Charlotte Balbier

pretty lovely. willa rose 2016: the full collection.

August 26th, 2015 | Julia Braime

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You know we love charlotte balbier’s beautiful gowns, right?  ^^^ Could we be more obvious?!

Well, if you hadn’t already guessed that we’re gaga for our friend and colleague Ms. Balbier’s beautiful work, look no further. After sharing some sneak peeks from Charlotte’s stunning Willa Rose collection for 2016, we’re back… and this time with the full – and extremely lovely – look book. Here, the designer talks us through each look in the collection.

Eyes down ladies, Wednesday afternoon just got interesting.

(…and very pretty).

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charlotte says: The 2016 Charlotte Balbier, ‘Willa Rose’ collection captivates a bride’s imagination with bohemian free spirited designs to take my brides on a magical journey.

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Willa Rose is the signature gown from the new collection. This dress features a soft flowing chiffon skirt with a delicate floral cotton lace bodice. This gown is the ultimate boho gown for the free spirited brides.

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Alexandria is a beautiful lace off the shoulder gown with button detailing down the back.  The lace top-half opens into beautiful A-line layers of chiffon giving the Alexandra a fabulous shape.

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Aliona has been cut into a lovely deep-plunge neckline.  The back of the gown is sheer with lace detailing flowing downwards into the main body of the skirt.

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Amba is one of the collection’s super playful gowns. Layers of tulle plunge into a v-neckline at the front and the back.  We love the sequin detailing around the waistline.

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Beth embraces the boho free-spirited bride with gorgeous floral straps embellished with hand-cut flowers.  The hand-cut flowers run through the whole gown, decorating a sheer lace back and around the lower back of the gown.

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Camille is all about accentuating a bride’s decolletage with a striking Queen-Ann neckline. The diamond cut adds a further wow factor to the back of the gown with delicate buttons embellishing the silk full skirt.

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Cara comprises stunning sequin patterns decorating a beautiful V-neck and short-sleeved dress.  Silver and ivory sequin detailing runs right down the mermaid shaped skirt.

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Erin is the figure-hugging gown halter-neck gown of the Willa Rose collection.  The back is finished with a lovely art deco silver embellishment.

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by george (clooney)! a catch up with our real life bride and celebrity columnist, jane

May 27th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Jane at Tomorrowland premiere

Last month on the blog we introduced you to real life bride & celebrity columnist Jane Witherspoon, who is sharing her planning journey exclusively on Brides Up North in the run up to her October wedding.

If you recall Jane has a pretty cool but extremely busy job as a showbiz TV reporter and presenter for the likes of Good Morning Britain. And while that does mean rubbing shoulders with the celebs, it also means a hectic schedule full of early starts and late finishes, making finding time to plan a wedding all the more challenging.

In this month’s post Jane brings us up to speed with her glitzy TV work (which includes chatting with a certain Mr Clooney – jealous, much!) and she also spills the beans on the gorgeous venue for her big day. Over to you Jane…

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jane says: As I sit down to write this month’s blog the panic sets in. I keep telling myself we’ve got loads of time to organise our wedding but it’s now just over four months away – 17 weeks to be exact (I’ve just read the last line out to Alex and his reply was ‘Oh thanks for that, you’ve got me worried now’)! I’ve discovered as time goes by that Alex has been approaching the organising of our day very cleverly. Let’s put it this way – he’s a great project manager! Then again I can be a bit of a control freak so it works.

May has been a crazy month workwise. It started with a charity ball with the cast of Downton Abbey followed by the General Election. No matter how much I do it, waking at 3am is never easy. It was a buzz hanging outside Conservative HQ waiting to grab the first shots of the Prime Minister to arrive from his count in Whitney.

Jane at General Election

And then there was George! Clooney that is! I’ve been lucky enough to interview him a few times over the years and he’s always a dream interviewee – so charming and professional. When reporting from the red carpet of the premiere of his new film Tomorrrowland in Leicester Square I seized the opportunity to ask him a bit of advice for that first year of marriage. His reply: “I would say, your husband is always right…just a thought.” That’s apart from when he’s wrong of course George!

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It’s quite full on trying to organise a big event around our work schedules but we’re getting there. I think that’s mainly due to the fact that we decided on a venue very early on. Alex is from a very small family which is just as well as mine is huge. Speak to any bride and groom and I’m sure they’ll tell you the most stressful thing about organising a wedding is deciding who to invite. It’s the most awful thing having to whittle down a list of friends and family. In fact, it’s quite brutal. Everyone tells you to just invite who you want and people will understand. That’s all well and good but they’ve never met my Mum. She had her own list from the off!

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Luckily the venue pretty much dictates how many people can be accommodated so that does help in deciding numbers. When choosing where to get married there were only two choices for us, Wigan (where Alex is from) or the North East (my roots).

Just after the New Year we decided to visit two potential venues in Northumberland: Short Flat Tower in Belsay and Brinkburn Priory near Rothbury. We went to Brinkburn first. We never made it to Belsay. From the moment we pulled up to Brinkburn we were sold on it. It is the perfect place. Emma, Jan and the team there are so welcoming and totally got us and what we wanted from the day from that very first meeting.

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The priory was a 12th Century Medieval monastery built on a bend on the River Coquet. It’s beautiful. The priory church is like a mini cathedral and the converted stables mean there’s lovely spacious accommodation on site for family. We’ve decided on welcome drinks on arrival and then our 120 guests will take their seats in the Priory before dinner, drinks and dancing in the tipis which will be erected on site. I love that we don’t have to move location throughout the day and that it’s all confined to this beautiful English Heritage site.

The food on the day is being organised by Wilkins Fine Dining. Their menus are incredible and we’re actually off to the North East next weekend for a tasting session. This is surely one of the fun points in organising a wedding! Wilkins source and use local produce for their meals which I’m thrilled about. It’s great to support local businesses.

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There’s one question that I keep getting asked about the wedding and that is ‘What’s your theme?’  I didn’t realise how important this is to some people. I still don’t have a theme as such but I know it will be a classic, fun day and night. There’ll be lots of laughs, candles and fairy lights to enhance the already magical setting.

I’d love to know: have you picked a theme for your big day, and if so, what?

Follow Jane on Twitter @Janeyspoon

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that’s showbiz! introducing jane, our real life bride & celebrity columnist

April 29th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Jane Witherspoon

Today we introduce you to bride-to-be and friend to the stars, the lovely Miss Jane Witherspoon, who will be taking on the role of real bride & celebrity columnist here on Brides Up North over the next six months.

In the approach to her big day, Jane will be sharing her wedding planning journey exclusively with our readers on these pretty pages as she toys over everything from the theme, food and flowers to the all-important hair, makeup, dress and hen do.

To give you a little background on Jane she has an incredibly cool job that most ladies would quite happily lose a limb to do. As a showbiz TV reporter and presenter for the likes of Good Morning Britain this lucky lady gets all the goss directly from the stars and has interviewed top A-listers including the likes of Madonna and Tom Cruise during her various broadcast roles for the BBC, ITV and Sky.

As a celebrity hack Jane is also no stranger to the red carpet having reported on everything from the Baftas and Brits to the Oscars, giving her plenty of glam inspiration for her moment in the spotlight when she ties the knot with her beau Alex in early October.

Though her glitzy job has required her to move to London’s big smoke, Jane will be returning to her north east roots for her wedding day, which is set to take place at the stunning Brinkburn Priory in Northumberland.

So without further ado, let’s hand over to Jane to give you all the details of where her rapid romance with Alex first began…

Jane and Alex

jane says: This time last year Alex and I hadn’t even met. Now it’s just six months until our big day.  Welcome to what has become my crazy, whirlwind life.

I was never the kind of girl who grew up wanting the big white wedding or dreaming of settling down. I was the single girl about town, dedicated to my career as a showbiz TV journalist and hanging out with my mates. But back in August that all changed.

I was out for after work drinks with a publicist friend who I’d known for over a decade. He casually mentioned he had a mate who was popping by for a drink and in walked Alex. They’d been best mates since university. “Who’s that and why have you never introduced us?” I asked, trying not to sound desperate. “Who? Him? That’s just Alex! Didn’t think you’d be interested” was the reply.  So when everyone had peeled off I found myself alone, chatting to Alex in the aptly named Northumberland Arms – (this will become clearer in my next blog post). “I wouldn’t be stepping on anyone’s toes if I asked you on a date?” he said.  We arranged a date that Friday and spent it sat in a beer garden under an umbrella in the rain. Our second date was an Arsenal football match – being a Newcastle fan he’s lucky he got a third (joking Alex)! And the rest is history.

Photo from first night I met Alex

They say ‘when you know, you know’ – we knew instantly. Both of us. Fast forward ten weeks and we were engaged. We decided to do it while chatting late one night in his attic. No big grand proposal – just us, his guitar and a nice bottle of red wine.

The hardest thing was keeping it secret for a couple of weeks as at that time he’d still not met my family. We planned a trip to Newcastle to tell them. Alex had wanted to do the whole ‘asking my parents’ permission’ thing which went slightly pear shaped after a boozy train ride from London’s Kings Cross. I blurted it out to my mam when we met her in a Quayside pub. She thought I was joking.

Then there was telling my dad. When Alex finally got him alone to ask him he didn’t realise we were already engaged and returned home chatting twenty to the dozen and two octaves higher than normal trying not to give anything away. Everyone was over the moon though, if not a little shocked at the speed things were going.

Trip to Newcastle to break the news

While all this had all been going on Alex had arranged for a stone from his mum’s original engagement ring to be reset.

I was working late one night at ITV’s Good Morning Britain and got a photo by text of our Christmas tree which had a little box hanging from it. “Santa’s been early and look what he’s left”. When I got home he nervously presented me with the most gorgeous ring! Like a lot of brides-to-be the ring was far too big for my finger (not sure how or why he thought my fingers were that fat?!) but a lovely local jewellers in north London resized it in just two days. Thanks again Giorgio!

The ring

As Christmas approached it suddenly dawned on me that I had a future husband. Even writing this now makes me feel a bit grown up! We decided we wanted to crack on with the wedding and do it in 2015. So we rang in new year and set about making plans. But as wedding planning novices there was one major question on both our lips – ‘Where on earth do we start…

Follow Jane @Janeyspoon

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best dressed. supplier showcase: elegance of scholes

April 28th, 2015 | Julia Braime

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Well, Brides Up North, last weekend’s events at Dine’s Allerton Castle and The Alnwick Garden were just magical! What an EPIC end to another amazing season of Brides Up North Luxury Wedding Exhibitions… stellar turnouts and I swear our exhibitors just get more talented and creative! Thanks to everyone – brides, grooms, our suppliers and our stunning venues – for their support and brilliance. We love you.

One fabulous supplier who we all got to know a little better this season was the lovely Cat of Brides Up North Sponsor boutique, elegance of scholes.  Today, she opens the doors of her beautiful bridal shop for us to take a closer peek.

Oh and FYI: we’re already planning an autumn season of events to knock your socks off..! Stay tuned.

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When did Elegance Of Scholes open and what is your background?

cat says: Elegance opened around six years ago, but I bought it last August after deciding to embark on a bit of a lifestyle change! Prior to owning Elegance I was a full-time Corporate Event Manager, and I also had my own Wedding Venue Décor business. Both of these have set me up well with a lot of the skills needed to run my own business, and having worked in the wedding industry for a number of years I understand how brides feel and what they go through… and it’s lovely to be able to help them out with such a huge, special and important part of the journey!

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Which wedding gown designers do you stock?

We stock Justin Alexander, Ellis Bridal and Mark Lesley. All three labels complement each other really well and we have a great selection of silhouettes and fabrics to suit all tastes.

What bridal accessories labels do you stock?

We stock tiaras and veils by Richard Designs, veils by Nieve Couture and Joyce Jackson, and tiaras/ jewellery by Blossom. We update our selection of bridal accessories on a regular basis so it’s worth keeping an eye out until we have your perfect piece! We also have a small selection of shoes by Rainbow, and are looking to expand this collection in the near future.

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What makes you different?

We are a luxury boutique with an extremely high level of service. People are always taken by surprise by the size of the boutique once they enter (we get a lot of ‘wow!’ comments!), and we have two spacious private fitting rooms at the rear of the boutique so guests can relax and enjoy their experience in comfort and privacy. We also have an in-house seamstress so all alterations are carried out on the premises, meaning the dress stays with us until your big day.

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Where are you located?

We are located in a small village called Scholes, which is close to Cleckheaton. Exit the M62 at J26 (Chain Barr roundabout), and we’re a couple of miles from there.

Can you give Brides Up North an idea on price?

Our gowns range from about £900-£1800, although we do also have a sale room for brides on a slightly lower budget.

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Do Brides Up North need an appointment?

We do tend to run on an appointment basis, purely so that we can guarantee the bride our undivided attention. Our first bridal appointments tend to be around an hour long, and we would always start with an initial chat about a bride’s ideas/wedding/preferred dress styles. From there we let the bride (and any accompanying people!) browse the dresses and pull out those they want to try on. The appointment then evolves as we eliminate certain dresses from the running/ narrow the selection down to THE dress. Quite often we add in our own opinion of dresses that girls might like to try… with surprising results! It’s amazing how many girls come in with an idea of their perfect dress, and leave with something completely different!

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What is your current favourite gown that you stock and why?

I have two current favourites (although it was pretty hard limiting myself to just two!)– Justin Alexander 8762 for the perfect princess ball-gown, and Ellis 11368, which is an absolutely stunning dress with lace sleeves and an amazing keyhole back… on the right figure it’s a definite show-stopper!

Is there a particular style of dress that is popular with your brides at the moment? What trends do you see being popular this year?

Lace continues to be popular, with the fitted mermaid-style being a particular favourite. We’re also seeing a move towards much more brides wanting sleeves or straps over strapless gowns, and the ‘feature back’ is also becoming more and more popular. As we were told when buying our new collections – “the back is the new front”… and it appears to be true!

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How does Elegance Of Scholes provide a superior experience to other wedding dress boutiques?

We pride ourselves on our relaxed and friendly service, and certainly are not pushy sales-people. Our priority first and foremost is making girls feel comfortable and happy in their search for their dress. There’s nothing nicer than the look on a girl’s face when they look in the mirror and see themselves as a ‘Bride’ for the first time, and it’s a privilege to us that we get to be the ones to put that look on their faces! We feel that we are definitely doing something right, as the majority of our appointments come from recommendations from past brides who have had the ‘Elegance Experience’ – and the comments, reviews and photos we receive after the big day are testament to this, and lovely for us to receive!

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Do you stock bridesmaid dresses?

Yes – we stock Kelsey Rose and Mark Lesley bridesmaid dresses, as well as flower girl’s dresses. Soft tulle seems to be the fabric of choice in bridesmaids this season (a lot of the new Kelsey Rose collection comes in this fabric), although chiffon is still (and I believe will remain) a very popular option. We continue to see dusky pink and pastels as key colour choices, but we have ensured we have a wide range of colours in stock to suit as many people as possible. Our bridesmaid dresses range in price from approx. £180-£280, and our flower girl dresses (from ages 6 months to 9/10 years) are approx. £69.

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Who would be an Elegance bride?

Elegance brides tend to be people that want to enjoy their experience in a relaxed and friendly setting, and who appreciate the quality behind a true designer gown such as the ones we stock. The purchase of a bridal gown doesn’t stop with just that one transaction, and with alterations and so on, we can see a bride many times in the run-up to her wedding. For this reason, we pride ourselves on the relationships we build with our brides and its always a proud moment when we see them for their final fitting right before their wedding, knowing that we’ve done everything in our power to make their dress perfect for them.

Whilst not wanting to limit ourselves to a particular ‘type’ of bride, our dresses do fall into a certain price bracket so when someone comes in with a £300-£500 budget, the only way we would be able to help out is by directing them to the dresses in our sale room (which are also stunning, but are often discontinued dresses, or ex-samples that we need to sell in order to make way for new collections).

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Are you married? 

I’m not yet married… but engaged and getting married on June 4th 2016! Everyone is always surprised to hear that I’m the owner of a Bridal Boutique and have never tried on a wedding dress in my life. Before being engaged I didn’t want to jinx it until it was my turn, and now that I am engaged I keep putting it off! Having fitted dresses to so many different people however, I have an idea of the style that will suit my figure so will be limiting myself slightly in that regard (although I can’t say what that style is, in case my fiancé reads this interview!) – and I change my mind every couple of days on my favourite dresses as I see girls trying on the different samples, so who knows which will be my final choice?!

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How can Brides Up North get in touch with you?

Our website is www.eleganceofscholes.co.uk, you can like us on Facebook, email Cat and the team at info@eleganceofscholes.co.uk or call us on 01274 876659.

Is there anything else that Brides Up North should know?

As well as stocking our beautiful designer gowns, our in-house seamstress (another Cat!) designs and makes bespoke bridal gowns… so if you’re struggling to find that perfect dress but have an idea of what you’re looking for, Cat will be able to make it for you. We also offer a dry-clean and box service, so you can keep your gown for years to come and re-live those memories as often as you like!

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Look Book: The Bow Factor

July 10th, 2014 | Rachel Parry

Rosa by Stephanie Allin

Rosa by Stephanie Allin 

From small to big and neat to blousy, bows are everywhere. 

A pretty addition to many wedding dresses, ribbons, sashes and bows can be used for delicate detailing or to make one heck of a statement.

Traditionally bows appeared in the back of the dress and were used to cinch in the waist, but today designers are making bolder statements with bows, placing them on the front of the dress, the side, or even on the shoulder.

Honour by Stephanie Allin

Honour by Stephanie Allin

Graceful bows feature quite heavily in Stephanie Allin’s Day and Night collection. Rosa, Heaven and Bardot are equally dreamy designs with slim-line bow and ribbon detailing. Allin’s steely toned Masquerade dress also features a delicate bow, but in the back. Meanwhile her Honour dress (which I have swooned over too many times) gives brides the option to tie its stunning sage green sash, complete with fabulous floral corsages, in the front, back or side, depending on their styling preference.

Stephanie Allin

Images: Stephanie Allin

Those looking for simple bow designs will find options in the collections of Ronald Joyce, Ellis and Sassi Holford, including large princess style gowns as well as structured slim-line creations. Ellis’ tea-length fifties 11404 style dress is a cute example as is Sassi Holford’s Martha dress. Those looking for more detailed designs might prefer Ronald Joyce’s Bernice dress. Its slim-line silhouette features a beautiful cowl neck and embroidery detailing, all finished off with a large jewel-centred bow on the side.

Martha by Sassi Holford

Martha by Sassi Holford

17416 by Ronald Joyce

Bernice by Ronald Joyce

11404 by Ellis Bridals

11404 by Ellis Bridals

67073 by Ronald Joyce

Style 67073 by Ronald Joyce

Josephine & Josephine Skirt by Sassi Holford

Josephine by Sassi Holford

Megan by Sassi Holford

Megan by Sassi Holford

Fans of structured, rather than blousy, bows should look to Holford’s Josephine gown, which features a wide satin bow belt in the front, and her fabulously feminine Megan dress with slim duchess satin bow belt, which nips in neatly at the waist.

South Pacific Print by Ian Stuart

South Pacific Print by Ian Stuart Bride 

Blue Bird by Ian Stuart

Blue Bird by Ian Stuart Bride

Finally, for those really wanting to make a statement on the aisle, there‘s only one man for the job – step forward Ian Stuart. His sensational Supernova collection has several dresses featuring bold bows. Blue Bird (from the Killer Queen collection) is a particularly striking design with incredible oversized bowtails that waterfall down the back of the dress into a flowing chapel train. But top of the stand-out stakes has to be South Pacific that features a billowing oversized bow which cascades from the left hip and opens to reveal flowing silk gazar. A must for fashion-forward brides, this dress is also available in striking floral print for that extra wow-factor!

Ian Stuart Bride

Images: Ian Stuart Bride

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