September 27th, 2018 | Rachel Parry
We almost feel like someone has hit the fast-forward button on 2018 as our feet have barely touched the ground these past nine months, and now in the midst of our autumn Luxury Wedding Show season, things are showing no signs of slowing down!
And not that we’re complaining. So far it’s been a year of hard work but fabulous rewards in producing another two stunning issues of UNVEILED magazine and giving this gorgeous brand a slick new website too. We’ve also added some amazing new venues to our portfolio of shows and have more exciting announcements to come in 2019. We had an epic run of events in the spring and are loving being back out on the road for the current collection of events and all the time we’ve kept the pretty pages of Brides Up North filled with inspiration, up to the minute news and trends as well as priceless expert info and tips.
So, you could say we’ve got a lot going on! This might explain why we snapped up an invite from the wonderful team at Ragdale Hall for an overnight spa break quicker than Megan could make her way through the guys on Love Island this summer.
Having visited this beautiful venue of tranquillity before, we knew we were in for 24 hours of pure relaxation and excited by the glorious sounding additions and enhancements at Ragdale Hall that had taken place since our previous stay – most notably the Rooftop Infinity Pool.
The welcome to Ragdale sets the tone for your time at the spa as you arrive at its idyllic Leicestershire countryside location to be greeted by friendly staff who take care of your luggage and even park your car for you – fingers firmly un-lifted from the off.
Once checked in we enjoyed a hot drink while we were run through our schedule and given a map of the site – that’s right a map! Larger than your average spa, Ragdale boasts an impressive list of facilities beyond the usual pool, sauna and steam room, with impressive outdoor areas, relaxation rooms, exercise pool, gymnasium, fitness studios, hair and beauty studio, treatment rooms and three shops, plus its famous Thermal Spa. With all this on one site it comes as no surprise that some guests at Ragdale check in for an entire week, I mean, can-you-imagine?
But alas, we needed to soak up the heavenly goodness in the in the short but sweet time we had and so after a light Caesar salad (and prosecco!) lunch it was straight into the robes and out into the new Rooftop Infinity Pool, which forms part of a recent multi-millionaire-pound development at Ragdale – and worth every penny, if not for the view alone! The open-air, stainless steel pool is heated to a cosy 35 degrees and features reclining underwater massage jets – by day we liked to idle at the infinity edge breathing in the open countryside beyond, while by nightfall it was another level of peace to lay back on the bubbling beds and gaze at the stars.
In the same area there is also a modern elevated lounge area with floor-to-ceiling glass enjoying the same delightful views and therapeutic atmosphere, plus on the ground floor a shiny new exercise pool, complete with aqua gym and cool LED light show.
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the Thermal Spa – a playground of relaxation consisting of a range of experience rooms, some of which have been exclusively designed for Ragdale and so can’t be found elsewhere.
Enhancing for the mind, body and soul the rooms vary in temperature, lighting and aromas to deliver different benefits. We particularly loved the Thought Zone, designed to inspire positive thinking, and the Colourflow Cave, which combines a heady mix of jasmine, lavender and camomile for a hedonistic detox. The crème de la crème for us though has to be the Candle Pool – an underground candle-lit cavern with star-lit ceiling and inviting 34-degree waters. Pure heaven, and if it wasn’t for our pruning fingers, you might still find us in there now!
After a bob in the outdoor Waterfall Pool we headed to our room to shower and dress for the evening meal. Served in the wood panelled dining room, Ragdale’s expert chefs always offer a beautiful choice of healthy yet thoroughly appetising dishes, with a tempting choice of starters, main and desserts.
Both Julia and I chose the tomato and mozzarella salad to start, followed by a vegetarian pasta main and I then opted for the indulgent ‘comfort pudding’ of a roulade while Julia selected the cheese board to finish, all washed down with a delightful Sauvignon.
Feeling highly satisfied we retied to our rooms for a blissful night’s sleep before another bout of relaxation, and treatments – always the highlight of any spa trip.
We began our day with breakfast in the bright and airy Verandah Bar, which offered a feast of cereals, toast, pastries and fruit, which we devoured – me alongside a helping of smoked salmon and avocado and Julia along with a small stack of fluffy pancakes.
September 18th, 2018 | Julia Braime
Gotcha! The lead image on today’s post may well have caused you to double take, but Andy and I haven’t got hitched just yet! The photo was actually taken at our best friends’ wedding a few weeks ago where I was a maid of honour and Andy one of the groomsmen.
Attending four fabulous weddings this year has certainly made for very helpful research for our own big day, reaffirming the most important elements to us, where we should allocate more of the budget, where we might be able to make a saving and how to weave special touches among the proceedings.
And now, with no other weddings in the diary between now and summer 2019 we are officially next in line to become Mr & Mrs – and I feel that with less than eight months to go, we are making surprisingly good progress.
I have, however, found myself somewhat torn when writing these diary posts as I’m excited to give you updates and share my experience, but like any other bride-to-be, I don’t want to give away too many details about the big day before it’s happened, especially for those that will be attending.
Following the wedding I’ll certainly be divulging all aspects and details of the amazing suppliers we have onboard, but in the meantime, there are some elements that I think are safe to reveal…
Since my last diary post the day invites have been sent out causing Andy to get weirdly cocker-spaniel-style excited for the post arriving each day. Every time a few more RSVPs drop through the letter box he quickly retrieves them and moves the responding guests’ names into the ‘attending’ column on one of our many planning spreadsheets. I have to say though, I adore this level of enthusiasm and organisation (if only he could take transfer such skills keeping ‘his side’ of our bedroom in order!).
Clean and elegant, we went with a personal ‘R&A’ design in a gold leaf garland for the invite with accompanying details card and RSVP sealed within a brown Kraft envelope, which should tie in nicely with other styling elements that we have planned for the wedding.
Another box ticked is Andy and his groomsmen’s suits, which he found while shopping with his best men in Manchester. It’s really important to me that Andy loves what he wears on the day as much as I love my dress and I must say, though he’s still to accessorise his outfit, he looks absolutely gorgeous in his chosen suit and picturing him in it at our chosen venue The West Mill, gives me butterflies! Finding his attire also helps to pull together the wedding colour palette a little more, though the hue of his tie is an ongoing debate!
We’ve ticked all entertainment boxes now too, with bookings for different parts of the day that we hope will reflect our musical tastes while setting the desired atmosphere and, in turn, creating memories that will last beyond the wedding.
I’ve also recruited my #glamsquad to beautify me and my four bridesmaids – it was certainly an area where I was spoilt for choice as through both Brides Up North and UNVEILED magazine we work with some true talents of the hair and makeup industry. The two pros I’ve enlisted the skills of are Lake-District-based hair stylist Gareth Lambert of Aqua The Salon, and North East makeup artist Anna Cordelia Mason. I’ve had the pleasure of working with this dynamite duo on several occasions and I’ve found their approach and styles to be right up my street, plus they both have such lovely personalities that I know they will bring a really fun yet chilled vibe to the wedding morning.
What else? Well after letting you all know that I unexpectedly found my dream dress in record time in the summer I thought I’d move onto my accessories, starting with my shoes – and I’m thrilled to say I’ll be a Charlotte Mills bride when it comes to my big day footwear. I was keen to go to a designer that specialises in bridal shoes, rather than buy off the high street, as I know the experts in this area provide both style and comfort in their designs. As a girl that lives in trainers (all hail the Stan Smiths!) I couldn’t bare the thought of hobbling around in pain on my wedding day, though I knew I’d want a heel for added height and an elegant posture. Thanks to Charlotte I had the most amazing experience picking the perfect pair from her utterly gorgeous collection and would highly recommend others to follow in my footsteps by visiting her cute boutique in Saddleworth near Oldham or visiting one of her amazing stockists for personal on- to-one service and advice. For those coming to our Luxury Wedding Shows this season, you’re in for an extra special treat as our goody bags will include a Charlotte Mills discount voucher meaning you can bag yourself a pair of her totally dreamy heels and make a saving in the process!
Next on my wedding to-do list is the bridesmaid dresses, an element of the planning I’m really stoked for as I’m looking to fabulous designer Rosanna Garden of Motee Maids to assist me in dressing my leading ladies. Having first met Rosanna at The White Gallery in London when she’d not long launched her amazing bridesmaid collection, I instantly fell in love with her clever customisable creations that give options on dress style, colour and delicate hand embellishment detailing, enabling individual personalities and style preferences to shine through. Furthermore, Motee Maids was named ‘Best Bridesmaid Collection of the Year’ at the 2018 Bridal Buyer Awards, just last week further cementing Rosanna’s position as a leading designer in the industry. The only problem with picking such a talent is that I will, without doubt, be enviable of my maids’ attire.
Over the coming months we have a few more suppliers to source and meetings to arrange, including with the florist, caterer and our amazing photographer Jon of S6 Photography. And so, I guess what is safe to say is that the wedding clique is coming together, and momentum is building for the big day, though I’m eager to not wish away the run-up as it’s all part of the wedding experience and a time that I aim to absorb and enjoy!
Catch up on Rachel’s other diary entries here.
May 3rd, 2018 | Rachel Parry
What are the necessary requirements for chilled out girly trip? For us it has to be comforting and stylish surroundings, delicious food, one or two glasses (ok, bottles) of wine and, of course, access to some pampering facilities. We were therefore delighted to be invited for an overnight stay at our fabulous Sponsor venue, the stunning Titanic Hotel Liverpool, last month, which offers all this – and a whole lot more!
Given it’s uber cool location at Stanley Docks, the gorgeous boutique style hotel offers a tranquil haven away from the immediate buzz of Liverpool’s city centre but is just a few minutes’ cab ride away should you want to mix some city, culture and bar hopping into your escape.
Perfect for a pre-wedding getaway, perhaps to shop for the last minute big day bits with your other half, or an indulgent girls-only get away with your mum, sister or bezzie – or get all in tow for a sophisticated hen do – the Titanic houses a contemporary bar, restaurant and accommodation all under one roof, plus its Maya Blue Wellbeing, complete with fitness, pool and treatment areas. Oh, and did we mention they do weddings? But more on that later.
For now, let’s fill you in on our experience of this dreamy hotel. Arriving mid-morning we checked in and took a seat in the impressive Rum Bar lounge, with original exposed brick and large steel pillars mixed in with modern décor and soft furnishings giving a New York loft apartment vibe, which is echoed through all areas of the hotel. As a nod to its rum warehouse heritage and location on the docks, the spirit is the tipple of choice at the Titanic, though at 11am we felt it a little too early to start on the alcohol, and so settled in with a large latte as we took in the surroundings before being given a full tour and rundown of the hotel’s facilities.
In the midst of a hectic but truly epic wedding fair season (don’t forget it’s our annual WEDSTOCK’18 Wedding Show in Harrogate this Sunday, 6th May) we decided to make our trip one of relaxation, enjoying some much-needed magazine time and a visit to the Maya Blue Wellbeing. As mentioned, those visiting could easily venture into the city centre during their stay, where there are shops, museums, tourist attractions, bars, cafes and restaurants galore.
We broke up our day with lunch in the bar area before checking out our spectacular accommodation. Boasting 153 rooms in total, the options range from classic double rooms to superior and presidential suites. All are light, airy and spacious, with rich furnishings and luxurious bathrooms.
May 1st, 2018 | Rachel Parry
When it comes to planning a hen do it can be tricky to think of an ‘activity’ that’s original and will appeal to all ages and personalities within the group. But thanks to our fabulous North-East based Sponsor, freelance makeup artist Alexandra Jane Edgar, we have a winning suggestion for you that’s guaranteed to go down a treat with all your beloved hens – a professional makeover and photo shoot! We said it was fabulous!
Based in the studio of Joe Laws Photography, in Newcastle Upon Tyne, Alexandra has added this hen party experience to her list of services, so girls can get glammed up before hitting the town and take away some stunning professional shots with their leading ladies as a gorgeous souvenir of their pre-wedding celebrations.
Not only that but Alexandra is also offering group and private makeup classes to help ladies get out of a beauty rut and enhance their features while learning top products, tips and tricks along the way. And those further afield than the North East need not miss out of Alexandra’s golden advice as she’s started a series of online makeup tutorials too. Is there no end to this lady’s talents?
Here to tell us more is the expert herself. Over to you Alexandra…
With images by Joe Laws Photography.
You’ve recently introduced a Hen Party Experience to the portfolio of fabulous services that you offer. Can you tell us a little about this?
alexandra says: Our Hen Party Experience is a new, feel good service providing you and your main girls an amazing treat. All hens get a pamper session with eyes, cheeks and lips at £35 each, with the bride-to-be getting a consultation on skincare, full professional makeup application and hair styled for £55. Next, it’s time to hit the studio and enjoy a photoshoot by award-winning wedding and portrait photographer Joe Laws. Each hen will choose a digital photograph and the bride-to-be chooses an additional one of the entire party to take away with them. Any additional images, prints, framing are also available at an additional cost.
How have the hen party sessions been received so far?
The feedback has been amazing with our parties coming from as far as Northern Ireland and Scotland so far. They say it is a great way to spend an afternoon before going into town to party. It’s a professional, fun experience where everyone gets to look and feel their best. Not only will the session encourage brides-to-be to book their wedding makeup trial, it’s also a great opportunity for some practice in front of a professional photographer – and most of all, they all have fun with beautiful images to take away and treasure. It certainly beats a selfie!
You also run a number of makeup classes at the studio. Why did you want to introduce this service and who do the classes appeal to?
I have been asked for a very long time from clients if I offer classes and tutorials. I decided to offer this service and the feedback and enquiries have been fantastic. I had not realised how intimidating us ladies can find makeup, and how difficult some find it to find a makeup artist they can trust. I run monthly events at the studio (details can be found on my Facebook page) which are a wonderful opportunity to meet new people, get some advice on products and learn, as I show you “how to” on my model. I am also available for private classes, which are great for mums and daughters, or a few friends, looking for some new ideas, tips and tricks. This service appeals to all ladies looking for an informative, fun experience learning new skills and gaining confidence with their look. Events are £15 per person, and private/group consultations are £35 each.
What are the main beauty mistakes that ladies tend to make?
I honestly don’t think it’s the ladies who make the mistakes. I genuinely believe they have been served with the wrong products for their needs initially. I have seen this time and time again. The consultants are not asking the right questions, nor are they listening to the answers. The client walks away having spent money, gets home and doesn’t have a clue how to use her new products. I am passionate about skincare and makeup. It is magical and empowering. I am able to guide you on the best, effective, cruelty free, luxury products to use to suit your lifestyle whilst keeping it easy and transparent.
Your latest venture is video makeup tutorials, which sound exciting – can you tell us more please?
My desire to help others enjoy, experiment and feel good with incredible products has catapulted me right out of my comfort zone. I wished to present my brand in a luxurious, fun, easy going, informative way. I want my clients to see real women, the process, the application, the finish. My videos are currently on my Facebook page, however I am in the process of setting up a Youtube Channel – AJ Edgar Make up Artist – where they will all be together. I will keep you posted!
So what type of videos have you done so far and what else do you have planned?
My first two tutorials have been modelled by two incredible dancers, Jessica and Elena. My first look is based on enhancing Jessica’s own beauty, the second is empowering Elena with a catwalk inspired look from Sophia Webster’s dreamy current collection. Next, I will be showcasing a real prom makeup application on Royal Teen Miss UK, Juliette. Through my videos, I will be filming ladies of all ages and ethnicities focussing on different areas, such as eyes, cheeks, lips, skincare, foundation – the whole schbang!
What current makeup trends are you a fan of and can you forecast any looks that will be big in bridal?
I’m delighted that the magical, ethereal, glistening, mystical looks on the spring/summer catwalks at London, Paris and New York Fashion Weeks are here to stay. The skin is luminous and looks so healthy – perfect for a bride. See examples at Antonio Marras, Ralph & Russo, Sophia Webster and Valentino. I feel the sherbet hues will transcend into bridal with lilac, pink, pistachio and lemon taking centre stage. I adore translating the catwalk looks for bridal and every day. All examples can be seen on my Facebook page, shot by Joe Laws Photography.
Beauty-wise, who is your celebrity crush?
Currently it would have to be bride-to-be of the moment, Meghan Markle. She always looks radiant, polished and so happy. She is a strong, confident woman. I adore that she said no to any editing of her portrait for Vogue. Right now, Meghan will be preparing her skin in order to be wedding-ready, focusing on her nutrition and skincare. This is something I am able to assist my brides-to-be with and I only use vegan skincare, makeup, nutrition, bath and body products.
It would be absolutely incredible at some point in my career to do Meghan’s makeup. It would be such a privilege to advise and create looks for such an empowering, beautiful girl.
April 5th, 2018 | Rachel Parry
Waking up to more snow on Easter Monday only drove home how epically long winter has felt with the relentless cold weather affecting not only our heating bills (we dread to think!) but also our skin and energy levels – both of which could do with an almighty boost.
As a newly-engaged bride-to-be I’m also feeling the effects of trying to keep on top of the early wedding planning, while keeping all in the loop – oh and plan my brother’s stag do and assist on my best friend’s hen do as well. So, all in all a lot on, which super exciting but a little depleting on the batteries.
The perfect remedy for a change of season and busy schedule though has to be a spa break, and so when Staffordshire based Moddershall Oaks got in touch with the offer of an overnight stay to switch off from the outside world and restore balance, I took it up quicker than Made in Chelsea’s Jamie Laing can tell a girl he’s falling in love with her.
Situated in a rural location near the market town of Stone, Moddershall Oaks is a country spa retreat and idyllic wedding venue – so it could tick two boxes for those of you still on the venue hunt. Whilst there I did get to view its stunning and flexible spaces for weddings – including a gorgeous oak gazebo surrounded by tranquil woodland for beautiful outdoor ceremonies – and would certainly encourage couples planning to wed in the Staffordshire area to pay this place a visit.
Though not particularly worn out from the wedding planning (though he must be exhausted from all the stag do preparation – a number one priority from grooms it would seem *rolls eyes*), my fiancée Andy was lucky enough to join me on this getaway. We arrived at Moddershall around noon on a Wednesday and was welcomed by a warm atmosphere, friendly staff and a strawberry Bellini (start as you mean to go on, right?)
Having filled in a few quick forms we were given a run through the facilities and our (very relaxed) itinerary for our stay, before being shown to one of the gorgeous ten 5* boutique bedroom suites to drop off our bags. The room was comforting, spacious and beautifully decorated, plus there is access to a shared hot tub, should we want to continue the pampering after visiting the main facilities.
Amazingly, we fell on a gorgeous spring-like day with clear blue skies (I will add that it had snowed either side of our visit) and so we wasted no time in heading to the crème de la crème of Moddershall, its outdoor heated vitality pool. Here we enjoyed bathing in the bubbling hot water in the open air made complete by a countryside views, oh and a couple of glasses of prosecco delivered direct via waiter service – this was our kind of spa!
We were joined in the courtyard area by other couples, as well as a few small groups of women and a couple of (I assume) mothers and daughters, which demonstrated how perfect the spa is for a romantic getaway as well as much-needed girly time.
After drying off in the Kelo sauna, also located in the courtyard, we retired to the relaxing lounge area indoors to recline on big sofas next to a warming fire and filled up on afternoon treats of cake and coffee.
Next it was treatment time – having only just managed to convince Andy of the benefits of moisturising daily, it didn’t surprise me that he passed on this, but the metrosexuals out there will be pleased to hear that Moddershall has blissful treatment options for both males and females.
The options ranged from massage, detox and body therapies, carried out by experienced therapists in the cosy treatment rooms, to a full range of beauty treatments undertaken in The Snug. This gorgeous area is available to hire privately for hen dos, birthdays and the like and, for Moddershall brides, it can also be taken over pre-wedding for big day pampering and preening, complete with nibbles, bubbly and music.
March 26th, 2018 | Alexis Forsyth
Springtime is the perfect season to update your makeup look, ditching darker, wintery palettes for a fresher, radiant finish that’s all about enhancing your natural beauty with minimal fuss.
Spring beauty needn’t be boring though – there are plenty of ways to get playful with your makeup this season and inject pops of colour into your day-to-day beauty regime. Who said that bright colours – or even a touch of sparkle – were just for going ‘out out’ with the girls? You may even want to borrow some of this season’s most coveted looks for an on-trend stylish twist to your big day.
Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up the top beauty looks we’re currently crushing on here at Brides Up North that you simply must get acquainted with. We’ve even handpicked a selection of go-to products to help you nail these trends, so what exactly are you waiting for?
Outshine other brides this spring season by adding some gorge sparkle to your bridal day makeup look, as seen on the spring runways of Anna Sui, Alberta Ferretti and Stella Jean. We’re talking highly pigmented metallic eyelids or a delicate smudge of shimmery shadow on the inner circles of your eyes, sure to brighten up your complexion in an instant. For a truly sultry sparkle, you can’t go wrong with Violet Voss Super Sparkles – these dinky pots come in a variety of colours, including nude copper and even white champagne gold.
Spring is all about those bloomin’ lovely colour palettes and we simply can’t get enough of dreamy pastel shades for a sweet, barely there natural look. But for something a little more intense on the colour spectrum, we think you’re going to be coveting some rather luscious cherry shades this spring, which contrast perfectly with a fresh, dewy complexion. We love Clinique’s Pop Lip Colour + Primer which, as luck would have it, comes in a Cherry Pop shade and glides on with a velvety finish, moisturising lips for up to 8 hours to boot.
If you’re so over unicorns and pineapples already, then let us introduce you to an all-new trend to obsess over in 2018, spotted on the runways at Fendi and Tadashi Shoji – gals, it’s time to make a splash with mermaid vibes. The mermaid makeup look is all about bright and beautiful eyes, think ocean blue and exotic green tones – from turquoise and coral to aquamarine and every shade in between. One of our favourites is Stila’s Magnificent Metals Foil Finish Eye Shadow in emerald with its cream-to-powder texture and intense wash of colour.
According to top beauty editors, bloggers and A-listers, gold highlighter is a must-have addition to your makeup bag this season. This is an ultra flattering hue that leaves your skin with a glossy complexion. Charlotte Tilbury’s Bar of Gold is something of a cult classic in this department, promising to sculpt your cheekbones to perfection thanks to the highlighter’s light-reflecting ingredients and delicate formula.
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