Charlotte Balbier
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silver lining. a highly entertaining wedding at west tower – sally & simon

March 23rd, 2015 | Julia Braime

an entertaining wedding at West Tower by Jonny Draper Photography (66)

Having a good time was certainly high up on the priority list for today’s real wedding couple.

Sally and Simon planned their wedding date around securing the right entertainment for their big day in order to ensure the celebrations went with a bang.

Lots of singing, dancing, cocktails and a Jaeger train resulted in a fabulously fun wedding that went on into the small hours.

So it’s full steam ahead with today’s real wedding inspiration… cheers!

With images by Jonny Draper Photography.

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sally says: We got engaged on July 18th 2014. Simon took me and our dog Oscar for a walk up Rivington Pike, it’s all uphill and I nearly gave up half way up but he made me carry on. I’m so glad I did as when we reached the top he got down on one knee! He had a mini bottle of champagne with glass and a can of Stella in his back pack to celebrate! He chose there as we often visit and you can see the church where his dad is buried so it made it that little bit more special!

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We tied the knot on 7th February 2015, the date kind of picked us! We didn’t want a long engagement and always wanted a winter wedding so decided early 2015. The only thing that was a must was having Howard Wing as our entertainment, so it was a case of checking Howard’s diary along with the venues (and Bolton Wanderers fixtures!). I loved having the wedding so soon after the engagement, it meant I didn’t dwell on decisions and everyone’s excitement levels were high all the time!

We were married at Holy Trinity Church, Horwich as Simon’s dad is there. We then went on the have our reception at West Tower, Ormskirk. Years before I met Simon my sister was planning her wedding and was given the brochure by a friend, from that day I said it was where I wanted to get married. We thought it would be out of budget but we were allowed to tailor a package that suit our budget. Neither of us had ever been but we booked straight after our first visit!

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I wanted the theme of the wedding to be very simple and classic. I always wanted an all-white wedding and added a touch of silver to add a little sparkle!

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I wore an Ellis dress, style 11330 from Bridal Italia in Bolton, who were amazing! I always wanted lace strapless mermaid design and must have tried every lace strapless dress made! I wasn’t sure if I had made the right choice but I felt a million dollars on the day and wouldn’t change it! The in-house seamstress made so many changes to the dress to get it exactly as I wanted, covering the tulle neckline with matching lace and creating a deeper sweetheart. I always wanted a bolero to cover up at church so they made me a matching one from scratch. It was exactly what I had pictured in my mind! A few days before the wedding I decide to have a cathedral length veil which Bridal Italia altered to add extra lace down the edges – it gave the wow factor!

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Simon wore a navy three-piece suit from Next, my dress had polka dots within the tulle so he wore a spotty pocket square and a silver tie to match the bridesmaids!

The groomsmen wore matching two-piece suits to Simon but had polka dot navy ties. I had seven bridesmaids who all have their own styles and I wanted them all to love their dress and feel comfortable. So, I decided to go for a multiway dress where each girl could choose a style that suited them. They also had an optional lace bandeau. I encouraged them all to be different with hair, makeup and accessories so they felt amazing and they all did! The dresses were from Coralie Beatrix who sells on Esty.

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It took a team of people to get me and seven bridesmaids ready on the day! My hair was done by Paisley Gamble and make-up by Helen Cafferky, I cannot recommend both enough and will use them both again in the future.

We wanted to cut back on some expenses so decided my dad would drive me to church as he has a lovely car. I bought ribbons to put on and champagne for the journey to the venue. However! On the day just as I had put my dress on and was making my way downstairs my sister told me to look out the window, and there was a vintage silver car waiting! Her and my mum had surprised us, Simon didn’t know about it either until we left the church, he loved it!

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Our photographer was Jonny Draper. He was recommended to us by Howard Wing and as soon as I saw his blog I knew I had to have him! I can’t recommend Jonny enough, he’s great fun and completely put us at ease, he understood exactly what I wanted and the pictures are fantastic!

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My flowers were supplied by Sue Nunn, we were on the same page immediately! I carried a simple bouquet of white roses and I chose centrepieces in all white. She made the table arrangements propped on four test tube vases so views were not obstructed and we added lots of mini tea lights and vases all over the tables! To save a little I asked Sue to provide seven empty vases on the top table for my bridesmaid bouquets, they looked great and kept the flowers fresh to take home! I also hired petal table clothes and silver sequin runners from Gilded Linens for something a little different along with lace chair sashes from Princess4aday.

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As favours we decided to make a charity donation to two charities close to our hearts in remembrance of loved ones we have lost. I bought charity pins for the guests to take away with them.

I called in quite a few favours for the wedding, the cake being one! I left the whole cake design to one of my bridesmaids, Michelle, who had a friend at work that made individually designed cupcakes and a cutting cake. I didn’t see them until the day and they were a lovely surprise!

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One of our planning highlights was the food and wine tasting. We sampled several dishes and settled on butternut squash soup, chicken with a creamy leek and mushroom sauce (yum) and profiteroles. West Tower allowed us to tweak recipes to get exactly what we wanted. We were given so many wines to choose from and Brian spent a lot of time with us tailoring a drinks package to suit. We had several compliments on the red wine we chose! We chose two different beers for the reception drinks, Moretti and Budvar and a Kir Royale for the ladies. The only thing I can recommend for any brides getting married at West Tower is don’t drive to the tasting! I have never seen so much wine and so many cocktails!

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We had Mike Smith Sax Player to provide entertainment for reception drinks, this was a surprise given to me on my hen party from the girls! Later we had Howard Wing. Since we saw Howard for the first time at a friend’s wedding I said I would never get married without him! We wanted a huge party to celebrate our wedding and that’s certainly what Howard delivers. There aren’t enough words to describe how good he is and how many amazing memories I have from the day. He gets everyone involved and in the party spirit. We also booked a DJ – Dave Jones – through Howard Wing, he was amazing, I didn’t leave the dance floor all night!

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We wanted to add special touches to our day to ensure our guests had the best time! One extra was the Jaeger train; we had 100 Jaeger bombs set up and had a race against each other. Simon won however he did slip and fall knocking a few over the bar! Luckily it was all caught on camera and on the short video Howard Wing made on the day! Another little special touch was to have our ‘last kiss’ before our first kiss. We really wanted to make our mums feel special on the day, so as a surprise they were invited up during the ceremony to give us our last kiss as single people before our first. We chose our mothers as they had given us our first ever kiss at birth. We also had Candles 2 Cherish make us two candles in memory of lost ones which we lit during the ceremony and are a great keep sake.

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We would definitely recommend West Tower to others. The venue and setting are stunning and the main reason we booked. Other than the fact the place is stunning, the food is incredible and the staff couldn’t do enough for us. Brian and Charlotte helped with all the planning and Lindsey made sure our day went without a hitch! Lindsey cares about every little detail which was great as I was very particular! After meeting Lindsey I had no worried about the day and felt completely relaxed to leave everything to her! The waiting staff and bar staff are also superb, extremely polite and accommodating, they even stayed up until we wanted to go to bed at 4.30am!

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My favourite part of the day was standing in church next to Simon, all nerves disappeared and I couldn’t take the smile off my face! Closely followed by Howard Wing’s entertainment – epic!

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We left a few days after the wedding for our honeymoon, we went to Jamaica and stayed at Secrets Wild Orchid. The hotel was amazing and it was great to just get away alone and really relax!

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I would advise other Brides Up North not to cut corners on a photographer as after it’s all over you will want amazing memories to look back on! And…the little things really don’t matter!

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urban delight. rich jewel hues for a stylish city centre wedding at the palace hotel, manchester – kate & chris

February 12th, 2015 | Julia Braime

a colourful wedding at The Palace Hotel in Manchester - Kate & Chris (50)

I do love a stunning piece of architecture and clearly so too do today’s real wedding couple Kate and Chris, who picked Manchester’s beautiful Palace Hotel in which to tie the knot.

Its regal marble floors, wood panelling and domed ceiling provided a stunning backdrop for the couple’s vows and evening reception. During the day the new Mr and Mrs headed out onto the streets of Manchester with their photographer James Tracey, for some edgy urban shots which contrast beautifully with those taken inside The Palace.

In addition to a great location, highlights of Kate and Chris’s big day include an opulent colour scheme, delicious food and toe-tapping entertainment. Enjoy!

With images by James Tracey Photography.

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kate says: We got engaged on Christmas Day 2013. I had an idea Chris might propose but when I opened all my presents and there was no ring I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. However later in the day Chris surprised me by asking me to marry him and gave me a beautiful ring. As it was Christmas it was great being with family to help celebrate our engagement.

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Our wedding date was 4th October 2014. We knew we wanted a local wedding but we weren’t too bothered about it being in the summer months as you can’t guarantee the British weather. Instead we decided on early October as it was just out of season but we though the weather wouldn’t be too wintery.

We got married at The Palace Hotel in Manchester city centre. We wanted our ceremony and reception all in one venue but wanted to find somewhere with character which is why we both loved The Palace Hotel. As soon as we walked into the hotel and saw the domed ceiling we both knew it was right for us. We also thought that the hotel would be a great backdrop for our photographs in case the weather was really bad and we couldn’t have any outside, but luckily on the day we were able to get a mixture of both.

I’d definitely recommend The Palace Hotel as a wedding venue. It’s a beautiful setting for a wedding and the layout works really well. We liked the fact that the ceremony room was separate to where we had our wedding breakfast and the bar area had plenty of space for all the guests. The wedding organisers were very helpful, and on the day the service and staff were great. We didn’t have to worry about anything which is what you want on your wedding day.

a colourful wedding at The Palace Hotel in Manchester - Kate & Chris (10)

When looking for wedding inspiration I loved rich, jewel colours, which I thought would be perfect for an autumnal wedding rather than the more pastel shades that you often see in spring and summer.  We decided to go for two colours in the end, a deep purple and a teal colour. The teal bridesmaid dresses were the first things I bought and I thought matching the exact colour of the dresses might be difficult which is why we introduced the purple colour. I loved the fact we had two colours and that everything didn’t have to match.

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I love sparkles and lace so my wedding dress was the perfect combination of both. The dress was by Ellis from the Blossom Collection. I bought it from Timeless Bride in Poynton. Janine, the owner, is lovely and made the whole experience really great. I saw the dress on the shop’s website and when I tried it on I knew it was the one! I loved the keyhole back design and little details such as the staggered button back and the floral gem waistband, which made it different to other dresses I tried on.

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Chris chose his own suit and I didn’t see it until the morning of the wedding! He did a brilliant job. He wore a navy blue morning suit with a dove grey waistcoat and gold tie. He hired the suit from Swarbricks but bought his shirt and tie from Charles Tyrwhitt.

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My four best friends who were my bridesmaids wore floor-length teal dresses from Coast. I actually got them in the January sales so they were a great bargain. The groomsmen wore the same navy blue morning suits and grey waistcoat as Chris. We also bought the shirts and ties for them but they wore purple ties rather than gold.

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A soon as I booked the wedding I knew I wanted Donna Crompton at The Halo Rooms to do mine and my bridesmaids’ hair. She’s fantastic at up dos and is great for ideas and inspiration. Donna also put me in touch with Louise Elliott, a freelance makeup artist who did my makeup on the day. It was great being pampered on the morning of the wedding and not having to worry about anything.

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I decided I didn’t want to spend a lot on transport to the venue so I travelled in a black cab to the hotel with my brother who gave me away. My bridesmaids followed behind in a separate taxi. Chris stayed at the Palace Hotel the night before the wedding so he had no excuses for being late!

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We used James Tracey Photography for our photos, who we booked after he photographed my brother’s wedding the previous year. We loved James’ style of photography; he’s really friendly but also very professional and talented. He captured our day perfectly and we are so pleased with the lasting memories of our wedding day. We ended up with a great mix of more traditional and contemporary photos, especially the ones he took around Manchester city centre. I’d absolutely recommend James.

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Before the wedding, I had a craft day with my bridesmaids where we created our bouquets. I liked that with artificial flowers I could create exactly what I wanted and not be restricted by what was available in terms of types of flowers and colours. It was also a cheaper alternative to fresh flowers and I’m able to keep my bouquet forever.

The Palace Hotel was great and helped with setting up our room on the day of the wedding. I had in my mind how I wanted the room to look and they recreated it perfectly. I provided mirrors, tea lights and scatter crystals for the guests’ tables and the hotel provided the candelabra. For the top table we had floating candles in glass vases as well as my bridesmaid bouquets. We also used Divine Designs who provided white chair covers with a purple sash to finish the room off.

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Our favours also doubled up as our name places. Each guest had their name printed on a traditional sweetshop paper bag which we filled with a few pick ‘n’ mix sweets. Keeping on the sweet theme, our wedding cake was a gift from Chris’ parents. It was made by Joanne Howson at Imagicakes. It was three tiers – chocolate, lemon and carrot cake in a ‘bling and rose’ design. It looked stunning but it also tasted delicious!

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We both love music and knew we wanted some sort of entertainment for our evening reception. In the end we booked the Live Lounge Duo who are Danny Lee and Gary Kirk. They played a great mix of songs that got everyone up on the dance floor straight away. As part of our package they also provided a DJ, which was great for keeping the party going until late.

We also had a photo booth set up for the evening reception, which was great fun. All the guests enjoyed getting dressed up with the props they provide. The photos are printed instantly which was perfect as the guests all went home with a memento from the wedding. We hired the booth for a couple of hours from Phil Burdge at Digi-booth.net.

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It’s hard to say my favourite part of the day as I really did love every minute of it, it’s such a special feeling. I think we both enjoyed the evening reception when the party got started. It’s so nice to have all your friends and family together celebrating with you and having a good time.

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We went on a two week road trip to Las Vegas and California as we wanted an action packed honeymoon. We spent five nights in Vegas and then flew to San Diego for a couple of nights. From there we drove up the Pacific highway stopping at various places such as LA and Santa Barbara before we reached San Francisco for the last part of our honeymoon. It was amazing!

My top tip for other Brides Up North would be decide on the things that matter the most to you both about your day and spend your wedding budget on these things. It’s easy to get carried away and stress over things that won’t even matter to you on the day. Most of all, remember to enjoy it and have fun!

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Look Book: The Bow Factor

July 10th, 2014 | Rachel Parry

Rosa by Stephanie Allin

Rosa by Stephanie Allin 

From small to big and neat to blousy, bows are everywhere. 

A pretty addition to many wedding dresses, ribbons, sashes and bows can be used for delicate detailing or to make one heck of a statement.

Traditionally bows appeared in the back of the dress and were used to cinch in the waist, but today designers are making bolder statements with bows, placing them on the front of the dress, the side, or even on the shoulder.

Honour by Stephanie Allin

Honour by Stephanie Allin

Graceful bows feature quite heavily in Stephanie Allin’s Day and Night collection. Rosa, Heaven and Bardot are equally dreamy designs with slim-line bow and ribbon detailing. Allin’s steely toned Masquerade dress also features a delicate bow, but in the back. Meanwhile her Honour dress (which I have swooned over too many times) gives brides the option to tie its stunning sage green sash, complete with fabulous floral corsages, in the front, back or side, depending on their styling preference.

Stephanie Allin

Images: Stephanie Allin

Those looking for simple bow designs will find options in the collections of Ronald Joyce, Ellis and Sassi Holford, including large princess style gowns as well as structured slim-line creations. Ellis’ tea-length fifties 11404 style dress is a cute example as is Sassi Holford’s Martha dress. Those looking for more detailed designs might prefer Ronald Joyce’s Bernice dress. Its slim-line silhouette features a beautiful cowl neck and embroidery detailing, all finished off with a large jewel-centred bow on the side.

Martha by Sassi Holford

Martha by Sassi Holford

17416 by Ronald Joyce

Bernice by Ronald Joyce

11404 by Ellis Bridals

11404 by Ellis Bridals

67073 by Ronald Joyce

Style 67073 by Ronald Joyce

Josephine & Josephine Skirt by Sassi Holford

Josephine by Sassi Holford

Megan by Sassi Holford

Megan by Sassi Holford

Fans of structured, rather than blousy, bows should look to Holford’s Josephine gown, which features a wide satin bow belt in the front, and her fabulously feminine Megan dress with slim duchess satin bow belt, which nips in neatly at the waist.

South Pacific Print by Ian Stuart

South Pacific Print by Ian Stuart Bride 

Blue Bird by Ian Stuart

Blue Bird by Ian Stuart Bride

Finally, for those really wanting to make a statement on the aisle, there‘s only one man for the job – step forward Ian Stuart. His sensational Supernova collection has several dresses featuring bold bows. Blue Bird (from the Killer Queen collection) is a particularly striking design with incredible oversized bowtails that waterfall down the back of the dress into a flowing chapel train. But top of the stand-out stakes has to be South Pacific that features a billowing oversized bow which cascades from the left hip and opens to reveal flowing silk gazar. A must for fashion-forward brides, this dress is also available in striking floral print for that extra wow-factor!

Ian Stuart Bride

Images: Ian Stuart Bride

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