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rachel’s wedding diary: some admin, and a dress hunt!

July 17th, 2018 | Rachel Parry

Rach & andy

Ten months – well actually less than ten months to go now until our big day! Our featured brides aren’t lying when they say the run up to the wedding flies by, and in a twist of roles, it is these knowledgeable now-married ladies that I’ve found myself turning to for guidance along this tricky planning path. For despite being immersed in weddings day in day out, and constantly absorbing the expert advice passed on by the amazing suppliers that we work with, I’ve come to realise that nothing quite prepares you for planning your own – and those armed with the most solid advice are the couples that have been there, done that, and bear the wedding bands to prove it.

I therefore really enjoyed putting together this recent post, which lists top tips from our real brides over the past few months, and I’m now trying to put their wise words into practise – “enjoy the organising”, “don’t stress”, “split the workload”, “be decisive”, “break things down into bite-size chunks”. And so, I found myself scheduling a ‘wedding meeting’ with groom-to-be Andy. Sounds rather bridezilla-esque I know, but as we both lead busy lifestyles (or more to the point, our evenings are currently taken up with Love Island #teamdanijack) I felt like it was necessary to ensure we gave the plans some quality time and got a few things ticked off the ever-growing to do list.

It started out all angelic with a notebook and glass of Buck’s Fizz in our sunny garden, though ended with us sat at a computer screen indoors with our heads in our hands. But I’m pleased to report that progress was made!

The invites are almost ready to hit ‘print’ on thanks to my super talented best friend Nic – a graphic designer/art director with a fabulous eye for detail and styling. Another top tip often mentioned by our featured brides is to call on the skills of family and friends, and I couldn’t agree more. As well as potentially saving you a little money, it’s also a lovely way to involve someone you care about in your plans and to bounce ideas off too. I can’t wait to reveal the final result, but if you want to check out some of Nic’s gorgeous wedding stationery designs in the meantime, take a look at her lovely little business, Paper Dates.

In-line with the sorting the invite designs we’ve also firmed up our guest list, which is no mean feat, as despite family politics, we’ve remained determined to invite those closest to us, rather than who’s ‘expected’ to be attending. At my brother’s recent wedding (where Andy and I are pictured in the opening image to today’s post), he and his partner Ben invited just 40 people to their ceremony and evening reception – the vast majority of these being friends – and then opened up the invite to around 100 guests the following evening for a larger-scale party. The result was a really special and intimate atmosphere for the main part of the wedding that we’d love to replicate on our big day, though our numbers are slightly higher due to the style of wedding. Evening guests have been kept to a minimum not to disrupt the flow of the proceedings, and as we’re having a Thursday wedding we appreciate the logistics of people travelling on a work night could be tricky.

So what else? Just the small matter of finding my wedding dress! It fills me with both excitement and nerves to say that after just two bridal boutique appointments, I’ve found the one! I’m not nervous about my choice, just that it makes it all seem so real and we have plenty of planning left to do.

When initially thinking about my dress search I loved the idea of going to around four or five boutiques, trying on lots of gorgeous dresses while enjoying glasses of fizz before making my mind up – but that wasn’t quite the case as it all happened rather quickly, and on reflection I’m rather glad it did. You see, I’m notoriously indecisive so in the back of my mind I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find the perfect dress and as the search would continue I’d become more disheartened and lose my focus.

Rach & Nic

For anyone fearing the same, my advice to help you in your search would be:

1 Initially look in magazines and blogs to find styles of dresses that you think you would like.

2 Next, try to find designers that have those styles in their collections, the price range of such dresses and the boutiques that stock them.

3 If you come across a certain dress by a designer that you are really drawn to, enquire with the boutique if they stock that particular design and, if not, are they able to call it in from the designer for you to try on at your appointment or do they have a designer event coming up where they will have the full collection in store for a limited time?

4 Take two, three people maximum to your appointment with you to avoid too many differing opinions. I took my mum and best friend Nic as these are the people I tend to shop with and they know my style and personality best. Most importantly I knew they would be 100% honest with me.

5 Try on a variety of styles. Even if you couldn’t think of anything worse than an A-line princess gown it’s good to try a variety of style to get an idea of what you do want – and while you might not like the overall style on you, there may be an element, such as the neckline, that you love and can look for in another design.

6 Go to a professional boutique rather than shopping on the high street or at warehouse style stores. The service that I received at both boutiques was second to none, as experienced stylists they listened to my plans and style and suggested dresses accordingly, and even made further suggestions on how the design could be altered. Those that have an in-house seamstress in particular are great at giving you alternatives, such as differing necklines, adding straps, sleeves or building in bra cups (the ab-so-lute dream for us small-busted girls keen not to look like a 13-year-old on their wedding day).

7 Move. Don’t just walk around the changing room and boutique rigid, you will need to be able to eat, drink, sit (and possibly kneel if in church), hug and dance in that dress so you have to feel comfortable and at ease.

8 Finally, when you find a dress you like ask yourself – can you see yourself getting married in that dress and will it work with the venue? Don’t worry about the styling, as these are details that will follow and that you can alter to work in-line with the dress. The most important thing is that you are comfortable, feel confident and above all, you love it!

During my appointments my mum and Nic compared me to Princess Diana and Shirley Bassey in some of the dresses so their speechless reactions and teary eyes spoke volumes when I emerged in what will be my dress for the big day. Thankfully there were no comparisons and the overriding opinion was that the dress was totally me!

And so, my journey continues, and I imagine there will need to be a fair few more ‘wedding meetings’ scheduled with Andy up to May, not to mention a ‘hen do brief’ with my #bridesquad as I try to decide where to have my final hurrah as Miss Parry – and make clear that no phallic straws or inflatables will be required!*

*Editor’s note: Just try and stop us Rach!

 

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vintage vibes: justin alexander for a 1920s wedding at eaves hall – stacey & wesley

July 17th, 2018 | Aislinn Thompson

A Vintage Wedding at Eaves Hall (c) Nik Bryant (43)

An understated 1920s theme weaves through today’s featured wedding, bringing in very subtle nods to the decade, such as the 1920s-style font used for the table numbers and the strings of beads draped over the candelabras on the table centrepieces. The cake meanwhile is a little more ‘out there’ – a spectacular confection in gold and white with a definite 1920s’ feel and topped with white feathers.

Stacey is beautiful and elegant in a fitted gown with a long train and an equally glorious cathedral-length veil. The dress features a pretty sweetheart neckline and cap sleeves and the illusion back with its white buttons all the way to the floor is nothing short of stunning. She finishes the look with a delicate bouquet of pale pink and white. Wesley’s smart tuxedo is the perfect complement to her timeless look.

One idea we’re certainly a fan of is booking a crèche to keep the little ones entertained during the meal as Stacey and Wesley did, especially if you plan to have plenty of speeches. It gives your guests a nice break from wiping hands and mouths and passing colouring pencils while also trying to enjoy your wedding breakfast! Let’s hear more from Stacey…

With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, Nik Bryant Photography.

A Vintage Wedding at Eaves Hall (c) Nik Bryant (21)

stacey says: We got engaged in Sardinia. It was a complete surprise and it was booked for my birthday in October 2015. We were out in the gardens of the hotel with a beautiful stream and, while we were on the bridge, Wesley got down on one knee and proposed!

We got married on 21st August 2017, as we wanted a summer wedding. The whole day was at Eaves Hall in Clitheroe and the girls and I stayed in the lodge the night before the wedding. We picked Eaves Hall because it was a beautiful setting with amazing gardens. We really loved the exclusivity of the venue and all the staff were really helpful. On the day, nothing was too much trouble. The venue was really classy but still relaxed and comfortable. We would absolutely recommend Eaves Hall to other couples. The fact they have the lodge, so you can stay with all the bridesmaids the night before is a really nice touch.

A Vintage Wedding at Eaves Hall (c) Nik Bryant (51)

In terms of a theme, the table plan and decorations were very 1920s inspired but we didn’t want this to overtake our day, so we kept it minimal.

A Vintage Wedding at Eaves Hall (c) Nik Bryant (34)

My dress was from Fairytale Brides and was by Justin Alexander. I chose this dress because it was so beautiful and elegant, and I loved the details. It made me feel amazing.

Wesley and the groomsmen wore tuxedos with a bow ties from Slaters Formal Hire.

My bridesmaids wore gold dresses from Debenhams’ evening wear. There wasn’t any real reason we chose this colour but, again, we wanted to keep their look comfortable and classy.

A Vintage Wedding at Eaves Hall (c) Nik Bryant (67)

For hair styling we had Kate Simmons and Sonara Parker did our makeup. They were both great and we would recommend them to anyone.

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country charm. justin alexander for a stylish wedding at sandhole oak barn, cheshire – nikki & mike

July 16th, 2018 | Alexis Forsyth

A Rustic Wedding at Sandhole Oak Barn (c) James Tracey Photography (46)

Today’s couple, Nikki and Mike, are showing us a thing or two when it comes to stylishly pulling off a rustic barn wedding. Traditional yet contemporary – we think they got the balance just right.

Hosting their big day at the quaint Sandhole Oak Barn in Cheshire, the couple kept things pared back and beautiful, with plenty of rustic feels to complement the enchanting setting, with hessian and wood textures, bunting, jam jars, candles and crisp white floral arrangements just a few of the delightful details to look out for.

The wedding breakfast was a particular highlight for the newlyweds – just take a look at the sublime menu they dished up – not to mention their elegant naked cake with a delectable four different flavours to choose from!

Plenty of inspiration awaits though, so it’s best we hand the reins over to Nikki so that she can talk us through all the magical moments of their big day. Enjoy!

With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, James Tracey Photography.

A Rustic Wedding at Sandhole Oak Barn (c) James Tracey Photography (30)

nikki says: We were staying at a vineyard just outside Bordeaux in May 2016 when Mike proposed. Mike decided to take me for a morning stroll just outside the chateau, which was on the vineyard. We walked though some woodland and then he got down on one knee and popped the question!

We got married on 11th May 2018. The weather has been great the last few years in May, so we decided to hedge our bets and go for that month.

A Rustic Wedding at Sandhole Oak Barn (c) James Tracey Photography (19)

We tied the knot at Sandhole Oak Barn, in Congleton, Cheshire. The setting was just perfect and exactly what we were looking for. We knew we wanted a barn style wedding and Sandhole ticked all the boxes.

We went for a rustic, countryside theme, although we didn’t have a particular colour scheme in mind, it was just more of the rustic feel with hessian and white tied in.

A Rustic Wedding at Sandhole Oak Barn (c) James Tracey Photography (35)

I wore a chiffon A-line gown with a beaded portrait neckline designed by Justin Alexander which I bought from the Bridal Path in Childwall, Liverpool.

A Rustic Wedding at Sandhole Oak Barn (c) James Tracey Photography (14)

Mike wore a blue suit with a grey waistcoat from Suits Direct, in Cheshire Oaks. The groomsmen wore matching suits to the groom, but with different button holes from Mike.

The bridesmaids, meanwhile, wore blue/grey multi-way dresses from M&S with gypsophila worn in their hair.

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cool & chic: a vintage wedding at holmes mill – lauren & nick

July 13th, 2018 | Aislinn Thompson

A Cool Wedding at Holmes Mill (c) Sarah Glynn Photography (63)

Our fabulous Friday real wedding between Lauren and Nick begins with a rather novel proposal – a one carrot gold proposal, if you will (yes, we did say carrot!). It sets the tone for a cool and quirky wedding at the stylish Holmes Mill, Lancashire, where industrial meets luxury.

We love Lauren’s original 1950s below-the-knee dress in blush pink with its flirty skirt, lace detail and wide sash nipping in at the waist. It suits Lauren down to the ground as she conveys an air of vintage charm and her wonderful lively personality, shines through in all the images. She completes her individual attire with a pair of sparkly, striped shoes topped with pink and blue ruffles. And groom Nick too has a strong sense of style – we more than approve of his slim tan tie and the two-tone brogues.

This carefree couple look comfortable throughout resulting to a relaxed and fun day filled with entertaining interludes; from calling up some of the guests to take on carving duties (complete with chef’s hats) to competitive ice-cream-eating and one seriously happening ceilidh. So, join us as we two-step this way to hear more about their truly awesome celebrations.

With images by Sarah Glynn Photography.

A Cool Wedding at Holmes Mill (c) Sarah Glynn Photography (31)

lauren says: We got engaged on Christmas morning 2015. We grow a lot of our own food in our garden, and whilst preparing dinner we went outside to pick some carrots. Nick kept suggesting a specific one, but I didn’t think it looked any good. He eventually convinced me to pick it and there was a piece of string attached to the carrot. At the end of the string was a bag; in the bag was an engagement ring! It was his maternal grandmother’s ring and it still had the original receipt from 1910!

A Cool Wedding at Holmes Mill (c) Sarah Glynn Photography (49)

We got married on Saturday 9th June 2018 at Holmes Mill, Clitheroe. We were driving our daughter to a music gig in a library in Lancaster and talking about weddings; Nick mentioned he’d seen “somewhere pretty cool” on a website, so I checked it out and called three days later. The venue and everyone involved there were totally unbelievable! Everyone at Holmes Mill went above and beyond to ensure we had the most perfect day. They accommodated everything and took any stress away from us – even when I asked that someone bring Nick eight ice creams throughout the day. (We once attended a wedding where the groom managed to eat six ice creams. Nick later described him as an “absolute hero” and so I wanted Nick to be a hero at his own wedding!) Communication and organisation was second to none and we were thrilled with everything about the day.

A Cool Wedding at Holmes Mill (c) Sarah Glynn Photography (39)

We didn’t have a specific theme – just that we wanted the wedding to be very ‘us’. That meant having lots of wine, good music, lots of friends and the odd cycling reference here and there. I guess the wedding colour scheme was dictated by my dress really. With the dress being pale pink, it felt right that flowers, etc. should be muted and very ‘earthy’.

A Cool Wedding at Holmes Mill (c) Sarah Glynn Photography (51)

When it came to my dress, Nick actually bought it for me. I’m a real lover of everything vintage and second hand and it’s a genuine 50s dress. I had seen the dress on Susan Hayward’s Facebook page and loved it. On Christmas day it arrived wrapped up. I mentioned on the day that I had seen the dress and imagined it as my wedding dress, he agreed and it sat in the wardrobe until this year. Thank goodness it still fitted! Nick has always been great at choosing clothes for me; I‘m very lucky.

My hair was done by Rachel Wigle at Watermelon Studio in Liverpool. She’s an amazing hairdresser and a fantastic friend; she was invited to the wedding and insisted I wasn’t to do my own hair for my own wedding! It was perfect.

My makeup was done by my wonderful sister Emma Parker. She’d just completed her Level 2 in beauty and so I was really keen for her to do my makeup. We had a few trials and she knew exactly what I wanted. Again, it was perfect.

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drop a beat: live wedding music advice from warble entertainment

July 12th, 2018 | Rachel Parry

First Dance

I think I speak for the majority of brides-to-be when I say that one of my main dreads for the big day would be an empty dancefloor. While I adore the sentimental parts of a wedding, a measure of how much I’ve enjoyed the celebrations is often determined by the amount of time spent on the dancefloor – and so a tumbleweed moment come our evening reception just won’t do.

As such I’m eager to do the required research to ensure we bag the right live acts to set the tone during the day – and keep the party rocking at night. But where to start? Thankfully we’re hearing from our fabulous Sponsor Warble Entertainment today on how to select the best live acts for you, your guests, the theme and the venue. See, already some elements that you might not have thought of!

As a trusted agency with an impressive portfolio of UK-wide acts on their roster, Warble can not only help to narrow down the entertainment search to suit your individual day, but they can also advise on how to get the very best out of the live band or performer that you book.

So, without further delay, we’ll hand over to Warble Entertainment team member Joey Burdon, to lift the lid (or raise the roof!) on securing a jumpin’ dancefloor!

Images provided by Warble Entertainment.

Wedding Entertainment

Why would you encourage couples to hire a singer/band for their wedding?

joey says: Live music is an experience. It’s an amazing thing that has the power to move you and create lifelong memories. With a live wedding musician you are getting a truly unique performance for your special day. Not only that but the pure energy that a party band can bring to your night is unmatched. One comment we hear all the time is how couples enjoyed having their own private gig or concert on their wedding night and how interactive the whole experience was.

Consider the times where you would usually have pre-recorded music on your wedding day and think, can this be performed by a live musician instead? Key moments might be walking down the aisle or your first dance. Having a bespoke and live performance of a song that encapsulates you as a couple is the perfect touch to add to proceedings and is sure to be remembered.

How should couples go about choosing the right genre of live act for their wedding day – what elements should they take into consideration?

A lot of couples make the mistake of being too self-indulgent here (why wouldn’t you?!) but you really do need to consider your guests. It’s great to find a band you like but are they going to get on with your friends and family? Can they play songs to please everyone as well as some numbers that fit with your theme? Are they equipped to fill the dance floor on your wedding night and get your guests dancing? You will want to be asking these questions as you do research into potential live acts for your wedding.

You will also want to consider both your venue and your theme, if you have one. Certain acts lend themselves better to certain themes and settings, and you will want your wedding entertainment to feel at home on your wedding day. For example a barn venue or festival theme is just screaming for a Mumford & Son’s style folk band with a towering double bass and banjos. If your chosen venue is a picture perfect castle with rich history, find an act that lean towards more classical vibes or even create that fairy tale atmosphere with elegant entertainment.

Helen Lisk Photography

Helen Lisk Photography

How can couples source potential acts and what elements should they check when comparing those in their short-list?

The majority of couples look online now for their wedding inspiration and have done for a long time! This is no different for wedding entertainment as there is so much information available on potential acts at your fingertips. Do some heavy searching and start to get an idea what you like or dislike about certain acts to help you narrow it down.

A lot of acts that are set up specifically for weddings rarely get to play public events. This makes it difficult to see your band before you book so how can you be sure you have the right band? Reviews and testimonials are key. A band might look and sound amazing online but how do you know how much experience they have or what other people think of them? Look around and build up a picture using reviews to tell you exactly what the act are like at a typical wedding.

Do couples need to check with their venue if they can have a live act at their wedding before booking and, if so, are there any other key questions they should ask?

Yes, definitely ask the question, ‘can I have live music?’. If this is important to you on your wedding day it should be one of your first questions. Sound limiters are also becoming more commonplace at wedding venues around the country so it’s important to check this. However, don’t be disheartened if the venue has one in place! You can still have live music, just find out what the limit is so you can make better decisions on what acts you look at. Warble Entertainment have a wide variety of limiter friendly bands that can work with these types of venues.

I would also ask to see the space where the band would set up, and also if there is a designated dancing space for you to throw some shapes! This will allow you to visualise the band on your night and know that there is adequate space for guests to enjoy your live act.

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our love story: hannah & cameron

July 12th, 2018 | Alexis Forsyth

A Woodland Engagement Shoot (c) Clique Visuals (2)

Meet Hannah and Cameron, today’s loved up couple who’re sharing their wonderful engagement shoot with us.

As proposals go, we think Cameron’s should get a gold star for originality! Presenting his wife-to-be with flowers and A3 signs asking ‘will you marry me’ while she looked out from her workplace window has got us brim-full of those romantic feels.

This unique approach shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows Hannah and Cameron though, considering they spent their very first date at Ikea!

Always looking for adventure, with their adorable dog Lenny in tow, it was only fitting that they hosted their engagement shoot at one of their favourite dog walking locations, Bishops Wood in Yorkshire. Cue some magical leafy backdrops, a few atmospheric coloured smoke bombs and an appearance, of course, by their four-legged friend.

Want to see the cuteness for yourself? Let’s hand the blog over to Hannah to tell us more about their journey together so far and how they plan to use photos from the shoot on their big day.

With images by Alfie Wright’s Clique Visuals.

A Woodland Engagement Shoot (c) Clique Visuals (23)

hannah says: We got engaged on 27th of December 2017.

I was at work waiting for Cam to meet me for lunch. I work on the second floor of a petrol station and sit next to a floor to ceiling window that overlooks the forecourt. Cam was running late as usual and I was hungover from all the Christmas festivities. I saw him pull up and ring me, so I answered in the way any man wants his future wife to, with a “what are you doing? Will you just hurry up – I’m starving!”.

He told me to look out the window and I saw him walking onto the forecourt next to pump eight (which is right outside my office) with a big bunch of flowers and some big A3 cards. Written on the cards were: Iya. You alright? You are my person. I will love you forever. Will you marry me?

I then ran through the petrol station outside where he was on one knee in front of all the customers who were clapping and filming us! I was so shocked and emotional and, of course, I said yes! We are getting married on 29th June 2019 at The Barns, East Yorkshire.

A Woodland Engagement Shoot (c) Clique Visuals (36)

We first met back in 2011 on a night out in our local town where mutual friends introduced us.

Cam says I looked like the most beautiful thing he had ever seen and he knew he had to get to know me. Instantly, he recognised that behind the weird laugh, the intolerable need to stroke every single living dog and the hunger tantrums, I was the best person he’d ever met!

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