Category Archives: Wedding Planning Advice

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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Ten Alternative Buttonhole Ideas

Buttonhole: Bloomologie

Why should girls have all the fun? Today Kate Beavis of Magpie Wedding is here to share some unique, alternative buttonhole ideas that your boys will actually really want to wear.

Often when planning the flowers for your wedding day, it can be easy to focus on the bridal bouquet and table decorations. Don’t forget about the boys’ buttonholes though! There are so many great ideas, and they can really add personality to their wedding day attire. Why not go for something brighter and bolder than a simple rose?

Here are some of my favourite designs to inspire you.

1. Buttons

Buttonhole: Charlotte Laurie Designs

How about using buttons to create a flower shape? The best part is you can choose the key colours from your overall wedding theme and incorporate them easily. You could even take it on step further and use the same colours in their accessories like the tie and braces. Layering different colours together will give a 3D effect, which you’d expect from a real flower, and patterned designs will create something really playful.

2. Paper

Buttonhole: Flipside Bride

If you’re having a paper flower bouquet (or even if you’re not!) paper is a great, and cheap, material for buttonholes. The pattern on the paper will also really add to the design. For something pretty you could use a floral pattern, but what about something bolder such as comic book pages or vintage maps? Even better if this matches your theme! Finish the flower with a simple button or some beaded felt for the leaves to included some different textures.

3. Brooches

Buttonhole: Maddison Rocks Floral Sculpture

Adding jewellery to a buttonhole doesn’t need to look feminine. These bird brooches are perfect for an outdoor, springtime, vintage-inspired wedding. For a rockabilly theme why not look for an anchor brooch, or for a steampunk theme you could use cogs and wheels!

4. Felt

Buttonhole: Charlotte Laurie Designs

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How to Find a Plus Size Wedding Dress for Under £150

‘Flora’ by Chi Chi London, £74.99

For many brides, the dress shopping experience is one of the most exciting times of planning a wedding. Getting together with a gaggle of girlfriends, swooning over all the pretties hanging on the rails, experiencing that magical moment when you find ‘the one’ and (hopefully) making everyone cry! Brides have been buying their wedding dresses this way for a very long time, hell I even did it, and I loved every moment.

However the 2017 bride has way more choice and shopping for a wedding dress doesn’t have to be the same experience that it’s always been. In fact recent reports suggest that brides are choosing to spend less money on their wedding dress in a bid to focus their financial efforts elsewhere – on say, buying a house, or starting a family.

The media loves to blast the wedding industry for over-inflated prices and outrageously expensive wedding dresses. Don’t worry, this article is not another one of those! While I have always championed not going into debt for your wedding, and the fact that if you don’t want to spend a lot to get married you don’t have to, I am also of the belief that quality costs money for a reason (higher quality of fabrics, hand made techniques that take a lot of time etc). However if you can’t, or don’t want to, spend a mortgage payment on your wedding dress, there have never been more budget-friendly alternatives available to you than right now!

Another thing I’m hearing more and more from my readers is the struggle that plus size brides are having marrying (boom boom!) a more cost effective wedding dress option with something that fits (and suits!) them. I mean, the Topshop bridal collection was lovely and all, but was pretty much exclusively aimed at women under a size 12 IMHO.

So today, I wanted to share with you some of my favourite plus size inclusive bridal brands that not only make dresses that will look amazing on you whatever your shape or size, but they’ll keep your wallet happy too!

‘Carmen’ by Chi Chi London, £64.99

Voodoo Vixen‘s curve line ranges from 1XL-4XL (UK sizes 16-26) and includes a number of adorable bridal dresses. Unfortunately not all of their occasion dresses are available in their curve sizes, but their prices are incredibly reasonable, starting from just £60!

Chi Chi London have been a Rock n Roll Bride favourite for a while now, and with good reason. Their dresses are cute, great quality and insanely affordable. PLUS, after noticing that more and more brides on a budget were rocking their dresses for their weddings, they have just released an actual wedding collection meaning there is now more choice than ever! While not every style is available in every size, their curve collection does goes up to a UK size 26. 

Vivien of Holloway, one of the original purveyor of reproduction retro style dresses, have been offering a bridal range for many years. Their stunning satin gowns start from £99 and are done by measurements, rather than standard sizing. The largest size they offer is a 46 in bust and a 38 in waist.

Monsoon‘s wedding dress collection might not be priced at under £150 (they’re more like £250-£500, so still a great price!) but did you know they also go up to a size 22 in a lot of their gowns? Perfect for the babe who wants something a bit more bohemian in style.

‘Flora’ by Chi Chi London, £74.99

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