Charlotte Balbier

barcelona bridal week.

May 3rd, 2015 | Julia Braime

Barcelona

A blogger’s gotta do what a blogger’s gotta do.

This evening you’ll find me knee deep in summer shift dresses, cute clutch bags and the odd statement necklace as I throw a week’s worth of pretty threads into ^^^my suitcase ^^^ to take me to the FROWs of barcelona bridal week.

It’s a real honour to have been invited to Spain as Barcelona Bridal Week‘s guest to take in four days of cutting edge catwalk collections, opening parties, cultural expeditions and a rather swanky 25 year celebration.

If you are a long term reader of these pages, you’ll know that I’m ridiculously keen on my bridal fashion, and for the past five years we’ve been striving to keep you up to date with all the latest looks and trends as they break.  That’s why when the invitation to head to one of the most prestigious events in the worldwide bridal calendar dropped into my inbox, I cleared my diary, pronto.

It also helped that the weather in Barcelona currently looks like this. Nice.

For the next five days, I’ll be checking out the latest offerings from (and sipping a few cocktails with) some very, very big name bridal houses, including the likes of Rosa Clara, Miguel Suay, Jesus Peiro, Isabel Sanchis, Yolan Cris, Cabotine and Cymbeline Paris.

#dreamjob

Anyway, enough name dropping for now, as there’ll be plenty of that to come. In a special series of live-blogged features this week, I’ll be bringing you all the fashion news – and my favourites – from the front line. Watch this space – as well as our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds, for the couture as it happens.

Adios for now, and I’ll see you in Barcelona!

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best dressed. supplier showcase: elegance of scholes

April 28th, 2015 | Julia Braime

Elegance Of Scholes (1)

Well, Brides Up North, last weekend’s events at Dine’s Allerton Castle and The Alnwick Garden were just magical! What an EPIC end to another amazing season of Brides Up North Luxury Wedding Exhibitions… stellar turnouts and I swear our exhibitors just get more talented and creative! Thanks to everyone – brides, grooms, our suppliers and our stunning venues – for their support and brilliance. We love you.

One fabulous supplier who we all got to know a little better this season was the lovely Cat of Brides Up North Sponsor boutique, elegance of scholes.  Today, she opens the doors of her beautiful bridal shop for us to take a closer peek.

Oh and FYI: we’re already planning an autumn season of events to knock your socks off..! Stay tuned.

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When did Elegance Of Scholes open and what is your background?

cat says: Elegance opened around six years ago, but I bought it last August after deciding to embark on a bit of a lifestyle change! Prior to owning Elegance I was a full-time Corporate Event Manager, and I also had my own Wedding Venue Décor business. Both of these have set me up well with a lot of the skills needed to run my own business, and having worked in the wedding industry for a number of years I understand how brides feel and what they go through… and it’s lovely to be able to help them out with such a huge, special and important part of the journey!

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Which wedding gown designers do you stock?

We stock Justin Alexander, Ellis Bridal and Mark Lesley. All three labels complement each other really well and we have a great selection of silhouettes and fabrics to suit all tastes.

What bridal accessories labels do you stock?

We stock tiaras and veils by Richard Designs, veils by Nieve Couture and Joyce Jackson, and tiaras/ jewellery by Blossom. We update our selection of bridal accessories on a regular basis so it’s worth keeping an eye out until we have your perfect piece! We also have a small selection of shoes by Rainbow, and are looking to expand this collection in the near future.

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What makes you different?

We are a luxury boutique with an extremely high level of service. People are always taken by surprise by the size of the boutique once they enter (we get a lot of ‘wow!’ comments!), and we have two spacious private fitting rooms at the rear of the boutique so guests can relax and enjoy their experience in comfort and privacy. We also have an in-house seamstress so all alterations are carried out on the premises, meaning the dress stays with us until your big day.

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Where are you located?

We are located in a small village called Scholes, which is close to Cleckheaton. Exit the M62 at J26 (Chain Barr roundabout), and we’re a couple of miles from there.

Can you give Brides Up North an idea on price?

Our gowns range from about £900-£1800, although we do also have a sale room for brides on a slightly lower budget.

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Do Brides Up North need an appointment?

We do tend to run on an appointment basis, purely so that we can guarantee the bride our undivided attention. Our first bridal appointments tend to be around an hour long, and we would always start with an initial chat about a bride’s ideas/wedding/preferred dress styles. From there we let the bride (and any accompanying people!) browse the dresses and pull out those they want to try on. The appointment then evolves as we eliminate certain dresses from the running/ narrow the selection down to THE dress. Quite often we add in our own opinion of dresses that girls might like to try… with surprising results! It’s amazing how many girls come in with an idea of their perfect dress, and leave with something completely different!

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What is your current favourite gown that you stock and why?

I have two current favourites (although it was pretty hard limiting myself to just two!)– Justin Alexander 8762 for the perfect princess ball-gown, and Ellis 11368, which is an absolutely stunning dress with lace sleeves and an amazing keyhole back… on the right figure it’s a definite show-stopper!

Is there a particular style of dress that is popular with your brides at the moment? What trends do you see being popular this year?

Lace continues to be popular, with the fitted mermaid-style being a particular favourite. We’re also seeing a move towards much more brides wanting sleeves or straps over strapless gowns, and the ‘feature back’ is also becoming more and more popular. As we were told when buying our new collections – “the back is the new front”… and it appears to be true!

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How does Elegance Of Scholes provide a superior experience to other wedding dress boutiques?

We pride ourselves on our relaxed and friendly service, and certainly are not pushy sales-people. Our priority first and foremost is making girls feel comfortable and happy in their search for their dress. There’s nothing nicer than the look on a girl’s face when they look in the mirror and see themselves as a ‘Bride’ for the first time, and it’s a privilege to us that we get to be the ones to put that look on their faces! We feel that we are definitely doing something right, as the majority of our appointments come from recommendations from past brides who have had the ‘Elegance Experience’ – and the comments, reviews and photos we receive after the big day are testament to this, and lovely for us to receive!

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Do you stock bridesmaid dresses?

Yes – we stock Kelsey Rose and Mark Lesley bridesmaid dresses, as well as flower girl’s dresses. Soft tulle seems to be the fabric of choice in bridesmaids this season (a lot of the new Kelsey Rose collection comes in this fabric), although chiffon is still (and I believe will remain) a very popular option. We continue to see dusky pink and pastels as key colour choices, but we have ensured we have a wide range of colours in stock to suit as many people as possible. Our bridesmaid dresses range in price from approx. £180-£280, and our flower girl dresses (from ages 6 months to 9/10 years) are approx. £69.

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Who would be an Elegance bride?

Elegance brides tend to be people that want to enjoy their experience in a relaxed and friendly setting, and who appreciate the quality behind a true designer gown such as the ones we stock. The purchase of a bridal gown doesn’t stop with just that one transaction, and with alterations and so on, we can see a bride many times in the run-up to her wedding. For this reason, we pride ourselves on the relationships we build with our brides and its always a proud moment when we see them for their final fitting right before their wedding, knowing that we’ve done everything in our power to make their dress perfect for them.

Whilst not wanting to limit ourselves to a particular ‘type’ of bride, our dresses do fall into a certain price bracket so when someone comes in with a £300-£500 budget, the only way we would be able to help out is by directing them to the dresses in our sale room (which are also stunning, but are often discontinued dresses, or ex-samples that we need to sell in order to make way for new collections).

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Are you married? 

I’m not yet married… but engaged and getting married on June 4th 2016! Everyone is always surprised to hear that I’m the owner of a Bridal Boutique and have never tried on a wedding dress in my life. Before being engaged I didn’t want to jinx it until it was my turn, and now that I am engaged I keep putting it off! Having fitted dresses to so many different people however, I have an idea of the style that will suit my figure so will be limiting myself slightly in that regard (although I can’t say what that style is, in case my fiancé reads this interview!) – and I change my mind every couple of days on my favourite dresses as I see girls trying on the different samples, so who knows which will be my final choice?!

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How can Brides Up North get in touch with you?

Our website is www.eleganceofscholes.co.uk, you can like us on Facebook, email Cat and the team at info@eleganceofscholes.co.uk or call us on 01274 876659.

Is there anything else that Brides Up North should know?

As well as stocking our beautiful designer gowns, our in-house seamstress (another Cat!) designs and makes bespoke bridal gowns… so if you’re struggling to find that perfect dress but have an idea of what you’re looking for, Cat will be able to make it for you. We also offer a dry-clean and box service, so you can keep your gown for years to come and re-live those memories as often as you like!

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front row: amanda wyatt 2016 collection, promises of love.

April 23rd, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Amanda Wyatt Promises of Love  (30)

Is there anything more exciting than sitting front row catwalk knowing that you’re among a select few to about to clap eyes on a designer’s brand new collection for the very first time? We think not.

We were therefore delighted, enthused and excited when an invitation to the launch of Amanda Wyatt’s 2016 Collection, cutely named promises of love, arrived here at Brides Up North HQ. Today we’re extending that invitation further by sharing the designs with you, our fabulous readers, here on the wedding blog.

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For those of you that aren’t familiar with Amanda and her gorgeous creations it’s time to come out from underneath that rock as Ms Wyatt is a pretty big deal, having been a leading name in British bridal for more than 20 years.

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Forward thinking Amanda is known for creating gowns that not only look amazing, but also that make her brides feel amazing thanks to their fabulous fit, quality fabrics and sensational detailing, so we were confident that the latest collection would be just as fabulous as those that have gone before.

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And we weren’t wrong – cue soft flowing chiffons, French and Italian laces, fine tulle and rich satins, adorned with frosted pearl beading and embellished details. This lady sure knows how to make us (and plenty of other pretty-loving ladies) go weak at the knees.

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As the lights dimmed the music kicked in and the models stepped out to flaunt Amanda’s fabulous frocks. From sleek slim-line designs and flattering A-line silhouettes to short 50s style dresses and perfect princess gowns, Promises Of Love had covered all bases meaning that there was quite literally ‘the one’ for everyone. And this lady is not only big on offering brides a wide range of looks, but also a wide range of sizes as not to exclude more curvaceous ladies from the wonderful Amanda Wyatt party.

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Further choice was provided with Amanda’s exciting colour palette which strayed beyond classic ivory hues with some gowns in soft gold, blush pinks and even powder blue.

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Standout favourites for us Brides Up North girls included the headline gown of the collection, Promise – a slim design featuring delicate lace and a pretty fluid skirt. In terms of fuller designs there were plenty to choose from, including regal satin gowns and romantic tulle offerings with varying levels of detail.

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In a nod to the princess of the moment, and no we’re not talking Kate Middleton, the collection features a design named Elsa (Frozen fans will get the reference). Available in ivory or powder blue, (just like the Disney sovereign herself) this gown is what fairytales are made of with its voluminous tulle layered skirt and angelic lace detail.

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Those planning a city centre or destination wedding may well be drawn to the cute shorter length gowns in the collection, such as Nia and Cupid, which certainly caught our eye on the catwalk.

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There was however one particular dress that got us wishing for an impromptu proposal (from quite literally anyone) just so that we could put it on – Chantilly. High fashion and hot, we mean hot, this sultry little number is a guaranteed head-turner with its plunging neckline, elegant lace top and slinky skirt. Pure perfection!

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Following the catwalk show, leading lady Amanda talked us through the collection dress by dress, explaining the inspiration behind the designs, which in a lot of cases included listening to brides’ feedback via stockists and giving them exactly what they asked for, showing that this talented lady has a real connection to her clients.

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Amanda also explained that the collection had been designed with matching accessories to complement each gown, with additions including soft tulle silk veils and delicate hair accessories.

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Finally we were given a taste of the beautiful bridesmaid gown styles that Amanda has added to her increasingly popular maids’ collection for 2015, meaning both you and your gals can be styled by Wyatt for your big day.

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And that, our friends, is one promise worth keeping.

Images by Jonny Draper Photography.

Amanda Wyatt 2016 Collection from Silk Wedding Films on Vimeo.

Enter the password mere to view this exclusive video. (Trust me, it’s worth a good look, and you might just spot us FROW!)

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something blue. charlotte balbier for a beautifully styled wedding in the north west – sophie & andrew

April 13th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

a Charlotte Balbier gown for a beautiful blue wedding in the North West (c) Spencer Photography  (36)

Here at Brides Up North we’re lucky to receive so many incredibly styled weddings and today’s is one that would come close to the top of the pile.

Art teacher Sophie clearly has an eye for detail as she combined a cool blue colour palette with Scottish touches and her favourite fabrics to produce one heck of a gorgeous wedding.

Gals, you can pick up plenty of inspiration here for the wedding party’s attire, venue styling and special touches.

Paper and pens at the ready!

With images by Spencer Photography.

a Charlotte Balbier gown for a beautiful blue wedding in the North West (c) Spencer Photography  (39)

sophie says: We got engaged on the 4th September 2013 at Lytham Windmill. It was the last day of the summer holidays (I’m an art teacher) and we decided we’d go out for a meal, so Andrew booked an Indian we like in Lytham. A lovely meal and lots of hand holding we decided we would walk off the meal a little. It was a beautifully clear night with stars everywhere and we wandered along the front and walked right up to the front of the windmill for the best view of the estuary over to the twinkling lights of Southport in the distance. I turned to go down the stairs saying we should probably get home when Andrew just said “wait Soph” and I turned to see him on one knee with an open ring box “will you marry me?” I had always thought I would be so confident in my answer but I could only whisper the quietest “yes” behind the biggest smile.

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We booked our wedding for the 18th October, we both love autumn and had originally thought we’d go for the first weekend of the school holiday, however everywhere we liked was either booked or closed! Then the venue that we chose in the end – Charnock Farm – had the weekend before free and after a quick discussion – could we cope going straight back to work on the Monday? We decided to go for it!

We were married at St. Michael’s Church in Kirkham, my church since I was a toddler. Not only is it a special place for me as it holds many happy memories but for a local parish church it is just utterly stunning. A grand entrance and long, dramatic aisle. What more could a girl need?

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There were a few little themes running through our day, the main I guess ‘buttons, bobbins and Liberty fabrics’, from the moment we set our date I started collecting and buying up hundreds of wooden bobbins. As well as being an art teacher I’m a textile designer and have a little obsession with buttons. From being pretty young I have adored Liberty and everything it stands for and love working with their fabrics. Lodden is one of my all-time favourites, this print was at the centre of many fabric elements at our wedding.

Our colour scheme was blues – every single one of them! Weddings are so often all about the bride, but blue is Andrew’s favourite colour and is a nod to the traditional rhyme ‘something old, something new….’

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I knew I wanted a vintage inspired dress, a nod to the 50s and Grace Kelly. With a pile of bridal magazines and Pinterest I quickly knew that Charlotte Balbier was the designer for me – and more importantly that Constance was almost definitely the dress, but I really wanted lace sleeves! I saw an advert for The White Closet in one of the magazines and they had a meet the designer night quickly after our engagement so I booked myself and one of my bridesmaids in. The White Closet is just gorgeous, I was in love. When asked if I had a particular dress in mind by Eve she made sure that the next changes included Constance, the buttons from the top to bottom of the train were beautiful, I just knew and I hadn’t even tried it on. It was as if Charlotte had been in my head when she designed the dress. I was able to chat with Charlotte on the night and discuss my ideas for extra sleeves, luckily I didn’t offend her. I booked myself in a few weeks later with my mum. I only tried on Constance.

At my first fitting with the help of The White Closet ladies I was also able to design a lace jacket to wear with my dress so I had sleeves, it dipped into a V at the back just as Charlotte’s own wedding dress had. I felt so beautiful in my dress; I didn’t want to take it off!

I also wore a simple ivory cathedral length veil and Rachel Simpson Cora ivory suede kitten heels. My youngest sister Izi made me a garter with fabric and buttons that all had little meanings, it was so very thoughtful.

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Andrew knew he wanted a grey three piece suit but no tails. However when the boys went to have a look and try on he changed his mind. This was meant to be a secret but his brother and best man Scott told me by accident! So the suits were hired from Greenwoods but he wore a handmade Lodden tana lawn tie and matching pocket square, teamed on the day with blue spotty Paul Smith socks and dark brown brogue style shoes.

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The bridesmaids wore floor length navy In One Clothing dresses their own way, with Izi and Laura wearing Agnes and Norman navy suede heels and Hannah in Rachel Simpson ivory satin sling-backs. Hannah, my middle sister, is wearing them for her own wedding in February.

The groomsmen all wore the same suit as Andrew but their ties and pocket squares were in Betsy print tana lawn.

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Andrew and I have a mutual love of VWs so it had to be a camper van for our transport. We used Posh Pampa Campas and I travelled from home to church in Coco, a silver grey split screen, then we travelled from church to on reception via Lytham.

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We found photography one of the more difficult things to pick, but through suggestions from different people and a few meetings we met Joanne Spencer of Spencer Photography for a quick drink and we could have talked for hours. Just totally on the same creative wavelength as us and her photos are just stunning. There is something in the colour that just captivates me. We had great fun on a very, windy and cold day on Morecombe front for our engagement shoot and we both felt totally at ease in Jo’s company. On the day Jo and her husband Scott were amazing, there when we needed them but not pushy as we had witnessed at other weddings. Their style suited ours as we didn’t want lots of posed shots, a natural documenting of our day and all the little details we had worked hard to include.

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I carried a hand-tied bouquet of white roses, thistles, myrtle and rosemary mixed in with other bits of greenery. I wanted elegant and timeless and that is exactly what we got from Margaret Mason in Preston. Half of my family are Scottish so not only are some thistles blue (to fit the colour scheme) but they’re also the national flower of Scotland, another of our subtle mini themes.

At church we had our own little flower festival, and the church flower ladies led by Christine Lever took my breath away with their work and attention to detail. All of the ladies have practically known me my whole life so it was very special that they were able to do this for our wedding day. Stunning arrangements and an archway in ivories and foliage.

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We had a combination of flowers and decorations we made ourselves at the venue. On the top table a traditional long and low arrangement with white roses, thistles, rosemary, pussy willow, gypsophila and other beautiful blue flowers. Then on the guest tables Andrew and I, with the help of a friend, had made our own bobbins on top of which posies of the same floral combinations sat and then tall slim vases filled with vintage bobbins also with a posy on top. Spare bobbins and buttons were dotted around the tables too. We had made loads of blue candles and decorated them with ribbons and ceramic buttons.

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Our wedding venue was a barn with stunning exposed beams, from these Andrew and his groomsmen had hung blue and white paper pom-poms and white Chinese lanterns lit up with little LEDs. They did an amazing job on the morning of the wedding and they got it looking just as I had envisaged. We also hired carnival lights from The Word is Love, a huge S&A to light up the dance floor, our guests loved these and they really added something to the already gorgeous barn venue.

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We did but didn’t give out favours but instead after the church service guests were invited for shortbread and fizz and a donation to WaterAid was made so that others benefited from our happiness. We only had a handful of children at the wedding but I made them each a personalised drawstring bag – using different blue fabrics and Liberty tana lawns, filled with books, games, bubbles, Lego, personalised pencils and colouring in books. The babies were given tana lawn bibs too – they went down a storm!

We changed our minds a little bit on the type of cake but in the end went for a four tiered fruit cake which my mum made for us and a sponge cake. A friend Caroline decorated our cake for us with ivory flat icing and a cascade of different blue icing buttons. It was exquisite and topped with a tiny floral topper.

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Andrew and I both love music and we are quite eclectic in our tastes. But we both agreed that live music was important so we were lucky enough to be able to book The Flip Band, a three-piece on bongos, violin and bass guitar. We have seen them a few times at different venues and they didn’t let us down. They learnt Calvin Harris’ Feel so Close for our first dance, incredible! We also had DJ Gary Mills who had worked with my sister quite a lot and came highly recommended. He too was great fun and very entertaining with his costume changes! Gary gave us a CD of musical highlights from our wedding which was a lovely touch.

As a special touch our tables were named after different activity badges you can gain as a scout (they also happen to be blue), as Andrew and I met through our involvement in Scouts. We also had a homemade photo booth in the form of a giant Polaroid frame with a trunk full of different props for people to enjoy.

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Our venue has a lovely outdoor seating area and because it was possibly the warmest October day ever lots of people were able to mingle outside but it did get a little cooler in the evening so I had a basket full of blankets ready for this and also a basket full of slippers for those that just had to kick off their shoes.

We would definitely recommend our venue to others – it’s warm, cosy without being small, spacious without being too big and neutral back drop which would suit many individual styles.

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Other suppliers involved in our big day that we would recommend are RA Designs at The Manchester Craft & Design Centre who make bespoke engagement and wedding rings, Chloe Sinclair and Cedar Nail and Beauty in Kirkham, who did the bridal party’s make-up and Barbara Kay and Talking Heads in Wesham, who did the bridal party’s hair.

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The whole day was a whirlwind but a particularly memorable moment was when we started to exchange our vows the sun started to shine and it just burst through the church windows down onto us. Perfect. I did also love our photo shoot up at Lytham Windmill, it was time just together on our own (of a fashion) and we couldn’t stop smiling and laughing, especially when my cheek was prickled by the thistle in Andrew’s button hole!

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We went back to work the following Monday but the next week we headed off to The Lakes for our minimoon of walking, spa days, afternoon tea and just time together. We are heading to California in August for our proper honeymoon where we are going to drive from San Francisco to San Diego down the coast. We cannot wait!

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My top tip to other Brides Up North is – be yourselves. Do not be swayed by what other people think, it’s your day. And make sure you have clear communication with all your suppliers so that they fully understand your vision.

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lookbook: flirty feathers

March 23rd, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Charlie Brear - Cames cape

The bridal runways of 2014 were covered in a flurry of feathers as feminine gowns featuring delicate detailing emerged as one of the top trends. And the style looks set to continue to dominate after feather embellished gowns were seen taking flight on 2015 catwalks too.

While fairly fresh to the bridal scene, the feather trend has been a popular red carpet look for quite some time now with actresses including Kate Bosworth, Emma Watson and Olivia Palermo, plus presenter Alexa Chung, all rocking some fluff at awards ceremonies and premieres over the past few years. Not forgetting the white Stephane Rolland Haute Couture gown with bold red feather train that Cheryl Cole wore to make a show-stopping entrance at the Cannes Film Festival back in May 2012.

Though initially brides might think this is a somewhat daring trend, designers are incorporating feathers into their gowns in lots of different ways, offering options for all tastes that range from subtle to standout.

For those wanting to follow in celebs’ footsteps by going for all out Hollywood glamour there are some truly amazing creations with full feathered skirts. Lazaro’s LZ3051 design (see our Gallery at the foot of this post) is a perfect options for brides wanting to make Cheryl-style high impact on the aisle as the simple sweetheart bodice descends into a flamboyant skirt of cascading feathers.

The feathered look is also particularly appealing to vintage brides who desire 1920s inspired fashions. While gowns dripping with beads and sequins scream Great Gatsby glamour, the look isn’t for all so plainer gowns with soft feather embellishing can offer an equally fitting alternative. Designer Charlie Brear has some stunning examples within her collections such as the dreamy ostrich feather Carmes skirt.

Charlie Brear Carmes skirt

Hitching up the hemline there are also some cute mini-length dresses that emit flirty flapper girl charm and give leggy bride-to-be the opportunity to show off their pins – check out the creations of labels like Naeem Khan and Johanna Johnson.

Some designers have mixed up the detailing to create highly stylish and striking gowns that both sparkle and flutter. Lazaro also offers some stunning floor-length frocks featuring such detailing including the dreamy LZ3401 design – an ivory jewel encrusted A-line gown with romantic feathered and sequined skirt.

Ladies that think less is more can also join in the trend with some designs simply featuring a dusting of feathers on the straps or along the waistline.

There is also the option for brides to add feathers to their attire in the form of luxurious looking accessories such as light feathered capes and shrugs, vintage headpieces and even cute shoe clips.

Make no doubt about it ladies, this trend has wings!

Main images courtesy of Charlie Brear 2014 Collection.

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