Charlotte Balbier

hot topic: child-free or child-friendly?

August 8th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

Joe Stenson Photography

Joe Stenson Photography

Wedding etiquette can feel like a minefield of decisions and dos and don’ts, with one wrong step having the potential to cause a rift of Cold War proportions. Where to sit your couple-no-longer best mates – and their new partners? To free bar or not to free bar? At my own wedding in 2011 the fish starter emerged from the kitchen only for my Aunty Breda to announce (within full earshot of that top table) that she “couldn’t even look at a fish”. Six years on and I’m still thinking about that haddock entree and Aunty B’s pursed-lip fish disgust. Time to let it go, man.

But anyway, I digress. My point is that the build-up to any big day involves running the gauntlet of tough decision-making, and undoubtedly one of the most controversial dilemma of them all is this: to invite the kids, or declare your big day child-free?

Daz Mack Photography

Daz Mack Photography

Couples split into two camps on this one, with some thinking that weddings = love and that = family, and so the more under tens running around pulling knee-skids on the dancefloor, frankly the better. An equal number are at the other end of the spectrum, considering their big day to be a less-than-perfect environment for a four-year-old suffering from mood swings and a Haribo addiction.

So, what can help you make the initial decision as to whether to invite the kids or not? Well, we’d always advise taking a good look at your close family and friends first. Do your siblings or best mates have children? Would they struggle to organise sitters for your long wedding weekend in Ibiza? Be aware. We’re not suggesting you change your dream day to accommodate everyone else or feel the pressure to invite children when it’s never been part of your plans. However, you may have to accept that if your sister-in-law is going to be breastfeeding a three-week-old at by the time the day rolls around, she may feel she can’t attend – and you might have to be ok with that. The best way to avoid fall-outs is to give your guests plenty of notice so that they can organise childcare if needs be – oh, and another top tip from the wise: be clear on your wedding stationery as to who exactly is invited. Don’t write ‘The Joneses’ if you actually just mean ‘Mr and Mrs Jones’ and not their adorable-but-ear-piercing six-month-old. These things have a habit of being misinterpreted.

Kristian Leven Photography29

Kristian Leven Photography

If you go the other way and decide to invite children, you may want to have a think about how best to keep them entertained. Weddings are feats of endurance even for grown-ups – I can’t count the amount of times I’ve disappeared from a reception for a sneaky power nap – and so the average two-year-old who relies on two scheduled daytime sleeps a day is going to find a wedding tough going.

Consider when your ‘golden times’ will be, i.e. when you really, really need children to be quiet – most would say the ceremony, particularly the vows, and the speeches – and plan, plan, plan. I’ve seen everything from a vicar’s warm reminder that it’s ok to step out during the ceremony if required (i.e. if Nathaniel loses the plot) to a ‘pop-up’ creche organised by a local nursery for a couple of hours (more affordable than you might think).

Here’s the best of the Brides Up North brainstorm for keeping the kids onside…

Sally Eaves Photography

Sally Eaves Photography

ask the experts

Speak to your venue – after all, they’ve done this before. Do they have a room where children can go for some downtime? Provide a hamper of quiet toys and games? A stash of high-factor sun cream, plasters and Calpol? Sofas and blankets for a snooze?

munch bunch

And while you’re on it, ask about children-friendly food; lunchboxes for during the drinks reception, plastic plates and cups and child-size cutlery. Saves a multitude of potential accidents and meltdowns.

keep em quiet

Definitely consider children’s packs for during the meal. Never underestimate the novelty value of a CBeebies magazine, a sticker book or a mini Lego set. If you don’t have children yourself, you might want to speak to mums and dads you know to get some age-appropriate ideas.

Lucy G Photography

Lucy G Photography

star of the show

Rather than trying to keep them out of the way, why not get them involved? Many children love having a job, so whether it’s Unofficial Instax Photographer, Number One Confetti Thrower or Holder of the Guest Book, they’ll be all over it.

big kids

Fun and games. You can even tie the kiddy entertainment into your theme. Cute retro vibe? Go for space hoppers, a sweetie table or even an ice cream van. Rustic country feel? Giant wooden Jenga, croquet, or a rounders match. A word of warning, though – you may be fighting the adults off the pitch later in the evening!

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the big debate. engagement: the long & the short of it

May 27th, 2016 | Rachel Parry

image source

Whether you’ve been waiting for what feels like a lifetime for a proposal, or been whisked off your feet in a whirlwind romance, once that engagement ring is firmly on your finger exactly how long should you wait before getting hitched?

There is of course, no wrong or right answer to this, it’s a case of personal preference, but there are various planning elements that a couple should take into account when setting a date.

We see our creative readers planning their dream weddings over the course of a number of years, months and, in some cases, just weeks, and all do a fabulous job. But if you’re not sure how long to wait between saying “I will” and “I do” then today’s Big Debate could help you decide on the ideal time planning scale, as we discuss the possible pros and cons of a short engagement vs a long engagement.

Image by Alyssa Nikole Photography

Image by Alyssa Nikole Photography

rachel says: don’t feel the need for speed

I’m certainly not getting any younger and so can’t quite believe that I’m in favour of a longer engagement. However, one of my main reasons for taking such a stance is having seen first-hand the pressure planning a wedding in a matter of months can cause the bride and groom-to-be. Nobody wants a pre-wedding meltdown.

I’m not for one minute suggesting that the engagement be drawn out over the course of five or more, or even three or more years, really (or I might never get my man down the aisle!). But what I am advising is that couples take their time to ensure they are making the right decisions (weddings are a pricey business so nobody wants regrets) and that they also take the time to enjoy the planning process. As I see it the wedding day is just that – a day – so the run up to the event should be made memorable too – enjoy viewing venues, going to open days and tastings, and include your friends and family in the excitement also!

In most cases I’d say spend at least a year planning, though I think for me, 18 months to two years may be closer to the mark (sorry mum). Not only to save up (with a house move next on our agenda), but also to ensure we can secure the venue and suppliers that we want. Talented photographers in particular tend to get booked up a year or more in advance, especially if you are planning to wed on a popular date or in ‘peak season’, but florists, caterers and bands can also have super packed diaries.

The key is to make sure that you don’t go the other way and have an engagement that’s too long or you can run the risk of losing a little momentum on the way and you also face the danger of changing your mind about things as you have too much time to think things over.

So I say once he’s put a ring on it, set a date that’s achievable and that gives you enough time to think about what you want, secure your first choice suppliers and to enjoy the build-up. Just don’t take too long about it so that couples around you start to steal your thunder, or even worse, your ideas!

Image by Chris Rowland Photography

Image by Chris Rowland Photography

julia says: take your marks, get wed

It took me 18 months from proposal to “I Do” to get down that aisle. Factors such as cost (like, duh!), other close friends’ wedding dates and a general desire to enjoy every moment of the planning process contributed to this decision. However, if I was to do it all over again I’d give myself a year -max – or even go for a shorter still planning process.

Ok, in my line of work it’s easy for me to say, I know.  I have bridal contacts coming out of my ears, and would know my go-to professionals to pull off my dream day almost immediately.  In fact, I honestly reckon that I could plan a knock your socks off wedding in just a week (sample gowns at the ready of course)!  Anyone dare me to try?

However, I know that most people aren’t in the same position and in any case, might like to deliberate and enjoy the bride-to-be spotlight for just a teeny bit longer than that.  But come on girls, let’s keep our foot on the ignition.

To me, a shorter engagement is just that bit more lovely.  It says whirlwind, romance and “Sod the timescales for a bespoke gown, I just can’t wait to be married to you”! It takes the pressure off decision making (no time to deliberate for months about just the right shade of eau-de-nil), sorts out your true friends from the crowd (they’d be at your hen party at an hour’s notice, let alone a few weeks) and keeps the adrenalin pumping.

It might also save you a little bit of money if you are prepared – or forced – to be flexible and can take advantage of last minute deals. I’ll caveat this by advising that if there’s a very particular something – the venue and frock are usually the biggest deal breakers – or someone – like a band, photographer or officiant – that your wedding day will just be ruined without, book them as early as humanely possible and work the rest of the planning around that decision.

So I say, what’s the delay?  You put a ring on it, now just go get hitched already!

Image by India Earl Photography (1)

Image by India Earl Photography

what you said on social

Diane says: “Having waited eight years for a proposal I didn’t want to waste any time so chose a date that has given us just six months to plan the wedding. It’s been hectic but enjoyable, plus I find I work better under pressure.”

Lisa says: “We had our hearts set on a wedding during August Bank Holiday as it’s the month that we first met and thought we could spread the celebrations over the long weekend. Unfortunately our dream venue didn’t have availability for the date until 2018, which will mean that we will have had a three year engagement. I don’t mind though, gives us plenty of time to get all elements spot on – and some things are worth waiting for!”

Isabelle says: “We got engaged five years ago after having our first child together – we couldn’t afford the wedding that we wanted at that point but wanted to show that we were committed to each other. I’m just in the early stages of planning now and it will be another 18 months until we actually tie the knot but I’ve got lots of inspiration over the past few years and we are now in a position to have the wedding we’ve been dreaming of.”

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the big debate: indoor elegance vs outdoor rustic

May 13th, 2016 | Julia Braime

Image by Paul Liddement

Paul Liddement Wedding Stories

As couples continue to get creative with their big days the options on styling, venue and setting seem almost endless.

So how’s a girl (and guy) to choose? The time of the year will ultimately play a part with couples less keen to take their celebrations outdoors during the colder months. Also, how much effort and spends a couple want to put into the styling will need to be considered – so a lavish five star hotel will generally not need as much décor as say a barn or tipi wedding, though the later allows for far more creativity and freedom.

Then there’s accommodation and catering to think about – would you want to go traditional fine dining or for something a little more alternative, such as a barbecue, afternoon tea or sharing boards?

Keen to offer inspiration for all couples, we here at Brides Up North HQ have recently expanded our luxury wedding exhibition offering to include a number of fabulous outdoor festival themed wedding fairs, in addition to our existing events held in grand and exclusive venues across the north.

With all this in mind, today we’re debating two very different styles of weddings that would tick the boxes for us Brides Up North gals!

Image by Carly Bevan Photography

Carly Bevan Photography

rachel says: indoor elegance

I’m continuously super impressed by couples’ ability to think outside the box and do their big day their way with celebrations that are both individual and inventive. That said, I always find myself drawn to the simple and timeless weddings that have more of a traditional vibe.

Maybe I just don’t have the creative vision that others do, or maybe it’s growing up with thoughts of the perfect princess-like wedding in my head?

I’m personally not one for gimmicks, which is why I like the simplicity of a traditional wedding and for such an important occasion I like the safety of the indoors. I’m the type of girl that visits the hairdressers on a clear sky, sunny day and yet always finds myself in a relentless downpour when I leave – for my wedding I just don’t think I could take the risk.

I’d still want to pick a venue with lovely grounds in which elements such as the drinks reception could take place, though the majority of the proceedings would be under cover.

I’m thinking a beautifully decorated period venue with lots of natural light during the day and lit by romantic candlelight at night. I’d love a grand dining room with long tables anchored by stunning floral arrangements down the centre, interspersed with pillar candles and tea lights. And as a foodie, an elegant three-course meal would be right up my street before dancing the night away.

Overall the real beauty of an indoor wedding for me can be the convenience of on-site accommodation, which you don’t usually get when hosting a wedding outdoors. This is not only for the bonus of getting ready at the venue on the morning of the wedding, but also for guests to nip back to and freshen up throughout the day and, of course, for everyone to easily retire (stagger) to at the end of the night. Plus, thankfully it means just a short crawl back to the dining room for breakfast with your nearest and dearest the following day.

Image by Bethany Clarke Photography (2)

Bethany Clarke Wedding Photography

julia says: outdoor rustic

I’ve always been an “indoor kinda girl”, generally preferring five star boutique hotels to camping or glamping.  So, when it came to my wedding day, I followed suit, and it was indoor luxury all the way.

Although I wouldn’t change anything about my own big day, I’ve recently found my head turned by other types of celebration, and have felt the distinct draw of the great outdoors.

It helps that we’re smack bang in the middle of our series of Brides Up North Festival Wedding Fairs, and that the sun is shining outside as I write this, but as I’ve had the pleasure of working with so many fantastic festival style and outdoor suppliers over the past year in the build up to our huge events that I’ve realised that I might have been too hasty in my judgment.

Firstly, the huge sailcloth and tipi tents available for your outdoor wedding are not akin to the thin, freezing tents that stuck to my face during my Duke Of Edinburgh days (enough to put me off hiking for life!).  These are warm and weatherproof structures that are great in all weathers – cool in the summer, warm in the winter – and withstand even the most horrid weather conditions. Fun and fabulous, these tents add a stylish and different edge to your wedding celebration before it even starts.

Secondly, with an outdoor wedding comes loads of extra space for quirky extras like garden games, styling details, Prosecco vans (I’ve just discovered the sheer joy of these!), vintage caravan photo booths and even huge white bouncy castles.  What’s not to love?

I may be a little biased at the moment… you might have noticed that we are still on a high from WEDSTOCK’16 last weekend and looking ahead with glee to WEDSTIVAL’16 at Capesthorne Hall next Sunday 22nd May (find out more and register here)… but if you come prepared, to me an outdoor celebration has very little downside, even in a downpour.  Embrace the wellies, collect your Prosecco before passing GO! and look forward to some awesome wedding photos afterwards!

Image by Katie Melling Photography

Katy Melling Photography

what you said on social

Alana says: “I’m currently planning an outdoor wedding and I’m loving making lots of the decoration for the marquee, with the help of friends and family. It means we can have the wedding exactly as we want it and feel the personal, homemade touches will make it all the more memorable.”

Jodie says: “I’m at the beginning of the wedding planning and am totally torn! I’d always thought I would have a church wedding followed by a lovely hotel reception but seeing more outdoor weddings has got me a tipi wedding would be really cool and a little different. Help!”

Emma says: “We are sticking to tradition with an indoor wedding at an historic venue with lots of character. Instead of adding lots of details we will be letting the venue speak for itself and hope to make use of its gorgeous grounds for the drinks reception, though have a Plan B just in case the unpredictable British weather strikes.”

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the big debate: first look or grand entrance?

April 29th, 2016 | Rachel Parry

Image by Helen Russell Photography

image by Helen Russell Photography

As couples continue to bend the ‘wedding rules’ in order to have a big day that’s done their way, we are seeing more traditions fall by the wayside.

Previously through The Big Debate we’ve discussed whether or not couples should stick with tradition by spending the night before the wedding together or part. It’s a contentious issue as superstition has it that it’s bad luck for the bride and groom to see each other before the ceremony. But for some couples it’s all about feeling comfortable and at ease, rather than running scared of marriage day myths.

This desire to feel relaxed on the day of the wedding has now also led to some couples opting for what’s known as a ‘first look’ prior to the ceremony. So instead of setting eyes on each other as ‘bride’ and ‘groom’ for the first time at the altar, the couple share a private moment together ahead of taking their vows where they can see and speak to each other, calming any pre-wed nerves. In most cases the couple’s photographer would join them for the first look moment to document the ‘big reveal’ emotions, just as they would usually capture it at the beginning of the ceremony.

So today we discuss if ditching tradition in this case will make that big reveal moment more, or less, special?

Image by JPRShah Photography (2)

Image by JPR Shah Photography

rachel says: save it for the ceremony

During our previous debate on the night before the wedding I said I was willing to risk the bad luck factor of spending the night with my hubby-to-be in order to get a good night’s sleep ahead of the big day. However I stipulated that I’d still want to go our separate ways on the morning of the wedding in order to achieve that highly-anticipated entrance at the ceremony, in front of both the groom and the guests, and I stand by that.

I’m certain I’ll suffer wedding-morning nerves, as in case you didn’t know I’m a worrier by nature, (I worry about worrying!) but I fear that seeing the groom just minutes before the ceremony would turn me into even more of an emotional wreck than I’ll already be.

Also, I’ve found that the brides we feature on the blog often say their favourite part of the wedding day was meeting their partner at the altar – the expression on their face and perhaps any words they exchanged is what they remember most. I realise you can still get this with a first look, but I think the big reveal is one of the most memorable parts of the wedding for guests too, and something that they feel blessed to be a part of. For example last year when my cousin got married, she cried as she reached the front of the church and watching the groom wipe away her tears, put a tender arm over her shoulder and make her laugh and smile instantly showed us onlookers how perfect they were for each other – and that moment is now etched in my mind!

There’s no doubt that emotions will run high, but that’s all part and parcel of a wedding day and I don’t think the bride and groom need to keep such moments to themselves. So along with not walking under ladders, smashing any mirrors or putting up umbrellas indoors, I’ll be avoiding bad luck by saving the first look for the ceremony!

Image by Sarah Brabbin Photography

image by Sarah Brabbin

julia says: just the two of us

Prior to my own wedding day, I wouldn’t have been game for a sneaky peek, or “first look”. I was firmly of the opinion that the arrival of the bride should be met with awe and wonder at the end of an aisle… veil down, music high, anticipation huge.

That’s until I learned that my nervous new husband had spent the best part of the wedding morning literally almost throwing up with nerves. Worries about marrying me? Never! Slight hangover? Possibly. Crowd shy? Very.

When we got hitched waaaaaay back in 2010, the whole wedding scene was still pretty traditional compared to now. A first look wasn’t even mentioned, let alone properly discussed.  If it had been, I probably would have discounted it (hey, it was “my moment”!) but in retrospect, it might have worked very nicely for us – him especially – whilst also allowing us a special photo opportunity and a lovely moment of togetherness and anticipation before the ceremony itself.

Some might think that its bad luck to meet before the service, but it’s hardly cheating if it’s on hallowed (or licensed!) ground, is it? For me, a first look only ups the excitement factor, is cute and romantic and is all about togetherness – a stolen moment for just the two of you to cherish.

And hey, if you still want to do the whole big entrance thing, your partner can always sneak in the side-door as The Bridal March starts up.  In fact, no one need ever know it happened at all…

Image by Laura Calderwood Photograph

image by Laura Calderwood Photography

what you said on social:

Natalia says: “We are only having a very intimate wedding of 20 guests so I don’t see the need for a first look ahead of the ceremony as I will be comfortable with everyone that will be present.”

Jenny says: “I’m not good at being centre of attention so we’ve decided to have a first look to help ease my nerves. I know seeing my partner will calm me down and give me the confidence I need to make a good entrance.”

Clare says: “I’m totally superstitious so won’t be taking any chances! I’ll be spending the night before away from the groom and then won’t see him until I get to the altar. I think doing it any other way would lessen the magic and excitement that builds while you are apart!”

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the big debate: high street vs designer

April 15th, 2016 | Julia Braime

Asos 3

Every couple is different when it comes to planning their wedding and every bride is different when it comes to picking their dress. There is no rule book to follow on how much the overall budget for the wedding should be, or how it is to be split between the different elements of the day. And while for some, the venue and food will be top of the list, for others it’s the honeymoon, entertainment or attire that gets the majority of the cash.

In terms of the bride’s spend on her dress it may be the case that she’s been saving on the side of the main budget to buy her dream dress, or that this is something her parents have said that they would like to contribute to. Whatever the case, the dress ‘allowance’ generally comes down to the bride’s mind-set: ‘you only do it once – spend on an amazing designer gown’ or ‘it’s only one day – save with a high street dress’.

So today on the blog we’re debating if ladies should be booking appointments at bridal boutiques filled with fabulous designer gowns once that ring is firmly on her finger, or if it’s worth giving the high street options a go for a pretty gown at the fraction of the price?

(All gowns pictured in post body by ASOS. This is not a sponsored post, we just think they are pretty!)

Asos 4

rachel says: high street happy

Once upon a time I would never have suggested a bride look to the high street to find her wedding gown but now I would say it’s certainly worth considering.

We’ve seen the likes of BHS, Monsoon and Phase Eight releasing wedding dress collections (and making a good job of it too) and now more stores are jumping on the bridal bandwagon by launching their own big day collections – most recently fashion giants ASOS and H&M.

This means there is now more choice than ever for brides-to-be when it comes to selecting a gown at the lower end of the price scale, with high street designs starting from as little as £100 – leaving lots more in the spending pot for the shoes and accessories!

And just like the designers, the high street are taking notice of brides’ desire for individuality and so you won’t just find a one-style-suits-all approach within the collections. Instead there are options for the boho bride, the fashionista, the style statement maker and fans of vintage. Just this week Self-Portrait has launched its first bridal collection within selected Selfridge’s stores (and it includes some real beauties – some of which are shown in our Gallery below). With modern and rock n roll influences, the brand has created “a contemporary capsule of affordable, timeless wedding dresses for the ‘untraditional bride’”. Sounds good to me!

I’m also bowled over by Needle & Thread’s swoon-worthy bridal collection with dreamy designs varying from slinky floor-length gowns, to modern separates and mini dresses, not to mention ridiculously pretty tulle, almost ballerina, style creations.

One of the main reservations of buying bridal from the high street can be the thought of missing out on the boutique experience – and while having specialist on hand to help you pick a dream dress is a hugely valuable service – there’s nothing to stop you creating your own special shopping experience at home or on the high street. Either make a day out of it with your leading ladies, factoring in time for a lush lunch and a champagne stop (or two) on the agenda. Or, order online and invite your nearest and dearest to help you pick over an evening of fizz, canapes and cupcakes (surely that’s an ideal job to delegate to your bridesmaids). Who knows, you might even be able to afford to keep more than just the one dress!

Asos 2

julia says: undoubtedly designer

We’ve featured all sorts of amazing frocks on these pretty pages, from vintage finds to high street bargains to couture masterpieces and the one thing that they had in common was that the bride felt like a million dollars in them and they all looked bloody beautiful.

I also think it’s wonderful that there is now a range of fashion forward options at varying price points for today’s bride and would never judge a friend for choosing a more affordable option, but would I pick up my wedding dress during a high street haul?  Not a chance!

I’ve been lucky enough to sit on the front row of some of the world’s most prestigious bridal events and work alongside some of the most talented designers in the business.  What makes these labels successful is the unbelievable attention to detail that they pay to every gown, every sequin and every client.

What makes these dresses worth saving for and spending on is the whole ‘dream dress’ experience.  It’s in the exciting trips to the boutique or atelier with your loved ones; the anticipation (and pop of Champagne) at every fitting; the rustle of tulle in a big, starched box; the million hand sewn pearl buttons; the bespoke accessories and additions and the perfectly steamed silk chiffon.

Not only that, it’s the exquisite fabrics, perfect cuts and delicate boning that nip, tuck, lift and skim in all the right places. These gowns really will make you look the best you ever have, and I think that’s worth paying for.

On your wedding day you want to feel special, beautiful, unique and individual, not just one of thousands of off the rail identikit Saturday shoppers.  Your wedding day fashion can be flash, but it should never be fast!

I love some of the most recent designs hitting the high street and featured here today, but I still wouldn’t give up the couture experience over bagging a stylish bargain.

To be honest, I’ve never seen a clearer cut need for a two dress wedding day… some of these numbers would look amazing on the dance floor!  Pass the credit card.

Asos

what you said on social…

Elizabeth says: “I’ve dreamt of getting married since being a little girl and so have saved up for my dream dress. Going to the boutiques was an amazing and unforgettable experience so for me it would have to be designer every time!”

Jemma says: “We’re doing our wedding on a £4,000 budget (excluding the honeymoon) and so I’ve decided to buy from the high street. I’ve fallen in love with a lace Monsoon gown with scallop detail which is just under £300. I think it could be ‘the one’.”

Fay says: “I’ve already picked a designer gown and enjoyed every minute of the shopping experience. However it’s quite a voluminous dress and after recently seeing a real wedding on a blog where a bride chose a slim-line high street gown to change into for the evening do, I’m tempted to do the same.”

continue reading

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the big debate: hen do or hag do?

April 1st, 2016 | Julia Braime

Hen Partyimage source

It’s long been the tradition for a bride mark her passage into married life with a right royal knees-up surrounded by her leading ladies. But what if a bride wants a pre-wedding celebration with her guy pals too? Behold the hag do – an amalgamation of a hen and stag party during which both the bride and groom-to-be party with their nearest and dearest, no matter their gender. And no, this isn’t an April fool… this is a thing.

So today we’re discussing if it’s time to bury yet another classic wedding ritual with this new, modern approach or whether us girls should stick together for a sisterly send-off?

image sound on bloglovin.comimage source

rachel says: here come the girls

I’m not a stickler for tradition but when it comes to the ‘last night of freedom’ for a bride, I believe it should be a girl-only zone. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting for one minute that a bride should be looking to cop-off on her hen do, but she should be able to fully let her hair down and enjoy without being under the watchful eye of her soon-to-be hubby, his friends or his family.

I can’t even begin to imagine how my boyfriend and I would come up with a guest list for a joint send-off, never mind a list of activities. Perhaps with our friends, but are parents, aunties, uncles etc. included too? As much as I enjoy socialising with my mum and dad and the in-laws, I’m not sure how I’d feel about them joining in with a Jäger bomb train in a city centre bar.

Meanwhile if the parents/older relatives aren’t invited, I’d worry that combining the celebrations would just feel like any other weekend out with friends?

So in this instance I’m saying allow the girls to have fun and stick with a hen do as we know it. That way a bride can fully indulge in her pre-wedding celebrations with the attention fully on her and doing all the things she wants to do; whether it be on a relaxing spa weekend, taking mini-break abroad or having a classic night out on the town, complete with ‘L’ plates and Diet Coke style strippers. Remember, what happens on the hen, stays on the hen!

Image found on httpsimply-divine-creation.tumblr.compost78744962954image source

julia says: all together now

Whilst I love my girly friends, I’m one of those (sometimes probably quite annoying) girls who just loves a bit of male company too.  Sex doesn’t come into it at all – I flirt with pretty much everyone, girls included! – I just like the easy company of blokes.  I like their chat, their lack of agenda and their drinking abilities. As a result, I have a lot of really good guy friends.

Its important that I reiterate here that its never been about the lovin’. Its always been platonic – and now my male friends *waves! did I catch you reading a wedding blog?* are great friends with my husband too.

When it came to my own wedding back in 2010 I went down the traditional hen do route – me and my best gals headed off to Edinburgh for far too much Champagne and to carefully craft week long hangovers.  It was epic.  However, if I was planning my wedding now, I would really like my final send off to be one  with all of my best mates involved.

A “hag do” – where hen and stag dos are combined with the bride and groom partying alongside each other – would have been really quite appealing to me. One big raucous celebration with all my faves in one place, including my hubby to be.  The bubbles, banter and dancing on the tables would have all been included, with a hangover soothing cuddle from my other half thrown in as part of the package.

It also means that you might escape some of the more tedious traditional “hen safe” activities… honestly, does anyone really enjoy knicker crafting, cheer-leading or starring in your own music video whilst slightly worse for wear after a too heavy first night of the weekend?

Of course, its not for everyone, but if you truly share a friendship group this might be one tradition-bending idea that’s both kind on the pocket (combining two parties into one) and fun for everyone involved.

Image found on, 100layercake.com, photography by Braedon Photographyimage source, photography by Braedon Photography

what you said on facebook

Lisa says: “I’m really close to my brothers and my partner is having a ‘best woman’ instead of a ‘best man’ at the wedding so it made complete sense for us to have a hag do.”

Anna says: “Definitely sticking with the girls. I’m planning a spa trip, shopping, cocktail-making class and cupcake decorating as part of my celebrations – can’t imagine my husband-to-be wanting to do the same!”

Abbi says: “As we are in a group of friends which comprises of couples, we’re having our own hen/stag dos and then also planning a pre-wedding night out with our close couple friends too – didn’t know it was called a hag do!”

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