Brides Up North

the big north sample sale.

February 19th, 2015 | Julia Braime


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.


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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lookbook. all that glitters.

January 28th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Jocasta -  Jenny Packahm

Jocasta by Jenny Packham 

Here at Brides Up North we love everything that glints, glistens and sparkles.

Luckily in the wedding industry there is plenty of pretty to give us a twinkle fix – from fabulous glitter encrusted shoes, to bejewelled accessories and, of course, beautifully embellished dresses.

Etta -  Jenny Packham


For me a glittering gown demands a double take and is therefore an excellent choice for brides wanting to make a statement on the aisle. Just how much a bride wants to shine though is down to the individual, for there are designs that glow from top to toe, those with killer back detailing and dresses with beaming bodices.

Simone - Jenny Packham


Those who desire the latter should look to Maggie Sottero who is an expert in designing wonderfully enchanting princess style gowns, complete with sparkling bodice detailing. Dawson and Esme Marie are perfect examples with both featuring chic organza ball gown skirts topped with heavily beaded bodices and stunning Swarovski crystals.

Nelly -  Jenny Packham


Enzoani meanwhile offers less structured sparkling designs. Jody, Joyce and Joanna are ideal for brides wanting a slinky, slim-line dress with gorgeous glistening detail. Each of the gowns also features sparkling straps and oh so low backs, to flash a little extra flesh.

Dina -  Jenny Packham


The princess of dazzling detail though has to be Jenny Packham. A master in heavily detailed frocks that radiate high-shine and glamour, magpies must check out her current collection. There are fluid designs such as Dina and Nelly with subtle sparkles then there’s the likes of Simone and Hatty, which takes the brilliance up a notch. Meanwhile for those that want a dress dripping in detail, Packham offers high-end Gatsby style in the form of her Etta dress or for red-carpet radiance it has to be the shimmering Jocasta.

Hatty -  Jenny Packham


We’d love to know, are you set to sparkle on your big day?

Main feature images courtesy of Jenny Packham.

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lookbook: city sleek.

January 7th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Mae & detachable skirt - Stephanie Allin

Mae by Stephanie Allin

We were recently Highly Commended in the Wedding Blog Awards 2014′s “Best City Wedding Blog” category, and chic cosmopolitan styling is one of our favourite trends for wedding day fashion, like, ever.  goodbye meringues! A stylish city ceremony gives brides-to-be the opportunity to rock sleek attire that varies from the wedding norm.

Moving around busy urban areas and climbing staircases of grand city halls and hotels calls for a slim line, fluid number that isn’t going to slow you down or trip you up. And we’re not just talking dresses; a city centre do pushes the style boundaries wide open, inviting fashion forward brides to consider a two-piece skirt and top design, or even an all in jumpsuit, Solange Knowles style.

Those preferring to stick to tradition with a dress can always hitch up their hemline to free their feet ready for stepping out through bustling streets.

Pia - Monique Lhuillier

Pia by Monique Lhuillier

Monique Lhuillier has some particularly striking options for city brides, including stylish mini-length dresses and sophisticated two-piece designs.

Billie is a particular favourite of mine, not that I would be brave enough to work its cut-away silhouette. But for those that are, its gorgeous crisscross crop top and elegant illusion pencil skirt scream high fashion. Meanwhile, for those planning a more vintage affair, the pretty embroidered Charlotte top and ballerina skirt cover a little more flesh and are still easy to get around in.

Lhuillier’s short-length dresses are also incredibly swoon-worthy options, particularly the Pia and simple yet striking Zelda designs.

Pia - Monique Lhuillier

Billie by Monique Lhuillier

Zelda - Monique Lhuillier

Zelda by Monique Lhuillier

The princess of prettiness, Stephanie Allin boasts several slim line dresses within her collections that would most definitely stand out in a city scene.

Chicago, Eternal, Ingrid and Olivia are all stunning examples of city simplicity at its best, but for those wanting a more structured design there is the Ashlea or even Mae, which has a detachable skirt, to give brides two equally wonderful looks.

The pièce de résistance has to be Allin’s Garbo jumpsuit as she dares to go where few other designers would. The fabulous sweet-heart neckline and wide-leg design also has an optional lace shrug for that extra piece of prettiness and cover-up where required.

Chicago  - Stephanie Allin

Chicago by Stephanie Allin

Olivia  - Stephanie Allin

Olivia by Stephanie Allin

Eternal  - Stephanie Allin

Eternal by Stephanie Allin

Garbo  - Stephanie Allin

Garbo by Stephanie Allin

Finally, I’d encourage city brides to consider the svetle, sleek lines of Suzanne Neville’s Novello Collection (click here to see a preview on Brides Up North), the fab and flirty frocks in Charlotte Balbier’s Iscoyd Park Collection (click here) or some of Sassi Holford’s cute designs as big day contenders.

For city brides wanting to bring a bit of bling to their big day, well, you can’t go wrong with a beaded Jenny Packham number, can you?

Simone - Jenny Packham

Simone by Jenny Packham


Rio by Jenny Packham


Noa by Jenny Packham

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pretty perfection. a wedding at danby castle – chloe & dan

January 6th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

a pretty wedding at Danby Castle (c) Shoot Lifestyle Wedding Photography (32)

Well, yesterday was all kinds of exciting wasn’t it? Click here to catch up on our big news. Today, it’s back to basics, and what we do best – sharing the prettiest weddings to insire our readers’ own big days.

The first Real Wedding of 2015 is lovely in every way (just the way we like it on these pages), from the sweet vintage summer theme to the delicate flower choices and idyllic seaside location.

Chloe and Dan clearly have excellent taste with the bride opting for a wonderfully detailed Jenny Packham gown and the groom having a suit tailor made, including its very special lining. They even sourced a bow tie for their special guest, Winston the Golden Retriever, to ensure he fitted in with the celebrations.

The organised couple picked their food choices carefully in order to pull the look together. Guests were treated to ice creams on arrival, a quaint afternoon tea and fish and chip supper!

So let’s tuck in to this delicious celebration.

With images by Shoot Lifestyle Wedding Photography.

a pretty wedding at Danby Castle (c) Shoot Lifestyle Wedding Photography (1)

chloe says: Dan proposed on a beach on a tiny island off the east coast of mainland Malaysia in 2012. It was a complete surprise and he had the very well travelled ring ready. It was after dinner and already rather dark and so my immediate response was ‘I can’t see it!’ before running off to find some light so I could get a good look at the ring. Not quite what Dan was hoping for but I did say ‘yes’ eventually!

We married on 26th July 2014. Exactly two years to the day that we became engaged.

a pretty wedding at Danby Castle (c) Shoot Lifestyle Wedding Photography (2)

We got married in St Oswald’s Church, Lythe in  North Yorkshire. A beautiful old church overlooking the North Yorkshire coast. Our reception was held at Danby Castle on the North York Moors. We completely fell in love with the stunning views over the Esk Valley and the relaxed, can-do attitude of all of the wonderful people at Danby Castle. Nothing was too much trouble. We would highly recommend Danby Castle to other wedding couples. Jemma and Emily there both ensured the planning was as stress free as possible.

The theme for the day was relaxed vintage summer fayre. We didn’t want an overly stuffy or formal affair so this theme suited us well.

a pretty wedding at Danby Castle (c) Shoot Lifestyle Wedding Photography (3)

I struggled initially with the wedding dress hunt. I didn’t know what I was looking for, I just knew what I wasn’t looking for. I didn’t want a strapless gown (which at the time that I was looking was quite a challenge) and I wanted something a little different from the norm. After looking in a few boutiques and feeling a little despondent at the lack of variety in styles, I visited the wonderful White Room in Sheffield as I had seen online that they were stockists of Jenny Packham and Charlotte Pettibone. I initially tried on Jenny Packham’s Eden for a little bit of fun as I didn’t think I wanted a sparkly dress but I loved it. It was different, it was vintage inspired, it was me! My wedding shoes were from Manolo Blahnik and Debbie Carlisle of DC Bouquets made my beautiful hair comb and cuff.

a pretty wedding at Danby Castle (c) Shoot Lifestyle Wedding Photography (7)

a pretty wedding at Danby Castle (c) Shoot Lifestyle Wedding Photography (8)

a pretty wedding at Danby Castle (c) Shoot Lifestyle Wedding Photography (10)

Dan designed and had his suit made at A Suit That Fits in Manchester. It was a grey three piece suit and the pièce de résistance was the custom made jacket lining that Dan designed, full of photographs that meant something special to him. He teamed his suit with a checked shirt from Ralph Lauren and a pale blue tie from John Lewis.

a pretty wedding at Danby Castle (c) Shoot Lifestyle Wedding Photography (12)

We also had an extra special guest at our wedding – Winston, our Golden Retriever! He wore a blue bow tie to tie in with the groomsmen. Jackie from Supa Furry Animals handled him for us which was great as it meant that we could relax and enjoy ourselves without having to worry about taking care of Winston.

a pretty wedding at Danby Castle (c) Shoot Lifestyle Wedding Photography (14)

The bridesmaids wore pale coral dresses with a lace overlay from Monsoon. Unfortunately for me, by the time I discovered them on Pinterest and decided that they would fit the theme beautifully, they were no longer available in store. A mammoth eBay search ensued and luckily I managed to get my hands on four of them! The groomsmen wore grey suits of their choice and the each wore a pale blue tie from John Lewis to match Dan’s.

a pretty wedding at Danby Castle (c) Shoot Lifestyle Wedding Photography (17)

For our wedding transport we hired a camper van from All Cool Camper Hire. ‘Rose’ the 1965 campervan was beautifully retro and also practical – being big enough to transport all the bridesmaids to the church before coming back to collect my Dad and I.

a pretty wedding at Danby Castle (c) Shoot Lifestyle Wedding Photography (18)

Jo and Simon from Shoot Lifestyle were our photographers and were just wonderful. As someone who is admittedly not a massive fan of being in front of the camera, the idea of being the centre of attention for the day was a little daunting. However, from our very first meeting I knew that Jo and Simon would put me at ease as they are just such fun, gorgeous people who make you feel as though you have known them forever. I loved their informal, relaxed images and knew that they would do a fantastic job – which they did. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

In addition, the very talented Gareth Ashcroft created our three minute wedding video, which is fantastic. It captured the essence of the day beautifully and on the day he was so discrete that many of our guests didn’t even realise we were having a video made until we shared it with them later on!

a pretty wedding at Danby Castle (c) Shoot Lifestyle Wedding Photography (21)

Audrey Foster arranged my flowers. My brief to her was that I wanted rustic, relaxed, hand tied bouquets and she did a great job. Audrey Foster also decorated the church and Danby Castle for us. Heather and wheat was tied to the pew ends with raffia and vintage jugs church filled with an assortment of wild flowers and roses decorated the church. The theme was carried through to Danby Castle, where relaxed flower arrangements in small glass bottles and jars adorned the tables and window ledges. The flowers used included sweet avalanche and peach avalanche roses, veronica, nigella, gyp, china grass, fountain grass, astilbe, very pale pink spray roses, santini, dried lavender, white stocks or white larkspur, wax flower, white freesias, wheat, scabious seedheads, heather.

a pretty wedding at Danby Castle (c) Shoot Lifestyle Wedding Photography (23)

a pretty wedding at Danby Castle (c) Shoot Lifestyle Wedding Photography (24)

a pretty wedding at Danby Castle (c) Shoot Lifestyle Wedding Photography (27)

My favourite part of the day was as we left the church in the camper van to head for Danby Castle. All our guests had lined up spontaneously to wave us off. Looking out of the back window of the campervan and seeing so many of our favourite people all together – all of whom had travelled so far to come and wish us well was such an overwhelming feeling.

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real wedding recap winter 2014: all things bright and beautiful for a city centre wedding – katy & tony

December 23rd, 2014 | Rachel Parry

Merry Christmas! Its holiday season here on the blog, and as the editorial team take a break for the festive season, we’ll be leaving you with a reduced blogging schedule so that you still get your daily dose of wedding lovely.

Usual service will recommence on Monday 5th January 2015 (with some big news!) but in the meantime watch out for recaps of our favourite Real Weddings so far this year.  Drop in every day for the very prettiest, most unique wedding inspiration and – if you are a Brides Up North bride – to see if your Real Wedding was one of our top picks for 2014.

a bright and beautiful wedding in Sheffield (c) Photography34 (39)

This bright and beautiful wedding is guaranteed to inject a big boost of colour and happiness into your day.

Creative couple Tony and Katy tied the knot in the super city of Sheffield, starting off with their ceremony in the stunning Town Hall before moving onto the nearby Workstation for a fabulous afternoon tea and evening celebrations.

To really make the day their own they included lots of vibrant decorations, quirky homemade touches and beautiful blooms, all of which was captured perfectly by their talented photographer.

With images by Photography34

a bright and beautiful wedding in Sheffield (c) Photography34 (27)

katy says: We got engaged on New Year’s Day 2013. We had been to a friend’s New Year’s Eve party and Tony had taken the ring, but he couldn’t find the right moment when we were both alone.  The following morning we both woke up early and Tony asked me what I was doing for the rest of my life as he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me and then produced my beautiful ring! I cried a little and then called the world.

We set the date for Saturday May 24th 2014. We wanted to get married over a Bank Holiday as we had lots of guests who would be travelling a distance so we were keen to make sure they had plenty of time to party and recover.

I think we must have viewed almost every venue in Yorkshire, but we couldn’t find anything which would allow us to create the different look and feel we were hoping for within our budget. We are both from Sheffield and love to city so when we found the Workstation which is part of the Showroom Cinema and met Mark the sales manager, it ticked all the boxes. He was so accommodating and because the venue is an exhibition centre he allowed us to dress it exactly how we wanted. We originally wanted to get married at the same place as our reception but this was not possible at the Workstation so we started to look for somewhere close by. We had walked past Sheffield Town Hall hundreds of times but had never been inside. Once we did we were blown away by how beautiful the building was, especially the fabulous staircase.

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a bright and beautiful wedding in Sheffield (c) Photography34 (7)

a bright and beautiful wedding in Sheffield (c) Photography34 (16)

Very early on in our wedding planning I discovered Pinterest, and began pinning ideas to a mood board. We knew the venue was going to need a lot of dressing so we decided to hire someone to help with this. Jennie from Hansley Beard came highly recommended by our venue and she did a fabulous job of keeping me calm, my ideas focused and she planned the design to the finest detail, we could not have done it without her.

We knew we wanted to do things differently and we wanted the whole feel of the day to be bright, colourful, fun and homemade. We both like colour – our house is full of it. We originally found some bright material which we liked at The Range store, we used this as the basis for our colour scheme, they had paper, buttons etc all in the same collection which was great. Bright coloured ribbons and buttons then became the main theme throughout the wedding. We didn’t want a traditional wedding so decided that lots of bright colours would really help create a different atmosphere. We are so happy that we went with these colours in the end as our wedding day turned out to be raining and gloomy but the colours helped keep everyone bright and cheery!

a bright and beautiful wedding in Sheffield (c) Photography34 (14)

I always knew that I wanted a fitted lace dress and I fell in love with Pippa, a Sassi Holford dress which was well over my budget.  I searched the internet and to my complete amazement I found Silk Bridal in Litchfield selling a sample of this dress in my size. I would highly recommend this bridal shop – they made my wedding dress experience so memorable. Helen, the seamstress, could not do enough to help with my alterations and every time we visited the shop I was made to feel just as special as the last. My friend Serena, very kindly lent me her beautiful Jenny Packham headband for my something borrowed. I’m actually selling my dress it is currently listed on eBay and preloved. Although I will be very sad to see this dress go, it would give me great pleasure for another bride to have a chance to wear a fabulous Sassi Holford dress.

Tony wore a bright blue tailored three-piece suit from Moss Bros in Meadowhall, homemade emerald green tie and shoes from Ted Baker.

I knew that I didn’t want traditional bridesmaid dresses or anything too formal; I wanted something that they would wear again so they wore emerald green maxi dresses from Mango which were accessorised with belts from H&M.  The best man wore a bright blue suit from Moss Bros and our page boy, my nephew, wore a little navy suit from Next, a homemade emerald green bow tie and some white Converse boots which he loved!

Tony’s mum’s friend made all the bouquets and button holes. I picked the flowers for these, along with the flowers for the venue, from the Parkway Flower Market in Sheffield. I had a hand-tied bouquet with bright flowers including Gerberas,Ranunculus, Gentian and Craspedia. My bridesmaids’ bouquets were similar, just a bit smaller. All the bouquets had ribbons hanging from the stems.

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We both share a love for VWs, especially retro split screen camper vans and we knew that we couldn’t arrive any other way. We hired the stunning ‘Johnny’ from Something old Something New. As our venues were close together we were able to use the same van for the whole wedding party.

We were let down by a friend who was originally planning on doing our photography, very close to the wedding day. Tony at Photography34 was recommended to us and to our delight he was available on our date. Choosing Tony was the best decision we made, after getting married of course! He had a very relaxed, natural style and went above and beyond. He made us, and our guests, feel relaxed all day. Our guests noted how hard he worked on the day. Most importantly he captured all the detail, fun and laughter of the day.

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When we started planning we decided that we wanted things to be as personal as possible and make as much ourselves as we could. Having ‘Brown Owl’ as my mother-in-law-to-be made this a lot easier. Jennie from Hansley Beard helped us to create our desired look with lots of help from our bridesmaids, best man and friends. We had homemade bunting, pom poms, table numbers, seating plan, card box, paper covered jars as centre pieces. We also used fairy lights to decorate the mezzanine. We had bright coloured ribbons hanging from the back of all the chairs and a ribbon drop which cascaded from the mezzanine to the dance floor. I went to the Parkway Flower Market with Jennie, other than Gerberas which are my favourite flowers I wasn’t that particular, it was mainly the colours I was looking for. We incorporated all the flowers from the bouquets as well as Golden Glory, lime green and yellow bloom Chrysanthemums. Jennie then arranged all the flowers for the venue and centre pieces, and made these look great, she truly was amazing!

Tony’s mum and I made homemade rhubarb jam for our favours. The rhubarb was home grown in Tony’s dad’s allotment.

I love baking so the wedding cake was very important. We had a four-tiered cake covered with bright coloured hearts. The actual cake was striped coloured Victoria sponge with butter cream and made by Gemma at Iced Gems. We had two wooden birds with matching hearts as cake toppers which we got from Etsy.

We didn’t want to have a formal three-course wedding meal so we decided to have afternoon tea with prosecco for our wedding breakfast.  In the evening we had pie and peas with plenty of Henderson’s relish!

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a bright and beautiful wedding in Sheffield (c) Photography34 (47)

a bright and beautiful wedding in Sheffield (c) Photography34 (52)

a bright and beautiful wedding in Sheffield (c) Photography34 (53)

The entertainment was really important to us, we wanted a big party with all our friends and family, and I love to dance. For our ceremony we had a friend, Rebecca Guy sing and play her guitar. As a wedding present my parents got Paul Pashley, Sheffield’s answer to Michael Bublé, to sing at our evening reception. Not only does he have an amazing voice, he was a little bit of eye candy for the ladies. We then had a DJ who played us into the early hours.

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We did include quite a few special touches in our big day. Tony’s mum made a very cute ring cushion for Reuben, our page boy, in the same material as the bunting and sewed buttons all over it, he was very proud of his special job.

We hired some beautiful vintage crockery from Jameson’s Tearoom for the afternoon tea, and one of the highlights was their teacup glasses which we served the prosecco in.

We chose big illuminated ‘LOVE’ letters from Typical Type as a backdrop to our dance floor, and our homemade photo booth and they were the talk of all our guests. Once we had decided on the letters it helped us decide on our first dance – L-O-V-E by Nat King Cole sang by Paul Pashley.

We both share a love of sweets, so a sweet table was a must. We brought in our theme by laying the table with ribbons, we used the same paper we had used for the centre pieces for the sweet labels and homemade pin wheels, and then had bright coloured paper fans as the backdrop to the table.

I found a finger print poster tree from Etsy which was a wonderful alternative to a guest book. Our guests added their fingerprints as ‘leaves’ to the tree and wrote their names. We now have this framed and it acts as a daily reminder of our special day and the guests we shared it with.

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My favourite part of the wedding day came at the end of our first dance. Jennie, who had helped us to design our wedding day, had arranged with our guests to drop all the off cuts from the ribbons from the mezzanine above the dance floor. This was a total surprise and the only thing throughout the day which we had not planned for. This was an amazing moment which Tony, our photographer, captured perfectly and we have used one of these images for our thank you cards.

We went on honeymoon two days after or wedding; we spent two days is Dubai and eight in the Maldives. Dubai was very hot and we packed in a lot within the two days; tours of the city and a dessert safari. Then the Maldives, which was absolute paradise, was the total opposite to Dubai, quiet and relaxing, which was exactly what we needed after the wedding.

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My advice to other Brides Up North would be to do what makes you happy and have the day that you want, not what others expect of you. That is so important. You want to look back on your day and know that you had it exactly how you wanted it. It doesn’t matter if this doesn’t follow traditions or you think people won’t like your ideas, as long as you do, that’s all that matters. Tony’s advice would be at some point during the wedding breakfast, to go around each table and speak with your guests and thank them for coming, as it’s a very busy day and you don’t get chance to spend very much time with anyone. Our collective advice is to make sure you both take time together to have a few moments to take everything in as the day will go past so fast.

It rained for the most of our day, but like Louis Armstrong sang, we didn’t care what the weather man said, when the weatherman said it was raining as you didn’t hear us or anyone else complaining!

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