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pearls of wedding planning wisdom: top tips from real brides up north

October 19th, 2018 | Rachel Parry

Samantha & Alex

Given the popularity of this priceless post we have allocated a quarterly yearly slot to round up the very best nuggets of advice from the real brides that have graced our pretty Brides Up North pages over the last few months.

For these are the ladies fully in the know of the beautiful, if not at times bumpy, wedding planning journey that you brides-to-be have ahead of you as you pull together all the elements of your dream day.

From budget and timeline tips to advice on the venue, theme and supplier choices, our certified newlyweds share where it’s worth investing your time, money and stress and when it’s time to just full on Frozen-style let it go!

Within their clued-up comments, we’re thrilled to hear how we at Brides Up North have helped to play a part in the planning of their gorgeous celebrations; from taking inspiration from our beautiful featured real weddings, to using our handy online directory to locate top local suppliers and also visiting our Luxury Wedding Shows that we host at wow-worthy venues across the north, directly linking couples and industry pros to take care of every wedding detail while providing an abundance of inspiration.

We hope you too will use and benefit from such fabulous resources as well as the priceless knowledge that our fully-fledged brides are about to impart as they complete the following sentence – “My top tip to other Brides Up North would be…”

Click on the links to see each wedding in full.

A-Destination-Wedding-in-Lake-Como-c-Kristos-Kabiotis-44-580x387

Beach chic: Bespoke Emma Beaumont for a dreamy Lake Como wedding – Samantha & Alex

samantha says: My top tip to other Brides Up North would be not to try to keep everyone happy; it is your day, so it’s the only time you can be truly selfish. We worried too much about everyone else throughout the whole process. Funnily enough, my best friend gave me the same advice! I would also say relax and don’t let the small things on the days leading up to it, and on the day, get to you. So many small things did not go exactly to plan for us, but it doesn’t dampen your mood on the day. The most important thing is having your friends and family around you – all the laughter, happy tears, dancing, eating good food and celebrating while they watch you marry your best friend. It is the most amazing day, no matter what.

Linsey & Tom

Glamping with love. A DIY wedding at Woodthorpe Hall – Linsey & Tom

linsey says: Don’t worry about the weather – you can’t control it so try not to waste time stressing about it. Think about how to keep the day interesting and enjoyable for your guests. For us, we knew that if we could see our family and friends enjoying themselves then this would make the day even more perfect! In the run up to the wedding, I also spent a lot of time looking at the real weddings section on Brides Up North – it was so helpful to get tips from other brides and to get a feel for the types of things that we wanted to incorporate into our wedding day.

Stacey & Wesley

Vintage chic: Justin Alexander for a 1920s wedding at Eaves Hall – Stacey & Wesley

stacey says: Don’t settle for anything less than you want. If there are suppliers you really want, get them booked in as soon as you can. We knew the suppliers we wanted to make our day special and each one made it perfect.

Emma & Martin

Labour of love: Stella York for a rustic wedding at Thief Hall – Emma & Martin

emma says: Definitely get a videographer! We were unsure for a long time but so pleased we did in the end. The guest messages definitely made us chuckle! Also, take time out to be on your own, just the two of you. We had a 25-minute journey between the ceremony and reception that meant we had some time alone before greeting all of our guests. Finally, when looking for suppliers, the online directory on Brides Up North was extremely helpful. I followed Brides up North on Instagram and took a lot of inspiration from the real weddings section too.

Natalie & Tom

Floral fancy: Enzoani for a dusky pink wedding at Middleton Lodge – Natalie & Tom

natalie says: Enjoy every minute of the planning. I never really understood why brides were stressed before the wedding. I really enjoyed the whole process. I particularly liked choosing the flowers and also liked creating all of the finishing touches.

RW - Zoe & Tom

Relaxed romance: Blush & navy for a wedding weekend at Silverholme Manor – Tom & Zoe

zoe says: Think about what wedding you want. Don’t worry about what other people will think. I know that people thought we were ‘doing too much’ or ‘doing the wrong things’ because they couldn’t see the bigger picture but, in the end, everyone could see it all came together and was worth it. I like to be organised and have things written down, so make lots of lists, talk to lots of different suppliers and don’t rush into booking the first one you see. Just remember it’s all about you as a couple and it will come through in your day.

Sophie & Rob

Colour pop petals: A bloom-filled wedding at Priory Cottages, Yorkshire – Sophie & Rob

sophie says: Give yourself lots of time the few days before the wedding to get things sorted – there were lots of last-minute bits we were running around doing and I was pretty organised, so it’s always worth having the time as a contingency.

Caroine & Nathan

Castle & ceilidh: Morilee for a spectacular Scottish wedding in Edinburgh – Caroline & Nathan

caroline says: Trust your suppliers. You’ll have chosen them for a reason, so let them do their thing! We also put them all in touch with each other, which meant they could chat to each other without us being the middle man – much quicker! My other tip is to do a full ‘run of show’ and contact sheet and give it to everyone who is part of your day. Then everyone is kept in the loop and you don’t get plagued with a million questions in the run-up to the big day.

Lucie & Harry

Vintage elegance. A picture-perfect wedding at Denton Hall, North Yorkshire – Lucie & Harry

lucie says: Choose a venue that suits you as a couple. I would say that picking and choosing the bits that actually matter to you is really important, and also helps you to prioritise and budget. At the end of the day, the most important part is the vows and making sure you’re in an environment that feels right to celebrate with your nearest and dearest. The rest of it is detail, and no amount of flowers or hours spent agonising over stationery colours will matter as much to you both on the day itself. Also, during the planning, we went to several Brides Up North wedding fairs at Denton Hall, which were a very handy way to catch up with all our suppliers and generally think about where we wanted to display things on our day. I visited the Brides Up North website too. I didn’t really do overwhelming amounts of research, but for me looking at real weddings on the blog was the best way to get inspiration or to think of extra details. It’s also a great way to track down tried and tested suppliers.

Sarah & Greg

Metallics & peonies. A bespoke gown for an elegant wedding at Dorfold Hall – Sarah & Greg

sarah says: Make sure you make time for yourself and invest in a photographer you trust to take great pictures and who you would want to hang out with for 12 hours! Also, make whatever decisions feel right for the two of you. Changing my dress with three months to go felt like a crazy thing to embark on, but it was the best decision I made – I felt a million dollars!

Rachel & Paul

Silver sparkle: Morliee for an intimate wedding at Styal Lodge – Rachel & Paul

rachel says: Get the big things booked in as soon as possible; you are therefore more likely to get the suppliers you want before they get booked up and you have a good idea of how much everything is going to cost well in advance. We wouldn’t recommend a two-year engagement like we had but it was the time we needed to save up for everything we wanted; it was worth it, but it did get a little stressful thinking of the wedding for two whole years. Also, don’t worry about getting around all your guests on the day – just take everything in and enjoy the moment. The only thing we wish we’d had that we didn’t was a live band for the reception.

Emma & Marc

Story of love. A rustic barn wedding at Owen House, Cheshire – Emma & Marc

emma says: Throughout the wedding planning process, I visited Brides Up North to look for local suppliers and read the real weddings with a similar theme so I could get more ideas on what we wanted our wedding to look like. Myself and my maids of honours also visited a wedding fair in Leeds, held by Brides Up North, which we fully enjoyed, particularly sampling the cakes and prosecco on offer!

Katy & Greg

Country charm: Jenny Packham for a homespun Cheshire wedding – Katy & Greg

katy says: Get people to help you, don’t try to do everything yourself! People helped us with all sorts – the wedding playlist, teaching us to dance, making the cake – you name it! Not only does it take some of the stress away, but everyone feels a part of your wedding, which makes it even more special. We got a group of us together to make the decorations about six weeks before the wedding. It was a great way to power through making them all and we had a lovely day spending time together getting excited for the big day. Also, if you’re going on your honeymoon straight afterwards, make sure you have the first few days to just relax, recover and enjoy being newlyweds. We love packing loads into our trips, but boy did we need a few days to just veg out on the beach after it all. It’s more emotionally exhausting than you realise!

Alex & Alex

English Country Garden: Rime Arodaky for a summer tipi wedding at Brinkburn – Alex & Alex

alex says: Enjoy every single part of the planning process. It’s a cliché but the day itself will go by in flash – it may not even go to plan (although we were lucky that ours did) – but the wedding process is so much more. Enjoy your engagement, searching for venues, meeting with suppliers, dress shopping, the hens and stags; it’s all part of it, so enjoy every second.

Lucy & Christopher

Especially for you. A thoughtful tipi wedding in Yorkshire – Lucy & Christopher

lucy says: Having a DIY wedding was much more challenging than we anticipated, mainly in terms of building an infrastructure around the effort and ensuring the costs for this don’t spiral. So, if you do something similar, make sure you talk through with your marquee/ tipi provider what they require in terms of electricity and water, and how they can support you in this area of your planning. There are so many things to think about, from how you can facilitate your caterer, and whether you need a generator, through to organising suitable toilets. Totem Tipi were amazing in helping us to understand all of this and without this level of advice we would have been struggling.

Holly & James

Sweet loving. Amanda Wyatt for urban wedding in Sheffield – Holly & James

holly says: Do exactly what you want to do on your day – just because it doesn’t fit the ‘regular mould’ of a wedding day doesn’t make it any less special. Early in your planning, sit down together and work out what your top priorities are for your day and keep those as your focus.

Emma & Josh

All you need is love. Stella York for a stylish barn wedding in the Lake District – Emma & Josh

emma says: Accept help from people. There were so many family and friends who helped with different aspects of our day. We couldn’t have done it without them and they made our day even more special. Also, there were also some aspects of our day that were a complete surprise to us. We hadn’t seen the wedding cake, we’d given Milly the florist free reign over the flowers and the decorations, and it was so lovely as the bride and groom to have some surprises waiting for us at the venue, rather than knowing every detail inside out.

Rebecca & Joshua

Arriba los novios! A Mexican fiesta at Yorkshire Wedding Barn – Rebecca & Joshua

rebecca says: The Brides Up North site gave us a great starting point when searching for suppliers. The main element we found useful though was definitely the Brides Up North wedding fairs; it’s important to meet your suppliers in person as the people you work with are often far more influential to your day than the products they offer.

Ashleigh & Rhys

Where the heart is. Stella York for an elegant wedding at Soughton Hall – Ashleigh & Rhys

ashleigh says: Start getting ready early on the day of the wedding! The only time I felt any stress or nerves was whilst getting ready in case I was late! My other top tip would be to take in every moment and make a mental note. I got told that so many times before the big day and now I think back and remember so many lovely details.

Charlotte & Jamie

Peonies & prosecco. Suzanne Neville for a sophisticated wedding at Thornton Manor – Charlotte & Jamie

charlotte says: If you are planning a fairly large wedding and know you are going to have a lot going on, get a wedding planner. If you are as meticulous as me, having someone else also with an eye for detail takes a huge weight off your mind on the day. Our day definitely would not have run as smoothly if we didn’t have Helen Eriksen involved. We also found Brides Up North helpful when looking up local suppliers for our day.

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rachel’s diary: team wedding is go!

September 18th, 2018 | Julia Braime

Rachel's Diary (8)

Gotcha! The lead image on today’s post may well have caused you to double take, but Andy and I haven’t got hitched just yet! The photo was actually taken at our best friends’ wedding a few weeks ago where I was a maid of honour and Andy one of the groomsmen.

Attending four fabulous weddings this year has certainly made for very helpful research for our own big day, reaffirming the most important elements to us, where we should allocate more of the budget, where we might be able to make a saving and how to weave special touches among the proceedings.

And now, with no other weddings in the diary between now and summer 2019 we are officially next in line to become Mr & Mrs – and I feel that with less than eight months to go, we are making surprisingly good progress.

I have, however, found myself somewhat torn when writing these diary posts as I’m excited to give you updates and share my experience, but like any other bride-to-be, I don’t want to give away too many details about the big day before it’s happened, especially for those that will be attending.

Following the wedding I’ll certainly be divulging all aspects and details of the amazing suppliers we have onboard, but in the meantime, there are some elements that I think are safe to reveal…

Rachel's Diary (6)

Since my last diary post the day invites have been sent out causing Andy to get weirdly cocker-spaniel-style excited for the post arriving each day. Every time a few more RSVPs drop through the letter box he quickly retrieves them and moves the responding guests’ names into the ‘attending’ column on one of our many planning spreadsheets. I have to say though, I adore this level of enthusiasm and organisation (if only he could take transfer such skills keeping ‘his side’ of our bedroom in order!).

Clean and elegant, we went with a personal ‘R&A’ design in a gold leaf garland for the invite with accompanying details card and RSVP sealed within a brown Kraft envelope, which should tie in nicely with other styling elements that we have planned for the wedding.

Another box ticked is Andy and his groomsmen’s suits, which he found while shopping with his best men in Manchester. It’s really important to me that Andy loves what he wears on the day as much as I love my dress and I must say, though he’s still to accessorise his outfit, he looks absolutely gorgeous in his chosen suit and picturing him in it at our chosen venue The West Mill, gives me butterflies! Finding his attire also helps to pull together the wedding colour palette a little more, though the hue of his tie is an ongoing debate!

We’ve ticked all entertainment boxes now too, with bookings for different parts of the day that we hope will reflect our musical tastes while setting the desired atmosphere and, in turn, creating memories that will last beyond the wedding.

Rachel's Diary (4)

I’ve also recruited my #glamsquad to beautify me and my four bridesmaids – it was certainly an area where I was spoilt for choice as through both Brides Up North and UNVEILED magazine we work with some true talents of the hair and makeup industry. The two pros I’ve enlisted the skills of are Lake-District-based hair stylist Gareth Lambert of Aqua The Salon, and North East makeup artist Anna Cordelia Mason. I’ve had the pleasure of working with this dynamite duo on several occasions and I’ve found their approach and styles to be right up my street, plus they both have such lovely personalities that I know they will bring a really fun yet chilled vibe to the wedding morning.

What else? Well after letting you all know that I unexpectedly found my dream dress in record time in the summer I thought I’d move onto my accessories, starting with my shoes – and I’m thrilled to say I’ll be a Charlotte Mills bride when it comes to my big day footwear. I was keen to go to a designer that specialises in bridal shoes, rather than buy off the high street, as I know the experts in this area provide both style and comfort in their designs. As a girl that lives in trainers (all hail the Stan Smiths!) I couldn’t bare the thought of hobbling around in pain on my wedding day, though I knew I’d want a heel for added height and an elegant posture. Thanks to Charlotte I had the most amazing experience picking the perfect pair from her utterly gorgeous collection and would highly recommend others to follow in my footsteps by visiting her cute boutique in Saddleworth near Oldham or visiting one of her amazing stockists for personal on- to-one service and advice. For those coming to our Luxury Wedding Shows this season, you’re in for an extra special treat as our goody bags will include a Charlotte Mills discount voucher meaning you can bag yourself a pair of her totally dreamy heels and make a saving in the process!

Rachel's Shoes

Next on my wedding to-do list is the bridesmaid dresses, an element of the planning I’m really stoked for as I’m looking to fabulous designer Rosanna Garden of Motee Maids to assist me in dressing my leading ladies. Having first met Rosanna at The White Gallery in London when she’d not long launched her amazing bridesmaid collection, I instantly fell in love with her clever customisable creations that give options on dress style, colour and delicate hand embellishment detailing, enabling individual personalities and style preferences to shine through. Furthermore, Motee Maids was named ‘Best Bridesmaid Collection of the Year’ at the 2018 Bridal Buyer Awards, just last week further cementing Rosanna’s position as a leading designer in the industry. The only problem with picking such a talent is that I will, without doubt, be enviable of my maids’ attire.

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Over the coming months we have a few more suppliers to source and meetings to arrange, including with the florist, caterer and our amazing photographer Jon of S6 Photography. And so, I guess what is safe to say is that the wedding clique is coming together, and momentum is building for the big day, though I’m eager to not wish away the run-up as it’s all part of the wedding experience and a time that I aim to absorb and enjoy!

Catch up on Rachel’s other diary entries here.

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rachel’s wedding diary: some admin, and a dress hunt!

July 17th, 2018 | Rachel Parry

Rach & andy

Ten months – well actually less than ten months to go now until our big day! Our featured brides aren’t lying when they say the run up to the wedding flies by, and in a twist of roles, it is these knowledgeable now-married ladies that I’ve found myself turning to for guidance along this tricky planning path. For despite being immersed in weddings day in day out, and constantly absorbing the expert advice passed on by the amazing suppliers that we work with, I’ve come to realise that nothing quite prepares you for planning your own – and those armed with the most solid advice are the couples that have been there, done that, and bear the wedding bands to prove it.

I therefore really enjoyed putting together this recent post, which lists top tips from our real brides over the past few months, and I’m now trying to put their wise words into practise – “enjoy the organising”, “don’t stress”, “split the workload”, “be decisive”, “break things down into bite-size chunks”. And so, I found myself scheduling a ‘wedding meeting’ with groom-to-be Andy. Sounds rather bridezilla-esque I know, but as we both lead busy lifestyles (or more to the point, our evenings are currently taken up with Love Island #teamdanijack) I felt like it was necessary to ensure we gave the plans some quality time and got a few things ticked off the ever-growing to do list.

It started out all angelic with a notebook and glass of Buck’s Fizz in our sunny garden, though ended with us sat at a computer screen indoors with our heads in our hands. But I’m pleased to report that progress was made!

The invites are almost ready to hit ‘print’ on thanks to my super talented best friend Nic – a graphic designer/art director with a fabulous eye for detail and styling. Another top tip often mentioned by our featured brides is to call on the skills of family and friends, and I couldn’t agree more. As well as potentially saving you a little money, it’s also a lovely way to involve someone you care about in your plans and to bounce ideas off too. I can’t wait to reveal the final result, but if you want to check out some of Nic’s gorgeous wedding stationery designs in the meantime, take a look at her lovely little business, Paper Dates.

In-line with the sorting the invite designs we’ve also firmed up our guest list, which is no mean feat, as despite family politics, we’ve remained determined to invite those closest to us, rather than who’s ‘expected’ to be attending. At my brother’s recent wedding (where Andy and I are pictured in the opening image to today’s post), he and his partner Ben invited just 40 people to their ceremony and evening reception – the vast majority of these being friends – and then opened up the invite to around 100 guests the following evening for a larger-scale party. The result was a really special and intimate atmosphere for the main part of the wedding that we’d love to replicate on our big day, though our numbers are slightly higher due to the style of wedding. Evening guests have been kept to a minimum not to disrupt the flow of the proceedings, and as we’re having a Thursday wedding we appreciate the logistics of people travelling on a work night could be tricky.

So what else? Just the small matter of finding my wedding dress! It fills me with both excitement and nerves to say that after just two bridal boutique appointments, I’ve found the one! I’m not nervous about my choice, just that it makes it all seem so real and we have plenty of planning left to do.

When initially thinking about my dress search I loved the idea of going to around four or five boutiques, trying on lots of gorgeous dresses while enjoying glasses of fizz before making my mind up – but that wasn’t quite the case as it all happened rather quickly, and on reflection I’m rather glad it did. You see, I’m notoriously indecisive so in the back of my mind I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find the perfect dress and as the search would continue I’d become more disheartened and lose my focus.

Rach & Nic

For anyone fearing the same, my advice to help you in your search would be:

1 Initially look in magazines and blogs to find styles of dresses that you think you would like.

2 Next, try to find designers that have those styles in their collections, the price range of such dresses and the boutiques that stock them.

3 If you come across a certain dress by a designer that you are really drawn to, enquire with the boutique if they stock that particular design and, if not, are they able to call it in from the designer for you to try on at your appointment or do they have a designer event coming up where they will have the full collection in store for a limited time?

4 Take two, three people maximum to your appointment with you to avoid too many differing opinions. I took my mum and best friend Nic as these are the people I tend to shop with and they know my style and personality best. Most importantly I knew they would be 100% honest with me.

5 Try on a variety of styles. Even if you couldn’t think of anything worse than an A-line princess gown it’s good to try a variety of style to get an idea of what you do want – and while you might not like the overall style on you, there may be an element, such as the neckline, that you love and can look for in another design.

6 Go to a professional boutique rather than shopping on the high street or at warehouse style stores. The service that I received at both boutiques was second to none, as experienced stylists they listened to my plans and style and suggested dresses accordingly, and even made further suggestions on how the design could be altered. Those that have an in-house seamstress in particular are great at giving you alternatives, such as differing necklines, adding straps, sleeves or building in bra cups (the ab-so-lute dream for us small-busted girls keen not to look like a 13-year-old on their wedding day).

7 Move. Don’t just walk around the changing room and boutique rigid, you will need to be able to eat, drink, sit (and possibly kneel if in church), hug and dance in that dress so you have to feel comfortable and at ease.

8 Finally, when you find a dress you like ask yourself – can you see yourself getting married in that dress and will it work with the venue? Don’t worry about the styling, as these are details that will follow and that you can alter to work in-line with the dress. The most important thing is that you are comfortable, feel confident and above all, you love it!

During my appointments my mum and Nic compared me to Princess Diana and Shirley Bassey in some of the dresses so their speechless reactions and teary eyes spoke volumes when I emerged in what will be my dress for the big day. Thankfully there were no comparisons and the overriding opinion was that the dress was totally me!

And so, my journey continues, and I imagine there will need to be a fair few more ‘wedding meetings’ scheduled with Andy up to May, not to mention a ‘hen do brief’ with my #bridesquad as I try to decide where to have my final hurrah as Miss Parry – and make clear that no phallic straws or inflatables will be required!*

*Editor’s note: Just try and stop us Rach!

 

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delight in the detail: fine finishing touches

June 19th, 2018 | Laura McDonagh

Pic 1

image source, photography by Carly Bevan Photography

So, you’ve chosen your venue, decided on the date, picked your colour palette and drawn up your guest list. Dress dilemmas are done and dusted, and you’ve selected which gal pals will accompany you down the aisle (still agonising? Check out our tips!). You’ve painstakingly worked your way down the wedding admin tick-list, from the cool stuff – food, music, entertainment – to the not-so-cool stuff – insurance and checking the venue’s PAT testing requirements.

If that’s the case, then bravo and a big shiny gold star for you! And we have good news: it’s time to take a break from all the adulting and spend some time indulging in the frivolous – but fun – details. We’re talking about the kind of finishing touches and frippery that won’t necessarily make or break your day (or your budget, for that matter) but are nevertheless important to you. These little features are often used as a way to make your celebration more personal, more poignant or simply to pump up the wedding wow factor.

So how to make your big day stand out from the rest?

pretty paper

Pic 3

image source, photography by Weddings by Smith

Maybe I’m just a weird stationery fiend – always a possibility – but I find that there are so many ways to incorporate little personal paper details into your big day. I’ve been to weddings where origami decorations (flowers, rainbow-coloured cranes) featured heavily, paper pompoms, lanterns and streamers provided a colourful (and cheap) decor hit, and place settings and table plans and numbers/names were creatively inspired. Plus, any excuse for a creative get together and cava – oops, I mean crafting – session with your pals, eh?

fancy favours

Pic 6

image source, photography by Pixsmiths Photography

Couples who put thought into their favours just make us squeal with their cuteness. They don’t need to be expensive – bottles of Bolly and Creme de la Mer products might be affordable for Kimmy K, but not for us mere mortals – so get your thinking caps on. My favourites from recent years have included a pork pie wrapped in floral fabric, gingerbread men from a local bakery, Jameson miniatures from a fellow whiskey-loving bride and Nutella tubs with guests’ names on the label. What’s personal to you that you haven’t seen before at a wedding? I feel a spider diagram coming on….

gorgeous guests

Pic 7

image source, photography by Bethany Whittaker

Another detail we love – guest books with a twist. Colouring in charts, polaroid or photobooth sessions, date and anniversary ideas, advice for a happy marriage, memory requests, song recommendations – they all get a thumbs up for individuality and creativity from us. Could your venue or interests lend you some inspiration? One couple I know who married in Newcastle’s Baltic modern art gallery asked all of their guests to draw a self-portrait of themselves and stick it to the glass walls, later putting all of the pictures together into a book. It was a great ice-breaker activity on the tables for people who didn’t already know each other and caused a not-insignificant amount of hilarity – bonus!

perfect pressies

Pic 8

image source, photography by Bethany Whittaker

It used to be that brides and grooms thanked their mums with a big bouquet of last-minute lilies and that was that. Well, no more. Bridal party gifts are another area where the bride gets to go off the beaten track and have some fun. You can go personal – family pictures from the past turned into a beautiful photobook? – or poignant – an engraved locket with a snapshot of the two of you? Maybe she’d appreciate a massage to unwind from all of the stress of the preparations, or perhaps you could book an afternoon tea for the two of you to debrief and share photos a few weeks down the line. The same goes for your #bridesquad, #groomsquad and all of the others who’ve lent a hand, an ear or a wedding car for the big day – think personal and be creative.

creative cakes

Pic 5

image source, photography by Hayley Blackledge Photography

We look at a lot of pictures of cake (I know, it’s a tough gig) and, by default, lots of cake toppers. It’s clear that this is an area where brides and grooms express their individuality, straying far from traditional couple figurines. We’ve seen Lego people, knitted creations, superhero motifs and even beloved pets rendered in icing. What tickles your fancy?

Also, we’ve lost count of the number of brides who declare their dislike – or their husband’s lack of enthusiasm – for a traditional fruit cake with marzipan icing. The cake flavours described on these hallowed pages, from chocolate orange to pink lemonade, reflect the individuality of each couple and make us drool with worrying regularity. But who says you even have to have cake? We love it when brides demand something a bit different: a favourite family pudding, a humungous cheeseboard or a croquembouche – or an entire wall of doughnuts?! Now we’re talking!

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planning like a pro: the final countdown

June 12th, 2018 | Laura McDonagh

Pic 2 - Joe Mather Photography

Joe Mather Photography

We’ve made it to the last hurdle readers – parts one, two and three of our ‘planning like a pro’ series have dealt with (most of) the wedmin and now it’s (mostly) the smaller elements left to organise in the final countdown to your big day! Eek! Notebooks at the ready ladies and let us chivvy you along to Operation Get Wed!

In the last three instalments we’ve covered how to choose a season and date, venue choice, how to make a decision on key suppliers, the guest list, budget thoughts, the dress and styling and now we’re really focusing in on those all-important details.

Phew! So now it’s time to round things off by taking a look at what should be filling your days when you have just a month or so to go until the vows and celebrations!

mood music

It’s time to speak to your celebrant and find out the rules surrounding music for your ceremony before making some tough choices. Churches are often more flexible than they used to be and allow ‘secular’ music, but you’ll find that registrars must check the music for civil ceremonies and that it must be secular in nature. So what, you might think, I wasn’t planning on hymns, but if you’re a diehard Jeff Buckley fan (Halleluiah) or you fancy a classical piece that doesn’t immediately strike you as religious but is (Ave Maria), you might run into difficulties. So, get thinking, discussing and checking – it’s a great excuse to run up a Spotify playlist or two and pit each other’s choices against each other…can we convince you to go for Frankie Goes to Hollywood Two Tribes? Pretty please?

Pic 7 - Joe Stenson

Joe Stenson

hot off the press

You’ll also need to print your Orders of Service, your menus and other bits of stationery if you’re doing these yourselves. Run menus by your caterer or venue for a final check, especially for the spellings of obscure French wines and vegetable varieties and ask at least two other family members or friends to look over your Orders of Service – preferably those with a particularly beady eye or, you know, an English degree. There’s nothing more dispiriting than unearthing a typo two hundred copies in. Doh.

Pic 3 - Kate McCarthy

Kate McCarthy

take a seat

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the scenes in our living room leading up to our wedding were reminiscent of Churchill in the Cabinet War Rooms – minus the cigars, but probably with a comparable amount of claret. How to sit our uni friends together without putting one particularly bitter pair of exes within spitting distance of each other was a feat of problem solving that would have taxed Alan Turing. Where to position Uncle Willy out of harm’s – and the bar’s – way? Our advice: do not underestimate the time a seating plan will take. It’s not a last-minute admin task and the squabbling that may (will) endure will test your marriage before it’s even begun. And that’s before you even get started with the last-minute cancellations. You have been warned!

Pic 6 - Stu Ganderton

Stu Ganderton

thoughtful gifting

You might also want to buy your other half a gift for the morning of the wedding – nothing says ‘I love you’ like a carefully considered gift or, you know, a novelty tea towel if that’s what floats your boat. We’ve seen everything here at Brides Up North from a favourite scent to a designer watch – I had a beeyootiful leather satchel made especially for my other half (lined with William Morris fabric, no less) and presented it to him (via his best man) on the morning of our wedding. He was bowled over and still uses it to this day – and I’m still reaping the #excellentwife points. Choose well, readers.

Pic 5 - Melissa Beattie

Melissa Beattie

spreadsheets at the ready

It’s time to work with your key suppliers – we’re thinking celebrant, photographer, caterers, wedding planner/master of ceremonies at the venue and evening entertainment – to compile a definitive running order for the day. This needs to be given to the best man and other members of the bridal party – it’s what they signed up for! – with instructions for them to follow it to the letter. They’ll need to give directions, guidance and hurry people along if they seem to be stalling at certain points, so encourage them to be assertive – after all, you’ll be too busy mingling, posing for pictures and scoffing canapes to take much notice. Plus, you probably won’t have any pockets keep a copy close at hand sooo **insert shrugging emoji here**

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teamwork makes the dream work: involving the groom

May 17th, 2018 | Alexis Forsyth

Pic 7

Image by Jess Yarwood, image source

It’s true, us brides love wedding planning and we’ll more often than not take the lead in all the big decisions for our special day. After all, we’ve been secretly planning our dream wedding since we first stumbled across Disney’s happily ever afters and waltzing down the aisle in the prettiest of white ball gowns. But don’t forget the groom!

You and your partner will no doubt make some key decisions together, such as the choice of wedding venue, the date you actually tie the knot and setting the budget, but chances are, you’ll be the one curating all the Pinterest boards, flicking through glossy bridal magazines, sipping fizz at the bustling wedding fairs (of which Brides Up North are hosting two this weekend) and poring over wedding blogs for inspiration (waves!).

The reality is, your partner is probably not going to share your excitement for floral bouquets and lanterns. So, the trick is to get him involved in the bits that do interest him and which you’re happy to take a step back from, and then let him take charge.

And, for everything else, try to make the planning process as stress-free and fun as possible – and make it a journey you take together. To get you started, we’ve pulled together a few ideas to get your beau all fired up for your special day and help you tick off that ever-expanding to-do list… enjoy!

Pic 4

Image by Jo Bradbury, image source

day trippin’

It goes without saying that you should view potential wedding venues together, but why not make a real occasion out of it, and pique your beau’s interest and enthusiasm for wedding planning from the outset? If the venue boasts an in-house restaurant – treat yourselves to a spot of lunch or even dinner. If the venue is located within a lavish country estate – explore the grounds together with a romantic walk or outdoor picnic. And if there’s on-site accommodation – enjoy a luxurious overnight stay one weekend, all in the name of ‘research’, of course!

live it up

Battle of the bands events are commonplace these days, giving couples like you the chance to experience a variety of live acts first-hand as you whittle down your favourite genres and performances in the lead up to your big day. You may even have your eyes on a specific singer or band who have a regular stint at a local bar or venue, so why not get yourselves along to see and hear them in action? Even if your beau is a bit reluctant to get his dancing shoes on, we think it’s unlikely he’ll turn down the opportunity for a cheeky pint and some quality live music.

Pic 5

Image by S6 Photography, image source

sweets for your sweet

Chances are, you’ll have already decided on your dream cake – the number of tiers, whether it’s fully iced or naked, the dainty decorations, even the cute cake toppers. But if you’d like your partner to get just as enthused as you about all things sugary and sweet – why not get him involved in decisions around the flavours? Once again, this might require some research – tasting a variety of combinations to see which is to your liking (a real nuisance, we know). Why not take a tier each and then both agree on a flavour for your third layer?

make a meal of it

Most venues will invite you in to sample the menu and choose which dishes you’d like to serve on your big day and it goes without saying that this is something you should most definitely do together. But if you’re more of a free-spirited type, opting for a DIY style wedding and sourcing your own catering, then this can be the perfect excuse for you to both get out and about, following around your favourite foodie pop-ups and vans to sample their creations first-hand.

Pic 8

Image by Ruth Atkinson Photography, image source

put a ring on it

When it comes to shopping for wedding bands – think about combining this with a city break as it’ll take the focus off the wedding ring search itself and offer up a much more enticing itinerary packed with sightseeing, culture, food and drink. What’s not to love? And even if you fail to locate your perfect pair of rings, or your hubby-to-be’s enthusiasm for your shopping trip begins to wane, you’ll still have lots of other activities to look forward to during your mini break!

passion project

Playing up to your partner’s passions is one of the best and easiest ways to get him involved in your wedding planning. Not only will it make sense in terms of easing your own to do list, it’ll also give him something to take real ownership of. If he loves his gin, ask him to make a batch to give out to your guests as favours. Food more his thing? Ask him to liaise with any external caterers or pop-up suppliers you’re looking to bring on-board. Maybe he’s a film buff, so get him to lead on booking the videographer and briefing them on what you’d like captured on the day. Whatever his vice – think about how it can be incorporated into your special day and let him run with it!

Pic 3

Image by Ed Godden Photography, image source

the fun factor

While you’re focusing on prettifying the venue and adding all those smaller, refined details to the day – think about asking your partner to lead on key but less taxing elements such as the entertainment – whether it’s pulling together a playlist for your DJ, booking (or making) a photo-booth, or crafting some games for the guests to play. Let him plan out all of the day’s fun-filled activities and enlist a little help from his groomsmen to boot.

get creative

Allow your partner’s talents shine and ask him to get hands on in preparation for the wedding. With so many opportunities to get crafty – whether it’s designing your wedding invitations, building a box for your wedding cards, maybe even making your table seating plan or getting his toolkit out for your centrepiece creations – he can really put his skills into practice and do a little bit of showing off, too, but in an understated way (although we’re pretty certain he’ll still brag about it on the day itself!).

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