Charlotte Balbier
Festival Wedding Exhibitions

the big debate: high street vs designer

April 15th, 2016 | Julia Braime

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Every couple is different when it comes to planning their wedding and every bride is different when it comes to picking their dress. There is no rule book to follow on how much the overall budget for the wedding should be, or how it is to be split between the different elements of the day. And while for some, the venue and food will be top of the list, for others it’s the honeymoon, entertainment or attire that gets the majority of the cash.

In terms of the bride’s spend on her dress it may be the case that she’s been saving on the side of the main budget to buy her dream dress, or that this is something her parents have said that they would like to contribute to. Whatever the case, the dress ‘allowance’ generally comes down to the bride’s mind-set: ‘you only do it once – spend on an amazing designer gown’ or ‘it’s only one day – save with a high street dress’.

So today on the blog we’re debating if ladies should be booking appointments at bridal boutiques filled with fabulous designer gowns once that ring is firmly on her finger, or if it’s worth giving the high street options a go for a pretty gown at the fraction of the price?

(All gowns pictured in post body by ASOS. This is not a sponsored post, we just think they are pretty!)

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rachel says: high street happy

Once upon a time I would never have suggested a bride look to the high street to find her wedding gown but now I would say it’s certainly worth considering.

We’ve seen the likes of BHS, Monsoon and Phase Eight releasing wedding dress collections (and making a good job of it too) and now more stores are jumping on the bridal bandwagon by launching their own big day collections – most recently fashion giants ASOS and H&M.

This means there is now more choice than ever for brides-to-be when it comes to selecting a gown at the lower end of the price scale, with high street designs starting from as little as £100 – leaving lots more in the spending pot for the shoes and accessories!

And just like the designers, the high street are taking notice of brides’ desire for individuality and so you won’t just find a one-style-suits-all approach within the collections. Instead there are options for the boho bride, the fashionista, the style statement maker and fans of vintage. Just this week Self-Portrait has launched its first bridal collection within selected Selfridge’s stores (and it includes some real beauties – some of which are shown in our Gallery below). With modern and rock n roll influences, the brand has created “a contemporary capsule of affordable, timeless wedding dresses for the ‘untraditional bride’”. Sounds good to me!

I’m also bowled over by Needle & Thread’s swoon-worthy bridal collection with dreamy designs varying from slinky floor-length gowns, to modern separates and mini dresses, not to mention ridiculously pretty tulle, almost ballerina, style creations.

One of the main reservations of buying bridal from the high street can be the thought of missing out on the boutique experience – and while having specialist on hand to help you pick a dream dress is a hugely valuable service – there’s nothing to stop you creating your own special shopping experience at home or on the high street. Either make a day out of it with your leading ladies, factoring in time for a lush lunch and a champagne stop (or two) on the agenda. Or, order online and invite your nearest and dearest to help you pick over an evening of fizz, canapes and cupcakes (surely that’s an ideal job to delegate to your bridesmaids). Who knows, you might even be able to afford to keep more than just the one dress!

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julia says: undoubtedly designer

We’ve featured all sorts of amazing frocks on these pretty pages, from vintage finds to high street bargains to couture masterpieces and the one thing that they had in common was that the bride felt like a million dollars in them and they all looked bloody beautiful.

I also think it’s wonderful that there is now a range of fashion forward options at varying price points for today’s bride and would never judge a friend for choosing a more affordable option, but would I pick up my wedding dress during a high street haul?  Not a chance!

I’ve been lucky enough to sit on the front row of some of the world’s most prestigious bridal events and work alongside some of the most talented designers in the business.  What makes these labels successful is the unbelievable attention to detail that they pay to every gown, every sequin and every client.

What makes these dresses worth saving for and spending on is the whole ‘dream dress’ experience.  It’s in the exciting trips to the boutique or atelier with your loved ones; the anticipation (and pop of Champagne) at every fitting; the rustle of tulle in a big, starched box; the million hand sewn pearl buttons; the bespoke accessories and additions and the perfectly steamed silk chiffon.

Not only that, it’s the exquisite fabrics, perfect cuts and delicate boning that nip, tuck, lift and skim in all the right places. These gowns really will make you look the best you ever have, and I think that’s worth paying for.

On your wedding day you want to feel special, beautiful, unique and individual, not just one of thousands of off the rail identikit Saturday shoppers.  Your wedding day fashion can be flash, but it should never be fast!

I love some of the most recent designs hitting the high street and featured here today, but I still wouldn’t give up the couture experience over bagging a stylish bargain.

To be honest, I’ve never seen a clearer cut need for a two dress wedding day… some of these numbers would look amazing on the dance floor!  Pass the credit card.

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what you said on social…

Elizabeth says: “I’ve dreamt of getting married since being a little girl and so have saved up for my dream dress. Going to the boutiques was an amazing and unforgettable experience so for me it would have to be designer every time!”

Jemma says: “We’re doing our wedding on a £4,000 budget (excluding the honeymoon) and so I’ve decided to buy from the high street. I’ve fallen in love with a lace Monsoon gown with scallop detail which is just under £300. I think it could be ‘the one’.”

Fay says: “I’ve already picked a designer gown and enjoyed every minute of the shopping experience. However it’s quite a voluminous dress and after recently seeing a real wedding on a blog where a bride chose a slim-line high street gown to change into for the evening do, I’m tempted to do the same.”

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english country garden. a pretty pastel wedding with vintage touches in shropshire – hayley & ross

November 16th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

A Pretty Pastel Wedding in Shropshire (c) Knot Just Pics (56)

If you’re craving some pretty on this Monday morning then you’ve come to the right place, as today we’re sharing Hayley and Ross’ gorgeous celebration, complete with pastel wedding colours and handpicked style blooms.

As well as the setting being stunning, so too are the bride and groom with Ross opting for a slightly unusual bottle green suit and Hayley wearing a slim-line vintage style gown with exquisite detailing.

Above all we love that the day is beautifully styled but has a very chilled out vibe to it too – well until the reception that is when it appears some rather competitive moves went down on the dancefloor!

With images by Knot Just Pics.

A Pretty Pastel Wedding in Shropshire (c) Knot Just Pics (24)

hayley says: We had been together for eight years and were travelling around Australia and New Zealand visiting family and friends when we got engaged. Ross’ mum lives in New Zealand and she planned a big trip for Ross, myself, her and her husband around the South Island. We stayed in lots of small out of the way places, one of which was called ‘Barb’s Bach’ in the Marlborough Sounds (A bach is a holiday cottage). It was a fair drive from anywhere so really peaceful and remote. Ross and I were sleeping in a ‘sleep out’ which is essentially a spare bedroom down a walkway in the garden. Ross is not an early riser so I was getting suspicious of him getting up so early to make coffee in the mornings. Little did I know that these were failed attempts to get the ring from his mother’s handbag where it was safely hidden! Eventually he got down on one knee next to the bed and proposed. It was a total shock, having been together for so long, I just did not see it coming!

A Pretty Pastel Wedding in Shropshire (c) Knot Just Pics (21)

Our wedding date was slap bang in the middle of the school summer holidays as I am a primary school teacher. I needed both time to sort things out and then time to go on a honeymoon before school started again.

Ross is from South Africa, I’m from Shropshire and we live in London, so no matter where we got married, people would have to travel from somewhere! In the end, we decided on Shropshire as it was the most affordable option for people having to travel. It is also one of the most beautiful, unspoilt places in the UK (although I may be a little biased!). Our venue was somewhere that I had often been to with my family for special occasion dinners although it took us ages to think of it as a wedding venue. We had been looking for places with accommodation and had no luck. During a family Sunday lunch we had a quick look around The Mytton and Mermaid Hotel and it was pretty perfect! Coincidentally my grandfather had booked my parents a room there on their wedding night but there was a mix up with the booking and they didn’t stay. Thankfully my parents were able to get over it – 36 years later!

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pale & pretty. pastel tones for a vintage wedding at the ashes – laura & sean

October 14th, 2015 | Julia Braime

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Kate Scott Photography (30)

The rustic wedding inspiration continues on the blog this afternoon with Laura and Sean’s well styled big day.

Choosing The Ashes country barn as setting for their celebrations, Laura came up with a sweet & sugary pastel colour palette to complement the chosen country vintage wedding theme. This worked a treat as all elements of the wedding came together perfectly, from the main party’s stunning attire to the elegant décor and beautiful blooms!

With images by Kate Scott Photography.

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Kate Scott Photography (7)

laura says: We got engaged during a three week trip to Thailand in December 2013. Sean managed to get the ring through customs, a 13 hour flight, and a tuk tuk ride around the city, without me seeing it in his bag!  The evening we arrived, Sean dropped down onto one knee (after romantically kicking a table out of the way!) and proposed on our balcony overlooking the river while a band was playing Christmas songs below! It was perfect – and I cried!

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Kate Scott Photography (9)

We got married on 15th May 2015. We chose this date as we preferred the thought of a fresh spring wedding, and were also willing to wait 18 months for our perfect venue.

While we were still in Thailand we decided that we wanted a relaxed wedding in a rustic setting. The Ashes country barn, in Endon popped up several times in our search and looked stunning. We fell in love with it instantly and although we looked around a few other venues in the area, they didn’t come close to The Ashes.

The Catholic church we chose for the ceremony was St John the Baptist Church in Alton, in a stunning setting overlooking Alton Forest and Alton Castle.

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Kate Scott Photography (12)

Our chosen ‘theme’ was mostly rustic, vintage with pastel colours. This just seemed to suit our personalities and it all came together that way, rather than being a planned theme. From the start of the planning we were certain that we wanted a relaxed atmosphere, which also sits well with a rustic setting.

For the colour scheme I had imagined pale pinks but knew that Sean wouldn’t wear pink in his tie or suit! I also loved the idea of having four different coloured bridesmaid dresses so I ended up choosing a pastel palette of blue, green, yellow and pink.

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Kate Scott Photography (16)

After many trips to various dress shops with my patient mum and bridesmaids, I went for a mix of a classic but princess style dress. It was covered in fine lace and was fitted satin on top but with a massive skirt and train! I loved so many dresses that I had tried on, and almost bought three different styles before I found ‘the one’! The Wedding Dress Shop in Wimbledon was amazing and the team there tailored my dress to exactly what I wanted – I added straps, with a keyhole back, for the church, which I then removed for the rest of the day. I also added a lace up back rather than buttons, as well as a sparkly belt and headband for a bit of glamour! I almost didn’t wear a veil but on my last fitting I tried one on and it really finished the look and made me feel like a bride. On the day my hair was done by Caro Millington and Fiona Brunt did my makeup.

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Kate Scott Photography (17)

Sean wore a blue with fine white pin stripe traditional morning suit. The groomsmen all wore the same as him.

The bridesmaids’ dresses were from In One Clothing.  They were multiway dresses so my gorgeous bridesmaids could choose how to wear them. We also went for four different colours. I kept this a surprise from all the guests and Sean (which was so tricky but worth it) so it was a real ‘wow’ on the day.

Our mums looked stunning with my mum in a duck egg blue outfit by Nigel Rayment, and Sean’s mum in a pink suit and hat from Phase Eight.

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Kate Scott Photography (14)

We chose classic vintage cars for our transport; a Beauford for myself and my dad on the way to the church, and Sean and I after the ceremony, and a seven-seater Imperial Laudette for the bridesmaids and my mum. These we hired from A Perfect Day Wedding Cars.

As we live in London we wanted to bring a touch of the city to our country wedding and organised a London Routemaster bus to take all our guests from the hotel to the church and then from the church to the venue.  Although it struggled up the hills and down the windy roads it looked great outside the barn venue!

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Kate Scott Photography (23)

Kate Scott was our photographer. We found her through The Ashes website recommendations. We met her when we were booking her parents guesthouse for Sean’s family and got on instantly. Kate’s style of natural, romantic photography was exactly what we were looking for and we weren’t disappointed! She didn’t spend hours making us stand or pose for photos which is what we’d been warned of by friends, so it never felt like we were missing out on our wedding.

We also hired a videographer pair from Adorable Moments. We haven’t watched this back yet as we are waiting for our first anniversary, however the highlights are stunning, and are such a great way to remember the day.

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Kate Scott Photography (27)

Blossoms florist in Leek did our flowers for the day. I wasn’t sure what I wanted and showed Lucy the florist, a million pictures and somehow she and my mum (with her amazing knowledge of flowers) came up with exactly what we wanted and they fitted in with the rest of the wedding perfectly! I loved the bouquets for myself and the bridesmaids, filled with subtle ivory peonies, ivory freesia, pale pink sweet avalanche roses, pink lisianthus, tanacetum daisies, eucalyptus greenery handtied in a natural, country garden style. She also added a few sparkly brooches in mine to make it stand out.

Lucy filled birdcages we’d sourced with flowers matching the bouquets, for the table centrepieces and decorated the church with delicate pew ends and bay trees with trailing ivory ribbon bows, displayed outside the entrance of the church.

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Kate Scott Photography (36)

Further décor included painted reused crates to display the order of the day, and wine bottles to show the table plan and table names. We had rustic bunting inside and outside the barn, rustic jugs for the bouquets, and jars wrapped with lace.

We also had an alternative guestbook – we always forget to sign the guest book at weddings, or write the same old thing. So we had a wooden frame made and the bridesmaids took little wooden hearts around to each table for the guests to sign or write a little note on, which were then put into the frame for us to remember!

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Kate Scott Photography (29)

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Kate Scott Photography (45)

Instead of favours we made madlib cards for the wedding guests to fill out. We weren’t sure how these would go down and if people would forget about them, but they were a great hit and we laughed a lot reading the stories and ‘advice’ the next day!

My family has a massive sweet tooth, so a showstopper cake was must! Francesca at The Cheshire Cat Cake Company didn’t disappoint with a stunning cake; four tier high, draped with lace and flowers in the colours of the bridesmaid dresses.

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Kate Scott Photography (32)

For the wedding breakfast we started with fun canapés including Staffordshire oatcakes, finger sausages and sweet scones, which all disappeared pretty quickly. We then served prosecco and beer during the drinks reception – the option of having beer was a bit hit with the men!

For the main wedding breakfast we had a ‘host a roast’ where we chose a carver for each table by handing out funny aprons and chef hats. This was great fun and really included our guests in the day. We would definitely recommend this to anyone getting married.

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Kate Scott Photography (39)

To provide the entertainment we had a band called One Eye On The Wedding Cake, booked through Warble Entertainment. We loved them instantly and watched their videos on YouTube. They learnt our first dance song and kept the dance floor full all night! They played a mix of music which suited all our guests.

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Kate Scott Photography (41)

We would definitely recommend The Ashes to other couples following our wedding. Paula was our wedding coordinator and kept everything on track, however all the staff were amazing and were so quick to respond to my many questions by email!

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Kate Scott Photography (50)

My favourite part of the wedding was dancing all night! All the important stuff was done, all our hard work had paid off, and there was nothing left to do but dance with my friends and family…and my husband, of course! Sean’s favourite part was finishing his speech and enjoying a whiskey with his best man!

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Kate Scott Photography (52)

Following the wedding we spent two nights in a little cottage near to The Ashes (Middle Cottage). This was perfect and allowed us time to relax and enjoy reminiscing about the wedding before jetting off!  Our honeymoon was a road trip up the west coast on America, starting in Las Vegas. We then hired a convertible Mustang to drive to Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Big Sur National Park, and San Francisco. We then finished our honeymoon off with a few nights in Miami.

My top tip to other Brides Up North would be to think about how to include your guests in the day – the madlib cards and funny aprons worked well for us! We tried not to get too worried about tradition and changed things where they suited us, for example we had a round top table as we wanted a fun atmosphere and for everyone to be talking together.

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i Choo! a glamorous country garden wedding in Lancashire – alex & nick

December 9th, 2014 | Julia Braime

a garden wedding at The Inn At Whitewell (c) Niki Mills Photography (22)

Alex & Nick’s glam & gorgeous country garden wedding has it all – beautiful blooms, a fab frock and plenty of fudge!

Groom Nick also knows what side his bread’s buttered on, sending his best man bearing a pair of Jimmy Choo skyscrapers to his bride to be on the morning of the wedding. Alex, you’ve trained him well.

With images by Niki Mills Photography.

a garden wedding at The Inn At Whitewell (c) Niki Mills Photography (2)

Alex says:We got engaged at home on our five year anniversary and were married on 19th September 2014. We chose the date due to it being seven years to the day we met. Were not the romantic type so this made our day extra special.

We got married at St Peters Church in Darwen because it is where I was christened and due to it having links with St Pauls, where Nicks Grandparents, Aunty and Parents were married.

We chose The Inn at Whitewell as our reception venue as I remember going to a wedding when I was younger and thinking to myself ‘If I ever get married I want it to be here!’. Nick also loved the character of the place and we agreed it was ‘us’.

a garden wedding at The Inn At Whitewell (c) Niki Mills Photography (1)

I picked a ‘Garden’ theme as my wedding dress had the most intricate floral lace and embellishment on it and I wanted everything to relate to the dress on the day. My husband calls me a magpie as I love anything sparkly so the day needed to be glam too.

The colour scheme chose me. I love the vintage feel with golds, blush, nudes, creams, greys and pinks and made sure they all had a part to play somewhere. I also added a little fresh green to break it up and give the theme a little dimension! Everything that featured in the day was there because I liked it not because it matched.

a garden wedding at The Inn At Whitewell (c) Niki Mills Photography (4)

All wedding dresses are beautiful and its hard finding ‘the one’. After searching when we first got engaged I found a beautiful Blue by Enzoani dress in Lulu Browns (Whalley) that was fresh and young with one shoulder. It was so completely different to what I thought it would want but so beautiful too. We didn’t start planning properly until December 2013, and when I went to look for dresses again I walked in Bellisima (Holcombe Brook, Bury) and there it was there waiting for me.

Joanne Tudda MUA did my make up on the day, she is recently qualified and was valuable to the ladies of the wedding party on the morning of the wedding.

a garden wedding at The Inn At Whitewell (c) Niki Mills Photography (9)

Nick very clothes conscious and wanted a mod suit and to arrive on a Vespa, but after a discussion on how our Dads would look in this type of suit and a successful fitting at Amelia’s Bridal (Clitheroe) he decided on light grey tails, skinny trousers, a floral tie and brown brogues – and looked ever so classic and handsome.

Bridesmaids dresses are lovely but I didn’t want them to look the same as everyone else, I chose metallic evening gowns from Phase Eight and had them custom fit for every girl.

The flower girl dresses were chosen by Nick by accident in Monsoon, the vintage frocks had the exact same colour sash as the bridesmaids and floral lace. They were perfect for my girls who were 8, 4 and 3.

a garden wedding at The Inn At Whitewell (c) Niki Mills Photography (12)

I arrived in a classic black Mercedes, I love the vintage cars but as the venue is 40 minutes away we decided to spend the majority of the transport budget on a double decker bus for the night guests. Apparently it was quite a ride on the county roads home!

a garden wedding at The Inn At Whitewell (c) Niki Mills Photography (16)

a garden wedding at The Inn At Whitewell (c) Niki Mills Photography (18)

Our photographer was Niki Mills from Niki Mills Photography. After watching her DVD and crying at how beautifully she had captured other couples special days I booked her. From that moment on she went above and beyond, from a really fun engagement shoot (which really helped our confidence under the lense) to rounding everyone up on the day to ensure she got all the shots we wanted. When starting the wedding planning process my dad said to me ‘Make sure you spend good money on the photographer, you’ll never get that day back’. And he was right, Niki captured our day in a way that really tells our story, in exactly the relaxed fun style we wanted. I am so glad I didn’t have a videographer as Nikki achieved what they would have done with just her talent.

a garden wedding at The Inn At Whitewell (c) Niki Mills Photography (21)

I remember seeing a Naked Cake for the first time and thinking ‘Wow, I wonder who can make me one of those?’. I enlisted the help of my godmothers daughter Victoria who does cake baking as a hobby but who is extremely good. She goes by the name of ‘Victoria Sponge’. She took the task on board and did not disappoint with the cake being a huge hit!

a garden wedding at The Inn At Whitewell (c) Niki Mills Photography (31)

I envisioned the flowers to be as though they had been collected from a country garden with a vintage rose as the centrepiece. Sue’s Bluebells worked extremely hard at ensuring this vision was perfect over many cups of tea.

My bouquet was made by a good friend Danielle who made her own brooch bouquet a few years ago. I collected all the individual brooches and pieces of jewellery and she magically put it all together with added extras – such as my grandma & granddad being with me all day in a locket.

a garden wedding at The Inn At Whitewell (c) Niki Mills Photography (38)

The decorations were all finds by my mum and me from Home Sense, The Range, charity shops, car boot sales, the wine loving next door neighbours and by painstakingly soaking jars in the washing up bowl to the annoyance of Nick. He would come home and say ‘Why are there so many watering cans in this house?!’ or ‘Surely you have enough jars now?!’.

Sue’s Bluebells put together all the centrepieces and Nicola at Bride’s Little Helper set up the marquee and created my unique crate and gold frame table plan.

I also envisioned a very romantic feel as it went dark in the marquee so with the help of Nicola put candles in everything.  It really made a spectacle as the day room was so fresh and at night it changed into candlelight. I asked for the braziers to be lit outside and some guests sat outside with drinks round the fires.

Bride’s Little Helper is a wonderful little business, Nicola and Mark did so much for me in the run up to the wedding, from the beautiful stationary, the room, the transport and emotional support battling out ideas.

a garden wedding at The Inn At Whitewell (c) Niki Mills Photography (40)

Nick and I are foodies and we love fudge. I ordered in a huge amount of the stuff from a gorgeous shop in the Peak District (where we go camping) and gave out Salted Caramel and Dark Chocolate fudge to the delight of the guests. They were then given in little plant pots to go with the theme.

a garden wedding at The Inn At Whitewell (c) Niki Mills Photography (45)

For the day guests we had a vintage ice cream trike, provided by Laura at Love My Trike which went down a treat with the guests, but for the evening entertainment we simply had a DJ. Nick has a brother and together they are all the entertainment any wedding needs. Nick being a huge lover of music (he went to Ibiza for his Stag weekend) talked me into the idea of an ‘Ibiza Hour’ which I ok’d as he hadn’t asked for much. It was all the entertainment we needed and had the guests up dancing all night long.

a garden wedding at The Inn At Whitewell (c) Niki Mills Photography (52)

We added lots of special touches to the day, Nick and I no longer have any grandparents and we wanted them to be a part of our day, my dad and I spent an afternoon shabbing up an old pair of ladders and Nicola at brides little helper made the most gorgeous remembrance jars with their names in, which lit up at night.

We also love to go camping so every table was named under a place that we have visited in our tent, this went down a treat with our guests as many of them have been on these trips with us!

I really hate the pain of high heels so I painted an old magazine rack silver and made sure the girl guests had flip flops so there was no excuse not to dance!

a garden wedding at The Inn At Whitewell (c) Niki Mills Photography (48)

I have many favourite moments, but sitting at the top table with my new husband surrounded by our closest friends and family who were there for us that day meant so much.

We honeymooned in Sri Lanka for a week and then onto the Maldives for ten nights. Nick is an action lover so in Sri Lanka we went white water rafting and on safari and snorkelled and scuba dived in the Maldives, together with a lot of sunbathing! A special surprise was the honeymoon being a gift to us from my mum and dad – we found out at the top table!

a garden wedding at The Inn At Whitewell (c) Niki Mills Photography (55)

People say the best advice is to take a step back and take it all in. However, I would say to other Brides Up North– ground yourself in the morning, tell yourself that this is really happening and try to get into the moment. You spend months and months planning the most perfect day and on the day feel as though you are watching through a dream.

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Real Wedding Recap Summer 2014: Sparkling Glamour. A Real Wedding At The Baltic Flour Mill, Newcastle Upon Tyne – Kat & Ben

June 30th, 2014 | Julia Braime

Its holiday season here on the blog, and as the editorial team take a break to redesign, review and recharge, 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 7th July 2014,  but in the meantime watch out for recaps of our favourite Real Weddings so far this year.  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.

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

Kat and Ben’s Real Wedding by Brides Up North Featured Supplier Jamie Penfold Photography is filled with sequins, sparkle and beautiful details.  This chic couple chose a very modern landmark venue in the North East and filled it with pretty, for a personal and precious celebration. 

We’ll be back tomorrow to start 2014 as we mean to go on – beautifully – but for now, enjoy the last day of your holiday!

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

Kat says:  We got engaged in March, 2013 – Easter weekend.  Ben had arranged a meal out with both of our families and just before they arrived at our home he blindfolded me (after much persuasion, I had just done my hair!) and gave me an Easter present, which was a box of chocolates spelling out ‘will you marry me’. We then all went out in Durham for tapas and bubbles.

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

We got married on 16th November 2013 at The Baltic Mill, in Gateshead. 

Ben’s family all live in Whitley Bay and mine live in Chester-le-Street. We are both proud North-Easterners and fell in love with the views of the Tyne that can be seen from inside The Baltic.  The staff from Fresh Element, who plan events at The Baltic, were fantastic. Mary-Jane and Tracy in particular, went above and beyond to give us everything we wanted, and more.

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

Our theme was ‘glamorous’, with a silver and ivory colour scheme. 

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

My bridesmaid’s dresses were silver and charcoal sequins from Phase Eight. They all looked a little too beautiful for my liking, I should have gone with peach taffeta!

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

I wanted something in the style of Grace Kelly but with a modern twist. My dress is by Moreland and I got it from Wedding Essentials in Newcastle. I fell in love with the low back and simple style.

I used www.16braunton.com for our hair pieces.  Kate is wonderful. I emailed her photos of the details on my dress and she sent me photos of what she thought would match. I was so happy with them.

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

Nick from ND Makeup did my makeup as well as two of my bridesmaids. We all loved it and it honestly lasted all day.

Rachelle Summerson-Wright, my best friend and bridesmaid did my hair on the day, as well as the other bridesmaids. She is a very talented hairdresser so I am extremely lucky to count her as my BFF.

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

A special touch personally was my shoes. I am obsessed with Carrie Bradshaw and was so lucky to be treated by my parents to the same pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes she wore for her wedding in the Sex and the City film. I also had a pair of personalised converse with diamantes and my married name and wedding date on to change into for dancing the night away.

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

Jamie Penfold Photography was our wedding photographer.  The pictures speak for themselves. Jamie is not only a talented photographer, but also a lovely person who put us both at ease.

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

I had a large bouquet of baby’s breath. The bridesmaids had smaller posies and the buttonholes were made up of baby’s breath as well. I wanted to keep the flowers as simple as possible.

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

Our best man’s wife, Wendy Johnson, is a talented cake maker so she made our cake for us. We had one lemon, one chocolate and one spice tier and it was decorated in lace effect icing. We had a personalised cake topper from Miss Cake, which read ‘Cakey Kisses From The Mr & Mrs’.

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

We used mini-frames with photos of each guest in, instead of name cards on the tables.

Terri Hosler did all our wedding stationery. She let me decide exactly what I wanted, from scratch, and all our guests commented on how beautiful the invitations were. She covered everything in silver glitter, so I was very happy!

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

Timeless Table Venue Styling provided decorations like wedding wish trees, candles and lanterns, throughout the day.

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

I really enjoyed the speeches (despite crying throughout). My dad, Ben and his best man Andrew all did amazingly well and I’m so glad we have them all caught on camera, by the lovely Andrew and Gail from A&G Productions.

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

We used the cinema room in The Baltic and played a slideshow of family photos and childhood snaps for all our guests.

We hired a vintage sweet cart from www.bonbonssweetsshakes.co.uk, who are based in Chester-le-Street. They were so helpful and we couldn’t recommend them enough.

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

We had flip flops for the ladies to change into when their feet hurt from their heels, pashminas for those who wanted to sit on the terrace outside, to keep them warm and umbrellas in case it rained, for the guests to help themselves to.

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

Ben is friends with a few members of an 8-piece band called Bay6. They played at a wedding we were guests at on New Year’s Eve and I fell in love with them. They did not disappoint on the day, we were dancing all night.

We also used Limelight Photo Booth Hire.  The girls were lovely and our guests loved all the props, especially the horses head!

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

We had a cheeky week away in Tenerife, at Costa Adeje, a week after we got married. We plan to honeymoon properly next year … Ben is currently trying to convince me to go to Brazil in June so he can go to a World Cup match!

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

I was so nervous in the lead up to our day. I was worried about walking down the aisle, speaking in front of everyone, our first dance and pretty much everything else. From the second I woke up on my wedding day the nerves disappeared. I felt so laidback and happy, so my top tip for other Brides Up North is please don’t fret, you’ll enjoy every second, even if you usually hate being the centre of attention.

© jamie penfold photography 2013 - www.memoriesandemotions.co.uk

 

Congratulations Ben & Kat!

Fancy seeing your own Real Wedding on Brides Up North?  Here’s how!

 

Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog – Images © 2013 Jamie Penfold Photography

Jamie Penfold Photography is a Brides Up North Featured Supplier, but this is not a sponsored post

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

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Real Wedding Recap Summer 2014: Good Music, Good Food, Good Times! A Real Wedding In Yorkshire – Vicky & Paul

June 23rd, 2014 | Julia Braime

Its holiday season here on the blog, and as the editorial team take a break to redesign, review and recharge, 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 7th July 2014,  but in the meantime watch out for recaps of our favourite Real Weddings so far this year.  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.

Andy Gaines Creative

I loved every moment of putting together Vicky & Paul’s Real Wedding feature back in February this year. You see, the bride and I go way back, as I used to go out with her lovely brother Neil at University.  Although it didn’t work out for us (and Neil is now happily married himself to a gorgeous lady!) I’m glad to say that we still keep in touch, and that it did work out ever so well for Neil’s little sister Vicky and one of our Uni mates, Paul. 

Knowing Vicky, I knew her wedding celebration was going to be big, colourful and offbeat… and couldn’t wait to see her submission.  I was exactly right:  Vicky and Paul’s wedding was a fabulous day full of feeling, personality, beauty and fun.

Bravo Mrs Hough!

With images by Andy Gaines.

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Vicky says:  Paul and I first met when I went to visit my brother Neil at University in 2003. We got together four years later in early 2007 after meeting up again and Paul plucked up the courage to ask my brother if he could go out with me!

Andy Gaines Creative

Paul and I aren’t a very traditional couple and I suppose it follows that our engagement wasn’t either. One evening out of the blue and in the run up to our five year anniversary, Paul asked me to go online and pick out what my ideal engagement ring would look like. The task itself was easy as like many other girlfriends, I’d been looking at rings for months but this was the first time he’d ever uttered the ‘E’ word and I was beside myself with excitement. The fact, however, that it was a vintage ring not available to buy immediately online was something Paul was not prepared for. His solution was to take me to London to spend a day trying on diamond rings… it was tough, but I accepted the challenge! By a stroke of luck the exact ring I’d seen online was still there and after purchasing I was one happy bunny. However we still weren’t actually engaged yet so back it went into the box.

About a week later, we were getting ready to go out and I was running spectacularly late. Running downstairs with fluffy hair and makeup half on, I noticed that our song was playing, and as I turned the corner into the lounge, Paul was there on one knee. Paul has never been one for grand romantic gestures, and you know what, getting engaged in our little house, listening to our song, with just the two of us, was perfect

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Our wedding day was the day of the deluge – 6th September 2013. After decorating the hall in temperatures pushing 30 degrees on the Thursday, my heart sunk when I woke to a total downpour and grey skies on our wedding day. However, once the day got into full flow, the rain added a comedy element (watching people running under the cover of umbrellas), a dramatic element (fabulously moody skies in our photos) and ultimately created a fantastic cosy, party atmosphere for the meal and evening dancing. Plus as my friend texted me ‘Better that 2 beautiful people get married in the rain, than 2 mingers get married in the sun’ – brilliant!

Andy Gaines Creative

We chose to say “I do” at a beautifully refurbished old barn at East Riddlesden Hall, Yorkshire. 

I’m a country lass, growing up in the wilds of Norfolk and I desperately wanted to get married in somewhere I felt had that element of the countryside. Now finding a barn in Norfolk would have pretty easy but our hearts were set on getting wed in the county we had met and begun our lives together. Despite its proximity to the Dales, there are few barns to choose from in reach of Leeds, so we weren’t sure what we’d find at East Riddlesden Hall. Our first trip there was a gloriously sunny day and the place combined a sense of rural beauty and aged grandeur. Emma, who is the wedding planner was so helpful and relaxed, taking on board all our ideas and answering our questions. It is pretty fair to say that we were smitten as soon as we entered the barn. Even undecorated, the place looks stunning; with exposed beams, flagstone floors and whitewashed walls dotted with tiny windows. As a keen crafty-type, the thought of such a beautiful blank canvas to work on was a dream come true. The venue is also run by the National Trust and the thought that we were investing in the future of such a beautiful place was the icing on the cake.

It must be said that the staff at ERH are brilliant and they have put so much work into making this a fantastic wedding venue. Particular thanks go to Emma and Sam who were on hand to chauffeur people and perform emergency cake decorating duties. The in-house bar run by ERH served a great selection of drinks, including locally brewed beers, much to my husband’s delight. Having such dedicated staff all working tirelessly, made a huge difference to the day.

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

I began by actively rebelling against having a theme as I am, by nature, unable to decide on any one thing (except for a husband of course). Our wedding motto was ‘good music, good food and good times’. I knew I didn’t want anything matchy-matchy (I always think that allowing things to be a little rough round the edges means you can be a bit more flexible!). Plus as we decided to get married in a beautiful old barn, anything too polished would have looked out of place. We just wanted ourselves and our guests to feel relaxed, included and have an awesome time.

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

As time went on and my Pinterest account bulged with pictures that had caught my eye, I realised that bright colours and handmade details kept appearing in my selections. I decided that whilst I wouldn’t outlaw any particular colours, I would focus on blues, purples, white and add touches of gold (if only to force me in making decisions on decorations). I have always been obsessed by peacock feathers so they played a big role in tying decorations together too.

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

The glamorous and very lovely Anna Stephenson was a joy to have doing my hair and makeup. We spent the entire trial run chatting and laughing and the final look was exactly as I wanted. Anna and Lucy turned up early and were so flexible with how we wanted to organise the morning, it put me at ease and I absolutely loved the whole getting ready part of the day. Despite a lot of dancing and a bit of limboing, both hair and makeup stayed put the entire day.

Andy Gaines Creative

The dress! Such a big decision! And one I made in a single day! I spent hours, nay days, looking at dresses – shapes, lengths, decorations, straps – the choice is bewildering and I had absolutely no idea what I wanted. Facing this uncertainty, I decided to leave my first wedding dress shop until my mum could accompany me. Now one of my mum’s best qualities is that she wears her heart on her sleeve. After 14 dresses, none of them were meeting with much excitement. That is until I tried on an ivory crinkle chiffon, one strap, corset dress with sweetheart neckline at Confetti and Lace in Stanningley. After looking in the mirror and deciding I really quite liked this one, I looked up at Mum who had tears rolling down her face. Either I looked bloody awful and she was in despair, or it was ‘the one’. Luckily after a few moments I established it was the latter and I bought it on the spot. The women at Confetti and Lace were fantastic and helped me alter the dress by removing all crystal detailing and the strap, so the individualist in me is quite proud to say my dress is a one off.

With such a clean cut dress, the detailing in my outfit came from a fascinator I made with blue, purple and white flowers decorated with pearls. My shoes were bright blue vintage style sling backs from Rocket Dog. For my jewellery, I decided to wear a gold chain with my grandmothers’ wedding rings hung on it, so I could feel like they were part of the day. As a wedding gift, Mum also gave me a gold heart locket that had belonged to my grandmother who had worn it almost every day. I felt a strange mix of sadness and pride, and the fact the Mum was giving it to me was very, very, special indeed.

Paul wore a gorgeous bright blue fitted 3-piece suit from Reiss with brown brogues from Hudson. I may be biased but I thought he looked pretty damn handsome.

Andy Gaines Creative

I wanted my bridesmaids to feel comfortable and glamorous so opted for navy blue 1940s style dresses from Phase Eight. I then bought them some amazing chunky necklaces from Ashley at TheEnchantedOwl on Etsy, sent all the way from Georgia, USA. The bright purple looped in the colours from the decorations and the girls all looked beautiful!

The groomsmen all wore grey 3-piece suits hired from Slaters. They were accessorised with purple ties, Hawaiian-print pocket squares and my homemade peacock feather buttonholes tied with navy blue ribbon.

Andy Gaines Creative

I carried a beautiful mix of flowers by the ever so lovely Lynne of Stems Design. Deep pink Celoxia, bright blue Nigella, light pink astilbe, Blue Veronica, Scabious, Blue Wax, Cornflower, various grasses, tiny succulents and of course, peacock feathers. Lynne was a joy to work with, so enthusiastic and full of ideas – the final result was stunning.

Andy Gaines Creative

I was originally planning on going down in a taxi with my bridesmaids but my Dad took an uncharacteristic step in intervening. He said that he would arrange my transport but refused to reveal what it would be. I had nightmarish visions of going side-saddle on a horse or riding pillion on a quadbike. As it turns out, my Dad and Brother, Neil (who was also our best man) had spent the previous night decorating Neil’s car with white ribbons, stashing a bottle of champagne in the back seat and recording an eclectic pre-wedding message and playlist. Little did I imagine that the last song I would hear before I entered the world of marriage would be Gangnam Style!

It was a very special time to have with Dad, who drove us. He was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of the year and I am fiercely proud of how he dealt with it with humour and love, having a precious few minutes talking and laughing with just the two of us was very important to me.

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Wedding readings were really hard to decide on – we wanted to strike a balance between celebratory, real and emotional but absolutely not smush. After much searching we opted for the lyrics from Noah and the Whale’s ‘Give a Little Love’ and an extract from ‘The Game’. There were many chins a quiver by the end – it really was a memorable moment.

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Special thanks must go to Geoff, our fantastic registrar from Keighley Council. He completely put us at ease, conducted the ceremony with heart and humour.

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Paul and I are super foodies, not in the foams and micro-herb type of way but in the yummy, fill-you-up type of way. With this in mind, the food at our wedding was pretty important and the fine fayre served up by the people at GFS Catering was exceptionally good. Goat’s cheese tarts for starters, Lamb shanks and mash for mains and chocolate profiteroles for pudding were all delicious crowd-pleasers. An evening buffet of sausage baps and halloumi pittas served to mop up some of the great selection of drinks also served up by GFS with the help of the brilliant Martinez Wines in Ilkley. Special thanks to Alex from GFS who was such a great help on the day, finding alternatives to unknown food allergies and making sure each course flowed into the next seamlessly.

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Cake wasn’t high on our priorities so we used up some vouchers and opted for three layers of M&S loveliness. I then decorated with homemade flower crown and mini glitter bunting. All in all a pretty little cake which cost us less than £10! In the end I’m glad we didn’t spend loads on the cake, because by the time it came to try it, it had all gone!

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines, our photographer, was the very first wedding-related enquiry I made, even before we had a date or a venue. His photographs are stunning. They have this gritty yet ethereal quality that I find fascinating. Plus Andy himself is a blooming lovely chap – so welcoming, unobtrusive and damn talented. Andy worked like a ninja-trooper on our wedding day, capturing shots whilst keeping out of the way and staying from morning ‘til way past everyone’s bedtimes in order to capture our day. Everyone has commented on how awesome the pictures are, with even my normally-bored-silly-by-photos Dad confessing and I quote, ‘Fantastic photos – absolutely brill.  Can’t wait to see the rest!’. Andy’s gone from strength to strength in the two years we’ve known him and it’s not hard to see why.

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

We employed the fantastic talents of Rachel from Simply Vintage to help us decorate the huge space. Rachel strung a plethora of fairy lights, colourful pom poms with peacock feathers and white lace bunting across the beams. I then decided to make a lot of the decorations myself, including props for the tables, peacock name places and adding little splashes of our personalities across the barn, including photographs of my grandparents on their wedding days. I think however, the biggest and most complex decoration was our sequin LOVE sign. This beast was lovingly crafted out of gold sprayed MDF letters and sequins individually nailed on. It took a hell of a lot of work but looked pretty darn good strung up on the barn beams and glistening in the fairy lights.

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Without a doubt the speeches was my favourite part of the day.  2013 was a tough year having had both my Dad and Paul’s Mum diagnosed with cancer within a couple of months of each other. Dad’s speech was emotional – not only because of what we were going through at the time but because it reaffirmed just how much I owe to my fantastic family. He laughed about my unrivalled ability to be untidy, spoke about the time I drew a picture of him stark naked much to the disapproval of my nursery teachers (but to the hilarity of my parents!) and how he was so proud of me despite having no idea what my job title actually means.

Paul’s speech talked of how he did the unthinkable and asked out his best friend’s sister, how darn well it had all worked out and even how despite his hatred of clichés, he thought we were made for each other!

Then it was the turn of my older brother Neil to give the best man’s speech. I wondered if he might take this opportunity for the ultimate teasing of his little sister but I needn’t have worried as he mostly concentrated on his best friend and long-time drinking partner, my husband! Superbly written and with touches of comic brilliance, it was the ultimate tribute to Paul and I being both deeply personal and evoking fantastic memories. I will always be thankful to him for the effort he put into the speech. Oh and not to forget our wedding present – a canvas featuring our Back to Future drinking game– rather nattily named by myself as ‘Flux Incapacitated’ – I thank you!

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Music is big in our house, so we always knew it would feature a lot in the wedding. We employed the gorgeous sounds of the Northern String Quartet for the ceremony, playing a mixture of old and new for the waiting guests. I walked down the aisle to ‘Here Comes the Sun’ which was just gorgeous. During the signing were the sublime ‘One Day like this’, God only knows’, and ‘All you need is Love’. Then I entered the world as Mrs Hough to sounds of ‘Hoppipolla’ which was such an uplifting way to end the ceremony.

For the evening, we had the brilliant City Lights who blew our socks off with a great mix of modern tunes and some classic floor fillers, kicking off the set with a stonking rendition of ‘Got my mind set on you’ by George Harrison.

The evening celebrations were added to by some unorthodox entertainment in the form of glow sticks. What was an off the cuff purchase reminiscent of my raving days, became the biggest success of the day. Never did I think I’d witness friends of my parents fighting over who would get the glow bunny ears! The glow stick limbo was a total stroke of genius and made for some memorable photos!

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

We decided to delay our honeymoon both because we had no money left and the weather in Thailand is much better at this time of the year. So in but a few weeks time, we’ll be heading off to Thai cities and shorelines.

Andy Gaines Creative

Andy Gaines Creative

My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to decide where you want to focus your efforts and your money – for us it was the look and feel of the venue, excellent food and awesome music. Wedding preparation is hard so don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to do too much. I absolutely adored being engaged and putting my heart and soul into planning our wedding day and I’m so glad we had the time to enjoy it all.

Andy Gaines Creative

Congratulations Vicky & Paul!

Fancy seeing your own Real Wedding on these pretty pages?  Here’s how.

.

Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog – Images © 2014

This is not a sponsored post

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

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