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!

 

Deciding to get married abroad can be a daunting experience.  There are many reasons that couples may decide they want to tie the knot somewhere other than their home country, ranging from dreams of beach weddings and beautiful scenery to escaping the stress, fuss and all that comes with a wedding. That’s not to say that getting married in another country wasn’t stressful, but from what I’ve heard it was a lot less stressful than it could have been if we’d done it at home in London!

We were lucky. Some couples who make this decision are met with families who disapprove and loved ones who can’t make it for whatever reason. Things can be challenging planning a wedding from a long way away where you can’t see things in person. Culture and language barriers can also be an issue. However, my advice to couples who dream of a destination wedding would be – DO IT! It was amazing and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Here are some hints and tips for any couples preparing to navigate the sometimes complicated business of planning a wedding abroad.

❤️ It’s your day! Please, please remember this every step of the way. It’s so important to have the wedding that you and your partner want; not what everyone else wants. This still applies when the wedding is abroad. You may get a few eyes rolls or grumbles but just politely explain to everyone that this is your dream day and they will soon come round.

❤️ Having said that, you will need to accept that some people won’t be able to make it. Potentially some important people who you would never have imagined wouldn’t be at your wedding. Expense, time off work, children and even more unforeseeable things like health can effect people’s ability to attend. If the idea that every single member of your extended family and friendship circle has to be there then getting married abroad possibly isn’t for you.

❤️ Be sensible. If you’re choosing a beach wedding in a baking hot location then you chose it for a reason – hopefully you are a bride who wants quite a relaxed/beachy vibe?? I wore a loose fitting dress and flat sandals. A ballgown style and pair of Jimmy Choo’s would not have been appropriate. Equally, please don’t force your hubby to be into a 3 peice suit and tie in 30 degree heat!! Same applies for guests. They need to be comfortable so don’t impose a strict dress code.

❤️ Make the most of the scenery. You are in a beautiful place, you have hired a photographer – use the beauty to your advantage! Looking back on photographs is one of the best things after the wedding and you can treasure them forever. In my opinion having something different as the backdrop is truly special. We even went for a photoshoot the next day underwater in our wedding outfits which was truly amazing! I love looking at the pictures.

❤️ Use a planner. I cannot stress this enough! Some, very brave, couples do attempt to co-ordinate their weddings from the UK but I just could not deal with the stress of it! We used Zante Weddings, the longest running and most experienced wedding planner in Zante, and they couldn’t have been better. Having someone who is a) in the country to liase with vendors b) speaks the language and c) actually knows all the best companies on the island was invaluable. I definitely couldn’t have done it myself. Frances, the owner of the planners, was fantastic and managed to get everything we wanted and more.

TRUST YOUR PLANNER. If you are hiring a local wedding planner then you must trust them to organise your big day. I understand it can be hard to relinquish control of the more special day of your life but it’s important to remember that they have done this before. 100 times. They seriously know what they are doing. When having your wedding abroad there are certain things that you just can’t micro manage to the same level as you can in the UK; e.g. you can’t taste the cake flavours, see the exact colour of the table cloths or choose every single individual flower for your bouquet. This isn’t for everyone, but I loved having the stress of a million decisions being taken out of my hands. We gave our planners a vague theme and colour scheme and they delivered flowers, décor and food which was better than we ever could have imagined. Choose your planner carefully and trust them to give you your perfect day.

Relax and enjoy. Chances are, you decided to tie the knot abroad to avoid some of the usual stresses and strains that come with a UK wedding – so make sure you actually chill out and enjoy yourself! Not only are you having your dream wedding day and marrying the love of your life – but you’re also combining it with a gorgeous holiday. I was sunbathing and doing yoga by the pool the morning of my wedding! You, your hubby and all your guests will be on a holiday high and what could be more amazing than a giant holiday with family and friends. Have a ball.

I hope these tips help any couples thinking of taking the plunge and getting married somewhere other than the UK. From one bride to another; you won’t regret it!

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

So, those of you who follow me on Instagram will probably know that we have just received our professional wedding photography! I apologise for the overload of wedding pictures on all of my social media right now – but it’s pretty exciting. I’m so happy with how they turned out especially considering the less than perfect weather conditions!

I thought I’d do a little post about how we chose our photographs and share a few of our favourites. There were 700 photos taken on the day and we had to get it down to our favourite 70! It was so tough.

We had the photographer for a pre-bridal session with my bridal party and family, for the ceremony and an hour of the reception to catch the cake cutting and a few more key moments. A lot of couples choose to have the photographer stay on for the whole reception but I just wanted to let my hair down and relax! I thought I may find a photographer there all night distracting. We also arranged a photoshoot for the next day – a sort of ‘wreck the dress’ shoot where we went in the sea which was amazing!

When whittling down wedding photographs I would give the following advice:

  1. Get a photo from every ‘portion’ of the day. At least one from pre-bridal or ‘getting ready’, the groom and best man at the alter, walking down the aisle, the ceremony, the ‘I now pronounce you husband and wife’ etc etc. Then you will have a basic timeline of the day.
  2. Get at least one picture of every ‘important person’ and one group shot. Even if they’re not your favourite photos you need to make sure that both mums and dads, close family and siblings are represented when you look back.
  3. Choose a few which reflect different elements of the day. Although they may not have people in them when you look back in years to come it will be nice to remind yourself what your cake and table set up looked like. Especially since so much effort and planning goes into these bits.
  4. Get some that make you go, ‘Wow’. You’re the bride after all – get some of you and your hubby that you love! And any pictures that you will look back with fond memories.

  


 

 

 







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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