Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

wish you were here: marvellous minimoon ideas

November 9th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

Ronnie Rose Photography 2

Ronnie Rose Photography

As temperatures continue to dip, we think it’s only right to dispel any forthcoming winter blues with a holiday-related post.

A fairly recent phenomenon, the not-so-humble minimoon fills the gap for lots of couples between a big blowout honeymoon at a later date and the need for some serious downtime after the wedding planning whirlwind. Maybe you’re leaving the Caribbean until after the stormy season has passed, or you’re putting off that trip to Iceland until you’ve got a decent chance of seeing the Northern Lights. Or perhaps after following Rachel’s recent advice and splashing your cash on the dress of your dreams, you’ve simply got some pennies to save. Either way, a minimoon can be the perfect way to chill and indulge a little if money or time is short.

So, to help inspire where you can go for a little romance, rest and relaxation after the big day, here’s our round-up of top minimoon ideas…

spa o’clock

Titanic Spa

Titanic Spa

There’s little more indulgent than a spa, and in the UK you’ll have plenty of luxury day or spa hotels to choose from. Many spas have specific minimoon packages, meaning you’ll get a great deal too. Also, you’ll have flexibility – a couple of nights with ‘basic’ access to the sauna, steam room and swim facilities is a great way to unwind, or you can treat yourselves with a bespoke Mr and Mrs. Just gown up, lay back and float away…

beside the seaside

Stan Seaton Photography

Stan Seaton Photography

The seaside is synonymous with holidays, and so where better to head for your minimoon than the UK coast? Reluctant grownups can release their inner big kid at the beach, heading for the arcades and the candyfloss stands, running wild on the sand or paddling in the balmy (OK, perhaps ‘icy’ is more realistic, but bear with me) waters. Long romantic walks, plenty of opportunities to write your new married names in the sand – plus, what tastes better than real fish and chips with lashings of salt and vinegar out of a paper, especially after a pre-wedding healthy eating campaign? I rest my case.


Sarah Maria Photography

Sarah Maria Photography

We actually did this – three days after getting hitched, a ‘proper’ minimoon in Northumberland coming up and a big honeymoon in India on the horizon in winter, we headed to the local campsite for a post-wedding night away. And I can recommend it on the following basis: camping creates the instant sense of an uber-romantic adventure. There’s just the two of you alone with only the elements and a starry sky for company – plus, you know, the convenience of an electric hook-up and local pub. There’s also the opportunity to test the strength of your newly-forged marriage by putting a tent up together. If you can survive that one, readers, you’re onto a winner.

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wedding planning made fun: banish those pre-wedding woes

November 7th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

Peace wedding photography 8

Image by Peace Wedding Photography

It may well be the best day of your life, but the days spent willing the budget column of a spreadsheet to add up and the hours spent fashioning super-fiddly origami cranes? Not so much. There’s no getting away from it – a wedding means big ol’ Life Admin at every turn, and it can get pretty…well, tedious.

I distinctly remember the winter before our wedding as a rough one – we were literally snowed in for a week. Snow-bound, I was suddenly confronted by all of the wedding admin I’d been avoiding and there was nowhere to hide. Two days later and the living room resembled Churchill’s Cabinet War Rooms – a table plan of military proportions and precision was in place, as well as an epic photographer’s itinerary and 180 washi-taped place cards that Pinterest would be proud of. It sounds drastic, but that snowfall saved our wedding. But if there isn’t a storm on the horizon and you’ve got piles of stuff to sort? Well, here are some ideas that might just save your bacon.

friends that craft together

Pic by Carly Bevan Photography

Image by Carly Bevan

Are you DIYing it? For most brides-to-be, there’s an element of DIY, whether it’s outsourcing the cake to a family friend, fashioning a few flower arrangements or going the whole hog with rustic orders of service and homemade favours. A word to the wise: don’t be afraid to call in a few favours, ladies, and get your friends together to help. I mean, by all means, make it worth their wine – oops, I mean while – by supplying some drinks and snacks and perhaps a favourite DVD or six. It’s the perfect opportunity to a girly catch-up at a time when ordinarily you’d be super busy with all of your preparations, and keeps your closest pals in step with what’s going on. I did a craft session as part of my hen do – it was in a bar, as you do, so plenty of, err, refreshments were available, lots of fun was had and we made a stack of bunting for the reception venue. Winners all round.

food glorious food

Wynn Davies Photography

Image by Wynn Davies Photography

Food choices can often be a big stress associated with wedding planning. How will Cousin Johnny – who’s never eaten anything green in his life – cope with the vegetable medley? Will Aunty Margaret turn her nose up at the haddock entree? How do you please everyone? Well, the short answer is that you can’t. Better to choose what you want (within reason-ish) and be done with it – and have as wonderful a time choosing that meal as you possibly can. Arrange a tasting session with your venue and indulge, people – we at Brides Up North insist.

Peace Wedding Photography

Image by Peace Wedding Photography

line them up

Pic by Babb Photo

Image by Babb Photo

There’s also the liquid refreshment to consider, and an evening spent wine or cocktail tasting can be a wonderful way to unwind after all the stress of planning – just you and your other half, or you could invite a few friends to thank them for all of their crafty efforts – see my first suggestion. You could find the perfect wine to accompany your meal, as well as the perfect cocktail to serve your guests on arrival. Or perhaps you could try several just to make sure and then go with prosecco as originally planned, anyway…you’ve got to be certain, right?!

shop ‘til you drop

Peace Wedding Photography 7

Image by Peace Wedding Photography

Beyond the realms of your laptop, there are other ways to source suppliers; whether it be snuggling up on the sofa with a pile of glossy wedding mags (including UNVEILED, of course) or venturing out to a wedding fair. Here at Brides Up North we organise and run more than 40 Luxury Wedding Fairs across the north of the country (you can see what we have coming up for Spring 2018 here) and so we know just how fabulous these events. Held at venues from fine country houses, to urban warehouses and rustic barns, there is something for all, and as well as viewing some spectacular settings, you will also get the chance to meet local suppliers face to face, be inspired by their creations, products and services and perhaps sample a few cakes, sweet carts and pop-up fizz and street food stands along the way, providing an enjoyable and productive day out.

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tis (nearly!) the season: winter wedding tips from dine

October 31st, 2017 | Julia Braime

The Mansion at Roundhay Park

Though the cold weather can be a turn off for some couples, winter actually has a lot to offer brides and grooms-to-be.

With celebrations by candlelight, those tying the knot during the colder months of the year can piece together a warming and luxurious big day, complete with hearty food, fine tipples, opulent décor and elegant attire.

So as the temperatures drop, and the nights draw in, we’re in the mood for some comforting winter wedding inspiration, with all the necessary elements covered for an atmospheric big day that gives a sophisticated nod to the season.

And here to provide such details is Matt Jones, managing director of award-winning catering and hospitality company Dine, which caters for more than 200 weddings each year – making him well-versed in seasonal celebrations…


Mark Newton Wedding Photography

Matt says: As any expert or newlywed couple will know, venue hire can often be one of the most expensive aspects of a wedding. However, if you’re looking to cut the costs while still getting married at your dream venue, winter can be the perfect season. With less demand in winter, venues may offer off-season rates, made even cheaper if you go for a mid-week rather than weekend wedding. Winter may also offer greater availability for both venue and other suppliers meaning you may be more likely to book your dream venue than another more popular season.

With its large windows looking out across the beautiful Roundhay Park, Dine’s venue The Mansion offers the perfect indoor setting for your winter wedding. The Greek Palladian style, Grade II listed building offers several ceremony and reception rooms of varying sizes enabling you to hold your wedding ceremony and breakfast in the same building. Whichever room you choose, they are guaranteed to remain warm and toasty throughout your day whilst affording you some great views.

As the bride and bridesmaids can get ready in The Mansion before having both the ceremony and reception in this stunning building, there is no worry of arriving windswept or snowed on. Situated in the rolling 700 acres of Roundhay Park, The Mansion also offers the opportunity for magical winter wonderland photography.

food & drink

Dine's festive plum and date pudding

No matter the season, food and drink is one aspect that can make or break a wedding. The coming of winter means warming and hearty food that will leave a smile on the faces of your guests.

When guests arrive at your venue why not greet them with mulled wine or warming sloe gin? Guests will be grateful for this warm welcome to your wedding and it will leave them in a good mood for the ceremony and reception. If your guests include children try serving fun coffees and teas or luxurious hot chocolate for a family friendly alternative.

Whether you’re going for a festive theme or not, the food served at your wedding should be comforting and sustaining. After standing outside having photographs taken, your guests will very much appreciate comfort food that will bring them back up to temperature.

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your day, your way: making it personal

October 2nd, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth

Pic 3

Image source, Photography by Hayley Blackledge Photography

A wedding is the ultimate form of self-expression that a couple can make. Not only is it the one day where they formally declare their love and commitment to one another, but it’s also a chance for them to showcase who they are, individually and a as a couple, and share the memories they’ve created together so far.

That’s why, when it comes to the finer, smaller details, these can sometimes be more telling, more intimate, and more personal than the grander, sweeping statements made around the choice of venue, the colour scheme and so on.

The table names, the favours, the guest book, even the entertainment and those special extra touches you plan – they all make your wedding, yours. So, don’t overlook these – they’re the really important entries listed in your wedding planner.

As such, we’re today exploring just some of the ways you can inject your personality and interests into your big day and make it a memorable one for you and all your guests.


Pic 2

Image source, Photography by Hayley Blackledge Photography

First things first, an overarching wedding theme can be a catch all means of making your wedding personal to you and knit together all the different elements of your day. A nod to a Celtic heritage, a love for travel, a passion for a local football team, a special era such as the 1920s – whatever allows you to showcase ‘you’ is a great starting point.

Your table names are one of the simplest ways to make a personal statement – think about sharing your favourite holiday destinations, your favourite books or musicians, or something that relates to a shared hobby. Your centre pieces and place names can also tie in with this.

Many couples take a DIY approach to their wedding table plan and the box that houses their wedding cards. And instead of a guest book, why not create a jigsaw of a special photograph, and ask your guests to leave a message on each piece?

Pic 1

Image source, Photography by Ginger & Lime Photography

You might want to create a montage of photographs too showing you both in your early childhood and then chronicling your time together. Another special touch is to feature wedding photos of your parents and grandparents, or loved ones who are sadly no longer with you.

As for other decorations in the venue – what ambience do you want to create, and what expresses you as a couple? Do you consider yourselves as laid-back cultural enthusiasts, sporty and adventurous, or nomads forever indulging in your wanderlust? Think about the lighting, flowers and foliage, and other props that can help express your ‘vibe’ as a couple.


Pic 4

Image source, Photography by Jessica O’Shaughnessy

Here at Brides Up North, we’re always intrigued by the vast assortment of favours handed out at weddings. Gone are the traditional sugared almonds and instead, guests are presented with chocolates, macaroons, candles, scratch cards, wooden hearts, homemade jam, glow sticks and even a donation to a charity on their behalf, close to the couple’s hearts. The question is, what small gesture encapsulates you both, or ties in with your wider wedding theme?

food & drink

Pic 7

Image source, photography by Bethany Clarke

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spot-on setting: top tips for picking your wedding venue

September 26th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

Andie Freeman Photography

Andie Freeman Photography

This afternoon we’re handing over the blog to our lovely guest writer, Izzy Hicks of our media partner Love Our Wedding Magazine, to share her wedding-planning pearls of wisdom with you lovely brides-to-be!

For today’s post, she’s talking venues, and offering advice on the various elements to take into consideration when searching for the perfect place to host your big day celebrations…


Lara Frost Photography

izzy says: Your wedding venue is one of the most important parts of creating your day, as it can totally change the feel, size and style of your wedding depending on what you pick. As such, here are my top tips for choosing the perfect setting for your special day…

Peppermint Love Photography

Peppermint Love Photography

style in mind

When discussing your ideal wedding, you and your partner have probably got an idea of how you want the day to feel, and may have started thinking about colours and décor. How formal would you like it to be? Which season are you considering? Are you thinking rustic or glamorous? All these factors can help you narrow down which venues you view, and find the picture-perfect setting for your wedding day.

wedding season

Your chosen wedding season will have a big impact on your wedding venue, and therefore the look of your day. If you’re dreaming of a winter wedding, then don’t let the rose garden or the outdoor ceremony space sell you into a venue, as it’s likely it won’t get put to use in the colder months. Instead, opt for rustic spaces that will look elegant lit by candles or fairy lights. Equally, if you’re planning a summer celebration, then make the most of venues with natural light and garden features, but ensure there’s enough indoor space for all your guests if the weather turns sour.

Shane Weber Photography

Shane Weber Photography

size matters

The size of your venue (and of your guest list) can make a real difference to the feel of your wedding. If you love the idea of an intimate wedding with all your loved ones close by, then picking a smaller venue can help you get that feeling – think about a beautifully-decorated restaurant, wine cellar, or pub if you want a wedding day with a cosy feel, rather than booking a larger space that will feel empty. Alternately, brides with masses of friends and family attending may prefer a large, glamorous ballroom with high ceiling, which won’t be overwhelmed by a large group, or even a festival-style wedding outdoors with plenty of space to spread out.

what’s important

Focusing on areas that you know you and your partner want to make the most of on your big day can help you find the perfect setting. For example, if you’re live music fans and want a rocking dancefloor all night, then be on the lookout for venues with raised stage areas and generous noise allowance. If you’re both foodies who are dreaming of a wedding feast, find a venue with lots of outside space for food trucks, or built-in pizza ovens or outdoor fire pits. If you know you’ll have elderly relatives or lots of young ones at your day and your priority is making your family comfortable, keep your eye out for easily-accessible rooms, comfortable seating or children’s play areas.

Daz Mack Photography

Daz Mack Photography

go non-traditional

You may feel that stately home, barn and marquee are your only venue options, but these days plenty of couples are thinking outside the box when it comes to their wedding setting. Consider a zoo or aquarium, quirky museum, art gallery or warehouse. If you want something meaningful to you both, why not ask the school where you met, or the place you got engaged if they can do weddings?

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best dressed: tips on wedding dress shopping

September 7th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

Pic 3

image source, photography by Jess Yarwood Photography

Following the summer, we’re welcoming a new surge of readers to the blog *waves*, mostly whom accepted a proposal while away on their holidays (you lucky things!). A good way to avoid those post-holiday blues setting in would be to throw yourselves into the wedding planning – and girls, we’re here to help.

Though daunting, it’s also a very exciting time as you begin to piece together your dream day. In the most sensible of terms, we’d advise you to start off by looking for, and securing, your top choice of setting and photographer – however, we know how easy it is to get caught up in the desire to dress shop!

I mean this isn’t just any outfit; as a main focal point of the day this is a moment to shine in front of your family; outdo, we mean, impress your friends, and feel amazing, not ashamed, when you come to show your children, and possibly, your grandchildren, your wedding album in years to come.

So, in preparation of your boutique-visiting expedition, we gift you the following top tips…

Pic 1

image source, photography by Sarah Beth Photo

research, research, research

As if you haven’t already been pinning wedding dresses quicker than a Kardashian can contour her face, now is the time to expand the research beyond just the appearance of the dress, to the designers that you like, the price tag of such dresses, and in which boutiques you can expect to find them. Often designers will have a certain signature look – vintage-esque Eliza Jane Howell, girlie Charlotte Balbier, sweet So Sassi and beautiful boho by Rembo. This means by studying their collections you should be able to get a feel for the designer’s overall style, and perhaps even pick out key designs that you’re particularly drawn to. You can then research which boutiques stock such designers and in what proximity they are located to you. Some will share the price range of their dresses on the boutique’s website, so it’s worth having a quick search before booking.

Pic 4

image source, photography by Sean Elliott Photography

timing is everything

Though we know you’re itching Muriel-Heslop-style (a 1994 film reference for any babies out there) to get trying on those dresses, you don’t want to begin visiting boutiques too early, or even too late. Most dress shop owners recommend starting around 12 to 18 months in advance of the wedding to allow time for ordering in the dress and making alterations ahead of the big day. While you can start a little in advance, the danger of picking out a dress too early is that you might change your mind before the wedding arrives (numerous of our featured real brides have admitted falling victim to this). A change of heart can be very costly, so regardless of exactly when you pick your gown, we suggest you don’t actively continue your search beyond that point.

Pic 2

image source, photography by James Tracey

safety in numbers

While it’s natural to want to share your dress shopping experience with you mum, nan, sister and aunt, not to mention your #girlsquad, too many opinions can hinder, rather than help, when it comes to making your decision. Most boutiques suggest picking no more than three shopping companions if possible, and selecting those that you can trust 100%. So before booking appointments, think about whose opinion you will value most, and who you want to share that special moment with.

that loving feeling

You will have heard the expression “I knew it was the one” used by brides on many an occasion, but what they report is real. The intense gut feeling that they know they have found their dream dress for their big day, whether it be the first or 50th gown they try on. If you’re just not getting that loving feeling though, try not to settle or feel pressured. Take time to go away and think about it, is there any dresses that you are being drawn back to, or do you need to expand your search further before making that final decision?

Pic 5

image source, photography by Melissa Beattie Photography

trust the experts

Trained bridal stylists know their Peiros from their Packhams, the style, detailing, cut and fit of a gown, and so it’s worth taking their suggestions and advice on board. Often, they will begin a consultation with a chat about your personal style and the type of wedding you are planning before helping you to pick out gowns to try on. If they suggest a wild card, give it a try. No end of brides have said the dress they ended up picking is nothing like what they thought they would go for, but a bridal stylist persuaded them to try it on and they’re so glad they did.

Pic 6

image source, photography by Melissa Beattie Photography

stay true to you

Overall the decision comes down to you and what you feel most confident in. Don’t forget you will be wearing the dress all day; eating, drinking, dancing and (if your groom struggles to get you out of it) possibly sleeping in it, so you need to feel comfortable too. Most of all you want to feel like you; don’t be tempted to play ‘dress-up’ with something too far out of your comfort zone. So, if you’re naturally a fashionista go bold with an on-trend design, but if classic chic is more your thing, an elegant princess-style gown will ensure that you do go to the ball!

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