Brides Up North

english rose. a classic wedding at Crathorne Hall – tracey & steven

November 12th, 2014 | Julia Braime

Crathorne Hall Wedding Photography

Today’s couple, Tracey and Steven, know it pays to keep things classic.  Their celebration at the soon to reopen fire ravaged Crathorne Hall (click here for the full story) with traditional detailing, fabulous florals and one killer frock, is a masterclass in elegance.

With images by Phil Smith Photography.

Crathorne Hall Wedding Photography

Tracey says: Steven proposed on our two week road trip holiday through Europe, travelling through Germany, Austria, Italy and France in May 2012.

Whilst in Austria we spent some time camping and trekking in the Alps. On the day of our engagement we trekked up one of the most beautiful mountains in Austria. On the way back down the mountain, surrounded by the most stunning Alpine scenery, Steven paused to tie his laces and asked me to take some photos. Whilst I was taking some photos of the amazing scenery, Steven sounding startled asked me to look at the lump that had appeared in his walking socks. He then revealed a personalised wooden ring box and proceeded to ask me to marry him. Of course I was overwhelmed and completely shocked, of course I said yes!

Unbelievably Steven had driven from Sheffield to Alpendorf two months earlier, a 35 hour, 2000 miles round trip, just to find the perfect location to propose! Once he had found the perfect setting, he dug a parcel into the mountain, behind a tree, containing the Champagne, flutes and a little note in German, asking if found, for the parcel to not be removed!

As you can imagine, I was astonished at the time, trouble and effort Steven had gone to, to make our engagement so special. I couldn’t believe someone could have done this for me. The final surprise came from Steve’s back pack, when he revealed a brochure of a 5* spa hotel in Alpendorf for that night! This made a refreshing and romantic change to the Camping.

Crathorne Hall Wedding Photography

We were married on 11th July 2014 at Crathorne Hall Hotel. Crathorne Hall Hotel was the venue of one of our 1st Weekends away and after view dozens of other venues it was clear that we had been comparing them all to Crathorne Hall. Its such a beautiful building in superb surroundings. The staff had also always been to friendly and professional.

With such an amazing venue, we wanted to best complement Crathorne Hall and so went with an English Country Rose theme. The flowers were really important in accomplishing this. We chose a colour scheme of dusky pinks, green foliage and champagnes.

Crathorne Hall Wedding Photography

My dress was a Maggie Sottero gown, Ivanka Marie. I chose this dress because I wanted a statement dress. The dress has a sweetheart neck line, fitted corset, huge fluffy layered tulle and a very long train with Swarovski detail. When I first saw the dress on a mannequin I didn’t like but when I tried it on I knew it was the dress for me.

Steven wore a grey three piece suit from House of Fraser in Birmingham.

My adult bridesmaids wore dusky pink maxi dresses from House Of Fraser in Meadowhall and the flowergirls wore ivory embellished dresses from Debenhams in Sheffield.

Crathorne Hall Wedding Photography

Phil Smith was our photographer. Choosing the right photographer was one of our most important decisions, when planning our wedding. We had decided that we would sacrifice having a professional videographer to ensure we could have the perfect photographer and the best quality photo album we could. Phil certainly was the perfect photographer.

From the first time we met Phil at a wedding fair at Crathorne Hall, we knew he was the man for us. Phil was such an easy person to talk to and nothing seemed too much trouble, but more importantly it was Phil’s portfolio of work that really caught our eye. Phil’s ability to really capture the mood in his shots stood out from the competition. This was really important to us, as we didn’t just want traditional shots.

Crathorne Hall Wedding Photography

Crathorne Hall Wedding Photography

I carried a bouquet of pink peonies, mixed English garden herbs, such as rosemary and thyme, finished with large oyster pearls and pink blush German lace. All flowers were supplied and designed by Michelle Meehan owner of The Grange Wedding Flowers from Sheffield. The help and guidance Michelle  provided was second to none, she really is a superb florist, that’s willing to go the extra mile.

Crathorne Hall Wedding Photography

During the ceremony and also outside for reception drinks we had Arco String Quartet playing personally selected tracks, including my entrance music ‘A Thousand Years’ by Christina Perri from the Twilight Saga.

Crathorne Hall Wedding Photography

During the reception drinks we also had Laser Clay Pigeon Shooting, this went down very well with all the guests, especially as we had keep this a secret. The Class Laser Clay Team were ultra-professional and extremely friendly, I would certainly recommend them.

We also had a selection of garden games, such as lawn darts, croquet and French boules.

Crathorne Hall Wedding Photography

As we had a lovely summer’s day, we had Strawberry Daiquiris and bottles of Peroni for welcome drinks served with a selection of lovely canapés.

Crathorne Hall Wedding Photography

Crathorne Hall Wedding Photography

Crathorne Hall Wedding Photography

Crathorne Hall Wedding Photography

For favours, we had lemon drizzle butter cream cupcakes, iced in the colour scheme of the flowers with a Alice In Wonderland style eat me flag. These were placed inside vintage tea cups and saucers on the table. We used Kiss Me Cake Bakery, based near Holmfirth. They allowed us to keep our own vintage tea cup and saucer as a memento.

Crathorne Hall Wedding Photography

I choose an Alice In Wonderland inspired three tier cake, two tiers were toffee and the middle tier lemon. The cake was made by Angel Cakes in Rotherham. The cake design was even better than I had imagined. We tried many cake samples at wedding fairs and Angel Cakes was by far the best, extremely moist and lovely flavours.

Crathorne Hall Wedding Photography

Our DJ in the evening was the Ultimate Wedding DJ based in the North East and we had a photo booth from Limelight Hire in Northallerton.

Crathorne Hall Wedding Photography

It’s so difficult to pick a perfect part to our wedding. The ceremony was amazing and the speeches were great fun but the quiet times when we went off with our photographer for some couple shots were a nice way to break up the day and help it all sink in.

Crathorne Hall Wedding Photography

We left for our honeymoon the morning after the wedding. We had breakfast with our guests and set off to the Airport at 11am. We flew to Nairobi, Kenya and then on to the Masai Mara for 3 nights safari at the Kicheche Bush Camp.

The Camp was amazing, with zebra and wildebeest coming right up to our tent at night. We literally saw everything whilst on safari, including lion, cheetah and leopard. An evening watching two lionesses and seven cubs play only 20 metres away, whilst the sun went down was a real highlight.

From Kenya we flew to the Seychelles and stayed at the Constance Ephelia Resort on Mahe Island. Rather than just spending our time on the beach, we managed to explore the Island, with some trekking and even managed to try the local delicacy of Fruit Bat Curry!

Crathorne Hall Wedding Photography

My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to visit and research venues, it is so important to get the perfect venue for you. Similarly ensure you find the right photographer for you, your photographs along with your memories are the items that will last the longest. It’s so important to be happy with them.

For our First Anniversary we plan to visit the spot of our engagement in Austria. I wonder if Steven will be planting anything in the Mountain this time!

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lookbook: backwards forwards

October 14th, 2014 | Rachel Parry

Heart's Desire back - Claire Pettibone

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.

Claire Pettibone Bridal Runway Show with Wedding Paper Divas - Saturday, Oct. 12th

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 back - Claire Pettibone

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 back - Claire Pettibone

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.

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pretty eclectic. a marquee wedding at Chirk Castle – gemma & david

October 13th, 2014 | Julia Braime

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (34)

I do love autumn.  Crisp skies, moody mists, golden leaves, better telly.

This is a special season and a special week, in fact, for my family as my husband and I celebrate four happy years of marriage together, and our second anniversary with our little daughter in tow.

If you tie the knot yourself this week, let me tell you, it’s a great one for it – and I hope you are as happy in your future lives as we are.

For the rest of you, let’s kick off another week of wedding inspiration with this pretty marquee castle wedding, sent to Brides Up North by our fabulous Sponsor Andrea of Fabulous Day wedding planning, and real bride Gemma.

String out the bunting…

With images by SMH Photography.

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (8)

Gemma says: We got engaged on a weekend away in Cardiff.  We saw the perfect ring and knew the time was right.

We set the date for 25 July 2014.  We are both teachers and knew we wanted to marry at the start of the summer holidays.  The venue is lovely on a sunny day and we wanted to maximise our chances of plenty of sun.

We were married at Chirk Castle.  It is one of our favourite places to visit.  We have always found it very romantic and loved the idea of being able to have the ceremony in the Hawk House.

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (16)

We decided on a pretty eclectic theme.  There were lots of flowers and pastel colours but we wanted it to feel relaxed and have an informal, thrown together feel. We didn’t have just one main colour.  Lots of floral patterns and colours were important to us so that is what we were aiming for.

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (21)

I chose a Maggie Sottero gown.  It was a long dress in light gold with beading.  It had straps and was corseted at the back.  I didn’t want a white dress and after searching for a year found one that I thought was perfect.  I used Aristocrats Of Chester.

David wore a grey Cameron Ross morning suit.  The morning suit seemed to go better with the informal style of the day.

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (32)

We used SMH Photography.  They were great and we would highly recommend the services of Sandra and Steve.  They were very professional and worked really hard all day.

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (37)

Our flowers were from Fletcher and Foley.  We had a variety of fragrant herb and flowers to link the the garden theme. We had jugs of flowers on the tables that matched the bouquet and buttonholes.

The favours were homemade whiskey marmalade for the men and strawberry jam for the ladies.  David’s parents made them and we bought personalised labels from notonthe highstreet.com.

We choose a ‘Naked Cake’ after seeing something similar in a newspaper.  We had three tiers each filled with cream and decorated with fresh flowers and fruit.  Our colleague, Nerys, has made the cakes for lots of the teachers at our school and did a great job on a very hot day!

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (40)

Andrea at Fabulous Day was our wedding planner and we couldn’t have done it without her. We want her to come and live with us now!

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (25)

We used Ice Cream Dub ice cream for desserts, including mojito and strawberry champagne flavours. The van looked great.

In the evening we had a curry station served outside as the weather was so great. Rupert Frazer Worden was our fantastic caterer. At the bar we had Wrexham Lager on tap as David’s grandad worked for the company. It was great to have it there.

We also loved the DIY photo booth provided by our marquee company. The guests had loads of fun playing around.

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (43)

We used Lucy of Memento Stationary and were very pleased with the results. We’ve even used Lucy for our thank you cards.

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (47)

We loved the setting for our wedding and would have chosen it a thousand times over. The place was already special to us and now it’s a special part of our lives. My family members from South Wales loved it so much they’ve been back to visit.

I was apprehensive about the ceremony as I’m a very emotional person but it was just perfect! Very natural and laid back, just as we wanted it!

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (48)

I really wanted to go to the Maldives and it was just perfect. We booked through Kuoni and had 10 days in the Maldives and three days in Dubai. It was the perfect end to the whole experience. A perfect setting and great service at a wonderful resort. We want to go back now!

a pretty eclectic wedding at Chirk Castle (c) SMH Photography (54)

My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to hire Andrea, she had so many unique and money saving tips and contacts. Our day would have been completely different without her. Thank you Andrea!

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flower power. maggie sottero for a dreamy rural barn wedding in Yorkshire – amy & andy

August 28th, 2014 | Rachel Parry

maggie sottero for a beautiful barn wedding in yorkshire (c) Kate Cooper (18)

Wow – just wow! This wedding knocked my socks off the moment I received the images of Amy and Andy’s big day set in good old Yorkshire.

The beautiful colour palette of coral, yellow, creams and gold sets the prettiness level sky high and Amy makes one of the most stunning brides I’ve ever seen in her customised Maggie Sottero dress and ethereal twisted-twig flower crown.

There are lots of cute personal touches in this wedding that made for a memorable, stylish and super enjoyable day.

So let’s go back to the start – the proposal. Be warned ladies, it’s a tear jerker (excellent work Andy)!

With photography by Kate Cooper.

maggie sottero for a beautiful barn wedding in yorkshire (c) Kate Cooper (6)

Amy says: Andy proposed on February 16th 2013. He had taken me out for an Italian and when we got home he asked me to stay in the car for a minute and, although confused, I did as I was told. After about five minutes, and almost freezing to death, he came out to get me. When I walked into the house he’d covered the living room in candles and our favourite song, A Real Human by College and Electric Youth, was playing. It was beautiful. As I walked further into the house he’d lit candles up the stairs and alongside the candles were little notes tied to a long ribbon. As I went up the stairs the notes went through all of the best moments we’d had so far including moving in together, our first holiday and bringing home our miniature schnauzer, Enzo.

The ribbon went up the stairs and into the bedroom where it stopped on the bed. The card on the bed told me to turn around and he was down on one knee behind me. We both cried, I said yes and then cried some more down the phone to anyone who’d answer my calls! I loved my proposal and he’d put so much thought into everything. It was such a perfect evening and it made it more special that it was just us two at home.

We set the date for Saturday May 31st 2014. Our plan was to get married later on in the year but my grandparents fell ill and so the most important thing was that they shared our day with us. Unfortunately, two of my grandparents passed away during our engagement but we know they were looking down on us and we tried to make them proud.

maggie sottero for a beautiful barn wedding in yorkshire (c) Kate Cooper (12)

We chose the Whiston Manorial Barn in Rotherham as our wedding venue. We had always loved the idea of having a barn wedding but found it difficult to find exactly what we wanted. When we finally looked around the Manorial Barn we instantly knew it was where we’d marry. It is such a breath-taking place and it was exactly what we’d spent so long looking for. We would definitely recommend this venue to other couples. The women who co-ordinate the weddings at the barn, Claire and Karen, were so helpful and were always at the other end of an email or phone call whenever we needed advice or help.

We didn’t necessarily have a theme for our wedding, but just wanted it to be a fun atmosphere full of colour. We were very unsure about the colour scheme at first but as it was a summer wedding we decided to go for something bright. My favourite colours are coral and yellow and so we wanted to incorporate these and we tied them with creams and gold. We wanted the flowers to be the main focus of the decorations as they added so much colour so we kept everything else quite neutral and it seemed to work well.

We hired a cream Daimler V4 1/2 to transport the bridal party to the venue. As the company were based only 15 minutes away we decided to have just one car to do two trips so my bridesmaids and mum went first and then it came back to collect me and my dad. I remember the wait feeling like forever when really it was only half-an-hour. The service we used was called American Pie Limos, based in Wales, South Yorkshire. We would highly recommend them as they were perfectly on time and free Champagne is always a winner!

maggie sottero for a beautiful barn wedding in yorkshire (c) Kate Cooper (15)

I’m quite into textiles and sewing and so my initial plan was to make my own wedding dress. I had help from my grandma as she used to be a seamstress and we bought a few Vogue patterns to use and modify. Unfortunately around August last year my granddad was diagnosed with cancer and so everything was put on hold. As it was such a stressful time for the family, I decided to visit a bridal shop called Blushes in Sheffield. The shop assistant Zoe, took down my details and potential styles I liked. After describing my ideal dress she pulled one out and it was perfect – well almost. The dress was Dalton by Maggie Sottero but I had it altered quite a lot to fit the design that me and my grandma were initially going to make ourselves. It was supposed to have a zip right up the back which was made into a ‘V’ back and we shortened the sleeves. We also added netting underneath to make it kick out more.

Andy wore a three-piece Hugo Boss suit in steel grey which fitted him perfectly! He had a white shirt with ivory wool tie. He’d also bought a pair of dark brown brogues. He looked so dapper!

We didn’t really have set rules on what our bridesmaids/groomsmen would wear. This was mainly because we wanted them to be able to wear their outfits again and so it was important that they really liked them. The adult bridesmaids, Katherine, Laura and Beth, wore art-deco style taupe gowns embellished with steel beads by Adrianna Papell from House of Fraser. The dresses were gorgeous and the girls looked absolutely stunning! Our nieces and flower girls, Lily and Josie, wore dresses from Monsoon and looked so adorable.

The groomsmen all wore different suits and whatever they felt comfortable in. We just wanted everyone to feel relaxed – and they really brushed up well!

maggie sottero for a beautiful barn wedding in yorkshire (c) Kate Cooper (22)

When it came to our wedding flowers, I carried a bouquet made up of Garden Roses, Peonies, Scabia seed heads, Eucalyptus, Freesia, Craspedia, Panicum Fountain Grasses, Larkspur and Nigella. As mentioned, we wanted the flowers to be the focus of our wedding and they were the main decoration for the barn. The coral, orange and yellow colours tied together beautifully and the florist did such a great job at putting them all together. I also wore a flower crown with just a few flowers on one front side of the band. This was made from twisted stems/twigs and I loved it!

My bridesmaids carried smaller versions of my bouquet but the colours were a bit more subtle. Lily had an even smaller bouquet and Josie had a single peony wrapped in ribbon. It was all put together by the very talented Kath who owns Of The Wild in Broomhill, Sheffield. She got everything absolutely spot-on and I actually cried when I saw our flowers because they were so stunning and were exactly what we had asked for. Kath is very highly recommended if you’re after something a little different and more detailed than your average bouquet.

maggie sottero for a beautiful barn wedding in yorkshire (c) Kate Cooper (26)

Our photographer on the day was the amazing Kate Cooper. We arranged an engagement shoot with her beforehand just because Andy and I aren’t the most graceful people in front of a camera. She made us feel so comfortable and laughed along with us when it was a little awkward –  it was fun overall and we soon loosened up. We did get some lovely photos and it definitely set us up for the main event.

We had always liked the idea of our photos being natural and we wanted someone to capture people in naturally happy settings and record the general mood of the day. We did have a few staged photos of family  but the rest we left completely to Kate. We put a great amount of trust in her (sorry Kate) but we knew she’d do an amazing job. We are going to recommend her to anyone in need of a photographer because she is honestly one of the nicest people we have ever met and worked with. We are so thankful that she was there, not only to capture our day, but to help us celebrate. Knowing that Kate was around meant that we could enjoy our day so much more without the worry that the atmosphere wouldn’t be captured and that things would get missed. Kate covered absolutely everything from table settings, venue details, to our terrible first dance and we were speechless when we received our photos. They were simply incredible.

maggie sottero for a beautiful barn wedding in yorkshire (c) Kate Cooper (43)

Our floral decorations added an amazing boost of colour to our tables and brought a summery feel to the venue. To add to the decor, I made a trip to Ikea where I bought polka dot lace fabric and made table runners. We had yellow and orange candles scattered around and my mother-in-law and sister-in-law made some lovely bunting for us to tie from the beams. Andy is very artistic and he did a great job of designing all of our table names, seating plan and stationery himself. We had our chair covers done by a lady named Paula from Cover in Style and she also put up some fairy lights for us which looked gorgeous at night when the main lights were dimmed.

Andy’s mum, Margaret, is the best at baking so there was never any question about who would make our wedding cake. We had a few designs in mind but wanted to keep it quite simple. We finally decided on a deep two-tier cake with little icing beads at the bases and a large pink peony on top. One tier was Victoria sponge and the other chocolate and we decorated the cake board with gold glitter to tie it all together. It was so delicious! Margaret also made us our wedding favours which were little heart shaped shortbread biscuits topped with white icing and gold glitter sprinkles – yum!

Our wedding menu consisted of pate for starters, ‘Chicken Manorial Barn’ for main, which was chicken in puff pastry served with vegetables, and then Andy’s favourite for dessert – treacle sponge. The food was provided by the staff at the Manorial Barn and it was well presented and gorgeous! For the reception we also hired Emily’s Ice Cream Bike who provided our guests with yummy ice cream in all sorts of flavours. If anyone hires them they’d be a fool not to choose Jaffa Cake ice cream, it was so good!

maggie sottero for a beautiful barn wedding in yorkshire (c) Kate Cooper (33)

maggie sottero for a beautiful barn wedding in yorkshire (c) Kate Cooper (37)

We wanted to keep things simple at the reception and just enjoy ourselves in a relaxed environment so we simply had a DJ provided by the barn as our entertainment. He was great and we were able to put together our own playlist before the night. We incorporated this into our wedding invites and asked guests to suggest a song to dance to. The responses were somewhat interesting but it just made it that bit more personal for the guests and everyone really enjoyed it. We had dance-offs, dirty dancing lifts (ending with collapsed tables and red wine on white shirts) and general sassiness, especially from the boys!

maggie sottero for a beautiful barn wedding in yorkshire (c) Kate Cooper (42)

There were several special touches on the day which helped to make it all the more personal and memorable. We both wrote our own vows for the ceremony as we found the standard vows very basic and not very personal. We decided not to show each other until we read them in front of each other on the day which made it that much more exciting! They were both very different but it is something we will both remember and we kept the books we wrote them in so we can look back at them from time to time.

My nan also lent me her wedding pearls for the ceremony which I thought was very touching. The pearls had been worn by my nan, my mum and my auntie on their wedding days so it was an honour to be able to wear them. I had decided to put the necklace on just before leaving my parents house but as I put it on one of the strings snapped and it was then a mad rush to fix it. Luckily my matron of honour, Katherine, whipped out a sewing kit and gave it to me all brand new when I arrived at the barn. My other nan had always kept a bottle cork with a penny stuck through the middle of it. I was told this was supposed to be good luck but with my bouquet I was unable to carry it, so it got stuck in my bra – classy!

Andy’s dancing also added a certain special touch to the day. It’s not possible to describe this – it has to be seen to be believed, trust me!

I have so many favourite moments but if I had to choose just one, it would have to be the ceremony. I loved that we were able to say our own vows and that it was so personal to us. It was made more perfect that all of our family and friends were together in one space and the moment we became husband and wife was the happiest I’ve ever felt in my whole life. Secondary to that would have to be the moment Andy threw himself at his best man, James, when Time of Our Lives (Dirty Dancing) came on. They both flew backwards, into a table and ended up covered in red wine. Andy got up the next morning and said “where did all of this wine come from?” He was mortified when I told him!

maggie sottero for a beautiful barn wedding in yorkshire (c) Kate Cooper (49)

Andy surprised me with a trip to America for our honeymoon. We flew to Washington and once on the plane Andy told me what we would be doing. I cried when he started telling me that we would be transferring from Washington to San Francisco then renting an RV to drive around California and back up the coast. Andy arranged everything perfectly and I’m so grateful to him!

Our advice to other couples would be don’t dwell too much on the materialistic things. Sometimes things don’t work out how you imagine them to and it’s not the end of the world. Of course there are bound to be problems along the way, but for us it all came down to family. All we wanted was to be surrounded by the ones we love the most and to make sure that everyone had as much of a good time as we did. Planning our wedding has taught us to think about the bigger picture and to try not to get carried away with things that really don’t matter that much in hindsight. Our parents and families helped us every step of the way during our wedding planning and we are still completely overwhelmed with how amazing these people are. We will never forget their generosity and kindness.

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lookbook: cold shoulder

August 21st, 2014 | Rachel Parry

Hepburn - Jenny Packham

It’s not unusual for brides to expose their shoulders on their wedding day with bridal boutiques boasting numerous stunning strapless dress designs. But while fashion forward brides might like the idea of flashing a little flesh on their big day, they may well want a gown that pushes the design boundaries that bit further.

Luckily for such brides highly stylish off-the-shoulder wedding dresses crept into a number of 2014 collections and it looks like they’re here to stay as the sophisticated silhouette has been making a strong appearance on 2015 bridal catwalks.

Garbo - Jenny Packham

The lowered neckline offers a romantic and timeless look, beautifully framing shoulders and collar bones. There is a hint of sexiness about such dresses and yet they are still oh so elegant by revealing just the right amount of skin.

Better yet, fashionistas will be pleased to hear that there aren’t just one or two standard off-the-shoulder dress designs, but instead a wonderful array of varying styles, from floaty bohemian and Grecian inspired gowns to structured asymmetrical creations and dresses with dreamy draped sleeves.

Jenny Packham is particularly fond of the lowered neckline and includes a number of super stunning off-the-shoulder gowns in her collection – each with something different to offer. For brides wanting to expose their full shoulders and chest area the Hepburn dress is the perfect option. It keeps the majority of the focus at the top of the floor-length dress whilst adding just a hint of extra detailing to the waistline with a sparking bow. The Monroe dress in an elegant pink/taupe hue exposes a similar area but dares brides to step outside their ivory comfort zone. Meanwhile Billie and Garbo are perfect options for glam brides-to-be looking to add some sparkle to their attire. Both have plunging necklines and glitzy shoulder straps with added detailing in draped capped sleeves which reveal just the tops of the shoulders (often referred to as ‘cold shoulder’ dress designs).

Billie - Jenny Packham

Maggie Sottero has a number of equally attractive designs in her collection. Anna and Maurine both feature pretty cold shoulder flutter sleeves. While one dress is adorned in glistening Swarovski crystals the other is finished with fabulously feminine lace appliqués. The ultra girly June dress in playful blush pink is fit for a Grecian goddess with its floor-length silhouette and draped cold shoulder sleeves. Sottero’s Calypso dress offers a different look with its soft scalloped-edged lowered neckline framing bare shoulders beautifully.

Varying off-the-shoulder designs can also be found in Cymbeline’s current collections. Agadir is a simple slim-line design which would be well suited to brides looking for a subtle design that they can make their own with the addition of striking accessories. Lovers of lace meanwhile will fall head over heels for Habanita which features super thin shoulder straps and a gorgeous lace overlay with elegant elbow-length sleeves. Hossana’s romantic ruffles and relaxed shoulders makes it the perfect choice for bohemian brides while those wanting to make a stronger style statement on the aisle should consider the voluminous Heliante.

When it comes to bridal style statements Ian Stuart instantly springs to mind and his show-stopping off-the-shoulder designs certainly don’t disappoint. Several of Stuart’s designs, such as Evita and Frederique, are reminiscent with regal dresses featured in period dramas. Both feature portrait necklines which leave the colllar bones, shoulders and top of the chest bare. Further flesh-revealing offerings come in the form of Nightingale, Mandalay and Waikiki, each with varying detail including decorative fairytale flowers and delicate beaded lace. And last but by no means least, there is the super cute three-quarter length Sophia lace gown for fifties- style brides brave enough to bare their shoulders whilst also hitching up their hemline a little.

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Look Book: The Princess Diaries

July 17th, 2014 | Julia Braime

Hindi - Cymbeline

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 - Justin Alexander

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 - Justin Alexander

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 - Cymbeline

Hadny by Cymbeline

Hada - Cymbeline

Hada by Cymbeline

Harmo - 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

Esme Marie by Maggie Sottero

Corbin by Maggie Sottero

Corbin by Maggie Sottero

Dawson by Maggie Sottero

Dawson by Maggie Sottero

Felicity 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 - Alfred Angelo

225 Belle by Alfred Angelo

227 Sleeping Beauty -  Alfred Angelo

227 Sleeping Beauty by Alfred Angelo

238 Sleeping Beauty -  Alfred Angelo

238 Sleeping Beauty by Alfred Angelo

Cinderella -  Alfred Angelo

Cinderella by Alfred Angelo

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog – Images © 2014 as credited

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‘Art Throb. Maggie Sottero For A Real Wedding At The Biscuit Factory, Newcastle Upon Tyne – Claire & John

May 28th, 2014 | Julia Braime

Andy Hudson Photography

Today’s Real Wedding is just lovely.

Claire and John’s celebration was cute, stylish, personal and full of fun… with plenty of prosecco!  Just the way we like ‘em around these parts.

With images by Andy Hudson Photography.

Andy Hudson Photography

Claire says: We got engaged in November 2012 when we were on holiday at Clavell Tower in Kimmeridge, Dorset. Clavell Towell is an old observatory folly. It was restored by the Landmark Trust in 2006.

It’s a very special, atmospheric place especially as the tower is perched on the top of a high cliff and there were gale force winds and torrential rain for most of the time we were there! It was a perfect place to enjoy our special time together before sharing our news with family and friends.

Andy Hudson Photography

We were married on Saturday 1st February 2014. We had our ceremony at St Charles RC Church, Gosforth which was followed by a party at The Biscuit Factory.

We wanted to get married in Newcastle because it is where our home is. Father O’Connor made us feel especially welcome into our local church. We love visiting The Biscuit Factory and it is one of our favourite places. We wanted to share it with our family and friends (especially the ones who do not live in Newcastle). We love eating and the Food Social restaurant had always impressed us. We liked the opportunity to design our own menu with all of our favourite things! We ate Tempura King Prawns, Rosemary and thyme marinated rump of lamb (with garlic mash) and sticky toffee pudding.

Amazing!

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

We did not have a theme although we did end up using a lot of brown Kraftcard! We stamped our guests names onto luggage labels and our invitations, order of service and menus were printed onto simple Kraftcard.

We wanted the day to be simple and relaxed and most of all fun.

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

Hilary Whitham did our make-up… she is amazing! My friend Sarah did our hair, which was lovely.

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

I wore a dress called Bronwyn Marie by Maggie Sottero which I bought from The Harrogate Wedding Lounge. Hayley, her mum and Leanne were patient, helpful and very professional.

My dad actually recommended this shop to me because he has driven past and thought the window display looked very elegant!

I wasn’t even sure I wanted to wear a ‘wedding dress’ but knew I did not want a strapless dress. The Bronwyn Marie was made of exquisite lace, fitted me perfectly and was very comfortable. I loved the buttons all of the way up the back (and would like to thank my lovely friends Helen, Amy and Megan for helping me get into it on time… Helen can tell you exactly how many buttons there were!)

I did not feel ‘ready’ until I had all of my accessories on. I felt like they were a big part of my whole outfit. I had a clutch bag instead of a bouquet and I also had a long pearl necklace which I bought years ago when I was on holiday with my mum. The talented Kelly from Tantrums and Tiaras made a pearl brooch to match my necklace which I wore on the ribbon belt around my waist.

I usually wear glasses so was a bit nervous about not wearing them (people who always wear glasses will understand this). I felt much more confident with my beautiful cap/birdcage veil from Sasso and even though I had not planned to have any form of veil I felt like it complemented my outfit perfectly.

I also wore a faux fur jacket for getting too and from the church. This is something that I would never usually wear but I loved it.

John wore a three piece navy suit from Slaters in Newcastle. They altered it so it fitted him perfectly. He also had new shoes. He looked very handsome. His best man and ushers wore their own suits.

Andy Hudson Photography

My sister and John’s sister were our bridesmaids (they are both called Helen which is a bit confusing). They chose their own dresses which were navy blue maxi dresses from Monsoon. We wanted them to feel comfortable on the day.

William our nephew was our page boy and was very trendy and Lily was our beautiful flower girl. Lily also chose her own outfit and even though her mum (our good friend Alex) wanted her to buy a blue bridesmaid dress we thought that Lily’s choice of a sparkly skirt and top with a furry shrug from Monsoon was perfect! She was very excited.

Andy Hudson Photography

Our friends Carol and Dean gave me and my Dad a lift to the church in their posh white Landrover.

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

My favourite part of the day was seeing John for the first time (he said ‘wow’).  We both also really loved the ceremony itself as Father O’Connor made it relaxed and personal. I enjoyed getting ready in the morning with my lovely friends and family. We loved seeing the Biscuit Factory all prepared for us, eating the amazing food and dancing… so all of it really.

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

Our photographer was the lovely Andy Hudson.  We love the photos and felt that Andy made us and our guests feel very relaxed.  We also loved our pre-wedding photos.

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

We had yummy prosecco in the church porch after the ceremony and a vintage route master bus (booked via Coach Direct Ltd)  transported our lovely guests together with us to The Biscuit Factory.

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

We had lots of mojito cocktails, prosecco and local beer from Wylam Brewery when we arrived at the Biscuit Factory. We knew we were going to have a good party when The Biscuit Factory asked if the could replenish the cocktails within 30 minutes of arriving!

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

Our beautiful white tulips on the tables were designed and made up by our lovely talented friend Cheryl Ford as a wedding gift. We were utterly speechless when we saw the Biscuit Factory set up for us… it was so much better that we had ever imagined!

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

We had Polaroid cameras with silly props for people to have fun with and leave us with some very happy memories and we had hired J&C light up letters from Doris Loves and they really suited the industrial look of The Biscuit Factory.

Andy Hudson Photography

We had a giant Colin the Caterpillar cake from Marks and Spencer!

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

The fantabulous Maverick Rejects were our chosen band. Their manager Sean was superb and made sure that everything ran smoothly. He even thought of things that we would have never even considered – like setting up during our church ceremony so they would not interrupt our celebrations.

The band were absolutely amazing and full of energy. They rocked the dance floor and were a big part of our day being so much fun.

Andy Hudson Photography

Andy Hudson Photography

For our honeymoon we went cross country and downhill skiing in Norway. It was very cold, very snowy and very beautiful. We loved it.

We booked our honeymoon through Ski Safari. Andy Hemingway was very helpful.

Andy Hudson Photography

My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to relax… and enjoy having all of your favourite people being in the same place at the same time… just for you!

Andy Hudson Photography

Congratulations Claire & John!

Would you like to see your own Real Wedding featured on Brides Up North? Here’s how.

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog – Images © 2014 Andy Hudson Photography

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Deco Does It. A Modern Art Deco Wedding Inspiration Shoot In Morecambe.

April 30th, 2014 | Julia Braime

Julie Lomax Photography

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 Lomax Photography

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.

Julie Lomax Photography

Julie Lomax Photography

Julie Lomax Photography

Julie Lomax Photography

Julie Lomax Photography

Julie Lomax Photography

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.

Julie Lomax Photography

Julie Lomax Photography

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.

Julie Lomax Photography

Julie Lomax Photography

Julie Lomax Photography

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.

Julie Lomax Photography

Julie Lomax Photography

Julie Lomax Photography

Julie Lomax Photography

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.

Julie Lomax Photography

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.

Julie Lomax Photography

Julie Lomax Photography

Julie Lomax Photography

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!

Midland-153

Julie Lomax Photography

Julie Lomax Photography

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. 

Julie Lomax Photography

Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog – Images © 2014 Julie Lomax Photography

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Ready For my Close Up.

April 28th, 2014 | Julia Braime

Ready For My Close Up

Jenny Packham, Suzanne Neville, Maggie Sottero, Anoushka G, Claire Pettibone… I think I’ve died and gone to wedding dress heaven.  Brides Up North HQ is currently full of tulle and sequins, glitter and sparkle, as we prepare for a very special Brides Up North shoot – on location – tomorrow.

When we do things at Brides Up North, we don’t like to do them by halves.  That’s why I’ve pulled together the most fabulous team of wedding industry professionals to concoct a contemporary and glamorous peep behind the scenes here at Brides Up North HQ, with fantastical frocks, beautiful blooms, sensational styling elements and ideas that you will be able to borrow for your very own wedding day. 

I’ll be ‘out of the office"’ all day, so keep track of the Brides Up North Twitter and Facebook feeds for sneaky peeks at the action as it unfolds. 

With creative assistance and input from the likes of Brides Up North Featured Suppliers and friends Cat Hepple Photography, Leafy Couture, JB Creatives, Silver Sixpence Films, Flutter, Victoria Farr, Pamella Dunn, The White Room Sheffield, The Harrogate Wedding Lounge, Dine, Marie Antoinette Cakes and more, I’m raring to get started and SO ready for my close up. 

Watch these (soon to be even prettier) pages for the results soon. 

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog – image © 2014 The Harrogate Wedding Lounge via Instagram

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A Classic. Maggie Sottero For A Springtime Real Wedding At Eaves Hall – Alix & Ed

March 27th, 2014 | Julia Braime

Philip Bamber Photography 

This sunny March morning we join Alix & Ed for their classic springtime wedding in the beautiful Ribble Valley.  With fresh details and seasonal blooms, let’s celebrate the new season!

With images by Philip Bamber Photography

Philip Bamber Photography

Alix says:  Ed asked me to marry him in January 2012 – on the beach on an amazing holiday in Mexico.  We set the date for 27th March 2013.

Philip Bamber Photography

Philip Bamber Photography

We chose to say “I do” at Eaves Hall in the Ribble Valley countryside.   We fell in love with Eaves Hall whilst visiting for one of their wedding fairs. The sweeping driveway which leads up to the country house and the magnificent gardens is an incredible sight. Inside was just as impressive!

Philip Bamber Photography

We wanted a classic wedding. It was Easter weekend so we made use of the spring colours and seasonal flowers, and accented this with a pale pink and ivory colour base.

Philip Bamber Photography

Philip Bamber Photography

I chose to wear Adorae Rose by Maggie Sottero in ivory and I carried a beautiful bouquet of cream and pink roses.

Philip Bamber Photography

The girls wore Dessy bridesmaid dresses in three different styles in Rose. Ed wore a three piece suit from Reiss and the groomsman wore their own blue suits.

Philip Bamber Photography

Philip Bamber Photography

My bridesmaids and I travelled to the venue in a white Rolls Royce Silver Cloud by Broughton Wedding Cars

Philip Bamber Photography

Philip Bamber Photography

Philip Bamber Photography

Walking down the aisle to my future husband and saying our vows was the most special part of the day. Partying with all our friends and family too! It wouldn’t have been the same without them all there to help us celebrate!

Philip Bamber Photography

Philip Bamber Photography

The brilliant Simply String Trio played before and after the ceremony.  A great friend, Andrew Barton, sang and played the guitar as we signed the registrar making the moment even more special and personal.

Philip Bamber Photography

Philip Bamber Photography

Philip Bamber Photography

We chose to use Philip Bamber – a great photographer! He was very friendly and happy for us to choose what type of shots we wanted. Neither of us were that comfortable in front of the camera but Phil really helped!

Philip Bamber Photography

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