Charlotte Balbier

written in the stars. a relaxed & fun wedding in the lake district – sharon & chris

October 6th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

A Pretty Boho Wedding (c) Bethany Clarke Photography (115)

If today’s real bride would have got things her way, she and beau Chris would have eloped to marry but we’re sure glad that Sharon was swayed by a larger-scale celebration in the Lake District – as we get to share all the pretty details of their big day with you today!

Surrounded by their family and friends, Sharon and Chris combined a pretty pastel colour scheme with a fun theme that gave nods to both of their passions (films and cats, need we say more!)

We love the relaxed vibes as guests have fun in the sun, entertained by garden games and live music. Other standouts for us include the super-cool choice of wedding transport and Sharon’s beautiful Nottingham lace dress and flower-crown combo for boho bride perfection!

With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, Bethany Clarke.

A Pretty Boho Wedding (c) Bethany Clarke Photography (8)

sharon says: We got engaged on our fifth anniversary, on August bank holiday weekend in Dolgellau, Snowdonia.

We had spent the day wandering around Portmeirion, which is a little fantasy village perched on a cliff, filled dreamy Italianate architecture and with lovely views over the bay. It’s a beautiful but surreal place, which is why it was chosen as the setting for the 1960s TV show The Prisoner. Later that night we went out for dinner and Chris insisted on driving. He is a keen photographer and so he decided we would drive out somewhere after dinner so he could take photos of the stars.

I had been trying to talk him out of it all night as it was actually very cloudy and there was not a star in the sky, but he was insistent. We drove out for about half an hour, trying to get the best vantage point at the top of the hill, and eventually Chris pulled over into a layby and got his tripod out. I was in the car, playing on my phone and wondering how long he was going to be as I really needed to pee, when he came back to the car and asked me to take a look at his photos. I looked at the screen on his camera and he had taken a beautiful photo… of the clouds. “Aw hon… it’s a bit cloudy, isn’t it?” I said. “Yeah,” he sighed, disheartened. Then suddenly he pulled out a box. “Anyway, I have a present for you… I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind marrying me?”

It turned out he had been hoping to get a shot of the stars on the night we got engaged. I think I had previously said that my worst nightmare would be to get engaged in a public place with loads of people around. He’d decided to find the most isolated and private place he could find; under the moon, with just the stars over us and no one else around.

In the box was a ring with an amethyst stone (my birthstone). He had been trying for about two years to figure out my ring size, but as I don’t normally wear rings he’d failed at every turn. He had tried getting friends to ask if I knew my ring size (I don’t) and had tried measuring my finger with a piece of string as I slept – all with no luck. Rather than guess, he decided to let me pick out the kind of ring wanted and get his friend, a jewellery designer in Birmingham, to make it just for me.

A Pretty Boho Wedding (c) Bethany Clarke Photography (117)

We got married on 17th June, 2017. I really wanted to get married in the summer as I desperately wanted some sunshine on the day and we didn’t want to wait until 2018. Unfortunately, this left us with less than ten months to plan a wedding in the Lake District in peak season, so the date was very much down to whether we could get the venue and the registrar. We also renovated and moved into our house this year, so it was a busy time for us.

I spent about two months trying to convince Chris to elope to Iceland or Vegas. I hate being the centre of attention and the stress and expense of a big wedding felt like a terrible way to start married life. Somehow Chris talked me round – he said we deserved to have a day with all our friends and family making fuss of us.

Having been convinced to go the whole hog, we agreed to get married to in the Lake District, where I grew up. We got married at Belmount Hall, between Ambleside and Hawkshead. The building is part of Beatrix Potter’s estate, but the main reason we chose it was for the incredible setting with views of Esthwaite Water and Gummers How in the distance. As soon as we stepped out of the car we were blown away by the surroundings. Belmount was the blank canvas we were looking for; small enough that we could have the whole site to ourselves but with vast and beautiful grounds in which to enjoy the sunshine (I was adamant that there would be sunshine).

A Pretty Boho Wedding (c) Bethany Clarke Photography (113)

Once we had the venue, we knew it was going to be a ‘Pinterest wedding’; rustic and a bit bohemian with lots of little touches that would make people say, “That is so Chris and Sharon”. We’re both big film fans and cat lovers (Chris is a film and TV lecturer and I’m a bit of a crazy cat lady), so our tables were named after feline film puns. The Big Meowski, The Great Catsby, Furris Bueller’s Day Off, etc. An extremely talented young artist called Amy Lewis took our silly ideas and transformed them into some adorable cartoons for each table and I designed the table plan myself.

I don’t like matchy matchy colour schemes so I went for a pastel rainbow of dusty pink, light blue, dove grey and soft peach.

A Pretty Boho Wedding (c) Bethany Clarke Photography (109)

As a big girl with big boobs, wedding dress shopping was a nightmare experience and I hated every minute. I had been dreaming of a 1920s-style beaded dress, in the style of Jenny Packham or Eliza Jane Howell, but whenever I managed to track one down the samples were all size 10 or 12.

I had almost given up hope when I walked past Kula Tsurdiu’s studio in Nottingham. Kula is a Greek designer, but her base is in the historic lace market of Nottingham, where she sources a lot of her materials. I made an appointment with Kula’s manager Laura Summerson and she was one of the few people to really listen to what I wanted. She didn’t try to force me into a stiff, ruffled, strapless A-line monstrosity, like almost every other store I tried. The dress I eventually settled on was all-over Nottingham lace with a natural waist, long sleeves with tiny sparkly sequins sewn into the fabric. Knowing that the dress would be made to my exact measurements was a relief and Laura managed to make the whole process as stress-free as it could be.

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real wedding recap summer 2017: a beautiful barn wedding in the lake districct – esther & jake

June 27th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth

Lake District Wedding (c) Ian Brookes (27)

It’s holiday season here on the blog, and as the editorial team take a short break, we’ll be leaving you with a reduced blogging schedule so that you still get your daily dose of wedding lovely. Usual service will recommence on Monday 3rd July 2017 but in the meantime watch out for recaps of some of our favourite Real Weddings from the first half of the year so far. 

Drop in every day for the very prettiest, most unique wedding inspiration and – if you are a Brides Up North bride – to see if your real wedding was one of our top picks.

When it comes to wedding themes, today’s is certainly different and this we like very much. Newlyweds Esther and Jake peppered their special day with subtle – and not so subtle – nods to their unusual theme: War of the Roses.

We’re talking dainty rose cupcakes, red and white paper bouquets, Lancashire and Yorkshire flags and games galore for the guests (tug of war anyone?).

Throw in the mesmerising backdrop of Park House Barn in Milnthorpe, an alternative wedding breakfast and an oh-so-pretty sparkler send-off for the couple, and you’ve got the makings for a truly memorable, fun-filled day. Read on and let the battle commence…

With images by Ian Brookes Photography

Lake District Wedding (c) Ian Brookes (39)

esther says: We got engaged on 10th October 2015, at the top of Helvellyn, the highest of the Eastern Fells in the Lake District. Jake booked us a weekend away at the Kings Head on Thirlmere for our one-year anniversary. We walked up Helvellyn on the Saturday afternoon, but Jake took us the wrong way so the walk took six hours instead of four! I threw many tantrums on the way up to the top – Jake kept coaxing me on, saying that he had a gift for me. When I opened the box, it was an 18-carat white gold ring with a princess cut diamond. Needless to say, I skipped down the bottom merrily, where we were greeted with a bottle of champagne in our lovely room.

Lake District Wedding (c) Ian Brookes (18)

Our wedding date was 22nd October 2016. This was the closest date to our anniversary that was available in the church we both wanted, Wythburn Church on Lake Thirlmere.

The church is located at the bottom of Helvellyn and near to the Kings Head, where we got engaged, so it has sentimental value to us. The church has no electricity or heating, so the service had to be conducted by candlelight. Members of our family and friends played flute, violin, accordion and guitar to accompany the service.

The reception was then held 45 minutes away at Park House Barn in Milnthorpe. This is a functioning cow shed and hay barn, which is transformed into a beautiful venue for certain months of the year. When we first saw it, it had a tractor inside so we had to use our imagination! It was large enough to accommodate our guests and fit with the desired look that we wanted. Plus, it was a DIY barn so we could make it whatever we wanted it to be.

Lake District Wedding (c) Ian Brookes (30)

We stayed on the wedding night at Heversham Hall, a listed building, situated near to the barn. It really added to the experience, and Lesley was an amazing host.

Lake District Wedding (c) Ian Brookes (21)

Our theme was War of the Roses as I am from Lancashire and Jake is from Yorkshire, and we often joke about the rivalry. When looking at our venue, we realised that it would make an amazing theme for the wedding – we even hosted our own battle on the day!

To complement the theme, our colour scheme was red and white to reflect the respective roses of both regions.

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you belong with me. mori Lee for a gatsby-inspired wedding at in the lakes – lauren & ash

June 15th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

A Gatsby Inspired Wedding in The Lakes (c) Kelly Cotter Photography (45)

Merewood Country House Hotel won Lauren and Ash over as soon as they visited, and its luxurious interiors, quirky library and spellbinding views became the inspiration behind their glamorous wedding day.

Except this couple’s celebration was more than just a day, with their lucky guests heading to the Lake District for a whole weekend of celebrations. They hosted a Friday night party with a Gatsby-esque 1920s dress code, organised a champagne lake cruise, a classic crooner, a mind-reading magician and much, much more.

Of course, a weekend wedding requires more than one outfit too, and Lauren swapped her Friday night feathery flapper frock for a customised fishtail Mori Lee gown on Saturday – please do yourself a favour, readers, and check out that killer back detail. You can thank us later!

With images by Kelly Cotter Photography

A Gatsby Inspired Wedding in The Lakes (c) Kelly Cotter Photography (20)

lauren says: We got engaged in Edinburgh at Carlton Hill. We’d been together over five years, but Ash had wanted to become a PE teacher and be able to purchase a ring himself before he proposed. He took me up to Edinburgh the first weekend after he had been teaching for a year. We arrived at the Radisson Blu on the Royal Mile, where we were instantly upgraded to a suite (alarm bells, but I kept quiet!) We walked up Carlton Hill, and while I was looking over the city, I turned around to find him on one knee!

Our wedding was on 8th April 2017. It was the middle weekend of Ash’s Easter holiday. Turns out it was the hottest day of the year so far!

A Gatsby Inspired Wedding in The Lakes (c) Kelly Cotter Photography (57)

We got married at St Martin’s Church Bowness, had a drinks reception on a Windermere Lake Cruise and our wedding breakfast and evening reception at Merewood Country House Hotel.

We both have fond childhood memories of the Lake District and have family breaks away very regularly – we‘d already discussed prior to getting engaged that we would marry up there. We walked into the entrance hall at Merewood with its wingback chairs and a roaring fire, looked at each other and knew it was the one!

We completely took over the venue for the weekend off the wedding. The house felt like our home from Friday at 11am till Sunday lunch time.

A Gatsby Inspired Wedding in The Lakes (c) Kelly Cotter Photography (30)

Before we were engaged I had, like many girls, a Pinterest board of that wedding that might happen one day. Mine was full of rustic burlap, lavender pots and bunting. However, when we walked into Merewood, that was all forgotten. The art deco conservatory bar and eclectic library just screamed 1920s/1930s Gatsby Glamour and our (subtle) theme was born!

Our floor-length gold sequin bridesmaid dresses added glamour and the flowers were elegant and timeless handtied bouquets of anemones, roses, ranunculus, succulents, eucalyptus and freesias. The venue flowers followed the same suit with a eucalyptus top table runner, a staircase garland of sweet smelling neutral coloured flowers and cut-glass vases which we filled ourselves with flowers from the florist, Made in Flowers.

A Gatsby Inspired Wedding in The Lakes (c) Kelly Cotter Photography (63)

I didn’t want to ‘put’ a colour into Merewood. The venue was already full of golds, rich greens and reds and dark wood and I didn’t feel that adding a bright colour would work. So, I took the gold and creams of the main Lonsdale suite and carried it through the whole wedding. As the wedding planning progressed, blue seemed to pop up a little – as it’s the Lakes, I wasn’t surprised. The men were in navy suits, which was where the blue started to naturally appear. Our colour scheme evolved organically over time, which I loved.

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soulmates. a laidback lake district wedding at the mortal man – louise & pete

May 30th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

A Personal Wedding in the Lake District (c) Weddings Vintage (32)

You’re in for a treat – today’s real wedding is a corker. Louise and Pete broke with convention by having a poignant humanist ceremony, giving them the opportunity to find traditions that made sense and meaning for them. So they wrote their own vows, made wishes for a happy future together and their rings were passed around and warmed in their family and friends’ hands.

Louise and Pete’s big day wasn’t actually big in numbers – nineteen guests, pub grub and then back to a cosy cottage for cake and cocktails – but the detailing is just perfect. Their customised denim jackets are fiercely cool and their record invites, inspired by their love of all things American country, blues and jazz, earn them muso points galore.

There’s something just a bit special about this one – in a world of Pinterest clones, these photographs feel honest and authentic. I mean, at the end of the night they donned Bride and Groom T-shirts, played beer pong and ate Tunnocks tea cakes. Zero contrivance, yet massive impact – we love it!

With photography by Weddings Vintage.

A Personal Wedding in the Lake District (c) Weddings Vintage (38)

louise says: We got engaged in October 2015 while doing a road trip in Southern USA taking in all our favourite music stops – Smoky Mountains, Dollywood, Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans. We were in the Tootsie’s World Famous Orchid Lounge in Nashville one night having a few beers and listening to live music when Pete popped the question.

Our wedding day was 17th March 2017 – St. Patrick’s Day (unintentionally!) We’d decided we wanted to turn our wedding into a bit of a getaway/trip for everyone and make it as relaxed as possible with the aim of generating plenty of memories. So we were trying to tie in finding a wedding venue with booking a cottage for us all to stay in and these dates seemed to work before everything got too pricey at Easter time!

A Personal Wedding in the Lake District (c) Weddings Vintage (34)

We chose to get married in the Lakes as Pete is from the South Lakes, Ulverston. It’s a beautiful part of the world we visit regularly from our home in Manchester.

We wanted a very informal ceremony and reception so decided to find a pub with a function room; we’d always really liked the idea of having some pub grub in a relaxed setting. When we came across The Mortal Man in Troutbeck, we instantly knew it was perfect. They have a garden room with fantastic views over a valley, rave reviews for their food plus lovely traditional touches such as log fires and their own homebrewed ciders. The Mortal Man were happy for us to have our ceremony in the garden room as well. We’d decided on a humanist wedding which can be made very personal and unique. The Mortal Man isn’t licensed for weddings so we’d already taken care of the legal part on the Monday before the wedding at Manchester Registry Office before we set off to our cottage – The Terrace in Windermere. It was such an amazing house for a party/gathering – really well equipped and the décor was amazing.

A Personal Wedding in the Lake District (c) Weddings Vintage (21)

Debra of Inspirational Ceremonies who conducted our humanist ceremony gave us lots of options and guidance on writing our vows and selecting readings. We really loved the idea of warming the rings, where during the start of the ceremony your rings are passed around the guests so they can place their hands over them and make good wishes for your marriage. As we only had 19 guests this worked really well – I’m sure it could take a long time if you had quite a lot more guests.

Although there was no strict theme, we were keen to incorporate our joint love of music throughout the wedding and tie in little hints relating to our American music road trip when we got engaged. Our playlists and the songs we started and ended the ceremony were all by musicians from the South of America covering Country, Soul, Blues and Jazz.

A Personal Wedding in the Lake District (c) Weddings Vintage (39)
We customised denim jackets with patches and pin badges, mostly relating to music and our American road trip and wore double denim on the Monday for our legal vows in Manchester. The jackets appeared again at the ceremony on the Friday where we wore them over our dress and suit to keep the rain off!

Our wedding invites also followed the American music theme. We went to Weddings Vintage with inspiration from Hatch Show Print, an old print house we visited in Nashville famous for its iconic printed gig posters. Hayley at Weddings Vintage translated our idea perfectly and the finished invite was a 7” inch vinyl cover, each with a record inside that Pete and I had picked up from a local charity shop. We liked the idea that our guests wouldn’t know what songs were on the records until they played them.

I suppose, more than anything, we tried to approach everything with a very DIY theme. We decorated the cottage ourselves with fairy lights and daffodils everywhere, and tried to add cheap and cheerful touches where we could. All cakes were made by friends, plus our friend and guest Lynn did my hair on the day.

We didn’t have a colour scheme – apart from the bouquet which tied in with buttonholes and the flowers on tables. These were dusky pink, lavender, white and natural greens.

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boho bliss. a fun-filled wedding at park house barn, cumbria – charlotte & anthony

January 30th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth

A Beautiful Barn Wedding in Cumbria (c) Jessic Grace Photography (31)

Today on the blog, we have our umbrellas at the ready, as we meet a couple who show us how to make the most of a rainy wedding day in Cumbria.

Park House Barn provided the rustic backdrop to Charlotte and Anthony’s laid-back boho wedding, complete with a BBQ, woodfired pizza van, ceilidh, games and an actual cheese cake for a wedding cake.

With images by Jessica Grace Photography

A Beautiful Barn Wedding in Cumbria (c) Jessic Grace Photography (23)

charlotte says: We got engaged whilst on a road trip in south west USA. We were camping in the desert in Utah – Anthony had been planning a romantic proposal by the campfire on a starlit night, but on the night he’d planned, a storm hit. He decided to go on ahead and ask anyway, sheltering from the gales and rain in the tent! It was definitely unexpected!

We got married on Saturday 3 September. We both love that time of year – and we thought it was a good bet for some good weather!

A Beautiful Barn Wedding in Cumbria (c) Jessic Grace Photography (28)

We tied the knot at Park House Barn in the south Lakes. We chose this venue because it’s a stunning, rustic building, and we could see that it had so much potential. We loved the idea of just being able to do our own thing – and use thousands of fairy lights! We’re both from the north west and have always felt that the Lakes are a beautiful part of the world.

The general style was relaxed, fun, colourful and a little bit bohemian. An accidental vintage map theme also developed as everything came together! My grandfather used to draw these amazing intricate maps as a hobby, and I’ve just always loved old maps and atlases. As we have grand plans of a belated travelling-honeymoon in 2018, it seemed like a fitting theme.

There wasn’t a strict colour theme. The flowers were simply white wildflowers and gypsophila (with a few blush roses for the bridal bouquet) with lots of greens and herbs. We wanted to let the building and lighting to do a lot of the talking. We had rainbow umbrellas, colourful signs and multi-coloured macarons to add some colour and lots of fun.

A Beautiful Barn Wedding in Cumbria (c) Jessic Grace Photography (21)

My dress was by Anna Campbell, and we got it from Jean Jackson Couture NQ in Manchester – I’d seen it on the internet, and instantly fell in love with it. I’d tried a handful of other dresses on, but this one just felt so comfortable and natural. I think I was always going to end up in lace.

Anthony was keen to keep it simple. He bought about eight high street suits and then picked his favourite!

The bridesmaids were all in Needle and Thread dresses, which they picked themselves. I didn’t really mind what they wore, as long as they were broadly in keeping with the venue/vibe of the wedding, and moreover, that they were all happy. The groomsmen all wore navy blue suits, and ‘granddad’ collars – which was Anthony’s idea.

A Beautiful Barn Wedding in Cumbria (c) Jessic Grace Photography (34)

Our photographer was Jesse, of Jessica Grace Photography, who we heard about from a friend-of-a-friend. She did a brilliant job on the day – making us feel at ease and taking lots of natural photos, which is what we asked for. The weather was certainly challenging from a photographer’s point of view, but Jesse just got on with it.

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autumnal amour. charlotte balbier for a magical lake district wedding – laura & rich

January 26th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

Charlotte Balbier for a magical Lake District Wedding (c) James Tracey Photography (41)

Today’s gorgeous couple were married at Broadoaks Country House in the heart of the Lake District.

Shabby chic vintage vibes? Check. Moody autumnal skies? Check. Jaw-dropping lakeside photographs? Check. Readers, you’re going to love this.

And flower fans, get those Pinterest-clicking fingers ready – I guarantee that this is the most beautiful bouquet you’ll see this year.

With images by James Tracey Photography

Charlotte Balbier for a magical Lake District Wedding (c) James Tracey Photography (33)

laura says: We got engaged on 29th September 2015. Rich took me to the Lake District, our favourite place, and had set up a proposal at Broadoaks Country House – we’d stayed there before and loved it. Rich had arranged for his brother to be there to secretly photograph the proposal. We had afternoon tea out on the terrace and Rich had bought a mug that said ‘Does this ring make me look engaged?’ The staff brought it out with the afternoon tea and Rich said ‘I think this is for you.’ Suddenly he was down on one knee and proposed with a ring that he’d chosen himself.

We wanted an autumn wedding and so we set the date for the 27th October 2016. We chose Broadoaks where we got engaged for our venue. Rich set up an appointment with the wedding planner there and we knew that was the only place we would want to get married.

Charlotte Balbier for a magical Lake District Wedding (c) James Tracey Photography (29)

We had a small wedding and didn’t want everyone to have to wear matching suits and so on. In fact, the whole day was really laidback. Our theme was vintage/shabby chic because I just love that style.

We didn’t really have a colour scheme. I don’t particularly like reds and oranges but wanted my flowers to reflect autumn; I eventually opted for berry colours and dusky pinks. My sister was my bridesmaid and I told her she could pick her own dress to go with the flowers, so she chose a dress in a mink colour.

Charlotte Balbier for a magical Lake District Wedding (c) James Tracey Photography (24)

I knew from the start what style of wedding dress I wanted and I had an idea in my head. I must have tried on more than 50 dresses, but none of them were right and then I found my dress at Lace and Co Bridal in Horbury, Wakefield. I knew it was the one as soon as I put it on. It was a Charlotte Balbier dress and was called Tabitha. I absolutely loved it. I thought it needed something extra, though, and my mum found a sparkly brooch which I added to the front of the dress to personalise it.

My bridal makeup was done by Lisa from Lime Beauty at Equinox in Bowness, and my hair was by Louise from Equinox. They came to the venue and were absolutely fab! I’d recommend them to anyone, they’re so friendly and put us completely at ease.

Charlotte Balbier for a magical Lake District Wedding (c) James Tracey Photography (56)

Rich decided he didn’t want to hire a suit and so he bought one from Hugo Boss that he could keep. It was a blue two piece and he added a grey waistcoat also from Hugo Boss which went really well.

For our wedding party we just had my sister, Amy, as my bridesmaid and Rich’s best friend Matt as best man. As Rich had bought his own suit, we asked Matt and my dad to wear what they wanted – they didn’t have to match.

My sister’s dress was a mink coloured 50’s style dress, which we ordered online. She also bought a pink petticoat which she wore to make her skirt flare out more.

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