Seaside themed weddings in Brighton

Weddings in Brighton

Weddings in Brighton

Ok so maybe the kiss-me-quick and candy floss look might not be for everyone, but I adore Brighton and the diversity it offers for a truly spectacular wedding destination. Actually, talking of candy floss, bringing elements of the traditional British seaside actually works really well for a summer wedding, as does customised rock for your favours – just had to snap this advert to share with you! I am also loving retro ice cream vans serving classic 99’s and of course the Nation’s favourite – fish ‘n’ chips – to follow the theme through onto the table. The real treasure of Brighton of course is it’s natural ambiance and this really is something to treasure…

Sunrise in Brighton

Sunrise in Brighton

I recently spent a weekend at The Steine Hotel courtesy of my friends over at BuyAGift and what a gorgeous retreat it was. My converted loft room was so homely and everyone welcoming. As was breakfast, delicious in fact, and all locally sourced. Brighton in general has to be the most eco and food conscious town in the UK  – offering a vegan option is the norm for example. Finding guest accommodation or a little retreat for a pre-wedding getaway on the other hand takes a little research and can be more challenging. It’s not the cheapest place to stay in the UK, but this little nugget – as with Brighton itself – is worth every penny and I am more than happy to recommend to you.

Steine Hotel Brighton

Steine Hotel Brighton

And on that note, here is my top 10 rundown of favourite wedding venues in Brighton for you to check out too:

The Royal Pavillion

The Tempest Inn

Brighton College

Hilton Brighton Metropole

Brighton Music Hall

Proud Cabaret Brighton

The Grand

Blanch House

Drakes of Brighton

The Old Market

Click here for more brilliant ideas from BuyAGift.co.uk

*Background image by Child Friendly Brighton

Wedding dress styles through the decades

The Wedding Fairy - A Change of a Dress image

Wedding dress styles through the decades… The Change of a dress

When planning a wedding, everything from the venue to the guests can be extremely overwhelming. Not knowing where to begin can sometimes be the most daunting part. One of the most important things to consider, for most brides of course will be ‘the dress’.

We’ve seen some truly iconic wedding dresses throughout the years. From Grace Kelly’s sweetheart neckline and lace detailing of the 1950’s, to the modern day detailed embellishment – as seen on The Duchess of Cambridge. The dress you choose will reflect your style and personality, but most importantly should be something you feel completely comfortable in – especially if wearing all day. You should consider what design will best fit your shape, but don’t stifle your creativity right at the beginning of this process, make sure you hit your local bridal stores to play dress up and see what you fall in love with. Quite often, the dress you really think won’t work for you can be the perfect fit!

If you’re stuck for inspiration, Buyagift have created a great interactive guide on The Change of a Dress. It’s full of fun celebrity facts and trivia, exploring the different styles of dresses that have evolved throughout the years.

Have fun ladies! twf x 

Skincare tips before the wedding

Holistic-Essentials

Skincare tips before the wedding… a review of Ayurveda Pura London

I can clearly remember turning 30 and my friend Catrina telling me to ‘step away’ from the shelves whilst browsing the aisles of  a well known high street store! Its counters all the way from this point in she proclaimed. Shelves are dead to me – long live the counter I yelled in a sort of liberated slash defeated type way! To be fair, I could never ditch the shelves even if I wanted too, this is where all the hidden treasure lie, but apparently preservation is the name of the game from this point in and the only place any of us stand a chance of achieving this is at the counter of luxury. By this of course she was referring to the super-beauty brands that dominate our high street department store entrances. A shop within a shop tempting us with their bottled delights of anti-wrinkle bliss. And I must confess, I am a bit of an addict. Always at the front of the queue to try ‘the next big thing’ in ‘skin preservation’ as I now like to call it!

So you can imagine my delight when this little box of tricks landed on my doorstep for me to test out (see below). I had been on the lookout to try a completely new range of product and was keen to test an organic collection as this was an area I had not delved into before. Would going natural be better for me and more importantly better for my skin?! Not meaning to sound superficial here, but if we’re focusing on the skin deep I think we can allow ourselves to be a little vain! In keeping with this theme and like a hound hunting out it’s prey, my first port of call was to sniff out the scent of said product and I have to say, this floral burst of deliciousness certainly did not disappoint. Heaven springs to mind. I am a massive fan of a decent scent, if not mildly addicted and Ayurveda Pura ticked every box for me on that count. I am hooked already!

Skincare tips before the wedding

Ayurveda is an Ancient Indian Holistic medical system that has been practiced for over 5000 years, the principles of which are at the heart of the entire collection. 100% natural, the Ayurveda Pura range is totally organic, suitable for vegans, SLS-free, perfume-free, parabens-free and free of animal testing. They are lovingly hand made in the UK and suitable for all skin types. When I said I wanted to go completely natural I really meant it hey! I’ll be hitting the nudist beach next :-) … maybe not just yet!!

Shampoo Ayurveda Pura

So first up, I kicked off with a test of the shampoo and for me this is an important product. As us guys get a little older, our hair tends to dry out and loose its lust for life, so finding a shampoo that would bring a bit of vitality to my follicles turned into a never ending quest. But luckily, this particular product delivered with gusto on the latter and more importantly, felt as though it was doing some good by stripping all the evil chemicals from my head when I used it for the first time. This apparently is down to anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and blood cleansing exotic ingredients including Neem and Brahmi. I was at one with nature if you know what I mean. Lot’s of lovely goodness being rubbed into my head instead of a chemical mix that’s faking it.

organic face cleansing milk

Next up was the daily cleansing milk, which again felt fresh and full of cleansing gorgeousness as I used it, but for me the most notable point was after drying my face. Probably for the first time ever, it felt REALLY clean. Stripped of clogging oils that might have been lingering for some time, the essential Oils of Neroli, Lemon and Frankincense left my skin feeling revitalised, toned and wonderfully scented. Castor oil also helps fight wrinkles and fine lines. I use this cleansing milk everyday now and intend to continue with it when I run out! Happy days.

Decent under eye cream

Moving on to that all important under eye area… I cannot be the only one who has tried a million creams that all promise to anti-puff but never deliver? It’s always so disappointing when you apply and nothing really happens – in some instances the circles get even darker. Never a good look. I know this is always a massive area of concern for brides-to-be when it comes to beauty prep for the big day and as someone who also looks like they have aged 50 years and gone five rounds with Mike Tyson upon waking every morning – I feel your pain. The tired look is never going to be in, so thank goodness for this little tube of kindness, which is enriched with witch hazel and a blend of essential oils including: Mandarin, Borage, Ylang Ylang and Geranium. This unique formula both cools and calms the skin, whilst helping to protect, nourish and repair thanks to it’s antioxidant properties.  It doesn’t just cover-up it fixes too… this ones a keeper ladies!

Cream

And finally, containing a unique blend of aloe vera, almond, peach and essential oils of rose, neroli and orange to moisturise and replenish the skin, this as they say is my icing on the cake! The consistency is gorgeous too – I cannot bear a greasy cream! And for anyone that suffers with skin irritations or light acne, the Manjistha ingredient in this product also helps to cleanse the blood at skin level to reduce rashes and blemishes. Don’t forget to apply onto your lips too as the almond oil also helps with chapped lips and is anti-ageing. This is my go-to product at the end of a busy day. A little pot of gold waiting for me at my bedside…

And here I am about to apply said Ayurveda Pura cream post shampoo ‘n’ face wash! #gorgeousinaleopard !!

Applying night cream to wet skin

Posing selfie moment! Looking serious three weeks into my regime… in all honesty, I actually noticed an immediate difference in my complexion after just one use!

Headshot

And relax! Out and about with my Ayurveda Pura face ‘n’ hair entertaining the parents!

Birthday photo in Bristol

To find out more about the range and get shopping, you can visit the collection here!

Pre Wedding Celebrations!

Outside The View from the Shard London

Preparing for ascent!
The Wedding Fairy enjoys a pre wedding celebration…

Planning a wedding (minus a wedding fairy!) can be a little daunting and stressful at times – even for the most organised of couples – primarily because it’s designed to be a once in a lifetime experience and as such, one is simply learning on the job as they say! And this is exactly why I always advise couples to book in some fun times pre wedding as a way of escaping the ‘W’ word, whilst also enjoying a bit of ‘you’ time together. Talk of floral centre-pieces, table seating plans and even the first dance is strictly prohibited! This is a chance to relax, unwind and enjoy each others company… so, earlier this month, I decided to road test one such adventure courtesy of buyagift.co.uk by climbing The Shard and enjoying a sumptuous meal at Del Mercato in London with my pal Sinead.

 View from the shard selfieObligatory View from the Shard Selfie moment!

Amusingly, both myself and Sinead are not the best with heights, so minus a glass of prosecco in hands, this was always going to prove a challenge… luckily, the bar was our first discovery on arrival :-)

Bar at the view from the Shard

Nerves in check, we decided to grab the bull by the horns as they say and face our fears! And I have to say, Western Europe’s tallest building did not disappoint, with views stretching over 40 miles of arguably, the greatest view in the World – London.

View from the shard

After conquering our fears, we decided to adventure to the top level platform and although a little dizzy on our feet, we were both blown away by the spectacular views and how small everything down below looked. Check out London Bridge – tiny! It was like watching a toy train set whizz around below your feet as trains departed Waterloo station, whilst the planes above were so close you felt like you could touch them. Simply incredible.

London Bridge from the Shard

And here I am ‘striking a pose’… with some lovely views thrown in too!

Views from the shard 2015

 

Next up, we took a short walk over to the very lovely Borough Market to enjoy a #sensational dinner at the Michelin Starred restaurant Del Mercato. The bubbles flowed and the food, well, it really was a menu to remember as Greg Wallace or John Torode might say!  Let me tempt you with our delicious asparagus and carpaccio based starters that were to die for…

Del Mercato Borough
And the main wasn’t half bad too! Who am I kidding, it was heaven and something a little different… beautifully cooked monk fish on one side, with a delish chicken mozzarella treat on the other. But for me, the proof is always in the pudding :-)

Puddings at Del Mercato
An evening I certainly will not forget in a hurry, in fact wedding or no wedding, we should all take time out to indulge in something a little special every now and then and for me, this one ticked all the right boxes!

Del Mercato menu
To book, or find out more about this incredible experience from buyagift.co.uk simply click here!

buyagift logo
Borough Market selfie
The obligatory end of night selfie of course!

Dealing with nerves on your wedding day

Ailsa-Frank-300px

Banish the nerves and feel amazing on your wedding day!

Here at the wedding fairy blog we are often asked how best to cope with nerves on the big day, so we asked leading hypnotherapist Ailsa Frank to drop by and give us her expert opinion…

Brides or Grooms can build up their wedding day in their mind for literally years, some dream of a fairy tale whilst others worry about a nightmare, suffer anxiety over the speech or worry about being centre stage. When the wedding day gets closer and reality sinks in for some people it can trigger uncomfortable feelings or last minute nerves.

“The work I do is about getting into the AMAZING zone by rising above the negative thinking and the drama. By changing the conversation in your mind you will program yourself to create a positive result. I have helped many clients let go of wedding nerves using hypnotherapy techniques to relax them, let go of anxieties, get them to be more organised, more confident so they can be comfortable within themselves and feel great about their wedding day. A common problem is to worry about being the centre of attention. It can be almost a phobia for some. “How many weddings have you been to where the bride or groom didn’t look fabulous?” I ask them and the answer they always reply to me is “none”. Exactly, I remind them that all Brides and Grooms look fabulous on their wedding day. I also remind them of how enjoyable it is to be at a wedding as a guest, so they can let go of the guilt of dragging their guests to their wedding, as many people feel embarrassed about expecting friends and family to take time out of their schedule for them. People generally love weddings so I teach clients to embrace the enjoyment they will bring to all their guests. It is important to visualise everything going well and the people including yourself having a great time. It is also a good idea to release any bad feelings. Some self doubting can come from previous life experiences, perhaps you didn’t like to perform in a school play? So being centre stage reminds you of those bad feelings or perhaps you were brought up being told ‘not to show off’ so it makes you feel uncomfortable about being a Bride or Groom. I remind people to remember that they are an adult now with a whole new set of skills to the ones they had as a child and remember all the times they achieved things in their life so far. ‘You can and will be fabulous on your wedding day’. If you have any worry feelings imagine them like clouds in the sky and let them pass by to release them from your mind.”

Tips for dealing with nerves on your wedding day

• Visualise the day after the wedding with everything having gone AMAZINGLY well.

• Self talk yourself into the positive “I can do this, I am doing this, it is done, it is all fine, everything has worked out AMAZINGLY well.”

• Visualise someone you admire who looks great and has confidence, imagine stepping into the body of that person, feel how it feels, then take that feeling into your own body and feel good about yourself too.

• Think about all the things you like about other weddings you have been to, then press your thumb and first finger together on your right hand as you feel the good feelings. Keep adding good feelings and then use the thumb and finger press on the day.

• Smile – as you think about yourself looking good and enjoying being centre stage, when you smile you create positive endorphins which help you feel relaxed and happy.

• Visualise the guests smaller in your mind, perhaps as cartoon characters, so everyone feels more comfortable. You can practise this before the wedding and remember to do it on the day if you feel over whelmed at any point.

• Listen to my ‘Build Confidence and Self Esteem’ hypnotherapy recording to reprogram your subconscious mind with positive beliefs about yourself. The recordings allow you to let go of any anxieties or low self esteem issues and replace them with comfortable feelings and a strong self belief. The recordings are a great boost for a confident speech to.

• My book Cut the Crap and Feel AMAZING teaches you how to rise above the negative, release worries and get into the AMAZING zone to create an AMAZING life, which is perfect for getting a marriage off to a positive start.

For more info on Ailsa’s work check out her website www.ailsafrank.com

‘Build Confidence and Self Esteem’ hypnosis CD is available to download priced at £14.99 and the NEW Hardcover book ‘Cut the Crap and Feel AMAZING’ is also out now from all good bookstores £14.99

Grooming before the big day

GT Logo

GT Logo

Gentlement's Tonic Pre Shave Oil Grooming before the big day

Every man needs one and I am not talking about his dog… I am of course referring to a tonic. And a Gentlemen’s one at that. Yes, the lovely people at Gentlemen’s Tonic HQ, have zipped me over a little box of goodies to sample and I have to say, they certainly did not disappoint. In fact, I am happy to say they seriously delivered and exceeded my expectations on all fronts. Never have I experienced such a silky smooth shave and my housemate agrees too!

Gentlemen’s Tonic offers the modern man a traditional barbershop experience, alongside a whole host of incredible lifestyle and grooming services. I tried out the pre shave oil and traditional shave cream at home and honestly, it was a leagues above anything else I have ever used. Not only is the babassu & bergamot scent seriously addictive, the product range also makes shaving easier too – especially, if like me you hadn’t bothered for a few days!

Gentlemen's Tonic

And here’s the best bit, if you are a groom-to-be, or a bride-in-waiting, that is desperate for her man to rock up to the wedding looking top notch, Gentlemen’s Tonic also offer some incredible pre big day grooming services at their salons in central London too. Stubble rash on a brides big day is so not a good look, so make sure you use the best.

 pre shave oil

Pre Shave Oil 50ml £19

traditional_shave_cream_

 Traditional shave cream 125g £19

To view the entire product collection you can use at home before the big day, or to make an appointment visit: www.gentlemenstonic.com

Top 5 wedding planning tips

Top five wedding planning tips

Top 5 wedding planning tips!
The most important things you need to know when plan a wedding

Once the question has been popped and you start getting down to the wedding day detail, it certainly can feel a little daunting at first, but fear not, your wedding fairy is here with a rundown on all the fundamentals needed, to get you going on your big day prep – hassle free…

Here’s my top five quick-fix wedding planning tips…

Money talks!
How much cash have you got to splash?! Calculate a running total and break down the costs for each element of your big day. Take out 10% of your overall budget to act as an emergency fund for any costs that may crop up along the way or, to top-up cash allocation for specific elements such as the cake and flowers.

Big Day Bible
An essential bit of kit for any wedding planner to be, The Big Day Bible is your personalised a-z checklist of what to do and when. From securing the venue to selecting the dress, a concise countdown of jobs-to-do, is a total must-have piece of kit for anyone planning a big day celebration. Investing time in this plan right from the off, guarantees to ease your overall journey to the aisle of love, whilst at the same time ensuring you have everything effectively in place ready for the wedding itself – without stress levels reaching boiling point. Check out weddingsite.co.uk – a brilliant online resource for managing your big day effectively.

Get in the mood – for romance…
Every wedding needs a clear style or theme to bind the celebration together and knowing where to start can be a challenging task. I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but the best approach is to start with a blank canvas, so you can build a unique picture of your celebration organically. Do not stifle your creativity with too many set ideas right from the beginning, start with an open mind and see what evolves. The true genius of a person is often bubbling subconsciously… here’s what to do:

Spend an afternoon grabbing a ton of wedding, food, home design and celebrity magazines highlighting your favourite dresses, interiors, menus and hairstyles. Rip out the pages you love and pop on a big board to create a montage of imagery. This we know in the business as a mood board, which you can then use to identify your favourite themes, styles and colour-ways to slowly build an overall concept for the wedding. This mood board is also really handy for taking to supplier sessions – especially the cake maker and florist, to inspire and steer their creativity.

And for those who prefer a more modern approach, remember www.pinterest.com is now one of the world’s number one online sites to pick up inspirational wedding ideas. Build yourself a digital board via an Ipad or similar device and use this to take along to supplier sessions. Many of the National wedding magazines also have Pinterest boards now, so it’s definitely a great place to start getting those creative juices flowing!

THE DRESS
For many brides-to-be this is where the pressure really kicks in – unearthing the one! And I am not talking about your man! The hunt for a dream dress can often be a stressful affair and knowing where to start can be just as bad. Heading straight to your local bridal store can sometimes be a bit of a gamble and often means you settle without fully investigating all options. So, before commencing all that legwork, why not start on the sofa and check out my four fabulous online finds to get an idea of what might work for you. Yes, these little nuggets of gorgeousness are buzzing with bridal fashion, direct from the coolest catwalks on the planet and offer a stunning array of glitzy artisan accessories that you just won’t find on any standard high street. We are talking A-list here people, but not necessarily with the A-list price tag! These little black books of fashion heaven are teaming with originality and are updated hourly to ensure you are kept abreast of what’s hot and happening – literally as it happens!  Here’s my official run-down Ladies:

www.lovemydress.net  – I just adore this site for sourcing super sassy accessories and discovering new designers most of us would never hear of otherwise!

www.weddinggowntown.com/blog – From Vera Wang to Valentino, if it’s on the catwalk it’s in wedding-gown-town! I love this blog for identifying new trends and pointing out upcoming styles for the season ahead.

www.bridechic.blogspot.com  – A joyous homage to bridal fashion, with Bride Chic we also get some really fantastic out-of-the-box ideas and distinct styling themes – ideal if you are looking for a strong non-traditional big day look.

www.lovelybride.com/blog  – And finally with Lovely Bride we uncover some edgy classics alongside a wonderful mix of real life weddings – perfect for seeing how a dress truly comes to life on the day itself.

The Venue

Whether you are looking for city chic or a rural retreat, there really is something for everyone. I always advise every couple I meet to choose a space with character that represents their unique relationship and personalities. Now for some, this can be quite extreme.  Getting hitched down a coal mine or on the wings of an aeroplane is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but it certainly is unique! For most of us though, the day itself is about cementing a union between two people and the venue of choice should represent that union. Wow, I am getting quite teary already!

Ok, so where do we start? Well, generally the geographical location is the best place to begin. Once this has been decided you can work with the venues located in that area. Even if you have an ideal place in mind, I always advise to view at least 5 other spaces to spark ideas and inspire you both.  The amount of people that have a venue in mind and then choose another is incredible so make sure you don’t limit the possibilities.

During the first viewing make sure you go as a couple to ‘feel the space’ and probe the wedding co-ordinator for all the info you require including: menu options, wedding packages available and on-site accommodation. Try to get a real feel, as to how the day itself will unfold. Make a list of questions beforehand and do not be afraid to ask. It is their job to make your day a reality. If you are concerned about the costs involved, tell them and see what they can offer. Summer bbq’s or sharing foods, such as home-made pizzas with all the relevant accompaniments, are all the rage at the moment and can often be much lighter on the budget than a traditional evening buffet. A great coordinator generally has a solution, but of course you must be realistic!

Selecting a wedding venue is a bit like buying a house for the day. Make sure you ask lots of questions and trust your gut feeling. Sometimes if it just feels right then that is the venue for you! And if you are not sure, book a menu tasting session in the restaurant. Some venues offer this as a complementary service once booked, but don’t take it as red – some don’t. And if you want/need input from others or need some re-assurance then feel free to take key family members or friends on the second visit.

And finally, once the decision has been made, make sure you put some thought into the actual day itself. Don’t just let the wedding coordinator put together a generic day for you. Ensure you add those personal little touches and have some fun! Maybe you want to create your very own ‘wedding breakfast cocktail’ or invent a pudding in honour of your new surname! Whatever you do, remember my three p’s ‘personalise, personalise and personalise some more’ oh and enjoy every second!

 

Proposal Expert

Wedding Planning Book

For more ideas, tips, inspiration and a complete rundown on planning a wedding, check out my wedding planning book -
BIG DAY BREAKDOWN!

Awkward wedding day dilemmas answered

Wedding day dilemmas

Awkward wedding day dilemmas answered

A wedding would not be a wedding without a few dilemmas to solve along the way and let’s face it, a few challenging situations here and there keeps us on our toes. As Ronan says, ‘life is a rollercoaster’. Never has a finer word been spoken. But anyhow, fear not. All those pesky questions lurking in the back of your head are answered right here, right now! Yes, here’s a rundown on the most popular big day dilemmas I get asked to answer…


How can I stop my interfering Mother in Law?

Give her a job to keep her occupied! The cake is always a good one or even elements of the venue decoration. If you are going for a summer fete or vintage theme, get the M-I-L on bunting production! In all seriousness though, it sounds like she is just keen to get involved, so give her a big task to focus on.


My parents are divorced and do not get on. I don’t want to sit them together on the top table, any advice?
Opt for a more relaxed setting instead of the formal layout. Maybe sit with all your best friends and then spread family members across the venue, so you don’t have to worry about any awkwardness. Setting the space with round tables and positioning yourselves centrally would work really well.


Is it ok to invite guests to the wedding ceremony and not the wedding breakfast? We can’t really afford to pay for everyone during the day, but would invite back in the evening.
I don’t think so. It’s important to remember that the average full-on wedding guest invests around £500 in attending a wedding, when you consider the hen party, gift, outfit, travel and accommodation. The list is endless! Instead of having both a traditional wedding breakfast and evening celebration, why not consider a later ceremony and opt for a more relaxed buffet style early-evening reception. This option would be much lighter on the budget and means everyone can attend.


We don’t need anything for our home and want to ask guests to contribute to our honeymoon. We don’t like the idea of just listing our bank details in our invites, or asking for cash on the day, feels a bit cheap. Any ideas?
Thankfully there are now many tasteful options available such as the traditional Royal Mail styled red post boxes, that you can install at your venue and then invite guests to post their prezzies to you. Many travel companies also offer gifting solutions, whereby everyone can purchase experiences for you to enjoy whilst honeymooning, from cocktails on the beach, to a day exploring a desert island. And there are also some really great ‘honeymoon cash gift registry’s’ you can sign up to online and invite guests to contribute that way. I agree, the idea of listing your bank account details on the invite feels a little tacky! Why not go for one, or a mix of these solutions and then breakdown the options to your guests in the invite.

Wedding day worries


Is it reasonable to ask my bridesmaids to pay for their bridesmaid dresses, shoes, jewellery, plus hair and make-up? Do I need to buy them a thank you present?
Personally I would always allocate a budget for the fundamental elements (such as the bridesmaids dresses) and a thank you gift is an absolute must! Again, this is all really down to personal circumstance. If the budget is limited, be upfront right from the beginning about what you can/cannot cover, so that each individual can make an informed choice as to whether they can afford to take on the role or not. In my experience people are always happy to support financially if you are clear from the beginning and give them plenty of notice to save!


Is it ok to not offer a free bar?
The simple answer is yes. Most guests do not expect a free bar nowadays and you definitely do not have to be embarrassed about not having one. It’s very well documented how expensive it can be to host a wedding and very few guests would expect drinks to flow for free all night. I also think it can be a dangerous move to offer an open tab at the bar, as I can guarantee, you will always have a few guests that get carried away and take it too far. And let’s face it, your cousin Mike chucking up all over the back of your dress on the dance floor and picking a fight with some bloke trying to chat up his missus is never going to be a good look for the wedding video. A pre-reception welcome drink is desirable to set the tone for your celebrations and some wine for the table is also preferred, but a free-for-all is definitely not necessary.


Just say no to kids!
This is probably the biggest dilemma of them all. How to get around telling people that you want a child friendly wedding. And why not I hear you cry, it is your celebration after all and you should be able to party the way you want to. Now for some, a wedding really is not a wedding without the little ones sparkling on the big day, but for others, the idea of a troop of kids rampaging through the ceremony and reception is just a total nightmare. So what’s the solution then? Well, for me, the easy option is to be honest and upfront about your predicament right from the beginning. You can even twist a little, with a bout of reverse psychology, to make the guest feel included in the decision, by making it all about them! Obviously, you were thinking it would be fun for them to have a child-free day, to enjoy a few drinks and let their hair down without the worry of child care duties right? If you give guests enough notice and explain you want the day to be a distinctly adult affair, well, only a bad friend would go up against you. And I have had situations where couples have felt they want to invite direct family, ie little nieces and nephews, and that is fine. In fact, in some ways it can make things a little easier. Simply advise that you are having direct family members as bridesmaids/page boys and no others. I would not go down the road of numbers for the seating plan being stretched, or budget restraints being a problem, as people can get a little offended by that. Remember it is their child, so be sensitive to the situation! 

Do you have a question or big day dilemma that needs answering? Ask The Wedding Fairy by clicking here!

Health and fitness advice for your wedding

Wedding couple

Health and fitness advice for your wedding

Every bride-to-be wants and deserves to look a million dollars on their wedding day and there really is something about the W word that brings out the very best in everybody. And it’s not just for the girls – your man should look super hot too! But as with so many thing in life, it’s all about the planning! I always advise cracking on with the fitness regime at least 12 weeks before the big day, so you are hot to trot and at your peak for the final dress fitting. From that point on it’s all about maintaining your makeover… the earlier you kick start your plan of attack the better. So, on that note, I am thrilled to welcome leading fitness expert Mark Gray to the Wedding Fairy blog, for all the advice and top tips you need to look and feel body beautiful for the big day…

bridal boot camp results

Look your best for the Wedding Season!

Whether you’re the bride to be, maid of honour, a guest likely to see people you’ve not seen for a while, or the mother of the bride, the Wedding Season is the time of year you most want to look your best. Not only are we likely to be wearing clothes we’re not used to, so we won’t be prepared for where the bulges are or exactly how much leg we’re flashing, but it’s likely to be warm, exposing more skin, and most of all – there’ll be photographic evidence of the day for the rest of your life (you can’t exactly ask people to take down photos from Facebook that you don’t like when everyone else from the wedding is in them)! Well fear not, there’s still time to shape up, and some tricks to learn about body confidence and dressing to impress, to ensure that you feel GREAT at the next wedding you go to! Regardless of how much time you’ve got, whether months, weeks, or even days, there’s always time for a few improvements which will make you feel more confident and look better!

Posture

This is the quickest fix, which you can begin improving even the day before the event. It’s never too early to start though, as improving your posture long term will benefit your health and looks for years to come. Poor posture can affect your breathing, give you a bad back, and even digestion problems due to compression of important organs.

Especially for brides, a wedding is a long and tiring day. Have you noticed how brides often end an otherwise beautiful day hunched over, ruining the whole ‘princess effect’? Poise and elegance are important when carrying off a statement dress, and helping to look slimmer and more confident.

If you have no time to improve your natural posture prior to the day, you can still try to be mindful all day of your silhouette. Hold your head up! Many people have likened this to imagining there’s a puppet string attached to the crown of your head, which holds you up. Just try it, and immediately you’ll feel your shoulders drop a little at the same time. Also remember to hold your tummy in, or tense the muscles, as you’ll find this also corrects your back’s position, making your frame longer and leaner looking. Tuck your bum under to realign your pelvis. Even if you can only practise this new posture for a day or two prior to the wedding, that’ll have started to instill new practices in you which will help you to remember on the day.

If you’ve a little more time before the wedding, make the effort to focus specifically on your posture whilst at work, and while working out. We spend so much time on both of these activities that it’s essential to be correctly aligned – the longer you spend in misaligned positions, the more your muscles will incorrectly remember and the longer it’ll then take you to break the habits.

Food

Dependent on your normal eating habits, whether you have weight to lose and time to lose it in, or whether you just want to ensure you’re skin, hair, nails, and energy levels are at their best for the wedding, and the run up, then you need to watch what you eat.

The main tip is that there are no real food quick fixes! It’s important to get enough nutrition, so even if you’re tempted to do a quick fix diet, bear in mind that cutting out any required nutrition is likely to have negative impacts elsewhere! For instance, doing the doukan diet may help you lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks! But if your breath smells, and your skin starts to dull or break out, and your hair stops shining, then it may not be the best diet to be doing just before your wedding. Similarly, even great diets like those which cut out all sugars (including from carbohydrates), have a phase of readjustment where you’re likely to be more on edge, exhausted or just snappy – i.e. not a great thing to try in the 10 days prior to your wedding. With months to go, there’s no harm in trying to improve your diet, as you’ll have time to readjust, and also for your skin and hair to recover from the changes.

The top factors to bear in mind are:

-          Drink plenty of water, and avoid any sugary drinks, they are wasted calories, including alcohol!

-          Make sure to eat nutritious food for the benefits to your skin and hair as well as your weight! Steam your fish and veg, and have smaller platefuls! A portion of fish/meat should only be as big as your own fist.

-          Try and opt for healthier snacks such as carrot sticks, baked crisps (rather than fried), a small handful of nuts, or even cutting out boredom snacks altogether for a fixed number of days or weeks!

-          Avoid sugar and salt! Sugar makes your skin age, salt makes you retain water. Regardless of the other health benefits of cutting these out of your diet long term, especially prior to a big day, cut them out as much as possible!

Exercise

It’s difficult to write generalised advice which is suitable for all women, covering all levels of fitness, and all levels of determination.

For those who want to put the effort in to lose weight and get fitter: Running, or cycling for 40 minutes will also help and doesn’t have to cost money. Alternatively, lots of gyms offer classes, and trying something like Zumba or aquafit until you find something that really works for you is a good idea. It can be a lot easier for some people to have a variety of exercise regimes in order to keep it interesting and fun, but also to ensure more muscles are improved. If you are really keen to get in shape and have got a few weeks or months to invest in the pursuit, why not sign up to a weight loss boot camp? Working with instructors who will encourage and guide you to achieve your maximum potential is a sure fire way of achieving your goals prior to your wedding.

For those who don’t have the time, or the desire to, put in the levels of exercise listed above, you can still work on your shape, especially areas which are important for the wedding day; making improvements of those niggling wobbles or bulges alone will help you look and feel better than normal on your big day. Of course, remember to eat well in order to avoid bloating in the run up to the big day (i.e. reducing your salt intake as above, and also avoiding unnecessary carb-overloading).  Regular aerobic exercise will improve your metabolism, and you’ll also feel more energised, and build up a resistance to hard work which will help you to weather the requirements of the big day better. Without even having to implement a fitness programme, I suggest simple brisk walks if you’re not used to exercise, for 30 minutes 3 or 4 times a week.

Particular areas to focus on for targeted toning prior to the big day are: arms and tummies!

-          For your arms, try to start doing a couple of press ups (also great for tightening your tummy). Also try bicep curls, or tricep dips. The best aerobic exercises to help your arms are swimming, tennis, and jogging.

-          For your tummy, there are many exercises you can do to improve your bulge! From sit ups or crunches, to a variety of planks. Again, aerobic exercise will really help here for all over toning.

Final Words

In the end, I would say planning is the only way to really achieve the results you want for the big day. Look at how long you’ve got. Look at where you can regularly fit in your exercises! I know that if I don’t pack my gym kit before work so that I can go on my way home, I won’t go. Once I’m home, I do a couple of chores, tell myself I’ll make dinner and go to the gym later. Which never happens. It’s the same with food! If I haven’t shopped specifically for healthy eating, I’ll end up snacking on chocolate or crisps at work as they’re the only things I can buy from the sandwich van, or cooking an unhealthy dinner from the old pasta that’s in the cupboard because I didn’t find time to buy the vegetables I actually wanted to cook!

About Mark and Stephen

stephenMark

Mark and Stephen Gray, identical twins, run a number of weight loss programmes in Milton Keynes, Bedford and Northampton areas.  A combination of exercise, nutritional guidance, mixed sessions, planning and support along with testing, monitoring, supplements and products to support your plan means that their approach is the polar opposite to what you’d expect from your local gym. See more by visiting DVCC

Advice for booking a wedding venue

Great Fosters Bride and Groom outside venue

Advice for booking a wedding venue…

Let’s book!

So the big day has been set, the budget is planned and now all you need to do is find that fairy-tale venue to bring the dream alive!  A place to say I do in style and remember your first dance forever. Choosing a venue to celebrate your nuptials is a vital ingredient for any couple. This is your moment, so embrace it, cherish it and make sure you choose a venue with some va-va-voom!

Whether you are looking for city chic or a rural retreat, there really is something for everyone. I always advise every couple I meet, to choose a space with character, that really represents your unique relationship and personalities. Now for some, this can be quite extreme.  Getting hitched down a coal mine or on the wings of an aeroplane is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but it certainly is unique! For most of us though, the day itself is about cementing a union between two people and the venue of choice should represent that union. Wow, I am getting quite teary already!

Tithe Barn Wedding London

Ok, so, let’s get down to business. Where do we start? Well, generally the geographical location is the best place to kick-off and once this has been decided upon, you can work with the venues located in that area. Even if you have an ideal place in mind, I always advise couples to view at least 5 other spaces to spark ideas and inspire you both.  The amount of people that have a preferred venue and then choose another is incredible, so make sure you don’t limit the possibilities. Be adventurous and check out everything from the local village hall to a river boat!

For the first viewing, make sure you go as a couple to ‘feel the space’ and probe the wedding coordinator for all the info you require including: menu options, wedding packages available, plus on and off-site accommodation for your guests to choose from. It’s important to try and cater for all budgets when it comes to guest accommodation and having ample parking facilities for that matter. On top of that lot, find out if the honeymoon suite is thrown into the mix for good measure, or an additional cost for you to consider? Get a break-down of everything included in the package, so you can consider costs for any extras. A venue that can be flexible in it’s approach and happy to barter a bit of a deal is always desired! Don’t be afraid to ask.

Meadow wedding

Some wedding venues will push you to use services from their preferred supplier list, so if you have others in mind, check that this is allowed and not going to cause you any problems later down the line. Will the venue/hotel be exclusively yours for the day/eve (most couples prefer this)? And if you desire, does the venue offer an extended license or is willing to apply for one? Ensure you explore all table-layout options/spaces available and check everything is covered to cope with unexpected weather conditions. Most importantly, read the small print of the contract. I always recommend wedding day insurance anyhow, but it is important to check what the deal is, in terms of a cancellation by either party. A payment schedule leading up to the big day is also essential. No venue would expect all the cash upfront.

Try to get a real feel as to how the day itself will unfold. Make a list of questions to ask beforehand and as I say, do not be afraid to probe. It is the coordinators job to make your day a reality. If you are concerned about the costs involved or being able to stretch your budget efficiently, tell them and see what other options they can offer. Summer bbq’s or sharing foods, such as home-made pizzas with all the Italian themed trimmings, are all the rage at the moment and can often be much lighter on the budget over a traditional evening buffet. And remember, it is very difficult to negotiate a better rate on a Saturday because this is the most popular day of the week to get married and gets booked up quickly – often up to 12 months in advance, so bear this in mind when starting your search and setting dates.  If a mid-week wedding is at all possible you will definitely get a lot more for your money.  A great coordinator generally has a solution, but of course you must be realistic!

BG Vintage Sports Car weddings

Selecting a wedding venue is a bit like buying a house for the day. Trust your gut feeling. Sometimes it just feels right. And if you are not sure, book a menu tasting session in the restaurant to firm up your decision. Some venues offer this as a complementary service once booked, but don’t take it as red – some don’t and very few offer for free so you can try out. On that note, don’t forget to check corkage costs if you are wanting to source your own wine, as it can sometimes work out to be just as expensive if not more, than choosing from their own wine menu. Canapes can also be a pricey addition. I always suggest ditching these for something a little lighter on the budget if looking to cut costs. Serving popcorn for example, is a great alternative and much fun if themed into the overall wedding styling (think classic American-retro popcorn making machine with all the accompanying regalia for example). I feel a fairground concept coming on… one of my personal favourites!

If you want input from others or need some re-assurance, then feel free to take key family members or friends on a second venue visit. Once the final decision has been made, make sure you put some thought into the actual day itself. Don’t just let the wedding coordinator put together a generic day for you. Ensure you add all those memorable little touches and have some fun, to make your big day stand out from the crowd. Maybe you want to create your very own his n hers cocktail to serve instead of champagne or prosecco before the wedding breakfast? Again this is much fun and often a lot lighter on the budget front if a minimal amount of alcohol content is used. Remember, it’s only the first drink and your guests have the whole day ahead of them, so a fruity refreshing punch often goes down really well. A welcome drink to greet your guests with post ceremony, is a real must in my book and really helps set’s the tone for your day ahead. Perhaps you could also invent a pudding in honour of your new surname, or choreograph an entertaining first dance opening for the evening do?! The World is your oyster, but whatever you do, remember my three p’s personalise, personalise and personalise some more… it’s the fun times that people remember over the colour scheme and pew-ends! Oh and of course, enjoy every second – let’s party people!

TWF x 

Photography by Great Fosters – as featured on The Wedding Fairy Website.

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