Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

lookbook: unveiled

July 22nd, 2014 | Rachel Parry

Lee Scullion Photography

So you’ve found your dream dress but how do you intend to top it all off?

For some brides choosing the accessories can prove more challenging than finding that one special dress. Perhaps the trickiest of accessories to decide on is what type of headdress you will wear.

Unlike the shoes, your headpiece and/or veil will be on show in the vast majority of your photos so it’s important to make sure you feel comfortable and confident with your decision. Problem is there are so many fabulously pretty options and styles to choose from – from classic veils and striking headpieces to sparkling hair accessories and whimsical floral crowns.

Clive Doyle Photography

When Real Weddings arrive in my inbox I’m always intrigued to find out what type of headdress the bride has plumped for – in particular I’m keen to see if they’ve stuck with tradition and gone down the route of an elegant veil, or instead chosen an individual headpiece that adds that extra wow-factor to their attire.

While I’m not a fan of all wedding traditions I am in favour of the veil – for me it’s the item that defines a bride and just looks incredibly pretty and timeless.

Dotmoxee Photography

Helen Russell Photography

Mark Newton Weddings

A veil was originally said to be worn by brides as a sign of their virginity or to ward off evil spirits – but just because the reasoning behind the garment has become dated, doesn’t mean the veil is no longer a highly desired bridal accessory.

Clive Doyle Photography

Those brides who do opt for a veil will need to take several elements into consideration when making their selection. The general rule is that a simple dress requires a more decorative veil and vice versa. So for example, if the dress is high-necked or has detail on the shoulders, a short veil such as a bird cage design would be a wise choice. Equally if a gown has back detailing you aren’t going to want to cover that up, so perhaps don’t go beyond shoulder length. Classic, princess style gowns often suit a veil that ends before the skirt projects out. Meanwhile for brides looking at longer lengths there are finger-tip, knee and chapel length veils, providing options right down to the floor. Alternatively brides could follow in the glam footsteps of Kim Kardashian with a show-stopping cathedral length veil that extends several feet along the ground. The reality star is such a fan that she wore an extended veil when she wed first hubby Chris Humphries in 2011, then again when she got hitched to Kanye West earlier this year.

Laura Calderwood Photography

Jamie Penfold Photography

Clive Doyle Photography

Clive Doyle Photography

As well as varying lengths there are also different widths to consider, depending on the fullness a bride requires. Wider veils can be favourable with brides wearing strapless dresses though wanting a little coverage around the arms. Fuller-figured brides may want to choose a sleeker veil that pulls attention to their slimmer areas rather than a voluminous design that frames their body from head to toe.

Next detailing – again brides won’t want to detract from the main spectacle of the dress, so if you’re wearing an elaborate gown it’s often better to select a subtle style veil while those with quieter dress designs can afford to make more noise with their headdress. There are shimmering veils, those with dazzling Swarovski crystal droplets or delicate lace appliqués, plus elegantly edged or beautiful scalloped creations. Some brides may even choose to have a tinted coloured veil in a soft playful hue or a regal metallic tone.

Melissa Kay Photography

Jonny Draper Photography

Katy Melling Photography

And a veil doesn’t have to be worn alone, it can be paired with a pretty tiara for the ultimate princess look, a glam hair accessory for a little bridal bling or to really stand out from the crowd – a totally bespoke headpiece. Any extra accessories and the positioning of the veil itself will often be governed on a bride’s chosen bridal hair style so it’s well worth taking your veil along with you for any hair trials ahead of the big day.

Dotmoxee Photography

Lee Scullion Photography

Final elements of consideration – how many layers should the veil have and most importantly will the bride want her face covered when she makes her journey up the aisle? This is a hot topic of discussion and one I noticed has already been raised on the fabulous new Brides Up North Facebook group (an interactive space where the blog’s bride-to-be readers, sponsors, exhibitors and industry friends can share inspiration, questions and recommendations). Opinion was split with some saying they couldn’t stand the thought of something covering their face while others said it was a good shield to hide their tears. Several said they loved the romantic elegance it brought, particularly in images, and one or two industry experts even tipped the “big reveal” as a huge wedding come-back.

To add my thoughts to the discussion, I think if it’s good enough for super bride Kate Middleton it’s certainly good enough for me but I tend to get makeup across everything I look so my only fear would be that I’d arrive beside my groom with my veil resembling a used tissue at a Mac counter.

Veil fail.

So will you be doing the big unveil at the altar?  We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog – Images © 2014 as tagged, Dotmoxee Photography, Clive Doyle Photography, Lee Scullion, Mark Newton Weddings, Katy Melling Photography, Melissa Kay Photography, Helen Russell Photography, Laura Calderwood, Jamie Penfold Photography, Jonny Draper

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Up For Discussion: The Kids Are Alright! Yes Or No – Children At A Wedding?

February 23rd, 2012 | Julia Braime

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www.danielkrieger.com

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When planning my own wedding, it was a no brainer.  The day would be strictly adults only (with the exception of my very gorgeous 12 going on 25 little friend Lili).  Most of my friends at this stage were still pre-kids, and the ones who had little people were canvassed for their opinion and it was unanimous:  they very much fancied a day off. 

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The style of the wedding also lent itself to a child free day – a black tie style do with fine glassware, oysters and a vodka luge.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m no Cruella De Ville! I love children, and I do love the atmosphere that they can bring to a wedding, but for our wedding it was a no go. 

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The decision can be a difficult one, but make it early (childcare negotiations can seemingly take decades), explain your reasoning to your nearest and dearest and stick to your guns.  Remember that this decision doesn’t make you Cruella De Ville either. 

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If you do decide to invite the brood, my guest blogger Alison has some top tips as a bride who got very familiar with the children’s menu on her own big day. 

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Over to Alison: It’s a very thorny issue – do you allow children at your wedding or not?

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There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s your wedding so you do what you want.

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In our case, we were a bit older when we got married and most of our friends already had children. A childfree wedding would have made it really difficult for many of our friends to share our big day – and as our priority was to have as many of them with us as possible, we took the bull by the horns and made our wedding as child friendly as possible.

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We ended up with over 50 children on the day!

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www.FourT4.com.. .www.FourT4.com

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www.FourT4.com

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Logically, I thought if the children are happy then the parents will be happy – which will make me happy. So this is how we did it:

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We chose the most child friendly venue we could think of – Chester Zoo. It was safe and enclosed with lots to do. There was plenty of space for them to run around and an adventure playground right next to the Manor House where we got married. Then once the zoo had closed to the public our guests were treated to a private safari with one of the keepers which the kids loved.

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We had a Wedding Bus which the kids absolutely revelled in.

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There was a designated children’s room and I hired two child minders. Giving the children their own space was a stroke of genius. There were activities in one room – I photocopied lots of animal related colouring-in sheets, quiz sheets and animal masks which all got used. And there was a quiet room where the littlies in particular could crash out. I asked parents to bring blankets and cushions and we had an ample supply of DVD’s and toys.

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The child minders were probably the best £175 I spent. The two of them were on the go, face painting and entertaining the children from 1pm until 10pm when we physically had to send them home. I provided sticky name labels for the children and their bags and a list of children’s names, who their parents were and their mobile numbers, and in return they face painted as though their lives depended on it.

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I gave instructions in advance about meal times. The last thing you want at your wedding are 50 whinging children, so I sent all parents an e-mail the week before the wedding advising them to feed their children beforehand – what time the meals were, what they would be eating and to bring any snacks they might need.

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Other than the bridesmaids, we didn’t have children in the room with us when we actually got married. There just wasn’t the space. While we didn’t have any screaming babies, one of our bridesmaids did announce very loudly, 30 seconds into the ceremony “(yawn) This is taking ages!” which gave the whole room a good giggle.

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We ordered picnic boxes for the children instead of an adult BBQ, and we saved a fortune by giving them packets of animal biscuits instead of a full cream tea which the grown-ups enjoyed. It was all very informal, there was no seating plan and the children were able to sit with whoever they’d made friends with.

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Finally, instead of traditional favours we had a candy bar full or retro sweets which the kids loved and gave them a big enough sugar high to see them through the rest of the evening – bopping merrily to Nirvana and the Fun Loving Criminals alongside their happy parents.

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As I said at the start, there is no right or wrong answer to the question – but for us I wouldn’t have had it any differently. One of my enduring memories of our wedding is all the children, many of whom had never met before, playing together and having a thoroughly brilliant time.

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Alison writes her own personal blog at http://alison-staples.blogspot.com

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Alison’s latest posts for Brides Up North:

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Naked At A Wedding

Honeymoons – Just The Two Of Us!

Santa Baby- A Bride’s Letter To St Nick

Christmas Weddings In Soap Land – Some Very Un-Real Weddings!

Up For Discussion- Money Can’t Buy You Love – Bringing It In On Budget

Up For Discussion- Don’t Tell The Groom! Man Management

Up For Discussion- How To Do “I Do”- Writing Your Own Vows

Up For Discussion- Empty Chairs

Up For Discussion- Achieving The Perfect Level Of Wedding Morning Zen

Up For Discussion- The Name Game (and meet Alison!)

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Would you like to guest blog for Brides Up North? Email julia@bridesupnorth.co.uk

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog – Images © 2012: 1: www.danielkrieger.com, 2: www.wildflowersphotos.com, 3-6:  FourT4 Photography 

This is not a sponsored post

Contact Brides Up North to submit your business as a Featured Supplier

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog

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Up For Discussion: Don’t Tell The Groom! Man Management

December 2nd, 2011 | Julia Braime

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During my new husband’s speech at our wedding, he took some time to thank me and my Mum for all our hard work in planning the big day.  He commented, and I quote: “Wedding planning seems to involve lots of hours spent on the sofa watching Formula 1, rugby and football whilst the girls are out dress shopping.” 

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Whilst it got a laugh from the crowd, I don’t actually think he was joking.  I have the evidence:

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog

The groom (centre) with the best man, father of the bride and dog.  That’s the rugby they are watching, not Wedding TV.

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Its not quite fair to say that he didn’t get involved (he had some very controversial opinions on hymns, cars and reception drinks), but it was definitely me (and Mum, thank goodness for her!) that bore the brunt of the planning (and loved it).  No appearance from Bridezilla or Groomzilla. Smiles all round. 

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog: Image by Nicola Perrott & Carly Elliott

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But what if you want your Groom to play a more active role and maybe, just maybe would like a little help and input planning the most important day of both your lives?  This morning, my fabulous guest blogger Alison Staples addresses that very issue. 

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Over to Alison: Like lots of brides to be, whilst planning our wedding I became an avid follower of ‘Don’t Tell the Bride’, the TV series where the groom gets £12,000 and three weeks to organise a wedding. The bride is kept completely in the dark until the big day.

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See all the images from a recent episode of Don’t Tell The Bride by Emerson Photography by clicking here

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I know it’s all about making good TV, but I’m sure I’m not the only one to sit there thinking “If that were me, he’d know exactly what to do and what to choose – because I’d have briefed him.”

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However, nine times out of 10, despite it not being the venue or the dress that the bride would have chosen, the boys generally organise an imaginative and interesting wedding day that blows their bride away.

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Other than Vegas.

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Yeah – best not to mention Vegas!

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When it came to our wedding, I had a pretty good idea of the kind of day I wanted, but a wedding involves two people. I didn’t want to be a bridezilla and I knew from ‘Don’t Tell the Bride’ that boys can have hidden talents when it comes to pulling off a wedding. This needed to be a team effort.

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I was lucky that Tris (my new husband) was pretty easy going, however I did want him to feel involved and he wanted to pull his weight – after all it was his wedding too.

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However, I soon learned that we approach things very differently – in order to survive, I needed tactics!

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You’ll probably have gathered from my previous blogs that I love a good spread sheet and like to give myself plenty of time. Tris however tends to operate in a different time scale and prefers to go running.

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I remember early into the planning taking Tris for a drink in Alderley Edge, getting my blue A4 file out of my bag and spreading out my papers on the table in front of us. I must have talked for 40 minutes, barely stopping for breath, methodically going through all my ideas and plans.

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I was expecting some discussion, alternative suggestions or interrogation, but when I’d finally finished – there was a pause – and a silence – before Tris said “Well, that all seems very thorough.” There was nothing he wanted to change.

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Oh – OK!” I’d expected a much harder sell.

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So this how we did it.

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While I like a big list with deadlines I know it’s not for everyone, so I was the one driving things forward. But Tris was always there as a sounding board and on hand to help with the big decisions.

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In terms of jobs I made sure I drip fed him the ‘to do’ list. There were never more than three things on his list at any one time and we reviewed new things to add on a monthly basis. My role was to get the jobs in the right order at the right time, generate short lists and ideas for him to work from – and once I’d delegated the jobs, not to take them back if they weren’t done immediately.

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Tris’ tasks included researching and setting up our wedding ‘Bliss List’ of honeymoon treats, choosing the beer for our reception, organising the boys outfits and presents, liaising with our photographer who was an old university friend, stuffing the envelopes with invitations and double checking addresses and names of children, writing his vows and speech (well I couldn’t really do that for him could I) and generally coming with me to see venues, hotels and helping to choose a wedding bus from my short list of two.

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John Roach at FourT4 Photography

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John Roach at FourT4 Photography     John Roach at FourT4 Photography

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John Roach at FourT4 Photography

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By drip feeding Tris jobs and then trusting him to do them, he never felt overwhelmed and I didn’t feel like everything had been left to me.

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It’s so easy to feel swamped when you are organising a wedding and while it can be really hard to relinquish control – try!

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I personally wouldn’t recommend going to ‘Don’t Tell the Bride’ extremes, but do consider a little delegation and you never know, your boy might just surprise you.

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How do you plan to involve your man in the planning process?  Is he hands off, hands on or a complete groomzilla?  Leave a comment and let us know.  It’s officially up for discussion. 

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Alison writes her own personal blog at http://alison-staples.blogspot.com

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Alison’s latest posts for Brides Up North:

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Up For Discussion- How To Do “I Do”- Writing Your Own Vows

Up For Discussion- Empty Chairs

Up For Discussion- Achieving The Perfect Level Of Wedding Morning Zen

Up For Discussion- The Name Game (and meet Alison!)

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Would you like to guest blog for Brides Up North? Email julia@bridesupnorth.co.uk

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog – Images © 2011 Brides Up North, Nicola Perrott & Carly Elliott, Emerson Photography and John Roach at FourT4 Photography

This is not a sponsored post

Contact Brides Up North to submit your business as a Featured Supplier

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog

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Up For Discussion: How To Do “I Do”? Writing Your Own Vows

November 25th, 2011 | Julia Braime

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Writer’s block?  Trust me, as a and freelance writer, I know what a pain that can be.  But what if you have writer’s block on the most important day of your life?  This morning, Brides Up North’s resident guest blogger Alison Staples shares her own experience.

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My advice?  Step away from your record collection people. 

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At our civil ceremony at Chester Zoo, we had the opportunity to say some words of our own to each other. In my mind’s eye I could see myself standing in front of my nearest and dearest saying something which was personal, touching and sincere while not too mushy, to my new husband.

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I wanted something that hit exactly the right note. A perfect paragraph which said everything I wanted to say and laid the foundations for a long and happy marriage.

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“Ahhh, wasn’t that lovely,” I heard an imaginary aunt whisper.

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog: FourT4 Photography

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The problem was that although I could see my mouth saying the words, I couldn’t hear what they were.

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The weight of getting my vows right was enormous. Whatever I promised in the height of matrimonial bliss, I was going to have to deliver on in 40 years time when we were old and grey. They needed to last a lifetime. Now was not the time to get carried away.

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So where to start?

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Like Dawn and Pete from the TV series Gavin and Stacy, I thought about taking inspiration from our favourite songs. Who could forget Dawn reciting the words of Michael Jackson’s ‘Ben’ (replace Ben with Pete), while Pete chose Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’ to help express his love for Dawn.

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But Duran Duran’s ‘Save a Prayer’ and ‘Street Tuff’ by the Rebel MC weren’t giving me what I needed so I had to look elsewhere.

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Google … surprisingly drew a blank.

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Damnation – there was no one to copy, I was going to have to think of something all by myself.

It took me a really long time to come up with something I felt happy with. I practiced reading them out loud many, many times. I never managed to get beyond the first line without blubbing.

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog: FourT4 Photography

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Wedding Vows – Alison

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Tristan, in our marriage I promise to always be patient, honest, and kind.

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You are my best friend, my one love, my partner throughout life, always putting my needs first above your own.

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I promise to live a life that will honour the vows we have spoken, and make you glad and proud to have me as your wife.

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We have so much to look forward to. In the good times and the bad, I shall love and cherish you – always.

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My vows were written a good three months before the big day (as per my wedding planning spreadsheet). Tris’ however were still ‘outstanding’ the week before.

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“Have you written your vows yet?” I asked him for the umpteenth time. I knew how difficult I’d found writing mine. This was not a five minute job. But he simply reassured me that he’d been thinking about them and told me to trust him.

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When he finally did the big reveal, what he’d written was beautiful – not a line of early ‘90’s rap in sight.

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Wedding Vows – Tristan

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Alison, I promise always to be there when you need me, to provide the shoulders you can rest your head on, to fill your days with sunshine, to make you smile and laugh.

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To comfort you and encourage you, to help you reach your goals, to be your best friend ever and to love you all my life with all my heart.

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FourT4 Photography

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It’s a very strange feeling when your wedding day does finally arrive and you are quite literally living in your dream. I surprised myself by actually managing to get to the last line of my vows before surrendering to the need for tissues, which were there (courtesy of our best man) as soon as I started to falter.

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Not so my three pregnant friends, who had all decided to sit together, creating a hormonal vortex which kicked off before I’d even entered the room. Our vows just about finished them off!

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As a footnote, we had our six month wedding anniversary recently, which seemed like a good time to dust off the old wedding vows to see how I was doing.

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  1. Patient – Very poor start. 5/10. I shouted at him for not putting his trainers away. They’d only been off his feet for five minutes.
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  3. Honest – Better. 7/10. I told him his butt looked nice in his cycling shorts yesterday.
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  5. Kind – Very good effort. 9/10.  Last week I stood on the side lines in torrential rain, cheering him on in a triathlon, running along the home straight with him in a cagoule.
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I’d say I’ve had mixed success. But this time Coldplay can help. ‘Nobody said it was easy’, but I’m trying hard to get better.

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Do you plan to write or have you written your own vows?  Where did you draw inspiration from?  This is officially up for discussion.  Leave us a comment and start the debate. 

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Alison writes her own personal blog at http://alison-staples.blogspot.com

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Alison’s latest posts for Brides Up North:

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Up For Discussion- Empty Chairs

Up For Discussion- Achieving The Perfect Level Of Wedding Morning Zen

Up For Discussion- The Name Game (and meet Alison!)

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Would you like to guest blog for Brides Up North? Email julia@bridesupnorth.co.uk

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  – Images © 2011 John Roach at FourT4 Photography 

This is not a sponsored post

Contact Brides Up North to submit your business as a Featured Supplier 

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog

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Up For Discussion: Empty Chairs

November 18th, 2011 | Julia Braime

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Had enough birthday cake yet Brides Up North?  Course you haven’t – and there are still a few more super giveaways in the Great Brides Up North Birthday Bakeaway still to come!  Make sure to tune in over the weekend to enter the rest. 

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This morning, we address a more serious topic here on the wedding blog, and one I am sure that a lot of my readers can identify with – how to remember lost loved ones on your wedding day, and how to deal with those metaphorical empty chairs?

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This is a topic that hits home with me personally, as a week before our wedding we lost a very close family friend after his long battle with illness.  He is – and was on the day – very sorely missed, but having been a larger than life, heart of the party, host with the most, fun loving family man, we knew that he would want the show to go on.  Tears were shed for him during the ceremony and during my father’s speech, and I felt proud to raise my glass to him in the first toast of the day. 

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As we think about the ones that we will personally miss, I will hand you over to my fabulous guest blogger Alison, who discusses the empty chair at her own wedding. 

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Weddings are emotional enough, before you even start thinking about how to include and remember loved ones who can’t be there for your special day.

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For me, it was my mum who sadly died back in 2002.

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog: Alison Staples

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As a bride, if there is one person you want there to help you plan, choose and decide. To be by your side while you visit and try on. To huddle with over bridal magazines, and phone up on the spur of the moment to blurt “I’ve just had a brilliant idea, what do you think of ……”

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To be swept up with the excitement, while keeping your feet on the ground, and then to be there on your big day to reassure you, keep you calm and to wear an enormous hat – then it’s your mum.

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Had she been alive, we’d have planned the wedding together and she’d have been a huge vibrant presence on the day itself.

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After she died, I described moving forward like re-arranging the furniture. When a chair is taken away you have to move the furniture to fill the space left in the room. That’s what we had to do at our wedding both metaphorically and literally.

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I wanted to include and remember her, of course I did, but I didn’t want to upset people or myself. After my recent health scares I was already going to find my wedding day emotionally and physically demanding.

So in addition to a mention in my dad’s speech, I chose a few positive, lovely touches which were a nod to mum. The guests who knew and remembered her recognised them without prompting.

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A few years before she died, mum gave me and my sister a package each. It was a gift from her wedding to each of us. In the package were two black and white photos from her wedding in 1964 and three squares of fabric. White satin and lace from her wedding dress and blue satin from her older bridesmaids dresses. For my wedding I copied her colour scheme. My little bridesmaids wore ivory with blue accents and my sister wore a long cornflower blue gown – as did hers.

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My sparkly clutch bag was one that my ever so glamorous mum carried to cocktail parties in the ‘70’s and the beautiful circular diamante broach that held my furry wrap in place was the one mum wore in the late ‘50’s as a newly qualified teacher.

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Mum loved music and was an amazing pianist, so including her favourites in our ceremony was an easy decision. Our choices included ‘The Entertainer’ by Scott Joplin and ‘Side Saddle’ by Russ Conway. Those two pieces are so evocative of my childhood – lying upstairs in bed while she played her ragtime favourites in the room beneath me. While we signed the register, it was like she was right there with us filling our wedding with her energy and joy.

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog: Alison Staples    Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog: Alison Staples

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It’s traditional for the groom’s father to walk back down the aisle with the mother of the bride. For us that wasn’t an option, so instead we surrounded him with the little bridesmaids and my ‘best boy’. My mum was a primary school teacher, so having the children represent her felt right.

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Finally, in addition to our civil ceremony at Chester Zoo in June, we also had a much smaller church blessing a couple of months later in the town in Lincolnshire which mum and dad retired to. My mum is buried in the churchyard, so after the ceremony Tris and I went and put my flowers on her grave. I left her a message:

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I missed you.

Although I couldn’t see you at our wedding,

I knew you were there.

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Mum never met Tris, my husband – but she left such an imprint, I knew what she’d have said. “Alison, he’s very dishy – well done!”

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Including someone special and madly missed in your wedding day can be really hard. I worried about striking the right note – enough, but not over the top, reflective but not over sentimental. Every situation is obviously different – but this is what I did for my mum. I hope if you are in the same situation as me, you find it helpful.

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How to you plan on remembering lost loved ones at your own wedding?  Leave a comment to start the discussion. 

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Alison writes her own personal blog at http://alison-staples.blogspot.com

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Alison’s latest posts for Brides Up North:

Up For Discussion- Achieving The Perfect Level Of Wedding Morning Zen

Up For Discussion- The Name Game (and meet Alison!)

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Would you like to guest blog for Brides Up North? Email julia@bridesupnorth.co.uk

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  – Images © 2011 Alison Staples

This is not a sponsored post

Contact Brides Up North to submit your business as a Featured Supplier

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog

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Up For Discussion: Achieving The Perfect Level Of Wedding Morning Zen

November 11th, 2011 | Julia Braime

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Poppy Day.

Well, whaddya know?  Its only Friday!  Yippee!  What have you got planned for the weekend?  Two days of intensive wedding planning, some time out, a hen party celebration (speaking of which, have you read my top tips for planning a hen do or entered this little giveaway yet?), or maybe, just maybe, its time to say I do?!  Whatever you are up to, I hope you have a good one.

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Before we get there though, It’s 11.11.11 today – so please do remember to wear your poppy with pride. 

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Today, our guest blogger and newlywed Alison is back on the wedding blog with another reflection on getting hitched.  You all loved her novel way of choosing a marital name last Friday, so I thought I would put my feet up, dunk another ginger snap in my brew, and let her take the floor…

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Over to Alison: When I was planning my wedding at Chester Zoo, like all brides, I aspired for perfection. I was convinced that I could organise the best wedding people had ever been to.

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog: FourT4 Photography

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I remember reading an article in one of my wedding magazines about the perfect wedding morning. In my quest for the perfect day, I gobbled up all the advice and aspired to achieve a similar level of Zen. 

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Apparently, the magazine told me, I should be aiming for a good night’s sleep, awaking from my princess slumber refreshed, excited and ready to float through my perfect day.

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The reality was rather different.  While hubby-to-be stayed in Chester the night before our wedding, I was at home in South Manchester with my dad and sister. With only one spare room, my sister slept on an inflatable mattress at the end of my bed – which farted loudly every time she turned over – which was a lot. I think I got 20 minutes sleep and when the alarm went at 7am I shot out of bed and promptly tripped over my own eye bags. It wasn’t the image of impossible glamour I was aspiring towards.

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The article then advised me to have a breakfast of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs – light enough for the guests not to be able to see what I’d had for breakfast, but substantial enough to see me through until my second (wedding) breakfast.

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I didn’t quite manage that either. The lack of sleep coupled with an overdose of adrenaline meant that I managed to shove a third of a bowl of ‘oats’ down my bridal neck before feeling sick and giving up.

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My perfect wedding morning was also to include a relaxing bubble bath, favourite calming tunes on my ipod and half an hour of quiet meditation.

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In theory – what a nice idea. In practice – you’ve got to be joking!  I was surviving on adrenaline and a third of a bowl of oats. If I relaxed I’d be asleep! I opted for an alternative strategy and drank red bull and coffee.

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After loading the car I spent the next hour barking at my dad to sit down, be quiet and refer to his wedding spread sheet – it didn’t bring out the ‘good daughter’ in me. I then drove like a lunatic along the M56 wishing traffic be gone and praying that the car wouldn’t break down.

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog: Alison Staples

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When we arrived at the hotel in Chester where we were getting ready, we were still statistically within the margin of error on the wedding timetable. I’d bought croissants and champagne so I allowed myself a brief moment of relaxation and un-corked my first smile of the day.

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Unfortunately the ‘fizz’ was fleeting. With five bridesmaids and myself waiting for our transformation, it came to light that the salon only had one pair of hair straighteners. By the time my hair was finished we were nearly an hour behind schedule. My make-up artist was pacing and despite having an extensive pre-wedding make-up consultation to find the perfect wedding look, by this point I was willing her to just slap it on and finish. Red danger lights were flashing and I was about to turn into a whistling kettle.

My sister reminded me to breathe!

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We hired a wedding bus to collect guests from various points in Chester and transport them to the zoo. I was still having my face fixed when it arrived – and luckily I had a bit more time before my car turned up. Thirty minutes later I was sprinting through the hotel in my Jenny Packham wedding dress, heels and bouquet, with my poor dad trailing in my wake, trying to make up time.

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It was only when I was actually sitting in my wedding car (and back on schedule) that I started to relax into the day. Little did I know that our wedding bus had got stuck in the hotel car park and was only two minutes up the road ahead of us!

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No matter how much you brief people, no one knows the big picture of your wedding like you and although the day ran like clockwork from then on, every so often I had to prod proceedings to keep them on track:

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“We should be having the group shots now.”

“They should be serving afternoon tea.”

“Can you round people up for the speeches.”

“Time to cut the cake.”

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And so forth. Luckily I had my ‘Best Woman Gill’ who would go and make things happen and ensure that while my little duck feet were paddling away like Michael Flattery, to my guests I was gliding like a beautifully elegant swan.

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I guess what I’m saying is, plan your perfect day, plan your perfect wedding morning. If you manage to achieve the required level of Zen then I take my tiara off to you. But if it doesn’t quite run to plan, take a deep breath, try not to panic, embrace the story it will give you and if you don’t get to the church quite on time – it isn’t the end of the world.

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FourT4 Photography

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So, Brides Up North – what are your plans for wedding morning zen?  Do you think you can achieve it?  And if you have been there and done that – what was your secret?  Tell us!  It’s officially up for discussion. 

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To read Alison’s post from last Friday and to find out a little bit more about her, click here

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Alison writes her own lifestyle blog over at – http://alison-staples.blogspot.com – check it out!

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HEARTIt’s also Alison’s six month wedding anniversary today!  See her real wedding here. Congrats! HEART

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  – Images © 2011 Alison Staples and FourT4 Photography

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog

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