July 23rd, 2015 | Julia Braime
Today’s bride and groom are currently living outside of the UK due to spouse visa restrictions which have caused them and their families a lot of heartache. Their wedding was bittersweet as their friends realised that they had to leave the country because they were getting married, which made it all the more important that their celebration was extra special.
Hilary and Mike proved that your big day doesn’t have to cost the earth in order to have the time of your lives. Full of original styling touches, hand made elements and bursts of bright colour, Hilary & Mike’s perfectly personal quirky wedding day reflects their individuality beautifully.
Images by Eleanor Woodruff Photography.
hilary says: Our engagement story is absolutely hilarious and, according to our friends, no one could botch it quite like we did. We were on holiday in Cap Ferret, France in June 2013, and Mike had been secretly planning this for ages… he’d organised the barbecue, the beach, and even the sunset, but when it came to the critical moment he realised he’d forgotten to buy a ring or phrase the question! So looking rather ill (“food poisoning”), he steered the conversation towards “What the Bible says about marriage…”, much to my bewilderment. He finally managed to ask, “So… how ’bout it then?” To be fair, I didn’t get the answering part right either – I laughed and thought he was joking, then sobered up and said yes, then cried and said no, then walked down to the other end of the beach to think about it, and finally came back half an hour later with a definite yes.
We got married on Saturday 12th July 2014. We chose Left Bank Leeds for our venue, ultimately for the price and the DIY aspect of the space – which meant that we could rent the building for the day and move furniture around in between the ceremony and the reception, saving us paying for two venues and worrying about transport in between! We had an incredible team of friends resetting the hall for us while guests had drinks and photos taken outside. That Left Bank is a beautiful old church building which was another plus point for us as Christians.
We didn’t really have a theme, unless you count “a tight budget” as one! When planning the wedding we were a little daunted by the perfect, fairytale weddings we were seeing everywhere – we’re the least “bridal” couple we know, and as you might have guessed from our engagement story, far from perfect. In the end we just went with what reflected our personality best and made us feel most comfortable, which meant lots of origami flowers in recycled wine bottles, tea lights in jam jars we’d collected all year, and haphazard splashes of bright colour everywhere. This actually made it the perfect wedding for us because it represented our crazy and pragmatic sides so much better.
We used royal blue as a backdrop to hold all the splashes of brighter colour together, and also because everyone in the bridal party looked good in it – a bigger consideration than you might think in mixed race marriages!
My dress was from BHS and tailored to size by the lovely Sophie Davies Tailoring. Being 4’11” dress shopping is difficult at the best of times, and I’d got to the point where I was trying on First Communion dresses when I found this one, in the most unlikely of places! It was everything I wanted – a beautiful muted colour from the creamy lace material and champagne lining, not wider than I am tall and with straps to alleviate my fears of a wardrobe malfunction. Sophie did some magic and made the dress fit like a glove, also shortening it (by about a foot) from the waist to save the lace hem – something that a different tailor I had originally gone to wouldn’t do. She is incredibly talented and I couldn’t recommend her highly enough.
My shoes were from New Look and specifically chosen to narrow the foot and a half in height difference between me and Mike! It meant that I had some difficulty walking downhill but it was a small price to pay.
Mike is 6’4″ and has different problems altogether when buying clothes. He swears by Marks and Spencer‘s suits, and would do no different for his wedding day. He wore a slim extra-long suit in charcoal grey, a blue-and-white dogtooth bowtie with matching pocket square and, to my chagrin, a pair of Arsenal cufflinks.
We were fortunate to find dresses for the bridesmaids in a style quite similar to my dress in New Look! I definitely wanted dresses that they could wear again, and this fit the bill perfectly, also surprisingly in a shape and colour that suits them all. The dresses originally came with brown belts but the girls swapped these out for white ribbons. They wore their own shoes and I loved how this added to all the colour on the day.
Mike had two best men – his brother Andrew and his best friend Mike. Andrew has an amazing waistcoat and bowtie with multi-coloured frogs on a hot pink background which we absolutely wanted him to wear, and we brightened Mike’s wardrobe up with a colourful polka-dotted bowtie. Our ushers (unfortunately not photographed as they were moving furniture) wore royal blue ties with elephants. The blokes that did make the photos were my “Ugly Bridesmaids”, my housemates without whom a lot of the wedding would not be possible. They could wear whatever they wanted.
We didn’t hire any transport, we were each driven to the venue by our friends/family. Mike’s driver made a detour for petrol on the way to the venue!
Our wedding was photographed by the amazing Eleanor Woodruff Photography. Ellie had photographed another wedding at which Mike was best man, and we were drawn by the amount of personality she captured in those photos and how genuine she made the day look. Ellie took the time to meet up before the big day to find out more about us, scout out the venue, and go over a list of family photos. Being far more experienced with weddings than we were she also had many handy organisational tips for the day! The photos of our day are full of character and absolutely perfect, we cannot thank her enough for what a great job she’s done.
My bridal bouquet was made by my friend Liv, whose origami skills know no bounds. She’d layered so many papers, textures, and beads – it was more beautiful than I could have imagined.
We didn’t have any real flowers on the day because I was paranoid about hayfever and sneezing my way down the aisle (I opted to trip down it in my 6-inch heels instead). I had the idea to do origami flowers and folded some of them to begin with, but the vast majority of it was down to an amazing team of friends and family who folded away for several hours the day before the wedding. We also had plenty of balloons and colourful bunting for a fun touch, home-made confetti and fairy lights around the hall. The table settings were my favourite – each table had a white tablecloth, a royal blue runner, multi-coloured napkins, candles and a wine bottle-full of colourful origami flowers.
Mike’s Uncle Keith made the cake based on a picture that we’d shown him on Google. Everyone agreed that he needed a career change from train driving! The cake had three tiers covered in white icing, each made by a different family member and iced by Uncle Keith. He also stuck on individual pieces of edible confetti to form a cascading effect down the side and tied royal blue ribbons around each tier – if anything it looked better than the original that inspired us! The cake was topped by a champagne glass filled with more edible confetti, and engraved with our names and the date of our wedding.
Following our DIY-origami theme, we had DIY spring rolls for our first course, a great conversation starter for our guests who didn’t know each other! We also had bring-and-share salad and desserts, which turned out to be a great idea as there was an incredible variety of food to choose from. Our main was a hog roast provided by Boss Hog Yorkshire. There was SO MUCH food and everyone was well and truly stuffed.
Left Bank Leeds provided the drinks: beers and soft drinks from Samuel Smiths Brewery, a local company, and a selection of Fairtrade wines.
It made no sense to us to hire a band when several of our friends are musicians, so we organised an open mic for entertainment during the meal. Our friends absolutely did not disappoint and we had such a good evening, with everything from classical violin to 5-piece band. After the meal we pushed the tables aside for a ceilidh, with music from Ermine Street Band. Everyone loves a good ceilidh, and there was plenty of screaming, shouting and laughing.
Our vast height difference does not lend itself well to dancing, so we opted to do a “first duet” instead. We sang the song “Without You” by AJ Rafael, a song which I sang to Mike on Skype while we were long-distance, and made him cry. Mike was on guitar and I played piano.
For our honeymoon we went on a cooking holiday in the Loire Valley in France. This was a real treat for us as we’re nuts about French food. We were the only guests at the B&B as we went mid-week, and Lesley went out of her way to make things especially lovely for us! We enjoyed every moment of it and would totally recommend it to anyone else looking for a more hands-on holiday.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be that a spectacular wedding doesn’t have to cost the earth – we managed to source most of our decorations from eBay and Amazon, or supermarkets and discount shops like Home Bargains. High street stores also turned up some pretty surprising and budget-friendly clothing finds for the wedding party! Putting a bit of elbow grease and creativity into the preparations also helped cut costs, and we’re grateful for all the incredible friends we had around to lend us a DIY-hand. Finally, don’t worry too much about having to put on a spectacular show to impress the guests – they turned up to celebrate “us” in all our quirkiness and loved how much the wedding reflected our wacky personalities!
July 22nd, 2015 | Julia Braime
Back in May 2015, Rachel and I were thrilled to be one of the only UK wedding blogs invited along to British bridal designer Suzanne Neville‘s exclusive event at HM Tower of London, showcasing her 2016 songbird collection.
Suzanne and her team always make us feel so very welcome at their events, and her stunning gowns always leave us speechless (which is hard to do). Suzanne Neville has led the way in the couture bridal and fashion industry for the last 24 years, known for creating elegant fashion forward gowns with a real wow factor. Year on year, each collection just seems more perfect than the next. This is British bridal talent at its very best.
The latest collection of breath taking bridal gowns was inspired by beautiful floral gardens, birdsong and music with dresses in a sumptuous array of fabrics, styles and colours. With all press at the event on an #instaban lockdown, this is a first exclusive sneak peek at the new collection, hot off the catwalk and landing in Suzanne Neville stockist boutiques near you very soon.
suzanne says:I have really enjoyed designing the 2016 Songbird Collection. It is a fusion of beauty, tradition, modernity, yet still classically couture. There are simple styles, some lace and exquisite embroidery for a very eclectic mix of designs, with a dress for every bride. There are many dresses with the trademark corsetry, but also softer dresses for a more relaxed look.
In 24 years, I’ve seen styles change, but our modern bride is a very different bride. She’s more fashion aware, watching many images from all over the world and collating an idea in her mind of her perfect dress and styling the wedding of her dreams.
Over the years, the company has grown, yet we truly believe in keeping production in our studios in London under my watchful eye, so we can make sure every dress has the attention it deserves. Every year, even after all this time, I am still inspired by meeting the brides themselves, and taking all this knowledge into my pattern construction for future collections.
Suzanne Neville has boutiques in Knightsbridge, Wilmslow and Guilford and over fifty stockists in the UK and worldwide.
Visit the Suzanne Neville website for more.
July 22nd, 2015 | Rachel Parry
With a clear eye for design, today’s bride Rachel, used her creative skills to put the all-important finishing touches to her wedding inspired by the roaring 1920s.
Her stunning Enzoani dress, with amazing back detail, helped to set the theme which Rachel then built upon by designing her own signage and stationery using silent movie and art deco influences.
A soft colour scheme of cornflower blue and yellow complements the men’s grey suits and helps to tie all elements together resulting in a well styled big day.
With images by Ragdoll Photography.
rachel says: We got engaged on 13th June 2014 at Queen’s Bridge in Chester. Mike had booked a night in Chester for our anniversary (the date we officially got together) and I had no idea he had a ring with him. He carried it around all day inside his phone case (I wondered why he looked uneasy when I borrowed his phone to take pictures) waiting for the perfect moment to propose. It eventually happened after dinner, we went for a stroll over the bridge. Mike had said that he’d been looking for the perfect moment, but nothing had felt right, then suddenly we were on that bridge, it was just us, the sun was going down and it was as if someone had just gone “there you go, this is the time and place”.
We decided to set the wedding date for 11th June 2015 – five years to the day from when we first met at the Isle of Wight Festival.
The ceremony was at St Mary’s Church, Halkyn, North Wales, which is my parents’ local church in the village where I grew up, and the reception at The Doubletree Hilton Hotel, Chester. We’ve stayed at the hotel a couple of times on special occasions and love it, but what sold it to us was the Abbey Suite – we’d been looking at converted barns for our reception and this had both the lovely modern hotel with the converted stables attached, plus beautiful grounds.
The theme was subtly based on 1920s. I love this era; the fashions, the crazy dancing, art deco styling etc. I think it oozes class and elegance. Luckily my favourite wedding dress was very 20s too so it followed on from there. From the 20s came the ‘silent movie’ idea – we used it in the design of our invitations and placemats/place settings and then carried it through in the chalkboard style table numbers and bunting.
Our colour scheme was cornflower blue and yellow. We wanted a summery, cheerful theme and it looked amazing against the blue sky and sunshine. Mike supports Everton too, which made it an easy choice for us both.
My dress was an Enzoani number. I didn’t want anything big or OTT and this particular dress struck me as simple and elegant with a touch of glamour and sparkle. It is 1920s inspired which suited our theme well. I chose it for those reasons but also because it struck me as so different from all of the dresses I’d seen. I bought it from Cheshire Rose Bridal, Chester. My shoes were by Rachel Simpson, my necklace, bracelet and earrings from Debenhams and my headpiece was also from Cheshire Rose Bridal.
Mike wore a light grey three piece suit from Reiss with a cornflower blue tie. He chose to buy a good suit over hiring tails as neither of us are huge fans of tails and he now has a very special suit to keep. Along with his suit he wore shoes by Jeffery West and a tie pin from The Little Homebird on Etsty, which was a gift from me. It was personalised with the coordinates of Queen’s Bridge where Mike proposed.
Our adult bridesmaids wore a light blue Biba maxi dress from House of Fraser and the flower girl had an ivory dress with blue ribbon from a local occasion wear shop. The groomsmen all had a three piece suit from Next and blue ties.
We used Grosvenor Classic Cars to transport us on the day of the wedding. Mike and I travelled in a blue and silver Beauford and the bridesmaids in a Daimler.
Rosie of Ragdoll photography was our photographer and she was brilliant, we would definitely recommend her! She put everyone at ease on the day with her fun, down to earth nature which resulted in a fun, relaxed series of photographs. She captured us and our family and friends and the essence of the day beautifully. I would recommend Rosie to anyone who wants a natural, relaxed, fun feel to their wedding album. We couldn’t have wished for better. We also used Gray Weddings to film our big day. They were also amazing and so discreet you wouldn’t have known they were there. I can’t wait to see the video when it arrives to find out what we missed! They were so accommodating and flexible in our pre wedding meeting and on the day itself.
Fresh of Chester provided our flowers. The beautiful natural bouquets for the bridesmaids and I were made up of lovely blooms in yellow, blue and white.
The reception flowers by Fresh of Chester were placed in vintage vases, provided by Pollyanna Vintage who also provided vintage books and pearls for centre pieces and on the card table, along with a vintage suitcase for cards and a large picture frame with easel for the seating plan. Other knickknacks such as old cameras and photo frames I borrowed or bought from vintage and charity shops and my mum provided lots of candles! I’m a graphic designer and so made my own 1920s inspired signs for the guest book/photo booth instructions, cocktail menu, cake quote and ladies toilets perfume quote. I also designed our invites and save the dates, plus some unique placemats/place settings inspired by silent movie frames, through my company Racoon Graphic Design.
As favours we gave sweets from the past provided by Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe in personalised sweet bags.
Cake Chester provided our lovely wedding cake. It was a simple 1920s design, inspired by a combination of cakes I found in my search for the perfect cake! I made a feather brooch which they kindly added onto the front for me. The bottom tier was fruit cake and the top tier was Madeira sponge.
As entertainment we had a 1920s jazz band called 52 Skidoo who were great! They played upbeat jazz for a couple of hours and then the resident DJ played until 1am. He played all our favourite songs and finished with Hey Jude, which is really special to us as we met at The IOW Festival where Paul McCartney was the headline act. At the end we all linked arms in a big circle singing ‘Nah-nah-nah-nah…’ it was epic!
One special touch of the day was our first dance. Dancing is really dear to me so I wanted to really go for it! We learnt the Argentine Tango and danced it to Coldplay’s, Magic. The song starts with a 1920s introduction so I started with a Charleston as Mike stood and looked perplexed (intentional). We loved it.
We would definitely recommend The Doubletree as a venue to other couples, it’s an amazing setting. It has the best of both worlds – a lovely modern hotel and the gorgeous Abbey Suite (converted stables), perfect for photographs. The grounds are also beautiful. The staff on the day were brilliant, in particular the toast master. He couldn’t do enough for us. The venue was perfect for – smart and sophisticated but relaxed and not over the top.
I couldn’t possibly choose one moment from the wedding as my favourite but there are some moments in my head that stand out: coming down the stairs to my dad who was waiting to see me in my dress for the first time and travelling in the car with him to the church. The ceremony, we both surprisingly enjoyed that part more than we expected to. We didn’t feel nervous, just elated and excited and the vicar put everyone at ease and cracked a couple of jokes! And the speeches, they were all brilliant, funny and heartfelt in their own way.
We haven’t booked a honeymoon yet but we are hoping to go to New Zealand sometime in January next year with a stop off on the way.
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be don’t try to include everything you want on your wedding day. I had so many ideas, some I wasn’t able to make happen but they really didn’t matter on the day. Simplicity and personality are key. Think about who you are as a couple and how you would like your wedding to be remembered. Our guests all said what a ‘fun’ and ‘happy’ day it was and in hindsight we wouldn’t want it any other way. And, enjoy the day for what it is, a celebration of marriage with all of your favourite people.
52 skidoo, art deco, art deco wedding, cake chester, cheshire rose bridal, chester wedding, debenhams, doubletree chester, Enzoani, fresh of chester, gray weddings, grosvenor classic cars, hilton, House Of Fraser, jeffery west, mr simms olde sweet shoppe, next, pollyanna vintage, rachel simpson, racoon graphic design, ragdoll photography, reiss, the little homebird
July 21st, 2015 | Rachel Parry
Image by Jonny Draper
To brighten up your Tuesday afternoon we’re putting another wedding industry superstar under our Style Profile spotlight to find out what makes them go week at the knees in the world of fashion.
Today it’s the turn of charlotte mills, the fabulous owner and creative genius behind Charlotte Mills Shoes.
You only need to take one look at Charlotte’s stunning collection of bridal footwear to know this lady has bucket loads of style and a real eye for design. From fancy flats, to cute peep-toes and show stopping heels, Charlotte really does offer something for every bride.
As a self-confessed pink addict we find ourselves instantly connected to Charlotte and love her passion for all things cool and colourful. So let’s find out what treasures are to be found in Ms Mills’ wardrobe while getting the lowdown on her top wedding picks too! The floor is all yours Charlotte…
How would you describe your nine ‘til five style and what are your key work wardrobe pieces?
For work it’s normally a nice top and skinny jeans, I keep the clothing quite simple as I love to accessorise, often with a statement necklace and a fab pair of shoes. I don’t have a lot of handbags, unsurprisingly I’m more of a shoe person! I do like big totes though, so I can fit everything in.
What would you wear for a night out drinking cocktails with the girls?
I love getting all glammed up for a girls’ night out! When travelling to the factory in Spain I came across an amazing brand called Bimba Y Lola, I just love their playful use of prints and colour. As soon and I walked into the store their Crocodile Print Dress said ‘buy me’. I always wear dresses when I go out as I’m normally in jeans all week. And usually team with killer heels and my fav Lush lipstick which stays on for hours!
If you were currently planning your wedding what would be your top picks?
I’m already married but would do it all again in a heartbeat! After seeing images of this Monique Lhuillier dress on the catwalk at NYBW I have fallen totally in love! I would have to go for peonies which are my favourite flowers and I had these at my own wedding. Betty from our collection would go really well with the gown and tie in with the sparkle.
Which celebrities’ style do you admire?
Olivia Palermo – she is all about the accessories and looks effortlessly chic every time.
What is your favourite high street store and online shopping site?
Zara is my favourite high street store, I get the majority of my wardrobe from there. If I’m shopping online I like ASOS.
What current wedding trends are you a fan of?
I love bridal separates and the floral gowns coming through. They are both really fresh and different.
Do you consider yourself a trend setter or follower?
I would say a bit of both, after working in fashion I can identify trends. When I design a product I want it to fit with current trends but then give my own twist, which makes it different.
What colour features most in your wardrobe?
Pink for sure, I’m a pink addict! At least 70% of my wardrobe is pink. It makes me happy and brightens up any dreary day.
What areas of a wedding would you splurge on the most?
The dress and the shoes and the groom’s attire. You will be looking back at your pictures forever so you want to remember feeling your best. It really is once in a lifetime. The other thing which is so important is to choose an amazing photographer. You cannot get those moments back and you want to remember them as if you are reliving the day every time you look at them.
Where would be your dream honeymoon destination and what top items would you pack in your case?
If I went on honeymoon now my dream destination would have to be somewhere I haven’t been before. I would love to charter a small sailing boat and sail around the Greek islands like Santorini and Mykonos.
July 21st, 2015 | Rachel Parry
Though straying from tradition, we’ve often mentioned on the blog how short wedding dresses can be the perfect option for certain types of weddings, including those that take place in the city centre. A hitched-up hemline means it’s easier for brides tying the knot in an urban location to get around as they move between venues either on foot, or in this case by cab, without the need to manoeuvre an awkward meringue.
For her pretty Liverpool wedding, bride Rhia chose a stunning tea length dress from House of Mooshki, which also served as her ‘something blue’. Meanwhile to bring the rest of their big day together Rhia and Stew simply chose bits and pieces they liked while keeping in mind their purple and turquoise colour scheme.
The result is an incredibly well styled wedding, from the gorgeous attire to the fabulous blooms and that beautifully decorated cheese cake. Excellent work guys!
With images by Dan Hough Photography.
rhia says: We got engaged in 2013 on my birthday, 31st January. Stew proposed just before we were heading out for a special birthday meal, just the two of us. He gave me a card he had made himself – it said ‘marry me’ on the front, and my engagement ring was fastened inside with a ribbon.
Our wedding was on 15th February 2015. We wanted a winter wedding and liked the fact that the date would be easy to remember: 15.02.15.
We got married at St. George’s Hall in Liverpool as we wanted somewhere in the city centre. Once we had seen its beautiful Concert Room, we knew that was the venue for us. Our reception was held at Oh Me Oh My, also in the city centre.
There was no wedding theme as such, we just picked things we liked and wanted things to be colourful and fun. The colour scheme was easy to decide on – purple and turquoise – my favourite colours!
I chose a tea length dress in duck egg blue, with an ivory overlay. It was from House of Mooshki. When I got engaged I couldn’t picture myself in a traditional dress and didn’t want anything too over-the-top. I found my dress online, but didn’t think I would end up getting it. But once I had tried it on – I knew I had to have it.
My bridesmaid wore a purple dress and the best man wore a grey suit. The flower girls were kitted out in Monsoon dresses.
We decided we didn’t need special transport and instead took taxis around Liverpool. It was kind of cool arriving at my wedding in a black cab!
Dan Hough was our photographer and he was amazing. He was very friendly – lots of our guests commented on that. He made sure we got some fabulous shots but fitted in around us. He was very patient as we were caught up with everything going on and long photo sessions were not a priority, but somehow Dan still managed to really capture the whole day perfectly. We would definitely recommend him – he was fab!
My flowers were purple. They were created by Blossom and Dill. I left it quite late to sort out and being the day after Valentine’s lots of florists were charging hefty fees. Sophie from Blossom and Dill did an amazing job – my flowers were absolutely beautiful and loads of people complemented them.
Sophie also created jam jar arrangements of flowers to decorate our tables – perfect for the pretty and relaxed look we were going for. We had lots of candles and rainbow-coloured bunting to brighten everything up.
Stew made all our wedding stationary, which had a quirky look to it – almost like a child’s party invitation with googly eyes. I loved them!
We didn’t really have favours, though we did screen print origami paper with our names and the wedding date. Guests were given instructions to make paper cranes (quite tricky origami) we made a few examples to help people along.
We decided to have a cheese cake from Liverpool Cheese Company. We didn’t fancy more sweet stuff after dessert and the cheese went down a storm with our homemade chutneys.
For the wedding breakfast we decided on a relaxed sharing menu – one of Oh Me Oh My’s specialities. We had a mezze starter, and then sharing bowls of stew for the main, followed up by a trio of desserts.
To keep guests entertained, we hired a band recommended by Oh Me Oh My called New Power Soul Club. We had seen them setting up and doing sound checks at one of our meetings there. They were brilliant and had all our guests up dancing.
We decided to make a weekend of our celebration, inviting family and friends to join us for dinner and drinks the day before the wedding. We were really glad we did this as it was brilliant to catch up with everyone, and once we had left our house the day before, that was the end of feeling stressed and the start of having fun.
We would definitely recommend Oh Me Oh My to other wedding couples. It looked fantastic, and the staff looked after every last little thing all day, ensuring everything went smoothly. To top it off, we were able to go up on the roof and enjoy fab views, as well as sneaking in another photo opportunity.
I couldn’t pick a favourite part of the day – I loved all of it! In fact the whole weekend was amazing!
Following the wedding we had a few days in the Lake District and Scotland, staying in some lovely hotels. We are booked to go to Brazil on our main honeymoon this summer and can’t wait!
My top tips to other Brides Up North would be to prioritise the bits that are most important to you and just do what you want to – don’t feel tied down by other people’s expectations. We just wanted a big party with our friends and family and we loved everything about our day.
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