Thursday, 20 January 2011

Great British Wedding Stationery

Love, love, love.....this wedding stationery! It's original, quirky and a great way to introduce your guests to your wedding style. If you're planning a wedding, you want it to reflect your personality, so choose something with character. I've recently discovered Artcadia, who design and produce bespoke wedding statinoery from their little home in rural Shropshire. They use recycled and biodegradeable materials and cover all wedding paper goods including wedding invitations, RSVP cards, save the date cards, menus, table plans and order of service books. That's pretty much everything you need then! Check out a few of their recent designs below.
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Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Real Wedding: Tomi & Jules

A Spring wedding in a castle - who could ask for anything more? Tomi and Jules actually had two weddings - one bright and loud and Nigerian, and one English with a traditional church ceremony. As a contrast, Tomi chose green and black as her key colours, and a stunning princess-style white wedding dress, with a black sash. After the church ceremony the reception was held at the amazing Hazelwood Castle, which is my new favourite venue. My stealworthy details? I'm loving the little black dresses and green pashminas for the bridesmaids - such a cheap and chic way to create a 'together' look. Also the stunning but simple orchid button-holes and the pretty gauze bows on the menus. Best of all is the vintage car - I'm not usually a car person, but there's something about the pictures of Tomi and Jules drinking champagne with the top down that made me fall in love! Gorgeous photographs published with thanks to the hugely talented Anushe Low. Don't miss her website for more inspiration.

The Before the Big Day Bridal Q&A - Tomi was kind enough to fill in our 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?
On 16th May at Birkenshaw Methodist Church and then Bradford & Hazlewood Castle in Tadcaster.

What was your thinking behind choosing the venue?
Hazelwood Castle stole our hearts from the moment we saw it. Beautiful gardens, stunning architecture and fabulous décor. It was here or nowhere!

Did you have a theme in mind?
We decided on a black tie affair. The main colours were black, white and peppermint green.

Who made your wedding outfit and how did you come to that decision?
My dress was by Caroline Castigliano, and I bought it in her shop in Leeds. It was by appointment only and the shop was lush. The ladies in the store where lovely and all the dresses where beautiful. I had an idea in my head what my dress would look like and but when I got to the appointment that style did not really suit me. I wanted something simple and elegant. I tried on a few dresses which I thought I would like but unfortunately I didn’t. My mum suggested I try on a ‘Princess dress’ which I thought I would hate, and I fell in love with it immediately. The dress was called Beauty and it was a Beauty! I have never seen so much lace and silk.

My shoes where Kurt Geiger, white, leather, sling backs. I also had some gold LK Bennett pumps because I not great in heels. My veil, and lace bolero where also Caroline Castigliano. My jewellery was from my mum’s collection.

What about your husband’s outfit? Where was it from?
My husband wore a tailored suit from Michels Berg, which was the ultimate suit. He looked fantastic in it. The usher's suits were hired from Moss Bros.

And how about your bridesmaids’ outfits?
I asked my bridesmaids to wear their own black dress, and then I added peppermint green shawls. I felt it would be better if everyone could add their own style. My chief bridesmaid wore a peppermint green dress from the Dessy Collection.

Who was your florist, what flowers did you choose, and how did you come to that decision?
The flowers where by Bethan Tillotson. She did all the flowers for the church, the reception and the bouquet and button holes.

What type of cake did you go for, and how did you come to that decision?
Three tiered cake made by Cake Craft in 3 flavours, 6inc lemon, 9inc Chocolate, and 12inc vanilla with white chocolate ganache… we didn’t have any!

How about your stationery?
We did the stationery ourselves, and we named our tables after places we stayed in South Africa.

Did you have any favours? What were they?
Lavender plants in white pots, 2011 diaries (in 3 styles) and personalised pens with names and dates, plus a mix CD with special track choices of favourites songs.

Did you have any DIY projects?
Jules created the Mix CD himself. As a big fan of music we thought it was perfect reflection on both of us to create a list of tracks we both adore. He printed all the labels and the sleeve notes himself too. Working for a greeting card company, I had a friend help design the invites and Jules’ cousin printed them (as he owns a printing company). We then tied ribbon around them to finish. We source the lavender plants via our florist and potted them in Ikea pots.

Who was your photographer and how did you choose them?
Anushe Low, and she was fantastic!

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Friday, 14 January 2011

Real Wedding: Suzanne & Mel

Dream-wedding time. You're going to want to copy every detail of this one, not least the venue, which is the gorgeous Babington House in Somerset. It's just the most heavenly location, with its own little chapel in the grounds. Suzanne is a stunning bride - I love her elegant, structured, satin dress, and her huge bouquet of white roses. And is that a pair of Louboutin heels I spy? Other details to copy are the individual roses at each table setting, the glass candelabra and the on-trend, four-tier, wedding cake. I'm loving the florals throughout, in particular the arch over the church door, which gives a real feeling of luxury, and must have perfumed the air as the guests arrived. Simply stunning photographs published with thanks to the hugely talented Ken Buist.

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Thursday, 13 January 2011

Wedding Diamonds for Hire

If you've got expensive tastes, and you want to look a million dollars on your wedding day, then you might  be finding the cost of bridal jewellery a bit of a shock. I certainly couldn't afford what I wanted, so I started looking into other options, and discovered a well-kept secret. Hiring diamonds. It's like having a huge jewellery box of glittery gorgeousness, but with none of the responsibility or expense. I found amazing earrings at Diamond Thrills, but they also do necklaces, tennis bracelets and even tiaras! Plus, because I asked really nicely, they're offering 10% off, if you mention Before the Big Day.

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free updates by email, and click here for more jewellery ideas for your wedding.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

My Wedding - Five Months To Go

This is where I tell you all about planning my own wedding. After all, if I'm publishing all these Real Weddings, it's only fair I share my trials and tribulations. Read the rest of my wedding diary here.

If I had to pick a single word to describe how I'm feeling right now about our wedding, I'd use panicked. With less than five months to go, the decisions are coming thick and fast, and I feel like the days are flying past, without me actually achieving anything. If it wasn't for my fabulous wedding planner, Kerry, I'd be a complete stress-case. In part to calm myself down, here's a list of what I've actually got sorted out.

The Caterer
We have found a caterer who is just about within our budget, and we're booked in for the taste-testing in early March. Choosing caterers was really difficult. Trying to figure out who was the best value was pretty much impossible, because they all offered different options. Kerry very kindly put everything in a table for us, and I'd thoroughly recommend doing that if you're still struggling. We got three quotes in the end - the first two were a bit to fussy and fancy. Lesson learnt - don't be afraid to keep on asking for quotes until you get what you want. It is out there, even if it doesn't feel like it in the early days.

The DJ
Choosing a DJ was harder because we're in France. Have you ever been to a French nightclub? The music is always dreadful. So we knew our DJ would need to be English. This is when the lovely Kerry stepped in all over again, and suggested her friend Sophie Callis, who's a professional DJ in London, but lives in France. We met her last week and we love her. We totally clicked, which was a huge relief. I now feel like I'm going to have this lovely team of ladies behind me on the big day. However, our entertainment budget is completely blown. We've at least doubled it, by hiring both a string quartet, a DJ and a music system. Mobile DJ's normally bring their own kit, but all the French ones were just too cheesy, so we've had to go for our own system. That's something to remember if you're planning a wedding at home, or in a rented house. If you hire a full set-up wedding venue instead, they'll usually have all that sorted for you. We've argued away our double-budget, by rationalising that if everyone's going to fly out to France for our wedding, the least we can do is host a great party!

The London Wedding
We have to get legally get married in England before our ceremony in France, and I'm determined to keep it discrete, and 'not a big deal', so it doesn't take away from the main event. However, it does mean that our grandparents, who won't make it out to France, can come along. We wanted to have it in Shoreditch Town Hall which is round the corner from our flat, but on the day we went to register our wedding, we discovered it was going to cost a fortune! The Hall itself is cheap-as-chips, but to arrange for a registrar to come ten minutes down the road from Hackney Town Hall costs £400! So we're going to host it at Hackney instead, and taxi all the relatives down there. I had a minor bridezilla moment when I discovered we'd have to get married at 3pm instead of 12.30pm, but reasoned that a high tea after the ceremony would be just as good as a lunch. Just think of all the cake!

So there's a list of three things I've done, here's the list of what's left - stationery, flowers, wine, site visit, ceremony to be written, dress, veil, shoes, groom's outfit, honeymoon, drinks the day after the wedding, catering for the high tea, dress for the London wedding.....aaaaah!

Monday, 10 January 2011

Real Wedding: Katy & Matt

Are you getting married in a church? It's still the choice of thousands of brides and grooms each year, although it's often teamed with a new-found religious interest! It's not surprising though, church weddings are wonderfully romantic, and they give a real sense of gravitas to the ceremony. Katy and Matt chose a church wedding, followed by their reception in the seriously grand and gorgeous Peckforton Castle. Katy got seriously creative with her details and colour palette, and you can really see the effect, with a stunning four-tier cake, birdcage table decorations and cute little favour buckets. I really love the addition of seed pearls and lace to her bouquet - just goes to show how you can add your own twist to everything. My favourite spot is the cones of sheet music filled with confetti - an easy and effective DIY project - even your groom could do it! Katy's been kind enough to fill in the Before the Big Day bridal questionnaire, so do check out all her advice below. Stunning photos published with thanks to Amy Turner from iMAG1NE, don't miss the last picture, it's like something from a play!

The Before the Big Day Bridal Q&A - Katy was kind enough to fill in our 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?
Friday 7th May 2010, at St Helen’s Church in Tarporley. The reception was held at Peckforton Castle.

What was your thinking behind choosing the venue and the decoration of the reception?
We wanted a church wedding, and we picked the Castle as our reception venue as it was so romantic and grand.

Did you have a theme, colour or motif in mind?
Our theme was romantic/vintage. Our colours were dusky rose, mocha and ivory.

Who made your wedding outfit and how did you come to that decision?
My mother and maid of honour came with me to multiple bridal shops in Cheshire and Sheffield until I found the perfect dress. I was always looking for a simple and elegant gown, and when I tried on the Suzanne Neville dress I knew it was the one! We bought it from Freya Bridal in Sheffield, and my veil came from Agape in Knutsford.

What about your husband’s outfit? Where was it from?
Hired from Debenhams to match colour scheme of mocha.

And how about your bridesmaids’ outfits
Mocha dresses to match the colour theme, made by Dessy and purchased from Avec Amour in Glossop.

What type of cake did you go for, and how did you come to that decision?
Four-layered tier sponge cake with flowers matching the wedding colours between each layer. Each layer of sponge was a different flavour. The cake was inspired by a cake I had seen in a bridal magazine.

Did you have any favours? What were they? Was there any particular reason why you picked them?
The mens’ favours were miniature bottles of spirit or whisky. The ladies favours were heart shaped chocolates and a tin of lip balm. All the favours were placed in miniature rose coloured buckets with either mocha or pink ribbons tied round. We wanted to pick favours which people could use and would actually appreciate!

Who was your florist, what flowers did you choose, and how did you come to that decision?
The florist I chose was Jacklyn Bagley from Precious Things Florist in Macclesfield. She was amazing! I described the colours and theme of the wedding and she worked her magic designing the bouquet and arrangements. We had lots of flowers to decorate the venue and they were a beautiful finishing touch to the venue.

Who was your photographer and how did you choose them?
Researching on the internet we noticed Amy from Imag1ne had photographed many weddings at Peckforton Castle. We looked at the example photo’s on the website and loved them!! We didn’t want staged or cheesy photo’s, we just wanted to capture the day with natural photo’s and thats exactly what Amy did!

Did you enjoy planning your wedding?
I loved planning the wedding. I spent many hours making save the dates, invitations, menus, order of services, etc but it was all worth it in the end. Also my husband and I spend many hours researching Dj's, string quartets, florists etc to find the best we could for our budget. All the effort that went into planning the wedding and all the personal touches made the day really special for both us and our families and friends.

What advice do you have for brides planning their big day?
Relax and enjoy every minute! Try to be organised but don’t worry if not everything goes to plan, the main thing is that your marrying the man of your dreams!

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Friday, 7 January 2011

We ♥ Sample Sales

It's SALES time, so prepare yourself for some serious bargains!

Emma Hunt's hosting a fantastic sample sale starting on 8th January in Wimbledon. Emma's known for her stunning vintage designs, clean lines and elegant gowns. For further details, click here.

Phillipa Lepley's sale starts on 8th Jan and lasts until 22nd. Head down to the Fulham Road to try on her heavenly corseted gowns. The sale also includes accessories such as shrugs, veils and tiaras!

♥ Exciting news! Sassi Holford is holding a winter sale between 8th and 22nd January. Don't miss amazing reductions on selected samples of her classically elegant gowns. With stores in London and Somerset, you're bound to pick up a bargain. For further details click here.

♥ The Bridal Designer Sale are holding their next sample sale at the Thistle Hotel, Marble Arch on 15th-16th January. They're offering up to 70% off exquisite wedding gowns from leading international designers, including Amanda Wakeley, Caroline Castigliano, Christiana Couture, Galit Levi, Lyn Ashworth, Max Chaoul, Oleg Cassini Icon, Sharon Hoey, Toi Creazioni, and many, many more… Book your free tickets.

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Thursday, 6 January 2011

Perfect Wedding Stole

We've still got three month of winter weddings ahead of us, so if you're a winter bride looking for a stylish solution to staying warm, then look no further! This gorgeous fake-fur stole is handmade to order by Katie Carter Bridal in London. Lined with heavy weight silk satin backed crepe and secured with a silk satin bow, it comes in a variety of colours, including the mink and oyster combo pictured below.

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