Charlotte Balbier

the music sounds better with you. a sunny festival wedding in cheshire – nicola & andrew

April 9th, 2015 | Julia Braime

a festival themed wedding at Willington Hall Hotel (c) Ricky Carrington Photography (38)

Nowadays brides and grooms go beyond a colour scheme to theme their wedding day to reflect them as an individual couple – their personalities, passions and hobbies.

Today’s real wedding couple Nicola and Andrew did just that by arranging their ‘festival wedding’ around their love of music with vinyl decorations, gig ticket style invitations and live entertainment, in which the wedding couple themselves took part.

So grab your wellies and watch out for the mud as we share Nicola and Andrew’s soulful big day.

With images by Ricky Carrington Photography.

a festival themed wedding at Willington Hall Hotel (c) Ricky Carrington Photography (4)

nicola says:We got engaged on 23rd Feb 2013 while we were away in Paris for the weekend. I’d always wanted to go, and it was a surprise weekend away which Andrew organised.

We set the date for 17th May 2014. It was in the rugby off-season and was an available date at the venue we wanted – Willington Hall Hotel in Tarporley, Cheshire. We both really liked the venue as it was easy on the eye and the team there were very relaxed in catering to our needs.

a festival themed wedding at Willington Hall Hotel (c) Ricky Carrington Photography (19)

We decided on a festival/music theme for our big day – I play the electric guitar and Andrew plays the drums. We both played with the wedding band at our reception as a surprise to our guests. We played Spitting Games by Snow Patrol. Music is an important part of our lives and we wanted our wedding to reflect that.

To fit in with our theme the place names were old vinyls with guests’ names on them, the table names were groups/albums close to our hearts, our invitations were like gig tickets and we had lots of photographs with our guests in wellies.

To go along with our festival theme we had a yellow and blue colour scheme. I liked sunflowers and the idea stemmed from there really!

a festival themed wedding at Willington Hall Hotel (c) Ricky Carrington Photography (17)

Before trying on any wedding dresses, I didn’t have any idea of what I wanted so I went into a shop and told the assistant this. She then helped me try on a wide range of different types of dresses. I fell in love with a Jenny Packham dress – it was the third dress I tried on! I then went to a further two shops and ended up going back to the original shop to get the Jenny Packham dress. I can’t really tell you why I picked I just loved wearing it. The shop I got my dress from is called The Wedding Club in Birmingham. The bridesmaids got their dresses from there too.

Makeup and hair on the day was organised by the spa attached to Willington Hall and was absolutely fabulous. The hairdresser was called Sian Dutton who was recommended to us by the spa.

a festival themed wedding at Willington Hall Hotel (c) Ricky Carrington Photography (24)

All the male wedding party wore the same suit. It was from a local suit vendor called L & J Formal Hire. All the males wore converse rather than shoes which all matched, in keeping with our festival/music theme. I wore flat shoes for the wedding ceremony and converse which my friend had decorated especially for the day in the evening.

a festival themed wedding at Willington Hall Hotel (c) Ricky Carrington Photography (30)

Ricky Carrington Photography did our wedding photos. Ricky was brilliant and made everyone feel at ease which is a big help on the day. Any request we made wasn’t a problem and the photographs were amazing.

a festival themed wedding at Willington Hall Hotel (c) Ricky Carrington Photography (29)

The flowers were based around sunflowers with a few extra bits. Arrangements were done by Black Cat Floral Design who I would highly recommend. I’m not actually a big fan of flowers and Mel really helped bring out my one idea of sunflowers and made the flowers/venue look amazing. They arranged everything and everyone on the day, which is a lovely personal touch.

a festival themed wedding at Willington Hall Hotel (c) Ricky Carrington Photography (32)

We didn’t have any favours as such on the tables, instead we had a retro sweet table which the florist also decorated and set up for us. We had cupcakes rather than one big wedding cake, which was made by my close friend Natasha and reflected our musical theme.

a festival themed wedding at Willington Hall Hotel (c) Ricky Carrington Photography (31)

To provide entertainment we had live band for the evening called The Smooth Criminals. This was a true highlight of the day, especially when we played a song with them. Again, as music is a big part of our lives, it seems a good match to have a live band for the evening. To keep children (and some of the adults) entertained at the wedding we also had giant games such as snakes and ladders and Jenga.

a festival themed wedding at Willington Hall Hotel (c) Ricky Carrington Photography (34)

a festival themed wedding at Willington Hall Hotel (c) Ricky Carrington Photography (35)

We would definitely recommend our wedding venue to others. The venue is gorgeous to look at and you can get married outside, which we did. We had the entire venue to ourselves, including accommodation for all of the wedding party. The staff were amazing and no request was too much trouble for them. They made me feel in control of the decisions made for the wedding which they were supportive in, it didn’t feel like a ‘package’ wedding – everything felt individual. Sue was our wedding co-ordinator who I would recommend also!

a festival themed wedding at Willington Hall Hotel (c) Ricky Carrington Photography (39)

I couldn’t pick a favourite part of the day – we loved all of it!

a festival themed wedding at Willington Hall Hotel (c) Ricky Carrington Photography (27)

For our honeymoon we had a bit of adventure! As well as music, we also love to travel so we took full advantage of our three weeks off work and went to Hong Kong, Macau, Tokyo and Dubai. We spent every day exploring – it was amazing, especially Tokyo.

a festival themed wedding at Willington Hall Hotel (c) Ricky Carrington Photography (42)

My top tip to other Brides Up North is chill out – everything works out fine in the end!

a festival themed wedding at Willington Hall Hotel (c) Ricky Carrington Photography (50)

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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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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

Etta

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

Simone

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

Nelly

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

Dina

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

Hatty

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-Jenny-Packham

Rio by Jenny Packham

Noa-Jenny-Packham

Noa by Jenny Packham

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