Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. I suppose you could call it the 'Bridget Jones' Diary' (for the wedding industry); I've created it really as a way for me to vent about my upcoming nuptials without boring my nearest and dearest about things that, well, just aren't that important to them but are all I seem to think about now I'm a fully fledged member of the Engagement Club.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Bridal Party Gifts....Traditional or Unconventional?

Photography by James Green Studio

I've a way off my big day, just over 18 months to be honest. But my thoughts turned to my bridesmaids. Well, not just my bridesmaids but bridesmaids in general.

When I was a bridesmaid, I received a beautiful topaz and diamond necklace and I know people who have received flowers, champagne and jewellery as a token of appreciation but are they still an acceptable gift nowadays or are your right-hand girls (or boys) expecting something a little more unique?

Even though I am a bride on a budget, I still want to thank everyone who is helping me now, and will have helped come April 2013, make our day extra special.

Christmases, birthdays and in general, I am an easy person to buy a gift for. I'm grateful, appreciative and love to receive chocolate (not least because I'm a raving chocoholic), flowers, yes, even the £2 a bunch kind from the local supermarket, a gift voucher or cash. I know some people are of the opinion that a gift voucher is a bit of a cop out as it doesn't show any thought, as is the cash giving option, but I shall bore you with an example.

For our engagement, we received cash - not that we actually expected anything so it did come as a lovely surprise! Some people apologised, actually apologised for "just giving money". I don't understand why. With the money we received, we clubbed it together to buy a clay chimenea for our back garden and a large plant pot to rehouse our Devil's Ivy (which is currently taking over our hallway now it has more room to grow. Come see for yourself, seriously, it's like walking through a jungle before heading upstairs to bed). We'd wanted a chimenea for ages but it's one of those items that you sometimes don't have the spare cash to go out and buy for yourself. We also have a gift voucher for one of my favourite shops - Swags & Tails in Waltham, near Grimsby, Lincolnshire. They get new deliveries of different items every 3-4 weeks and we've yet to choose something to spend it on but I can't wait! Finally, me and Mr S have been saying for about a year now that we'd like a wood-burning fire but we've never gotten round to it for various reasons; time and lack of funds being just two but very main reasons. As a belated engagement gift, and when we get round to actually looking, we're having a contribution to our wood-burner.

So there you go, our loved ones who "just gave money" or a gift voucher have indeed made us very happy as we have things we couldn't have afforded to go and get ourselves and we're more than grateful for that.

Photography by James Green Studio
The point of that little ramble is to make brides think; do we buy our bridal party's 'thank you' gifts with something traditional, that maybe we would be happy receiving ourselves? Something like a bouquet of flowers, or a nice piece of jewellery that can maybe be worn on the day of the wedding? How about a gift voucher for them to book themselves in to receive a long needed relaxing massage, facial or pedicure. After all, they don't have a luxurious honeymoon planned to de-stress after the months of planning like us!

Or, do we try and tailor make their gifts to suit their personalities? You can even get things engraved with names and dates. Maybe one of your girls is like me and is a chocolate fiend. You could buy a basket or box, line it with tissue paper (colour to match your colour scheme to tie it in with the wedding day) and fill it with chocolatey goodness.

Same applies to wine lovers, cheese lovers, makeup or beauty babes, health freaks - you could use fruit, a voucher for a personal trainer session etc.

If one of your bridesmaids is usually a little bit short of cash, why not treat them to something you know they'd love but would never splash out on themselves. Maybe a lush pair of shoes, or a designer handbag, obviously depending on your budget.

How about a Pandora (or other charm bracelet manufacturer) bead or charm? It combines being traditional - the gift of a piece of jewellery - but also being able to personalise your gift with the type of charm or bead you choose for her.

Depending on when you hold your wedding, bridesmaids standing around all day in the summer months may appreciate a pretty fan, or for those bridesmaids you have wearing maybe strapless or spaghetti-strap dresses in the winter or cooler months, a wrap or bolero may be a nice and appreciated touch.

In all fairness, I do think that being asked to be a bridesmaid is supposed to be an honour and although I may be sounding a bit Bridezilla here, I'm actually just turning the tables and thinking about if it was me being a bridesmaid for someone else. I'd not expect a gift. Especially if the bride hasn't asked for the maids to pay for anything themselves. But to be perfectly honest, I think the idea of 'thank you' gifts can spiral out of control. If your bridesmaids are the type that expect you to spend an arm and a leg and aren't quite accustomed to the concept of a 'token of appreciation', especially if she knows you're on a budget, then maybe you should re-think whether that person is the right person for the job; the one who really knows you and will be there to support you through those smiles, memories and laughter and again through the tears, tantrums and late DIY nights!

If you have any other ideas or have been a bridesmaid who received an amazing (or not so amazing) gift, leave a comment to let me know! Same applies to all brides out there; what did you, or what are you going to be giving your girls?

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Sass & Belle

One of my colleagues' sisters got married last week and kindly notified me about the wonderfulness of Sass & Belle. 

Sass & Belle offer giftware, vintage gifts and home decorations not to mention a whole section dedicated to wedding decorations!  If that hasn't caught your attention enough to go check out their website, their prices are exceptionally reasonable too, even for us brides on a budget.

Rose Garland, approx 180cm in length.
Available in cream, light pink and vintage pink - £8.95

These would look gorgeous draped over doorways, bannisters, around your cake or entwined around candelabras or birdcage centrepieces.

Birds Nest Hanging Tealight Holder - £6.95

Suspended by a 45cm chain with a hook at the end, hung around your venue or in the trees, would create a romantic, county garden feel to your wedding and can be used in your back garden after the event at a post-wedding BBQ!

Large cream vintage wire heart - 51 x 56cm - £9.95
Also comes in small - £4.95
I love the idea of using these as a DIY table plan.  You can display names and tables on the large heart or group several of the small ones on a board and use each heart to represent each table.

Cream wooden 'Mr & Mrs' - £5.95
20 x 8cm
Split into 3 separate pieces, can be displayed however you like!  Also would make a fabulous gift for the newlyweds.

DIY brides take note of their crafts and sewing section.  Lace, ribbon, buttons and pompoms that will be perfect to create invites, RSVPs and menus etc.

* All pictures and prices are correct at 25/08/11 on the Sass & Belle website.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Wedding Dress Dilemma - Part II

So, to carry on from the last saga you may have read about my wedding dress dilemma (if not, you can read it here). 

My second visit to try on dresses was with my mum and Mr S' mum; 'the Two Mums' if you will.  It's important to me that they see my choices and I hear their opinions.  For some reason, I was so nervous.  The kind of nervous when you feel sick, your hands are clammy and you have butterflies and a bit of a dry mouth.  I don't even know why.  If anyone has any suggestions or explanation as to why, please comment.  I think I'd maybe convinced myself that it was THE day I'd put down my deposit on the dress I'd become Mrs S in.  The dress I'd be wearing when I walked down the aisle a single girl and to walk back up the aisle a married woman (insert squeal of excitement here). 

I met the Two Mums at Proposals.  I hadn't told them which dresses I liked, I wanted to try a few on and for them to see for themselves and form an opinion.  The first dress I tried on was my Maggie Sottero gown.  I absolutely love this dress.  Does it make me sound weird if I say that even though it was maybe 2 sizes too big, it fitted like a glove?  Well, anyway, it did.

The next was my Opulence by Natalie M dress.  I stood in the middle of the shop.  Beaming smile.  "Ok, you can look now!" I said.  My mum's eyes opened really wide.  Not in a good way.  My smile faded.  She got up and started to walk around me.  I stood stiff like a child getting told off by their parent.  She started pawing at the skirt and fixing the train.  

"What's wrong with it?" I said in a tone that sounded a bit too aggressive.  "Nothing.  I'm just surprised you've picked something like this.  I do like it though now I've had a proper look at it".  She paused. "Yeah, it's nice.  I love this part".  Phew.

We left it there and I led them to Pronuptia.  Like I mentioned in Part I, I tried one of my favourites on and immediately knew that it wasn't The One. 

My mum has always had an image in her mind of me wearing something slim fitting, maybe a fishtail and a modest train.  Something maybe a little bit like this...

Justin Alexander - 8478

However, I can exclusively reveal that my dress will not look like that. 

Anyway, I tried on a dress similar, just for the benefit of my mum.  As soon as I walked out of the changing rooms, she pulled a face.  Worse than the one previously described.  To clarify, we're all now clear that the above type of dress is not an option for me.

As I unwillingly put my boring work clothes back on, I pulled out a Justin Alexander dress and announced that I'd wanted to try that one on the last time I was there.  I'd asked for it to be put in the changing room for me and when the assistant was about to tighten everything into place, I'd asked how much it was, to which she'd replied a figure that was above my budget.  I immediately told her I wanted to take it off.  Why would I want to torture myself by trying it on, to fall in love with it, to not be able to afford it?  So I didn't get to see it in all its glory.  Not that time anyway.

"Well, why don't you just try it on and see", said the Two Mums.  So I did.

It was beautiful.  Amazing.  I felt beautiful and amazing in it too.  But it was short lived as the feeling was tainted with the fact that I couldn't afford it.  I felt so disappointed.

In the car on the way home, the Two Mums were trying their best to pick out imaginary faults with the dress to make me feel a bit better.  I did love them for that but at the same time, you all know what its like when you really want something and you can't have it.  You don't listen to anyone else.  You want it, and that's that.

Plus with the added cost of a veil/headband/tiara, it just mounts up.  I never knew a head piece could cost so much.  How embarrassingly naive of me.

I got home, just as my grocery shopping van pulled up.  That poor woman who had to come and drop my shopping off.  Little did she realise she'd double up as a therapist for the next 10 minutes while I ranted and offloaded my disappointment on to her.  She did try and plug her photography skills to me but after realising I'd just rambled on and on to a complete stranger, I had to very politely decline her offer as I have already booked James Green

The phone rang.  It was Mr S' mum.  Apparently she'd told Mr S' dad the story of that afternoon and he'd very generously said he would put the extra money towards the dress if it's what I really wanted.  I was so grateful.  I mean really, he didn't need to do that at all but he did. 

It's a curse and a blessing to have such a sensible head on my shoulders.  On one hand, I could have the dress I loved but on the other hand, would I be walking down the aisle thinking "I can't believe how much this dress cost to only be wearing it for 12 hours max". 

I've since slept on it and as time has passed, one of my 'original' dresses have still stuck in my mind and I don't feel so disappointed with the expensive dress. 

I've decided to book appointments to go try them all on again.  I think of one in particular and it makes me smile.  I'm taking the Two Mums with me again.  I've booked a whole day off work so I won't be rushing around before closing time (as previously), and I've decided to go to another shop, just to look.

Although saying that, I'm pleased (and surprised at myself) that I'm not in the frame of mind that I have to visit every single wedding dress shop in the area in case I'm 'missing out', but as I have the whole day off work to be all wedding-y, I thought I'd take the opportunity to visit another shop.  What harm can it do?  Other than confuse me even more.  Brilliant.

So that's my story so far.  I'm continuing this whole saga next Thursday.  Maybe in the meantime, I can take note of Kim Kardashian's wedding dress.  I know I can't afford Vera Wang but a girl can dream can't she?

Kim Kardashian's wedding dress as anticipated by Madame Tussuad's

Click here to see the full story of Kim Kardashian's wedding dress as reported by the Daily Mail Online.

Wishing Kim and Kris a long, happy marriage, full of love, laughs and happy memories.  Good luck!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Wedding Dress Dilemma - Part I

Ok ladies (and gents?), The Time has come (N.B. 'The Time' has already been and gone but for the purposes of this particular blog - just roll with it).  'The Time' being for my first ever wedding dress shopping experience.  Eeeeeeek!

Well it happened last Friday.  Just to put you in the picture should you have not read my post Five Minute Freak Out, I hadn't a clue what sort of dress I wanted.  I didn't know what colour I wanted, (p.s. who knew there were THAT many shades of white and ivory?), I didn't know what style, what material, which designer that ticks my boxes (as I don't actually have any boxes), whether I wanted a train, whether I wanted sparkle, whether I wanted to be elegant, glamorous, fun, relaxed, sophisticated....I could go on but you get the gist.   The only thing I knew for sure was that I didn't want anything in my hair, especially not a tiara.  I don't think I'm a tiara kind of girl.  Don't get me wrong, I think they look beautiful on other brides, just not me. 

As I was saying, it happened last Friday.  It was a grey, cloudy but horrendously muggy afternoon.  I think it was maybe 24 'c (degrees).  Basically, it wasn't the best afternoon to go trying on big, heavy gowns.  But yes, I still did.  I'd arranged to meet up with one of my friends.  I pressed the doorbell of Proposals Bridal.  Excited but nervous.  The lady there buzzed us in and after a brief chat, I was left to look around the rails of luxurious, dreamy, exquisite dresses. 

I started looking.  'Ummed' and 'ahhhed', got distracted by something shiny, cooed over pretty hair pieces, went back to the rails, got distracted by the amazing shoes, realised I needed a dress first and so again, went back to the rails.  I picked out 4 - one of each designer the shop stocked, apparently.  Unbeknown to me, they were all quite similar, and nothing like what I'd imagine I would have picked.  It seemed to be quite a subconscious decision but I went with it and tried them on. 

The first I tried was a Natalie M (Opulence Collection).  It was magical.  Stunning.  I couldn't even look myself in the long, cream and beautifully carved mirror as I heard myself shriek "oh my God...I look like an actual bride".  The dream now fast becoming a reality.  Overwhelmed, is I think the right way to describe how I felt.  

Now, just for the record, the pictures I'm using are for illustration only.  I'm not going to give away the style, shape, colour etc of the dress I liked as I have people who will be coming to the wedding who read this, so being a bit secretive about it!  As you can see, Natalie M's gowns are absolutely beautiful.

Natalie M - Opulence, 2011 Collection - 'Carnation'

Natalie M - Opulence, 2011 Collection - 'Fluer'  

The next I tried on was a Maggie Sottero.  Again, absolutely stunning.  I could tell that it was going to be a tough decision already and I'd only tried two on!

All brides should visit the Maggie Sottero website.  I challenge anyone to not want to try at least one of those fabulous designs on.

As I was saying, the third and fourth dresses I can't even remember.  That's how I know they aren't MY dress. 

After that, we went and had cream tea with scones at a local little bistro as we had a bit of time to spare before my next appointment.  For those that are interested, it was yummy.

Next we went to Pronuptia.  (Pronuptia are sponsors of The Lincs Wedding Show held on 4th September 2011).

I was attended to by Maria, who was absolutely lovely!  Just because they were there, hanging on the rail, teasing me, I HAD to try on one of the new Disney Collection by Alfred Angelo.

Alfred Angelo - Disney Collection - 'Belle'

Alfred Angelo - Disney Collection - 'Ariel'

I cooed over a specific one of the Disney collection for a long while before declaring it too over budget.  I'm not telling you which one just yet though. 

I did try on an amazingly elegant gown by Sincerity.  After trying this on, it was in my Top 2.  And, I found out that it was in the sale too at a fabulously bargainous price.  However, I have since been back to try it on again and near enough immediately knew it wasn't 'The One'.

Sincerity Bridal - 3542
I decided that enough was enough for one day.  Overcome with a lot of different emotions, I'd go home and sleep on the days events before coming to any decision.  I was excited, in a stupidly happy mood and couldn't wait to ring my mum and tell her what I'd seen.  I felt so loved up and was like a puppy, eagerly waiting for my fiance to get home from work.  If only, it was the same story when I had my second visit a week later......

I do have a Wedding Dress Dilemma - Part II, but you'll just have to wait until then.  Till next time.  x

* Images courtesy of their respective designer's websites. 

Monday, 8 August 2011

Meringue Wedding Dress Boutique

Meringue Wedding Dress Boutique

Meet Meringue.  Not the whipped egg-white kind but an oh-so-cute wedding dress boutique in the city of Lincoln.  They offer exclusive custom made wedding dresses and veils from their very own workshop.

I personally haven't come across another wedding dress shop who can offer a bespoke service such as them.  They encourage brides to visit the boutique or get in touch with an idea or design to create a truly gorgeous gown for your special day.

Their philosophy is quite simple...

"A beautiful dress and immaculate service... something we believe every bride deserves for her big day. Our truly special experience allows the dedicated time & support required to create the perfect wedding gown".

Every bride wants to feel special, and by the sounds of it, the Meringue Boutique will do exactly that.  And more!

Apart from being dedicated, creative, stylish and having a gorgeous looking boutique showcasing amazing gowns, check this out for a claim to fame -  Mr Leon Lloyd, an ex rugby international, and his wife Lisa, chose Meringue to design and create her beautiful candy pink silk and chiffon dress (see below) when she and her husband were guests at Zara and Mike's Royal Wedding in Edinburgh on Saturday 30th July.  Impressive!

                                                    Guests arrive for the Royal wedding of Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall at Canongate Kirk on July 30, 2011 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips will marry England rugby player Mike Tindall today at Canongate Kirk. Many royals are expected to attend including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

To give you another little look at what they have to offer, I urge you to go and visit their website Meringue to see more divine designs and to get in touch with those that can create your dream gown for your dream day.

'Angel Bloom' - a favourite of mine!

*  Photos courtesy of Love Meringue website

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Real Brides Q & A


I'm looking for some real brides and brides-to-be to be to answer a quick few questions about their big day.  Things like, venue location, dress designer, fruit cake or sponge cake....You get the gist.  Just a bit of fun.

Get in touch via Twitter xxChloeWxx, leave me a comment on this post or drop me an email by clicking here and I'll give you a few quick-fire questions which will then appear for all other brides to see!  See below for my example...

Name: Chloe W
Date of Wedding: 6th April 2013
FiancĂ©(e) Name:  Mr S
Budget:  £0-5000,  £5001-10,000, £10,001- 15,000 , £15,001 – 20,000, More than £20,0001
Church/Civil Ceremony: Church – St Mary’s, Mashchapel, Lincolnshire
Reception:  Habrough Hotel, Habrough, Lincolnshire,
Number of Guests:  approx. 60 day, 130 night.
Insured:  Yes.  E & L Insurance.
Wedding Dress Designer:  TBA – Will be decided on Thursday!
Groom’s Attire:  Not even managed to get him to look at a picture of one yet.  Still looking!          
Number of Bridesmaids:  2
Number of Flower Girls/Page Boys:  2 page boys.                                 
Fruit Cake or Sponge Cake:  Sponge cake
Cake by:  Not ordered yet – still looking!
Photographer:  James Green Studio – James Green Studio
DJ or Band:  DJ but if budget stretched would hire a band also.
Veil, Hairpiece, Flower or Other:  TBA
Shoes:  Will be heels.  Have my eye on a few but will decide after chosen  dress!
Something Old, New, Borrowed, Blue?:  My new will be my dress, the others, well, I’m open to offers from nearest and dearest!
Transport to/from Reception:  Still looking!
Sweetie Bar, yes or no?:  I like them but may not have one at my own wedding
Colour Scheme/Theme:  Ivory as a base – English Country Garden.
Are you having entertainment?:  Not sure just yet.
First Dance Song:  TBC
Stationery designed and made by:  Me.  I’ll be making it all myself.
Honeymoon:  Maldives
Any top tips to share?:  Shop around and try not to  pay the first price you’re quoted if you can help it - always try to negotiate.   Also, make the most of friends and family with a talent!
Websites, suppliers or blogs worth a mention:  See the side of my blog page for blogs I follow and ‘My Wedding Suppliers’ page on my blog for, you guessed it, my wedding suppliers!  www.yourchurchwedding.org is an interesting read for those having a church wedding.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Lincolnshire Lovelies - I Need You!

I've just been having a bit of a discussion with a colleague about the area we live in and how when it has come for me to looking for wedding suppliers, I click on their web page or link, and it always ends up being a business in London, Manchester, Birmingham etc and there are never any suppliers (or not ones that I can find) who are based in or around the Lincolnshire area.  Considering Lincolnshire is one of the biggest counties in England, I'm looking for Lincolnshire Lovelies to help me not only find suppliers to use for my own wedding, but also so I can give you a bit of publicity and big you up to my friends, family and of course, readers of my blog!

If you are based, or cover the Lincolnshire area (and by cover, I don't mean charge a big fee for you to travel here), I'd like to hear from you.  Please get in touch with me via Twitter @xxChloeWxx or click here to send me an email.

Please let all your fellow supplier friends know and ask them too to get in touch, and I'll concoct some amazing exposure on my blog for you!