Monday, 30 January 2012

Advice from a Lancashire Bride

Let me introduce Steph, a close friend of mine and also a Lancashire bride to be. Stephanie Brown and James Wilson are due to be married on 16th June this year so I asked Steph if she had any wedding planning hints to share with you and here is what she said.

"I’ve never organised a big event before and so I thought that planning my wedding was going to be so stressful! It turns out, it’s rather enjoyable!

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I’ve always been to the same church all my life and it was very important to me that we were married there and so I just needed to find somewhere for the reception. We needed it to be reasonably close to the church and so we stuck to places in Lancashire. I did some research on the internet and we chose to look at four venues…Barton Grange in Garstang, Farrington Lodge in Leyland, The Gibbon Bridge in Chipping and Bartle Hall in Lea, near Preston.

As soon as we stepped foot inside Bartle Hall, we were in love! It has its own private driveway and car park and a beautiful but small private garden at the back. The main hotel can host smaller weddings of around 60 people for the day and then there is a large barn conversion at the back of the hotel for larger weddings.  The room itself is large with a dance floor at one end, a bar and lounge area in the middle, and the formal dining area at the other end. Most reception venues require you to leave the room half way through the day for tablecloths to be changed etc but, due to the size of the room, we would be able to stay in the room all day.

Bartle Hall- regional winner of the best wedding venue in The Wedding Industry Awards 2011
The style of the room – traditional yet not old fashioned, was perfect. We loved the fact that we had a completely private garden and, as well as the main area for the sit down meal, there is also a bar and lounge area where people can sit later in the evening. Because the room was so beautiful and large, we were rather dubious about the cost. However, Bartle Hall was cheaper than two of the other venues we looked at and there were so many different options for food, drink and d├ęcor. The staff at the venue were happy to talk us through anything and answered all our questions. I have also contacted the venue on numerous occasions throughout the year and they have always been very helpful and given me all the information I needed. They have sent table plans and are happy to decorate the whole venue on the morning of the wedding.

Once the venue was booked, we had to decide on a colour scheme and the theme that we wanted for the day. Whilst looking at stationery on the internet, I came across a beautiful invitation in ivory with a black ribbon and diamante buckle. I had already considered black as a theme and this invitation became the inspiration for the whole wedding. I am a huge Audrey Hepburn fan and so I wanted to tie this in as well.

I was slightly apprehensive about choosing my dress as I love fashion and didn’t want to have to pick just one dress! However, the first dress I tried on was the one that I purchased. Even after trying on numerous other dresses, I couldn’t even think of another dress but that one and it fit in perfectly with my theme. I would definitely recommend investing in a dress box to store your dress because, although they are expensive, my dress is still completely immaculate even though its been on top of the wardrobe for over a year!

Although I had found the invitations on line, they were £4.50 each which I wasn’t prepared to pay. So me, and my mother-in-law to be, decided to make them ourselves. We bought professional card, ribbon and buckles from an online craft store and invested in a laser printer to make it easier to print. It was really fun to make them together and they look just like the expensive ones for less than half the price!

Although we’re getting married in the summer, and it seems a bit dull, my bridesmaids are wearing 50’s style black strapless dresses from Coast which were very expensive…and very hard to get hold of in the right sizes…but the girls look fabulous! We then chose to just keep things simple and have ivory roses with greenery and black ribbon incorporated. I would wholeheartedly recommend Eden Florist in Chorley as they are very knowledgeable about different types of flower and the cost was much less than I had expected for roses.
When it came to finding the big things, such as a photographer and singer, we did a lot of research online before contacting anyone. We wanted a singer who could entertain guests on arrival at the hotel and also perform later in the evening for people to dance. We met up with Paul Guard, who sings swing and Motown, and he asked us all about our tastes and likes and dislikes so he knew exactly what we wanted. As well as being a fantastic singer, he can also play the piano and so will be playing while we have dinner. Our photographer, Tim Emmerton, came out to our house so he could find out more about us and show us his photography style. We were able to tell him exactly what we wanted and he was happy to do that. Both Paul and Tim offer a very personal service.

Its really hard when shopping around for the extras, such as favours and hair and make up, as there are so many options. To tie in with our Audrey Hepburn theme, I wanted some hints of Tiffany blue. Our cake will have a Tiffany box made of icing on the top, which we got from Chorley Cake Centre at a very reasonable price! Luckily, my cousin works for Bacardi and so he was able to get us Bombay Sapphire miniatures for free to use as favours!

So now, with only 21 weeks to go until the big day, all we need to do is sort out suits for the groomsmen and set up a gift list! I may have had almost two years to plan this wedding, but I really believe that you can plan a perfect wedding and be relatively stress free! I’m no expert… but I’ve put some of my top tips below!!"
  • You can always go to expensive shops or websites for inspiration but, with certain things, it’s so easy to get creative and make your own invites/place cards etc. Plus you can get your friends and family involved too!
  • Have a list of questions ready for when you visit each venue so that you don’t forget anything.
  • If you aren’t in too much of a rush, try to wait until that perfect wedding dress is in the sale. My dress should have cost £3000 (which I could never have afforded) but was reduced to £1000 in the sale!
Stephanie's & James' Book of Contacts:


    1. We hope you have a truely magical day. I do love your venue.

      Have a lovely day with packed with lots of memories for you to keep forever


    2. Fab! Cant wait for the day guys, just found this totally by accident!