February 9th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
Today’s real wedding will really get you in the party mood, with bagpipes, live music, caricatures, Irish dancing, magic and more!
Lindsey and Rory had the perfect countryside church wedding and celebrated afterwards with a rustic-themed do at Heaton House Farm.
You have been warned, though: further reading may result in foot-tapping, seat-dancing and a sudden urge for a glass of stout. Maybe best to leave this one until you’re out of the office…
With images by Jonny Draper
lindsey says: We got engaged in Dublin at Clontarf Castle on 16th May 2014. The beginning of that week Rory asked me to get the Friday off work as he fancied going away for the weekend – then he surprised me and told me that we were going to Dublin. I assumed we would be staying in the centre of Dublin where we have stayed before; however, we carried on and arrived at Clontarf Castle. I still didn’t have an inclination! During the afternoon, Rory suggested we have a few drinks in the bar before getting ready to head out for our meal later on. I remember just wanting to relax but little did I know that Rory had arranged for the room to be made up with rose petals scattered round the room and a dress he had bought for me laid out on the bed, along with champagne and chocolates. As we left the room Rory said he ‘forgot his wallet’ but that was just so he could get the ring from his bag and leave it in the bathroom bin ready for the proposal! After a few drinks we came upstairs and I was surprised at the room all beautifully decorated…I turned around and there he was on one knee! It was perfect in every way and I was glad it was just the two of us sharing the special moment together.
We got married on Friday 11th September 2015. We originally wanted Saturday 12th September, as that was the anniversary of the day we met, but it wasn’t available. Looking back, we made the right decision as the weather was perfect whereas on the Saturday it was chucking it down!
We got married at Gawsworth Church, St James The Great near Macclesfield, and our reception was held at Heaton House Farm. I’d always wanted a church wedding and the church is set in the beautiful countryside – the perfect scene for a wedding. Heaton House Farm is only 20 minutes away from the church and we couldn’t have asked for a better venue for our reception.
Both Rory and I love all things rustic and so a rustic wedding theme was an easy decision. I went for a purple/pink colour for my three bridesmaids and Rory and his groomsmen wore blue suits. Once they were both chosen it was easier to think about a colour scheme for flowers and decorations. Purple was the main colour throughout, however we incorporated other colours that would complement this and even it all out.
I didn’t shop around much for wedding dresses as I found a designer that I loved so it was just a case of looking for bridal shops which stocked her dresses. I ended up going to Amelia’s Bridal Boutique in Clitheroe, Lancashire, where I found my Morilee dress designed by Madeline Gardner. Her collections were just what I was looking for – elegant, feminine and stylish – and my chosen dress was just gorgeous. It was a white, trumpet style gown with a sweetheart neckline with beading and gems to the top of my neck. I also wore a long veil decorated with a few gems so that it would catch the light and complement my dress.
As I’d had such a good experience at Amelia’s Bridal, we decided to get Rory’s suit from there too. It was blue with a white shirt, a blue tweed tie, a grey tweed waistcoat with blue and brown checks on it and brown shoes.
February 8th, 2017 | Rachel Parry
While there are numerous stunning wedding dress designs hanging on the rails of boutiques, for some brides nothing completes the dream wedding picture like having a couture gown specially made for their big day.
Brides Up North Sponsor and dress-maker extraordinaire Antonia Aitken of Blossom and Belle, is fully versed in the art of creating beautiful bespoke wedding gowns, from the structure and cut to the fabric and finish. As such, we’re putting the blog in her skilful hands this afternoon so she can tell us exactly what couture is, and how she goes about creating it through her one-off, timeless wedding gown designs.
She also has news of a fabulous Blossom and Belle charity tea party event taking place in York on Sunday 26th February, which will feature workshops, high-end suppliers and delicious treats, so be sure to read to the end of the post for full details.
With images by All You Need Is Love Photography
How would you define a couture wedding gown?
antonia says: Couture is not ‘dressmaking or copying a design’ – rather it is the creation of a luxury item which starts from design through to pattern cutting, toiles and fittings and the final amazing result.
Couture is not off the peg. It is a unique creation that no one else will have. It is a process that takes time, not something that can be made in an instant. Specialised elements, from hand stitched hems and embellishments, to steel boned bodices and button and loop detailing, are the epitome of a couture gown. It is timeless piece that will look just as wonderful in years to come as it does on the day of the wedding.
What skills must you have as a dress maker to craft such creations?
As the design director at Blossom and Belle I pride myself in my skill to create a one-off bespoke gown or outfit.
It’s having the ability to see a client for the first time and knowing exactly what she will suit. It is the art of how fabric will work and fall on the form. Knowing about colours, textures and the cut and line of a design. How to emphasise the best features of a client and disguise those that they are less keen on.
I do not work from someone else’s pattern, I make my own, which is a meticulous process requiring great skill and an art form in itself.
What do brides enjoy about having a couture gown for their big day?
For my clients, it’s the knowledge that they are wearing something truly unique and luxurious and in their own size – not mass produced and not off the peg – something made especially for them.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the process a bride can expect to follow if she decides to have a couture Blossom and Belle gown made?
The whole process of having your own gown created is really quite lovely. After your first free consultation, where we go over ideas and look through fabrics and any trimmings or embellishment ideas, I will design a range of gowns for you to choose from and take your measurements. I also say at this point that the bride should get their underwear as this is vital to the fit of the gown. A toile is then made in calico, which is a mock-up of the wedding dress and where tweaks and design decisions are made. Having a couture gown made just for you is a very private affair and no one else, unless you want to, will see your gown being created.
There should be no more than five fittings, although some brides like to have more as they love to see everything taking shape and enjoy the process so much.
Finally, for the full experience, I’m available to dress the bride on the day of the wedding to make sure everything is perfect.
What would you say to brides who are worried that having a couture dress made will be expensive and time consuming?
A couture gown is unique and made just for you, which is why it can cost more than an off the peg gown. Only the finest of fabrics are used, meticulous hand beading and hand stitching are all involved in the process of having a couture gown made. It can take several months just to make one gown, which is why fittings are spread over time to suit the bride and to allow for any tweaks to be made.
We never ask for the full price of the gown to be paid upfront, rather it is paid by instalments, which takes the pressure off. I do say that you never lose money on a couture gown as it becomes an heirloom passed down through the family.
What is the feedback like from brides who have had a Blossom and Belle Couture dress made?
I always receive wonderful feedback from brides, and have even been invited to the wedding. Over the time of the dress being made we get to know each other very well.
I have had one bride recently send me a photograph of her 17-year-old daughter wearing her gown that was made by me 20 years ago and it still looks wonderful and timeless. I also had one bride love the style of her vintage inspired gown so much, she had another two made in different colours!
February 7th, 2017 | Julia Braime
The moral of today’s real wedding – every cloud has a silver lining! For Karen and Robert had originally planned to marry in the lakes, but due to excessive flooding they had to cancel their big day plans last minute and return to the drawing board. In doing so they found a dream setting in Le Petit Chateau, a new venue to the North East that’s brimming with wow-factor.
Leaving the details to the unique venue, Karen and Robert picked an elegant champagne colour scheme and stunning calla lily blooms to complete their wedding vision.
And Karen looked the perfect fairy-tale bride within the story-book like setting in a gorgeous Madeline Gardiner gown, which provided just the right amount of big day sparkle.
With images by Barnaby Aldrick Wedding Photography
karen says: We got engaged on our ten-year anniversary. Robert surprised me with a night away to London at the Oriental Mandrin. He had booked us into a suite and when we arrived there was champagne awaiting, strawberries covered in chocolate with a huge bouquet of flowers. We then had a lovely stroll down to Buckingham Palace where we could take in the sights and have some well-deserved ‘us time’. When we arrived back at the hotel there were more surprises in store – spa treatments – and he had booked us in Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant within the hotel. The meal was absolutely beautiful and just before our desert Robert got down on one knee and proposed. All of the staff knew he was going to propose so once he popped the question, and obviously I said yes, they were ready and waiting to send their congratulations and brought us champagne and a chocolate cake with “congratulations” written on. The whole day was just perfect, I couldn’t have wished for a better day!
We got married on 11th June at Le Petit Chateau, Northumberland. This wasn’t actually our first choice of venue as we’d originally booked our wedding in 2014, which meant that Le Petit Chateau hadn’t been built and didn’t exist so we didn’t even know about this place at the time. We were originally due to get married in the lakes, but due to the flooding in December 2015 our wedding venue cancelled on us last minute. When searching for an alternative venue it was Le Petit Chateau’s sister venue Newton Hall that put us in touch. Although it was still under renovation and we only had drawings to go off, we took the chance based on the beauty of its sister venues and booked Le Petit Chateau.
We chose a champagne colour scheme for the wedding, which we felt would be an elegant addition to the day.
My wedding dress was by Madeline Gardiner. It was the complete opposite to what I originally thought I would go for, but when I put it on I cried so I just knew this was the dress for me. It was stunning!
Robert wore a navy blue Hugo Boss three-piece suit. He always knew from day dot he would wear Hugo Boss so it didn’t take him long to pick his outfit.
The bridesmaids wore dresses from Ami’s Bridal and groomsmen wore suits from Next.
Our chosen wedding photographer was Barnaby Aldrick, who is based in Leeds. He is such a fantastic photographer – he captures the day beautifully and I would recommend him to anyone.
February 6th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth
Today on the blog, we’re stepping back in time with Rachel and Harry as they tie the knot at the medieval Skipton Castle in Yorkshire.
After 10 years together – Rachel awoke from her slumber one day to find an engagement ring on her finger; the definition of a dream come true if ever we saw one!
Their wedding was just as dreamy, with wildflowers, pretty pastels, a classic Bentley and a gorgeous three-tiered cake, not to mention a subtle nod to all things art deco. Read on for all the exquisite details…
With images by Bethany Clarke
rachel says: We had been together for 10 years before we got engaged and always joked that there was no point in Harry proposing as he knew I would say yes, so we may as well skip the engagement and just get married. In the early hours of 31st August 2015 Harry popped the most beautiful sapphire and diamond ring on my finger while I was asleep! Obviously, it was a wonderful surprise to wake up to, and Harry had spent hours nervously waiting for me to be in a deep enough sleep to put the ring on.
We got married on 23rd July 2016. We knew that we wanted a summer wedding and the venue we wanted only had a few weekends left and this date worked the best for us.
We tied the knot at Skipton Castle. We are both really interested in history and love visiting heritage sites and museums. We had visited Skipton Castle together a few times and always had a lot of fun there so it was really exciting to find out that they actually hold weddings there too! Of course, I wanted the whole fairytale princess in a castle vibe too! We had visited a few other venues but Skipton Castle just felt so special to us, everyone that works there is so lovely and genuinely wanted us to have the best day; they really put us at ease and made our wedding super special.
We wanted to have a really casual and fun wedding. It was quite small and intimate, we didn’t have a seating plan or anything like that, we just wanted everyone to mingle and have a great time.
I wouldn’t say we had a particular theme but due to our own personal styles there was a bit of a vintage feel to the day – my dress was 1920s inspired, we had a classic Bentley and wild flowers everywhere. It’s hard not to get swept up when you’re getting married in a medieval castle!
We didn’t have a colour scheme; everything was quite neutral. We had a range of different colours in our flowers and these were the only real colours on the day, at the castle and later at our reception venue too. We matched the car and the cake to the bridesmaid’s pale grey dress as it was important to us that everything looked quite minimal.
I wore a Maggie Sottero dress from Abigail’s Bridal Boutique. Looking through bridal magazines and blogs I fell in love with Maggie Sottero’s designs and I discovered that Abigail’s Bridal Boutique is one of the few shops in Leeds that stock this brand. I tried on a handful of dresses but as soon as I put on ‘Ettia’ I knew that was the dress for me. It was everything I had ever dreamed of in a wedding dress and the lovely ladies at Abigail’s had to coax me out of it in the end as I didn’t want to take it off. I paired it with a cathedral length, Swarovski trimmed veil and an art deco headpiece – I felt like a princess.
We hired a classic S-type Bentley from Classic and Vintage Travel in Harrogate. The car was incredible and the driver was so wonderfully friendly and surprised us with a bottle of Champagne after the ceremony. He drove us out to a lovely area of greenery in Skipton and we drank some Champagne and enjoyed a few minutes to ourselves before driving to the reception. It was such a special moment and we were so grateful to the driver for suggesting it.
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February 1st, 2017 | Julia Braime
This afternoon we’re heading to north Wales border to relive the beautiful big day of Edward and Rowena.
Keen on a wedding that was personal and relaxed, the bride and groom injected elements of their love story into the décor, theming and wedding menu, topping it all off with a gorgeous navy and blush pink colour scheme.
Highlights for us include Rowena’s stunning Pronovias gown, the pretty blooms and naked cake, plus some very special guests – the couple’s two pet whippets, Betsi and Milly.
With images by Brides Up North Sponsor ER Photography.
rowena says: We got engaged whilst on our annual ‘hound holiday’ (holiday with the dogs). We went to Cornwall, and on West Portholland beach on 23rd June 2016 (the day after my 30th birthday) Ed popped the question. The beach was empty, it was just us two and our two dogs. It took me completely by surprise!
We quickly set the date for October 9th 2016. We had booked a holiday to Mauritius back in the January, flying on 10th October. Within about 15 minutes of the proposal we discussed how soon we’d like to get married – and decided as we had been together 11-and-a-half-years there was no need to hang around So, we decided to make Mauritius the honeymoon and it just so happened we found a venue we loved with availability the day before.
We got married at Soughton Hall, near Mold in Flintshire. It’s within a couple of miles of our house. I had pretty much decided it was ‘the one’ before getting out the car! The house is beautiful, and many of the rooms have recently been renovated. We knew the long drive bordered by trees would look beautiful in October as the leaves were changing. It’s a boutique venue, and we felt it perfect for a private and relaxed day. The team are really friendly and nothing is too much trouble.
We didn’t have a theme for the wedding as such, but we wanted things relaxed and personal to us.
Due to the time of year I didn’t feel that pale shades would work for the colour scheme – so we chose navy as a base, as it is flattering on our fair skin! With this we added soft blush pink and also some other shades of blue in the flowers.
I found my wedding dress within less than a week of the engagement. I was meeting a friend for lunch and we decided to go and try a few dresses on. We only went to one shop, Brides of Chester, and they couldn’t have been more welcoming and helpful. I didn’t have much idea on shape but knew I wanted something lace and ideally not strapless. The dress was the fifth and final dress I tried on – Pleasant by Pronovias. I chose it because I loved the lace, the neckline, and the gorgeous long train – after all, when else do you get to have a train?
Ed wore a navy lounge suit with pale pink scrunch tie from Groom in Chester, complemented by Hugo Boss tan leather belt and tan monk shoes from Dune. The best man and usher wore navy lounge suits and pale pink ties, also from Groom.
Our photographers were Jo and Jon from ER Photography. They were amazing! From our very first conversation with them we really clicked and knew we would be able to relax with them. On the day of the wedding they were fab, guests commented on how lovely they both were and how relaxed they felt being photographed – and we felt the same. We couldn’t have asked any more of them – and the results of their efforts are way beyond our expectations! They are both so creative and talented.
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February 1st, 2017 | Rachel Parry
Today’s real wedding is the type that we would quite like to have been a guest at, for everyone pictured looks to be having the best time ever.
Marrying at Swancar Farm in Nottinghamshire, Lucy and Scott planned a romantic big day, complete with an elegant blush, grey and silver colour scheme, and carefully chosen blooms and décor.
From the ‘I dos’ to the dance moves, emotions run high with love, laughter and joy etched on the faces of the stunning bride, groom and their guests.
With images by Brides Up North Sponsor Miki Photography
lucy says: We got engaged in Paris. Scott had booked to take me for a surprise weekend away for my birthday. We were walking along the River Seine and he told me to have a look at the boats – when I turned back round, he was holding a ring box and asked me to marry him.
Our wedding date was 1st July 2016. We knew we wanted a Friday in July or August and this was the only one the venue had left, so we snapped it up!
We got married at Swancar Farm, in Trowell, Nottinghamshire. We went to see four venues altogether and we chose this Swancar because we both loved it and could totally imagine ourselves getting married there. It’s such a beautiful venue.
We had a romantic, elegant and floral theme. We just wanted it to look wow, and it certainly exceeded all expectations.
Our colour scheme was blush, grey and silver. I chose it because I love those colours and thought they fit well with the theme.
I chose a Justin Alexander dress from La Belle Boutique, after trying on quite a few designs. I wanted a strapless, fishtail dress that was simple but still glam. I chose my dress because out of all the designs I tried on, it was the only one I could imagine I could get married in and that Scott would like too.
Scott had a suit made by Timothy James Henderson. It was a bespoke three-piece grey suit. He wore it with a white shirt and blush tie and pocket square.
The bridesmaids wore long, blush dresses with lace and bead detail and the flower girls wore ivory dresses, with blush flower detailing, and little rose gold shoes.
Our photographer was Ash Davenport of Miki Photography. We would 100% recommend him, as he did a fantastic job and we’re so pleased with the photos! He blended into the day so well and we hardly knew he was there.
We also had our day filmed by a videographer called Lara Elliott, who was brilliant! She was lovely and our wedding highlights video was better than we ever imagined.
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