Charlotte Balbier

wedding planning 101: super stylin’

September 29th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Be My Bridesmaid

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Having set your budget, booked your venue, sent out your save the dates and secured your photographer and entertainment, it’s time to move onto tasks that many brides deem as the more enjoyable and exciting parts of the planning schedule.

This is because it’s time to start thinking about how to style yourself and your venue for the big day to come! So in today’s wedding planning post we’ll be talking blooms, bridal boutiques and bridesmaids.

Check out our earlier posts in this series by clicking here (the early stages) and clicking here (the next steps).

flower power

Today beautiful blooms tend to stretch way beyond bouquets and button holes with many couples opting to incorporate pretty petals into their décor too. From dainty pew ends to grand floral chandeliers, the possibilities are pretty much endless, though you will need to find a florist that shares your botanical visions in order for them to become reality.

When searching for the right florist, it’s important to look for a trusted supplier with good testimonials from previous couples. You will also want to view examples of their recent work to get an idea of the styles and arrangements that they can achieve. So it might be that you are looking for a florist known for loose, natural and rustic designs, or perhaps neat and elegant arrangements or those that can wow with modern, striking floral structures.

Once you have whittled down a short list meet up with the florist to see how you ‘click’ and if they share your visions on bouquets and floral decorations. They might even suggest great ideas you’d never even thought of.

the one

In many cases shopping for the dream dress is a bride’s favourite part of the planning, though it can be daunting and frustrating at times too with so many options to choose from.

Having done your initial wedding dress research using magazines, blogs and websites to get an idea of the type of gown you might like and to suss out which designers fall into your dress budget, it’s time to search for boutiques that stock your chosen designers and make appointments to visit.

When attending bridal boutique appointments it can be easy for brides to get carried and invite a small entourage to accompany them but it really is best to keep numbers to a minimum to avoid becoming confused by differing opinions. Take those who know you and your style best and will give you an honest opinion – so perhaps mum, sister and maid of honour.

Though it’s good to have an idea of the type of dress you might like, it’s also good to be open minded at your appointment as a style that you’ve never considered just might turn out to be ‘the one’. Bridal stylists know their stuff so if they make a suggestion to try a certain gown on, go with it but don’t feel pressured – the decision is ultimately yours.

leading ladies

Once your dress is sorted you can move onto finding the right gowns for your maids. Again, though most ladies love to shop, bridesmaid dress hunting can be far from retail therapy with bridesmaids clashing on what they would and wouldn’t want to wear.

To avoid shopping centre tantrums it’s a good idea to get together with/speak to your bridesmaids about what type of design and colour you were hoping to dress them beforehand, giving them an opportunity to express any concerns early on. If you have maids of varying figures you could dress them in one colour but different styles of dresses to suit their individual shapes. Alternatively, if you have maids of varying hair colours and complexions, you could ask them all to wear the same design but in varying complementary colours, to suit both them and the wedding styling.

Also, when picking suitable colours for the maids’ dresses think about the styles and tones of flowers you’ve picked and how they will work together.


At this point in the planning process it’s also a good idea to get the catering search underway if the venue you’ve booked won’t be providing the food.

Over time wedding breakfast menus have been extended beyond traditional meat and vegetables, meaning that there are now lots exciting options to whet your appetite. Some couples base their food choices on their personal preferences while others make their decisions by the season of the wedding. There’s also the option to pick menus that complement the style of the wedding, so for example afternoon tea for a rustic, country themed wedding, or street food, such as pizza or Mexican, for informal outdoor weddings.

Whatever you decide look for caterers with good reputations and find out what is included in the price, such as waiting staff and glass/crockery hire, to avoid any hidden costs. Then it’s time to sample the goods with a tasting session so you’ll know exactly how the food will look and taste when it’s served up on the day.

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a wedding alphabet. n is for name change

June 24th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Found on

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Today on the blog we return to our wedding alphabet to discuss something of a contentious issue – the name change – whether a bride should take her new partner’s surname or not.

From the moment I started dating a guy I was guilty of thinking how their surname would marry with my first – how would it sound? And as a journalist, how would it look in print and how easily could it be misspelt/mispronounced?

I suppose I’m a little shallow when it comes to the name change debate in that I would happily take the groom’s name in place of my own, on just one condition: that it’s not an embarrassing surname. I’m sorry to the Cockburns, Nutters and Shufflebottoms out there but there are certain names that I wouldn’t voluntarily adopt, even if it is ‘the done thing’. I also personally wouldn’t want to land myself with a rhyming name, but fortunately not many things rhyme with Rachel, so I’m pretty safe in that respect.


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However for other women the reason for not wanting to change their surname goes much deeper than this. It might be that the bride’s parents haven’t had any sons and therefore the family surname will undoubtedly die out unless they keep it going. Then there are those that choose to stick with their own name for professional reasons; they’ve built a career under their maiden name and don’t want to feel like their achievements would be somewhat erased when with a simple ‘I do’.

Then there’s the biggies – equality and identity (which I totally understand). Over the years females have fought hard for women to be seen as equal to men – having the right to vote and for the same pay – so why should one have to change their identity upon marriage and the other not?  It’s a fair argument and I fully respect any woman that chooses to keep her surname for such reasons. Hey, he can aways take your name, right?

And what about our same sex couples out there – do you plan to keep your own names, combine the two or adopt one over the other?

Beyond my fear of being lumbered with a surname that saw children at school continuously teased, I, like many other women, am also in favour of sharing a surname simply to tie the family together as one for that day when children come along. Of course there are ways around this in that the children can have both parent’s names hyphenated, even if their parents haven’t chosen to go down the double barrelled route (which again, in my non-deep opinion, can sound incredibly posh given the right combination).

Now I’ll probably regret my decision when I’m neck-deep in account and ID name-change applications, but for me currently I’m happy to stick to tradition on this one (it might also cause me a few less problems with the numerous interpretations of Parry people come up with during phone conversations – Perry, Harry, Barry and even Charlie, I kid you not).

Found on Pinterest, image by Melissa Milis (1)

image by Melissa Mills 

Whichever way you choose to go yourselves ladies, surname intentions are going to crop up at some point so it’s well worth giving this some serious thought and discussing with your husband or wife to be!

We’d love to know your thoughts – will you be taking your other half’s name, keeping your own, is your partner taking your name… or something else entirely?

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wedding planning 101: the next steps

June 12th, 2015 | Rachel Parry


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Following a surge of proposals over Christmas and New Year we brought our novice brides-to-be a post on early planning, offering advice on where one should start when trying to organise possibly the biggest day of their life. A few months on and it’s time to tackle the next lot of hurdles set out on the wedding planning track.

Wedding planning folders at the ready girls…

spread the word

Ok you’ve set a budget, drawn up the guest list and booked the venue, so now it’s time to share the news by sending out your save the dates – yes, things just got real!

Save the dates are particularly important if you are planning to tie knot at a busy time of year, such as Easter, Christmas or late summer. To avoid guests double booking on your big day it’s a good idea to get these sent out about a year before the wedding.

If you want your wedding stationery to be consistent from beginning to end this means finding a designer who can create the pretty paper you desire for everything from your invites and menus to your thank you cards. When searching for a supplier and the type of stationery you’d like, be sure to keep your budget in mind as the design, paper, printing process and quantity will all make a difference to the overall price.

snap happy

A great photographer comes high up the priority list for many couples meaning the earlier you can secure your top choice the better – these talented individuals get booked up fast!

Once the big day has been and gone your wedding album provides the lasting memories and therefore you will want to find a professional that you feel comfortable with to zoom in and capture those all-important special moments.

Recommendations from friends and family can be a good place to start when searching for a photographer, as well as the internet as most photographers now have up-to-date blogs and galleries of their work online. In addition to looking at examples of their previous work to make sure their style suits your requirements, you will also want to check the price and what’s included – some photographers only stay up to the first dance while others stay for the majority of the reception, also is the price of your album included?

Once you have someone in mind set up an appointment to meet them so you can see if you connect well and feel relaxed when they put you in front of the lens. As part of the booking you might also want to arrange a pre-wedding shoot to give you somewhat of a practise run before the real thing.

music to your ears

Just as good photographer can get booked up, musical entertainment such as DJs and bands can also be in high demand so it’s a good idea to tie these down early on too if possible.

Your chosen venue will often have recommended DJs which can help save you time and stress. If not recommendations are certainly a good way to go to ensure you get a DJ that plays what you and your guests want to hear rather a classic wedding soundtrack of Oops Upside Your Head and Come on Eileen. Fine if you want cheese, but incredibly cringe if not!

Other than the evening disco think about what other musical entertainment you might like taking your personal tastes, wedding theme and setting into account before beginning your search. It may be that you want an opera singers to lift the roof of your ceremony venue, a string quartet to play during your drinks reception or an energetic band to get the party started in the evening. Again use the good old world wide web to research the options. See what’s available in the area of your wedding and look at pricing and testimonials. Often you can listen to the artist on their website too giving you a taste of their sound if it’s someone you’re familiar with.

here comes the bride

Enough about everything else, let’s talk dresses! Deciding on the right time to start your search for ‘the one’ can be tricky as begin too early and you run the risk of changing your mind in the run up to the big day and leave it too late and you could panic-buy a dress that you come to regret when looking back through your wedding album.

While most brides-to-be can’t resist flicking through magazines for inspiration as soon as that ring lands on their finger, it’s sensible to leave the actual boutique visits until around 11 to 12 months before the big day.

So while flicking through those mags, or swooning over blogs and Pinterest, make a note of the designers you’re drawn to and then lookup bridal boutiques in your area that stock such names and make appointments to visit. When doing so try to keep an idea of price in mind so you know if the dresses you will be trying on are within your budget to avoid heartbreak later on.

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the big debate: should you get your groom involved in the wedding planning?

April 10th, 2015 | Julia Braime

Found on, photography by Jennifer Rotz Photography

image source, photography by Jennifer Rotz Photography

pesky boys.

Should you let them anywhere near the wedding planning? Today on the blog, that’s what we’re talking about.

We’d love to hear your side of the argument.

Found on

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rachel says: get him involved

As more couples ditch traditional weddings in favour of personal affairs, I think it’s hugely important that input comes from both sides to ensure the big day is a reflection of both the bride and groom. It’s all about striking a balance.

Most females (myself included) have dreamt about their wedding day from being a little girl and while we want the groom to get involved and show an interest/support we also don’t want them taking over the show.

That can be the trouble, nag a guy to do something and he goes from ‘whatever’ to ‘I can do it better’. In the first instance I think it’s best to sit down and discuss the main factors – location, budget and numbers – together. Then when it gets to the more creative side of things – colour theme, styling, décor, food and entertainment – write down your ideas separately (so he has to put some thought into it) and then come back together to discuss what you’ve come up with. A little bit of compromise might well be required at this point.

Don’t sweat it if he doesn’t want to be involved in all elements, such as bouquets, button holes and sashes, but I say definitely try to get him fired up and to take the reins when it comes to areas he’s passionate about, such as food, entertainment, transport and the honeymoon.

Just remember the main reason you’re getting married – love – and try to make it fun, attending events such as wedding fairs and tastings together. I’ve read numerous real weddings where the bride and groom have created some great memories during days out planning their big day and the joint-efforts really shine through.

Found on

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julia says: keep him out of it

Why is this even up for debate? Girls, haven’t you seen Don’t Tell The Bride?!

Sure, they all laugh and say how well the hapless husband has done at the end of every episode, but by that point they’re blinded by relief (that their wedding wasn’t the skydive episode), impending Sky Living stardom or alcohol (well, wouldn’t you get smashed in that scenario?!). Ladies, do not be fooled by “happily ever after” episode formatting: take control.

Other than making sure your wedding day is one to remember for the right reasons, I think that this is only fair. Has your other half dreamed of his big day since he was a little boy? Did he dash straight out to the newsagents and clear the bridal title shelf right after you made it official? Does he even know that wedding blogs exist? Girls, this is your time in the sun. If I were you I’d grab that wedding folder, and enjoy every blissful minute of independent planning. Hey, he got to plan the proposal (didn’t he…?)!

Yes, this is his wedding day too. Of course it is. And I know I’m generalising (and yes, being pretty sexist, but hey, it’s for the good of the piece), but what does he know about pastel Pinterest boards, bridesmaids’ frocks and sugar craft?

If you must, get him involved in some of the less pretty bits, like shopping for formal wear, making a wedding playlist or even let him loose on “the honeymoon project”. Be warned though, men can get some funny ideas when left to their own devices.

Make it extremely clear just how far any decision making autonomy can go, or you’ll end up with a rugby anthem for every hymn, some dubious waistcoat options and bottled beer for reception drinks.

I know. I’ve lived it.

My advice to you? Schedule a few Don’t Tell The Bride viewing sessions with your groom to be, watch him take in the worry, sweat, tears (and usually ill-advised tattoos) involved, then click off before the finale, telling him not to worry, you’ll take care of everything, hey, even the budget.

Control established, grateful brownie points won, budget extended, wedding saved. And if that isn’t a win, win scenario, I don’t know what is.

Found on, photography by Red, White & Green Photography

image source, photography by Red, White & Green Photography

what you said

Gillian: “My other half is planning what the boys wear and also planning the drinks menu.”

Leah: “We are both planning our wedding together, he has been involved in every part (excluding the dress). It takes a lot of the stress away to plan it together.”

Gemma: “My other half is taking some coaxing. As he put it he’s only an ornament on the day. I wasn’t best pleased and since then he’s picked up his game! He’s responsible for sorting out music and taking the fellas to get their suits, also he doesn’t know it yet but because he’s a perfectionist he’ll be making the majority of the invites.”

Angie: “Mine wants to be involved so much that I keep telling him it’s about me too, I’m the bride.”

Found on, photography by Sarah McKenzie Photography

image source, photography by Sarah McKenzie Photography


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a wedding alphabet. m is for mum

March 26th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Found on, photography by by Pasha Belman Photography

image via, photography by by Pasha Belman Photography

For most girls that get engaged there is often one person even more excited the news than they are – their mum. Enter the mother of the bride

While you might think you have been dreaming about the big day forever, your mum has had the occasion firmly placed in her future diary since you were a little girl – and now it’s actually happening!

But after the whoops and cheers have died down some mothers of the bride, and sometimes of the groom, can be known to get a little carried away and overbearing when it comes to planning the ‘perfect day’.

On top of the stress organising a wedding can bring, the last thing you want is a family feud so it’s important to know how to handle over-enthusiastic mums that take off down this route. Brides Up North, I’m here to help.

Found on

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be clear from the start

Though I’m yet to have a ring on my finger I have to say me and my mum talk about my fictional wedding all the time, but then I constantly change my mind on what I think I’ll have (I blame the day job).

Whether your mum is in the know or not, once you and your partner have made some key decisions about the type of wedding you want, arrange to meet up or speak to your mum over the phone about your plans to gage her thoughts/approval. Be sure to give reasons on your decisions and emphasise that you came to these conclusions with your groom so that she can tell you’ve really thought about these elements and that it’s what you both want as a couple.

Whether she fully agrees or not she will appreciate you keeping her informed on the decisions and for seeking her opinion. Be sure to keep the updates coming throughout the planning process to ensure she doesn’t feel out of touch or surplus to your requirements.

meddling mums

If you and your mum have different ideas about what will make the perfect day your mum could come to meddle in your plans in an attempt to get her own way.

Try to figure out early on what elements of the wedding you think will be particularly important to your mum to avoid her trying to change your plans later down the line. This might be who should be included on the guest list, the location in which you should tie the knot or what type of food you should be serving up.

Take on board her thoughts and if you can compromise in these areas to avoid your mum looking like she’s sucking on a lemon at the top table come your big day.

Found on, photography by Lorraine Daley Wedding Photography

image via, photography by Lorraine Daley Wedding Photography

play on her strengths

Having a mum that wants to get involved in the wedding can work to your advantage, especially if they have a great skill set.

Think of your mum’s talents and try to give her jobs that will let her shine. So if she gives Mary Berry a run for her money in the kitchen ask her to make your wedding cake, if she knows of more flowers than Alan Titchmarsh take her along to the florists or if she’s more of a Kirstie Allsopp give her some crafty tasks to take ownership of, like making decorations or stationery.

Not only will she enjoy the challenge but she will also feel touched that you’ve given her a special role in the proceedings.

Found on, photography by Rob Greer Photography

image via, photography by Rob Greer Photography

set mum-sized boundaries

While you have taken the time to listen to the areas that are important to your mum and to include her, don’t be afraid to let her know the areas that are important to you and the groom, elements that you are not prepared to change your mind on.

Of course approach the conversation with care but gently let her know where you draw the line in negotiating.

Found on, photography by Katelyn James Photography

image via, photography by Katelyn James Photography

mums that overstep the mark

Having set the boundaries if your mum chooses to hop, skip and triple jump over them, pull her up on it to avoid heartbreak and fallouts.

Speak to her and try to figure out why she’s feeling the need to try to overrule your wishes. It could be that your parents are paying for the majority of the wedding and therefore she feels she has the right to call the shots. In such circumstances try to explain that while you are grateful for their kind contribution and want them to have a say and feel included, the wedding is a huge milestone in your relationship and should therefore be a reflection of you as a couple and what you want.

Alternatively it could be that your mother didn’t get much say in her own wedding and therefore she is either mimicking her mum by taking on the chief planning role or trying to create the wedding she really wanted through your big day. Again take the time to talk to your mum about this – listen to her feelings and share your own. Remind her how it felt to have someone else calling the shots and try to make her see that organising parts together is a much more enjoyable and fair way to go about things.

Found on, photography by Leo Timoshuk Photography

image via, photography by Leo Timoshuk Photography

dealing with the mother-in-law

Some mothers can find it difficult to let go of their sons and such feelings can manifest themselves in reactions to your wedding plans.

Just like with your own mum be sure to let your mother-in-law know your plans early on so she feels included and continue with regular updates. Also as a wedding is ultimately the joining of two families, invite your mother-in-law to join you and your mum when arranging some parts of the wedding, such as choosing the flowers or shopping for decorations. This will also help you to bond as a family.

If however your mother-in-law gets a little out of hand, ask your partner to have a gentle word with her and to explain that you have made your decisions as a couple to avoid her taking up issue with you alone.

Found on, photography by Caroline Maxcy Photography

image via, photography by Caroline Maxcy Photography

have fun

Most importantly – have fun with it. This is a great time of your life for mother/daughter bonding and while the planning path might not run entirely smooth, it’s a perfect opportunity to spend quality time together and to create some fabulous memories.

A mum’s input can be particularly helpful in areas that the groom just can’t get enthused about, such as chair covers and sashes, so there are plenty of different areas in which to get those most important to you involved.

Planning with your mum is also a great excuse for numerous shopping trips and glasses of fizz, just don’t mention it to the men that will be left at home!

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