t get and if you do ask, and still don’t get, then you haven’t lost anything anyway.

Wedding invitations and on the day stationery:

Our invitations were from Cardfactory and I doubt you could find cheaper ones! They were cute and had little teddy bear brides and grooms on them. Stationery was really not something we were concerned about so it was an area we did very cheaply! Our place cards were from an Ebay seller called momentsformemories which we fell in love with and were a very reasonable price. As for table name cards and our seating plan, we did all of it together with the help of my sister (the youngest bridesmaid) at my parents’ house about a week before the wedding using Microsoft Word, a printer, a corkboard, some coloured card, and some star stickers!

Did you fall in love with your wedding dress?

Yes. It was about the third one I tried on – I tried quite a few more after that in a few different places but I couldn’t get that one out of my head and after trying it on again I decided that was the one I wanted.

Wedding dress designer and bridal boutique:

My dress was LB19 from Lou Lou Bridal’s Pink Collection ( I bought that and a hoop from Belle’s Bridal Boutique in Liverpool whom I would definitely recommend for brides-to-be in the Merseyside area. The staff are so friendly and professional and I used one of their seamstresses too, Paula, who again was really helpful. It was definitely the best service out of all the bridal stores I visited.

Glitz and sparkle: the bride’s accessories:

Hairband – From the No.1 collection by Jenny Packham for Debenhams.

Earrings – Were gold and a present from my dad, he bought me them when he was on holiday in Iran visiting our extended family a couple of years ago.

Shoes – Office.

The groom wore:

Three-piece blue suit was from Burton (but he decided not to wear the waistcoat).

White shirt from BHS.

Shoes – Frank Wright (but from TKMaxx)

Tie – Primark

Watch – Fossil (This was actually his birthday present from me haha) at Debenhams

Beautiful bridesmaids: what did your best girls wear?

Bridemaids wore a dress from Dylan Queen, an online retailer who make custom orders. I was very impressed with their customer service so would definitely recommend, but make sure you leave plenty of time in case there are any problems as they are shipped from overseas so it can take ages.

The maid of honour wore a dress that she picked and bought herself.

Hair and make-up – did you DIY or hire a professional?

I had my hair and make-up done by a family friend who lives opposite my parents’. She is a professional hairdresser and beautician. We did two make-up trials and a hair trial beforehand, and she did a lot of threading for me too – and refused to be paid for any of it. It was all beautiful and I’m so grateful to her! She also did the mother of the bride make-up (again free of charge). The bridesmaids and maid of honour did their own hair and makeup.

I also had a henna tattoo done, as did my sister and mother. We had them done by a lady called Saira that I found by doing a Google search. She was excellent, very friendly, comes to your home and is very affordable. Her Facebook page is: Having some henna done was another way of involving my Iranian culture and we got lots of compliments for them because they were beautiful!

Wedding flowers:

Dovedale Florist –

The flowers lasted an incredible amount of time, in some cases up til a month after the wedding! We gave the large bunches away as gifts to close family members to take home with them because we didn’t want them to go to waste.

What do you remember most about the wedding ceremony?

Josh says he particularly remembers the part where my dad and his granddad came up to sign our marriage contract as witnesses (an Islamic tradition). It was really special to have a witness from both sides of the family like that.

For me probably exchanging our rings. Our best man had them, and he was to give them one each to a pageboy, who were then to come and bring them to us so we could put them on each other. Unfortunately they got confused and gave me my own ring, and Josh his own ring, which gave everyone a bit of a giggle as we then had to switch them ourselves to put them on each other!

Wedding readings?

First we had ‘To Love is Not to Possess’, a poem by James Kavanagh that we found online when searching for a nice reading. It’s a beautiful poem about love and really resonated with us. Josh’s cousin did this reading for us – it was another good way to involve more people in our wedding.

Then we had ‘Rumi’s Wedding Vows’ by the famous Iranian Sufi poet Rumi. This was especially important to me because I’ve always been a big fan of Rumi and I really wanted one reading to be in my other language, Persian. My sister was able to recite it first in Persian and then the English translation so it was particularly authentic and a lovely way of two cultures coming together.

General styling – did your venue need much decoration?

No – we barely did anything to it. It was a pristine white, and the colours from the chair covers and the bright bouquets of flowers were enough to bring it to life. We fell in love with the venue the first time we visited it – it was the first one we went to and after seeing a couple more we knew that nothing else was going to compare to it.

The wedding cake: traditional or quirky?

My maid of honour’s sister was at college doing cookery and offered to make our wedding cake for us. We had it really colourful to fit in with our rainbow scheme and we bought Lego bride and groom cake toppers from Ebay. It was really pretty and most importantly tasty!


At the reception we had a DJ that we hired from the venue who was great because he accepted pretty much everyone’s requests so our guests had a ball listening to the music they wanted, haha! Josh also performed a few songs as did one of our friends in a small acoustic set. We originally wanted more musical friends and family members to perform a few things but they all chickened out one by one!

On the day tips and advice:

Just enjoy it. Our wedding day certainly had its hiccups – my dad left the bridesmaids’ handbags in his car so my sister didn’t have the reading to read on time and he had to run back to get them – the page boys gave us the rings the wrong way around – we hadn’t planned what was supposed to happen directly after the ceremony so there was an awkward gap – friends chickened out of performing at the reception – forgetting to cut the cake at the reception – and so on and so forth. The day definitely didn’t go perfectly smoothly as we first wanted, but it made no difference at all because we were too busy enjoying ourselves to get stressed out about anything. The little hiccups were mostly just funny and to be honest it wouldn’t have been our wedding if some things didn’t go pear-shaped because we are both so clumsy as people!

What’s the best thing about being married?

To be honest our life hasn’t changed much since we got married, but we both love having our new double-barrelled names. There was no way I was going to change my surname to just ‘Irvine’ – I’m a committed feminist, and in Iranian culture women don’t take their husband’s surnames either. We talked about it and decided double-barelling was the perfect way to keep our own identities alive and formally join together as a new family. The only reason for his surname going first was because we thought it sounded better that way!

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in 2011 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.



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