January 14th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
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.
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.
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.
January 13th, 2015 | Julia Braime
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The groomsmen also had suits hired from Slaters but these were in grey to match the groom.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
December 3rd, 2014 | Julia Braime
Lizzie and Phil’s pastel wedding – featuring the stunning videography of Brides Up North Sponsor Silver Sixpence Films (check out the lovely little movie below) – was as pretty as it was personal, even though the date clashed with the groom’s footy team’s first game of the season.
Lucky for Lizzie (and for Phil) he didn’t mind missing kick off that Saturday.
lizzie says: Phil and I had been together for nearly five years when we took our new puppy Douglas away to a cottage in Robin Hood’s Bay for a little break in October last year. One afternoon Phil suggested walking along the top of the cliffs because of the beautiful view of the beach. It was cold and there were a lot of steps but in the most beautiful spot, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him, with his new best pal by his side. It was lovely and a moment I’ll never forget, only problem was getting a signal to call all our friends and family!
We got married on the 16th August 2014. Not a popular choice as it was Hull City’s first game of the season and Phil is a football reporter and all my family are Hull City fans, but it was the only date we could get the church and venue we wanted!
We got married at All Saints’ Church in Brantingham, East Yorkshire and had the reception in a field behind a B&B opposite. We always knew that we wanted a marquee so we just had to pick the location. I used to horse ride in Brantingham so it’s a place I have always loved. It’s a beautiful countryside location with a small and lovely church. Keepers Lodge and Butterfly Meadow, the field we used is on the top of a hill looking over the beautiful scenery and we fell in love with it as soon as we saw it. We even saw some deer running around but unfortunately they didn’t join us on the day!
We went for a vintage tea party theme with lots of handmade bits and bobs. I love bird cages, vintage china and the idea of teapots and cake stands so we based it around that. We wanted it to be relaxed and fun, acoustic guitars, straw bales and picket fences.
We had a mix of pastel colours, my bridesmaids wore the same dress from Brides and Grooms of Lincolnshire in three different colours, one was light pink, one was pale lemon and the other was turquoise. They looked stunning. The boys wore navy suits and pastel blue ties, ditching the suit jackets about 10 minutes into the reception!
My wedding dress was also from Brides and Grooms of Lincolnshire. I just loved it and wish I could wear it again! I knew I wanted a strapless dress that was slim fitting and elegant. I tried on plenty and then I found the one, it was a Justin Alexander ivory dress with lace and a beautiful pattern. A mum’s tears are usually a good sign that it’s the perfect dress and she certainly got a bit emotional. I also found a lovely veil there and the seamstress even used the excess lace from the dress to add a pretty clip for my hair. They were wonderful. My shoes were a gift from my bridesmaid Rachel who was in the process of setting up her own bridal shop in Willerby, Forever Bridal Boutique. Rick Roberts in Beverley did my hair, and my bridesmaid’s hair. It was great to get out of the house in the morning and spend a couple of hours being pampered at the salon., and we were already pleased with our styles.
Phil wore a navy blue suit and waistcoat from Marks and Spencer with a white shirt and white tie. It was a really nice fit and I‘ve never seen him look so handsome. We hired navy suits for his ushers and best men from Slaters in Hull.
A light blue and cream camper van was the first thing we booked, it was from The Alternative Wedding Car Company in East Yorkshire. The bridesmaids and my mum travelled in the camper. My dad and I travelled in a cream Daimler from Superior Motor Cars in Pocklington. The driver was wonderful, he made us feel really important from the moment he pulled on to the drive and couldn’t do enough to make the journey perfect.
Nick Freeman from 246 Photography did our wedding pictures. I knew Nick anyway so I’d already seen a lot of his work and really loved his photographs. He was brilliant on the day, he made us all feel very comfortable and I was delighted with the pictures. I really feel like he captured the best bits of our day, exactly how we want to remember it!
We booked Silver Sixpence Films to do our wedding video after seeing a film of a friend’s wedding. It was lovely to have them there on the day, they were very professional and fitted in perfectly amongst our guests. I wasn’t quite prepared for how beautiful the video would be, so there were a lot of tears when we saw the finished product. They caught some wonderful little moments that we hadn’t even noticed they were filming!
All of my flowers came from Sandhill Garden Centre near Preston, I don’t really know much about flowers so I went in with a picture of a bouquet I liked and hoped for the best. We went through all sorts of ideas and decided on pastel coloured roses and all sorts of other types of flowers that I can’t remember the names of! The bouquets and the flowers in the church and at the reception were stunning, there were roses in colours I didn’t even know existed. The other great thing about them was how affordable they were, it didn’t cost me half as much as I expected!
My favourite decorations were the centre pieces my mum made. She spent hours filling beautiful birdcages with flowers and fairy lights and they looked so elegant and lovely. In fact, a good few people asked if they could take them home! My friends and family were amazing in the run-up to the wedding, the girls helped me make a hundred name cards with pretty bows and coloured card and we spent a whole night decorating an old suitcase and hanging the table plan from pegs inside it. Phil, my brother Matthew and our good friend Pete made a white rural road sign from scratch which pointed to the far flung locations people had travelled from. Phil’s mum ordered pink and white pom poms and lanterns and hung them from the trees and made lace runners for the tables. It was a great team effort and I will always remember setting up the marquee the day before the wedding and getting a bit teary about the number of people who turned up to help us. It was a great day.
We decided bags of penny sweets would make good favours so Phil ordered personalised bags from the internet and we did a big Makro shop to get all the bits we needed. They seemed to go down well, which was nice for Phil and his usher James who had lovingly put them all together and sealed them with heart pegs!
We decided to go for the kind of food we know our friends love and that meant pies! 2Chefs, a Beverley catering company made fantastic pies on the day. We had very tasty bruschettas beforehand and then for a desert we had three tier cake stands layered with all sorts of mini cakes and tarts, served with pots of tea. It was perfect. Apparently the pork and stuffing sandwiches were amazing on the night too, but I was still too full from all the cake! A company called Marquee Bar near York provided the bar and bar staff. Harriet and the team were incredibly efficient, they provided all the drinks we wanted and there was never a long queue which is rare at a wedding. They were also really lovely, and even kept my little flower girl entertained when she got a bit bored during the speeches!
Our cake was made by mum and dad’s neighbour, Lesley. I had seen a picture of a cake I liked so I took it round and was delighted when she said it was possible. I didn’t see it until the day and I remember getting a text from Phil’s mum in the morning saying the cake is stunning and it really was. It also tasted amazing.
Our friend Mike kicked off the entertainment by playing an acoustic set of our favourite songs. He’s an incredible singer and has also been my brother’s best friend since I was little so it meant a lot to have him playing. A local band called the Fork Handles got us all dancing our socks off on the night.
It’s hard to pick a favourite bit of the day, I loved everything from getting ready with the girls to a really special drive to the church with my dad, to seeing Phil for the first time, it was all wonderful. But if I could go back to one moment it would be watching Mike play ‘Chasing Rainbows’ by Shed Seven on the guitar while dancing with my new husband and looking around at all our wonderful guests. I remember just wanting that moment to last forever.
We had a honeymoon we’ll never forget in Barbados. We stayed at Crystal Cove hotel and just felt incredibly lucky for two weeks. We knew we’d be shattered and ready for a break so with the wedding behind us we fully embraced the golden sands, blue sea and rum cocktails.
My biggest bit of advice for other Brides Up North is something a friend said to me: Look around now and again and take it all in. Your wedding is the one day that you get to have all of your favourite people in one room and they’re all there for you two, it’s very humbling.
246 Photography, 2chefs, brides and grooms of lincolnshire, brides up north featured supplier, forever bridal boutique, justin alexander, marks and spencer, real wedding, sandhill garden centre, Silver Sixpence Films, slaters, superior motor cars, the alternative wedding car company, uk wedding blog
November 17th, 2014 | Julia Braime
Joanna and Amit’s wedding day fuses the traditional with the unusual, the pretty with the quirky and best laid plans with really no plans at all. The result? A unique and happy celebration, bringing together all the things they love the most.
Bring on the origami elephants!
With images by Sarah Mason Photography.
Joanna says: We got engaged on bonfire night, watching the fireworks at our local park (Brockwell Park in South London). I’m not very good at remembering anniversaries so Amit wanted to choose a date I would definitely remember!
The redevelopment of Hebden Bridge Town Hall was a community project, and lots of people I know were involved in it! It meant a lot to me to be able to get married in my home town in this Town Hall.
Todmorden Town Hall is a beautiful Grade 1 listed Victorian hall in the next town along the valley. I had only been there as a kid and hadn’t remembered all of the beautiful period features. It was a great venue for the evening reception and had plenty of space for dancing and a band!
We joked about lots of different themes to begin with as all the magazines told us it was the thing to do. In the end we had a kind of Indian/British theme, combined with lots of other things that we love (like wool and origami elephants) but it wasn’t so much a plan as a collection of things we liked and wanted to do.
We chose a colour scheme of pink, green and white. Soft colours in the daytime and in the evening all a bit brighter.
We broke with tradition and decided to do photos before the ceremony (partly because the ceremony wasn’t till 4pm). It was so nice to spend time together and some time out from the hecticness of the rest of the day. It was raining all day up until we started the photos so we go very lucky with the weather (plus it meant I got to wear my wellies).
I wore a white dress from Angelica Bridal in London. I hadn’t realised how long in advance you need to order your dress (6 months lead in time!) and left it all a bit late. The dress was Justin Alexander. I also had an Indian lenga style dress for the evening from Simla’s in London.
I knitted a lace shawl for the day, I love knitting and it seemed really appropriate for the day. I was a bit nervous it wasn’t going to go or it wouldn’t work, but was really pleased with how it looked .
Amit went to Bangkok on his stag do and had a suit tailor made at Raja’s Fashions there (this apparently saved money and time…). His Indian outfit was also from Simla’s.
My bridemaid wore a dress from Coast with an Indian style shawl from Simla’s too. Amit’s best man wore a suit he already owned.
I don’t really know one flower from another which became apparent in the florists conversations. Amit kept googling flowers to try and sound knowledgeable, so between us we muddled through. But we trusted the florist and on the day what we had was truly beautiful.
Willow Garden in Hebden Bridge did the flowers. We had so many great people who helped us bring the day together. We were also keen to use local suppliers.
Jo’s mum decorated the whole of Hebden Bridge Town Hall. This did mean carrying round trees for the local garden centre and sourcing a lot of chair covers (not to mention stringing up pompoms and bunting) but the end result was really lovely, and it was so nice to give it a personal touch.
Sarah and Suzi from Sarah Mason Photography did the photos. We both felt so comfortable with them and we couldn’t imagine anyone doing a better job. We still love looking back on the photos.
We hired a bus from Keighley Bus Museum. It had to be a London Routemaster and the guys on the day were lovely and gave out special wedding bus tickets.
Lauren at Zouk’s Catering in Bradford sorted out the food (including several tastings and many iterations of the menu). She also looked after organising the cutlery and plates and staff to set up and serve the food on the day. She was amazing!
Neither of us are that big a fan of traditional cake. However at the last minute we did decide to stack a cake stand with baklava (Turkish pastry sweets). It made an awesome tower and it was a big hit.
We had the Rumblefatband doing the music. We were debating whether or not to get a band for a while and I’m really glad we did. They do a mix of funk and soul music that’s just great to dance to. They also let one of the guests go up and join them for an Elvis number.
We also had Dave Nelson playing the piano for the ceremony and one of Jo’s friends playing ukulele, walking in to ‘Here Comes the Sun’ and walking out to ‘Umbrella’, unintentionally weather themed.
There were lots of kids at the wedding so we wanted to keep them entertained. Amit’s sister put together party packs for the children; which also made them feel special on the day.
We went to Vietnam and Cambodia for our honeymoon. It was very relaxing after the trials and tribulations leading up to the day.
My top tip for other Brides Up North is that if you’re organising things yourself you should realise that there are all kinds of things that need to be done (like hiring plates and buying napkins). Don’t underestimate how much organisation this can take (and delegate where you can)!
Spreadsheets are your friend.
And it’s much more fun when it’s the two of you doing it together and makes the whole day much about you as a couple.
October 29th, 2014 | Julia Braime
Stunning scenery, rainbow blooms, tartan trews and spinning a reel… Clair and Nick show how an elegant wedding needn’t be a stuffy affair. Combining traditional charm with modern and personal touches, the couple’s colourful celebration is a bonnie day indeed.
Images by AnnaJoy Photography.
Clair says: Nick and I met while studying at St Andrews in 2008. Our first little holiday together as a couple was to a lovely little guesthouse outside of Ballachulish in the Scottish Highlands. We had a lovely few days together as a fairly new couple. One of the things we both enjoy most is documenting our little adventures – we found an amazing, almost deserted road in Glen Nevis and realised it could be a lot of fun to take a series of stills of the both of us in the road, sort of like the flip books you get where when you look at the images quickly they tell a little story. As our new year celebrations finished in the early hours of 1st Jan 2013 Nick told me he was taking me back to that same guesthouse as a surprise gift! We went back to the same spot on the deserted road to make a new “flip book” of photos of us 4 years later and then Nick got down on one knee. It was beautifully romantic and entirely unique! Those pictures now have even more meaning!
We were married on 12th July 2014. We picked that date because both of us had extremely tight schedules at the time. I was in between graduating for a second time and starting work and had four weeks that I could totally devote to the last minute frantic preparations.
We got married at St Salvator’s Chapel, St Andrews. It’s the chapel associated with the University we both studied at and it just felt right to go back there. I wanted a very traditional service but in a place that was familiar, so the Chapel was perfect! Our reception was across the lawn at Upper and Lower College Hall, a beautiful building from the early 17th century. The grassy lawn in between the Chapel and the Hall was the perfect spot for drinks after the service and for the littlies to tear around. We were on a very tight budget funding the wedding ourselves – the Chapel and College offered the opportunity to put our own stamp on our wedding whilst fitting within a well-rehearsed framework for a very agreeable price.
We decided that our wedding would have a ‘hint’ of vintage but that in order to really work with the venue it also had to be elegant. We decided that additions such as vintage china and pastel handkerchiefs would work with the room whilst I had to forgo the likes of bunting, as it just wouldn’t have worked. We also wanted lots of homemade elements – we are crafty people but also wanted the really personal feel that this adds. It also saves lots of pennies if you can make things yourselves!
We wanted it to be bright. And beyond that I didn’t want to complicate matters by having a colour scheme. As many of the fine details were done by ourselves, it was much easier to have a loose colour scheme for resourcing what we wanted at the price we wanted it for. I wanted my bridesmaids to have dresses they had picked and could wear again and shoes they liked rather than enforcing my choices on them – they all agreed that they would wear navy and between them all picked the same dress! But their shoes were all different. They all had a bright pink shawl and a posy of brightly coloured flowers – many of the same flowers that were elsewhere in the venue. Very loosely we tried to stick to oranges, yellows, pinks and purples but all sorts of other colours crept in too!
The dress I thought I wanted and the one I picked were worlds apart. I have very much a pear shape, and realised that the dresses I thought I liked only accentuated my wide hips and left me feeling frumpy. I ditched my original ideas and in Pretty Woman in Edinburgh riffled through dresses they had hanging. I knew I wanted lace somewhere, and I had realised that something that fit snuggly at the waist but then skimmed out over my hips was going to be most flattering. With new thinking, the first dress I tried on was strapless – something I knew I just didn’t want on its own, but had been told I could add a lace jacket to. It had a sweetheart neckline, fit tightly at the waist and then had layers of tuille and a lot of taffeta to give a very full skirt and chapel length train. The instant I put the jacket on over the top I knew the look was exactly what I wanted. Both were made by Justin Alexander. The girls I was with at the time said it was the first time I had smiled as looked at in the mirror. That was it. I decided there and then that the dress and jacket were the ones I wanted.
Nick wore a pair of McNaughton Muted Tartan Trews I had bought him as a Christmas gift. His father was Scottish and this was his family tartan (McKendrick). His bow tie was in the same tartan to match. The Prince Charlie jacket his Mum had bought him a Christmas later, so that he had a complete outfit. His lovely shoes were Loake – his favourite brand of shoes, and compensation for all the pennies spent on my dress. The dress shirt came from TM Lewin and his copper cufflinks I had bought on Etsy as an engagement gift – they had the co-ordinates on them of the exact spot in Glen Nevis at which he had proposed.
The bridesmaids’ dresses were made by LightInTheBox – a company based in China which make beautiful quality gowns to order. I sent them the girls’ exact measurements and the dresses arrived and needed only the smallest of tweaks. The groomsmen wore a mix of their own Highland wear or suits. We were flexible with what the boys wanted to wear – it fit with the relaxed colour scheme. Each of them had a set of pirate Lego cufflinks – Nick’s stag had been on a boat in the Norfolk Broads that the boys had customised into a pirate ship.
We hired a beautiful Rolls Royce Silver Shadow from Prestige Cars of Fife – a company owned by Tom McKean. The car worked with our loosely vintage theme and was a definite luxury. Tom was the perfect driver, putting our nerves at ease and then drove us around St Andrews for some of our photos after the service.
Our photographer was Anna Hamill of AnnaJoy Photography. She was perfect. We knew at our engagement shoot we had found a real treasure. She was wonderfully discrete but also somehow captured every single moment beautifully. She didn’t mind being punted into taxi’s across town to be a part of everything and in the midst of relative madness, she was calm. There are lots of little touches Anna brings that others don’t – beautiful little business cards with pictures of you on, USB sticks sent with edible goodies, emails that are more friendly than blunt business, and the rights to do with your photos as you wish. And Nick and I would recommend her in a heartbeat for all of this.
My bridesmaids and I carried bouquets of flowers constructed by my beautiful and incredibly talented Mama. We ordered them wholesale from Triangle Nursery who delivered them to where the bridal party had gathered for a few days prior to the wedding. Mum then assembled them into beautiful creations and somehow knew what flowers would work where. She was magical.
Our flowers for the venue came from the same wholesalers. In keeping with as much being made by the people we love most, we got a bunch of my girlfriends, my sister, Nicks Mum and Great Aunt together and led by my Mama they each made one of the decorations. Each one had the same flowers and greenery in, but was assembled however they wanted. And they all looked fantastic. We had peonies, dozens and dozens of roses, freesias, gerbera, chrysanthemums, gypsophila, thistles and more!
We had a wedding tree as an alternative to a guest book – it’s now framed and hanging on our wall as a memory of all of those that joined us. We also asked every guest to bring their favourite recipe so we could create a ‘wedding cookbook’.
Perhaps the most personal thing for us was that our family and closest friends joined us for five days in total – a few days before preparing, and a couple of days after the wedding. Having our favourite people around us for a little bit more time was so important to us both.
We used Gordon’s Cater Hire for our vintage crockery and chairs – I wanted lime-washed chairs as I am not a fan of chair covers or sashes. They were excellent and provided an excellent service.
As favours, we gave ladies vintage handkerchiefs for “happy tears” and men brightly coloured silk pocket squares. Everyone also had a personalised name tag made from salt dough – something else people could take home and hang somewhere if they wanted.
We chose traditional Scottish options for our food. We sent guests a selection of three options for main course and dessert and asked them to get back to us – we wanted our guests to eat food they wanted to eat! St Andrews University created delicious dishes and many of our guests complimented the quality of the food. We sourced our favourite wines from the supermarket – we just waited until they were on offer and bulk bought. We had to pay corkage but felt for the same cost as the cheapest wines on the wine list we had wines we loved and that we thought other people would enjoy.
My favourite cake of all time is the fruit cake that my Mum makes for Christmas and this was the only cake I ever considered for our wedding. She also made a madeira cake for those people that don’t like fruit cake. She decorated them beautifully with hearts and pearls and lace and ribbon. Oh they were gorgeous. And to please Nick, who, if he could only eat one food for the rest of his life it would be cheese, we had a stack-of-cheeses cake. We served the cheeses and cakes as our evening buffet and they went down a treat!
One of our cheeses came from Cote Hill, a farm in Lincolnshire where Nick’s family is from – it was delicious!
We are largely a Scottish family and many of our friends are Scottish. We had been to a friend’s wedding and were amazed at how a ceilidh got everyone up and dancing – so we emailed a dozen bands and eventually settled on one we liked the look of – Ceilidh Sound. We also had a close friend who did a fantastic job of MC during the speeches – he had everyone in stitches.
The whole day was perfect. The moments we had as just the two of us were just as precious as those we shared with our friends and family. Our mothers gave us kisses right before we said our vows, our ‘last kisses’, and dancing with my Dad was one of those moments every little girl wants. The whole day was completely wonderful and we are off to Barbados in just 8 days! We are so excited!
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to plan plan plan. It’s never too early. We had all of our big things booked well in advance, including our band, Anna, the venues, the accommodation, my dress, our rings. It meant closer to the time we had plenty of time to focus on the fine details. Also, an Excel spreadsheet is a girl’s best friend.
October 14th, 2014 | Rachel Parry
Heart’s Desire by Claire Pettibone
A bride entering her wedding venue is such an iconic moment and there is often one aim in mind – to impress on the aisle.
A beautiful dress is of course part of the essential ingredients required to provoke a positive reaction for the big first reveal. The hope is to take guests’ breath away (as well as the groom’s) during the grand entrance and to hold their gaze.
A dress with stunning back detailing is an effective way to achieve this and gives brides two bites at the ‘look at me’ cherry – a double reveal, if you will.
Iris by Claire Pettibone
Many designers are advocates of impressive back detailing which encourages brides to save the best part of the dress until that last moment as they make their way down the aisle. Whether they choose elegant embroidery, flamboyant corsages or a cute key hole cut-out, the dress is bound to impress.
Claire Pettibone is one designer who is particularly well-known for featuring stand-out back detailing in her collections. Many dresses within Pettibone’s enchanting Still Life collection are stunningly simple on the approach but the back demands a double take. Alchemy, Iris and Sonata all boast beautiful sheer backs revealing a glimpse of the bride’s skin but in an ‘oh so elegant’ kind of way.
For something a little more striking there is a namesake of mine as well as the highly romantic Heart’s Desire. Rachel features a jeweled keyhole back complete with large black corsages while Heart’s Desire has incredible embroidery detailing on its second reveal.
Rachel by Claire Pettibone
Both Maggie Sottero and Justin Alexander also have some seriously stunning gowns with detailed backs in their collections. Sottero’s Melanie, Francesca and Savannah Marie each feature wonderful low illusion backs adorned with floral designs and sparkling crystals. Alexander’s 8596, 8689 and 8780 are equally stunning illusion back options for graceful brides.
For those wanting to flash a little flesh Sottero’s Indiana has both illusion and cut-out detailing while her Brandy backless design, framed by a bead embroidered trim with Swarovski crystals, will also attract attention. Alexander offers an elegant backless creation in his 8764 dress.
Sonata by Claire Pettibone
But if it’s full on cut-away back with eye-catching detailing you’ve been dreaming of, I urge you to take a look at Enzoani’s latest collection. The designs are striking and sophisticated with the right amount of sexiness thrown in for a killer combination. Jamie and Joanna are beautifully bold choices for brides that dare to bare but the absolute show stopper has to be Jasmine. For me this dress has it all; a simple silhouette with a mesmorising lace adorned sheer caped overlay and draped jeweled detailing in the back. I could totally picture Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine to tie the knot in this dress and I’m sure it will mean the dog days of dress shopping are over for many other fashion forward brides-to-be.
September 16th, 2014 | Rachel Parry
Wedding dress necklines have officially reached new depths.
While once an innocent sweetheart neckline was as far as designers dared to dip, there are now an increasing number of dresses reveal that much more of the chest area. But this doesn’t mean the dresses look at all cheap, tacky or tarty. Instead the designs scream high-fashion, ooze elegance and have just the right amount of sass and sexiness.
A perfect choice for confident brides who dare to bare, this style of dress can be highly flattering and incredibly striking. So let’s get the lowdown on the designers that are endorsing the new lowered neckline.
Main feature images courtesy of Jenny Packham, images in gallery as tagged.
Monique Lhuillier has several wonderfully dipped dresses in her collections. Clever designs such as Sylvie, Karlotta and Logan feature a lowered neckline but keep a good amount of flesh under wraps through the use of broad shoulder straps, illusion necklines and elegant lace sleeves. Meanwhile, the likes of Valletta and Teagan, which boast deep necklines but with thinner shoulder straps, give brides the opportunity to flash some extra flesh.
Claire Pettibone’s lowered necklines also retain modesty through the use of sleeves and shoulder detail. Lily is a stunning example for brides wanting to keep their arms covered. The elegant slim-line design features a highly detailed lowered neckline, exquisite long lace sleeves and a to-die-for sheer lace back. Minuet meanwhile is a much more revealing design with a dipped sweetheart neckline and pretty keyhole back detail.
Queen of vintage glamour, Jenny Packham has also jumped onboard the lowered necklines bandwagon. For brides wanting to keep their look simple but flash just a little flesh, there is Lavinia and Nina. Other brides will look to Packham for a dose of that intricate detailing that she does oh so well. This can be found in Noa and Marina, both of which feature plunging necklines as well as pretty, sparkling embellishment. Gatsby-style brides meanwhile will find it almost impossible to resist the sophisticated yet sexy charm of Rio – it’s a real head-turner!
Finally Justin Alexander, which produces perfect princess style gown, has a few lowered neckline creations to add to the offering. Interestingly, many of the dresses that feature deep necklines in the front are mirrored in the back of the gown. So for example the 8737 fit and flare gown, with heavily beaded pearl and crystal deep V-neckline also has a plunging back neckline. Similarly the 8652 mermaid style dress features a V-tank neckline in the front and is finished with a deep V-neckline in the back.
So the only question that remains is how low will you go?
September 11th, 2014 | Rachel Parry
There’s something about being by the seaside that causes a welcome state of relaxation.
Nicola and Eamonn chose the pretty seaside town of Scarborough for their laid-back big day which they were proud to show-off to their guests via an open-top bus ride and fabulous sea-front reception venue.
What I love about this wedding is that the bride and groom didn’t get swept up in wedding planning mania, but instead really thought about what they wanted and then executed it to perfection.
This fab real wedding oozes style and sophistication and is topped-off with a good glug of fun.
With photos by Photography34.
Nicola says: We got engaged on Christmas Day 2012 after being together for 11 years. Eamonn surprised me by dropping to one knee in front of our two little girls. It was very romantic as he had written a poem which incorporated all of the favourite places we have travelled to together.
We got married on Saturday 27th July 2013. We chose the 27th as it was Eamonn’s mother Helen’s birthday – she sadly passed in 2010.
Our wedding ceremony was at St Peters RC Church in Scarborough, our girls were baptised here so it was a natural choice. It’s a very beautiful building. I chose for my brother to walk me down the aisle. We celebrated afterwards at the Ambassador Hotel and Spa, which we chose because it’s such a lovely boutique hotel with fab views of Scarborough. The venue was perfect for our requirements. We would have no hesitation in recommending it to future brides and grooms. Kieran there listened to our every request and suggestion and together we made it all work to create our perfect day.
The one thing Eamonn and I discussed at length though at the start of the planning process was how we wanted the day to play out. We wanted everyone who shared the day with us to be there from the beginning until the end – it did limit us to the number of guests for the day (120) but everyone agreed that the day had a great flow to it. From the moment we were married we all travelled together to the reception (the long way around the Marine Drive at Scarborough so we could take in the stunning views on the open-top bus) and while everyone had their Meze starters outside the venue we snuck away with our photographer Tony for a quick photo shoot. We’ve all been to weddings where there is a pause in the day for photos and then another while the evening guests arrive and we didn’t want that. We chose to have the wedding a little later in the afternoon at 3pm which did put us on a tighter timescale than most weddings but we wanted the day to be one continual celebration with a natural flow and relaxed feel. As a result of the thought and planning that we put into the scheduling of the day it all played out really well and all of the guests thought that it had happened by chance.
There was no particular colour theme from the start – it all kind of just pulled itself together. Once we found the taupe bridesmaid dresses it cemented the spectrum of colours we used, from the invitation to the cake and the flowers.
I was quite nervous about shopping for my wedding dress. I was completely out of my comfort zone but with the help of my trusty bridesmaids and the ladies at The Wedding Room in Scarborough we picked out about seven dresses in all sorts of cuts and styles to work out what I might like. The first dress I tried was beautiful – big, full and very princess like (I thought this might be the type I would go for) but when I stepped out in it and looked in the mirror I was overwhelmed with the size of it! I cried and wanted to turn and run. But the ladies at the Wedding Rooms had obviously seen this before and whipped me straight back into the changing rooms to get out of it and encouraged me to try on something not so huge. Gypsy bride it wasn’t, but it just didn’t feel right for me. I tried a couple more on and they were all beautiful but I couldn’t pick between them. Then I tried on the fourth dress – it was a very detailed fishtail dress with lace, sequins, pearls and bugle beads by Justin Alexander. The moment it went over my head and I looked in the mirror I knew it was the one. I just loved the way I felt in it and when I walked out to show my bridesmaids I cried again – this time with happiness – their faces confirmed what I was feeling. It was so disappointing to put on my own clothes after wearing such a fabulous dress.
Eamonn wore a tailored suit from Mullen and Mullen in York. He chose a dark navy blue colour suit with a waistcoat. The suit jacket had a taupe colour lining to complement the bridesmaid dresses and he got our initials and the wedding date 27.07.13 stitched into the lining which was a lovely touch. I always thought Eamonn wore a suit well but have to say seeing him in a tailored suit made him look particularly dashing!
My flowers came from the very talented Kirsty Berridge from Minnie Bee’s Floral Design. I didn’t have a clue about flowers but I used my wedding board on Pinterest to show Kirsty what type of flowers and colours I liked. She was fabulous and brought lots of pictures of previous bouquets she had done to show me. She came up with my fabulous hand-tied bouquet of gypsophila, soft vintage pink hydrangea, dahlias, peonies and English grown roses in soft pinks, peaches and cream. We had two fabulous pedestal arrangements in the church and the tables at the reception venue again featured the same flowers, although we went for a much brighter tone of colours and displayed them in jam jars all supplied by Minnie Bee’s.
The bridesmaids all carried hand-tied bouquets of gypsophila and the flower girls carried small pomander balls of gypsophila and the groomsmen had button holes made of the same. Kirsty also supplied gypsophila on bits of wire to add to the bridesmaids’ and flower girls’ hair.
I had five bridesmaids and two flower girls (my daughters Stella and Grace), plus my mum and my brother to get from the hotel to the church so Ozzy the camper van from Scarborough Kombi Van Hire was the perfect solution. We had a lot of guests from out of town and abroad who we wanted to see the beauty of Scarborough while they were here, plus parking can be quite tricky around the church, so hiring an open top bus from Shoreline Suncruisers to take us all to the reception made perfect sense – and it was great fun!
Our photographer was our good friend Tony Wilson from Photography34 who has documented a number of our special days over the last couple of years, our daughters’ baptism being one of the first. Tony does such a great job of translating the feel of the day into pictures. We will be forever grateful for the precious moments that Tony has captured for us – we will always have them to look back on. He was also a guest at our wedding so he can definitely multitask.
The cake was provided by Gemma Flood at Cotton House Cakes. It was a four-tier chocolate fudge cake topped with Italian meringue butter cream. The colour graduated from light to dark – another spot on Pinterest.
For our wedding meal we decided that we didn’t want something that was going to be too gastro, even though Eamonn is a bit of a foodie. We went for a bit of a Greek theme with the food as we enjoy holidaying there and love the food. We chose to have a Greek meze as an informal starter which was served on arrival. We had these instead a formal starter as we didn’t want to be sat inside for a lengthy three-course meal. The Ambassador did a great job of serving these in a way that were easy to eat with fingers and stood up while relaxing outside. We decided to have the speeches before the main meal once everyone was seated indoors – this just seemed like a natural break to fit in the best man’s and groom’s speeches. We continued with the Greek theme for the main meal opting for a choice of beef stifado or vegetable moussaka. We kept the wedding cake as a dessert and then had a selection of cheeses that were brought to each of the tables so everyone could nibble throughout the evening.
We wanted a relaxed theme so didn’t go heavy on the entertainment. We did want some music for when we arrived at The Ambassador in the open-top bus and while we had the drinks reception and starters. We had discussed various live acts but Eamonn saw a young jazz band busking in town and booked them for the wedding! The Jelly Jolly Jazz Band fronted by a young musician called Laurence Marshall were just great, they played some really uplifting jazz which set everyone off on the right tone for the day. For the evening we opted for Spectrum Discos, who were great! We had a few particulars we wanted playing but were pretty relaxed with the play list. Our first dance was a Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrel classic You’re All I Need to Get By, which was just perfect!
To keep our young guests entertained, I ordered some small cardboard suitcases and filled them with colouring books and quiet toys. I also asked The Ambassador to add a small pack-up so the children could tuck in as soon as we sat down. They could then run around the dance floor after the speeches had taken place while the adults enjoyed their stifado!
We chose to have circular tables for everyone, so no top table – just to avoid any issues with who might feel they should be sat on it! We had paper pom poms, added by Alex Anderson from Homebird House, hanging from the ceiling above our table just to make it a focal point. They were also hung above the table for wedding cards which we decorated ourselves with an old suitcase, a beach towel, ball, bucket and spade.
Eamonn and I had told all of our guests that we didn’t expect any gifts as many people were already travelling great distances to attend the wedding but any gifts of money we did receive would be used on what we were calling a ‘familymoon’.
We couldn’t choose a favourite part of our wedding – we loved the whole day! We really thought about what we wanted and what was important for us and we made it happen. All of our guests really got that the day was a reflection of us and enjoyed it as much as we did!
Our top tip to other Brides Up North would be not to get sucked into everything that’s on offer. We had a very traditional church wedding but personally picked everything that went around that, including flipping around the proceedings of the day and for us that really worked. Everyone is different but it’s so easy to get pulled into ‘the perfect Pinterest wedding’ which can be daunting and crazy expensive. We decided that we wanted a simple wedding which was about Eamonn and I standing up in front of our loved ones and saying ‘this is us forever’ followed by great food and drink and a kick ass party!
July 17th, 2014 | Julia Braime
Hindi by Cymbeline
Although I’m not engaged, I’ve had the pleasure of slipping into some wonderful wedding gowns due to my line of work. Like many other gals I’ve often dreamt about the style of dress I might wear, should I ever make it down the aisle. For me it’s always been a slim-line gown that I’d see myself saying my ‘I dos’ in, but I have to admit, when you step into a voluminous princess-style gown, something very magic happens.
I think it’s something to do with the pretty layers of tulle, or perhaps the detailed bodice that chinches in at the waist before projecting into a large circular skirt. Childhood perceptions may also have something to do it. I (as I’m sure many others young girls did) thought as a child that brides were a form of princess and therefore the big sparkling dress is all part and parcel.
That magical feeling I’ve experienced when donning such a dress means I now couldn’t rule it out as an option, though it certainly doesn’t mean I’ll be going all ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’ on my groom. There are numerous different styles of princess gowns available; from jewel encrusted, highly detailed designs, to simple and elegant creations (similar to the gown picked by ultimate princess Kate Middleton, for her big day).
So if you want to slip into a big, beautiful gown when you get hitched, I have some suggestions of which designers to look to.
8724 by Justin Alexander
Princess perfect is one style that Justin Alexander has mastered to a tee. The 8724 design is one of my absolute favourites – beaded bodice, sweetheart neckline, tulle ball gown skirt – tick, tick, tick! For those wanting a little lace detail, the regal 8732 satin ball gown, featuring a lace and tulle overlay, is a stunning option and offers just a hint of sparkle in its subtle pearl, crystal and sequin belt. The 8712 is more Middleton with 3/4 sleeves, a lovely choice for brides not wanting to expose the tops of their arms.
8712 by Justin Alexander
Volume and layers are key to a magical gown so Alexander’s 8742 design also makes my lust list. Cymbeline is another designer with plenty of voluminous gowns on offer. Hada is the queen of the creations boasting an immense ball gown skirt. Hadny and Harmo are equally stately dresses, though perhaps slightly easier to manoeuvre in. Meanwhile, for brides who want the best of both worlds, the stunning Hindi design provides a sophisticated slim-line dress with princess-style tulle layers at the back.
Hadny by Cymbeline
Hada by Cymbeline
Harmo by Cymbeline
Maggie Sottero is a front-runner in princess attire too. The Esme Marie gown is enough to make brides go weak at the knees with its fully encrusted Swarovski crystal bodice and glamorous chic organza skirt. The whimsical appearance of Roseabel is also well worth swooning over with its classic tulle ball gown creating an irresistible air of romance.
Esme Marie by Maggie Sottero
Corbin by Maggie Sottero
Dawson by Maggie Sottero
Felicity by Maggie Sottero
And I’ve saved the best news until last – Alfred Angelo has actually designed a Disney collection with dresses fit for every type of princess; from the Belles, Jasmines and Cinderellas among us, to the Rapunzels, Snow Whites and Ariels. For me standout designs include Sleeping Beauty 238 with fascinating fairy-tale layers, plus floral, rhinestone, crystal and sequin detail. As a huge Aladdin fan I’d quite like to be Jasmine, though I fear sourcing a magic carpet to get me to the venue may be somewhat challenging!
Are you planning on indulging your inner princess on your big day? We’d love to know!
225 Belle by Alfred Angelo
227 Sleeping Beauty by Alfred Angelo
238 Sleeping Beauty by Alfred Angelo
Cinderella by Alfred Angelo
Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog – Images © 2014 as credited
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April 30th, 2014 | Julia Braime
Earlier this spring a group of North West wedding suppliers got together to collaborate on a contemporary art deco styled wedding photo-shoot at The Midland Hotel in Morecambe on the North West coast.
Brides Up North exhibitors (you can meet them both at our Hilltop Country House event in just under two weeks – click here for details) photographer Julie Lomax and cake specialist Rachel Hanna of Marie Antoinette Cakes teamed up with Vicky Cruse at The Midland Hotel to create something really special. The Midland was originally built in 1933 and is the epitome of art deco elegance and glamour. In 2013 it was lovingly restored and transformed to perfectly blend the original grandeur with a luxurious modernist style.
Julie says: As the hotel sits right along the Lancashire coastline, it provides the perfect setting for a wedding filled with seaside chic with incredible views, particularly from the fantastic bridal suite with its huge secluded balcony featuring a private hot tub!
Inside the hotel you can make use of several different spaces for your wedding but it’s the huge Art Deco staircase that we really love with elegant sweeping lines that just seem to go on forever, a chance to get some truly unique and timeless photographs.
The team spent a long time searching for the perfect suppliers to collaborate with and certainly struck gold with a beautiful selection of headpieces, statement jewellery, flowers, dresses and a classic black tuxedo.
I was keen to keep the shoot as in-keeping with my natural-light style as possible, something that was relatively easy at The Midland given it’s huge windows. Capturing all of the different details whilst strongly featuring the character of the hotel was something really important to me and I spent time assessing the location prior to the shoot to ensure that I got the best photos possible on the day.
The beautiful dresses were a selection of beaded Jenny Packham gowns – Rose, Eden and Esme from Mears Ghyll Bridal in Lancaster who also stock a wonderful selection of gowns from designers Alan Hannah, Charlotte Balbier and Suzanne Neville. The stunningly simple Maggie Sottero Oriana dress is from Butterfly Bridal in Lancaster who are also stockists of gowns by Justin Alexander and Essense Australia.
Samantha from Isobel Hind Couture is a very talented jewellery designer and her collection of jewellery and headpieces is really something special. Her unique style translates wonderfully to this collection which caught the eye of celebrity stylist and designer Kate Halfpenny who now stocks pieces from the range in her London showroom.
Jane from HF Couture in North Yorkshire has been designing bespoke and unique headdresses, tiaras and bouquets for over five years and they really are beautiful. If you’re looking for a one off piece that will fit perfectly with your dress then look no further. Jane has recently been commissioned by British bridal designer Madeline Isaac-James to create a range of accessories to match her 2015 bridal collection.
A wedding isn’t complete without flowers and Bolton-based florist Victoria from Lancashire Floristry didn’t disappoint when she created two stunning bridal arrangements with matching buttonholes for the groom. The first was a collection of black call lillies, ivory roses, brunia, black eyed chins and gorgeous succulents. Victoria also made an amazing art deco style fan of flowers using pipped hyacinth heads, tulips and beautiful white orchids, all wired together with a jewel beads.
Rachel, my fellow organiser, from Marie Antoinette Cakes created a black, white and silver art deco themed cake for the shoot with clean lines, sharp edges, geometric shapes and patterns. Her award winning cakes are renowned for their eye catching design and deliciously moreish recipes. Rachel uses the best quality ingredients and takes the time to really understand your cake requirements in a free, no obligation consultation. Her designs include the increasingly popular Simply Antoinette range which was launched in 2012 but bespoke designs are equally as in demand. Not only does she create tiered cakes but also makes cupcakes, cake tables, dessert tables and wedding favours.
Debra from Ruby Red Lips Makeup is based at her studio at the beautiful Last Drop Village in Bolton and has a real passion for makeup and really making you and your bridal party feel extra special. Debra takes the time to really understood your skin and the look you want to create in a pre-wedding trial so that everything on the day runs smoothly and you and your bridal party can really enjoy the experience and feel pampered. For this shoot so created really strong eyes and lips and took inspiration from the flowers with deep purple on the eye lids and on the lips.
Alex Lee from Sarah’s Hair in Bolton was the hair stylist on the day and spent time beforehand understanding the models hair, researching art deco hair styles and understanding the headpieces before deciding upon a style. She used thin tongs to create curls which were then softened to create a modern, softer version of the classic finger wave. Alex was then on hand throughout the course of the day to fix various headpieces into place which she made look a lot easier than it actually is!
Chelsea Leigh Edgar – Miss Bury 2014 – was the stunning bride for this wonderful shoot and looked amazing next to our groom, Peter Smithson. Chelsea is studying for a degree in Fine Art but enjoys modelling in her spare time having worked with me on previous shoots.
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Alan Hannah, art deco wedding, art deco wedding cake, black wedding cake, butterfly bridal, charlotte balbier, esme, essense australia, hf couture, isobel hind couture, jenny packham eden, julie lomax photography, justin alexander, lancashire floristry, maggie sottero, Marie Antoinette Cakes, mears ghyll bridal, rose, ruby red lips, sarahs hair, styled shoot, suzanne neville, the midland hotel morecambe, uk wedding blog
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