Charlotte Balbier

blissed out bride: hoar cross hall

May 4th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

Hoar Cross Hall (3)

The month of May is one of our very favourites here at Brides Up North HQ, not only as it tends to signal the start of warmer weather, but it’s also when our incredible festival wedding fairs take place across the north of the country. These super cool events are like no other as we create outdoor wedding wonderlands with huge sailcloth tents, tipis and yurts filled with wildly creative wedding suppliers, plus street food vendors, pop-up bars, live bands and so much more. The tour starts this Sunday 7th May with our glorious WEDSTOCK’17 at Stockeld Park, Yorkshire, and from there we will be heading to Ormesby Hall in Middlesbrough on Sunday 14th May, and Capesthorne Hall in Cheshire on Sunday 21st May, to give all you brides-to-be a piece of the fabulous festival action.

Another reason we favour May is for its bank holidays (who doesn’t love a bonus day off?!) and so with such a busy time on the horizon, we were sure to make the first long weekend of the month a relaxing one by heading off for an overnight spa break at the stunning Hoar Cross Hall.

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Such getaways not only enable us to signpost you in the direction of the very best retreats for pre/post wedding pampering and luxurious hen do locations, but it also gives us chance to discuss exciting ideas for the blog, and boy do we have amazing plans in the pipeline! But more about that to follow soon, for now let us fill you in on our heavenly stay at this Grade II stately home where total relaxation comes as standard!

Situated in breath-takingly beautiful Staffordshire countryside, the chilled-out vibes start on your approach to the Hall and only deepen once over its threshold. Its impressive entrance and bar lounge area combine period style and modern luxury perfectly and make for a very warm welcome. Arriving early evening and keen to start the pampering from the off, we began with a glass of bubbles in the bar before heading to our room to freshen up before dinner.

Each of Hoar Cross Hall’s 96 bedrooms are individually designed in keeping with the stately surrounds and offer comfort and class, which resulted in a very restful night’s sleep for the two of us in our adjoining rooms.

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Dinner was served in the Hall’s grand restaurant with calming views over the perfectly manicured gardens. Having selected a bottle of rose (well, it is getting on for summer!) we scanned over the varied choice of dishes and made our selection. We enjoyed starters of salmon two ways and chicken liver parfait before going onto mains of roast chicken and spinach and ricotta cannelloni. Something light to finish we thought, and so opted for the fruit platter and ice cream. The food at Hoar Cross is presented beautifully and tastes as good as it looks, while staff are attentive in making sure everything is to your liking.

With relaxation top of the agenda, we decided on an early night and early start to make the most of the Hall’s fabulous spa facilities.

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Following an ample breakfast of granola followed by poached eggs, we took the elevator down to the lower ground where the hugely spacious spa is concealed, much like a well kept secret. And what a gem it is, with numerous tranquil pools and soothing water therapies to explore and experience.

Fellow spa visitors included groups of ladies as well as couples, making a Hoar Cross Hall getaway a perfect option for an indulgent hen do with the girls, some pre-wedding pampering with family or friends, plus a relaxing minimoon retreat to recharge the batteries ahead of jetting off on the main honeymoon.

There are various day and overnight packages to choose from, with meals included, and the option of treatments for head-to-toe relaxation.

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The spa boasts two beautiful pools; a saltwater vitality pool, complete with jet massage pools, two luxury whirlpools and a starlit cave, plus a hydrotherapy pool with gentle currents and body massage jets.

There are also a number of heat, ice and massage experiences to detox and revitalise the body by stimulating different senses. These include sensory showers and aqua massage therapies as well as an aspen wood sauna, aroma room and ice temple.

And as if that’s not enough, there are lots of beautifully snug spaces to relax both poolside and within designated relaxation lounges, whether you choose to curl up with a good book or get a little extra shut-eye.

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dream venue: carden park

April 5th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

Carden Park (9)

Here at Brides Up North HQ we’re always super keen to learn more about the fabulous wedding venues available in this half of the country, so that we can spread the word to you, our lovely readers.

While some we follow with interest online, others we’re fortunate to visit in person, allowing us to view and experience their wonderful facilities and hospitality first hand. Our most recent travels saw us heading west, to the impressive Carden Park Hotel, where we were invited for a glorious one-night getaway.

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Nested in 1,000 acres of Cheshire countryside, the sizable estate boasts an award-winning hotel, AA Rosette restaurant, championship golf courses, adventure activities and spa. Its spacious function suites and grounds mean it’s also a popular wedding venue, offering a varied choice of settings and packages for a couple’s special day.

Upon arriving for our stay, we were given a tour of the facilities and celebration spaces by the hotel’s friendly wedding planner, Maddie, where the full scope of Carden Park’s offering came to light. Not only can this hotel cater for the big day itself, but it’s an ideal retreat for pre-wedding pampering, a girly or action-packed hen do and a relaxing minimoon.

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In terms of accommodation, the hotel offers a wide choice of options; from twin, double and family rooms, up to its spacious luxury suites, with special upgrade extras including a fully stocked complimentary minibar, chocolates, sparkling wine and ESPA toiletries.

Wedding wise, Carden can cater for all sizes and offers the choice of its elegant and contemporary Carden Suite, rustic-style Shooting Suite and open-air Wedding Pavilion, through its ‘Eternity’ and ‘Fairytale’ packages.

Carden Park (10)

Elsewhere in the hotel there is much more to be explored. We began our break with an afternoon tea in the comfortable lounge area before taking the energy levels up a notch with some of the fun outdoor activities available on site. From laser clay shooting, archery and mountain biking to an aerial zip-wiring course, Carden is a playground for all ages.

We were treated to an off-roading 4×4 experience with JEEP enthusiast and instructor Terry, who navigated us through the surrounding woodland, giving us a tour of the expansive estate whilst sliding around the challenging course. Next up, with the help of instructor Ryan, we tried our hand (and feet) at segwaying, which is a little trickier than it looks, but heaps of fun.

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Back at the hotel it was time to wind things down again, and so after a quick shower and change, we settled in the bar with a bottle of sauvignon, ahead of our three-course meal in Redmond’s Restaurant. Changing its menu regularly to suit the season and fresh produce available, we were spoiled for choice when it came to making our starter, main and dessert selections but went with the staff recommendations (they certainly know their stuff!) A salmon-starter, chicken-main and panna-cotta-dessert later, it was evident that the standard of food was equal to the level of service – first class!

We retired for the evening feeling immensely satisfied and settled into our king-size beds for a peaceful night’s sleep.

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blissed out bride: an overnight break at titanic spa

October 24th, 2016 | Rachel Parry

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While you brides-to-be are in full wedding planning mode, us Brides Up North girls are right there with you in a whirlwind of organising and staging our Luxury Wedding Fairs throughout the north of the country.

And though we love what we do, such a high level of planning leads to late nights, early starts and bodies that ache from head to toe. So when an invitation for an overnight break at Titanic Spa in Huddersfield arrived in our inbox, we thought we had more than earned a little down time.

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We have been fortunate to visit the amazing West Yorkshire spa before, though we’ve never stayed for more than a day, so we were extra excited to see what else would be in store for us.

Popular with both men and women of all ages this is an ideal retreat for brides and grooms to recharge the batteries, either pre- or post-wedding, but also makes a heavenly location for a hen do or mother and daughter day. Whatever your excuse – we mean reason, you can be sure of first class facilities and service with Titanic being named ‘Best Luxury Eco Spa’ and ‘Best Luxury Destination Spa’ at the prestigious 2016 World Luxury Spa Awards.

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Upon arrival our overnight luggage was taken from us and delivered to our room which we would be able to access later in the afternoon. We knew our way round and so skipped the tour and headed straight into the spa’s well-known Heat & Ice Experience. Here guests can go between a number of hot and cold rooms, each with differing benefits to the body. The overall effect is cleansing and invigorating as you peak and dip in temperature.

We favoured the warmer rooms, such as the saunas, herbal infusion room and aromatherapy room, which cleared pores whilst draining away any feelings of stress too. In between the hot experiences we dipped in and out of the ice room but weren’t quite brave enough for the plunge pool or bucket shower experience. We did manage to idle away about 30 minutes in the foot spas though while we gossiped about all things Made in Chelsea and Real House Wives of Cheshire.

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Next, lunch. We recalled how good the food was on our last visit, but as it turns out the team at Titanic have stepped things up a gear again, with the dishes surpassing our previous dining experience. We both enjoyed a Prawn, Red Pepper and Chilli Linguine washed was with a Sauvignon Blanc. That’s right, though healthy, the spa still allows for treats!

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The impressive facilities at Titanic – which also include a 15 metre swimming pool, gym, relaxation room and outdoor hot tub – are so plentiful that a treatment isn’t essential for those on a short break. That said, if you’re on the run up to your wedding we highly recommend indulging in a facial or body treatment as part of your big day beauty prep.

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blissed out bride: stanley house hotel & spa

October 29th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Stanley House Hotel & Spa (2)

This morning on the blog we’ve got two words for you treat yourself – as we’re sharing with you another gem of a venue that we’ve discovered in the north of the country, which is a haven for both pre and post wedding pampering.

Located within the Ribble Valley countryside in Mellor, Lancashire, Stanley House Hotel & Spa really is a rural retreat, housing 30 luxurious bedrooms, bar, restaurant and a world-class spa. Oh and if that isn’t enough, you can get married there too.

Keen to experience its impressive offering for ourselves (and to recharge the batteries after a particularly hectic stint in the world of weddings), myself and Julia booked in for an overnight spa break.

Stanley House Hotel & Spa (8)

Included in our package was one night’s accommodation, farmhouse breakfast, three-course evening meal in the hotel’s restaurant, use of the spa, a 60-minute treatment, and to round it all off, a two-course afternoon tea in the bar and lounge. We were literally chalking off the days on the office wall as we counted down to our visit (which didn’t disappoint).

Upon arriving, we were advised where to find everything and then left to explore our room and surroundings. The hotel is centred around Stanley House, a stunning Grade II listed manor house dating back to 1799, that has since been lovingly restored to hold luxury bedrooms. The hotel’s function rooms, reception, bar and restaurant meanwhile are located in the main hotel building and the spa and further bedrooms (where our room was located) are situated in the newest area of the hotel.

Clearly designed with care, the two newer buildings are still in keeping with their rural surroundings and the historic Stanley House building, which stands proud in the venue’s well-manicured grounds. All buildings boast stunning views of the surrounding countryside, as did our generous sized bedroom, with which we were thrilled.

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To start our 24-hours of relaxation we headed to the hotel’s Mr Fred’s bar and lounge where we enjoyed a bottle of wine whilst brainstorming future ideas for Brides Up North (some of our very best concepts come out of a bottle of Sauvignon it would appear!)

Next we glammed up and indulged in a three-course meal at The Grill on The Hill restaurant, which prides itself on offering diners ‘something just a bit different’ – as we soon experienced ourselves. We ordered starters of ham hock terrine with crispy ’bits and bobs’, golden sultana puree and quail’s egg, and a chilled tomato gazpacho with spiced avocado espuma. What arrived was a treat for the eyes as well as the palate; dainty but plentiful portions that were punchy in flavour and beautifully presented. We ate every last bit!

Next mains of soy and ginger poached fillets of lemon sole, with sea vegetables (presented like little sushi parcels) and citrus butter, and a 10oz rib eye steak served with balsamic onions, semi dried plum tomato, field mushroom and triple cooked chips. Top marks once again for taste and appearance, resulting in more clean plates.

You’d think we’d be full at this point, but a lemon delice served with sorbet and cherries caught my eye while Julia took up the offer of cheese and biscuits. Faultless once again. And just when we thought we had come to the end of our culinary delights, we were presented with a crisp and chewy macaroon to finish. How could we resist?

Having almost eaten our way into a food coma a good night’s rest was needed and thankfully that’s exactly what we got. The hotel’s rural location means no rowdy passers-by or noisy traffic to interrupt your sleep, just pure peace and quiet.

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Stanley House Hotel & Spa (5)

Eager to explore the spa, the following day we enjoyed a light breakfast in the comforting lounge area before heading off for our morning of (further) indulgence.

Almost somewhat of a secret, the hotel’s spa is accessed down a spiral staircase where those ‘in the know’ can make the most of its relaxation rooms, thermal suite and hydro pool, whilst also enjoying a treatment of two, if they so wish.

For Julia (a self-confessed mermaid), the hydro pool alone would have been enough to keep her blissfully happy. Warm and welcoming the pool’s jets bubbled away our aches and pains while we admired the tranquil gardens beyond the floor to ceiling windows.

Prizing Julia from the water, we then went on to experience the thermal suite, which offered both hot and cold environments to awaken the senses. Not only did the rooms vary in temperature, but also in design and music with different influences from around the world, which is perhaps what sets the spa’s thermal suite apart from others.

Though fairly compact it was both easy and enjoyable to while away several hours in the relaxing yet invigorating environment of the spa.

Stanley House Hotel & Spa (15)

Stanley House Hotel & Spa (14)

Feeling cleansed and refreshed we headed for the highlight of the break: a 60-minute C&C Vitamin Facial (us Brides Up North girls just love a facial). Designed to fight the signs of premature ageing the zingy anti-oxidant facial gives stressed skin an instant boost of Vitamin C, which means the treatment doesn’t only feel amazing but the products used also smell amazing too. An ideal pre-holiday treatment I’m told, this would be a great choice for anyone indulging in a minimoon at Stanley House before jetting off on their main honeymoon. Emerging from the treatment room I can honestly say my skin felt the best it ever has, so much so I took away a Natura Bisse C&C Vitamin Soufflé Mask so I could recreate the magic at home for myself (well almost).

To end our break in a similar way to how we started it (immersed in glorious food) we enjoyed an afternoon tea of freshly made finger sandwiches, pastries, dainty cakes and, of course, yummy scones, all washed down with a refreshing jasmine tea.

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So you can see from our visit just how much this place has to offer, whether you chose to visit as a pre-wedding girly getaway to escape the planning pressure, or to prep yourself ready for the big day. It would also make for a fabulous minimoon with your partner, whether it’s just overnight to fill the void between the wedding ending and the honeymoon beginning, or for a full weekend of indulgence if you’ve chosen to delay your main honeymoon until later in the year.

Better yet, there are plenty of hugely tempting packages to choose from, meaning this is one activity that doesn’t require much planning (you brides-to-be will be pleased to hear). So, whether you opt for a ‘Diamond’ day package or an ‘Only the Finest’ overnight getaway, we guarantee Stanley House Spa & Hotel will leave you wanting more (just as we did when we begrudgingly left!).

For full details of Stanley Houses’ facilities, accommodation and packages, visit their website.

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The Rise Of The Mini Moon

November 11th, 2013 | Julia Braime

Cat Hepple Photography

It’s been a busy Monday morning and Friday feels a long way off.  What better time than for our regular guest blogger Rachel (we’ve missed you Rach!) to talk time out and remind you that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.  Today, she’s all about facilitating that “minimoon”.  Monday blues?  What Monday blues? Go on, get it booked…

Images by Cat Hepple Photography, as previously featured here and here

Cat Hepple Photography

Rachel says:  I don’t know about you but I love an excuse to extend a celebration. Take my birthday for example – of course the main celebration is the day itself but I like to push the partying over at least one weekend, if not two. After all there’s the family meal, weekend away with the boyfriend (I hope) and drinks, shopping and spa treatments with friends to squeeze in. And don’t even get me started on festive celebrations in our household – they stretch from the very beginning of December right into the new year (though thankfully don’t include a turkey curry buffet).

Looking at today’s wedding scene, it’s clear there are many wedding couples who share my mindset with a growing trend for weekend weddings. After all, why would you confine the celebrations to just one day when you can easily spread it across three with a pre-wedding dinner the ceremony itself and then, of course, a day of present opening, cake eating, champagne quaffing and catching up with family and friends.

But now brides and grooms are taking extending the wedding celebrations a step further by delaying their main honeymoon until later in the year, or even the following year, and taking a minimoon in the meantime instead.

Cat Hepple Photography

The minimoon was originally born out of the credit crunch when many wedding couples were forced to tighten the purse strings. Research revealed brides and grooms were swapping lavish two-week holidays to long-haul destinations such as the Maldives for shorter holidays closer to home. But as circumstances have continued to change so too have couples’ holidaying habits, with many brides and grooms now having the best of both worlds – booking themselves a minimoon for a that much-needed break straight after the wedding and a honeymoon a little later down the line, giving reason for the wedding excitement to live on.

Cat Hepple Photography

A minimoon usually consists of a relaxing three- to four-day break at a destination not too far away from the wedding location. Some couples might choose a sentimental location such as the first place they went on holiday together or the place they got engaged, while others might just want a destination that provides pure relaxation to unwind following the tense pre-wedding build up. In the UK top choices include rustic retreats, spa breaks and city locations while those flush enough to push the minimoon boundaries are jetting off to romantic European destinations such as Rome, Paris and Venice.

Cat Hepple Photography

While delaying a honeymoon in favour of a minimoon does effectively spread the celebrations, it has become a big hit among today’s wedding couples for many more reasons.

The minimoon is particularly popular with teachers and those with work commitments that can’t afford to take large amounts of time off work all in one go. It’s also ideal for those asking their guests for contributions towards the honeymoon instead of traditional gifts as they book a holiday suited to the fund following the wedding.

Cat Hepple Photography

For those who can only handle so much planning at a time, delaying the main honeymoon means there will be more time to organise the holiday after the wedding preparations have taken place. Taking a minimoon in the meantime means couples have that essential break before returning to the daily grind after their wedding day.

A postponed honeymoon also gives brides and grooms who will be stumping up the honeymoon costs themselves longer to save up and book their holiday at a time suited to the best prices and weather conditions.

Cat Hepple Photography

So while the credit crunch may curbed our Topshop sprees and cocktail drinking, we do have it to thank for the introduction of the minimoon/postponed honeymoon trend which helps keep the post-wedding day blues at bay that bit longer.

What do you think?  Will you/ did you take a minimoon?  Any hot spot recommendations for our other readers?

All images taken from Alice & Paul’s gorgeous Parisian engagement shoot with Cat Hepple PhotographyClick here and here to see the full set. 

 

Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog – Images © 2013 Cat Hepple Photography

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Contact Brides Up North to submit your business as a Featured Supplier 

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Location, Location, Location! Supplier Showcase: Sykes Cottages

January 21st, 2013 | Julia Braime

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Slipping away to a cottage retreat in the middle of nowhere (or somewhere near to spas and shopping where the neighbours can’t hear your raucous singing) for one last “relaxing” weekend with the girls might be expected as your big day approaches, but have you considered a holiday cottage as a potential venue for the wedding day itself?

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In my job as a full time and bridal features writer, I come across gems of wedding venues all the time – from the stately and sublime to the cosy and chic, but I must admit that I hadn’t considered the option of hiring a holiday cottage to host a private and personal wedding celebration until I was approached by Brides Up North sponsor Sykes Cottages

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Why haven’t I thought of this before? 

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Sykes Cottages manage a veritable smorgasbord of beautiful holiday homes which are available to hire for your special day.  Think about it – it’s a wedding “at home” (the dream home of your choice, selected from a vast variety of options that you can browse online), but “on location” at the same time.  Choose your property, location, length of stay and any added extras… then send out the save the dates.  And, as the mini-moon and staycation remain as popular as ever,  the after the event possibilities are endless too.

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Genius.  Maybe that girly get-away can wait…

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Sykes Cottages - Alternative Wedding Venues & Honeymoons

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Amanda of Sykes Cottages says: So you’ve got the ring (congratulations!) and now you can look forward to the next few weeks and months of planning every little detail of your big day. From the dress to the flowers and the transport, your ‘to-do’ list seems endless.

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When it comes to the venue, your decision is crucial as the venue itself will dictate the tone of the entire day. Whether you choose a grand stately home, your childhood church or an outdoor location, choosing the venue is one of the biggest and most difficult decisions before the big day. But if a grand property isn’t quite what you have in mind, perhaps a more intimate wedding venue would fit the bill.

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Sykes Cottages - Alternative Wedding Venues & Honeymoons

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Sykes Cottages - Alternative Wedding Venues & Honeymoons

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Finding a holiday cottage ideal for your wedding isn’t as difficult as you might think. Choose a grand property set in beautiful grounds for the wow factor with an intimate feel or a more traditional cottage for a romantic, outdoorsy style. Some properties even have a dance floor, offer a private chef and maid service to ensure your nuptials go without a hitch.

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Sykes Cottages - Alternative Wedding Venues & Honeymoons

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Sykes Cottages - Alternative Wedding Venues & Honeymoons

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Feeling at home at the venue a few days before the wedding should help settle those last minute nerves on the big day. Book a make-up artist or hairdresser so you and your bridesmaids kick start the day in style. If you’re planning a big day with a home-spun feel, choosing a property to accommodate all the guests in the run up to the wedding is a great choice: make use of the willing volunteers and create a truly unique backdrop to your big day.

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Sykes Cottages - Alternative Wedding Venues & Honeymoons

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Sykes Cottages - Alternative Wedding Venues & Honeymoons

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Sykes Cottages - Alternative Wedding Venues & Honeymoons

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Wherever you choose to celebrate your big day, choosing a holiday cottage for the occasion is a good way to guarantee a totally unique wedding. Pick a holiday cottage in some of the UK’s most stunning countryside for exceptional wedding photos that you’ll love forever.

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Sykes Cottages - Alternative Wedding Venues & Honeymoons

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Sykes Cottages - Alternative Wedding Venues & Honeymoons

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Instead of disappearing on honeymoon towards the end of the reception, many couples now choose to enjoy the first few days of wedded bliss closer to home before embarking on their honeymoon to remember later on. While tradition dictates that the groom to be is responsible for planning (and financing!) the honeymoon, it certainly doesn’t hurt you to drop a few hints in the lead-up to the big day!

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Choosing a holiday cottage is a really great way to combine the high-end finish of a boutique hotel with all the privacy you want in your first few days as a married couple. Find honeymoon accommodation with a private hot tub and celebrate with a glass of champagne under the stars for the perfect start to married life any time of year.

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For a summer honeymoon, why not choose a holiday cottage with access to a swimming pool or by a secluded beach for a wonderful few days. Winter brides might prefer a cosy, traditional cottage with a roaring log fire for romantic days and nights in. Wherever you choose to spend those first few days as Mr and Mrs, you’re sure to leave with memories to treasure.

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Sykes Cottages - Alternative Wedding Venues & Honeymoons

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Sykes Cottages - Alternative Wedding Venues & Honeymoons

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Sykes Cottages - Alternative Wedding Venues & Honeymoons

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Got your mind whirring?  Thought as much!  For more information, visit the Sykes Cottages website to find your perfect wedding venue or honeymoon destination.

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  – Images © 2013 supplied by Sykes Cottages

This is a sponsored post

Contact Brides Up North to submit your business as a Featured Supplier 

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog

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