April 17th, 2018 | Laura McDonagh
David Walters Photography, image source
We do love a theme here at Brides Up North, and some seriously picture-perfect big days have been popping up on the blog recently: all-natural woodland-inspired weddings, ultra-romantic chic celebrations and Pantone’s colour of 2018 (ultra violet, in case you’re wondering) have all made an appearance on these pinky pages of late – but when you’re looking for gorgeousness and scrolling through inspo galore, how do you stop those glorious images blurring into one? You want to be inspired, yes, but not reduced to copying – the last thing any discerning bride wants is a wedding that’s a carbon copy of a real wedding that’s gone viral, are we right?
So, it’s time to channel the inimitable Coco Chanel and find a way to stand out, whatever your theme. Sadly, those ‘20 Ways to Make Your Big Day Unique!’ articles aren’t going to do the trick – we hate to break it to you, but they’re full of the same old tired advice. You simply can’t ‘fake’ originality; the trick is to think long and hard about what’s representative of you as a couple and find the elements of your big day where it feels really important to be true to yourself.
Easier said than done? Well, ask yourself this: what are you known for amongst your family and friends? What shared loves did you and your partner bond over? Start brainstorming, but don’t worry about integrating it into your wedding plans just yet – just get thinking. Are you a pair of bona-fide coffee snobs? Love Tarantino movies? Sunday pain-au-chocolats? Holidaying in Lisbon? Tequila?! Whatever it is, get it down. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to think about which elements could fit into your wedding day – and how that might happen.
James Tracey Photography, image source
Depending on your choice of ceremony, you may have the option of adding to the legally-required script – however, you need to check with the celebrant and the relevant local council. Nevertheless, it’s a great option for couples looking to personalise their day. What do you want to promise your other half alongside your love and fidelity? Your support for their goals and ambitions? Your laughter? Control over the remote during Olympics season? Go for it.
Image by Ed Godden Photography, image source
Readings are also an opportunity to express your individuality in a civil ceremony, whether you decide on a conventional Captain Corelli’s Mandolin-style all-about-the-love excerpt or something more unusual. Go back to your list – do you love Manchester like this recent Brides Up North couple? Perhaps have a read of Salford bard John Cooper Clarke’s poem I Wanna Be Yours. Met at Uni in York? Check out York-born WH Auden’s Tell Me The Truth About Love. Of course, lots of couples go for highly personal music choices – you might recall this film-loving bride whose ceremony featured the hauntingly beautiful Jurassic Park theme tune. Hey, that Tarantino passion might prove unexpectedly inspirational – what about dancing back down the aisle to Chuck Berry’s You Never Can Tell like Uma Thurman and John Travolta in Pulp Fiction? Do it, please (and then send the photos to us, natch!)
Image by Carla Blain Photography, image source
There’s lots of opportunity for originality at the reception, too: do away with the roast dinner and deny your guests fruit cake if it doesn’t do it for you (FYI eating a roast is my idea of an I’m A Celebrity challenge, and so we had leg of lamb and Moroccan couscous for the main at our wedding – insert shrugging emoji here). Go for innovative flavours that reflect your personal tastes (Jaffa? Reece’s peanut butter cups?) or cancel the cake altogether and have something altogether more representative – a cheese board, a pork pie ‘cake’, fondue or a croquembouche. Favours also benefit from the personal touch – donations to special charities, a jar of your favourite childhood sweets or access to a specially-compiled Spotify playlist charting your relationship to date. And as far as drinks are concerned – what about a rum-based welcome drink to pay homage to your Cuban honeymoon? A signature cocktail with Yorkshire rhubarb or Irish whiskey to celebrate your heritage? Limoncello to hark back to your Italian engagement? The personalisation possibilities are endless.
Image by Carla Blain Photography, image source
Stationery – so, orders of service, menu cards, seating plans and table names – are often the first port of call for brides and grooms looking to make their reception a little more ‘them’. What about naming your tables after your favourite albums (psst! LP sleeves are the perfect size for a table sign and have the added bonus of looking super-cool), important years in your families’ histories complete with old photographs, favourite movie titles or quotations (romantic or otherwise) or favourite holiday destinations? I once went to a wedding where the tables were named after different breeds of sheep – proof that there’s no limit to some couples’ creativity!
April 9th, 2018 | Rachel Parry
Melissa Beattie Photography, source
Nope, the topic of this afternoon’s post isn’t wedding karaoke or even new craze marryoke, but instead brides shaking up tradition by choosing to make a speech on their wedding day.
Gasp you might, as this is a duty usually dealt to the groom, father-of-the-bride and best man, but no longer are speeches considered a male-only zone, as mothers, maids of honour and brides themselves are stepping up to the mark and relishing in the opportunity to address and entertain guests with their memories, anecdotes and well wishes.
And with bride-to-be of the moment Meghan Markle, set to be making a speech at the royal wedding, we can only see this emerging trend continuing to grow. As such, we’ve invited an expert in the field to the blog today to inspire and inform you ladies on how to smash public speaking – please welcome our wonderful Sponsor, Emma of Emma Taylor Presents.
The fairy godmother of wedding speeches, Emma offers a series of group workshops and one-to-one coaching sessions on how to nail that moment in the limelight, covering everything from content and structure to the delivery.
So, for those of you keen to exercise your vocal chords at the top table as well as on the dancefloor, we’re handing over the blog to the lovely Emma who has golden girl power advice to share…
It’s becoming increasingly popular for brides to make a speech on their wedding day, why would you say that is?
emma says: In an age of equality, it seems very odd that the bride – who has usually ploughed copious amounts of time and money into making her big day one to enjoy and remember – should sit mute when the time comes to formally speak about the day. Very often if brides work in positions where they have to present regularly, they know they’re decent speakers and that they can handle a speech. They think, ‘well if the chaps are doing it, it seems strange that I wouldn’t.’ Meghan Markle will give a speech at her wedding, and is any one surprised? She’s a modern, capable professional.
What are the main considerations for brides to think about if they do want to make a speech on their wedding day? What content could they include?
She needs to understand the speech responsibilities of the other speakers and make sure she doesn’t stray into their territory.
In terms of a content roadmap, the bride should open by thanking her maid of honour and bridesmaids for all their support. A funny hen do anecdote that captures the fun and dedication of her top girl team will always go down well. It needs to be pithy though; edit out the dull bits but expand and play out the big, humorous moments.
Now she should talk about her new husband. How they came to meet and the life journey they’re about to embark on together. This should be kept light, witty and original. Although guests might say ‘ah’, none really wants to hear, “And I can’t believe I’ve married my Prince Charming.” It’s been done to death. But they will relish something like, “And I look forward to the years ahead; converting Adam to the wonders of yoga, meat-free meals and moisturising.”
The bride should thank her family and the groom’s family for any outstanding non-financial help they’ve given. She should let the groom thank the families for monetary contributions. She could remark on the hours her mum put in accompanying her to wedding fairs and dress fittings. If she fears she’s been a bit Bridezilla during the planning process, then now’s the time to fess up and apologise. She could finish by proposing a toast to the continued health and happiness of her parents and parents-in-law.
Stu Ganderton Photography, source
In what ways can you help brides with the construction and delivery of their speech?
I can help her to select the best material and eek out as much entertainment from it as possible. I can help her structure it so it flows beautifully and doesn’t jump jerkily from one section to the next. And I can help her give a poised performance so that she won’t cringe and want to hit fast-forward when she watches her video back.
How can a bride making a speech add to the wedding day and why would you encourage ladies to take to the mic?
The fact is that even if the bride doesn’t intend to make a speech, she’ll most probably be called upon to do so. Guests love hearing from the bride. And, like anything in life, it’s always best to be prepared. So I think brides who feel confident about speaking should state that they will speak – guests will look forward to it – and for those who don’t feel confident, they should prepare a speech anyway in case their guests start to chant their name and demand a few words, and the poor bride suddenly realises that if she doesn’t take to the mic she’ll look impolite and disappoint them.
What would you say to brides who like the idea of making a speech but that are nervous about public speaking?
The same as I say to all wedding speakers. Do your preparation; good prep is the fountain of all confidence. Accept that adrenalin will be in the body before you speak but manage it by controlling your hands and feet and breathe in deeply through the nose. Remember too that everyone there is willing you to do brilliantly. You’re their woman. Think how warmly Adele would be received at the Brixton Academy or Lady Gaga at Carnegie Hall – well your guests are going to respond to your performance with that same level of warmth and affinity.
Laura Calderwood Photography, source
What for you are the key ingredients to a good bride speech?
Humour, confidence and enjoyment. Although brides are more than capable of delivering a witty, polished speech, a lot of guests are surprised when they actually do. Although guests like to hear from the bride, they often expect her contribution to be a nervy, giddy, teary few words, so when their expectation is completely subverted, and she storms it, it’s just brilliant.
What is the feedback like from brides who you have helped to construct a wedding speech?
The feedback’s been great. Brides typically love the planning stage; talking through their material and polishing it. Although, as they do this, the majority are nervous about actually delivering the speech. After they have, however, they are very pleased that they took to the mic, and this is largely for posterity’s sake. They’re thrilled that their children and grandchildren will be able to watch them addressing their nearest and dearest while looking stunning on such a special day.
April 5th, 2018 | Rachel Parry
Waking up to more snow on Easter Monday only drove home how epically long winter has felt with the relentless cold weather affecting not only our heating bills (we dread to think!) but also our skin and energy levels – both of which could do with an almighty boost.
As a newly-engaged bride-to-be I’m also feeling the effects of trying to keep on top of the early wedding planning, while keeping all in the loop – oh and plan my brother’s stag do and assist on my best friend’s hen do as well. So, all in all a lot on, which super exciting but a little depleting on the batteries.
The perfect remedy for a change of season and busy schedule though has to be a spa break, and so when Staffordshire based Moddershall Oaks got in touch with the offer of an overnight stay to switch off from the outside world and restore balance, I took it up quicker than Made in Chelsea’s Jamie Laing can tell a girl he’s falling in love with her.
Situated in a rural location near the market town of Stone, Moddershall Oaks is a country spa retreat and idyllic wedding venue – so it could tick two boxes for those of you still on the venue hunt. Whilst there I did get to view its stunning and flexible spaces for weddings – including a gorgeous oak gazebo surrounded by tranquil woodland for beautiful outdoor ceremonies – and would certainly encourage couples planning to wed in the Staffordshire area to pay this place a visit.
Though not particularly worn out from the wedding planning (though he must be exhausted from all the stag do preparation – a number one priority from grooms it would seem *rolls eyes*), my fiancée Andy was lucky enough to join me on this getaway. We arrived at Moddershall around noon on a Wednesday and was welcomed by a warm atmosphere, friendly staff and a strawberry Bellini (start as you mean to go on, right?)
Having filled in a few quick forms we were given a run through the facilities and our (very relaxed) itinerary for our stay, before being shown to one of the gorgeous ten 5* boutique bedroom suites to drop off our bags. The room was comforting, spacious and beautifully decorated, plus there is access to a shared hot tub, should we want to continue the pampering after visiting the main facilities.
Amazingly, we fell on a gorgeous spring-like day with clear blue skies (I will add that it had snowed either side of our visit) and so we wasted no time in heading to the crème de la crème of Moddershall, its outdoor heated vitality pool. Here we enjoyed bathing in the bubbling hot water in the open air made complete by a countryside views, oh and a couple of glasses of prosecco delivered direct via waiter service – this was our kind of spa!
We were joined in the courtyard area by other couples, as well as a few small groups of women and a couple of (I assume) mothers and daughters, which demonstrated how perfect the spa is for a romantic getaway as well as much-needed girly time.
After drying off in the Kelo sauna, also located in the courtyard, we retired to the relaxing lounge area indoors to recline on big sofas next to a warming fire and filled up on afternoon treats of cake and coffee.
Next it was treatment time – having only just managed to convince Andy of the benefits of moisturising daily, it didn’t surprise me that he passed on this, but the metrosexuals out there will be pleased to hear that Moddershall has blissful treatment options for both males and females.
The options ranged from massage, detox and body therapies, carried out by experienced therapists in the cosy treatment rooms, to a full range of beauty treatments undertaken in The Snug. This gorgeous area is available to hire privately for hen dos, birthdays and the like and, for Moddershall brides, it can also be taken over pre-wedding for big day pampering and preening, complete with nibbles, bubbly and music.
March 29th, 2018 | Laura McDonagh
Johnny Dent Photography, image source
Outdoor weddings used to be a bit of a rarity in the UK, favoured by a few hardy souls who wanted a boho big day with all the festival feels and weren’t put off by Britain’s notoriously unpredictable weather. There was also the issue of licensing; in England and Wales (the rules are more lenient in Scotland), you have to be married under a fixed roof for a marriage to be legally binding – not a marquee, a tent or a flower arch, however lovely the photo opportunities might be. Gah, pesky laws!
However, in recent years there’s been a rise in the number of venues licensing beautiful outdoor structures for the ‘I dos’ or offering the option of a legal ceremony indoors followed by a beautiful symbolic ceremony outside. Alternatively, some couples opt to do the legal bit in a lowkey ceremony at the local registry office and then go all-out on their outdoor ceremony and reception a few days later. It seems like years of stunning photos of American brides walking down aisles of meadow grass and couples exchanging rings by a lake on Pinterest have worn us down – we want the same levels of pretty! And with numerous companies specialising in props and accessories for outdoor weddings to help your day go without a hitch whatever the weather, open air ceremonies are becoming more common.
Of course, putting the ceremony aside for a moment, the outdoor reception has always been pretty popular concept, from a relaxed marquee ‘do’ in a big back garden or a farmer’s field to a luxe tipi or sperry tent affair resplendent with oak chandeliers, firepits and fancy portaloos (piped music and funky lighting optional). But can an outdoor reception ever really wrestle the crown from indoor weddings, with all their certainty and control? Let’s see…
Photography34, image source
Control, Control, Control: From temperature to lighting, most factors can be controlled with an indoor wedding – appealing for a couple who want things to go as predictably as possible. Most couples worry about rain, especially if planning a spring or summer wedding, but extremely high temperatures can also pose problems: sunburn, wilted canapes and guests going a bit, err, wild on the drinks in an attempt to cool down. If this sounds like a nightmare waiting to happen, then perhaps indoor is the best choice for you.
Rest Your Head: With most indoor venues, there’s ample accommodation to be had either on site or nearby. Hassle-free, all you need to do is confirm your venue and send the details around your family and friends inviting them to book. No worries about putting on transport, setting up a campsite or shepherding people into taxis at the end of the night…
York Place Studios, image source
Extra facilities: With a conventional indoor venue – hotel, restaurant, country house etc – you may have access to other facilities in the run up to or the morning after your wedding. You might find yourself in the spa, letting the other half loose on the golf course, hiring bikes or enjoying a final meal together as Mr and Miss. Not quite so easy if you’re having an outdoor celebration.
Marie Marry Me, image source
No hangover: The morning after the wedding, you want to be scoffing Eggs Benedict and flashing your new jewellery to anyone who’ll humour you – not sweeping up confetti and packing away 300+ glasses. With a conventional wedding this is taken care of by the in-house team, whereas with an outdoor wedding you’ll have had lots of freedom in your planning but also may have to shoulder some responsibility for dismantling/packing up – or hiring somebody to do it for you.
Suzy Wimbourne Photography, image source
Laidback vibes: There’s just something so – chilled – about an outdoor wedding, whether ceremony, reception or both. If the gods are smiling and you land a day that isn’t too extreme at either end of the weather spectrum, there’s nothing more wonderful than a relaxed open-air celebration. The feel-good factor increases by 100% when we’ve got our shades on, a little bit of sunshine on our skin and a glass of something refreshing in our hand. It might be a little risky, but it’s nigh-on impossible to beat if you manage to pull it off.
Super styling: Unless you’re Mariah Carey, you can’t really walk into a hotel and demand that they change the wallpaper, the chairs and that hideous light fitting. Whereas with an outdoor wedding – marquee, tipi or sperry tent – you’re almost given a blank canvas to play with. You’ll have more freedom with styling and decor and, dare we say, simple (and cheaper) decor often works better outside – a few candles, fairy lights and flowers can transform a venue from a Plain Jane into Sandy-at-the-end-of-Grease.
March 22nd, 2018 | Laura McDonagh
It’s time to say a huge ‘welcome!’ once again to the newly-engaged amongst our readers – a big, pink, sparkly Brides Up North congratulations to you all (psst! Did you know that our very own lovely Rachel joined the ranks of the betrothed over the Christmas break? Catch up on the first instalment of her wedding diary here if you missed it!)
Even if your organisational OCD gives Monica from Friends a run for her money, the reality of planning a wedding can feel a little daunting – ok, let’s be honest, terrifying. There’s so much to consider – Venue! Guest list! Photographer! Entertainment! – and so many people, well-meaning and otherwise, clamouring to give you their esteemed opinion on all things wedding-y.
Enter Brides Up North **curtsies** – we’re here to share everything we know about wedding planning like a pro and put it all into some kind of more easily-digestible timeline rather than a constant stream of random demands that you find vying for your brain’s attention at 4am.
So if you missed Part 1 – all the first stage essentials of date, venue, guests, budget and photographer – have a read here. Otherwise, it’s onwards to the pretty!
Now that you have a season and venue in mind, you can start thinking about the specifics of your wedding day theme – in fact, if you’ve been true to yourself in your choice of venue, the chances are you’ve already thought about it!
No one wants a cookie-cutter wedding exactly the same as the last, but there are definitely broad wedding styling themes that run through even the most personal of big days. If you’re both fans of the outdoors and have chosen a venue that reflects that – a barn, a marquee at home or in a farmer’s field for example, you may find that elements of a natural, organic, woodland wedding theme start to sneak in – rustic log slices, pine cones, greenery, hessian and so on. Treat it like a buffet, though – you don’t have to have it all, just choose the bits that really take your fancy! Of course, this is just one theme of many; we pride ourselves on featuring a range of wedding inspiration on the blog, from laid-back cool to vintage glamour and from clean and contemporary to timeless fairy-tale elegance.
Believe us, there’s a lot out there, so go on and get inspired. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – Pinterest is your friend, check out our pretty boards here. Get onto those wedding and photography blogs and give that pinning finger some exercise to get some big, broad ideas fermenting.
What’s the difference between theme and styling? Well, this is where things get a bit more specific. So, theme-wise, you and your beau might opt for a vintage winter wedding, and your styling takes your research and ideas to the next level. You’ll need to think about a colour-palette that matches theme (oohh, amethyst and fuschia?), start considering broad dress ideas (Beading galore? A 1920s dropped waist? A super-sparkly headpiece rather than a veil?) and how these could be reflected in other areas of the wedding planning; from favours to font styles on stationery. And speaking of stationery…
It’s become more common for couples to send out a Save The Date card (or photo, or magnet, or whatever you like, really) even over a year in advance so that guests have ample notice of their intention to tie to knot. Of course, you don’t have to rely on mail if you don’t want to (although pretty paper always gives us a buzz) – there’s the option of a slick We’re-Getting-Married website where you add more details over time and you have the option of changing the design as your planning – and styling – develops.
No, not the partner of your dreams – we’re pretty sure you’ve sorted that one already – but rather the dress of your wildest imaginings. Most bridal boutiques recommend you start the search for your dress 12 to 18 months in advance in order to leave time for ordering, alterations and fittings ahead of the big day. We’d certainly recommend you getting stuck into window shopping sooner rather than later so that you get an idea of the range that’s out there and set up some bridal boutique appointments – be warned that in popular stores, weekend appointments are often booked up weeks in advance.
March 1st, 2018 | Laura McDonagh
Mike Plunkett Photography, image source
The date’s in the diary, the venue’s booked and now it’s time to make one of the biggest weddingland decisions of them all: who gets the photographer gig?
Trust us, there are lots of talented snappers out there (including those featured in our Suppliers We Love directory) – we are blown away by the beautiful imagery that is submitted to the blog every week, and so we understand it can be tricky to narrow down the choices.
Beyond the aesthetics there are further aspects to consider – cost, packages, approach, albums – but there’s no need to get in a head-spin, for we’re elaborating on these points today as we share our top tips to finding the right photographer for you and your big day…
James Tracey Photography, image source
As you trawl through magazines and blogs, what style of photography speaks to you? Classic portraiture, i.e. posed couple shots and family groups with everyone smiling and looking the right way? Or are you a fan of a more documentary-esque, reportage style – pretty much the opposite, with events caught candidly ‘in the moment’ and barely an eye on the camera? Are edgy shoots your thing – often (but not always) featuring urban settings, bold colours, dramatic backdrops and quirky props, angles and cropping? Or there’s fine art, where reality has an extra-dreamy romantic filter applied; these pictures are super-tasteful, with the pretty pumped up to the max and a fashion magazine feel.
There’s always some overlap, but a wedding photographer generally leans towards one of the above – so decide what feels most ‘you’ and start looking for shooters who specialise in your favourite style.
Sarah Mason Photography, image source
There isn’t one set standard in wedding photography, so now that you’re noting down names and details it’s time to pay attention to the fine print. How many hours coverage will you need? Can they be flexible if the day runs over? Are you set on a second shooter and, if so, can they offer one? What do they provide in terms of an album: how many edited images; what about hard copies; is there an online gallery for friends and family to peruse? Start digging deeper: check client testimonials, look at whole albums rather than a handpicked selection of highlights from the last few years and make comparisons between your shortlist and other similarly-priced photographers.
Kate McCarthy Photography, image source
You’re going to spend a LOT of time with your wedding photographer – probably more time than any of your other suppliers – so once you’ve narrowed the potentials down, it’s best to meet in person. Have a list of questions ready – perhaps email them in advance – and put together a Pinterest board of images you love so that you can clearly communicate the kind of end result you want. A wedding photographer needs to be personable, confident, and outgoing, but also sensitive, respectful and professional. Once you’re face to face, it’s easier to make the judgement call as to whether they’re the one for you. Do they feel right? Our ultimate advice is to trust your gut.
Jessica Grace Photography, image source
Once you have the photographer on board, it’s time to relax. You picked them because you loved their work. Now its time to let them do their thang!
Obviously, your chosen photographer will have to work within the constraints of your agreement (and what actually happens on the day and what’s there to shoot!) but if you want our advice, here’s ten popular photographs we think you can’t miss. If you love these ideas, talk to your photographer in advance of your wedding, then stand back and let them set the agenda for the day. Everyone works best if they are allowed the freedom work in their own way and if everyone is on the same page, then its sure to be a match made in heaven!
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