Charlotte Balbier

handmade. a whimsical winter wedding styled shoot by independent suppliers in the north

November 25th, 2015 | Julia Braime

Winter Styled Shoot at Tanfield House (c) Claire Basiuk Photography (11)

Earlier this month on the blog we brought you a gorgeous autumnal inspired shoot, and now today we’re moving on a season to bring you this whimsical winter styled shoot, from a rather special set of suppliers.

Organised by And so to Wed, a blog based in Leeds, today’s shoot is a celebration of small Northern wedding businesses, many of which hand make their items. As a blog that highly encourages the use of northern suppliers ourselves (it’s all in the name), we’re absolutely thrilled to help spread the message and share this dreamy set of images.

To introduce you to the talented collective that helped piece this pretty together, we welcome Louise Billingham of And so to Wed, to the blog.

With images by Claire Basiuk Photography.

Winter Styled Shoot at Tanfield House (c) Claire Basiuk Photography (34)

louise says: We decided to do a winter inspired styled shoot to showcase some of the fantastic work produced by small business based in the north of the UK.

The chosen venue to provide our backdrop was (Brides Up North Featured Supplier) Tanfield House, a new wedding venue in Yorkshire that offers couples a truly unique experience, by giving them the use of the whole house to do with as they wish. Packed full of character, it provided the perfect setting.

Winter Styled Shoot at Tanfield House (c) Claire Basiuk Photography (28)

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magical mint. mori lee for a wedding in the tree tops at the alnwick garden – wendy & david

November 12th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

A Magical Mint Wedding at The Alnwick Garden (c) Paul Liddement Wedding Stories (60)

This morning’s real wedding couple decided to make to plan a wedding that was pretty and personal rather than shaping it around one set theme.

The result is a very natural and romantic big day that’s brimming with beautiful elements; from the fairy tale style venue to the gorgeous blooms and delicate decor, this one has it all!

With images by Brides Up North favourite, Paul Liddement Wedding Stories.

A Magical Mint Wedding at The Alnwick Garden (c) Paul Liddement Wedding Stories (43)

wendy says: We got engaged on the banks of Loch Lomond in February 2013. I’m from Helensburgh, near Loch Lomond and I love boats so Dave arranged for us to go on a boat tour for my birthday. After a beautiful, if slightly chilly, trip around the loch and a whisky to calm the nerves, Dave got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

A Magical Mint Wedding at The Alnwick Garden (c) Paul Liddement Wedding Stories (57)

Our wedding date was Saturday 6th June 2015. As we were getting married outside we wanted to choose date where we might have slightly less chance of getting rain.

We got married and had our reception at The Treehouse in Alnwick Gardens. We looked at a number of venues in and around my hometown and felt they were far too formal. I then started looking online for unusual wedding venues and came across the Treehouse. As soon as we walked up its walkway we knew we had found the right place; it’s so naturally beautiful, the perfect size and adorned with fairy lights!

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blissed out bride: stanley house hotel & spa

October 29th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Stanley House Hotel & Spa (2)

This morning on the blog we’ve got two words for you treat yourself – as we’re sharing with you another gem of a venue that we’ve discovered in the north of the country, which is a haven for both pre and post wedding pampering.

Located within the Ribble Valley countryside in Mellor, Lancashire, Stanley House Hotel & Spa really is a rural retreat, housing 30 luxurious bedrooms, bar, restaurant and a world-class spa. Oh and if that isn’t enough, you can get married there too.

Keen to experience its impressive offering for ourselves (and to recharge the batteries after a particularly hectic stint in the world of weddings), myself and Julia booked in for an overnight spa break.

Stanley House Hotel & Spa (8)

Included in our package was one night’s accommodation, farmhouse breakfast, three-course evening meal in the hotel’s restaurant, use of the spa, a 60-minute treatment, and to round it all off, a two-course afternoon tea in the bar and lounge. We were literally chalking off the days on the office wall as we counted down to our visit (which didn’t disappoint).

Upon arriving, we were advised where to find everything and then left to explore our room and surroundings. The hotel is centred around Stanley House, a stunning Grade II listed manor house dating back to 1799, that has since been lovingly restored to hold luxury bedrooms. The hotel’s function rooms, reception, bar and restaurant meanwhile are located in the main hotel building and the spa and further bedrooms (where our room was located) are situated in the newest area of the hotel.

Clearly designed with care, the two newer buildings are still in keeping with their rural surroundings and the historic Stanley House building, which stands proud in the venue’s well-manicured grounds. All buildings boast stunning views of the surrounding countryside, as did our generous sized bedroom, with which we were thrilled.

Stanley House Hotel & Spa (6)

To start our 24-hours of relaxation we headed to the hotel’s Mr Fred’s bar and lounge where we enjoyed a bottle of wine whilst brainstorming future ideas for Brides Up North (some of our very best concepts come out of a bottle of Sauvignon it would appear!)

Next we glammed up and indulged in a three-course meal at The Grill on The Hill restaurant, which prides itself on offering diners ‘something just a bit different’ – as we soon experienced ourselves. We ordered starters of ham hock terrine with crispy ’bits and bobs’, golden sultana puree and quail’s egg, and a chilled tomato gazpacho with spiced avocado espuma. What arrived was a treat for the eyes as well as the palate; dainty but plentiful portions that were punchy in flavour and beautifully presented. We ate every last bit!

Next mains of soy and ginger poached fillets of lemon sole, with sea vegetables (presented like little sushi parcels) and citrus butter, and a 10oz rib eye steak served with balsamic onions, semi dried plum tomato, field mushroom and triple cooked chips. Top marks once again for taste and appearance, resulting in more clean plates.

You’d think we’d be full at this point, but a lemon delice served with sorbet and cherries caught my eye while Julia took up the offer of cheese and biscuits. Faultless once again. And just when we thought we had come to the end of our culinary delights, we were presented with a crisp and chewy macaroon to finish. How could we resist?

Having almost eaten our way into a food coma a good night’s rest was needed and thankfully that’s exactly what we got. The hotel’s rural location means no rowdy passers-by or noisy traffic to interrupt your sleep, just pure peace and quiet.

Stanley House Hotel & Spa (13)

Stanley House Hotel & Spa (5)

Eager to explore the spa, the following day we enjoyed a light breakfast in the comforting lounge area before heading off for our morning of (further) indulgence.

Almost somewhat of a secret, the hotel’s spa is accessed down a spiral staircase where those ‘in the know’ can make the most of its relaxation rooms, thermal suite and hydro pool, whilst also enjoying a treatment of two, if they so wish.

For Julia (a self-confessed mermaid), the hydro pool alone would have been enough to keep her blissfully happy. Warm and welcoming the pool’s jets bubbled away our aches and pains while we admired the tranquil gardens beyond the floor to ceiling windows.

Prizing Julia from the water, we then went on to experience the thermal suite, which offered both hot and cold environments to awaken the senses. Not only did the rooms vary in temperature, but also in design and music with different influences from around the world, which is perhaps what sets the spa’s thermal suite apart from others.

Though fairly compact it was both easy and enjoyable to while away several hours in the relaxing yet invigorating environment of the spa.

Stanley House Hotel & Spa (15)

Stanley House Hotel & Spa (14)

Feeling cleansed and refreshed we headed for the highlight of the break: a 60-minute C&C Vitamin Facial (us Brides Up North girls just love a facial). Designed to fight the signs of premature ageing the zingy anti-oxidant facial gives stressed skin an instant boost of Vitamin C, which means the treatment doesn’t only feel amazing but the products used also smell amazing too. An ideal pre-holiday treatment I’m told, this would be a great choice for anyone indulging in a minimoon at Stanley House before jetting off on their main honeymoon. Emerging from the treatment room I can honestly say my skin felt the best it ever has, so much so I took away a Natura Bisse C&C Vitamin Soufflé Mask so I could recreate the magic at home for myself (well almost).

To end our break in a similar way to how we started it (immersed in glorious food) we enjoyed an afternoon tea of freshly made finger sandwiches, pastries, dainty cakes and, of course, yummy scones, all washed down with a refreshing jasmine tea.

Stanley House Hotel & Spa (3)

So you can see from our visit just how much this place has to offer, whether you chose to visit as a pre-wedding girly getaway to escape the planning pressure, or to prep yourself ready for the big day. It would also make for a fabulous minimoon with your partner, whether it’s just overnight to fill the void between the wedding ending and the honeymoon beginning, or for a full weekend of indulgence if you’ve chosen to delay your main honeymoon until later in the year.

Better yet, there are plenty of hugely tempting packages to choose from, meaning this is one activity that doesn’t require much planning (you brides-to-be will be pleased to hear). So, whether you opt for a ‘Diamond’ day package or an ‘Only the Finest’ overnight getaway, we guarantee Stanley House Spa & Hotel will leave you wanting more (just as we did when we begrudgingly left!).

For full details of Stanley Houses’ facilities, accommodation and packages, visit their website.

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diary date: the black swan wedding open day

October 21st, 2015 | Rachel Parry

The Black Swan Helmsley (26)

Today we have a little something for our readers who have recently put a ring on it and are now searching for the perfect venue in which to say their ‘I dos’. While it can be fairly straight forward to draw up a short list of potential contenders via an online search, a visit to the venues is when couples truly know if they’ve found ‘the one’.

Keen for couples to fall head over heel for its unique character and stunning setting, Brides Up North Sponsor and top Yorkshire wedding venue, the black swan in Helmsley, is welcoming couples through its doors on Sunday 1st November 2016 for a special Wedding Open Day.

The Black Swan Helmsley (7)

Renowned for being one of the North’s finest weddings venues and voted ‘Best Venue in the North East’ for two years in the Wedding Industry Awards, the cosy boutique hotel will showcase its country charm for brides and grooms-to-be at the afternoon event, which will be held between 12 noon and 4pm.

In addition to being able to see two of the hotel’s unique reception rooms, The Garden Room and The Gallery individually styled for a wedding reception, the event is also a fabulous opportunity for couples to bring their dream wedding day ideas to life and to meet the venue’s preferred suppliers and the friendly in-house team, including wedding coordinator, Nicola Bolden.

The Black Swan Helmsley (4)

The Black Swan boasts four beautiful reception rooms in total: The Crosland Room, ideal for small, sophisticated parties; the hotel’s restaurant The Gallery, the largest of the spaces; the cosy and intimate Tudor Lounge, and the lovely Garden Room, with access onto the hotel’s English walled gardens and the locally hand-crafted oak gazebo, which is licensed for al fresco ceremonies and perfect for making the most of an English summer wedding.

The Black Swan Helmsley (14)

Furthermore couples looking to save time and money when planning their big day could take advantage of The Black Swan’s all-inclusive wedding package. Available on select dates during 2016, the package includes use of the superb venue, food and drink, the cake, photographer, overnight accommodation, plus many other extras, including a special first wedding anniversary celebration, with a trip back to The Black Swan.

The all-inclusive wedding package is priced at £5,300, based on 50 guests, or £7,900, based on 80 guests. There’s also the chance for couples to secure a generous 20% discount off the hotel’s standard wedding package in January, February and March 2016, making the venue a very appealing proposal indeed!

The Black Swan Helmsley (21)

Preferred wedding suppliers supporting the Wedding Open Day will include Emma Dodsworth and Annemarie King Photography, Brides of York and The Bridal Lounge Northallerton, Libby Butler Jewellers, Busy Liz’s Floral Design, Kate Pymm Hair and Make-up, Fabulously Finished Events Decor and Hire, Noble Fine Arts, Celebrate Country Cake Design, Yorkshire Chauffeur Company, and live entertainment, courtesy of Val Boyers and pianist, David Robertshaw. The event will also include opportunities for canapés and wine sampling. Entry is complimentary and so is car parking at the hotel.

Images by Annemarie King Photography/ supplied by The Black Swan.

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dream venue: lumley castle

October 19th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Lumley Castle (2)

This afternoon on the blog we’re excited to introduce you to another dream venue in the north (aren’t we fortunate to have such fabulous choice up here in the top half of the UK!)

Today it’s the turn of Lumley Castle – a unique fairytale setting located in the North East, County Durham to be precise.

Brimming with character and charm, the 14th century castle is the perfect choice for those who plan to be a real princess on their big day, as well as those who simply crave a more unusual ‘something old’.

So let’s find out from the venue what lies within its thick stone walls…

Lumley Castle (8)

Where is Lumley Castle Hotel located?

Lumley Castle stands proud within nine acres of grounds and has dominated the County Durham landscape for more than six centuries. Surrounded by beautiful parklands, the castle provides a truly stunning backdrop for couples’ big days.

Tell Brides Up North about the venue, what is its history?

The 14th century castle has a fascinating history which began when it was inherited by Sir Ralph Lumley in 1389. Then a relatively modest manor house, Sir Lumley set about remodelling the building into the impressive castle that stands today.

Unfortunately, Sir Ralph barely had time to enjoy his castle before he and his son Thomas, were imprisoned for their part in a plot to overthrow Henry IV and replace him with Richard II. In 1400, they were stripped of their titles and then executed.

From that point the castle’s occupancy was unsettled as it changed hands on several occasions, being governed by various Earls and courageous soldiers, before being returned to and remaining with its original owners, the Lumley family, for 400 years.

Now part of the No Ordinary Hotels Group, the exquisite building has become a popular wedding venue. Though developed and extended over the centuries, Lumley Castle has never lost its unique charm and today offers brides and grooms the perfect blend of ancient history and modern luxury.

Lumley Castle (9)

Lumley Castle (6)

What facilities does it have? 

The castle houses 73 bedrooms and a choice of stunning function rooms. Meanwhile outdoors, its nine acres of grounds provide the perfect setting for welcome drinks, fireworks and photographs. All wedding catering is handled by the castle’s team of talented chefs at its renowned Black Knight Restaurant.

Does Lumley Castle cater for weddings?

Yes, it is one of the best loved wedding venues in the North East with a range of exquisite function rooms. These include the Garter Suite, a light, airy and elegant room, accommodating up to 180 evening guests and the Barons Hall, which features wood panelling and a minstrels’ gallery, and can also cater for up to 180 evening guests.

For more intimate weddings there is the Scarbrough Suite, a romantic, ivory painted room with deep blue damask curtains; the Northumbria Suite, with feature fireplace, ornate ceiling and tall windows; The Gilt, a small but beautifully formed room at the heart of the castle and the Sceptre another equally gorgeous space for smaller wedding parties.

There is also the option for smaller, less formal celebrations to take place in the castle’s Black Knight Restaurant – famous throughout the North East for its superb food served in the most intimate and welcoming setting.

Is Lumley Castle licensed for civil ceremonies?

Yes. Ceremonies can be held in either the Scarbrough Room – one of the largest state rooms overlooking the grounds with a maximum capacity of 80 ceremony guests – or in the Garter Room, which boasts exquisite Georgian plasterwork and can hold up to 132 guests.

What makes Lumley Castle a special wedding venue and sets you apart from others?

With its enchanting turrets and towers, Lumley Castle could have stepped straight from the pages of a story book. In reflection of its long history, its opulent interior reflects the styles of several centuries – from the medieval grandeur of its Barons Hall, to the exquisite elegance of its Georgian Garter Suite. Its stone flagged floors and log fires make for wonderfully atmospheric winter weddings, while its light and airy, high ceilinged and chandeliered State Rooms, overlooking the grounds, are ideal for spring and summer celebrations.

Lumley Castle (1)

What sort of bride would be a Lumley Castle bride?

Lumley Castle appeals to all sorts of brides for all sorts of reasons. Some fall in love with its Gothic grandeur while others see it as the perfect storybook setting for their own particular fairytale. Lumley Castle is, and can be, all things to all people – and that is what makes it so special.

How can your staff help to make the planning process easier and the big day amazing?

Couples will be provided with their own personal wedding coordinator who is their point of contact from the moment of booking up until the wedding day. On the big day itself, our dedicated operations wedding coordinator will make sure proceedings run smoothly, taking the stress away from the couple so that they can enjoy themselves.

Lumley Castle also works with some of the North East’s best wedding suppliers, who are familiar with both the castle and the staff, and therefore help to ensure the very best for our brides and grooms.

Lumley Castle (5)

Can guests stay over at your venue? 

Yes. We have 53 bedrooms in the castle itself and located in the converted stables in the courtyard.

Tell us about your catering services? 

Our award winning head chef has worked hard to create a variety of wedding menus. A lot of the produce is locally bought and seasonal. At Lumley Castle we can accommodate for all dietary requirements. Our duty manager has a wealth of experience and has created a superb wine list to complement our menus.

Can you give Brides Up North an idea on price or let us know about any special packages available?

As Lumley Castle Hotel is a fairytale wedding venue, we have created a fitting ‘Fairytale Wedding Package’ at a magical price of just £2,500 for up to 40 guests.

Lumley Castle (10)

Any really memorable weddings at the venue? 

We have recently had a Snow White themed wedding. The groom, a gallant prince, arrived by his trusty steed (a white helicopter) to his awaiting guests who were sipping on Verve Cliquet champagne. The bride had stayed in our King James Suite the night before and wore a Alfred Angelo wedding dress.

The ceremony took place in the beautiful Garter Suite and the bride walked down the aisle to a string quartet playing.

Cherry blossom was the choice of flowers and the guests enjoyed a three course meal of duck and pancetta taurine, a fillet of local beef wellington with dauphinoise potato and a dessert of baked chocolate tart and Horlicks and Malteaser ice cream. Throughout the wedding breakfast famous Disney songs played, which really amused the wedding guests.

The evening entertainment kicked off with fireworks display set to music and our resident DJ playing a variety of oldie and modern day songs. The bride and groom’s first dance was to a Tale as Old as Time from Beauty and the Beast.

Do you have any bridal events or open days coming up shortly that our readers should know about?

We have wedding a Wedding Showcase on 10th January 2016 and a Wedding Fayre on 13th March 2016.

Where can readers get more information or contact the venue?

To find out more about weddings at Lumley Castle call 0191 3891111 or visit

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diary date: the wedding edit (plus win an absolutely amazing romantic break at gilpin hotel & lake house)

October 14th, 2015 | Julia Braime

Love Wedding Edit

We’re interrupting your Tuesday afternoon to remind North West readers of a very special event coming up this Sunday. Introducing the wedding edit at Styal Lodge in Cheshire: brought to you exclusively by friends of Brides Up North, Emma of LOVE Bridal Boutique and Jonny Draper Photography!

This styling event is ideal for brides getting married from 2016 onwards, looking for inspiration for their wedding dress with an exciting catwalk show showcasing new collections and trends from LOVE’s designers Alan Hannah Bridalwear, Enzoani, Raimon Bundó Novias, Sarah Seven and Stewart Parvin.  Not to mention all the finishing touches from accessories to cakes, entertainment to shoes, flowers, photography and so much more…

And all glamour and inspiration aside, as an attending bride at The Wedding Edit you will be given the opportunity to enter a prize draw to win an absolutely sensational prize from our friends at Gilpin Hotel and Lake House, known as one of the best hotels in the Lake District where carefully designed ‘mini-moon’ breaks for newly weds are nothing short of spectacular.


Just by attending The Wedding Edit, you will be automatically entered into a competition to win a TWO night stay in one of Gilpin Hotel and Lake House’s new spa suites with dinner (with upgraded tasting menu with matched wines), breakfast, lunch, all drinks and their new spa journey (described below) included, totalling £1600. This is a unique opportunity for a couple to be one of the first to experience the ultimate romantic break in the hotel’s stunning new spa suites!


Each suite comprises an open plan bedroom and lounge with treatment area, an ensuite spa bathroom with steam room, sauna, hot tubs, rain maker showers and private walled garden. Gilpin Hotel and Lake House have designed a range of beautiful spa products to accompany these spa experiences which are specifically designed to be shared as a couple and as part of a spa journey. The spa journey also includes accompanying music, food, drinks, and lighting to create the ultimate romantic experience. Terms and conditions will apply.


emma says: “Jonny and I were lucky enough to stay at Gilpin Hotel during the summer and can not come close to explaining what a stunning experience we had.  The bedroom, the terrace, the lounge areas – the food, the drinks and the wonderfully attentive staff all led to us relaxing so much that we felt like we’d been away a week!  We are so grateful to our friends at Gilpin for providing this exclusive prize for The Wedding Edit and one bride to be is going to be walking away from our event with an amazing break for her and her hubby to be!

If you would like to be sure of a place on our guest list then please email with your name, wedding date, venue and the name of your ‘plus one’ (unfortunately, due to high levels of demand for places, we are only able to accommodate one guest per bride)

Be quick as there are now only a handful of places left! And remember – this is strictly a girls only event!

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