Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

rachel’s diary: building the #weddingsquad

May 10th, 2018 | Rachel Parry

Rachel's Wedding Diary (3)

Last week we hit a poignant point in the wedding day countdown – one-year-to-go, whoop! Naturally we paid extra close attention to the weather on May 2nd as if it’s a guaranteed reflection of what the weather will be in a year’s time. But then I reminded myself that the weather can change drastically from day to day in the UK, never mind year to year, and so I suppose we have no clue what type of conditions we are in for until the big day rolls round (just please, no snow!)

I’m a born worrier, though I have to say the weather is one area I’m not too hung up on about the wedding as we took this into consideration when picking our venue – The West Mill in Derby – as it has so much stunning indoor space that it won’t matter if we can’t make use of its outdoor areas due to rain, gales or worse!

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So, what have Andy and I managed to arrange since my last diary post? Well I’m afraid we’ve slacked off a little actually, due to being extra busy with work, also my older brother’s wedding is now just a matter of weeks away (eeeekk!) and we we’re also basking in the comfort of having more than a year to plan – a luxury that has now come to an abrupt end meaning we need to pick our socks up.

While some elements we want to keep a surprise for the big day (which we will of course be sharing with you following the ‘I dos’) there are a few elements I can discuss.

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Up first is our photographer – a supplier we ticked off the list as soon as we had our date and venue, and I would highly recommend you doing the same as these talented folk get booked up years in advance. Working in the industry I am surrounded by skilful photographers but there is one that I met early on in the industry, who is from my home city of Sheffield and whose images and approach I instantly connected to – and that certain someone is the wonderful Jon Dennis of S6 Photography. Thankfully Andy was equally taken with his spectacular work and Jon was free on our chosen date – phew!

As the photos are your lasting memories of a wedding once the day has been and gone, I think it’s of paramount importance to find a photographer whose style you love and that you can trust to deliver. My advice when searching is to look through full weddings on photographers’ websites/blogs if possible rather than just ‘hero’ shots shared on social media as this will give you a better idea of how they capture the full day; the emotions, details and everything in between. Once you’ve narrowed down your list I then think it’s a case of getting the right vibes when communicating/meeting with them. As your photographer will be with you all day, it’s important to like and get along with them, knowing they will treat you and your guests well.

We are so excited for Jon to capture our day, and highly advise you looking up his work if you are currently on the photographer hunt.

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Further to report, last month we returned to our venue for a ‘Tasting Experience’ evening where we could view The West Mill once again, along with its new Mill House accommodation, meet some of their recommended suppliers and, most importantly, sample food from the caterers that will providing our wedding breakfast to give us an idea of what we can expect. We were also invited to take along four guests, which meant we could reveal our choice of venue to our parents – thankfully, they loved it as much as we do!

The function spaces at The West Mill had been dressed to impress so it was great to see what could be done with the rooms and certainly gave us food for thought styling wise – now just to whittle down my ever-growing Pinterest boards!

Rachel's Wedding Diary (2)

Having seen gorgeous images of the Mill House on-site accommodation we were also excited to see these rooms first hand, and they didn’t disappoint! Each of the eight en-suite double rooms feature beautiful boutique styling, copious amounts of exposed brick and luxury bathrooms making us want to move in permanently, rather than just stay one night.

And just when we thought we couldn’t be anymore smug about our choice of venue, we sampled the food by their caterers, Jenkinson’s. Wow oh wow – a couple of friends of mine who have attended weddings at The West Mill previously mentioned the food was delicious, but it far exceeded our expectations. Three different starters and mains were delivered to the table followed by two different desserts meaning we consumed a full meal each but got to sample varying options from the menu. Presentation and flavour were both fabulous and the portion sizes were very good too, given the nod of approval by hollow-legs-Andy, who often reminds me that his Barnsley roots means he is requires ‘proper’ meals!

We will now await a meeting with the caterers about six months before the wedding to make our food choices but we certainly left feeling highly satisfied and inspired!

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planning like a pro: details & dancing

May 7th, 2018 | Laura McDonagh

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Ruth Atkinson Photography, image source

If you missed Part 1 and Part 2 of our How To Plan Like a Pro series, then it’s catch-up time as we’re steaming ahead with this third instalment to ensure you remain firmly on the planning tracks.

The star students upon you that have dutifully swotted up on the first two pro posts, should now have your date, venue, budget, theme, styling and dress in place – mentally, at least – so it’s onwards we go.

Yup, things just got really real. And they’re about to get pretty (and fun!) too as we start thinking about your rockin’ reception and all of the admin and suppliers that go with it…

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Beneath The Pines, image source

having a ball

Once the ceremony is over and you’re signed over to each other as legal partners (whoop whoop!), couples tend to breathe a huge sigh of relief, grab a glass of fizz and are ready to start celebrating. The options to ensure that the reception starts – and continues – with a bang are endless, and now that you’ve done the serious stuff we give you permission to think about the party. Will you be looking for a DJ, or live music? Have you considered other forms of entertainment – a magician, a caricaturist, a photobooth complete with props wardrobe, garden games? Get creative and customise according to your budget – a full-scale fireworks display might be out of reach, but what about some sparklers (plus the metal pails for extinguishing them could totally fit with your rustic, barnyard styling)? Some of these options will involve hiring external suppliers, but it’s also a chance to consider the little touches you can add yourself to make the day truly personal to you. For example, a cinema-addict friend of ours added a popcorn maker and candy-striped bags to her sweet table: charming, super-sweet and – bonus! – inexpensive. Your creativity is your only limit!

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Rachel Joyce Photography, image source

check my wheels

Will you need transport for your wedding day – from church or home to venue, or to ferry your guests about later in the evening? It’s probably time to start thinking about logistics and researching your options. Even if you’re booking taxis, you probably want to speak to a company in advance and warn them that it’s the biggest day of your life – you never know, you might be pleasantly surprised by what they throw in! When it comes to transport decisions, our advice is similar to choosing a dress – OK, you might not necessarily go for the horse-drawn Cinderella carriage or gondola ride (the transport equivalent of a full-n-frothy ballgown), but would it really hurt you to see what options are out there? Do your research and, whether you end up going for a bike or a vintage bus, make sure you ride in style!

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Emily Hannah Photography, image source

goodies & gifts

In the midst of all of the planning excitement, don’t forget about your guests and your squad who got you to this day. Whether it was your mum hand-embroidering 125 napkins for favours or your #bridesquad girls who organised The Hen Do Of Dreams (and will take the specifics of your drunken rambling to the grave with them), you’ve probably got some presents to purchase. Jewellery, flowers, vouchers? Make sure you leave plenty of time to shop or order for delivery.

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Jess Yarwood Photography, image source

kiss & makeup

If you’re planning on hiring in a professional to make you look your very best, it’s essential to book significantly in advance, especially if you’re getting married at a busy time for the industry (err, so every summer Saturday date). But either way, start to think about the direction you want your wedding day look to take. A month or two before the wedding you want to go through the full makeup and hair process – and time it! – and within four weeks of the wedding have your final haircut, colour and maybe even treat yourself to a facial. The week before the big day is too late – no one wants their photographs to be blighted by a facial-induced breakout.

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don’t be like the rest of them, darling: personalising your big day

April 17th, 2018 | Laura McDonagh

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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.

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James Tracey Photography, image source

the ceremony

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.

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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!)

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Image by Carla Blain Photography, image source

the reception

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.

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Image by Carla Blain Photography, image source

decor and styling

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!

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up for discussion: indoor vs outdoor wedding

March 29th, 2018 | Laura McDonagh

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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…

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Photography34, image source

indoor wedding

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…

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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.

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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.

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Suzy Wimbourne Photography, image source

outdoor wedding

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.

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wedding planning like a pro: dreamy themes & dresses

March 22nd, 2018 | Laura McDonagh

Image credit Sally Eaves Weddings

Sally Eaves Weddings

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!

dreamy themes

Image credit A Little Picture

A Little Picture

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.

style notes

Image credit Jonny Draper

Jonny Draper

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…

save that date

Image credit Bloom Weddings

Bloom Weddings

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.

the one

Image credit Rachel Joyce Photography

Rachel Joyce Photography

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.

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in the frame: how to pick your wedding photographer

March 1st, 2018 | Laura McDonagh

Mike Plunkett Photography (2)

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 (1)

James Tracey Photography, image source

what’s your style?

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

Sarah Mason Photography, image source

the package

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

Kate McCarthy Photography, image source

making your mind up

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

Jessica Grace Photography, image source

trust your choice

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!

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