Brides Up North

Vintage Lilac & Lace – A Real Wedding In Cheshire – Victoria & David

September 13th, 2012 | Julia Braime

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Thornton Manor Wedding by Martin Hambleton Photography

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High time for another beautiful Real Wedding on these swirly silver pages I think!  Today we are at Thornton Manor in Cheshire, celebrating the stunning wedding of Victoria and David.  Victoria has been absolutely fantastic with her recommendations and top tips for you lovely lot, so I think I’ll leave it up to her today!  With images by Martin Hambleton Photography.   

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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Victoria says:  Dave romantically proposed on 16th December 2009 on holiday in Mexico under a waterfall in an underground cavern called Ik-Kil (this was the first stop on an amazing trip to the Mayan pyramids in Chichen Itza). We spent the rest of the holiday enjoying the new phase of our relationship and didn’t tell a soul at home until we got back.

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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We were married on Friday 12th August 2011. We wanted a summer wedding and it ended up being a Friday as our chosen venue didn’t have any Saturdays in summer available 20 months in advance! We therefore chose August as this was perfect for Dave to take a number of weeks off work for the honeymoon and, with having a number of guests who work as school teachers, including one of the ushers, it had to be in the school holidays. We chose the 12th August as this was the date we became the owners of our current home, having previously rented a flat together for a number of years, so ‘the glorious 12th’ was a lucky date for us!

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Cheshire Wedding by Martin Hambleton Photography

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Martin Hambleton Photography   Martin Hambleton Photography

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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We got married at St Georges United Reformed Church in the beautiful little village of Thornton Hough on the Wirral.

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St Georges quite literally came to the rescue when plans at our original church fell through just a month before our wedding! Having been our joint first choice of church (only put off by the distance from our home for the purposes of regular attendance), the switch actually worked out so much for the better in the end: In a short period, St Georges offered us so much more than we were ever previously offered over the period of a year, everything was in the one beautiful setting (with the reception being held just up the road at Thornton Manor) and, most importantly, we couldn’t have asked for a better marriage ceremony – so many guests commented on how personal and touching it was (which was quite an achievement in just four short weeks!) Indeed, from the word go, the Reverend John Oldershaw and Registrar David Stewart really shared our vision of the kind of marriage ceremony we wanted and for that we will always be grateful. Having taken us in at the last minute and made us so very welcome, St Georges will always be ‘our church’, which is just what we wanted following our wedding.

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Martin Hambleton Photography   Martin Hambleton Photography

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The reception venue was the first element of the wedding we wanted to book as we knew it was a key one that would determine a lot of other elements. Over a period of about 8 months, we must have looked at most reception venues in the North West! We initially did an internet search and then visited those that looked like they were a good match for what we were looking for. We saw Thornton Manor at the first wedding fair we went to (and then every subsequent one after that). The pictures looked amazing and so we booked a tour and immediately fell in love with the place. We had always wanted a unique venue that had a good reputation, was easy for everyone to get to (so that everyone could attend), that was the right size for our numbers, offering 24hr exclusive use and picturesque grounds plus accommodation with overnight facilities (so we could extend the celebrations for as long as possible). Thornton Manor provided all that and more. Whilst top end in terms of price, we knew we would be able to trust them with our big day and it was definitely worth the money. The venue itself is so exceptionally grand and beautiful that we felt like film stars on the day and everyone commented on how perfect it was.

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I got ready on the morning of the wedding at Hilltop House.  Paul and Wendy really went out of their way to help make the night before and morning of our wedding so special; nothing seemed too much trouble for them and the bridal party all thoroughly enjoyed their stay. The morning of the wedding couldn’t have been more perfect – Hilltop House provided the most beautiful and serene setting for the bridal preparations; as captured on film. Exceptional value for money and highly recommended.

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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We never really understood the need for a theme but I guess that ‘understated elegance’ was always the subconscious theme, whilst a vintage one also seemed to organically emerge what with the venue, car, outfits and flowers.  Our chosen colours were ivory, ‘vintage lilac’ and subtle blush pink. 

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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I chose a very fitted, on the shoulder, vintage style Ritva Westenius ivory gown with a satin underlay and lace overlay that flowed into a gorgeous long train, subtly customised with delicate crystals and perfect for an hour-glass figure. The dress was purchased from the lovely Geraldine at the unique and fabulous Belles Bridal Boutique on Hope Street in Liverpool and customised by her talented seamstress Kathy. I would recommend Belles to any and every bride due to its beautiful and unique collection of dresses, quaintly styled studio and personal, unpressurised, professional and very genuine service. It was always that dress, no other in any of the many other shops even came close – it was the first one I saw in Belles on a manikin; it ticked all the boxes of what I was looking for and more and I was so glad to have found it there as Belles provided the fairytale bridal dress experience little girl’s dreams are made.

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Our one adult bridesmaid (and ‘oldest’ friend of the bride) wore a ‘victorian lilac’, floor-length, satin Alfred Angelo dress with lace-up back and a sweetheart neckline. We searched everywhere for just the right colour and style and finally found it in Pronuptia on Williamson Square in Liverpool who were able to do quite a quick turn-around. Our nieces (2 and 4yrs), as flower girls wore ivory satin dresses with a flower on the sash that tied in a bow at the back and had a subtle diamante detailed neckline with matching diamante studded ivory satin shoes; all from John Lewis.

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Sian made the trial and the wedding morning such a fun and relaxing experience. My hair and makeup perfectly enhanced my dress and I had so many compliments about both. My hair looked so natural that hardly anyone even realised that I had extensions in! I would recommend So Coco Rouge to anyone and have done so to brides and others alike. I love their concept of natural beautiful makeup in a quaint friendly environment – the experience is just as good as the finished product and I have become a regular customer.

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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Accord Choir sang beautifully at our wedding ceremony; accompanying guests for each hymn. And, with the lace look being the ‘order of the day’ (particularly following the Royal Wedding), their outfits were even in sync with the bride’s and very much ‘on trend’.

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As we wanted a really personal memento of our day that guests could also keep, we chose Foto-fusion to produce our order of service, which featured a transparency of a photograph we took of one of the stain-glass windows in the church on the front and a poem and message of thanks on the back . Suzanne was really helpful and, with the change of church, ensured a quick turnaround on our beautiful finished product.

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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We travelled i a gorgeous ivory Beauford Tourer (four seater) from Horgans Wedding Limousines that had a “Just Married sign” on the back and the number plate “We 2 R 1” when stationary. Poetically, it was the same company, car and number plates that Dave’s brother and sister-in-law had used on their wedding day 13 years prior. Having searched a number of car companies, Horgans were really professional and the cars were beautifully maintained. As we had booked the cars before changing the church, the chauffer commented that it was the shortest journey he had ever done as we quite literally drove round the corner from the guest house to the church and then up the road to the reception venue, going on a brief detour to allow the wedding party time to get there before us while we drank our champagne!

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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Our photographer was Martin Hambleton Photography - Martin is simply a superb photographer and one we would recommend to anyone and everyone. I spent so long trawling through websites and wedding fairs to find the best photographer and that’s exactly what we got with Martin. Everyone who has seen the photographs (practically everyone we know, due to the helpful on-line gallery) has commented on how stunningly beautiful they are and how they perfectly encapsulate the happiness and romance of the day and, for us, the personalities of many of the guests. We are so delighted with all the photos (including the ones from the pre-wedding shoot) that making album selections has been nigh on impossible; taking us a whole year! Martin manages to put people who hate having their photo taken completely at ease as he’s such a genuinely lovely bloke; you get the best of both worlds as it’s like an enthusiastic friend taking the photographs but with all the creativeness and talent of a consummate professional.

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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Martin Hambleton Photography   Martin Hambleton Photography

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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We used Marry Me Films as our videographer.  We really couldn’t have picked anyone better to film our special day; we can’t praise or recommend them highly enough. They were an absolute pleasure to work with and provided a professional and very personal service that was second to none from start to finish, culminating in the best possible portrayal of the best day of our lives; as appreciated by all our family and friends. Marry Me Films are a genuinely lovely, friendly couple who make an exceptionally experienced and enthusiastic team. Due to their impeccable attention to detail and unobtrusive manner, our stunning DVD provides the perfect way to relive our wonderful day and all its emotions. Each time we notice something different – something we’d forgotten or missed on the day itself.

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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Cheryl at Pink Sherbet Designs produced the majority of our wedding stationery, matching the colour to the purple of the bridesmaid’s dress. The design was beautiful and perfectly complimented the theme of our day, whilst also giving us value for money. We had numerous compliments from guests about how gorgeous the stationary was. The table plan is still proudly displayed in our hall and will remain so as a lovely reminder of our special day.

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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Barretts were more than just caterers; they were, as they market themselves, an events management company and a highly skilled one at that. Thanks to the wonderful, super helpful, organised and hard-working Michelle and her team, our day ran like clockwork. Nothing was left to chance as Michelle had guided us through all the decisions we needed to make in the run up to the wedding and had meticulously set plans into action. Family and friends all commented on how delicious the food was, how attentive and professional the staff were with the serving of the drinks, canapés and the wedding breakfast and how slick and seamless the whole reception was. Barretts professionalism made for a completely stress-free reception and we would highly recommended them.

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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We tried to add our own special touches throughout the day.  At the reception, all the table names were of places of significance to us, like the place where we met and got engaged, our honeymoon destination, the street names of where we grew up as well as our first and current home etc. We also had photographs and name cards of friends and family no longer with us, or too ill to attend the wedding, dotted about the different rooms, along with lots of dried flower bouquets in the same colours as the real ones. In addition, one medium and one massive Jenga kept guests entertained in the gardens at the drinks reception and provided some great photo opportunities and video footage . At the ceremony, we were also honoured to have one of our friends sing while we signed the register. Our final special touches came in the form of surprises from our parents – a book of my early years presented by my Father in the speeches and a lucky wedding horseshoe charm for my charm bracelet given to me by Dave’s parents at the wedding breakfast.

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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The fabulous and very creative Earth Flowers in Heswall provided all the flowers, including themy large, round, hand tied bouquet featuring vendella (cream) roses, sweet avalanche (blush pink) and memory lane (vintage lilac) roses, small purple freesia and freesia buds, wired cymbidium orchid heads (shared only with the groom’s button-hole), pale pink calla lilies (matching in with the groomsmen’s buttonholes), small white hydrangea (a flower in memory of the my grandparents) and tiny touches of silvery foliage. The theme of the bouquet was ‘an English country garden’ with a slight twist. The day after the wedding and before going on honeymoon, the bouquet was left on the grave of my paternal grandparents who were so greatly missed on the day. Having been to a couple of florists beforehand, Anne and Mark from Earth really ‘got’ my vision, helped hone my ideas with the use of their many photo albums and turn them into reality. The bouquets and displays they made for us were nothing short of stunning and, from start to finish, nothing was ever too much trouble for them.

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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We chose six tier fruit cake with both round and square tiers, glass vases to add further height and sugared cymbidium orchids to match the flowers shared between the bride’s bouquet and the groom’s button-hole, despite actually settling on and ordering purple lilies to pick up the single adult bridesmaid’s colour!

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Nevertheless, our grand looking cake, ordered from Magical Cakes, perfectly fitted with our grand venue – the design was beautiful and perfectly complimented the theme of our day whilst also giving us value for money (as some of the tiers were fake!) Indeed, we had numerous compliments from guests about how lovely the cake both looked and tasted (it also kept really well and we still have some saved!)

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Martin Hambleton Photography   Martin Hambleton Photography

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Entertainment wise, we chose Marc Kenny, a combined singer/guitarist/DJ who held special significance to us as we used to see him in a particular bar from when we were first dating. Marc is exceptionally talented and great value for money with his combined skills and ability to cover all requests, either performing or DJing. He’s like a ‘one man band’; a very professional entertainer and a really nice guy to boot. Nearly all our guests commented on what a brilliant find he was. We couldn’t recommend him highly enough!

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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Just over 24 hours after the end of the wedding (i.e. 4am following the ‘after-party’!) we jetted off to New York where we visited all of the major sites before heading to the luxurious and beautiful surroundings of Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort in Jamaica for some sun and well needed relaxation! Cirque-du-soleil, cocktails in the Waldorf-Astoria and snorkelling with turtles were just some of the highlights. We were so lucky to have the three-week honeymoon of our dreams (the third week courtesy of the hurricane in New York that prevented our booked flight-path on our intended return date) and for that we will always be grateful to all those who helped make that dream a reality through their contributions to our honeymoon gift-registry. Sandals was just fantastic – plush surroundings, diverse gourmet food, great entertainment and activities and really helpful when we were stranded, giving us one free night and an extended stay in the same up-graded honeymoon, beachfront concierge suite at a standard rate. We would definitely recommend Travel Counsellors honeymoon gift-registry for couples who have all they need for their home as it was such an easy way for guests to contribute to something really special for us.

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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Our absolute top tip for other Brides Up North would be – ask about any planned building work or potential issues at all of your venues (including your church!) before booking and make buying insurance one of your first priorities – it’s only cheap and well worth it. You always think you won’t need it and, hopefully, like us, you won’t but it’s always better to be safe than sorry and, as it’s a one-off payment there are no hefty premium increases (Thornton Manor actually recommended a good insurance company to us so it’s worth asking the advice of your venue as they may know the experience of couples who have made claims). Also, a lot of people think that insurance is only for things that go wrong on the day and whatever the compensation, it wouldn’t make up for that part of the day going wrong but it may be that the insurance could help rectify a problem before the big day. For example, we could possibly have claimed on the insurance for re-printing the invitations due to the change of church; we didn’t as we just sent out additional notelets and emails for speed and ease but, if that was something that really mattered to us, the option may have been there. We were also lucky that our wedding was on a Friday as changing the church on a Saturday in summer would have been pretty impossible so, whilst Friday’s are now often no cheaper than Saturdays (it wasn’t in our case anyway), we had much more choice available to us in terms of suppliers, could take our time with our selection and had more options when problems were encountered with the church… so, Fridays are well worth considering in general!

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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Other tips would be:-

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· Capture your wedding on video and preferably hire a professional videographer or, better still, a company that uses two videographers, like Marry Me Films. That way you won’t miss a minute of your big day – each time you play it back you will see things you didn’t notice on the day itself or even the last time you watched it and it will help all those beautiful memories come flooding back. If you do hire professionals, make sure you are comfortable with them and their style as then you will enjoy, rather than resent, the time you spend with them on the day and will be happy with the finished product, as was the case with us.

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· If you are having young children at the ceremony, ask if their parents will sit with them at the back and take them out if they are unsettled; particularly if you are having the ceremony videoed as all noise will be picked up by the microphones.

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· Prepare well in advance, down to details like listing the specific photos you want (not just the usual family line ups) etc. Have a timetable for the day and appoint someone to ensure you stick to it, whilst building in a bit of flexibility (your reception’s wedding planner, master of ceremonies etc will probably do this). Make sure that at least key people know the timetable as well – my mum nearly missed our first dance as we hadn’t told anyone what time we were planning it for (sometimes it’s the simple, obvious little things you forget)!

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· Shop around for exactly what you want at the best possible price and always ask for a discount (10% would seem to be the average). The cost of all precious metals is going up so it is well worth purchasing your rings as early as possible (ours doubled in price over a twelve month period!).

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· If you trust a particular supplier, ask them what other suppliers they would recommend for other elements of your day. We found our bridal boutique and photographer through our videographers!

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· Enlist the help of others where you can – there is always more to do than you think! Before the wedding, assign specific jobs to people for them to carry out on the day (e.g. helping round up guests for the photos etc). Also ask people to remind you of or take charge of things of importance to you e.g. if you want an unofficial photograph or a dance with certain guests, ask them to find you for this on the day; you will forget in all the excitement as you get swept along with all the events of the day.

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· If you have any form of gift registry, ensure that you open it well before the wedding and close it a few days after the wedding to give guests enough time to contribute – quite a few will leave it to the day or even afterwards.

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· Ensure that you have a post-box for all cards at the reception as it is easy for these to get misplaced and some guests may enclose money, even if you have had a gift registry.

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· Set up a wedding email-address early on so that all your wedding correspondence (rsvps, emails from suppliers and so on) are all in the one place and therefore easier to keep track of and manage.

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· You may not be able to keep all of the people involved in your wedding happy all of the time but, if not, remember that it is your day – the two of you and, notwithstanding the happiness and contribution of other, it is your happiness on the day that is the most important.

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Martin Hambleton Photography

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Congratulations Victoria & David!

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Get in touch to see your Real Wedding featured on Brides Up North. 

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  – Images © 2012 Martin Hambleton Photography

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about the author

Julia Braime
Former lawyer and bride to be Julia founded Brides Up North in 2010 with a chip on her shoulder. Frustrated by the poor Northern presence in glossy bridal magazines and online, she decided to do something about it herself. Astounded by the rapid growth of her blog and brand, Julia now manages Brides Up North’s online content alongside their busy wedding exhibition season, industry events and related commissions. And she’s always, always, got a new project on the go…

learn more about Julia Braime