If you’re getting married in the next year and you like the idea of an adventure for your honeymoon then read on, because today I’m giving away a surprise European honeymoon with Surprise Trips! Over the summer Gareth and I were lucky enough to go on a surprise weekend trip to Vienna. If you read that post then you’ll already know the drill – but just to remind you, Surprise Trips is a revolutionary new concept in vacationing!
You tell them your preferred departure airport, send them a short list of places you don’t want to visit, and they book you a completely surprise European holiday. This is an absolute adventure because you don’t find out where you’re going until two hours before your flight takes off!
They currently offer 77 destinations in Europe and the service is open to all UK, IE, CA, AUS, NZ and US passport holders (all flights depart from the UK or Ireland). All flights are at convenient times and are under 3 and a half hours. They let you know a few days beforehand what the weather forecast is at the place you’re going, but other than that you’re on your own!
If you want to find out more about how it works, head over and check out their site or watch the video below!
From 2010 to 2014, it was estimated that over 48 million carats of diamonds mined under horrific conditions made their way onto the international diamond market. Ever since the 2006 film Blood Diamond there has been a lot of talk about conflict diamonds and many socially-conscious brides are looking for other options.
If you don’t want to opt for an alternative stone, but you still want to make sure your diamond engagement or wedding ring is conflict-free, then here are some things to consider.
For this post we’ve partnered with MiaDonna & Co. who are an eco-friendly and conflict-free diamond engagement ring company.
Know what you’re looking for
The official definition of a conflict diamond is a “rough diamond mined in an area controlled by insurgent forces whose sale is used to finance anti-government military action.” The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) is one way to try and ensure that the diamond you’re buying is conflict-free, but at MiaDonna they believe that there is still no guarantee that it truly is. KPCS is a scheme with more than 75 member countries and UN approval, that came about as a response to diamond sales financing war efforts in Africa. Countries adhering to KPCS are supposed to meet strict requirements – they must trade diamonds only with each other and use Kimberley Process certificates to export diamonds. Unfortunately, diamond smugglers do not comply with these rules and regulations. This sometimes causes a ‘conflict-free’ label to be placed on conflict diamonds which negates the KPCS’s entire purpose.
At MiaDonna, they feel it is important to define a conflict diamond in a much broader scope, incorporating the protection of the environment as well as the native communities who live in these areas and are often forced to mine for diamonds.
Find an eco-friendly jeweller
MiaDonna & Co. pride themselves on the fact that they do more than simply create beautiful bridal jewellery. They believe conflict-free diamonds should positively impact both the environment and humanity. Each time you make a purchase with MiaDonna, a portion of the proceeds go into empowerment programs that help restore the lives and land in sub-Saharan Africa. They also donate countless hours to develop successful projects through their charity foundation, The Greener Diamond, which helps those who are affected by the unethical diamond mining industry.
When CEO, Anna-Mieke, learned the truth behind her own earth mined diamond engagement ring she became passionate about finding a conflict-free alternative. She soon realised that the only true conflict-free diamond was lab-created. As a result, MiaDonna was born.
When it comes to deciding on your wedding band, booking the right one is super important. The right music and/or entertainment will kick your reception off with a bang and set the mood for the rest of the night, whereas even the most amazing wedding can fall flat if the DJ is dodgy or the band are terrible!
Whether you want to hire a live band, a DJ, fire-breathers or trapeze artists, I’m sure you’ll want to know how to get the most out of your entertainers. So today I’ve partnered with The Band Boutique who are on hand to share some of their expert tips.
Hire a band that can perform in more than one style
There are lots of wedding bands who can perform in different styles which means you can basically get two types of entertainment for the price of one! Check out The Skip Jacks and Northern Quarter (both pictured) who can both perform their standard electric set, but can also do a folky, Mumford and Sons style set as well. This way you get the best of both worlds.
Ask your band if they can perform an earlier set at a discounted price
Wedding bands can seem expensive (especially ones with lots of members – generally the more members, the higher the price) however a lot of bands can do you a bit of a deal if they’re also performing earlier in the day.
If you’re planning on booking an evening band then it’s always worth asking if they can perform a shorter acoustic set during the day too, as they will likely give you a discounted price for both. It will almost certainly be cheaper than hiring another act all together.
Ask about song request
Most good bands will offer to learn your first dance song for free as part of their package, but if there are other songs that are special to you then in most cases bands will also learn them for an extra fee. However if a song isn’t on their set list, it’s always worth checking if they happen to know it anyway. They may have just taken it off their list because it’s not a popular choice anymore.
Find out about any sound restrictions before you book your venue
Unless your venue is out in the middle of nowhere, it is quite likely that there will be some sort of sound restriction in place. Many will have a decibel level the music has to stay below, and most will have a curfew as to when the music has to stop. If they have a sound limit, make sure you pass this information on to any band that you are interested in hiring when you enquire. If the band isn’t aware of any sound restrictions beforehand it can really ruin a great performance. In most cases they will be able to work around the restrictions in one way or another as long as they are aware in advance.
There are a few venues that stipulate no amplified music at all so if a live band is important to you then look elsewhere! While there is always the option of hiring an acoustic ‘busking style’ band, without amplification this will serve more as background music and won’t really be suitable for dancing.
Rachel & Jamie by Camera Hannah (full wedding featured in issue 11, on sale September 1st!)
Rose gold has definitely become the metal of 2016. It’s been all over the high street (from shoes to handbags and everything in between), is being used on tech products such as phones and laptops and of course cropping up in more and more costume jewellery too. I can totally see why – it’s warmer than white gold or silver, cheaper than platinum and a bit more youthful than yellow gold. It’s somehow wearable yet super luxurious with just a hint of cool all at the same time.
Despite being super popular on the high street, finding premium rose gold products like wedding bands and engagement rings can still be a bit tricky, which is why I wanted to share some of my favourite finds from Diamond Mansion with you today.
For those of you that haven’t heard of them, they are located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles’ historic jewellery district (but sell online and ship worldwide). What distinguishes Diamond Mansion from other jewellery companies is that, with the help of one of their friendly, patient, and knowledgeable customer service advisers, you can fully design a wedding or engagement ring to suit your budget or personal style.
Here are my favourite rose gold rings from their extensive collection. Remember each one can be customised, so rather than seeing these as ‘the’ ring you might get, think of them as starting off points for creating your own, completely unique dream engagement ring!
Rachel & Jamie by Camera Hannah (full wedding featured in issue 11, on sale September 1st!)
A quick Google search for ‘alternative bouquet ideas’ gives you a plethora of non-floral options of everything from brooches and buttons, paper roses, felt and even candy! There are so many ideas out there for brides that want something different for their bouquet other than flowers.
But what if you still want something unique, but you still like flowers? Well fret not, I am here to help!
Succulents are a great flower to use in a bouquet. They’re sturdy, look super cool and can even be re-potted and kept afterwards!
Rainbow roses are some of my favourites. Of course they’re not naturally these colours (they’re dyed) but they make for a completely spectacular bouquet which is perfect for a colour-loving bride to carry down the aisle.
I was walking around Brighton with my sister a few months ago when we spotted two oversized deckchairs that had been set up to promote an event. We decided to stop, hop on and take a quick photo and let me tell you we weren’t the only ones! There was a queue round the block of people waiting to do exactly the same thing. Who knew they’d be such a photo op hit? Well the guys at The Prop Factory clearly do because they’ve just launched giantdeckchairs.com, specifically for weddings!
They say, “Giant Deckchairs is the largest manufacturer and supplier of giant deckchairs all over the world. As the original creators, we have all the knowledge and experience to make our chairs the best and the highest in quality. Our customisable giant deckchairs are a massive head-turner at weddings, events and engagement photo shoots. We always get fantastic feedback from wedding parties – especially when it comes to the wedding photographs!”
“The chairs are entirely safe and tested too! They are BS EN tested to meet European safety standards and because we are an ethical company with an eye on the environment, the chairs use sustainable timber from an FSC Certified Supplier.”