Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

that’s amore. a cream & dusky pink destination wedding in tuscany – danielle & john

March 7th, 2016 | Julia Braime

A Romatic Destination Wedding In Italy (c) Valentina Weddings (45)

Happy Monday! For this morning’s real wedding we’re exchanging the chilly north of the UK for sunnier climes as we jet off to Tuscany to relive John and Danielle’s big day.

Everything about this romantic destination wedding sounds right up our street, from the stunning setting to Danielle’s vintage dress and the traditional Italian food (especially the wedding cake).

Now sit back, relax and soak up those warm Italian rays!

With images by Valentina Weddings.

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A Romatic Destination Wedding In Italy (c) Valentina Weddings (60)

danielle says: We got engaged on New Year’s Eve in 2012. John and I are originally from Northern Ireland, but were living in Brisbane, Australia, at the time. John had booked us into our favourite restaurant for New Year’s Eve. There was a big firework display down by the river, so after our meal we made our way down there before midnight. I had just bought new shoes and my feet were hurting so I sat down and John kept asking me to stand up. The countdown to the New Year began 3-2-1, I turned to give John a kiss and there he sat with my ring. It was so romantic!

Our wedding was on the 9th September 2015 at the cathedral of Cortona in Tuscany. We spent the week with family and friends at Villa Baroncino, where we also had our wedding reception. We found Romantic Italian Weddings online, and we instantly fell in love. The villa was built in the 18th century and lies in the hills on the border between Tuscany and Umbria. The villa itself is just breath-taking with amazing views over Lake Trasimeno. We knew it would be the perfect setting for our big day and we weren’t wrong.

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We didn’t really have a theme, we just picked a colour scheme and incorporated things that we liked. We wanted an overall feel of elegance and romance, and to be honest the location and venue did most of the work.

We went with cream and a dark dusky pink colour scheme. I just loved the colours together as it gave us that rich, elegant feel that we were after.

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i dos in italy. stewart parvin for an elegant destination wedding in tuoro – naiobh & graham

June 17th, 2015 | Julia Braime

A Sunshine Wedding In Italy (c) Valentina Weddings (27)

And so for the second time today we’re leaving the north behind and jetting off overseas for another beautiful destination wedding.  We’ll squeeze some sunshine in somehow!

Having visited Italy in 2010 for a friend’s wedding, Graham and Naiobh decided there was no other option but to return to the romantic country for their own big day.

The couple combined traditional touches from their home back in Scotland with Italian influences to create a day that reflected them as a couple whilst also remaining in keeping with their dreamy setting.

So once again slap on the factor 20 as we fly to sunnier climes!

With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, Valentina Weddings.

Wedding of Graham & Naiobh at Villa Baroncino, Tuscany, Italy from Riff Raff Photography on Vimeo.

naiobh says: We got engaged on 29th June 2012 in Siena, Italy. It was the second evening of our holiday. We had just arrived at the beautiful Aia Matttonata and headed out for dinner in Siena. When we arrived back at the relais there was a candlelit table at the bottom of the garden with views across the Tuscan countryside to Siena. We sat at the table and Mario, the owner, opened the bottle of champagne and left us to chat. Then Graham proposed and obviously, I said yes!

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A Sunshine Wedding In Italy (c) Valentina Weddings (6)

Our chosen wedding date was 23rd July 2014. We wanted a July wedding and decided to go with the day in the middle of the week as we were getting married abroad. We thought this would allow guests to arrive and have a few days of relaxation before and after the wedding.

Villa Baroncino, in Tuoro was our wedding venue. We had been to a wedding at the sister property in 2010 and knew from that moment that Italy would be where we’d get married and that we would be using the services of Marco Bernasconi as we’d never been to such an amazing wedding before. Getting engaged in Italy meant it felt right to get married in Italy too.

For our wedding theme we simply wanted a day of elegance.

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My wedding dress was by Stewart Parvin which I got from Rachel Scott Couture in Edinburgh. I tried it on three times in two different shops along with other dresses but kept coming back to it as I never had the ‘this is the dress’ moment. My bridesmaids wore raspberry full length backless dresses.

Graham wore a traditional kilt in Lomond Mist exclusive tartan from Macgregor Macduff which had a raspberry check to match the colour of the bridesmaids. The groomsmen also wore the same tartan with a grey cravat and black sporran while Graham had an ivory sporran and cravat. The button holes were a calla lily and thistle in homage to Scotland.

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Mark Raffan of Valentina Weddings was out amazing photographer. He is very personable and made us feel totally at ease. He listened to what we wanted and was great fun to work with. We would definitely recommend him and as a result my brother-in-law is using him for his upcoming wedding.

Mark arranged to visit us in Scotland prior to our wedding to do a pre-wedding shoot, discuss photography styles and get to know us, which we really liked. He listened and made suggestions and our wedding album is better than we could have imagined.

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Ryan of Riff Raff Photography did the videography for us which was just fantastic! Both my brother-in-law and Graham’s best man are using him at their upcoming weddings – if that isn’t flattery we don’t know what is!

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I had a bouquet of white hydrangeas by Mood Flowers in Glasgow. The owner, Nick, flew out especially for our wedding as he had worked with my husband. He provided all the floral decoration. Our centre pieces were in tall vases and were white hydrangeas, white orchids and sunken white Cala lilies. Our table plan was made up of white orchids, rosemary and olive branches from the villa garden. We used empty wine bottles to mount the table names (provided by Luciano’s restaurant in Passignano) all the table names were named after Italian cities.

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Our wedding stationery was provided by Inviting Wedding Invitations. Judie was fantastic and the stationery ticked all the boxes; professional, tasteful and elegant.

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For favours we gave Mirano glass bottle openers to the men as a nod to Italy. The ladies meanwhile were given Arran aromatics creams and balms as Graham’s mother is from Arran and we still go over as often as we can with the dog.

Our cake was from Pots and Pans and was tiramisu flavour with buttercream on the outside. We wanted to stick with the Italian theme and Graham loves Tiramisu. The cake was garnished with hydrangeas.

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Our food was provided by Luciano. We had tried his food at the aforementioned 2010 wedding and loved it and went back for a tasting in May before the wedding to confirm our choices.

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We sourced our own red wine when we were in Montalcino from the Piombaia vineyard and Mario from Aia Matttonata sourced our white wine and prosecco from his favourite supplier.

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To entertain our guests we hired DJ Alex as we love to dance and we gave him our playlist of our favoutrite songs. We also had a quintet provided by Marco and the sheet music was written by one of my colleagues.

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As a special touch our brothers coordinated our guest book at the wedding. They ensured every guest/couple were photographed at the start of the day and the Polaroid was stuck into our guest book ready for all the guests and bridal party to pass around the tables during the meal and write a comment. We don’t quite know how our brothers managed it, they did a great job!

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We would 110 per cent recommend using Marco and his assistant manager, Ina, who were the venue manager and the suppliers we used. They ran a seamless operation and our day would have not been as memorable as it was had it not been for Marco, Ina and his team.

Walking down the aisle with my dad whilst Eden Roc was being played by the quintet at the bottom of the garden was my favourite part of the day. For Graham it was standing at the bottom of the aisle trying to take everything in.

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For our honeymoon we went to Singapore and Bali. We started at the Pan Pacific hotel in Singapore for four nights and toured around and ate. Went to restaurant André, as we are foodies, which was amazing! We started every evening in the Pacific Club with 360 degree views of Singapore and free flowing champagne (we were celebrating after all). We then went onto Banyan Tree in Bali for ten days where we chilled in our private ocean view villa, toured and ate at the Ju-ma-na restaurant every evening where Michelin star chef Christophe Schmidt from restaurant Diane, Paris cooked every evening.

My top tip to other Brides Up North wanting to wed in Italy would simply be to let Marco guide you. He is a pro and will give you both the most amazing and memorable day of your life.

To help our guests get to know each other we had a barbecue two nights before wedding. This went down a storm and we would recommend other couples marrying abroad do the same. Our best man is doing this at his upcoming wedding, which is also in Italy this year – we can’t wait to return!

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fabulous photographer: valentina weddings

June 8th, 2015 | Julia Braime

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This afternoon I’m really proud to introduce another of our very talented Brides Up North Sponsors, Mark of Valentina Weddings to the blog.  Mark’s images speak for themselves – this guy has some serious skills. After cutting his teeth in underwater photography, Mark rocks weddings on dry land both at home and abroad (you should check out his work in Tuscany before going any further – ah-may-zing).

Mark’s also offering a free pre wedding shoot to readers who quote Brides Up North when booking. 

Let’s say hello!

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How did you get into wedding photography?

mark says: I am self taught from being an underwater photographer twenty years ago. I used to be a scuba diver instructor working throughout the world and started photographing underwater for commercial contracts throughout the world. My job took me around the world on many occasions working is some amazing places like the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Maldives, Kenya, Malta and of course throughout the UK. The range of work was amazing, one week I could be photographing sharks in Australia, the following week I could be in icy cold water in Scotland photographing salmon in a fish farm! After many years of that I wanted to settle down a bit so I came back to the UK, sold all my underwater camera kit and had a few months off deciding what to do next!

Why wedding photography specifically? 

I kind of fell into the whole wedding photography environment. During my time back in the UK I was photographing landscapes and a couple of friends were getting married and they asked me to photograph their wedding for them which I did. I loved the simplicity of wedding photography compared to my underwater photography days. An underwater photography shoot was a massive undertaking, so much planning, flying kit half way around the world, then waiting for a weather window, getting to the location by boat, kitting up then doing the photos- it is a big task. Wedding photography has a lead in time but I just turn up on the day and we have a great time- I love it!

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What is your favourite thing about being a wedding photographer? 

I love being involved in a couples happiest day ever, it is such a positive experience, there is so much love in the room and everyone is at their happiest. I also love to “break the mould” of what many couples and guests perception of what a wedding photographer is. We have all been to a wedding (even I have!) were the photographer runs around looking stressed, orders people to stand in lines for the family shots, steals the bride and groom for about an hour for more photos leaving the guests wondering where they have gone. I just love doing things differently, my clients tell me I am so relaxed and chilled and they hardly knew I was there- that is what a wedding photographer should be.

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How do you get couples to relax on the day? 

I smile, have fun and keep them nice and relaxed keeping them with their family and friends for as much time as possible.

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Any advice to any brides who don’t like to have their picture taken? 

I shoot most of my photos with a zoom lens so that puts some distance between us and they can relax more. For the close up shots of the couple I typically work about 10-15 feet away from the couple with a zoom lens so they hardly know I am there and can relax more.

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What sort of makeup should a bride wear to look great in her pictures? 

Quality make up is essential to last throughout the course of the day, I am a big believer in using a professional make up artist to help you and guide you with colours and style. Having the make up applied for you on your wedding day takes the stress away from you and ensures it looks it’s best. I am fortunate enough to photograph weddings in Italy and good make up is essential in the hot conditions to make it look its best throughout the whole day.

Anything to avoid which might look bad in the wedding pictures? 

Too many staged photos, I like to let the day flow and capture the wedding day as it happens in true documentary style.

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Which celebrity wedding would you most like to photograph and why? 

I would love to photograph Kelly Brook’s wedding just because I think she is a very beautiful lady and quite down to earth. I have photographed a couple of celebrity weddings one of which had Noel Edmunds as the best man and the ventriloquist Nina Conti did a half hour set. Nina was amazing and put the ventriloquist masks onto the bride and groom, I struggled to take the photos as I was laughing so much!

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Any really memorable weddings that you have captured? 

I had the pleasure to photograph a couple called Liz and Chris who were such an amazing couple. The circumstances around how I came to photograph could only be described as fate having met Chris’s mum out in Sorrento when I was photographing a wedding out there. Only weeks after meeting Chris’s mum she was told she only had weeks to live and as a gift to her son wanted me to be the photographer for the wedding.  The day was a beautiful celebration and Chris’s mum was certainly there in spirit. The wedding was held outside under a large tree and the weather on the day was a sunny calm day, but when Liz and Chris said their vows a sudden breeze came from nowhere and the leaves in the tree rustled for a few seconds- it still gives me goosebumps today.

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Are you married? Tell us about your day. 

When you work in the wedding environment then get married yourself I feel you have to do something different. I got married in a stunning castle on the West Coast of Scotland called Glengorm Castle on the Isle of Mull www.glengormcastle.co.uk My wife and I were on a boat off the coast of Mull and saw this stunning castle on the very northern tip of Mull looking out over the sea to the Cuillins mountains of Skye. When I decided to propose to her I search the internet to find the castle and we went for a holiday, two years later we returned and got married there. We have just returned from a visit back to Glengorm castle to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary.

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Any funny stories to share? 

There can always be something that does not go to plan at a wedding. A bride at Middleton Lodge was putting her wedding shoes on and a strap broke leaving the shoe loose on her foot. Completely unphased by this she called reception and asked for a roll of Sellotape and promptly sellotaped the shoe to her foot! I got a great photo of her laughing as she fixed the shoe to her foot and she chose to include that shot in her album,

What sets you apart from other wedding photographers? 

I think my relaxed documentary photography style, simplistic pricing structure and personable nature is why clients book me. I don’t do pushy sales or have hidden costs in my packages so the bride and groom know what they are going to get, how much it will be so they can budget accordingly. Cost is always important, but having someone who you feel at ease with and can trust to mingle in, not control the day and get some great photos is what I think is more important. I have many very happy couples and these can be viewed on my Thank You’s page of my website.

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What can a couple who book you expect on the day? 

Anyone booking me for their wedding will get stunning documentary style wedding photography. We will have fun on the day, I will work quickly ensuring the couple get the maximum time to drink champagne, chat with friends and enjoy their day- after all that is what makes for great photos. I will be with the couple throughout the day from bridal preparations up to first dance and some partying afterwards. Their wedding photos will be prepared for them whilst they are on honeymoon and are typically ready within two weeks of their wedding day.

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What is included in your “package”? 

My package includes full day coverage, high resolution images to the couple with copyright to use them and share them with friends, all the photographs set to music on a viewing DVD, all the images prepared ready for an iPad or tablet device and an online Client Area on my website. A pre-wedding photoshoot can be included into your package which includes a signing frame with one of those photos. You can also add a stunning luxurious wedding album to your package if you wish, I use Jorgensen of Australia wedding albums as their albums are very high quality and compliment my work.

Can you give us an idea on price? 

I pride myself on a simplistic approach to pricing with no hidden extra costs. My prices are £1295 for the full day coverage which includes your high resolution images on a USB stick, viewing DVD set to music and an online Client Area on my website. An album can be added to that package to compliment your photos, you can have as many photos in your album as you want and prices start from £400 for the album depending on size and style.

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Can you do a discount for Brides Up North readers? 

I would be happy to offer a free pre wedding shoot to couples who quote Brides Up North when booking.

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How can Brides Up North get in touch with you or see more examples of your work?

My website is www.valentinaweddings.co.uk or they can call me on 01423 206355 to arrange an informal meeting to look through my albums and get to meet me.

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breezy boho. a fun filled papakata wedding in north yorkshire – fiona & james

May 18th, 2015 | Julia Braime

a Papakata wedding in Yorkshire (c) Valentina Photography (32)

Today’s wedding couple booked their big day for the middle of summer with the hope of blue skies and sunshine. Fortunately the unpredictable British weather was kind and delivered just that for their teepee reception held at the local cricket ground.

Highlights for us include Fiona’s stunning lace dress and her choice of boho-style, short white dresses for her maids complete with girly gyp headpieces. Ladies you look gorgeous!

In cricket terms we’re ‘bowled’ over by this fab Yorkshire wedding!

With images by Valentina Weddings.

Fiona and James (Papakata) from Bouncing Ball Films on Vimeo.

fiona says: We got engaged in October 2012. It was on a rainy day (as it always is) at the top of Cat Bells in the Lake District. We decided to get married on 9th August 2014. Bang in the middle of summer, hoping for some sunshine!

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Our ceremony was at our local church, St Radegunds Church in Scruton, North Yorkshire, which we can see from our living room window. We love where we live so it was nice to keep everything local and for our guests to enjoy our fab village. We decided to hire a Papakata teepee for our reception which was pitched at our village cricket ground where my dad has played cricket for years. They were so accommodating and we were able to use the loos in the pavilion which saved us many pennies!

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There wasn’t really a set style for the wedding. I seem to acquire lots of random bits and bobs, so these kind of became the props for the day – an old vintage singer, a bargain wooden wardrobe my friend bought from a hospice sale and lovely retro marmalade pots.

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I tried on every kind of style of wedding dress you can imagine and had good old laugh in the process! I found that I really liked lace and something quite fitted. I changed the back of the dress, to have more of a full keyhole style back as it was a high neck and added some onto the length to the train. It felt really vintage and quite a lot dressier than I pictured myself in, but I absolutely loved it. I got it from Charlotte at the Bridal Lounge in Northallerton – I can’t recommend this place enough!

To accompany my dress, I chose nude Hasbeens for my shoes and wore a gyp floral headpiece made by my lovely florist, Lucy. My hair was done by Becca Hunton and Jackie at Lady J’s did my makeup.

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James hired his and his boys’ suits from Most Suitable in Newcastle. They were grey with a mushroomy coloured cravat and a grey waistcoat. We also had some handmade cufflinks made through Most Suitable as pressies for all of the boys and a pair of matching ‘Happy Socks’.

The girls had short white dresses from ASOS with aubergine clogs from Lotti’s in Stockholm. It was a really simplistic but boho style and they also wore a floral gyp headpiece to match mine.

Our little page boy Archie wore summer tweed trousers, a white linen shirt and braces, all from H&M, with some Saltwater sandals in blue. Meanwhile our little flower girl Harlowe wore a white cotton summer dress from Zara, yellow Saltwater sandals and a floral head piece to match the other girls.

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We used my bridesmaid’s Dad’s camper, Bertie to transport us on the wedding day. He drove me and my Dad to church, and then me and James to the tepee after the service. A big thank you to Les for Bertie the camper! Our friends also surprised us with a hand drawn ‘just married’ sign and beer cans tied to Bertie!

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Our photographer was Mark of Valentina Weddings. Mark was recommended to us by friends and we just clicked instantly! He’s so lovely, totally approachable and super creative. Mark listens to everything you say you’d like, styles of shots and compositions you love but equally suggests ideas that he has. We had a Pinterest board going for us both to pin photography ideas to and it’s the biggest photography board you’ll ever see!

Our wedding album, Mark and I designed together, which was great fun. The quality of the album is so high, definitely worth the money! Every one of our guests spoke of how professional and friendly Mark was, and one of our closest friends has already booked him for her wedding off the back of ours!

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Mark also recommended to us a wedding videographer – Dom at Bouncing Ball Films and Ryan at Riff Raff Photography. At first we weren’t so keen, but in hindsight we are so glad we did. The finished video has been put together and footage edited so cleverly to create a short snap shot of our day. The choice of music was totally in their hands and perfectly suits our day. We have a huge smile every time we watch it!

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The bouquets and headpieces I chose were all gyp bound by natural garden twine, as were the boys’ buttons holes. We kept the church flowers really simplistic, just small tin buckets full of gyp. Churches have so much heritage and beauty that I think you should just leave them be.

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In the teepee we had beautiful multi coloured dahlias on the tables in the retro marmalade pots and a wooden crate filled with sunflowers. Again really simplistic but super vibrant creating a contrast from the neutral tones of the bouquets and church flowers. Our florist Lucy Hope was great and she helped with props that we needed too.

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I designed our own wedding stationery, a small booklet invitation with foil blocking detail of the teepee illustration and hand rendered typography. I also drew all of the signage for the day and designed the thank you postcards through my business, Plewsy.

The table numbers were created by hanging old cricket score board numbers from the beams of the teepee, it was nice to have a link back to the cricket club whilst it also left us with more room on the tables for wine!

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I totally forgot about the cake until two weeks before the wedding. Luckily our local farm shop, Springhouse Farm Shop, came to the rescue and created a beautiful naked sponge cake. They delivered it to the teepee on the morning of the wedding. The caterers layered it with strawberries and cream and we had a cake!

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We wanted a relaxed feel to the day and so decided on tapas for the food. Our caterers, Paul and Chris of Indulge in Harrogate, were recommended by a work colleague and again when I met Paul I knew I trusted him to be the caterer for our big day! I had some ideas, but Paul suggested most of the dishes. Canapés were served with prosecco to our guests when they arrived at the teepee. We had crazy amounts of tapas including spicy chicken wings, tabbouleh, vegetable lasagne, chicken paella and chorizo. We served the wedding cake for pudding with berries and cream.

Paul and his team also ran the evening barbecue, serving grilled halloumi, salmon, chicken, homemade kebab skewers, coleslaw and a humongous salad! To drink we went for Rioja and Pinot Grigio for wine on the tables and behind the bar, along with barrels of Black Sheep and Carling (we ran out and had to raid the village pub for more!)

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We booked Goldsands, a local band who we had seen play live a couple of times before, to entertain our guests. They are acoustic and were perfect for our venue. Everyone has said how great they were and they have been booked a fair few times by our guests since.

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We filled my friend’s retro wardrobe that she lent us full of disposable cameras, tambourines, sombreros, maracas, glitter and other bits and bobs! We also managed to exchange some bales of straw for a few free pints with a local farmer for seating outside the teepee! Oh, and borrowed a retro sofa from the cricket pavilion which was perfect!

As a special touch James and a few of our friends surprised me with a fireworks display, along with a life sized cut out of Guy Martin (long story)!

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We would highly recommend Papakata to other wedding couples – Rhian and the team were fab. All the organisation went so smoothly and the teepees are so bloomin’ gorgeous! My favourite part of the day has to be seeing so many of our friends and family together in one place, shaking tambourines and feather bowers on the dance floor!

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We flew to Ibiza for a week a couple of days after the wedding day. We stayed near the hippy village, it was really chilled out, super-hot with lots of beer and sunshine. Perfecto! In the October we used our honeymoon pot (set up through Spear Travels) to visit Thailand for a couple of weeks. We spent a couple of days in Bangkok, then flew south to Krabi / Ao Nang for a little while, then spent the rest of our time on Koh Phi Phi. It is such a lovely relaxed country, with beautiful coast lines and a great culture. We rode elephants, went on long boat trips to four small islands and drank a lot of mojitos!

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My top tip to other Brides Up North is – don’t stress! The best advice I can give is to go with suppliers that you get on with and click with! I did this with every supplier and each and every one worked their socks off to create our day. If you trust the people you book, this will take the stress away from you! Also people don’t notice if there’s a flower out of place or a mark on a napkin. It might matter to you, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not a huge deal. Just relax and enjoy your big day!

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