Category Archives: Personal Rambles

The Man I Married

How exactly do you condense ten years of marriage into a few simple sentences? The ups, the downs, the soul-crushing hard times and the heart-elevating incredible ones?

It’s almost impossible not to just reel off clichés about how he’s my rock, my reason for living, my soulmate and my best friend. But I’ve come to learn over the years that clichés are clichés because they’re true. All of them. And Gareth is all those things and so much more.

So, I’ll keep this short and sweet (for once!)

The man I married is strong, humble, smart, hard-working, generous, kind, intelligent beyond belief and so fucking handsome I can’t quite believe my luck.

The man I married looks at me most days with a combination of bemusement about my latest crazy idea, a subtle eye-roll at my desperation to get it off the ground RIGHT THIS SECOND and a glint in those baby blues that says “It’s a good job I think you’re pretty…”

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Transforming My Wedding Dress for Our 10 Year Anniversary

In four days Gareth and I will celebrate our TEN YEAR wedding anniversary. I can’t quite believe it! A DECADE.

With such a momentous milestone coming up, last year I started to think about ways we could celebrate. While moving over the summer, I pulled my wedding dress out of the back of my wardrobe to bring it over to the new house and I realised, bar a few photo shoots at the start of my blogging career (anyone remember these?!) it’s pretty much sat there, collecting dust and getting all moth-eaten, since then. It’s actually kinda sad when you think about it. You spend such a happy, important day in this dress and then it’s either sold on, trashed or, like mine, relegated to the back of a closet.

So, my dress wasn’t the most ‘out there’ wedding gown you will have ever seen and the fact I rocked some Converse was pretty fucking revolutionary (the pink veil photo was a shoot, I wish I’d been brave enough to add some colour to my actual wedding day look!) But when I was looking for a dress in 2007 the wedding industry was such a different place. In fact I don’t think I saw ANY dresses that weren’t strapless. I mean, I’m sure they existed, but without a resource like Rock n Roll Bride to guide me I had no idea where I’d even look for something more alternative.

My dress was by Sottero and Midgley, and if I’m totally honest, it was the first one I tried on that I didn’t absolutely hate. I asked the shop if we could replace the original baby pink sash with a black one which it caused quite a few raised eyebrows! How very edgy. Also, can you believe we had a monochrome themed wedding? Oh how things have changed!

So here I was, almost a decade later, planning for our big anniversary and wondering what we could do to mark the occasion. People ALWAYS ask me what we’d do differently if we were getting married now (hint: E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G) and so I thought it would be really amazing if I could rework my dress and turn it into the kind of gown I’d like to wear if I was a 2018 bride!

There was only one lady I wanted to help me with this project: Jo of The Couture Company, based in Birmingham. Now usually The Couture Company don’t upcycle other dresses, all their gowns are made to order, totally unique and made exactly to the bride’s ideas and specifications, BUT she’s a friend and so when I told her my idea she jumped at the chance to be involved! I went up to see her late last year with my dress in tow and we came up with a plan of attack.

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How I Started Rock n Roll Bride (AKA If I Can Do it, You Bloody Well Can Too!)

Photo by June Photography

One of the questions I’m asked the most often is “How did you start Rock n Roll Bride?” There’s a short version that I reel off without a second thought, but after reading this post by my friends at Bespoke Bride I was inspired to put digital pen to digital paper and write about it in much more detail. Maybe it will help you if you’re just starting out with your own business, or maybe it’ll be nothing more than a welcome distraction from that other thing you’re really supposed to be doing right now! Regardless I think it’ll be a fun exercise for me to journey back down memory lane for a bit.

Gareth proposed to me on April 12th 2007, exactly five years to the day since we started dating. Although I was never really the kind of person to ever think about her wedding (I knew Gareth was ‘the one’ but as a child of a messy divorce he’d told me many times he wasn’t sure if he ever wanted to get married), I threw myself into wedding planning WHOLEHEARTEDLY. I have quite an obsessive personality and if I like something I REALLY REALLY like it… to the extreme!

I went out and bought every single wedding magazine and like many of you, I’m sure, immediately felt incredibly disappointed with what was on offer. I didn’t really like ANYTHING, but as it felt like something semi-traditional it was the only option, we started planning our wedding, inspired by what we saw. The thought that we didn’t have to get married in a fancy wedding venue, I didn’t have to wear a white dress and chair covers were something we could chuck out the proverbial window didn’t even cross my 24-year old mind.

A few months later, I was spending one of my many frantic Googling sessions looking for slightly cooler wedding stuff when I stumbled across some American wedding blogs: Ruffled, Green Wedding Shoes and the now defunct Eastside Bride, The Unbride and Snippet & Ink. They had all just started and they weren’t the big, glossy online publishers you see today. They were basic blog layouts with simple designs and were updated daily, being run by girls just like me who were also planning their weddings. Although not everything they shared was quite my style, the fact that these bloggers were updating their sites every day made them a constant source of inspiration. Plus, their ideas were definitely more palatable than what was being offered by Brides Magazine.

I was immediately hooked, checking in with my favourites every single day. After a few weeks, sometime around mid-October 2007, I decided I wanted in on the action and started my own wedding planning blog! With literally zero technical ability I managed to set up rocknrollbride.blogspot.co.uk (someone else now has that domain so if you visit it the stuff on there has nothing to do with me!) using some free blogging software and a design template. I can’t remember, or find, what I had as my ‘logo’ when I first launched, but after our wedding in April 2008, I took some of our wedding pictures, opened Photoshop and created the most god-awful blog header I’ve ever seen…

The name was inspired by our first meeting with our wedding photographers who said we were definitely the most ‘Rock n Roll’ couple they’d ever had! Looking back, we so weren’t that alternative (especially not compared to all the amazing couples and weddings I see now) but I’m grateful for that throwaway comment!

I blogged about everything and anything to do with weddings, posting multiple times a day. I was OBSESSED. I didn’t care (or realise) how rookie it was, or that the website was ugly as sin, or that my writing wasn’t great and was FULL of typos. I just wrote and uploaded and published on repeat for about eight months.

Oh, and I should probably mention at this point that I kept my online presence a total secret from everyone I knew in real life… yes even Gareth!

OK so fast forward to late 2008, and although by this point we were married, I still kept sharing wedding stuff (in secret) on the blog. The site had quite a loyal, if not small, following by this point. Remember this was before most social media (I had a personal Facebook but wasn’t yet using Twitter. Instagram and Pinterest didn’t even exist!) so I didn’t really know exactly how many readers I had, but I’d see the same names popping up in the blog comments.

Anyway, I heard about this thing called Google Analytics, something you could put on your site to see how many people were visiting it. And despite being completely technically inept, I attempted to install it myself and somehow, SOMEHOW, I deleted the whole fucking website. Yes, it was GONE, erased from the internet forever!!

So, I went to my new husband, who by the way is a computer genius (yet I was even too embarrassed to tell him that I was writing about weddings online) and told him I had this blog… about weddings… and that I’d kinda accidentally deleted it. TO THIS DAY Gareth has no idea how I managed to do this, and although at the time I was so gutted that all my work had gone (HA!) it was actually one of the best things that could have happened. It forced me to start again and re-evaluate what and why I was doing it. Like, if I was really into this whole wedding thing, and I wanted to keep writing about them, the website had to have a purpose. I was no longer a bride so it couldn’t just be a personal diary anymore, it had to be useful to people, it had to offer something different to the other wedding blogs I was reading. He helped me register rocknrollbride.com and start using a much better blogging platform called WordPress. I started it up again in January 2009.

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Instagram, Facebook & Blogging: The Future of Rock n Roll Bride

It feels like actual forever since I’ve sat down and had a proper chat with you guys on my blog. Of course I keep up to date with you all on Instagram and Facebook (particularly in our ever-growing private Facebook group, we now have nearly 13,000 members!) but this space has been a little neglected on the old personal content side.

I’ve read a few articles from some of my favourite bloggers recently on this same topic: Blogging vs social media, and their feelings towards how things are shifting. They all say that they really want to commit to blogging more, that they love their blogs so much, but that it’s now a much harder medium to keep on top of and get engagement on. I remember when I used to write a personal blog post and it would receive hundreds of comments. Now things are pretty good if they get like 5! Whereas on Instagram my posts still get a lot of traction because its quick and easy for people to hit “like” or leave a short comment.

I’ve always said that, in business, putting all your eggs in one social media basket is really risky. Yes, Instagram is where it’s at right now, but what if they screw with the algorithm so much that no-one sees your posts unless you pay (they are owned by Facebook now after all)? I still think it’s really important to have your own platform, like a website or blog, that you completely own, in case things all go tits up over on the IG.

I’m not gonna lie, it can be a bit disheartening that it’s so damn difficult to get people to actually click over and read a blog post you’ve spent a long time on. People are all about staying on Facebook or liking things on Instagram, but ask them to click a link to read a longer article away from their favourite platform and it’s like tumbleweed. What is that about? Are we just getting so damn lazy online that unless the content is right there in our face we can’t be arsed to make the effort to click a link to read it? The answer is yes by the way, yes we are.

This morning I did a poll on my Instagram Stories to ask how many of my followers actually ever visited the blog, and I was genuinely chuffed to see that 65% of them did regularly click though (I’ve seen results from other bloggers that were much more depressingly low!) However, unsurprisingly only 24% of them said they regularly visited the blog off their own backs. They needed prompting (with a social media post) and they’d click through if the content sounded interesting to them. I remember a few years ago I literally used to bookmark my favourite blogs and visit them every single day to see their updates. Those days are long gone my friends!

I also asked people to DM me with their general thoughts on blogs, specifically if they ever read them or just prefer social media content and the results were actually really encouraging and interesting too.

A lot of people said that although they prefer social media (in this case Instagram) on a daily basis, if they are looking for specific advice, information or recommendations, they will turn to a blog. Others said they they don’t have the time or ability to keep up to date with blogs regularly (RIP Google Reader) but that when they see something that sounds interesting on social media they will click through.

Of course there were also lots of people saying they don’t ever read my blog, or that they prefer just seeing a few highlights on Instagram (these people are missing out IMHO!) and a few said they just follow me for my personal style (or cats!) because they’re not getting married at all! That is the really great thing about Instagram though, it can open you up to a while new audience who would never have found you otherwise. These kinds of people would literally never have been searching for wedding content online, because they’re not engaged, but if they ever do plan to get married, where are they gonna turn? Well, to their favourite blue haired cat-obsessive Instagrammer I suppose (haha!) This is one of the main reasons why I keep my Instagram a mix of personal photos and updates AND blog post links/ wedding images. I know not everyone is interested in both, but the personal content is appealing to a larger proportion of people, and it encourages people to (hopefully!) stick around after they get married too.

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The Best of Rock n Roll Bride: 2017 in Review

Photo: Heart Full of Tea

One of my favourite things about this time of year is that day when I finally decide to switch off (literally switch off my computer for a week!) and allow myself to take a few days away to watch festive movies, eat too much cheese and basically chill the hell out. This is our first Christmas in our new house too so it’s definitely going to be a double celebration.

This time last year we’d been trying to get an offer accepted on the place for over a month and it already felt like we’d never actually get there…. Ahh if only 2016 Kat and Gareth knew what was coming! That journey sure was long and tumultuous. The fact that all the renovations are going quite slowwwwly at the moment pales in comparison to the stress of that time!

And no, the photos of me in this post were not taken in our house – I wish! Our place is still very much a building site, believe me. We are, however, hosting our first festive event (EVER) here on Christmas Eve. At the grand old age of 33 I’m finally brave enough to play hostess. There will be seven of us over for dinner (I’m cooking!) and our decor inspiration is Ross and Emily’s wedding from Friends (ha).

Usually at this time of year I will post multiple round up articles between Christmas and New Year linking back to all my favourite weddings… shoots… advice posts… personal milestones etc. But I’m going to be totally real with you right now: I DON’T THINK I HAVE THE ENERGY! This last few months have been insane and I feel like I’ve been running on empty for most of it. So this year, I’m going share all my highlights in one monster post and allow myself a few extra days off.

Before we begin, I really couldn’t round the year off without giving a huge heartfelt thanks to every single one of you that reads the blog, buys the magazine and follows me on social media. It’s sometimes all too easy to focus on how busy/ stressed/ tired/ anxious I am and not take the time to stop and appreciate all the good things. For example, this comment that Jenny wrote on Instagram the other day almost made me well up.

“Thanks also to @rocknrollbride for the courage to be myself and go for a short dress, colourful petticoats and shoes that initially made my nearest and dearest cringe. Kat, you are a breath of fresh air in the wedding industry, and your mag/ blog was like a big hug every time I started to second guess myself and feel insecure about my choices.”

Photo: Heart Full of Tea

Comments like that make it all worthwhile. Not just because its such a bloody nice thing to say, but because at times this year has felt like an uphill struggle in many aspects. Reading something like that  REALLY does cement in my mind why I’m still so passionate about the work that I do and the message that I spread. It’s not really about weddings at all, it’s about self love, self expression and self acceptance and that’s something I hope you will all bring into your everyday lives long before and after your wedding day.

As well as publishing (and continuing to grow!) the print magazine, launching a wedding planner book and another veil collection with Crown and Glory (the 2018 collection drops on January 8th!) a real professional highlight of 2017 has had to have been permanently bringing people into the Rock n Roll Bride team. Not only do I now always work with the same team on all the magazine photo shoots (Erica, Alex, Lisa, Jo and Lou – I freakin’ love you all!) but we also have not one, but two members of editorial staff (hi Rachel, hi Erin!) I haven’t made a big song and dance about it, but you may have seen their names cropping up as the authors of most of our real wedding featured on the blog these days. Having these two megababes helping me out with website content has meant I’ve had more time for focusing on the magazine, and larger brand collaborations and advertising partnerships.

For YEARS I’ve resisted bringing anyone else on, but finally (FINALLY) I’ve realised just what a big difference having some extra pairs of hands can make to my workload (and sanity!) These women are all insanely talented and just as passionate about the brand ethos as I am and I couldn’t have got through 2017 without them.

I’ve learnt a lot in the past year about friendship, business, marriage, house buying (!)… everything really. Although its not been without its struggles, I think overall 2017 has been a pretty darn good year. All-in-all I’m happier than I’ve ever been but here’s to making 2018 even more amazing!

So now, without further ado, here is some of my favourite features from the past twelve months. ENJOY!

Advice

What getting divorced taught me about marriage

Your size has nothing to do with how happy you’ll be on your wedding day

Who’s wedding is it anyway? Managing meddling family members

Wonky bride seeks winning wedding: A disabled bride’s wedding journey

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Congratulations Sophie and Gareth!

If you follow me on Instagram you will already know that my babe Sophie married her Gareth this weekend and I was one of her maids of honour (I shared the role with Ronnie). It was such a wonderful weekend – THE BEST in fact! We laughed, we cried, we did shots, we ate pizza and the spiciest hot dogs, we drunk danced (and some of us drunk fell over), we abused the photo booth, we stole the skull shaped candles from the centrepieces, we got covered in glitter…

It rained really heavily the night before and the whole morning while we were getting ready. We were all trying to think positively and hoping the clouds would clear for just long enough for their outdoor ceremony. Well not only did they clear in the nick of time (literally 10 minutes before we were all due to start walking out!) but the most spectacular rainbow appeared when they were doing their photos. Talk about the wedding gods shining down on them!

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