August 2nd, 2018 | Alexis Forsyth
If the sunnier climes up North this summer have given you a taste for the sun drenched, carefree life, then we have the perfect styled shoot for you today, as we transport you to California to provide inspo for that other big day in your life – your hen do!
Led by Natasha, stylist and creator at planning and styling company Want That Invite, the shoot is a dreamy, colourful affair bursting with fun factor – everything we could want from our celebrations with our girl squad in tow!
There are gorgeous prints, palm trees (of course), rainbow bright cocktails, balloons and cake pops to get the party vibes in full swing. And it all takes place in a back garden in the North West of the UK, no less – so no airfare required! We’re just wondering if we even need the excuse of hosting a hen do to recreate this beauty ourselves?!
natasha says: We decided to create this shoot to show our clients what can be achieved in their own back gardens. With the help of us at Want That Invite, and our dream team of suppliers we can transform any space to suit their needs.
California is a popular hen party destination, but this is not always easy to get to (think money, flights and getting everybody to commit). So, instead, we decided to bring California to the UK!
Our colour scheme was inspired by Palm Springs’ architecture; think pastel pinks paired with geometric shapes. The shoot’s overarching theme is California dreaming with a ‘party in Palm Springs’ concept.
We wanted the party to be relatable and to show what’s possible with the help of a planner and stylist. We selected a colleague’s garden as the venue for the shoot, which was fairly neutral with pastel grey fences and no bold flowers or decor. We knew it was the ideal spot for our shoot as we loved the different areas available. There was a grassed area for the picnic, decking for a seating area and also a great long fence for the Photo Booth (supplied by Vivalabooth) to go in front of. It wasn’t overpowered by bushes or trees, which meant our styling was the focal point.
A variety of styling elements were taken into consideration when designing this shoot – from the patterns on the picnic rugs, to the colours of the placemats and cushions. Modern elements were introduced with the use of gold cutlery and Perspex name-tags and signage, with stationery supplied by Ever After Paperie and favours from Team Hen.
Beautiful fresh florals were introduced to add pops of colour to the picnic table, the drinks cart and even in the bride-to-be’s hair, supplied by the talented Milly Davey Flowers. Even the desserts, crafted by Honeywell Bakes and Polka Pops, were styled to match with the theme – think palm trees and pineapples.
We wanted the attire for the shoot to be relaxed, fun and realistic to what would be worn to a garden party. But we wanted to add a statement piece, which is why we decided to get Bee Davies Illustration involved. She created a bespoke denim ‘Miss to Mrs’ jacket to add to the relaxed atmosphere.
September 29th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth
The historic city of Durham is famous for its cathedral, castle and picture-perfect setting by the River Wear, not to mention its first-class university, which attracts students by the hordes. And the good news is that where there are students, there is typically a plethora of bars, restaurants and other activities all awaiting us visiting hens!
A charming destination steeped in heritage, with glorious bridges and cobbled streets, Durham certainly offers hens something more quaint and compact than the much larger neighbouring cities of Newcastle to the north or York to the south.
The city is also the perfect base for hens keen to get out into the Durham countryside and enjoy something altogether more relaxing. Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up some of this fabulous location’s best bits, guaranteed to make your hen weekend one to remember…
Durham is an affordable destination with a variety of options when it comes to overnight accommodation. You have stylish hotel staples in the heart of the city, such as Radisson Blu and the Marriott Hotel Royal County, and on the cheap and cheerful end of the scale, look out for the likes of Travelodge or Premier Inn.
Want to venture out of Durham for a slice of luxury? Look no further than Ramside Hall, a swish four-star hotel on the outskirts of the city set in 350 acres of stunning grounds, complete with an uber-modern spa and Fusion Restaurant.
A river cruise on the Prince Bishop is the perfect way to soak up the city’s beautiful landmarks and serene surroundings. This tranquil escapade along the Wear lasts a full hour and includes a live commentary, with a sun deck and bar onboard to boot. Alternatively, explore the river at your leisure and hire your very own traditional rowing boats from Browns Boats – just make sure none of your hens drop their oars!
If sublime pampering is more of a squad goal for the weekend, the city is close to a number of fabulous spas including our earlier top accommodation pick, Ramside Hall. This is the ultimate spa resort, with a thermal suite and five pools – including a stunning, Insta-worthy infinity pool.
Is a live performance your vice? Then make a date with the Gala Theatre, which plays host to everything from music and dance to comedy and opera. The perfect outing to kick-start your weekend celebrations and switch things up from the usual bar crawl.
September 4th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth
Pitcher & Piano
Renowned as a party city and an ever-popular destination among hens and stags – Newcastle is a cosmopolitan city with a burgeoning food and drinks scene to match.
Home to some of the most iconic landmarks in the country (yes, we’re looking at you Tyne Bridge), Newcastle has got it all when it comes to a weekend break – from top shopping and leisure activities, to an eclectic mix of arts, heritage and culture.
Here we’ve rounded up some of the Toon’s many highlights that will make your hen do the most fun, enjoyable and memorable of celebrations with your gals.
So, it’s time to brush up on your Geordie lingo ladies, and leave those jackets behind in the hotel room…
Whether you’re splurging on something extra special or simply looking for a place to lay your head for the night – there’s a variety of hotels to suit all budgets and tastes, scattered across the city.
If you’re looking to stay a stone’s throw from the picture-perfect River Tyne on the lively Quayside, there’s the purse-friendly Tune Hotel, as well as the reasonably priced Waterside Hotel situated in a beautiful grade II listed building.
On the more decadent end of the spectrum, you have The Vermont – a four-star luxury hotel offering up a dose of 1930s grandeur, and the uber chic Malmaison, which has welcomed many a celebrity over the years and overlooks the tilting Millennium Bridge.
In the heart of the city, budget design hotel Motel One is a hop, skip and a jump from the main shopping centre and is best described as stylish and affordable; meanwhile the newly refurbished Grey Street Hotel is in a prime location on, yes you guessed it – Grey Street, once voted the finest street in Britain.
Like any city – Newcastle has a thriving social scene offering up a mix of activities to suit every style of hen party.
Of course, who doesn’t enjoy a spot of retail therapy with your girl squad in tow? Intu Eldon Square is the go-to destination for all your high street favourites. Meanwhile, Fenwick department store on Northumberland Street is a shopping haven spread over five floors, with its extensive beauty hall (touted as one of the largest in Europe) housing designer brands, such as Charlotte Tilbury, Tom Ford and Chanel, as well as a Nails Inc bar and Aveda blow dry salon. The historic Central Arcade – also in the city centre – dates back to the 1830s and is worth a browse too, with stores such as Space NK, Cath Kidson and independent jewellery shop, Bcharmd.
Keen to get your game on? Lane 7 is a boutique 10-pin bowling alley – think a swish ambient setting, spotlight-illuminated bowling lanes and lots of other activities to boot, including ping-pong, crazy golf and a karaoke booth. Plenty to keep you entertained for a few hours!
Lane 7 – image source
Afternoon tea is always a popular choice among more sophisticated hens (we’re partial to a scone and some fizz ourselves…) and one of our favourite destinations is SIX, the rooftop restaurant at Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. Thanks to its floor to ceiling windows, you’ll be tucking into its dainty cakes and scones while enjoying some of the best views on offer of the River Tyne and its iconic bridges.
If an indulgent pamper sesh is your idea of hen heaven, be sure to check out city centre spa, the Mineral House at the Crowne Plaza. Along with a 10m swimming pool, there’s a spa, steam room and relaxation area for the most blissful of afternoons with the gals.
April 5th, 2017 | Rachel Parry
Here at Brides Up North HQ we’re always super keen to learn more about the fabulous wedding venues available in this half of the country, so that we can spread the word to you, our lovely readers.
While some we follow with interest online, others we’re fortunate to visit in person, allowing us to view and experience their wonderful facilities and hospitality first hand. Our most recent travels saw us heading west, to the impressive Carden Park Hotel, where we were invited for a glorious one-night getaway.
Nested in 1,000 acres of Cheshire countryside, the sizable estate boasts an award-winning hotel, AA Rosette restaurant, championship golf courses, adventure activities and spa. Its spacious function suites and grounds mean it’s also a popular wedding venue, offering a varied choice of settings and packages for a couple’s special day.
Upon arriving for our stay, we were given a tour of the facilities and celebration spaces by the hotel’s friendly wedding planner, Maddie, where the full scope of Carden Park’s offering came to light. Not only can this hotel cater for the big day itself, but it’s an ideal retreat for pre-wedding pampering, a girly or action-packed hen do and a relaxing minimoon.
In terms of accommodation, the hotel offers a wide choice of options; from twin, double and family rooms, up to its spacious luxury suites, with special upgrade extras including a fully stocked complimentary minibar, chocolates, sparkling wine and ESPA toiletries.
Wedding wise, Carden can cater for all sizes and offers the choice of its elegant and contemporary Carden Suite, rustic-style Shooting Suite and open-air Wedding Pavilion, through its ‘Eternity’ and ‘Fairytale’ packages.
Elsewhere in the hotel there is much more to be explored. We began our break with an afternoon tea in the comfortable lounge area before taking the energy levels up a notch with some of the fun outdoor activities available on site. From laser clay shooting, archery and mountain biking to an aerial zip-wiring course, Carden is a playground for all ages.
We were treated to an off-roading 4×4 experience with JEEP enthusiast and instructor Terry, who navigated us through the surrounding woodland, giving us a tour of the expansive estate whilst sliding around the challenging course. Next up, with the help of instructor Ryan, we tried our hand (and feet) at segwaying, which is a little trickier than it looks, but heaps of fun.
Back at the hotel it was time to wind things down again, and so after a quick shower and change, we settled in the bar with a bottle of sauvignon, ahead of our three-course meal in Redmond’s Restaurant. Changing its menu regularly to suit the season and fresh produce available, we were spoiled for choice when it came to making our starter, main and dessert selections but went with the staff recommendations (they certainly know their stuff!) A salmon-starter, chicken-main and panna-cotta-dessert later, it was evident that the standard of food was equal to the level of service – first class!
We retired for the evening feeling immensely satisfied and settled into our king-size beds for a peaceful night’s sleep.
June 14th, 2016 | Rachel Parry
Ladies, we all know the affects that stress can have on our bodies; from aching muscles and skin flare ups, to dark under-eye circles and generally feeling worn out. As one of the most stressful (but enjoyable, we hope) events you can experience in life, it’s little wonder that couples planning weddings can really feel the pressure, both inside and out.
This is why we highly recommend taking a relaxing break from the wedding schedule now and again to recharge the batteries and gather your thoughts, while treating your mind, body and soul. And what better way to do so than booking into a spa resort, whether just for the day or an indulgent minibreak.
Keen to point our readers in the direction of fabulous retreats in the North where they can escape to for solace – and a flippin good massage, we’ve been out on our Blissed Out Bride travels once again.
This time our destress-destination was Slaley Hall golf resort and spa hotel, located in a secluded area of Northumberland. Following our full-on, yet fabulous, season of spring wedding fairs across the north of the country, we were literally crying out for some R&R and so sped up the A1 for a well-deserved Slaley spa day.
As part of the Q Hotel group, the historic hall, set in 1,000 acres of stunning countryside, includes a range of accommodation and eating and drinking facilities, as well as a choice of beautiful function suites, which are available for weddings. Meanwhile outdoors Slaley boasts two championship golf courses and stunning grounds, upon which marquees can be pitched for outdoor celebrations.
The part of its facilities we were looking forward to viewing most however, was its luxury spa. Safely changed into our comforting robes and slippers we headed straight to pool side for some light refreshments and a little magazine time (one of our very favourite ways to unwind) – the pressure on our shoulders instantly lifted. As we stretched back on our loungers the humidity of the room acted as a warming cocoon and we had all on to keep our eyes open – talk about optimum conditions for relaxing!
An impressive space, Slaley’s pool area has a lovely holiday feel about it with tropical plants dotted around the pool, waterfalls and Jacuzzi, and little bridges linking the different areas together.
It was soon lunchtime so we were shown through to one of Slaley’s three restaurants (still wrapped in our robes) to receive our spa day lunch. Presented in a neat Bento Box we enjoyed a healthy (ish) yet satisfying meal of chicken salad with cous cous, vegetable sticks and dip, followed by a lovely piece of chocolate cake, which was all washed down with a tall glass of fizz. We felt this provided he perfect combination of clean and treat eating (both we feel are essential to keep a girl heathy and happy!).
Once the food had settled it was back to the pool for a little snoozing and swimming, whilst also taking some time to detox and clear our skin in the sauna.
Though we didn’t muster the strength to visit (shame on us), Slaley also boasts a health club with state-of-the-art equipment and experienced instructors, to help you reach any pre-wedding fitness goals. Feeling the need for some ultra-pampering, we were booked in for a treatment each and so made our way to the gorgeous relaxation room, complete with soft sofas and beds, to meet our knowledgeable Espa therapists. As I’m soon to be jetting off on my jollies I wanted a treatment that would refresh my skin and really make it glow while still soothing my tired muscles while Julia, who is soon to be expecting a second bundle of joy, required a relaxing facial treatment to prevent any pregnancy break-outs.
May 13th, 2016 | Julia Braime
Planning a hen party should be fun, but sometimes you find you’re just drowning in the admin of it all. Where to go, what to do, whether to choose a wild night or a chilled celebration… it can be a mind boggling and spreadsheet heavy task. Add to that making sure that everyone is invited and has RSVP’d in a way that comes across as more bubbly than bossy, whilst setting the tone for the fun ahead and even the keenest of hens might want to hang up their high heels. It’s an L plate strewn minefield.
Here at Brides Up North we’ve found the answer, courtesy of a cool new service that launches today. The online invite has been long overdue a 21st Century makeover. And it looks like the guys at Brides Up North Sponsor Mini-Epic have done just that!
Super cute, very tongue in cheek and loads of fun… whilst being very practical too. Hey, do Mini-Epic want to be a bridesmaid too?
mini-epic say: Our online hen party invites are fun, totally personalised and add a little bit of excitement to the planning process. It’s a perfect way to get everyone excited for all the amazing things you have planned! As well as setting the perfect tone for your hen party, our range of invitations also collect your guest’s RSVPs, in a simple back-end system that is totally easy to manage and organise. No chasing of emails, or messaging group threads necessary…. it’s all taken care of.
There are loads of templates to choose from too, with a video and animation to suit everyone and every type of party. Think of this as your own personal ‘movie trailer’ to the most amazing night of your life (so far!).
A few examples you can see below, so let us know what you think and which you would choose. The invites are packed with personality and originality, and put your guests in the mood to party with an invitation they won’t forget.
After all, when you go to all the effort of organising a party, you want it to start in the best possible way right?
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