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!

 

With wedding season nearly upon us no doubt many of us will be racking our brains for present ideas. True, most people make a gift registry these days so things are a bit more simple. But if they don’t (or you just don’t fancy buying another cutlery set for the sixth time) then you may need to come up with your own idea!

I love gift giving for any occasion and I think it’s so important, especially for a wedding, to choose something meaningful that the receiver will actually like. If you don’t know the couple super well, this can be tricky,. However, as a newlywed myself I have the inside knowledge on a gift a newly married couple will love and might actually need.

All of these gifts were sourced from my favourite gift-giving website: notonthehighstreet.com

Personalised Wedding Keepsake Box // £39.95

Most couples will have already purchased a beautiful personalised wedding album, but the keepsake box is often overlooked. After my wedding I found I had lots of ‘bits’ that I wanted to keep – an invitation, dried rose from my bouquet, spare favour, card from Paul from the morning-of and so on. A cute little box is the perfect box they never knew they needed.

Personalised Special Occasion Photo Frame // £25

If you know the happy couple have a lot of space on their wall to fill I think this ‘Insta-shaped’ photo frame is a really cute idea. Most newlyweds will choose their favourite professional photographs and have them displayed proudly – probably blown up on canvas. If I was buying this gift I would find all the best and most hilarious ‘candid shots’ on Instagram and fill the frame with these. That way every time they look at it they will be taken back to how happy they felt on the day with their loved ones.

Heart Personalised Candle // £29

Because who doesn’t love a scented candle right?! I spend a fortune on them, so I’m always delighted when I get one as a gift. And with the couples initials on it this candle makes for a really cute wedding gift that they will 100% get great use out of. More than a silver cheese knife let me tell you.

Personalised Wooden Luggage Tags // £34

This gift is super useful and it’s highly unlikely to be thought of by anyone else. These luggage tags are really stylish and your newlyweds will LOVE them for their honeymoon. The plus-side of getting tags with their full names on rather than just the traditional ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’ which honeymoon luggage tags normally have, is that they can continue to use these for holidays after their honeymoon!

Tree of Love // £35

I love this idea. Plant the tree and watch it grow as the couples lives together and their family grows. So cute, I would have loved to receive one of these. Only slight hitch is – we don’t have a garden! So before purchasing this wonderful gift it probably is worth checking a few things. A) the couple have a garden big enough for a tree and B) they are in a home that they so far intend to stay in for a while. If they are currently renting an ‘in between’ house then it would be unfortunate to plant the Tree of Love only to have to dig it up a few months later!

Framed Personalised Song Lyrics Print // £34

If you are close to the bride or groom and know their first dance song in advance then this is a seriously amazing gift for a seriously stylish couple. I adore this print and am actually considering buying this for my own home! Not only is it a gorgeous and poignant reminder of your first dance song lyrics, it’s also printed in beautiful gold AND these lyrics pictured just so happy to be from my own first dance song; ‘Thinking Out Loud’.

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I hope these have given you some ideas if you’re a bit stuck as to what to get a hubby and wife to be! Weddings are special so chose something thoughtful, meaningful and that is as special as they are!

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


I’m so excited to finally share this news because I’ve been keeping it secret for ages just incase. I’m so happy to finally confirm that our wedding was selected for the Real Weddings section of national magazine Wedding Ideas Mag! We are in the December issue which is on supermarket shelves now!

I was delighted when they wanted to feature some of our photography and even more delighted when they asked me to write the article that accompanied the photos- seeing my words in print for the first time is truly special and has spurred me on even more to continue with my writing.

When we got the email confirming that our issue was released we rushed down to the supermarket right away and bought a few copies. I could barely contain my excitement as I ripped one open and saw our name on the contents page! Maybe it sounds vain but I was so excited to see us in a magazine. I hope that all the information and ideas that we provided will give some inspiration to other couples thinking of a relaxed beach wedding.

So – that’s my exciting news! Big thanks to Wedding Ideas Magazine for choosing us and here’s to much more writing in magazines in the future!!! Fingers crossed.

Would you ever send your wedding pictures to a magazine?

Want to see more of our wedding? Follow my insta or Facebook page for wedding photos.