Monday, 28 February 2011

The Guest List

Evening or Whole Day?Mr_Grumpy__s_family_pic_by_Devilsummerchan

The lady you work with every day or the friend you’ve not seen for 3 years but still send emails to? Your close friend’s boyfriend or an uncle you don’t like that much? When choosing your wedding guests it’s difficult to know who to invite. Your budget might dictate how many people you can invite, or the venue’s maximum capacity, either way you will probably not be able to invite everyone you want to your wedding day.

This is my problem at the moment. I come from a family where my Mum and Dad were one of 6, my fiancé's parents were one of 8 and one of 12, that’s 32 aunts and uncles before you factor in their spouses or their children. Grumpy

Of course you include immediate family: parents, siblings, sibling’s spouses. Putting our closest friends on the list was easy. We see them all the time or we’re in close contact with them, that was the simple bit. But as we added our friends, space on the list got less and less. H2b and I are conscientious people, we genuinely want a lot of these people at the wedding. I genuinely want my aunt who I haven’t seen for a while because I think she’s cool. H2b genuinely wants his best mate’s parents at the wedding because of how they looked after him when he visited them. We would be fairly devastated if these people thought we couldn’t be bothered to invite them to the wedding!

One solution to the maximum number problem is to invite guests to the evening party. But will they feel put out or will they understand that we’re restricted by numbers? The last thing we want to do at all is disappoint anyone. If we didn’t want some people there it would be a lot easier, but everyone we’re inviting we genuinely want to come. But our guest list is now over our budget!

I like to think of myself as somewhat of a wedding expert but this guest list stuff is hard! When I find a solution I will blog about it! In the mean time, I will just stress about putting people on the evening list instead of the day list and hope that they won’t resent it!

Sunday, 27 February 2011

What Have You Got to Say?

Making Sure You Thank Everyone!

One purpose of the wedding speech is to thank those important people who have helped you through your planning! Firstly, it’s to introduce the bride and groom as the new Mr and Mrs, then the speeches are for saying how beautiful the bride is, then to poke a bit of fun at the groom!

The following are a few of my times and a couple one liners for you to include in your speech.

The Father of the Bride
Your job is to:

  • Say how happy you are, to see your daughter looking so happy
  • Welcome your daughter’s new husband to the family
  • Let your daughter know what you think of her and how proud you are of her
  • Toast the new couple

Some witty one liners:

  • My wife says I never listen, or something like that.......................
  • The most effective way to remember your wedding anniversary is to forget it once.
  • There are only two times in a man's life when he can't understand a woman - before marriage and after marriage. (Anonymous)

The Groom
Your job is to:

  • Thank the father of the bride for his kind words
  • Thank the bridesmaids for looking stunning today
  • Thank the ushers and groomsmen for all their help and hard work, and for looking sharp
  • Thank everyone who has travelled far for attending the wedding
  • Hand out gifts to parents, bridesmaids, groomsmen and anyone else who you want to thank
  • Most importantly, tell everyone how beautiful your bride is and how lucky you are to marry her

Some witty one liners:

  • I married Miss Right. I just didn't know her first name was Always.
  • How do most men define marriage? A very expensive way to get your laundry done free.
  • A man inserted an 'ad' in the classifieds: 'Wife wanted' . Next day he received a hundred letters. They all said the same thing: 'You can have mine.'

The Best Man
Your job is to:

  • Thank the groom for his kind words about the bridesmaids and groomsmen/ushers
  • Proceed to poke fun at the groom
  • Conclude with causing everyone to raise a glass in toast for the new Mr and Mrs!

Some witty one liners:

  • The trouble with being the best man at a wedding is that you never get to prove it.
  • I can honestly say that in all the years I've known him, no one has ever questioned _____'s intelligence. In fact, I've never heard anyone even mention it.
  • _____'s very classy. When we had an evening of music and drink in his house recently, I asked whether he had any Rachmaninoff. Gary replied he didn't have any vodka, only beer.
  • To ____ and _______, may all their ups and downs be between the sheets.

There are some quick tips, more on this subject later! I tend to blog about the aspects of weddings that are predominantly on my mind!

2 Wedding Fayres, 1 Day

2 Wedding Fayres, 1 Daymadeley

This isn’t a normal occurrence for me, it just happened that there were two on today. We went to our venue first, and looked around. We were looking in particular for a DJ and wedding cars.

The weddings at Madeley Court Hotel are quite good. They have a lot of service providers from Telford, Madeley, Shrewsbury and the surrounding area. If your church or wedding venue is in this area, this is the wedding fayre for you!

They had a chocolate fountain exhibitor, 3 wedding dress exhibitors, 2 DJs, lots of cake ladies, heaps of stationary and favour people and at least 3 florists. I think it’s important to see a lot of different exhibitors and to talk to each one. I chose all the suppliers we’ve already booked based on price and my gut feeling. Many suppliers offer very similar prices so that sometimes you really have just got to choose the person you think will provide you with the best service. connaught

Before we started booking our suppliers, we chatted to a lot of people at wedding fayres. I think it’s important to have a long chat with different suppliers, they can at least give you information about their particular area and give you an idea about what you can expect.

We tried a lot of cake, a bit too much cake really! One lady had made a chocolate orange cake which was absolutely amazing. Definitely cake people to remember! More on this later! 

The wedding fayre at the Connaught was an Asian wedding fayre and it was amazing! I’d never been to one before and it was very interesting.

There were exhibitors showing Saris, Bangra dancers, wedding cakes, wedding stationary and favours and one group of people who initially introduced themselves as a DJ but will later be featured in another blog post about Wow Weddings.

The Bangra dancing alone was amazing but the suppliers seemed really good too. There was also a supplier for Indian jewellery and an Indian caterer who was serving food and it was delicious! That’s the kind of wedding fayre I like, one that serves food!

All in all, a fairly productive day!

Bridesmaids’ Dress: The Color Reveal | Weddingbee

Bridesmaids’ Dress: The Color Reveal | Weddingbee

I thought this was a really relevant and nicely written post!

Sneaky Peek!

13 Months, 11 Days to Go!

We have booked the wedding party suits! How many brides book the suits before the bridesmaid dresses? What’s going on there?!


We walk past the tailors on our way into town so I just went in and made an appointment. At the very least, it gives me something to tick off our list. We went with Blooms in Wolverhampton as it’s in a very convenient place and the service was so good!

The gentleman who looked after us, Roger, is just absolutely brilliant. I first spoke to him at a wedding fayre about a year ago and the amount of time he spent chatting to us was just brilliant. He really gave us a feel of what we wanted and what our choices were for our wedding. And he’s a jolly nice bloke too!

We booked an appointment for yesterday as they are very busy on Saturdays. Luckily, for the hour we’d booked we had pretty much the whole of the wedding area to ourselves and it wasn’t until we left that it got busier.

H2b tried on an Edwardian jacket with stripy suit trousers, tails with stripy trousers and a normal suit jacket. A frock coat was mentioned but as that is what undertakers wear, we decided not to go that route! P1030989

The stripy trousers added definite height to the over all look however the Edwardian suit made h2b  look a bit short. A transformation took place when h2b swapped his jacket to a tails jacket, he suddenly seemed to grow four inches! H2b isn’t short, although he is under 6 feet tall. I’ve seen friends of mine over 6 feet tall wearing an Edwardian jacket and he looked fab but on your slightly shorter men it doesn’t look as good, I think.

H2b looked absolutely gorgeous in the tails! The stripy trousers made him look really smart and the whole look really suited him. Choosing the colour of the cravat and handkerchief was a little harder. They have a fantastic selection at  Blooms, but I liked the mat colour the best.

Dad came with us. Dad tried on the tails with the stripy trousers but he wore a lilac cravat and P1030955 lilac handkerchief as this is what I’m planning on having the grooms men wear. Standing next to my h2b it really gave  me a real feel of the day and let me see what suited the men. I first chose a dark purple cravat for h2b but none of the colours in our wedding are dark purple so then Roger suggested dark lilac, as featured in the picture above of h2b.

I’m not a fan of the shiny, satin-like ties, I prefer the matt ones but I’m not sure what the fabric is called.

Looking at h2b all dressed up in his wedding suit was just amazing. It was like a flash forward preview of our day and I could picture him waiting at the end of the aisle for me. It was a lovely day and Roget at Blooms helped us to make the right decisions.

And it’s one more thing ticked off our list! :o)

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Wedding Invitations

Wedding Invitationsmine

There are so many different styles of wedding invitation, it’s difficult to choose! The only way you could decide is just to go with your preferences and your budget! Some of my friends spent £12 on a beautiful invitation extravaganza, others have gone for a 50p per invite making it by yourself.

All the wedding invitations shown on this post have been sent to me, except for the one that h2b and I have chosen for our wedding!

Your wedding invitation is going to be sent to your friends and family, you want it to reflect your personality and your wedding style. This will be the first glimpse some of ann&mikeyour guests will have seen of your big day. I know I want my guests to keep their invitation  as a memento of the day. Wedding invitations come in many shapes, colours, designs and sizes and it’s important to consider how the invitation will reflect the style of your day. Your invite could guide the colour and style of the day, or the day will dictate what the invite looks like, or a mix of both.

Your h2b might think that choosing an invite is a relatively simple choice and all you carman&eddie have to do is make sure your names are spelt correctly, but of course we know it’s not as easy as that. The wording is important and you will want the invite to be something unique to you.

Also, your invitation should try to follow the style of your wedding. If you are having a posh, traditional do then your invites could typically be elegant to match. However, if you’re having a casual wedding, maybe abroad or on a beach a posh invite wouldn’t convey the right message about your wedding. A beach wedding, for example, is not a formal wedding occasion and that’s the kind of message you want your invites to carry. ceci

When we were choosing our wedding invites, we had to think about the font for the wording. Did we want a different font for our names? What font would we use for the guests names? Did we want the RSVP in a different font? We wanted the font to reflect the tone and atmosphere of the wedding, but also our fun and laid back personalities. Luckily, we chose a font that we both like and that was simple but what if you disagree? I would suggest this:

  • Choose a font that is easy to read – you don’t want your guests getting lost tryingcharlotte to find a venue or church that is difficult to read on your invites
  • Choose a few different fonts and if there’s one in that group that h2b likes too, go with that one!
  • Make sure the font reflects your personality

Choosing the paper is important too! My wedding invite lady sent a sample and I just assume I’ll go with that paper, however if your invitation maker gives you more of a choice you will be in a position to choose. Your invitation supplier will probably make a good suggestion for your invites and going with what they suggest will probably be best.

However, if you’re making your own invites, the paper and cardboard world is your oyster! If you’re intending on folding your invite, don’t choose card that’s too thick as it will wrinkle and not look nice at all. However, if you’re going with a postcard style, make it nice and DSCF9478thick and sturdy card. You have choices such as  tri-fold, bi-fold, single page, and others.  

Some people advise including a stamped addressed RSVP card. I am including an RSVP card in my wedding invites but I’m not stamping or addressing it. I’d be there all day and the stamps would cost a fortune! It’s definitely a nice touch to your invites if you can afford the time and money to do it, but it’s not a requirement these days.

Proof read, proof read, proof read! My h2b and I scoured the order form and wording form for any mistakes! I make heaps of typing mistakes, I would really have to check check check and check again any piece of work to spot mistakes. When you sign your order form you’re signing to say that what you’ve written is what you want on your invites. If there is a mistake on the form, you can’t ask your invitation making person to redo them.DSCF9485

Also, if you’re making your own invitations check check check them before you send out your invites. If there is a mistake, your friends and family are going to receive the invite with the mistake in it!

My advice is proof read, proof read, proof read!!

Finally, before you order your invites or the card you’re going to use to make your invites, check your guest list to make sure you don’t order too many or too few invites. I’m ordering sarah&beard 14 extra invitations just in case I realise there’s someone I forgot to invite or if I make a mistake writing the names.

I’ve put a mixture of hand made and bought invitations on the pictures so that you can see different styles. They are all real weddings that h2b or I have been invited to. Plus, there’s the invite that we want.

The closer this wedding of ours gets, the more real it seems. Planning a wedding two and a half years in advance makes the wedding seem like a far away dream. When we receive our invites all written and looking lovely it’ll really make our wedding really real.

13 Months, 2 Weeks to Go!

What’s Planned So Far

I think it’s obvious that I’m planning my wedding super early. There are a few reasons for this:

  1. I’m being charged the 2010/2011 prices
    Inevitably, prices go up because inflation and VAT increase. Planning your wedding, and accepting quotes early on mean that I’m beating inflation and paying for services at the prices I’m quoted at the time. Of course, some suppliers will accommodate for the price increases but the majority aren’t doing that. I’m saving money! Yay!
  2. I work, I don’t have time to rush it.
    I’m working until one day before my wedding and it’s a labour and time intensive job. If I leave my wedding to the last minute or try to plan it in a year, I’m just not going to have the time! Mum and I visited 15 wedding venues alone! Imagine all the conversations I’ve had with florists and going to look at wedding dresses and cars and so forth. Spreading it out over a long time means that I don’t have to squeeze in lots of visits, I can do everything bit by
  3. I need to save up!
    With the cost of my wedding coming in at £16,000 including a £2000 honeymoon, I can’t pay for it all in one short space of time. My dad is helping out with the most expensive elements of the wedding but I still need to come up with some money. Planning my wedding so far in advance, and having a clear idea of what I’m going to be charged means that I can save up!
  4. H2b needs to get used to the idea!
    My poor h2b isn’t very fond of marriage in general and it did take him a long time to propose (6 years!!). I remember, we were at one of his friend’s wedding when his uncle comes up and speaks to him in Chinese. This was way back when I didn’t speak Chinese and apparently he said, ‘You next!’ I was doing my polite I-Don’t-Understand smile which h2b thought I meant, ‘Yes! Us next!’ He didn’t sleep that whole night!
    Since we got engaged almost 18 months ago, he has started calling me his ‘wifey’ and he has started becoming more actively involved in the planning process. When we first got engaged he was reluctant to set a date but now he’s giving his opinion on invites, colours, clothes and even flowers!

So, we have booked and paid deposits or totals for a few elements of the wedding. We haven’t booked or paid for any of the clothes, we haven’t booked chair covers (which I almost forgot), we haven’t booked cars or any hair or makeup people. This is what we have booked:

We have got through quite a chunk of the services needed for a wedding! The catering and bar service is taken care of by our venue so we don’t have to worry about that. Mum’s friend is making the cake so that’s sorted. DSCF9458

At the moment we’re sorting out our invitations! My invites were an impulse buy. Of course, I showed them to h2b before booking anything but I just fell for them. We were at a wedding fayre just outside Dudley with mum. The lady, Sarah Lister, was at the front of the room and as soon as I walked through the door I saw the wedding invites I wanted! They were in the wrong colour but the sample she sent was just beautiful!

That picture makes it look like the invite is huge… my laptop is just that tiny! And by pure coincidence, the favour boxes I bought from Confetti match the ribbon on the sample! That’s very coordinated for this budget bride! I liked the simplicity of the invitation and I liked the colours. It is a bit girlie but h2b said that we could get these ones! We’re also having evening invites and orders of service made.

And I’m making an appointment to see some wedding cars, so continuing to move things forward!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Adding the Wow to Your Wedding

Adding the *Wow* to Your Wedding

I’ve been thinking about my wedding reception. I want something ‘wow’ to happen. I’ve got a wow venue, I’m hopefully going to have a wow dress (will be looking for it in Easter) now I want something to make my wedding reception standreception out from the others. But what to do?

My wedding venue have recommended a DJ to create a party atmosphere and set the tone for the evening. I wanted a wow DJ and our venue recommended this DJ because he provides a screen to display pictures (we are fond of photos), he has various lighting options and is very experienced. I’ll write more about that later when I’ve actually spoken to him at the wedding fayre on Sunday.

But as well as a DJ, I wanted something else. Something really special. At my friends wedding recently, she had a video booth stand where guests could go to record a video message of 30 seconds. At a wedding which serves alcohol I’m sure you can imagine that was an interesting activity. I remember using the video booth 4 times, but apparently I left many more messages than that! I thought it was a good way of personalising your wedding. It gives a unique element to your wedding.

Video Messages!

A number of companies offer the opportunity to record progressively drunken messages for your friends and family. It’s a touching way to share your love and best wishes with your loved ones – you could even record a message for each other to watch later at home. A lasting memory of how much your friends enjoyed your wedding reception!

Here are some suppliers that you can use in the West Midlands:

  • The Dream Screen offers their standard price of £325 with optional extras ranging from £5 - £30. This wasOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         the company my friend used for her wedding and I thought they were pretty good. It’s a bit unfair to recommend this company but this is the only one I’ve experienced. It had a simple touch screen, a quick count down so you knew when to start speaking and a count down so that you knew how long you had left. Most companies probably offer a similar thing but this one was good, in my opinion. However, it is a substantial chunk of a wedding budget!
  • Video Booth Systems offers a kiosk for £349. There is no limit on the number of messages your guests can record and you will then own an exclusive DVD containing personal greetings left for you on your wedding day. Services include:
      • Delivery & Setup prior to your guests arrival and collection up to midnight.
      • Personalised on-screen welcome message
      • Table cards informing your guests of the video kiosk location.
      • Professionally edited DVD of all your guests video messages within 10 working days.
  • VidMe offers a similar service for £375 (plus delivery/collection depending on your area). The freestanding booth will be delivered to your venue and set up in good time, including personalised screens for your occasion. This can feature your chosen colours and themes to tie in with your wedding. They will also supply table cards for your guests to encourage them to leave their message.


To add a twist to your wedding, what about caricatures? Some artists can draw a very accurate drawings very quickly so your guests won’t have to sit too long, and they could have a memento to take home from your wedding. Some suppliers from the West Midlands include:

  • Spitting Image, a man called Graham Davies. His pictures look fairly good, his drawings of Tiger Woods and Gordon Ramsey are very accurate.
  • Magical Memories say ‘Not only will our wedding caricaturists leave your guests with the most unique gift that they will ever get, your wedding day will leave a long and lasting impression for everyone.’ You will need to steveemail them for a quote but they look pretty good. They say that, ‘When your guests are waiting for their photographs to be taken, or after the speeches when things need livening up - a caricaturist can add the ideal entertainment.’

After checking, I have found…

  • Steve Callaghan who charges £215 in Warwickshire, and helooks pretty good. I can’t draw so I really think it’s amazing that they can quickly sketch subjects on the spot! Steve’s website says ‘Caricatures are excellent wedding entertainment, filling those wedding reception lulls and providing wedding mementoes to help make your wedding day unique.’


I’ve also seen casino nights that brides and grooms have offered to their guests by way of entertainment. They have held a casino night at my wedding venue, Madeley Court Hotel, where they held the dancing reception upstairs and the casino in the bar downstairs. It looked fairly fab! It would certainly add an element of ‘wow’ to your wedding and give your guests something to remember. casino

Here are some suppliers who offer casino weddings in the West Midlands:

  • Andy Smith Presents: On Andy’s website he says, ‘All of my Casino tables are full size and are professionally built from the leading supplier in the UK. The cloths are made by John Huxley one of the leading supplier in the world. All the chips, cards and accessories have all been used in actual play in top Las Vegas Casino’s and hotels. Blackjack and Roulette are the most popular and requested casino tables at every Wedding Reception. All tables come with intimate lighting and set up professionally barrier roped together with floral features to create the look and atmosphere of an authentic Casino.’ A casino night from Andy Smith will cost you between £400-500 for three hours.
  • Royal Casino Promotions is another company providing casino nights to weddings. Their website says, ‘We've got full size luxury casino tables, Vegas Backdrop, slot machines, large flame lights to enhance your surroundings, Vegas Girls, as well as various other add-ons.’ They suggest that you look at their packages but I didn’t spot a package link so you may have to email for prices.
  • Spin 2 Win Ltd offer a similar service for £150 per table including a Croupier and 3 hours of play. Their website says, ‘Here at we offer all kinds of Fun Casino services including Black Jack, Texas Holdem Poker, Caribbean Stud Poker, Roulette and many more coming throughout 2011. And what's best is that we bring the casino to you! … We can manufacture customised "Fun money" to your own design and also suggest themes for your event (additional cost may apply). Take a look through the site and see how you we can add a touch of magic to your event.’ P1010986

A Cultural Twist

Along the theme of gambling, my Chinese relatives would quite like a mah-jong table at our wedding. I went to a colleagues wedding in Hong Kong and she had mah-jong tables to the side, so I thought, “what a good idea! Lets copy it.” The venue has room for about 3 mah-jong tables, which would provide gaming for 12 people. That is interesting and unique, and also adds a bit of h2b’s culture to our very British wedding. (That’s me there playing mah-jong with my colleagues and friends.)

Without meaning to stereotype, how about a steel drum performance if your h2b is from Jamaica, or descended from people from Jamaica. Or how about an Indian dance performance if you or h2b is Indian. Many of your guests may not be from the same culture as you or your h2b, so a little insight into something typical from your culture would not only entertain but inform! However, saying that, I definitely would not have a maypole dance at my wedding!

Game Timewedding Jenga

Also popular at weddings and with kids are the oversized games, such as chess and jenga. Jenga  is fun at the best of times, but oversized jenga is hilarious! Big Fun UK offer oversized Connect 4, Jenga, Snakes & Ladders, Twister, Noughts & Crosses, Chess, Draughts, Limbo and much more! The possibilities for silliness and for entertaining and kids you have at your wedding are endless! But check with your venue first as many venues offer oversized games as part of their wedding package. I need to check if mine does too!

However, I would discourage against any games that can be played with just one person, such as arcade games, as social games would be better for a wedding, like Jenga! Have I mentioned Jenga?

Whoosh and Pow

The ever popular fireworks! Fireworks would definitely add a bit of wow to your wedding. It fireworks might be an idea to only have fireworks if you’re having a late spring or summer wedding as your guests dressed up in their finery won’t want to stand out in the cold. The only thing I would say about fireworks is to be aware that the weather can ruin your firework display. Rain or strong wind will make the fireworks less impressive.

Firework providers in the West Midlands:

  • Jubilee Fireworks cost between £650 and £1250, depending on which type of display you go for. Jubilee Fireworks are one of the leading display companies operating in this market, staging well over 100 shows a year. They say, ‘our vast repertoire of pyrotechnic effects is such that you can select from a wide spectrum of colours to complement the theme of your wedding, or even 'press the button' to fire the opening volley of fireworks in the display.’ They are based in Kingswinford, just outside Dudley.
  • Shockwave Pyrotechnics are based in Redditch. Their website says, ‘Shockwave Pyrotechnics can create a unique show for you and your guests for your Wedding or Civil Partnership. Imagine a Professionally fired Display to round of your special day. We can create Fireworks Displays for all budgets from £600 to £10,000, for you and your guests to enjoy.’
  • Sirotechnics cater to the whole of the UK with a variety of wedding packages. Their website says, ‘we are constantly thinking of new and exciting ways to wow the bride and groom, their family and friends on this very special occasion........the first large shell timed to coincide with the cutting of the cake, a musical firework display to accompany the first dance, or a multitude of bright silver fountains lining the walkway as the happy couple exit the church.  The options available from Sirotechnics are virtually limitless as every wedding firework display we create is designed in consultation with you.’ Personally I wouldn’t like to have fireworks go off when I leave the church but I do believe it’s important to have what you want for your wedding, and if that’s what you want, this company will offer it! Prices for packages range from £600 to £2500.

This blog post could go on forever! And it almost has! Personally I think that getting h2b to propose to me in the first place would be ‘wow’ enough for those that know him! I would like to add something special to my wedding. Something in addition to mah-jong, which is adding a cultural element to the wedding. I will continue to hunt for ‘wow’ wedding things and post more later!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

To Tan or Not To Tan

To Tan or Not to Tan

It’s your wedding day, one of the biggest days of your life. tan You want to look your best! You’ve spent hundreds of pounds on a dress, you’ve spent money on your face and your hair. You may have bought some lovely new sparkly jewellery. You have put a lot of effort into your appearance, but what about the colour of your skin?

If you’re lucky enough not to worry about a tan, can I say how jealous us pasty girls are! I accepted a long time ago that I will be pale, I will remain pale and never tan no matter how much I try. All my makeup is geared towards my pale complexion: foundation pale enough not to make me look orange, pink blusher, soft coloured lipstick and lip gloss.

But now with recent developments in the tanning world, a tan is an option! I haven’t tried sun beds, it’s not just the health reasons but I don’t tan through sun exposure so that would be a waste of money. But now there’s spray tanning, having a nice healthy glow is an option.

But here’s why I’m hesitating. Firstly, my makeup is pale. The trial at the makeup artist lady will be pale. If I get a spray tan, won’t that mess up all my makeup? I’m sure she’s talented and experienced enough to deal with that slight skin tone change but what if my makeup looks silly?

Secondly, I buy my wedding dress based on how I look now, what if the dress looks silly when I have tan?

Thirdly, I’ve never had a tan. I just don’t tan, I could sit outside all day in the sun in the middle of summer (wearing lotion because I want to avoid wrinkles and skin cancer) and I still wouldn’t tan. I used to be called the Milky Bar Kid when I was at school. What if I don’t like how I look with a tan?

More importantly, fourthly, h2b met me when I was pale, he proposed to me while I’m pale, he loves me as a pale pasty woman, what if he doesn’t like the tan! I’m walking down the aisle in my mismatched makeup and silly looking dress with a tan and he won’t like it! fake-tan-3 (1)

Maybe I’m over reacting a little bit. In Bride Wars when  Anne Hathaway (who is almost as pale as me) has her fake tan sabotaged, she was normal colour by the time her wedding came around thanks to lots of showers and lemon juice. So, even if it does go wrong or I don’t like it, there options available to me.

But would h2b like me with a bit of a healthy glow? Would it be an idea to have a tan before we go on honeymoon? I do want to look nice in the pictures. Which way to go?

If you have spray tan regularly or have something to say about this post, please leave a comment because in this instance I need your advice!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Your H2B vs. Your Big Day

Keeping Your H2B Involved
…but Still Having Your Big Daywedding-planner-planning-wedding-trp1

Most women have been dreaming about their wedding days for years. The last thing you want is h2b coming along and messing it all up. You’ve dreamed about your colours, your bridesmaid dresses, your dress, the venue and the evening party. H2b may have his own ideas and you may or may not want to hear them.

Sometimes h2b has some good ideas.

It is difficult to maintain a balance between involving your h2b and having what you want for your wedding. You may also have parents, siblings and friends who have their own ideas about your wedding.

My top tip to involve your h2b in planning the wedding it to sit down and carve up the jobs. You may be super woman, but no one can plan a wedding by herself and splitting the tasks with your h2b will not only take the stress off you a little but will also set up a partnership that you can take forward into your married life.

Compile a list of wedding jobs. You may feel a little uneasy releasing some of the tasks for your wedding but this is the man you want to marry, he’s going to know how to do things right. If possible, ask h2b to take over the jobs that are stressing you out the most, that way you can concentrate on the fun elements of your wedding.

The logistics of our wedding was stressing me out. How to transport 100 guests from the church to the reception venue across the West Midlands, most of them never having been to the UK yet, never mind the West Midlands! Mum says guests know that they need to arrange their own transport when they attend a wedding but with so many guests taking the time to travel across the world to attend our wedding, we want to provide transport for at least some of the journey. This stressed me out, so I passed the job to h2b.

I love my engagement ring. H2b did a fantastic job choosing my engagement ring all by himself. He chose the diamond, then chose the band. It’s exactly what I wanted. He must know what he’s doing so I asked him to organise the wedding rings. I explained the kind of wedding ring I’d like and found some pictures of it on the internet.

H2b is having an input in the suits for the men. Initially, I wanted dark grey Prince Edward suits, then it changed to charcoal and now they’re black tails! All because h2b had an input, and he’s completely right! I am glad I listened to him and the changes are brilliant.

I also wanted to go back to tradition. Traditionally, it was h2b’s family who planned and paid for the honeymoon so I thought we should continue that through to the modern day and ask h2b to plan our honeymoon. It may be romantic for couples to plan their honeymoon together, or maybe you’re a bit worried h2b will plan a lad’s holiday. Either way, giving the honeymoon responsibility wholly to your h2b might not be your idea of fun. Personally, I’m really looking forward to the surprise. don't tellI’m sure over the next 14 months h2b will discuss ideas about the honeymoon with me but the main part will be a surprise! Very exciting!

If you see my free download page, there’s a document available to download which includes a To Do List. You could split up the list and tackle the planning and organising the wedding as a team!

Of course, you could apply to Don’t Tell the Bride and let him organise the entire thing! 

My Venue, Madeley Court Hotel

Madeley Court Hotel

view Madeley Court Hotel websitemadeley

We’d almost booked Rowton Castle, we almost booked Somerford Hall so that when we looked at Madeley Court I wasn’t expecting much. I absolutely fell in love!

It does have that winding drive way, albeit along side a leisure centre, but a row of trees would hide that fence. It is an old country manor house; it was a catholic stronghold, owned by an abbey but it passed into private ownership at the dissolution of the monasteries. It has been lovingly restored by Madeley’s previous owners and has recently passed into the ownership of Mercure Hotels.

We first saw Madeley Court Jan 2010, I went with my mum to have a look. I was sceptical. The gate house did make me gasp as we came around the corner as it looks like an old castle gatehouse. Just stunning. We had a meeting with Peter, the wedding coordinator, who was so professional madeley-2and friendly and took the time to show us all around the hotel and the Mill, where our reception will be held. 

The Mill has recently been restored and looks amazing, with a medieval style.There are two minstrel's galleries at either end, medieval paintings across the walls, a gorgeous carpet which can be removed to reveal a dance floor, and plenty of space! The Mill is on two floors, the ground floor is a spacious but dark bar and the top floor is a vast room big enough for a wedding breakfast.

What we wanted was a room big enough for a wedding breakfast and then big enough for a right old knees up in the evening. The Mill at Madeley Court is the first wedding venue that I saw which achieved this. I knew this was something h2b was concerned about, having enough space, so as soon as I saw that this was one of the biggest rooms I’d seen, then I was hooked! It also has the second room for those of your guests who want to retreat from the loud music, the bar downstairs. I also wanted to set up space for some mahjong tables, as I will be having some Chinese guests, and the Mill has plenty of space for this. madeley-3

And Peter is absolutely fantastic. He’s serious and dedicated and he has a brilliant sense of humour. Just talking things through with him the other day really put a lot of our thoughts at ease. He is full of funny wedding stories, I could listen to him talking about past weddings! My friend’s little sister is getting married at Madeley Court in June, and as soon as I mentioned her name he reeled off her wedding date and knew exactly who I was talking about, even though he must be working with hundreds of couples each year. And yesterday, I was asked at a wedding fayre where my venue is and as soon as I mentioned Madeley Court the chap said Peter was fantastic and we are in safe hands. I really do feel that I’m in safe hands and I believe that Peter will do his best to give us the most wonderful day!

Why We Booked
I have a check list of things I wanted from my venue and Madeley ticked most of the boxes! 

  1. Old manor house with lots of character and original features tick
  2. Long, romantic, winding drive down to the manor house tick
  3. Large room for the wedding breakfast and the evening reception tick
  4. Second room for guests to go to if they don’t like the music but still being a part of the wedding tick
  5. Catering and bar services all sorted for us tick
  6. On site accommodation for us and our guests tick
  7. An amazing wedding coordinator who also works as master of ceremonies tick
  8. Ample parking tick
  9. In the countryside wrong

The only element that I don’t like is that Madeley Court is in Madeley and is surrounded by the the-mill leisure centre and houses. Luckily it is difficult to see any of these from the grounds and you’re so surrounded by history and beautiful buildings that one tends not to look outside the grounds.

You can see from my photos that the houses and leisure centre are nowhere to be seen. I feel like Madeley Court is a wow venue, and with so many of our guests attending our wedding coming to the UK for the first time, we really wanted something that was going to wow them.

My Recommendations
As Madeley Court is my venue of course I’m going to recommend it. I think that Madeley Court is ideal for a bride who has a moderate sized budget, who loves history and beautiful architecture, and who wants a large-ish space for a wonderful party. It’s ideal for a bride who wants to be taken care of by a wonderful wedding coordinator and yet has her own ideas for how she wants things to be.

It’s difficult to think why I wouldn’t recommend Madeley Court, I think everyone should get married here! Everyone who wants a historical venue. If you want an ultra modern wedding venue then Madeley Court is not for you.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Venues – Sandon Hall

Sandon Hall

View Sandon Hall’s websitesandon-hall

This is where a colleague of mine got married. Her wedding photos looked absolutely amazing, especially the ones where she descended down an oak staircase with her new husband. That is the kind of entrance I would like to make at my wedding.

I haven’t actually been to Sandon Hall myself – yet – but it is an impressive building just from these photos. An ancestral mansion, visited by royalty and celebrities, Sandon Hall could be yours on an exclusive use basis!

Their website describes Sandon Hall as ‘beautiful grounds, wood-panelled interiors and majestic sculptures guarantee first rate photographic opportunities.’ You know how I like my photo opportunities. The only point that is a negative for me is that it’s not possible to stay over at Sandon Hall, but they do recommend local hotels.

It wouldn’t be fair for me to make any recommendations as I haven’t been there myself, but I think my colleague who got married here would definitely recommend Sandon Hall for your wedding.

Venues – The Moat House

The Moat House

View the Moat House websitemoat-house

This is the venue at which my best friend held her wedding reception and we had a fantastic time! It’s also where I brought my mother for her 65th birthday! I’m a fussy eater but on both occasions, the food was absolutely delicious! And without us asking, or letting them know we’d booked for a birthday, they served my mum a special birthday selection of chocolates which I thought was very kind!

My friend’s wedding here was wonderful. The day went very smoothly with delicious food and a beautiful back drop for moat-house your wedding photos. There is more than ample parking across the stream from the hotel.

We were greeted at the door with reception drinks and my friend had chosen mini doughnuts to be served as a welcome snack between the photos and the wedding breakfast. They were absolutely delicious.

The main room was wonderfully decorated with flowers supplied by the venue and we were seated and served our dinner. I had soup, vegetables in pastry and a chocolate brownie for pudding. All completely delicious and well presented. The service was brilliant and staff were very helpful.

At night time, there are tiny sparkly lights in the trees casting a beautiful light over their small lake. If your photographer is sticking around into your evening do, he/she could take some spectacular photos with that as a backdrop.

Why We Didn’t Book
I didn’t want to have the same wedding venue as my friend. She says she doesn’t mind but we have the same taste in colours, I didn’t want to have the same venue as well! Also, there’s no long winding drive. This winding drive is important to me, I would like my venue off set from the road quite a way. Also, I think the room was a tiny bit small for the number of guests we’d like to attend our wedding.

My Recommendations
After attending a fantastic wedding at The Mill I cannot recommend them enough! I know that my friend had an amazing day and we were well looked after. The breakfasts in the morning were amazing as well. I would recommend The Mill to a bride who is looking for a stylish, beautiful and accessible wedding. It’s easy to get to and stunning to boot!

Venues – The Mill Hotel

The Mill

View The Mill Hotel website

I saw the the Mill Hotel with my best friend when she was choosing venues for her wedding. I have to be honest, I wasn’t the-mill-hotel impressed with the gentleman who spoke to us about the wedding options but it is a nice venue.

It’s not an exclusive use venue, and could have up to three weddings going on at the same time. However, each wedding area is clearly separated and it is highly unlikely that you will see another bride, so said the gentleman who spoke to us. I’m not sure if you’re like me and would prefer an exclusive venue, but they do guarantee to do their best so that you won’t see another bride.

They have three different main rooms for weddings of varying sizes, styles and capacity, they do have a lot of options available. There’s a beautiful lake and manicured grounds which are fantastic for wedding photos. There’s a gorgeous fountain at the front and a lovely little bride over the lake. As a venue, it is very attractive with outside seating and separate bars for each area. When we were looking round, there was building work going on so The Mill has been recently updated.

Why We Didn’t Book
I wanted a venue that had exclusive use.  It also didn’t have that ever elusive winding, romantic driveway that I want so much.

My Recommendation
The Mill is nice, it’s experienced, it’s a convenient venue. You know that you will be in good hands if you book with The Mill. I’d recommend The Mill for a bride who wants a venue with choices, who has any size of guest list and who isn’t bothered about exclusive use.

Venues – Hagley Hall

Hagley Hall

View Hagley Hall websitehagley

Hagley Hall was another venue that I wanted to see when I got engaged. I knew that it was a large house steeped in history, just the venue I’m looking for! I took my best friend here when she was looking for venues.

We were met again by the owner, and shown around the rooms available to weddings. They have a large upstairs room for the sit down meal adorned with ancestral portraits giving a real feel of history and grandeur. The evening reception retires to ground floor rooms where guests can party and relax.

The house and the grounds are spectacular: manicured lawns, restored house set into beautiful countryside. I think Hagley Hall is an amazing wedding venue.

Why We Didn’t Book
I’ve got to be honest, when we looked around Hagley Hall, I don’t know if the chap was having a bad day but he did act as if it were too much trouble to talk to us. We had booked an appointment but he seemed as if he didn’t want to talk to us. I also didn’t like the fact that the guests would be split across three rooms downstairs, and I felt the room that the disco would be in was too small for all our guests to watch us do our first dance.

My Recommendations
Hagley Hall is a truly beautiful venue, impressive views, impressive rooms and grounds, it’s steeped in history and just the place to treat your guests to a real English wedding. The outside stairs that lead to a balcony outside the main entrance have a fantastic view of the grounds and surrounding countryside. It’s a beautiful venue ideal for a bride who wants a beautiful wedding.

Venues – Somerford Hall

Somerford Hall

View the Somerford Hall websitesomerford

Again, this was a venue we almost booked! My Dad used to go walking near here with his brothers and his dad, so our family has a sort of link to this house. Dad really liked Somerford Hall, and so did I.

It’s an impressive house with a large room for the wedding breakfast, and lots of little rooms for guests to retire to during the main party. It’s a gorgeous house with an oak stair case and some lovely rooms for over night. The staff were welcoming and professional and took time to talk to us about our wedding.

The surrounding grounds at Somerford Hall our spectacular and the long, romantic drive follows past a pond and amazing countryside, just what I wanted!

Why We Didn’t Book
We felt the room was again too small for the number of guests that we wanted. Somerford Hall does have the capacity for the guests that we want as long as they are seated at long tables. I have my heart set on round tables for my guests and a long table for the head table, so I didn’t want to have to seat my guests at long tables. In a way, it’s a shame we have so many guests as it would have been lovely to book Somerford Hall.

My Recommendations
If you want long tables, or have a smaller guest list, Somerford Hal is for you. If you want a beautiful, welcoming venue with history and amazing grounds for photos then Somerford Hall is for you. I would definitely book it if I felt they had the room for our guests. It is a gorgeous setting and would be a fantastic venue for any bride.

Venues – Rowton Castle

Rowton Castle

View the Rowton Castle websiterowton-castle

Impressive, prestigious, incredible, Rowton Castle is an amazing venue for the bride with a larger budget. It really is a castle with history stretching back to Roman times. It’s absolutely stunning. The grounds are amazing, the castle itself is an incredible back drop to any wedding photos. The hotel rooms are spectacular and just the place a bride would want to spend her wedding night.

When we had a look around, the lady who showed us the rooms and talked to us about our wedding was very friendly and approachable. Rowton Castle really sells itself as a spectacular wedding venue. Our photographer, Clive Blair, has photographed weddings at Rowton Castle before. You can look at his blog for photos of Rowton Castle. 

Why We Didn’t Book
I had my heart set on Rowton Castle for a few weeks, I told all my friends this was where I was going to get married. The reasons why we didn’t book Rowton was firstly the size of the main room. Our guest list was climbing as we compiled it and it was soon over the maximum capacity for Rowton Castle. Also we didn’t want to  have to book hotel rooms for our guests. This may have changed when you visit so make sure you ask about this. It makes sense, as you will have exclusive use of the Castle.

My Recommendations
I really love Rowton Castle and I look forward to being invited to a wedding there. It’s a really stunning venue with friendly and professional staff. I would recommend Rowton Castle for a bride who loves history, who has a large-ish budget and who wants a spectacular wedding venue. Fully licensed for those brides who want a civil ceremony, Rowton Castle is a highly sought after venue not just in the West Midlands but in the whole of the UK.

Venues – Dunsley Hall Country House

Dunsley Hall Country House

View the Dunsley Hall websitedunsley

I absolutely fell in love with Dunsley Hall. It’s a gorgeous house, lovingly restored and maintained, outstanding grounds and with lots of gorgeous little rooms for your guests to retire to and explore.

Dunsley is filled with character and the rooms are finished to an outstanding quality. The owner showed us around when we booked to visit and he told us how he’d come to own the hotel and how it was lovingly maintained. The gardens are gorgeous, the setting is gorgeous, the photo opportunities are amazing.

Why We Didn’t Book
If the venue was bigger, even though it doesn’t have the long winding driveway, I may have booked. I liked the way there were so many little rooms for guests to retire to, and I thought the hotel rooms were amazing. It was purely the size of the venue that swayed our decision. We want to have enough room for a large party. Dunsley Hall had an event going on while we were being shown around.

My Recommendations
Dunsley Hall is suitable for brides who would like an intimate dinner with close friends and family with comfortable rooms for guests to retreat to if they don’t like the disco music. It’s a comfortable venue that feels like home with a well stocked bar and outstanding hotel rooms. 

Venues - Blakelands


See the Blakelands websiteblakelands

Blakelands is an absolutely gorgeous venue who do fabulous wedding fayres! I’m also on the Blakelands mailing list for special offers in their dining room. The food there is completely delicious and the service is great. It’s a family run business and Paul is always happy to talk to any prospective couple.

Blakelands is set into the countryside conveniently off the road with ample parking to the rear. The entrance is through the back with access to the front for fabulous wedding photos.

There’s loads to explore at the Blakelands. They have their main block where the reception is, then they have a courtyard and a small garden-like area and across that is the block with the restaurant and more hotel rooms. The accommodation is absolutely gorgeous and seems very comfortable. There is lots to see at Blakelands and plenty of beautiful places for photos.

Why We Didn’t Book
There’s no long winding drive, although the country road which leads to the Blakelands could be considered a winding drive. The maximum room capacity is not enough for the number of guests who want to come to our wedding.

My Recommendations
I would definitely recommend the Blakelands. It’s a family run business, beautiful setting out in the countryside, and Paul and his wife who run Blakelands are really nice and vey experienced.
Blakelands is perfect for a bride who wants a nice, secluded wedding in a gorgeous romantic setting. It’s good for a bride who would like to explore her venue and find all it’s interesting nooks and crannies. It’s also perfect for a bride who would like exclusive use.