Tattoos, Smoke Bombs & Pups: Trash The Dress Wedding in Chicago

If this is how you do weddings in Chicago, I want in. Let me just list the boxes Brandi and David ticked on their incredible day: a romantic rooftop first look, getting hand tattoos in their hotel room, playing with smoke bombs against the backdrop of a spectacular rainbow, and their two pups were the ring bearer and flower girl! Then, as if that wasn’t kickass enough, a week later the bride contacted photographers Ed and Aileen Photography to do a ‘trash the dress’ session, which took place in Lake Michigan on a 2°C day! That’s not just setting the bar high, that’s sending it stratospheric.

Brandi and David met through mutual friends when the bride worked at a burger bar. When he came in wearing a teal blazer from an ’80s party the night before, he made her laugh! “We started hanging out after that and I got that giddy feeling you get when you’re in middle school. I had no idea he had a crush on me, too”, she said.

The couple had a goal, rather than a set theme, which was to throw the biggest party they could, at ceremony venue Concord Fifty Five, filled with tacos, booze, food, music and love. Brandi said their inspiration was, “Really our personalities. We wanted everything to really show who we are as a couple. It is really the one time you get to throw a party and do what you want, so we definitely took advantage of that.” When we asked them what their budget was, Brandi said fabulously “What’s a budget? We fell just shy of $30K.”

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Romantic & Charitable Winter Wedding with a Lord Of The Rings Theme

Emily and Dave’s December wedding was a romantic candlelit affair, inspired by their love of Christmas and Lord of The Rings, and full of some of the most heart-warming stories we’ve ever seen in a wedding – including loads of charitable elements! Oh yeah – and there’s an Obama cardboard cut-out there as well, because Emily loves Obama…

“My obsession with Christmas definitely had an influence on plans,” Emily says, “but we tried to keep it subtle and cosy rather than going OTT with Santa and elves. We got married at the Red Lion at Burnsall, a beautiful country pub in Yorkshire with exposed beams, tartan chairs and a wood burning fire. We were lucky that our reception venue, Cracoe Village Hall, had an entire room we could dedicate to the kids, where we had a Christmas tree, electric toy train, kids’ Christmas activity packs and letters to Santa with sweets. For the adults, we had barrels of beer and cider on ice as well as baskets with blankets to stay warm in winter, a Christmas BBQ from Big D’s BBQ – and our favours were homemade hot chocolate packs too!”

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Wedding Planning & Taking Care of Your Mental Health

This week (May 14th-20th) is Mental Health Awareness week in the UK and one of our amazing freelance writers, Ellie Kime, is here to talk about the importance of taking care of yourself as you plan your wedding.

DIY wedding décor, giant floral arrangements and gold sequinned wedding dresses are, of course, super exciting, but nothing is more important than your mental health. Literally, no thing. And your mental health waits for no-one, regardless of whether you’re planning a holiday or planning a whole wedding.

How many times have people asked you about the ‘happiest day of your life’, expecting bouncing and bubbles and LOTS of squealing, whilst you’ve been sat there absolutely distraught and totally suffocated at the idea of the whole thing? How do you cope with wedding planning, famous for being super stressful, when you’re suffering with your own mental health? With 1 in 5 people suffering from mental health issues (and 1 in 4 in young women), know you’re not alone. We’ve compiled a few ways that you can be kind to yourself in the run up:

Talk to your partner

Be open with your partner about how you’re feeling. There shouldn’t be a stigma attached to mental health, and your partner should understand you better than anyone. Struggling with the incessant demands of wedding planning isn’t a reflection of how you feel about them and your relationship, so don’t feel ashamed in explaining how you’re coping. You’re in this together, in sickness and in mental health. And as cliché as it sounds – although let’s face it, clichés are famous for a reason – together, you can be a stronger force than just one.

Enlist help and delegate

Similarly, if you can, talk to your nearest and dearest so they can help you navigate the next few months of planning. Feelings of worthlessness often come alongside depression, but those around you will want to help in any way they can. Delegate the tasks that are really worrying you to give yourself more head space. Alternatively, look into hiring a wedding planner. A good wedding planner will organise your day exactly how you’d want it, so you can release the worrying and stress-inducing parts of planning without losing control over the process as a whole. There’s lots out there who’ll do the jobs you’d never dream people would do!

Don’t feel guilty if you’re not enjoying it

There’s this whole mythical aura surrounding weddings that everyone adored the whole planning process, from choosing venues to finalising food orders. Some couples do, don’t get me wrong, but the idea that every couple does is an airbrushed Instagram-esque alternative reality. Most of the real weddings we get submitted for publication mention how stressful the planning process was, so don’t feel guilty if you’re not enjoying it – it’s not just you!

Let’s face it, you got engaged because you’ve found the love of your life, not because you’re a highly decorated events coordinator with military precision, so don’t feel bad for not enjoying everything all the time.

Make things as easy as possible

Also, don’t feel guilty for taking an easy route if it’s there. Sure, you could DIY the shit out of your wedding, or you could have these exact candles sourced from very specific markets in Marrakech, but if it’s not important to you and not worth the struggle, don’t feel bad.

If finding suppliers is stressing you out, ask your venue for their recommendations – you’ll minimise the worry of finding them in the first place, but you’ll also minimise the stress on the wedding day itself, as they’ll know the venue inside out.

If the idea of going down the aisle in front of your guests is making you panic, don’t have an aisle, or come in with your partner on your arm, so you don’t have the pressure of their reaction with everyone’s beady eyes staring. And I know there’s nothing more infuriating than people telling you to ‘just stop’ when it’s important to you; but that’s not what this is about. It’s about finding the easiest way to do what you must, so that it’s as kind on you as possible. Do whatever you can to make you the most ‘you’ version of yourself at that point in time.

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Revamp, Restyle, Reveal: Our Kitchen Reveal!

You’re doing the kitchen… in four weeks!?!?”

That was pretty much the standard response we got when telling people about our insane plan to gut and basically rebuild our entire kitchen in a month. So why the ridiculous time frame? Well, we were invited to take part in Revamp, Restyle, Reveal – a challenge with ten bloggers, nine sponsors, one room (of our choice) and four weeks to make it over… And well, apparently my husband and I are suckers for punishment.

Our to do list was enormous:

♥ The door being used as a window in the middle of the outside wall needed taking out, bricking up and a new window putting in.
♥ The entire room needed plastering.
♥ Everything had to be painted (all the walls and the ceiling).
♥ A few of the electrical sockets needed moving and/or replacing.
♥ The sink needed to be moved (hence, plumbing!) and a new sink and tap fitted.
♥ Oh, and just the small matter of rejigging the layout and fitting a brand new kitchen + worktops!

With the onus on DIY, we also wanted to do a much as we were physically able to do ourselves and oh my god did Gareth step up to the challenge. To refresh your memory, here’s what the room looked like before (shudder).

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Pastel Perfection: Style Me Sunday for Rock n Roll Bride Magazine

Nothing says ‘spring wedding’ quite like a pastel colour scheme, but the idea doesn’t have to result in something syrupy, wishy-washy or overly traditional. Those delicate, girly hues can still be Rock n Roll – all it takes is an injection of fun! So throw on a buttery soft biker jacket, some chunky accessories and your favourite kicks, but most importantly always remember to rock a carefree ‘this is my wedding and I’m going to have a damn good time!’ attitude!

I was so thrilled when the utterly beautiful Natalie AKA Style Me Sunday agreed to model for us for this shoot, which was first published inside issue 19. In fact we loved her and the shoot so much we put her on the cover. It ended up being our best selling issue EVER and I don’t think that’s at all a coincidence.

Natalie is beautiful (inside and out) and a truly genuine, inspiring, spunky, opinionated babe. If you don’t already you need to follow her on Instagram now! Her about page on her blog sums what she does up brilliantly:

“The aim of this blog is to inspire mums to celebrate their uniqueness, share their struggles and experiences, and to show that there’s no such thing as perfect and anyway perfect is boring. We love curves, wrinkles, realness, anything that doesn’t pretend to fit into a cookie cutter mould. You’ll never see any photoshopping here.”

HELL YES QUEEN.

OK, on with the shoot:

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Losing Weight Isn’t a Prerequisite for Wedding Day Happiness

This week (May 14th-20th) is Mental Health Awareness week in the UK so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to revisit this article. Written for Rock n Roll Bride magazine issue 18 by body positive blogger Megan Jayne Crabbe (aka @bodyposipanda), the message is something I’ve been proudly fighting for since the inception of this blog – that you do not have to lose weight for your wedding! 

What colour will your flowers be?”
“Which caterer did you choose?”
“Will there be live music at the reception?”
“How much weight are you going to lose?”

23 pounds. That was the average amount that brides-to-be wanted to lose in a study conducted by Cornell University in 2008. In a study of 272 women, 70% wanted to lose weight, some by any means necessary. Out of all the pre-wedding dieters, 40% used at least one extreme weight control behaviour such as weight loss pills, skipping meals and fasting. Of women surveyed who had already bought their bridal gowns, 14% purposely bought a wedding dress one or more sizes smaller than their then-current dress size.

I wish that those numbers were surprising. But they’re not. Because as soon as that first ‘yes’ brushes past a bride-to-be’s lips with a ring full of promise gliding onto her finger, the expectation is there. Hovering over everything until the day she goes down the aisle.

Meet the Brides Who Lost 100 Pounds for their Big Day!

The Skinny Bride’s Guide to Wedding Dress Weight Loss!

What to Eat to Shed the Pounds before You Tie the Knot!

If you didn’t know any better you might think that every wedding came with a mandatory weigh-in before anyone was allowed to say ‘I do’. Didn’t shrink yourself down small enough? Sorry, try again in 6 months.

The message is inescapable – getting married in the body you already have just isn’t an option. Losing weight for your wedding seems more like an unquestionable commandment than a choice. But honestly? It is a choice. One that you have full, unrelenting permission to opt out of. Before you decide on that though, maybe we should do some questioning of the unquestionable, starting with where the ‘Every Bride Must Lose Weight for the Wedding’ commandment comes from. To do that we have to talk about two things: Money, and what it means to be a woman in our society.

We live in a world that’s obsessed with weight loss whether there’s a wedding to plan or not. Everywhere we turn we’re being fed the message that thinner is better and that changing our bodies is the ultimate key to happiness. The message comes in many forms: Adverts on TV for a special drink that expands in your stomach. Billboards miles high with ‘I lost 5lbs my first week at *insert weight loss group here*!’ plastered above a smiling face. Supermarket aisles filled with guilt-free, low-calorie, no-sugar desserts, and overheard whispers in every public place we go about pounds dropped and calories cut.

What all of these messages add up to is a culture that prizes weight loss above all else; a diet culture. And make no mistake – although it’s packaged up as happiness, beauty, and often even health, it’s rooted in cold hard cash. The diet industry in the UK is worth around £2 billion (and in the US, closer to $60 billion). That’s how much money we spend trying to shrink our bodies, and the people on the receiving end of the cash know exactly how to make us keep spending.

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