Charlotte Balbier

eggstra special. a spring wedding at grays court hotel, york – christine & christopher

May 29th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

A Spring Wedding in York (c) Stevie Jay Photography (38)

If, like me, you’ve got a sweet tooth, this real wedding is going to have you reaching for the ‘treat tin’ as its peppered with delicious treats in a nod to the Easter season.

From Lindt bunny favours and an epic chocolatey wedding cake to a full-scale egg hunt, bride and groom Christine and Christopher certainly spoilt their guests.

And there are more delectable details to feast your eyes on too – cue a beautifully embellished wedding gown, pretty mint colour scheme and pet dog Sybil acting as flower girl. We love!

With images by Stevie Jay Photography

A Spring Wedding in York (c) Stevie Jay Photography (34)

christine says: We got engaged on 27th March 2016, Easter Sunday. Chris hid an engagement ring inside a chocolate Easter egg and hid it in the woods in Sutton Park in Sutton-on-the-Forest, near York, where we live. We took Sybil our dog out for a walk and Chris asked me to find an egg, he then got down on one knee and proposed. Chocolate and a ring, what more could a woman want!?

A Spring Wedding in York (c) Stevie Jay Photography (40)

We got married on 15th April 2017. We chose the date because it was Easter Saturday and a year from when we got engaged. We both love chocolate so had to choose Easter.

Our chosen venue was Grays Court Hotel in York, where we had both our ceremony and reception. We saw the venue every time we walked along the York city walls and fell in love with it.

A Spring Wedding in York (c) Stevie Jay Photography (36)

Our theme was Easter related and we had an Easter egg hunt for the children (and adults!) and lots of chocolate eggs for guests to help themselves to.

We chose a soft mint colour scheme for bridesmaid dresses, ties and a few other bits just because it was a nice spring colour.

A Spring Wedding in York (c) Stevie Jay Photography (55)

I chose a Morilee by Madeleine Gardner dress in ivory lace with an embellished back. I bought the dress from the Northallerton Outlet wedding shop and had it expertly altered by Thimbelina in York. I fell in love with dress after seeing it on another bride and had to wait with fingers crossed that she would choose another dress so I could have it!

Mine and my bridesmaids’ hair was styled by Escape Hair in Strensall. I’d would recommend them for bridal hair, we got so many compliments on how lovely our hair looked.

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floral pop. a summer city wedding in york – roz & rob

May 15th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth

A Chic Urban Wedding In York (c) Alwin Greyson Photography (33)

Today’s real wedding is all about the beautiful summer florals and gorgeous detailing – think kitsch bunting, homemade chutneys and cupcakes, plus lots of twinkling lights.

Set in one of our favourite northern cities, York, the couple’s special day perfectly captures the beauty of an urban wedding, with park benches, stairwells and bustling streets all featuring in their stunning wedding album.

After exchanging vows against the magnificent backdrop of their local church, Roz and Rob then celebrated with family and friends at the National Centre for Early Music. Going for something of a creative DIY approach (would we expect anything less from an art teacher?) the bride was very hands-on in the lead up to the wedding and a few of the guests even baked some scrumptious treats to tuck in to on the day.

With images by Alwin Greyson Photography

A Chic Urban Wedding In York (c) Alwin Greyson Photography (17)

roz says: After asking my parents for permission, Rob decided to pop the question at one of my favourite places near my home town of Sheffield, on 26th May 2014. We decided to go for a walk to Stanage and once we arrived at Robin Hood’s cave Rob presented me with a gift, which was a photo album filled with pictures from our past two years together. Whilst I was looking through the last page, he got down on one knee and popped the question. I said yes and as we embraced we heard someone clapping, we looked up to see a rock climber cheering us on – we thought we were alone, but what a spontaneous surprise!

A Chic Urban Wedding In York (c) Alwin Greyson Photography (23)

We tied the knot on 25th July 2015.  As a teacher, I wanted to get married during the holidays – this gave me a week after school finished to get things sorted, as it was very much a DIY wedding!

We got married at St Michael Le Belfrey Church in York. This is the church where we met and both attended.

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creating couture: blossom & belle’s unique wedding gowns

February 8th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

Blossom & Belle Couture (c) All You Need is Love Photography (3)

While there are numerous stunning wedding dress designs hanging on the rails of boutiques, for some brides nothing completes the dream wedding picture like having a couture gown specially made for their big day.

Brides Up North Sponsor and dress-maker extraordinaire Antonia Aitken of Blossom and Belle, is fully versed in the art of creating beautiful bespoke wedding gowns, from the structure and cut to the fabric and finish. As such, we’re putting the blog in her skilful hands this afternoon so she can tell us exactly what couture is, and how she goes about creating it through her one-off, timeless wedding gown designs.

She also has news of a fabulous Blossom and Belle charity tea party event taking place in York on Sunday 26th February, which will feature workshops, high-end suppliers and delicious treats, so be sure to read to the end of the post for full details.

With images by All You Need Is Love Photography

Blossom & Belle Couture (c) All You Need is Love Photography (22)

How would you define a couture wedding gown?

antonia says: Couture is not ‘dressmaking or copying a design’ – rather it is the creation of a luxury item which starts from design through to pattern cutting, toiles and fittings and the final amazing result.

Couture is not off the peg. It is a unique creation that no one else will have. It is a process that takes time, not something that can be made in an instant. Specialised elements, from hand stitched hems and embellishments, to steel boned bodices and button and loop detailing, are the epitome of a couture gown. It is timeless piece that will look just as wonderful in years to come as it does on the day of the wedding.

What skills must you have as a dress maker to craft such creations?

As the design director at Blossom and Belle I pride myself in my skill to create a one-off bespoke gown or outfit.

It’s having the ability to see a client for the first time and knowing exactly what she will suit. It is the art of how fabric will work and fall on the form. Knowing about colours, textures and the cut and line of a design. How to emphasise the best features of a client and disguise those that they are less keen on.

I do not work from someone else’s pattern, I make my own, which is a meticulous process requiring great skill and an art form in itself.

Blossom & Belle Couture (c) All You Need is Love Photography (9)

Blossom & Belle Couture (c) All You Need is Love Photography (30)

What do brides enjoy about having a couture gown for their big day?

For my clients, it’s the knowledge that they are wearing something truly unique and luxurious and in their own size – not mass produced and not off the peg – something made especially for them.

Can you tell us a little bit more about the process a bride can expect to follow if she decides to have a couture Blossom and Belle gown made?

The whole process of having your own gown created is really quite lovely. After your first free consultation, where we go over ideas and look through fabrics and any trimmings or embellishment ideas, I will design a range of gowns for you to choose from and take your measurements. I also say at this point that the bride should get their underwear as this is vital to the fit of the gown.  A toile is then made in calico, which is a mock-up of the wedding dress and where tweaks and design decisions are made. Having a couture gown made just for you is a very private affair and no one else, unless you want to, will see your gown being created.

There should be no more than five fittings, although some brides like to have more as they love to see everything taking shape and enjoy the process so much.

Finally, for the full experience, I’m available to dress the bride on the day of the wedding to make sure everything is perfect.

Blossom & Belle Couture (c) All You Need is Love Photography (12)

What would you say to brides who are worried that having a couture dress made will be expensive and time consuming?

A couture gown is unique and made just for you, which is why it can cost more than an off the peg gown. Only the finest of fabrics are used, meticulous hand beading and hand stitching are all involved in the process of having a couture gown made. It can take several months just to make one gown, which is why fittings are spread over time to suit the bride and to allow for any tweaks to be made.

We never ask for the full price of the gown to be paid upfront, rather it is paid by instalments, which takes the pressure off.  I do say that you never lose money on a couture gown as it becomes an heirloom passed down through the family.

Blossom & Belle Couture (c) All You Need is Love Photography (13)

What is the feedback like from brides who have had a Blossom and Belle Couture dress made?

I always receive wonderful feedback from brides, and have even been invited to the wedding. Over the time of the dress being made we get to know each other very well.

I have had one bride recently send me a photograph of her 17-year-old daughter wearing her gown that was made by me 20 years ago and it still looks wonderful and timeless. I also had one bride love the style of her vintage inspired gown so much, she had another two made in different colours!

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a touch of class. enzoani for a romantic wedding at the grand hotel and spa – hannah & michael

October 31st, 2016 | Alexis Forsyth


Today on the blog we bring you Hannah and Michael’s special day, at the beautiful five-star Grand Hotel and Spa, in York. The historic city was already close to the couple’s hearts and they were totally won over by the Edwardian venue’s truly romantic backdrop.

Opting for a gorgeous gold, bronze and blush pink colour scheme complemented by an abundance of candles, petals and even pom poms – this is a wedding exuding understated glamour and charm.

With images by Brides Up North Sponsor Richard Perry Photography.


hannah says: We got engaged at home, in our living room, on 13th April. Everything was pretty hectic as we were planning a move to the Middle East with Michael’s job. It was just perfect, I was sat playing with our little boy, Archie, and Michael literally gave me the shock of my life as he appeared with a box and got down on one knee to propose. I couldn’t believe it!

We got married on 4th August 2016 – we didn’t want to wait, plus I had always really wanted a summer wedding. With it being last minute, we were limited by dates but after settling on August, this date just seemed right.

Our wedding venue was The Grand Hotel and Spa, in York. We knew the venue had to be in York as it has a lot of special memories for us – from our first date to the birth of our son, as well as it being my hometown. I fell in love with The Grand Hotel from the moment I saw the grand boardroom; the venue’s elegance and history was just perfect.


Our wedding theme was vintage glamour with a touch of romance. I wanted something with class and sophistication, and once we found the venue, I knew that the grand features of the hotel would work perfectly. As for the colour scheme, this focused on gold, bronze and blush pink.


I found my wedding dress at The Little Pearl Bridal Boutique in North Yorkshire. I always knew this would be my starting place, as I know the owner Diana through a close friend. As soon as I stepped into the boutique I knew my dream dress would be in there, somewhere. After trying every different style and fit, I finally found the one – that butterfly feeling was most certainly there! I chose an Enzoani gown in ivory; a vintage style silk and lace embellished dress. It matched the venue and style of the wedding perfectly. I could not recommend Diana and The Little Pearl more. I had the most magical experience from start to finish and felt like a true princess. Diana didn’t miss a detail and would go out of her way to accommodate any request.


Michael wore a pale blue French Connection suit with a blush pink tie from Reiss. His shirt was from The Kooples and he bought shoes from Jones Bootmaker.

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fairy lights & lace. A bespoke dress for an enchanting winter wedding in york – emma & matthew

February 26th, 2016 | Rachel Parry

A Romantic Winter Wedding at Grays Court York (c) Andrew Keher (27)

We are totally in love with today’s bride’s stunning attire for her big day. Switching a traditional dress for a stylish top and skirt combo, we think Emma totally rocked the separates, which were made by her mum’s fair hands, no less!

And there are plenty more beautiful elements to this gorgeous winter wedding; from the bridesmaids’ mismatched lace dresses, to rustic homemade cake and the abundance of fairy lights. We love!

With images by Andrew Keher Photography.

A Romantic Winter Wedding at Grays Court York (c) Andrew Keher (39)

A Romantic Winter Wedding at Grays Court York (c) Andrew Keher (40)

emma says: We got engaged in August 2014 in Monmouth, South Wales. We had been away on holiday to Berlin for a week, which was a non-stop, activity packed week. We had talked about having a few days wind down when we came back before going back to work. This was something Matt was very keen for us to do, and now I know why!

We booked a beautiful little cabin in the heart of the woods in the Monmouth valley, complete with a wood burner, view of the woods and a microbrewery nearby. On the first evening there we were playing Guess Who in front of the fire (as you do), when Matt proposed. It was a huge, lovely surprise. We spent the rest of the weekend talking about what we should do for the wedding.

A Romantic Winter Wedding at Grays Court York (c) Andrew Keher (42)

We got married on 14th November 2015. Both of us wanted to get married in autumn/winter, and this was the date that fell together for the venue, caterers and the return of close family moving back from America.

Our ceremony venue was Grays Court, York. This is a lovely nine-bedroom hotel which is close to the Minster. We chose Grays Court because it was beautiful, full of character, and by far our favourite ceremony venue in York. It even has gorgeous gardens for photos, and, if the weather was right, you can get married outside! The staff were lovely, and really helpful. It also provided the luxury hotel we wanted to stay at for our wedding night.

For our wedding reception we chose The National Centre for Early Music, which is a church that has been converted into a venue. It had the gorgeous features of a church, but the freedom to create the wedding we wanted. The team there was great with flexibility and assisting us.

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rockin’ love. a bride in blue for a pretty wedding in the historic city of york – kimberley & adam

July 14th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

A Pretty Wedding in York (c) Carly Bevan Photography (84)

How stunning is today’s real wedding? From the bride’s cute 1950s style dress to the spring colour theme and delicate decor.

We love how nothing about Kimberley and Adam’s pretty wedding day was over styled or over thought and yet all elements come together perfectly and reflect them beautifully as a couple.

As well as the wedding looking good it sounds like it tasted good too, with a Yorkshire inspired wedding breakfast followed up by Krispy Kreme doughnuts instead of a traditional cake – now there’s one we’ve not heard before!

With images by Carly Bevan Photography.

A Pretty Wedding in York (c) Carly Bevan Photography (2)

kimberley says: We got engaged on our ten-year anniversary, 22nd January 2014. Adam recreated our first date in York. At the time we were living Oxford and I woke up in the morning to find a letter from Adam with hotel details and train tickets to York. Once I arrived at the hotel there was another letter asking me to meet him where we met on our first date. After a few panicky moments I did finally remember.

We set the date for 28th February 2015 as we wanted to get married near to our anniversary, but also needed time to plan and save!

A Pretty Wedding in York (c) Carly Bevan Photography (8)

Grays Court York was our chosen venue and it was perfect! From the moment we walked in we knew it was the place we wanted to get married. In fact we didn’t bother to look at any other venues. Grays has a relaxed feel and everything is so beautiful! Each room has its own style, all the guest bedrooms are stunning, plus there is a fantastic garden that backs onto the city walls. We are both from York and wanted some wedding pictures near the Minster and Grays is just around the corner. Grays were also very flexible about the kind of day we wanted. Really, anything goes with them, they are more than happy to accommodate all requests.

A Pretty Wedding in York (c) Carly Bevan Photography (14)

We didn’t have a theme as such but I love 50s/60s style so I guess my dress and hair was always going to reflect that.

Our colour scheme wasn’t a conscious decision, I ended up picking a light blue wedding dress so I just wanted everything to complement that. It ended up being blues, yellows and white – very spring like!

A Pretty Wedding in York (c) Carly Bevan Photography (19)

My dress was Ella by House of Mooshki. I went shopping for a Mooshki dress with my maid of honour having seen a few online. I didn’t intend to go for a coloured dress originally, but when I tried it on (it was the first dress I tried) I loved it!

A Pretty Wedding in York (c) Carly Bevan Photography (24)

On the wedding day Melanie from Le Keux Vintage Salon in Leeds my hair. She is a superstar! I have the flattest, thinnest hair going but I have always wanted a beehive so this was my opportunity! Everyone was blown away by my hair including me! I absolutely loved it. Melanie is so talented, I couldn’t believe she managed to do that with my hair. She also did my bridesmaids’ hair. They had a half up half down type beehive to complement by huge bouffant!

A Pretty Wedding in York (c) Carly Bevan Photography (29)

Adam wore a blue suit from Reiss and the best man and usher wore their own suits. We didn’t want it all to be too matchy matchy, and the boys were happy to wear their own suits. We had a lovely range of colours in the end – Adam in Blue, best man in grey and usher in purple.

The bridesmaid dresses were from Oasis. They were cream with gemstone details around the neck – they both looked amazing!

A Pretty Wedding in York (c) Carly Bevan Photography (49)

Our photographer was Carly Bevan – she is wonderful! Carly was an absolute star all day and before the wedding. She even helped me get a timetable sorted! On the day it was like having a friend around taking pictures, she was so kind and helpful, she went above and beyond what we would have ever expected from photographer. And of course the most important thing, her photos are stunning! We were totally blown away by how lovely all our wedding pictures are. Cannot recommend her highly enough!

A Pretty Wedding in York (c) Carly Bevan Photography (51)

My bouquet was a mixture of gypsophila and daisies. The bridesmaids had the same but with larger daises. The flowers were created by Ello Flower, based in York just around the corner from Grays.

A Pretty Wedding in York (c) Carly Bevan Photography (66)

I wanted a very relaxed feel to the floral decorations, so we went for a mixture of gypsophila, daises and daffodils. We didn’t really need many decorations as the venue is beautiful as it is. I did make lots of bunting and pomp oms though!

A Pretty Wedding in York (c) Carly Bevan Photography (75)

As Adam and I are both big rock music fans so we decided to give favours of rock sweets with wedding themed wording on and we made little card match books printed with ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ to put them in.

A Pretty Wedding in York (c) Carly Bevan Photography (82)

We decided we didn’t want a traditional cake. I’m not the biggest cake fan (I know, I’m odd) and we wanted something a bit more personal to us. However, we are both partial to a Krispy Kreme doughnut so we went with that. I made cakes stands from old vinyl records and we filled them with doughnuts. The idea confused a few people but once they saw it they loved it!

A Pretty Wedding in York (c) Carly Bevan Photography (98)

The wedding breakfast meanwhile was Yorkshire based! We chose a mini Yorkshire ploughman’s to start, roast beef and Yorkshire puddings for the main and sticky toffee pudding for dessert.

A Pretty Wedding in York (c) Carly Bevan Photography (100)

Being big rock music fans, we decided to do our own music for the wedding entertainment. Adam spent hours compiling a wedding playlist on his iPod which we plugged it into a large speaker. We had a mixture of swing, 50s/60s jukebox type music and of course rock!

A Pretty Wedding in York (c) Carly Bevan Photography (97)

As a special touch our invitations were made from old vinyl records. We love music and regularly go to festivals and we met when we were working at HMV (and studying) so it seemed quite fitting. My maid of honour spent a weekend helping me cut and stick everything together. We also made the name place settings look like gig tickets.

A Pretty Wedding in York (c) Carly Bevan Photography (111)

We would definitely recommend our venue to other couples. Not only is the venue stunning, but Rhiannon, the events manager at Grays Court, was fantastic. She helped us organise everything and on the day waited hand and foot on me and my bridesmaids! They also don’t prescribe things like numbers, food and drink. They are great at making the day just how you want it.

The whole day was fantastic, but my favourite part was probably just after the ceremony when I was with Adam again and we got to see all our guests! It is such an emotional time!

A Pretty Wedding in York (c) Carly Bevan Photography (129)

For our honeymoon we went on a 17-day road trip around California. We hired a big bright red Dodge Challenger and drove to various cities including LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Palm Springs and San Diego. We also visited Yosemite National Park, Death Valley and the Grand Canyon, which were absolutely stunning!

A Pretty Wedding in York (c) Carly Bevan Photography (123)

My top tip to other Brides Up North would be to make the day yours. It’s about you and your partner and I feel the day should reflect you as a couple. Some of our decisions were not exactly traditional (I walked down the aisle to an acoustic piano version of a Guns and Roses song) but everyone had a great time and the day was perfect. Also, don’t worry about how the day will go, you end up with so many people around you that take care of everything so you can just enjoy yourselves.

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