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!
September 22nd, 2017 | Julia Braime
If you’re in search of a brand-new venue that’s as cool as it is unique, then you just might be about to love us forever. As this afternoon, we have details of an a-maz-ing (!!) North East venue, set to open its doors to couples in April 2018, offering stylish celebrations like no other!
Set on a 150-acre estate in the heart of Northumberland coastal countryside, Charlton Hall is currently undergoing a huge renovation that will see elements of its heritage mixed with quirky and contemporary touches, resulting in a grand entertaining space made up of show-stopping function rooms, fabulous entertaining areas and incredible bedrooms.
Brought to you by the same people as those behind popular venue Doxford Barns, couples marrying at Charlton can be sure of first-class service, food and drink as standard.
Keen to remain up-to-the-minute with its progress, we’ve invited the team from Charlton Hall to take over the blog with the latest details of seriously stylish venue…
Where is Charlton Hall located?
charlton hall say: Charlton Hall is based just off the A1 at Chathill, eight miles north of Alnwick and is set within a private 150-acre estate overlooking the coast towards Beadnell Bay.
Can you tell us about its history?
Charlton Hall is a Grade II listed Georgian hall by William Newton and formerly the family home of the late Reginald William Tudor Thorp, MBE of Alnwick – Alnwick’s oldest solicitor before he died in 2003.
Charlton Hall was acquired by Richard Shell in May 2017 and included in the sale were many original artefacts from the Hall, including auction notices from 1878, newspaper articles from 1935 and turn of the century antiques (desks, grandfather clocks, chairs) as well as other delightful memoirs, including a school sports trophy dating back to 1890!
We intend to incorporate as many of these artefacts into our upgrade of Charlton Hall to mix tradition with modern twists and eccentric interior design.
What is the building currently like and how will it be transformed?
The building itself is currently under renovation as we upgrade the Hall whilst preserving its heritage and original Georgian features. To balance tradition with modernity, our lead designer Josephine Aynsley is introducing an eclectic mix of bold furniture, fabrics, tapestries and accessories to add even more character to the venue.
The renovation plans include enchanting function and entertaining rooms, a large formal drawing room with marble fireplace and dining room with floor-to-ceiling sash windows that look out towards the coast; our vision here is intended to make the venue ideal for intimate wedding breakfasts.
On the lower ground floor, Charlton Hall has a rare and unique assortment of intimate underground lounges and our plans here are to use the space for a dedicated whisky bar with booths for the after-party.
The menagerie of furniture included with the sale of Charlton Hall has heavily influenced our design team’s interior scheme, by re-claiming many of those pieces to create an authentic yet eclectic interior. Mixed with re-production pieces, the finished look aims to excite and inspire with our indulgent, luxurious and downright decadent taste!
What type of feel will Charlton Hall have and what will its interior styling be like?
At every turn, the unique vision of Charlton Hall is a masterclass in interior design. The decor is adorned with soft furnishings, fabrics and accessories that are intriguingly mismatched, along with vibrant-coloured walls, antique pieces, playful artefacts, a mix of art and decorative lighting fixtures and yesteryear pictures that offer anatomical insights.
As you enter the grounds of Charlton Hall, its long private driveway is enshrouded by luscious English orchards and secret walled gardens to reveal the traditional exterior of Charlton Hall’s Georgian building. Inside, guests are greeted and led to the vibrant inner sanctum of either the drawing room or library, constructed around the central staircase.
Once inside, be prepared for bold interiors, decadent features and daring design as Charlton Hall’s tongue-in-cheek personality takes over with is provocative interiors and flamboyant colour scheme, heavily influenced by creatives – Tim Walker, Tom Dixon, Andrew Martin, Matthew Williamson, House of Hackney and Emma Shipley.
Light installations will cover the hallway including Tom Dixon Pendants, neon signs and flying cherubs levitating down the grand staircase to the hallway. Wallpapers by Pierre Frey and Harlequin feature prominently here.
The Breakfast Room takes inspiration from photographer Tim Walker with its accumulation of shadows and detail. Here the design team brings Harlequin Sumi wallpaper to life by cascading from the ceiling and down to the base of the original hand-painted floor boards. Andrew Martin’s sheers drape the windows to drench the room with sunlight that reflects off the opposing wall of mirrors.
The Library shies away from the “standard” library look by following the Hall’s level of opulence with bespoke accessories, large-scale chandeliers and bright colours. Our love for House of Hackney starts in the Study and climbs the staircase through fabrics, wallpapers and accessories. Having followed the inspirational artist Emma J Shipley for a number of years, we have also included many of her exquisite cushion designs throughout Charlton Hall to complement Josephine Aynsley’s bespoke cushions to suit each room.
At some point throughout your jaunt of the Hall, you will visit our toilets. Eyebrow-raising urinals combined with bespoke designed graffiti from our amazing artist Lynsey Jean Henderson juxtapose with the Pink Powder room for Foxy Ladies.
Throughout Charlton Hall our bespoke crafted bars will be backlit with changeable coloured LEDs and Tom Dixon fade pendants featuring prominently in our function and designated bar rooms.
Taking our handmade and specially hand dyed grand staircase runner upstairs, guests can indulge in the decadence of oversized mirrors that reflect our shimmering chandeliers, sit delicately on our leather conversation sofas in a little hideaway decorated with House of Hackney’s naughty monkey wallpaper, complete with specially designed rugs.
Delving downstairs into our underground vaults, you will find Charlton Hall’s after-hours playground of debauchery, cigars, drinking and where cards are dealt. Our in-house speakeasy plays host to this whisky and card room or if you fancy a dance, you’ll have to mind your head in our den that even Gatsby couldn’t imagine. Rich with silks, velvets, leather and laced with a decadent choice of beverages – who wouldn’t want to finish the night in such style?
July 20th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
If you’re planning a wedding with any kind of wild woodland element – natural flowers, untamed hair or foliage and greenery, for instance – then this stunning styled shoot at Alnwick’s Treehouse Restaurant, part of the Alnwick Garden, will be inspo overload.
Talented photographer Rachael Fraser brought together a group of innovative suppliers to display the very best of the North East, including the beautiful surroundings of her hometown, Alnwick. We adore the use of warm coppery metallics, which sit perfectly against the lush greenery of the gardens and create a super-gorgeous, slightly frenzied Midsummer Madness-feel. Even the cake is on the wild side, with a delicate floral design that’s (almost) too good to eat.
If you want to see more from Rachael, head over to her newly-updated website for more details or get yourself to the Brides Up North Big Bridal Super Show at Ramside Hall on Sunday 24th September, where she’ll be exhibiting along with a whole host of other luxury bridal suppliers.
So, it’s over to Rachael to tell us more about the inspiration behind the shoot and her feelings about the results…
rachael says: My reasons for doing the shoot was that I really wanted to bring together local suppliers in a collaborative way to showcase some of the beautiful work that I’d seen at wedding fairs and on their individual websites. I wanted to create an inspirational shoot that was quite light and natural with blush, grey and cream tones – all super-popular at the moment. And, of course, the vibrant lush greens of the surrounding area!
The Treehouse Restaurant is part of the Duchess of Northumberland’s stunning Alnwick Gardens, in the town where I grew up and where I still live today. It’s a completely unique venue which, with the surrounding woodland, offered a variety of creative opportunities in terms of settings for the shoot. We started on the rope bridges and then made our way down onto the woodland walk where wild garlic and flowers bloom on either side of the path.
The Wedding Dress Company provided the gorgeous dress by Maggie Sottero, which was a beautiful blush dress with a sheer lace overlay. I’d seen the gown on display at Brides Up North’s Luxury Wedding Fair at the Alnwick Gardens and knew it would look perfect in the pictures.
Hair and makeup was styled by Tina Elliot who created a beautiful natural look with some simple foliage in the hair to keep in with the wild, whimsical feel.
The Finishing Touch Company provided a stunning bouquet with white and cream flowers and trailing grey ribbons. For the table settings, they also created a stunning display with a floral garland on the table and copper details which worked perfectly alongside Amanda Michelle’s copper and pastel scripted stationery and table plan.
July 10th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
Fern and Andrew’s glorious barn wedding in the Northumberland countryside has us reaching for our sunnies – and maybe a glass (or two) of Pimm’s.
Healey Barn is an incredible backdrop to this couple’s laidback rustic day, with its vaulted ceilings and exposed stone decked out in fairy lights and flowers. Think ‘country chic’ and you’ve got it: tweed jackets, bunting, flower petal confetti and photographs featuring woodland walks and hay bales. Gotta love a hay bale!
With photography by Chocolate Chip Photography.
fern says: I managed to ruin the first proposal attempt by Andrew – he had put the engagement ring on our cat’s collar thinking when the cat jumped up on me I’d see it. Needless to say I didn’t, and let the cat outside with the engagement ring around her neck. I didn’t know anything about this until the second proposal!
Jump forward to the evening of 1st January 2012, when Andrew thought it’d be easier (and less likely to give him a heart attack) if he just came downstairs and got down on one knee.
We got married on 29th July 2016. We thought it would be best to get married on a Friday as a few of our guests needed to travel down from Scotland and up from Milton Keynes and we figured they’d have a longer weekend if they didn’t have to travel home the day after the wedding.
Our venue was Healey Barn, Riding Mill, Northumberland. We chose it quite simply because we thought it was absolutely stunning. We also felt it would be great to have a barn wedding and it fitted our style quite well – very ‘relaxed rustic’.
Theme-wise, we just wanted a relaxed atmosphere. This was the main drive behind everything, including the choice of our two major suppliers – the venue, Healey Barn, and our photographers, Chocolate Chip Photography. We felt they could both offer the stress-free approach we love.
Our colour scheme was green and purple: it’s all about me! They’re my favourite colours.
I purchased my dress from I Do Bridal in Bill Quay, Gateshead. I couldn’t rate them highly enough: the staff were amazing and the alternations service was superb. It was a tea-length dress; I loved the style plus I’m super-clumsy, so no long flowing dresses. My wonderful shoes were from Ruby Shoo.
July 2nd, 2017 | Julia Braime
It’s holiday season here on the blog, and as the editorial team take a short break, we’ll be leaving you with a reduced blogging schedule so that you still get your daily dose of wedding lovely. Usual service will recommence on Monday 3rd July 2017 but in the meantime watch out for recaps of some of our favourite Real Weddings from the first half of the year so far.
Drop in every day for the very prettiest, most unique wedding inspiration and – if you are a Brides Up North bride – to see if your real wedding was one of our top picks.
From the venue’s name, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is an overseas wedding, but in fact the stunning French inspired venue can be found in rural Northumberland.
Cheerleaders Rachelle and Liam fell whole-heartedly in love with its unique styling and charm, planning a big day with French shabby chic touches to complement their surroundings.
So, let’s get straight into the pretty. Ready? Ok!
With images by Sean Elliott Photography
rachelle says: We got engaged in Bangkok, Thailand, in November 2013, while we attended the seventh World Cheerleading Championships, in which we both were competing together as part of Team UK.
We set the date for 30th July 2016 – the beginning of the school holidays as Liam is a teacher and we wanted to make sure we had time to fit in a good honeymoon before he went back to work.
Our ceremony took place at St. Peters Church, Harton, South Shields at 12pm as it had sentimental value to Liam. We then held our reception in Le Petit Chateau, Otterburn. We originally booked a different reception venue when we first got engaged but when we discovered the plans for Le Petit Chateau, we fell in love and decided to lose our previous deposits and change to Le Petit Chateau, despite never actually seeing the venue until a month before our wedding. After seeing the venue, it looked a million times better than what we’d expected from the plans and knew we had made the right decision to change our wedding
We didn’t have a theme as such but it was almost aimed towards French shabby chic. We incorporated old books and watering cans into our centrepieces. Our table plan was a mannequin with French inspired shabby chic labels pinned to it containing the table plan to incorporate the French fashion scene. We added a cheerleading bow to this as that was how we met and how we’d got engaged. We picked our favourite looks from Pinterest and the shabby chic appealed to us the most. When we found our new venue, we tailored it more to suit the style and it worked perfectly.
We chose a coral colour scheme, as it was a very summery colour that we thought would brighten the photos. When we first saw the venue, we were excited to see that the same colour was used on the external walls of the Belle Epoque!
I chose my dress – an ivory Mori Lee gown – from The Bridal Factory Outlet, and had a wonderful shopping experience there. My dress was a full A-line dress with a slight sweetheart neckline. The bodice was covered in a heavy lace with pearls and crystals. It had a lovely crystal belt that tied into a lovely flowing tulle bow at the back. The skirt kicked out at the waist into layers of tulle. I picked the dress to show off my waist and as a cheerleader, I wanted sparkle but I didn’t want to go too overboard.
I also picked a shorter knee length dress for the evening, which was a white Sherri Hill dress that had a bodice full of pearls and a full tulle skirt with lace detail at the bottom.
Liam wore a grey three-piece suit from Slaters with a white shirt and black Ted Baker shoes also from Slaters, and a coral and ivory paisley silk tie and pocket square that I’d found on Pinterest and sourced from Amazon. They matched the colour scheme perfectly and were such much nicer than a block colour.
I won my bridesmaids dresses from Brides Dream in Newcastle, from a wedding show in 2014 and picked them from a wide range at their store in summer 2015. I picked a coral floor-length gown with an illusion sweetheart neckline. The top of the dress was a coral mesh with a lovely delicate lace detail on the shoulders. The dress also had an illusion low back, that accented my wedding dress.
I had a man of honour in my bridal party too, my best friend Ben Pardey, who helped my maid of honour, Olga Crehan. They were my two best friends from university and I couldn’t have got married without them both by my side with a main role in the wedding.
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