November 21st, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth
For today’s real wedding, we’re escaping to beautiful Teesdale for Helen and John’s special day back in April, following their year-long engagement.
We could begin by talking about their enchanting venue, Lartington Hall, nestled in 75 acres of parkland, with its exquisite ballroom, chapel and gardens. We could even talk about the couple’s bold teal and purple colour scheme, with peacock feathers thrown into the mix. We might even share details of their scrumptious chocolate Guinness cake and the fact that the wedding also coincided with the groom’s birthday celebrations, making the occasion extra special.
But we just have to throw the spotlight on Helen’s stunning Vera Wang Odette dress – offering you lucky readers a glimpse into what we think is a true fairytale-inspired moment. This oh-so-pretty floor-length ball gown, named after the leading female character in Swan Lake, is utter perfection and a welcome reminder to all brides-to-be out there that it really is worth making a statement with your bridal look. Trust us, your wedding album will thank you later.
With images by Stan Seaton Photography.
helen says: Every year since we started dating we have gone to the Peak District in April for a long weekend, camping usually in fairly frosty weather, and 2016 was no exception. We had stopped on Eyam Moor to admire the view with not another soul in sight. Although beautiful, it was absolutely freezing, and I had already set off again when John called me back as he was ‘looking for his scarf’ in a bag, which concealed a Claddagh ring, which he had made with my birthstone as a proposal ring. He got down on one knee to ask the question and, of course, I said yes!
Our wedding date was a bit controversial. There was availability for the date exactly a year on from our engagement, but as it was John’s birthday the week after, he thought it would be a great idea to combine this with getting married on the same weekend! So, 29th April it was! It turned out perfectly as it meant John’s family and friends from Ireland could join us for a double celebration and a bank holiday Monday in the UK so everyone had some extra time recover.
I’m originally from the North East and it was my mum who had heard about our chosen venue, Lartington Hall, and all the work that owners John and Shona had put in to the restoration and developing such a beautiful venue and grounds. As soon as we walked into the Grand Corridor, we knew it was the venue for us.
Combining two special occasions and being able to celebrate in this private and stunning setting was a dream. We loved the freedom of being able to host different parts of our day across the rooms at Lartington; from the chapel ceremony, ballroom for our wedding breakfast and dancing the night away to rounding the night off (with whoever was left standing!) in the drawing room. We knew we were in safe hands with the team at Lartington, who ensured our wedding day ran seamlessly.
I have to credit my bridesmaid Jo for helping me when it came to our colour scheme! I’ve always loved bold colours, and John and I both like purple so that was our starting point, mixed with the organic natural forms of art nouveau, which I’ve always loved. That led us to peacock feathers so we added a teal to the purple along with silver accents. These ideas were carried through in the flowing lines of the sleepy S-shaped bouquets and the peacock feathers that featured in our stationery.
My mum is a fantastic seamstress and made her own wedding dress, as well as her sister’s wedding dress from scratch, but I didn’t want to put the mother-of-the bride under too much pressure leading up to the big day. And so, I eventually chose a Vera Wang dress called Odette, which was fitting as I have always loved ballet. My mum then hand-stitched embellishments to the front and back of the bodice. It was so much fun to wear!
April 12th, 2017 | Julia Braime
At this mid-way point in the week we’re helping to give you a little break from the daily grind by transporting you to a place of calm and beauty for a dreamy bridal shoot.
Styled by the team at Darlington-based boutique Poppy Bridal, and captured by Brides Up North Sponsors and North East photographers, Stan and Jane of Stan Seaton Photography, we are totally hooked by these mesmerising images.
Everything in the frame emits ethereal elegance, with the setting, gowns, hair and makeup all hauntingly beautiful. Huge kudos to model Victoria too for managing to look so incredibly graceful while posing loch-side in some rather chilly temperatures.
We’ll now hand over the blog to Jane, to fill us in on how the shoot was executed on the day.
With images by Brides Up North Sponsor Stan Seaton Photography.
jane says: The location of this shoot – St Mary’s Loch in Selkirk – was suggested by Paula Whittaker, owner of Poppy Bridal, who supplied the stunning gowns for our model. She had visited the location a few years earlier and had been struck by its sheer natural beauty.
To get the feel just right for the shoot, we drew our inspiration from the tranquil and untouched surroundings of the Scottish mountains and the dark and mysterious lochs.
We wanted to keep the styling very simple to fit in with the totally raw landscape. Peta Clarke, who is a makeup consultant with Estee Lauder as well as being a Poppy Bridal stylist, did the model’s hair and makeup, ensuring that she got the look and feel that she envisaged to enhance the simple elegance of the Maggie Sottero dresses, which featured in the shoot. Channeling ethereal grace, the captivating gowns featured shimmering embellishments and elegant lightweight fabrics.
As with many shoots we didn’t get entirely what we expected, we scheduled the shoot for late August anticipating some gorgeous early evening golden light. However, the forecast was dark and dreary with suspected showers. The reality was constant rain and no sign of golden sunshine!
Our aim was to have a fun and inspirational day and create a gorgeous set of images to show off the stunning set of bridal gowns. Wellies, umbrellas and warm coats are not entirely what you would expect on an August photoshoot, but we had lots of laughs and our stunning model Victoria was an absolute star, despite getting wet and frozen through she still managed to keep smiling and looked amazing!
April 20th, 2016 | Rachel Parry
From speaking to wedding couples day in day out we know the volume of brides and grooms that suffer pre-wedding photography nerves – and trust us, there’s a lot!
The case is often that individual doesn’t like having their photograph taken full stop, never mind during a ‘once in a lifetime’ occasion that will be looked back on for many years to come. As a solution to this common fear, many wedding photographers now offer couples the opportunity to have a pre-wedding shoot, providing a practise run in front of the camera, ready for the big day to come.
For those photo phobes out there what’s important to remember is that the guys capturing your wedding day are professionals – it’s not your mum or dad behind the camera with a shaky hand and bad lighting, these guys know all the tricks in the book to make you look and feel amazing on your big day, leading to both stunning and natural photos.
Two photographers who are big believers in the power of a pre-wedding shoot to calm any camera-shy couples’ nerves are Stan and Jane of Stan Seaton Photography. And so to find out exactly what’s involved and how couples can get the most out of such shoots, were putting our pre-wed questions to the pros…
With images by Stan Seaton Photography.
Can you explain what a pre-wedding shoot is?
jane says: A pre wedding shoot is an opportunity for us as photographers to meet with our brides and grooms prior to the wedding day and see how they interact together. At our first couple of meetings the discussion is usually geared towards nitty gritty things like pricing, albums and coverage, so it’s really lovely to get to know a couple as people (after all that is what we are going to see and capture on their wedding day).
Where and when do you advise couples to have their pre-wedding shoot?
We usually recommend that couples choose a location that is special and personal to them, often this is the place where they got engaged or somewhere that they like to go regularly. We have covered shoots in Paris, London, Oxford, as well as many local beauty spots such as Fountains Abbey and Seaham beach. Once we have decided on location we fix a date and time, usually six months prior to the wedding day.
There isn’t really such a place as the perfect location for a shoot, many contributing factors can make a good shoot, this could be good lighting/sunlight, a foggy day or fresh untouched snow and as the shoot date is usually arranged well in advance we really don’t know what we are going to get. However, we always say to couples that living in Britain the same could be said for their wedding day, so if we can get some great shots of them on a beach, on a blustery February day then their minds are at rest that we will get some amazing photos on their wedding day.
What about styling? What outfits should couples where and is this a good time for brides-to-be to have their hair and makeup trial?
We usually recommend that couples wear toning complimentary outfits, scarves and hats usually work well and wellies are good, if appropriate. All black isn’t good as this can have a tendency to look like two shadows in the pictures.
Some girls do choose to have hair and makeup done prior to the shoot and while there can be benefits of this, often it’s lovely to have a set of images which are of the bride and groom in their relaxed natural environment and not necessarily with full makeup and styled hair.
March 24th, 2016 | Rachel Parry
As much as we love to see couples thinking outside the box for their big day, we’re also big fans of those that choose to keep things classic, just like today’s bride and groom.
Ellie and Matt’s big day featured a romantic burgundy colour scheme and simple white blooms with the traditional tails for the men and a stunning fishtail style dress for the bride. Bringing the whole classically themed day together was their choice of venue – the stunning Rudding Park in Harrogate. Having recently visited this amazing hotel for ourselves (see our Blissed Out Bride feature here) we can understand why they chose its unique onsite chapel and attractive reception rooms for their big day celebrations!
With images by Brides Up North Sponsor Stan Seaton Photography.
ellie says: Matt and I met in 2011 in America. We were both working at a summer camp in Maine. In 2012 we decided to travel to Australia for a year where we visited both the east and west coast. On 10th January 2013 when we were in Kalbarri on the west coast of Australia, we went for a delicious meal at a local steak house. After we finished our meal we walked back to our campsite along the beautiful sandy beach. Once we arrived back Matt got down on one knee and pulled out a stunning diamond ring that he had handmade in New York and flown over. My answer was always going to be yes. We were lucky enough to have our friends in Australia throw us an engagement party in Melbourne.
We got married on Saturday 5th September 2015. This date was extremely important to me in particular, as whilst we were in Australia my granddad sadly passed away shortly after we got engaged. My grandparents were married for 53 years and their wedding anniversary was on 3rd September. It therefore meant a lot to me to have our wedding on the same weekend.
Our wedding took place at Rudding Park in Harrogate. The venue is absolutely stunning and there were many reasons why we chose it. We wanted to have a traditional wedding and felt the chapel onsite had all the elements for this. As I’m from Bedfordshire and Matthew is from Northumberland, Harrogate was a great place to meet half way for both families. The venue is very accessible to get to yet once you are on site, due to the large grounds, you feel secluded and private. Everything being on one site was another reason we liked the venue, as it meant our guests wouldn’t need to travel. The chapel was the factor that won us over though, it is stunning and gave a really traditional wedding feel.
We went for a classic, elegant theme as it’s what I’ve always dreamed my wedding would be. Our colour scheme was burgundy. We choose this because it’s a ‘loving’ colour and went well with the autumn season in which we got married.
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August 6th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
Though today’s couple remained in the north of the UK to tie the knot, they looked to the dreamy country of Italy to provide romantic influences to help set the scene for their big day.
A soft colour palette of pink and white reflected through Rachel’s choice of bridesmaid dresses and blooms created an elegant feel which was further enhanced with pretty lace additions in the bride’s dress, the stationery and décor.
When the big day came to an end, Rachel and Jonathan continued their love affair with Italy by jetting off to Venice on a five-day honeymoon. Oh, and the lucky little things have a second honeymoon to Mexico all lined up too. Jealous much?
With images by Brides Up North Sponsor Stan Seaton Photography.
rachel says: We initially met very briefly at a bar in Darlington. Two weeks later we bumped into one another whilst out with friends in Yarm – the rest, as they say, is history! We had been together for five years when Jonathan proposed whilst we were on holiday on the island of Thassos in Greece, back in August 2013. He popped the question to me whilst we were sipping cocktails in a little bar overlooking the sea. I of course said ‘yes’ and we spent the rest of the evening drinking champagne and celebrating our news with the locals. I couldn’t have asked for a more stunning and amazing setting.
We got married on 4th May 2015. We both love every season for its uniqueness but chose May for our wedding month as we thought that the scenery at the chosen venue would be beautiful at that time of year. Unfortunately we didn’t realise that the 4th May is also known as ‘Star Wars Day’ to its fans. Luckily all guests dressed suitably and there was not a fancy dress costume in sight!
We got married at Eshott Hall in Northumberland. We found the venue from an article I was reading in a magazine. The article detailed how Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin had visited the hall for his brother’s wedding and had stayed in the Crow’s Nest, a luxury self-contained apartment. We were amazed by the pictures of Eshott. We both fell in love with the stain glass window and staircase in the main part of the hall. We arranged an appointment to visit straight away.
Our theme was Italian romance as we wanted the day to be very elegant. To complement the theme we had a blush pink and white colour scheme with touches of lace, which emphasised the soft romantic feel we were looking for.
I had a few ideas of the type of dress I wanted and visited a number of bridal boutiques before going back to one of the first dresses I tried on at Dobinsons of Darlington. The dress was very ‘me’. It was a lace design with a sweetheart neckline by Stella York. I always knew I wanted lace and something figure hugging due to my petite frame. I decided to add a unique feature to the dress to make it my own and so Dobinson’s stitched a diamante belt into the gown. This finished it off perfectly and when the long veil went on, I was totally in love!
On the wedding day I used Paul David Hairdressers in Darlington to style my hair, and Make-up by Jo to do the beauty side of things. My makeup stayed fresh all day, and Jo gave such a professional service.
Jonathan wore a three piece blue suit hired from Affleck and Moffat in Darlington.
The bridesmaids dresses were purchased from Poppy Bridal in Darlington. Again to add some uniqueness to the dresses we purchased embellishments for the dresses and Poppy’s added these for us. We all agreed they looked perfect.
Stan and Jane of Stan Seaton Photography took our wedding day photos. We knew from day one that they would be our perfect choice as they were the photographers at my sister’s wedding some nine years earlier. We both love Stan and Jane’s work and knew they would capture our very special moments. The experiences, from the pre wedding shoot, to the big day and then seeing our wedding pictures presented to us on a big screen, were all amazing. We felt that both Stan and Jane put in a lot of effort getting to know us. On the day they both made us feel at ease and felt like one of our friends. Having received our photos we would highly recommend Stan Seaton Photography. The photographs captured both myself and Jonathan’s personality and also special candid moments. We wanted the images to be elegant and romantic and we both feel that Stand and Jane instinctively understood this.
Due to our ceremony being held in the chapel, which was within the grounds of the venue, we did not have a need for transportation, however I was taken to the chapel in my father’s car which was beautifully decorated with wedding bows.
Our invitations were made by Polina Perri, who specialise in luxury/ vintage wedding invitations. They were beautifully presented and featured an antique brooch and lace.
Our flowers were provided by Eliza Bloom in Darlington. My bouquet was made up of pink and white roses. In the reading room/ chapel we had a tall candelabra with an arrangement on the register table and outside we had an arch decorated with flowers. In the wedding breakfast we had eight table candelabras with candles and flowers and an arrangement at the top table. The room looked so elegant and beautiful. When you see all the little touches coming together it really does take your breath away.
We gave our guests ‘his and hers’ favours in the form of alcohol miniatures; Baileys for the ladies and a selection for the men. For the children we had a chocolate pot from Hotel Chocolat.
Our cake was a work of art created by Burnett 4 Cakes and had a different flavour in each of the four tiers: chocolate orange, chocolate, lemon drizzle and sponge.
We choose the Chameleon Band to provide our entertainment. We researched a lot of bands but these came highly recommended and they were worth it, they even asked us for a list of ‘special songs’ for them to learn which they then played on the night. We also had a pianist playing at the reception, which was beautiful.
Following our wedding I would highly recommend Eshott Hall to other couples. It not only blew us away, but our guests can’t stop talking about it!
Our favourite part of the wedding had to be seeing each other for the first time on the day. We had spent so long preparing for our wedding day, that when the moment came and we finally saw each other we both got very emotional, as did the congregation.
When it came to the honeymoon we were spoilt and booked two! We went on a five night break to Venice, straight after the wedding. We loved it, we transferred to and from Venice in a private speedboat and stayed in an amazing hotel Carlton on the Grand. Our room there overlooked the Grand Canal – it was truly amazing, we felt like royalty. We had some fantastic experiences in a variety of excellent restaurants, a trip we will never forget!
We now look forward to heading to Mexico for two weeks, where our days will be filled lounging on the golden sands by the beautiful sea and then on an evening we will be spoilt with some amazing food in some fabulous restaurants sipping cocktails at the Excellence Riviera Hotel as husband and wife!
My top tip to other Brides Up North would simply be to savour every moment as the day goes by so quickly.
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June 11th, 2015 | Julia Braime
While we love to see the quirky wedding themes that certain couples pull out of the bag here at Brides Up North HQ, we also never tire a classic and romantic themed celebration like Emma and Mark’s big day.
After a decade together, Emma and Mark tied the knot during a traditional church ceremony followed by an elegant reception at Rockliffe Hall, complete with pretty styling in loved-up hues of pale pink and champagne.
Emma looked absolutely stunning in her lace Pronovias gown but was also keen for her maids to feel amazing on the big day too and so let them choose their dress style for the wedding. Certainly no sign of Bridezilla here then!
With images by Brides Up North featured supplier, Stan Seaton Photography.
emma says: Mark and I had been together for eight years when he proposed. We met at college at 16. Mark proposed to me in our flat in Gateshead on Christmas Day. I remember the morning vividly, in fact he hadn’t slept well all night! He woke very early on Christmas morning, showered and shaved and encouraged me to get dressed. I insisted on staying in my PJs like I always do on Christmas Day. Mark let me open my other presents under the Christmas tree. There was then a large box left at the back of the tree. As I unwrapped it I quickly saw there was a smaller box inside. At this point Mark went down on one knee and popped the question! My family were excitedly waiting to see the ring at Christmas dinner.
Our wedding was the 3rd August 2014. We were very keen to have a summer wedding and hoped for a warm sunny day which we were fortunate enough to get. With being a teacher it made sense having a summer wedding as we have lots of family and friends who are teachers who we wanted at the wedding. It also allowed a good amount of time off for our honeymoon.
We got married at St Philip and St James Church in Witton-le-Wear. I was born and raised in Witton village and the church was very meaningful to me and my family as it was where my younger brother and I were christened.
We then travelled to Rockliffe Hall for our reception. My mum encouraged me to visit Rockliffe Hall when we were first planning the wedding and as soon as we stepped inside we knew it had to be our venue. Rockliffe Hall is absolutely stunning and the staff are so accommodating.
We chose to get married in 2014 as that year we celebrated our tenth anniversary together. We chose a ‘Ten Years in Love’ theme where each table name was a year we had spent together with a picture of something special we had done during that year. We were both keen to keep the style of the wedding as traditional as possible and so went for a romantic feel with pink and cream roses.
We chose champagne as our wedding colour scheme as it fitted well with our romantic theme. My bridesmaids were at the front of my mind when picking the colours for the wedding as I wanted a colour that they would all feel comfortable wearing.
I knew from the beginning of planning the wedding that I wanted a lace wedding dress. Though I did make sure to try on other styles too. I was keen to wear a fitted lace dress and chose a beautiful Pronovias gown from Mia Sposa in Newcastle.
Mark was keen to buy himself and the other groomsmen a suit that fitted well. This wasn’t the easiest of tasks as we had to find a suit that would fit both my 16-year-old brother and our dads! We purchased the suits from T M Lewin. We hired the ivory waistcoats from Affleck and Moffat in Darlington and bought the champagne ties and pocket squares from Moss in Newcastle.
The bridesmaids were a great help in finding their dresses. I was keen for them to help shop for them as I wanted them to feel comfortable and happy on the day. We found their champagne BIBA dresses in House of Fraser. They looked beautiful.
For the big day we hired a Daimler and a Beauford from Classic Wedding Cars. My dad and I travelled in the Beauford and our bridesmaids and my mum travelled in the Daimler. Mark travelled with our best man in his car alongside my brother and his brother. Mark and I then travelled to Rockliffe in the Beauford.
Our photographers were Jane Miller and Stan Seaton from Stan Seaton Photography in Darlington. There was no question about choosing Stan and Jane as our photographers as my family had already worked with them before on a family photo shoot. We took a look at their wedding albums at a wedding fayre and were blown away by the quality of their work. They are both extremely professional but also very friendly and helpful.
On the day they felt more like our guests than photographers. Many of our guests commented on their work on the day of the wedding and also since seeing our wedding album. We would highly recommend them and can’t wait to work with them again in the future – perhaps when we have a family of our own!
I carried a beautiful bouquet made by Flowers by Nattrass in Darlington. I chose to have pink and avalanche roses in my bouquet as they are my favourite flowers. The flowers also worked extremely well with the colour scheme and complemented both my dress and the bridesmaids’ dresses.
Nattrass also supplied our flowers for the church and reception. Laura from Nattrass was extremely helpful when we were choosing our flowers as we were unsure how to decorate the room. Laura invited us down to the Rockliffe during a wedding fayre to see an idea set up on the table. It was a great help to visualise the room and we ended up going for that display. We had roses inside large martini glasses.
We had our wedding stationery designed by Kristen from Noble Fine Art. She was an excellent help and certainly very patient as we made our decision. We could not have asked for nicer wedding stationary. They complemented the tables in the orangery extremely well.
We wanted to keep the traditional part of the wedding of cutting the cake but neither of us were too worried about spending lots of money on a cake. As such, we bought a jam and sponge wedding cake from Marks & Spencer and decorated it ourselves with fresh roses from Nattrass and champagne ribbon.
Choosing the menu for the wedding breakfast was a huge highlight of our wedding planning (especially for Mark). We knew all the food at Rockliffe would be stunning and we found it extremely difficult to choose.
For our wedding day entertainment we chose to have David Ball play the piano during the drinks reception. Later in the evening he also performed a live set with his guitar and sang a range of songs from Buble to Kings of Leon. We also had a photo booth for guests to have fun with the props. This worked well as our guestbook too as they stuck their photos in alongside a message and then had a set of photos to take away with them as a wedding favour.
A very special touch to our wedding day was my younger brother Patrick playing me down the aisle. He played Trumpet Voluntary on his trumpet. A family friend of ours Ali Cochlan also sung a modern version of Ave Maria whilst we signed the register.
Later in the day my parents surprised us with another performance by Ali and Richi of May You Stay Forever Young by Bob Dylan as part of my dad’s speech. That was a real tear jerker for all the guests but a wonderful surprise too.
Rockliffe Hall is a stunning venue and we would certainly recommend it to others. We especially enjoyed having our wedding breakfast in the orangery as it was so light and airy. It felt so private to us and the guests. The staff are extremely helpful and on the day everything felt seamless. The grounds of Rockliffe are superb and made for great photo opportunities. Overall it was a perfect experience and we certainly didn’t want to leave the next day!
Our favourite part of the day has to be exchanging our vows in front of all our family and friends. We had both known from an early age that we wanted to marry each other and when the day finally came we couldn’t wait. We both also enjoyed the evening reception where we got to relax and party with our close friends and family, some of which had travelled some distance to be there so it was great to catch up with them!
We went to Santorini in Greece on our honeymoon. Mark actually booked it as a surprise and I had no clue where we were going until we reached the departure lounge! It was a great feeling having the surprise after a busy 22 months planning the wedding. The only difficulty I had was knowing what to pack! Lots of my friends asked me how I felt leaving the honeymoon plans to Mark but I knew I could trust his decisions. We spent a glorious two weeks away in the sun eating lots of beautiful Greek food.
Our top tip to other Brides Up North would be that although at times you can get carried away with the wedding plans (and sometimes get stressed) remember what the big day is really all about. The only important thing that matters on the day is that you are committing to spend the rest of your life with your best friend and the person you love. Don’t let the small things worry you!
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