Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

maids made easy (ish!): bridesmaid dress shopping tips

November 14th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

4.Olegs Samsonovs Photography

Olegs Samsonovs Photography

A post for you and your #girlsquad this afternoon as the focus is on finding the perfect outfits for your leading ladies. Here to suggest how to shop smart and keep everyone onside in the process is our lovely guest writer, Carrie Marsden of media partner Love Our Wedding Magazine.

carrie says: So, the day of choosing your bridesmaids’ dresses has finally arrived. Everyone has assembled excitedly for brunch somewhere uber-chic first (the flowergirls and smaller bridesmaids are meeting you later). There’s a free prosecco fountain in the middle of the restaurant and, obviously, in the background, Bradley Cooper is setting the mood on the harp. You get down to business and brainstorm some dress ideas and are delighted to find your bridesmaids in unanimous agreement on your style of choice – even more surprisingly, they suddenly break into a rousing burst of spontaneous applause. Bradley Cooper is so moved by this show of female solidarity that he sweeps you off your feet and then…you wake up!

Real talk, it’s more likely that the day will begin with your maid of honour calling to say she’s fallen out with the other bridesmaid over hemlines; one of your maids will casually let you know that she can’t possibly wear any shade of pink… or blue; your best friend will reveal she’s pregnant and will be eight months’ gone by the time of the wedding, and your flowergirl lets you know she’s not coming if you try and put her in a dress. Bradley Cooper is nowhere to be seen.

As unlikely (and borderline depressing) as it may seem ladies, choosing your bridesmaids was the easy bit. Whether you’ve gone big and love the thought of fifteen girls of all ages accompanying you down the aisle, or have chosen an intimate and select group of your very closest two besties, there are still potential minefields to navigate. To help ensure nothing but smooth sailing ahead, read on for top tips for dressing your bridesmaids and be ahead of the game when that day of shopping arrives…

twobirds

twobirds bridesmaid

parameters

Being honest with yourself about what sort of a bride you are and your vision for how the bridal party will ‘look’ is paramount. And this is information that needs to be shared with your bridesmaids from the outset. If it’s important to you that all maids wear a particular and uniform style in a colour that you’ve been dreaming of since you were ten (and there’s nothing wrong with this approach whatsoever; in many ways, it makes life easier!), then tell your maids before you go dress shopping. If they’re worthy of the bridesmaid banner, they’ll respect that this is your day and that your wishes are the only thing that matter.

budget

Again, a frank and candid discussion with your best girls about who you anticipate paying for the dresses is needed at the very beginning of the whole process. Bear in mind the overall expense of your wedding for your bridesmaids, including travel, and accommodation etc. Many brides negotiate this often awkward conversation by offering to pay for the dress but ask their maids to cover the cost of shoes. Do also consider the budget for hair and makeup too – will your bridesmaids get their hair and makeup done with you on the big day?

emma-janephotography.co.uk

Emma Jane Photography

measure of the maids

If you see your bridesmaids in styles and colours that are tailored to suit them but loosely coordinate under a general theme, approach dress shopping collaboratively. That picture of prosecco-fueled fun with all your best girls need not be out of the question (sadly, we fear Bradley Copper’s presence might). We women of the world have some incredible insights; get your maids involved with the process! Consider hosting a ‘mood board’ party. Give your best girls some general guidelines then ask them to do their research and bring two or three dress ideas to the party. Put everyone’s ideas up on the wall to pack a visual punch and let the creative juices flow! Out of the mix, a sharper sense of clarity could well emerge, as well as fostering a truly positive dialogue that helps everyone empathise and understand one another’s hopes for, or anxieties about, the big-day look. Plus, this mood board will make an excellent memento for you afterwards!

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hot topic: picking your bridesmaid a-team

August 24th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

A-Summer-Wedding-at-Abbeywood-Estate-c-Mike-Plunkett-Photography-51-580x387

Mike Plunkett Photography

They’re your go-to girls, your support squad, a crack team of commandos who pop up like a flash mob to help you shop, craft and uncork the wine when it’s most needed – but how to go about actually choosing your #bridesquad? Here at Brides Up North we’ve mulled over one of Weddingland’s biggest dilemmas – who makes the bridesmaid cut? – so you don’t have to. We’re nice like that…

take time out

Chances are, the minute you got engaged you were tempted to shout the news from the rooftops – or at the very least, your Facebook page. And that’s all part of the fun but, be aware: as soon as you do, expectations and questions begin to build. Don’t succumb to the pressure: choosing the team that will surround you and support on one of the most important days of your life is a humongous decision – not one that should be rushed.

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Mike Plunkett Photography

where loyalties lie

Do you choose your official bestie who dates all the way back to Brownie camp but lives 200 miles away, or your new partner in cocktails and crime who’s only been your sidekick for the last couple of years? Your sister, even though you usually brawl like Noel and Liam Gallagher on a night out? Your boyfriend’s cousin – even though she’s a bit wild and unpredictable and, err, odd – because you know it’ll delight your MIL-to-be?  What counts for more – 20+ years of friendship, blood ties or an Excel spreadsheet competency that means your hen do will go without a hitch?

There are no easy decisions here, ladies. Often brides have to consider family loyalties, how futureproof their friendships might be and what their potential bridesmaids can bring to the metaphorical planning table. It’s a tough one – hence, take a deep breath, make a list and get thinking.

An-Elegant-Wedding-at-Ripley-Castle-c-Kazooieloki-Photography-43-580x392

Kazooieloki Photography

the line of duty

One way of clarifying these questions could be to look at the expectations you have of your bridesquad. Will you be bitterly disappointed if they don’t come to every bridal boutique, every fitting and organise a raucous girlie weekend in Ibiza? Perhaps your cousin who lives on the Isle of Man with three kids isn’t the best choice, then – or maybe she is, but you need to scale down your expectations of her.

A good rule of thumb if you’re choosing a team of girls is to look for balance. Someone might live a long way away from you, but you know you can’t live without her support on the big day. Your little sis might be a bit scatty on the organisational front but will be on-call day and night and knows all the uber-cool gin bars in your hen do destination city. Yin plus yang = happy bride.

A-Rustic-Wedding-at-Angrove-Park-c-Daz-Mack-Photography-59-580x387

Daz Mack

the money question

Many brides choose and pay for their bridesmaids’ dresses, while others ask them to choose something they feel comfortable in and foot the bill, but the uncomfortable truth is that being a bridesmaid can often cost – whether it’s the flights to Ibiza, a night in an expensive hotel before the wedding so that you can all wake up in the same place or forking out the petrol for several trips to your hometown for venue-scouting. Of course, many of your best girls will be more than happy to do this – but it’s something you might need to be sensitive about if one of your chosen maids is struggling for cash.

There’s also the question of cost for you, too: while it might be The Dream to have your whole secondary school hockey team to back you up on your big day – yup, all ten of them – those dresses (and shoes and gifts and personalised morning robes for the wedding photos of your girlhood imaginings) aren’t going to pay for themselves. Make sure your planning is within your budget – so keep the numbers and head for the sales, or cut the numbers and go designer.

A-Wedding-at-Le-Petit-Chateau-c-Sean-Elliott-Photography-55-580x386

Sean Elliott Photography

the bottom line

And lastly, don’t confuse any of the the following for valid reasons why someone should be part of – or out of – your Big Day Girl Gang:

  1. She asked you. When it comes to being a bridesmaid, there’s no obligation to return the favour.
  2. She’d look super-cute in the colour you’ve chosen. If that’s all you’re going on, it’s definitely a no-no.
  3. She’s a he. Is your bestie a guy? Then go for it. As long as he’s not an ex – even the most accepting of husbands-to-be might find that one a little tricky.

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#girlsquad: bridesmaid trends for 2017

February 10th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

Allure 1435-1436

Allure 1435 & 1436

We’re seeing lots of exciting bridesmaid trends coming up in 2017, which means that come the big day, your leading ladies can be looking as stylish as you (well, almost!).

This afternoon we’re putting the blog in the safe hands of our guest writer, the lovely Izzy Hicks of our media partner, Love Our Wedding Magazine, to tell us about the top bridesmaid trends for the year ahead.

floral prints

Izzy says: Floral wedding gowns were popular in designers’ 2016 collections, so it’s no surprise that bridesmaids are jumping on the bandwagon too with stunning flower print dresses. This trend can be worn a few different ways: in different colours for a cute vintage vibe, in different lengths but a matching print for an updated take on mix and match maids, or with just the maid of honour in floral print to make her really stand out! A top label for floral prints this season is Allure.

Christina Wu 22704

Christina Wu 22704

sequins

One of our favourite bridesmaid trends this year is sequins! Luckily for magpie brides, this trend is appearing in more and more 2017 bridesmaid collections, meaning they can pick sparkling gowns in a number of different styles and colours. Try full-length sequins for Jessica Rabbit glam, mixed metallics for an Instagram-worthy bridal party or sequin tops with chiffon or tulle skirts for just a hint of sparkle.

Look to Christina Wu Celebration for some dazzling options.

Kelsey Rose Style 12559

Kelsey Rose Style 12559

separates

Another bridesmaid trend taken from bridal is the separates. Instead of dresses, designers are including separate tops and skirts (or even trousers!) in their bridesmaid collections so that brides can mix and match styles for their maids. Not only does this mean that you can change up the styles depending on your bridesmaids’ preferences and body shapes, but they’re more likely to be able to wear the separate pieces again. We especially love this look combined with an on-trend crop top, perfect for boho or destination weddings. Our favourite label for separates this season is Kelsey Rose.

Special Day Diamond Collection D16556

Special Day Diamond Collection D16556

tea-length tulle

With more brides opting for 1950s-inspired tea-length wedding dresses, 2017 will be the year to have matching bridesmaids. Tea-length tulle gowns look cute on young bridesmaids and elegant on adult maids, and make the perfect choice for a vintage-inspired wedding theme. Add brightly-coloured petticoats for a fun retro twist! Special Day Ireland has some stunning tea-length tulle examples in its collection.

Jasmine B2 Style B193011

Jasmine B2 Style B193011

cold shoulder

This pretty detail updates a classic bridesmaid dress and brings it right into 2017. The cold shoulder silhouette is the ideal way to balance coverage with just a little skin showing, and flatters bridesmaids of all shapes and sizes. Wear it in pastel colours for a dreamy, summer boho vibe, or switch it up for winter with rich jewel shades. A great label for this look is Jasmine B2.

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friday fabulous: bridesmaids by amanda wyatt

November 4th, 2016 | Julia Braime

amanda-wyatt-bridesmaids-4

For today’s Friday Fabulous we’re turning our attention to brides’ leading ladies, as it’s important for a girl and all her #squad to look and feel amazing too, right?

So for those in search of beautiful dresses in a gorgeous range of colours, styles and fabrics to suit all ages, we give you the stunning bridesmaid collection from our wonderful Sponsor, Amanda Wyatt.

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Made famous for her perfect fit, British designer Amanda doesn’t stop at providing a dream dress for the bride, but for adult and teenage bridesmaids, plus cute little flower girls too! The beautiful gowns are sure to please all, with short and full length designs to choose from, featuring pretty detailing in pleated bodices, illusion necklines and dreamy tulle skirts.

amanda-wyatt-bridesmaids-5

Perfect for those wanting to mix and match their maids, brides can pick one style in a variety of different colours, or alternatively chose just one hue but mix up the dress designs with short sleeve, twisted strap and bateau neckline options, to name but a few.

We have to say the star of the show for us in these new campaign images has to be the sweet little flower girl, particularly the shot of her slipping into those gold sparkly heels – a girl after our own hearts for sure!

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friday fabulous: glitzy secrets present the rose gold collection

July 15th, 2016 | Julia Braime

GlitzySecrets.com - Rose Gold Collection

We’ve long been fans of Glitzy Secrets‘ range of beautiful yet affordable bridal jewellery here at Brides Up North HQ, and have been known to rock a little of the magic sparkle ourselves when the occasion demands.

How excited we were to hear then, that the award winning label have launched a new collection of precious pieces (without the price tag!) in our fave metal du jour, romantic rose gold?! Glitzy Secrets‘ Rose Gold Collection does what it says on the tin – presents a capsule jewellery range of earrings, pedants, bracelets, necklace and hair accessories all blushing with the delicate and feminine hue of rose gold.

GlitzySecrets.com - Rose Gold Starlet Necklace

glitzy secrets say:Our silver and pearl classic collection has been the choice of thousands of brides and bridesmaids with its elegant and timeless style. We planned to introduce some of the designs in gold and rose gold tone early next year but, after receiving so many requests, we knew we had to bring the launch forward. It’s clear that with more brides opting for nude and blush gowns, they are looking for warmer hued accessories for a beautiful romantic feel and our classic collection offers just that.

GlitzySecrets.com - Rose Gold Blooms Hair Comb

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friday fabulous: thomas sabo’s love bridge collection

June 17th, 2016 | Julia Braime

Thomas Sabo Love Bridge

Here at Brides Up North, we’ve always been fans of Thomas Sabo‘s range of fashionable, wearable jewellery, so when our go-to jewellery brand decided to throw some extra romance into the mix, the result was always going to be right up our street.

thomas sabo say: Our bridal jewellery collection is all about eternalising the best day of your life with stunning jewellery designs to be treasured forever. As every bride has a different taste, we have created wedding jewellery to suit every style, whether it be vintage inspired, glamorous, classic and timeless or sweet and romantic.

The bridal selection includes carefully hand-picked pieces: delicate or statement necklaces, glorious drop earrings, bangles and bracelets to give that extra special touch to your wedding look and rings so elegant that they’ll perfectly pair with your wedding ring. The array of Thomas Sabo engagement rings offers options for all budgets, including both stunning cubic zirconia encrusted designs in sterling silver and solid gold rings with real diamonds and gemstones from the Fine Jewellery collection.

The groom will be able to complement his look with stunningly designed cufflinks, elegant watches and sophisticated bracelets and the wedding jewellery edit also includes cute Charm Club pieces for flower girls.

At Brides Up North, we are particularly keen on the The Love Bridge range for brides or bridesmaids. The idea is inspired by a romantic ritual: as a symbol of their love and everlasting togetherness, lovers attach padlocks engraved with their initials to famous bridges in the most romantic cities in the world. From New York, Paris, Venice to Cape Town, the so-called ‘Love Bridges’ have become a symbol of romance, celebrating a special promise made by two people.

Profound feelings, meaningful moments, love and happiness – the new Love Bridge line from Thomas Sabo captures important events in life with a bespoke engraving. Why not use yours to send a secret love message? #anyexcuse

Visit the Thomas Sabo website to find out more about The Love Bridge range and their stunning bridal collection

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