April 17th, 2018 | Laura McDonagh
David Walters Photography, image source
We do love a theme here at Brides Up North, and some seriously picture-perfect big days have been popping up on the blog recently: all-natural woodland-inspired weddings, ultra-romantic chic celebrations and Pantone’s colour of 2018 (ultra violet, in case you’re wondering) have all made an appearance on these pinky pages of late – but when you’re looking for gorgeousness and scrolling through inspo galore, how do you stop those glorious images blurring into one? You want to be inspired, yes, but not reduced to copying – the last thing any discerning bride wants is a wedding that’s a carbon copy of a real wedding that’s gone viral, are we right?
So, it’s time to channel the inimitable Coco Chanel and find a way to stand out, whatever your theme. Sadly, those ‘20 Ways to Make Your Big Day Unique!’ articles aren’t going to do the trick – we hate to break it to you, but they’re full of the same old tired advice. You simply can’t ‘fake’ originality; the trick is to think long and hard about what’s representative of you as a couple and find the elements of your big day where it feels really important to be true to yourself.
Easier said than done? Well, ask yourself this: what are you known for amongst your family and friends? What shared loves did you and your partner bond over? Start brainstorming, but don’t worry about integrating it into your wedding plans just yet – just get thinking. Are you a pair of bona-fide coffee snobs? Love Tarantino movies? Sunday pain-au-chocolats? Holidaying in Lisbon? Tequila?! Whatever it is, get it down. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to think about which elements could fit into your wedding day – and how that might happen.
James Tracey Photography, image source
Depending on your choice of ceremony, you may have the option of adding to the legally-required script – however, you need to check with the celebrant and the relevant local council. Nevertheless, it’s a great option for couples looking to personalise their day. What do you want to promise your other half alongside your love and fidelity? Your support for their goals and ambitions? Your laughter? Control over the remote during Olympics season? Go for it.
Image by Ed Godden Photography, image source
Readings are also an opportunity to express your individuality in a civil ceremony, whether you decide on a conventional Captain Corelli’s Mandolin-style all-about-the-love excerpt or something more unusual. Go back to your list – do you love Manchester like this recent Brides Up North couple? Perhaps have a read of Salford bard John Cooper Clarke’s poem I Wanna Be Yours. Met at Uni in York? Check out York-born WH Auden’s Tell Me The Truth About Love. Of course, lots of couples go for highly personal music choices – you might recall this film-loving bride whose ceremony featured the hauntingly beautiful Jurassic Park theme tune. Hey, that Tarantino passion might prove unexpectedly inspirational – what about dancing back down the aisle to Chuck Berry’s You Never Can Tell like Uma Thurman and John Travolta in Pulp Fiction? Do it, please (and then send the photos to us, natch!)
Image by Carla Blain Photography, image source
There’s lots of opportunity for originality at the reception, too: do away with the roast dinner and deny your guests fruit cake if it doesn’t do it for you (FYI eating a roast is my idea of an I’m A Celebrity challenge, and so we had leg of lamb and Moroccan couscous for the main at our wedding – insert shrugging emoji here). Go for innovative flavours that reflect your personal tastes (Jaffa? Reece’s peanut butter cups?) or cancel the cake altogether and have something altogether more representative – a cheese board, a pork pie ‘cake’, fondue or a croquembouche. Favours also benefit from the personal touch – donations to special charities, a jar of your favourite childhood sweets or access to a specially-compiled Spotify playlist charting your relationship to date. And as far as drinks are concerned – what about a rum-based welcome drink to pay homage to your Cuban honeymoon? A signature cocktail with Yorkshire rhubarb or Irish whiskey to celebrate your heritage? Limoncello to hark back to your Italian engagement? The personalisation possibilities are endless.
Image by Carla Blain Photography, image source
Stationery – so, orders of service, menu cards, seating plans and table names – are often the first port of call for brides and grooms looking to make their reception a little more ‘them’. What about naming your tables after your favourite albums (psst! LP sleeves are the perfect size for a table sign and have the added bonus of looking super-cool), important years in your families’ histories complete with old photographs, favourite movie titles or quotations (romantic or otherwise) or favourite holiday destinations? I once went to a wedding where the tables were named after different breeds of sheep – proof that there’s no limit to some couples’ creativity!
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 22nd, 2018 | Laura McDonagh
It’s time to say a huge ‘welcome!’ once again to the newly-engaged amongst our readers – a big, pink, sparkly Brides Up North congratulations to you all (psst! Did you know that our very own lovely Rachel joined the ranks of the betrothed over the Christmas break? Catch up on the first instalment of her wedding diary here if you missed it!)
Even if your organisational OCD gives Monica from Friends a run for her money, the reality of planning a wedding can feel a little daunting – ok, let’s be honest, terrifying. There’s so much to consider – Venue! Guest list! Photographer! Entertainment! – and so many people, well-meaning and otherwise, clamouring to give you their esteemed opinion on all things wedding-y.
Enter Brides Up North **curtsies** – we’re here to share everything we know about wedding planning like a pro and put it all into some kind of more easily-digestible timeline rather than a constant stream of random demands that you find vying for your brain’s attention at 4am.
So if you missed Part 1 – all the first stage essentials of date, venue, guests, budget and photographer – have a read here. Otherwise, it’s onwards to the pretty!
Now that you have a season and venue in mind, you can start thinking about the specifics of your wedding day theme – in fact, if you’ve been true to yourself in your choice of venue, the chances are you’ve already thought about it!
No one wants a cookie-cutter wedding exactly the same as the last, but there are definitely broad wedding styling themes that run through even the most personal of big days. If you’re both fans of the outdoors and have chosen a venue that reflects that – a barn, a marquee at home or in a farmer’s field for example, you may find that elements of a natural, organic, woodland wedding theme start to sneak in – rustic log slices, pine cones, greenery, hessian and so on. Treat it like a buffet, though – you don’t have to have it all, just choose the bits that really take your fancy! Of course, this is just one theme of many; we pride ourselves on featuring a range of wedding inspiration on the blog, from laid-back cool to vintage glamour and from clean and contemporary to timeless fairy-tale elegance.
Believe us, there’s a lot out there, so go on and get inspired. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – Pinterest is your friend, check out our pretty boards here. Get onto those wedding and photography blogs and give that pinning finger some exercise to get some big, broad ideas fermenting.
What’s the difference between theme and styling? Well, this is where things get a bit more specific. So, theme-wise, you and your beau might opt for a vintage winter wedding, and your styling takes your research and ideas to the next level. You’ll need to think about a colour-palette that matches theme (oohh, amethyst and fuschia?), start considering broad dress ideas (Beading galore? A 1920s dropped waist? A super-sparkly headpiece rather than a veil?) and how these could be reflected in other areas of the wedding planning; from favours to font styles on stationery. And speaking of stationery…
It’s become more common for couples to send out a Save The Date card (or photo, or magnet, or whatever you like, really) even over a year in advance so that guests have ample notice of their intention to tie to knot. Of course, you don’t have to rely on mail if you don’t want to (although pretty paper always gives us a buzz) – there’s the option of a slick We’re-Getting-Married website where you add more details over time and you have the option of changing the design as your planning – and styling – develops.
No, not the partner of your dreams – we’re pretty sure you’ve sorted that one already – but rather the dress of your wildest imaginings. Most bridal boutiques recommend you start the search for your dress 12 to 18 months in advance in order to leave time for ordering, alterations and fittings ahead of the big day. We’d certainly recommend you getting stuck into window shopping sooner rather than later so that you get an idea of the range that’s out there and set up some bridal boutique appointments – be warned that in popular stores, weekend appointments are often booked up weeks in advance.
March 1st, 2018 | Laura McDonagh
Mike Plunkett Photography, image source
The date’s in the diary, the venue’s booked and now it’s time to make one of the biggest weddingland decisions of them all: who gets the photographer gig?
Trust us, there are lots of talented snappers out there (including those featured in our Suppliers We Love directory) – we are blown away by the beautiful imagery that is submitted to the blog every week, and so we understand it can be tricky to narrow down the choices.
Beyond the aesthetics there are further aspects to consider – cost, packages, approach, albums – but there’s no need to get in a head-spin, for we’re elaborating on these points today as we share our top tips to finding the right photographer for you and your big day…
James Tracey Photography, image source
As you trawl through magazines and blogs, what style of photography speaks to you? Classic portraiture, i.e. posed couple shots and family groups with everyone smiling and looking the right way? Or are you a fan of a more documentary-esque, reportage style – pretty much the opposite, with events caught candidly ‘in the moment’ and barely an eye on the camera? Are edgy shoots your thing – often (but not always) featuring urban settings, bold colours, dramatic backdrops and quirky props, angles and cropping? Or there’s fine art, where reality has an extra-dreamy romantic filter applied; these pictures are super-tasteful, with the pretty pumped up to the max and a fashion magazine feel.
There’s always some overlap, but a wedding photographer generally leans towards one of the above – so decide what feels most ‘you’ and start looking for shooters who specialise in your favourite style.
Sarah Mason Photography, image source
There isn’t one set standard in wedding photography, so now that you’re noting down names and details it’s time to pay attention to the fine print. How many hours coverage will you need? Can they be flexible if the day runs over? Are you set on a second shooter and, if so, can they offer one? What do they provide in terms of an album: how many edited images; what about hard copies; is there an online gallery for friends and family to peruse? Start digging deeper: check client testimonials, look at whole albums rather than a handpicked selection of highlights from the last few years and make comparisons between your shortlist and other similarly-priced photographers.
Kate McCarthy Photography, image source
You’re going to spend a LOT of time with your wedding photographer – probably more time than any of your other suppliers – so once you’ve narrowed the potentials down, it’s best to meet in person. Have a list of questions ready – perhaps email them in advance – and put together a Pinterest board of images you love so that you can clearly communicate the kind of end result you want. A wedding photographer needs to be personable, confident, and outgoing, but also sensitive, respectful and professional. Once you’re face to face, it’s easier to make the judgement call as to whether they’re the one for you. Do they feel right? Our ultimate advice is to trust your gut.
Jessica Grace Photography, image source
Once you have the photographer on board, it’s time to relax. You picked them because you loved their work. Now its time to let them do their thang!
Obviously, your chosen photographer will have to work within the constraints of your agreement (and what actually happens on the day and what’s there to shoot!) but if you want our advice, here’s ten popular photographs we think you can’t miss. If you love these ideas, talk to your photographer in advance of your wedding, then stand back and let them set the agenda for the day. Everyone works best if they are allowed the freedom work in their own way and if everyone is on the same page, then its sure to be a match made in heaven!
February 7th, 2018 | Rachel Parry
Once a big day has been and gone, images and film are the ways in which we relive those important memories, and so we believe it’s super important for couples to document as much of their wedding as possible.
That said, it’s also key that brides and grooms aren’t distracted from their day, meaning they’ll need to rely on others to capture the action for them. While professionals can of course take care of this, getting guests to play photographers too allows for even more fabulous candid snaps to be taken, and can easily be arranged thanks to a fabulous service provided by our Sponsor Take a Pic.
Moving on from the days where disposable cameras were dished out to guests, Take a Pic specialises in hiring a range of digital cameras for the wedding day, which can be used by the groom and bridal parties during the prep and by guests during the main event – resulting in high quality images and video from all angles from the whole day.
There are various camera packages to choose from; from simple compacts for the tables or better quality cameras for the groom/bridal party. There are also packages with HD video camcorders, instant print cameras and even action cameras.
Better still, the process is simple and stress-free: Simply visit Take a Pic’s website and select your package, hire duration and your delivery date; then capture the action before returning the cameras in pre-paid returns packaging at your local post office. The data will then be transferred onto a USB stick and sent to your address, so you have all your guest images in one place.
Keen to find out more? Us too! As such, we’ve invited the Take a Pic team to the blog with their suggestions of the best packages and products for capturing different parts of the celebrations. And if you like what they have to offer, Brides Up North readers can get £10 off all orders using the discount code BRIDES10PO (online bookings only).
Take a Pic say: We offer a specially designed ‘His and Hers’ camera hire package ideal for capturing your entire wedding day, including all the preparation from both sides of the family. This package includes two bridge cameras, for the bride and groom, capable of taking 20MP images as well as 720p HD video with optical and digital zoom. Those who hire this package tend to give the job of photographer to the chief bridesmaid and best man alike. This package also allows you to select a number of compact cameras for your guests at the reception too.
If capturing the vows and speeches is important to you, and something which your photographer may not record on video, we recommend one of our HD video packages. Although most of our cameras have the capability of recording video, the compact handycams in these packages are much more up to the job, with 1080p HD video quality recorded straight onto a memory card. This package also allows you to select a number of compact cameras for your guests at the reception too.
The best and most popular package we offer is our standard camera hire, consisting of a select number of compact digital cameras. These are most commonly placed on your wedding tables to allow your guests to capture photos and videos during the wedding reception and into the evening.
We have an instant camera available for those who want to fill their guestbooks with a photo alongside their messages to the bride and groom. We also offer a mounted video camera with tripod and remote as an alternative to a costly photo booth, designed for capturing your personal messages to the bride and groom. These can then be put into a film, with all your guests and their special messages.
February 2nd, 2018 | Julia Braime
While planning a wedding is super exciting, it’s also classed as one of life’s most stressful events and so it’s good to have support to hand to ensure you’re organised and not overwhelmed by the task ahead.
If you’re already feeling a buried in the wedmin, or know exactly what you want but aren’t sure how to make it a reality, then the Sponsor we’re introducing on the blog today is going to be very useful to you. So, join us as we welcome professional wedding planners Andrea Swift (Northern Ambassador and Supreme Member of UK Alliance of Wedding Planners) and Debbie Rainford (UK Alliance of Wedding Planners) of Fabulous Together.
Dubbed as “Fairy Godmothers” and “Secret Weapons” these are the ladies in the know, who can help bring your wedding dreams to fruition. Whether you require a full or partial planning service Andrea and Debbie will be there to bounce ideas off, provide professional advice and banish any pre-wedding worries.
So, let’s hear more from the dynamic duo on how their approach, services and style.
Can you tell us a little about your backgrounds and how was Fabulous Together was formed?
andrea & debbie say: After working together on several large-scale luxury weddings we had a ‘lightbulb’ moment – we realised that we not only shared the same ethos, the same professional values and the same sense of fun, but ultimately, the same vision. By combining our experience and expertise, we decided we could offer the region the ultimate luxury wedding planning service: Fabulous Together Weddings.
Why would you advise couples to hire a wedding planner?
Planning a wedding can be really stressful and we know how time consuming it can be too. A big part of our role is to match our clients with people we think will best suit their style, vision and personality, then deliver the wedding day they had always dreamed of and we keep ourselves up-to-date with all the latest trends, ensuring each individual wedding has its own unique ‘wow’ factor.
Can you outline the services that you offer to brides and grooms?
Our Full Planning Service includes a detailed consultation and bespoke proposal after which clients are assigned a senior planner who will remain by their side throughout the whole process.
Our Partial Planning package would be better suited to those clients who have already undertaken some of the planning themselves. Fabulous Together Weddings will review all bookings and plans to-date, manage the booked suppliers and stay with the couple right to the end of the wedding day, ensuring everything flows smoothly.
Proving that distance really doesn’t need to be a barrier when creating your dream wedding, our Fabulous Together Weddings’ unique Destination UK service is perfect for couples who live overseas but want to marry in the UK.
What would you say to couples who think hiring a wedding planner means they will lose control of their wedding day?
Absolutely not! The relationship we have with our couples is always collaborative. We are here to help and bring their ideas to life. Think of us as super organised fairy godmothers – we’ll offer professional advice when it’s needed, banish worries and ensure everything runs smoothly from start to finish.
What area of planning would you say that couples find the most stressful and how can you help?
It is always hard keeping everyone happy and it can be a delicate balancing act, especially where parents are concerned. As we have so much experience in dealing with these sometimes tricky situations, we can provide an independent view that often puts things into perspective. That and the weather! We always ensure we have a good Plan B so we are prepared for whatever the British climate throws at us!
What is it that you love about the world of weddings and what is the favourite part of your job?
Sometimes it’s the simplest thing, that moment in the ceremony where the couple are officially married – the kiss, the love, the intimacy of it all – we feel privileged to be a part of it. But we also love hearing the guests chanting for one more song on the dance floor after a stunning band set or catching them talking in the toilets about it being the best wedding they have ever been to! At the end of it all we can slip quietly away knowing we have helped our couple have the very best day imaginable!
Are you noticing any trends in weddings at the moment and, if so, what are they?
A key element now though is that couples want the wedding to last as long as possible. We are seeing more and more ‘wedding weekends’ often at lavish venues, but increasingly at home or in the grounds of a close family member’s property, providing a more personalised option.
Do you have any particular memorable moments from weddings you’ve organised?
Lots and lots of memorable moments, yes, but some real stand out ones include the groom and his eight best men singing as they walked down the aisle, it was a definite ‘hairs standing up on the back of your neck’ moment. Of course, it did help that they were all professional singers! Then there was the wedding where we were waiting (outside in the rain), to get a call from Heathrow airport to see if the cloud base was high enough for our couple’s air acrobatic display to take place – it meant that Heathrow would have to alternate take off and landings to allow for the seven-minute display – when they finally said yes, we literally had two minutes to get the guests outside and in position. It was stressful but completely amazing when it happened as if on cue.
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