March 2nd, 2015 | Rachel Parry
Today’s real wedding is one classy do. Laura and Giles chose a traditional church wedding followed by a reception and the stately Hassop Hall.
Their big day is brimming with elegance, from the bride’s wedding attire to the beautiful blooms and transportation in the form of a horse-drawn carriage.
Though clearly a sophisticated couple, they didn’t take all elements too seriously as their wedding album features a rather unusual image. Their photographer Kate Cooper explains: “Giles and Laura requested a shot that I’ve seen online where a dinosaur is superimposed on a photo of a screaming bridal party – I joked that I could superimpose whatever I liked, cue the giant hamster artwork from the Beastie Boys Intergalactic single.”
Images by Kate Cooper Photography.
laura says: We were on a walk in the countryside near one of our favourite pubs when Giles suddenly asked me to marry him on the first warm day of spring 2013. Although I’d hoped he would propose sooner or later, it was a complete surprise and I was very touched that he’d secretly asked my father for my hand in marriage the day before.
We both really love the month of September, so thought it would be a good time to get married – we set the date for 20th September 2014.
We had our ceremony at St Giles Church in Great Longstone, Derbyshire, and the reception was held at Hassop Hall which is about 1.5 miles away. Although we live in London, we decided to get married in the Peak District which is where Giles grew up and where a lot of his family live. It was important to us to get married in a church. St Giles is the parish church in the village in which Giles’ mother lives. It is a beautiful medieval church and we also liked its name! Once we’d chosen the church, we started looking at reception venues. We were absolutely thrilled to have our reception at Hassop Hall which we cannot praise highly enough.
We didn’t have a theme as such, it was just a complete jumble of stuff that we liked. For the reception stationery we had a loose travel theme (a seating plan map, luggage tag name cards etc) but this theme wasn’t reflected in our save the dates or wedding invitations. We didn’t have a colour scheme as such either, although I was quite keen on the idea of having muted dusky shades in the girls’ dresses and the flowers because I thought they’d look nice together.
I wore a Maggie Sottero lace and tulle dress called Bronwyn which was customised by a local seamstress who removed the top of the keyhole back to make a low v back and altered the sleeves. I bought it from Allison Jayne in Clifton, Bristol, which is where one of my sisters lives. To be honest, in the run up to our wedding, the dress felt like a real compromise. I chose it because it was comfortable, in budget and I liked the warm ivory colour. In my heart I would have liked a Jenny Packham dress but we needed a new boiler so I was determined to be good! However, on our actual wedding day I loved my dress, especially when it was combined with all my lovely accessories.
I wore Rachel Simpson shoes, a veil that was custom made to match the dress by Ali Rouse at Unique Dress and pearl drop earrings that were a gift from Giles. In the evening, I wore art deco style earrings, headband and a matching belt. I also wore a faux fur stole which was borrowed from a friend.
One of my sisters lives in Sheffield so she was able to winkle out some fabulous contacts for us. She recommended Jenn Edwards and her team who did hair and makeup for me, the bridesmaids and my mother on the day of the wedding. I’d wholeheartedly recommend Jenn and her team. They were very funny, incredibly talented and we all felt like more beautiful versions of ourselves.
The bridesmaids wore mismatched dresses in dusky shades – blue, green and grey – cream cardigans and nude shoes. I wanted them to have a romantic country feel, but wear colours that they liked and styles that they might feasibly wear again. The mismatched dresses were much more difficult to find than I had envisaged. After many hours of trawling the internet and a thorough search of the high street we bought the dresses from Ariella (available at House of Fraser), Debenhams and Monsoon. The cardigans were from Boden and the girls wore their own shoes. The groomsmen wore their own suits and ties to tone in with the girls’ dresses.
My mother-in-law hired a horse drawn carriage for the travel to and from the church. I was initially a bit apprehensive as I was worried it might be a bit Big Fat Gypsy Wedding but it was a really thoughtful touch and one of my favourite parts of the day. It was wonderful travelling in the carriage with my father from the cottage that we had hired in Little Longstone to St Giles Church and hearing the wedding bells ring across the fields.
Kate Cooper was our photographer. She was recommended by one of my sisters who met her through friends. I would 100 per cent recommend Kate – she’s very good at catching little intimate moments and managed to take some lovely photos of two people who don’t really like having their photo taken. We felt very relaxed and laughed a lot when Kate was taking our photos and I think that shows in the end results.
My vintage style bouquet was made by Swallows & Damsons, based in Sheffield. It was made up of dusky pink roses, pepita spray roses, ivory waxflower, steel berries, astilbe, dusky pink astrantia and purple veronica and eucalyptus. I loved it so much but was still happy to throw my bouquet at the end of the evening!
We had lots of flowers from Swallows & Damsons at our reception too – similar to the flowers in my bouquet. The urns and small vases were at the church to begin with, as pedestals and pew ends, and were then transported to Hassop Hall for the reception. Before the wedding day I also spent hours writing names on luggage tags in straggling calligraphy then tying these on to rolled napkins with ribbons and lavender sprigs for the tables.
Instead of giving out favours we made a donation to the Disasters Emergency Commission.
My lovely sisters and mother made our wedding cake. Extra special thanks go to my sister Miranda who made hundreds of sugar flowers to match our wedding flowers which cascaded down the side of the cake. I’m not a huge fan of fruit cake, so we had a chocolate tier, an orange and almond tier and a coffee tier. It was delicious!
For our wedding meal we had a smoked chicken and bacon salad with a honey and orange dressing, followed by onion soup, then roast pork with all the trimmings and to finish, individual summer puddings. We went to Hassop Hall for Sunday lunch with our parents so we could taste different menu options. It was a difficult choice as they were all delicious but these were our favourite dishes.
Giles’ school friend Emlyn, was kind enough to arrange a pair of jazz musicians for us as a wedding present to provide entertainment. They played during the drinks reception. We also had a disco provided by Spirits High after dinner.
I can’t praise Hassop Hall enough. We live in London so weren’t able to visit the venue very often but Helen thought of every last detail and ensured that the day ran absolutely seamlessly. The service was excellent and the wedding breakfast was one of the best mass catered meals that I have ever eaten.
My favourite part of the wedding would be the horse and carriage ride with my new husband from the church to Hassop Hall, it was really lovely to be able to have ten minutes to take everything in together. I also enjoyed the impromptu midnight feast that Hassop Hall rustled up for a hungry bride at the end of the night.
For our honeymoon we went to Scotland for ten days, breaking our journey in the Lake District. We were blessed with good weather so enjoyed lots of wonderful walks together in the stunning scenery as well as some fabulous food. Our favourite places that we stayed were The Gilpin and Monarchyle Mhor.
My top tips for other Brides Up North would be to outsource where possible – the less you have to do in the days before the wedding, the better, as there will always be last minute issues. Spend some time working out the logistics of the wedding day and the days either side. We had a plan of who was doing what when and how things (flowers that were re-used, luggage etc) were moving from one venue to the other. We circulated this plan to the bridesmaids and groomsmen and think it really helped the day to go without a hitch.
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February 11th, 2015 | Julia Braime
I was overjoyed when same sex marriage (actual marriage, not just civil partnership) became legal in the UK, but it’s only when I get to feature beautiful couples like Rachel and Emma that the enormity and awesomeness of that change actually hits home.
These girls were looking for a day filled with warmth, openness and togetherness, and that’s exactly what they got. How very Hygge!
All will be explained…
With images by Leighton Bainbridge Photography.
the girls say: We got engaged while staying in Northumberland in May 2013. In 2012 we had attended Peace Camp at Dunstanburgh Castle; white tents covered the grounds surrounding the ruins and we arrived at dawn where love poems were played from illuminated tents. Both of us were desperate to propose, unbeknown to the other! Unfortunately finances had restricted our opportunity at this time. Emma decided to re-enact this experience on our favourite beach, Beadnell on the 25th May 2014. She had recruited friends and family to erect a white tee-pee on the beach through the night for us to arrive at dawn. An excellent plan depended on excellent weather; and we had experience torrential rain and gale force winds up until hours beforehand!
The plan did however turn out perfectly; despite a slightly later arrival on the beach following the “scenic route’!
Emma got down onto one knee and became for the first time, lost for words!
We were married at Newton Hall in Northumberland om 23rd December 2014/. Rachel had spent a huge amount of time in Northumberland throughout her childhood and it is a very important place to her family. We spent a lot of time together in Beadnell and the surrounding area and it feels like home. We had come across Newton Hall at a wedding fayre before it hosted ceremonies but it began to develop into a fabulous one-in-one venue over the years. We visited the venue just after our engagement and looked no further! We loved the style of the venue and the fact we could have exclusive use of this house. From the window in the bridal suite, Beadnell bay where we got engaged is visible and everything just seemed to fall into place!
Due to the date we booked, a Christmas theme began to develop. After initially booking Rachel looked into a honeymoon destination to leave the next morning, Christmas Eve. Copenhagen was one of the stand-out destinations and doing research into Copenhagen at Christmas gave us the word Hygge. In Danish it means “The art of building sanctuary and community, of inviting closeness and paying attention to what makes us feel open hearted and alive. To create well-being, connection and warmth. A feeling of belonging to the moment and to each other” We used this phrase on our invitations and the wedding was completely Hygge!
The colour scheme was natural fabrics and colours with a small amount of metallic touches. We wanted it to be cosy and festive without over-using red and green!
Rachel had spent a long time looking at dresses on the internet and we both tried a few on in a local shop to work out which style suited us best.
Rachel found a strapless, corset style diamond white Maggie Sottero gown on eBay from a woman the same measurements and we took a chance! We drove down and collected it at a service station in Yorkshire and called at The Bridal Factory Outlet in Northallerton on the way home to try some on for Emma. Emma chose the third dress she tried on, an ivory lace Mori Lee and although it needed alterations it complemented the Maggie Sottero perfectly. Rachel managed to try her dress on for the first time in the changing rooms with Emma and thankfully it fit and was just perfect! We managed to have our dresses a week after booking our wedding date!
Our bridesmaids wore navy twist front maxi dresses by Debut at Debenhams. Our boys wore navy suits with tweed waistcoats, red ties and white shirts, all from Moss Bros who were fantastic with everyone from dads to younger brothers!
We feel so lucky to be able to get married – we waited until it could be a wedding rather than a civil partnership and we are very fortunate that while planning this wedding all we have experienced from all suppliers, shops and others has been excitement and kindness. We were entirely overwhelmed with the love we experienced from our friends and families and that was the best thing about our wedding.
Leighton Bainbridge was our photographer. Photography was one of the biggest decisions for us. Emma is a keen photographer and we spent a lot of time looking at wedding photos to find out what style we were after. We found it difficult to find examples of lesbian weddings! When we met Leighton we knew he’d be perfect; we arrived armed with an album of photographs we liked from various sources and he took on this on board! He was quiet and polite; we were confident Leighton would fit into our day and produce excellent photographs to treasure.
We had great difficulty finding flowers which would be available in December but found dried bouquets by The Artisan Dried Flower Company. We used their winter theme and ordered matching hair pins, buttonholes and bouquets for all of the bridal party. The bonus is we can keep our bouquets forever!
We also ordered some dried flowers for the milkchurns at the ends of the aisle from The Artisan Dried Flower Company. We used wish trees to suspend our wedding favours which were glass baubles which we filled with different sequins, feathers and other sparkles hoping to make one to suit each person. We used fake snow and tiny crystals around the bases on the tables and battery fair lights on the trees themselves.
We used an antique map of Northumberland with buttons and string for our table plan. This was made by Rachel and again finished the evening before!
Emma’s mother, Sarah, ordered the material to dress the chairs and Aunty Helen helped with the sizing and preparation. The venue were brilliant; all of our various decorations were boxed up and left with them the evening before following a short meeting with their fantastic wedding coordinator Jane.
A friend from Emma’s work, Andrea made the cake, which fit with the winter theme again. It tasted fantastic! Lemon, Chocolate fudge and Fruit cake in layers.
We chose a string quartet for before, during and after the ceremony and a ceilidh for the evening, which was fantastic. North East Soiree provided the entertainment and they were fantastic. We wanted a ceilidh to encourage the guests to relax and break that initial first dance ice!
Our ceremony with the string quartet was lovely, “Annie’s Song” for our entrance and we walked out to “Fairytale of New York”. Rachel had suggested riding in on her horse – which was disallowed!
We involved our dog, Rowan as ring bearer in the wedding. She was perfectly behaved through the day, enjoying the wedding breakfast on Emma’s knee sharing Rachel’s chicken!
Our “best people” made a beautiful speech including photographs of both of us as children, the last seven years together and then our engagement photographs. The master of ceremonies stated it was one of the most emotional weddings he had seen; it felt like a long time coming!
Our first dance was to “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri. We finally decided on the song the evening before the wedding and choreographed the routine at 10pm in our PJs in our hotel room!
The venue was fantastic. They were so well practised and nothing was too much of a problem. We felt comfortable and looked after all day. Jane our coordinator on the day was fantastic – even stitching out dresses up before the first dance when we realised we were going to struggle! The master of ceremonies John was lovely and other staff were friendly and professional. Although it was only the third same-sex marriage at the venue, the staff were great. We did change the format from a normal wedding slightly to suit our situation but this was never a problem. They are very flexible!
At the end of the evening, the close friends and family staying retired to the bar in the main house. Rachel took her hair out and was sat on the floor, we were all sat with coffees and tea and wedding cake discussing the day. It was truly Hygge!
We were pretty early to bed and we sat in the bath together and opened our cards. We later found out that had we looked out of the window from our free-standing bath in the Beadnell bay room we would have probably seen a fantastic show of the Northern Lights! Every part of the day was wonderful but those moments when we were alone were special; we repeatedly said how magical the day had been and how loved we felt.
We flew to Copenhagen on Christmas Eve morning and arrived at the Hotel Neptun at tea-time. We were asked to join the duty manager and his wife (and dog!) in Christmas Eve dinner where we sampled Danish desserts and tea and our new friends gave us tips on where to visit! The next morning we woke up to snow on Christmas day! We spent five days in Copenhagen visiting the local sights and enjoyed the Nutcracker Ballet at Tivoli gardens. Copenhagen was a winter wonderland – a beautiful city with friendly people and amazing food! We cannot wait to return!
Our top tip for Brides Up North is to make sure the wedding is your own kind of special. We had a tiny wedding guest list and we were pretty ruthless on who we invited to make sure that everyone could be comfortable on the day. This was excellent because it meant we did spend time away from our guests without worrying they were missing us! By having a small wedding party, it took the pressure off and we enjoyed the company of everyone there.
February 4th, 2015 | Julia Braime
Carla and Richard needed lots of space to accommodate their large guest list, but they didn’t have to compromise on the gorgeous details for their pretty wedding day near Preston.
A fresh & bright colour palette, beautiful blooms, a touch of twinkle and lots of surprises meant that Carla and Richard’s big day was one to remember.
With images by Samantha Broadley Photography.
carla says: We got engaged in June 2013. We were going on holiday to Mexico for 2 weeks and it was 6am and we were at home getting ready to drive to the airport. Richard sent me a Snapchat message of a ring in a box. It literally flashed on my screen for 1 second. I didn’t say anything as I thought he was winding me up. I asked him to help me fasten my suitcase and when I looked up he was down on one knee with the ring in his hand and asked me to marry him! It was such a lovely surprise proposing before we went away!
We got married at St.Peter’s Church, Quernmore, Nr. Lancaster on Friday 26th September 2014.
It is my family church, where I was christened, went to Sunday School and I went to the primary school next door. As soon as we got engaged I knew I had to get married in our family church. On the day, my emotions got the better of me and I cried the whole way down the aisle, it was such a special moment and a feeling I will never forget.
We were limited to venues, as we knew we had a large guest list and would need somewhere to accommodate 300 people. We visited The Villa at Wrea Green one Sunday morning without an appointment, the staff were so friendly and helpful from the first instance, and the function room and grounds were beautiful.
The Villa is the perfect venue for a wedding. The staff couldn’t do enough for us, not only on the day but also on the run up to the wedding and made our wedding feel very personal.
I’m not a girly girl, so I didn’t want pink, lacy decorations. We opted for a crisp white theme with a little bit of sparkle and a touch of duck egg blue.
I chose a Maggie Sottero A-line tulle dress from Butterfly Bridal in Lancaster. I tried lots of dresses on in numerous shops but kept going back to this particular dress. The 4th time I tried it on, I burst into tears and realised was the one. It was the complete opposite of what I had imagined I would choose, but I loved it and cried all the way home in the car, I was so happy!
Richard wore a slim-fit 3-piece navy suit from Butterfly Bridal in Lancaster, with a tie and brown tan shoes. He didn’t want a traditional morning suit and opted for a modern suit which all of his groomsmen would be comfortable in.
The bridesmaid dresses chose Mori Lee dresses from The Bridal Collection in Lancaster. The style suited all the girls and was very flattering of all their figures, I wanted to make sure they would be comfortable in their dresses so they could enjoy the day.
I carried a hand-tied posey of roses and calla lilies, in pale pinks, ivory and cream. The bridesmaids had a similar arrangement. These were supplied by The Flower Shop by Morgan at Garstang. They also provided the church flowers and flowers for the cake.
We hired 2 cars from Broughton Wedding Cars, a VW camper van for the bridesmaids and a Beauford Tourer as the bridal car.
However, Richard had booked a surprise helicopter to take us to the venue which he had only told his parents about. After the service, we drove off in our wedding car and stopped at his parent’s farm ‘for pictures’. As we pulled into the farm, I saw the helicopter in the field and couldn’t believe that he had arranged it for us. The flight was amazing as we flew over the church and along the coast to the venue. It was a surprise to all of our guests also, as we landed in the field outside The Villa!
The table centres and chair covers were from Linda at Sophisticated Events in St.Annes. We chose a white tree with white LED lights for the table centres. My Mum handmade the table plan from an old mirror, made wooden hearts for name places, the menu cards, card box and table name holders. She spent hours sticking tiny embellishments on everything but it all looked fabulous in the end! We used pictures of Richard and I at different ages for our table numbers to give a personal touch to each table.
We picked a simple white cake from Marks & Spencer, with 4 mixed tiers, and then decorated the ribbons ourselves to match the table plan.
Instead of wedding favours, we gave a donation of £150 to St. John’s Hospice in Lancaster, a place very close to our hearts as my Auntie was cared for there before she lost her battle with breast cancer a couple of years ago.
We used Samantha Broadley Photography.
Sam was the perfect wedding photographer, she was so friendly from our initial meeting and we got on so well with her. Sam had photographed a couple of my friend’s wedding in the summer we got engaged and was one of the first things I booked. I love her style of photo’s as they are very natural and capture intimate moments. On the day, we left it in Sam’s hands as we knew she would do a fantastic job and felt very relaxed.
Our videographer was Tom from Silk Wedding Films who did an unbelievable job of capturing our day on film. I originally didn’t want a videographer, but then I came across Tom’s website and instantly fell in love with his work. I cried at every film on his blog! I had a major Bridezilla moment and insisted that I had to have Tom film our day and I’m so glad I did as this is the best decision I made and our wedding film is epic!
Our band was called Bobby and Jemima aka Charlese and Matt, who describe themselves as ‘energetic, funk filled soul’. The dance floor was full all night and everybody has commented on how great they were.
My mother-in-law arranged a White LED sparkly dance floor for the evening reception as a surprise for Richard and I. It really added that final wow to the function room.
Apart from the surprise helicopter, my favourite part of the day was our photos we had taken at sunset. Our photographer found a farm lane and field with horses in behind the venue and took us out at sunset to capture some beautiful photographs. The colours in the pictures are unbelievable and I love how natural and happy we look. It was a perfect setting and something we hadn’t anticipated happening. If I could sum my wedding up in 3 words it would be ‘Husband, Helicopter and Horses’.
We went to Dubai for 3 nights and Mauritius for 10 nights on Honeymoon. We had a hectic 3 days in Dubai, taking in all the sights, it is such a fascinating city and we would highly recommend it. We then relaxed for 10 days at ‘Paradise Cove’, where we were treat like kings in a beachside suite. While in Mauritius we went on a trip where we walked with lions in the wild. This was an amazing experience as we walked alongside the lions that were free to roam where they wished.
As my husband always says that I’m the most organised person he knows, my tip to other Brides Up North would be to get organised as soon as possible. I had a monthly planner indicating what I had to do on the lead up to the wedding. This really helped me to make sure everything was booked and paid for when it needed to be and also so I didn’t forget anything in the few weeks beforehand when everything seems to happen all at once.
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January 28th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
Jocasta by Jenny Packham
Here at Brides Up North we love everything that glints, glistens and sparkles.
Luckily in the wedding industry there is plenty of pretty to give us a twinkle fix – from fabulous glitter encrusted shoes, to bejewelled accessories and, of course, beautifully embellished dresses.
For me a glittering gown demands a double take and is therefore an excellent choice for brides wanting to make a statement on the aisle. Just how much a bride wants to shine though is down to the individual, for there are designs that glow from top to toe, those with killer back detailing and dresses with beaming bodices.
Those who desire the latter should look to Maggie Sottero who is an expert in designing wonderfully enchanting princess style gowns, complete with sparkling bodice detailing. Dawson and Esme Marie are perfect examples with both featuring chic organza ball gown skirts topped with heavily beaded bodices and stunning Swarovski crystals.
Enzoani meanwhile offers less structured sparkling designs. Jody, Joyce and Joanna are ideal for brides wanting a slinky, slim-line dress with gorgeous glistening detail. Each of the gowns also features sparkling straps and oh so low backs, to flash a little extra flesh.
The princess of dazzling detail though has to be Jenny Packham. A master in heavily detailed frocks that radiate high-shine and glamour, magpies must check out her current collection. There are fluid designs such as Dina and Nelly with subtle sparkles then there’s the likes of Simone and Hatty, which takes the brilliance up a notch. Meanwhile for those that want a dress dripping in detail, Packham offers high-end Gatsby style in the form of her Etta dress or for red-carpet radiance it has to be the shimmering Jocasta.
We’d love to know, are you set to sparkle on your big day?
Main feature images courtesy of Jenny Packham.
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.
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