Advice // Planning your Wedding Breakfast

Image: Wedding Chicks

The wedding breakfast will be the culinary heart of your big day and will provide everyone with the opportunity to sit down together to share a beautiful meal and some excellent conversation. Your wedding breakfast should match the tone of your drinks reception so that your day contains some continuity, however it should feel a little more formal so that your guests understand that this is the main event!

 Traditionally the wedding breakfast would begin with a receiving line which is where the bride, groom, the bride’s parents, the groom’s parents and other members of the wedding party are given the opportunity to personally greet and thank everyone in attendance. The receiving line would then be followed by the meal itself, the father of the bride’s speech, the groom’s speech and the best man’s speech. Alternatively, the speeches can take place before the meal if you have any very nervous speakers!

Images: Pinterest // Claire Cox Photography

Unless you’ve decided to book a marquee or backyard wedding, almost all wedding breakfasts will take place inside your venue, usually in the largest and most ornately decorated room. They tend to involve a minimum of a three course meal and a choice of wine which is served to your guests by the venue’s or your catering company’s waiting staff. I’ve got to say that a formal sit down meal is my favourite way of enjoying a wedding breakfast. It is a true celebration of such an important event, and I just love to see the bride, groom and their guests being spoilt with a delicious menu and some fine wine. If you do opt for this type of wedding breakfast you need to bear in mind that whatever you serve, someone will decide that they don’t like it. Try not to worry too much about this because it’s almost impossible to please everyone, and try to minimise any upturned noses by including a dietary requirements card in your invitations to be returned with the RSVPs.

Images: Pinterest // Wedding Ideas Magazine

While formal sit down meals are lovely for marking this special occasion, I have seen tons of creative ideas for relaxed and alternative wedding breakfasts including British classics such as fish and chips, pie and mash and a hog roast. Again, it all depends on your theme. If you’ve gone for a festival-style wedding then serving individual pies with buttery mash and gravy would fit perfectly, and serving this type of food can sometimes save you a lot of money. And who doesn’t enjoy pie and mash anyway!

Images: Colin Cowie Weddings // Rock n Roll Bride

If you’re on a really tight budget then why not get involved in the obsession with afternoon tea and serve gorgeous little homemade finger sandwiches, cakes and scones with cups of tea and glasses of champagne? If you’re venue will allow it you could ask your guests to contribute baked goods and have the venue staff stack them, along with slices of your wedding cake, on tiered cake stands. A well designed and constructed dessert display really can double as décor and will finish off your reception room perfectly.

Image: Pinterest

A fantastic way of saving money on your wedding breakfast is to serve your wedding cake for dessert. All too often the wedding cake doesn’t get enough attention and some of your guests may be so full of wonderful food by the end of the wedding breakfast that they just can’t manage a slice of cake. This is a real shame as so much creative inspiration, hard work and money goes into producing a wedding cake, so it really deserves to be centre stage on the day. Obviously if you want to serve the cake during the wedding breakfast it will need to be cut a little earlier that is traditional. I would suggest that you cut the cake following the receiving line so that the venue staff have time to slice it up in the kitchen before serving it for dessert.

Finally, if you would like to say grace before your wedding breakfast then make sure you inform your venue of this in plenty of time. If the religious official who conducted your wedding will be present at your wedding breakfast, then it is customary for them to say grace. If you will not have an official present, then the task of saying grace would fall to whomever you choose.

--Lottie ♥

Advice // Appointing your Wedding Party

Image: Taylor Lord {via Magnolia Rouge}

One of the most wonderful aspects of planning your wedding day is the ability to select some of your friends and family to make up your wedding party. There’s nothing quite like the reaction you get from your best girl when you pop the big question; ‘will you be my maid of honour?’! There will be smiles, there will be giggling, and there may even be a few tears when you request that your loved ones join the ranks of the most important people at your wedding. Of course you don’t need to appoint any attendants if you don’t want to! It you’re happy to meet you groom at the alter without the assistance of bridesmaids or groomsmen then it’s completely your decision. However my advice to brides and grooms is always to appoint the bare minimum of a maid of honour, a best man and an usher in order for you to get the help you need on the run up to the big day, and on the day itself.

The number of attendance appointed by the bride and groom generally reflects the size of the wedding. If it’s a small affair you and your groom may have one or two attendants each, however large weddings usually host a string of bridesmaids and groomsmen alongside a maid of honour, a best man, page boys and flower girls. Again, it’s completely your decision to make, but remember to keep your budget in the back of your mind when making these decisions.

Images: Erich McVey {via Magnolia Rouge} // Jeremiah & Rachel Photography {via Style Me Pretty} // Braedon Photography {via Style Me Pretty}

While I urge you to really enjoy this process, I must add a note of caution as well. Choosing who will accompany you down the aisle also needs to be done with an element of care and tact. If you are blessed with a large group of ladies and sisters who you consider to be your best friends it can be difficult to choose just one of them to be your maid or matron of honour. Equally your fiancé may find it very difficult to pick one best man from his group of mates and brothers. Just remember that when you read about the roles of each member of the wedding party you are mostly likely reading about the traditional roles. If you decide to make changes then that’s completely fine, in fact I encourage you to! If you want three best men, then that’s great! If you want a couple of maids of honour and no bridesmaids, then go for it!

Tucker Images {via Style Me Pretty} // Intiuitive Images Photography {via Wedding Chicks}

Personally I love the idea of formally requesting in writing that your loved ones be part of your wedding party whether it’s your fiancé’s groomsmen, or your maid of honour, bridesmaids, flowers girls or page boys. I recently saw a photo of a groomsmen request which had a small request card accompanied by a bow tie which the groom wanted his attendant to wear on the day! You could do the same thing with the hair accessory or necklace which you’ve purchased for your maid of honour and bridesmaids. I think this is a lovely thing to do as it increases the excitement felt by your attendants on the run up to your wedding day!

Images: Pinterest // Liz Caruana Weddings {via Onewed} // Pinterest

Oh, and one final piece of advice; if you’re having a long engagement I strongly advise you not to appoint your attendants until a little further down the line. This is because relationships with your friends and family will change over time, and the people who are with you on your wedding day need to be the closest people to you at that time in your lives.

--Lottie ♥

Advice // Stress-busting Advice for Yummy Mummy Brides

Image: Stephanie Sunderland Photography {via Le Magnifique Blog}

Can you picture it; you’re gliding down the aisle on the arm of your father while your soon to be husbands gives you that look from the alter…you gaze lovingly into his eyes when you reach him and his whispers ‘you look beautiful’. That’s pretty much every bride’s idea of perfection, and something which we all want to achieve on our special day. But what if you throw a loud and energetic toddler into the mix? Can you wedding day take the strain and still be everything you’ve always dreamed it will be? Well, the answer is yes, but you need to be even more organised and flexible than the average bride in order for everything to run smoothly.

The subject of toddlers at weddings is something which is very close to my heart as I will have two very headstrong little girls walking down the aisle with me come December. I also attended a family wedding a couple of years ago where the bride and groom had a two year old daughter, a little girl who just so happens to be my goddaughter and the most beautiful princess in the whole world! Yes, I’m biased ok! Their wedding day was truly magical, and it was in no small part due to the presence of children.

Anyway, that couple coped very well with the pressures of including their daughter in their big day, and I’d like to share some advice with you to ensure that you’re big day is as successful as theirs. Oh, and remember not to worry too much about how your child will act. The unpredictability of toddlers is what makes including them so much fun…

Images: Loft Photographie {via The Knot} // Taylor Lord {via Style Me Pretty}

Ask for help during the planning stages!

Unless you are some kind of superwoman there’s no way that you and your groom will be able to plan your wedding on your own when you’ve got a child to look after. Ask your parents, his parents, your attendants (and anyone who offers their assistance!) for help with tasks such as researching themes, calling suppliers for quotes and searching for attire. Your friends and family will relish the opportunity to have some creative input in your big day, so let them help.

If you’re super busy you may like to consider hiring a wedding planning to take the majority of the strain. Check out my post ‘Should I Employ a Wedding Planner?’ for advice.

Organise childcare for supplier meetings:

Do yourself a favour and don’t take your toddler to any of your supplier meetings! There’s no way that you will be able to concentrate on what the supplier is saying with your little one running around and touching everything in sight, and you really need to give them your full attention to make sure that you’re getting exactly what you want from them.

If you find yourself in the unlikely situation that you simply cannot find anyone to look after your toddler then make sure you take plenty of toys and a few snacks along to the meeting so that they can play while you discuss ideas and plans with your supplier.

Images: Rebecca Wood {via Style Me Pretty} // Aislinn Photography

Keep to their routine:

It is important that you keep to your toddler’s regular routine as much as possible. By this I mean sticking to their regular bedtime the night before the wedding, and allowing them to have a nap at the normal times where possible. Sometimes this simply isn’t possible as a wedding is a whole day event. If this is the case then try your best to get a nap time in as close to their regular time as possible.

Hand over responsibility:

If you can’t concentrate on yourself on your own wedding day then when can you? I urge all mummy brides out there to appoint someone (perhaps the mother of the groom) to look after your toddler while you enjoy your big day.

Make sure that your child knows the person who is caring for them during the wedding day very well to minimise the stress they feel by being separated from their parents. They should also be brought in to see you while you’re getting ready, but just for a few moments. This will reduce the chance of them getting upset at being away from you before the ceremony begins.

Make sure they are fed:

On the morning of the wedding it’s so important to charge someone with the task of feeding your toddler, and all other toddlers and children in your wedding party for that matter! Hungry children are less likely to be in a good mood during the ceremony, and for the rest of the day. For our wedding I have arranged to have some platters of food brought up to the bridal suite so that I can make sure all of my attendants are fed before the wedding ceremony begins.

Images: Nicole Berrett Photography {via Ruffled} // Juliet Mckee Photography {via Love My Dress}

Get them dressed last:

Ask whoever is looking after your toddler to get them ready at the last minute so that they have the least amount of time possible to get their outfit dirty. Make sure they have some play time, a nap, some food and are washed and dressed in that order.

Accept that they won’t sit still during the ceremony:

Once you realise that toddlers don’t sit still for very long, your wedding day stress will half. If you’re expecting a two year old to sit on a chair and remain quiet for 30 minutes or more, you’re dreaming. If you don’t like the idea of little ones toddling around the church or ceremony room while your marriage is taking place, then consider hiring a wedding day crèche service, just like I have. The price of such a service is surprisingly reasonable!

Keep them entertained:

Bored children tend to get disruptive and destructive, so keep them busy by providing goodie bags, a craft table or their own entertainment. I’ve written extensively on the subject of goodie bags here in my ‘DIY Goodie Bags for Little Wedding Guests’ blog post.

--Lottie ♥

Advice // How to Prepare Yourself for the Big Day!

Image: Pinterest

After eighteen months of passionately planning my big and beautiful family wedding, I found myself only eleven days away from the main event! As a fiercely organised and hardworking bride I believed that I’d got everything under control…well, almost. A few issues had been causing me sleepless nights (whether the cake pops and cupcakes I made for the dessert table would be yummy enough, and whether the stress would cause a breakout the night before the wedding!), however I was happy to give myself a pat on the back for mastering my to-do list like a pro. That’s not to say that it had been easy and that I was not suffering the effects of dedicating so much of myself to a single weekend, but that’s the name of this crazy game we call wedding planning!

For most brides the last few weeks before the wedding will be stressful, busy and emotional. There’s no way of getting away from it; planning and preparing for a wedding takes a lot out of you, both physically and emotionally. With this in mind it’s more important than ever for a bride to put time aside for herself so that she can properly prepare for her big day when that big day is only days away. Below you will find my tips for ensuring that your body and mind are relaxed, full of energy and fully prepared for what is to come…

Images: I Heart Naptime // Sally's Baking Addiction

  • For two weeks before the wedding you need to make sure that your bedtime is early enough to allow for plenty of restful sleep. Bags under your eyes and dull skin do not look good on a bride!  If you’re having trouble sleeping (due to wedding or other stress) then a warm milky drink, a warm (but not too hot) bath, a lavender pillow or room spray, and a pre-bedtime massage from your beloved should do the trick! Try not to watch TV or use any devices with a bright screen for an hour before bed as they tend to keep your brain too active. Swap your bedtime TV program for a bedtime read by the light of your bedside lamp only.
  • Stay properly hydrated by drinking lots of water or green tea, or any other non-caffeinated beverage. We are advised to drink 1.6 litres of water per day (that’s about six glasses), but remember that this doesn’t have to be just plain water. I find that consuming more fluids is easier if you mix glasses of juice or water with cups of flavoured green or herbal teas. Adding fruit to water is a great way to make water more interesting!
  • Alongside upping your fluid intake you should also make sure that you are eating plenty of fresh fruit and veggies, wholegrains and pulses to keep your strength up and your energy levels where you need them to be. A good diet will also give you radiant skin, strong nails and bouncy hair. Avoid making any big changes in your diet ahead of the wedding as you don’t want to upset your tummy.
  • Add extra shine to your hair by applying an intense moisture pack to your lovely locks once or twice a week. Alternatively you could visit the hairdresser and ask for a nourishing treatment. I’m visiting my hairdresser tomorrow for exactly this reason, and I can’t wait to see how lustrous my tresses are afterwards!

Images: Pinterest // Pinterest // Summer That

  • Relax! Easy to say, but not easy to do right? Relaxing during the weeks leading up to your wedding is so important as it will help to prevent anxiety, sleeplessness, ‘bridezilla’ moments and all-out war with friends and family. Allowing yourself to get too worked up may also cause the dreaded pre-wedding breakout. This is something to avoid at all costs so do all you can to keep that blood pressure down!
  • Try not to spend much time on public transport or places with a high density of strangers (such as supermarkets, gyms and bars) for two weeks prior to the wedding in order to reduce the likelihood that you will catch a bug. If you have to ride the tube, train or bus to work, make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly as soon as you are able. Likewise, if a friend or family member is sick try your best to stay away from them while they are infectious.
  • Don’t try to do everything on your own! Ask your fiancé, MOH, mum or another close friend or relative to spend a few days with you during the last two weeks so that you can ensure that everything is done and dusted. A fresh pair of eyes can look over what you’ve done and point out anything you’ve missed. They can also be your assistant in the kitchen, while making favours and while completing any little tasks which remain on your to-do list. Mix in a glass or two of fizz while you work to turn this into a joyful event!
  • And now the biggie….enjoy yourself! Hopefully you will only plan one wedding in your life, so enjoy every moment. The wedding itself will last for a matter of hours, whereas the planning stages can stretch over months or even years. Commit as much of it to memory as you can, and allow yourself to feel truly proud of your hard work when your special day finally arrives!

 --Lottie ♥

Advice // Should I Employ a Wedding Planner?

Image: Bentin Marcs {via 100 Layer Cake}

Regular readers of my blog will know that I am a great advocate for planning your own wedding, and many of my blog posts revolve around inspiring and advising brides and grooms towards crafting their own big day. That being said, I am also a huge fan of wedding planners, their services, and their ability to develop their client’s vision for a very personal and unique wedding day.

As a modern couple with busy schedules it may be the case that you are so busy with your day-to-day life that you simply do not have the time to plan your wedding on your own. I would wholeheartedly advise brides and grooms in this situation to seriously consider employing a wedding planner to share the load. A busy work life, children and other family commitments can all conspire to keep your attention away from planning your wedding, leaving you feeling like you’re spread too thinly. Believe me, planning a wedding can feel like a full time job at times, especially if it’s going to be a big affair!

No matter what you do you will start to feel a little anxious as the big day approaches. Worrying questions such as ‘have I confirmed all of my suppliers?’, ‘will my dress be ready on time?’, and ‘is my running order finalised?’ will be rushing through your mind, and that’s totally natural. What you don’t want to be doing is getting so worked up that you simply can’t enjoy the process. If you feel that you can avoid those little meltdowns by hiring a wedding planner, then by all means go ahead!

Remember that just because you’ve chosen to hand some responsibility over to a planner does not mean that you will lose control of your wedding day. The last thing that any creative and passionate bride wants to do is sit on the side-lines while someone else plans every detail of this very important day without consulting them. As long as you make it clear to your chosen wedding planner that you want to retain control over your plans, any reputable planner will ensure that they consult you and update you on a regular basis.

Images: Pinterest // Pinterest // Chic Vintage Brides // Brides

The benefits of hiring a wedding planner:

Below I have listed the main benefits of hiring a wedding planner…

  • As I mentioned above you may need to use a wedding planner if you are simply too busy to plan every last detail of your wedding on your own. Do not underestimate the amount of time and energy it takes to plan your big day, despite the fact that the whole event will probably be done and dusted within the space of a single day!
  • Experience is a huge plus point for employing a wedding planner. They have been there and done it all before, so they will be best placed to advise you and guide you through the entire process.
  • A decent wedding planner will also have a list of tried and trusted suppliers with whom they already have an established relationship. Having access to this list of suppliers is one of the number one perks of booking a wedding planner!
  • Wedding planners are great if you’re on a budget as they have the ability to get the best deals with reliable suppliers such as bands, caterers and venue decoration companies. A skilled wedding planner will also help you to stick to the budget by knowing what is essential, and what can be left out.
  • If you tend to get flustered easily you will benefit from having a wedding planner on hand to keep you calm, organised and moving towards the ultimate goal, your perfect wedding day!
  • Remember that you do not need to book a wedding planner for the entire process. Many planners offer an hourly consultation which you can utilise to polish your existing plans, or perhaps you simply need a wedding planner for on-the-day assistance. A short note of caution if you do decide to book a wedding planner to be at your right hand on the day; just make sure that you meet up for a in depth chat well before the big day so that you’re both on the same page. There’s nothing worse than an on-the-day wedding planner who doesn’t know anything about your vision!

Images: Alicia Lucia {via Style Me Pretty} // Nicole Cherie Photography {via Grey Likes Weddings} // Becca Borge {via Ruffled} // Kati Mallory {via Green Wedding Shoes}

  • Wedding planners are unbiased so they will be able to give you their true opinion on the themes and concepts you are thinking of going for. Chances are that your friends and family would not feel comfortable speaking out if they believe that something isn’t going to work.
  • An experienced wedding planner will have a well-practiced crisis contingency plan in place, so if something goes wrong on the day and you have a planner overseeing your wedding, you probably won’t even hear about the issue.
  • If you’ve got your heart set on a destination wedding then you will need a wedding planner as each country will have specific requirements which need to be satisfied before couples can get married there.
  • Once the wedding is over the wedding planner can oversee the packing up of the newlywed’s possessions and can return any hired decorations or attire. The last thing you want to be doing the morning after your wedding is boxing everything up, so leave this job to someone else even if you don’t hire a planner!
  • If you manage to land yourself an excellent wedding planner you may find that s/he has additional skills which could be utilised for your wedding such as qualifications in bridal makeup and hairstyling, flower arranging, personal shopping and speech writing. Always ask to see a list of a potential wedding planner’s extracurricular activities!

--Lottie ♥

Advice // Tips for Sticking to your Budget!

Image: Colin Cowie Weddings

If you think that working out a reasonable and all-encompassing wedding budget is difficult, it’s nothing compared to the pain you will go through trying to stick to it! No matter how hard you try to stay within the total number of pounds set aside for your big day, it is inevitable that most of us will sneak over the line in the final months of planning. As a result of this very annoying fact I always advise brides and grooms to set aside an emergency fund which is made up of ten to fifteen per cent of the budget total. Having a contingency plan and a lower budget total will give you the best chance of reining yourself in from purchasing impulsively, and if you don’t end up needing your emergency fund, you’ve got a bigger pot of money to blow during your honeymoon!

Below you will find a few more of my top tips for sticking to that dreaded budget. Some of these ideas may not make a great deal of sense to you right now (especially if you are in the very early stages of planning your wedding), but keep them in your mind (and in your wedding planning folder!) for later down the line…

Images: Jose Villa Photography {via Style Me Pretty} // Nicole L Hill Photography {via Bridal Musings} // Love by Serena {via Ruffled}

  • From the moment you set your budget keep your eyes peeled for sales, offers and vouchers. It’s simply amazing how much you can save if you shop intelligently!
  • Feel free to spend some time searching high end stores and websites for inspiration, but remember that Etsy, eBay, charity shops and discount stores will stock plenty of cute or one of kind items which will not break the bank
  • Consider hiring some of your venue decoration if you’ve opted for something very dramatic
  • Using potted plants taken from your garden and/or borrowed from your friends and family as decoration will save you a small fortune in cut flower arrangements, and are more eco-friendly to boot!
  • Shop for a wedding dress during the end of summer sales, so in August and September. Many boutiques will be selling beautiful dresses a lower prices in order to make way for the autumn and winter collections
  • Really shop around before booking any suppliers, don’t just book the first person you come across because they have an eye-catching website or seemed friendly over the phone

Images: Twah Dougherty {via Style Me Pretty} // Cakes & Kisses Wedding Photography {via Frosted Petticoat}

  • Prioritise! If you simply cannot do without professional hair and makeup then make sure that you prioritise it. Spend a bit of time looking at how you could slim down your budget if it looks like it’s getting out of hand. Do you really need those Jimmy Choo heels, or that diamond-encrusted garter? You will be surprised how much money you can save by looking critically at your wish list
  • Consider hiring a DJ rather than a band, as DJs tend to be much cheaper
  • Discuss buying alcohol wholesale with your venue. Some venues do not allow you to bring in alcohol from an outside source, some charge high corkage fees, however some will allow you to do this and will only charge a few pounds corkage fee per bottle. Look at the options and do a bit of maths. Also, consider serving sparkling wine rather than champagne as most people cannot tell the difference anyway!
  • Order two cakes; one small and ornate cake for display and cutting by the bride and groom, and one large plain cake for slicing up and eating. This way you can keep the cost of your cake down while still ensuring that everyone gets to try a piece

Images: Heather Hawkins Photography {via Green Wedding Shoes} // The Proper Pin Wheel // Half Orange Photography {via Ruffled} // Love By Serena {via Ruffled}

  • Keep your wedding day catering simple and go for chicken or pork dishes rather than beef or lamb as they tend to be a bit cheaper
  • Request that your venue serves your wedding cake for dessert and save money on an entire course!
  • Hold your wedding late in the day so that you only need to feed your guests once
  • Hand-making some of your decorations and stationery is such a wonderful way of making your wedding truly unique and personal to you. It’s relatively easy (and cheap!) to make your stationery such as place cards, a seating chart and menus by hand, and table decorations incorporating reused glass jars and tin cans looks charming!
  • If you’re flexible on time of year, book a winter wedding instead of a summer one as many venues drop their prices substantially for the winter months. Steer clear of December though as prices can rise during the festive period. If you look at dates in January, February, March, October and November you could be onto a winner!
  • Ask your maid of honour, bridesmaids and your mum or guardian to do their own hair and makeup
  • Keep a handle on your guest list! It can be so tempting to add a few extra names to your list as the big day approaches, however this is a sure fire way of breaking your budget. Once you’re list is written up, try to stick to it

--Lottie ♥

Advice // Easy-Peasy Eco Ideas for your Wedding

Image: Pinterest

Going green for your wedding day will not only benefit the planet, it could also benefit your budget! Clever eco-friendly alternatives exist for almost every aspect of your wedding setup, and it really does feel great to plan a day which walks a little more lightly on the earth than the average wedding. Even if you incorporate just one or two of the below ideas, you are sure to reap the karmic benefits, and you may even save a small fortune!

Images: The Wedding Scoop // Pinterest // Sharalee Prang Photography {via Ruffled}

Eco-friendly invitations:

Recycled paper invitations are becoming very popular with brides and grooms who have an interest in making their weddings as eco-friendly as possible. It is very easy to find good quality recycled paper in the shops, and many stationers will use recycled paper if you request it. You can even find recycled paper which is impregnated with wild flower seeds for an extra bit of earth-friendly wow factor!

Tea towel invitations are another fantastic way of making a very green impact on your guests right from the off! Sending tea towels as invitations is such a cute idea, and you are providing your guests with something which they can use and re-use for years to come.

Images: Wedding Bells // Blue Rose Photography {via Style Me Pretty} // Bara Miller Photography {via Wedding Chicks}

Earth-friendly favours & gifts:

Flower seeds are a budget and earth-friendly choice for wedding favours. I gave seeds at my own wedding and they went down a storm! When spring arrives my wedding guests will be able to plant their seeds and enjoy the resulting wild flowers as they remember how fabulous our wedding day was. Your resident garden bugs will also benefit from this, the ultimate eco-friendly choice for wedding favours.

Beeswax candles are a cheap and cheerful option for wedding favours, and are better for the planet than regular paraffin candles. You could opt for candles coloured in the same shades as your wedding pallet to continue your theme, and tying three candles together with twine and a label makes for a gorgeous favour!

Bird feeders are a fantastic choice for brides and grooms with an interest in wildlife. You can buy fat cakes in various shapes and sizes from the shops, or you can do what I did for our wedding and mix melted lard with bird seed mix and pour into moulds. I used a heart-shaped mould to make over fifty seed cakes and it cost us less than £30 to make all of them!

Bird seed confetti is far more eco-friendly than paper confetti and will give the local birds a real treat. Either ask your guests to bring their own bird seed, or have the groomsmen hand out small packets of seed as everyone enters the church or venue. Your church or venue will really thank you for this as the birds take care of the clean up!

Reusable totes are a great way of ensuring that your guests remember your special day every time they pop to the shops! You could personalise the totes by having your names and the date of your wedding printed on the totes, along with the words ‘thank you’.

Succulents have enjoyed their status as a popular wedding trend for the past few years, and for good reason! Not only are they incredibly beautiful and very easy to incorporate into bouquets and arrangements, they also require very little maintenance and are long-lived. Your guests are sure to appreciate this little gift!

Images: Studio 13 Designs // Spottswood Photography {via Wedding Chicks} // Brides

Guilt-free food:

If your venue will allow it, hire a catering company which uses only free-range meat and organic ingredients. Knowing that your wedding breakfast is as earth-friendly as possible will allow you to feel totally guilt free about what you’re feeding to your guests. It’s also very important to support businesses which have adopted an ethical and eco-friendly way of making money!

If you have your heart set on a summer wedding you could opt for a cold buffet so that less energy is required to cook the food. Just make sure that the company providing the menu is reputable and has all of the latest food safety certificates.

For intimate weddings you may like to host your wedding reception at home if you have the space, or at a friend’s house. This way you can do your own catering (or have your family members do it for you!), and you will know exactly how eco-friendly the resulting menu is. It’s true that organic food is more expensive than non-organic, however if you’re smart you can make better quality ingredients stretch further.

Images: Jason & Anna Photography {via Ruffled} // Source: unknown //  Anne Robert Photography {via Grey Likes Weddings}

Go green with your venue:

For midsummer brides it’s easy to make your wedding more eco-friendly by opting for a festival or garden theme, whereby your reception takes place outside under the protection of tents or marquees. Just remember that your guests will probably be warm enough during the day, however you will still need to provide heating during the evening. With this in mind you may like to go for an early ceremony, so that you can make the most of the (hopefully!) warm summer weather before the temperature starts to dip.

For brides who are marrying in spring, autumn or winter the best thing you can do is to hire a cosy venue which doesn’t require as much heating as, say, a stately home with high ceilings. If you are lucky enough to live close to a venue which has excellent energy saving credentials; that would be your ideal choice!

--Lottie ♥

Advice // Stress-busting Tips for the Morning of your Wedding

Images: Shane Shepherd {via Ruffled}

When questioned the vast majority of brides (and some grooms!) will admit to feeling a little nervous about the morning of their wedding. It’s completely normal to worry about whether your hair dresser will arrive on time, whether you will be feeling weepy, and how you will manage to bring all of the many elements together on time. Well don’t stress! There is a way of being totally relaxed as the hours tick down to your marriage ceremony, and it’s surprisingly easy. You simply need to be organised and create a schedule to ensure that you arrive at the venue feeling excited, but also as relaxed as possible. Take a look below for my top stress-busting tip for the morning of your wedding…

Draw up a schedule…and stick to it!

Will you have your makeup done and then your hair, or the other way around? For our wedding I had my hair done first as I opted for a style that didn’t lie across my forehead too much. Once my hair was complete I padded back down the hall in my slippers to the bridal suite to apply my makeup. When that was done it was back to the salon to have my veil placed into my hair, before I returned to the bridal suite to get into my dress. All of that toing and froing took time, despite the fact that the salon was only a couple of doors away from the bridal suite. So remember that you need to include transport times within your schedule, even if the journey is a short one.

Images: Pinterest // Pinterest // Pasha Belman {via Southern Weddings}

If you have booked the same artist to apply makeup to your bridesmaids, maid of honour, mother and other relatives, you need to make sure that you know how long each application will take. The same goes for hair styling. Makeup artists will apply the bride’s makeup last so that is still freshly applied when she walks down the aisle, and you don’t want a situation where the bride’s makeup is being rushed because makeup application on someone else ran over schedule. As a general rule you need to leave ninety minutes for bridal makeup application and ninety minutes for bridal hair styling. For your maid of honour, bridesmaids, mother and other female relatives you need to allow sixty minutes per person per task, unless their trials have taken considerably less time. Minimise stress in this situation by using a team of makeup artists and hair stylists.

It's also very important that you leave time to have something to eat! Make sure that you have plenty of breakfast to help your energy levels to stay elevated, and keep snacking until it's time to get into your dress. You may not feel like eating much, but please try to have something, and drinks water as well as champagne. A woozy head, rumbly tummy and hunger pains are not something you will want to contend with as you say your vows. 

Images: Pinterest // Bridal Guide

Choose a large bridal suite with lots of natural light

If your family is anything like my family, there will be lots of people coming in and out of the bridal suite on the morning of the wedding. Your maid of honour will probably be with you most of the time, your bridesmaids will be on hand to assist you, and various members of the bridal party will want to check on your progress from time to time. My own bridal suite had no less than fifteen people in it at one stage, so I was so glad that I’d chosen one of the largest rooms at our venue!

Natural light in the bridal suite should also be a concern so that your makeup artist and hair stylist have the best conditions in which to make you look beautiful! If you will be waking up in a hotel on the morning of your wedding then it’s best to ask the staff which room receives the best morning light. Book this room as your bridal suite. If you will be getting ready at home then you will already know which room will provide the best conditions. Oh, and having plenty of light will help your photographer to capture the most beautiful pre-ceremony shots.

Hang the dress, and don’t forget the veil

As well as having space for lots of people in your room you also need somewhere airy and roomy to hang your dress. Whatever you do, don’t leave your dress in its bag all morning! Take it out and let it hang to remove any small creases, and to allow the material to breath. This is especially important if you have a train, and don’t forget to do the same for your veil. The back of a chair or a door is the best place to hang a long veil, but remember to keep it well out of the way to avoid anyone brushing against it, and pop a clean white towel underneath to prevent dust transfer. No one should be allowed to touch the dress, veil or shoes without first washing and thoroughly drying their hands to avoid last minute stains.

Images: Craig Bruce, Brilliant Studios {via Bridal Musings} // KT Merry {via Style Me Pretty} // Bushfire Photography {via Wedding Chicks}

Don’t forget the emergency kit!

No bride should be without her trusty emergency kit! If you have a wedding planner they will bring their own, but double check that they have included the following…

  • Facial wipes
  • Deodorant
  • Tailor’s chalk (to cover any small stains)
  • Pain killers
  • Rennes
  • Blister plasters
  • Spare pair of stockings
  • Scissors
  • Small sewing kit (including safety pins)
  • Flat shoes
  • Wellies (in case of rain!)
  • Cello tape
  • Bottled water & hi energy snacks

Images: 100 Layer Cake // Katie Lopez Photography {via Style Me Pretty}

Keep your attention on yourself, everyone else will be fine

The morning of your wedding is one of very few occasions when it’s ok to be totally self-centred! Concentrate on yourself and don’t worry too much about what everyone else is doing. Your maid of honour is a big girl and more than capable of getting herself ready as well as assisting you, and the same goes for your bridesmaids. If you have a young flower girl then you can feel safe in the knowledge that her parents will be doing everything they can be make sure their little girl looks perfect for the procession. This morning is all about you preparing physically and emotionally for the best day of your life, so don’t sweat the small stuff.

Also, don’t worry about whether your groom is getting ready or not. His mum and/or your mum and his best man will have all of that in order! 

--Lottie ♥

Advice // Planning your Drinks Reception

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Most couples choose to have their drinks reception take place after the wedding ceremony and before the wedding breakfast to give their guests a chance to mingle. This also gives the photographer some time to take traditional group shots, and to whisk the bride and groom away for a while without leaving the guests feeling abandoned. The form which your drinks reception will take is completely up to you, and will depend on your individual taste, the time of year, the weather and the size of your guest list. As well as providing a source of much needed nourishment prior to the wedding breakfast, it is also a good idea to serve canapés so that your guests do not have to drink alcohol on an empty tummy.

Images: Pinterest // White Loft Studio {via Style Me Pretty} // Pinterest

While it is common to host a drinks reception where waiters serve your guests, you could also provide refreshments in a more laid back fashion by setting up a table of drinks and nibbles so that your guests can help themselves. As I said above, the style of your drinks reception will depend on how formal or informal the rest of your day will be, so take a look at your concept and come up with something that fits seamlessly. Just be sure to time your drinks reception well so that your photographer has enough time to work with you, but not so long that your guests start to get a bit tired of standing around. Request that your venue provides some couches or tables and chairs, especially if you have very young or elderly people on your guest list. You also need to request that non-alcohol drinks are served during the drinks reception so that children, designated drivers and non-drinkers have something to enjoy. A delicious fruity punch or elegant virgin cocktails are always good options which will be enjoyed by everyone.

Images: Julie Kay Kelly Photography {via Wedding Chicks} // Etsy.com

While I whole heartedly suggest that you host a drinks reception inside for an autumn or winter wedding, spring or summer brides and grooms always have the option of hosting their drinks reception outside in the sunshine. If your venue has a stunning courtyard, beautiful gardens or a stretch of manicured lawn, then a garden party themed drinks reception would be ideal! You could even treat your guests to vintage champagne cocktails, cupcakes presented on tiered stands and lawn games such as croquet, bowls, horseshoes, an ice cream van or even a bouncy castle! Moving your musical entertainment out into the garden can be wonderful also, and will mean that your guests can sip champagne as your pianist or band serenades them in the sunshine.

Images: Ruffled Blog // Yummy Mummy Kitchen // Pinterest

Now, I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade here but I need to include a couple of points for your consideration before you set your heart on an outside drinks reception. The first point is the biggie; the wonderfully unpredictable British weather. If you do decide to opt for an outside drinks reception then you really need to have a contingency plan in place in the shape of a marquee or an alternative room within your chosen venue. It is highly likely that the venue wedding planners or events team will have come across this issue already, so they should be ready to offer an alternative if it looks like a wash out. Plan to have the venue staff poised to move everything indoors at a moment’s notice, or arrange to have a marquee erected over at least part of your chosen drinks reception location. The second issue involves high heeled shoes. Weddings are the place to show off your favourite shoes, and many women love to totter around in sky high heels, which do not tend to do well on soft ground. If you arrange for your drinks reception to take place on a stretch of grass it’s always wise to install some kind of flooring to prevent heels sinking into the ground, and to stop the lawn from being damaged. A particularly cute idea which I came across recently is to provide flip flops so that ladies in gorgeous heels can swap them while they enjoy the gardens.

Images: Jose Villa {via Brides} // Laura Murray Photography {via A Vintage Affair} // Love Maegan

This may not have crossed your mind but you also need to be prepared for very hot weather if you’re having your drinks reception, or any other part of your day, taking place outside. Make sure that cooling non-alcoholic drinks such as old fashioned lemonade and iced tea are served alongside your alcoholic beverages, and keep a couple of bottles of high factor sun cream on hand to protect young and fair skin.

--Lottie ♥

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