Saturday 31 March 2012

Introducing the Winners of the Engagement Shoot!

Back in autumn last year, Before the Big Day teamed up with Butler-Madden Weddings to offer an incredible prize - a free engagement shoot! Bride-to-be Josie won, and suggested an urban engagement shoot to contrast with her rural wedding. So along with her fiancé Jeff, they met with photographer Patrick Butler-Madden at Columbia Road Flower Market for blooms and bacon rolls, and a fabulous photoshoot. Here's just one of the gorgeous pictures.

♥ Want more urban wedding ideas? ♥ Or how about vintage wedding ideas? ♥
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Fabulous Polaroid Wedding Pictures Guest Book

One of the hardest thing about your wedding will be getting round to talk to all your guests. As much as I tried, I didn't manage to chat to everyone, and it's one of my biggest wedding regrets. That's why a wedding guest book is such a lovely idea. It's gives your guests the opportunity to pour out their hearts and write heartfelt messages to you and your husband. We decided to encourage our guests to get involved by adding a polaroid camera {a present from my amazing sister and her boyfriend}, and lots of fake moustaches, to encourage people to take silly pictures. The end result is a brilliant and hilarious album of our friends' funniest moments, and it's our favourite wedding present of all. There's tonnes of different ways to encourage your guests to write you messages, check out my Pinterest page for more wedding inspiration!

{Photo Credit} Caught the Light

{Photo Credit} Cute vintage guestbook table via Southern Aisle by A Fresh Take Photography

{Photo Credit} Mini envelope wedding guest book via Martha Stewart Weddings & Peg Postcard Guest Book via Unknown

{Photo Credit} Sign a wedding guest book plate via Martha Stewart Weddings or use library cards for your wedding guest book messages via Unknown

{Photo Credit} Ask you guest for wedding wishes {via unknown}, & get them to take wedding polaroids with a blackboard meesage via IMG Fave

{Photo Credit} Create a wedding paper chain of wedding messages via 100 Layer Cake

{Photo Credit} Ask your guests to sign an oar as your wedding guest book, or a surfboard, or cricket bat? {via unknown}

{Photo Credit} A wedding guest book jigsaw via One Wed via Every Last Detail by Jesi Haack Design

{Photo Credit} A wedding guest book pin-board with postcards via The Wedding of My Dreams by Caught the Light

♥ Want more wedding detail ideas? ♥ Or how about more ideas from my wedding? ♥
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Friday 30 March 2012

Your Wedding Diet - Detox with Herbal Teas

{Posting by Alice Cowen, Before the Big Day's Personal Trainer & Nutritionist} Last month I gave up caffeine. I'd realised I was drinking about two cups of coffee, five cups of tea and twp diet cokes every day, which is a crazy amount! I suffer from migraines, and had hideous caffeine withdrawal headaches for a week after giving up - I just hadn't realised how dependent I'd become on my daily hit. Giving up has made a huge difference. I have more energy, I sleep better and by replacing builders tea with herbal teas, I'm more hydrated than I used to be. I'm always nagging my clients to drink more water, and now I've discovered the secret to getting them to drink more! The great thing is that herbal teas aren't just the perfect way to hydrate - they have other benefits too....

Here are my top 10 herbal teas...
♥ Peppermint - 'stomach healer,' good for digestion and to decrease heartburn.
♥ Ginger - eases nausea and stomach cramps.
♥ Fennel - detoxifier, antioxidant, anti inflammatory.
♥ Chamomile - great sleep aid, soothes stomach aches.
♥ Nettle - anti inflammatory, cleanses the blood, helps with liver and kidney functions.
♥ Dandelion - aids digestion, relieves digestive disorders e.g constipation.
♥ St Johns wort - eases anxiety, irritability, and helps to uplift your mood.
♥ Licorice - relieves sore throats, coughs, menstrual cramps, and can increase libido!
♥ Lemon Balm - calming, soothing effects.
♥ Elderflower - detoxifier, relieves cold symptoms including catarrh.

Why not give it a go for a month and see what benefits you get? Let me know if it makes a difference. xaLx

♥ Want more wedding diet ideas? ♥ Or how about real wedding ideas? ♥
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Thursday 29 March 2012

Congratulations! Winner of 5 Alphabet Bags!

Huge congratulations to ☆Amanda C☆ who is the winner of 5 Alphabet Bags from their new wedding collection! If you didn't win, don't worry, you can still get 15% off Alphabet Bags till Friday - just use the code BIGDAY. We had tonnes of entries to this fabulous for more Before the Big Day Offers & Competitions - more giveaways coming soon!

♥ Want more Bridesmaid ideas? ♥ Or how about more wedding competitions & offers? ♥
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Tuesday 27 March 2012

How to Buy Your Engagement Ring on a Budget

Have you chosen your engagement ring yet? Traditionally a man would present his future bride with an engagement ring as he proposed, but nowadays all that has changed, and most couples choose the ring together. This means it's just as much your responsibility to learn about jewellery as it is his, so get swotting! The good news is that with the right knowledge, you won't have to spend a fortune. Thanks to our fabulous new wedding jewellery expert, Savannah, you can make sure you get as much bang for your buck possible. Scroll on down for her Top 5 Tips on how to buy an engagement ring on a budget. P.S. If you've already bought your engagement ring, then a lot of these tips work for buying a wedding ring too!

{Photo Credit} We Heart Photography via Once Wed via Style Me Pretty

{Savannah1. First things first - unless you really like packaging, and have always wanted your proposal to come with a red {Cartier} or turquoise (Tiffany) box, then you shouldn't be buying from a big brand name. Boutique jewellery houses like mine {BL&T Fine Jewellery}, don't have a massive advertising budget or shops on Regent Street, so we avoid passing on those massive costs to the client. This is just one reason why our jewellery and engagement rings are much more affordable.

2. Do tonnes of window shopping before you take the plunge. This will give you an idea of what style you like, and the retail cost. Take a picture, or tear it out of a magazine, and take it along to a boutique jewellery company and ask them to make it up for you for much less. It's easier than you think - here at BL&T, we can create any design in our fantastic London-based workshop.

{Photo Credit} Stephanie Williams Photography via Once Wed via Style Me Pretty

If it's a diamond you're after, then considering compromising on certain aspects of the 4 C's to work with your budget. The 4 C's are diamond color, diamond cut, diamond clarity, and diamond carat weight. So if it's a humdinger of a rock you're after, then you should look to come down a clarity grade or two. In my opinion, with engagement rings, the colour is more important than the clarity, as no one is going to get close enough to see tiny internal flaws. They'll just see the light bouncing off your hand!

4. Think outside the box, especially if your budget is tight. There are tonnes of alternative gem stones and colours to explore – but you must know your girl first, because you don't want to be buying a red stone if she hates the colour. Sapphires come in a wide range of colours, from pink to yellow to green. Try a red spinel instead of a ruby. These fantastic and original options will turn out less costly than your classic diamonds.

5. Antique rings are a great way to buy your engagement ring on a budget, because you're not paying for the craftsmanship. However, make sure it's in good enough condition to wear every day. Look at the thickness of the hoop, as if it is very worn you will need to have it built up again. Also check the settings to make sure that the stones are set securely.

♥ Want more wedding jewellery ideas? ♥ Or how about vintage wedding ideas? ♥
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Monday 26 March 2012

Welcome Our New Wedding Blog Jewellery Expert

Unless you're marrying a millionaire, your wedding is probably the only occasion when you'll received a truly expensive piece of valuable jewellery. Whether it's a sparkly diamond engagement ring, an elegant pearl necklace, or droplet earrings on your wedding day morning, these are exciting times! But if your most expensive jewellery purchase so far has been a pair of earrings from Anthroplogie {I bought these in pink last weekend for £28!!}, it can be quite scary to choose exactly what you want. And that's why I'm welcoming a jewellery expert to the Before the Big Day wedding blog team. Hello Savannah!

{Photo Credit} Jose Villa

Savannah Britten-Long is a hugely talented gemologist with massive expertise in antique jewellery. She's worked for Sotheby's, Christies, and studied at the prestigious Gemological Institute of America in New York. She really knows her onions {or diamonds}! A couple of years ago she started her own company called BL&T Fine Jewellery, and now she works hard at selling and sourcing jewellery for private clients. She's designed three of my friends' engagement rings, and promises that jewellery doesn't have to be expensive - woohoo!  So if you're on the search for an engagement ring or wedding jewellery, you can contact Savannah, or just enjoy all her wedding jewellery advice for free here on Before the Big Day! Click back on the blog tomorrow for her first posting.

♥ Want more wedding jewellery ideas? ♥ Or how about Vintage wedding ideas? ♥
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Sunday 25 March 2012

Wonderful Wedding Blog Links

Spring is here, which means the wedding season is in full swing. It's now that Saturday becomes the busiest working day for a wedding photographer, and church wardens spend every Sunday morning sweeping up confetti. If you're planning a spring or summer wedding, you'll have all the big things booked {wedding venue, caterer, wedding flowers, etc}, and you're onto the fun bit....the wedding details. That's why this week's wonderful wedding blog links is full of inspirational stardust, to help you, make your wedding stand out from the crowd. Enjoy! P.S. This weekend I've been home alone without my husband, and I've spent the whole weekend playing with wedding DIY ideas. You can spy the fruits of my labour on my Facebook page. P.P.S Next week I'm introducing my latest wedding expert...don't miss it!

{Photo Credit} This Modern Romance -  How about inviting a donkey to your wedding?

♥ Tonnes of wedding detail ideas

♥ Get your bridesmaids to DIY your wedding hair {via the amazing Cup of Jo}

♥ Loving how this bride and groom used vintage mirrors {via wedding blog Green Wedding Shoes}

♥ Add an accessory to your wedding cocktails

♥ Place fabulous props in odd places like in this vintage wedding {via wedding blog 100 Layer Cake}

♥ Digg out your old board games for fun wedding table decorations {via wedding blog Project Wedding}

♥ Consider a wedding vintage car like Kate &William! {via wedding blog Rock My Wedding}

♥ Make your guests see stars {via the amazing Cup of Jo}

♥ What about your wedding nail polish?

♥ Win your wedding cake topper {via wedding blog The Pretty Blog}

♥ Make your own wedding photo prop speech bubbles {via wedding blog Rock n' Roll Bride}

♥ Cute wedding favour ideas

♥ Don't forget you can WIN 5 amazing Alphabet Bags for your bridesmaids, thanks to your favourite wedding blog

♥ Want more wedding theme ideas? ♥ Or how about DIY wedding ideas? ♥
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Saturday 24 March 2012

Shoot the Wedding Dress Post-Wedding Pictures

It's pretty hard to get great wedding pictures of the bride and groom. Most portraits are taken during the cocktail reception, just after the ceremony, which is exactly the point when you {as bride} and your new husband {woohoo!} will want to chat to your guests. You might even be feeling a little bit stressed - after all you're hosting the most expensive party of your lives, you want it to go well and you're the centre of attention. That's why your wedding photographer has to be truly talented. Somehow, they've got to get you feeling comfortable and looking your best, plus all sorts of other photographer-things sorted, like light and lenses. So there are two alternative options. One is to have a first look, like in this wedding, where the bride and groom see each other before walking down the aisle, and have their portraits before the wedding. The other is to have a Shoot the Dress sessions after your big day. The great thing about Option 2 is that it gives you the chance to wear your wedding dress again {yippee!}, and you can have a lovely long shoot with no pressure or great-aunts-who-just-want-a-quick-word-with-the-bride. Take inspiration from these fabulous pictures from Christy Blanch Photography.

♥ Want more countryside wedding ideas? ♥ Or how about vintage wedding ideas? ♥
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Thursday 22 March 2012

Brilliant Cheap & Chic Bridesmaid Presents & A Competition!

Ever since one of my coolest friends chose Alphabet Bags for presents for her bridesmaids {pics here}, I've had a mega-crush on their fab designs. So when I discovered they'd launched a special range for weddings, I got very excited, and sent them a quick email promising a feature here on Before the Big Day. Imagine my excitement when they wrote back offering a fabulous Giveaway AND a Discount Code {sooo deserving of capital letters}. Win 5 bags from the Alphabet Bag Wedding Collection for you and your bridesmaids! All you need to do is Like Before the Big Day on Facebook, and leave a comment below saying which is your favourite bag. I'll announce the winner a week today {29th March}. Don't worry if you don't win, you can still get 15% off this week on bags, with the code BIGDAY.

♥ Want more Bridesmaid ideas? ♥ Or how about DIY wedding ideas? ♥
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Welcome Our New Wedding Beauty & Hair Expert

Now that Before the Big Day is over 2 years old {my baby, so big!}, it's time for this boutique wedding blog to get growing! I'm all about roping in as much wedding expertise as possible, because I want you to be able to plan an exquisite wedding, with tonnes of beautiful details to make it stand out from the crowd. You're also going to want to look your very best on your big day, and I'm the first to admit that wedding beauty and make-up are not my speciality. So that's why I'm thrilled to welcome the lovely Julia Bowden to the Before the Big Day wedding blog team!

{Photo Credit} Julia Bowden's hair & make-up work.

Julia is a professional make-up artist and hair stylist who works on music videos, adverts, fashion shoots, TV and films. She's a serious name in the hair and beauty world, but {thank goodness} she loves working as a bridal make-up artist as well. For brides-in-the-know, she's a secret beauty weapon, and I've heard her name mentioned in hushed tones at many a wedding reception.

If you're on the search for a make-up artist and hair stylist for your wedding, contact Julia or follow her on Twitter, but in the meantime, enjoy her beauty and hair advice for free on Before the Big Day! Click back on the blog tomorrow for her first posting - My Top 5 Wedding Beauty Products Ever.

♥ Want more wedding beauty ideas? ♥ Or how about wedding hair ideas? ♥
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Wednesday 21 March 2012

DIY Bride - Homemade Tissue Flowers

My preparations for The InWedding Show are in full swing, and all I can think about are the decorations for my Before the Big Day stand, and the room where I'll be hosting my special wedding inspiration sessions. It's just like planning for another wedding! I've been buying vintage props like this vintage typewriter, old apple crates, and crafting materials like peach tissue paper, colourful inks and heart-patterned straws. I'll be hosting four sessions on 22nd April, on the themes 'How to Make Your Wedding Fabulous {Themes & Colours}' and 'DIY Weddings Made Easy'. As part of my planning, I've been practicing my DIY skills, and I'm particularly pleased with how these little tissue flowers turned out. Made with nothing more than tissue paper, a toothpick and glue, they take less than 3 minutes to make! Check out the tutorial from fabulous crafting blog Oh Happy Day, and make sure you sign up for my wedding inspiration sessions when you buy your tickets for The In Wedding Show {only £3.50 in advance}.

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Amazing Alice in Wonderland Wedding Shoot

Alice in Wonderland is one of my favourite wedding themes of all time. Like many classic stories, it's got tonnes of potential wedding details. From the Queen of Hearts as a colour theme, to the Mad Hatter's Tea-Party for your reception, and Drink Me, Eat Me labels for favours, you'll have your work cut out for you to keep up with every wedding detail. You could even dress your waiting staff as White Rabbits. For more wedding inspiration, take a look at this fabulous wedding shoot by Erika from Photo Madly. For more pictures, do check out the Alice in Wonderland wedding blog, where this shoot first appeared.

Credit List
Photography by Erika Szostak for Photo Madly
Cakes & Dessert table by Flutterby Bakery
Flowers by Amanda Refoy Flowers
Alice's bespoke dress by Marrianne Designs
Props by Peter Gosbee & Alice Dreams: A Wonderland of Curiosities
Make-up by Alessia Mancini
Hair by Elloise India Willett
Assistant Photography by Mike Oddhayward
Models: Alice - Miriam Gisbey, Mad Hatter - Peter Gosbee. Special thanks to Andrew White for his invaluable help in organising the shoot.

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Tuesday 20 March 2012

Before the Big Day Personal Trainer - Healthy Eating Tip

{Advice from Alice} A power smoothie is a great way to start the day. This particular drink is quick to make and full of goodness, with protein from the yoghurt, two of your five a day in the raspberries and a banana, and oats to keep you full all morning. It's low fat and super good for you - a great way to start your wedding diet! Don't miss Alice's other wedding personal training blog posts for Before the Big Day.

For one Power Smoothie, all you need is:
1 small bowl of fresh or frozen raspberries
1 glass of skimmed milk
1 0% bio fat free yoghurt
1 tbls runny honey
1 banana
1 cup of oats
apple juice for consistency

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Sunday 18 March 2012

Wonderful Wedding Blog Links

This week I am mostly shattered! It's been a long one - recovering from my overnight flight from South Africa, and getting used to being back at my day job. It's also been a very exciting week behind the scenes for Before the Big Day. Next week I'm hoping to welcome not one, but two new wedding gurus to the blog. They'll be following in the footsteps of our wedding blog's personal trainer, Alice Cowen, who's been blogging up a storm of fitness hints and healthy recipes. I've also started my preparations for The In-Wedding Show, where I'll be hosting four fabulous wedding inspiration sessions. With a stand and a room to decorate, it's the perfect excuse to buy tonnes of vintage props!

♥ Why your wedding pictures can still be fabulous in the rain! Photo Credit {above} Our Labour of Love

♥ I'm besotted with this bride's wedding dress - it's like a T-shirt! {via wedding blog Once Wed}

♥ Win this fabulous Paula Pryke book 

Colourful bridesmaids dresses you'll love!

♥ Two lovely DIY ideas for Mothering Sunday from Heart Handmake UK {my new favourite blogger}

Heirloom underwear

♥ I'm going to try to make one of these this weekend

♥ Loving the buttonholes in this spring wedding {via wedding blog Grey Likes Weddings}

♥ Love this idea on how to stamp the inside of your envelopes

Romantic hair trend {via wedding blog Flights of Fancy}

♥ A cool industrial wedding with baby's breath {via wedding blog Inspired By This}

♥ I want this summer dress

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Friday 16 March 2012

Real Cornflower Blue-Themed Barn Wedding: Lisa & Alan

Barn weddings are something Britain does best. The countryside is bursting with gorgeous, lofty barn conversions that make the perfect setting for a shabby-chic wedding, or a vintage wedding, or in this case, a glamorous winter wedding. I'm loving all the details in Lisa and Alan's wedding, from the colour-popping cornflower flower blue, bridesmaids' dresses, to the Thornton's chocolate wedding favours, and the cute white postbox for guests' messages. Fabulous pictures published with thanks to James from Funky Pixel Photography, and don't miss Lisa's answers to the Before the Big Day Brides' Questionnaire below the pics.

The Before the Big Day Brides' Q&A - Lisa was kind enough to fill in our bridal questionnaire, aimed at helping other brides with their planning process. Feast your eyes on her answers for helpful hints and tips from someone on the other side of her big day!

Where and when did you get married?
Cooling Castle Barn in Rochester on 9th February 2012

What was your thinking behind choosing the venue and the decoration of the reception?
We both fell in love with the venue, it was unique and within our budget. We chose simple and elegant decorations, with a colour scheme of cornflower blue and ivory.

 Who made your wedding outfit (dress, veil, shoes and accessories), and how did you come to that decision?
My wedding dress was made by Maggie Sottero, the dress was simply stunning & it was everything that I had always imagined wearing. My shoes were bought from John Lewis and my hair accessories were from Oriental Pearl.

What about your husband’s outfit? Where was it from?
We hired the suits from a place in Wales, called Oh Suit Hire

And how about your bridesmaids’ outfits?
Our bridesmaid dresses were bought from a family-run bridal shop called Jacqueline's House of Brides.

Did you have any favours? What were they? Was there any particular reason why you picked them?
We had our favours made by Thorntons, they contained three chocolate truffles with our first initials printed on them. We liked them because they added a little personal touch, and they were reasonably in priced.

Who was your florist, what flowers did you choose, and how did you come to that decision?
We used a family-run florist based in Kent, called The Darling Buds of Kent. The flowers we used for all of our bouquets are called Norma Jeane Roses. Our button holes were Avalanche Roses. I've always loved roses, so it was an easy decision!

Who was your photographer and how did you choose them?
Our photographer was James of Funky Pixel Photography. We actually won James' services in a competition! We were quite nervous of this to begin with, but after his viewing his work and meeting him in person, we were absolutely delighted to have won & couldn't have picked a better photographer.

Did you enjoy planning your wedding?
I loved every minute of planning our wedding, although like every bride I had days that were stressful.

Who designed your stationery? What did it look like and how did you come to that decision?
Our stationery was designed by a lady I had met on a Facebook wedding swap shop, she listened to my opinion and designed what I had described.

What advice do you have for brides planning their big day?
Try not to stress out and delegate simple tasks your maid of honour and bridesmaids - after all, they're there to help you. Enjoy and embrace every moment from the planning, to the actual big day. And don't let others opinions deter you from having what you want, as this your special day. 

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