My beautiful wedding dress was off the rack and I am by no means ashamed to admit it. I bought my wedding dress on my first day of looking and it was about the 8th I tried on and second shop I has been to. I didn’t really plan to buy off the rack, the first shop I went to was a boutique for example, but the second was a sample store and that’s where I ended up finding the dress I loved.

I have had mixed reactions. Most people thought it was great or didn’t really have an opinion either day, but a few friends wrinkled their noses a bit. They seemed fixated on the fact that other women would have tried it on before me… What like every other piece of clothing you have bought from a shop you mean?! These pre conceptions are plain silly. So, for any off the rack brides like me, here are some benefits of buying a sample dress as well as some tips for getting it right.

Saving money is obviously a big one. My dress was an Alfred Angelo last season which was reduced to half its original price. The full price of most wedding dresses makes me wince (you’ll only wear it once) but I do understand the price tags with all the material and detailing. So, to buy a sample and save some pennies seems like a great idea to me.

It might be one of a kind! When I found my dress before buying it I went home to think about it and searched the web high and low for the same Alfred Angelo design elsewhere. I would not find it for sale for love nor money anywhere in the world, it must have been a discontinued line. This meant that next to no brides would be wearing it for the 2016 wedding season! For someone who likes to be unique like me this is a big plus and I was keen on being a DIY friendly bride so buying a sample kind of fitted into that theme.

Flexible fittings. When you order your dress in you have the big decision of choosing a size. Yes, you can have it altered but it’s more difficult to take things out than in. I have heard of brides ordering a dress in a smaller size and then panic dieting to try and get into it when they haven’t lost the weight they wanted to. My dress was a size 14 so that was what I got. When I bought it, I was a 12 and by the time I went for my first fitting I was a 10 so I could have it taken in a fair bit. But equally could have had it taken in only a little. Flexibility makes for a calmer bride!

Tips for buying off the rack:

  1. Check the dress thoroughly, a few gems missing here or there is no biggie (my seamstress fixed some of those for me) but stains, foundation marks or major damage could prove difficult and cause you unnecessary stress.
  2. Get a good seamstress who you trust and can fit it properly and repair any small problems. Mine was amazing and transformed the dress. It fitted like a glove.
  3. Do not be ashamed! It does not mean your dress is used, second hand or in any way less ‘yours’. On the other hand you don’t have to tell people if you don’t want to. They’ll never know! And it’s none of their business anyway.
  4. Pick a dress you love and don’t be put off it’s off the rack. If, like me, you didn’t necessarily plan on buying a sample dress but you fall for one then get it! It might be your only chance! And if it’s the one, it’s the one.

Off the rack is fabulous. It doesn’t mean the dress is any less beautiful, stylish or special. I’m so glad I found mine and  wouldn’t change it for the world.

Happy shopping!

 

DIY wedding makeup. *Screams of horror*. I know, I know, my friends were horrified too. But I’ll let you into a secret..

Unless you want perfectly blended smokey eyes with Kardashian style contouring which needs a professional – you can do it!

And it will be fine!

I wanted a natural, glowy and summery makeup look for my wedding. I have little makeup experience and hardly wear any on a day to day basis. With a few makeup lessons with Bare Minerals and Laura Mercier, a few YouTube tutorials and some good quality makeup products; I did this:

 I am so happy with how it turned out. The best decision that I made was to invest a lot of effort (which means money) in preparing for my wedding day. I had mechanical facials every four weeks for 6 months prior to the big day. Manual facials are lovely but I feel having a mechanical or ‘electrical’ facial gives the skin an extra kick and can really help give you that ‘glow from within’. I alternated the microdermabrasion facials (removal of the dead skin cells for deep exfoliation) with the oxygen facials oxygen is pushed into the skin for a pumped up and refreshed look) and I found this to be a winning combination. The only important thing to remember is to have your last microderm no less than 4 weeks before the wedding as it can leave the skin slightly irritated and pink.

Teeth wise I didn’t bother with the expensive teeth whitening that many brides do. I used Oral B Luxe White (Glamorous) toothpaste and mouthwash for 4 weeks proceeding the wedding and it did the job! I didn’t have too much discoloration to begin with so didn’t need anything heavy duty but it certainly worked and I was surprised how white my teeth looked in the pictures!

I also invested in having an LVL Lash Lift. This was honestly the best thing I did regarding my bridal beauty and I would recommend it to any bride who doesn’t want the faff of falsies. I have long lashes but they are dead straight and the lash lift curls the lashes from the root and basically makes them curly, giving your eyes a much more open and doll eyed-look.  I’m really pleased with how they look in the pictures.  I’m not going to lie – the process is not a picnic. It takes about 40 minutes with your eyes shut and various liquids being put on your lashes but it’s well worth it.

Finally, I splashed out and got my brows threaded at Blink Brow Bar, London. They are on the pricey side as far as threading goes but they do an amaaaazing shape and, once done, my perfect brows lasted 3 weeks and didn’t need any filling in or makeup on the day.

The key to perfecting a DIY look is practice and planning. I went for makeup lessons at several counters; MAC (for eyes), Bobbi Brown, Laura Mercier, Bare Minerals and Lancome. I was never 100% happy with any of the completed looks (which reinforced the fact I was right to do my own – I’m fussy!!) but I liked elements and took bits from all of them to come up with completed look. I didn’t scrimp on the products and bought a few a month until I had everything I wanted and then I practiced, practiced, practiced at home.

The makeup I used to achieve this look:

FACE

  • Bare Minerals Prime Time primer; Original.
  • Bare Minerals mineral foundation; Fairly Medium.
  • Benefit bronzer; Hoola.
  • Bare Minerals Bareskin concealer; Medium.
  • Bare Minerals Mineral Veil setting powder.
  • Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage face concealer.
  • Bare Minerals compact blusher; The One.
  • Bare Minerals compact highlight; READY Luminizor Duo.

EYES

  • Laura Mercier Eye Basic; Flax.
  • MAC Eye Shadow; Dazzlelight.
  • MAC Eye Shadow; A Natural Flirt.
  • MAC Eye Shadow; Corduroy.
  • Lancôme Hypnose Mascara  (waterproof!)

I used the 3 MAC eye-shadows with a MAC blending brush and blended them all out to create a dewy, soft pink look with a subtle shimmer.  I had been toying with wearing a chocolate brown eyeliner but with the lifted lashes I felt I didn’t really need it.

LIPS

  • MAC Lipstick; Angel.

I would encourage any bride thinking about DIY to go for it. You really don’t necessarily need a makeup artist, with the right products, practice and the ability to remain calm on the day (!!!) you can certainly do it yourself 🙂

Any other DIY brides out there?

xox

.. That is the question.

And for me, for a long time, the answer to that question was NO.

I don’t know why but I just never really liked veils and I certainly couldn’t imagine myself as a bride wearing one. They were a bit too traditional for me. I knew I wanted a flower crown and once I found my beautiful Ana Maria one (which you can read about here) I figured I was done and dusted on the head wear front.

That was until I went to try on my headpiece in Ana’s studio for the final time before I took it home, and my grandma persuaded me to just try a veil with it. Ana fastened one to the bottom of the flower crown at the back (rather than more traditionally where the veil sits close to the crown of the bride’s head) and I fell in love with it instantly.

It just made the whole look. It didn’t take away from the crown – it added to it. And wearing it at the bottom of my head gave it even more of a boho/hippy look.

One problem – I had no veil! Until my mum suggested I tried hers. The one she had worn exactly 28 years previously when she married my dad (we got married on the same day)!! I loved the idea and once I’d seen her veil I loved it even more. It was the perfect length; Ivory and with little pearls all over it. Like the pearls on my dress. Like it was meant to be! And it would be my something old. Perfect.

Looking back at pictures I’m so glad I chose the veil. As well as being extremely special to wear a peice of my mum’s wedding outfit on my special day, I love how it looks with my whole outfit and think it looks stunning it the photos. Veils arn’t for everyone, but you can’t deny that they add a certain drama and beauty to the bridal look. 

What do you think? Veil or no veil?!

xox

I am in love with rose gold – isn’t everybody?! It has really taken off in the last few years and I’ve become totally obsessed with it. It’s all over my house, my watch is rose gold, as is Paul’s. We love it.

I was so impressed that Paul chose my engagement ring by himself, totally without help from me (hence it was such a surprise) or any other female such as his or my mother. He had obviously been listening and paying attention because he actually chose a rose gold band! I couldn’t believe it.  Although it’s so popular for costume jewelry, rose gold engagement rings are still quite unusual and I’ve had loads of compliments on it.

When I chose my wedding band I knew I wanted something to match my engagement ring, obviously, it would look weird otherwise. Paul ummed and ahhed about getting rose gold or yellow gold for his, but in the end he opted for rose. It’s even more unusual for men’s wedding bands but when it came we both loved it, it’s subtle and definitely not ‘pink’ but there’s something really different about it. Plus, I think that rose gold on men is super classy.

I bought my band from Fraser Hart as they have a very small rose gold selection, but believe it or not are one of the very few retailers that do it at all. I wanted something with a bit of sparkle, so I chose a ring set with tiny diamonds. As my engagement ring is a solitaire it sets it off amazingly and makes it sparkle even more.

Paul’s was slightly harder to come by; again not many retailers stock them and the ones that do whack the price up, so he ordered online. He used Orla James jewelers, who were excellent and the ring came exactly as ordered and he was very pleased with it.

I’m really pleased we chose rose gold for our rings and that we matched them, they look lovely in the photos and it’s something a bit different from the norm, a bit like our wedding and a bit like us!

xox

Deciding on a bridal look is one of the most important things about your wedding day. Whether it’s classic, vintage or something a bit different it’s important not to underestimate how much what you wear will affect how you feel on the day.  Some girls have a look firmly in their mind, others it takes some time. I had no idea what type of dress I wanted but one element of my look had always been clear in the forefront of my mind: a flower crown.

As a person, I’m quite free and bohomian and this is reflected in how I dress on a daily basis. I knew I wanted a beautiful boho flower crown for my wedding but I was very unsure as to where to look. I didn’t want fresh flowers as I thought they may wilt throughout the day, and a lot of the high street crowns looked quite cheap close up.

I visited the National Wedding Fair with my mum and although we were looking at dresses mainly (I didn’t find one) I saw a crown at a stall and fell in love with it instantly. It was made by Ana Maria Bufnila; a bespoke bridal accessories designer and once I tried it on I knew it was the one. It was how I’d imagined feeling about a dress all along! The peice was beautifully hand crafted, with ivory flowers, pearls and beads, and looked stunning from all angles, even the back. I was sold and later that month I visited Ana’s studio so that she could make one for me.

I’m so pleased I chose this statement piece for our big day. Looking back at the photos now I am totally in love with it and it looked stunning with the dress and veil as well. I would encourage any bride to follow their heart and if you want something a bit different for your look – then go for it! You will look back and smile and think ‘that is so me!’ 

xox