Charlotte Balbier

destination inspiration. supplier showcase: the bridal consultant

April 16th, 2015 | Julia Braime

© www.vangelisphotography.com

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…

© www.vangelisphotography.com

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.

© www.vangelisphotography.com

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

© www.vangelisphotography.com

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

© www.vangelisphotography.com

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.

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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.

© www.vangelisphotography.com

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:

www.thebridalconsultants.com

01244 316 772

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Real Wedding Recap 2012: Sei La Mia Rosa – A Real Destination Wedding In Sorrento, Italy – Sally & Lee

January 1st, 2013 | Julia Braime

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Over the festive period I’ve been recapping some of my very favourite Real Weddings from the last 12 months on the wedding blog. It’s been a tough choice! In true Brides Up North style, each wedding featured on these pages is unique, beautiful and gorgeously personal. It’s been an exceptionally fabulous year! Enjoy… we’ll be returning to our usual schedule tomorrow!

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In this fairly new trade, y’know, the modern profession of wedding blogging, one gets to see a whole load of gorgeous on a daily basis.  But just when you think you are nearing beauty blindness, along comes a Real Wedding that knocks your socks clean off. 

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This words cannot describe how stunning Real Wedding of Northern couple Sally & Lee – sent to me by my new favourite person and friend of the wedding blog Sheffield photographer India Hobson Photography – did just that.  Consider my socks knocked.  

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Thought the New Year was going to be dull?  Think again, as my forecast says jaw dropping!

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India says:  Sally and Lee were worried that if they had an Italian photographer they may come across problems with the language barrier and came to me – and I’m so glad that they did. I flew over with one of Sally’s best friends, and stayed for a few nights around the wedding itself; it was a pleasure to be welcomed by all the guests and it was certainly picturesque.

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Let’s chat to real bride Sally: We got engaged on Christmas morning at home by the Christmas tree in 2009.  Lee and I met in college and after 10 great years together, I was absolutely over the moon to be engaged and it was our most magical Christmas ever!  We married on 2 August 2011 at Cloister St Francesco in Sorrento, situated along the Amalfi coast in Italy.

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We had both agreed on a wedding abroad but wanted to keep a more traditional feel to the ceremony, rather than a beach style wedding. Both Lee and I adore Italy: the food, the culture, the romance, the wine, and the Italian attitude to a laid back lifestyle, embodied in the saying: “dolce far niente” (The sweetness of doing nothing! And yes we have watched Eat Pray Love). After doing our research we stumbled upon the perfect venue, The Cloister St. Francesco in Sorrento, an old monastery dating back to the 8th century.

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When you walk through the entrance and step into the open space surrounded by ancient archways, columns and pretty greenery, you find the perfect romantic setting to say your vows. When you step out of the Cloister, you are greeted with a spectacular view of the bay of Naples. It is a stunning location along the Amalfi coast and provided the perfect romantic backdrop for our wedding photography.

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My father and I travelled from The Grand Hotel de la Ville by traditional Surrentine horse drawn carriage. It was a surreal moment and realisation of a dream come true made all the more exciting when spirited Italians sped past us on their Vespas shouting “Ciao bella!”.

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The theme was vintage romance – the venue and setting spoke for itself really.  We chose neutral shades in fitting with the backdrop, coffee and cream for the bridesmaids.

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The dress was from Catherine-May Bridal in Honley, near Holmfirth. From the offset it was clear that natural taupe, soft grey and earthy tones were best suited to my own skin tone and hair colour, as opposed to classic white or ivory. The style was a mermaid silhouette with strapless sweetheart neckline, an asymmetrical ruched bodice with shabby chic corsage at the hip and a chapel train. The fabric was French Taffeta in feather grey, which gave the dress a more vintage feel. Everyone commented on the colour, which really made a statement and was very fitting to the surroundings and romance of Italy. It was the only dress that gave me butterflies in my tummy when I tried it on and when I saw the look on my mum’s face, I knew it was ‘The One’. The headpiece was vintage lace with pearls, custom-made at Kula Tsurdiu in Nottingham.

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My bouquet was a mixture of cream and vintage lilac roses and greenery. My bridesmaid carried cream roses whilst the flower girl had cream silk rose petals, in keeping with the romantic theme.

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My chief bridesmaid, Katie, wore a dress by Leeds based fashion designer Lucy Bennett, who runs her own label Roc and Doll. I was able to assist in the design process and wanted the dress to have a Grecian goddess feel to it with flowing chiffon fabric. The dress was one shoulder with rose detailing at the strap, rouching at the bust, high waste line with coffee and cream panels on the skirt and a small train at the back. The flower girl, Rebecca, wore a cream dress from Monsoon with vintage lace detail top, capped sleeves, tulle layered skirt and silk bow tie at the back.

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The whole wedding was arranged through a Sorrento based company called Sorrento Sunland, who sourced local suppliers for every aspect of the wedding. They provided an excellent service, responded quickly to queries and were both enthusiastic and supportive every step of the way.

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I have never seen a bride use a parasol before so I felt this added a special touch, especially in the photographs and it also proved to be practical in keeping my face shaded from the sun. A perfect accessory for a wedding abroad! I provided female guests with fans to keep cool as they awaited my arrival to the Cloister.

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A personal touch was the name labels on the favours. I attached old fashioned tags with lace and on one side wrote the name of each guest, on the other I wrote romantic phrases in Italian such as ‘per sempre insieme’ (together forever), ‘amo solo te’ (I love only you), ‘sei la mia rosa’ (you are my rose). All the guests were asking me to translate!

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In Italy the cake was presented on a stand individually portioned and served to the guests as their dessert. Sorrento is famous for its lemon orchards so we chose the light lemon sponge covered in Chantilly cream. It was delicious.

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Our reception was at Marameo Beach Restaurant, on a jetty out in the sea. We had our DJ playing chilled out tunes during dinner and as the sun was setting. Then the music got louder and we made our own entertainment! The setting by the cliff face and looking out to sea was absolutely stunning!

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Both Lee and I agree it is difficult to choose one specific part of the day as we loved every single moment. One aspect we both agreed on was the fact that it was a very intimate affair with close family and friends (32 guests). This meant that we got to spend time with each other as well as our guests and felt overwhelmed by the love and support from all those who shared our special day. It was relaxed and informal. We both loved our first dance to Michael Buble’s ‘Everything’. Lee got very emotional and it was lovely when our friends and family joined in.

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As the bride, if I had to choose one part of the day it would have to be stepping into the cloister and the ceremony that followed. It was such a fairy tale, overwhelming emotional moment floating down the isle with my Dad by my side. One I shall cherish forever. The string quartet playing Pachelbel’s Canon as I entered the Cloister was absolutely beautiful and the romantic music played throughout set the perfect atmosphere.

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The romantic reading by my friend, Carolyne Gregory was also a special moment. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.

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We went to Thailand on our honeymoon. We spent 5 nights in Bangkok at the Banyan Tree Hotel, famous for its Vertigo restaurant on the top of the hotel on the 61st floor. We enjoyed dinner there on our last night.

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We visited the Grand Palace Buddhist temples, watched Muay Thai boxing, visited the floating markets and had outfits tailor made. We then flew down to Phuket and stayed at the Indigo Pearl spa resort for two weeks the relaxing portion of the honeymoon.

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My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to relax, keep calm and take in every special moment of the day. Don’t let it pass you by worrying unnecessarily, it will all go to plan. Also remember to spend time with your new hubby as well as the guests and have fun together.

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Anyone considering a wedding abroad should contact their local registrar who will explain the procedures according to where you choose to marry. I can’t recommend this enough, especially as you can do it all again on your return by throwing another big knees up and show off the dress of your dreams for one last time!

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HEARTCongratulations Sally & Lee! HEART

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  – Images © 2012 India Hobson Photography

This is not a sponsored post

Contact Brides Up North to submit your business as a Featured Supplier 

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog

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La Dolce Vita! A Real Destination Wedding At Lake Garda – Rebecca & Mark

October 23rd, 2012 | Julia Braime

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Destination Wedding by Dorchester Ledbetter Photography

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Fed up with this week’s fog, drizzle and gloom?  Yep.  Me too.

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Rebecca and Mark’s beautiful wedding day in the Italian lakes, shot by Leeds based photographer Dorchester Ledbetter Photography should lift your spirits.  And don’t feel too bad, they even had a little unexpected rain too!

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Bellissima!

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Rebecca says:  We got engaged in Barbados in February 2010 and were married on 3rd September 2012 in a gorgeous little town on Lake Garda, Italy called Malcesine. 

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We both wanted to do it abroad somewhere, but didn’t want a beach wedding, so when we heard of a friend attending a wedding there, we did some research and took a trip over to have a look…It took our breath away so we booked there and then!

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I didn’t really have a colour scheme as such, just plain and simple and very neutral – all white and cream apart from the bridesmaids and groom’s tie.

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Lake Garda Wedding by Dorchester Ledbetter Photography

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I chose a gorgeous Alfred Sung gown from a bridal boutique in Whalley (Lancashire) called Te Amo and carried a bouquet of cream roses.

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The bridesmaids were in a very pale peach dress by Amanda Wyatt from a bridal shop in Clitheroe called Amelia’s. The Groom wore a grey suit made by Master Taylor. 

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We had some lovely personalised fans made which we gave out to our guests (even though it rained!) before the ceremony as it was on the terrace of a castle (and supposed to be warm!). 

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There were so many favourite moments from the day… but probably the most memorable was walking down the aisle twice! The first time was on the outside terrace of the castle, and as soon as I reached my groom the heavens opened! So we all had to run down the the stairs to the inside area to do it all again!

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Although a local photographer was available, we chose to use Dorchester Ledbetter Photography having met Martin at a wedding fair and explained our unique situation, he was extremely keen to be part of our special day.

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His enthusiasm, combined with reputation and the obvious quality of his work made the decision an easy one. We were not to be disappointed and his professionalism on the day ensured that not only did we capture all our special moments with loved ones; we also have some incredibly beautiful and visually stunning pictures using our Italian lakes background.

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All our stationery was by Wedding Invitation Boutique which I was over the moon with.

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We gave the local tipple of Limón cello to our adult guests as favours, and little chalkboards with chalk to keep the little ones entertained.

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We chose to have a string quartet for the ceremony then in the evening we had a DJ and sax player for the actual wedding day. We had an evening reception when we got back from honeymoon to celebrate with all our friends and family that couldn’t make it to Italy, and for that party we decided on a DJ and a band called Manhattan who went down a treat!

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After the wedding we went to America, stopping off in New York for a few days, then on to Vegas and picking up a car then looped back to Vegas taking in the west coast from San Francisco to LA.

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My top tip for other Brides Up North would be don’t expect to keep to your budget – have some contingency in place.  Also, try to remember this is your day and you can’t please everyone.  Whatever your worries are for the day nothing will ruin it! Enjoy every second as it passes so quickly!

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Congratulations Rebecca & Mark!

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  – Images © 2012 Dorchester Ledbetter Photography 

This is not a sponsored post

Contact Brides Up North to submit your business as a Featured Supplier 

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog

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