August 5th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
When in need of a little R&R sometimes a day away doesn’t quite cut it, and so an indulgent overnight stay is required to truly unwind.
Thankfully as I built up to a week’s annual leave to recharge the batteries away from Brides Up North HQ (hey I love my job, but we all need a little rest now and again), I was offered the opportunity to visit the fabulous mill wheel spa on the edge of the Staffordshire Peaks for an overnight break with my partner in tow. How’s that for timing?
All in the name of work (I’m so dedicated to the cause) I took up the kind invitation knowing the venue would provide a perfect subject for a Blissed Out Bride post, in which we explore ideal places for our readers to enjoy some pre and post wedding pampering, as well as girly hen dos. My assumptions were right, as once again we’ve discovered a tranquil retreat in the north of the country for brides and grooms to put on their ‘to do’ list.
The journey from South Yorkshire took just over an hour, passing through picturesque areas such as Ladybower, Castleton and Buxton before arriving at The Three Horse Shoes Country Inn in rural Blackshaw Moor, which houses Mill Wheel Spa.
A family run business since 1981, the hospitality is among the warmest I have ever experienced as we were greeted by Katie Kirk who tends to the inn, alongside her husband and brother- and sister-in-law. Though the level of care, pride and customer service has clearly remained throughout, it soon became apparent that the inn itself has undergone quite a few changes over the years in order to deliver something special to its guests.
Among its most recent additions is Mill Wheel Spa, which offers a wide choice of day and overnight spa packages, including those specifically designed for hen dos, husbands and wives-to-be and newlyweds.
The Mini Moon Break package that we were invited to experience included use of the spa facilities with a rasul and ‘beach hut’ experience, a three-course evening meal in The Stables Restaurant, overnight accommodation, breakfast and a treatment each before departure the following day – boy were we in for a treat!
First to drop the bags off – we were staying in one of the inn’s top garden rooms, complete with four-poster bed and private outdoor hot tub. After a look around we headed to the spa making a mental note to return to the room in enough time before our evening meal to try out that hot tub.
The spa’s facilities focus on a number of hot and cold experiences to clear out the pores and awaken the senses and so we followed the suggested route to get the most out of our visit. First on the agenda is the visual centre piece of the spa, and a UK first, The Mill Wheel Shower, which pays homage to the history of the James Brindley Water Mill in neighbouring Leek and Cheddleton Flint Mill, which were once an important part of the area’s local industry and economy. The large revolving mill pours out water from its shovels in intervals, alternatively warm and cold, a bit like a tame game of Russian roulette.
We are then advised to use The Peak District Stonebath for a ‘steam bath experience’ followed by The Farmers Sauna, with a quick dip in The Cedar Plunge Pool in between (refreshing but freezing!). Next our rasul treatment in a special chamber made for two. We were instructed to smooth mineral rich mud onto our skin while the room heated up, which provided a lot of entertainment as we came to look like we’d emerged from a swamp. The results however were fabulous – at the end of the 30 minutes water rained down washing the mud away and revealing hydrated, soft skin.
By this point the sun had made an appearance so we ventured outside to the spa’s garden for some refreshments, including a little fizz. Here there’s also a three metre square hydrotherapy pool set at an inviting 36 degrees, so we had to have a quick dip. Like much of the inn, this area enjoys stunning views over the Roaches and surrounding countryside, which enhanced our already chilled out mood.
June 9th, 2015 | Julia Braime
As we continue to look to wedded stars for inspiration for bridal wear, hair and makeup, we’re delighted to be putting the gorgeous fearne cotton in the spotlight today – one of our top celebrity crushes here at Brides Up North HQ.
Whether she’s snapped on the way to the Radio 1 offices, presenting on TV or gracing the red carpet, style setter Fearne seems to get it right time and time again.
Cool, quirky and individual in her look, we all knew Miss Cotton was unlikely to wear a traditional wedding dress when she tied the knot to her long-term partner Jesse Wood last summer. And we were right as Fearne dazzled in an ankle-length Pucci gown, complete with sparkling headband, heels and bag. Pure perfection!
So let’s explore how you can steal classy Cotton’s big day look…
Though individual Fearne’s dress appears to take inspiration from a variety of sources. The cute tea-length with wide neck gives the gown a classy vintage edge and is reminiscent of the likes of Audrey Hepburn’s 1950s wedding dress. Meanwhile the soft pleated bodice and floaty tulle skirt have a somewhat Grecian feel about them, but then Fearne’s overall look, with soft hair and makeup, also says boho bride.
So the choice is yours. You can choose to replicate Fearne’s attire throughout or pick just one or two elements as inspiration. So for example you might love the cute length and capped sleeves of Fearne’s dress but not like the sparkle. In which case interest can instead be added with lace detail, a sash or romantic floral corsages. Alternatively you might prefer a fuller skirt than Fearne’s or a strapless or sleeveless design.
For fans of detail there are dresses with sparkle and embellishment along the neckline, sleeves or bodice that create a similar look to Miss Cotton and give brides varying levels of glitz to choose from.
If however you feel a carbon copy is the only way to go, top designer Jenny Packham produced an identical dress called Gemma in her 2014 collection with beautiful intricate detailing across the neckline which gives the illusion of an off-the-shoulder dress, just as Fearne’s did.
Clockwise from top left: image source| image source, photography by Chantal Andre Photography| image source| image source, photography by Karen Wise Photography| image source| image source| image source| image source| image source| image source, photography by Birds of a Feather.
If there’s one thing females envy Fearne for (apart from her amazing career) it’s her voluminous, golden glossy hair that seems to suit any do imaginable.
Ahead of the pack as always Fearne’s been rocking the lob (long bob) for quite some time now, even though the rest of us have only just caught on to the style. So keeping true to the relaxed look she’s become admired for, Fearne shunned a structured bridal up do in favour of wearing her gorgeous shoulder-length locks down with a cool, effortless wave.
The great news is the look is easy to achieve and works on most hair types and lengths (just those with cropped dos that will miss out on this one). Brides can tighten up the wave slightly to create more of a curl for the ceremony if they so wish and then allow to drop throughout the day for a more boho appearance come the evening celebrations.
Fearne finishes off her look with a sparkling silver headband to pick out the detail on her dress, again an easy look to copy, with numerous stunning vintage-style headpieces available to brides that like a little bling.
Clockwise from top left: image source, photography by Long Distance Loving| image source| image source| image source, photography by Bryce Covey| image source| image source, photography by Getty, Joanna Kustra| image source| image source| image source| image source, photography by Codrean Photography & Films.
We’ve seen Fearne work a variety of makeup looks over the years though she often returns to the safety of her signature style – lined eyes and a slick of lippy. Though slightly toned down, Fearne fell back on this look once again for her wedding day.
A great option for brides wanting fairly natural makeup, the finish is soft and pretty. Whether hiring a professional or going it alone ladies will want a flawless dewy base on which to begin, created using a light foundation and concealer and finished with a dusting of powder.
For a healthy boho glow Fearne’s cheekbones have been defined with bronzer and then a highlighter has been added to the cheeks and nose to reflect the light.
Eyes are kept simple with a sweeping of light, shimmering eyeshadow, that famous flick of eyeliner and a couple of coats of mascara.
Finally the main focal point of Fearne’s look, the lips. Lips should be lined for definition and staying power and then filed in with a warm pink hue for a glamourous yet girlie look.
May 28th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
Because every now and then we need a little pampering – isn’t that right girls? So today we introduce a new feature to the blog which is designed to encourage you busy brides-to-be to take some much needed time out from those hectic wedding planning schedules and just chill!
Through our blissed out bride posts we’ll be visiting beautiful havens of relaxation throughout the north of the country (you can thank us later) that are ideal locations for a little pre-wedding pampering, a heavenly hen do or even a minimoon to recharge the batteries when the big day has been and gone.
And so we begin with a trip to the wonderful Titanic Spa. All in the name of research for you tense brides (we know, we’re too kind) Julia and I visited this tranquil venue tucked away in a scheduled part of Huddersfield, Yorkshire, and came away literally walking on air.
As the name suggests this is a spa of impressive size which has great power when it comes to the art of de-stressing and has become particularly well known for its extensive ‘heat and ice experience’ which we’ll tell you all about a little later on.
Perfect for some quality time with the girls, your hubby-to-be or your busy mum, Titanic offers a fab range of packages, from full spa days – including ‘indulge’, ‘relax’, ‘detox’ and ‘celebrate’ options – to twilight sessions and even overnight stays. We’ll let you determine the amount of relaxation required depending on how your bridezilla barometer is reading.
Upon arrival at the spa, which is set within a stunning textile mill, we were given a warm welcome followed by a tour of those impressive facilities: gym, pool, sauna, steam room, relaxation lounge, treatment areas and the heat and ice experience. Phew!
Thanks to such generous facilities guests could easily spend a day here without the need for a treatment but for the full Titanic experience, we say it’s a must (especially after all that planning) and so we started our day of indulgence with a full body massage for me and luxurious facial for Julia.
Titanic’s treatment rooms act like a cocoon, wrapping you up in warm relaxation, which feels like a treat in itself! Though once the therapist (thanks Beth) began to work her magic hands on my back, shoulders and neck I was taken to a whole other level of relaxation. The pressure was perfect ensuring pleasure rather than pain though I still felt the benefit on muscles tired out from the gym, making this a fabulous treat for ladies that have been working hard to achieve their dream bride body.
Julia’s been travelling a lot recently and working long hours at the computer screen between planes, trains and automobiles, so a bespoke facial was the perfect way to restore some much needed balance to her stressed out complexion. Although she assures me that she managed to resist falling asleep on the job, Julia emerged glowing after her hour in the hands of her therapist – looking rested and ready to take on the world once more!
There are so many other tantalising treatments, using products by Decléor, Elemis Carita and Neom Organics, to choose from. These include exfoliation, cleansing and detox treatments, great for banishing dry, lifeless skin cells and producing flawless, radiant skin ready for your big day. Alternatively you might want to sooth away pre-wedding headaches with an Indian head massage, restore your body’s harmony levels with a reiki session or indulge in beauty treatments with your hens, such as a mani and pedi.
Next, a gossip poolside before lunch. There’s so much to be said for loosing yourself in mindless chitchat whilst dipping your feet in a pool or chilling out in a Jacuzzi as we were quickly reminded and noted many groups of ladies (and the odd man) doing the exact same.
By afternoon Hudderfield felt like Hawaii (well almost) and so we requested lunch on the outdoor terrace. What we love about Titanic is that they don’t go all Gillian McKeith during your visit by feeding you just greens and denying you a little treat. The menu choices are healthy but tasty and wine, prosecco and champagne can be ordered alongside (hurrah!).
Refuelled we headed back indoors to that much-talked about heat and ice experience. Here guests can go between a number of hot and cold rooms, each with differing benefits to the body. The overall effect is rather refreshing as you peak and dip in temperature. We particularly enjoyed the crystal steam room, designed for ‘deep relaxation’, and the herbal infusion room, which is said to ‘invigorate the spirit’. However we were a little nervous when it came to the colder rooms and chickened out of the plunge pool and bucket shower altogether. If you’re currently walking around in a wedding planning haze we’re sure these would instantly bring you back to reality.
That left us with just one area to visit – the relaxation lounge, a soft lit room with huge beanbags and tranquil music. This is what every stressed out bride needs – pure relaxation a million miles away from seating plans or taster menus. Julia might have fallen asleep on the job again, but to be honest… I wasn’t in any state to check!
To round things off we each had a mini mani so that we could take a little piece of pretty away from Titanic Spa with us in the form of pastel polished nails. Gorge!
So girls it’s time to become a blissed out bride by adding a Titanic trip to your ‘wedding to do’ list.
For full details of Titanic Spa’s facilities, accommodation and packages, visit their website.
May 22nd, 2015 | Julia Braime
That is the question.
Today’s big debate topic is a dilemma ladies come up against time and time throughout their lives and is a particularly tough call for brides-to-be – to grow your hair or not for your wedding day. As well as the engagement ring a signal that proposal has taken place is often a bride’s hair growing at a rapid rate as hair appointments are put on hold while operation rapunzel is carried out.
However while once long locks reigned supreme in the wedding hair world, a new relaxed and individual vibe is coming through that gives brides-to-be more choice than ever before.
So what’s it going to be ladies, long or lopped?
rachel says: let it grow
Ok so I once had lovely long blonde locks, then at the age of 14 I started work in a hairdressers and before I knew it my hair was up by my chin as I became the salon Guinea pig.
While I didn’t particularly mind, the problem is I’ve never had the patience or strength to get it back to that length and so see a wedding day as a goal to get mission grow back on track once and for all.
Furthermore I feel that growing your hair gets all the more impossible the older you get making a wedding day almost a last chance saloon scenario for me to resurrect my once long trestles.
And it seems I’m not alone in this trail of thought. Many friends of mine that have gotten engaged have instantly put the brakes on their regular salon visits in an attempt to lengthen their locks for the big day, whether opting for an up or down do.
So while I’m all for brides rocking their own individual look and not succumbing to a stereotypical bridal mould, I do love to see ladies walking down the aisle with long loose waves, just as the lovely princess Kate did on her special day.
And for indecisive people like myself, long hair can act as a safety net as it gives a bride lots of different options for their wedding day look – down, partly up, or relaxed dos such as messy top knots and romantic fishtail plaits. Those with short hair however can be confined to just a handful of styles.
Now, bring on the hair boosting supplements *heads to Holland & Barret*
julia says – it’s a no grow
You can always count on an impending wedding to bring on a princess complex.
Even if you’re an otherwise hip and happening chick who rocks a cool cut and knows her lobs from her pobs, one mention of wedding day styling and the bi-monthly trims go out of the window. I’ve seen it happen to my best girls… and – I’ll admit – I’ve had it happen to me.
I’m just one of those girls who feels better in a bob. Short, choppy locks suit my face shape and style. My (sometimes almost white) blonde hair just looks cooler with a bit of bluntness, and I love an interesting neckline.
But when the proposal dropped, what did I do? Squealed over the ring, spent my month’s wages on wedding magazines and promptly started the “must grow my hair” process. Why? Not sure really. Having long hair is just a thing brides do, right?
Brides Up North, I implore you… claim back your rights to a haircut. Ditch the fish oil supplements and the coconut oils. Be yourself. Wear your dream dress… but with the hair that he fell in love with. Otherwise you’ll spend a lifetime looking at your wedding photos and wondering who the gal with the funny up-do is, or (worse, and like me) marvelling at your amazing tresses and wondering why you cut it all off after the wedding.
Because – and I guarantee you this – you will cut it all back off again after the wedding.
You know it and I know it, and whether you can stand to spend the next 12 months painstakingly watching your hair grow or not… some girls just aren’t meant to have long hair. If you’ve felt the call of a bob before, you’ll feel it again.
After all, what says “Brand New Mrs” better than brand new hair?…
Save yourself the hassle and spend the supplement fund on shoes instead. Much healthier.
what you said on facebook:
Laura: “I’m trying to grow mine. I just think my dress would look better with long hair, and if not now, then never!”
Penny: “I’ve always had short hair and it would feel weird to change my whole look just for one day”
Kate: “I’ve been growing mine since we got engaged – it’s nice to look special on your wedding day”
Jayne: “I can’t grow mine past my shoulders, so I guess I’ll be a bride with a bob!”
What’s your verdict girls? We’d love to know?
April 24th, 2015 | Julia Braime
Today on Brides Up North its all about the aesthetics, as we argue the case for keeping things natural or giving the beauty gods a helping hand. We ask: wedding day beauty – what to do? No added effort or bring in the experts?
rachel says: keep it natural
While I do enjoy a good Mac makeover now and again I have to say I’m more a fan of the au natural look than I am an obvious made up look, especially when it comes to weddings.
I’ve first-hand double-taken brides arriving on the aisle, not because I’m dazzled by their radiance but because I barely recognise them. Who is this Barbie-like bride and what have you done with my friend?
Many ladies can think they have to look a certain way for their big day, often adding false nails, eyelashes and fake tan to their pre-wedding beauty regime that they wouldn’t usually entertain. But to me the most important thing is to look like you – a flippin’ good version of you, but you all the same.
I’m pretty certain the majority of grooms out there would also much rather lift a veil to find a bride that they actually recognise rather than someone who could give Amy Childs a run for her money at the cosmetics counter.
And that’s not the only problem, if you go for an on-trend fashionable look chances are you will regret it when look back on your wedding photos, perhaps within a few months, never mind years.
So I say keep it natural ladies, just like our celebrity bride yesterday, Ms Palermo. This doesn’t mean you can’t enhance your makeup a little by adding a bolder lip colour or subtle, smoky eyes but just be sure not to go OTT, which should result in a look that’s more wowie than it is TOWIE.
julia says: go all-out
Ooh, I love a good makeover.
Girls, hear me! This is your wedding day for crissakes. If there was ever a time to step it up, that time is now.
Yes, he loves you just as you are, and yes, you don’t want him to wonder who the make-up caked stranger advancing down the aisle might be, but really – he bought you a diamond – an all-out effort on the most important day of your life really is the least you can do.
First and foremost, when will you get the chance for such unashamed pampering again? Take it from this working mum, not when you’re changing nappies at 5am or catching up on emails at midnight. If I were you, I’d revel in the chance for a bit of spa-time and shopping. Full body massages, regular manicures, raiding the Charlotte Tilbury counter of a Saturday afternoon – the wedding budget can cover that!
Secondly, upping the beauty ante prior to the big day shouldn’t leave you looking like Franken-bride – just choose carefully. In the weeks pre-wedding, I’d leave the chemical peel and spray tan appointments free, but carefully placed individual eyelashes or pretty highlights and even a light swoosh of airbrush makeup will leave you looking flawless and fresh.
Often, the cheapest changes are the most effective. Prior to my own wedding way back in 2010 (when we barely even knew what a wedding blog was), I upped the ante on my regular runs, pencilled in lots more shut eye, ditched the vino and glugged lots of water instead. I treated myself to lots of lovely beauty products and more regular trims to keep my crowning glory in ship-shape. On the day itself, I brought in the experts: my nails were buffed and polished to perfection, hair casually coiffed and make-up beautifully done. The result: tons of confidence and a set of wedding pictures that I’m really proud of.
Did I still look like myself?
Nope. I looked better.
what you said
Kim: “I definitely plan to go glam on my wedding day, this is my chance to look like a princess and I fully intend to make the most of it!”
Melissa: “I’m keeping things natural. My partner hates heavy make up and I don’t want to scare him off!”
Julie: “I’ve heard horror stories about fake tan going wrong, so I plan to let my natural beauty shine through.”
Kate: “Part of my hen party involves a spa day so the bridesmaid and I are going to do lots of pre-wedding pampering!”
We’d love to hear what you’re planning for your big day beauty look?
April 7th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
Getting in shape usually features pretty high up on bride-to-be’s ‘to do’ list though it’s often one of the tasks they’re least looking forward to. The very thought of pounding away on the treadmill, or worse still, running outside in public for all to see, is enough to bring some ladies out in a sweat.
But (praise the Lord) there are options beyond the gym and running around your local park. Fitness classes have grown far beyond aqua aerobics and offer imaginative ways of slimming down and toning up that are actually fun – that’s right we used the ‘f word’ in an exercise post.
The most effective way of working out, and to gain the quickest results, is to continuously challenge your body which can be hard if you’ve got into a mundane routine – treadmill, cross trainer, bike, repeat.
However most instructors like mix their classes up from week to week to keep things interesting as well as worthwhile and they also help to put the pressure on, meaning you’re less likely to slack off.
So it would appear signing up to a couple of new classes in the run up to the big day could make the shaping up task much more bearable, and possibly even enjoyable.
For brides whose main goal is to tone up we suggest taking to the barre – but unfortunately not the type where you can order a glass of pinot, for we’re talking about a ballet barre. Ballet fit is one of the newer classes to come out of the fitness industry and gives ladies the opportunity to relive an element of their youth.
Open to all ages and abilities (no previous dance experience is required) the fat-burning workout uses form and techniques from classical ballet, yoga and Pilates to work muscle groups you never even knew you had, sculpting and strengthening the body.
The class is often an hour in length starting with a cardio warm up before ladies limber up at the barre to increase their flexibility while toning core and leg muscles. Then it’s time to take to the floor for some proper ballet steps – we’re talking frappés, developes and pose turns darling!
While effective, the classes aren’t at all regimented like traditional ballet classes and in most cases the classical music goes out the window as ladies pirouette to chart topping hits instead.
But it’s not all tutus and ribbon, the moves are done repetitively to tone and strengthen muscles so brides should prepare to feel the burn! In return have-a-go Darcy Bussells should see the results in the form of weight loss, lean muscles and improved posture as well as increased stamina and flexibility.
The classes are said to be addictive so you could well find yourself getting the ballet bug. They’re also extremely good for tightening up abs, buttocks and pins and while you might not be showing off these areas so much on your big day, you can hit the beach on your honeymoon feeling toned and confident.
So why not dust off your ballet pumps and give it a go – you never know you might be doing the splits on the dancefloor come your wedding reception!
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