Advice // Catering your Wedding

Image: Kate Nielen

As your wedding will probably be taking place over the course of a whole day, you need to ensure that your guests are treated to some yummy and refreshing fare at regular intervals. Food is about celebration after all! We cook complicated and time-consuming dishes when we have something to be thankful for or when we wish to mark a special occasion. Think about Christmas, Easter, birthdays, anniversaries, new babies and graduations. These occasions usually revolve around the family sitting down together to enjoy a meal and a glass of champagne. Your wedding should adhere to this tradition of ‘breaking bread’ together, and your menu needs to reflect the importance of this extraordinary occasion.

Images: Weddbook // Intimate Weddings} // Flickr

In-house vs outside catering companies:

Perhaps the first issue which needs to be cleared up regarding catering your wedding is whether you are obliged to use your venue’s in-house catering team, or whether you are permitted to bring in an outside supplier to cater your wedding. This issue should have been mentioned while you were still in the venue viewing stage, but if you’re a little unsure, this is the time to look in detail at your catering plans with your venue. Larger and more exclusive venues tend to insist that brides and grooms use their in-house catering team, however smaller and more relaxed venues such as converted barns and farms tend to allow brides and grooms to book their own caterers if they wish. You also need to be clear on whether you can buy in your own alcohol, and whether the venue will then slap a huge corkage fee on top. A quick chat with the venue’s wedding planning or events team will provide answers to your questions, so pick up the phone and give them a quick call.

As I mentioned above some wedding venues will have a policy which states that brides and grooms must use the in-house catering team for their event, and this is usually non-negotiable. Our venue had such a policy so we knew from the very beginning that we would be unable to source our own caterers. Luckily our venue was well known for the high quality of its menu! The chances are that using the venue’s catering team will be the smoothest option as they will be well versed in catering a wedding with a similar size guest list to yours, they will feel completely at home with the kitchen equipment.

While using the in-house team was perfect for us, many couples prefer to have total control over exactly what is served to their guests. If you’re lucky enough to have booked a venue which is flexible in this regard then you need to weigh up the pros and cons of both options. Sit down with your fiancé and do the maths so that you can compare how much the in-house catering will cost compared to an outside supplier. Keep all of your notes safely in your wedding planning folder so that everything is recorded for future reference.

Images: Colin Cowie Weddings // Pinterest // Pinterest

Budget friendly tips:

Whether you decide to hire a catering company or to use your venue’s in-house team, you may be shocked at just how much it costs to cater a wedding, especially if you have a large guest list or have your heart set on something really special. However, there are a few tricks which you can use in order to keep the cost down. Follow the tips below and you’re guaranteed to secure at least a small saving…

  • Try to stay as flexible as you can with regards to dishes as your catering company will be able to make suggestions for keeping the cost down by using slightly different ingredients, or more seasonal produce. If a particular product is difficult to source at your time of year it’s highly likely that it will also be expensive! Eating seasonally and locally is not only cheaper it’s also far more earth-friendly
  • Consider the dishes which are suggested by the catering company itself as they are likely to have a great deal of experience in preparing these dishes. As we all know - practice makes perfect!
  • Try to keep it as simple as you can. Complicated dishes with lots of exotic ingredients will cost far more than fresh and simple dishes
  • Serve your wedding cake for dessert, thereby cutting out the need to pay for another course. This may not be possible if you are obliged to use an in-house catering team, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
  • Serve sparkling wine instead of champagne! We did this at our wedding and I don’t think anyone noticed. I know it’s a bit cheeky but most people cannot tell the difference between the two if you go for a good quality sparkling wine. You may even be able to source a lovely local wine
  • More guests equals more catering costs, so keep that guest list as small as you can if you’re worried about your budget
  • Make sure you find out at this stage whether waiting staff, cutlery and crockery will be included in your quote to avoid nasty surprises

Images: Colin Cowie Weddings // Judy Pak Photography {via Style Me Pretty} // Graze Wedding Catering {via Lane}

Purchasing alcohol:

If you decide to buy your alcohol from an outside source you will need to spend a bit of time searching for a reputable high quality supplier who is fairly local to your wedding venue. Rather than being attracted by the promise that the merchant will buy back any wine which you don’t use, negotiate a better price for the bottles in the first instance. You will probably end up paying less for the wine overall and you’ll be left with a few bottles to enjoy as newlyweds! Also, don’t be tempted to book a supplier without first tasting the wine for yourself. All of the best wine retailers will offer you the opportunity to attend a wine tasting during which you can ask questions concerning how to pair wines to your menu. Relax, enjoy the process and discuss your opinions at length with your fiancé before signing on the dotted line.

--Lottie ♥

What Lottie Loves this Week // Potted Plants as Wedding Décor

Images: M&J Photography {via Love My Dress} // Megan Braemore Photography {via Style Me Pretty} // Hannah May {via Rock My Wedding} // Samantha Jane Photography {via Boho Weddings} // The Nichols {via Style Me Pretty} // Lisa Dawn Photography {via Ruffled}

This week I am loving weddings which use potted plants rather than cut flowers as décor. While cut floral arrangements and accessories are very beautiful, using potted plants instead is both better for your budget and better for the earth.

Once your wedding is over your floral arrangements, bouquets, floral headpieces and buttonholes will more than likely end up in in the bin as they begin to fade quite quickly. Some brides choose to dry their bouquets (myself included) and offer the floral arrangements to their families as gifts, however most will see left over flowers as a bit of a burden.  Swapping out cut flowers for potted plants where possible will reduce this sense of waste and can save you a small fortune on imported flowers.

Potted plants can be used to line your aisle and decorate your tables, and will bring a sense of life and energy to a wedding. I’ve even seen a few examples of potted bouquets! It may sound a bit hippy, but living flowers have a different ‘feel’ to cut flowers which lends itself particularly well to the abundant and celebratory atmosphere of a wedding. My fellow garden enthusiasts will know what I mean.

Potted plants also make fantastic favours for your guests to take home, and once the wedding is over you can give all of your potted arrangements away to friends and family to plant in their own gardens or to keep inside as house plants, depending on the season of course. I cannot think of a better way of celebrating a wedding than continuing to nurture a beautiful plant as it flourishes.

To take this even further you could use potted trees as decor just as the Duchess of Cambridge did at her own wedding. Once the wedding has taken place your trees can be planted in a local woodland (with the landowner’s permission of course!) or on your own land if you are lucky enough to have a large garden or smallholding.

Potted plants are an excellent option for most weddings and I urge you to consider this very eco-friendly alternative.

--Lottie ♥

Love Heart Feature // M By Minihaha

As you will no doubt be aware, I adore featuring new and fledgling businesses, creative individuals and wedding suppliers who have a true passion for what they do. Today’s Love Heart Feature is dedicated to an extremely talented and experienced wedding planner who is has just about to launch her first line of bridal jewellery.

Minihaha Garande from Brachetto Weddings and I have been Twitter friends for a while and her Leeds based wedding planning company is listed within the Lottie Loves Directory, so when she contacted me regarding her new line of jewellery I jumped at the chance to be one of the first to feature it!

The M By Minihaha collection features bridal headpieces, earrings and necklaces with an elegant Asian-inspired feel. If you are looking for a beautiful alternative to a veil or tiara, then I urge you to take a look at Minihaha’s exquisite creations.

The Lace & Love Hearts blog: Minihaha, welcome to the featured suppliers section of the Lace & Love Hearts blog. Please could you introduce my brides to your new jewellery collection?

Minihaha: Hello Lottie, thanks for having me. M by Minihaha is a new bridal jewellery line for the modern and luxurious bride. The line consists of Asian inspired headpieces, earrings and necklaces.

L&LH: What motivated you to expand from the busy world of wedding planning into the world of gorgeous bridal jewellery?

M: The world of wedding planning is absolutely exhilarating and fulfilling. I enjoy meeting new people and working with many talented suppliers to make a couple's dream wedding come to life. Quite often, many brides would ask me to find them a supplier for a Kim Kardashian inspired headpiece that she wore at her 2011 wedding. This look has and will quite possibly be in trend for many years to come.

It was always difficult to find them a similar headpiece as most bridal accessories are traditional tiaras and hair combs. I really wanted to provide something my brides wanted. That is when the idea came to mind and I immediately pursued it.

L&LH: Where do you find inspiration for your pieces and what kind of materials do you use in their creation?

M: I love the lavishness and exoticness of Asian brides. Most of my pieces, especially the signature pieces which will launch end of next year, are definitely inspired by them. You will find loads of stunning pearls, highest quality of cubic zirconia, gold and silver plated finishes on our gorgeous launch collection. I wanted to launch with a small exclusive collection to introduce M by Minihaha to the industry. I really felt that my vision for M by Minihaha will be represented better this way.

L&LH: Do you offer a fully bespoke service to brides who would like something totally unique?

M: In the future, I would love to create something unique for each bride but I won't be able to offer that right away. As it stands, custom designs will typically take between ten and fifteen weeks to create and there will be a minimum order quantity of three thunred pieces per style from our manufacturer. It wouldn't make business sense to do this, so I can only hope and pray that my creativity will attract a momentum of brides. As a matter of fact, I have no doubt that it will. We have had a great reaction from our sneak peeks already. This has definitely inspired and humbled me.

L&LH: Would you say that your pieces are appropriate for bridesmaids and other members of the bridal party as well as the bride herself?

M: All our pieces are absolutely perfect for bridesmaids as well as the bride herself. Within the launch collection, the 'Bejewelled Heiress' is a dramatic piece only suitable for brides. You wouldn't want your bridesmaids to out do you would you? But yes absolutely, I even wanted the simpler headpieces to be suitable for other events such as a birthday do or a bridal shower. Whatever occasion, you can still wear M by Minihaha and look beautiful.

L&LH: How can my brides find out more about your collection, and who will be stocking your pieces?

M: M by Minihaha will launch on 1st November 2014 and will be available to purchase online from our website. In due course, brides will be able to locate the collection within bridal boutiques in the U.K, as we are currently in discussion with suitable stockists to represent our brand.

 

// Get in touch //

www.brachettoweddings.com // Twitter // Facebook // Pinterest // Instagram

Love Heart Feature // Lorie x

Image: Lucy Edwards 

Lorie x have recently launched a brand new collection of bespoke bridalwear featuring hand inked and photographic digital prints. Lorie x place a great deal of importance on encouraging brides to have input into the process of creating their dream wedding dress. Brides can choose fabrics and style, using the pieces featured in the capsule range to inspire them and lead to the creations of a utterly bespoke dress, with the addition of having a print developed (if they wish) based on whatever they desire. This ensures garments have their own personality which is truly tied to each bride individually. No two Lorie x dresses will ever be the same, just as no two brides are ever the same…

Image: Lucy Edwards 

The collection is inspired by the past, romanticism, great love stories and the beauty around us; it is made from the finest silks, laces and jacquards; and is designed and created in East London. The collection is feminine and fluid, and the pieces are unique and romantic.

Image: Lucy Edwards 

The designer, Laura Hall, graduated from the London College of Fashion with a final collection of bespoke bridal gowns; believing that there was a gap in the bridal market for garments which were alternative, yet not in the stereotypical way. She wanted them to have traditional references such as laces and covered buttons, to be feminine and romantic, but to add a modern twist and introduce a little colour in a delicate way. So the idea of incorporating print came into place and this grew with the notion that each bride could incorporate their own bespoke print to express their personalities further.

Image: Lucy Edwards 

Print is not overly used in bridalwear currently, and it is something which Laura uses in a subtle and romantic way, through either hand drawings or photographs to add texture and colour to garments. Digital print translates beautifully to silk fabrics and gives brides the opportunity to develop and explore their own ideas further than perhaps they would with other bespoke designers.

Image: Lucy Edwards 

After working in the fashion industry for the past few years, and making a few bespoke wedding dresses along the way, the idea never truly left Laura’s mind. Recently she revisited this idea and grew the collection to include more gowns and also separates. The Lorie x collection launch took place in autumn 2014 with a brand new website, and at the London Chosen Boutique & Vintage Wedding Fair in October. The collection has been very well received by brides, wedding professionals and others within the wedding industry, being described as both ‘beautiful’ and ‘refreshing’.

 

// Get in touch //

Website // www.loriex.co.uk

Twitter // @loriex

Facebook // www.facebook.com/loriexbridal

Instagram // loriex

Advice // What You Need to Know About Wedding Ceremony Music

Image: Justin Marantz {via Style Me Pretty}

Music has the ability to transport us away from our immediate surroundings to a different time and place. It is almost as though the songs which mean a great deal to us are imbued with magical powers! Just as the smell of your favourite childhood dish cooking or a loved one’s perfume can kindle strong emotions; special songs can lift the heart and heighten the senses. I suppose that is why music plays such an important part in the average wedding day setup.

There are many ways in which your favourite music can be incorporated into your wedding day; you could walk down the aisle to the song that was playing when you met, you could have your favourite artist playing softly in the background during your wedding breakfast, and your band or DJ could be charged with a bespoke playlist including songs which stir up special memories. The options are many, so it is important to sit down with your fiancé to discuss your ideas.

Image: Tec Petaja {via Style Me Pretty}

As I cannot advise you on what type of music is right for you as a couple, the advice below is more of a practical look at wedding music which deals with the ceremony only. I have chosen to highlight the ceremony as this is the section of the day I get asked about most with regards to music choices and restrictions.

The music which will be played during your wedding ceremony will differ depending on whether you have chosen to have a religious or a non-religious ceremony. Certain restrictions exist for both options, so be sure to discuss your ceremony music ideas with your minister or registrar.

Image Howell Photography {via Bridal Musings}

Religious ceremonies:

If you have opted for a wedding ceremony which will take place in a church, you will need to speak with the minister who will be conducting your marriage to find out specific details regarding the type and amount of music which will be required for your ceremony. Different churches have different traditions and rules, so your minister should be the first port of call before you set your heart on something which may not be appropriate. Generally you will need to decide on the following…

  • Prelude music, to be played while guests enter the church
  • A processional song, which will be played as the bridal party enters the church
  • Three hymns to be sung during the service
  • Incidental music, to be played while you are signing the register
  • Recessional music, to be played while you and your groom leave the church as husband and wife

Popular choices for music during a church wedding include solo artists, organists and church choirs. I really do think that a traditional church choir is one of the most beautiful sounds in the world, and I urge you to utilise your church’s own choir during your ceremony, particularly if they have an angelic sounding children’s choir! A church choir will lead your guests during your chosen hymns, and they can sing alone while you sign the register. Most churches also have an organist who can provide a very traditional atmosphere for your ceremony. Organists are a goldmine of information with regards to choosing which hymns to include, so be sure to meet with your church’s own organist early on in the decision making process! You should also check the level of proficiency of the organist so that you can make an informed decision about the pieces you want them to play.

Regarding hymns it is important that you try to choose songs which are well known and easy to sing so that your guests are able to keep up. You should also discuss your favourite hymns with your fiancé to see if there are any pieces which you both adore. These pieces must be included in your ceremony as the sound of your friends and family giving voice to your favourite hymns can be a very inspiring and emotional experience.

Image: Colin Cowie Weddings

Non-religious ceremonies:

As I mentioned above it is very important that you discuss any ideas you have regarding ceremony music with your registrar or celebrant. You need to make sure that you have the correct amount of songs chosen and that all of them are appropriate for a non-religious ceremony. You may also like to have a conversation with your venue’s wedding planners or events team to be completely sure that you know what is required as some venues has restrictions on the genres of music they will play. Most non-religious ceremonies require the following…

  • Prelude music to be played while guests enter the ceremony room
  • A processional piece, which will be played as the bridal party enters the ceremony room
  • Three incidental pieces to be played while you are signing the register
  • And finally a recessional piece which will be played while you and your groom leave the ceremony room as husband and wife

Popular options for non-religious ceremony music include hiring a pianist, a solo artist or a string quartet to play live during the ceremony, or if you’re on a tight budget you could simply use a good quality CD player or iPod speaker dock to play your own music. If you do decide to use a gadget of some descriptions to play your music, just make sure that all of our equipment is in good working order. If you have your heart set on live music then I always suggest requesting that venue staff have a CD player or iPod dock as a backup in case the musician fails to arrive.

I know I’ve mentioned this above, but I want to make the point again. If you are to have a civil ceremony then you must be careful not to choose pieces which have any religious connotations. Double check with your registrar if you’re unsure as registrars are bound by law to interrupt your ceremony if you play a piece of music which isn’t appropriate.

--Lottie ♥

What Lottie Loves this Week // My New Facebook Page

This week I am loving my brand new Facebook page, dedicated to the Lace & Love Hearts blog! After much deliberating and a bit of reluctance I have finally decided to embrace Facebook in much the same way as I have Twitter. Facebook provides such a fantastic platform for conversation with brides and grooms who are looking for a bit of straightforward planning advice, inspiration and easy access to reliable suppliers, it really would be silly not to get involved!

Right now I am just getting to grips with how a Facebook page works, however I can already feel an obsessive relationship coming on! Here’s to hoping that via Facebook I can assist lots of DIY couples in the creation of their big day, just as I have via Twitter.

It would be lovely to connect with all of my wonderful readers on my new Facebook page, so please don’t be shy and click ‘like’.

I hope you’re all having a wonderful week so far despite the tail end of ex-hurricane Gonzalo giving us a bit of a battering!

--Lottie ♥

Love Heart Feature // Aurus London

Image: The Love Hunters

A couple of weeks ago I was delighted to visit Aurus London’s Farringdon showroom to view their beautiful collection of engagement, wedding and eternity rings for the very first time. I was welcomed to their showroom by Kerri and Jake before Kerri took me through some of their vast collection of gorgeous sparkly creations.

Aurus London are dedicated to making the process of buying wedding rings as easy and affordable as possible, even if you are looking for something completely bespoke or unusual. This approach to wedding rings is so refreshing, especially when most central London jewellers are inflating their prices way beyond the budgets of the average couple.

I must say that I was very impressed with the sheer number of ring styles available within this specialist collection, and the level of beautiful craftsmanship shown in every single ring is clear to see. The Aurus London collection includes over fifteen hundred styles, making it the largest in the UK, and every single rings is fully customisable.

I simply had to draw your attention to this amazing jeweller and their new concept of providing brides and grooms with high quality wedding rings that will fit easily within their budgets.

Image: The Love Hunters

The Lace & Love Hearts blog: Kerri, I would like to welcome Aurus London to the Featured Suppliers section of the Lace & Love Hearts blog. This is well overdue! Could you provide my readers with an introduction to the company?

AL: Aurus London has had a showroom in London for about two years now, and we have a close relationship with the most prestigious manufacturers in the world who have worked within the wedding ring industry for decades.  We are London's only specialist diamond, wedding, and eternity ring showroom and we are home to over 1,500 different ring styles.  We offer our range in the most precious metals and individuals can alter styles and designs to make a one of a kind bespoke ring. Anything you can imagine we will be able to create!

L&LH: Where do you source your rings and how do you ensure quality?

AL: We source our rings from manufacturers worldwide and each ring is made to measure, ensuring a perfect fit.  As each ring is made to order, all of our rings are individually handcrafted and inspected once we receive them at our showroom ensuring the highest quality service for our brides and grooms to be.

Image: The Love Hunters

L&LH: Alongside your lovely collection of rings, do you offer a bespoke service?

AL: Couples can take any of the model rings from our collection and tweak it to make the ring unique whether by changing the finish, adding a groove to a plain band or altering the ring's setting. We encourage couples to use their creativity to select a ring which matches their tastes and personality, creating a truly one of a kind ring. There is also a growing trend for shaped wedding bands, and as we make our rings from scratch we ensure for the wedding ring to sit flush against the engagement ring. Additionally, all of our wedding rings can be engraved both inside and outside, we offer a unique engraving service whereby couples can choose different fonts. We have engraved everything from dragons, to the words "The dream team" and half hearts on the outside edges of rings.

L&LH: If a bride and groom visit the Aurus London showroom with no idea of what they want, how do you go about inspiring and assisting them?

AL:  We try to make all of our couples feel welcome within our showroom and start off by offering coffee, wine or water just to make them feel relaxed.  Selecting rings is a very special moment for couples, but it can also be a very daunting process, especially when they have no idea what they want. To help narrow the search, I try to get a sense of their personalities and what type of lifestyles they have. For women, I tend to encourage matching the engagement ring in both style and metal.  These are just recommendations which provides a solid starting point which I can then narrow done with the bride. It is fascinating to see how engaging men are becoming with the ring selection process and are moving away from traditional plain bands and towards customised rings.

Image: The Love Hunters

L&LH: How far in advance of their wedding should a bride and groom approach you for their rings?

AL: Couples should start thinking about wedding rings as soon as they start to think about budgets, which is why we recommend browsing online not only for styles but to get an idea of prices. All of our rings take around 4 - 5 weeks to make from scratch.  However, as we have such a big range, we encourage couples to come to us within 6 months to a year beforehand and tick wedding rings off the to do list as soon as possible.

L&LH: Are you happy to conduct consultations with customers who pop into the showroom, or would you prefer to book appointments beforehand?

AL: We welcome all customers to our showroom with or without an appointment though we recommend booking a slot as we like to get to know the couples and their individual personalities which can be brought out within their wedding ring styles. We are constantly busy with bookings and brides dropping off their engagement rings to have it polished and cleaned free of charge so it will look dazzling on their wedding photos; hence why booking an appointment will mean we can focus all our energy on the couple and answer any questions they may have.

Image: The Love Hunters

L&LH: How can my readers find out more about Aurus London and your collection before visiting the showroom?

AL: Majority of the collection is on our Aurus London website. I usually ask couples who book an appointment to have a browse on our website before their appointment to identify specific styles they like and let me know beforehand so I can have those styles ready for when they come into the showroom.

 

// Get in touch //

Website // www.diamondandweddingrings.com

Twitter // @AurusLondon

Facebook // www.facebook.com/AurusLondon

Pinterest // www.pinterest.com/AurusLondon

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