Styled Shoot

Happy Holidays!

Julia Smith

As I write this final feature before the holidays begin, it’s late on Christmas Eve, Eve. My children (and husband – lucky *&^%$!) are sleeping soundly, the fire is dying and I’ve just put the last – hastily – wrapped present on the pile ready for Santa’s visit tomorrow night.

It’s been a crazy couple of days full of last minute preparations, inbox clearing, shopping dashes, eagerly anticipated visits to catch up with friends and an unexpected hangover from hell (oops!), but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Our year here at Brides Up North HQ and UNVEILED Towers has been no less hectic or exciting, and as I draw breath and get ready to switch on my out of office for real, I want to send some extra special Christmas wishes to our readers, supplier friends and all who support us or work alongside us. Can you believe we celebrate a decade of the blog and brand in 2020?!

I truly hope that your festive season is merry and bright – and make sure to get some rest, because I’ve seen what we have planned for you in 2020, and it looks set to be the best and busiest year yet!

As the editorial team take a short break, we’ll be leaving you with a reduced blogging schedule so that you still get your daily dose of wedding lovely. Usual service will recommence on Monday 6th January 2020 (a shiny new decade!) but in the meantime watch out for recaps of some of our favourite Real Weddings from the year so far, starting on 27th December.

Drop in every day for the very prettiest, most unique wedding inspiration and – if you are a Brides Up North bride – to see if your real wedding was one of our top picks… but until then, I’m sharing this elegant holiday-inspired styled shoot, set at beautiful North East venue, Brinkburn Northumberland.

Providing a super chic alternative to the sparkle and pinecones usually associated with the season, this gorgeous editorial demonstrates how to strip back the glitz but retain a level of glamour using opulent tones, simple décor and a winning combination of festive foliage.

So, as we count down to Christmas, I’ll hand over the blog to Newcastle-based photographer Cristina Ilao who captured the fine art festivities so very beautifully.

With images by Cristina Ilao Photography


Cristina says

: Our vision for this editorial was to create scenes of romantic winter holiday wedding inspiration at Brinkburn Northumberland. This was conceptualised by Katie, of Katie Sue Design Co, after Leah, Brinkburn’s very own wedding coordinator, suggested the idea to us. The main challenge was to create a festive look but incorporate a classy touch of fine art together with delicate light and airy photography.

We used this holiday season’s colour palette with festive gold and warm burgundy as our main focal colours then sprinkled those with hints of cool blues, a nice node to the new Pantone colour of the year, Classic Blue.

I used a combination of digital and film photography to produce the delicate editorial photos. I’ve been inspired to use analogue film more in my photography since I’ve discovered its amazing ability to render colours so beautifully. It definitely helped me create that soft fine art aesthetic that we were aiming for and it’s something that I’m hoping to offer to my clients in the future.


Choosing the wedding venue is one of the most important decisions for any couple who are planning to get married. This decision could make or break their wedding’s overall look and vibe. Brinkburn Northumberland offers a blank canvas that is so versatile and relaxed and can easily be styled to suit any look a couple desires. From the historic Northumberland countryside’s breath-taking backdrop, to the priory’s old-world charm, Brinkburn lent itself well to our vision. Their White Room is my favourite; a clean slate with big windows that allow beautiful natural light to spill inside. The stunning and quiet grounds meanwhile provide such a private and relaxed feel.

On top of the beautiful architecture, gorgeous countryside and modern accommodation that couples can find in Brinkburn, the venue has the most wonderful team, who we’ve worked closely with on several occasions. They provide a warm welcome and have a very personal approach when dealing, not just with couples, but also with wedding suppliers or anyone who wishes to visit Brinkburn.


Jess, of Sprig & Thistle, provided all of the floristry, styling and decor for the editorial. She styled a festive table using relaxed foliage runners, long hand–dipped candles on gold candle holders, gold-rimmed charger plates, burgundy dinner napkins, sprigs of seasonal foliage and flowers to complete the look. To keep the fine art aesthetics and the palette clean, the overall styling was kept minimal. However, to highlight the occasion, the festive feel was extended to the foliage installation on the fireplace. This is well coordinated with the festive handtied bridal bouquet of anemones, roses, tulips, thistle and foliage.

Sharon, of Sadie May Cakes, showcased her signature Sadie May style sugar flowers on a simple but elegant wedding cake: a beautiful three-tier edible art embellished with flowers hand-painted in various colours that complement the editorial brief and mirror the beauty of the bridal bouquet.

The stationery design was kept minimal and incorporated the editorial’s main colours. Katie of Katie Sue Design Co created a simple one-piece custom invitation. She designed a venue illustration and added classic calligraphy on a beautiful velum paper tied with the most luxurious hand-dyed soft silk ribbon.


Charlotte, of Christian Alexander Bridal, chose a simple, body-hugging, mermaid-style wedding dress for the shoot. It was the best choice for showcasing a clean and crisp style to inspire a modern and minimalist bride. The dress fits nicely through the top and hips and then gradually loosens towards the legs with a fluted train. This silhouette is perfect for a bride who wants to accentuate her figure but still wants to feel that she can move comfortably throughout the wedding day.


Vicky, of Contemporary Yarm, styled an elegant updo to create a clean and low-maintenance bridal look. She then accented the style with the finest golden hair accessories hand-crafted by Lisa, of The Bobby Pin, to complete that festive feel. Sarah, of Flawless Makeup Co, mainly chose soft colours for the bride’s makeup. Using the model’s beautiful natural features, she decided upon a subtle smoky eye which contrasted beautifully with the rich hues in the flowers, cake and stationery to bring all the elements together.


The shoot went very well as could be expected when such a brilliant team of creatives are involved. Having Brinkburn’s team closely working with us helped us achieve our goal given the elements that worked against us during the shoot – the cold winter weather and the short daylight hours. Everything went well and we are extremely happy with the results. It just shows how smoothly a team with complementary styles and a similar approach can work together successfully when tasked to bring a vision to life.

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