Charlotte Balbier
Luxury Wedding Fairs

sun & the city: honeymoon high street haul

July 14th, 2016 | Rachel Parry

Ted Baker

Tapestry wrap bikini top £49, Ted Baker

It’s that time of the year again (thank God!) when we leave our worries and woes behind and jet off to warmer climes for some all-important R&R.

Whether you’re preparing for the honeymoon *eeek!* or have booked yourself a romantic European city break this summer, we’ve been scouring the high street to make packing your case that little bit easier.

Better still, sale fever has well and truly hit the shops meaning there are some real bargains to be had – ladies if you needed an excuse to shop, we just gave you one!

beach bum

Beach BumMissoni Mare Fringed Crochet-Knit Swimsuit, £350, from Net-A-Porter – Because if you can’t splash out on your swimwear for your honeymoon, when can you? We absolutely love this flattering one-piece in Missoni’s signature print with on-trend tassel detail in the most dreamy ocean shades.

Cold Shoulder Bardot Dress, £42, from Topshop – When packing for a holiday there’s nothing like an all-rounder that will see you through from day to night. This sweet pastel blue number, in one of summer’s hottest shapes, can be used as a beach cover up, day dress with flats and hat or blinged up with accessories for the evening.

Alexander Wang Distressed Denim Shorts, £175, from Net-A-Porter – A summer and holiday staple that’s worth investing in. These are perfect for throwing on over your bikini or teaming with a loose shirt or relaxed boho top/kaftan while out on day trips.

Cream Embroidered Cropped Cami, £28, from River Island – The perfect accompaniment to the above, this cute little cami has holiday written all over it.

Marbella Glitter Beach Tote, £29, from Accessorize – Whether heading to the beach or pool, you’ll need a bag to fit in all the essentials – sunglasses, sun cream, towel, book, magazine, mobile, purse – better make it a large one then, just like this super chic striped design.

Rose Gold Metallic Platform Sandals, £30, from River Island – And how’s about some fancy metallic footwear to match your metallic beach bag? These rose gold flatforms provide both comfort and class.

Sasha Scalloped Bandeau Bikini Top, £15 & Bottoms £14, from Monsoon – Girly scalloped edge designs have been around for a while now but we still can’t get enough of them, particularly in beachwear. For those of you brave enough to bare your midriff we suggest this gorgeous navy number

Alyssum Mesh Burnout Lace Maxi Dress, £120, from French Connection – Another holiday staple and all-rounder has to be the maxi dress and we don’t think they come much more gorgeous than this luxurious lace design.

Tassels Clutch, was £29.99 now £11.99, from Mango – As well as a casual beach bag, you’ll want to pack a dressy clutch for the evenings too. This cute design from Mango would easily be amongst our top picks, not only for its cool tassel detailing, but also the price #steal

Lace Dress, £70, from Oasis – We thought this lovely sunshine dress was a great buy for this time of year; to pack for holiday evenings out, but also to wear as a guest to a wedding – or best of both worlds – a destination wedding!

Vix Floppy Hat, was £55 now £27, from French Connection – Let’s face it, we all like to emit a little celebrity style when by the beach and what better way to do it than with this elegant sun hat?

Cara Oversized Sunglasses, was £75 now £40, from Whistles – Well if you’re going all A-lister you’re going to need a big pair of shades too!

culture vulture

Culture Vulture

White Panelled Wheelie Suitcase, £70, from River Island – First thing’s first, a stylish compact case is needed in which to pack your capsule city wardrobe so that you don’t have to bother with the cost or faff of checking in a large suitcase at the airport.

Mesh Sneakers, was £29.99 now £12.99, from Zara – Chances are if you’re on a city break you’re going to be on your feet a lot so you’ll want a comfortable pair of trainers, just like these, to prevent the burn kicking in.

Cotton-blend Shorts, £19.99, from Mango – White shorts are a fabulous summer staple (for those that can keep them clean for longer than five minutes) as they’ll literally go with every top, shirt and blouse that you own.

Chambray Ruffle Bra Crop, £30 from Miss Selfridge – perfect to go with the above day or night, we adore this cute cami featuring on-trend ruffle detailing.

Trevill Christys Trilby, £90, from Reiss – This classic trilby is ideal to help keep you looking and feeling cool when darting from one tourist attraction to another.

Havana Tie-Up Sandal, £26, from Topshop – As well as sensible footwear, you’ll want some stylish footwear too and so we suggest these lovely leopard print wraparounds for making a statement come the evening.

Mini Verity Backpack, £180, from Whistles – Both practical and pretty, this soft leather backpack is the perfect way to carry around your necessities when in the city.

Oversize Striped Shirt, was £35.99 now £9.99, from Mango – Pretty much daylight robbery! A classic striped shirt like this will see you through any city break and beyond, so we say – buy, buy, buy!

Ray-Ban Clubround Acetate and Gold-Tone Sunglasses, £135, from Net-A-Porter – We don’t know about you but each summer we find it hard to resist purchasing some new sunnies, particularly when shopping in the airport. And if your budget allows, you can’t go wrong with a cool pair of Ray-Bans.

Open Back Jumpsuit, £59, from Warehouse – Hopefully your city break will include a few romantic evening meals out and so you’ll want to include a dressier option in your case, such as this stunning red jumpsuit. Another possible wedding guest outfit too for when you return from your break.

White Stripe Bardot Maxi Dress, £35, from River Island – When packing for a city getaway often casual is key, as well as items that fold up to nothing, which is why we would definitely be putting this off-the-shoulder number into our luggage.

Camouflage Print Shacket, £45, from Topshop – Unfortunately hot weather isn’t always guaranteed at European city destinations and so it’s wise to take a cover up, though not anything too flimsy or too heavy. Behold the shacket – the hybrid of a shirt and a jacket, which offers the perfect solution.

All prices correct at time of publishing.

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the big debate: friendmoon or familymoon?

November 26th, 2015 | Julia Braime

Found on

image via

A honeymoon has predominately always been a holiday exclusive for the newlyweds following their big day, but in recent times we’re seeing the invite being extended to family members, and even friends, in some cases too.

Behold the rise of the familymoon and friendmoon. While the very thought of such might make some brides and grooms wince, others are fully embracing the the more the merrier approach, which gives them the opportunity to share their holiday of a lifetime with more than just a plus one.

So what’s it going to be – ticket for two or invite a few?

Found on, Photography by Ashley Kelemen

image via, Photography by Ashley Kelemen

rachel says – all aboard

While I don’t see familymoons and friendmoons becoming as popular as minimoons (what will they invent next?), I do think these new honeymoon concepts could catch on. For there are some couples who can simply grow a little bored of just each other’s company after a few days, even if they are still basking in ‘just married’ love.

On mine and my boyfriend’s recent holiday to Crete for example, we both agreed after a few days that while it was nice to get away from everything (and everyone), it would also be cool to have a few travel companions in tow to share the fun with us.

So perhaps there’s nothing wrong with inviting a few close friends to carry on the wedding party with you abroad? Or, if you’re parents you may well want your children to be a part of the special holiday too. Furthermore you could invite your parents (aka babysitters) along, that way you can enjoy the best of both worlds – family time and alone time, with trusted child care on hand!

Another way of looking at it is that planning a wedding doesn’t come cheap, so combing a honeymoon with the usual friend or family getaway could make better financial sense to some couples too.

Not that they’re short of a bob or two, but the idea of a honeymoon entourage clearly appealed to Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux, following their secret LA wedding earlier this year,  as they invited several of the A-lister pals to join them on their luxurious post-nuptial holiday in Bora Bora. Speaking to the press about their decision to do so, Justin said that they thought they could either do a ‘normal’ honeymoon just the two of them, or invite friends along to “keep the party going, relax and have fun”.

Well if it’s good enough for Jen!

Image found on

image via

julia says – two’s company

Now I’m all about inclusivity and I love a group adventure, but to me, a honeymoon should be a party just for two.

Your honeymoon (especially if taken straight after the wedding – another thing I would definitely advocate) is much needed alone time for newlyweds: time to decompress, relax and get romantic! I think it’s vital that you do this as a twosome, rather than inviting along the world and his wife.  You need some time in that lovely ‘just married’ bubble – to enjoy the moment and create some very special memories – just the two of you.

Even if you’ve already got children, I’d also recommend leaving the little ones at home in the care of a much loved grandparent or auntie.  Yes, its lovely to spend time as a family, but this moment is all about you and your other half.  It’s a time to cherish and enjoy, and after all, it will only be the two of you left in the end when the chicks have flown the nest.

If you can afford it, I’d recommend honeymooning for at least a week, and would suggest using the opportunity (and maybe a little bit of gift money) to do something really memorable.  Lying on a beach is brilliant, don’t get me wrong, but step out of your comfort zone together and do something worth writing a postcard home about – try open water diving, a safari, sightseeing in your favourite city, or taking a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon.

Married life is a new beginning, take some time to celebrate it together, and as to where you decide to do that, well, the world is your oyster…

Image found on

image via

what you said on facebook

Kate says: “We’re definitely going away just the two of us – we can’t wait for some alone time after all the wedding planning”.

Emma says: “We are combining the best of both worlds, a week on our own and then a week with our two kids”.

Emilia says: “We’re taking my parents with us, so they can baby sit our 6 month old and also enjoy a relaxing break themselves.”

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the big debate: honeymooning sooner or later?

October 23rd, 2015 | Julia Braime

Found on, photography by Jana Williams

image source, photography by Jana Williams

For the bride and groom the honeymoon is probably as exciting (if not more so) than the wedding itself as it allows them the opportunity to book a blowout holiday of a lifetime whilst also giving them that much needed time to relax and unwind after experiencing the whirlwind of wedding planning.

Traditionally newlyweds have jetted off on their lavish vacations straight after the wedding, with some couples even leaving their receptions early to escape to honeymoon heaven as soon as is socially acceptable.

However, the rise of the minimoon, work commitments and budget constraints have all played their part in more and more couples opting to delay their honeymoon until several months after the wedding has taken place.

While some couples just couldn’t bear the exhilarating high to hugely depressing low of returning to work immediately after a wedding instead of sunning it up on a beach somewhere, others are coming around to the idea of stretching out the celebrations with a postponed getaway.

So what’s it going to be, moon soon or moon later?

Found on, Photography by Ala Cortez

image source, photography by Ala Cortez

rachel says: hold your honeymoon horses…

I think I’ve expressed my love of dragging out celebrations for as long as humanly possible before on blog (in particular my birthday). It may therefore come as little surprise that I’m all for the delayed honeymoon – and according to our feedback from newlyweds, I’m not alone.

The main reason I’d be happy to postpone is that it would simply give me something to look forward to a little further down the line. You see I’m one of these people that believes good things should NOT come to an end, though admittedly they have to, and so I always like to have something exciting in the calendar to keep my spirits elevated.

Upon thinking more deeply about the topic, and listening to newlyweds’ opinions, delaying the honeymoon would also allow more time to save up and therefore stand a better chance of being able to afford something worthy of the ‘holiday of a lifetime’ title – because that’s exactly what it should be. We all know how expensive weddings can be so even with support from friends and family it can be tricky to save for a luxurious getaway at the same time.

I must add somewhat of a disclaimer though – while I would be happy to put off the main honeymoon for some time, a minimoon would be an absolutely must following the wedding to soften the back-to-work blow. Seriously guys, as a blogger in the industry I would sink to a whole new level of depression if I was to return to my desk almost immediately after saying ‘I do’ to then be faced with other happy wedding couples talking about their fab weddings – surely would result in one’s self in with the laptop cable!

via Style Me Pretty, photography by Rebecca Yale Photography

image source, photography by Rebecca Vale Photography

julia says: what are you waiting for?!

The best things in life are almost always made sweeter by the anticipation of waiting for them: a first date, the proposal, the big day itself… but I would argue that a honeymoon just isn’t one of them.

Ok, I get it, you’re fearing the post wedding blues and want something to look forward to, but I implore you – going back to work on the Monday morning after your wedding is just not acceptable!

‘Aha!’ you think, we’ll just fill that void with a minimoon, thereby delaying the post wedding come down and also allowing us the excitement of a swanky mainmoon later in the year.  No dice people… the point of a honeymoon is exactly that, you’re all sweet and cuddly and in the wedding love bubble.  By delaying the honeymoon, you run the risk of making it into just another (albeit fabulous!) holiday.

On a honeymoon, it’s all rubbing suncream into each other’s backs, trying to get upgraded by showing off your sparkly new metal ware and the wedding certificate and hours spent dissecting every last detail of your perfect day. Wait, and I can guarantee that it’ll all be carrying your own case, arguing over the duvet and well, just business as usual really.  Which is not the point at all.

So, here’s my plan.  Jet off right after the big day and resist the urge to open your wedding pressies before you go. You’ll get to experience the post wedding bliss of a romantic retreat, relax and recharge after the biggest day of your lives, and come home to a massive pile of gifts.  If that doesn’t put a smile on your face, you can always book a minibreak for a month after you get back. Ps. Start as you mean to go on, that’s what I say…

Bon Voyage!

P.S. Yes, we will be monitoring Rachel very closely here at Brides Up North Towers in the days following her own wedding #eversoslightlyconcerned

Found on

image source

what you said on facebook:

Elle says: “I live for holidays, so I want as many mini celebrations as possible.  We’ll be going away after the wedding then again later in the year.”

Jenny says: “We’ve got a little girl so we intend to have a week just the two of us straight after the wedding and then we’re having week two at home with her.”

Peta says: “We’re heading off the morning after our big day, I think its good to have some time alone straight after such a massive event.”

Kate says: “What honeymoon?  I’ve left it up to my partner and we’ve still got nothing booked… yet!”

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blissed out bride: mill wheel spa

August 5th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Mill Wheel Spa (11)

When in need of a little R&R sometimes a day away doesn’t quite cut it, and so an indulgent overnight stay is required to truly unwind.

Thankfully as I built up to a week’s annual leave to recharge the batteries away from Brides Up North HQ (hey I love my job, but we all need a little rest now and again), I was offered the opportunity to visit the fabulous mill wheel spa on the edge of the Staffordshire Peaks for an overnight break with my partner in tow. How’s that for timing?

All in the name of work (I’m so dedicated to the cause) I took up the kind invitation knowing the venue would provide a perfect subject for a Blissed Out Bride post, in which we explore ideal places for our readers to enjoy some pre and post wedding pampering, as well as girly hen dos. My assumptions were right, as once again we’ve discovered a tranquil retreat in the north of the country for brides and grooms to put on their ‘to do’ list.

Mill Wheel Spa (13)

The journey from South Yorkshire took just over an hour, passing through picturesque areas such as Ladybower, Castleton and Buxton before arriving at The Three Horse Shoes Country Inn in rural Blackshaw Moor, which houses Mill Wheel Spa.

A family run business since 1981, the hospitality is among the warmest I have ever experienced as we were greeted by Katie Kirk who tends to the inn, alongside her husband and brother- and sister-in-law. Though the level of care, pride and customer service has clearly remained throughout, it soon became apparent that the inn itself has undergone quite a few changes over the years in order to deliver something special to its guests.

Among its most recent additions is Mill Wheel Spa, which offers a wide choice of day and overnight spa packages, including those specifically designed for hen dos, husbands and wives-to-be and newlyweds.

Mill Wheel Spa (10)

The Mini Moon Break package that we were invited to experience included use of the spa facilities with a rasul and ‘beach hut’ experience, a three-course evening meal in The Stables Restaurant, overnight accommodation, breakfast and a treatment each before departure the following day – boy were we in for a treat!

First to drop the bags off – we were staying in one of the inn’s top garden rooms, complete with four-poster bed and private outdoor hot tub. After a look around we headed to the spa making a mental note to return to the room in enough time before our evening meal to try out that hot tub.

The spa’s facilities focus on a number of hot and cold experiences to clear out the pores and awaken the senses and so we followed the suggested route to get the most out of our visit. First on the agenda is the visual centre piece of the spa, and a UK first, The Mill Wheel Shower, which pays homage to the history of the James Brindley Water Mill in neighbouring Leek and Cheddleton Flint Mill, which were once an important part of the area’s local industry and economy. The large revolving mill pours out water from its shovels in intervals, alternatively warm and cold, a bit like a tame game of Russian roulette.

Mill Wheel Spa (1)

We are then advised to use The Peak District Stonebath for a ‘steam bath experience’ followed by The Farmers Sauna, with a quick dip in The Cedar Plunge Pool in between (refreshing but freezing!). Next our rasul treatment in a special chamber made for two. We were instructed to smooth mineral rich mud onto our skin while the room heated up, which provided a lot of entertainment as we came to look like we’d emerged from a swamp. The results however were fabulous – at the end of the 30 minutes water rained down washing the mud away and revealing hydrated, soft skin.

By this point the sun had made an appearance so we ventured outside to the spa’s garden for some refreshments, including a little fizz. Here there’s also a three metre square hydrotherapy pool set at an inviting 36 degrees, so we had to have a quick dip. Like much of the inn, this area enjoys stunning views over the Roaches and surrounding countryside, which enhanced our already chilled out mood.

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friday fabulous!

May 1st, 2015 | Julia Braime

Sophia Webster Bridal Wifey For Lifey Sandal

That’s the honeymoon kicks sorted.

(Our life is just a little bit more complete because these exist).

Wifey For Lifey Sandals by Sophia Webster, £295.

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high street honey: new look’s honeymoon hitlist

February 4th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

White Halter Neck Bikini Top & Bottoms

It may be cold outside but if you’ve planned a destination wedding or an exotic honeymoon your mind may well be on hotter climes.

Either of the above will call for some serious summertime shopping and fortunately we’re just starting to see collections for the warmer seasons ahead roll out as the dregs of the January sales are pushed aside.

And with Spring/Summer ranges comes an abundance of killer swimwear, which is an absolute must for all you beach babe brides.

Black Caged Longline Bikini Top & Bottoms

Having recently discovered New Look’s impressive lingerie collection, I noticed that the High Street favourite also has a stunning choice of swimwear. From cute two-pieces with matching cover-ups to sexy one-pieces with flirtatious cut out detailing, brides-to-be will be spoilt for choice. Better still the designs carry very modest prices tags meaning ladies can easily splash out on two or three different options for their honeymoon wardrobe.

As a starting point ladies might want to consider which style of swimwear suits them best: faithful halter necks, bare-all bandeaus, tops with straps for extra support, tie-at-the-side bottoms, high waisted designs or classic brief bottoms.

Then there’s the question of colour and design. Luckily, New Look has all areas covered with bright, patterned and neutral offerings.

Khaki Lattice Bikini Top & Bottoms

Perhaps the most striking pieces within the collection are the orange caged top and bottoms and the lattice two-piece design. Both use attention-grabbing cut away detailing to draw the eye. The caged design offers slightly more cover-up with a long-line bikini top but its vibrant hue will not suit all skin tones so choose with care. The lattice design – in one of Spring/Summer’s hottest colours khaki – is also bound to turn heads. It’s very much posing-poolside style swimwear though as unless you undo and roll down the detailed part of the top you will be facing strap mark hell!

Further cut-away options can be found in plainer designs, such as the simple yet stunning white halter neck design and the sophisticated black caged bikini.

Black Crochet Cover Up

More practical pieces come in the form of bralette tops. We’ve seen them on the clothing catwalks and now the midriff revealing tops have spilt over into the swimwear department. Not only are such designs on-trend but they offer a little more cover-up and way more support than skimpier designs. Ladies with larger busts looking for maximum support should also consider crop top bikini designs which are big news for 2015. New Look’s Aztec print design is a stunning example, offering on-the-go-girls comfort and style.

As well as a choice of detailed cover-ups, I’m a big fan of the beach trousers New Look has included within its Spring/Summer collection. The sheer, patterned and lose-fitted designs are easy to throw on both two and from the beach or for lazing around the beach bar – I’ll drink to that!

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