Friday, 30 August 2013

Seven Easy Ways to get The Best Out Of Your Bridesmaids

They're your best girlfriends, they know all your secrets {like that one time, at bandcamp...}, and now you've asked them to be your bridesmaids. But what does a bridesmaid actually do? As a bride who had five fabulous maids, these are my top tips on how to get the best out of your girls. For more bridesmaid inspiration, be sure to check out my Pinterest board.

{Wedding Photographer Credit} Jose Villa

♥ Ask them nicely! It's an honour to be asked to be a bridesmaid, and you want to build some excitement around the anticipation of your wedding day. So take your friend out for glamorous cocktails, and make a bit of an event out of popping the question. This makes it sound like a proposal! But any excuse for cocktails....

♥ You could even send them a card. I featured these gorgeous bridesmaid cards a few weeks ago. Or even a fabulous DIY bridesmaid box, like this one made by Bethany on her blog Rinse Repeat.

{I want this} DIY bridesmaid box made by Bethany on her blog Rinse Repeat.

♥ Make it clear right from the start who is going to be paying for the bridesmaid dresses. Traditionally the bride paid for the material, and the bridesmaids made their own gowns {!}. Unless your friends are particularly crafty, that's sooooo unlikely to happen, so now the bride's family usually foots the bill. If you want all the girls to be wearing matching shoes, then you'll need to pay for those too.

♥ If you're happy for your girls to choose their own dresses within a certain colour palette, then I recommend sending them a swatch of some sort, so they're all on the same page. For my wedding, I told my bridesmaids I wanted them to wear something in soft grey, which in retrospect was a terrible idea, because it meant they had to buy a grey dress {which they might not have wanted to do}, and they all had a different idea of soft grey. The result was a very un-put-together look, which offended my wedding blogger eye!

{Wedding Photographer Credit} Unknown

♥ Be honest about what you want from your hen night. I'm a control freak, so I told my maid of honour exactly what I wanted, and she organised it on my behalf, with just one extra surprise {not a stripper}. If you're like me, then don't be embarrassed to being a little bit bridezilla, this one time. As long as it doesn't involve spending a crazy amount of money, your maid of honour will probably be relieved.

♥ Give them a good sense of the schedule on the morning of the wedding. They need to be ready before the bride, so they can then help you dress. Are they going to be doing their own hair and make-up? Remember they're going to want to look fabulous as they walk down the aisle {all those people looking}, so give them the time to prepare.

♥ There's a lovely tradition that the groom gives the bridesmaids a present on the morning of his wedding. Now it's more likely for the bride to give her girls a piece of jewellery, to wear with their wedding outfits. If you give them a simple designer bracelet or pendant necklace, then every time they put it on, it'll remind them of your big day!

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Thursday, 29 August 2013

A Dreamy Affordable Blush Wedding Gown

We don't feature enough wedding dresses on Before the Big Day - something I definitely need to change! After all, lusting after the perfect Jenny Packham wedding gown is virtually a rite of passage for every bride. If only we could all afford them! So when I spot a semi-affordable wedding gown {just over £1000}, that completely blows my mind, I consider it my responsibility to spread the word. This incredible blush, backless wedding dress by Truvelle makes me want to get married all over again. It's the combo of the swishy, pink-champagne, chiffon skirt and the rose gold sequinned bodice that's getting me excited - it's elegant and sexy at the same time! Don't miss Truvelle's Etsy shop for more incredible gowns. P.S. Want to save money on your wedding dress? Check out all my Wedding Dress Sample Sale news.

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Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Real Pearl-Themed Glamorous Barn Wedding: The Reception Details

There's a deliciously warm feeling to this big day. I reckon it's partly down to the lovely cream and gold colour palette, and partly down to the lovely barn reception. I've always loved rustic wedding venues, and barns can be dressed down for a straw bales and bunting-style wedding, or up for a glamorous wedding like this one! Emma and Alistair chose Lains Barn in Oxfordshire for their summer wedding, and used delicate birdcages, vintage pictures frames and orchids in their wedding decorations. You'll want to fill your Pinterest boards with shots of Emma's amazing Justin Alexander wedding gown, her pretty flower girls, their DIY pearl-detail place markers and their hand-stamped sweetie bags. Huge thanks to Kate Gray for her beautiful wedding pictures. I first discovered Kate's creative children's portraits for my baby blog, Before the Baby, so I'm thrilled to now publish her wedding work!

We celebrated our wedding at Lains Barn in Wantage, Oxfordshire on 21st June 2013.

My wedding dress and veil were made by Justin Alexander, my shoes by Karen Millen and my accessories were from Swarovski

Real Pearl-Themed Glamorous Barn Wedding: Emma & Alistair

There's something glamorous about a cream and gold palette at a wedding. Add a Justin Alexander wedding dress, hundreds of orchid blooms and pretty pearl detailing, and you've got a truly stunning big day. Emma and Alistair chose Lains Barn in Oxfordshire as their wedding venue, and I love the warm intimacy of space, and the romantic drapes and fairy lights. My other loves include Alistair's fantastic modern suit and waistcoat combo from Jack Bunneys, Emma's side ponytail hair-style and Kate Gray's, lovely wedding photography! Plus, I'll let you into Emma's money-saving secret - all the orchids were silk flowers from Silk Blooms rather than fresh blooms. No one could tell, and it means her wedding bouquet will last forever! Stay tuned for Emma and Alistair's wedding reception details, you won't want to miss the pretty birdcage details.

My wedding dress and veil were made by Justin Alexander, my shoes by Karen Millen and my accessories were from Swarovski

My decision over my wedding dress and veil were based on wanting something elegant, with great attention to small details, but without being over the top.

Monday, 26 August 2013

DIY Wedding Chalkboard Fabulousness

Regular readers of Before the Big Day might have spotted my love of chalkboards at weddings. Whether you DIY with blackboard paint, or buy school-style boards for your menus {like I did}, I think they're a great way to communicate with your guests. So when I spotted these amazing chalkboard vinyl stickers by Charlie Chalk Designs, you can imagine my excitement. Super-cheap, and super-effective, they're a hugely creative way to decorate your jam-jar glasses or vases, and would make for great table numbers. My favourites? The Vespa labels. I had a silver Vespa when I met my husband, and we buzzed around town all summer. Happy memories!

{I want these!} 12 Vespa Motorcycle Chalkboard Labels, £4.58

{I want these!} 12 Curly Mustache Wedding Chalkboard Labels, £3.92

{I want these!} 25 Sets Love Bird Mason Jar Chalkboard Labels, £13.08

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Saturday, 24 August 2013

Real Feather-Themed Teepee Wedding: Zegnia & Matthew - The Reception

Take a teepee, a rustic wedding theme, and a feather motif, and you've got one very happy wedding blogger! I couldn't be more excited about showing you the reception pictures from Zegnia and Matthew's creative big day. Zegnia got really into the planning process, and read lots of wedding blogs like Before the Big Day - coming up with some truly original DIY ideas. From her self-designed feather wedding stationery, the framed table plans and the birch themed table displays and wedding favours, everything fits together beautifully. I'd forgotten how much I love teepee tents - they look stunning festooned with fairy lights, and have you spotted the cute old-fashioned street-lamp at the entrance? Also, don't miss the amazing white chocolate wedding cake by Vanilla Patisserie. It's seriously glamorous! Huge thanks to Lucy Wallace Photography her stunning pictures, and to Zegnia for submitting her wedding - why not do the same? Click for Part 1 - Getting Ready & The Ceremony.

We got married on Sunday 26th May, at St. James’ Church in Nayland, Suffolk followed by a reception at Bear House, my parent's garden. I had always wanted to have our wedding reception where I'd grown up, and it was lovely to be able to walk to and from the church. 

Friday, 23 August 2013

Real Feather-Themed Teepee Wedding: Zegnia & Matthew

Before the Big Day bride submissions are coming thick and fast! Lovely bride, Zegnia, read Before the Big Day in the run up to her wedding, and I'm thrilled to feature her wedding photographs. Her and Matthew chose a feather theme for their wedding day, and I love how it subtly runs through all their wedding details. There are feathers in the bouquets, buttonholes and flower arrangements, and a feather motif on their DIY designed wedding stationary {which looks seriously professional!}. For colours, they chose raspberry, antique silver and champagne, a palette that worked perfectly with their tipi tent. More pictures of their wedding reception coming soon, but for the moment, feast your eyes on the Zegnia's incredible taupe Ian Stuart wedding gown, the bridesmaids individual Coast dresses and Matthew in his made-to-measure suit from A Suit That Fits. Tonnes of wedding inspiration! Huge thanks to Lucy Wallace Photography for capturing every detail with such talent. Click for Part 2 - the reception details.

Matthew and I got married on Sunday 26th May 2013 (the Bank Holiday weekend), at St. James’ Church in Nayland, Suffolk, followed by a reception at Bear House, my parents' garden, also in the village of Nayland.

Nominate Before the Big Day for The Wedding Blog Awards

So I have a favour to ask.... I'm not normally one for asking, but these wedding blog awards are pretty important in the wedding world, and I'm really keen to raise the profile of Before the Big Day. So if you enjoy your daily dose of free wedding inspiration, would you consider a quick click and a keyboard tap on my behalf? I'm going for Best Big Day Inspiration, as I rather think it suits Before the Big Day. All you need to do is visit Wedding magazine's blog awards page and fill in the deets. Literally a one minute affair, and everyoner who nominates will automatically be entered into a prize draw to win a fabulous beauty hamper. Worth more than £250, it's crammed with goodies from Xen Tan, Dr Ceuticals, Pur Minerals and Filorga - perfect for some serious pampering. Plus it would make me a very happy lady....almost as happy as this bride!

{Photo Credit} the very talented We Resolve

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Thursday, 22 August 2013

Five Ways To Get Your Wedding Guests Dancing

We went to a wedding a few years ago, where no one danced. I don't know why - they had a fantastic band and the alcohol was flowing freely, but the party never really got started. I really felt for the bride and groom, because you want your wedding to be a fantastic, memorable evening, {you've spent all that money}, and for me, a party isn't a party without a good dance. So here are five ways to persuade your guest to kick off their wedding shoes and get down and boogie.

{Wedding Photographer Credit} Matt Edge Photography

1. Don't leave it to chance. Don't think, 'oh I'll just let people put on their iPods'. Either hire a DJ and discuss what you want before your big day, or sit down and create your own song list. If you're DIY-ing, I really recommend joining Spotify. For £9.99 a month you can stream and download as many songs as you want. I'm not even that into music, and I create Playlists all the time. They seem to have every song you can imagine, including your guilty secrets {Grease anyone?}.

2. Ask your guests to send back two song suggestions with their RSVP slip. A couple of our friends did just this, and everyone danced like crazy. In fact, we had such a good night, we asked them for their song list, and gave it to our DJ as a guide. And then everyone danced like crazy at our wedding. You can take a look at our wedding playlist, but remember, it is three years old!

3. Encourage your girlfriends to kick of their heels, by providing free flip-flop wedding favours. They're super-cheap if bought in bulk {approx £2 per pair}, and if the girls are dancing, you can be sure the boys will follow.

4. Far me it for me to tell you what to choose as your First Dance. After all, I don't know all the heartfelt meaning behind 'Your Song'. But if at all possible, don't pick a slow one! The First Dance sets the tone for the evening, and if you want to party, don't pick something sway-able, you want a beat!

5. Tell your ushers and bridesmaids that one of their key tasks is to join you on the dance-floor after your First Dance, and to stay there for at least three songs. There's a tipping point at a party, where the shyer guests feel there's enough people dancing, for them to join in. You want your wedding party to create that tipping point.

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Wednesday, 21 August 2013

British Etsy Wedding Seller of the Week #1

Big news! We're starting a new series of features here on Before the Big Day. We're all about original wedding ideas, and we're all about supporting British boutique businesses and individual creativity, and where better to find that than Etsy? If you haven't stumbled upon this amazing website, be warned, once you start clicking, you may never stop. It's addictive - there are so many incredible wedding ideas and products, your brain may well implode from wedding inspiration. To keep things under control, I'm going to drip-feed you the best of British Etsy wedding suppliers, one a week, every Wednesday. First up is La Pomme et La Pipe. Contrary to its French name, it's run by Amanda who lives in Oxford, and it's a fabulous hodgepodge of rustic handmade wedding supplies, paper goods, textiles and unique french-inspired supplies. Here are just a few of my favourites, but be sure to check it out yourself.

{I want this!} 50 Gold Glitter Mini Pegs, £9.81

{I want this!} 50 Burlap Heart Wedding place setting/name tags, £65.41

{I want this!} 50 Rustic Wedding Seed Packet Envelopes, £65.41

{I want this!} Lace Sampler Set, £6.54

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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Whimsical Print-Your-Own Vintage Wedding Invitations

Wedding stationery still gets me ridiculously excited, and I love discovering brand new designers. Everything about these invitation suites by Splash of Silver is perfect. It's the combination of two of my favourite wedding motifs {bunting and old-fashioned Mason jars}, added to rustic Kraft paper, with a mix of fun fonts. The best things is they're digital designs, so you can personalise them, buy them, and DIY print them as many times as you want, saving you serious ££. They even include Thank You cards! There are three ways to get them printed - at home, at your local printer, or at an online printer like VistaPrint. There's tonnes of printable wedding invitations on Etsy, and check out my wedding stationery board on Pinterest for more inspiration.

{Where can I buy this?} Bunting Wedding Invitation Suite, £66

{Where can I buy this?} Flowers & Mason Jars Wedding Invitation Suite, £66

{Where can I buy this?} Bunting & Mason Jars Suite, £56

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Monday, 19 August 2013

A Real Casual South African Wedding: Liebe & Arnold

If you're a barefoot kind of bride, you're going to love this casual South African wedding. Lovely couple Liebe and Arnold celebrated their big day in the middle of nowhere - a properly rural oasis in the heart of the Overberg. I love the opulent, vintage feel of their wedding venue, a ranch called Halfaampieskraal. The exotic mirrors, chandeliers, urn-filled flower arrangements and blue chairs work perfectly with their carnival theme, and red star motif. I love Liebe's short wedding dress, and Arnold's shorts and braces combo - I think it's the first time I've seen a groom in shorts, and doesn't it work perfectly for a casual wedding! Other amazing stealworthy ideas include the celebratory ribbon wands, the bridesmaids ditsy-floral dresses and Liebe's wild tumbleweed wedding bouquet. Enjoy these gorgeous photographs by We Love Pictures - they're our favourite South African wedding photographers.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Wonderful Wedding Blog Links

Waaaay to much time has passed since I last wrote up my favourite wedding blog links from the week, which means I have a huge backlog of fabulousness to draw from! Expect some seriously chunky posts in the future. If you were wondering how I gathered my favourite links, I'd like to recommend Blog Lovin'. I've been using it ever since the demise of Google Reader, and it's a great way to collect all your favourite blogs into one easy read. You can also 'Like' particular articles, and look up popular blog posts. I've found some fantastic new blogs thanks to that feature, including lifestyle blogs Little Miss Homes and The Londoner.

♥ Save ££ by DIYing your wedding flowers with the help of Paper to Petal by bloggers Married To Craft

♥ How about a botanical themed wedding?

♥ A pretty perfect twist on a wedding guest book

♥ New Save the Date stamps from one of my favourite wedding stationers

♥ Everything about this rainbow polka-dot wedding makes me happy

♥ Everything about this wedding is gorgeous

♥ Amazing mason jar themed wedding with lots of DIY-able ideas

♥ Peace and love - a wildflower themed wedding shoot

♥ Make these cool geometric garlands for your stylish big day

♥ Use these amazing free fonts to personalise your wedding stationery

♥ Love the comedy bridesmaid shot in this fun South African wedding

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Friday, 16 August 2013

We ♥ Charlie Brier Vintage Wedding Dress Sample Sales

Have you heard? Massively exciting news! Charlie Brear from The Vintage Wedding Dress Company has just announced her annual trunk sale. Taking place from 19th-21st September, viewing is by appointment only at their central London showroom. This gorgeous boutique is renowned for its heavenly gowns, both vintage and vintage-style, and this is your opportunity to get your hands on them at discounted prices! For full information and to book an appointment, call 0207 907 7719.

♥ Want to see wedding dress ideas? ♥ Or how about more vintage wedding ideas? ♥
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Real Quirky Comic-Book Themed Wedding: Verity & Russell - The Reception

Regular readers of the blog might have spotted my giant balloon obsession. It all started back when I was planning my own wedding - I saw this picture, and decided I had to have giant white balloons at my big day. Fast forward two years and Before the Big Day bride, Verity, got in touch to tell me about her love of red balloons, and to find out the details of my supplier. Fast forward another year, and here are the amazing pictures of Verity and Russell's big day! They didn't just use balloons in their wedding decoration - they had a veritable plethora of wedding details, all themed around a vintage comic book and board game wedding theme. You'll find buckets of DIY wedding inspiration, from their Monopoly board table plan, the favour boxes wrapped in comic book pages, their mum-made wedding cake and jam-jar Pimm's glasses. I love the Scrabble tile wedding favours, the vintage cameras and the pop of the homemade red bunting against the white of the marquee. Huge thanks to Verity for submitting her wedding, and to her fantastic wedding photographer, Rebecca L Weddings for capturing all the details. Why not submit your wedding?

We got married on 18 May 2013 at Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire with a reception in Rosliston Forestry Centre

We actually had a rough ride with our reception. We booked a nearby barn but got told with eight months to go that they were no longer doing weddings due to noise and neighbour problems. We were gutted! Thankfully Saffron Caterers put forward Rosliston Forestry Centre as an alternative. It was in the middle of the National Forest, and has accommodation for all our guests, so it was the perfect alternative, and better than our original choice. 

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Real Quirky Comic-Book Themed Wedding: Verity & Russell

Brighten up your day with this imaginative, comic-book themed wedding! It's packed full of stealworthy ideas, and I'm thrilled that the lovely Verity drew inspiration from Before the Big Day. We share a love of giant round balloons, along with a good wedding theme. Verity and Russell chose an old-school vibe of comic books and vintage board games to decorate their reception, and I reckon it's the first time I've seen a Monopoly board at a wedding! You'll have to wait for this afternoon's feature to see those details, but first, feast your eyes on Verity's fabulous Sophia Tolli wedding gown, her dramatic bouquet of red gerbera and Russell's fantastic red bow-tie. I also love her little bridemaids' dresses - their luxurious red sashes, and little ribbon wands. Verity has tonnes of great wedding advice on how to keep to your wedding budget - from DIY projects to winning competitions! Enjoy reading her answers to Before the Big Day's Bride's Questionnaire, and why not submit your wedding? Huge thanks to Rebecca L Weddings for her gorgeous pictures of this big day.

We got married on 18 May 2013 at Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire with a reception in Rosliston Forestry Centre. I won a competition by Wedding In A TeaCup so our wedding invitations were free. We went for a vintage look and used stamps to create the name tags.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Wedding Table Settings & Buffet Bags

Striped Paper Bags must be among my favourite things in the whole world. I have a huge selection in my craft cupboard, and you'd be amazed how often they come in useful, from present wrapping to colourful storage. When it comes to weddings, they're the perfect cheap and chic solution to favours, children's activity packs, and now as buffet bags! Aren't they just the cutest way to store your cutlery? I love these designs from Cherished Blessings. Their whole shop is packed full of fabulous wedding inspiration - with ideas you can copy or buy. And now I'm going to need to purchase a whole bunch of chevron bags - they're clearly the new stripes! P.S. For more budget-friendly paper bag ideas, check out my Pinterest board {I told you I was obsessed!}.

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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Introducing Hen Party Superstore

Last weekend my best friend hosted her sister's hen weekend. Like all the best hens, the bride-to-be ended up dressed as a cow, wearing wild sunglasses and drinking cocktails out of a willie straw in Brighton. There's a lesson in this! It's doesn't matter how sophisticated and professional you are in your daily life, or how glamorous you're going to look on your wedding day, you need to let loose on your hen do, and embrace the cheese. It's a rite of passage, and if you miss it, you miss out. That's why I'm delighted to introduce Hen Party Superstore for all your hen weekend accessories. Browse by colour or theme, and pick up costumes, personalised t-shirts and sashes, and even gift bag fillers. And don't forget the Learner badge.....

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Monday, 12 August 2013

Real Boho Barn Wedding Video: Vicky & Richard

It's been a weekend of strong emotions here at the Before the Big Day studios. First there was the excitement of being featured in Wedding magazine, and then this wedding video trailer by White Dress Films had me in tears! Vicky and Richard celebrated their big day with a traditional church ceremony, followed by a gorgeous reception at South Farm in Cambridgeshire. There's tonnes of gorgeous reception details {pom-poms - yippee!}, but it's the Vicky's wedding outfit that's really got me excited. Her gorgeous fishtail gown has stunning lace straps, and she teamed it with a lovely cosy fur shrug - the perfect accessory for any spring bride. I also love her pageboys' outfits - their cute matching waistcoats and converse trainers. With pretty blue and red flowers arranged in lace jam-jars {the easiest and most effective DIY project ever}, stunning patterned wedding stationery {spot the programme at the start}, and even white peacocks, it's a treat from start to finish. Enjoy it with your morning coffee!

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Saturday, 10 August 2013

Before the Big a magazine!

I've been meaning to mention this for ages, but other features kept pushing their way to the front of the list! Last month, there was huge excitement here at the Before the Big Day studios, as the new issue of Wedding magazine dropped in my letter box. There, on the back page, was a feature all about me! Obviously I'd known it was coming, but with everything that's going on, I forgot all about my interview with Features Writer, Vicky, until I spotted it over my lunch. If you'd like to have a read, do take a look at the August/September issue. It's all about how planning my wedding led to the launch of Before the Big Day, and now, Before the Baby. And if you want to know more about me, click here.

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Friday, 9 August 2013

Real Before the Big Day Bride: Katie & Michael - Reception Details

Time for the wedding reception details! With inspiration from wedding blogs like Before the Big Day, Katie and Michael spent two years preparing their wedding, so you can be sure of some stunning details. My favourites? I've fallen for Katie's incredible David Tutera for Mon Cheri wedding gown, her hand-tied peony and rose bouquet, and her bold bridesmaids' dresses. Nothing like a shot of pink to brighten up a big day! Other fav-picks include the elegant going away car {a Rolls Royce?}, and the super-cute personalised cake topper made by Artlocke Designs. I love how all the wedding details reflect the lace and pearl theme, it creates a really elegant effect you normally only get from a professionally planned wedding. Gorgeous wedding pictures published with thanks to Andrew Billington - don't miss more of his work on his website.

When we were looking around for wedding venues we wanted somewhere with a wow factor, and Waterton Park Hotel fitted the bill. We needed somewhere that would accommodate all 80 of our guests, and have a nice big room with the dance floor in the middle, and plenty of space for all of our DIY ideas. We wanted the decoration to be light and bright to reflect our summery wedding.

Our wedding photographer, Andrew Billington was also a recommendation - I think it's the best way to find a photographer because there are so many out there, which is a bit daunting at first. 

Real Before the Big Day Bride: Katie & Michael

I've said it before and I'll say it again, there's nothing I like more than a Before the Big Day bride! Lovely Katie read Before the Big Day on a regular basis and even signed up for our newsletter as she prepared for her wedding, so it's so exciting for me to feature her gorgeous wedding pictures. A girl after my own heart, she researched her wedding on Pinterest, Etsy and of course Before the Big Day.   As a couple, Katie and Michael DIY'd tonnes of their wedding details, including all the stationery, from Save the Dates, table numbers, the table plan, and a fabulous photo booth. Katie's wedding theme gradually developed once she'd bought her wedding gown - a gorgeous lacy dress by David Tutera for Mon Cheri. This led to lots of lace and pearl wedding details, teamed with a deep raspberry pink and ivory colour palette. Tonnes more wedding details to come in the reception post later today, in the meantime enjoy these gorgeous wedding pictures by Andrew Billington.

We got married on the 22nd June 2013 at St Michael’s Church in East Ardsley and hosted our reception at the stunning Waterton Park Hotel in Walton, Wakefield.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Pretty Flower Crowns For Your Bridesmaids

If you're a regular reader of Before the Big Day, you'll know that nothing gets me more excited than a good flower crown. That, and bunting. I'm very big on bunting as well! So I hope you won't mind me featuring a selection of particularly pretty pictures of gorgeous headdresses by Rosie of Vintage Posie. The shots were taken by her friend and wedding photographer Kathryn Hopkins, and I'm sure you'll agree they look stunning! I love the wallpaper in the background as well - wouldn't that look great as the backing to your wedding invitations? Lovely wedding inspiration all round!

{Photo Credit} Kathryn Hopkins

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