Charlotte Balbier

look book: a cut above

April 17th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Hayley Paige HP6450

Hayley Paige - HP6450

If we said cut-out wedding dress to you there’s a good chance horrifying thoughts of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding would spring to mind. But fear not, the type of dresses we’re referring to in today’s look book post are oh-so-elegant designs that reveal just the right amount of flesh and are set to be one of the biggest bridal trends on the 2015 catwalks.

We’ve witnessed cut-out detailing on in the fashion world over the past year or so, and while some designs brought out the inner-Jordan (cue the revealing bodycon) others demonstrate how baring just a little skin can be both sexy & sophisticated.

Reem Acra (2)

Reem Acra

In bridal wear designers are using cut-out detailing in numerous different ways to create dresses with graceful peek-a-boo charm. This means brides can choose which part of their figure they wish to flaunt – whether it be their chest, shoulders or midriff.

Hayley Paige HP6513

Hayley Paige - HP6513

Dresses with keyhole detailing in the back have been popular for a while now though designers appear to be getting bolder with their creations by cutting away more fabric than before. Some have also chosen to lower the keyhole from the shoulder blade area down to the lower back, which is considered a more flirtatious area of the body to reveal. Braver still, designers such as Hayley Paige offer gowns that border on being completely backless. Pretty detailing in floral corsages and intricate embellishing ensure that such dresses remain tasteful rather than tarty.

Keyhole detailing has also crept around to the front of some dress designs to reveal a little of the chest area, or even a glimpse of cleavage. These designs suit small framed brides beautifully but perhaps larger-busted ladies should give them a swerve so not to shock their vicar.

Claire Pettibone Adagio

Claire Pettibone - Adagio

Elsewhere designers are using cut-out detailing by getting creative with straps for a high fashion look. Again, Hayley Paige offers some head-turning examples within her collections – HP6450 and HP6513 being standout designs.

Hayley Paige HP6463

Hayley Paige - HP6463

For body confident brides there are some incredibly striking gowns with cut out detailing in the bodice of the dress which expose areas of the waist, hips and stomach. Reem Acra and Badgley Mischka are particularly talented at producing such dresses.

The level of exposure varies from small slits or triangles in the side of the dress, which can help accentuate a bride’s curves, to fuller areas of the torso being revealed, which might require a fair few pre-wedding-day planks to pull off.

Claire Pettibone Rachel 9back)

Claire Pettibone - Rachel

If you like the idea of flashing a your midriff but don’t want to strip back to the bare skin, there are designs that use pretty sheer fabrics to create an illusion cut away for that extra bit of coverage. Those that would prefer to keep the cut-out detailing at the top of the dress can also take advantage of effective illusion designs adorned with pretty embellishing for that extra wow factor.

Reem Acra

Reem Acra

Read on for more gowns in our Gallery…

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love is all around. a week-long wedding in the lake district – leigh and ben

March 20th, 2015 | Julia Braime

a wedding in the Lake District (c) Dave Greaves Photography (34)

In the latest instalment of our wedding alphabet on the blog we wrote about love and urged brides-to-be to remember the real reason they’re tying the knot when in the midst of the planning pressure.

Today’s couple are a great example of how couples can enjoy the tasks that come with organising a wedding whilst also truly reflecting their love for one another, and those closest to them, on the big day itself.

Leigh and Ben (and Leigh’s mum) certainly made the most of the wedding planning with numerous fun days out to piece together their perfect wedding in the Lake District. The celebrations then featured special gifts, personalised vows and surprise readings to make for one incredibly loved-up big day.

Can you feel the love?

With images by Dave Greaves Photography.

a wedding in the Lake District (c) Dave Greaves Photography (3)

leigh says: We got engaged in the Lake District. After a gorgeous walk along Lake Windermere and a picnic Ben pulled out 12 gerbera flowers, each with a brown parcel tag attached and on them was each month we’d been together and a special memory from that month. Of course, by now, the butterflies had started fluttering about in my stomach, wondering what all this effort was for! Ben asked me to go and stand by the lake for a photo, and as we’d been setting the camera up with the tripod all week, I thought nothing of it so went to stand with my toes in the lake – turned around and there he was on one knee with my ring in a beautiful glass box filled with rose petals. Needless to say I cried and Ben got the whole thing on film.

We chose to set the date for 16th August 2014, at 2pm, because it was the exact time and date that Ben proposed the year before. Allowing a year gave us just the right amount of time to plan and organise everything that we wanted without having to wait too long!

a wedding in the Lake District (c) Dave Greaves Photography (4)

Since I was little, the Lake District has always had a special place in my heart and Silverholme was everything we could have wanted and more in a venue. It was our home for the week of the wedding and could not have been more perfect: immaculate and intricate detail and décor, breath-taking views, right on the lake, gorgeous grounds and most of all, enough rooms and space to accommodate all of our family and bridal party members. It allowed us to enjoy the set up over a few days and dine together, and most certainly laugh together! There are some very amusing photos somewhere of my brother pretending to set up the whole wedding singlehandedly!

We wanted a wedding that would be us, and represent us as a couple. With that in mind, we didn’t necessarily go for a theme of sorts, just classic, elegant and natural. There were a few items to tie it to the Lake District running through that were made from maps. My mother and I made 50 gift bags and confetti cones out of old maps, which took what seemed like forever but we just loved the time together!

I’ve always been a pink girl at heart, so we decided on dusky pink and grey as our colour theme. I originally wanted the bridesmaids in the pink, but we just couldn’t find anything in the exact colour we wanted, unless we were going to pay extortionate amounts so in the end we accented everything with the pink, but the bridesmaids wore grey, like the groomsmen. These colours were also reflected in our invites, which Ben and I designed together, and then he and his mother sat for a few hours, meticulously making sure all corners and edges were perpendicular and equal distances from each other as they made them.

a wedding in the Lake District (c) Dave Greaves Photography (2)

My dress was actually my second dress! In my ‘I’m-newly-engaged-and-so-excited-to-be-married-I-want-a-dress-now!’ state, we went to a factory retail store where I could try on loads of dresses. I’d convinced myself that I didn’t need the whole bridal boutique experience, and was just so eager to get a dress, I ended up buying a princess style dress with huge tulle skirt and feathers on the bust. It was lovely but by Christmas I’d decided I hated it! So, my parents, who have the most patience in the world came with me for a whole day of five boutique appointments back to back. Thankfully after trying on every single style imaginable I had an idea of what I wanted. Lots of internet browsing, a few emails later and I walked into Adele Louise Bridal, tried on a sample of the dress I’d tracked down as perfect and wow! It could not have fitted more perfectly, or looked more ‘me’. It was the 8659 design by Justin Alexander. Adele looked after me very well, and I loved the bridal boutique experience so much!

I bought a gorgeous pair of dusky pink diamante shoes from Black Sand by Dune. They glistened every time they caught the light. I didn’t want my jewellery to detract from the dress so I found a simple diamond and pearl drop earring and necklace set in Cupitt jewellers, in Bromsgrove. My parents got me a delicate pearl bracelet for Christmas, to match.

The final piece I bought was my hairpiece. I had seen one similar, but anyone that knows me well will understand why I had a hard time coming to terms with paying more for a giant hair clip than for a pair of KG’s! Luckily for me, a friend of mine, Melonie Jane, is a jewellery maker and made me my own version for a fraction of the price! It was so lovely to know that it was a one off and tied in with the whole outfit so perfectly.

a wedding in the Lake District (c) Dave Greaves Photography (21)

All of the above was classed as my ‘Something New’; my ‘Something Old’ was my Nan’s brooch, which was incorporated into my bouquet to make her a part of the day; my ‘Something Borrowed’ was my other Nan’s brooch, also attached to my bouquet; and my ‘Something Blue’ was my garter.

My hair was exactly what I wanted, and was created by Katie, at First Class Hair and Beauty. My make up was done perfectly by Aimee Chorley.

a wedding in the Lake District (c) Dave Greaves Photography (24)

Ben wears a suit for work every single day, therefore he wanted something different for the wedding that would make him feel special. We had two choices – the country style tweed look, or the top hat and tails get up. Nothing about the tweed went with anything we had set our hearts on, and wasn’t really Ben at all. He had his heart set on tails from the start and, after scouring a few wedding fayres, we found his perfect suit, which he hired from 1860. I safely steered him away from the idea of a top hat. Little did I know though that on the day Ben had chosen to wear a little something else under his suit, which he and the other groomsmen revealed in an excellent photo. Each one of them ripped open their shirts to reveal a superhero T-shirt, then set about different poses that had every guest, and me, in absolute stitches!

The groomsmen all had matching suits from 1860, separating them apart from Ben with the colour of their waistcoats.

a wedding in the Lake District (c) Dave Greaves Photography (27)

My best friend Heather, sister-in-law-to-be Jenna, and sister-in-law-on-the-day Lou, were my gorgeous bridesmaids. We had a really fun day out trying dresses on together, and eventually, after some more online searching, came to the floor length grey designs from House Of Fraser. They looked gorgeous in them. We teamed them with some heels from Dune. On the morning of the wedding I gave them all a gift box to say thank you and inside there was: a Fossil purse (each individualised to their taste), a photo from the hen do in a frame, a pair of grey pearl earrings, a grey pearl necklace that I had made for each of them, a pink pashmina, in case they got cold and a pair of pretty flat sandals too, for when their feet got tired.

a wedding in the Lake District (c) Dave Greaves Photography (32)

Dave Greaves was our amazing photographer. We first met him for our engagement shoot just outside of Lakeside, he put us at ease and produced some beautiful, natural photos of the two of us just being us. Every single bit of contact was responded to swiftly and he was extremely accommodating in capturing the types of shots we asked for. As for the photos of the day itself, they tell the story of the day so perfectly. From the silliness and giddiness of the bridal suite, the tears and laughter of the ceremony, the stunning couple shots and the fun of the first dances. We cannot recommend Dave highly enough.

a wedding in the Lake District (c) Dave Greaves Photography (31)

I’m not a fan of flowers at all. That said, my parents are florists and own Danckert’s Florist (maybe I just grew up around so many flowers that I didn’t learn to appreciate them). So originally I wasn’t going to have flowers at all, but one day, when scrolling through my daily dose of wedding blogs, I fell in love with a very whimsical, unstructured bouquet that had trailing ivory and millet hanging gracefully down that I spotted on Brides Up North. I sent a picture to my Mom, who then mocked up my perfect bouquet, incorporating raspberry roses and gerberas into the mix. Simple, elegant and slightly whimsical – me to a tee! The centrepiece decorations were designed around large, silver candlesticks and matched my bouquet perfectly.

a wedding in the Lake District (c) Dave Greaves Photography (37)

Whenever we visit The Lakes, we always make a trip into Hawkshead to visit Hawkshead Relish. Their jams and chutneys are delicious so we bought mini jams and chutneys as favours and attached a little tag with a poem on it.We put them in the bags that Mom and I had squirrelled away over and attached a photo of each guest as a child in a little frame to the top. When everyone arrived at the meal, there wasn’t a seating plan, just a case of finding their childhood memory and sitting down. So many guests said they loved the idea!Also in the bags were Help For Heroes key rings. Ben’s brother is part of the army and had recently completed a tour in Afghanistan where we all worried about him non-stop, so we thought it fitting to donate the money to a cause close to our hearts.

As neither of us are cake fans, we decided not to have one! Instead, we had a cheese tower that my Mom sourced from Ansteys Cheese. We had layers of Brie, Wensleydale and Cranberry, Cheddar, Stilton, and Garlic Roule, which my mom entwined with roses and ivy, served with some quirky crackers, biscuits and Hawkshead Relish chutneys.

For something sweet I went to Chesters By the River, where Ben had our proposal lunch from, and picked up a selection of their sweet things then chopped them into smaller pieces and set them out on slate platters. Ben’s sister, and my bridesmaid, Lou, who is an amazing baker, also made us a selection of delicious cupcakes.

a wedding in the Lake District (c) Dave Greaves Photography (40)

On our first trip to The Lakes as a couple, we went with my parents to The Brown Horse at Winster, where they’ve been going for food for many years. We decided we wanted to give our nearest and dearest a proper Lake District experience and take them to a traditional pub for our food for the day. At 5pm we all boarded a coach at the top of the drive and had a scenic trip over to Winster, where the staff were absolutely amazing. The food was out of this world amazing. We then made our way back to the coach for the return journey, which was slightly more alcohol fuelled than the first leg.

Rustic Roast Kitchen, my best friend Heather’s company, provided our canapés. She and the ever so helpful bridesmaids helped to prepare it all on the morning; they were absolutely delicious, and there was not a single morsel left in sight! We also put on a free bar, provided by Bar Thirty Two, for all of our guests.

a wedding in the Lake District (c) Dave Greaves Photography (39)

We love a night out at The Jam House, Birmingham. Dino Baptiste plays there regularly, and whips the crowds up into a right frenzy with his eclectic style and well-chosen repertoire of songs. We booked him pretty much straight away. With only having a small room and a small amount of people, we didn’t want a full band, and Dino and his drummer, Matt Tovey, did a sterling job. We were dancing all night long. During the break, my Dad dropped out that we are an acoustic duo and they even let me sing an impromptu song for Ben!

a wedding in the Lake District (c) Dave Greaves Photography (41)

We organised a few special touches and gifts for our nearest and dearest to thank them for their support. As well as the gifts for the bridesmaids on the morning of the wedding I’d laid out matching outfits for the girls and both mothers outside all of their rooms – PJ bottoms, a white vest top and a hoodie with their names in diamantes on the back. I had also hung everyone’s outfits up on their own pretty, personalised hangers that I got from my own company, LoveLeigh Designs. I sent the groomsmen gifts of superhero socks and attached each guy’s favourite alcohol miniature to them.

Ben sent me over a gift – a beautiful pearl earring and necklace set and card. The words had me in floods of tears – good job it was pre-make up! I also sent him a gift – a leather overnight bag that he could keep and use forever. We bought special thank you gifts for our parents too.

a wedding in the Lake District (c) Dave Greaves Photography (44)

I’d recommend our wedding venue to anyone. If you want a wedding based around family, where everyone can be together in drop dead gorgeous surroundings, relax in luxury and plan your day your way, then Silverholme is the right choice.

It’s so hard to pinpoint one favourite part of the wedding day! I can tell you that we made the most of every single opportunity to celebrate the occasion – my mom and I had so many days out, lunches, and so on together. The family time the planning created was magical. Ben and I did every ounce of planning together, all decisions were the both of us, and we made some great days out together because of it too – every part of the lead up was exciting and full of fun.

a wedding in the Lake District (c) Dave Greaves Photography (54)

The day after the wedding we met everyone still staying in the area for a ‘dip’ in the lake then went to Go Ape. We finished the night off with a barbecue and opening of our cards and gifts. Perfect end to a perfect week.

We had a one night mini-moon in a gorgeously quirky favourite Lakeland place of mine called Randy Pike where Andy and Chrissy looked after us like family. Our official honeymoon will be in Chicago to go and visit my godparents who couldn’t make it to the wedding – we have yet to organise it!

a wedding in the Lake District (c) Dave Greaves Photography (55)

My top tip to other Brides Up North is enjoy and savour every moment of everything. From the planning to the saying thank you at the end. Do things together and acknowledge each other’s differences in opinion and see how you can combine both ideas to come together with something even better – it all works out in the end. Stay true to ‘your day, your way,’ and it will be.

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vintage coral. a pretty easter wedding at taitlands – helen & joe

February 2nd, 2015 | Julia Braime

a rustic Easter wedding at Taitlands by Joe Stenson (30)

Unless you follow Brides Up North over on Instagram (ahem!) then you probably won’t have noticed that I’ve been off skiing in the Alps for the past seven days… a sneaky little holiday before the Brides Up North wedding exhibition madness begins, but things certainly weren’t any less pretty or less busy on these pages this last week!

I’ve left one set of mountains to come home to an email mountain of my own, so whilst I get cracking on that lot, I’ll leave you with our first beautiful wedding of the week, Helen and Joe’s stunning vintage inspired celebration in the Yorkshire Dales.

And breathe…

With images by Joe Stenson.

a rustic Easter wedding at Taitlands by Joe Stenson (17)

helen says: For my 33rd birthday we went to Manchester to watch Eddie Izzard Live.  We had booked an apartment and Joe had secretly upgraded us to the penthouse suite.  On the morning of my birthday Joe surprised me on the roof terrace with a champagne breakfast and my birthday presents.  The last present I opened was an empty box… when I looked over to Joe he was beside me and down on one knee with a ring in his pocket.  I was shocked that he had finally proposed to me and I hadn’t even seen it coming!

a rustic Easter wedding at Taitlands by Joe Stenson (19)

We were married on 19th April 2014.  We made the most of the long Easter weekend with our friends and family.

I am from Staffordshire and Joe is from North Yorkshire so we looked at venues in both counties. We wanted to get married at a venue that had everything on one site and could offer us the whole weekend.  After doing lots of internet research on our summer holiday we had shortlisted it down to three places. After visits to all three we quickly decided on Taitlands in Stainforth, North Yorkshire.  This beautiful venue had everything on site: a coach house with marquee, a grade II listed house with guest bedrooms, a smaller cottage and beautiful walled garden with the amazing Yorkshire Dales as a backdrop.

a rustic Easter wedding at Taitlands by Joe Stenson (29)

As the venue was fairly vintage and rustic I knew to keep it in with that theme.  There were lots of homemade bunting and fabric hearts which I had spent months making and with the help of family and friends collected lots of vintage bottles from car boot sales, vintage fairs and antique shops for the flowers.  I also spray painted vintage lace doilies with coral fabric paint and used these for the table centres – a job I really loved. For the marquee we hired some huge letters of our initials from Add Vintage who I met at a vintage fair in Leeds.

My favourite colour is coral so I wanted the bridesmaids and the flowers to follow that.  I also wanted spring colours so ivory and sage green went perfectly with the coral.  The colour theme wasn’t too obvious but there were subtle hints.

a rustic Easter wedding at Taitlands by Joe Stenson (6)

After trying on about fifty different dresses (!) I had a good idea about what suited me (and what really didn’t). After trips to 13 different shops, I found a beautiful ivory gold vintage lace design by Justin Alexander at Ava Rose Hamilton in Silsden and knew it was the one. I chose my veil from Ava Rose and purchased some beautiful vintage hair pieces from Chez Bec after seeing them on a wedding blog. My pearl earrings and bracelet were also from Chez Bec and I had personalised bracelets made for the bridesmaids, each with their birthstone on.  I wore beautiful vintage closed toe shoes called Orla from Rachel Simpson.

My hair and make-up was all done by Helen Whincup from Harrogate, a self-employed hairdresser.  She travelled to the venue very early and was a huge help at calming me down and getting us all ready on time.

Joe wore a blue three piece suit which he bought from Reiss in the January sales.  He accessorised with tan brown shoes from Barker Shoes and a coral and blue tie from House of Fraser.  His outfit was finished off with his Granddad’s 1970s gold pocket watch which was a surprise from me on the wedding morning enclosed in an engraved pocket pouch. He really looked very handsome.

My bridesmaids, my sister Sarah and two closest friends Thea and Jenny, wore coral lace mid length dresses from an American supplier on Etsy complimented with patent nude shoes from BHS, again in the January sales.

a rustic Easter wedding at Taitlands by Joe Stenson (20)

I walked in to ‘I will wait for you’ by Mumford and Sons (I had been waiting nearly 14 years!) and as I got to the front and Joe finally turned round I stopped crying and started to sing the lyrics to him.  I hadn’t planned to do this and afterwards I learnt that the entrance song had been played in full when they thought I was ready to come in so really he had been waiting for me!

a rustic Easter wedding at Taitlands by Joe Stenson (4)

After seeing two or three florists I visited Twisted Willow Floristry in Ripon.  Joanna was absolutely lovely and really got the idea of what look I wanted without me knowing much about flowers.  She came up with some amazing bouquets, buttonholes and corsages made up of peonies, roses, gypsophila, lily of the valley, ranunculus, anemones, larkspur and muscari. She also provided dried confetti for my DIY paper doily confetti holders and the same flowers as the bouquets for the table centres and venue which my mother-in-law then put together in a very natural way. Joe’s mum did such an amazing job the day before putting this all together.

a rustic Easter wedding at Taitlands by Joe Stenson (21)

After the ceremony we had an Easter egg hunt and also hired some outdoor games (croquet and giant jenga) from Add Vintage to keep guests entertained.

a rustic Easter wedding at Taitlands by Joe Stenson (23)

RSVP Candy helped us produce all of our fantastic wedding stationery from the amazing personalised wedding story invite and poster to the personalised name badges, wedding programmes, table plan, table names and signs for our photo booth, easter egg hunt and sweet table.

We used vintage postcards of the Yorkshire Dales and a stamp from Not On The High Street for our save the dates.  As we had lots spare my creative sister used the leftover postcards and created us a print of our names which we hung up on the day in the ceremony room.

We also had photo bunting hung around the coach house of all our guests from over the years.  This created a lot of laughter and some embarrassment for our guests.

a rustic Easter wedding at Taitlands by Joe Stenson (25)

The food was all supplied by Taitlands’ caterers and we had a selection of Yorkshire canapés out on the lawns followed by country terrine, slow cooked Taitlands lamb and lemon tarte for the wedding breakfast.  Locally produced and perfect for spring.

The fizz and wine was all supplied by Majestic.  We had gin and elderflower tonic for when guests arrived, prosecco and raspberry liqueur for after the ceremony and a sauvignon blanc and rioja for the wedding breakfast which complimented the lamb perfectly.

We had two cakes, a 6 tier wedding cheesecake made by The Courtyard in Settle which was the main part of the evening supper with pork pies. Our good friend Hannah made three different flavoured cupcakes with a top tier fruit cake.  These were amazing and I really can’t recommend Hann-made cakes enough.

a rustic Easter wedding at Taitlands by Joe Stenson (1)

During the wedding breakfast we had a wedding quiz (all about our guests) and later on in the evening we had a DIY photobooth and polaroid camera so guests could leave their photos and messages in a guestbook.

Our favours also doubled up as pin badge place names in coral for the girls and sage green for the boys.  By the end of the day everyone was wearing them, which also helped with introductions.  We also had a sweet table and wedding quiz for our guests to enjoy.

a rustic Easter wedding at Taitlands by Joe Stenson (7)

Joe researched the entertainment for months and we were so pleased with the Leeds band that we finally chose.  Vibetown provided two great sets of live music, with two singers, brass, guitar and drums.  Our first dance was ‘Hey Ho’ by the Lumineers as we didn’t want a slow smoochy one and we both loved the lyrics.  By the second set everyone had bought the photo booth masks and props onto the dancefloor which the band found hilarious.  We also had a spontaneous breakdance competition between guests and there were one or two power cuts when the generator kept cutting out but the saxophonist kept playing solo until the power came back on. Superb.

a rustic Easter wedding at Taitlands by Joe Stenson (32)

We managed to find a top guy to take our wedding photos at a vintage fair in Leeds. Joe Stenson is unbelievably talented and such a kind, great guy to work with!  We did two engagement shoots before the wedding, including a trip to the pub which made us feel right at ease with Joe.  A month or so before the wedding Joe asked if Jemma, a friend of his, could come along as a second photographer as she wanted to shoot some more film so we got two fantastic photographers for the price of one. Jemma was so good at making the girls feel relaxed on the morning of the wedding and Joe was so great at capturing the real feel of the day. We would give them both the best possible recommendation to anybody looking for a wedding photographer.

a rustic Easter wedding at Taitlands by Joe Stenson (27)

The venue and the backdrop of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales was perfect.  Everything was on site, including accommodation for the bridal party and all our other guests stayed locally in Settle, only a 10 minute taxi ride away.

Emma the owner and her husband Martin were very good at accommodating our requests.  We wanted the wedding breakfast in the marquee which they didn’t usually do, we were able to set up the venue on the Thursday and our bridal party could arrive early on the Friday so we could relax the day before.  Emma let us use her home as if it was our own and was very relaxed about most things.  Her staff on the day were great too.

I can’t wait to go back there one day for a visit when we are walking in the Dales.

a rustic Easter wedding at Taitlands by Joe Stenson (26)

Our favourite moments from the day included our entrance to the wedding breakfast.  We came into the A-Team and high-fived everyone as we went round the room.  We loved the speeches and the surprise video messages from guests that couldn’t be there, including my nan and a few words from one of Joe’s favourite comedians Richard Herring!

a rustic Easter wedding at Taitlands by Joe Stenson (12)

A couple of days after the wedding we flew to Miami beach for a short stay and then went onto Belize and Mexico for jungle trekking, visits to lots of ruins, snorkelling and lazing on beautiful Caribbean beaches. It was great to spend some quality time with my new husband after 10 months of wedding planning and the scenery and weather was amazing.  It was tough going back to work after nearly 4 weeks off!

a rustic Easter wedding at Taitlands by Joe Stenson (33)

Joe and I planned the wedding we wanted in 10 months!  We did have ‘wedmin’ to do pretty much every day but we really enjoyed it.  I would say spend your budget on the food, drink and music – that’s what all your guests will appreciate the most. We wanted those special little touches too so made time to have or make things that were personal to us, that others may not have noticed.

My top planning tips for other Brides Up North would be to set budgets and make decisions early to give yourselves time at the end for all the fun things.  On the day itself, try and relax and take it all in as it can be quite overwhelming.  We had half an hour by ourselves just as the sun was setting, when we went off with the photographer, and it was lovely just to catch up and relive some of our favourite moments.

Finally, never put your drink down, you’ll never remember where you put it!

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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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reader, i married him. a literary wedding in north wales – diane and aeddan

January 13th, 2015 | Julia Braime

a literary wedding in North Wales (c) Daffodil Waves Photography (81)

Like many people who write for a living, I’m also an avid reader, so I absolutely adore that Diane and Aeddan chose a literary theme for their beautiful Real Wedding in North Wales.

Their lovely literary wedding day was filled with pretty touches, personal details and themed surprises for their guests, but on a day filled with words, it’s really only three little ones that matter the most…

Diane and Aeddan seem to have the i love yous sorted.

Images by Daffodil Waves Photography.

a literary wedding in North Wales (c) Daffodil Waves Photography (30)

dianne says: We got engaged in May 2013.  As a history teacher I love all things historic, so Aeddan surprised me with a weekend away for my birthday which included a visit to Harlech Castle where he proposed with a custom made necklace as he knew I wanted to pick my own ring.  We then spent the weekend at a beautiful country hotel.

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We got married on 12th September 2014 at Nant Gwrtheryn, which is a restored quarrying village on the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales.  Its primary function is as a Welsh language centre but it also does functions.  We chose this venue because we wanted somewhere we could put our own mark upon.  We also loved the idea of having a wedding that lasted all weekend with everything including the chapel and the guest accommodation (in restored quarrymen’s cottages) all in one place.  Also, Aeddan is a Welsh speaker and I am English so we were able to have a bilingual wedding that brought our two cultures together.

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Our theme was words, so we had our tables named after books that we both love and our place names were made from scrabble pieces.  As a favour each guest was given a personalised Penguin book cover postcard.  There were lots of other literary touches throughout the day.

We picked this theme because we both like reading and the theme evolved with the planning and took on a life of its own.

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Our colour scheme was mint green and navy blue.  Navy blue was decided upon because I had two bridesmen who needed to be in different coloured suits to the groomsmen and mint green worked well with navy blue.

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I had a lace Justin Alexander dress from Bridal Path in Liverpool.  I wanted a dress that I felt like the best version of myself in but that wasn’t too heavy so I could forget I was wearing it on the day.  As soon as I put my dress on I felt comfortable.  I knew I wanted lace from the start so it was an easy decision.  Although I knew something was missing, three weeks before I realised my dress needed a belt, luckily the staff at Bridal Path were happy to let me hire one.

My flowers were pastel coloured roses and gypsophilia. I wanted a vintage look to my bouquet which Carol from Acacia Flowers on Anglesey delivered.

Nina Wren did the hair and make up on the day and was fantastic.  She made all the ladies look amazing and was very professional.

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Aeddan had a suit made from Moss Bros Bespoke, he tried on many suits but was never happy with the fit, so we decided to have one made for him.

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Our bridesmaid wore a 1950s style dress from Vivien of Holloway and the bridesmen wore navy blue suits hired from Slaters.

The groomsmen also had suits hired from Slaters but these were in grey to match the groom.

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Our photographer was Nicola from Daffodil Waves who exceeded our expectations.  I would wholeheartedly recommend her.  On the lead up to the day she was professional and her level of communication was amazing.  I honestly felt like her only bride.  On the day she was wonderful, it felt like having a friend there not a photographer.  As for the photographs, we were blown away by how amazing she made everything look.

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The centre pieces for the reception were provided by Acacia Flowers and matched my bouquet, we then stacked the centrepieces on piles off vintage books.  We did much of the decoration ourselves including over 100 metres of bunting that we made. We really wanted to capture our personalities in the decoration which included a vintage ladder that Aeddan painted, a homemade scrabble board table plan and place names made from scrabble pieces.  There was also some Welsh décor.

Our chairs were hired from Chair Covers of Anglesey who went above and beyond by decorating the chapel for us on the morning of the wedding.

We gave out various favours including: CDs with music on from the day (for the men), Penguin book themed thank you notebooks (for the women), a personalised penguin book postcard for each guest and activity packs and games for the children.

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We had a four tier cake from Benjamin Lee on Anglesey which included chocolate and baileys, chocolate and vanilla and strawberry.

We also had a sweet table, gave female guests flip flops in the evening and had garden games for the children.  We had two guest books, a vintage typewriter to fit in with our theme and giant colouring in where guests could colour a character and leave us their advice for a happy marriage, this now has pride of place in our hallway.

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We had a harpist in the ceremony who was a family friend who also played at Aeddan’s parents’ wedding.

In the evening we had a soul band called The Soul Boys, Aeddan was adamant he wanted a live band from the start and the Soul Boys kept our guests dancing all night.  The band were followed by a DJ who was under strict instructions not to play any cheesy music, we even had an hour of indie music.

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I would recommend the venue without hesitation, it is absolutely unique.  To have everything on one sight and views out to sea over the Llyn Peninsula was amazing.  The service both in the lead up and on the day was professional and attentive.  Nothing was too much trouble.  Being able to book the venue for the weekend was an added bonus.

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Our favourite part of the day was the ceremony.  We had a Catholic ceremony which was conducted by a friend the family.  He tailored the ceremony to suit our different beliefs and backgrounds.  We were able to design a bilingual ceremony that all our guests loved.  A particular highlight was our readings an Apache blessing translated in Welsh and A Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton.

The bilingual elements of our day made it very special and personal to us, I even learnt some Welsh to surprise Aeddan with in my speech.

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Our honeymoon was spent in The Maldives where we enjoyed ten days relaxing on the Island of Kuramathi, Aeddan did manage to fit in some diving however!

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My top tip for other Brides Up North would be that all those details are worth it and your guests will notice all your hard work.  We had a vision and a spreadsheet and never compromised on it.

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