Category Archives: Wedding Planning Advice

Wedding Dress Shopping as a Wheelchair User: A Real Bride’s Story

Diversity and inclusion are popular buzzwords right now in the wedding industry, but are diverse communities actually being represented enough? Black business owner Nicola Wilshire of Velvet Queen, an independent bridal shop based in Portsmouth is here to share some advice and an interview with one of her recent brides, Steph (pictured).

I know how it feels to not feel represented and I understand the importance it has on communities when they are seen, accepted and celebrated. With Velvet Queen my mission is to promote diversity and inclusion for all minority communities in the wedding industry.

After seeing how slowly changes happen in the wedding industry, we decided that it was time for us to be part of the change so we created a campaign for real people to come and model for us, including real bride, Steph, who is a wheelchair user.  

Any shopping as a wheelchair user is more challenging; a lack of changing room space and not enough suitable handrails are common issues. When it comes to wedding dress shopping as a disabled bride, in addition to the practical challenges of bigger and longer dresses and closures on the back, there are also heightened emotions to deal with all whilst juggling the lack of dignity of getting in and out of bridalwear in front of a stranger.

Contact Shops in Advance

If you are a wedding dress shop which strives to be inclusive, your shop must be fully accessible to wheelchair users!

Steph said, “I contacted many bridal shops first to check if they were wheelchair accessible. One shop that I had contacted had been assured it was, but when I arrived there were two rather large steps to gain access that the staff member had overlooked. I also found that some shops had difficulty knowing how to approach my shopping experience and lacked consideration of what styles would work with my chair.”

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A Perfect Fit: How it Felt to be a Plus Size Bride

Finding the perfect wedding dress can feel overwhelming, especially if you are in a larger body. Newlywed Emma Jackson-Sanders shares her story and tips for finding a dress you love no matter what your shape or size.

I thought my years of working in the NYC garment industry had given me an insider advantage. I knew the language, the process and how weddings dresses are made, but nothing prepared me for walking into a salon as a plus size bride and being told over and over that there was nothing for me to try on.

I am a US size 16 in street clothes (UK size 20), this puts me on the end of plus size scale that usually has more of a selection. I started to feel like I was not the “right” kind of bride. That I didn’t deserve to have that magical dress moment. It was a much longer journey to the perfect dress than I ever imagined, but in the end I did get there.

I was expecting the proposal on my 40th birthday in London pub with my family over a Sunday roast. I had already made appointments to visit bridal salons with my mum the day after I returned home. What I didn’t expect was the limited number of dresses the consultant showed me, which she justified by saying it was too expensive to make samples in a larger size for all the gowns. I had one I really wanted to see. It was not in my size, and she suggested I put my arms through the straps and imagine how this $5,000 dress would look when it fit me. I wanted to laugh, I wanted to cry. My mum said it looked like I was wearing a peasant dress. I realised if I was going to make it through this, I needed a plan.

The first step was calling salons and asking if they even had plus size samples. Any salons that did not, I crossed off the list. If they didn’t want to spend money on plus samples, then I didn’t want to give them any. I had one place tell me the location in NYC was the flagship store so it only carried size 2 (UK size 6-8) dresses. Surprisingly, the fashion capital has many salons here with the same attitude. I told consultants I was shocked by the lack of options, and they laughed and said, “Oh don’t worry we can get you in any size sample”. I learned that meant they would only show me silhouettes like A-line or ball gown that I could get on but not zip up. I had no choices when it came to other dress shapes in the smaller sizes. I searched out salons that advertised as plus size friendly, but in many cases that still meant smaller than what would really fit me.

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Why You Should be Selfish on Your Wedding Day

It’s time to rip up the rule book. If you’re reading this website than it’s probably QUITE likely that you already agree with this sentiment, but today we want to encourage you to take it one step further.

It’s OK to elope
It’s OK to not wear white
It’s OK to accompany yourselves down the aisle
It’s OK to cut your guests list
It’s OK to not want to be the centre of attention
Its OK to not invite children
It’s OK to have a destination wedding
It’s OK to spend very little… or a lot!

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Your Wedding Doesn’t Have to Save the Planet (But It Doesn’t Have to Help Wreck It Either)

It’s not up to you to solve the climate crisis single-handedly, but making eco-conscious choices with your wedding can make all the difference.

So, you want to have an eco-friendly wedding? How about plastic-free too? Carbon neutral is a must, surely? Or better still, why not simply have a wedding that’s carbon-negative, plastic-free, produce so local you grew it yourself, outfits made of the contents of your recycling bin, flowers fresh from the graves of newly dead people and a venue you built with your bare hands from timber rescued from trees that died peacefully in their sleep?

Why not, in-friggin-deed.

I get it, you care about our planet. You care so deeply, so why would you ever throw a wedding that wasn’t simply a perfect reflection of an eco-conscious sustainability orgy that Greta Thunberg would sail across the seven seas (or part thereof) to attend?

For reasons, that’s why. And those reasons are:

1. It’s too much pressure

2. It’s not achievable

3. Fixing the climate crisis isn’t actually up to you. There, I said it.

But let me first tell you a tale. A tale of two wonderful people/clients who came to me to design and furnish their wedding. They wanted it to be a heartfelt reflection of them, including making it plastic and waste-free.

Awesome, I replied! I’m thrilled to do this with you. It’ll be our first totally waste-free wedding and I cannot wait.

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Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something… Braggably Sustainable

Photo by Isabelle Elliott Photography, Preloved Dress by Bridal Reloved

One of the best things you can do to ensure your wedding is as sustainable as possible is to work with local small suppliers who model genuine sustainability in their own businesses.

More couples than EVER are showing how much they care about the planet by putting sustainability at the heart of their wedding planning. This is GREAT NEWS because if we all don’t take a long look at how we’ve been living and make some changes, we’ll allllll be effected.

It’s no wonder that a 2021 study from The University of Bath found that 75% of their respondents said they felt the ‘future was frightening’. It is scary to hear what the scientists are saying and think about how climate change will impact our lives if humanity can’t change the course it’s on.

It is daunting, but taking action is the number one way to counter any eco-anxiety you might be feeling and there are HUNDREDS of ways to make your wedding so super sustainable that you’ll have some serious bragging rights. This issue of the magazine is a great place to start collecting lots of ideas!

One of the key things you can do is support businesses that care about their workers and how they produce the products and services they sell. The key to finding suppliers with the right ethical credentials is to do your research and ask a LOT of questions. Where are my flowers grown? Where is my dress material sourced from? How are the workers treated? Where’s my food grown? How is food waste dealt with?

It can feel overwhelming and sadly there’s a LOT of sustainability ‘greenwashing’ going on out in the world (meaning lots of right words being said with not enough action to back it up). However, here are four fabulous suppliers who have sustainability at the forefront of their businesses. Hopefully their stories will inspire you to find the right people local to you:

Photo by Isabelle Elliott Photography, Preloved Dress by Bridal Reloved
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Sustaining a Happy Relationship & Fighting Fair: We Got 99 Problems but the Marriage Ain’t One

All relationships, even the happiest ones, experience conflict. Psychotherapist and relationship coach Gloria Zhang says the goal should not be to eliminate it entirely (because that’s totally unrealistic!) but instead to work through any disagreements, niggles and stressful times together.

Do you know one of those blissfully happy couples who seem to have it all figured out? You probably roll your eyes at them. That perfect, fawning pair who have been together longer than the Internet has existed. They hold hands everywhere. Their Instagram feed is full of romantic getaways to countries you’ve never heard of. Sometimes you secretly wish they would adopt you.

How nice,” you might think, “They probably never fight!”

Right? Wrong!

Surprisingly, therapists have discovered that people in happy marriages often never solve a lot of their issues!By default, that means the goal isn’t to eliminate all conflict entirely.

So, how do those ‘perfect’ couples (although you know no one’s relationship is actually perfect right?) deal with their problems? The answer is actually more philosophical than anything.

Happy couples accept that problems are just a fact of life. They focus on handling conflict in a productive way.

The good news is that you can also learn how to fight fair. By conquering your fear of conflict, you’ll have a happier marriage and actually grow stronger after an argument. In my opinion, that sounds way better than the slow, painful death of years of resentment.

But first… we need to talk about how NOT to fight.

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Ideas for Your Wedding Website Which You May Not Have Thought of

After you pick your wedding date and location, one of the first things you’re going to want to do is put together a wedding website. Traditional paper invites are awesome (we’re huge fans of print at Rock n Roll Bride!) but having something online will make it SUPER easy for your guests to get all the vital info they might need before your big day.

In the whirlwind that is wedding planning, it is so easy to forget some really important things, but fret not, today we are here to help! Here are some vital, but often forgotten, pieces of information which we think you should definitely include.

Your ceremony arrival and start time

It’s a good idea to include a start time for your ceremony but also a recommended arrival time too. If your ceremony starts at 1pm, advise people to start arriving from 12:30 for example, to avoid any confusion or stragglers showing up at 1 on the dot!

If your reception is being held somewhere else, how to get between locations and how long the journey is

Everyone has Google Maps on their phones of course, but an idea how long and how easy the journey is between venues will certainly be appreciated by a lot of people. Also advise if there is public transport or they have to drive/ carpool.

Gift info… even if you’re not having a gift list! 

It’s frightfully British to feel like a gift registry or asking for cash is very grabby. That’s not the case at all and actually, it makes your guests’ lives way easier if they know what to buy you. Most people will want to give you a gift so a suggestion that, if they’d like to, you’d love XYZ actually helps people out a lot!

Dress code… even if it’s come as you are

Figuring out what to wear to a wedding can be stressful for guests, so to make it easier on them, be specific but not demanding. Avoid telling people exactly what to wear but if you’re having a theme, or you have any guidelines, let them know! 

For example, if you’re having a festival wedding and most of the day is being held outside, make them aware that they need to wear field-appropriate footwear and bring a jacket for the evening. 

A weather check

While, of course, we can’t guarantee the weather, letting people know to pack things like sunscreen, insect repellent or an umbrella just in case will certainly be appreciated.

Accessibility 

This one is easy to forget, especially if you don’t have to think of it for yourself, but it’s a super helpful thing to include for your guests. Add any details you have about ramps and wheelchair accessibility, accessible bathrooms and hearing loop information at your venue(s) can be added. Also, if you have any neurodivergent guests, include details about the measures you are putting in place for them too. Weddings can be a big stressor for Autistic people, for example, so this extra attention and thoughtfulness will be approached. 

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Colour Scheming Outside the Box

When it comes to choosing a colour palette for your wedding, we say more is more! Wanting to banish neutrals and snooze-worthy samey colour schemes from your day but not sure how? Well, read on colour lover because we got you…

If you type ‘wedding colour palette’ into Pinterest, your head will explode and you will die. Cause of death: Brain Overload of Blurgness (or BOOB). It’s all burgundy and navy and (*clutches pearls*) neutrals. Side note: ‘neutrals’ is not a colour and should thus be banished from colour palettes until the end of time, or even later. Be gone neutrals, we do not miss you, because you barely exist.

Beyond the blurgness, there’s a whole lotta copy and paste going on. Couples picking up a palette without question and rehashing it. Boring! It’s simply multiplying the blurgery. Plus, there’s nary a merry fuchsia, poppin’ lime green, incandescent fluro yellow or an eye gouging 70s orange to be seen. A modern-day Pin-tragedy (*lies on sofa for 11 hours to recover from serious case of BOOB*).

But do not fret, here’s how to create a kickass bright and bold colour palette that will cause zero BOOB deaths, is not a rehash of a rehash of a copy, and suits your rock ‘n’ roll wedding perfectly (*chef’s kiss*).

Get your wedding styling ball rollin’

Like starting an essay by writing an outline, mapping out your colour palette is the key to nailing your wedding styling, with max fun and min stress.

Start at the start. Go about your wedding planning pretending to not even know a single thing about colour schemes, combos or palettes. As you start to read wedding magazines (oh hello there, dear reader!), dabble in Pinterest and follow ace wedding blogs and vendors on Instagram and TikTok, make note of what attracts you. I betcha there’s a bit of a pattern in terms of colours and styles that have you positively jazzed.

Wedding vibe = your colours

When you think about the wedding you want, what vibes and feels does it give you? Raging party = neon hues. Wintery and romantic = deep, moody colours that feel warm and cosy. Relaxed garden wedding = pastels and all the greens. Desert elopement = a mix of dusty and stark colours.

There! You’ve snuck up on a colour scheme without it even realising! Use it to help you narrow your searches and decisions. For example, when thinking about a florist, which ones do kick arse work in colours (and styles) already aligned with yours?! Get in touch with them and don’t worry about anyone else. You don’t need to talk to every florist in your 500km radius, and thus you’ve made your life heappppppps easier (nor will you waste the time of eleventy billion florists, and they thank you for that in advance).

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Moissanite Engagement Rings: A More Ethical Option

We’re experiencing unparalleled times; pandemics, wars, prices rises and increasing environmental issues. It’s easy to feel a bit gloomy, but – in the immortal words of D:Ream – things can only get better (she says, with fingers firmly crossed!)

Over the last few years, we’ve had time to rethink everything – including engagements and weddings – with couples having to postpone, or scale back plans, many are reassessing what’s really important. And with many wanting to make more sustainable choices, there’s a real shift away from some wedding traditions, which frankly, feel a little out-dated.

According to the Independent Newspaper, millennials are turning their backs on unethical and expensive gems – but it’s not just millennials. Spending a huge amount on a diamond engagement ring just isn’t a priority for so many couples these days with many putting their hard-earned cash into buying a home, a honeymoon-to-remember or the wedding itself instead.

Changing times

Before COVID, excess was king. Influencers seemed to have everything, and we were urged to chase that dream too. But now many are asking – do we want to get into debt for a diamond ring we can’t afford? Do we want to risk contributing to conflict or blood-diamonds?

The good news is, there’s a way which will not only save you money, but is 100% guaranteed conflict free and you won’t have to compromise on style! Simply switch the diamond for a sparkling moissanite.

What is a moissanite?

Moissanites are a brilliantly sparkly, colourless stone, with a similar appearance to diamonds. They were discovered in fragments of a meteorite in 1893 by the scientist Dr. Henri Moissan, when they landed from space – yes, SPACE – and initially mistaken for diamonds.

As meteorites containing the gems are rare, scientists developed a thermal growing process to create the crystals in a lab, simulating natural conditions to replicate the silicon carbide gems.

The process takes two to three months to create a single stone, which is then cut in specific angles and proportions to enhance its brilliance. Moissanites are available in all of the same shapes as diamonds. Flawless Moissanite sells amazing flawless stones available in various shapes and sizes, from a classic 0.50ct (6.0 x 4.5mm), right up to a whopping 5.00ct (12 x 10.0mm)!

Moissanite durability

Natural diamonds are made from carbon and are the hardest known mineral, however moissanites come a very close second. Moh’s hardness scale measures a gem’s ability to withstand surface scratching and diamonds rank at the top at 10, with moissanite only just below, rated between 9.25 and 9.5. For perspective, glass ranks at 5.5, so a moissanite is a very robust choice for every-day wear.

As they’re a natural mineral, like a diamond, your moissanite will never lose its sparkle, get cloudy or become dull, if you keep it clean. These brilliant gems are highly scratch resistant and will never tarnish.

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Chronically Fabulous: How to Plan a Wedding When You’re Chronically Ill or Neurodivergent

Rochelle, who has a number of chronic illnesses and is an ambassador for M.E Support UK, married Dan in 2014. Today she talks to us about what she learnt during her wedding planning, and shares some valuable tips for those of you in currently doing the same.

I’ve been married for eight years this year and if I could do it all over again I would; unfortunately, not because it was so enjoyable, quite the opposite in fact. There was so much going on in our lives at the time, that I ended up bombarded and smothered by things that in the end, just didn’t matter.

I was diagnosed with a multitude of chronic illnesses in 2013. I have M.E, Fibromyalgia, Endometriosis, Hyper-mobility, Costochondritis and Asthma. I had Asthma before meeting my fiancé but the rest all came hurtling at us in one giant, F-off curve ball at full speed just six months after we got engaged.

I got so absorbed in what I thought were huge issues at the time – for example, the weight I gained from not being as mobile anymore. It made me feel embarrassed and I was not feeling confident enough to go and try dresses on, so I settled and I really regret diminishing myself and our day.

I did most of the planning by myself, sitting up in bed, or with my now husband, who, added twist to our story, is neurodivergent. He was very involved in the planning but this was a requirement for him as he was never going to be able to be one of the “Tell me where and when and I’ll be there” partners. His anxiety levels didn’t allow it, he needed clear, concise information for all aspects which meant a lot more organisation required on my part.

Chronic illness takes so much away from those affected by it every day so I want to share some advice I learned in hindsight from my own experience to make sure you have the memorable celebration of your love that you deserve.

Make it Your Day

Seems obvious right? Your celebration should one hundred percent be about you and the person you love. However, once other people start to get involved it’s easy to start questioning your vision and decisions. As a chronically ill person, you need to think about your own health and make that a priority at every step. It’s not selfish, it’s survival.

Don’t listen to what others deem a ‘proper’ wedding (In fact if someone suggests your wedding isn’t a proper wedding then I would definitely strike them from the invite list!) and instead, make it the day you and your partner want and need it to be. Others will try and muzzle in and give their opinions all the time but at the end of the day, it’s your experience and you will regret not doing it your way.

Ask for Help

I let my complex of being a ‘burden’ stop me from doing a lot of things in my wedding experience. It ended up that I did most of the planning and organising by myself and on the day of our wedding my husband was ferrying people back and forth to the venue and almost missed our ceremony! It is not something I recommend at all for stress levels or your moral, I have no fun or meaningful memories of planning my day.
Be a Team

It’s ironic that the day of love and commitment you are planning for you and your partner can actually be one of the most argument-inducing subjects and times in your relationship. For anyone who is chronically ill, stress can be a huge trigger for flare. As my husband is neurodivergent, he isn’t always the best at communicating, especially when there is pressure or in a time sensitive situation.

We used an approach, that we actually still to use to this day, for any stressors or conflicts during planning. We planned a time in the day where we could begin discussions calmly and without distractions.

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After the Vows: Attachment Styles and their Role in Your Relationship

Did you grow up with the myth that “love is all you need” to make a marriage last? From a psychotherapist and relationship coach Gloria Zhang’s perspective, here’s why that’s a pile of doo-doo, and what you should do instead…

During the last legs of my former relationship, I felt like a deprived puppy begging for scraps of affection. Like most relationships, it started off just fine and seemed to reach a plateau. That is until we found ourselves in the most popular case of couple’s Russian roulette: The Pursuer-Distancer dynamic.

Sound familiar?

I felt needy and they felt trapped.

The clingier I became, the more they needed space.

And every time my partner got annoyed; I would get a flashback to being a seven-year-old kid again who was receiving the cold shoulder from disappointed daddy.

The mindboggling part is that neither my partner or I were “bad people”. We genuinely loved each other and had soccer-field sized list of common interests. So why couldn’t we meet the other person’s needs?

Despite the seductive appeal of “Rollercoaster Relationships” that is oh-so-glamorised in Hollywood (The Notebook, anyone?), it makes for a miserable love life.

And it is trust and safety that makes for a lasting relationship, not drama.

The key to improving, and maybe even rescuing your own relationship is understanding WHY this dynamic occurs between you and your partner.

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Dark Wedding Styling That Won’t Make Your Guests Panic! At the Disco

When a white wedding isn’t the thing for your inner emo or goth.

The subcultures we dwelled or dabbled in during our formative years leave lasting impressions, even as we emerge from our younger years appearing quite different. If you were (or are) an emo or a goth, you probably felt like weddings really weren’t for you with all that conforming to tradition, whiteness and lack of music that set you on fire.

But goths and emos get married too! Case in point; your great self reading this very Rock n Roll Bride magazine. It’s hardly an accident that you chose the only wedding mag that shows weddings wayyyyyy outside the realm of white and traditional.

So, if you want to have the dark and moody wedding of your dreams, but without the stress of making your guests Panic! At the Disco, here’s your fool proof guide.

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I Do … & I Don’t: A Feminist’s Guide to Being a Bride – The Perfect Bride

When it comes to the expectations put upon a bride, the patriarchy has done us all a great dirty wrong by creating yet another unattainable standard for women to try to meet. I know— shocking, right? This one tends to go by the cliché of the ‘perfect bride’.

The perfect bride will look the most beautiful she has ever looked on her wedding day. She will be an effortless host to her friends and family: gliding about like a silken swan; laughing in all the right places; glowing when appropriate; accommodating for each individual attending, as if they themselves are her personal guest of honour. And… she will manage all of this on potentially one of the most emotionally-challenging, mentally-demanding, physically-exhausting days of her life, without making it seem like any work at all. The perfect bride, simply put, will not be human. Or, in other words, she does not exist.

Ask yourself… is the thing your friends, family and significant other most love about you the fact that you are perfect? No. It isn’t. And even if you were perfect (which you aren’t, none of us are), let’s be honest… it would probably be the thing your friends and family loved you in spite of, not because of. Who wants a perfect friend? Who can relate to or connect with or be vulnerable around perfection? So why strive for it on your wedding day?

I’m saying this because, though it was magical, memorable, joyous, elating, happy, fantastic, wonderful, special, hilarious, emotional, spectacular and incredible… my whole wedding day was not perfect from start to finish. And I believe I’d be doing the readers of this magazine— and the ethos of what it is to be a Rock n Roll Bride— a disservice to pretend otherwise.

Strike one in pursuit of perfection (and I’m pulling no punches here, reader): I had such bad diarrhoea for the whole morning on my wedding day that we started referring to the downstairs loo as “the scene of the crime”. I’m not sure if it was the gluten the night before or if I just had a nervous tummy, but it was like the scene from Bridesmaids and it was not okay. Strike two: During the journey to the venue, I had my first ever anxiety attack and had to get out of the car.

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