Charlotte Balbier

a wedding alphabet. m is for mum

March 26th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Found on, photography by by Pasha Belman Photography

image via, photography by by Pasha Belman Photography

For most girls that get engaged there is often one person even more excited the news than they are – their mum. Enter the mother of the bride

While you might think you have been dreaming about the big day forever, your mum has had the occasion firmly placed in her future diary since you were a little girl – and now it’s actually happening!

But after the whoops and cheers have died down some mothers of the bride, and sometimes of the groom, can be known to get a little carried away and overbearing when it comes to planning the ‘perfect day’.

On top of the stress organising a wedding can bring, the last thing you want is a family feud so it’s important to know how to handle over-enthusiastic mums that take off down this route. Brides Up North, I’m here to help.

Found on

image via

be clear from the start

Though I’m yet to have a ring on my finger I have to say me and my mum talk about my fictional wedding all the time, but then I constantly change my mind on what I think I’ll have (I blame the day job).

Whether your mum is in the know or not, once you and your partner have made some key decisions about the type of wedding you want, arrange to meet up or speak to your mum over the phone about your plans to gage her thoughts/approval. Be sure to give reasons on your decisions and emphasise that you came to these conclusions with your groom so that she can tell you’ve really thought about these elements and that it’s what you both want as a couple.

Whether she fully agrees or not she will appreciate you keeping her informed on the decisions and for seeking her opinion. Be sure to keep the updates coming throughout the planning process to ensure she doesn’t feel out of touch or surplus to your requirements.

meddling mums

If you and your mum have different ideas about what will make the perfect day your mum could come to meddle in your plans in an attempt to get her own way.

Try to figure out early on what elements of the wedding you think will be particularly important to your mum to avoid her trying to change your plans later down the line. This might be who should be included on the guest list, the location in which you should tie the knot or what type of food you should be serving up.

Take on board her thoughts and if you can compromise in these areas to avoid your mum looking like she’s sucking on a lemon at the top table come your big day.

Found on, photography by Lorraine Daley Wedding Photography

image via, photography by Lorraine Daley Wedding Photography

play on her strengths

Having a mum that wants to get involved in the wedding can work to your advantage, especially if they have a great skill set.

Think of your mum’s talents and try to give her jobs that will let her shine. So if she gives Mary Berry a run for her money in the kitchen ask her to make your wedding cake, if she knows of more flowers than Alan Titchmarsh take her along to the florists or if she’s more of a Kirstie Allsopp give her some crafty tasks to take ownership of, like making decorations or stationery.

Not only will she enjoy the challenge but she will also feel touched that you’ve given her a special role in the proceedings.

Found on, photography by Rob Greer Photography

image via, photography by Rob Greer Photography

set mum-sized boundaries

While you have taken the time to listen to the areas that are important to your mum and to include her, don’t be afraid to let her know the areas that are important to you and the groom, elements that you are not prepared to change your mind on.

Of course approach the conversation with care but gently let her know where you draw the line in negotiating.

Found on, photography by Katelyn James Photography

image via, photography by Katelyn James Photography

mums that overstep the mark

Having set the boundaries if your mum chooses to hop, skip and triple jump over them, pull her up on it to avoid heartbreak and fallouts.

Speak to her and try to figure out why she’s feeling the need to try to overrule your wishes. It could be that your parents are paying for the majority of the wedding and therefore she feels she has the right to call the shots. In such circumstances try to explain that while you are grateful for their kind contribution and want them to have a say and feel included, the wedding is a huge milestone in your relationship and should therefore be a reflection of you as a couple and what you want.

Alternatively it could be that your mother didn’t get much say in her own wedding and therefore she is either mimicking her mum by taking on the chief planning role or trying to create the wedding she really wanted through your big day. Again take the time to talk to your mum about this – listen to her feelings and share your own. Remind her how it felt to have someone else calling the shots and try to make her see that organising parts together is a much more enjoyable and fair way to go about things.

Found on, photography by Leo Timoshuk Photography

image via, photography by Leo Timoshuk Photography

dealing with the mother-in-law

Some mothers can find it difficult to let go of their sons and such feelings can manifest themselves in reactions to your wedding plans.

Just like with your own mum be sure to let your mother-in-law know your plans early on so she feels included and continue with regular updates. Also as a wedding is ultimately the joining of two families, invite your mother-in-law to join you and your mum when arranging some parts of the wedding, such as choosing the flowers or shopping for decorations. This will also help you to bond as a family.

If however your mother-in-law gets a little out of hand, ask your partner to have a gentle word with her and to explain that you have made your decisions as a couple to avoid her taking up issue with you alone.

Found on, photography by Caroline Maxcy Photography

image via, photography by Caroline Maxcy Photography

have fun

Most importantly – have fun with it. This is a great time of your life for mother/daughter bonding and while the planning path might not run entirely smooth, it’s a perfect opportunity to spend quality time together and to create some fabulous memories.

A mum’s input can be particularly helpful in areas that the groom just can’t get enthused about, such as chair covers and sashes, so there are plenty of different areas in which to get those most important to you involved.

Planning with your mum is also a great excuse for numerous shopping trips and glasses of fizz, just don’t mention it to the men that will be left at home!

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the big debate: should you allow your single guests to bring a plus one to your wedding?

February 27th, 2015 | Julia Braime

found on, by RachelCarl

via, by RachelCarl

In this brand new Friday morning feature on the wedding blog, we’ll be debating all the most difficult wedding planning topics. Today we tackle a sensitive subject and ask: Should you allow your single guests to bring a plus one to your wedding?

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julia says YES:

Smug marrieds. Annoying, aren’t they?

Think back to your own single days. Chances are, you weren’t sitting at home every Saturday night drinking vodka and singing to Chaka Khan on your lonesome, but equally, it’s very likely that as fabulous as singledom can be (all the duvet, no wet towels on the bathroom floor, no awkward lunches with the in laws) you didn’t much like being reminded of your solitary status during notable romantic occasions such as Valentine’s Day, Christmas and weddings.

Your single friends? They don’t like that either.

Ok, so your best mate might have just met the “love of her life” in a club last Saturday night, but if she’s hoping he’ll hold her hand during your wedding ceremony, do you really want to deny her that happiness?

To me, the success of a wedding isn’t down to the colour of the centrepieces or the cost of your frock. It’s the people who make the party. Ok, if the budget, or space, really is very tight, then I’d always advise just asking your very favourite people and perhaps having a quiet word about why you can’t allow for any more. But if there’s some flexibility there, why not make someone’s day and allow them to bring a plus one to your wedding?

Have you ever been a guest at a drinks reception where you only know the bride and groom? Have you ever been seated at the “children’s table”? Have you ever danced awkwardly with the bride’s teenage brother? You can save your friend from all of that. What a hero.

Happier guests make for a better wedding day, even if you never see a few of them ever again. And who knows? It might be that you’re buying your hat for that plus one’s wedding in the not so distant future…



rachel says NO:

A best friend of mine who is in the wedding planning process is currently in meltdown over her ever-growing guest list – and she’s not alone, it’s a task dreaded by most to-be-wed couples.

The pressure goes far beyond simply drawing up a list of the friends and relatives you want present to share your special day as issues such as inviting children, pushy parents and plus ones come into play. As I see it ruling out plus ones from the off is the easiest way to lighten the load and means one less thing to worry about.

Weddings are expensive affairs and every extra body can add more than £100 to the bill, so couples can be forgiven for not wanting extras dining out on their big day. In most cases these would be people you don’t know anyway, essentially strangers at your wedding and allowing some friends and relatives plus ones could mean not inviting somebody else you would actually want at your wedding – someone that you would actually recognise in the congregation.

I get it, you might have a single friend who wouldn’t really know anybody at the wedding – but aren’t weddings meant to be a place where single people meet? I say mix them all in together and hope for a Cilla Black/Paddy McGuinness result.

Chances are some of your friends and relatives will meet on the hen and stag dos which breaks the ice and gives them a friendly face to look for on the big day. Also be clever with your seating plan and try to plant the singletons with others who are in the same boat and also with chatty/friendly people who are likely to make them feel at ease.

I know I’m making it sound easier than perhaps it is but if you’re planning an intimate wedding or your budget is stretched, saying no to plus ones is the way to go. Of course you have to be sensible and fair with it though – make it a one rule for all and don’t just pick who can and can’t have a plus one. I’m not suggesting you don’t invite people’s partners who they have been with for a considerable amount of time but if your mate has now been to the cinema with that guy she met on a night out he still doesn’t constitute a partner and therefore shouldn’t be given the honour of an invite. When all said and done that’s what it is, an honour.

via ruffledblogvia

what you said on Facebook:

Nic: “I gave everyone a plus one, including my single friends. Some of them just brought a friend. I just wanted every one to enjoy themselves as much as possible and worried they wouldn’t as much if they felt a bit left out especially as the meal is so formal.”

Beth: “If we’ve both met them and it’s a long term relationship, they’re invited. But if it’s a new relationship and nobody has met them… I’m not paying for their dinner!”

Rachel: “If they are married/living together and we know them then they’re invited if not, they’re not. Luckily a lot of our friends are mutual and we all go out as couples but we’re applying it to family as well as friends.”

We’d love to hear your side?


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lets get it started: early wedding planning

February 2nd, 2015 | Rachel Parry


image source

Christmas and New Year are peak times for proposals meaning we’ve had an influx of new brides-to-be to our pretty pages *waves*.

Setting out on the wedding panning road is both an exciting and daunting experience – but don’t panic as we will be with you every step of the way, offering fabulous inspiration, insider info on top trends and, of course, some useful advice.

One of my best friends is just starting the journey having had a ring romantically slipped onto her finger on Christmas Eve. At the moment she’s wondering in which order she should build up her blank canvas into her dream day. And so to help her, as well as our other new readers, take their first steps towards the big day, I thought now was a good time to cover the early planning stages.

money matters

Not to put a dampener on your just-engaged mood but as with most things in life a wedding starts with money – in particular how much you would like to spend and on which areas you will save and splurge.

If it’s just yourself and your partner footing the bill you can keep the conversation to yourselves but if parents plan to contribute you will need to discuss a rough sum and if there is anything in particular that they would like to cover the cost of, for example the reception, transportation or the bar bill.

Once you have a budget in mind try to stick to it. Write down what elements of a wedding day you will need to finance out of your pot from the venue to the attire, food and entertainment. As a couple discuss which are the most important areas to you and so where you will spend the most money and areas in which you can cut back. It might be that you wanting lasting memories of your big day so want to allocate a chunk to a photographer and videographer, or perhaps you’re huge music fans and want to blow out on a rocking band to keep the party going into the small hours. Try to think about you as a couple, your personalities and what you enjoy and aim to reflect this in your planning choices to make your celebration your own.

it’s a date

Money sorted, it’s time to set a date. For many this will come down to the season in which they want to tie the knot; so is it to be a Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter affair? Other elements could sway your decision though, such as your budget. Wedding venues can be more expensive at peak times of the year, such as high summer, and weekends are often more pricey than week days. It may also be that your jobs govern the time of year you can get married, or if you are planning a destination wedding you will need to think about when the weather will be best and when will be most convenient for your friends and family to travel.

be our guest

Another stress-inducing area of planning – the dreaded guest list. Here lies a whole minefield of extended families, plus ones and what to do about children.

Initially couples should think about the type of ceremony they want; while some will prefer to keep things simple with a small and intimate affair, others will want to make the most of their moment in the limelight by filling the church to the rafters.

Your budget will also go some way to determining at what point you have to draw the line.

In the first instance as a couple both write down the names of the people you would like there and see how the numbers work out. If the final figure is coming out too high, look at where you can make cut backs without causing a friend or family rift. For example if neither of you are close to your cousins can you just invite them to the evening do? Or perhaps you could cut back on plus ones or omit children and just have an adult-only celebration.

set the scene

Now the numbers are in place you can search for a venue to accommodate your clan.

The venue is often the biggest expense and one of the most important factors of a wedding as it sets the scene for the big day. Therefore it’s well worth researching all the fantastic venues available to ensure you find one that ticks all the boxes.

Beyond the traditional church wedding ceremony, hotels remain a top choice, often favoured for their package deals and on site facilities. But changes in the law and the amazing creativity of suppliers have made the previously impossible, possible when it comes to dream wedding venues so don’t be afraid to push the boundaries.

For something old there are castles, country houses, listed halls and stately homes, or for a blank canvas to make your own, tepees and marquees. Meanwhile others might want a quirky outdoor wedding in gardens, woodland or on a beach. Or for something totally out of the ordinary, possibilities even stretch to museums, theatres, restaurants, sporting venues and art galleries.

Whatever you consider be sure to think about logistics, extra costs and find out exactly what’s included.

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mix & mingle. diary date: UK Alliance of Wedding Planners

October 29th, 2014 | Julia Braime

Mix & Mingle

Now you know we keep our bride readers’ diaries full to bursting with our Brides Up North luxury events schedule (have you SEEN our stellar schedule for 2015… things are looking very exciting indeed), but here at wedding blog HQ we are also all about connecting our industry friends.

Between all the planning going on behind the scenes at The Circle and our thinking caps on party hats at the ready for another Brides Up North party we’ve some exciting times ahead, but for now I’d like to let you know about a chic little soiree taking place next week.

An event that I’m not personally organising (now that’s a first)!

My friends and colleagues Andrea Swift from Fabulous Day and Emma Jane from Emma Jane Weddings & Events are hosting another wonderful UK Alliance of Wedding Planners mix & mingle event for wedding industry bods, and it’s next Tuesday 4th November 2014.

If you’re a Northern based supplier in this beautiful industry of ours, they’d love to see you there.

Andrea says: Well it is only a week to go until this year’s annual UK Alliance of Wedding Planners Northern Mix and Mingle networking event for planners and suppliers! After the huge success of last year’s event, the pressure is on to bring you another fantastic evening.

This year, we’re bringing together a fusion of bonfire night meets autumnal evening with the opportunity to discuss this past season’s weddings with fellow industry suppliers.  If you’re a recent start up or old time hand, everyone’s welcome to come and share a Winter Pimms (or two!)

Joining us again to bring some sparkle to proceedings will be the ever-fabulous John Holt, a fantastic magician and all round nice guy!

We’ll also be joined by the artistic Dave ‘Mossy’ Moss who’ll be bringing out the best of our guests with his colourful and creative caricatures.

Providing our entertainment for the evening is the incredible David Fade with acoustic performances from Under the Covers.

We don’t want to give away all of our secrets so to find out more, join us from 6:30pm on Tuesday 4th November at the stunning Carden Park Hotel for this year’s Northern UKAWP Mix & Mingle event – we hope to see you there!

Click here to book your place. 

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pretty eclectic. a marquee wedding at Chirk Castle – gemma & david

October 13th, 2014 | Julia Braime

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (34)

I do love autumn.  Crisp skies, moody mists, golden leaves, better telly.

This is a special season and a special week, in fact, for my family as my husband and I celebrate four happy years of marriage together, and our second anniversary with our little daughter in tow.

If you tie the knot yourself this week, let me tell you, it’s a great one for it – and I hope you are as happy in your future lives as we are.

For the rest of you, let’s kick off another week of wedding inspiration with this pretty marquee castle wedding, sent to Brides Up North by our fabulous Sponsor Andrea of Fabulous Day wedding planning, and real bride Gemma.

String out the bunting…

With images by SMH Photography.

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (8)

Gemma says: We got engaged on a weekend away in Cardiff.  We saw the perfect ring and knew the time was right.

We set the date for 25 July 2014.  We are both teachers and knew we wanted to marry at the start of the summer holidays.  The venue is lovely on a sunny day and we wanted to maximise our chances of plenty of sun.

We were married at Chirk Castle.  It is one of our favourite places to visit.  We have always found it very romantic and loved the idea of being able to have the ceremony in the Hawk House.

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (16)

We decided on a pretty eclectic theme.  There were lots of flowers and pastel colours but we wanted it to feel relaxed and have an informal, thrown together feel. We didn’t have just one main colour.  Lots of floral patterns and colours were important to us so that is what we were aiming for.

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (21)

I chose a Maggie Sottero gown.  It was a long dress in light gold with beading.  It had straps and was corseted at the back.  I didn’t want a white dress and after searching for a year found one that I thought was perfect.  I used Aristocrats Of Chester.

David wore a grey Cameron Ross morning suit.  The morning suit seemed to go better with the informal style of the day.

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (32)

We used SMH Photography.  They were great and we would highly recommend the services of Sandra and Steve.  They were very professional and worked really hard all day.

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (37)

Our flowers were from Fletcher and Foley.  We had a variety of fragrant herb and flowers to link the the garden theme. We had jugs of flowers on the tables that matched the bouquet and buttonholes.

The favours were homemade whiskey marmalade for the men and strawberry jam for the ladies.  David’s parents made them and we bought personalised labels from notonthe

We choose a ‘Naked Cake’ after seeing something similar in a newspaper.  We had three tiers each filled with cream and decorated with fresh flowers and fruit.  Our colleague, Nerys, has made the cakes for lots of the teachers at our school and did a great job on a very hot day!

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (40)

Andrea at Fabulous Day was our wedding planner and we couldn’t have done it without her. We want her to come and live with us now!

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (25)

We used Ice Cream Dub ice cream for desserts, including mojito and strawberry champagne flavours. The van looked great.

In the evening we had a curry station served outside as the weather was so great. Rupert Frazer Worden was our fantastic caterer. At the bar we had Wrexham Lager on tap as David’s grandad worked for the company. It was great to have it there.

We also loved the DIY photo booth provided by our marquee company. The guests had loads of fun playing around.

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (43)

We used Lucy of Memento Stationary and were very pleased with the results. We’ve even used Lucy for our thank you cards.

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (47)

We loved the setting for our wedding and would have chosen it a thousand times over. The place was already special to us and now it’s a special part of our lives. My family members from South Wales loved it so much they’ve been back to visit.

I was apprehensive about the ceremony as I’m a very emotional person but it was just perfect! Very natural and laid back, just as we wanted it!

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (48)

I really wanted to go to the Maldives and it was just perfect. We booked through Kuoni and had 10 days in the Maldives and three days in Dubai. It was the perfect end to the whole experience. A perfect setting and great service at a wonderful resort. We want to go back now!

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (54)

My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to hire Andrea, she had so many unique and money saving tips and contacts. Our day would have been completely different without her. Thank you Andrea!

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