Charlotte Balbier
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Up For Discussion: Achieving The Perfect Level Of Wedding Morning Zen

November 11th, 2011 | Julia Braime

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Poppy Day.

Well, whaddya know?  Its only Friday!  Yippee!  What have you got planned for the weekend?  Two days of intensive wedding planning, some time out, a hen party celebration (speaking of which, have you read my top tips for planning a hen do or entered this little giveaway yet?), or maybe, just maybe, its time to say I do?!  Whatever you are up to, I hope you have a good one.

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Before we get there though, It’s 11.11.11 today – so please do remember to wear your poppy with pride. 

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Today, our guest blogger and newlywed Alison is back on the wedding blog with another reflection on getting hitched.  You all loved her novel way of choosing a marital name last Friday, so I thought I would put my feet up, dunk another ginger snap in my brew, and let her take the floor…

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Over to Alison: When I was planning my wedding at Chester Zoo, like all brides, I aspired for perfection. I was convinced that I could organise the best wedding people had ever been to.

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog: FourT4 Photography

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I remember reading an article in one of my wedding magazines about the perfect wedding morning. In my quest for the perfect day, I gobbled up all the advice and aspired to achieve a similar level of Zen. 

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Apparently, the magazine told me, I should be aiming for a good night’s sleep, awaking from my princess slumber refreshed, excited and ready to float through my perfect day.

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The reality was rather different.  While hubby-to-be stayed in Chester the night before our wedding, I was at home in South Manchester with my dad and sister. With only one spare room, my sister slept on an inflatable mattress at the end of my bed – which farted loudly every time she turned over – which was a lot. I think I got 20 minutes sleep and when the alarm went at 7am I shot out of bed and promptly tripped over my own eye bags. It wasn’t the image of impossible glamour I was aspiring towards.

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The article then advised me to have a breakfast of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs – light enough for the guests not to be able to see what I’d had for breakfast, but substantial enough to see me through until my second (wedding) breakfast.

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I didn’t quite manage that either. The lack of sleep coupled with an overdose of adrenaline meant that I managed to shove a third of a bowl of ‘oats’ down my bridal neck before feeling sick and giving up.

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My perfect wedding morning was also to include a relaxing bubble bath, favourite calming tunes on my ipod and half an hour of quiet meditation.

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In theory – what a nice idea. In practice – you’ve got to be joking!  I was surviving on adrenaline and a third of a bowl of oats. If I relaxed I’d be asleep! I opted for an alternative strategy and drank red bull and coffee.

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After loading the car I spent the next hour barking at my dad to sit down, be quiet and refer to his wedding spread sheet – it didn’t bring out the ‘good daughter’ in me. I then drove like a lunatic along the M56 wishing traffic be gone and praying that the car wouldn’t break down.

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog: Alison Staples

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When we arrived at the hotel in Chester where we were getting ready, we were still statistically within the margin of error on the wedding timetable. I’d bought croissants and champagne so I allowed myself a brief moment of relaxation and un-corked my first smile of the day.

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Unfortunately the ‘fizz’ was fleeting. With five bridesmaids and myself waiting for our transformation, it came to light that the salon only had one pair of hair straighteners. By the time my hair was finished we were nearly an hour behind schedule. My make-up artist was pacing and despite having an extensive pre-wedding make-up consultation to find the perfect wedding look, by this point I was willing her to just slap it on and finish. Red danger lights were flashing and I was about to turn into a whistling kettle.

My sister reminded me to breathe!

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We hired a wedding bus to collect guests from various points in Chester and transport them to the zoo. I was still having my face fixed when it arrived – and luckily I had a bit more time before my car turned up. Thirty minutes later I was sprinting through the hotel in my Jenny Packham wedding dress, heels and bouquet, with my poor dad trailing in my wake, trying to make up time.

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It was only when I was actually sitting in my wedding car (and back on schedule) that I started to relax into the day. Little did I know that our wedding bus had got stuck in the hotel car park and was only two minutes up the road ahead of us!

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No matter how much you brief people, no one knows the big picture of your wedding like you and although the day ran like clockwork from then on, every so often I had to prod proceedings to keep them on track:

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“We should be having the group shots now.”

“They should be serving afternoon tea.”

“Can you round people up for the speeches.”

“Time to cut the cake.”

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And so forth. Luckily I had my ‘Best Woman Gill’ who would go and make things happen and ensure that while my little duck feet were paddling away like Michael Flattery, to my guests I was gliding like a beautifully elegant swan.

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I guess what I’m saying is, plan your perfect day, plan your perfect wedding morning. If you manage to achieve the required level of Zen then I take my tiara off to you. But if it doesn’t quite run to plan, take a deep breath, try not to panic, embrace the story it will give you and if you don’t get to the church quite on time – it isn’t the end of the world.

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FourT4 Photography

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So, Brides Up North – what are your plans for wedding morning zen?  Do you think you can achieve it?  And if you have been there and done that – what was your secret?  Tell us!  It’s officially up for discussion. 

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To read Alison’s post from last Friday and to find out a little bit more about her, click here

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Alison writes her own lifestyle blog over at – http://alison-staples.blogspot.com – check it out!

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HEARTIt’s also Alison’s six month wedding anniversary today!  See her real wedding here. Congrats! HEART

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  – Images © 2011 Alison Staples and FourT4 Photography

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Wild Thing! A Real Wedding – Alison & Tris

October 21st, 2011 | Julia Braime

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I’ve saved something special to round off the week today as this Real Wedding submission comes from one very fabulous lady.  Today’s bride has travelled the World, beaten cancer, bagged a groom online and to top it all off chose to get married at the zoo, in one of my favourite Jenny Packham designs of all time.  She even recorded her feelings in the week leading up to her wedding for posterity on Facebook (see her sweet and hilarious status updates below!).

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I am totally in awe of this remarkable lady and kind of want her to be my new best friend.  Alison’s positivity and life life to the full attitude shines through, and I love that.  With that in mind, have a brilliant Friday Brides Up North!

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Brides Up North Wedding Blog: FourT4 Photography.

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Alison’s Facebook musings, the week of her wedding:

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Sat 4th June
Hells bells – this time next week I’ll be on my way to Chester to get married. Bl**dy hell ……. Bl**dy hell ……. but in a good way!!

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Sun 5th June
I’m told that as this week progresses, I will plunge deeper & deeper into meltdown & that I should give daily updates so you can all chart my nervous breakdown! My main concern today is if I will be able to wear a vest under my wedding dress! I’ve been googling weather websites & finally found one for Chester which said it would be 30 degrees. I was very excited until I realised it was Chester Arizona!

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Mon 6th June
5 days to go! Have discovered that magic knickers aren’t really magic at all. They just push the flab up into your arm pits. No bride wants B(r)ad Pitts on her wedding day.  Have emptied M&S of every kind of flesh coloured pants. Am not taking any chances!

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Tues 7th June
Is very excited to confirm that the ceremony is being performed by a media celebrity! No, not Liza Minnelli – while watching the ‘Andy & Hannah from Colwyn Bay’ edition of ‘Don’t Tell the Bride’ (for the second time) – essential viewing for all Brides to be – I spotted our lovely registrar Carol, doing the ‘I do’. How weird is that!
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Weds 8th June

3 days to go! Was woken up in the night by the cat trying to eat a dead bird in my new wedding shoes. If I could replicate what happened next, I’d be giving Usain Bolt a run for his money in next years Olympics! Bad Charley!
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Thurs 9th June

2 days to go – and it’s also five years today since Tris and I went on our first date. What a 5 years – I’ve travelled round the world, been made redundant twice, Tris moved in, I got cancer, got engaged, I got a new immune system (& new hair), kicked cancer’s butt (hopefully) and in 2 days I get to marry the man who has stuck with me throughout this crazy roller coaster. I’m a lucky girl.  Manicure & pedicure – check. Lime & ginger scrub and body glow – check. I’m starting to transform into a bride!!!

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Fri 10th June
1 day to go – and Charley is now wearing his special wedding collar! To all our guests travelling from far and wide today – have a good journey and travel safely. Am so excited, trying hard not to bubble over and peak too soon. Oh My God – I’m now entering the ‘Wedding Weekend’ planning spreadsheet!  The Sale and Altrincham Messenger have been on the phone – and we’re on! They want to do an article! I’m like Max Clifford!  Tris is in Chester, I’m in Sale with Dad and sister. I’ve ticked the last thing off my list. Night night Alison Staples. Tomorrow a whole new chapter begins!

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Sat 11th June – Wedding Day!
Holy Matrimony Batman! I’ve had no sleep – but the sun is shining. Right – breath – gather – shall I go and get married? Absof*****lutely!!

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Brides Up North Wedding Blog: FourT4 Photography

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Over to Alison for the full story:  Tris and I met when I fibbed about my age and went boy shopping on the internet three weeks after having booked a five month around the World trip.  We not only survived this separation, but my cancer diagnosis which culminated in me having a stem cell transplant in April 2010.

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Brides Up North Wedding Blog: FourT4 Photography

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Brides Up North Wedding Blog: FourT4 Photography

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Brides Up North Wedding Blog: FourT4 Photography   Brides Up North Wedding Blog: FourT4 Photography

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Brides Up North Wedding Blog: FourT4 Photography

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We got engaged just after I became ill on ‘The Lovers Island’ (pure fluke) off Anglesey with Tris buying me a fabulous vintage style Steven Stone engagement ring which was much admired over the next eight months by my chemo nurses!

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After a positive scan result we took the plunge and decided to set the date (timed to put enough distance between my illness and the wedding for my hair to grow back). There was only one place that felt right. With my degree and PhD in Zoology and Tris having lived in Africa for two years – Oakfield Manor at Chester Zoo was perfect.  In addition, with all the help and support that we had received from family and friends, I was determined to put on a really big party to say thank you and with nearly 50 children invited what better place than the zoo?

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Brides Up North Wedding Blog: FourT4 Photography

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Brides Up North Wedding Blog: FourT4 Photography

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When you have a fabulous venue like a zoo, you don’t need to worry any more about other gimmicks or themes, though there were quite a few blue butterflies dotted around on invitations, orders of service and bridesmaids dresses.

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I tried hard to save money where I could so that the budget could be used to invite more people and add little touches which would make a big difference. For example, as a nod to Tris’ London roots we booked a red London Routemaster wedding bus to transport guests from the centre of Chester out to the zoo, while I arrived in a peacock blue Rolls Royce Silver Shadow.

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I continued the butterfly theme by wearing a Jenny Packham dress called Papillon and a Flo & Percy headpiece. My flowers were huge blue and purple orchids sculptured by The Design Element.

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Brides Up North Wedding Blog: FourT4 Photography

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Brides Up North Wedding Blog: FourT4 Photography

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Brides Up North Wedding Blog: FourT4 Photography

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Click through to read the rest of their story and see all their Real Wedding pictures…

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