January 16th, 2017 | Rachel Parry
Image by Mark Newton Wedding Photography
When it comes to top wedding entertainment, we think it’s hard to beat the atmosphere created by live musicians and singers, and so would always say to consider hiring such acts for your big day. That said, there’s a lot more to consider when booking a band than merely how they sound.
As such we’re getting some expert advice on the subject today, courtesy of our wonderful Sponsor Seventh Second.
Set up and run by talented and knowledgeable musicians, those behind Seventh Second know exactly what is required to secure professional, reliable and talented musical acts that will help to make a wedding day truly unique and memorable.
Here to give us the agency’s top tips on picking a wedding band is one of Seventh Second’s managers and musicians, Jon Stephens.
Image by Rachel Joyce Photography
If you are planning a wedding, you should have a rough budget in mind before you start looking at any bands.
Most weddings go way over budget because of hidden costs. With us, the prices you get quoted are 100% exact and always include vat and all the rest. There are no hidden fees or extra payments after the act has performed either and you should check this also rings true for any other band or agency. Make sure you get full, honest quotes, and with organisation and planning you will keep costs down and stay on target with your budget.
Many live acts, including ours, get booked six months or even years in advance, so check a band’s availability as soon as you have your event date booked in.
We don’t recommend paying special/one-off fees to reserve a date with a band as things can often go wrong and it guarantees nothing. Any band or agency that tries to get you to do this should be avoided.
If you have picked a live act that’s free for your event and you are happy with the quote they give, that’s when you can safely put a deposit down to reserve their services. Always make sure there’s a fair, legally binding contract involved.
If you can’t get hold of your chosen live act, any website worth their salt can recommend sensible alternatives. Check their suggestions as some agencies can offer any old act to you in the hope of a quick buck.
Image by Neil Jackson Photographic
The musical style/genre of a band is important but budget can get in the way. You find your perfect act but when you see the final price it smashes you budget to bits. Naturally, the sales person will suggest other bands and a fantastic “one-size-fits-all” act is usually picked. This can be fine but more often than not, you don’t quite get what you wanted.
One solution is to up your budget or more realistically, do some research before you even have your wedding booked and get a good understanding of how much all the different styles/genres of live acts cost.
Shameless plug alert! We’ve dealt with this problem a lot and we solved it by being in the acts we promote. This means we can make truly bespoke bands and advertise acts that are willing to try and cater their music to your needs. Having bespoke bands also means that nine times out of ten, we design bands that fit the exact stylistic sound and look you want but also fits into your budget. We are pretty unique in this aspect compared to other websites so ask us more about it.
band or dj?
Both! However, if you don’t have the budget for both, we’d say live band – plus some live bands can offer a professional DJ service to save you money. Ours do and many of them will offer it for free if you book them.
If you are thinking about booking one or the other be honest with yourself. Will the act you choose really play the songs you love convincingly? If you want a club vibe, book a DJ. If you want live music covering all the hits, book a band.
January 4th, 2017 | Rachel Parry
It’s holiday season here on the blog, and as the editorial team take a short break, we’ll be leaving you with a reduced blogging schedule so that you still get your daily dose of wedding lovely. Usual service will recommence on Monday 9th January 2017 but in the meantime watch out for recaps of some of our favourite Real Weddings from 2016.
Drop in every day for the very prettiest, most unique wedding inspiration and – if you are a Brides Up North bride – to see if your real wedding was one of our top picks.
We love that today’s real wedding has been influenced by two different styles – wild nature and glamour – that when brought together, complement each other perfectly!
Everything about Melissa and Craig’s big day is utterly gorgeous; from the choice of ceremony venue, styling and elegant colour scheme, to the bridal party’s stunning attire.
Though there is a lot of beauty to be admired, standout details for us include Melissa’s handmade headpiece, the blousy bouquets and both the bride and groom’s fancy footwear!
With images by Pixies in the Cellar.
melissa says: We got engaged during the trip of a lifetime. I’d quit my job, Craig had taken a sabbatical and we travelled around the world together for five months, it was our dream and we decided it was now or never! We trekked the Inca Trail, travelled Australia by bus, walked the Great Wall of China and learnt to scuba dive in Thailand. At every great landmark we visited Craig made me pose with a sign with a single letter on and took a photo. He’s always full of kooky ideas and told me it was for a surprise collage when we got back. So I held aloft a ‘V’ at Machu Picchu, an ‘E’ at the Sydney Opera House, an ‘M’ in Halong Bay and so on!
On the final night of our trip we went all out and booked the Lebua hotel in Bangkok (The Hangover 2 film hotel!) As we got ready for a special meal Craig went out to ask what time the rooftop bar opened, then the bellboy rang the door with a big envelope. Inside were all the photos of me with the letters and a note – they were numbered and I had to re-arrange them, if I understood then I was to go and find him. I re-ordered them and it spelled out “Veux tu m’epouser?” – will you marry me in French! I had lived in Paris for several years and this was also so I wouldn’t have guessed throughout the trip if it were spelt in English! As a typical woman I rushed to finish half my hair and get on my shoes… then there was a knock at the door, Craig on one knee! Too nervous and impatient waiting for me, he proposed right there & I very happily said “Oui!” We had a wonderful night celebrating in the rooftop bar.
We set the wedding date for Saturday 23rd July 2016. We chose this date, as it would mark seven years since our first date.
Being some of the last people in our friendship group to marry, we were determined to find a different venue, where none of our friends had been married before us. Although we had loved the idea of a destination wedding it just wasn’t practical family wise so we had to find somewhere that wowed us closer to home. As Craig is rather tall we wanted somewhere with grandeur but not really a church – when we visited Ashton Memorial it all fell into place. It immediately appealed to me – it was a beautiful domed building, all light and windows, surrounded by nature and spectacular views. We also loved the fact Lord Ashton had built it as a tribute to his wife.
We then had to find somewhere for our reception. After a lot of searching we found Forrest Hills, a relatively new multi-purpose venue, which had hosted some lovely weddings. Upon visiting we loved the wild natural beauty and secluded location. Also, the option of an open-side marquee next to the lake combined our dream of an open air wedding and the practicality for British weather, just in case.
Our theme was ‘wild natural glamour’ – a bit of a running joke with our florist. We had two sides to our wedding – one side the cottage like reception venue, the cascading flowers intertwined with driftwood and our marquee with open sides to allow the real ‘outdoor’ feeling we wanted. On the other side we loved the glamorous elements – an ice sculpture, popping a giant gold bottle of champagne instead of cutting the cake, Craig in a tuxedo and a beautiful cream Rolls Royce as transport. We loved the mix of the two to fit our personalities.
We decided early on to have a duck egg blue colour scheme with accents of gold. It felt like it matched the theme of the day – wild natural surroundings and dramatic venues, with some glamour!
As I own my own occasion wear brand, people kept asking if I was going to design my own wedding dress – but I couldn’t face the visualisation required and the extra stress! Luckily when I came across the Ronald Joyce Erin gown on Pinterest, it was beautifully styled on a bride and I had to try it. I always wanted a fitted fishtail gown with a beautiful back and this dress was just that, the crystal beads draped at the back and the low sheer lace detail ticked all my boxes. The experience at Emma Louise Bridal was friendly and personal, I didn’t feel pressured into anything and they gave honest opinions. My mum and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole dress shopping experience (all 20 or so shops!), it will always be a time I’ll treasure, just the two of us.
Accessories wise I knew I wanted a long dramatic veil – but with the detail on the dress it had to be quite simple. I chose a two-layer chapel length veil in soft ivory tulle, from The Wedding Veil Shop. I loved the way it fell over my shoulders and was sheer enough to see the back detail on the dress.
One of the main accessories for my look was the headpiece – I had lusted over some beautiful freshwater pearl styles but my budget didn’t quite stretch. Not one to be deterred I took two lengths of pearl and crystal flowers I sourced online and intertwined them to make the full dramatic headpiece I desired, able to wrap around the front and back. With my masses of hair I knew it wouldn’t overpower my look.
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January 5th, 2016 | Julia Braime
Today’s second helping of real wedding inspiration sees two different themes brought together – vintage and bling!
In keeping with the barn setting of their big day, Ashleigh and Shaun chose to incorporate pretty vintage touches and natural blooms into their décor before adding a little sprinkling of bling. After all, what’s a wedding without some added sparkle?
With images by Pixies in the Cellar.
ashleigh says: Shaun proposed to me when we got the keys to our first house, in 2011. He did it in the living room of our new home.We set the date for 15th August 2015, as we wanted a summer wedding and it was around the date we first staring seeing each other.
Our chosen venue was Browsholme Hall. We wanted something different and quirky, but with a modern twist – it ticked all the boxes
For our theme we tried to fit in with the style of the barn but also have some bling; we called it ‘vintage bling’. Other elements included bare wooden chairs with bows and brooches on but no covers. Our guest book and table plan were also wooden. We had flock drapes but with fairy lights, and the cake was flock too, but with a bit of bling.
To fit alongside the theme we picked a purple colour scheme. We both like the colour and it went perfectly with the venue too.
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August 14th, 2015 | Julia Braime
Image by Maryanne Scott
Don’t worry we’re not discussing height, but age, in today’s Big Debate as we battle out the tricky question of whether or not to have children at a wedding?
For some couples this might be cut and dry because either there aren’t any young children in their circles of family or friends that would require an invite, or the chosen venue doesn’t allow guests under a certain age.
For others however this contentious topic can cause rows, fall outs and sleepless nights. Planning a wedding is stressful enough, right? So why pile on more pressure? But then as with all other elements of the wedding, it’s the bride and groom’s big day and they should be able to have things just the way they want it, be that no rowdy children in the congregation.
So let’s get straight into it…
Image by Carly Bevan Photography
Image by Johnboy Wilson
rachel says: call the babysitter
I realise a lot of proud mums reading this are going to hate me, but I’m all for a child-free wedding. There I said it!
I find it a tough challenge for both the child and their parents when they’re required to sit still and silent for 30 minutes or more while the ceremony takes place. Let’s be honest, some adults can find this part of a wedding a drag, let alone an excitable child keen to explore their new surroundings, and look for new friends too.
So once they’re restrained from toddling off the obvious reaction is a tantrum, often interrupting the wedding and causing one parent to leave the room with rightly so unhappy child so things can continue without the unwanted background noise. This not only means the parent misses out on a precious moment of their loved one, but if the wedding couple have forked out for a videographer their vows may well be somewhat overshadowed by grumpy child’s screams and wails.
I know, I know, children look adorable at weddings, cute little flower girls and page boys, but the occasion is also a great time for adult friends and family to get together for a good old catch up whilst letting their hair down, without having to worry about the mini mes.
I can fully understand there may be the odd exception, such as very young babies whose mums wouldn’t feel comfortable parting from them at such an early stage. Also the bride and groom might have children themselves and wouldn’t want them excluding from the big day (though I have known couples in this situation to call in the babysitter so they can party hard).
As for the guests it’s a bit like the plus one issue – like it or lump it.
Photography by Laurie Bailey
julia says: bring a bottle
I used to be firmly of the opinion that weddings and kiddies didn’t mix. Then, something changed. And it’s not what you think.
Yes, I now have a little one of my own, but believe it or otherwise, it’s not the joy of motherhood that has me urging you to add a children’s table to your seating plan. To be honest, whilst (generally) I relish every moment that I spend with my daughter, I also don’t mind an adults only invitation once in a while. A chance to spend time *really* getting ready – I’m talking a full application of make-up and a DIY blow dry without overtures of Peppa Pig in the background; hold uninterrupted adult conversations; drink my body’s weight in Champagne without a worry in the world and – assuming we’ve shelled out on a hotel, which in this fantasty we have – a chance of an unbroken night’s sleep at the end of it all. Yes, an adults only invitation is very nice, thank you very much.
But, oops, I appear to have forgotten why I’m here… for of course you must have the tinies at your wedding. So what changed?
I became a wedding blogger.
Gals, I’ve seen more weddings than I’ve had unbroken nights’ sleep in the last two and a half years of motherhood, and let me tell you – all the best weddings have children in them! Just think of the cute factor.
These aren’t your children we are talking about either (and if they are, well, I’d definitely include them in your day, with strategically stationed grandparent officially “in charge”). But even if they’re not, bring them in! Appoint a plethora of small bridesmaids and pageboys, dress them in tulle and tweed, encourage them to gambol around the lawn and make your wedding look the loveliest ever. All the best weddings have tiny people in them, and if you can dress them as fairies or tiny groomsmen – only slightly cooler than the big boys – you’ll have a Pinterest ready set of photos, no effort required (other than from their parents).
You’re also likely to win brownie points up front from those parents too. Everyone thinks they want their children at a wedding… until they’re with their children at a wedding.
Joking aside (or, ahem, honesty aside), and cuteness considered, kids are also a lot of fun. They’ll make sure everyone’s dancing, liken you to a “Princess” and break any awkward silences around a wedding breakfast table. Weddings are for sharing with those we love. If those children are an important part of your everyday life, make them an important part of your wedding day. And did I mention the photo opportunities…?
Image by Pixies in the Cellar
what you said on facebook:
Janine: “I can’t imagine my wedding without my nieces and nephews – we’ll be inviting the whole family!”
Lynsey: “Our wedding is adults only. Not many of our friends have children yet, so it was an easy decision for us.”
Laura: “We’re only having close family’s children and small babies in arms.”
August 6th, 2015 | Julia Braime
Today’s real wedding not only sees two families come together but also two countries, as Cheshire girl Alison Jane tied the knot to her Brooklyn boy Daniel, during a traditional church ceremony followed by a country garden style reception at Hyde Bank Farm.
Though most of what can be seen, such as the gorgeous flowers, rustic décor and pretty barn setting, is typically English, Alison Jane and Daniel (who are now both living in the USA) incorporated some sweet American touches too, including stars and stripes bunting and chocolate dimes and nickels.
We think it’s safe to say Daniel will be Alison Jane’s american boy forever more!
With images by Pixies in the Cellar.
alison jane says: Daniel had asked me on several occasions how I would like to be proposed to (if it ever happened) and I had always replied: “Whenever you want to, when the moment strikes you”. We were both living on different continents at the time (I in England, he in America). I took a trip to meet his parents in New York, which was also the same city we met in. One morning we were lying in bed together and he rolled over and asked me to marry him. He says that was the moment he was unequivocally sure that he wanted to marry me.
We set the date for 13th June 2015. I wanted a summer wedding and Daniel finished medical school at the end of May and started work at the beginning of July, so it had to be June. Daniel had to be in the country two weeks before the wedding for it to be legal, and we wanted a honeymoon afterwards, so we picked the middle Saturday in June.
We got married at St Thomas’ Church in Stockton Heath, which was my local church in my hometown. We both wanted a church wedding and I wanted to be married from home, so it was a no brainer.
We had our reception at Hyde Bank Farm. I wanted a barn type venue and I loved the fact that this one had a room upstairs for those who want to party hard and a room downstairs with comfy sofas for those who want to chat and relax.
Daniel is a Brooklyn boy, and we now both live in Brooklyn. Being overseas whilst planning the wedding I relied very heavily on my mother to do everything, and all credit goes to her for it being a grand success.
I didn’t pick a theme as such, generally it was a very traditional English country wedding. I had been living in America for a year whilst planning it and I was a tad homesick, and I think that contributed to it being so English.
Our colour scheme was spun gold, spa, ivory, hessian and navy blue. I picked them because they went well together. The spun gold and ivory was in my dress, and Daniel wanted a navy blue suit, the hessian was from the barn venue. I realised I had to pick another colour for the palette to work, and chose spa with the help of my sister. I then had to remind everyone that this was not a spa themed wedding, as they kept wanting to make everything spa!
I chose my dress with my mother in England before I moved to America. It was a David Tutera Mon Cheri lace mermaid gown. My mother and I had slightly different taste in dresses: many I liked she deemed ‘too sexy’, I think this was the perfect compromise. The dress had hand-beaded and re-embroidered lace appliqués, tip-of-the shoulder illusion sleeves, a scoop neckline and back bodice, covered buttons which trailed down the back to a chapel length train.
My bridesmaids wore knee length Dessy chiffon dresses in spa, but picked their own style. We chose Dessy because it was easily available in the UK and America so they could all get the same make.
Daniel wore his favourite navy blue suit that he already owned and we simply asked the groomsmen to wear a grey suit. We had a variety of greys but I think it worked well and everyone was comfortable. Daniel picked a paisley spa and grey tie for the men to wear too.
My dad hired a car to get us from the wedding to the reception. I was touched by the fact the driver had custard creams in the back for us to munch on for our journey (they are my favourite biscuit and you can’t get them in America).
Peter and Sara from Pixies in the Cellar were our photographers. They were fantastic and I would highly recommend them. They suggested a variety of shots I wouldn’t have thought of, but they were never pushy, and were really lovely to work with on the day. Everyone loves our photos!
Lisa from the Village Florist in Stockton Heath did all our flowers, she was fantastic. I came to her with a rough idea of a country, cream coloured bouquet and she put together a fantastic trailing bouquet of roses, calla lilies, lisianthus, baby’s breath and a very pale pink milkwort.
For all the decorations we used the same flowers as in my bouquet. We had garlands hanging around the pillars in the church as well as over the porch, around the pulpit and by the alter. For pew ends I decorated jam jars in my colour scheme and Lisa filled them with neutral flowers. We then transported the pew ends to the reception venue and used them again as our centre pieces.
I also wanted English and American themed bunting, and spent days hand sewing it. My mother was sure I wouldn’t finish in time, but with a little help, I did. It made me so happy to see it up in the reception venue, and it makes a wonderful memento for me to keep.
Candle light was a must to set the mood and so we had dozens of tea-lights in jam jars hanging from trees and on the beams in the barn.
My mother collected over 150 vintage cups and saucers from charity shops and friends over the year before our wedding, which we gave out with favours. I tied them with printed ribbon with our names and date, and we filled them with chocolate English and American coins.
My sister and maid of honour volunteered to make the cake. It was three tiered; the bottom was fruit, middle was red velvet and the top was plain sponge, so hopefully everyone was happy. It looked amazing too!
For our wedding breakfast, we chose Scottish Salmon, followed by Roast Beef and Yorkshire pudding to give the Americans a proper English treat. We had Chocolate Brownie with Ice Cream for dessert, as there was no chocolate in the cake. For a late supper we had fish and chips from the local chippie, Matt’s Plaice.
To keep guests entertained, I wanted a live band, and Daniel located a great local band called Breaker Live, who played a great compilation of classic rock. Between sets we let our guests plug in their own iPods and had a great time dancing routines to the Macarena and 5,6,7,8!
A couple of special touches on the day included having my late grandmother’s sapphire engagement ring as my something blue. It wouldn’t fit my fingers so I sewed into my wedding dress. Also my father surprised me by presenting us with a beautiful poem he had written for us, it was so thoughtful.
Hyde Bank Farm is a beautiful venue, and we would recommend it, but I would encourage brides to design the day themselves rather than using routine suppliers, in order to stop it becoming another generic wedding.
Directly from the wedding we went on a four day mini-moon to Dannah Farm, a secluded retreat for couples. It was wonderful to sit around in the private spa with a class of champagne! We then popped back briefly to see my mum before flying to Fort Lauterdale, Florida, to stay in Daniel’s parents’ penthouse beach apartment, followed by a few days at Disney World (because I had never been) where we stayed in a nearby Marriott.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to discuss expectations early, in order to prevent fights. Everyone has different priorities, and if your parents are paying it’s their wedding too! My father wanted a fancy car and good wine, I wanted a band and a nice dress, my mother wanted to invite everyone she knew, and my husband just wanted everyone to get along – we all accepted that what we thought was important wasn’t what the other people did, and that helped us in the long run.
When it got close to the wedding I just couldn’t wait to just be married. As perfect as our wedding day was, marriage is better.
March 6th, 2015 | Julia Braime
When we received the details of Jai and Mish’s big day I had to double take the time frame between their engagement and wedding date – three months, surely it’s an error. But the error was mine, for this incredibly organised couple planned their fabulous big day in just 12 weeks. Here Jai and Mish prove that keeping things simple can sometimes work best.
We love Mish’s cool wedding day look and the men keep their style stakes high too with their burgundy and navy suits and patterned paisley shirts.
Fashion fans might want to take note.
With images by Pixies in the Cellar.
mish says: We got engaged 1st November 2013 in Edinburgh and set the date for 25th January 2014.
Rowton Hall Hotel in Chester was our chosen venue for both the ceremony and reception. We wanted somewhere we could hire on an exclusive use basis. We booked the whole hotel including all 37 bedrooms so that family and friends could stay all weekend with us.
Rustic woodland was the theme we picked. Jai made all of the table centre log candles, the wooden bench that we asked guests to sign and the wooden box for guests to put cards in.
We didn’t have a colour scheme as such but chose a palette of creams, lilacs, and browns.
My dress was by Donna Lee, a British designer and the style was called Pansy. I wore a handmade veil that I made myself and a necklace that my mum had made by Simon at Fraser Bell jewellers in West Kirby, Wirral, using stones from my great grandmother’s and my mother’s engagement rings.
Simon also made all of our rings, including my engagement ring.
Jai wore a burgundy blazer and paisley shirt from Burtons and navy suit trousers, as did the best man.
The bridesmaids wore dresses from Ted Baker and the groomsmen wore navy slim fit suits from Moss Bros which we bought so that the boys could keep them.
There were several special touches to our day which were contributed by different people. I travelled in my dad’s yellow 1973 Ford Capri. It rained on the way to the wedding and a windscreen wiper fell off but my dad luckily had a spare in the boot! Our wedding cake was made by Jai’s mum – it was a three-tier rice crispy toffee cake, his grandmother’s recipe. She isn’t with us anymore so this was a nice way to remember his grandmother.
We gave Kinder Eggs for favours and as a little extra for our guests we also made goody bags to go in each of the hotel rooms, which included paracetamol and some crisps and juice!
For my flowers I had a round vintage arrangement and the bridesmaids had smaller versions. The flowers were from Cocoa Flowers in Chester.
We used a DJ from Event Services Direct to provide the evening entertainment.
Having the photographs taken in the evening with the sparklers was definitely one of our favourite parts of the day. It was great fun because we told our friends about our engagement on bonfire night.
For our honeymoon we went to Sri Lanka on a private tour around the country and then a stop off for two nights in Dubai for a bit of shopping.
My top tip to other brides up north would be that it doesn’t have to take years to plan a wedding, we organised everything in three months, just keep it simple. Making a lot of the details ourselves kept everything within budget and gave our wedding a personal touch.
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