Wedding Venues in the Fylde area

Ok, Ok  I think it is about time I stopped going on in such loving terms about The Barton Grange and started talking about one or two other venues.   After all you might be unlucky and Barton Grange might be unavailable on your chosen wedding date!

So where else would I recommend?  Are you asking me to name names?!   That’s very dangerous territory for a wedding photographer as I’m likely to become very unpopular with those I don’t mention.  But anyhow here goes …..

I think one of the loveliest places on the Fylde is Lytham Hall.  It has great grounds, impressive gorgeous interiors especially if you’re having your ceremony there too and the catering is done by Paul Rowley (Rowley’s Catering).  You can’t beat Paul Rowley – if only because he is super efficient, the food is great and nothing, nothing is too much trouble.  He’s also really nice to photographers – it always helps! 

On the stairs at Lytham Hall
On the stairs at Lytham Hall

You won’t be bothered by the idea that there may be more than one wedding going on at the same time either (though I think that its easy to get carried away with the idea that it will ruin your day if you see another bride.  It won’t – if it’s handled correctly).  A wedding at Lytham Hall has a very special and unique feel.  Julie and Jane are very friendly as your wedding coordinators and its all very professionally done.

Becky and Lee's wedding at Lytham Hall last year in the Gold Room 
Becky and Lee’s wedding at Lytham Hall last year in the Gold Room

The downside for some people is the fact that there is no accommodation on site – but the Clifton Arms Hotel is only a short taxi hop away and we live in one of the best areas for plentiful accommodation.  So it oughtn’t to be a problem.    There’s also something very special about being whisked away in the middle of the night in a taxi at the end of the party and on to the next stage of your lives.

Further afield is The Inn at Whitewell with the lovely little church next door.  This is a very special place and is equally as lovely as Lytham Hall but in a different sort of way.  We’ve done several weddings over here and popped in for lunch too – fabulous food.  Some people don’t warm to the marquee, or at least have commented to me as such, but I think it is elegant and in keeping and shouldn’t turn you off from booking.  For those with transport issues getting that far out into the countryside might represent a problem – but the upside is that once there you have no need for cars at all – thus eliminating some cost!

I haven’t photographed there for a while but somewhere else worth checking out is The Clifton Arms in Lytham.  Fotoamour and Martyn Pearson have done many weddings at the hotel in the past and really appreciated the family atmosphere.  They also do a very nice lunch with Pam waiting on – who knows everyone and what they’re likely to want to eat too!  Photographically the function room is now great with plenty of lovely light to illuminate speech shots – if this is part of your package.  You’ve also got close access to the green, minding the road of course, and the windmill. 

 

 Helen and Chris before heading off to the Clifton Arms

Helen and Chris before heading off to the Clifton Arms

They have a licence for weddings if a civil ceremony is what you’re after and accommodation is plentiful, if not in the hotel itself, then you have plenty of other places locally too.

A ceremony venue I love is Ashton Memorial at Williamson Park in Lancaster. It really is stunning and a superb backdrop for wedding photos.  You have to select a reception venue for afterwards and people might be put off by the transport issues – but there’s nothing to stop you booking a coach and eliminating the hassle for your guests. You’ve now got the Midland Hotel in Morecambe close by – but I haven’t eaten or photographed there so I haven’t got a clue what you might expect.   Weddings we’ve photographed there have gone on to places like Garstang Country Club, The Barton Grange and Miller Howe (a long time ago!)

I’ve just visited Samlesbury Hall and was very impressed by the approach of the staff I met – I can’t guarantee the food as I’ve never eaten there (though I did happen to notice some fantastic cakes there one day!)  The setting is very unique too, although the ceremony room did seem a bit on the small side if you have a larger party – but there might have been other options which I didn’t get to see.   I just warmed to their friendly approach – a wedding venue which really is on the side of the bride and groom!  (You’d be surprised just how many times I’ve seen the opposite).

 

 In the gardens at Samlesbury one hot October day

In the gardens at Samlesbury one hot October day

Another place I adore for smaller parties is The Tower Restaurant at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.  I know it sounds mad but the food is fabulous and a wedding during the illuminations season is splendid, fantastic, amazing!   There is plenty of secure parking and a private entrance which protects you from the general mayhem that comes with the lights switch-on.

In fact, once up there you feel like you’ve got a birds eye view of the comings and going of the prom and it feels very special and pretty swanky too.  A very upmarket reception venue.  Discard your preconceptions and check it out!

There are other places that are good too – like Singleton Lodge and I’ve photographed there many times this year.  I like Jo who is the wedding coordinator and the fact that they deal with one wedding per day.  It is a good choice if your wedding party is slightly smaller as it has a very intimate feel.   I’ve only heard good things from my couples so I am sure the food and service is good – and they have great gardens.  Interiors-wise they have decorated in light neutrals throughout so that makes for a much nicer feel to your photographs.  In our climate where you can’t be guaranteed a day of sunshine, interiors are incredibly important.

 

 Waiting for the bride at Singleton Lodge

Waiting for the bride at Singleton Lodge

Although I have just talked about gardens/settings etc.  you should know from talking to me that the most important things to investigate are the food, the service and the friendliness of the staff and the interiors.  More important – far more important – than spectacular gardens or impressive settings.

These are just a few ideas from some of the venues that I have been to over the last few months or years.  They are ideas though.  If I haven’t mentioned a venue here then its for one of two reasons – either I have no strong feelings about it OR  I don’t like it for whatever reason.  If you really want the low-down you’ll have to arrange to meet me and have a chat – be warned, I’ll frisk you for recording devices!

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New discoveries

I’m always looking for new suppliers that might be useful for my couples and just recently I’ve come across two or three that I think it would be worth checking out – if you’re in the market for what they do.

Firstly I came across So Close Invitations at the Barton Grange wedding show yesterday and I paticularly like what they do.  Here are a few pictures of their collections for you to have a look at. 

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What I like about their work is that it is a purely typographical solution which looks elegant and understated.  There was also the flexibility to have a bit of bling, if you’re a bling type of girl.  I also liked that it came as a kind of bundle of goodies – the invitation, the RSVP and directions all in one.  

I see a lot of the same old stuff at wedding fairs, and sometimes it can look pretty naff and dated, so it was great to something a little different and fresh.

You can email then at soclose@btopenworld.com or telephone on 07546 309500.

I then met up with my old friend Janet Fenton.  Janet is a great person to have around at a wedding and I’ve always thought that she would make a good wedding coordinator.  She has now started a new arm to her business as that of a bridal dresser.  ‘What on earth is a bridal dresser?’ I hear you ask!  A bridal dresser is someone who will help you into your dress, strap you in, help you into your shoes, show you how to hold your flowers and pin on corsages and buttonholes etc etc etc.  Pretty much anything connnected with helping you and your bridal party look 100% on the day.

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Now I can understand why lots of you may not see the point of the additional cost that this particular service brings but believe me, the number of buttonholes I have to re-pin whilst I should be shooting is a reflection on how useful a service this might be.  And when I’m looking at the photos afterwards, if I’ve missed one and its all skew-wiff, it makes me wince!  It just doesn’t look right.  So a dresser to provide this service means that I’m not stopped from doing what I ought to be doing – which is photographing – to make you look your best.

If you are planning a very special wedding with lots of attendants and lots of guests I think Janet would be a valuable person to have around – her details are at www.bridaldressingservice.co.uk

I’m not a massive fan of fake tans as I have seen a lot of patchy ankles and ‘tangoed’ torsoes in my time and so it is with relief this summer I’ve noticed that not so quite so many of you have gone the way of St. Tropez (although I’m sure that particular brand is as good as any – she says quickly before she gets sued!)  However Clare Dalton, who happens to be a friend of ours, has started a business as a mobile spray tanner.  You can email her at Clare@Lythamsuntans.co.uk or visit her website at www.Lythamsuntans.co.uk .  Knowing Clare as I do I don’t think you’re likely to come back looking like you’ve visited Planet Zorg for your hols so I feel confident to recommend her business.  And the benefit is that you’re unlikely to get patchy ankles because you can dry off in the comfort of your own home.  Neither are you likely to be ritually humiliated by standing in a cold cubicle in a pair of paper knickers and nothing else whilst an unnaturally orange 16 year old beauty therapist sprays you until you reach the glorious depths of her own particular shade.   Clare will save you all of that hassle.  And its reassuring to note that Clare only ever looks a nice natural healthy colour – I’ve never seen her looking at all orange or patchy – hand on heart!

 

There!  I’ve done my duty – time for a cuppa!

Wedding Fair friends at Barton Grange

It is always great to visit the Barton Grange and today was no exception.  The only difference today was that I got to meet up with all the Barton Grange team in one go – so the inimitable Rob was there along with Louise and Jane, Genivieve (do you spell it like that?) and Joanne and I am sure that there were others (but its Sunday night and Celebrity Come Dine With Me is just about to start and I’m weary too so the brain has gone dead!!!)  The only person missing that I could think of was Tom – where were you, Tom?

I met a load of lovely people.  Couples, girls on their own, a bloke banished to the back of the room whilst his fiance looked for wedding dress ideas, mums and daughters and mums-in-laws too.  Thanks for taking the time to visit my stand.

Michelle and Paul dropped by first of all and they’re getting married at Broughton Church and Barton Grange for afters in September 2011.  Here are your pics in black and white and colour as requested – see I’ll do anything for my customers!

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Then Donna and Lee came and had a chat but they hadn’t yet booked anywhere – I hope you’ll think about Barton Grange now you’ve been and had a look.  Its not the best photo, Donna, and I hope you won’t hold it against me as I know you’ll be a lot more relaxed on the day!

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And then, thrills, Carla turned up with her mates Gemma and Kayleigh – Gemma has already booked her photographer but it was lovely to see them all as they had attended Carla’s wedding last year.  A girl with great taste as it was a Barton Grange/Fotoamour/The Flower Shop Garstang wedding!

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Carla – give me a call when you’ve had your baby.  I’d love to do some photos for you!

Sally and Gilly came to chat later and it was brilliant to have a talk with someone who is really into the whole wedding accessory theme.  You know, I’m a girl who knows how to stick to a wedding budget – but if you have you’re heart set on the little bits and bobs of a wedding AND you have the budget to go with it, then it can be a truly beautiful thing.  Gilly would make a great wedding planner and is a useful friend to have around if you’re planning a wedding like Sally is.  (I think I’ve got their names the right way round – apologies if not!)

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How is this for amazingly exciting – one of my potential customers today was Natalie. Natalie competed at the Bejing, Sydney and Athens Paralympic Games in swimming.  How fantastic and utterly brilliant is that?   Myles has already asked to be my assistant on the day if Natalie books with Fotoamour but I have a sneaking suspicion that its only to try and obtain autographs from a few of the guests!  Incidentally Natalie and her man (another major athlete) are getting married on 10/10/2010 – how cool is that?!

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When I showed Natalie this pic she wasn’t that thrilled with it – but I think you’ve got a picture of a lovely, bright, smiling beautiful bride to be – so I’m sorry, I went with it anyway!

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Winifred, Katie and Julie came up to my stand and were just lovely.  I felt like we clicked.  So I was pleased that they decided to book me there and then for next May.  I am so chuffed to be photographing your wedding – its going to be brilliant. Keep in touch, girls and call me if you need any major advice.

The last to be photographed today were Alison and her entourage!  What a great bunch of ladies.  No venue booked yet but they went away with a few ideas and I’m hoping that they’ll consider Barton Grange for sheer professionalism and …. niceness.  Being nice is just such an underrated past-time and a team of nice people managing your day is one of the very best reasons to book a venue.  So here is, from left, Brenda, Alison, Hazel and Margaret on their quest to find the ultimate wedding reception venue!

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The catwalk and dress show today was provided by Dreamcatcher in Kirkham.  I don’t often have a great deal to do with dress shops in general but I must say that I thought there were some much nicer numbers here than I have seen of late.  I am also relieved to see that there was an alternative to the strapless numbers that so many brides have worn, and worn well admittedly, over the last few years.  Its just nice to have a change, that’s all!  Having said that the shot below is made up entirely of strapless numbers – hey ho!

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Mother of the bride outfits were provided by Speights (I think that’s right but I’m hoping someone there will correct me if not).  I was again, pleased to see some different outfits there.  The chic little suits were particularly flattering and I loved the metallic one with the mega hat pictured below.  It just looked so sophisticated and dressy without being overdone.   A great look.

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Now for those of you that are quick enough, and been reading this blog a while, you’ll recognise the lady above as being the singer for The Prohibition – the band that played at The Ansdell School Summer Ball.  Only then she was wearing a tartan tutu and platform boots.  Today she was wearing Mother of the Bride outfits – from the sublime to the ridiculous.  She still only looks about 17 though doesn’t she!

Will post some more soon about some of the other suppliers there – So Close Invitations in particular as I was really impressed with the stuff that they had on display.  I’ve got some shots of some of their work and if you need invites they would be worth checking out.  Keep reading though as I’ll be posting these pics tomorrow.

But I’m just off to watch Celebrity Come Dine with me followed by Kevin McCloud’s Grand Tour.  (AKA Thinking Woman’s Crumpet!)

Barton Grange wedding fayre 27th September 2009

Don’t forget that there will be a wedding fayre at Barton Grange Hotel this Sunday.  This is one of my favourite hotels and the show is always worthwhile visiting. 

The Walled Garden restaurant next door also does great lunches and if its a bit busy on Sunday, you have their garden centre down the road with its famous flowery urinals.  (It is an experience you have to witness for yourself – I can’t possibly communicate the sheer wonder of these particular conveniences!)  Have your lunch there first and come on down later – or visit the show and go to the garden centre for tea and scrumptious cakes later in the afternoon.

I think that it will run from about 11am to 4pm.

I hope we’ll see lots of you at the show and that you’ll stop by and have a chat about your wedding plans! 

See you there   XXXX

Popular dates for weddings in 2010

Just a little note to those of you who have already booked your wedding date on 24th April OR 7th August 2010.    You have chosen very popular dates in the diary and I would tactfully suggest that you get everything booked as soon as you possibly can to avoid disappointment later.
 

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Similarly to those of you that have told me you are booking Fotoamour as your photographers (for these and other dates) you need to ensure that you have returned your booking form with the deposit.  Without these two bits of magic I can’t guarantee your date – and I currently have 6 verbally agreed bookings in the pipeline for 2010 without the paperwork to go with them!

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So please, please get your booking forms and deposits back to me – or I will have to let the dates go to other couples that would like to book Fotoamour. 

Like many other photographers we work on a first come, first served basis.  Enjoy the preparations for your wedding – but make sure that you’ve got all the important stuff out of the way before you go ahead and get too chilled out!!

Cars by Broughton Wedding Cars

Cars by Broughton Wedding Cars

Other suppliers that you should be booking NOW are car companies.  If it is a particularly lovely vintage number you’re after – be warned, they’re very popular and there are only so many to go round.  So get it booked now.

 Cars by Clouds

Cars by Clouds

Dresses also need to be ordered in advance to ensure that everyone in your bridal party who needs a fitting is available a good while in advance.  Some dresses also need to be ordered from abroad and it is a time-consuming business. 

 This fabulous dress was by Tye The Knot in St. Annes

This fabulous dress was by Tye The Knot in St. Annes

Cakes and flowers and tiaras and shoes – lovely as they are – can be left til a little later.

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The dress was by Caroline Castigliano but not sure about the tiara!

Booking your photography?  Now is the time.  GO GIRL!!

Rachel, me and an MP!

 
Photographs copyright Jonathan Lynch 

Rachel and I at Progress Recruitment's offices in Blackpool. Photographs copyright Jonathan Lynch

 

If you’ve read this blog in any detail you’ll know that I have a son who is a wheelchair user (and even if you haven’t read it you’ll know anyway because I talk about him a lot because I’m very proud of him!).  Having a child with a disability opens your eyes to a lot of the stuff going on and brings you into contact with brilliant, positive people.  Being self employed also broadens the circle of people that you wouldn’t otherwise have the good fortune to meet. When you combine these two different experiences – well you can imagine how rich your life can be. 

So I was really thrilled to be invited to an event that brought together these two major elements in my life – a meeting with Angela Smith, Minister for Social Exclusion and the Third Sector at Progress Recruitment – a company I first came into contact with about a year ago.  Progress Recruitment specialises in finding  employment for people with disabilities – so, of course, with having a son who might need a bit of help in this area in the future I was immediately interested.

Rachel with Angela

Rachel with Angela

Progress introduced me to Rachel, a very talented young woman who works for Fotoamour and who digitally enhances your wedding photos for your preview books, montages and books.    Rachel has been working with us for about 8 months now.  She had been previously doing some training with a really nice guy, and photographer, called Jonathan Lynch and we followed it up with some training in digital retouching too.  Jonathan took three of the  photographs here and has very kindly given me permission to use them on this blog.  Many thanks Jonathan.

So last Wednesday I turned up for lunch at the Progress HQ in Blackpool and had an opportunity to tell Angela Smith why I felt Progress were doing such a great job.  And how my business has benefited from having  access to the not inconsiderable skills of Rachel.  Here are some photos of Rachel and I with Angela Smith – just one gripe, Angela.  Can you rename yourself Minister for Social INclusion please?  Far too many people have been excluded for far too long  and it sounds all wrong!  (PS  What on earth is the Third Sector – sounds like the religion of  The Jedi bloke from Star Wars!)

 Angela Smith, myself and Rachel at Progress Recruitment's VIP Lunch.  Photographs copyright Jonathan Lynch

Angela Smith, myself and Rachel at Progress Recruitment's VIP Lunch. Photographs copyright Jonathan Lynch

 

Wedding Fayre – Barton Grange Hotel

Don’t forget chaps that Fotoamour will be at the Barton Grange Wedding Fayre on Sunday 27th September – that’s a week tomorrow.

We’ve been seeing lots of couples recently who are still undecided about booking a venue – (how nice is it that they are looking at booking their photographer before the venue even?!!) and heading them off in the direction of Barton Grange.

For some people it suits and others it won’t – but seriously its worth getting down there and having all your preconceptions about a hotel blown away.

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And just for the record, because Tom thinks that we don’t love him – here’s one for you Tom. And Rob.  Because the shot that I have of Tom – well, I just know he won’t like it.  And we’re nothing if not considerate at Fotoamour!

Just make sure, that if you’re looking for a venue for your wedding, you head down to Barton Grange on Sunday 27th.  And whilst you’re there, come and see us on our stand.