Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Luxury Wedding Shows Spring 2017

look book: sheer sublime

May 26th, 2017 | Julia Braime

Symphony - Charlotte Balbier

Here at Brides Up North we love nothing more than the unveiling of new bridal collections that will determine brides’ big day looks. And every season now it seems designers are getting more daring with their creations, particularly when it comes to the sheer trend – see-through fabric panels that create the illusion of bare skin – as brides are encouraged to take a less is more approach to their attire.

We love this fresh take on bridal, giving ladies the opportunity to flaunt their figures whilst still technically keeping flesh under wraps. There’s no denying however that it takes one heck of a brave bride to go against the traditional demure grain – but what if you don’t want to be smothered in fabric, but you do still want to retain some style? If you’re after something clingier, slinkier, dare I say it sexier than a meringue, but don’t want to blow Uncle Dave’s pacemaker into oblivion?

Poem - Charlotte Balbier

Well, that makes sheer panels, barely-there lace and see-through chiffon your new best friends, and luckily for you, dresses with such detailing are the focus of today’s look book. From long-time fans of the look Berta Bridal to the stunning new Bohemian Blush collection from Brides Up North sponsor Charlotte Balbier (as featured recently on these pink pages), it seems everyone is getting in on the act. Though fierce, such designs featuring cleverly-positioned lace, illusion necklines and backs will still preserve your bridal modesty (and Dave’s pacemaker).

Berta Bridal are industry champions in creating dare-to-bare gowns, with style 17-113 and 17-130 from the F/W 2017 collection being seriously brave takes on the trend – all dangerously plunging necklines and sheer lace. Design 17-136’s sheer chiffon skirt puts legs at centre stage, whereas 17-144 is like the love-child of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and Jennifer Lopez circa 2009 made into wedding dress form – sexy, sassy, righteous.

Klara - Charlotte Balbier

Charlotte Balbier’s newest offerings are typically soft, feminine and fairytale-esque, but still offer a glimpse of what lies beneath. Symphony from Bohemian Blush is to die for, with its slinky A-line cut, sheer bodice and appliqued lace. The prettily-named Poem features a plunging neckline but saves most of its sheerness for the bodice back, making the whole look arguably more realizable. There’s also Sonnett, with its delicate sheer detailing and peach and pistachio colour injection – definitely worth a lingering look.

Many a real wedding favourite, Maggie Sottero is also getting in on the flash of flesh action. Verina has a dramatic illusion lace v-back and sleeves, looking regal but not matronly. Blanche is a whole lot of daring with its double keyhole back and lace illusion sweetheart neckline and the Maren – well, just wow. More Swarovski than you can shake a stick at.

Sonnett - Charlotte Balbier

And then there’s the inimitable Elie Saab, offering up everything from sheer sublime to the slightly bonkers but beautiful. Check out that potentially pant-flashing lace number. Would you? Could you?

We say, she who dares… wins.

Main dress images by Charlotte Balbier

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sugar rush. a contemporary wedding at de vere cranage estate, cheshire – hannah & anthony

May 26th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth

A Contemporary Wedding in Cheshire (c) James Andrew Photography (49)

Today’s wedding in Cheshire is perfect for brides and grooms who have a penchant for all things sweet – we’re talking dolly mixtures for favours, a scrumptious chocolate orange, lemon drizzle and white chocolate and raspberry cake and, to round it all off, an ice cream cart. Sugary treats aside, there are plenty of other delectable details to swoon over, too.

Our couple, Hannah and Anthony, exchanged vows at De Verve Cranage Estate – a stunning Grade II listed country house in rural Cheshire. As you might expect from such an impressive venue, there are photo opportunities galore within its magnificent grounds.

Pair this backdrop with their romantic dusky pink and ivory colour scheme, complemented by dreamy candles and pastel bouquets, and you’ve got one super pretty wedding day!

With images by James Andrew Photography.

A Contemporary Wedding in Cheshire (c) James Andrew Photography (46)

hannah says: We got engaged on Good Friday 2015, at 30 James Street, Home of the Titanic’. After a stressful time at work, Anthony surprised me with a night away at this beautiful Titanic themed hotel in Liverpool as I love the film and the love story between Jack and Rose; I’m a complete hopeless romantic! He had booked us a couple’s massage and we enjoyed some time in the spa. Afternoon tea followed and we then watched a wedding happen in the hotel, with me all googly eyed wishing it was me! We finally made our way back to our room where a bottle of Prosecco was waiting for us, and a hot tub to enjoy it in!

Anthony conveniently ‘forgot’ the Prosecco so hopped out to get it. He returned, and demanded I get out of the hot tub as he needed to talk to me – the next five minutes were a complete blur, with him ending up on one knee and me in floods of tears (of joy I should add!). He presented me with a beautiful diamond and the rest, as they say, is history!

A Contemporary Wedding in Cheshire (c) James Andrew Photography (32)

We got married on 26th August 2016. The date didn’t really hold any significance and we never actually planned on getting married during the summer months, but we fell lucky with the venue and everything just seemed to fall into place! This date now holds a special place in our hearts and means we always get to enjoy the bank holiday weekend!

We got married at De Vere Cranage Estate in Cheshire. On our one-year anniversary we stayed over here to celebrate. Ten years later we got married at the same place; it seemed fitting.

There was no particular theme, I wanted it to be romantic with lots of candles and lace, and we complemented this with a dusky pink and ivory colour scheme.

A Contemporary Wedding in Cheshire (c) James Andrew Photography (50)

Ever since I was a little girl, I’d dreamt of being a princess for the day, but when I finally got the chance to get my dream dress, I ended up choosing something that was completely different to what I thought I’d like! I went for a strapless fishtail style dress with beading detail from Blue by Enzoani. I fell completely in love with it when I tried it on at the bridal boutique, Puure Bridal in Lymm, Cheshire.

Anthony wore a Ted Baker suit with tails and an ivory cravat and handkerchief. He got his suit – and the ushers, best man and fathers of the bride and groom’s suits – from Moss Bros.

I purchased my bridesmaids’ dresses from ASOS. They were dusky pink multi-way dresses, so each bridesmaid could wear theirs differently to suit their shape. We also had a little flower girl and page boy who wore mini versions of the big suits and dresses.

A Contemporary Wedding in Cheshire (c) James Andrew Photography (64)

Our photographer was James Andrew. We found James via a recommendation due to our original photographer cancelling on us two weeks before the wedding (yes, I did have a mini melt down!). Luckily, James was free on our date and we met before the big day to have a chat and do some engagement shots. He made us feel so at ease and comfortable in front of the camera, at times we forgot he was even there. James has a real love of the outdoors, which really suited us so we captured some beautiful shots amongst the trees!

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the only way is up: wedding hair inspiration

May 25th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth

Ponytail 1

image source

When it comes to bridal beauty – the hairstyle you choose for your special day is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.

If your hair is mid-length or longer, then chances are, you’ll be considering a pretty up do to complete your bridal look, whether you’re going for something vintage, modern, ethereal or boho.

What we love about the up do is that it helps to frame the face whilst also accentuating the neckline of a bride’s chosen dress wedding dress. Best of all, the up do should put all day and look just as glam when the clock strikes midnight as when you swished down the aisle 12 hours before.

Your hair should always complement your bridal look, so when choosing a style think about your makeup and jewellery – and how all these aspects will work alongside your gown, bouquet and overall theme.

Luckily for you, we’ve rounded up a few of our favourite bridal up dos of the moment to get you started – Pinterest boards at the ready!

french twist

French twist 1

image source, photography by Tonya Pushkareva | image source | image source | image source

Chic and timeless, the French twist is one of our favourite up dos, perfect for channeling your inner Bardot. Mix things up a little by pairing your sophisticated twist with an unruly, messy bun or side swept fringe – and don’t be afraid to add some sparkle with a cute diamanté clip, flower pin or embellished hair comb.

ponytail

Ponytail 2

image source | image source, photography by Jenna Powers Photography | image source

A grown-up ponytail can look super stylish, especially if you have long glossy locks. For an A-list worthy look, we love extra height at the crown with the hair wrapped around the bobble for a flawless, polished finish. If you’re after something a little softer, ask your stylist to tease out hair strands from around your face to create more of a textured, undone look. And for an extra dose of wedding day glam, combine your high – or low – pony with tumultuous curls or loose waves.

braids

Braid 1

image source | image source, photography by Sharon Kahana Photography | image source, photography by Lola Images | image source

There are lots of stylish ways to incorporate braids into your up do without looking like you’re ready to swap your wedding vows for an escapade at Coachella. From chunky braided crowns and dainty bands to ruffled fishtails and tangled twists – braids are a fun and oh-so-pretty addition to your bridal beauty look.

top knot

Top knot 4

image source | image source | image source, photography by Ciara Richardson Photography

The top knot might be your go-to hairdo when your tresses are in need of a wash (or is that just us?), but have you thought about sporting this look on your special day? The bun is a bridal staple that’s versatile and flattering for all face shapes. Whether you’re after a sleek and elegant look, or a more tousled and wispy finish – the fashionable top knot is a gorgeous style perfect for the more contemporary bride.

beehive

Beehive 1

image source | image source, Callie Hobbs Photography | image source, photography Heather Rowland Photography | image source, photography by Lisa Waringer

The definitive retro hairdo – the beehive – is the hairstyle du jour if you’re after some voluminous back-combed action. This up do is bold and classy – think about combining it with loose bangs or soft curls for an indulgent vintage look. For a real princess moment – a decorative hairband will emphasise the volume of your hairstyle and work beautifully with your veil discreetly pinned underneath.

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love, lights, action. a rose gold plus size bridal styled shoot in the north west

May 25th, 2017 | Julia Braime

A Rose Gold Styled Shoot (c) Teresa C Photography (25)

Ready for something super, duper pretty? Well surely it doesn’t get much prettier than a styled shoot inspired by every girl’s current favourite colour, rose gold?!

Glamorous, feminine and fun, what’s not to love about this on-trend hue, which is making a stylish statement on the wedding scene right now.

Led by Rebecca Lord-Lyon, a fellow rose-gold lover and owner of Cheshire’s award-winning plus size bridal boutique, Edith & Winston Bridalwear, this shoot demonstrates beautifully how to incorporate this magical metal tone into various elements of your big day.

Offering ideas on everything from the dress to the details, we’ll hand over the blogging reins to Rebecca so that she can explain how she and her talented North West industry friends pulled the whole shoot together…

With images by Teresa C Photography. Model: Georgina Horne.

A Rose Gold Styled Shoot (c) Teresa C Photography (24)

rebecca says: The shoot was inspired by a new product created by Stacy from Love Lights The Way – a beautiful rose gold, light-up love heart called ‘Lola’. The unique, light-up prop quickly became a massive hit with brides and after seeing Lola for myself at a wedding fair, I also fell head over heels for her and so spoke to Stacy about collaborating on a special photoshoot.

Rose gold has become a very popular colour – it’s everywhere this spring; interiors, fashion and it’s a growing trend in weddings too. We therefore wanted to create a shoot together that would show our brides how to use this pretty colour for their big day.

Stacy decided that the shoot was the perfect opportunity to introduce some more unique, rose gold pieces to her collection and so we used the shoot to launch these products alongside our brand new bridal accessories by Richard Designs.

A Rose Gold Styled Shoot (c) Teresa C Photography (29)

I knew that Teresa, of Teresa C Photography, had to be our photographer. Having worked with her before, we knew she could capture the plus size model beautifully. Teresa is an amazing photographer and has worked at so many of the North West’s wedding venues. For this shoot she suggested Liverpool’s incredible The Venue at the Royal Liver Building, as our location. We trusted her instinct and she wasn’t wrong; the venue has clean lines, pure white walls and perfect lighting.

And so, on the windiest day of the year, our team of fabulous handpicked wedding suppliers, came together to pool their skills – even Storm Doris couldn’t get in the way of this photoshoot!

A Rose Gold Styled Shoot (c) Teresa C Photography (15)

Precious Things were simply given the colour scheme brief of rose gold and ivory, and then we let their imaginations run free. As event stylists, they teamed up with Stacy to create the most incredible setting for our shoot, which even included a metallic rose gold tropical flower tree!

A Rose Gold Styled Shoot (c) Teresa C Photography (33)

The aim was to create a look that was eye-catching and elegant as well as relaxed. They coupled rose gold sequinned table cloths with bespoke ivory frothed chair covers and handmade the copper-coloured paper flowers that were on each place setting.

For the bouquets, they used Tulips, Roses, Scabiosa Seed Pods, Broom ‘Genista’, Asparagus Fern, Berried Eucalyptus, Sweet Avalanche Roses and Success Hanoi Ranunculous.

The trees were made to be multifunctional: the smaller of the two was the perfect spring centrepiece for the decadent sequinned guest table. The larger was a fabulous backdrop. The bark of each tree was sprayed rose gold to glam up the loose yet pretty arrangement at the top. Additional flowers used in the trees were Snapdragons and Broom.

The backdrop structure was dressed with ivory voile and an abundance of foliage and flowers, which could either be used as an arch to say ‘I do’ or a photo backdrop to rival any photobooth.

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dream venue: principal york

May 24th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

Principal York (6)

We’ve been out on the road again discovering some of the north’s finest wedding venues to help inspire and inform you on the wonderful choices of settings that are out there for your big day celebrations.

For our latest research, I travelled to one of my very favourite UK cities, York – and more specifically its beautiful Principal York hotel.

Principal York (4)

You may well have walked past this stunning venue numerous times not realising the beauty that lays within its grand walls – I know I’m certainly guilty of doing so! For the hotel is ideally located next to York Train Station, putting a big tick in the guest accessibility box, but in turn this means I’ve previously been concentrating too much on navigating my way into the city centre and so have overlooked this gem of a wedding venue that’s laid right before my eyes!

But an overnight stay there just before Easter has put this venue well and truly on the map for me. During our visit, myself and my boyfriend Andy got to experience its wonderful hospitality, accommodation and food and drink as well as viewing its desirable function spaces, which are perfect for an uber chic city wedding.

Catering for up to 250 wedding guests and fully licensed for civil ceremonies, The Principal can host weddings of all sizes and preferences with helpful and experienced staff, amazing food and drink and truly stunning spaces as standard!

And even if you’ve already sorted your wedding venue, I urge you to read on – as this is certainly an ideal retreat for a relaxing and indulgent city break, pre-or post-wedding!

Principal York (1)

Arriving at the Grade II listed hotel for our stay, the first thing to strike me was the hotel’s perfectly manicured gardens and views out over to the York Minster – though in the bustle of the historic city, a feeling of calm instantly washed over me as we stepped into the lobby.

The interior of the hotel is nothing short of wow-worthy too, with late-Victorian features including beautifully decorative high ceilings, ornate wood panelling and towering pillars, complemented by elegant and modern furnishings, such as opulent mirrors, chandeliers and soft furnishings. Seriously this place is like Pinterest interior heaven!

Principal York (1)

Following a warm welcome, we were directed to our Deluxe Room with gorgeous views of the gardens. The high-level of interior design continues into the accommodation with the hotel’s 155 bedrooms beautifully refurbished as part of a multi-million pound investment in The Principal, resulting in a classic and comfortable stay. As an added extra we’d been left a little hamper of Yorkshire treats in our room including tea bags, chutney, sweet delights and even a quirky tea towel and bottle of wine!

As we’re in the process of moving house we were keen to enjoying being away from boxes and packing tape, and so headed straight to the bar for a prosecco and pint (bubbles were for me, of course).

The hotel’s Chapter House bar has also benefitted from the investment refurb and has a warm speakeasy vibe about it, decorated in sumptuous deep tones with high tables, leather booths and waiters donning braces and bowties. Next time you’re in York call be sure to call in for one of their signature cocktails.

Principal York (5)

After watching the world go by and inhaling several drinks (we blame the moving stress) we were shown through to the Refectory Kitchen & Terrace for our evening meal. The dining area has a lovely light and airy feel about it, with exposed brick walls, glass ceiling and botanical details.

We ordered bread, olives and a smooth bottle of Italian red while we browsed the menu and tried to narrow down the delicious-sounding options from ‘Rectory Favourites’ to those ‘From the Grill’ and seasonal dishes too.

I decided on the spiced Yorkshire lamp rump served with sweet and sour relish, capers, potato fondant and a red wine sauce, while Andy went for an 8oz sirloin steak with all the trimmings. Both dishes were presented beautifully, portions were ample without being over-facing and both meats were cooked to perfection. The different tastes and flavours on my plate were A* standard and the triple cooked chips served up with the steak may just have stolen the show!

Though rather full from the richness of the food and wine, we couldn’t resist a dessert to share and so asked the waiter for a recommendation – “the pannacotta is something else” – and he wasn’t wrong! The silky buttermilk pannacotta was accompanied by raspberry jelly and mini doughnuts (yes, doughnuts!) – all together it felt like a high-class take on ice cream and jelly, and who wouldn’t like that?!

Full almost to the brim, we moved into the serene lounge area to finish our wine before retiring for the evening to one of the comfiest beds I’ve ever slept in.

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comet & cupid. a magical winter wedding at matfen hall – sophie & callum

May 24th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

A Magical Winter Wedding at Matfen Hall (c) Philip Ryott (36)

The sun may be shining outside, but for today’s real wedding we’re focusing on an elegant Christmassy affair, perfect for those of you in the midst of planning a classy winter wedding.

Sophie and Callum were wed at the stylish and striking Matfen Hall in Northumberland – sold to Sophie on the basis of its jaw-dropping entrance staircase for the bride’s grand arrival.

This gorgeous couple opted for an elegant celebrity-styled vibe with black and white tuxedos, a Cinderella-esque princess gown and luxe favours. They also remained true to themselves, however, with their favourite chocolate Krispie slices transformed into the wedding cake of their dreams.

Sophie balanced big spends with some judicious bargain-hunting, and making savings on details like her dress helped her budget for big splurges – like a visit from some real-life reindeer. Yes, you read right – real-life reindeer!

So, sit back readers and enjoy Sophie’s gorgeous winter’s tale.

With images by Philip Ryott.

A Magical Winter Wedding at Matfen Hall (c) Philip Ryott (45)

sophie says: We got engaged on Callum’s 21st birthday. It was the night before we flew to Dubai for two weeks and I’d booked a stay at Jesmond Dene House with a surprise afternoon tea with our parents.

Callum seemed nervous and, just as we were having tea, a couple had came in with the wedding planner. I commented, “Aw, how sweet! They’re planning their wedding!” Everyone suddenly seemed keen to change the subject, which I thought was a bit strange but didn’t think too much of it.

After our parents left we went back to the hotel room for a bath and to get dressed for dinner. Callum was looking at me with so much love throughout the evening and it was a gorgeous night. After we came back to our room, he suggested going onto the balcony and drinking some champagne. I agreed and went to get comfy – taking off my makeup and getting into my dressing gown – whereas Callum stayed in his suit and waistcoat!

I went back out to the balcony and he was sitting there with champagne looking gorgeous. He spoke to me under the moonlight and went back over all our special memories of early dates, fancying each other in school and holidays we’d been on. Then he said, “You know, I’m 21 today. I’m officially a man. I’ve got something to ask you”. I couldn’t contain my emotions and started to cry as he got down on one knee and asked me if I would do him the honour of becoming his wife. It was so beautiful, emotional and personal – and, of course, I said yes!

A Magical Winter Wedding at Matfen Hall (c) Philip Ryott (41)

We were married on Thursday 1st December 2016. We chose this date because I loved the idea of a magical Christmas wedding – what better day than the 1st December?! It’s the start off the official countdown to Christmas, everyone is in good spirits, Christmas music can officially be played and, of course, advent calendars!

We were married at the gorgeous Matfen Hall. I heard someone say that of all the venues they’d been to, Matfen Hall had the grandest entrance for the bride – so I had to check it out!

As soon as we entered the Great Hall we got goosebumps and a sense of ‘this is it.’ It has a traditional church-like atmosphere with its high ceilings and stained glass windows; you definitely get the feeling that a lot of beautiful things have happened there over its history. I loved the staircase entrance, too – I mean, wow! What a statement! I had real nerves walking down there to greet everyone but the excitement and anticipation was just amazing.

The Matfen Hall team were incredible, especially Victoria Paterson (wedding planner) and Peter Dawson (master of ceremonies). Their hard work and care to every detail, enquiry and question was just outstanding. Such down-to-earth, lovely, lovely people who went so far beyond their role. I can’t thank or praise them enough.

A Magical Winter Wedding at Matfen Hall (c) Philip Ryott (56)

We chose to have an elegant winter wedding theme with a Christmassy touch. I wanted the colour-scheme, decor, favours, chairs, tables – everything, really – to be very classy – with whites, silvers and sparkles. My Christmas touch was brought to life with real reindeer from Santa’s Reindeer based in Birmingham! I’d never seen reindeer before and had always wanted to; I’ve always believed in their magic and what better day to see them than on your wedding day?

Of course, my family thought I was bonkers! But my mantra is, “You can’t put a price on memories!”

I also had a reindeer-themed seating plan made by my friend Shawnee Quinn, and the tables were named after Santa’s reindeer. We had advent calendars as favours and snowflakes for name cards and the children had mini Santa hats.

A Magical Winter Wedding at Matfen Hall (c) Philip Ryott (59)

For my dress, I originally wanted a fitted, possibly mermaid-style, beaded gown and – like most brides – I ended up with the total opposite! The wedding dress outlet store WED2B had recently opened in Gateshead so we tried there first.

My cousin and matron of honour Kelly pulled out a dress that was totally different to what I’d said I wanted – it was plain and Cinderella-style. But when I saw it I just felt something. Then I tried it on and, well, wow. I felt like a real bridal princess, like all the Disney princesses in one; I couldn’t stop smiling! They added the veil and the embellished belt and I just knew. My mam and maid of honour (who’s like a brick when it comes to emotion!) started to cry. Later, my fantastic dressmaker Kayleen added a five-layer tulle train with crystals scattered along the back and sides.

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