August 2nd, 2018 | Alexis Forsyth
If the sunnier climes up North this summer have given you a taste for the sun drenched, carefree life, then we have the perfect styled shoot for you today, as we transport you to California to provide inspo for that other big day in your life – your hen do!
Led by Natasha, stylist and creator at planning and styling company Want That Invite, the shoot is a dreamy, colourful affair bursting with fun factor – everything we could want from our celebrations with our girl squad in tow!
There are gorgeous prints, palm trees (of course), rainbow bright cocktails, balloons and cake pops to get the party vibes in full swing. And it all takes place in a back garden in the North West of the UK, no less – so no airfare required! We’re just wondering if we even need the excuse of hosting a hen do to recreate this beauty ourselves?!
natasha says: We decided to create this shoot to show our clients what can be achieved in their own back gardens. With the help of us at Want That Invite, and our dream team of suppliers we can transform any space to suit their needs.
California is a popular hen party destination, but this is not always easy to get to (think money, flights and getting everybody to commit). So, instead, we decided to bring California to the UK!
Our colour scheme was inspired by Palm Springs’ architecture; think pastel pinks paired with geometric shapes. The shoot’s overarching theme is California dreaming with a ‘party in Palm Springs’ concept.
We wanted the party to be relatable and to show what’s possible with the help of a planner and stylist. We selected a colleague’s garden as the venue for the shoot, which was fairly neutral with pastel grey fences and no bold flowers or decor. We knew it was the ideal spot for our shoot as we loved the different areas available. There was a grassed area for the picnic, decking for a seating area and also a great long fence for the Photo Booth (supplied by Vivalabooth) to go in front of. It wasn’t overpowered by bushes or trees, which meant our styling was the focal point.
A variety of styling elements were taken into consideration when designing this shoot – from the patterns on the picnic rugs, to the colours of the placemats and cushions. Modern elements were introduced with the use of gold cutlery and Perspex name-tags and signage, with stationery supplied by Ever After Paperie and favours from Team Hen.
Beautiful fresh florals were introduced to add pops of colour to the picnic table, the drinks cart and even in the bride-to-be’s hair, supplied by the talented Milly Davey Flowers. Even the desserts, crafted by Honeywell Bakes and Polka Pops, were styled to match with the theme – think palm trees and pineapples.
We wanted the attire for the shoot to be relaxed, fun and realistic to what would be worn to a garden party. But we wanted to add a statement piece, which is why we decided to get Bee Davies Illustration involved. She created a bespoke denim ‘Miss to Mrs’ jacket to add to the relaxed atmosphere.
May 1st, 2018 | Rachel Parry
When it comes to planning a hen do it can be tricky to think of an ‘activity’ that’s original and will appeal to all ages and personalities within the group. But thanks to our fabulous North-East based Sponsor, freelance makeup artist Alexandra Jane Edgar, we have a winning suggestion for you that’s guaranteed to go down a treat with all your beloved hens – a professional makeover and photo shoot! We said it was fabulous!
Based in the studio of Joe Laws Photography, in Newcastle Upon Tyne, Alexandra has added this hen party experience to her list of services, so girls can get glammed up before hitting the town and take away some stunning professional shots with their leading ladies as a gorgeous souvenir of their pre-wedding celebrations.
Not only that but Alexandra is also offering group and private makeup classes to help ladies get out of a beauty rut and enhance their features while learning top products, tips and tricks along the way. And those further afield than the North East need not miss out of Alexandra’s golden advice as she’s started a series of online makeup tutorials too. Is there no end to this lady’s talents?
Here to tell us more is the expert herself. Over to you Alexandra…
With images by Joe Laws Photography.
You’ve recently introduced a Hen Party Experience to the portfolio of fabulous services that you offer. Can you tell us a little about this?
alexandra says: Our Hen Party Experience is a new, feel good service providing you and your main girls an amazing treat. All hens get a pamper session with eyes, cheeks and lips at £35 each, with the bride-to-be getting a consultation on skincare, full professional makeup application and hair styled for £55. Next, it’s time to hit the studio and enjoy a photoshoot by award-winning wedding and portrait photographer Joe Laws. Each hen will choose a digital photograph and the bride-to-be chooses an additional one of the entire party to take away with them. Any additional images, prints, framing are also available at an additional cost.
How have the hen party sessions been received so far?
The feedback has been amazing with our parties coming from as far as Northern Ireland and Scotland so far. They say it is a great way to spend an afternoon before going into town to party. It’s a professional, fun experience where everyone gets to look and feel their best. Not only will the session encourage brides-to-be to book their wedding makeup trial, it’s also a great opportunity for some practice in front of a professional photographer – and most of all, they all have fun with beautiful images to take away and treasure. It certainly beats a selfie!
You also run a number of makeup classes at the studio. Why did you want to introduce this service and who do the classes appeal to?
I have been asked for a very long time from clients if I offer classes and tutorials. I decided to offer this service and the feedback and enquiries have been fantastic. I had not realised how intimidating us ladies can find makeup, and how difficult some find it to find a makeup artist they can trust. I run monthly events at the studio (details can be found on my Facebook page) which are a wonderful opportunity to meet new people, get some advice on products and learn, as I show you “how to” on my model. I am also available for private classes, which are great for mums and daughters, or a few friends, looking for some new ideas, tips and tricks. This service appeals to all ladies looking for an informative, fun experience learning new skills and gaining confidence with their look. Events are £15 per person, and private/group consultations are £35 each.
What are the main beauty mistakes that ladies tend to make?
I honestly don’t think it’s the ladies who make the mistakes. I genuinely believe they have been served with the wrong products for their needs initially. I have seen this time and time again. The consultants are not asking the right questions, nor are they listening to the answers. The client walks away having spent money, gets home and doesn’t have a clue how to use her new products. I am passionate about skincare and makeup. It is magical and empowering. I am able to guide you on the best, effective, cruelty free, luxury products to use to suit your lifestyle whilst keeping it easy and transparent.
Your latest venture is video makeup tutorials, which sound exciting – can you tell us more please?
My desire to help others enjoy, experiment and feel good with incredible products has catapulted me right out of my comfort zone. I wished to present my brand in a luxurious, fun, easy going, informative way. I want my clients to see real women, the process, the application, the finish. My videos are currently on my Facebook page, however I am in the process of setting up a Youtube Channel – AJ Edgar Make up Artist – where they will all be together. I will keep you posted!
So what type of videos have you done so far and what else do you have planned?
My first two tutorials have been modelled by two incredible dancers, Jessica and Elena. My first look is based on enhancing Jessica’s own beauty, the second is empowering Elena with a catwalk inspired look from Sophia Webster’s dreamy current collection. Next, I will be showcasing a real prom makeup application on Royal Teen Miss UK, Juliette. Through my videos, I will be filming ladies of all ages and ethnicities focussing on different areas, such as eyes, cheeks, lips, skincare, foundation – the whole schbang!
What current makeup trends are you a fan of and can you forecast any looks that will be big in bridal?
I’m delighted that the magical, ethereal, glistening, mystical looks on the spring/summer catwalks at London, Paris and New York Fashion Weeks are here to stay. The skin is luminous and looks so healthy – perfect for a bride. See examples at Antonio Marras, Ralph & Russo, Sophia Webster and Valentino. I feel the sherbet hues will transcend into bridal with lilac, pink, pistachio and lemon taking centre stage. I adore translating the catwalk looks for bridal and every day. All examples can be seen on my Facebook page, shot by Joe Laws Photography.
Beauty-wise, who is your celebrity crush?
Currently it would have to be bride-to-be of the moment, Meghan Markle. She always looks radiant, polished and so happy. She is a strong, confident woman. I adore that she said no to any editing of her portrait for Vogue. Right now, Meghan will be preparing her skin in order to be wedding-ready, focusing on her nutrition and skincare. This is something I am able to assist my brides-to-be with and I only use vegan skincare, makeup, nutrition, bath and body products.
It would be absolutely incredible at some point in my career to do Meghan’s makeup. It would be such a privilege to advise and create looks for such an empowering, beautiful girl.
September 29th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth
The historic city of Durham is famous for its cathedral, castle and picture-perfect setting by the River Wear, not to mention its first-class university, which attracts students by the hordes. And the good news is that where there are students, there is typically a plethora of bars, restaurants and other activities all awaiting us visiting hens!
A charming destination steeped in heritage, with glorious bridges and cobbled streets, Durham certainly offers hens something more quaint and compact than the much larger neighbouring cities of Newcastle to the north or York to the south.
The city is also the perfect base for hens keen to get out into the Durham countryside and enjoy something altogether more relaxing. Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up some of this fabulous location’s best bits, guaranteed to make your hen weekend one to remember…
Durham is an affordable destination with a variety of options when it comes to overnight accommodation. You have stylish hotel staples in the heart of the city, such as Radisson Blu and the Marriott Hotel Royal County, and on the cheap and cheerful end of the scale, look out for the likes of Travelodge or Premier Inn.
Want to venture out of Durham for a slice of luxury? Look no further than Ramside Hall, a swish four-star hotel on the outskirts of the city set in 350 acres of stunning grounds, complete with an uber-modern spa and Fusion Restaurant.
A river cruise on the Prince Bishop is the perfect way to soak up the city’s beautiful landmarks and serene surroundings. This tranquil escapade along the Wear lasts a full hour and includes a live commentary, with a sun deck and bar onboard to boot. Alternatively, explore the river at your leisure and hire your very own traditional rowing boats from Browns Boats – just make sure none of your hens drop their oars!
If sublime pampering is more of a squad goal for the weekend, the city is close to a number of fabulous spas including our earlier top accommodation pick, Ramside Hall. This is the ultimate spa resort, with a thermal suite and five pools – including a stunning, Insta-worthy infinity pool.
Is a live performance your vice? Then make a date with the Gala Theatre, which plays host to everything from music and dance to comedy and opera. The perfect outing to kick-start your weekend celebrations and switch things up from the usual bar crawl.
September 4th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth
Pitcher & Piano
Renowned as a party city and an ever-popular destination among hens and stags – Newcastle is a cosmopolitan city with a burgeoning food and drinks scene to match.
Home to some of the most iconic landmarks in the country (yes, we’re looking at you Tyne Bridge), Newcastle has got it all when it comes to a weekend break – from top shopping and leisure activities, to an eclectic mix of arts, heritage and culture.
Here we’ve rounded up some of the Toon’s many highlights that will make your hen do the most fun, enjoyable and memorable of celebrations with your gals.
So, it’s time to brush up on your Geordie lingo ladies, and leave those jackets behind in the hotel room…
Whether you’re splurging on something extra special or simply looking for a place to lay your head for the night – there’s a variety of hotels to suit all budgets and tastes, scattered across the city.
If you’re looking to stay a stone’s throw from the picture-perfect River Tyne on the lively Quayside, there’s the purse-friendly Tune Hotel, as well as the reasonably priced Waterside Hotel situated in a beautiful grade II listed building.
On the more decadent end of the spectrum, you have The Vermont – a four-star luxury hotel offering up a dose of 1930s grandeur, and the uber chic Malmaison, which has welcomed many a celebrity over the years and overlooks the tilting Millennium Bridge.
In the heart of the city, budget design hotel Motel One is a hop, skip and a jump from the main shopping centre and is best described as stylish and affordable; meanwhile the newly refurbished Grey Street Hotel is in a prime location on, yes you guessed it – Grey Street, once voted the finest street in Britain.
Like any city – Newcastle has a thriving social scene offering up a mix of activities to suit every style of hen party.
Of course, who doesn’t enjoy a spot of retail therapy with your girl squad in tow? Intu Eldon Square is the go-to destination for all your high street favourites. Meanwhile, Fenwick department store on Northumberland Street is a shopping haven spread over five floors, with its extensive beauty hall (touted as one of the largest in Europe) housing designer brands, such as Charlotte Tilbury, Tom Ford and Chanel, as well as a Nails Inc bar and Aveda blow dry salon. The historic Central Arcade – also in the city centre – dates back to the 1830s and is worth a browse too, with stores such as Space NK, Cath Kidson and independent jewellery shop, Bcharmd.
Keen to get your game on? Lane 7 is a boutique 10-pin bowling alley – think a swish ambient setting, spotlight-illuminated bowling lanes and lots of other activities to boot, including ping-pong, crazy golf and a karaoke booth. Plenty to keep you entertained for a few hours!
Lane 7 – image source
Afternoon tea is always a popular choice among more sophisticated hens (we’re partial to a scone and some fizz ourselves…) and one of our favourite destinations is SIX, the rooftop restaurant at Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. Thanks to its floor to ceiling windows, you’ll be tucking into its dainty cakes and scones while enjoying some of the best views on offer of the River Tyne and its iconic bridges.
If an indulgent pamper sesh is your idea of hen heaven, be sure to check out city centre spa, the Mineral House at the Crowne Plaza. Along with a 10m swimming pool, there’s a spa, steam room and relaxation area for the most blissful of afternoons with the gals.
July 11th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth
image source, photography by Brittany Griffin
Planning and organising a bride’s hen do can (almost) be as stressful as the big day in question. Bringing together a host of school and university friends, family members and work mates – who are almost always dotted in various locations across the UK – can be an arduous task.
And then comes the really tricky part – deciding on what you’ll actually do to celebrate the bride’s final soiree as a ‘single’ woman – and in turn claim the crown as best bridesmaid ever (it’s true, we’re all secretly vying for this accolade).
These days, it’s become the perfect excuse to jet away for a weekend in the sun, but for the hen do staying closer to home, there are lots of fun and creative activities to choose from too, that promise something a touch more sophisticated and memorable than a clichéd night on the tiles.
As such, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite alternative hen party ideas, perfect for the bride-to-be up north and her devoted squad of besties.
We love a throwback or two, especially when it involves retro skates, neon lights, a glitter ball and classic pop tunes. Cue the roller disco, which has seen a revival in recent years, with everyone from Kylie Minogue to Kate Middleton getting their groove on in the roller rink. If your bride was born in the 80s, then you can’t fail to impress with this choice! Manchester is a hotspot for roller discos, with Newcastle also recently dabbling in a pop-up rink at city centre venue, The Boilershop.
Another activity that harks back to our youth is the classic slumber party – the ultimate girls’ nights in! Of course, you’ll want to pick a sumptuous setting that’s extra special – think an urban penthouse, private roof terrace (we love The Light Aparthotel in Manchester’s Northern Quarter) or even a beach house or castle (Kate and Tom’s have curated a fabulous selection of UK venues) – and pair the evening with bubbles, pampering sessions and delicious treats.
Zen parties are now a thing, offering hens a blissful, chilled out session in each other’s company. For something a little different from the norm – House of Voga fuses yoga with 80s dance, offering classes up north, in Edinburgh. Meanwhile Secret Yoga Club run private parties that blend yoga with live music (we’re talking the violin, cello and even chamber ensembles), a candlelit three course feast and a post-yoga activity such as life drawing, reiki or floristry workshops. A truly inspired combination, we think!
Cocktail making is like so five years ago, don’t you know? Instead, get crafty in the kitchen with a macaron workshop, which will be sure to hit the sweet spot on your hen do. We’re a little taken by Mademoiselle Macaron, a kitsch little café based in Edinburgh that offers private classes to hen parties, where you can bring along your own drink and even dress up in a Marie Antoinette wig!
October 24th, 2016 | Rachel Parry
While you brides-to-be are in full wedding planning mode, us Brides Up North girls are right there with you in a whirlwind of organising and staging our Luxury Wedding Fairs throughout the north of the country.
And though we love what we do, such a high level of planning leads to late nights, early starts and bodies that ache from head to toe. So when an invitation for an overnight break at Titanic Spa in Huddersfield arrived in our inbox, we thought we had more than earned a little down time.
We have been fortunate to visit the amazing West Yorkshire spa before, though we’ve never stayed for more than a day, so we were extra excited to see what else would be in store for us.
Popular with both men and women of all ages this is an ideal retreat for brides and grooms to recharge the batteries, either pre- or post-wedding, but also makes a heavenly location for a hen do or mother and daughter day. Whatever your excuse – we mean reason, you can be sure of first class facilities and service with Titanic being named ‘Best Luxury Eco Spa’ and ‘Best Luxury Destination Spa’ at the prestigious 2016 World Luxury Spa Awards.
Upon arrival our overnight luggage was taken from us and delivered to our room which we would be able to access later in the afternoon. We knew our way round and so skipped the tour and headed straight into the spa’s well-known Heat & Ice Experience. Here guests can go between a number of hot and cold rooms, each with differing benefits to the body. The overall effect is cleansing and invigorating as you peak and dip in temperature.
We favoured the warmer rooms, such as the saunas, herbal infusion room and aromatherapy room, which cleared pores whilst draining away any feelings of stress too. In between the hot experiences we dipped in and out of the ice room but weren’t quite brave enough for the plunge pool or bucket shower experience. We did manage to idle away about 30 minutes in the foot spas though while we gossiped about all things Made in Chelsea and Real House Wives of Cheshire.
Next, lunch. We recalled how good the food was on our last visit, but as it turns out the team at Titanic have stepped things up a gear again, with the dishes surpassing our previous dining experience. We both enjoyed a Prawn, Red Pepper and Chilli Linguine washed was with a Sauvignon Blanc. That’s right, though healthy, the spa still allows for treats!
The impressive facilities at Titanic – which also include a 15 metre swimming pool, gym, relaxation room and outdoor hot tub – are so plentiful that a treatment isn’t essential for those on a short break. That said, if you’re on the run up to your wedding we highly recommend indulging in a facial or body treatment as part of your big day beauty prep.
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