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Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

independent woman: yorkshire bridal boutique owner hayley hoyle on why you should buy from the professionals

July 19th, 2018 | Rachel Parry

Harrogate Wedding Lounge (4)

Having just shared details of my own dress shopping experience in this wedding diary instalment (I’m a 2019-bride-to-be don’t you know?!) this afternoon’s post further backs-up my findings as we hear from industry expert and Brides Up North Sponsor, Hayley Hoyle, on why ladies should visit independent bridal boutiques when searching for their dream gown.

As the owner of not one, but two top Yorkshire boutiques – The Harrogate Wedding Lounge and The Bridal Collection Harrogate – Hayley is well placed to speak on this topic and advise brides-to-be on how to get the most out of this precious part of the planning.

A far cry from a high-street changing room, Hayley explains the welcoming ambience, top styling and seamstress service and aftercare that awaits brides and these small, professional businesses. She also makes clear that ladies of all budgets can shop at independent boutiques and the service is warm, friendly and fun – not at all like the Pretty Woman style connotations that some conjure up in their heads.

My experience of such businesses was exactly as Hayley describes – real women dressing real women to help find that one special gown that ticks all the boxes while providing professional support along the way that you just won’t find elsewhere. So, ladies, here’s why you’ll want to support your independent sisters…

Bridal Collection (6)

hayley says: For some, buying their wedding gown is a prospect filled with excitement, giddiness and hopes of the perfect shopping trip filled with friends, fizz and finding the one. For others the thought is nothing short of terrifying. Fears of being squeezed in to samples too small or bulldog clipped into samples three-sizes too big while your nearest and dearest pick fault at every part of the dress, or even worse, your body in the dress. Whatever your inclination toward it, after more than ten years in the industry I can confirm that for the most part finding, buying and fitting your wedding gown is an intimate, emotionally charged, sometimes nerve wracking but ultimately beautiful experience, or at least that’s what my hope is for all of my brides.

Harrogate Wedding Lounge (3)

It should be undertaken with your most trusted advisors; the person or people who know you most and who’s number one priority is your happiness. This also applies to the place you choose to shop for your gown. As an independent boutique, myself and my team make it our business to get to know you. Your hopes and dreams for the dress and the day. We understand your fears, your hang-ups and all your insecurities. We are women too remember. We don’t care that your pants don’t match your bra today or that you have just had lunch and feel like have a food baby going on, all we care about is you relaxing and having fun finding a gown that truly represents you, and that you feel and look incredible in.

Harrogate Wedding Lounge (2)

Independent boutiques go much further than selling wedding dresses, I certainly don’t see that as my job at all and I am pretty sure other independents would say the same. We are councillors, confidants, mediators, the shoulder to cry on, the person who holds the tissues – and the prosecco! But above all we are stylists. Our space and that of many other boutiques I know are beautifully created and full of inspiration. Everything matters; the calming atmosphere, beautiful scents, gorgeous flowers, endless accessories, soft music and of course the beautiful gowns and the team of experienced stylists that know our products inside out and are passionate about your experience with us.

Harrogate Wedding Lounge (6)

My team accompany me to all of our designers’ collection launches, they know about construction, fabric options, possible changes that can be made and make personal recommendations for you based on your body type and desires. Unlike many other less personal options available to brides when choosing their dress, our team are trained to work with you individually, hand pick gowns we know will knock your socks off and give you the very best advice on fit. We don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach, we can recommend options such as bespoke sizing – like a size 14 top and 18 bottom. Made to measure for a large bust or a short torso. The result? A unique experience totally tailored to you, your ideas and your body.

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vintage vibes: justin alexander for a 1920s wedding at eaves hall – stacey & wesley

July 17th, 2018 | Aislinn Thompson

A Vintage Wedding at Eaves Hall (c) Nik Bryant (43)

An understated 1920s theme weaves through today’s featured wedding, bringing in very subtle nods to the decade, such as the 1920s-style font used for the table numbers and the strings of beads draped over the candelabras on the table centrepieces. The cake meanwhile is a little more ‘out there’ – a spectacular confection in gold and white with a definite 1920s’ feel and topped with white feathers.

Stacey is beautiful and elegant in a fitted gown with a long train and an equally glorious cathedral-length veil. The dress features a pretty sweetheart neckline and cap sleeves and the illusion back with its white buttons all the way to the floor is nothing short of stunning. She finishes the look with a delicate bouquet of pale pink and white. Wesley’s smart tuxedo is the perfect complement to her timeless look.

One idea we’re certainly a fan of is booking a crèche to keep the little ones entertained during the meal as Stacey and Wesley did, especially if you plan to have plenty of speeches. It gives your guests a nice break from wiping hands and mouths and passing colouring pencils while also trying to enjoy your wedding breakfast! Let’s hear more from Stacey…

With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, Nik Bryant Photography.

A Vintage Wedding at Eaves Hall (c) Nik Bryant (21)

stacey says: We got engaged in Sardinia. It was a complete surprise and it was booked for my birthday in October 2015. We were out in the gardens of the hotel with a beautiful stream and, while we were on the bridge, Wesley got down on one knee and proposed!

We got married on 21st August 2017, as we wanted a summer wedding. The whole day was at Eaves Hall in Clitheroe and the girls and I stayed in the lodge the night before the wedding. We picked Eaves Hall because it was a beautiful setting with amazing gardens. We really loved the exclusivity of the venue and all the staff were really helpful. On the day, nothing was too much trouble. The venue was really classy but still relaxed and comfortable. We would absolutely recommend Eaves Hall to other couples. The fact they have the lodge, so you can stay with all the bridesmaids the night before is a really nice touch.

A Vintage Wedding at Eaves Hall (c) Nik Bryant (51)

In terms of a theme, the table plan and decorations were very 1920s inspired but we didn’t want this to overtake our day, so we kept it minimal.

A Vintage Wedding at Eaves Hall (c) Nik Bryant (34)

My dress was from Fairytale Brides and was by Justin Alexander. I chose this dress because it was so beautiful and elegant, and I loved the details. It made me feel amazing.

Wesley and the groomsmen wore tuxedos with a bow ties from Slaters Formal Hire.

My bridesmaids wore gold dresses from Debenhams’ evening wear. There wasn’t any real reason we chose this colour but, again, we wanted to keep their look comfortable and classy.

A Vintage Wedding at Eaves Hall (c) Nik Bryant (67)

For hair styling we had Kate Simmons and Sonara Parker did our makeup. They were both great and we would recommend them to anyone.

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country charm. justin alexander for a stylish wedding at sandhole oak barn, cheshire – nikki & mike

July 16th, 2018 | Alexis Forsyth

A Rustic Wedding at Sandhole Oak Barn (c) James Tracey Photography (46)

Today’s couple, Nikki and Mike, are showing us a thing or two when it comes to stylishly pulling off a rustic barn wedding. Traditional yet contemporary – we think they got the balance just right.

Hosting their big day at the quaint Sandhole Oak Barn in Cheshire, the couple kept things pared back and beautiful, with plenty of rustic feels to complement the enchanting setting, with hessian and wood textures, bunting, jam jars, candles and crisp white floral arrangements just a few of the delightful details to look out for.

The wedding breakfast was a particular highlight for the newlyweds – just take a look at the sublime menu they dished up – not to mention their elegant naked cake with a delectable four different flavours to choose from!

Plenty of inspiration awaits though, so it’s best we hand the reins over to Nikki so that she can talk us through all the magical moments of their big day. Enjoy!

With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, James Tracey Photography.

A Rustic Wedding at Sandhole Oak Barn (c) James Tracey Photography (30)

nikki says: We were staying at a vineyard just outside Bordeaux in May 2016 when Mike proposed. Mike decided to take me for a morning stroll just outside the chateau, which was on the vineyard. We walked though some woodland and then he got down on one knee and popped the question!

We got married on 11th May 2018. The weather has been great the last few years in May, so we decided to hedge our bets and go for that month.

A Rustic Wedding at Sandhole Oak Barn (c) James Tracey Photography (19)

We tied the knot at Sandhole Oak Barn, in Congleton, Cheshire. The setting was just perfect and exactly what we were looking for. We knew we wanted a barn style wedding and Sandhole ticked all the boxes.

We went for a rustic, countryside theme, although we didn’t have a particular colour scheme in mind, it was just more of the rustic feel with hessian and white tied in.

A Rustic Wedding at Sandhole Oak Barn (c) James Tracey Photography (35)

I wore a chiffon A-line gown with a beaded portrait neckline designed by Justin Alexander which I bought from the Bridal Path in Childwall, Liverpool.

A Rustic Wedding at Sandhole Oak Barn (c) James Tracey Photography (14)

Mike wore a blue suit with a grey waistcoat from Suits Direct, in Cheshire Oaks. The groomsmen wore matching suits to the groom, but with different button holes from Mike.

The bridesmaids, meanwhile, wore blue/grey multi-way dresses from M&S with gypsophila worn in their hair.

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cool & chic: a vintage wedding at holmes mill – lauren & nick

July 13th, 2018 | Aislinn Thompson

A Cool Wedding at Holmes Mill (c) Sarah Glynn Photography (63)

Our fabulous Friday real wedding between Lauren and Nick begins with a rather novel proposal – a one carrot gold proposal, if you will (yes, we did say carrot!). It sets the tone for a cool and quirky wedding at the stylish Holmes Mill, Lancashire, where industrial meets luxury.

We love Lauren’s original 1950s below-the-knee dress in blush pink with its flirty skirt, lace detail and wide sash nipping in at the waist. It suits Lauren down to the ground as she conveys an air of vintage charm and her wonderful lively personality, shines through in all the images. She completes her individual attire with a pair of sparkly, striped shoes topped with pink and blue ruffles. And groom Nick too has a strong sense of style – we more than approve of his slim tan tie and the two-tone brogues.

This carefree couple look comfortable throughout resulting to a relaxed and fun day filled with entertaining interludes; from calling up some of the guests to take on carving duties (complete with chef’s hats) to competitive ice-cream-eating and one seriously happening ceilidh. So, join us as we two-step this way to hear more about their truly awesome celebrations.

With images by Sarah Glynn Photography.

A Cool Wedding at Holmes Mill (c) Sarah Glynn Photography (31)

lauren says: We got engaged on Christmas morning 2015. We grow a lot of our own food in our garden, and whilst preparing dinner we went outside to pick some carrots. Nick kept suggesting a specific one, but I didn’t think it looked any good. He eventually convinced me to pick it and there was a piece of string attached to the carrot. At the end of the string was a bag; in the bag was an engagement ring! It was his maternal grandmother’s ring and it still had the original receipt from 1910!

A Cool Wedding at Holmes Mill (c) Sarah Glynn Photography (49)

We got married on Saturday 9th June 2018 at Holmes Mill, Clitheroe. We were driving our daughter to a music gig in a library in Lancaster and talking about weddings; Nick mentioned he’d seen “somewhere pretty cool” on a website, so I checked it out and called three days later. The venue and everyone involved there were totally unbelievable! Everyone at Holmes Mill went above and beyond to ensure we had the most perfect day. They accommodated everything and took any stress away from us – even when I asked that someone bring Nick eight ice creams throughout the day. (We once attended a wedding where the groom managed to eat six ice creams. Nick later described him as an “absolute hero” and so I wanted Nick to be a hero at his own wedding!) Communication and organisation was second to none and we were thrilled with everything about the day.

A Cool Wedding at Holmes Mill (c) Sarah Glynn Photography (39)

We didn’t have a specific theme – just that we wanted the wedding to be very ‘us’. That meant having lots of wine, good music, lots of friends and the odd cycling reference here and there. I guess the wedding colour scheme was dictated by my dress really. With the dress being pale pink, it felt right that flowers, etc. should be muted and very ‘earthy’.

A Cool Wedding at Holmes Mill (c) Sarah Glynn Photography (51)

When it came to my dress, Nick actually bought it for me. I’m a real lover of everything vintage and second hand and it’s a genuine 50s dress. I had seen the dress on Susan Hayward’s Facebook page and loved it. On Christmas day it arrived wrapped up. I mentioned on the day that I had seen the dress and imagined it as my wedding dress, he agreed and it sat in the wardrobe until this year. Thank goodness it still fitted! Nick has always been great at choosing clothes for me; I‘m very lucky.

My hair was done by Rachel Wigle at Watermelon Studio in Liverpool. She’s an amazing hairdresser and a fantastic friend; she was invited to the wedding and insisted I wasn’t to do my own hair for my own wedding! It was perfect.

My makeup was done by my wonderful sister Emma Parker. She’d just completed her Level 2 in beauty and so I was really keen for her to do my makeup. We had a few trials and she knew exactly what I wanted. Again, it was perfect.

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drop a beat: live wedding music advice from warble entertainment

July 12th, 2018 | Rachel Parry

First Dance

I think I speak for the majority of brides-to-be when I say that one of my main dreads for the big day would be an empty dancefloor. While I adore the sentimental parts of a wedding, a measure of how much I’ve enjoyed the celebrations is often determined by the amount of time spent on the dancefloor – and so a tumbleweed moment come our evening reception just won’t do.

As such I’m eager to do the required research to ensure we bag the right live acts to set the tone during the day – and keep the party rocking at night. But where to start? Thankfully we’re hearing from our fabulous Sponsor Warble Entertainment today on how to select the best live acts for you, your guests, the theme and the venue. See, already some elements that you might not have thought of!

As a trusted agency with an impressive portfolio of UK-wide acts on their roster, Warble can not only help to narrow down the entertainment search to suit your individual day, but they can also advise on how to get the very best out of the live band or performer that you book.

So, without further delay, we’ll hand over to Warble Entertainment team member Joey Burdon, to lift the lid (or raise the roof!) on securing a jumpin’ dancefloor!

Images provided by Warble Entertainment.

Wedding Entertainment

Why would you encourage couples to hire a singer/band for their wedding?

joey says: Live music is an experience. It’s an amazing thing that has the power to move you and create lifelong memories. With a live wedding musician you are getting a truly unique performance for your special day. Not only that but the pure energy that a party band can bring to your night is unmatched. One comment we hear all the time is how couples enjoyed having their own private gig or concert on their wedding night and how interactive the whole experience was.

Consider the times where you would usually have pre-recorded music on your wedding day and think, can this be performed by a live musician instead? Key moments might be walking down the aisle or your first dance. Having a bespoke and live performance of a song that encapsulates you as a couple is the perfect touch to add to proceedings and is sure to be remembered.

How should couples go about choosing the right genre of live act for their wedding day – what elements should they take into consideration?

A lot of couples make the mistake of being too self-indulgent here (why wouldn’t you?!) but you really do need to consider your guests. It’s great to find a band you like but are they going to get on with your friends and family? Can they play songs to please everyone as well as some numbers that fit with your theme? Are they equipped to fill the dance floor on your wedding night and get your guests dancing? You will want to be asking these questions as you do research into potential live acts for your wedding.

You will also want to consider both your venue and your theme, if you have one. Certain acts lend themselves better to certain themes and settings, and you will want your wedding entertainment to feel at home on your wedding day. For example a barn venue or festival theme is just screaming for a Mumford & Son’s style folk band with a towering double bass and banjos. If your chosen venue is a picture perfect castle with rich history, find an act that lean towards more classical vibes or even create that fairy tale atmosphere with elegant entertainment.

Helen Lisk Photography

Helen Lisk Photography

How can couples source potential acts and what elements should they check when comparing those in their short-list?

The majority of couples look online now for their wedding inspiration and have done for a long time! This is no different for wedding entertainment as there is so much information available on potential acts at your fingertips. Do some heavy searching and start to get an idea what you like or dislike about certain acts to help you narrow it down.

A lot of acts that are set up specifically for weddings rarely get to play public events. This makes it difficult to see your band before you book so how can you be sure you have the right band? Reviews and testimonials are key. A band might look and sound amazing online but how do you know how much experience they have or what other people think of them? Look around and build up a picture using reviews to tell you exactly what the act are like at a typical wedding.

Do couples need to check with their venue if they can have a live act at their wedding before booking and, if so, are there any other key questions they should ask?

Yes, definitely ask the question, ‘can I have live music?’. If this is important to you on your wedding day it should be one of your first questions. Sound limiters are also becoming more commonplace at wedding venues around the country so it’s important to check this. However, don’t be disheartened if the venue has one in place! You can still have live music, just find out what the limit is so you can make better decisions on what acts you look at. Warble Entertainment have a wide variety of limiter friendly bands that can work with these types of venues.

I would also ask to see the space where the band would set up, and also if there is a designated dancing space for you to throw some shapes! This will allow you to visualise the band on your night and know that there is adequate space for guests to enjoy your live act.

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a lavish launch: tilstone house, cheshire

July 10th, 2018 | Rachel Parry

Tilstone House (c) Natural Selection Design (1)

As the backdrop and setting to your big day, deciding on the venue can be one of the trickiest hurdles to overcome during the planning process. Couples are often keen to find somewhere that suits their taste, style and personalities – though the absolute cherry on the cake has to be if the venue is new to the wedding scene, meaning that none of their guests will have attended an event there before.

As such it’s a super exciting part of our jobs when we can reveal a freshly launched venue as one of our latest Sponsors – just as we’re doing in this post today. And it’s one for those of you looking to marry in the North West – introducing the fabulous Tilstone House, a stunning stately home located just outside of Tarporley, in the heart of the Cheshire countryside.

This exclusive wedding and event venue officially opened its doors to brides and grooms in the spring with a spectacular party giving guests a flavour of what the luxurious period property has to offer and showcasing its stunning range of ceremony and reception spaces.

For those that weren’t able to make the launch, we’re catching up with the lady who knows Tilstone House inside-out, its wedding and events planner, Charlotte Elise Dodd, who’s giving us the lowdown on this sensational venue whilst filling us on that fabulous party too!

With images by Natural Selection Design.

Tilstone House (c) Natural Selection Design (13)

You launched Tilstone House in style with a party titled ‘The Art of the Spectacular’ – how did the evening go?

charlotte says: We’ve been eagerly anticipating the official launch event for a long time and so it was fantastic to see all the hard work and planning pay off.

The launch saw more than 100 guests attend Tilstone House for a theatrical spectacle, involving live actors and a firework display. Actors and performers from Yet Another Carnival, a Storyhouse Theatre associated company, were stationed in various rooms in the venue, each assuming a different role at a fictional 1920s wedding. From the bride and groom sharing a romantic first dance, to Old Etonian baronet and original owner, Sir Gilbert Greenall, returning from a shooting trip, guests were left enchanted by the characters’ anecdotes and mischievous activities.

And what other treats did guests enjoy to during the event?

Canapes were provided by Northern Fields, one of the venue’s official catering partners. Trailblazers in ground-breaking gastronomy, Northern Fields is renowned for its innovative and experimental food offering, and guests were treated to a host of options, including cured salmon and celeriac and tuna tartare with wild garlic and peas.

Live music was performed by international events party band, Under the Covers. With a set-list covering everything from classics to modern hits, guests enjoyed an evening of top quality entertainment from one of the most sought-after function bands in the North West.

The evening culminated with a firework display by Big Wedding Fireworks, who specialise in spellbinding, musically choreographed displays for weddings and events.

All in all, the launch party gave guests an idea of what’s to come at Tilstone House – and now we can’t wait to get started.

Tilstone House (c) Natural Selection Design (2)

For those that weren’t able to make the launch party, please could you describe the look and feel of Tilstone House?

Tilstone House is a luxury wedding venue. It has a Victorian style exterior and many traditional features within, such as fireplaces, staircases, flooring and the tall ceilings, have all been maintained but we have undergone a recent refurbishment to make it more current and contemporary without it being too modern, so it lends itself to all styles of weddings.

And what do you know about its history?

The House was built in 1888 by Lord and Lady Daresbury – it was originally used as a hunting and shooting lodge and was sold and lived in by many different families over the years until the current owner decided it would be a fantastic and beautiful wedding venue.’

Tilstone House (c) Natural Selection Design (3)

Can you tell us about the ceremony and reception areas?

Tilstone House has many different ceremony options – our beautiful lawns and pergola are licensed for civil ceremonies for more than 100 guests; we have a small indoor ceremony room for up to 40 guests, and also a larger conservatory ceremony room for up to 100 guests. We have a large function room has been recently renovated and can seat around 100 guests comfortably for the wedding breakfast and then extra guests in the evening.

We offer exclusive use of the House, so all rooms can be used by guests, no-one lives in the property so no areas are out of bounds. Couples could have an intimate gin bar in one of our drawing rooms and a whisky bar in another if they wish. We have a lovely library room for guests to enjoy as well if they would prefer to be away from the action of the wedding and would like some time to themselves.

What makes Tilstone House a special wedding venue and sets it apart from others?

The exclusive use aspect is really important for us at Tilstone House and myself and my team deliver a personal and bespoke service to our couples leading up to, and on the day of, the wedding.

Brides and grooms will be able to utilise the house and the grounds in any way they fancy – there are no rules as to where you can and can’t go for pictures, there are no rooms that are blocked off. The second the exclusive use starts, couples can rest assured that the only people in that house will be their suppliers, guests, the caterers and my team.

There is nothing that we can’t do for our clients – we will be working the morning of the wedding to dress the venue, put everything out and meet with the suppliers as they arrive to set up – so couples and their guests will not need to lift a finger.

I truly believe Tilstone House is going to become the best venue in the North West – the services, care and wedding couples will receive at Tilstone House will be second to none and nothing will be too much trouble for us. There are no limits as to when we can have meetings; we can meet daytime, evening, weekends – as many times as the bride and groom would like leading up to their wedding, again, a bespoke service that not all venues offer.

Tilstone House (c) Natural Selection Design (19)

What sort of bride would be a Tilstone House bride?

A bride who wants their wedding to be the absolute perfect day where they don’t need to do everything themselves – we can take care of everything. Also, a bride who likes the option to utilise so many different spaces and styles for their wedding day, including outdoor and indoor options.

How can your staff help to make the planning process easier and the big day amazing?

Charlotte Elise Weddings and Events will be managing all weddings exclusively at Tilstone House – we won ‘North-West Wedding Planner of the Year’ in the 2017 Wedding Industry Awards. We know how to run a wedding, how to plan a wedding and have worked at so many different venues so couples really are getting very experienced planners.

We will supply couples who book their wedding at Tilstone House with a personalised ‘supplier recommendation’ list, which will be tailored based on the conversations we’ve had regarding the style of the wedding.

Charlotte Elise Weddings and Events are also offering their Full Planning Wedding Package at a discounted rate for Tilstone House clients, so brides and grooms can relax knowing a professional is taking care of everything and that their day will run extremely smoothly.

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