Category Archives: Wedding Planning Advice

Should You Elope?

Elopement. This is a word that I’m certain has gone through every bride and groom’s mind at least one during the somewhat gruelling process of planning a wedding. So what happens when you actually decide to act upon it? Lisa Valentine did just that.

When Adam and I got engaged last year, we began to organise our big day shortly afterwards. We flitted between venue ideas, numbers, how long it’d take to save etc. We even picked a date, however a key family member couldn’t make that weekend. So we re-arranged. And yes, another one of our nearest and dearest already had plans on that date. Frustration began to creep in.

The other key factor is that we are both shy. Being painfully introverted meant that the idea of walking down an aisle lined with people filled me with genuine fear. We’d joked about eloping in the past but assumed that, well, we just couldn’t. Our parents would surely be heartbroken and weddings are supposed to be about family after all.

The more we delved into wedding planning, the less fun it became. I was fed up of spending our precious weekends looking at budget venues and finding a wedding dress was proving to be a pretty traumatic experience for me!

After coming home from yet another bridal shop empty handed and deflated, I suggested the idea of elopement again to Adam. I’m still not sure if I truly meant it at the time but the more we talked, the more it began to make sense.

Breaking the news to our family was nerve-racking but you know what? It was actually OK. No drama or fall outs. I’m sure our folks would have loved to see us marry but deep down, they just wanted us to be happy. I am forever grateful to have such understanding and selfless people around us.

In October 2016, we boarded a plane to New York City and tied the knot at the City Clerk’s office, just the two of us.

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Why Every Bride Should do a Boudoir Shoot

Boudoir shoots are nothing new. Hell, I had one when I was engaged in 2007 (and no I’m not going to show you them!) While lots of brides might consider doing them, I’d have to hasten a guess that a lot of you reading this might have dismissed the idea as something silly, vein and super embarrassing. While in 2007 the main marketing push for boudoir photos was an “a gift for your man” (vom) ten years later and I’d still like to encourage you to consider doing one, but as a gift for YOURSELF.

A boudoir shoot is a great way to celebrate what a gorgeous bad ass you are and to create some amazing photographs to reflect that. It’s often easy to get swept up with work, life and current insecurities and not celebrate who we are. It’s a cliche, but when you’re much older I guarantee you’ll look back at photos of yourself now and think “Wow what a babe I was back then!” This is your chance to take some photos for you, but also for future you!

I was submitted this gorgeous set of images by Italian wedding photographer Ludovica Lanzafami recently, and I thought as well as sharing them, I’d use this post to share some things to think about if you’re considering your own boudoir shoot.

Choose the right photographer

This is obviously really important. You want to find a photographer you feel happy with, who will make you feel comfortable. You also want someone who’s on the same wavelength, who understands the style of imagery you want to produce.

Meet them in advance

If possible, I think its always a good idea to meet any photographer before you hire them (whatever the shoot) but especially if you’re doing a boudoir session. It doesn’t matter if the shoot is going to be tame or risque, you’re going to be in a potentially vulnerable situation so you need to be sure you feel good about who you’re hiring.

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Your Size Has Nothing to do with How Happy You’ll be on Your Wedding Day

Many brides-to-be spend months obsessing about losing weight for their weddings. But size 24 fashion blogger, Callie Thorpe, has an inspirational message for us all.

On the 6th of August last year I married my boy. We shared our day with 45 close friends and family in a London warehouse venue. The sun shone bright, we ate ice cream sandwiches for dessert and danced the night away. My dress was a champagne, lace, trumpet gown from Oleg Cassini and (at size 24) I felt more beautiful than ever.

Our wedding ended up going viral, from one important statement I made about my decision to not lose weight for my wedding. The likes of Cosmopolitan, Instyle, Marie Claire and many others featured my story and today I want to share it with you.

The reality is I am a rarity, the wedding industry doesn’t often cater for women that look like me, women with lumps and bumps and thighs that touch. The women on the front of bridal magazines are visions of perfection, perfectly slender, skin so flawless, hair so soft. When you are a plus size bride the idea is that you don’t stay plus size for long because rule number one when planning a wedding: Lose weight.

It’s just the thing you do, almost like a rite of passage, you have one day to look your absolute best and weight loss is deemed the way to get that. You only have to click on Pinterest to see the many wedding diet plans plastered all over the page. ‘Become the woman you want to be for your wedding’ ‘How to lose 14 stone in day’ (well maybe not quite that much but you get my drift).

But what if you are the woman you want to be? What if you and your significant other love you for exactly who you already are?

Early on into planning I began to search for my dream dress, I had no idea what style I wanted so I looked online and called a few boutiques in London to try and find somewhere to try on some dresses. Whilst most were lovely, many told me that they just didn’t stock samples in my size. The only way to try on a dress would be to pin it to me meaning I would simply have to imagine how a dress would look on me instead of seeing it for myself. My heart broke a little, my wedding dreams were crushed, I wanted to experience the trying on of dresses, I wanted to see what it felt like to feel like an actual bride. Annoyed that in one of the best places for shopping in the world I couldn’t get a dress in my size, I asked on Twitter if other plus size women had experienced the same issues. So many people responded with equal disappointment. Some spoke of bad treatment in stores by staff, some described being pinned into dresses much too small for them, some refused to even subject themselves to the experience at all in fear of feeling bad about their bodies. It really shocked me. How could something which is meant to be about celebrating love contribute to making people feel low?

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The Rock n Roll Art of the Wedding Speech

Heidi Ellert-McDermott of Speechy, who help craft bespoke (and brilliant) wedding speeches, is here today to encourage you to think outside the box for the words that will be said at your wedding.

Too many brides are missing the Rock n Roll potential of their wedding speeches. It’s not about etiquette books, a long list of thank yous or ‘his job’ anymore, it’s about dropping a lovebomb on the party and kick-starting your marriage with a bang.

As a ballsy bride you might be thinking traditional speeches aren’t for you and you’re right, traditional ones don’t have to be. So burn the etiquette books, kill off those cut-and-paste templates, run a mile at a pun and you’re half way there.

This is your opportunity to welcome your guests, make them feel loved and get them in the mood to party. It’s also an once-in-a-lifetime chance to shout about what a sublime example of gorgeousness you’ve married without being considered a little bit smug.

Promise, the words are your wedding can be just as cool as anything you find on Pinterest or Etsy – only cheaper, unique and a whole lot more memorable.

Here’s some of our favourite ideas of doing speeches a bit differently.

Get involved

Controversial we know. Even in 2017 the vast majority of brides want to sit back, sip the Champers and let the boys do the speeches. Fair enough, you deserve a break and maybe your partner is more comfortable speaking in front of an audience. But have a think about it.
Are you cool having someone ‘speak on behalf of you’ when you’re not drunk and they’re not helping you into a taxi? Wouldn’t your friends and family love to hear from you on the day? And wouldn’t you actually enjoy being really bloody nice about the person who’s just married you?

Of the hundreds of women we met at a wedding show recently only a handful said they were planning on giving a speech. We’re still not sure why us girls go mute when it comes to getting married, but this isn’t really about feminism; it’s about doing something different, feeling like a rockstar and increasing your level of coolness by a zillion.

The not-a-speech speech

Whether it’s you or your partner, the speech will stand out if it doesn’t sound like a speech.
Don’t get tied down by all the usual ‘to dos’ and make sure it doesn’t become a roll call of thank yous. Instead, tell a story.

Tell everyone in the room why you two decided to tolerate each other’s quirks and individual madness for the rest of your lives. Remind people why no other nutter would do.

Get creative. If you’re planning a festival style wedding then maybe chronicle your relationship through your shared love of music and the debates you’ve had over the vinyl collection. If you’re both bookworms compare yourselves to your favourite literary characters and their qualities; Holden Caulfield’s innocence, Patrick Bateman’s humour?!

Something else a bit different; a joint Mr & Mrs Speech. Delivering a speech together shows you’re an equal partnership; one that can quickly establish a comedy double act and get the guests laughing. It’s also a lot of fun.

Spontaneous speeches

Admittedly the politics of speeches can get a bit tiresome. Dad versus step dad, best woman versus best man, your funny mate versus your old friend from school. One way to avoid this is to have ‘spontaneous speeches’. The idea is stolen from the continent where it’s not unusual for everyone to propose a toast to the newlyweds. 

Basically there are no formal speeches but invites encourage guests to ‘feel free to call for silence and say something (nice!) or read a verse, or just say Hooray or raise a toast’ throughout the wedding meal (usually between courses). This totally works for boho weddings because it’s casual, cool and generally gets more fun the more wine has been consumed.

Tequila Toasts

Gone are the days when we need to toast the ‘health and happiness of the happy couple’ with a glass of Champagne. Toasts should reflect you as a couple whether that’s a shot of tequila, a glug of bourbon or a sip of Indian chai. Be inventive but equally don’t be insulted in Nan rejects the Jack Daniels option.

Also forget the tired clichés and make sure you toast something that’s meaningful to you. Perhaps ‘decades of dancing on tables and inspiring each other’s tattoos’.

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Wonky Bride Seeks Winning Wedding: A Disabled Bride’s Wedding Journey

Newlywed Kelly Heath talks to us about planning a wedding with muscular dystrophy and has some brilliant advice for other disabled brides.

Crystal chandeliers, plush carpets, huge white dresses, intimidating staff… I was standing in their bridal boutique with my raccoon print dress, pom-pom covered handbag and my bright purple walking stick and I have never felt more uncomfortable in my life!

At that time I was on bridesmaid duties and I was not even a bride-to-be but I remember distinctly thinking “I do NOT want to come somewhere like this if I ever need to look for a wedding dress”. Fast forward a few years and I was a bride-to-be (hurrah!) but I was DREADING dress shopping. I am disabled, I have muscular dystrophy which is a bit rubbish but I do not let this hold me back nor do I let it define me. I have a wonderfully wonky body with a curved back, weak legs and arms that cannot be raised easily.

I am ashamed to admit that when it was my turn to be the bride I agonised over the models I saw advertising wedding dresses. I knew I wouldn’t even be able to get half of them on and that even if I did they’d probably look ridiculous on me.

When you’re disabled, planning a wedding can feel even more daunting than usual. As I’m now a full-fledged Rock n Roll wife (!) I want to share some of the things I learnt along the way with you all.

The venue search

The internet is definitely your best friend when it comes to choosing a venue. You do not want to be physically visiting countless venues if they are completely unsuitable for your requirements. I had a long list of things we needed and at times I wasn’t sure we’d ever find somewhere suitable. Do not get disheartened if you are ruling out a lot of them, your ideal venue is out there! If your questions aren’t answered on the venue’s website, email or call them to check before you schedule a visit.

Our venue, Roadford Lake in Devon, was perfect for us because it was all on one level, had wheelchair access down to the lake for photos and the staff there were excellent. I also requested chairs to be dotted around everywhere so when I went round to speak to all our guests, I could sit down if I got tired.

Dress shopping

I was looking for a non-terrifying wedding dress shop that had patient staff that wouldn’t mind me potentially getting stuck in their dresses or falling into their beautifully set up displays. Luckily I found it in Eleanor Florence in Yeovil who were amazing.

If you mobility is limited, you need to make sure you’ll have easy access into the shop. It’s also good to give the staff a heads up about your specific needs so they can accommodate. Maybe they can give you a longer appointment or a larger changing room. I can walk and stand for a small amount of time but my legs become tired and weak quickly so I told the staff the styles of dresses I liked and whilst I sat, they brought them to me which was just brilliant.

I asked for only dresses that I could step into, as I knew I would not be able to get on any that went over my head. I also asked for a chair in the dressing room so I could sit down and manoeuvre my legs into the dress before standing up.

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The Last Five Years in LGBTQ Wedding Planning

Photo: Megan Melia

To celebrate Pride Month in the US, Kate Schaefer, founder and editor of the fantastic LGBTQ wedding planning resource, H&H Weddings, is here to discuss how she’s seen LGBTQ planning change over her past five years in the industry.

The year was 2012. I was a 20-something-year-old intern, sitting at my desk in Brooklyn, essentially rolling my eyes at the Huffington Post piece I was reading. This bride-to-be was venting about how she, as a lesbian, had no resources for planning her wedding. “This is nuts”, I thought. And then I started doing some research because, let’s be honest, I wasn’t actually doing anything else.

As it turns out, the only part about the situation that was nuts was the fact that the bride-to-be was 100% right. The only same-sex/LGBTQ+ wedding resources looked like they had been designed in 1992. I decided to change that.

At the time, my knowledge of weddings was based off of the three or so episodes of Say Yes To The Dress that I had seen. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I was determined to get something going. LGBTQ+ folks deserved a beautiful, useful blog where they could go to see themselves, not just a straight wedding blog that occasionally featured a Ken & Ken/Barbie & Barbie-like couple.

Since 2012, I’ve seen many changes in the LGBTQ+ wedding space. People (on all parts of the spectrum) are choosing to make their ceremonies more and more personal. Five years ago, it often felt like a couple was just taking the hetero wedding mold and plugging themselves into the equation, which meant that, frequently, one member of the couple ended up being labelled the ‘bride’ and the other the ‘groom’ despite the fact that that (obviously) wasn’t the case.

The ceremony

We’ve featured hundreds of weddings on H&H Weddings and we’ve seen couples walk with each other down aisles, we’ve seen circular ceremony set ups, we’ve seen couples walk down aisles, simultaneously, towards each other. One of my favourite ever ceremonies we shared was Zoe & Lil’s outdoor ceremony. They set up a circle around them so that, while they said their vows, they were surrounded by friends and family!

 We’ve seen people dance and cry and laugh while walking down the aisle. We’ve seen people write their own vows and even sing their vows. The long and the short of it? Do whatever the fuck you want. It’s your wedding. No one knows your love like you, why not express it how it feels best?

The wedding party

We have also seen big changes in wedding party set ups. We’ve shared weddings with huge wedding parties and no wedding parties. We have seen wedding parties made up of all gender identities (straight couples, take note on this one! Why would a bride’s brother stand on her husband’s side of the wedding party?!)

The outfits

One of my favourite ways that couples get creative these days is attire! I used to feel like I saw a lot of uncomfortable brides in dresses because that’s what they felt like they were supposed to do. It was as if you had to options as a bride: 1. Wear a dress or 2. Wear an ill-fitting Men’s Warehouse suit that was frumpy.

Now, there are a ton of suiting companies that cater to people of all gender identities and expressions such as Bindle & Keep, Kipper Clothiers, Duchess Clothiers and Sharpe Suiting (just to name a few!). Another favourite of ours is House of Ollichon. They do wedding attire without a single dress in sight! Such a breath of fresh air! As well, couples are wearing a plethora of colours, jumpsuits, rompers, suiting combinations, shorts, dresses, skirts, really, whatever makes them feel their best, which is exactly what we like to see.

Photo: Rachelle Derouin Photography

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