Weddings are such an exciting event! As a previous bride I absolutely adore other people's weddings. It’s one big celebration of love and devotion and if you’re an invited guest and get to be a part of that, well, you better get your hankies ready for the sobfest that awaits. Attending a wedding as a guest is a privilege and you get the chance to spoil the lucky couple with a gift of your choice. Most couples say that they don’t need a gift on their wedding day, as your presence is enough, but everyone knows that turning up to a celebration empty handed is a big no-no.

The thing is, this is the modern world! Roll the times back fifty years or so and a wedding was the bridge between living with parents and living with a new spouse. This meant that most gifts were housewares and pretty trinkets to display for the couple in their very first home. That is a rarity these days, with most couples living together long before engagement rings are given and wedding vows are exchanged, which means that a couple generally has it all before getting hitched. I know I'm our case we already had everything for our house, so we found compiling a gift list tricky!
 
So, the dilemma left to you as the wedding guest is what on earth you could buy for a couple that seems to already have it all? Here are five unique gifts that you won’t necessarily find on a registry, nor would anyone else have thought of it!
 

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Kitchen Gift
Okay, so the happy couple may be living in pre-marital bliss, but that doesn’t mean they have everything they need for their kitchen. Everyone loves a gadget! Check out the wedding gifts on Cuckooland.com and see the genius that is this Smart Bacon Express The Bacon Toaster. No more frying pans or grills, but the perfect toaster for those lazy Sunday morning bacon sandwiches. Fun kitchen gadgets are always a loved gift!
 

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Travel Gift
Forget the honeymoon, if your wedding couple are ones who love to trek and travel across the world, why not go for one of these travel gifts? Add in a ‘where have you been’ scratch map and you have the perfect, personal gift for the couple who love to conquer the world together. I personally would adore this gift.


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Land Gift
This is an totally unique idea! We’re not talking a patch on the local allotment for the newlyweds, but why not give them the amusing gift of a small piece of unclaimed land? They can therefore be claimed Lord and Lady of the land you give them, which should raise a smile or two!


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Honeymoon Gift
Wedding gifts that are personalised are those that go down well with newlyweds, as they get a keepsake from their day. These personalised Mr & Mrs passport covers are an exceptional gift that they will love to use on their honeymoon together. Pair it with a polaroid camera for snaps of a vintage feel. Honeymoons are almost as exciting the wedding day itself so any gift for the honeymoon will go down very well.


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Romantic Gift
I love this idea! Notebooks like this that encourage a newlywed couple to write a line about their life together each day for the first year of marriage is a wonderful keepsake, and a way to look back at how their first year of marriage went in the years to come.

With this gift ideas you will never run dry for inspiration for the wedding season – no last minute panic! Enjoy all the weddings!

**Please note: this post is a brand collaboration**
 

Want your home to have the wow factor? Maybe you want to impress guests, or perhaps you just want a stunning, opulent space to enjoy in your own time. Most of us would love to live in a huge mansion, kitted out with the most beautiful decor if we had the choice, but that’s not to say you can’t have a lovely home if you’re not a millionaire. You can bring a touch of luxury to any space, and if you go about it in the right way, you’ll spend far less than you might think. Even if you live in a small city apartment like me, it is possible to get the home you love without it costing the earth. Here are some ideas to consider:


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Shop Sales
One of the best ways to snag great quality items at discounted prices is wait until sales are being run. End of line furniture is often massively reduced meaning you can save hundreds if you buy at the right time. This chesterfield leather sofa sale for example has up to thirty percent off which can mean over £500 savings on some pieces. If you know you’re in the market for a new piece of furniture, don’t just run out and buy the first thing that catches your eye. Follow your favourite furniture shops on social media, so you’ll be the first to hear about any sales, and keep an eye out for discounts. This allows you to fill your home with beautiful things but spending a fraction of what they originally cost.


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Scour Second Hand Finds
Furniture tends to be sturdily built, and a lot of pieces can last many lifetimes especially those made from solid wood. But people of course replace them far sooner than this. For this reason, it means you can often get hold of fantastic second hand pieces for next to nothing. Sure, some might need updating with a coat of paint and some new handles, but up-cycling can be good fun! Charity shops and car boot fairs are amazing for finding furniture and household decor gems. You might even get lucky and find someone selling designer or high-end furniture that’s nearly new for reduced costs; perhaps due to moving house and no longer having the space, or just because they fancied a change. Either way, it’s far cheaper than buying new. Plus recycling like this is good for the environment, and you get a beautiful piece for your home without breaking the bank.


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Mix and Match High and Low End
You can still achieve a luxurious looking home without spending a fortune on every item. You could buy an expensive sofa and accessorise with inexpensive cushions and rugs- that way they could be replaced easily later down the line if you want to switch up your room. You could buy an expensive dining table but with inexpensive, on- trend chairs. You could save on your bed frame but invest in a great mattress and beautiful bedding. There is literally so much choice on the high street in terms of home accessories, decor and bedding. Don’t be afraid to search places like Etsy and eBay for unique yet inexpensive items. You will find that sometimes you can find pieces that look like they cost far more than they did if you search carefully. Price is not always a reflection of good quality.


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How would you go about adding a touch of luxury to your home without breaking the bank?

**Please note this post is a brand collaboration**

I'm a firm believer that a beautiful wedding can be achieved even with a tight budget. And no, you don’t have to sacrifice important features to make it work. Shopping around and taking more calculated approaches to everything could help to keep you out of debt and still have a gorgeous day. Here are a few tips and tricks for keeping your wedding spectacular when strapped for cash.

The Venue

Church weddings are expensive, but other venues aren’t far behind. You can save costs in all cases by timing your wedding right – particularly the ceremony. The summer is when prices for venues are highest. An off-season wedding could save you a lot of money. September and May are usually classed as off-season and you could still get amazing weather. Mid-week weddings, especially a morning wedding, meanwhile can save you thousands compared to weekend weddings.

Another solution could be to get married outdoors like we did! In most cases, a beach wedding or a forest wedding may only need permission from a local landowner. Some may charge a fee, but it’s unlikely to be a lot. You’ll be able to get married in the height of summer to up the chance of good weather. That said, it’s still worth hiring a marquee or two just in case the heavens do decide to open. Getting married abroad can tends to be cheaper too, so if you're happy to have a smaller guest list, it may be worth consideration.

Food and drink

A big chunk of your catering cost will go towards paying for staff. However, you may be able to cut out a lot of this.  Have drinks already put on the tables in ice buckets (you could have a spare table in case drinks run low). Meanwhile, consider hiring chefs to cook at the table. This could add extra entertainment whilst cutting out the need for waiting staff. Of course, there’s also the option of a buffet which saves on staff and also tends to have lower costs per head. It also gives the wedding a more casual, 'family feel' which we loved.

Photography

It’s worth having a professional photographer to take those memorable snaps that will stay with you for the rest of your life. That said you may know a friend or family member that’s into photography that could shoot your wedding for a cheaper rate. There’s also the option to hire photographers for a set period instead of the entire day. A wedding shoot just after the ceremony could be all you need – you may then be able to get guest to take snaps throughout the rest of the evening, which was fine for us.

Wedding Invites

Invites and other wedding stationary can be surprisingly pricey. There are companies out there that do budget wedding invitations ,many of which still look professional and stylish. Consider whether you need to send an invite to everyone or just the close guests going to your ceremony. A free digital invite could be all you need to invite those reception guests, of which there may be hundreds in some cases. It's also super tempting to go overboard with other stationary; menus, thank you card, order of service, the choice is endless! Think about whether it's all really necessary for your big day before shelling out.

Decorations

It’s easy to go overboard on the décor and blow your budget. Getting creative and knowing a few of the tricks of the trade might allow you to save costs. Lots of electric lights outdoors could be expensive. We made a lot of our decorations ourselves. Candles, or indeed Chinese lanterns, could give a more ambient and warm feel whilst costing less.

Florists meanwhile will often try to persuade you to buy the most expensive flowers. Don’t be pressured into doing this. Also consider how many flowers you realistically need. A big fancy flower feature may cost less than having flowers all over the place and is likely to stand out more.

Your cake can also be used decoratively. Consider having only a top layer of cake and lots of fake tiers beneath. It will still make a visual impact whilst costing less.

Wedding vehicle

Hiring a chauffeur and a vintage car won’t be cheap (a carriage will be even more expensive). Consider whether this needs to be a big spectacle – often dressing up your own car and getting someone else to drive it can have a cute and charming factor. You may even know a friend with an antique car who may be willing to let you borrow theirs for the day.

The dress

Every bride should be able to have a beautiful dress for their special day. If your dream dress is too much to purchase, consider hiring options. This will allow you to have a more extravagant dress for a fraction of the cost. Yes, owning the dress can sometimes feel better, but consider the fact that most people who buy dresses simply let them gather dust for years to come.

Of course, an alternative could be to buy a dress and then sell it after. There are lots of sites where you can sell your wedding dress. Photographs will provide all the memories you need.

 

A beautiful wedding doesn't need to cost the earth and, from someone who has been married just over a year, the main thing is that you are getting married to the one you love. Of course, it will be a wonderful and memorable day, but remember it's only one day out of the rest of your lives!

**This post is a brand collaboration**

Hey lovelies! I don't know about you but my home is my sanctuary, particularly my bedroom! For me, it has to be a place where I can relax and forget about the day. Bedrooms are supposed to be relaxing sanctuaries where one goes to rest and revitalize oneself, and there are few things more relaxing than nature, so why not combine the two to create a bedroom that is truly a sanctuary for you?

Here are some natural bedroom ideas that will help you relax and regain balance:

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Natural Colours

If you do nothing else, taking out the overwhelming colours from your bedroom and replacing them with the colours, you’ll find in nature, like browns, greens, tans, rich reds and warm greys will have an instant calming effect that will help you wind down at the end of a busy day.

 

Natural Fabrics

Natural fabrics like cotton and bamboo not only look closer to nature than their man-made fabrics, but they also feel a lot more natural too. This is especially important when you’re choosing bed sheets because they will be in contact with your skin for at least 8 hours every night. However, you should also look at purchasing a mattress which has been made from natural materials. Vi-spring beds, for example, are stuffed with horsehair and wool, and that makes them a lot more comfortable. Combined with a natural wood or bamboo bed frame, they will give you a naturally comfy place to rest your head.

 

Plants and Flowers

What could be more natural than plants and flowers? Bringing some greenery into the bedroom will not only calm you down and put you at ease but if you choose the right plants, they will also filter the air, so that you aren’t breathing in so many pollutants. Having plants in my bedroom is one of my favourite ways to feel truly surrounded by nature – even in London!

As well as bringing live plants and flowers into the bedroom, choosing fabrics, bedding and wallpapers which feature botanical motifs is a  great way to get the natural look indoors.

 

Wool Rugs

Everyone hates that moment when they step onto a stone cold floor in the morning. It’s a real shock to the system, but it’s one that’s easily avoided by investing in a couple of natural rugs and placing them on either side of the bed.

 

Face the Window

If privacy isn’t an issue and you have a nice view, moving your bed so that it faces the window is the best way to bring nature into your bedroom. Waking up seeing the sun rising or the birds in the trees will give you a real boost, as will gazing at the stars as you drift off into slumber.

 

Natural Accessories

No bedroom is complete without a few choice accessories to add interest, but instead of heading to Ikea and picking up a few manmade pieces, why not head to the beach and collect rocks and shells instead? Arrange them on your dressing table for a taste of the beach in your bedroom.

If you can’t get to the beach, start collecting sticks, acorns and moss, which when delicately arranged and wrapped with fairy lights can make a unique centrepiece for the dressing table that will immediately trigger your relaxation response.


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Once you’ve brought nature to the bedroom, I think you’ll notice that you feel a whole lot calmer at home. I hope you find these tips useful!

How do you make your bedroom a relaxing sanctuary?

***This post is a brand collaboration***

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!