April 17th, 2015 | Julia Braime
We’ve been chasing the sun all week, and we’re not about to stop now.
Not when the footwear is this good.
Destination wedding or honeymoon accessory… the style factor just soared.
April 16th, 2015 | Julia Braime
With all this promised sunshine on the agenda, plus lots of crushing on this gorgeous Venetian wedding this week, here at Brides Up North HQ we are dreaming about destination dos.
If you are doing the same, there’s an expert to help! Step forward the lovely Lisa (who I first met back in 2012 as part of a shoot for a profile in Fabulous Magazine) of Brides Up North Sponsor the bridal consultant, who is ready and willing to make your overseas dreams come true.
Grab your passport…
When did you launch your business and what is your background?
The Bridal Consultants Ltd was launched in 2004. I have a love of travel, I actually met my own husband while working on cruise ships and together we travelled the Caribbean, South America and Canada for 5 and a half years. This was a fantastic experience and I learnt a lot about the wedding abroad market; Information that was to prove very useful when setting up The Bridal Consultants. When we started, 11 years ago, the wedding abroad industry was very different. It was very much a conveyor belt style of wedding and no one was offering a tailor made service for couples living in the UK who wanted to marry overseas, but didn’t want to book their wedding under the restrictions of a set wedding package, couples who wanted to tailor make their big day to make it personal to them.
What services do you offer and to who?
We plan tailor made weddings for couples wanting to get married abroad in one of our handpicked destinations. This includes everything from helping to choose or recommending the venue, menu planning/tasting, decor, bridal party flowers or live entertainment. We help with the legal paperwork, our admin team will ensure all the documents are completed correctly so the wedding is fully legal on the couples return to the UK. We also work with British people outside of the UK, at the moment we have several brides living in Dubai.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Getting to know our couples and what they want most from their day and then through careful questioning finding out what’s most important so we can make the best recommendations for the venue and the suppliers we recommend to them.
I also love the creativity of seeing a wedding theme come to life, advising on colour choices and decor, after all the majority of our couples won’t see the venue until their wedding day so they rely on our expertise to help them make the best decisions. We visit our venues regularly which really helps with ideas and keeps our information update and fresh!
What makes you different to other destination wedding planners?
A big factor is the way we get to know our couples closely. We provide sample costs and then we encourage our couples to tailor their day rather than commit to a predefined package. Every couple deserves a wedding day tailored exactly to them. We’re also very honest and if we feel that a venue doesn’t suit or a supplier isn’t a good fit we will tell our couples, after all the couples happiness is our success.
Where are you located and what areas do you offer your services in?
We work with brides all over the world but mostly our couples are from the UK, our offices in Chester are in the city centre so easily accessible to those that wish to visit us, however due to time pressures the majority of our brides use email, phone and SKYPE as forms of communication
Can you give Brides Up North an idea on price?
A simple wedding in Santorini, Greece for 25 people is usually around £6000.
This includes everything you need for your wedding and receptions: venue hire, basic photography, decor, food, drinks and wedding planning services. However our average bride spends around £8 to £10k once they have added entertainment, upgraded their photographer and added extra decor. Everyone is unique and usually the sample costing is a starting point for them to work from.
We focus on the wedding and reception, so this doesn’t cover costs such as flights and accommodation or wedding dress/ suits, so don’t forget to budget for those.
What is the process for a bride-to-be booking you to help plan their big day?
Initial contact is made via email or phone where we discuss the bride/grooms ideas/requirements and what they expect. From here there is much communication via email/phone, and on request a consultation to discuss the finer details of the day. As soon as the venue is decided we’ll look at a date and secure this first. Some venues book up years in advance so this is key at this early stage. The Interim planning for the wedding then takes place in October of the year before the wedding with final planning around 3 months before. It’s a very easy process and suits our busy couples. Along the way we are always here to discuss ideas and, of course, concerns which are a normal process in any wedding, we wear many hats!
What areas of the wedding do you find brides need the most help with and why?
Finding the perfect venue is the hardest I would say. The majority of brides will not visit the venue before booking so they rely on us to translate their wants/desires into their perfect day. We visit our venues regularly to ensure we are up to date in our recommendations and we pride ourselves in being able to interpret what a couple wants into their perfect wedding day.
Another thing that couples tend to need help with is the look of the day. Done correctly this really makes the wedding unique and perfectly reflects the couple. I find that couples have lots of ideas but struggle putting them together in a way that works, so we help them to incorporate their ideas and desires into a way that works perfectly with the wedding venue and the day.
Do you offer elements of planning such as venue search as well as a full planning package?
We only offer full wedding planning so the whole day from start to finish.
How far in advance would a bride-to-be need to book you?
At least one year in most locations, however in highly demanded destinations like Italy and Santorini 18 months to 2 years is the norm!
Are there any particular destinations that are popular with your brides at the moment?
Santorini is definitely very popular, it offers exclusivity and is very stylish without losing the Greek charm. It’s not overly commercialised either and is very good value for money considering the calibre of suppliers and venues. We get a lot of requests for a very modern and minimalist look and Santorini fits this perfectly.
What destinations do you cover? Tell us a bit about them.
We specialise in weddings around the Mediterranean, our most popular destination being Greece followed closely by Italy. Greece offers all types of settings from a private beach to vineyards and rustic farms, whereas Italy has an array of private villas, luxury estates and historic castles. We recently expanded our services into Ibiza which is perfect for the relaxed stylish bohemian bride and will shortly be adding Marbella in Spain which offers beautiful boutique style luxury venues and stunning Croatia where you can get married on a small island away from the main land together with a lighthouse, all overlooking the beautiful azure water of the Adriatic coast.
Tell us about the types of weddings you help to plan? Is there a favourite that stands out?
We plan all types of weddings from intimate weddings with 20 guests so extravagant weddings with 100 people plus. I especially love planning weddings where the bride and groom get really involved in the overall look of the day and work closely with us to ensure the day reflects their personalities.
One of my favourites last year was the wedding of Nicole and Andy from Manchester a young professional couple. They were so excited about the wedding, yet so relaxed and trusting in us as a company. They really went to town for their guests by making sure they were kept up to date via a fantastic wedding website. They prepared welcome bags for their guests and gave them out pre departure with wedding guides that were simply brilliant. They went as far as to tell them how much a beer cost and what to wear on the big day (and very funnily what not to wear). On the evening they incorporated games, my favourite was a dancing game where each table was named after a song and when the DJ played that song the guests on that table had to get up and dance and the best dancer got a medal that the bride and groom had made. They also had each guest make peg versions of themselves which each guest brought with them to the wedding and the best peg won an award! Although this was quite a lavish wedding, the wedding was so successful due to the time taken by the bride and groom creating these special touches, and these cost nothing and can be incorporated by anyone.
Any tips for brides-to-be on how to pick the right destination for their wedding?
I would say write down the top 5 priorities, such as weather (sun or snow, warm or hot), budget (and be honest), distance from the UK (long or short haul), cost of guests accommodation/accessibility to all types of accommodation from budget to 5 star, type of wedding venue, (villa/hotel/town hall/church/beach). Once you have these it’s easier to narrow the choices.
What would you say are the main plus points of having a wedding overseas?
The weather is still the main advantage for most bride and grooms along with the unique settings that you can only get with a wedding abroad and the obvious cost factor that your money goes so much further abroad. The majority of the guests won’t have attended a wedding abroad before so you will be offering them a very different and unique experience far different from anything they have experienced before.
What would you say to couples that think it would be too stressful to organise a wedding abroad?
Planning a wedding abroad can be very stressful, more so than planning a wedding in the UK where you can actually visit your suppliers and see them face to face. I would always recommend using a planner that understands your requirements and expectations, offers clear honest advice and that fills you with confidence. You should only really have to get involved in the decision making, the planner should take care of the contracts, and administration along with offering advice and ideas. If you can find a company you trust and enjoy working with there is nothing to be stressed about, you can truly enjoy the experience of the planning and the day itself.
In your experience do destination wedding couples tend to honeymoon in the same place they have their wedding or do they move on to another country?
In most cases the bride and groom have a separate honeymoon after the wedding. The wedding is such an exciting time but much of this time is spent with guests, socialising, hen party/stag do’s, pre wedding dinners, that having the time afterwards together away from guests is quite important so you have time to enjoy each other and reflect. Some go straight on after the wedding others come home, have an after party in the UK and then go onwards to their honeymoon.
Are you married?
I married in 2013 in Scotland! 30 of our close friends came with us so it was a small intimate wedding, it was on the 20th of December as we both love Christmas. However I am planning a renewal of vows in the next few years, I’m just searching for the perfect venue, I love Villa Eva in Italy and The Sunset View Terrace in Santorini, I just can’t decide!
How can Brides Up North get in touch with you or find out more?
We’re really proud of our website, it offers lots of information plus real life wedding case studies and details of each of the gorgeous weddings venues we work with, so this is an excellent place to look at what we do and what we can offer, after this we suggest an email or phone call to talk with our team about your wedding plans:
01244 316 772
April 15th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
When planning a wedding many couples to and fro about what time of the year to set the date for due to the
unpredicatable British weather, knowing that even if they do pick the height of summer, rain is still likely.
To avoid this conundrum some brides and grooms pack their bags and head overseas to warmer climes for their big day – usually choosing a location that doesn’t only guarantee sunshine, but also that’s special to them.
This is true of today’s wedding couple Jack and Kim who wanted to continue their love affair with the Italian culture by saying their ‘I dos’ in the beautiful city of Venice.
Clearly we’re partial to weddings hosted in the north of the UK, but looking at these fabulous photos we can forgive Jack and Kim for jetting off abroad. Just stunning!
With images by Lee Brown Photography.
kim says: We got engaged on 30th September 2012. Jack created a fake story of us going to London to visit his friend for her birthday however when we got there and arrived at a five star hotel I realised this might not be true. Later that evening after going to watch The Taming of the Shrew at the globe theatre, Jack got down on one knee on the banks of the Thames. However his plans were nearly ruined by thousands of women doing a charity run for Cancer Research right on the spot where he planned to pop the question.
We set the date for 23rd May 2014. We chose May as we had decided to get married abroad and felt the weather would be perfect at that time of year, it was also bank holiday weekend which was more convenient for our guests. Jack’s mum later pointed out that our date contained the numbers 1,2,3,4,5 which is apparently lucky in numerology.
After visiting Venice a couple of times for holidays during our relationship, it was a definite and obvious choice for us. We love the Italian culture that focuses on family, love and food. Venice is a beautiful, romantic destination surrounded by history, we love the idea that Venice will not be around forever making it such a unique and fascinating city.
We have a big passion for our home city Manchester particularly in love with the music, football and sense of humour of the city. We wanted to bring a piece of Manchester to Venice by our music choices and colour themes. So we got married to Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart and had our first dance to Noel Gallagher If I had a Gun.
Our bridesmaids were dressed in blue reflecting our love of Manchester City but we also felt it was a colour that would look good in the sun and the reflections of the water in Venice. The groom, best men and family members wore blue ties matching the bridesmaids’ colours.
I chose a fitted fishtail lace dress from Cheadle Bride in Stockport. This was the dress I always pictured myself wearing and felt the vintage look would suit the historical atmosphere of Venice.
Jack wore a bluey/grey three piece skinny fit suit from Next – he wanted to feel comfortable and relaxed in a smart suit.
We had four bridesmaids and two flower girls. Our bridesmaids wore navy blue twist and wrap dresses from BHS which could be worn in many different styles to suit the shape of each bridesmaid. Our two flower girls wore white dresses, again from BHS, which contained petals in the skirt underlay and a ribbon around the waist which matched the colour of the bridesmaid dresses. The groomsmen all wore matching suits to Jack.
I travelled to the venue with my dad, bridesmaids and flower girls in a vintage speed boat which moored right outside the wedding venue.
Lee Brown was our wedding photographer and we would highly recommend him. We felt nervous about using wedding photographers abroad as we felt it may be difficult to communicate exactly what style we wanted. We met with Lee several times before our wedding and Lee showed such interest and enthusiasm in being our photographer from getting details of the wedding party and what shots we wanted to even route planning our day. Lee arrived in Venice early to work out the best locations for pictures and managed to make us feel relaxed and comfortable with a pre wedding shoot. Lee managed to capture all the shots we wanted and much, much more!
We carried sun flowers provided by our wedding planner in Venice. The sunflowers looked bright and beautiful complementing the blues of the bridesmaid dresses.
We held our wedding reception in a beautiful restaurant which didn’t needed much decorating. We used lots of candles, rose petals and traditional Italian sweet decorations.
For wedding favours we gave our sun flower seeds in a vintage brown packet with the slogan ‘all things grow with love’. We felt our guests planting the sunflowers in their gardens would be a perfect reminder every year of what a beautiful day it was.
We chose not to have a traditional wedding cake in Venice as the restaurant provided so many different pastries and desserts. However, we celebrated our wedding in the UK with friends and family who couldn’t join us in Venice a few weeks after we returned. At this reception we had a lace style cake matching my wedding dress with a blue ribbon and our initials on it which was baked by our good friend and one of our bridesmaids, Chloe Prescott.
We went with traditional Italian food and Venetian specialities for the wedding meal, which meant numerous delicious courses.
Following our wedding ceremony we walked with our guests through the streets of Venice and boarded a private boat where we had an hour-long tour of the lagoons of Venice with champagne cocktails. In the evening we created our own entertainment with music and dancing!
We saw a lot of Venice on our wedding day walking through the streets, visiting St Mark’s square and the bridge of sighs. This was a nice surprise for our guests who had just arrived and got to do a bit of sightseeing on the day. It also meant we attracted a lot of attention with people constantly stopping us to congratulate us and take pictures. It made our day extra special feeling like we were celebrities.
We used a wedding planner from Europe Wedding called Lucia Masserini who was amazing in organising all the details of our day and putting up with our endless questions!
I would recommend our destination to any couple wanting a unique experience. It was amazing to be in a beautiful place with all our friends and family and enjoy that experience with them.
My favourite part of the day was coming off the boat and being surrounded by a group of Japanese tourists taking our picture and wishing us good luck. It was something that wouldn’t of happened if we had of got married in the UK and it was amazing that so many people were happy for us. It was a unique experience which our guests still talk, and laugh about!
We left Venice the day after our wedding setting sail on a cruise ship for a week. We returned to Venice for one day after the cruise before returning home which was a very surreal and somewhat sad experience that it was all over and our friends and family had gone home.
Our top tip to other Brides Up North would be to enjoy every minute of the day and take time to spend a few moments away from the crowds with your partner to soak up the atmosphere and occasion.
October 28th, 2014 | Julia Braime
I’m trying to embrace the season – hollowing pumpkins, fur lined boots, fireworks parties and thoughts drifting to Christmas lists… and then a wedding like this drops into my inbox.
Vicky and Matthew, what are you trying to do to me? Let’s soak up some sun, as we join this lucky Manchester based couple for their stunning destination wedding on the white isle.
No hard feelings. Not many, at least.
Images by Brides Up North Sponsor James Tracey Photography.
Vicky says: Matt proposed to me on a random Wednesday evening in August 2013. Matt took me by surprise and decided he would take me out for tea and an overnight stay in Manchester, this immediately roused suspicions but I continued pretending I had no idea. After dining at Australasia, Matt took a me back to the Great John Street Hotel – At this point I believed the proposal was not going to happen, but on arriving back to the room I found rose petals scattered on the bed and a bottle of champagne and strawberries awaiting me arrival. Needless to say tears of joy flowed and more alcohol was consumed.
We were married on Wednesday 27th August 2014 at Elixir Shore Club in Cala Codolar, Ibiza. After doing a 3 day long recce of our favourite Island (somewhere we frequent regularly) we settled on our final appointment ‘Elixir’. Not only were we blown away by the views (tears flowed again) but Vickki who was both the owner and in charge of running the venue, was the most welcoming, friendly person we had encountered so far.
We wanted our wedding to be relaxed and informal to suit the Ibizan vibe. After losing my father in 2013, I decided I would prefer a very informal affair where friends and family could come together and celebrate the event without it being a stifling ‘traditional English’ wedding.
We opted for bright colours so they would stand out against the Ibiza beach backdrop.
I decided to wear something light and comfortable, particularly with the time of year and the obvious heat expected in Ibiza. As it happened, our wedding day apparently reached temperatures of 43 degrees.
I purchased my dress from Bride by Swarbricks in Middleton. The dress is named the Pronovias ‘Pelicano’. The lady who looked after me also holidays in Ibiza every year so we had a lot to talk about during the fitting stages.
Matthew wore a powder blue cotton suit from Next, ideal for warm temperatures. The best man and ushers wore the same suit in a different colour.
James Tracey was our photographer as recommended by friends. We were blown away by his images of our friend’s wedding, particularly the contemporary edginess and just knew we had to book him.
All flowers were silk and created by Nicola Knight in York. All our guests brought a bunch of flowers with them, along with copper sprayed Kilner jars for the flowers to sit in on the tables. We gave away the flowers at the end for guests to keep as a memory.
All the decoration on the day was completed by family and friends, Molly, Phil and Amanda Newton, Rosie and some serious ribbon tying from Steven Grainger.
Our favours were created by Echo Designs and consisted of handmade hanging hearts with printed maps of Ibiza on them.
We opted for a very laid back cake, a favourite of ours, a Victoria Sponge made by my sister in law Molly in a villa microwave oven – it took a few attempts but tasted delicious!
We chose the luxury wedding BBQ as arranged by Elixir and we can honestly say it’s the best food we have ever tasted and many of our guests agreed. The BBQ was served as a buffet style again taking on a more relaxed feel to the day.
My mum pre-recorded her own performance of ‘All of Me’ by John Legend which was played as we walked back up the aisle. We prepared all other music ourselves and had a DJ, Steve later in the evening who was recommended by Elixir.
We used Kids in Ibiza to look after children who cared for the children perfectly. One of the guests was stunned to see her daughter being pushed around in her push chair by the babysitter so she was able to eat her evening meal. A close friend Heidi Heywood, prepared children’s party bags for the kids which they loved!
Una, who manages the weddings at Elixir, paid perfect attention to every single detail and everything ran so smoothly we couldn’t have asked for anyone better. We would 100% recommend our venue to anyone looking to enjoy a wedding on the White Isle.
We have just returned from a two week honeymoon, which consisted of one week touring Sri Lanka and one week in the Maldives on the island of Kuramathi. We had a cultured week in Sri Lanka then a week where we truly relaxed in the Maldives where we had the opportunity to snorkel with tropical fish and sharks.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be don’t sweat the small stuff (or big stuff) and enjoy every minute.
October 6th, 2014 | Rachel Parry
Image via floridianweddings.com, photography by J Layne Photography
Monday. Hatching an escape plan? Us too.
While we’re obviously huge advocates of Northern couples staying true to their roots and getting hitched in the upper areas of the UK, we know there are those brides and grooms that crave a total change of scenery for their big day.
This desire paired with a better chance of dry, warm weather is what often leads couples to pack-up their plans and head overseas. While it may feel like they’re embarking on one of the most exciting holidays of their lives, destination couples will find opting a wedding in a foreign country means planning to perfection and from a distance.
Image via dustjacket-attic.com
In order to make it work research and organisation are key. If executed well, the result can be a fabulously laid-back big day in a dreamy destination that makes all the hard work worthwhile. If not, it may resemble an episode of some holiday horrors type programme.
So for those flirting with the idea of being a jet-set-bride, here’s a few tips to help make the journey less turbulent.
Image via bridalmusings.com, photography by Ruby Yeo Photography
The location of your wedding should reflect something about you as a couple – whether it be the destination where you got engaged, a country with a culture you both adore, or a beach resort because you both love the sun, sea, sand and erm, sangria. The chosen destination is also likely to influence the mood and themeing of your big day. Distance is important to bear in mind too. A European destination for example will be a lot easier and cheaper for you to visit in the run up to your wedding than say an American location. It will also be quicker and cheaper for your guests to travel to.
Image via theknot.com, photography by Eye Wonder Photography
Look into the peak and off-peak times to travel to and stay in your chosen area as this will help you figure out what costs both you and your guests will be facing. Also, be aware of changing weather conditions that different countries encounter throughout the year – the last thing you want to do is book a wedding in Mexico in the midst of hurricane season.
Image via weddingomania.com
When it comes to tying the knot overseas think of a wedding planner as a fairy godmother – you need someone you can trust to help your dreams come true. A planner should know the area like the back of their hand and therefore can advise you on everything from locations and venues to marriage laws and local cuisine. Hopefully they’ve also got a bulging contacts book of recommended suppliers that they have built up great relationships with so can get you great services at competitive prices. Bottom line is it’s highly comforting and less stressful to have a direct point of contact at the place of the wedding who can answer those niggling questions at the drop of a hat.
This really is a must, and several trips would be ideal. On your first visit you could meet with your wedding planner to make sure you feel comfortable leaving part of the planning in their hands. You could also visit different locations, venues and suppliers to help make key decisions about your day. Going once at the time of year you plan to wed is also helpful to experience the climate firsthand which may sway your decisions on food, drink and outfit choices. On any further visits you could check in with your planner, revisit suppliers for tastings/design updates and source local hair and beauty stylists.
Image via oncewed.com, photography by Jose Villa
Apart from the obvious travel and accommodation costs for a wedding celebration that will span beyond a single day, there may be a few other costs to take on board. It may be the case that the destination you chose only allows certain types of ceremonies that you don’t qualify for and therefore you will need to do the legal part in the UK before or after. While for some couples this might just consist of a quick trip to the registry office, others might also want to add on a wedding party back home, particularly if many family and friends were unable to make trip. There’s also likely to be extra baggage costs to squeeze in all your attire and décor, plus you might choose to take a UK supplier, such as a trusted photographer, along with you. In which case there is their travel and accommodation to factor in.
Image via everylastdetail.com, photography by Meg Baisden
Image via stylemepretty.com, photography by Amy Bennett Photography
Booking people for a few days rather than a few hours requires some forward planning. Send out save the dates 12 months in advice if possible and be aware that some of your nearest and dearest may have to decline as their finances just won’t stretch to an overseas trip. Plenty of forewarning also makes it easier for your guests to book the necessary time needed off work.
Image via stylemepretty.com, photography by Peggy Picot
The best thing about a destination wedding is that it’s an adventure and getaway for all involved. Arriving a few days ahead of the main event means guests can kick-back and enjoy their surroundings so they’re laid-back but up for a good time when the wedding arrives. Following the big day it’s nice for newlyweds to have time alone together as Mr and Mrs, so if your guests chose to stick around for a few days why not book a little break in a different location to ensure your honeymoon isn’t hi-jacked.
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