Are you a bride or groom planning a wedding in the North West UK or North Wales? You’re in luck. Grab a brew (or a glass of something stronger – because you probably already need it!) and take the time to read through this obscenely long blog post, where I review the 7 best vendors we dealt with when planning our wedding earlier this year. You never know, you may just end up booking a vendor and ticking another thing off your gigantic, never-ending, ever-increasing to do list.
I always said that following the wedding, I’d write a blog post on our fantastic vendors so that anybody else planning a wedding in the North West UK or North Wales might be able to benefit too. It’s now been almost 5 months since our wedding, and I think I’ve had a bit of a difficult time accepting the magnitude of the entire thing, so it’s taken me a little while to process it all and find the words to do our vendors justice. We were so grateful that each and every one of the vendors we chose were outstanding, and exactly what we wanted for our day. So if you’re here because you’re planning a wedding and wondering where to even start with choosing a service, read on! Below is a list of our most adored vendors, complete with reasons why they are so wonderful. Obviously these opinions are all my own and based on our wedding experience alone.
Our beautiful venue ‘Tower Hill Barns’ in North Wales got its own post, and you can read more on that here (and if you haven’t yet chosen a venue, visit Tower Hill!) but the rest are bunched together in this super long post, for your perusal. You are welcome!
Photography: Clare Robinson Photography
Find her at: https://www.clare-robinson.co.uk/
Clare’s stunning photos are interspersed throughout this post so it’s only right to introduce her first. ALL HAIL this woman!
We booked Clare very early on in our wedding planning, almost a year and a half in advance of our day. We wanted to invest in the most important thing to us – the photographer, and know that our photographs, which we would look at for the rest of our lives together, were beautiful and exactly what we wanted. Choosing a wedding photographer was one of the hardest decisions to make in wedding planning, and it took weeks of heavy research to find one that ticked all boxes. We wanted somebody with an eye for detail who would shoot the beautiful moments, but we also wanted somebody who made us feel at ease on the day. We met up with Clare prior to the wedding to go through everything, and already it felt like we were dealing with a friend. She was bubbly, friendly and professional and clearly knows what she’s doing! Neither of us are great with all focus being on us (which for me, only became apparent during wedding planning as I’d always considered myself an extrovert!), but Clare and Lindy, our additional shooter, took care of that and made our photographs one of the most enjoyable parts of our day. By taking us away for our ‘couples shoot’, they gave us a breather from the madness, and a chance to be together and relish the fact that the moment we had planned for 2 years had now happened, and we were officially husband and wife. They made us laugh and feel a lot less daft (it can feel a bit awkward posing lovingly and staring into each other’s eyes for photographs!) and captured beautiful photographs of us at every stage of the day.
When we got our photos back and looked through them all, I beamed through most, cried through many and felt overjoyed that she’d captured our day and things that we didn’t manage to see on the day itself. Our photos are beyond stunning and everything we could have hoped for and more, and we are eternally grateful to Clare that she’s given us such wonderful memories of our wedding day. If that wasn’t enough – we even received a beautiful package complete with a USB containing all our photos, as well as some beautifully printed photographs and a ‘Mr and Mrs’ ornament. I am so glad that we made it a priority to splurge a little on a photographer, in order to obtain such quality and professionalism. We will cherish our photographs forever and can’t recommend Clare enough for your day.
Find them at: https://foreveryourscheshire.co.uk/
The shop is in Marple, Cheshire and is run by a Mother-Daughter duo – Linda and Jodie, who from the moment I walked in, were nothing but amazing. Their ‘people’ skills were phenomenal, and they’ve seen all types of brides and family scenarios so knew just what to say to calm nerves, manage disagreements in opinion and diffuse the inevitable heightened emotions.
I tried on so many wedding dresses (honestly – at least a hundred) and I’m so glad that I held out to find one that ticked all boxes. Towards the end I felt like I’d never get one that did. I wondered how it could be so difficult to just find a dress that had some pretty detail, a lace trim around the bottom and that isn’t clingy and tight (because believe it or not, not every bride wants a fitted dress!). In a world where there are sometimes thousands of dresses in one shop, was I really asking for a lot? Apparently so. But then I came to this shop.
I ended up choosing about 6 to try on in total, trying the ones I had chosen first and saving the one that Linda had chosen until last. Both Linda and Jodie were honest about each one I tried, and told me straight if it didn’t look right. What a breath of fresh air it was to have honesty from the shop owners, because let me tell you, when planning a wedding and feeling completely overwhelmed, there’s nothing worse than a bridal salon just trying to get a sale. I didn’t feel rushed and pressured like I had in some other salons, everything was just at my own pace and they genuinely wanted me to find my dress. What’s funny is that every single dress I tried across the months of searching didn’t fit me. It was either far too tight (which did nothing for my self-confidence) or far too big, so I could never really imagine how it would look. But then I tried Linda’s choice of dress and recall her fastening me up and excitedly telling me that it was a perfect fit, and how rare it is that that happens. And I was a little taken aback too, because it felt like a perfect fit. I recall her looking at me and her face had lit up, before she told me ‘I think this could be the one you’re looking for’. I walked out took one look at myself and knew it was exactly what I was looking for. As I analysed myself in the mirror, questioning whether it had the details I wanted, whether I felt pretty and whether I could commit to it for my wedding day, I realised it had everything that other dresses lacked, and I couldn’t fault it. Everybody told me that I would know the right dress as soon as I tried it and that I should persevere until I found it. I wasn’t really sure whether I bought into the whole ‘the one’ in terms of a dress. I thought maybe it meant I would take one look at myself in the right dress and burst into tears immediately at the sight, but that didn’t happen. However, as I looked at myself in the mirror, I found myself imagining wearing it on the day, and it complementing everything else I’d meticulously planned. I became emotional because I realised that this dress would be the perfect fit and the only dress I wanted to be seen in on my wedding day. No other dress had made me feel that way, so maybe that was the feeling?
Unlike many other shops where you are not permitted to take photos of the dresses you try, Jodie and Linda encouraged me to take photos so I could go away and think about it. Buying a wedding dress is a huge commitment, and my gorgeous Mum was buying my dress for me, so I needed to make sure it was right. We bought the dress in May 2018, a little over a year from the wedding. Many people suggested that I might regret buying the dress so far in advance and worried that I may change my mind before the wedding, but I knew I wouldn’t. On the day, everybody commented on how beautiful my dress was, and my friends stated how it was the most ‘me’ dress they could have imagined. It’s now in my wardrobe, still in its condition from our wedding day because I can’t bring myself to have it dry cleaned yet. It hangs proudly, complete with the filth that only comes from people drunkenly spilling drinks on it and from sitting on the floor and jumping about when the legendary ‘Sit Down’ by ‘James’ played on our wedding evening. Every time I look at it, I’m flooded with memories of our day and remember fondly how my loved ones cried when they looked at me wearing it, and the time that I felt the most beautiful I’ve ever felt in my life.
Post-ceremony entertainment: String Infusion
Find them at: http://www.stringinfusion.com/
These girls are immensely talented and fun. String Infusion were our first wedding booking we made, almost 18 months before the big day. Their presence has grown massively in the entertainment industry over the last year and I felt so honoured to have them play at our wedding. From the very first time I saw them play (I could hear them playing at a wedding fair before I actually saw them, and was drawn to their music), I knew that they were the perfect addition to our day. I loved their energy, sound and vibe and they fit perfectly with our wedding vision. They are absolutely outstanding at what they do, and they come as a string trio, quartet, quintet, sextet or basically any number you want-et. Performing modern songs on a range of string instruments, with their own vibrant edge, I watched them over and over and I got goosebumps every time. Their repertoire ranges from classical and traditional for wedding ceremonies, to modern (consisting of pop, hip-hop, indie, rock – and anything else you could want!). There’s something so beautiful and emotional about strings on a wedding day, and I couldn’t wait to have them as part of ours. I had prepared myself mentally for the fact that I wouldn’t get to enjoy them much on our day, as they would be performing when James and I would be off taking our photographs, but I was so looking forward to our guests watching them and being as mesmerised as I was when I first saw them play. And they were! Our guests have reported back to us that they spent so much time on the day just gathered around them and watching them play, because they were spectacular. This was probably the easiest money I parted with in wedding planning, and I’d wholly recommend them for your day.
Stationery: Ink Inc Ltd
Find them at: https://www.inkincillustration.co.uk/
Our beautiful stationery was courtesy of Laura and Jess at Ink Inc. Laura is my sister in law’s sister in law (work that one out!) and we’ve always adored her fun, quirky and colourful work, but never could have dreamed that she would design our wedding stationery for us. She kindly commissioned a drawing of our gorgeous baby dog Riley, who featured throughout all the stationery. We absolutely adored the design, and she stayed patient with us when we couldn’t decide on wording, fonts, positioning etc., you know, all the really boring and non-important, but all of a sudden absolute life-or-death wedding planning stuff that you frantically obsess over, because it just has to be right. I do not miss those days.
We are so incredibly lucky to be able to look back on our wedding stationery and know it was all personalised and unique to us. So many of our guests commented on how they loved the personal touches with Riley being on everything, and I loved that everything matched! And whilst it pains me to admit it because it doesn’t really matter in any way, it felt amazing to know that no other couple in the world had used our stationery! In the world of Pinterest infiltrating the subconscious of so many brides and grooms to be, resulting in millions of weddings looking like replicas of each other (don’t get me started on my hatred for Pinterest!), it was great to know that this one part of our day was completely unique to us! If you like something a little different and have a beloved pet that you want incorporated into your day, make sure to check them out!
DJ: Paul G Roadshow
Find him at: https://www.paulgroadshow.com/
What a DJ! We were a bit nervous about the DJ because all we wanted was a great party and to remember our wedding night as a great time with all of our loved ones. Music plays such an integral role in our relationship and we wanted it to be fun. Paul was absolutely amazing at communication from the moment we booked him. His service was impeccable, his prices were fantastic (seriously – you can’t beat what he charges!) and on the day he even came to me to show me the set up, check we were OK with it and talk me through how the night would go, starting with our first dance (though people were already up and dancing before we got to that point because he was playing such great songs!). He read the room like I’ve never seen before. You hear about fantastic DJs understanding the room dynamics, but Paul got this in a way I could never have imagined. I’d sent a list of songs over in advance for him to play (and he had every single one), and my understanding was he would play through them all, gauging the crowd accordingly. The control freak in me was a little worried that he may not play them in the right order or we’d end up with an empty dance floor, but I needn’t have worried. Paul veered away from the playlist at times to create a better vibe than I could have imagined. He watched the crowd, including what myself and my best friends were dancing to, observed the type of music we were loving and then followed with absolute legendary songs, many of which weren’t even on my list.
He gauged the Abba lovers but made sure not to overdo it, he played a few clubland classics from my teen days which I was overjoyed about, and he kept the dance floor full all night. We’d told him prior to the wedding which two songs we wanted to be played last, and he gave us the heads up that it was almost time to finish and he was about to play these songs. He played any song I asked for next, no questions asked, and he let James up on the microphone at one point, no questions asked.
I know the impact that a good DJ can have on somebody’s wedding, and we took a chance on Paul G Roadshow, not knowing a thing about him other than a single recommendation. We were so impressed with him, and are so glad we chose him for our wedding. I will always recommend him for celebrations in the North West and North Wales, and if I could force you to book him for your wedding, I would!
Hair and Make up: Family
People were shocked when I told them that I wasn’t hiring a professional, so much so that I stopped telling people in advance of the wedding. It was such a stressful thing for me at the time, and I had become so insecure, that peoples’ reactions only made me feel worse. In the end, I couldn’t have been happier with how I looked on the day. My hair, which was done by my sister-in-law Rachel was exactly what my wedding dreams were made of, I absolutely adored it. And my make up was so beautiful, the coverage was full and heavy enough (it seems that for some salons, it was strange for a bride to want remotely heavy make up on their wedding day!), just how I wanted it, thanks to Lindsey. We had numerous trials leading up to the wedding, so I was comfortable with the looks we had practiced. But due to the way I had felt from previous professional trials, I was still so nervous on the day about the possibility that something may go wrong and I would feel ugly. I couldn’t relax properly until it was all done, but I cried with joy when I looked at myself in the mirror. The relief I felt when I looked at myself and genuinely liked what I saw was overwhelming. What a privilege it was for me to have two girls willing to give their time and effort to make me feel beautiful on such an important day to me. If you’re on the fence about hiring a professional and if you think that you or your friends and family could do it better yourself, my advice would be to just have a try. It wasn’t about the money for me, it was about peace of mind and my wedding morning ran so smoothly due to me holding out in spite of the way things are usually done, and sticking with my gut.
Flowers: The Flower Hall
Find them at: https://theflowerhall.co.uk/
I’m going to finish with the flowers, because honestly, this is the vendor that will always hold a piece of my heart. Ash, the owner of The Flower Hall, is the best florist we could ever have wanted to create our wedding flowers.
James lost his job in April 2018, right as we were in the middle of choosing vendors, and paying deposits. I had to be honest with them and explain that things were ‘on hold’ at the moment due to James’s job loss. In the wedding industry, there are no favours and I knew that until you paid a deposit, nothing was secured. I knew that we were at risk of losing the florist we wanted due to this, but we couldn’t commit to spending on deposits or other wedding related things, when we didn’t really know what was going to happen financially. Ash was so understanding and advised me that she would provisionally keep the date free, and would contact us to check in if anybody enquired about our date. Obviously, James secured a job again and coincidentally around the time I was picking up where I left off, Ash messaged to check in and see how things were going for us. I had never been so quick to book a vendor. Ash had shown us such kindness and understanding during a difficult time and I never forgot what she did for us. There was no doubt in my mind that she was the florist for us.
I have never seen flowers so beautiful as what The Flower Hall created for our wedding. When Ash turned up on the morning of our wedding, I was overjoyed to see her and felt like I was seeing an old friend. When I saw my bouquet, I was overcome with goosebumps and I became emotional just looking at it – it was stunning. I had told her the type of bouquet I wanted, but she created something that I couldn’t have even dreamed of. The range of bouquets The Flower Hall produce is incredible, there is literally something for everybody – you can check out their Instagram page which will show you their work.
The Flower Hall’s prices were unbelievably competitive and it was great to be able to see exactly who we were supporting. Ash takes her business so seriously, it’s no surprise that it’s been nominated for a wedding award this year! The customer service was fantastic, Ash was always on hand to take our changes, additions etc. and she even emailed us on 1st January 2019 to wish us happy new year and remind us that we were getting married this year. Such a small but thoughtful gesture made us feel that she genuinely cared about us and our wedding. Ash advised that on our wedding day, she’d be contactable from 5am (!!!) should we need anything at all. I know I said at the start that these opinions are my own, so I can’t be held liable if this isn’t the same for you, but I would put money on you being nothing but overjoyed with your flowers from The Flower Hall. They have a stall each week at Ormskirk market, if you’re around there please check them out so you can see their beauty in real life. I guarantee, it’ll be the best wedding decision you make!
So, if you’ve made it to the end of this post you’re either right in the midst of wedding planning yourself (and feel free to get in touch to vent or ask for tips – I know how you feel!), or you’re a super supportive friend or family member who takes my blog seriously (I’m really impressed if you’re the latter!). Either way, thanks for reading! I know this is a mammoth post but I felt it was important to share our experiences with such fabulous vendors, especially if it can help brides and grooms to be looking to book services for their weddings! Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any further queries at all!
And just to mimic every other person on the planet who’s ever gotten married, your day will go by so quickly, and there is so much going on that you’ll wonder for months following the wedding whether it even happened at all! Surround yourself with great people, take mental snapshots of the special moments, choose the right vendors for you and make sure you choose a photographer who you can rely on capturing the beautiful moments, because they’ll be what you reminisce on over and over again for years to come.
Congratulations, and good luck!