If you recognise Abi Alton it might be because as a teenager she gained experience performing in front of millions every Saturday night on the UK’s biggest singing competition The X Factor, it might be because her latest single ‘Never Come Back’ had a fantastic reaction among her 80,000 plus Twitter followers, or you may even have had the pleasure of seeing her live yourself playing a gig across the UK, in Nashville and supporting Ellie Goulding. Her debut EP ‘Souvenirs’ entered the Top 10 of the iTunes UK singer-songwriter chart and on Sunday 29 April Abi will be playing here at Birdsall House on our grand piano, where she will also be available to chat to you about live music at your very own wedding.
Taking time out from her busy schedule, Abi chats to us about her career and music:
|How would you describe the kind of music you perform for weddings?|
|Ambient, Elegant and Personal.|
|What’s been the highlight for your career so far?|
|It was a real honour to have strings recorded at Abbey Road for an album of TV compositions I worked on last year.|
|How do you work with couples who book you?|
|With every booking I offer a complimentary consultation. This allows the couple the opportunity to hear a selection of songs they may have had in mind for the ceremony or first dance. It also gives me the chance to get to know them a little, understand their music tastes and go through the logistics of the day so that I know exactly how I can complement it best.|
|What do you like to listen to?|
|At the moment I’m in love with Lewis Capaldi’s music. He’s a bit of an Ed Sheeran/James Arthur Hybrid.
|What instrument do you like playing the most?|
The Piano. I’m forever thankful for the lessons I had when I was younger!
Have you got any tips for couples struggling to pick music for their ceremony and reception?
|Consider songs that may remind you of special or pivotal points in your relationship, or ones that have a sentiment that resounds with you as a couple.
|When you’re not performing how do you like to spend your time?|
|Music wise, I write a lot as this forms a large part of what I do. In my spare time, I like running or tucking into a good Netflix series (at the moment I’m loving Suits!)
|Register here for our Wedding Showcase where you can meet Abi, listen to her play, as well as have a tour of the house. Receive a free gift bag on arrival and get access to a very special offer when you register in advance.
Victoria Farr provides an exclusive, luxury styling experience with the highest attention to detail for any bride on her wedding day. We’re delighted she will be joining us at our wedding showcase on Sunday 29 April but before that we thought we’d get to know her a little better in our latest spotlight feature…
Hi Victoria! What do you love about being a make-up artist?
Making ladies look and feel amazing on such a special occasion, enhancing their own natural beauty and ensuring they can look back at their wedding images in years to come and feel happy with how they look.
People are often afraid of the cliché of looking very orange and overly made-up when getting their make-up done, how do you ensure brides get the look they want?
I talk at length about their likes and dislikes and we work on the overall look together, bringing in details of their wedding gown, flowers and styling to ensure everything works perfectly together.
What are some of your favourite products?
Illamasqua Skin Base foundation, Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks and Urban Decay Eye Primer Potion.
How do you fit in different members of the wedding party?
Depending on bridal party numbers, the time of the ceremony and logistics of bridal preparations that morning, I then work out the best timeline for the bride and her bridal party. I am seeing more often larger numbers, which is not a problem as I can provide additional artists to join me on the day.
What’s been the highlight for the business so far?
There have been so many over the last 7 years, but I am so excited for what the future holds and knowing that what I bring to a brides wedding day is so very special and quite unique.
What is one of the most memorable bridal looks you’ve seen?
History always provides good references and I am a huge fan of Audrey Hepburn, timeless, classic and elegant wedding day looks. Also Jennifer Anniston when she married Brad Pitt looks as relevant today as it was in 2000, again a timeless look that was her own style.
Unless you were already into wedding cakes and bakeries on Instagram, then a few weeks ago the name Clare Ptak probably didn’t mean much to you. Fast forward in time and the world’s media were all itching to speak to her after news broke that she would be creating Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle’s wedding cake.
Ms Markle had previously met the owner of London bakery Violet Cakes when she interviewed her for her lifestyle website ‘The Tig’ and the Californian bakers use of seasonal and organic ingredients clearly left an impression.
Even more exciting was the news that the cake would be a lemon elderflower cake “covered in buttercream and decorated with fresh flowers”. A departure from the traditional fruit-cake caused quite a stir and we love the choice. Of course, the royal couple are by no means the first to shun tradition in favour of something they prefer and this week we take a look at some bakers local to us and get their reaction to the royal news:
Specialising in bespoke wedding and celebration cakes, just looking at this company’s website makes our mouths water. The company is based at Jervaulx Abbey Tearooms with cakes, tray bakes and pastries baked by Carol, Gayle and Anna using local and high-quality ingredients. Gayle is mainly self-taught but one look at her detailed, three-tier sculptures would make you think she’d trained for years first. She said of the royal wedding cake choice:
“Personally I love the flavour choice, I’m going to be serving it at a wedding fair this weekend. Lemon is one of our most popular flavours. We do a gooseberry and elderflower cake when they are in season. I think it will be a huge hit.”
Image credit: Riff Raff Photography
“I think lemon and elderflower is a delicious combination – the delicately floral sweet taste of the elderflower will be perfectly balanced by the tang of the lemon. But, then I love any floral flavour and, indeed, have a couple of floral choices on my menu, namely, Lavender & Pear and Rose & Raspberry. It is also nice to see that the royal couple have chosen a baker for whom provenance of ingredients is so important, an ethos I share.”
Initially starting out in ceramics, Amanda Earl’s creative flair is apparent in all of her cake designs. Based in Harrogate, we love her use of florals and how detailed her designs are. This Moroccan-inspired opulent wedding cake, for example, features sugar damask roses, sugar fruits & foliage, with hand piping and 24ct edible gold leaf accents. Almost too good to eat!
Even if you’re not into cake, you’re probably one of over 74,000 people following Poppy Pickering on Instagram for some serious wedding inspiration. A daughter and father team based in Ilkley, their shop window is truly eye-catching and it’s easy to see why they won National Wedding Cake Designer of the Year in 2016.
“I love the sound of Harry and Megan’s cake flavour, it sounds so summery and perfect in keeping with the wedding cake design they are going for. To be honest I am thinking of adapting my lemon & blueberry cake flavour to incorporate the elderflower too. I must admit I also have a new cake flavour which might sound appealing, its orange, satsuma and Masons Yorkshire gin!”
Tell us what cake you want on your dream day and meet local Cake Designers at our Wedding Showcase on Sunday 29 April 11am – 4pm.
We are delighted to be working with the acclaimed chef Tom Coe here at Birdsall. As Head Chef at Coe Catering he is experienced in creating bespoke menus for private customers and delivering fine dining experiences in a variety of incredible locations.
We know food is really important to couples planning their day, and we don’t think they should be limited with a set menu where there are only a few options to choose from. That’s why we love working with Tom! He knows Birdsall really well and instead of just giving you a list of two or three options he’ll find out what you want and make it happen, and if you don’t know where to begin, he has the experience to help.
Growing up nearby in Malton, Tom attended Leiths School of Food and Wine. After qualifying he began working in Michelin Starred restaurants such as Chez Bruce and La Trompette as well as a number of other critically – acclaimed restaurants in London. Following this experience Tom set up Chef Tom Coe catering for private parties, the success of this lead to the development of Coe Catering.
Here, we get to know him better in our first in a series of ‘Spotlight on the Supplier’ blogposts:
What made you want to be a chef?
A love of cooking and desire to develop new dishes and menus.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Having the privilege of working under some of the best chefs in the country.
How do you work with couples who book their wedding at Birdsall House?
I like to make the weddings I do as personal as possible, taking into account what the couple would like and developing their ideal menu, as opposed to offering a generic menu. It is a very personal day in every aspect and I want to make sure that is reflected in the wedding breakfast also.
What has been the most unusual thing you’ve cooked for someone?
Veal Brains. I personally love them, but I think they will sound unusual to some people.
What do you love to cook?
I love cooking Game. Especially given the area that we live in. We are fortunate to have such amazing Game and I would love to see it eaten more.
What is your favourite room in Birdsall House?
When you’re not planning weddings how do you like to spend your time?
Eating out. I remember being told by my old head chef how important it is to eat out and see what other chefs offer. It is true and vital to developing as a chef. Plus who doesn’t like to dine out!
People often say they get hungry at a wedding, it can be a long day! How can couples ensure their guests aren’t starving by the time they sit down for the wedding breakfast?
Stagger the canapes and keep a steady flow going. Give the option of more substantial canapes rather than the traditional single bite canapés, but there’s a lot of options and I love helping couples with challenges like that.
It’s a must read for any bride planning her wedding in our beautiful county so we are really pleased that Yorkshire Bride has covered the news that Birdsall House is available for exclusive use for weddings online today.
While we officially launch as a wedding venue in 2018 we’ve had plenty of experience hosting weddings following a soft launch last year as has our award winning wedding planner, Lindsay, whose quoted in the piece along with Lady Cara Willoughby.
To see how we can create your dream wedding come along to our showcase on Sunday 29 April.
You’ve found the perfect venue, chosen the dress, sent the invitations, you’ve even chosen the food but have you thought about the music that will be playing as you walk down the aisle?
For many, despite music playing a big part in their lives, the exact music they want for this momentous occasion is often something that isn’t thought about until much nearer the big day. Yes, you may have booked the musician or band they like well in advance (which we highly recommend!), but telling them exactly what you want to hear before you say ‘I do’ is another matter. When it does come to deciding what you want, you can go from having no idea, to having too much choice.
Music is highly emotive however, and your processional song is one that will mean a lot to you for the rest of your life. It is important not to become so focused on what you will dance to for the first time that you forget about the music that will be playing as you take those all important steps towards your husband-to-be.
Think about the kind of ceremony you are having and how the music you love will fit in with it. Kate Middleton walking down the aisle of Westminster Abbey along an avenue of trees has got to be one of the most memorable moments of the last decade. As she walked down the aisle she heard ‘I Was Glad’ by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry from Psalm 122 as did the rest of the world. This dramatic piece reflected the grandeur of the occasion as well as having historic connections to the Royal Family as it is often performed during coronations.
Miranda Kerr, walked towards Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel to the sound of Arvo Part’s ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’ before they said their vows last year. As well as apparently being a favourite song of hers, and matching what was to become her new name, the music fitted well with the low-key intimate ceremony they had.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be a classical or religious piece. Bruno Mars’ Marry You has become a very popular choice, as has a number of Ed Sheeran songs and it’s easy to see why; as well as being romantic, songs that are heard on the radio a lot often remind couples of special moments in their life. Singer Alecia Beth Moore, or Pink as most people know her, went for something more popular with Billy Joel’s ‘More Than A Woman’ as she walked along the beach to say her vows. Many musicians and bands will be happy to put their own spin on popular songs so your ceremony has that unique touch and this often gets guests talking as well.
A really romantic touch is to let the groom choose the song for his bride to walk down the aisle to. We’ve heard of some beautiful choices when the bride has given her man free reign from ‘Ho Hey’ by The Lumineers to ‘Lucky Man’ by The Verve. It certainly sparks a few heartfelt tears especially if this is listed as ‘chosen by the groom’ in the hymn sheet or ceremony programme guests receive as they arrive.
It’s important to think about the surroundings and setting of your ceremony. For example, if you love opera but are getting married in a smaller venue, try to go for a softer piece that won’t have people at the front clutching their ears. Speak to your singer, musician or band about their recommendations and experiences, after all they will have performed at a lot of weddings. See if there’s something at your venue you can take advantage of. Here at Birdsall House, we have a grand piano in our historic Oval Room and can recommend a number of excellent and experienced pianists.
Whatever your taste in music, if you haven’t yet given your song list to your chosen performer take the time to sit down with your partner and listen to some of your favourite tunes. You’ll have a great time sharing memories and by the end of it you’ll no doubt have come to a decision that will leave you even more excited for your special day.