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 competition...click 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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Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Real Pink & Burnished Gold English Wedding: Laura & Jae

There's something quintiessentially English about this gorgeous autumn wedding. The combination of the pink and burnished gold wedding colours, the falling leaves and the lovely English countryside makes you long for those lovely days when summer turns into autumn. Laura and Jae chose Braxted Park as their wedding venue, and their wedding ceremony took place outdoors in the private walled garden {sooo lucky with the weather}. I'm loving all wedding details, from the bridesmaids' elegant full-length dresses, Laura's stunning full-skirted wedding gown, and sparkly tiara, plus Jae's smart monochrome suit and cravat. Don't miss the clever way Laura and Jae displayed their table plan in mismatched vintage frames and the lovely children's party packs {such a good idea}. Huge thanks to John Simpson of Bloke with a Camera for his fabulous photographs. I've also taken some stills from the amazing wedding video by Your Perfect Day. It made my cry - definitely worth a watch {scroll down to the bottom}. Also don't miss Laura's answers to the Before the Big Day Bride's Questionnaire. You can steal all her fabulous wedding ideas!




The Before the Big Day Brides' Q&A - Laura 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?
Braxted Park in Witham on 16th September 2011

What was your thinking behind choosing the venue and the decoration of the reception?
We really wanted somewhere that wasn't too fussy but very pretty. Braxted Park ticked every box and more. The grounds are stunning, and being able to get married outdoors was a dream. We went for simple but elegant decorations - twinkle lights in bay trees, flowers, butterfly swags on the ceiling, sparkle on the table, white linen and chair covers with a gold sash, and a black and white dance floor. We also placed soft pink and lilac uplighters around the room, which gave a soft, warm wash to the walls in the evening. In the evening, the venue was lit up beautifully with lights in trees outside and gas torch lights.

Did you have a theme, colour or motif in mind? (e.g. green ivy leaves)
No theme as such. We just wanted a romantic feel to the day… soft, pretty and elegant. Golds and soft pinks were our wedding theme colours.

Who made your wedding outfit, and how did you come to that decision?
My wedding dress was by Lynn Ashworth and my shoes by BHS. I probably tried on about 12 dresses in a number of different shops. The one I decided upon was the very last dress I tried. and the one I liked least on the hanger. I’d already got a favourite which I very nearly bought earlier that day. But after trying on the Lynn Ashworth dress I knew that was the one. It felt perfect, was very 'me' and fitted with the feel of the day. I felt fantastic in it, and didn’t want to take it off, which was a great sign! My alternative wedding dress was a much slinkier and although it was beautiful, I didn't feel like a bride in it. It was more of an amazing evening dress.

What about your husband’s outfit? Where was it from?
Jae's suit was made for him. His cravat and waistcoat were hired from Debenhams.

And how about your bridesmaids’ outfits?
My bridesmaids dresses were from Satin Bow in St Albans. I already had in mind what I’d like the girls to wear. After trying on a handful of dresses in the shop, we found a winner and it was just perfect. Satin Bow were terrific and carried out a few alterations on the dresses, including last minute alterations due to two pregnant bridesmaids! I'd highly recommend this shop -Tor was my contact. The flower girls' dresses were from Debenhams.

What type of cake did you go for, and how did you come to that decision?
Again, we didn’t want anything over the top. We didn't really have any vision of how the cake would look, just that we wanted different flavours. We found Cakes by Shelly at a wedding fair in Hertfordshire and she was brilliant. We looked through some of her designs, {there were 100's}, but it took us no time at all to find the cake we wanted, and we adapted it to fit within our colour scheme. We had a tasting session with Shelly and chose four different flavours; chocolate, vanilla, fruit and lemon. On our wedding day, the cake tasted delicious and we got lots of great feedback from our guests. We also had a personalised cake topper made via a company on Ebay. We saved it from the wedding cake, and it's a great keepsake.

Did you have any favours? What were they? Was there any particular reason why you picked them?
Our favours doubled up as name places at the table. They were bespoke cookies which had the guests’ names on. These were also made by Cakes by Shelly.

Who was your florist, what flowers did you choose, and how did you come to that decision?
A woman called Lynn Whitton who is based in Hemel Hempstead. She was recommended to me by my sister-in-law and a friend. She was absolutely brilliant! I know very little about flowers, but again, had an idea of how I wanted them to look. A very precise idea, which trying to explain when you don’t know much about flowers is very difficult! Lynn listened to what I wanted and advised me what would work well together. There was so much more to think about than just the bouquets and everything she did was perfect. It was exactly what I wanted and she was so easy and pleasant to work with.

Who was your photographer and how did you choose them?
We chose Bloke with a Camera. I read a lot of reviews about him on the Hitched website and he came highly recommended. He was brilliant for the informal, natural photos. but a little more direction was needed for the group formal shots.

Did you enjoy planning your wedding?
Loved it! Not sure my husband did though!

Did you have any DIY projects?
Our invites were from Debenhams and required putting together. It wasn't clearly stated on their website and had we have known, we wouldn't have chosen them. The DIY was very fiddly and time consuming. I made the children’s activity packs. We put the table plan together ourselves by buying lots of different frames and printing the inserts ourselves.

Who designed your other stationery? What did it look like and how did you come to that decision?
I found a great company called Here Comes The Bride and they were brilliant. Very helpful and made everything to our spec. It was lovely for everything to match - the menus, table names, guest book, post box sign etc. I'd highly recommend them.

What advice do you have for brides planning their big day?
Enjoy it because it will be over before you know it. I'd also strongly recommend a videographer. My husband wasn’t keen on having one but I really wanted one. When I found Your Perfect Day (highly reviewed on Hitched) and saw samples of their work, it was a must have. Needless to say, now the day is over and we’ve got a copy of the DVD, it was one of the best things we did. What a lasting memory to have and even my husband likes it! I’ve never seen anything like it before and the company were superb!

♥ Want more autumn wedding ideas? ♥ Or how about vintage wedding ideas? ♥
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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

3.
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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