November 24th, 2017 | Julia Braime
Behind the scenes here at Brides Up North HQ, things are pretty busy! We’re already working a year ahead to bring you almost 40 sensational (and each unique and different!) bespoke bridal shows for 2018 and work has started in earnest on Issue 09 of our gorgeous bi-annual glossy magazine, UNVEILED, out in March. Add an impending site relaunch (yes (!), watch this space), a brand spanking new digital platform for UNVEILED (launching next week people!) and all the juggle that comes with being a mummy of two littles away from the office, and this editor was seriously in need of some R&R.
So, when the lovely people at Seaham Hall in Country Durham waved an overnight spa stay for two my way, I grabbed the husband, set the out of office and used up some babysitting credits. It was time to test out Seaham’s offering to make sure that you lovely Brides Up North stay blissed out in the run up to your big day and beyond.
Now, this place is incredible and some. Recently awarded the Conde Nast Johansens UK Readers’ Award 2017 (and from the facilities and service you can see why) this coastal gem is full of charm.
Pre-stay, the hotel’s website had boasted that, ‘set within 37 acres of delightful gardens in a stunning cliff top location overlooking the sea and the coast of the Durham Heritage Coastline, Seaham Hall is a beautiful Georgian Mansion ideally located in Durham for a luxurious overnight retreat’. They weren’t wrong.
On the menu for us was a stay in one of Seaham Hall’s beautiful suites, decorated artfully in shades of grey, teal and a zingy yellow – with enough wallpapers, cushions and objets d’art to keep this interiors magpie very happy indeed; a spa day for two (is it a bit cringy to read your own magazine by the pool? Maybe, but I don’t care!) with some delightful treatments thrown in; pre-dinner mojitos delivered to our suite (nice touch!) and a fine dining dinner in Byron’s Restaurant, followed by the best night’s sleep that I’d had in a long, long time.
Byron’s Restaurant has recently been awarded a 1st in the Taste Durham Awards, recognising the hotel’s hard work towards supporting and championing local producers and suppliers. My husband and I shared the Chateaubriand, and can vouch for its flavour, freshness and presentation. And although we didn’t try it ourselves, the dishes served in the venue’s Pan-Asian Restaurant ‘The Ozone’ located within the Serenity Spa looked absolutely delightful.
Now onto that spa. As well as a fully equipped gym (which I didn’t try out – my bad!) the sensational Serenity Spa boasts a 20 metre pool with massage stations; hamman with snail showers and jacuzzi, Asian herbal samarium, salt sauna, Indian steam chamber, hydrotherapy pool, ice fountain, plunge pools and my favourite bit – outdoor hot tubs.
The hubby and I spent a glorious few hours trying out the various heat experiences, bubbling in the hot tubs and relaxing poolside, before it was time for our treatments.
The Serenity Spa offers unique and bespoke holistic treatment rituals from Asia that deliver luxurious, indulgent experiences. Their therapists are chosen not only for their ability but their intuition to your individual needs and the treatments tailored specifically to you. Just lovely!
To aid my too-much-screen-time and sugar skin, I chose a Sunari Prescriptive Facial, which promised to reawaken and rejuvenate my skin with a holistic techinque customised for my skin’s specific needs. Naturally active ingredients were custom blended for intensive exfoliation and renewal; and Seaham Hall’s signature MarMassage (pressure point stimulation) completed the experience, for newly radiant skin. I was glowing!
The hubby meanwhile was treated to a Serenity Signature Massage, a full body massage which unlocks tension and induces a sense of relaxation, wellness and inner calm.
I’d wholeheartedly recommend Seaham Hall for a pre-wedding break to bliss out with the girls or reconnect with your hubby to be amid the planning madness. This would also be the ideal spot for a “just because” romantic break (we are all about those here at Brides Up North HQ!) or a really delightful minimoon.
And if you’ve fallen as much in love as we have here at Brides Up North, why not really commit? Seaham Hall also plays host to a number of luxury weddings a year. Offering exclusive use weddings and ceremonies, a wedding at Seaham Hall would truly be an occasion to remember.
For more information visit www.seaham-hall.co.uk
November 21st, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth
For today’s real wedding, we’re escaping to beautiful Teesdale for Helen and John’s special day back in April, following their year-long engagement.
We could begin by talking about their enchanting venue, Lartington Hall, nestled in 75 acres of parkland, with its exquisite ballroom, chapel and gardens. We could even talk about the couple’s bold teal and purple colour scheme, with peacock feathers thrown into the mix. We might even share details of their scrumptious chocolate Guinness cake and the fact that the wedding also coincided with the groom’s birthday celebrations, making the occasion extra special.
But we just have to throw the spotlight on Helen’s stunning Vera Wang Odette dress – offering you lucky readers a glimpse into what we think is a true fairytale-inspired moment. This oh-so-pretty floor-length ball gown, named after the leading female character in Swan Lake, is utter perfection and a welcome reminder to all brides-to-be out there that it really is worth making a statement with your bridal look. Trust us, your wedding album will thank you later.
With images by Stan Seaton Photography.
helen says: Every year since we started dating we have gone to the Peak District in April for a long weekend, camping usually in fairly frosty weather, and 2016 was no exception. We had stopped on Eyam Moor to admire the view with not another soul in sight. Although beautiful, it was absolutely freezing, and I had already set off again when John called me back as he was ‘looking for his scarf’ in a bag, which concealed a Claddagh ring, which he had made with my birthstone as a proposal ring. He got down on one knee to ask the question and, of course, I said yes!
Our wedding date was a bit controversial. There was availability for the date exactly a year on from our engagement, but as it was John’s birthday the week after, he thought it would be a great idea to combine this with getting married on the same weekend! So, 29th April it was! It turned out perfectly as it meant John’s family and friends from Ireland could join us for a double celebration and a bank holiday Monday in the UK so everyone had some extra time recover.
I’m originally from the North East and it was my mum who had heard about our chosen venue, Lartington Hall, and all the work that owners John and Shona had put in to the restoration and developing such a beautiful venue and grounds. As soon as we walked into the Grand Corridor, we knew it was the venue for us.
Combining two special occasions and being able to celebrate in this private and stunning setting was a dream. We loved the freedom of being able to host different parts of our day across the rooms at Lartington; from the chapel ceremony, ballroom for our wedding breakfast and dancing the night away to rounding the night off (with whoever was left standing!) in the drawing room. We knew we were in safe hands with the team at Lartington, who ensured our wedding day ran seamlessly.
I have to credit my bridesmaid Jo for helping me when it came to our colour scheme! I’ve always loved bold colours, and John and I both like purple so that was our starting point, mixed with the organic natural forms of art nouveau, which I’ve always loved. That led us to peacock feathers so we added a teal to the purple along with silver accents. These ideas were carried through in the flowing lines of the sleepy S-shaped bouquets and the peacock feathers that featured in our stationery.
My mum is a fantastic seamstress and made her own wedding dress, as well as her sister’s wedding dress from scratch, but I didn’t want to put the mother-of-the bride under too much pressure leading up to the big day. And so, I eventually chose a Vera Wang dress called Odette, which was fitting as I have always loved ballet. My mum then hand-stitched embellishments to the front and back of the bodice. It was so much fun to wear!
November 15th, 2017 | Rachel Parry
We’ve been out on the road again all in the name of research to share with you our experiences of the North’s finest hotels, getaway retreats and spas, providing inspiration for pre- and post-wedding relaxation, and sometimes also a setting for the big day itself!
Cue our recent visit to Matfen Hall – a stunning stately home set in 300 acres of lush parkland in the Northumbrian countryside. The award-winning Hall houses fabulous function spaces, accommodation and spa and leisure facilities, making it an option for sophisticated hen dos, romantic getaways, such as a minimoon, plus a dream wedding venue too.
All images by Sean Elliott Photography.
Ahead of a super-exciting wedding refurbishment at Matfen, we were invited to view the current celebration spaces and to see what’s in store to take this already gorgeous venue to the next level. And my word, are couples saying ‘I do’ to Matfen in for a treat! Keen not to give away too much at this stage, we will be following up with a Dream Venue post soon that will detail the stylish refurbish plans in more depth.
Furthermore, on Sunday 4th March 2018, we will be holding a Luxury Wedding Fair at Matfen to reveal the results of the quarter-of-a-million-pound-refurbishment programme first-hand – so be sure to mark the date in your diaries!
But for today’s post, we return to our visit. During our blissful overnight stay, we experienced Matfen’s warm and welcoming hospitality, making use of its leisure facilities, restaurant and accommodation.
We began as any busy business ladies should, with a trip to the spa! Hotel guests can enjoy access to such facilities or there are a number of full and half-day ‘Escape’ packages to choose from, comprising different treatments, food and drink, so ladies (and gents) can pick which best suits their needs and wishes.
There is a 16-metre swimming pool and spa pool, plus thermal suites including an aromatherapy room, steam room, sauna, ice cold bucket shower, monsoon shower and ice fountain. We worked our way round, prioritising the warmer options, to relax and revive weary muscles, before indulging in a little chill time around the pool.
Matfen’s treatment choices cover off facial, body and massage therapies for men and women, as well as ‘Finishing Touch’ treatments such as nails, waxing and tinting.
Feeling in need of a radiance boost part-way through our autumn season of wedding fairs, we both opted for the Skin Specific Facial. Having been led to quiet, candle-lit treatment rooms, our knowledgeable therapists took time to enquire about our skin concerns before tailoring our facials to help combat such issues using heavenly Elemis products. We both emerged with hydrated, glowing complexions and super-soft skin (if only we could indulge one of these treatments every week!).
Leaving the spa feeling super-relaxed, it was time to freshen up (and wake-up!) before dinner. We were staying in one of Matfen’s stunning Principal Rooms in the original part of the Hall, that was spacious, comfortable and boasted gorgeous views of the garden.
October 23rd, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth
We’re easing you into the week with a pretty dose of real wedding inspiration.
Today’s couple tied the knot in spring of this year in the most picturesque of locations, up in Northumberland – a place that holds a lot of special family connections to the beautiful bride, Sophie.
Refreshingly, there’s no overarching theme or colour scheme for their big day – proof that a wedding really is what you make it, and you don’t need to be overly prescriptive with your ideas. Sometimes, everything just falls into place!
There are so many gorgeous details to swoon over – pretty lighting, wild blooms and the couple’s very own brew of sloe gin! Oh, and their own hashtag for the day, too. One of our highlights has got to be their alternative to traditional confetti – opting instead for wooden wands with bells attached. Want to know more? Then read on for all the country wedding inspo you could need…
With images by Anna Joy Photography.
sophie says: We got engaged in October 2015, up in the College Valley, which is hidden away in the Cheviot Hills in Northumberland. I have family have connections there – my great grandfather built Hethpool – a house at the end of the valley – and in the 1960s my grandfather (on the other side of the family!) bought an old scouts’ hut with his best friend. The hut has been used for decades as a place to stay after long walks in the hills, a way to escape reality and for amazing parties!
Mike proposed in the hut with a beautiful video he had made of him producing reams and reams of messages written on card to the rhythm of one of my favourite songs.
We got married on 29th April 2017. For practical reasons, we wanted a bit of time to get everything ready. Most of our guests were travelling far, so we wanted to give them the chance to explore Northumberland over a Bank Holiday weekend.
Mike’s first trip to the College Valley was on a beautiful day in April 2014, when the gorse was in full bloom, lambs were running around and it was baking hot (relatively, for Northumberland), so we figured it was as good a date as any! Weather in the Borders is rarely great so we figured we may as well go with a month where weather had been good in the past and the scenery was looking so beautiful.
We got married at the Cuddystone Hall in the College Valley because…where else? It is the most beautiful place and means so much to us both and my family. The reception took place in both an adjacent marquee and the Hall.
We didn’t have a theme per se (I can find them a bit cringe!), but we kept the wedding very rustic and relaxed in keeping with the location.
Again, there wasn’t a colour scheme as such, because the valley is so wild and there are so many beautiful shades and colours of countryside all around the Cuddystone. We wanted to mirror that, so flowers and bridesmaid outfits were a mixture of different muted pastel colours.
I chose an Eliza Jane Howell dress, which was very delicately beaded and sequinned. I wore a flower crown and cathedral veil, too.
Mike wore tweed on top and chinos on bottom, with a jacket and waistcoat tailor-made in London (and generously provided by his brother-in-law). He had a green tie and a McCreath clan tartan pocket square in recognition of my mother’s family, which greatly pleased my granny Midge McCreath!
The groomsmen wore tweed waistcoats of mixed colours (all muted and earthy) with varying shades of beige chinos.
October 16th, 2017 | Julia Braime
There is no finer way to begin your week than poring over this utterly divine real wedding that takes place at one of our very favourite Northern venues, the stunning Lartington Hall.
Bride and groom, Stephanie and Lee, equally fell for this utterly beautiful setting for their big day with wow-worthy interiors, gorgeous gardens and impressive entertaining spaces as standard.
Keen to complement rather than complicate, the couple decided to let the venue speak for itself and add simple décor using an elegant colour scheme of golds, creams and blush, with whimsical flowers and greenery to complete their classic vision.
Our heart is totally stolen by Stephanie’s pretty Pronovias gown, complete with cathedral-length veil and pointy Emmy shoes. Actual #stylinggoals!
stephanie says: We got engaged in New York on Christmas Eve 2015. I had no idea Lee was going to propose. We had always talked about getting married but always thought it would be in a few more years (even though we had already been together for eight years). We were just walking through Central Park on the morning of Christmas Eve and Lee asked me if I would like to marry him. There was no one else around and he had a little box hidden in his pocket with a note inside. He knows how particular I am so wanted to take me with him so we could choose a ring together. We then went to Tavern On The Green for lunch.
Our wedding date was May 13th 2017. At first, I was a bit dubious about choosing the 13th however we decided to ignore superstition and make 13 a lucky number for us. Plus, it meant all of our favourite suppliers were also available on that day as no one else wanted it!
We got married at Whitburn Parish Church and then went on to the beautiful Lartington Hall, Teesdale, for our reception.
From such a young age I always wanted to get married in my parish church so there was no doubt that the wedding ceremony was going to be there. As for the reception, we wanted a venue where none of our friends and family had been before. And me being me, wanted attention to detail and somewhere that had the wow factor.
We had heard of Lartington Hall but always thought it was a little bit too far (considering we were getting married in Whitburn) but after months of searching for the perfect place we decided to go and view it. We fell in love straight away!
We just wanted our wedding to be traditional, timeless and elegant and to reflect the beauty of Whitburn church and Lartington Hall. When choosing everything we pretty much did a full circle. We started off with very traditional ideas, moved to more rustic themes and then once the venue had been decided, we moved back to elegant and classic. I also wanted the flowers to be very whimsical and full of creams and greens.
For our stationery we chose Megan at Rosewood Co. We had seen Megan’s designs at a wedding fair so made an appointment so she could personalise something for us. Again, we went for very simple and elegant with a pearl ivory pocket fold wedding invitation tied with an ivory ribbon and name tag. The evening invitations had a hand drawn image of Lartington Hall on and the order of service had a hand drawn image of Whitburn Parish Church on. Our name place cards also had an image of Lartington Hall on and were finished with some dried flowers and ivory ribbon. Megan was extremely helpful and was in contact all of the time making sure it was exactly what we wanted. We again had some lovely comments from our guests about the stationery. It all turned out to be just what we wanted.
We went for very neutral colour scheme overall of golds, creams and blush. Again, we wanted the colours to be elegant and classic but also have a summery feel. I also thought about the colours that would suit my bridesmaids.
My wedding gown was a Pronovias design from Mia Sposa in Newcastle. Every time I looked at wedding dresses I searched ‘plain wedding dresses’ so knew I was going to go for something very simple and traditional. I also loved the Pronovias designs. My chosen dress was the first one I tried on. I did try a few other different styles on but knew that the first one was ‘the one’. I also feel that because it had a full skirt, it suited the grandeur of a church wedding.
With the dress being very simple, I decided to have a crystal and pearl vine hair piece in my hair and a single tier, chapel-length veil which was edged with lace, also from Mia Sposa.
I also wanted to treat myself to a special pair of shoes and knew that I always wanted pointy shoes rather than sandals or a peep toe. I saw a pair of Emmy shoes at a wedding fair and fell in love with them straight away.
For jewellery, I wore a pair of single pearl earrings that belonged to my nanna (something old) and a pearl bracelet to match.
It wasn’t too difficult for Lee to choose a suit either. He knew that he wanted to wear something a bit different as he ‘could wear a navy suit anytime,’ so he went for a tux. We hired his tux from Moss Bros. We also felt like this reflected the vintage/1920s feel of Lartington Hall. Many people said you don’t really wear tuxedos for church weddings but again we wanted to be a bit different so just went ahead with it. His shoes were from Kurt Geiger. The groomsmen wore the same as Lee.
The bridesmaid’s dresses were peach and were from Watters, which we bought from Laura Lea Boutique in Old Eldon Square, Newcastle. The girl there was so friendly and helpful and knew exactly what styles suited different body shapes.
The bridesmaids also wore matching heart shaped, crystal earrings and necklace from Swarovski – which we bought them as a gift.
Marie Scroggins at ND Makeup did our hair and makeup. Marie was so helpful and such a lovely girl to share the morning of the wedding with. I have known Marie a while and always knew I wanted her to do my wedding hair and makeup. She offered advice both at the trial and on the day but also listened to mine and the bridesmaid’s requests and ideas.
October 12th, 2017 | Julia Braime
We’re rather excited about today’s real wedding as it takes place at a venue where we will be hosting a very special Luxury Wedding Fair alongside UNVEILED magazine, to reveal the results of an impressive refurbishment.
Already a gorgeous Northumberland venue, the developments will see Matfen Hall taken from stunning to super-stunning. But we can’t tell all just yet, you will have to join us there on Sunday 4th March 2018, to see for yourselves.
This morning’s featured couple, Rebecca and Robert, are equally as passionate about the venue as us, and knew instantly it would be the perfect place to stage their big day. Plus, the hall formed the setting for Robert’s incredibly well-thought-out and crazily-romantic proposal too – seriously, full fiancée marks!
There are many beautiful elements to this classic big day, including super-pretty blooms, décor and cake, plus a Ronald Joyce gown fit for a princess!
With images by David Lawson Photography.
rebecca says: We got engaged on Christmas Eve 2015. I used to be in a choir when I was in middle school and always said to Robert I would love to see a carol service on Christmas Eve. As I went to settle in for the night Robert said there was a carol service at Matfen Hall and we should go and see it.
The Great Hall that we were shown through to had a huge magical Christmas tree, a choir and chairs set up for the carol service but every chair in the audience was empty. As we took our seats I whispered to Robert that we must have got the wrong time.
No sooner had we sat down, the choir started singing. After three carols Robert stood up and took my hand (I was rather confused) he stood me next to the Christmas tree and handed me an envelope, inside was a card listing all the reasons he loved me (not expected from a rugby-playing farmer). Once I looked up from reading his beautiful words he was down on one knee. I don’t even think I gave him a chance to ask me ‘the’ question – I threw my arms around him and said “yes”, crying my eyes out!
Our wedding date was Friday the 14th July. We always wanted to get married at Corbridge St Andrew’s Church, this is our local village and the church just sits so idyllically in the market place.
We held our wedding reception at Matfen Hall (it is our favourite place and having got engaged there made it all the more fitting!) We had our wedding breakfast within the Great Hall, which is slightly different as normally the wedding breakfast is in the Terrace Room. We just felt the Great Hall is amazing and really wanted to make the most of such an amazing space. It is so dramatic when you walk through the entrance doors and see the huge fireplace and stained-glass window!
We wanted to keep the wedding as classic as possible so in ten years’ time we can look back at photographs and it won’t have dated too much.
We kept the colour scheme very simple and had blush and creams throughout. We had gorgeous blush sequin table runners and chair sashes. And the most amazing flowers, which were the focal point of the day.
When it came to picking my dress, I had no idea what I wanted. I just took my mum with me as I wanted to keep my dress a surprise for everyone (even the bridesmaids!) I decided to go to A J Bridal in Newburn, they had come highly recommended.
The ladies at A J were so welcoming and asked me to look through the dresses and pick ones I liked the look of, I was instantly drawn to a princess style dress so picked that along with a few assorted styles. I tried on the first dress I had be drawn to and that was it – love at first sight! I proceeded to try on a couple of other gowns just to make sure I was making the right decision but I was certain the first dress was ‘the one’ I almost felt regal in it. I picked a Ronald Joyce dress, it doesn’t have a lot of bling just around the waist and had a full bottom with lace. Robert and I go to dinner dances and I get the chance to wear some lovely ball dresses and this was the sort of dress I would only get the chance to wear on my wedding day and it made me feel like a real-life princess.
The ladies at A J suggested trying it with a cathedral-length veil and a gorgeous diamanté head piece which sat slightly to the side. Once I had these on I fell in love again!
Subscribe to receive Brides Up North e-shots, our newletters and notifications of events, giveaways and offers
We strive to represent the very best in our industry, but Brides Up North cannot be held liable for the products/ services of our sponsors. Any bookings are made at your own risk. Terms & Conditions.
All images © Brides Up North/ original author. Images should not be reproduced without written permission. Terms & Conditions.