April 4th, 2018 | Julia Braime
Through our pretty pages we’ve often promoted The Biscuit Factory as a cool urban choice of venue for North East wedding couples, though it can be of service to brides and grooms in more ways than one.
Beyond its fabulous function spaces, The Biscuit Factory houses the UK’s largest independent contemporary art, craft and design gallery, featuring impressive work by both local and national artists with pieces ranging from paintings, prints and ceramics to furniture, homewares and jewellery.
Not only is the art showcased and admired through exhibitions, but numerous items are also available to buy at the Newcastle-based gallery or online. For wedding couples with an appreciation of art this means the option of setting up a gift account in the gallery, for a wedding present wish list with a difference.
Furthermore, through its impressive jewellery collections, brides and grooms can also source beautifully bespoke gifts for one another and their bridal party, and can even have wedding and engagement rings specially commissioned by jewellers based at the gallery.
We’ll now hand over the blog to The Biscuit Factory’s jewellery curator, Megan Collier, to tell us more about the options, including the latest Botanical Collection of jewellery with stunning handmade pieces inspired by the natural world.
Can you give us a brief overview of the jewellery collections that The Biscuit Factory houses?
megan says: The Biscuit Factory houses one of the largest collections of contemporary handmade jewellery in the North of England. Our pieces are carefully curated each season and are all handmade, original and unique. From affordable statement pieces to high-value wedding bands – we stock a variety of jewellery from the UK’s most talented designers and makers.
How do you choose the designers that you stock/exhibit and do these change from season to season?
We have a few makers who are firm favourites in the gallery and have been with us for years, such as Jessica Briggs, Fran Stunt and Jill Stewart. Their work never fails to be popular with our audiences! Aside from that, I try to bring in a selection of new jewellers for each seasonal show to make sure the collection is fresh and exciting. I tend to find these through hunting online or looking at other galleries and trade fairs. Instagram has a wealth of new and exciting designers to discover so is always a good place to start! I try to look for designers who are doing something a little different or innovative with their work, so the collections at The Biscuit Factory are always giving our audience something new to discover.
Can you tell us about the current Botanical Jewellery collection?
The spring show seemed like the perfect time to explore the world of botanical jewellery, putting the spotlight on artists who take inspiration from the natural world at the time of year when everything is starting to bloom and flourish.
Botanics is a theme explored by many jewellers in many different ways, and our new collection perfectly showcases the diverse range of styles, materials and techniques that makers have used to interpret this theme, each coming up with entirely unique results. Some of the collections have even been specially created just for The Biscuit Factory, too.
From Sue Gregor, who uses real plants in her bright bold acrylic jewellery, to Farrah Al-Dujaili’s Oddical collection made from cutting-edge 3D printing – the jewellers in this show experiment with their craft and break from traditional methods of jewellery making. For this reason, the Botanical Collection appeals to a wide audience.
There are subtle, floral pieces like Yuki Kokai or Lisa Rothwell-Young’s collections, for those who like their jewellery elegant and understated, but there is also bold, statement jewellery, such as Lauren Bell Brown’s Grimms fairy-tale inspired collection, created using handcrafted wax carvings and cuttlefish castings combined with needlepoint embellishment.
Award-winning jeweller John Moore, meanwhile, captures the essence of feathers and the repeating patterns of fish and plants in his decorative Flight and Elytra pieces; and Nettie Birch of nbNg makes fold formed jewellery using aluminium, copper and Sterling silver to create beautiful flowing organic shapes.
Couples have been known to have wedding and engagement rings commissioned at The Biscuit Factory. Can you tell us a little more about this option and what the process involves?
There are a number of jewellers who we work with who can create specially commissioned wedding pieces for us. We have a selection of their work in the gallery that couples can try on and explore for inspiration. We can then order directly from the artist in the right size and desired materials. It’s a great place to find your engagement and wedding rings as it ensures they will be truly unique and handmade by an artist. I think this makes them extra special!
Brides and grooms have also sourced wedding gifts for loved ones and each other from designers at The Biscuit Factory. What types of items have they bought and what would you suggest from the current collections that would make lovely wedding gifts?
There’s plenty to choose from in the way of wedding gifts from our collections. Handmade, unique cufflinks are always a popular choice when buying gifts for the groom or groomsmen. We also have very affordable and pretty silver necklaces, bracelets and earrings made with semi-precious stones and molten metals which could make perfect bridesmaid gifts.
March 29th, 2018 | Laura McDonagh
Johnny Dent Photography, image source
Outdoor weddings used to be a bit of a rarity in the UK, favoured by a few hardy souls who wanted a boho big day with all the festival feels and weren’t put off by Britain’s notoriously unpredictable weather. There was also the issue of licensing; in England and Wales (the rules are more lenient in Scotland), you have to be married under a fixed roof for a marriage to be legally binding – not a marquee, a tent or a flower arch, however lovely the photo opportunities might be. Gah, pesky laws!
However, in recent years there’s been a rise in the number of venues licensing beautiful outdoor structures for the ‘I dos’ or offering the option of a legal ceremony indoors followed by a beautiful symbolic ceremony outside. Alternatively, some couples opt to do the legal bit in a lowkey ceremony at the local registry office and then go all-out on their outdoor ceremony and reception a few days later. It seems like years of stunning photos of American brides walking down aisles of meadow grass and couples exchanging rings by a lake on Pinterest have worn us down – we want the same levels of pretty! And with numerous companies specialising in props and accessories for outdoor weddings to help your day go without a hitch whatever the weather, open air ceremonies are becoming more common.
Of course, putting the ceremony aside for a moment, the outdoor reception has always been pretty popular concept, from a relaxed marquee ‘do’ in a big back garden or a farmer’s field to a luxe tipi or sperry tent affair resplendent with oak chandeliers, firepits and fancy portaloos (piped music and funky lighting optional). But can an outdoor reception ever really wrestle the crown from indoor weddings, with all their certainty and control? Let’s see…
Photography34, image source
Control, Control, Control: From temperature to lighting, most factors can be controlled with an indoor wedding – appealing for a couple who want things to go as predictably as possible. Most couples worry about rain, especially if planning a spring or summer wedding, but extremely high temperatures can also pose problems: sunburn, wilted canapes and guests going a bit, err, wild on the drinks in an attempt to cool down. If this sounds like a nightmare waiting to happen, then perhaps indoor is the best choice for you.
Rest Your Head: With most indoor venues, there’s ample accommodation to be had either on site or nearby. Hassle-free, all you need to do is confirm your venue and send the details around your family and friends inviting them to book. No worries about putting on transport, setting up a campsite or shepherding people into taxis at the end of the night…
York Place Studios, image source
Extra facilities: With a conventional indoor venue – hotel, restaurant, country house etc – you may have access to other facilities in the run up to or the morning after your wedding. You might find yourself in the spa, letting the other half loose on the golf course, hiring bikes or enjoying a final meal together as Mr and Miss. Not quite so easy if you’re having an outdoor celebration.
Marie Marry Me, image source
No hangover: The morning after the wedding, you want to be scoffing Eggs Benedict and flashing your new jewellery to anyone who’ll humour you – not sweeping up confetti and packing away 300+ glasses. With a conventional wedding this is taken care of by the in-house team, whereas with an outdoor wedding you’ll have had lots of freedom in your planning but also may have to shoulder some responsibility for dismantling/packing up – or hiring somebody to do it for you.
Suzy Wimbourne Photography, image source
Laidback vibes: There’s just something so – chilled – about an outdoor wedding, whether ceremony, reception or both. If the gods are smiling and you land a day that isn’t too extreme at either end of the weather spectrum, there’s nothing more wonderful than a relaxed open-air celebration. The feel-good factor increases by 100% when we’ve got our shades on, a little bit of sunshine on our skin and a glass of something refreshing in our hand. It might be a little risky, but it’s nigh-on impossible to beat if you manage to pull it off.
Super styling: Unless you’re Mariah Carey, you can’t really walk into a hotel and demand that they change the wallpaper, the chairs and that hideous light fitting. Whereas with an outdoor wedding – marquee, tipi or sperry tent – you’re almost given a blank canvas to play with. You’ll have more freedom with styling and decor and, dare we say, simple (and cheaper) decor often works better outside – a few candles, fairy lights and flowers can transform a venue from a Plain Jane into Sandy-at-the-end-of-Grease.
March 21st, 2018 | Julia Braime
Things are pretty crazy behind the scenes here at Brides Up North Towers as we find ourselves in the full swing of our wonderful wedding fair season. It feels like there might be confetti and canapés in every orifice right now, and we’re not stopping yet! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
In a few short weeks, we are returning to our favourite new wedding venue to the Cheshire scene: the beautiful Stock Farm Wedding Barn. Box fresh, this brilliant barn wedding venue that forms part of the famous Tatton Estate is one not to be missed from your location low down. We are so excited to show it off!
We’ll be putting on a pop up mini wedding festival on Sunday 8th April 2018 from 11am till 2pm. As always, the event is free entry (we like spoiling you!) and packed to the rafters with 30 of the area’s best wedding day suppliers, from dream dresses to cute cakes. Whether you’ve got your venue sorted or not, this is a day full of fun and inspiration, with a distinctly boho vibe.
So, flower crowns at the ready once more, and we’ll see you at Stock!
With a stunning 2000 sqft of indoor space to play with at Stock Farm’s magnificent wedding barn it is an incredible opportunity to make a truly bespoke event tailored to you. Civil ceremonies can be held inside the barn or outside in our private garden under the apple tree. Stock Farm offers extensive acreage of open rural space exclusively for you and your guests to enjoy as well as onsite farmhouse accomodation. This will be no ordinary experience.
We’re giving away up to 150 free Bride To Be media packs at the event, filled with glossy magazines – including the BRAND NEW issue of UNVEILED Magazine – and treats from Brides Up North. As demand is high, to pick up your VIP bag – and for FREE ENTRY – all you need to do is pre-register using the form for your venue of choice (you can register for more than one) found by clicking below. Only the bride need register for larger groups. While stocks last.
Images by Chiascuro, shot at Stock Farm during our last Brides Up North event.
March 20th, 2018 | Rachel Parry
If ever there’s a much-needed time for a spa visit it’s during these spells of cold, bitter weather when our complexions are exposed to harsh conditions and our energy levels take a hit. We were therefore delighted to receive an invitation for an indulgent overnight stay at the wonderful Macdonald Portal Hotel, Golf & Spa resort in rural Cheshire, back in February.
As we were heading over to the North West to host one of our Luxury Wedding Fairs at the prestigious Chester Grosvenor, we thought tagging this stay onto the weekend of the event would be an ideal way to recharge the batteries. And so, after our successful wedding show came to an end we packed up the car and travelled 20 minutes from city of Chester out into the countryside to unwind in Portal Hotel’s idyllic surroundings.
Upon arrival we received an incredibly warm welcome and were informed that our room had been upgraded – a super nice touch, which saw us staying in a spacious twin room with large veranda looking out onto rolling lawns and woodland. It was perfectly serene and ensured a we had a peaceful night’s rest.
Having checked out the accommodation, we headed to the bar for an early evening drink before taking our seats for a three-course meal in the hotel restaurant. The service from the waiting staff was faultless and we were well looked after throughout. My mum joined me on this visit and we both have identical taste and so we ordered the same starter and main course; a winning combination of salmon, cream cheese and capers to start, followed by beautifully cooked lamb, accompanied by perfectly cooked vegetables and a tasty jus. For dessert I whole-heartedly gave into my sweet tooth opting for the chocolate tart served with a berry sorbet while my mum went for the slightly lighter cheesecake option. Having polished off a bottle of Rioja we headed to our room and, as expected, had a blissful night’s sleep in our comfortable suite.
Keen to make full use of the hotel’s facilities, I was up early the following day for a workout in the gym ahead of breakfast. As with many hotel gyms, it was on the smaller side but had all the necessary equipment for a full work out. I also enjoyed that its large windows gave gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside, making the exercise feel all the more refreshing.
Ready to refuel I joined my mum for breakfast in the restaurant where we had eaten the night before. There was a full continental offering laid out buffet style, including cereals, fresh fruit, juices, and pastries, plus the option to order something hot. As we had time in the spa area to come, we didn’t want to overfill and so enjoyed fresh fruit followed by a comforting bowl of porridge accompanied by nuts and honey. Delicious.
Treatment time was next. As mentioned I felt my skin was particularly suffering from the cold winter weather and so I selected the Elemis Superfood Pro-Radiance Facial, while my mum opted for the Elemis Deeper Than Deep Hot Stones Massage.
My therapist Karen showed me to the cosy treatment room and explained details of the treatment before asking me about any skin concerns (of which I have many!) and then informed me how she would tailor the facial to address my combination skin. All I had to do was lay back, relax and be transported to the height of relaxation. The varying lotions and potions were massaged, tapped and smoothed into my skin before a face mask was applied and the pampering continued with a scalp massage – literally one of the best things in life as far as I’m concerned. When my treatment came to an end, my skin was left radiant and glowing as promised. Certainly, an ideal pre-wedding pick-me-up for brides-to-be whose big days are just a matter of weeks away.
Meeting my mum in the warm and dimly-lit relaxation room, she reported equally good things from her treatment saying that all knots had been removed from her back and that she felt much less tension in her shoulders, so perhaps a good one of any of you ladies out there suffering a little planning stress.
March 20th, 2018 | Laura McDonagh
Believe us, it’s tricky task to deliver one gorgeous styled photoshoot in just one day, which is why we were so impressed when a dynamic group of industry suppliers from the North West upped the ante recently and pulled off what was essentially four different styled shoots – yes, you heard us, four – in 12 hours.
The backdrop for the shoot is the stunning Stock Farm on the Tatton Estate in Cheshire, where we will be hosting a Pop Up Wedding Festival on Sunday 8th April, 11am to 3pm, FREE ENTRY. We will be joined there by a collection of the area’s top wedding suppliers, including a few that feature in this very shoot, to help inspire your big day while giving you chance to view this gorgeous venue first-hand.
Falling in love with the venue’s country charm, the creatives behind today’s shoot were on a mission to prove that choosing a farm or barn as your wedding location doesn’t automatically equate to a rustic theme. And with looks and styling as diverse as ultra-glam makeup, edgy bridal separates, urban-style neon lighting and luxe candelabra floral arrangements, we’ve got to say – we’re in agreement.
The professionalism and skills of the team involved here is quite simply phenomenal and if you’re planning a wedding in the North West, we think you’d be incredibly lucky to have any of these guys on board! Over to the lovely Jacklyn now from Precious Things Event Styling to tell us more.
Images by Stephen McGowan Photography.
jacklyn says: As a new venue, Stock Farm were keen to show the versatility of their barn, and so the idea for a ‘Wedding For All Seasons’ shoot was formed. It’s such a beautiful new venue and has been deliberately designed as a blank canvas. We worked in the big barn but also in the outside areas and another smaller barn. We wanted to illustrate how the setting could suit each season and how it could be adapted for any style and theme; from rustic to glamorous.
We used different flowers and styling approaches for the different seasons, of course, to create a range of completely different looks. The summer colour scheme was soft golds, ivories and blush pinks, complemented by avalanche roses and lisianthus nestled at the centre of a gold candelabra, set against a background of eucalyptus nicholii, pink grevillea and gold-dusted eucalyptus cinerea. We dressed the chairs with ivory sashes and gold tulle flowers, used an ivory carpet and positioned ivory lanterns to dress the aisle. Love Lights The Way‘s rustic neon heart finished off the ‘relaxed glamour’ look perfectly. Hattie, our model from Boss Model Management, carried a hand tied posy bouquet of roses, hydrangeas and lisianthus and James, our groom, wore a pink rose buttonhole detailed with lisianthus and gold wire around the stem. The beautiful five-tier cake by Marie Antoinette Cakes complemented this colour scheme perfectly with its soft pink and gold detailing.
Hattie wore a gorgeous boho dress – the Lea by St Patrick – with a chiffon skirt, an open back and an overall light and airy look. 7th Heaven Bridal provided all of the dresses for the shoot and they were real beauties. James wore an Italian stretch fabric jacket by Circolo, a blue shirt, navy Jacob Cohen jeans and shoes from Joseph Cheaney & Sons, all provided by Stephen Muldoon Bespoke.
The menu, created by Top Table Wedding and Event Catering, was dreamy – prosecco, plus canapes of slithers of rare Angus beef on rocket crostinis, lobster mac n cheese, tiger tail king prawns with a Pina Colada dip and strawberry and white chocolate cheesecake.
For our spring photoshoot, seasonal flowers dominated (obviously!) Mixed tulips, anemones and ranunculus were set against a background of sword fern, eucalyptus nicholii and asparagus fern. Hattie carried an elongated bouquet and wore an asymmetrical flower crown while James sported a parrot tulip buttonhole detailed with an oversized bow. The spring table setting was a tulip tree with an abundance of sword fern and rainbow tulips, which were simply gorgeous on their own. Dusky pink chiffon ruffles transformed the chairs and the subtle, elegant table stationery by Inspired by Lisa had just the right amount of sparkle.
For this shoot, Hattie wore some super-cool separates by Charlotte Balbier – the Lyric topper and the River skirt – provided by 7th Heaven. Her makeup, created by Gemma and Amy at Dollface Makeup, was soft and fresh with subtle pink and lilac hues on the eyes and bold matte pink lips. They styled Hattie’s hair in natural, soft and textured boho curls, providing the perfect base for the flower crown. James donned a blue check suit and silk tie by Pal Zileri and a white shirt from Eton.
The canapes were heavenly: mini vegetable garden filo baskets with a red pepper hummus and pine nut pesto, broccoli and Gruyere soufflé tartlets, ham hock and cheddar cheese terrine and lemon and lime panna cotta garnished with a chocolate shard.
Autumn was unanimously our favourite season to shoot – and the mix of burgundy anthuriums, trailing red amaranthus, plum astrantia, blue eryngium, dusky pink cymbidium orchids, dusky pink chrysanthemum blooms, green hellebores and blush pink spray roses set against a background of mixed, berried foliages was just stunning. Pheasant feathers and hydrangeas also featured. We shot autumn in the outside barn area and lit the archway with vintage Edison bulbs and rustic love letters. Hattie carried a relaxed, unstructured trailing bouquet and wore a headpiece of hydrangeas, feathers, leucadendron and skimmia. James wore a boutonniere of spray rose, astrantia, hellebores, berried eucalyptus and feathers dressed with raffia as well as a very elaborate bow tie made of pheasant feathers! The stag-themed, rustic table plan fitted perfectly with this look with its hessian backing and vintage embroidery circles and the stunning hand-painted cake – another of Marie Antoinette Cakes’ creations – beautifully captured the warmth and depth of this beautiful season.
Hattie wore Justin Alexander 8925 with its adorable sweetheart neckline and lace applique. The makeup was bold, with deep burnt orange and bronze shades, black smudged eyeliner and fuller lashes. Matte skin and defined brows were finished off with a dark plum matte lip. Dollface Makeup styled her hair in a lightly structured side bun and some textured curls, while feathers and flowers created a statement feature to complete the look.
Top Table served mini toffee apples, fish and chips with tartare sauce, crispy duck spring rolls and quail scotch eggs with black pudding and homemade piccalilli – divine!
March 16th, 2018 | Rachel Parry
After riding that cloud-nine-feel of getting engaged over Christmas and New Year the realisation of planning a wedding hit me head on in mid-January. Even though I work in the industry my vision was clouded by the ring-finally-on-finger euphoria and I thought (possibly like many other couples) that we had loads of time to find a venue and start making plans.
However, when Andy and I started to seriously discuss timings we narrowed when would like to say our “I dos” down to a three-month-window next spring; being April, May, June 2019. Now, if you’re quite happy to have a long engagement, or perhaps, aren’t too fussed about what time of the year you get wed, you don’t need to panic just yet. For us it was a case of timing the wedding to fit in with a season that we like, months that would work well with our jobs, and also avoiding the peak summer season price hike – we, like the vast majority of brides and grooms, don’t have a bottomless budget and therefore are taking care to spend wisely.
With this in mind, we have also done the unthinkable and booked a, wait for it…Thursday wedding! We figured those that love/like/just about tolerate us will be willing to sacrifice a day’s annual leave to celebrate our special day with us – and, as a thank you, we will be investing the saving we made by opting for a week day into elements our guests will most definitely benefit from – being the food, booze and entertainment!
Middleton Lodge Fig House – Gary Walsh Photography
So, where oh where will the big day take place? Well prompted into panic mode we went to view three venues which I know of and love; and so really it was a case of gauging Andy’s feelings on these. New addition to the stunning Middleton Lodge Estate in North Yorkshire, The Fig House was a front-runner from the off. Fresh and fabulous, this stunning Georgian inspired building is set to start holding weddings in the coming months, and we both loved the fact that none of our family or friends would have got hitched there before. Better still, The Fig House is concealed within a breath-takingly beautiful walled Kitchen Garden, and visions of beers and Bellinis on the lawns had us hooked. However, back home when we mulled things over, logistically it was going to be a struggle for us with pretty much all guests being from our home-city of Sheffield and even further south. Those of you on the venue search around the North Yorkshire area though must absolutely check out The Fig House and wider Middleton Lodge Estate.
Saltmarshe Hall – Aden Priest Photography
Next up was gorgeous Grade II country house, Saltmarshe Hall, located in rural East Yorkshire. What I adore about this venue is its grand façade and gorgeous interiors, which offer an air of luxury and opulence, and yet it feels a real home from home, instantly welcoming and exclusive. Having recently added more stunning bedrooms to its offering it was another strong contender, with its light and airy reception rooms and speak-easy style bar adding extra ticks. Though in the end, for us, we felt we needed just a bit more space for the size of our wedding party (and also to accommodate Andy’s dance moves without people getting injured!) However, again, if your wedding venue search area covers East Yorkshire, please do look up this truly beautiful Hall.
The West Mill – Richard Murgatroyd Photography
And so that brings me onto our third and, as it turns out, winning venue – The West Mill in Derby. I’d never visited this place in person prior to our viewing but I’d often spent far too long staring at images of it, either via real weddings featured here on the blog or those I found on Instagram. What drew me to it was its cool, industrial luxe style and I thought (and hoped!) this would be right up Andy’s street too. Cue a wonderfully personal show around by owner Andrew, and we were sold.
The space within the Grade I listed former cotton spinning mill, situated next to the river Derwent, is nothing short of exceptional with space to wed, dine and party across four fabulous levels, plus outdoor space too – oh and eight brand new gorgeous on-site bedrooms.
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