'The Lace & Love Hearts blog exists to advise & inspire modern couples in the creation of your own elegant and enchanted wedding day...' Lottie
Images: Charlotte Mills Bridal
Today on the Lace & Love Hearts blog I am featuring my interview with up and coming bridal shoe designer, Charlotte Mills, whose line of exquisite creations finally goes on sale at the end of April.
Charlotte graduated from the prestigious Cordwainers, one of the oldest livery companies in the City of London, in 2008. Charlotte left Cordwainers with a BA Hons degree in Product Design & Development for the Fashion Industry, and a burning ambition to concentrate exclusively on designing beautiful bridal footwear. For her final year show, Charlotte had created a bridal footwear range; however she felt that she required a little more industry experience before she was ready to strike out on her own.
Now, after a few years spent perfecting her craft by creating footwear ranges for some of the UK’s best known high street brands, working in Spain and in the Far East, Charlotte is finally ready to realise her dream of designing and creating a range of luxury bridal footwear. She spoke to Lottie Love Heart about her range, what inspires her and how she is feeling about the imminent launch of her first line…
The Lace & Love Hearts blog: Hi Charlotte, welcome to the featured suppliers section of the Lace & Love Hearts blog. Tell me, what first inspired you to delve into the luxury bridal footwear market?
Charlotte Mills: Designing bridal shoes means you are creating the real life glass slipper. Knowing brides will be wearing my shoes for their ‘Cinderella’ moment is amazing and inspires me to create collections to fall in love with.
L&LH: Do you think that studying at Cordwainers has given your products an extra edge of quality over your competitors?
CM: Studying at Cordwainers is something I have always wanted to do, I dreamt of being a shoe designer as a little girl and Cordwainers was naturally my first choice. Learning my craft from masters in the industry helped me develop as a designer and find my own style. I feel this gives me the edge and also makes me strive for quality and craftsmanship in all of the product I create.
Images: Charlotte Mills Bridal
L&LH: We adore your collection, especially the ‘Alice’ shoe. How do you go about gathering inspiration for each of your pieces?
CM: As you can probably tell from looking at the collection, hearts are the major inspiration. I love art deco and art nouveau, so I studied heart shapes, the lines used in the architecture of these era’s, and gave them a modern twist to create the designs.
L&LH: What is your favourite part of the shoe-designing process?
CM: I love seeing my designs come to life when they are made up in the sampling process. It’s amazing seeing a line drawing develop into something beautiful.
L&LH: Where are your gorgeous shoes made, and how to you ensure the quality of each and every piece?
CM: All our shoes are hand made by master craftsmen in Spain. The factory has been making shoes for over 50 years, which is evident in the attention to detail and quality of the finished product. Each shoe will be checked at Charlotte Mills HQ before it’s sent out to our brides to ensure each pair is finished to the highest standards.
L&LH: What makes your shoes different from the other bridal brands out there?
CM: Each shoe is hand finished with a silver sixpence and the leather sole is embossed with the phrase ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a silver sixpence in her shoe.’ We have covered all bases. The sixpence is also the ‘something old’, the ‘something new’ is the shoe, the ‘something blue’ is detailed on the insock, and the ‘something borrowed’ will be inside the shoebox. Brides love this old tradition. This detailing is unique to Charlotte Mills Bridal shoes.
L&LH: What can brides expect from your first collection, and when can they get their hands on your wonderful creations?
CM: I hope brides will fall in love with the attention to detail and the fun romantic designs. They can expect only the highest quality and comfort, but most importantly just gorgeous shoes they will fall in love with and want to wear again and again after their wedding day. All the styles in the collection are available to pre-order on the website now and delivery will be around mid-May.
Images: Charlotte Mills Bridal
L&LH: How can brides find out more about your imminent launch and stockists?
CM: Our websi has all the information on the launch. We also have a stockist’s page and online shop.
L&LH: Well, we are very excited here at Lace & Love Hearts towers, and we are sure our readers will be too! Roll on the end of April.
// Get in touch //
Website // www.charlottemillsbridal.co.uk
Twitter // www.twitter.com/charlottemillsb
Facebook // www.facebook.com/Charlotte-Mills-Bridal
Instagram // www.instagram.com/charlottemillsbridal
The topic of whether to welcome or exclude children from your wedding day celebrations will probably be near the top of your wedding planning to-do list, and this is not a decision to be taken lightly. For my husband and I it was an easy decision to make as we are incredibly close to our nieces and nephews, and we simply could not have pictured our day without them playing a big role. As soon as my husband popped the question my mind was full of images of kids toddling and chasing around our venue, and instantly I knew that our four nieces would make beautiful flower girls, and our two nephews would make very handsome ring bearers...and indeed they did!
That being said, I do understand why some couples opt for an adult only wedding. It’s not that I’m saying you should always include little ones, as adult only weddings provide parents with an opportunity to truly let their hair down. Excluding children is also a fantastic way of reducing the wedding breakfast catering bill!
If you do decide to include children on your guest list then you need to think of ways of keeping them entertained. Hiring event nannies is now extremely popular and tons of reputable wedding day childcare companies have sprung up all over the country. We decided to have all children under the age of ten (who were not flower girls or ring bearers) cared for by a wedding crèche company during the ceremony and the drinks reception which followed. Our reasoning behind this it to prevent bored and fractious children from being noisy during our vows, and also to prevent mums and dad from having to leave to calm the aforementioned children down. However, while we booked the fantastic 'Perfectly Practical Parties' crèche to entertaining the children during the ceremony and drinks reception, it was totally up to us to provide activities for them during the wedding breakfast and afterwards at the evening reception.
So, how do you prevent boredom and keep little fingers busy? Well the best way to go about this is with DIY goodie bags! Of course the children will want to run around and dance under the glitter ball once they are full of sugary drinks, however you may want to provide them with a distraction until the evening reception begins. Exciting goodie bags handed out to each child will go a long way to helping you achieve this goal.
Goodie bags don’t have to be expensive, they just need to contain a variety of fun activities which will keep the children busy for a little bit while their parents relax and enjoy the celebration. For our wedding I filled brown paper bags with goodies and then securing the bag with a sticky label saying ‘just for you’. For our tiny wedding guests we changed the contents of the goodie bags to exclude craft items such as crayons and paper, and to include more ago appropriate toys.
Below you will find a list of some funky and inexpensive products for awesome goodie bags…
- Pencils & crayons – stay away from pens to avoid making a mess
- Colouring pages & dot-to-dots – these can be printed rather than bought
- Pomp oms & pipe cleaners
- Wind-up toys
- Disposable cameras – so that each child can document the occasion!
- Glow sticks
- Fortune fish
- Eye spy games – again, these can be printed
- LED balloons
Just remember that there’s no point in popping expensive toys and games into the goodie bags because at the end of the night it’s very likely that these bags will be left on tables, or chucked in the bin. The aim of a goodie bag is simply to keep children occupied for a couple of hours, and if they do that then you’ve done your job very well!
As a bride the task of choosing your maid of honour could be a very simple one, or it could be a decision that requires some serious thought. The honour of being asked at accompany a bride on her wedding day, to provide support, to ensure that she always looks her best and to praise and encourage her is something which many women take in their stride. However, not every one of your best girls is going to be properly equipped to assume this most vital of roles.
While you’re still riding high on a wave of joyful emotions and excitement following your engagement it can be very tempting to rush over to your best friend’s or sister’s house, champagne in hand, and ready to pop the cork and the question. However, you may end up doing yourself and your wedding a disservice! Most of you lovely ladies will have plenty of responsible and organised women in your lives, but are they all qualified to be your right hand woman for the day? My advice is to wait for the post-engagement craziness to calm down a bit, and to spend some time thinking about this important decision objectively.
Take a look at the points below and answer them for each of your potential maids of honour…
- Can you truly and completely rely on her? She may love you, but that doesn’t mean that you can be sure she will be there when you need her.
- Is she the type of girl who offers confidence boosting compliments and heart-felt words right when they are needed?
- Is she a calming influence on you? Or does she tend to get a bit overexcited?
- Has she recently broken up with a long term boyfriend? Do you think she would feel any negative emotions towards your wedding because of this?
- Is your best girl a new mother? Does she really have the time to dedicate to assisting you with the planning of your big day?
- Does she live close enough to you for regular meetings and days out at wedding fairs and events?
- Does she have a good relationship with your groom-to-be?
All of these issues need to be carefully thought out before you are properly able to make the right choice. It’s so important that you choose the perfect maid of honour on the first attempt as it’s pretty much impossible to change your mind later down the line! If you're having a long engagement then I urge you to hold off for a little while as relationships change over time. It would be awkward if you chose a friend to be your maid of honour only for the two of you to drift apart before your wedding day arrives.
But what if upon hearing your happy news one of your friends assumes that she will be asked to be your maid of honour? If this does happen to you then remember that you are under no obligation to choose someone unless you believe they are completely right for the honour. With this in mind you should be able to politely announce that you have not made any decisions regarding this role, and to leave it at that. You should not feel forced into choosing a particular person by anyone as this decision is completely yours to make. Your mother or guardian can speak her mind, as can the mother of the groom, but ultimately you should be the one to make the decision.
And if you simply cannot choose just one maid of honour? Well, there are no rules saying that you can’t have more than one! If you decide to have a collection of maids of honour, then make sure that each lady knows which aspect of your wedding she is responsible for. Perhaps you could appoint one maid to walk down the aisle with your younger bridesmaids, one to make sure that your dress and veil always look perfect, and one to sit with you on the top table at your wedding breakfast? For me it is so important that brides and grooms feel that they do not have to stick to tradition regarding appointing their wedding party, or with any other decisions regarding their wedding. It’s your big day after all, so do what makes the two of you happy!
Barn weddings have been increasing in popularity steadily over the past few years as brides and grooms seek to host a wedding with a difference, something a little more rustic, a little more easy going, and of course, a little more budget-friendly. Barn weddings along with farm weddings, garden weddings, woodland weddings, and festival weddings are often held in late spring and summer in order to catch the finest weather, and despite the relaxed atmosphere of a barn wedding, you will find no compromises on style and grandeur here!
In my opinion the number one plus point for choosing a barn wedding is that you will have so much flexibility in terms of catering, decoration, entertainment and the overall atmosphere of the wedding; you can dress them up for a formal occasion, or dress them down for something earthier. Generally, when you hire a barn you will be hiring the building and that’s it, although some venues may offer decoration and catering services as part of their package. Stripped down wedding packages frequently mean that you end up paying a little less than you would if all of these services came as part of the wedding package, as many venues overcharge for things like floral arrangements and wine.
However, with increased flexibility comes an increased chance of something going wrong. Sourcing, researching and booking suppliers when you have no previous experience of doing so can be fraught with difficulties and risks, and could end up taking a very long time. If you are not naturally an organised person with the ability to juggle lots of suppliers, meetings and invoices then you will probably want to consider hiring a wedding planner to successfully design and coordinate this type of wedding with you, and to make sure that you stick to your budget!
‘But aren’t wedding planners very expensive?’ I hear you ask! Well yes, but any decent wedding planner will be able to save you lots of money and hassle when it comes to booking suppliers (as they will have heaps of quality local contacts!), and greater peace of mind on the lead up to your wedding day is well worth paying for, believe me. Generally, a talented and reasonably prices wedding planner will save you most of the cost of their fee, so meet with plenty of candidates before booking one.
If you are up for a challenge, fiercely organised and you do decide to go it alone, then the very best of luck to you. You sound like my kind of bride! Organising your own barn wedding is perfectly doable with a bit of assistance from your near and dear and a focused and relaxed mind. Take a look at my tips below for successfully planning and executing your own beautiful barn wedding…
Insurance, licences and permissions:
As I mentioned above, barn weddings offer greater flexibility than the average hotel wedding as you’re often simply hiring a building. But before you book a venue you need to make sure that you and the venue management both sign a clear and wide-ranging contract which states what you will and won’t receive from the venue for the money you are handing over. You also need to make sure that they have up to date insurance and the correct licences and permissions to host weddings.
Before you book a venue it’s important to thoroughly check their catering facilities. Is the kitchen large and well equipped enough to prepare food for a barn full of hungry wedding guests? You also need to check that everything is clean and in a good state of repair. An oven breaking down just before the wedding breakfast is due to be served will cause no end of stress for both you and your catering company.
In house catering at wedding venues does tend to be a little overpriced (or a lot overpriced at the more prestigious locations!), so if you are able to search for and book your own catering company, you could be in line for a big saving! For brides on a super-tight budget why not ask everyone to bring a dish with them, and reduce or cut out the need for a catering company altogether?
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your menu, after all it’s your wedding. If you want to serve pie and mash, a cute finger buffet rather than a sit down meal, or an international menu, then go for it! The beauty of a barn wedding is that you can hire whoever you like to cater your wedding, rather than being stuck with the venue’s own team of chefs.
It is very important that you spend plenty of time at each potential barn before making any decisions so that you can get a really good ‘feel’ for the place and its facilities. Do a walk through with your wedding planner or with whoever is helping you to plan the wedding and make a note of anything which jumps out at you, whether for a good or a bad reason. Check that the site has access to water and electricity, plenty of secure parking, staging for your chosen entertainment, heating for later in the evening and ample lighting for the inside and outside of the barn.
Does the venue provide bathroom facilities? If not then you need to do some research to locate a supplier to provide posh portable loos for you and your guests. I say ‘posh’ because the standard festival loos aren’t really good enough for such an important occasion.
A great way to save on bar costs is to buy bottles of wine and beer in bulk from a wholesaler to serve to your guests. Most venues will have a licence which allows you to sell alcohol, but double check early on in the process. Be sure to discuss licences and permissions extensively with the venue management.
As decorating a large space such as a barn can be a daunting prospect (and an expensive one!), you may like to book a venue decorating company from whom you can hire a lot of your decorations. Mix hired decorations (such as lighting features, ceiling swags and topiary trees) with fairy lights and floral arrangements and you are well on your way to a breath-taking wedding venue.
To keep the cost down and to add some personal details to your concept, why not ask your near and dear to create some decorations themselves? Ask them to make paper flowers, garlands, pom poms and other paper items to scatter around the space, and remember to save everything they have made to pop into your memory box once the wedding has taken place.
Booking a venue which will host your marriage ceremony, wedding breakfast and evening reception will save you lots of money when it comes to on-the-day transport costs. If you can arrive at a venue in the morning, get married there and then spend the rest of the day on site; you won’t need to hire cars or buses to move your guests from A to B.
If you do need to move guests between venues then you could either ask them to organise their own transport, or you could hire buses to move people around. The cost of transport can be very high; however barn weddings tend to take place out in the countryside in locations which are no so easily accessible. To avoid guests getting lost and all of the stress that this will bring with it, I always advise brides to organise buses.
Before booking a supplier you will need to tell them that you will be having a barn wedding and ask them if they are fully equipped to cope with the restrictions which come with that. This includes generators, lighting, tables and chairs. If your catering company does not provide tables, chairs, linen, crockery and cutlery then you will need to source all of this in plenty of time ahead of the big day, and ask both suppliers to coordinate with each other.
The most important tip that I have for planning a barn wedding is to get other people involved, especially if you decide not to book a wedding planner. Don’t try to do everything alone, ask for other people’s opinions, and take a friend or family member along with you when you book a supplier. Having someone else there increases the likelihood that all important questions will be asked, if you are more likely to walk away from a dodgy potential booking if someone else is there to back you up.
All the best with your barn wedding!
Image: Silver Sixpence in her Shoe
On your wedding day it is very likely that you will receive a couple of beautifully decorated horseshoes as gifts from some of your wedding guests. But what does this unusual tradition actually signify for the bride and groom?
The tradition of giving the bride a horseshoe following her marriage ceremony probably dates back to the Victorian period (as many of our most popular wedding traditions and superstitions do), and it’s purpose was to bring good luck to the newlyweds for the duration of their lives together. However, it is possible to trace the horseshoe as a good luck talisman even further into pre-Christian times, when the horseshoe was thought to represent a crescent moon, and was therefore a very potent fertility charm. As with many of our modern rituals it is almost impossible to accurately identify its roots, but in my opinion this is what makes them truly magical and romantic!
So, back to the Victorians. As you are probably aware, the Victorians placed a great deal of importance on superstitions revolving around good and bad omens, which were believed to foretell the success or failure of a marriage. These days we take far less notice of such things in our everyday lives; however the world of weddings seems to be one area where the observance of certain rituals and traditions is given extra weight. Brides, you only need to think about how you would reacts to breaking a mirror or to accidently seeing her partner on the morning of the marriage to accept that we still place importance in these traditions.
So how exactly are horseshoes incorporated into the average wedding day? Well, traditionally the bride would be presented with a decorated horseshoe by the female members of the family, particularly children. Having a child hand over the horseshoe to the bride is said to ensure her fertility, which would have been extremely important to the newlyweds back in the Victorian era. The bride should then carry the horseshoes with her bouquet for the formal photos, and should ensure that the horseshoes are displayed, along with the bouquet, for the rest of the celebration so that everyone can admire them.
These days you can easily purchase ornately decorated horseshoes from card shops, stationary shops and online. I have seen some gorgeous store-bought horseshoes during my research for this post, however the most stunning examples have all been handmade! I was lucky enough to receive some horseshoes on my own big day (see below images), and I must say that my favourite was the one given to me by my sister-in-law, Steph, because she had made it herself! Even if you aren’t very arty it is so easy to buy a horseshoe, paint it and decorate it (remembering to add a ribbon loop as a handle), and to present it to the bride. She is bound to appreciate the extra special bit of love that you placed into your own creation. Just remember to keep the ends pointing upwards in a ‘U’ shape so that it can catch lots of good luck, and try to get hold of a real shoe, rather than a plastic one.
Images: These are my horseshoes from our wedding. Aren't they gorgeous?
Sadly the act of giving the bride a horseshoe appears to be dying out, so if you have been invited to attend the wedding of a friend or family member this year, you may like to partake in this tradition in order to help keep it alive. If nothing else it will act as a talking point during which you can explain what the giving of horseshoes is all about. Hopefully, by bringing this tradition to the attention of your social circle you will ensure that you receive some good luck tokens on your own big day!
After a wonderful eight years together, I recently married the man of my dreams at the majestic country house of Wynyard Hall in the North East of England. As the owner of a wedding planning advice and inspiration blog (and an all-round wedding geek!), there was extra pressure on me to craft the perfect wedding day. I really hope that the below feature will provide an illuminating snapshot of the event that resulted from my daydreaming and hard work, and that my brides and grooms feel inspired by our big day!
Keep an eye out for details such as my bespoke bridal gown, my delicate forehead band, the Harry Potter star-shaped table confetti, the bridal party bouquets, our lovely five-tiered cake and the best man’s ‘BM’ badge!
My husband and I met at Reading university where I was studying for a degree in Archaeology, and Adam in Artificial Intelligence and Cybernetics. During the first term we both attended a Christmas mascaraed ball at Adam’s JCR with our separate friendship groups. We met early on in the evening, chatted, dance, and I guess the rest is history! We spent the next three years studying hard and playing hard before we graduated and were pushed out into the ‘real world’ for the first time. Five and a half years later we have our own successful business and have just hosted the most beautiful and magical wedding of all time!
As I mentioned above, our wedding took place at Wynyard Hall in Tees Valley. As I’m sure you can see from the photos, Wynyard Hall is eye-wateringly beautiful and one of the premier wedding venues in the North East. I knew that our wedding was destined to be held there before I’d even stepped inside. There’s just something so magical and so enchanting about this grand stately home, but at the same time it feels very relaxed and very cosy.
With regards to planning the wedding I did almost all of the research, mood board creation, planning and crafting myself. However I did receive some very kind assistance from my family who were keen to add their own flavours to the event. My mum created and decorated our amazing five-tiered wedding cake, crafted two beautifully delicate ring pillows using from lace offcuts from my dress, and helped me to send out all of the invitations. My step-mother kept myself, my maid of honour and the flower girls warms by knitting the gorgeous capes you will see on some of the photos. Thank goodness we had those for the outside shots!
One of my favourite aspects of planning the wedding has got to be designing my bridal gown with Becky Mills from The Little Bridal Company. I knew that I’d never be able to find a dress ‘off the peg’ as I had a very clear image of what I wanted in my head and I just couldn’t find anything remotely similar in the boutiques. I’m also a very petite bride and in my opinion dresses which have been taken in just don’t look the same, and often end up costing a fortune in seamstress fees. If you’re a petite bride I urge you to look into having a bespoke dress made as it could end up being more budget-friendly, as well as fitting you perfectly!
The morning of the wedding dawned chilly but fair. The weak December sun shone on and off for most of the day. After waking up next to my very excited maid of honour, I really surprised myself at how relaxed I felt as I visited the hair salon at the Hall! There was a real party atmosphere at the salon as lots of our family members were being primped and polished at the same time before dispersing to our own rooms for makeup application, to get dressed and perhaps to have a cheeky glass of fizz!
The bridal suite was the location of a great deal of giggling and rushing around ahead of the ceremony as my flower girls and page boys were in and out, chasing our photographer and having a bite to eat before getting dressed. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Being surrounded by the kids, my wonderful maid of honour, our families and suppliers was incredible and each of them had their own part to play in making the event extra special.
The ceremony was perfect in every way; emotional, magical, memorable and humorous. Our flower girls and page boys performed their roles flawlessly, adding an extra dimension of fun and frivolity to the whole event. Having the children at our wedding made it something special and really amazing, and I wholeheartedly advocate including young ones in your celebration! I just couldn’t imagine getting married without having them there.
The Mirror Room looked simply breath-taking; luxurious, imposing and intimate at the same time. Sheer perfection. I knew as soon as I walked down the aisle with my dad that Wynyard Hall had been the right choice for us.
I decided to keep our vows as short as possible as I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to speak for any length of time. I’m always teary at weddings! Thankfully I managed to get my words out (although rather quietly!) and our Registrar, Anita, added a beautiful verse at the close of the ceremony which really was the icing on the cake.
Following our ceremony we hosted a drinks reception while our photographer took a few group shots for the family mantle pieces. We did this in order to keep our guests entertained while we slipped away to take care of the more traditional aspects of wedding photography. I strongly suggest that all brides and grooms reading this do the same, and always make sure that there’s canapés available to keep your guests going ahead of the wedding breakfast. A drinks reception also provides the opportunity for guests to catch up with each other in a relaxed environment before everyone sits down at their tables for the wedding breakfast.
Following on from the most affectionate receiving line in history, we entered the Ballroom to a raucous round of applause and my breath was taken away by the beauty of the room. I had imagined how it would look for so long, but there’s no way of preparing yourself for how your dreams will look in reality. The high ceilings, chandelier, floral arrangements, decorations and the Christmas tree combined to give the impression of a magical and elegant space perfect for celebrating such a special occasion. I gave myself a pat on the back for designing and crafting such a charming setup as I took my seat, and I’d like to extend a big thank you to Kathryn and Linda from Forget Me Not, and the Wynyard Hall staff for setting everything up so perfectly.
The wedding breakfast was a wonderful affair incorporating an award wedding menu, plenty of wine and heartfelt speeches from the father of the bride, the father of the groom, the groom and the best man! They all performed brilliantly and more than a couple of happy tears were shed by the guests and by myself. The atmosphere was so romantic and so festive, I just didn’t want it to end!
The final section of the day was the evening celebration where we could all let our hair down in the opulent surroundings of the Conservatory. Our DJ played a variety of tunes and the dance floor was busy throughout the night. We also used the Ballroom so that guests could escape the noise for a while and sit next to the two large fireplaces. The Ballroom also held the photo-booth stand, the wishing tree table, the dessert table and the presents table which had all been designed by yours truly and looked gorgeous!
Finally, I’d like to extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all of the Wynyard Hall staff, especially Victoria and Magi for making our day so amazing, and also to our suppliers for adding their own speciality to the celebration. Everything was absolutely perfect and the level of talent on show was exceptional. Thank you to all for the attention to detail and the passion you all demonstrated on the lead up to the wedding and on the day itself. Northern brides and grooms really are so lucky to have you on their doorstep.
// Contributors //
Venue: Wynyard Hall
Photography: Ian Weldon
Bridal gown: The Little Bridal Company
Flowers: Forget Me Not
Venue decoration: Designed & purchased by myself, set out by the team at Wynyard Hall
Wedding cake: Our gorgeous cake was expertly made by my mum, Lynn Woodward
Menswear hire: Slaters
Maid of honour dress: Ghost
Bridesmaid’s dresses: Monsoon
Wedding crèche: Perfectly Practical Parties
Photo-booth stand: Ian Weldon
Dessert table: All desserts were made by myself and my mum
Wishing tree table: Tree supplied by Forget Me Not, the rest of the setup was designed by yours truly
Visiting, debating and selecting a venue for your evening reception (or your entire wedding day if you’ve opted for a non-religious affair) can be a long and daunting task. If you aren’t one of those lucky couples who already have your hearts set on a specific venue it can be difficult to decide between that magnificent stately home, that cosy hunting lodge or that sweet little boutique hotel, and even more so if you don’t approach your options in an organised frame of mind. Having been through the process of selecting my own wedding venue fairly recently, I feel that I am best placed to share my advice and insight with you. It’s all about research, calling venues to find out more information, and effective communication between yourself and your groom…
Before we jump into my advice I’d just like to say that if you are working to a budget it’s likely that grand castles and imposing stately homes probably will not be within your grasp. Do yourself a favour and don’t visit anywhere which you think will be way over your budget. Doing this only serves to tease you and will make you feel like you’re settling for second best when you visit more modest locations. I remember being tempted to look at a hugely famous castle while I was viewing venues, however I knew there was no way that would could afford to get married there, so I resisted and I really think it was the right choice. The venue I eventually chose was everything I could have wanted and more. Thanks to my ability to resist temptation it remain the most grand and luxurious of the venues we visited.
So, before jumping in the car to view prospective locations, try to answer all of these questions…
- Availability – do they have any dates free during your chosen period?
- Cost – can you have your wedding here and stay within your budget?
- Space – can they accommodate all of your guests for the ceremony (if you are wish to have your ceremony and your reception in the same location), for the wedding breakfast and for the evening reception?
- Support and discounts – you will want to ask about wedding packages, any discounts they offer, and the kind of support they provide during the run-up to the big day. Will you have a dedicated wedding planner who will be present on the day? This is the ultimate ideal as it removes any stress once the big day arrives!
- Catering – does your venue provide in house catering, or will you need to book this separately? This is a very important issue to clear up straight away if you have your heart set on a very specific menu!
- Outside space – does the venue have any outside space such as a terrace, garden or woodland for photographs and an outside drinks reception?
- Accommodation - do they have rooms available for your first night as husband and wife, and for any of your guests who may need to sleep over?
- Licences – if you decide to go for a marquee wedding make absolutely sure that the relevant licences are in place to allow a marquee wedding to go ahead. It’s amazing just how many venues do not have the correct paper work in place. If you aren’t happy with the response you get, it’s worth asking for the General Manager’s contact information.
- Insurance – does the venue have all of the relevant insurances needed to protect the venue itself and its guests from accidents and mishaps? Also, what security measures does it have in place to keep you and your guests safe, and any uninvited guests out? This issue is particularly important for city centre weddings. Remember to book your own wedding insurance as well!
- What makes their venue special – do they have any awards for their food or service, do they have a spa for pampering sessions the day after your wedding, do they have stunning grounds and luxurious bedrooms? Basically you want to know why they should get such a large chunk of your wedding budget!
Once you have the answer to all of these questions you can then go away and consider the results with your fiancé. Really take your time over this and if you have some information missing then don’t feel anxious about calling a few of the venues back. They will want to help you as much as they can in the hope that you choose them!
The next step in the process is to visit three or four of the venues which satisfy your requirements to see which ones really speak to you on an emotional level. Reading about a venue and seeing it on paper is one thing, but actually going there to look around is something entirely different! As soon as I drove up the long drive to my chosen venue I instantly knew it was the one for me. I didn’t even have the chance to step inside before tears welled up in my eyes. There was just something about it which spoke to me, and to this day I can’t put my finger on it. Perhaps it was the beauty of the place, its grandeur, the friendly greeting we were given from the staff…I don’t know, but whatever it was it felt very intense. All I did know was that I had to have it, and nothing else would have been good enough. If you are lucky enough to feel this way about one of the venue you visit then your decision will be as easy as mine was. If you’re torn between a couple of venues I would suggest that you visit for a second time with a much more critical eye. Really look at the details; is there enough light? Do you feel truly at home there? Can you imagine spending one of the most memorable days of your life there?
Last week I posted a beautiful 1950s Hollywood Glamour styled shoot by London based luxury wedding planners and stylists, Perfect Events. I treasured the chance to post their striking images and to share their inspiration with my fellow brides so much that I jumped at the opportunity to do it all again this week!
As well as their wonderful Hollywood Glamour shoot (which you can view here), Perfect Events also planned and styled a Vintage Elegance shoot at the Connaught Hotel in order to inspire brides who enjoy everything vintage and art deco.
Deeply beautiful, magical and inspirational. Enjoy!
A stunning luxe black and shimmering gold bridal inspiration shoot conceived, planned and styled by London based luxury Wedding Planners and Stylists, Perfect Events. With their love of all things vintage, Perfect Events inspired by the 1920’s Art Deco period, showcases everything a bride needs to make her wedding day feel and look absolutely amazing, collaborating with leading suppliers and choosing the impressive Connaught Hotel as the perfect setting.
We at Perfect Events put together not one but two bridal looks, giving brides a double helping of gorgeousness! To create the first bridal look we chose the beautiful full length lace gown, ‘Lorna’ by legendary fashion designer Bruce Oldfield teamed with Swarovski butterfly embellished shoes by luxury shoe designer Aruna Seth, who along with Bruce Oldfield has had their creations adorned by Hollywood Actresses and Royalty including Pippa Middleton and Princess Diana. The makeup - soft peachy lips and gold eyes by Alison Cameron with the hair - long elegant curls brushed to one side, finished with an exquisite hair brooch and jewellery to complete the look.
The second look consisting of bling fabulous ‘Kiki’ shoes by Aruna Seth, the ‘Buckingham’ dress from Stephanie Allin’s 2013 evening wear collection, which is perfect for brides who wish to adorn a change of attire for the evening reception or for the alternative bride to wear as her wedding dress! The look was completed by plum lips and gold dusky brown eyes, an up do of pinned curls and finger waves synonymous with the 1920’s, a pretty floral hair brooch and drop earrings.
The impeccably decorated ever so delicious cakes and treats created by the amazing Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium and fabulous florals by Wildabout ooze sophistication.
An epitome of graceful splendour, each element selected by Perfect Events combine wonderfully, culminating in a truly enchanting display of vintage inspired elegance, perfectly captured by Bandele Zuberi and filmed by Deneemotion.
// Contributors //
Concept, planning & styling: Perfect Events
Venue: The Connaught Hotel
Photographer: Bandele Zuberi
Wedding cake & dessert table treats: Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium
Black dress: Stephanie Allin
Lace dress: Bruce Oldfield
Shoes: Aruna Seth
Makeup artist: Alison Cameron
Hair Stylist: Kasia Fortuna
Chandelle chairs & gold circle chain backdrop: Great Hire
Hair accessories & jewellery: My Blue Garter
Model: Sally McDonald (firstname.lastname@example.org)