November 15th, 2017 | Rachel Parry
We’ve been out on the road again all in the name of research to share with you our experiences of the North’s finest hotels, getaway retreats and spas, providing inspiration for pre- and post-wedding relaxation, and sometimes also a setting for the big day itself!
Cue our recent visit to Matfen Hall – a stunning stately home set in 300 acres of lush parkland in the Northumbrian countryside. The award-winning Hall houses fabulous function spaces, accommodation and spa and leisure facilities, making it an option for sophisticated hen dos, romantic getaways, such as a minimoon, plus a dream wedding venue too.
All images by Sean Elliott Photography.
Ahead of a super-exciting wedding refurbishment at Matfen, we were invited to view the current celebration spaces and to see what’s in store to take this already gorgeous venue to the next level. And my word, are couples saying ‘I do’ to Matfen in for a treat! Keen not to give away too much at this stage, we will be following up with a Dream Venue post soon that will detail the stylish refurbish plans in more depth.
Furthermore, on Sunday 4th March 2018, we will be holding a Luxury Wedding Fair at Matfen to reveal the results of the quarter-of-a-million-pound-refurbishment programme first-hand – so be sure to mark the date in your diaries!
But for today’s post, we return to our visit. During our blissful overnight stay, we experienced Matfen’s warm and welcoming hospitality, making use of its leisure facilities, restaurant and accommodation.
We began as any busy business ladies should, with a trip to the spa! Hotel guests can enjoy access to such facilities or there are a number of full and half-day ‘Escape’ packages to choose from, comprising different treatments, food and drink, so ladies (and gents) can pick which best suits their needs and wishes.
There is a 16-metre swimming pool and spa pool, plus thermal suites including an aromatherapy room, steam room, sauna, ice cold bucket shower, monsoon shower and ice fountain. We worked our way round, prioritising the warmer options, to relax and revive weary muscles, before indulging in a little chill time around the pool.
Matfen’s treatment choices cover off facial, body and massage therapies for men and women, as well as ‘Finishing Touch’ treatments such as nails, waxing and tinting.
Feeling in need of a radiance boost part-way through our autumn season of wedding fairs, we both opted for the Skin Specific Facial. Having been led to quiet, candle-lit treatment rooms, our knowledgeable therapists took time to enquire about our skin concerns before tailoring our facials to help combat such issues using heavenly Elemis products. We both emerged with hydrated, glowing complexions and super-soft skin (if only we could indulge one of these treatments every week!).
Leaving the spa feeling super-relaxed, it was time to freshen up (and wake-up!) before dinner. We were staying in one of Matfen’s stunning Principal Rooms in the original part of the Hall, that was spacious, comfortable and boasted gorgeous views of the garden.
October 12th, 2017 | Julia Braime
We’re rather excited about today’s real wedding as it takes place at a venue where we will be hosting a very special Luxury Wedding Fair alongside UNVEILED magazine, to reveal the results of an impressive refurbishment.
Already a gorgeous Northumberland venue, the developments will see Matfen Hall taken from stunning to super-stunning. But we can’t tell all just yet, you will have to join us there on Sunday 4th March 2018, to see for yourselves.
This morning’s featured couple, Rebecca and Robert, are equally as passionate about the venue as us, and knew instantly it would be the perfect place to stage their big day. Plus, the hall formed the setting for Robert’s incredibly well-thought-out and crazily-romantic proposal too – seriously, full fiancée marks!
There are many beautiful elements to this classic big day, including super-pretty blooms, décor and cake, plus a Ronald Joyce gown fit for a princess!
With images by David Lawson Photography.
rebecca says: We got engaged on Christmas Eve 2015. I used to be in a choir when I was in middle school and always said to Robert I would love to see a carol service on Christmas Eve. As I went to settle in for the night Robert said there was a carol service at Matfen Hall and we should go and see it.
The Great Hall that we were shown through to had a huge magical Christmas tree, a choir and chairs set up for the carol service but every chair in the audience was empty. As we took our seats I whispered to Robert that we must have got the wrong time.
No sooner had we sat down, the choir started singing. After three carols Robert stood up and took my hand (I was rather confused) he stood me next to the Christmas tree and handed me an envelope, inside was a card listing all the reasons he loved me (not expected from a rugby-playing farmer). Once I looked up from reading his beautiful words he was down on one knee. I don’t even think I gave him a chance to ask me ‘the’ question – I threw my arms around him and said “yes”, crying my eyes out!
Our wedding date was Friday the 14th July. We always wanted to get married at Corbridge St Andrew’s Church, this is our local village and the church just sits so idyllically in the market place.
We held our wedding reception at Matfen Hall (it is our favourite place and having got engaged there made it all the more fitting!) We had our wedding breakfast within the Great Hall, which is slightly different as normally the wedding breakfast is in the Terrace Room. We just felt the Great Hall is amazing and really wanted to make the most of such an amazing space. It is so dramatic when you walk through the entrance doors and see the huge fireplace and stained-glass window!
We wanted to keep the wedding as classic as possible so in ten years’ time we can look back at photographs and it won’t have dated too much.
We kept the colour scheme very simple and had blush and creams throughout. We had gorgeous blush sequin table runners and chair sashes. And the most amazing flowers, which were the focal point of the day.
When it came to picking my dress, I had no idea what I wanted. I just took my mum with me as I wanted to keep my dress a surprise for everyone (even the bridesmaids!) I decided to go to A J Bridal in Newburn, they had come highly recommended.
The ladies at A J were so welcoming and asked me to look through the dresses and pick ones I liked the look of, I was instantly drawn to a princess style dress so picked that along with a few assorted styles. I tried on the first dress I had be drawn to and that was it – love at first sight! I proceeded to try on a couple of other gowns just to make sure I was making the right decision but I was certain the first dress was ‘the one’ I almost felt regal in it. I picked a Ronald Joyce dress, it doesn’t have a lot of bling just around the waist and had a full bottom with lace. Robert and I go to dinner dances and I get the chance to wear some lovely ball dresses and this was the sort of dress I would only get the chance to wear on my wedding day and it made me feel like a real-life princess.
The ladies at A J suggested trying it with a cathedral-length veil and a gorgeous diamanté head piece which sat slightly to the side. Once I had these on I fell in love again!
May 24th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
The sun may be shining outside, but for today’s real wedding we’re focusing on an elegant Christmassy affair, perfect for those of you in the midst of planning a classy winter wedding.
Sophie and Callum were wed at the stylish and striking Matfen Hall in Northumberland – sold to Sophie on the basis of its jaw-dropping entrance staircase for the bride’s grand arrival.
This gorgeous couple opted for an elegant celebrity-styled vibe with black and white tuxedos, a Cinderella-esque princess gown and luxe favours. They also remained true to themselves, however, with their favourite chocolate Krispie slices transformed into the wedding cake of their dreams.
Sophie balanced big spends with some judicious bargain-hunting, and making savings on details like her dress helped her budget for big splurges – like a visit from some real-life reindeer. Yes, you read right – real-life reindeer!
So, sit back readers and enjoy Sophie’s gorgeous winter’s tale.
With images by Philip Ryott.
sophie says: We got engaged on Callum’s 21st birthday. It was the night before we flew to Dubai for two weeks and I’d booked a stay at Jesmond Dene House with a surprise afternoon tea with our parents.
Callum seemed nervous and, just as we were having tea, a couple had came in with the wedding planner. I commented, “Aw, how sweet! They’re planning their wedding!” Everyone suddenly seemed keen to change the subject, which I thought was a bit strange but didn’t think too much of it.
After our parents left we went back to the hotel room for a bath and to get dressed for dinner. Callum was looking at me with so much love throughout the evening and it was a gorgeous night. After we came back to our room, he suggested going onto the balcony and drinking some champagne. I agreed and went to get comfy – taking off my makeup and getting into my dressing gown – whereas Callum stayed in his suit and waistcoat!
I went back out to the balcony and he was sitting there with champagne looking gorgeous. He spoke to me under the moonlight and went back over all our special memories of early dates, fancying each other in school and holidays we’d been on. Then he said, “You know, I’m 21 today. I’m officially a man. I’ve got something to ask you”. I couldn’t contain my emotions and started to cry as he got down on one knee and asked me if I would do him the honour of becoming his wife. It was so beautiful, emotional and personal – and, of course, I said yes!
We were married on Thursday 1st December 2016. We chose this date because I loved the idea of a magical Christmas wedding – what better day than the 1st December?! It’s the start off the official countdown to Christmas, everyone is in good spirits, Christmas music can officially be played and, of course, advent calendars!
We were married at the gorgeous Matfen Hall. I heard someone say that of all the venues they’d been to, Matfen Hall had the grandest entrance for the bride – so I had to check it out!
As soon as we entered the Great Hall we got goosebumps and a sense of ‘this is it.’ It has a traditional church-like atmosphere with its high ceilings and stained glass windows; you definitely get the feeling that a lot of beautiful things have happened there over its history. I loved the staircase entrance, too – I mean, wow! What a statement! I had real nerves walking down there to greet everyone but the excitement and anticipation was just amazing.
The Matfen Hall team were incredible, especially Victoria Paterson (wedding planner) and Peter Dawson (master of ceremonies). Their hard work and care to every detail, enquiry and question was just outstanding. Such down-to-earth, lovely, lovely people who went so far beyond their role. I can’t thank or praise them enough.
We chose to have an elegant winter wedding theme with a Christmassy touch. I wanted the colour-scheme, decor, favours, chairs, tables – everything, really – to be very classy – with whites, silvers and sparkles. My Christmas touch was brought to life with real reindeer from Santa’s Reindeer based in Birmingham! I’d never seen reindeer before and had always wanted to; I’ve always believed in their magic and what better day to see them than on your wedding day?
Of course, my family thought I was bonkers! But my mantra is, “You can’t put a price on memories!”
I also had a reindeer-themed seating plan made by my friend Shawnee Quinn, and the tables were named after Santa’s reindeer. We had advent calendars as favours and snowflakes for name cards and the children had mini Santa hats.
For my dress, I originally wanted a fitted, possibly mermaid-style, beaded gown and – like most brides – I ended up with the total opposite! The wedding dress outlet store WED2B had recently opened in Gateshead so we tried there first.
My cousin and matron of honour Kelly pulled out a dress that was totally different to what I’d said I wanted – it was plain and Cinderella-style. But when I saw it I just felt something. Then I tried it on and, well, wow. I felt like a real bridal princess, like all the Disney princesses in one; I couldn’t stop smiling! They added the veil and the embellished belt and I just knew. My mam and maid of honour (who’s like a brick when it comes to emotion!) started to cry. Later, my fantastic dressmaker Kayleen added a five-layer tulle train with crystals scattered along the back and sides.
March 30th, 2017 | Rachel Parry
We’re filling your Thursday afternoon full of pretty with a swoon-worthy styled shoot captured in the North East.
Shot by Andrew Sturrock, this shoot provides stunning inspiration for a bold and beautiful bridal look, including the dress, hair, makeup and bouquet, all topped off with one of the most fabulous floral crowns we’ve ever seen.
The rich berry tones could also help spark colour scheme ideas, with the romantic red, plum and pink hues lending themselves to celebrations of all seasons.
So sit back, relax and prepare to soak up the inspo as Andrew dishes the details…
With images by Andrew Sturrock Photography. Model Caitlin McCoy.
andrew says: This shoot provided a great opportunity for each of the suppliers to get together and let their creative ideas flow, with a model Caitlin showcasing their talents.
As one of the top wedding venues in the North East, Matfen Hall’s grounds, gardens and views over the golf course made the perfect back drop for the shoot.
We shot close to Valentine’s Day and so decided to go with a loved-up romantic theme – hence the pink and red flowers! The stunning arrangements were created by florist Becca Angus of Charisma, based in Wallsend. She decided to go for the traditional red Rose with a pop of colour using unusual Freaky Avalanche Roses, Gloriosa and some beautiful wild foliage.
In terms of the hair and beauty for Caitlin, we wanted to stick to a fairly natural look and let the flower crown be a striking focal point and make our ‘bride’ really stand out. Jenny of Make-Up By Jenny Green took care makeup, with a bright lip to match the flowers. Meanwhile, stylist Kelly McFall of Timeless Mobile Hairdressing, created Caitlin’s tumbling down do.
January 25th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth
Matfen Hall provides the dazzling backdrop to today’s real wedding on the blog.
The special couple – Emma and Mike – got engaged on their ten-year anniversary while in the picturesque city of Rome and then tied the knot in Northumberland a year later.
Opting for a simple yet classic white themed wedding, the bride and groom complemented this traditional look with a soft palette of silver grey and peachy pink, plus some of the most beautiful floral arrangements of white hydrangea and gyp we have ever seen.
With images by Darren Irwin Photography.
emma says: To celebrate our ten-year anniversary in September 2015, we took a very special trip to Holy Island, spending time outdoors taking in the beautiful Northumberland coast. It was perfect! We then flew straight out to Rome. Mike had visited Rome on a university trip and always said he would take me there one day. On our first full day in the beautiful city we visited the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and Piazza Navona, but the best was saved till last.
It was 7pm and the sun was setting at the Spanish Steps, we found a quiet spot on the rooftop of a little wine bar overlooking the steps. I was snapping away with the camera whilst Mike disappeared. The waiter then appeared, handed me a phone and said: “Madam, would you please play this video.”
Mike had recorded himself outside of our school, where we first met, and outside my house, where we shared our first kiss. The video continued to play photo snap shots of our lives together, from when we first met to the present day. I was in floods of (happy) tears and by the time it finished, Mike appeared by my side, got down on one knee and that’s when he proposed!
We got married on 4th September 2016, one year after our engagement.
In terms of the venue, we really wanted our entire day to be spent in one location, as opposed to travelling from place to place, so when we visited Matfen Hall it ticked every box. The Great Hall where the ceremony took place feels like a church setting and is such an impressive room. The grounds are immaculate and there is so much outside space where guests can enjoy their welcome drinks. There’s also a separate bar and dining room, as well as a vault bar downstairs, which has a club-like atmosphere for a real party setting. We had sparklers out in the courtyard area, too.
The majority of our accessories were white, to match our idea of a traditional white wedding. We complemented this with a silver grey and soft peachy pink colour scheme.
When it came to dress shopping, Si Bridal in Low Fell, had caught my eye, as I drive past their window every day and the dresses on display always look stunning! I knew the style of dress that wouldn’t suit me, so that was my starting point. Pinterest was a massive help. I showed my ideas to the girls in the shop and they picked out a selection of dresses they thought I might like – and my dress – the Demetrios 595, was one of them! The detailing on my dress was incredible; a mixture of lace and beading, as well as to the back. The dress I tried on was ivory with a nude underlay – couture in style – however I ordered it white on white, in keeping with the theme of the wedding. It was made in New York and sent over a few months later.
My shoes were from Jimmy Choo Lottie sandals in champagne glitter. I wanted to get married in Choos, as I knew this would probably be the first and last pair I would ever have the pleasure of owning! They were just perfect. Super glittery and comfortable.
Mike wore a full three-piece suit from Next in navy blue, with a silver tie, pocket chief, tie clip and cuff links. He also wore a brown belt and brown leather shoes. The best man, groomsman and fathers also wore the same.
The adult bridesmaids wore silver grey floor-length dresses from the Debut range in Debenhams. Meanwhile, the younger bridesmaids and ring bearer wore floor length peachy pink dresses from BHS. They all wore their own shoes in whichever style they preferred, with the glitter theme.
December 2nd, 2015 | Rachel Parry
Where to start with today’s wedding? We love it all!
From the venue to the wedding party’s attire, everything about Lisa and Paul’s big day says elegance and class in an effective yet understated manner.
The pretty colour palette of peaches, pastels and nudes work effortlessly with the setting and with the gorgeous gold, sparkly decor that’s been added for the perfect touch of glamour.
Ladies, you might want to get pinning…
With images by Helen Russell Photography.
lisa says: We got engaged in June 2013. I was on a hen weekend in Marbella and Paul decided to purchase the ring while I was away and proposed to me as soon as I returned home!
We set the date for 27th March 2015 as we wanted a spring wedding and plenty of time to plan! Matfen Hall was our chosen venue. It was the first place we looked at and following viewing numerous other venues, we always went back to Matfen. The east wing and basement, in particular, sold it to us!
We decided on a vintage/ art deco theme with a colour scheme of peaches, pastels and nudes. We worked around the colour of the bridesmaid dresses which were warm colours for the time of year that we were getting married.
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