Charlotte Balbier

love is in the air. ian stuart for a classic wedding in the north west – linzi and leigh

May 7th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

a classic wedding in Cheshire (c) Ally M Photography (33)

This wedding has it all – glamour, sparkles, a pretty princess dress and even a helicopter.

Bride Linzi chose simple and elegant styling to create her classic dream wedding in various tones of romantic ivory at Davenport Green Hall, and my goodness didn’t it look gorgeous!

Between Linzi’s words and fabulous images by Ally M Photography you can really feel the love in this wedding, not only between the bride and groom but also their friends and family who clearly mean the world to them (this one made us teary).

a classic wedding in Cheshire (c) Ally M Photography (6)

linzi says: We got engaged on 18th March 2010 on a trip to Venice. We’d travelled to Venice for the weekend as it was Leigh’s birthday. On the first evening we went out for dinner and on our way back to the river taxi we went through St Mark’s Square, that’s when Leigh bent down on one knee and popped the question. Of course my answer was yes. Venice is such a spectacular place and so romantic, it was just so perfect.

a classic wedding in Cheshire (c) Ally M Photography (5)

We set the date for 8th August 2014. We chose August as it would still be warm but hopefully not too hot. The day itself started off with heavy rain but after the ceremony we had glorious sunshine throughout the rest of the day.

Our wedding venue was Davenport Green Hall. The first time we viewed this venue we knew this place was perfect for us as its set in its own grounds and meant that we had the entire estate to ourselves and our guests. The venue itself combined both old Tudor style with immaculate and modern décor inside which was perfect for our tastes. Better yet, the bridal suite was in the grounds and so was only a stone’s throw away when we had partied the night away.

a classic wedding in Cheshire (c) Ally M Photography (7)

We did not have a certain theme but I wanted a wedding that suited our tastes as couple. With that in mind I kept the theme simple, classic, elegant and natural in all ivory tones. It began with our beautiful wedding invitations which were pure ivory with pearl and diamante fronting and pearlised envelopes right down to our exquisite wedding cake which we kept to all ivory tones too. I always knew that I wanted to keep to ivory as it creates a beautiful and romantic feel.

a classic wedding in Cheshire (c) Ally M Photography (13)

My dress was by Ian Stuart. I had tried on about ten dresses before this one but as soon I put it on, I knew it was the one for me – I felt like a princess! I also knew that my daughters, Ella and Chloe would love the dress because of the heavy sparkle detail to it and the princess look. I purchased the dress from Bridal Italia in Bolton. I had quite a few fittings in the dress and each and every time, I was sorry to take it off.

My chief bridesmaid Vicki surprised me with my beautiful earrings on my hen do. I had said that as my dress was quite detailed, I needed a simple drop earing and they were so perfect, I couldn’t have made a better choice myself.

The night before my wedding, I had all the female members of my family and my friends around to my house to have a final pamper from my sister who is a beauty therapist. In the midst of hair dying and nail painting, my bridesmaids provided me with a box which contained my something old, new, borrowed and blue. The something old was a broche with a picture of my dad who passed away when I was younger and to which they then tied to my bouquet so he could walk down the aisle with me the following day. The something new was a new bottle of perfume which I loved so the scent would always remind me of our special day. The something borrowed was a simple diamond bracelet to wear with my dress as I didn’t want anything heavy and wanted the dress to do all the talking. The something blue was a blue garter which although they had measured my leg previously, still managed to continually fall down all day!

On the morning of my wedding, myself and my bridesmaids, along with my mother-in-law, all attended a local salon to have our hair done. Whilst there we had our makeup done by my lovely friend and makeup artist Natalie Marie. Ally, the photographer, even came to the salon so he could get some pics of us all getting prepared for the day.

a classic wedding in Cheshire (c) Ally M Photography (17)

a classic wedding in Cheshire (c) Ally M Photography (18)

Leigh wore three piece tails in grey with an ivory tie to match myself and our daughters. We decided against top hats as it was a warm day. These were rented from Groom at the Wedding House in Liverpool.

My four older bridesmaids wore grey dresses from Coast with diamante sparkle belts to match my theme and my wedding dress.

My two daughters Ella and Chloe wore ivory dresses. I didn’t like the thought of having a coloured sash put on their dresses so I had a band of three flowers sewn onto each dress to tie in with the theme of romance. They also had their hair delicately designed into crowns so they felt like little princesses too.

The groomsmen wore grey three piece suits with the same shade of grey as the girls’ Coast bridesmaid dresses. These were also from Groom at The Wedding House in Liverpool.

a classic wedding in Cheshire (c) Ally M Photography (20)

On the wedding day I travelled to the venue in a Bentley, which was hired from AJ Limousines in Manchester, who we would recommend. My husband meanwhile travelled to the venue by helicopter which was amazing as all our guests stood outside to watch and all the bridesmaids watched from a bedroom window of venue. Although he was nearly an hour late due to nearly not being able to fly as there was heavy rain and a serious accident on the motorway on the way to the airport! Leigh is late for everything, so it was no surprise he was an hour late for his own wedding!

a classic wedding in Cheshire (c) Ally M Photography (21)

Our photographer was Ally Hedeyati of Ally M Photography. We met Ally about ten months before our wedding and we instantly knew he was the one for us. We had our pre-wedding shoot in Southport with our children and the pictures he produced were just amazing and so natural! We knew we had made the right choice when it came to our wedding pictures. Ally is so friendly and professional and extremely funny which immediately puts you at ease. Neither I nor Leigh were particularly confident in front of the camera but Ally made sure that he got the best from us. I would definitely recommend Ally as his pictures tell a story and one thing from your wedding is that it all goes past so fast that you need the expertise of a great photographer who can capture these moments that you will never get back – Ally is definitely the person to do this.

a classic wedding in Cheshire (c) Ally M Photography (31)

All my flowers were artificial. My bridal flowers were by Alison by Lasting Memories in Timperley who also dressed the venue. My bouquet was half flower and half broche as I wanted this to complement my detailed dress which sparkled. I asked Alison to place a diamante initial in each of my bridesmaids’ bouquets for individuality which such a nice touch.

I had seen quite a lot of Alison’s work so I knew that I would love the way she had set up the civil ceremony room and then the conversion into the wedding breakfast. It was just the romantic look I was trying to achieve with candles, flowers and glass everywhere. I would highly recommend Alison.

a classic wedding in Cheshire (c) Ally M Photography (30)

For our favours we provided the men with mini Jaeger bottles and the woman mini bottles of wine.   We had quite a few children at our wedding and I made them each an individual bag which contained lots of things for keeping them entertained. The older children received perfume and jewellery. All the name tags were painstakingly hand made by me and my mother-in-law to add a personal touch.

We chose a three tier cake in the style of a bird cage. Each tier was a different flavour. The top was sponge, the middle tier was lemon and the bottom was chocolate. The cake was then surrounded by more than 30 mini cakes to match. We did re-design the cake to incorporate touches that we specifically wanted. For example I asked them to put ‘L&L’ on the front and also our daughters’ names were placed on tags which hung from it. The cake was from Occasion Cakes in Bolton.

a classic wedding in Cheshire (c) Ally M Photography (35)

For entertainment we had a live six piece swing and jazz band called The Young Swing Things that we hired through Garston Entertainments who were very professional and got back to us quickly. Kayleigh, the main singer was phenomenal and everyone commented on how powerful and emotional her voice was. They sang our first dance which was Run by Leona Lewis as my husband and I had a little crush on her for some time and so she was the obvious choice when picking a first dance. My brother took over from my husband mid dance which was very emotional as my father had passed away.

We also had a photo booth which I must say, kept everyone in stitches and was a real highlight of the wedding – a definite must I would recommend. We hired a chocolate fountain too which went down well with the children at the party! I bought hundreds of sparklers and had personalised cards made with our names on and placed them in a huge basket. When it went dark, the guests gathered outside and created a kind of arch and whilst lit, Leigh and I walked through it – magical!

a classic wedding in Cheshire (c) Ally M Photography (36)

We added a few special/personal touches to the day too which included a white tree in the corner of the room with a box of personalised cards so that our guests could write personal messages of luck and wishes to us and then hang on the tree. Our photographer Ally, also gave us a beautiful picture from our shoot and mounted it onto card. We placed this on an easel and our guests were given the opportunity to write their messages around the border.

To help keep guests feeling fresh both the male and female toilets contained a basket with deodorants, hairbrushes, tablets, plasters etc just in case they needed anything. My auntie also made a huge basket and filled with white diamond flip flops in various sizes for all the women when their feet began to hurt as they partied the night away.

a classic wedding in Cheshire (c) Ally M Photography (43)

It’s difficult to choose one particular part of the day as my favourite as there were so many. If I was to choose, it would be walking down the aisle and saying my vows. I wasn’t nervous at all until I stood outside waiting to walk towards Leigh. As I approached him, I knew he was as nervous as I was. My daughters’ together read a really funny reading which had everyone in stitches during our ceremony and I eventually got to say “I do” to the most amazing man on earth. It was definitely the best part of our day.

Other special moments of the day included my brother giving me away and he wore his army uniform to do so with all his medals attached. I also made a speech which heavily referred to my aunt and uncle, Elaine and Trevor, as they have been my parents throughout my life and provided me with so much. My speech was dedicated to them and how I wished for a marriage as normal and loving as they have. I cried through my speech but I got to the end where I thanked my lovely new husband.

a classic wedding in Cheshire (c) Ally M Photography (45)

We had decided not to go on honeymoon as we wanted to go back to Florida the following year however during our first dance my husband told me that we were going to Barcelona for five days the Sunday after our wedding. You can only imagine my excitement! Even my children knew this secret and had managed to keep it from me. Barcelona was a perfect place for honeymoon – very quaint and historic and gorgeous food. My husband is a massive Liverpool fan and whilst there we obviously couldn’t escape a visit to the New Camp.

a classic wedding in Cheshire (c) Ally M Photography (44)

If I was to give a tip to other Brides Up North, it would be to not scrimp on a photographer. I’m so happy that a great photographer was something that we had at our wedding so that we can always look back at the pictures and remember the little things and the things that made us laugh on our special day.

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lookbook. collars & capes.

March 2nd, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Jasmine - Enzoani

Several of our previous lookbook features have focused on wedding dress trends that encourage brides to flash some flesh, but today we are swooning over graceful gowns where modesty is key.

Somewhat unexpectedly dresses featuring high collars and capes (sorry Madge) have come to rule recent bridal runways promoting sophisticated styles that scream high fashion.

Capes

Though it didn’t work out for Madonna at The Brits (awkward) capes are a stylish accessory and can prove an incredibly practical choice for ladies having religious ceremonies that need to cover up that bit more, as well as brides with body hang ups that want to detract from the bits they’re less keen on.

A cape is a demure alternative to a shrug, bolero or jacket that comes in a variety of lengths and designs so brides can choose the type of style statement they wish to make.

The shorter options are fabulous for covering shoulders and the tops of arms while still showing off the main spectacle – the dress. Meanwhile long capes are particularly popular with brides looking to make a dramatic entrance on their wedding day without the use of a regular veil or train.

Solange Knowles is one high-profile bride that recently rocked this look on her wedding day, donning a cape with both her elegant gown and edgy jumpsuit outfits.

High low capes provide an option between the two either as a full coverlet or semi open design depending on how much of the dress a bride wants to be on show.
When it comes to detailing ladies opting for plainer dresses can add interest with laced and blinged-up designs. Meanwhile brides with highly detailed gowns are likely to stick to a simple sheer design though there are no hard rules to abide by.

Whichever option, caped brides can remove the additional garment for the evening celebrations giving them two different looks for their big day whilst also ensuring the all-important dress gets the exposure it deserves.

Designers that we think are executing the caped look exceptionally well within their collections include Monique Lhuillier, Jenny Packham and Claire Pettibone, though our favourite has to be Jasmine from Enzoani, which combines modern elegance with vintage glamour for one gorgeous dress.

Collars

Moving on to another covered-up trend – collars. Overtime the wedding dress neckline has crept up and where once the strapless sweetheart gown reigned supreme there are now full-sleeved designs as well as those with illusion necklines and high-necks.

In some cases the neckline has developed into a fully-fledged collar creating an incredibly regal look, which was favoured by one of the most elegant ladies in history on her wedding day – Grace Kelly.

Similar to the cape, a collard neckline can offer that bit more cover-up for body conscious brides whilst also emitting a theatrical look that’s bound to make a statement.

Many of the collared designs feature delicate lace collars but alternatives can be found in striking shirt necklines and super cute Peter Pan collars. Designers doing up the collar look perfectly include Pronovias, Ian Stuart and Charlotte Balbier – we heart her oh so sweet Flora dress.

All gowns featured are credited in our gallery.

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the big north sample sale.

February 19th, 2015 | Julia Braime

Hollywood

One of my favourite ever scenes in Friends (hey, I’m a big fan!) is the one where Monica, Rachel and Phoebe head to the NYC dress sale to search for Monica’s dream wedding dress.  Issued with whistles by the ever competitive Monica to attract attention if they locate the gown, the girls split up.  A frenzied scene results in a tussle over tulle and Jennifer Aniston cowering under a rail of frocks, using her whistle to sound the search alarm.

Girls, now’s your chance to unleash your inner Monica.

Our North East readers are sorted for this weekend’s plans, but Cheshire ladies… clear your calendar.

Big North Sample Sale

The big north sample sale is brought to you by three leading bridal boutiques in the North-West – Agapé Bridal Boutique, Love Bridal Boutique and The White Closet, and will be held at one of Cheshire’s most popular and one of Brides Up North’s own favourite wedding venues (we’ll be here a month later for our fabulous Luxury & Vintage Wedding Exhibition), The Bowdon Rooms this Sunday 22nd February 2015.

This is the first collaboration of its kind in the North West, developed by three innovative boutiques who had the idea of bringing a host of leading bridal designers together all under one roof for Northern brides-to-be, offering a broad selection of bridal gown styles at amazing discounted prices.

Usually, a bridal boutique would host their own individual sample sale event meaning only a limited amount of brides are able to attend, with a smaller selection of dresses to choose from. The three boutiques involved pride themselves on being in tune with their brides, and knowing that the average bride likes to view a number of designers before making their final dress decision, what better way to present a sample sale than to bring the crème de la crème of bridal designers together for one exclusive event! The Big North Sample Sale allows a larger number of brides to attend and choose from a wide variety of fabulous gowns and designers.

With a collection of much sought after designers including Jenny Packham, Alan Hannah, Temperley London, Charlotte Balbier, Stephanie Allin, Stewart Parvin, Claire Pettibone, Amanda Wakeley, Terry Fox, Raimon Bundo, Ian Stuart and many many more, and with dresses available from £100 to £1700, this event is going to be seriously popular. There will also be a selection of accessories on offer too and some bridesmaid gowns. Savvy brides who know their designers, and appreciate great quality gowns will be in their element with dresses for sale at a fraction of the price. This event will also suit brides who have a shorter timescale to find their dress and whose only option may be to buy ‘off the rail’. Sample dress sizes range from 8-14.

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all gowns featured are available to buy at the event

Brides will have the opportunity to try on gowns at the event, choosing a maximum of 2 at a time. There will be dedicated changing areas (predominantly communal changing areas with some private changing areas available too) and lots of mirrors around the venue. Brides are encouraged to wear nude underwear and also bring a pair of heels of the height they are thinking of wearing on their wedding day. Bridal experts from each boutique will also be on hand to offer any advice on any alterations required, recommended seamstress contacts, dry cleaning etc (alterations and dry cleaning are not included in the dress price) There is a strict girls only policy at the event too!

Payment for dresses will be by cash or card (Visa, Mastercard or Maestro).

Whistles at the ready!

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look book. the little mermaid

January 14th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Crystal - Ian Stuart

There are certain styles of wedding dresses that demand attention, and for me the mermaid gown falls into this category. Fabulously fitted all the way down to the knee, these dresses might not be very easy to manoeuvre in but boy they create a killer silhouette.

The framed bust, tight corseted bodice and dropped waist combination is a classic red carpet look that was designed to turn heads – and it works as well at film premieres as it does on the aisle.

While some brides will choose to let their figure do the talking by picking a mermaid style wedding dress that is simple in its detailing, others will want to go all out with a fishtail frock that is guaranteed to make a splash.

Main images courtesy of Ian Stuart.

Four Seasons - Ian Stuart

For those brides keen on the first option, Justin Alexander has several simple yet stunning designs within his collection. Perfect for vintage style brides, many incorporate lace or antique broach detailing for that extra regal touch.

Myself, I’d be in camp two and would want a mermaid tail that packs a punch. One man’s designs that can promise just that are those that come from Ian Stuart. Brilliantly flamboyant, Stuart’s dresses boast attention grabbing volume and to-die-for detailing. His Cocorico design in pale blue is a gorgeous example. Designed for maximum impact, the dress is fitted down to the knee where it then erupts into an abundance of flowers. Similar to the Brunei dress, the lower skirt can be detached to give brides a dramatically contrasting look for the evening part of their celebrations.

My favourite mermaid creation of Stuart’s though has to be Four Seasons. Its romantic colour, cascading flowers and layers of silk gazar make for one heavenly dress.

Lolobrigida - Ian Stuart

Another designer that leads the style stakes when it comes to mermaid dresses is Maggie Sottero. Also pushing the traditional wedding dress colour boundaries, Sottero offers show stopping gowns in pretty shades of light gold and blush pink. Her detailed bodices and ruffled skirts are without doubt worthy of a place on couture catwalks and provide brides with sensationally glamorous attire.

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lookbook: cold shoulder

August 21st, 2014 | Rachel Parry

Hepburn - Jenny Packham

It’s not unusual for brides to expose their shoulders on their wedding day with bridal boutiques boasting numerous stunning strapless dress designs. But while fashion forward brides might like the idea of flashing a little flesh on their big day, they may well want a gown that pushes the design boundaries that bit further.

Luckily for such brides highly stylish off-the-shoulder wedding dresses crept into a number of 2014 collections and it looks like they’re here to stay as the sophisticated silhouette has been making a strong appearance on 2015 bridal catwalks.

Garbo - Jenny Packham

The lowered neckline offers a romantic and timeless look, beautifully framing shoulders and collar bones. There is a hint of sexiness about such dresses and yet they are still oh so elegant by revealing just the right amount of skin.

Better yet, fashionistas will be pleased to hear that there aren’t just one or two standard off-the-shoulder dress designs, but instead a wonderful array of varying styles, from floaty bohemian and Grecian inspired gowns to structured asymmetrical creations and dresses with dreamy draped sleeves.

Jenny Packham is particularly fond of the lowered neckline and includes a number of super stunning off-the-shoulder gowns in her collection – each with something different to offer. For brides wanting to expose their full shoulders and chest area the Hepburn dress is the perfect option. It keeps the majority of the focus at the top of the floor-length dress whilst adding just a hint of extra detailing to the waistline with a sparking bow. The Monroe dress in an elegant pink/taupe hue exposes a similar area but dares brides to step outside their ivory comfort zone. Meanwhile Billie and Garbo are perfect options for glam brides-to-be looking to add some sparkle to their attire. Both have plunging necklines and glitzy shoulder straps with added detailing in draped capped sleeves which reveal just the tops of the shoulders (often referred to as ‘cold shoulder’ dress designs).

Billie - Jenny Packham

Maggie Sottero has a number of equally attractive designs in her collection. Anna and Maurine both feature pretty cold shoulder flutter sleeves. While one dress is adorned in glistening Swarovski crystals the other is finished with fabulously feminine lace appliqués. The ultra girly June dress in playful blush pink is fit for a Grecian goddess with its floor-length silhouette and draped cold shoulder sleeves. Sottero’s Calypso dress offers a different look with its soft scalloped-edged lowered neckline framing bare shoulders beautifully.

Varying off-the-shoulder designs can also be found in Cymbeline’s current collections. Agadir is a simple slim-line design which would be well suited to brides looking for a subtle design that they can make their own with the addition of striking accessories. Lovers of lace meanwhile will fall head over heels for Habanita which features super thin shoulder straps and a gorgeous lace overlay with elegant elbow-length sleeves. Hossana’s romantic ruffles and relaxed shoulders makes it the perfect choice for bohemian brides while those wanting to make a stronger style statement on the aisle should consider the voluminous Heliante.

When it comes to bridal style statements Ian Stuart instantly springs to mind and his show-stopping off-the-shoulder designs certainly don’t disappoint. Several of Stuart’s designs, such as Evita and Frederique, are reminiscent with regal dresses featured in period dramas. Both feature portrait necklines which leave the colllar bones, shoulders and top of the chest bare. Further flesh-revealing offerings come in the form of Nightingale, Mandalay and Waikiki, each with varying detail including decorative fairytale flowers and delicate beaded lace. And last but by no means least, there is the super cute three-quarter length Sophia lace gown for fifties- style brides brave enough to bare their shoulders whilst also hitching up their hemline a little.

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