Charlotte Balbier

flowers, food & festivities: our real life bride and celebrity columnist jane takes some tips from michelle keegan

June 30th, 2015 | Julia Braime

Jane Witherspoon meets Michelle Keegan  (3)

Last month on the blog Jane Witherspoon, our real life bride and celebrity columnist, shared with us details of her early wedding planning, including the reasons behind deciding on North East venue Brinkburn Priory, for her upcoming wedding in October.

As a celeb reporter for the likes of Good Morning Britain, Jane also made us green with envy as she told us about her latest red carpet antics which included interviewing a certain Mr Clooney. And she’s been at it again! This time though she’s been rubbing shoulders with a big girl crush of ours here at Brides Up North, actress and newlywed Michelle Keegan.

So we’ll let Jane give you all the goss on what Miss Keegan had to say about her lavish ceremony to Mr Wright, whilst also bringing you up to date with the plans for her and beau Alex’s impending wedding.

Jane Witherspoon meets Michelle Keegan  (6)

jane says: So we’re on a train to see Alex’s parents as I write this blog. “Why don’t you write about invitations?” he says sarcastically. Oops, we really need to get on top of this ‘wedmin’! I can see why some people would hire a wedding co-ordinator as it’s hard to find the time to get organised. That said, we have got the bones of our wedding nailed down.

Wedding season is well and truly upon us. I’ve even been chatting nuptials on Good Morning Britain this month following Mark Wright and Michelle Keegan’s big day. I thought they both looked stunning. In fact I’d go as far to say that Michelle is the most gorgeous girl I’ve ever met!

They tied the knot at the beautiful Hengrave Hall in Suffolk in front of 120 guests. The same number that will be attending ours at Brinkburn Priory. I interviewed her a few weeks ago and we were swapping bride-to-be tips. She told me once the venue is booked that the most important thing was to get your flowers sorted. Having since seen the reports that she spent £60,000 on flowers I now understand why she thought it was a big deal!

Jane Witherspoon meets Michelle Keegan  (4)

We’re still undecided what to do about the floral aspect of our day but we definitely won’t be splashing out to that extent on them. I love that our venue was a medieval monastery. It’s so magical. There was talk of us putting flowers in the priory itself but the more we chat about it I like that its old stone and atmospheric. We’re leaning more to the idea of filling it with candles. Our reception is being held in two tipis on site that have pit fires in them. The tables will have eastern style lanterns on them and lots of tea lights so flowers will be minimalist.

We’re working with a lovely florist called Christine at Lavenders Blue in Northumberland. She’s got some great ideas which will add elegance and simplicity to the day. Simple glass cubes with a single ivory hydrangea and greenery. The poles of the tipis will be decorated with green foliage and have fairy lights around them too. I’m a typical magpie (had to get the Newcastle United reference in) and love anything sparkly.

Jane Witherspoon Floral Ideas

Next, glorious food. What do you serve up at a wedding that’s going to satisfy everyone with different tastes? Let me introduce Wilkins Fine Dining. Neil and his team are just amazing. We’re still to do our tasting session which Alex can’t wait for. Everyone I talk to says that the food tasting session is one of the highlights of planning a wedding. We’re thinking of serving Roulade of Ham Hock and Piccalilli for starter followed by Slow Cooked Shoulder of Wingate’s Lamb, Fondant Potato and Rosemary Sauce. For dessert it’s warm Sticky Toffee Pudding with Caramel Sauce. There will of course be a vegetarian option and no doubt once we sample all of Wilkins’ taster menu this could all change!

Jane Witherspoon meets Michelle Keegan  (5)

We’ve booked the entertainment for the night too. An old friend from school put us in touch with a band called Purple Cloud of Funk. They’re incredible. In my business I get to go to a lot of gigs and these guys really stand out. They’re fun and play tunes that will have everyone on their feet. Guests can expect a mix of the latest pop tunes mixed in with some classics and lots of Northern Soul and Motown. We’ll be asking guests to suggest a song as part of their RSVP and that will make up the play list. That reminds me, those invitations!

Jane Witherspoon meets Michelle Keegan  (7)

In my July blog post I will be talking dresses and makeup. I bumped into Hunger Games actor Sam Claflin at the Burberry show at London Men’s Collection last week. We have a mutual friend – Ciona Johnson-King. She’s the best makeup artist in the business who’s worked with him since he started his career as well as Hollywood A-listers including Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz and Daniel Craig. So next month I’ll be bringing you some of her top beauty tips!

Follow Jane on Twitter @janeyspoon

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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…

Jane at Tomorrowland premiere (3)

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!

Jane at Tomorrowland premiere (2)

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!

Brinkburn Priory 4

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.

Brinkburn Priory 3

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.

Jane at Tomorrowland premiere 4

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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style profile: bespoke bride

April 30th, 2015 | Julia Braime

Jess - image credit Laura Power Photography

image by Laura Power Photography

As we head full steam into the summer months ahead we’re hoping the British weather is going to be kind to us so that we can finally ditch the monochrome winter wardrobe once and for all and start wearing more colourful clobber.

Talking of which, today we welcome somewhat of a colour connoisseur to the Brides Up North pages to take part in our Style Profile feature. Introducing,

jess turley, co-founder of the fabulous Bespoke Bride.

Now here’s a girl with incredible style that’s not afraid to stand out with her vibrant outfit choices no matter what season it is. Here Jess shares her fashion fixes and crushes along with her some of her top wedding picks. She’s certainly inspired us to inject some colour into our wardrobes and we hope you’ll be doing the same.

If this doesn’t brighten up your day, nothing will! Take it away Jess…

JESS 9 TO 5

Clockwise from top left: Jeans from H&M| skirt from Topshop| heels from Topshop| necklace from ASOS| jumper from H&M.

How would you describe your nine ‘til five style and what are your key work wardrobe pieces?

jess says: I would describe my nine ‘til five style as very casual.  If I’m working from home, I like to make sure I’m comfy but am still wearing something that makes me feel motivated! So often you’ll find me in bright colourful jumpers teamed with a bold statement necklace and a comfy pair of leggings or ripped jeans!

If we’re working out for the day or are meeting up with other fab industry suppliers then I love to wear feminine pleated skirts to dress up an outfit. As for shoes I’d normally throw on something with a wedge heel to give myself a bit of height without losing too much comfort!

What would you wear for a night out drinking cocktails with the girls?

For a night out drinking cocktails I’m most likely to wear a maxi skirt with a strappy crop top or alternatively a pretty playsuit. Again, I’d be teaming it with a pair of comfy shoes so either a wedge shoe or a block heel and probably a blazer.

If you were currently planning your wedding what would be your top picks in terms of styling, attire, accessories and blooms?

If you didn’t already know from our blog, I am obsessed with colour so a plain white wedding dress just wouldn’t be an option for me, I would need something a little more vibrant going on and to me, ombre dresses are perfect for that!

I would then continue that colourful theme throughout the styling with fun place settings and vibrant table runners teamed with an array colours, but mostly several different shades of pink.

For the blooms I really love bouquets that are a real selection of flowers but also have a few succulents in the mix, I think it gives the bouquet a little something different, and of course it would have to be filled with beautiful bold colours (no surprise there!).

For the accessories I know I would be asking the fabulous Crown and Glory to make a custom floral headband or crown to sit upon my head all day with colours that matched my bouquet and the dress! I think I’d keep it simple with the shoes and wear a block colour pair of wedges or heels, probably in a vibrant pink!

JESS WEDDINGS

Clockwise from top left: Heels from Topshop| image found on target.com via ohjoy.blogs.com, photography by  Laure Joliet| dress by  Synderela Story, photography Amber Gress| headband from Crown and Glory.

Where do you get your fashion inspiration from?

Mostly Pinterest, I have a style board that I pin anything that catches my eye to, then when I’m struggling to put together an outfit I’ll check back there for reference! I also find Lookbook really helpful with fashion inspiration, I keep the app on my phone too so I can have a browse from time to time!

Where would be your dream honeymoon destination and why?

I used to think my dream honeymoon destination would be Mexico, because it’s my favourite place to visit, however because I’ve been there a lot I think it would be nice to go somewhere extra special for my honeymoon, probably somewhere really secluded like the Maldives or Bora Bora so that we could really relax, snorkel, and soak up the sun. I really like the idea of honeymoon time being all about each other more than exploring the destination, I’d like to think we have our whole lives to explore the rest of the world but that time would really be about us as a couple.

Who is currently your favourite fashion designer and why?

I don’t really follow fashion designers but the first person that popped into my mind when I read that question was Kate Spade, I just love how bold and colourful her pieces are!

JESS COCKTAILS

Clockwise from top: Jumpsuit from Warehouse| skirt from Topshop| top from Boohoo| heels from ASOS| blazer from ASOS.

What current wedding trends are you a fan of and why?

I absolutely adore geometric themes, bold and colourful colour schemes or something Aztec or Mexican, although my favourite weddings are always the ones where you can tell a whole lot about the couple just from the wedding because their personalities are splashed all over it!

Which celebrities’ style do you admire and why?

I really like the way Cheryl Cole dresses, she always looks classy and feminine! I also love the way most of her outfits come in at the waist, that’s something I like to do often with high waisted skirts and jeans.

Another celeb who’s style I love is Katy Perry, it can be pretty wacky at times but I always love how fun and colourful her outfits are!

What is your key piece in your wardrobe that you couldn’t live without?

My teal green pleated maxi skirt from Zara, I absolutely adore how long and flowy it is and I can be totally bloated in it and you wouldn’t even know! Ha! So it ticks all the boxes for me, it’s comfortable, colourful and flattering.

What areas of a wedding would you splurge on the most and why?

100% photography and videography! I cannot express how important those two factors will be in my own wedding, they’re pretty much the only two things about your day that will last you a lifetime!

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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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Bridalplasty: Terrifying Trend Or Pre-Wedding Prep?

March 31st, 2014 | Julia Braime

Recent reports from Hollywood have me more than a little concerned.  What the beejezuz is Kim Kardashian up to now?! Tomorrow’s chip paper or not, with a degree in Communications Studies under my belt I firmly believe in the power of the press to persuade, normalise and control.

Along with the excitement of getting engaged and setting a date often comes a feeling of pressure for brides-to-be as it confirms the time frame in which they have to both plan and achieve their perfect wedding day look.  Obviously this includes finding the dream dress, shoes and accessories, plus an amazing hair stylist and beautician (which is stressful enough), but in certain cases brides are now taking their pre-wedding preparations a step further to ensure they are at their most radiant on their special day. 

My vote lies firmly with keeping things natural, but our regular guest blogger Rachel is back to investigate the latest beauty craze without getting over dramatic about it.  We want our readers to be informed and capable decision makers.  This is serious stuff ladies. 

So, fancy a bit of bridalplasty with your blow dry? Think carefully. 

Grazia

Image: Grazia 

Rachel says:  It’s easy to understand why brides want to look their very best as they will be centre of attention, taking their vows in front numerous friends and family while photos, and often video footage, are taken that will be passed around and down the family for years to come. It’s therefore often the case that a bride will cut out calories, up her gym membership and indulge in a few facials ahead of her big day, but it appears much more extensive wedding day makeovers are starting to evolve.

Recent studies have revealed there is a fast growing trend for brides-to-be to undergo non-invasive treatments as part of their beauty prep and UK clinics are also reporting an increase in requests for pre-wedding day surgical procedures from brides striving for perfection.

It’s thought there are several reasons for brides deciding to take such measures, the main one simply being to boost their confidence. Others suggest the average age of a bride increasing to early 30s is a factor as at this age it’s assumed women often have more disposable income and therefore can afford such treatments and procedures.

Another contributor is said to be changes in wedding dress designs. Traditionally dresses have been structured on top, with corsets pulling everything into place, while the bottom halves have been made up of meringue-style layers, perfect for hiding women’s common body hang-ups areas such as bum, thighs and hips. Today’s fluid, slinky and sometimes backless designs however can be most unforgiving and rarely allow for any kind of hidden support.

For some brides it may be that they have been considering a certain procedure for some time and their wedding day provides a trigger point while for others it’s simply a lack of time or patience which makes the quick fix treatments appealing.

So, what types of treatments are brides-to-be having?

Huffington Post

Image: Huffington Post

Botox

This is one of the most popular non-invasive pre-wedding treatments for brides-to-be. Skin starts to show signs of aging from the age of 25 as our bodies loose collagen at the rate of 1.5 per cent every year. It is this depletion that leads to wrinkles, meaning that even brides in their 20s can feel the need for anti-aging skincare procedures. During the treatment ultra-fine needles are used to target wrinkles on the forehead, around the eyes and mouth, between the eyebrows and on the neck by injecting botulinum toxin into the skin to achieve a smooth, flawless look.

Fillers

Dermal fillers are popular with brides wanting to achieve a more youthful appearance by plumping up their cheeks, filling their lips or enhancing their cheekbones. Dermal fillers are also used to fill in hollow areas of the face, smooth out wrinkles and remove scarring.

Facial treatments

Laser therapy, microdermabrasion and chemical peels are some of the most popular pre-wedding non-invasive facial treatments. These are used to revitalise the surface of the skin by removing old skin cells giving brides a fresh and more radiant appearance.

Non-surgical liposuction

Chosen by brides who want to target fat on their stomach, buttocks, hips, thighs and backs of the arms, this treatment uses ultrasonic technology to sculpt the body. During the procedure ultrasonic waves burst fat cell membranes, effectively ‘melting’ the fat away.

Double Vision Media

Image: Doublevision Media

Meanwhile those brides choosing to go under the knife are forking out for breast implants, tummy tucks, liposuction and rhinoplatry (nose alterations). And it’s not just brides feeling the pre-wedding pressure – bridesmaids, mothers of the bride or groom and even grooms are also undergoing such procedures, with some clinics even offering special pre-wedding group packages.

As someone who is too scared to switch from eyebrow waxing to threading for fear of the pain, I can’t see myself handing over money to undergo such procedures ahead of my wedding. I’m also of the opinion that we shouldn’t mess with our bodies more than is necessary and above all I’d hate to arrive at the altar and my future husband fail to recognise me.

Awkward!

That said it’s up to each individual to decide what they want to do with their body. What I will say is that the treatments and procedures discussed are not without risks.  Brides who are considering more extreme pre-wedding makeover should allow plenty of time to research and plan any procedures they are interested in having carried out and ensure they leave time for proper healing before the big day. I would also ask them to question if there is an alternative and if the money could be better spent elsewhere – perhaps on a luxurious honeymoon, a top photographer or a pair of designer wedding heels.

So what do you think?  Would you consider plastic surgery before your big day?

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog – Image © 2014 Grazia/ Huffington Post/ Doublevision Media/

Rachel Parry is a regular guest blogger for Brides Up North

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