Charlotte Balbier

golden. pronovias for a romantic wedding at rockliffe hall – emma & mark

June 11th, 2015 | Julia Braime

A Romantic Gold Wedding at Rockliffe Hall (c) Stan Seaton Photography (68)

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.

A Romantic Gold Wedding at Rockliffe Hall (c) Stan Seaton Photography (1)

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.

A Romantic Gold Wedding at Rockliffe Hall (c) Stan Seaton Photography (8)

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.

A Romantic Gold Wedding at Rockliffe Hall (c) Stan Seaton Photography (13)

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.

A Romantic Gold Wedding at Rockliffe Hall (c) Stan Seaton Photography (15)

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.

A Romantic Gold Wedding at Rockliffe Hall (c) Stan Seaton Photography (16)

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.

A Romantic Gold Wedding at Rockliffe Hall (c) Stan Seaton Photography (41)

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.

A Romantic Gold Wedding at Rockliffe Hall (c) Stan Seaton Photography (43)

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.

A Romantic Gold Wedding at Rockliffe Hall (c) Stan Seaton Photography (51)

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!

A Romantic Gold Wedding at Rockliffe Hall (c) Stan Seaton Photography (53)

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.

A Romantic Gold Wedding at Rockliffe Hall (c) Stan Seaton Photography (57)

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.

A Romantic Gold Wedding at Rockliffe Hall (c) Stan Seaton Photography (65)

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.

A Romantic Gold Wedding at Rockliffe Hall (c) Stan Seaton Photography (67)

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.

A Romantic Gold Wedding at Rockliffe Hall (c) Stan Seaton Photography (71)

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!

A Romantic Gold Wedding at Rockliffe Hall (c) Stan Seaton Photography (74)

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.

A Romantic Gold Wedding at Rockliffe Hall (c) Stan Seaton Photography (75)

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!

A Romantic Gold Wedding at Rockliffe Hall (c) Stan Seaton Photography (81)

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fabulous photographer: valentina weddings

June 8th, 2015 | Julia Braime

Valentina Weddings (39)

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 huge 10% discount to Brides Up North readers.  Whoop! Just quote Brides Up North 2015 when booking. 

Let’s say hello!

Valentina Weddings (38)

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!

Valentina Weddings (33)

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.

Valentina Weddings (24)

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.

Valentina Weddings (21)

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.

Valentina Weddings (5)

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.

Valentina Weddings (10)

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!

Valentina Weddings (28)

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.

Valentina Weddings (48)

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.

Valentina Weddings (43)

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.

Valentina Weddings (25)

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.

Valentina Weddings (7)

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.

Valentina Weddings (14)

Can you do a discount for Brides Up North readers? 

Yes – I would be happy to offer 10% off the package price or a free pre-wedding engagement shoot.

Valentina Weddings (16)

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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from venice with love. a romantic destination wedding in the city of bridges – kim & jack

April 15th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

a sunny wedding in Venice (c) Lee Brown Photography (52)

When planning a wedding many couples to and fro about what time of the year to set the date for due to the unpredicatable British weather, knowing that even if they do pick the height of summer, rain is still likely.

To avoid this conundrum some brides and grooms pack their bags and head overseas to warmer climes for their big day – usually choosing a location that doesn’t only guarantee sunshine, but also that’s special to them.

This is true of today’s wedding couple Jack and Kim who wanted to continue their love affair with the Italian culture by saying their ‘I dos’ in the beautiful city of Venice.

Clearly we’re partial to weddings hosted in the north of the UK, but looking at these fabulous photos we can forgive Jack and Kim for jetting off abroad. Just stunning!

With images by Lee Brown Photography.

a sunny wedding in Venice (c) Lee Brown Photography (74)

kim says: We got engaged on 30th September 2012. Jack created a fake story of us going to London to visit his friend for her birthday however when we got there and arrived at a five star hotel I realised this might not be true. Later that evening after going to watch The Taming of the Shrew at the globe theatre, Jack got down on one knee on the banks of the Thames. However his plans were nearly ruined by thousands of women doing a charity run for Cancer Research right on the spot where he planned to pop the question.

a sunny wedding in Venice (c) Lee Brown Photography (78)

We set the date for 23rd May 2014. We chose May as we had decided to get married abroad and felt the weather would be perfect at that time of year, it was also bank holiday weekend which was more convenient for our guests. Jack’s mum later pointed out that our date contained the numbers 1,2,3,4,5 which is apparently lucky in numerology.

a sunny wedding in Venice (c) Lee Brown Photography (72)

After visiting Venice a couple of times for holidays during our relationship, it was a definite and obvious choice for us. We love the Italian culture that focuses on family, love and food. Venice is a beautiful, romantic destination surrounded by history, we love the idea that Venice will not be around forever making it such a unique and fascinating city.

a sunny wedding in Venice (c) Lee Brown Photography (76)

We have a big passion for our home city Manchester particularly in love with the music, football and sense of humour of the city. We wanted to bring a piece of Manchester to Venice by our music choices and colour themes. So we got married to Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart and had our first dance to Noel Gallagher If I had a Gun.

a sunny wedding in Venice (c) Lee Brown Photography (64)

Our bridesmaids were dressed in blue reflecting our love of Manchester City but we also felt it was a colour that would look good in the sun and the reflections of the water in Venice. The groom, best men and family members wore blue ties matching the bridesmaids’ colours.

a sunny wedding in Venice (c) Lee Brown Photography (58)

a sunny wedding in Venice (c) Lee Brown Photography (56)

I chose a fitted fishtail lace dress from Cheadle Bride in Stockport. This was the dress I always pictured myself wearing and felt the vintage look would suit the historical atmosphere of Venice.

a sunny wedding in Venice (c) Lee Brown Photography (61)

Jack wore a bluey/grey three piece skinny fit suit from Next – he wanted to feel comfortable and relaxed in a smart suit.

a sunny wedding in Venice (c) Lee Brown Photography (55)

We had four bridesmaids and two flower girls. Our bridesmaids wore navy blue twist and wrap dresses from BHS which could be worn in many different styles to suit the shape of each bridesmaid. Our two flower girls wore white dresses, again from BHS, which contained petals in the skirt underlay and a ribbon around the waist which matched the colour of the bridesmaid dresses. The groomsmen all wore matching suits to Jack.

a sunny wedding in Venice (c) Lee Brown Photography (50)

I travelled to the venue with my dad, bridesmaids and flower girls in a vintage speed boat which moored right outside the wedding venue.

a sunny wedding in Venice (c) Lee Brown Photography (47)

Lee Brown was our wedding photographer and we would highly recommend him. We felt nervous about using wedding photographers abroad as we felt it may be difficult to communicate exactly what style we wanted. We met with Lee several times before our wedding and Lee showed such interest and enthusiasm in being our photographer from getting details of the wedding party and what shots we wanted to even route planning our day. Lee arrived in Venice early to work out the best locations for pictures and managed to make us feel relaxed and comfortable with a pre wedding shoot. Lee managed to capture all the shots we wanted and much, much more!

a sunny wedding in Venice (c) Lee Brown Photography (45)

We carried sun flowers provided by our wedding planner in Venice. The sunflowers looked bright and beautiful complementing the blues of the bridesmaid dresses.

a sunny wedding in Venice (c) Lee Brown Photography (41)

a sunny wedding in Venice (c) Lee Brown Photography (33)

We held our wedding reception in a beautiful restaurant which didn’t needed much decorating. We used lots of candles, rose petals and traditional Italian sweet decorations.

For wedding favours we gave our sun flower seeds in a vintage brown packet with the slogan ‘all things grow with love’. We felt our guests planting the sunflowers in their gardens would be a perfect reminder every year of what a beautiful day it was.

a sunny wedding in Venice (c) Lee Brown Photography (37)

We chose not to have a traditional wedding cake in Venice as the restaurant provided so many different pastries and desserts. However, we celebrated our wedding in the UK with friends and family who couldn’t join us in Venice a few weeks after we returned. At this reception we had a lace style cake matching my wedding dress with a blue ribbon and our initials on it which was baked by our good friend and one of our bridesmaids, Chloe Prescott.

We went with traditional Italian food and Venetian specialities for the wedding meal, which meant numerous delicious courses.

a sunny wedding in Venice (c) Lee Brown Photography (30)

Following our wedding ceremony we walked with our guests through the streets of Venice and boarded a private boat where we had an hour-long tour of the lagoons of Venice with champagne cocktails. In the evening we created our own entertainment with music and dancing!

a sunny wedding in Venice (c) Lee Brown Photography (29)

We saw a lot of Venice on our wedding day walking through the streets, visiting St Mark’s square and the bridge of sighs. This was a nice surprise for our guests who had just arrived and got to do a bit of sightseeing on the day. It also meant we attracted a lot of attention with people constantly stopping us to congratulate us and take pictures. It made our day extra special feeling like we were celebrities.

a sunny wedding in Venice (c) Lee Brown Photography (17)

We used a wedding planner from Europe Wedding called Lucia Masserini who was amazing in organising all the details of our day and putting up with our endless questions!

I would recommend our destination to any couple wanting a unique experience. It was amazing to be in a beautiful place with all our friends and family and enjoy that experience with them.

a sunny wedding in Venice (c) Lee Brown Photography (5)

My favourite part of the day was coming off the boat and being surrounded by a group of Japanese tourists taking our picture and wishing us good luck. It was something that wouldn’t of happened if we had of got married in the UK and it was amazing that so many people were happy for us. It was a unique experience which our guests still talk, and laugh about!

a sunny wedding in Venice (c) Lee Brown Photography (1)

We left Venice the day after our wedding setting sail on a cruise ship for a week. We returned to Venice for one day after the cruise before returning home which was a very surreal and somewhat sad experience that it was all over and our friends and family had gone home.

Our top tip to other Brides Up North would be to enjoy every minute of the day and take time to spend a few moments away from the crowds with your partner to soak up the atmosphere and occasion.

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fabulous photographer: amanda balmain

April 14th, 2015 | Julia Braime

Amanda Balmain (36)

This afternoon I am really proud to introduce our readers to the sensational work of Brides Up North sponsor, amanda balmain. I think you’ll agree that Amanda’s work is just dreamy!

In this feature interview, we find out all about the lady behind the lens… and it turns out she’s a bit of a romantic.

So she’s definitely in the right line of work then…

With images by Amanda Balmain,

Amanda Balmain (7)

How did you get into wedding photography? 

I have an A level in photography but for a long time photography was a hobby for me. It wasn’t until after I had my children that I started taking portraits more seriously and then joined some friends on a wedding photography course up at Aspire Photography Training in Cumbria. That was when I realised that wedding photography had changed quite a bit since the days of film. No longer limited by how much film you can carry, wedding photography had got way more creative and exciting.

Why wedding photography specifically? 

I love wedding photography because for me its so exciting. You have to think on your feet all day long to manage creative shots with constantly changing light and locations. There is nothing like that feeling when you know you’ve captured something amazing that you know your couple are going to swoon over.

Amanda Balmain (31)

What is your favourite thing about being a wedding photographer? 

I love the romance. Sometimes on a wedding morning I haven’t quite figured out the couple but I love how as the day unfolds it becomes obvious how they fit together. I try to tell that story in pictures.

Amanda Balmain (16)

How do you get couples to relax on the day? 

I like to photograph natural reactions and expressions and so I always ask questions and get brides and grooms talking to each other. It is much easier to relax when you are thinking about something else other than the camera pointing at you. Often my couples have had a pre-wedding shoot and so they will know exactly what to expect ahead of time.

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

Choose a photographer who you are comfortable with and have a pre-wedding shoot. Usually its much better than you expect. Also choose a photographer whose style is more documentary if posing makes you uncomfortable. I shoot a mix of both styles but my posed shots are definitely more relaxed and natural than fashion model.

Amanda Balmain (37)

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

I think a makeup artist for your wedding day is important. It allows you to relax in the morning and your makeup will last longer. A natural look with a good matte finish always looks great in pictures.

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

Tan lines with a strapless dress spring to mind!

Amanda Balmain (4)

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

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield because I think they would be really funny and cute but only if they got married on a beach somewhere and kept it intimate. Or maybe Prince Harry and Emma Watson with a Harry Potter theme!

Amanda Balmain (27)

Any really memorable weddings that you have captured? 

I cry at every wedding so they are all moving to me! I shot a wedding at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London which is beautiful and very stylish. I have another one there this summer so I’m looking forward to that.

Amanda Balmain (18)

Are you married? Tell us about your day. 

I’ve been married for almost 15 years. We got married at the small village church where my husband was christened and my in-laws got married in Dorset. We then had a marquee on his parents lawn for the reception. We had the ceremony at 4pm so we could carry straight on into the evening. It was July so there was plenty of light for photographs. My photographer was the amazing Kevin Wilson. My favourite memories are eating fish and chips at the hairdressers in the morning, the grin on my husbands face that lasted all day long and drinking champagne at midnight with some random strangers that we met at our hotel.

Amanda Balmain (6)

What sets you apart from other wedding photographers?

The most important thing to me is that you enjoy your day. I make sure I know beforehand what the wedding day plan is and when we are going to get the shots that you want but on the day I am very flexible. I keep things calm and relaxed and never put my couples under pressure.

Amanda Balmain (23)

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

For most of the day I am unobtrusive and try to stay in the background. There are a few key moments when I will get some posed shots. For instance a portrait of the bride once she is ready, group portraits of the bridal party and a killer shot of the bride and groom at the reception venue. Otherwise I go with the flow and photograph the day as it happens with minimal interference. I usually arrive around 2 hours before the ceremony at the brides house and leave an hour or so after the first dance once everyone is in full party mode.

Amanda Balmain (25)

What is included in your “package”? 

My top package includes a pre-wedding shoot, full day coverage, edited digital files, a slideshow of images from your wedding day and a 30 page Bellissimo album. My digital only package is the same without the album.

Can you give us an idea on price? 

My top package is £1250. I am happy to quote for smaller weddings and half days.

Amanda Balmain (3)

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

You can visit my website at www.amandabalmain.com, visit my Facebook page or call me on 07738 166374.  I’d love to hear from you!

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stately celebrations. a winter wedding at samlesbury hall – tessa & joe

March 31st, 2015 | Rachel Parry

a winter wedding at samlesbury hall (c) Rachel Joyce Photography (26)

Today’s couple Tessa and Joe dreamt of a grand setting for their big day, and boy did they land on their feet when they discovered Samlesbury Hall.

Roaring open fires, historic wood panelling and regal chandeliers all contributed to this atmospheric winter wedding in the North West.

So join us as we cross the threshold of the gorgeous Samlesbury mansion to relive Tess and Joe’s fabulous day.

With images from Rachel Joyce Photography.

a winter wedding at samlesbury hall (c) Rachel Joyce Photography (3)

tessa says: Joe proposed to me on the 9th September 2014 in our front room. It is a funny story as we had just bought a house and were due to move the very next day. So it was a bit of a chaotic time and I came home expecting to see some progress made on the packing. I walked in the front door and saw that nothing had been done so started to tell him I wasn’t too impressed. I had barely started to speak when I noticed he was down on one knee. He had planned to have Ed Sheeran Thinking Out Loud playing when he asked but had accidentally muted it so was trying frantically to unmute it to be able to propose. To be honest I was so shocked I hardly noticed. I was so happy, even though he hadn’t packed a thing. Joe jokes that he needed an excuse to get out of packing. We then celebrated with lots of champagne!

We set the date for 7th February 2015. We had originally wanted a summer wedding. Neither of us liked the idea of a long engagement so had approached the venue thinking June/July for it. But they were booked up! So they showed us their dates and we noticed there was late availability for a February wedding. This was perfect for us as it meant a good price on the venue and we could have an open fire going during the wedding breakfast which looked gorgeous.

a winter wedding at samlesbury hall (c) Rachel Joyce Photography (6)

We got married at Samlesbury Hall in Preston, Lancashire. Like most people we had dreamed of the grandeur of a castle or the beautiful interior of a church, but obviously a castle isn’t always possible and a religious service was not what we wanted. So we thought we would struggle to get the real idyllic surrounding we wanted. We looked at a couple of venues in the south as that is where I’m from, but nothing seemed right. Joe and I stumbled across Samlesbury and thought we would have a visit and see. Well we fell in love with it straight away. It is a fantastic old Tudor style mansion with wooden beamed ceilings, open fire places, original furniture and an excellent story connected to it. It had the ceremony room (which used to be a chapel), then a parlour space for meet and greet, and then a fantastic great hall for the meal. We were smitten with it.

We didn’t really have a special theme instead we just chose colours we liked to style the day. Because we chose February as the month it meant that we had imagined a more wintery wedding. The building and the open fires added to this and so we went with a navy blue and champagne scheme to complement the venue and time of year.

a winter wedding at samlesbury hall (c) Rachel Joyce Photography (9)

I chose a traditional ivory wedding dress with a lace top and chiffon bottom. The keyhole back was the best part of the dress as it fit perfectly to my shape. I went dress shopping at Anne Whittaker Bridal Wear in Accrington with some friends who helped choose the dress for me, I remember it was one of the first ones they picked out. At first I wasn’t sure if it was the type of dress I wanted but as soon as I tried it on I loved it. Lindsay, from Anne Whittaker’s, was really helpful. Nothing was ever too much and she gave her honest opinion about each dress I tried without being pushy. I was very impressed with her prices and would definitely recommend her to any bride-to-be.

Joe chose a Prince Edward mid-grey suit with a white waistcoat and navy cravat. He also used Ann Whittaker’s as they had great outfits and offered a discount because we got my wedding dress from them.

The bridesmaids wore full-length navy dresses from Very.co.uk. I bought silver pashminas for my bridesmaid and grey for my maids of honour. The groomsmen wore the same as Joe, but had a different flower for the buttonhole.

a winter wedding at samlesbury hall (c) Rachel Joyce Photography (17)

I travelled in an ivory Morris Minor with navy ribbons to fit with the theme. It’s mine and my dad’s favourite car. He has owned one for as long as I can remember. I couldn’t dream of arriving in anything else. We hired it from Regent Classics. Geraldine was really helpful and thought of all the little details, for example having a ‘Just Married’ sign for photos after the ceremony and even provided a bottle of sparkling wine for us.

a winter wedding at samlesbury hall (c) Rachel Joyce Photography (37)

We used Rachel Joyce Photography for the wedding photography. We would absolutely recommend Rachel to anyone, we already have recommended her to three other couples. Rachel was an absolute pleasure to spend the day with, not obtrusive and so easy to get on with. Her photos speak for themselves.

a winter wedding at samlesbury hall (c) Rachel Joyce Photography (23)

I had a bouquet of red Tulips (my favourite flowers) with some leaves and wrapped in ivory voile. They were provided by Garlands Florist. Rachel and Simon from Garlands were absolutely fantastic. They made the day very beautiful and the whole process was easy. I’d definitely recommend them to anyone looking for flowers. Garlands also provided us with candelabras decorated with tulips, leaves and thistles for each table as well as a gorgeous top table flower arrangement and hurricane vases to line the ceremony room, which were just amazing.

We hired Wedding Creations to do the tables and chairs. We chose white and champagne for this to keep it elegant and simple. Jane from Wedding Creations was a dream to work with, she was very attentive and made everything a pleasure. She also provided us with a post box for the wedding gifts and some festoon lighting for the great hall.

a winter wedding at samlesbury hall (c) Rachel Joyce Photography (27)

A first we couldn’t think what to give as favours but then I thought it would be a cute idea to give everyone a scratch card. We partnered this with some heart shaped chocolate and put it inside a pillow box on everyone’s table space.

My mother-in-law made our wedding cake. She did fruit cake and sponge cake and decorated it with flowers and ribbon topping it off with a bride and groom Dalmatian cake topper (my absolute favourite dog). It was a gorgeous cake for which we were very grateful.

a winter wedding at samlesbury hall (c) Rachel Joyce Photography (36)

Samlesbury Hall did the catering for the wedding and it was outstanding. We also had canapés and fizz in the parlour room during the photos. For the evening they put on a great spread of chilli con carne or Lancashire hot pot, which our guests absolutely loved.

a winter wedding at samlesbury hall (c) Rachel Joyce Photography (41)

We had Simon from Garlands playing the piano for our ceremony, he was excellent. Joe, as a lover of jazz music, wanted to have some live jazz playing during the breakfast. So we hired a piano and saxophone duo who were absolutely tremendous. These guys we found through Dream Day Music. Then for the evening we hired Dave Lee to be the DJ. We cannot recommend Dave enough. He not only played the music we wanted, but was an excellent MC for the evening. He had a portal space set up for the months leading up to the wedding where we could select songs that we wanted for the do. It worked perfectly and everyone spent a long time dancing!

a winter wedding at samlesbury hall (c) Rachel Joyce Photography (20)

Joe contributed several special touches to our day. He’s a Blackburn Rovers fan and as such we had famous Blackburn players as the table names (people like Shearer and Colin Hendry) we also had Blackburn Rovers branded salt and pepper pots (sorry to any brides who now have their other halves asking for the same). From my side I had kept our exit music quiet from everyone in the build-up. We had chosen the Friends theme tune as it is my favourite TV show and holds a lot of good memories for me and my friends. When that came on we all had a giggle.

a winter wedding at samlesbury hall (c) Rachel Joyce Photography (39)

We would, and have already on a number of occasions, recommended our wedding venue to others. There aren’t many truly hidden gems left any more, but this is one of them. The team at Samlesbury: Beth, Lauren and Angela were amazing. The venue was so pretty and the food was brilliant. Even at the more popular prices of the summer we would have definitely chosen this venue. We will never forget our day at Samlesbury Hall.

a winter wedding at samlesbury hall (c) Rachel Joyce Photography (45)

We can’t name a favourite part of the day. The ceremony was so intimate and gorgeous. Obviously being walked down the aisle by my father was emotional. We had a moment when walking out of the ceremony room and into the parlour when it was just us two and we had just got married and were holding each other’s hands and a glass of fizz each – it was bliss.

a winter wedding at samlesbury hall (c) Rachel Joyce Photography (47)

For our honeymoon we went to Sri Lanka and then the Maldives. We spent seven nights in Sri Lanka where we visited temples, experienced real wildlife in the national parks and rode elephants. The hotel was metres from the beach and the sea. It was stunning and we really indulged in food and cocktails. In the Maldives we stayed at an island resort that measured just 500m x 500m. It was paradise. Here we just relaxed and enjoyed the 30 degree weather with great food, drinks and water activities. If you haven’t thought of visiting Sri Lanka, absolutely do it! You will not be disappointed. I think everyone has wanted to visit the Maldives and our advice is just go, you will have the time of your life.

My top tip to other Brides Up North would be just relax about the process. Your day will be perfect as long you are next to your new wife or husband. I always said to my friends I don’t really mind what is around me, what the venue is, the dress or anything else as long as I am married to Joe at the end of it (and of course as long as we are sat on a beach in Sri Lanka a few days later)!

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