Beth & Phil | The Matara Centre
 

I can't believe  it has taken almost four months to post Beth and Phil's gorgeous wedding here - wedding season has definitely got the better of me this year! This wedding was a particular highlight for me for a number of reasons, not least as it presented a few personal (and practical) challenges...

Beth and Phil are a British couple living in Dubai, meaning all communication had to be arranged via Skype and Facetime - not an issue in itself, however I quickly learned that not only would I not meet the couple in person until a day or two before the wedding, but also that the couple hadn't actually seen the venue in person either -it had been recommended by a family member (eek!) Cue numerous venue visits in the months leading to the wedding to electronically provide walk-through videos, floor plans and visuals to show how each are would be set up on the day. Not the easiest task, but certainly the most comprehensive I've worked on to date! The digital online planning software I use was a total godsend throughout this process, as it allowed Beth and Phil to receive real-time updates (despite the timezone differences), keeping them in the loop each step of the way.

The weather on the day was also a slight concern. Being late April, the weather in this country at that time of year is always fairly unpredictable, however there were definitely a few moments with myself and Teri looking nervously at the sky. We had planned for an outdoor ceremony in the woods, and whilst we had factored in a back up plan, I wasn't relishing the idea of transporting the 70 chairs we had already transported to the clearing back inside to the courtyard! Luckily the rain held off just long enough and the ceremony went without a hitch -phew!

Beth and Phil were a total joy to work with throughout the planning process. From the outset they had a clear vision as to how they wanted the day to look, but needed help logistically bringing everything together to make that vision a reality. They were open to suggestions, and instantly clicked with a number of suppliers I recommended to them. That said, Beth didn't hold back if there was something she wasn't keen on - she definitely knows her own mind! This made a lot of the planning a breeze, as I was able to identify early on which design ideas would work, and we were able to work through each aspect quickly and efficiently. We built a great rapport in the months leading up to the wedding, and I'm honoured to now call her a firm friend.

I am super proud of how everything turned out on the day, and I had the fortune of working with some AMAZING suppliers, all of whom were ready to pitch in should the weather throw a spanner in the works! Special thanks to Holly and her team at The Matara Centre for all their support and hard work on the day, and to Sam Gibson for his incredible photography (I still can't keep looking back over these gorgeous images!)

Thank you to all suppliers involved for making this a truly spectacular wedding.

Planning & Coordination ~ The Planning Lounge | Venue ~ The Matara Centre | Photography ~ Sam Gibson | Hair & Make Up ~ Stacey & Sally, Bristol Bridal Hair and Make Up | Celebrant ~ Teri Stout | Florals ~ Jo Hiorns at Simply Flowers | Rentals ~ Bisley Leisure Hire and Prestige Event Equipment Hire | Band ~ The Hipcats

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All images courtesy of Sam Gibson Photography


"I wanted to to say a huge 'Thank you' for all your hard work, advice and support in organising an amazing wedding.  I have received so many compliments from attendees with regards to the organisation and smooth running of the day - none of this would have been possible without you, especially considering we were doing everything from overseas. You are such a pleasure to work with - you got what I was looking for immediately and weren't put off if there was something I didn't go for.  In addition, you went over and above with your suggestions - for which I am very grateful. Do stay in touch, take care and thanks again - you're awesome!"

Beth & Phil

 
 
Wedding day timings & etiquette
 

When discussing wedding day schedules with couples, I'm often asked how and when is best to factor in key aspects during the day. With so many conflicting opinions online (wedding forums can sometimes raise more questions than they answer!), and as U.K. weddings are increasingly taking influences from oversees, it's little wonder there is a wealth of confusion over the "correct" etiquette and running order.

Whilst it's by no means necessary to be bound by tradition, it's often useful to have a starting point from which to customise your wedding. With this in mind, I'm dedicating today's post to some of my most frequently asked questions surrounding the day itself.

 

Q. In which order should the wedding party walk down the aisle?

A. In the U.K., it is traditional for the Bride to walk down the aisle first, accompanied by and to the right of her father (or alternate person giving her away). They lead the procession, followed by the bridesmaids, flower girls and page boys - although it is no significant importance in the order in which these walk. If having very young flower girls/page boys for example, it may be more practical for each to be escorted by an older bridesmaid. There is a growing trend however in adopting the American processional order, in which the bridesmaids, flower girls and page boys lead the way first, and for the Bride and the person giving her away to make their grand entrance after. There is no right or wrong with either, and unless having a very formal ceremony I'd advise to go with whichever makes you most comfortable. Prior to the processional, it is usual for the Groom and his Best Man to already be in place at the front of the ceremony space, and for the Ushers (or Groomsmen) to escort the mothers and grandparents of both the bride and groom to their seats. 

For same sex weddings, the traditional wedding processional order can be customised to suit the preference of the couple. A popular option is for both to be escorted down the aisle together by a person of mutual significant importance, however it can also follow that each is escorted by a parent (or parents), and the couple to decide between them who will walk first. If neither is being specifically "given away", it is equally perfectly acceptable for the couple to make their entrance together and walk down the aisle hand in hand.

Image Credit: The Knot

Image Credit: The Knot

Q. How long is acceptable for photographs after the ceremony?

A. If the ceremony and reception are to take place in the same location, guests expect some inevitable delay between the end of the ceremony and the start of the reception, largely as this is when the official photographs of the couple and their families take place. That said, it is best to keep this to no longer than 35-40 minutes if possible, as guests will be eager to offer their congratulations to the happy couple, and can become restless if left to wait for an excessive period of time. Plan your photographs in advance with your photographer, and provide them with the names of those required in the official shots, so that he or she can schedule the order of the photographs and round up the wedding party efficiently.

Where the reception is to be held in a separate location, travel time between the two sites must also be taken into consideration. In this case it is advisable to account for the photographs and travel time in advance, and make clear on the wedding invitations a specific start time for the reception so that guests are aware of the running order on the day. At the very least, arrange to have a few designated persons available at the reception site to greet guests as they arrive and make introductions.

A popular option during this time is to schedule a "cocktail hour" prior to the start of the reception, allowing guests to mingle whilst welcome drinks and a selection of canapes (or hors d'oeuvres) are served by catering staff. Background music (either live or pre-recorded) lends to a relaxed atmosphere, and the wedding party can join in after the photographs to officially greet their guests.

Q. Is a wedding receiving line necessary?

A. There was a time when it was customary to have a formal receiving line, however the tradition has become much less common in recent years. A receiving line is by no means essential, although it is proper etiquette that the couple personally thanks each guest for attending. For this reason, and particularly for large weddings, a receiving line can be a highly efficient way of ensuring that no guest gets "missed", and that the guests can interact personally with the happy couple and their parents (or those hosting). A receiving line is usually arranged at the reception site, after the official photographs have been taken. Traditionally the Brides' parents head up the line, followed by the couple, and then the Groom's parents. If the couple already have children they might include them in the line also, along with bridesmaids and grandparents (if they are able). If the couple are hosting themselves, they may choose to stand alone or with just the mothers, whilst other members of the bridal party mingle with guests as they wait in line. 

For smaller weddings, or where the couple are confident they will have opportunity to speak to each guest personally throughout the reception, it is perfectly acceptable for the couple to skip the receiving line altogether, and visit each table in between meal courses to greet and thank their guests.

 

Q. When should toasts/speeches be made, and in what order?

A. Etiquette dictates that toasts should be made toward the start of the reception, once all guests have been directed to their seats and have been provided with a glass of champagne (or non-alcoholic alternative). Traditionally for English weddings, the Father of the Bride will toast first (alternatively the person hosting), followed by the Groom, and finally the Best Man. It is also becoming more common for the Bride to say a few words if she'd like to offer her own toast, although this is often shorter than the preceding toasts.

If the traditional running order doesn't suit your particular circumstances however, don't be afraid to throw the rulebook out of the window! If the Father of the Bride won't be present, for example, it is quite acceptable for a close friend or other relative to make a toast instead. And whilst the first toast is normally made at the start of the reception, it is equally acceptable for the Groom and Best Man  to make their toasts at the end of the meal (which can be particularly useful if either are nervous about public speaking and would prefer the reception to get underway before making their toast). Likewise, if the couple are hosting their own wedding they may prefer to make their toast jointly, both in thanking their guests for joining the celebrations and toasting each other.

Getty Images

Getty Images

Q. When should we cut the cake?

A. Whilst this doesn't initially spring to mind as one of the more crucial aspects in the wedding day timing, it should be given some thoughtful consideration as it does give out an important cue - traditionally the cutting of the cake is an unspoken signal to guests that they may leave the wedding (if they wish to do so) without appearing rude. If you are likely to have several elderly guests attending, or those attending with children, it is advisable as a courtesy to schedule the cutting of the cake at the end of the meal, and before the evening celebrations are in full swing.

Cutting the cake earlier rather than later is also useful for other reasons; if hiring a professional photographer it allows them to capture the event without having to stay very late into the evening, and it also allows the evening celebrations to flow nicely without needing to pause to cut the cake midway through.

 

 

 
Inspiration | Easter Weekend
 

With the Easter weekend in full swing, it's the perfect time to look to look at wedding inspiration for those getting married around this time next year!

I love this springtime palette of neutrals, fresh greens and muted yellows, with a touch of gold for instant glam.

Gorgeous scented freesias are in season and work beautifully on their own, or paired with roses or gypsophila for contrast in bouquets and table arrangements.

A subtle nod to the Easter theme is all is takes to keep the theme fresh yet elegant, and can be brought in through the table decor and favours (and who wouldn't want to receive a Lindt chocolate bunny?!)

Wishing you all a wonderful and relaxing Easter weekend!

Easter Wedding Inspiration
 
Involving Children at Weddings
 

The question of inviting children to a wedding can often cause divide of opinion; on the one hand children can present images of mess, noise and tantrums, whilst on the other children can add to the enjoyment of the event, and seeing the wedding through the eyes of little ones can be truly magical.

If you have decided to welcome children at your wedding, here are a few top tips for making them feel involved, and ensuring the day is relaxing and enjoyable for old and young alike!

GET THEM INVOLVED FROM THE OUTSET

Enlist the help of your younger invitees to create wedding favours or small decorations for the tables, or to select items for goody bags. If you have children of your own, allow them some control over specific details, for example choosing wedding cake flavours.

INCLUDE THEM IN IMPORTANT DUTIES

Assign roles for the ceremony to children within the immediate family (be that your own, or nieces or nephews), to help them feel included and important on your special day. Flower girls and ringbearers are typical roles for younger children, however do feel free to create new roles, for example announcing the arrival of the bride. 

Invite children not directly involved with the ceremony to assist with handing out programmes, or to distribute confetti or wedding wands for after the wedding. If it is a hot day, enlist the help of older children to hand out cold lemonade or iced water to guests at the reception.

THINK ABOUT YOUR SEATING

If you have many children attending it is usually advisable to seat them on tables with their parents or close relatives, unless you have a designated minder to oversee a separate table specifically for children throughout the wedding meal. However if you just have a handful of younger guests, a separate table can work well, particularly if the children already know each other and provided it is positioned in close proximity to adults they are familiar with. If children are to be seated with their parents, give the table positions some thought; you may want to consider seating those with very young children at tables near an access door in the event that they wish to settle restless toddlers during speeches. 

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KEEP THEM ENTERTAINED

Give younger guests activity packs filled with things to do during the reception; colouring books and pens, wedding “I Spy” cards, small versions of traditional wooden games and miniature bottles of bubbles all work well and are great for keeping children occupied. You might also like to include a disposable camera for children to snap away and capture otherwise unnoticed candid moments! Keep a selection of light snacks and drinks on-hand to reduce hunger-related meltdowns during the waiting time prior to the wedding meal.

CREATE A BREAK OUT SPACE

Designate a separate space or even room for the children to “break out” after the meal. Craft tables, jigsaws or traditional board games will keep them entertained and encourage them to mingle. If you have access to an outside space, lay out a selection lawn games, for example giant Jenga, Connect 4 or ring toss. Later in the evening pop on a DVD in a quiet space to create a “movie room” - add beanbags and small bags of popcorn to allow children (particularly little ones) to wind down before bedtime.

GET THEM ON THE DANCE FLOOR

Prior to the first dance, consider a mini “children’s disco” or choreographed children’s dance routine to entice younger guests on to the dance floor. Not only does it serve as a great icebreaker but it often encourages further dancing later in the evening!

HIRE IN THE PROFESSIONALS

If inviting a large number of children, it is well worth considering enlisting a professional crèche service to entertain the children at the reception before and after the wedding meal for complete peace of mind.

Pitch Up and Play are a fabulous crèche company based in Bath, who provide fun, stylish play areas and bespoke professional childcare for weddings and events. I am delighted to work in conjunction with Pitch Up and Play to offer a 10% discount on their packages for clients of The Planning Lounge. Take a look at their dedicated wedding section here for further details and the full range of services they can offer for your Mini VIPs!

 
Inspiration | Winter White
 

A magical winter wedding can be achieved in many ways; from the red and green traditionally associated with Christmas, to stylish yet chic black and gold, or luxurious jewel tones. For this blog post however, I'm taking a look at the understated elegance of winter white.

I adore this palette, starting with a neutral white base and subtly blending natural elements with contemporary metallic accents. I especially love the combination of rustic wooden props alongside on trend copper cutlery and geometric detailing (swooning over those place settings!).

Foliage plays a key part in this look, combined with in season white flowers and pinecones - this can be carried through the bouquet, table decor, and even the cake for a cohesive feel.

In keeping with the season, offering a warming beverage to guests won't go unnoticed - and what better than a hot chocolate station? Add marshmallows, whipped cream and chocolate flakes/sprinkles for guests to create their own and you might just be on to a winner! 

Winter Wedding Inspiration
 
Top 10 Wedding Budgeting Tips
 

Wedding planning is an exciting journey, however with so many options available and an abundance of Pinterest images sparking imagination, sticking to a predetermined budget can be a tricky matter. I have compiled these top 10 tips to help you to get the most from your money, and make substantial savings along the way. 

1. PRIORITISE THE ESSENTIALS

Once the budget is established, take time to sit down and list each aspect of the wedding, and then discuss the elements which have the greatest importance to you both. The venue will inevitably take up the largest chunk of budget, however there are many other areas that can be either splurged or compromised on, depending on their significance to you on your big day.

When you have both prioritised the essentials, budget for these accordingly and allocate the remaining budget to the other, less significant, elements. Perhaps a three course meal and plentiful drink for your guests is a key component, whilst fully coordinated stationery is less integral. Or you may decide that fabulous evening entertainment is crucial, yet can compromise on a lavish wedding cake. Decide what’s most important from the outset, and remember that you do not need to stick to convention, or have everything that friends and bridal magazines would tell you that you need.

2. DON'T SCRIMP ON THE PHOTOGRAPHER

 A good photographer will make the best use of lighting, and will have the experience to compose shots for the best possible pictures. Remember that you will never again get the chance to retake those key shots, and exquisite photographs serve as a lifelong reminder of your big day. Think of the photographer as an investment and you won’t regret it later.

 
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3. TAKE OUT WEDDING INSURANCE

With wedding insurance costing from as little as £20 it is definitely worth consideration, and could save you thousands if things do go wrong. It is important to check specific cover with each insurer, however as a rule insurers will typically offer cover for:

  • Supplier failure - if a company goes bankrupt prior to the wedding, or cannot meet its contractual obligations
  • Cancellation - if the wedding is cancelled for reasons beyond your control, for example adverse weather conditions
  • Wedding gifts - the value of presents and cash are covered in the event of loss, damage or theft
  • Accidents and public liability - if you are the victim of an accident, or if you injure someone else or damage their property during the course of the wedding, you will be covered in the event of any legal proceedings

4. CHOOSE AN OFF-PEAK WEDDING DATE

As the venue is usually by far the largest expense (anywhere between one third and a half of the overall budget), you can potentially make huge savings if you are willing to negotiate on your wedding date. The warmer spring and summer months (April to September) are by far the most popular, as are Saturday weddings. Many venues offer substantially lower rates for weekday and out of season weddings, so if you are flexible with your wedding date you could realistically cut your venue budget by up to half.

5. LIMIT YOUR NUMBERS

Where possible, cut down your guest list to include only those who are close to you both and you will save a lot of money. Neighbours, colleagues and plus ones can usually be negated with little offence caused, and consider carefully whether it is necessary to invite distant relatives whom you rarely see. It is polite to check with the person(s) footing the bill however, as usually they will have a greater say in the final guest list.

It is also worth considering keeping the bridal party small, as the costs for bridesmaids’ attire and gifts can greatly mount up.

6. THE ART OF NEGOTIATION

Now is the time to really test out your negotiating skills. Whilst negotiating with suppliers can be a daunting task, it is an important step in managing your wedding budget. Many wedding suppliers are open to negotiation, so it is worth asking if any potential discount can be offered.

Before you start, prepare by gathering quotations from a range of similar suppliers. When you have selected your favourites, discuss your budget with your chosen suppliers and see if there is any room for manoeuvre. If you cannot secure a discount, don’t overlook the benefit of asking for more for your money; whether it’s an extra glass of wine per guest, a room upgrade or free decorations, all can give you added value and leave you with more money to spend on other things. Do remember to always get any discounts or added extras confirmed in writing, and check contracts carefully before signing on the dotted line.

If hiring a wedding planner, he or she will act on your behalf to secure you the best possible deals from your suppliers. Professional planners are trained negotiators, and can usually obtain large discounts for repeat business, which can then be passed on directly to you.

7. CHOOSE SEASONAL FLOWERS

The flowers you choose will largely depend on personal preference, however do bear in mind that the costs of importing out of season or exotic flowers will be considerably more expensive. Selecting seasonal and locally grown flowers will greatly reduce costs, and if the floral budget is particularly tight, consider putting floral table arrangements together yourself in pretty containers. Flower markets are a good choice for good quality seasonal flowers, and many florists use these to obtain their flowers at cost price.

9. GET CREATIVE

Whether it’s the invitations or table decorations for the reception, making  your own rather than buying can be an economical way of securing those little details without going over budget, whilst also adding a personal touch along the way.

There are many low-cost printables available online which you can customise to make your own wedding invitations, or perhaps collect pebbles or shells and write your guests’ names on each to serve as unique place settings.

Draw on Pinterest and online tutorials for inspiration, however do be realistic with your time. Try to enlist friends or family members to help out where possible to avoid taking on too much work yourself.

9. BE RESOURCEFUL

Take inspiration from the tradition of “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”. Utilise items you already own, and where possible borrow from others. Whether you wear a pair of your own shoes under your dress, or borrow a wedding accessory or veil, all can free up money to be saved or spent elsewhere.

Ask around to see if anyone you already know would be willing to donate a service for your wedding. If you have a talented friend who can sing or play an instrument, ask him or her to perform during the ceremony. If you know someone with a flair for cake decorating, ask if they would mind putting together a simple cake or a selection of cupcakes if you were to cover the cost of ingredients and materials.

10. PREPARE FOR CONTINGENCIES

It is important to leave a little room in the budget for any last-minute expenses, which typically occur in the last few weeks before the wedding. Whether it’s a forgotten deposit, tips and gratuities not covered in the contract, or a supplier’s overtime on the day, I would recommend putting a line in the budget for at least 5% of the budget to account for unforeseen costs. It might seem a lot of money, but can alleviate a lot of stress knowing that a contingency is in place. And as a bonus, what you don’t end up using can be a welcome boost towards honeymoon spending money!

 
Inspiration | Bohemian Beauty
 

This year has seen an explosion of bohemian-inspired weddings, with a rise in barefoot weddings, outdoor ceremonies, and floral crowns in abundance. This floaty, feminine theme lends itself well to weddings, and small details can make a big impact!

The key to this style is relaxed and carefree, whether whether holding celebrations on a beach, festival-style in a field or in woodland.

Seasonal wildflowers and a mixture of foliage work well in loosely styled bouquets and simple table arrangements in mismatched glass jars, and can be carried through to larger installations, for example floral wreaths, chandeliers or ceremony decor. 

Dreamcatchers lend a quirky twist, and grouped together can make a stunning focal point or backdrop for photos.

If holding the reception outdoors, think casual seating (low tables and rugs or floor cushions work beautifully) and picnic style food or sharing platters. A breakout space for smaller guests complete with teepee can also tie in the theme well.

I love the recent trend for flowing lace dresses and carefree hairstyles - add a simple floral crown or whimsical embellished headband for instant boho chic!

Bohemian Wedding Inspiration
 
Venue Spotlight | The Mansion House
 

The official residence of the Lord Mayor of Bristol, The Mansion House is arguably one of Bristol's best kept secrets. Set in the heart of Clifton, this historic Victorian building oozes romance and grandeur, and is the perfect setting for a wedding with a difference.

The Mansion House Bristol

A little while ago I organised the styling of this fabulous venue for some new imagery for their promotional literature and website. We were fortunate to have a glorious sunny day for the shoot, and I had the pleasure of working with a fabulous team of suppliers, including the talented Scott Wilson from Life in Focus Photography who captured the stunning images.

The Mansion House is licensed to carry out weddings and civil partnerships in both the elegant Drawing Room inside the house, and the stunning gazebo in the Rose Garden, which offers something a little different for couples searching for an outdoor wedding space in Bristol. 

I wanted to showcase the beautiful outdoor ceremony space leading to the gazebo, adorning the aisle chairs with beautiful garden florals provided by Emma Petersson, a wonderful Bristol-based florist who knew instantly which blooms would work to create just the right effect.

The Mansion House Gazebo

We also took the opportunity to recreate the ceremony set up in the Drawing Room, utilising the same furniture and florals yet producing a very different look. The hallway serves as an impressive entranceway for guests, and the space is also perfect for serving welcome drinks as guests move into the Dining Room for the reception.

The Mansion House Drawing Room
The Mansion House Hallway

The grand Dining Room serves as the perfect reception space, and can cater for up to 100 guests for a seated meal. I wanted to create a fresh yet elegant look to showcase it's full potential, using glass pedestal vases filled with beautiful blooms to match the ceremony décor for the centrepieces, and glass and silver tealight holders to accent the look. 

I created classic calligraphy menus in white and dove grey to complement the centrepieces, and used matching place cards for each table setting. Antique silverware, including wonderful Victorian salt and pepper silverware sets, also graced each table.

The Mansion House Centrepieces
The Mansion House Tables

Silver edged beaded glass charger plates supplied by Prestige Hire were used on the top table to add interest, and worked perfectly with the elegant colour palette and florals.

The Mansion House Table Settings

The gorgeous hand-decorated wedding cakes were provided by the talented and award-winning cake designer ANNA Cake Couture, and looked exquisite alongside the Victorian sweet jars and silverware on the dessert table.

The Mansion House Cake Table

Catering is offered in-house by Parsnip Mash, boasting an extensive range of bespoke menus using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. If a formal sit down meal isn't your style, Parsnip Mash are happy to offer a range of alternatives; from a high tea served to the table on vintage crockery, to an informal barbecue outside whilst your guests relax on the lawn.

The Mansion House Conservatory

I am proud to work in partnership with The Mansion House as a preferred supplier. If you are planning a wedding at the venue and require any assistance with the planning or styling of your day, please get in touch and I will be happy to discuss the ways in which I can help!

Special thanks to all suppliers for their involvement in creating this shoot.

All images courtesy of Life in Focus Photography 

 
Caroline Green
9 Things No-one Tells You About Planning a Wedding
 

This week I am delighted to bring you this special guest post from our friends at Hitched, to let you in on these 9 things no one tells you about planning a wedding...

Ask Me Anything

Suddenly you’re fair game for all kinds of questions, some of which you don’t even know the answer to. How much did the ring cost? Do you actually like it? Where and when are you getting married? Am I invited? Can I be a bridesmaid (only joking. But really)? Are you planning babies now?

Things Cost a Lot

And even if it doesn’t seem like they cost a lot, you need a lot of them…which costs a lot. Who knew pom-poms could rack up such a bill? And that 200 personalised straws would leave your online shopping basket looking pretty hefty… Take a look at these budgeting tips to get you started!

You Discover How Emotional You Really Are

Previously you rivalled Elsa when it came to ice queen cool. Now you find yourself dissolving into tears at the tiniest thing. Mini cake toppers that look like you and your partner – sob. Your own monogram – wail. Your first dance song – you’re gone.

It’s a Whole New World

You were pretty pleased with your online habits – the daily Facebook check, the occasional tweet. But now you’ve discovered the online world of wedding planning. Your Instagram feed is full of wedding inspiration, you have Pinterest boards devoted to 17 different kinds of wedding vision and you are addicted to wedding planning forums. Goodbye, real world.

You Learn New Things about Your Partner

You thought you knew each other pretty well – well enough to get married and spend the rest of your lives together, at least. Then you discover he really likes fruit cake and wants a DJ that will play the Macarena. Who is he?

Everyone Has an Opinion

Usually an opinion that’s vastly different to yours. It doesn’t matter than your mother-in-law has never attended a wedding without chair sashes. There’s a first time for everything. Tell her she’ll learn to love the chiavari chairs and just keep a fixed smile on your face.

The Knot

There Are So Many Themes...

So many! Are you rustic, bohemian, vintage or contemporary? Perhaps you’re a steampunk bride? What does that even mean?

You've never been so popular

Well, your ‘We’re engaged!’ Facebook update, complete with ring selfie, was always going to be a winner when it came to the likes, but why are your school friends who you haven’t seen in a decade suddenly commenting on your pictures and your next-door-neighbour isn’t moaning about where your wheelie bin is? They’re angling for an invite. It is going to be the wedding of the century after all.

No-one is immune to bridezilla syndrome

It’s sad but true – you will have a least one meltdown over something you never thought would cause a meltdown. You ordered off-white table linen. The caterer has sent ivory. Aargh!


Thank you to the lovely people at Hitched for contributing this guest post. Hitched are UK's biggest wedding website, dedicated to preparing you for your wedding journey ahead, informing you and entertaining you along the way. Please visit www.hitched.co.uk for further information and to join.

 
First Look at the Missguided Bridal Collection
 

Budget-savvy brides rejoice! After weeks of speculation, online fashion retailer Missguided have just launched their first ever budget bridal collection. With prices starting from just £30, I couldn't wait to check out the new range (and I must admit I'm a little bit in love...!)

The aptly entitled "Missbrided" collection comprises 14 bridal styles, including a range of sweeping maxis and knee-length mini dresses, with the most expensive costing a staggeringly low £150.

My absolute favourite from the collection is the Halterneck Lace Maxi Dress in white, priced at £120. Featuring a gorgeous neckline, floor sweeping train and open back, this stunning gown could easily contend appearance-wise with any designer equivalent - and at a fraction of the cost.

The Cami Maxi Dress is equally beautiful in it's simplicity, featuring clean lines, a plunging neckline and a sleek silhouette. Priced at a very reasonable £85, this minimalistic gown would be an ideal choice for a low-key beach or garden wedding.

For those looking for something a little edgier, the Wrap Neck Maxi Dress is hard to beat. Perfect for a contemporary city-chic wedding, this dress oozes style with it's figure-flattering fit and on-trend neckline. And it's hard to believe that this is one of the cheapest from the collection, priced at just £40.

Amongst the shorter styles, I am really drawn to this Greek-inspired Floral Beaded High Neck Mini Dress. Featuring exquisite beaded detailing to the waist and neckline, this contemporary dress is a real show-stopper - and great value at £65 (also available as a maxi dress at £75).

Missguided also have bridal footwear covered, with a range of 9 fabulous styles in whites, nudes and metallics. I love these Barely There Ankle Strap Sandals (priced at £25) featuring a hint of on-trend metallic rose gold, which would complement virtually any wedding gown.

At prices this low these pieces are sure to sell out fast, so head over to www.missguided.co.uk to view the full #Missbrided collection and secure yours now!

 
First Steps to Planning Your Wedding
 

Congratulations - so you’re engaged!!

You have broken the news to your nearest and dearest, and perhaps held an engagement party… but what now? The thought of actually getting down to planning your wedding can feel for some like a daunting task. Where to start? How does the process actually work? 

To get you started, I have created this guide to assist you in the very initial stages of planning, and help you through the process with the minimum of stress.

SET THE DATE

Whilst a number of factors will need to be considered in fixing an exact date, it is helpful to have a rough date in mind. This will focus your mind on the planning process and enable you to approximate timescales. Is your heart set on a date in the summer, or would you prefer a magical winter wedding? You will also need to ensure you allow enough time for preparation, and to be mindful of clashes with event dates in your local area, for example festivals, major sporting events and school holidays, all of which can have a knock-on effect on travel and accommodation arrangements.  

KNOW YOUR BUDGET

Unless you are fortunate enough to have a limitless wedding budget, it is essential to put a carefully considered budget in put place from the start. Will you be covering the whole cost of the wedding, or will parents be likely to contribute? Either way you will need to discuss the total amount you are willing to spend on the big day and know what you can afford.

Once you have discussed contributions and determined your budget, create a spreadsheet containing each aspect of your wedding and be sure to update it regularly, so you can see at a glance where money has already been spent and what you have remaining. It is also strongly advisable to allow for at least a 5% margin on top of your budget for contingencies.

CREATE YOUR GUEST LIST

Whilst you do not need an exact figure at this stage, it is important that you and your partner have in mind an approximate number of guests you will be expecting on the day, and any additional guests in the evening. This will be an important factor in considering a wedding venue for a start – if you are planning to invite 160 guests you can immediately rule out viewing venues which only cater for 100. Also be mindful that the more guests you invite, the higher the catering budget will be.

At this point it is also worth considering who will play key roles in the wedding, for example the Best Man, Maid of Honour, Bridesmaids and other attendants, as this will help with allocating the budget to their attire and other expenses.

FIND A VENUE

With your date, budget and number of guests in mind, this is the time to start thinking about the type and style of wedding you would like, and to research the venue options.

It is useful to start with an internet based venue finder; we love Coco Wedding Venues which allows you to search for the perfect venue by geographical location and wedding style, and contains essential information about each venue at a glance, for example license details, venue capacity and catering information. The site also enables you to shortlist your favourites to print, share with others or save for later, and even contact the venues directly from your shortlist page.

When you have narrowed down your preferred venues (ideally 3 or 4), arrange viewings with each to really get a feel of the venue and take the opportunity to directly ask the venue coordinator any questions you may have.

BOOK YOUR REGISTRAR

Once you have selected your chosen venue, provisionally book your date (most venues are happy to agree to hold the date for up to 2 weeks before requiring a deposit). As soon as you have done so, contact your local council to check that there is a registrar available on your wedding date. Registrars require a minimum of 28 days’ notice and a maximum of 12 months ahead of your chosen date, however the further ahead you can book the better. Expect to each pay a £35 fee for giving notice of the marriage, along with an associated fee for booking your registrar (in Bristol this is currently set between £350 and £450 depending on the day of the week on which the wedding will take place). If opting for a ceremony in a church or other place of religious worship, now is the time to make the necessary arrangements.

Take a look at the latest issue of the Bristol Ceremonies Guide for further information on marriage requirements in the Bristol area.

CHOOSE YOUR SUPPLIERS

Undoubtedly there will be a host of suppliers involved in your wedding, however there are a number of key suppliers which should be considered in the first instance and ideally booked as soon as possible.

If catering is not included in your venue’s wedding package, or if you have opted to choose your own, selecting a caterer should be a priority. Take time to research sample menus taking into consideration any special requirements (for example vegan or gluten-free options), and when you have selected a few favourites, arrange tastings with your preferred caterers to ascertain the quality of their food.

We would also recommend thinking about your photographer in the early stages. Good photographers can be booked up well over a year in advance, so if you have received a personal recommendation or have a particular photographer in mind, contact them to secure their services well in advance of your wedding date.

To get in touch or to arrange a free initial consultation, please contact me or drop me a line via email at info@theplanninglounge.co.uk.

 
Pantone Colour of the Year 2016 | Rose Quartz & Serenity
 

Hurrah! Pantone have just announced their colour (or should I say colours) of the year for 2016, and I have to say I couldn't be happier with their selection! In an unusual twist, the Pantone Color Insitute have released not just one, but two colours for the upcoming year. Step forward Rose Quartz and Serenity...

The two colours provide a much softer feel than last year's intense Marsala shade, and couples will no doubt be influenced by these beautiful tones when making colour selections for their upcoming nuptials in 2016. Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, explains "Joined together Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace". 

The beauty of these colours is that they can be used individually or together, both achieving a visually inviting feel. Pantone have embraced the blush hues which have seen a rise in popularity over recent months in selecting Rose Quartz, and have been rather clever in pairing this with Serenity - a subtle blend of cornflower blue and a soft violet grey. The result is an elegant and grown up twist on pastels, and a winning combination for an elegant and romantic occasion.

Accenting these colours with metallics makes for an effortlessly chic look. Silver lends itself beautifully to these pastel tones, however for me copper is a stand out when pairing with these hues. Copper candlesticks, candle votives and even cutlery will really make the colours pop, and will create a stunning palette to wow your guests.

In keeping with the soft nature of these shades, ruffled florals and subtle greenery are key to this look. Rununculus and peonies are a perfect match with dusky toned foliage such as eucalyptus or dusty miller, and bouquets can be accented with silk ribbon for a floaty feel.

With fashion designers taking influence from Pantone's colour selections, we can expect to see these shades appearing more prominantly throughout bridalwear over 2016, from dresses to shoes and accessories. Floaty and feminine bridesmaids' dresses in a uniform colour accented with contrasting heels will compliment the colour scheme beautifully.