Tuesday, 26 July 2011

2 Dress to Impress - wearing more than one outfit on your Big Day

It's the lucky bride who gets to wear more than one dress on her wedding day.  However, it's not just a symptom of spare budget and extravagence.  Sometimes it is a necessity:

 When Alex Curran tied the knot with footballer love Steven Gerrard in the summer of 2007, she did so in a heavily beaded and bejewelled Flamenco-style Eli Saab gown she'd bought in Paris.  Complete with a Spanish-influenced headdress and flowing train, the gown was a stunning spectacle.  It was also very heavy.  The bride confessed that she eagerly swapped it for a Prada mini dress for the evening's festivites.

 Victoria Beckham's creamy golden dress for her Catholic ceremony to husband David was demure, modest and romantic.  For the party, she wanted a far sexier look.  For that, she donned a close fitting "Jessica Rabbit" purple dress that sexily clung to her curves with a cheeky slit up the thigh.  The other colours of the theme, burgundy and evergreen, were picked out in the flower detailling on the shoulder.

In many European countries, religious ceremonies are not legally binding.  A civil ceremony must take place first in order for the marriage to be recognised by the State.  When this happened for Grace Kelly, she married Prince Rainier of Monaco on Wednesday 18th April 1956 in a chic golden suit, heavily embroidered; befitting her new status as Princess of the Meditteraenean principality.  The iconic gown she wore for her religious ceremony the following day was far bigger and filled the Cathedal of Monaco.  Beautiful though it was, it would have been inappropriate in a smaller venue.

Beautiful though your wedding gown might be, we all know that they are not the most practical garments in the world.  5ft trains are great until you have to trail them around the dancefloor.  Shorter skirts are better for dancing in, so once you've greeted your evening dress, you can easily slip into a party dress for boogying the night away.  Arguably some guests may feel cheated if they didn't get to see you in your fancy finery, but your comfort must be the number 1 priority

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Beauty Belle Bonce - the secrets of perfect hair

Up or down.  This is possibly the toughest question posed to any bride.  How to wear your hair on your big day can have a massive impact on your overall bridal look.

The Duchess of Cambridge was criticised in some quarters for not being daring and wearing her hair up on her wedding day.  Yet she followed the golden wedding hair rule: don't do anything dramatically different just because it's your wedding day.  You still need to look like you.  The demi-chignon she opted for was glamorous enough for the big day but was still reflective of her personality.

Short hair needn't be troublesome if you're a bride.  Fashion labels are getting very good at creating intricate Alice bands and beautiful fascinators as delightful alternatives to trailing curls and fussy veils.

Of course, you could always get extensions put in.  And that is not limited to the bride!  When top pop pin-up Peter Andre married glamour model Katie Price in September 2005, he was worried that they would look back on their wedding pictures and his spiky hair would look dated.  To combat this, Pete had extensions put in to give him more of a classic Italian Stallion look.  Both Andre and Price later admitted that the only thing they would do over about their big day was Pete's hair!

By far and away, the worst thing you can do to your chair on your big day is to change it too dramatically.  I can think of no better example of this than Chantelle Houghton who tied the knot with The Ordinary Boys frontman Samuel Preston in August 2006.  She went from her trademark, striking blonde, Paris-Hilton-lookalike tresses to sleek glossy brunette.  Whilst the transformation (in my opinion) suited her, Houghton later admitted that she'd only done it because her beloved didn't like blondes.  She changed who she was because of him; because she was getting married.  And that proved to be a fatal mistake.  10 months later, the marriage was over.

We place a far greater emphasis on hair than perhaps at first we appreciate.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to revamp your self image, so long as you are doing it for the right reasons.  Don't do it to please your other half - you are going to have to spend far more time with that hair than he will.  Never EVER do it just to fit in with your wedding look.  Your wedding lasts for just one day (or a weekend if you're lucky).  Hairstyles can take up to a year to grow out.

If you want a radical one-day look, consider wearing a wig.  You can get ones made from real hair and they are a far easier option that changing your own hair.
Top Haircare Tips:

1: Use warm, not hot, water when washing your tresses.  Having rinsed all the traces of soap out, rinse through quickly with cold water.  This makes your hair glossier.

2: Keep your hair wrapped in a towel for an hour after washing it.  This keeps it softer, even when blow dryed.

3: Blow drying will give it extra body but careful not to overdo it.  Ease off the straighteners in the 8 weeks before the wedding so that you don't scald it.

Monday, 18 July 2011

The Four Seasons - Marrying throughout the year

The tradition in the UK for summer to be the season of marriage stems from two things: 1) Traditionally people took their annual baths in May (which is why it's very unlucky to marry in May) and were still clean-ish to marry in June.  (It's also because people bathed so seldomly that brides traditionally carry a posy of flowers to block out the smell.)  2) In the days before electricity, people used to make as most of the natural light as possible.  Times move on and habits change.  We now get married all year round.  So what are the pros and cons of marrying during the different seasons:

SPRING: March, April, May

According to ancient Biblical myth, the world began in spring, so what a perfect way to begin your marriage.  Outdoor bushes and flowerbeds are blooming at this time of year.  The world really does seem to come alive after the long dark winter.  Spring is definitely the time of year to get hitched if you love your flowers.  Spring blooms are vibrant in colour and rich in sent.  The end of April consistently brings a bout of warm weather - just watch out for those April showers!

SUMMER: June, July, August

The wedding season at it's height!  And because of this, be weary that suppliers will put their prices up, especially venues and hotels.  If you are planning to get married in the summer, make sure you book everything well in advance as locations, photographers, cakemakers and the like get snapped up very very quickly.  Hopefully the weather will be on your site and plenty of extra daylight means you can party for longer.  Just bear in mind: the best summer weather tends to be in July.  June is the month when you're most likely to see a thunderstorm and August is the wettest month of the year in the UK.

AUTUMN: September, October, November

Wedding trends seem to show that in the last five years or so, September is definitely the new June.  It is THE month to get married.  Honeymoon prices certainly go down as the airlines need to persuade people to travel after the school holidays.  If you want to be seen to be quirky, get married in October.  It is the least popular month to marry in.  With November comes the added bonus of fireworks (if you marry around the 5th!) and a Christmassy themed wedding (without the Christmassy price tag) if you get married later in the month.

WINTER: December, January, February

Winter weddings are great for creating cosy, intimate environments.  However, do beware the winter weather.  Snow may seem like a great idea on paper, but it does tend to grind everything to a halt, especially in rural areas.  Suppliers will struggle to get to you and, worse, your guests may do too.  December can be a tricky time, but January is good month for those on a tight budget to get married.  Often venues who bought in extra supplies (e.g. wine) over Christmas will be willing to let you have it at a discount rate.  However in February, thanks to Valentine's Day, availability with certain venues will be limited and the cost of flowers will sky-rocket.

In truth, there is no good or bad time to get married.  There are good things and bad things to be said for every season.  The best time to get married will be known only to you and your-husband-to-be.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Dusting Off the Fairytale - what to do with your dress afterwards

It's probably the most expensive outfit you'll ever buy and the one piece of clothing you'll treasure above all others for the rest of your life.  So once you've wrapped it in acid free paper and a UV-protective cover, what will you do with your wedding dress?

Well, unless you marry royalty, it's unlikely to end up in a museum.  However, that doesn't mean you can't showcase your dress.  Purchasing a mannequin and a display case is not unheard of, but you will require a lot of space and fair bit of cash too.  If you're not adverse to cutting up your dress, if you have some particularly beautiful lace or applique, you could cut it off and then frame it.  Alternatively, you could sew it into a decorative tablecloth.

In these times of austerity and great awareness of reducing waste, some people find it an unnecessary expense to purchase a dress they'll never wear again.  Monsoon is particularly great for creating beautiful yet understated dresses that you can use again and again.

You don't even have to turn to the high street for a dress you can wear again.  The ever-thrifty Duchess of Cornwall has been spotted in the dress she wore to wed Prince Charles many times since her 2005 nuptials.  The dress was a bespoke piece by Robinson Valentine.

If you still want to purchase that dream dress you've had your eye for longer than you care to think about, who knows?  If you put it away now, the generation after you may want to wear it.  Daughters wearing their mother's wedding dresses has boomed in popularity in the last few years; this is due in part to the tough economic climate, but also because nostalgia and all things vintage are very much in vogue at the moment.  Who knows: if you buy that dream dress now, it may well be back in fashion by the time your daughter gets married.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

To Hire or Not to Hire - bringing extra help

It seems that the credit crunch has not managed to crush our appetite for weddings.  In 2001, the average UK wedding cost £14, 500.  In 2011, it cost £20,000!  With all this extra money to spend, would you consider hiring a wedding planner?

We've all seen the Jennifer Lopez movie where the flawless wedding planner pins the boobless bridesmaid's dress to perfection, calms the nerves of the jittery bride and revives the drunken father of the bride; all without breaking a sweat.  I can't guarantee that wedding planners are like that, but in principal, this is what we are for: to make sure your wedding day goes without a hitch.

Similarly, you have have seen Wedding SOS - where wedding planner extraordinaire Jane Dayus-Hinch comes along and grants 3 wishes to a desperately-in-need couple.  I suppose event planners are like fairy godmothers: we have the experience and the expertise to make your wedding dreams come true.

Unlike the over-blown and outlandish Franck in Father of the Bride, their job is not to steal the limelight or be the star of the show.  Planners, if you choose to have us there on your big day at all, should be invisible.  They are the oil that greases the cogs to keep everything ticking over.

Naturally, their services come at a premium.  They can offer assistance with everything from brainstorming ideas right in the beginning, sourcing suppliers, arranging and booking details, right through to ensuring things run smoothly on the day itself.  A good planner should:
  • be able to style.  To have an eye for how things look is crucial.
  • have a good Roladex of contacts.  Only having one supplier for something shows bad procurement; too many shows indecisiveness.  A select few is what you're looking for.
  • show you a portfolio of work.  Ideally, they will have worked with your venue before and so will know all in the ins and outs.  They should also have a long list of satisfied customers.  Word of mouth is by far and away the most reliable form of advertising.
The bottom line: hiring a event planner is like hiring a nanny.  Only hire one if you can afford to.  They will take a lot of stress away but they made end up taking a lot of the fun away too.

3rd Time's the Charm - wedding, but not for the first time

Marriage is a big business in the UK, but sadly so is divorce.  It's a painful, trying and often financially exhausting time.  So when there is a light at the end of the tunnel - when you meet and fall in love again - it can lead to a nail-biting decision: To wed or not to wed?

The bottom line is: no one but you can tell you whether remarrying again is a good idea.  You must go with your gut instinct.  If it is causing a rift between you and your partner, you must think long and hard about whether it is an issue on which you can compromise, or whether it would be better for you and your partner to go your seperate ways.  Is the issue of marriage worth losing a partner over?

If you do decide to take the plunge second time around, there is the question of what kind of celebration to have.  Many people feel they don't deserve a big do second time around because they messed it up the first time.  This is UTTER NONSENSE!  Some people worry that people will think them frivilous for having a big celebration again.  Again, this is TOTAL RUBBISH.  If anyone thinks like that about remarriage, they are not worth having around on your big day.  People who truly love you, care for you and want nothing but happiness for you will gladly take part in your celebrations, no matter how small or how extravagent.

Personally I say, you only marry for the second time once.  No matter how many times you marry,  you should always have the day you want.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Oh Baby! - Is it better to have kids before or after I Do?

When Ed Miliband married his long-term love Justine Thorton earlier this year, it was not without it's controversy.  And I'm not talking about the supposed hatchet-burying between the Miliband brothers.

Ed and Justine had been together for many years before tying the knot and had two sons.  Some people wondered why they were bothing to get married.  Children are a far bigger commitment than a piece of paper that binds you together with the State.

There were also cynical others like me who suspected that Ed Miliband only began to "believe in marriage" once it looked like his political career was going to take off.  That said, more and more couples are waiting until after they've had children to get hitched.  There is some sense in this: marriage is not time critical, whereas child-bearing is.  I've also heard it said to me that a couple wanted to have their children to help celebrate Mummy and Daddy's big day.

Whether you're cynical of Ed's motivation or not, he and Justine took the step of marrying each other with their children present.  Ultimately, that will buy them and their children more financial and legal protection from the State.  Whether or not it benefits them as a family unit will be known only unto them.  Good luck Ed and Justine.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Organised Banker/Bride - never mock the bride who is financially well prepared

Whoever said "You can be too prepared" didn't know what the heck he was talking about.  He certainly had never planned a wedding!

The one mistake I see brides making time and time again is leaving things to the last minute.  A lot of people think that it is somehow inappropriate to start looking at things too soon after getting engaged.  NOT TRUE!  Also, going out to buy a dress before picking your venue and date is crass.  EH-EH!  WRONG AGAIN!  The most imporant rule of planning is: You can never start planning too soon.

Whilst there are perhaps technical implications to some of this - sometimes it is more prudent to wait until you have other details fixed before buying your dress - what's to stop you from building your big day around the dress.  Why not?  Planning is about shaping the day the way you want.

Of course, it is sensible to prioristise what is important to you on your big day.  You also should consider what is going to take up the most of your budget.  Venue hire and catering usually eat up the biggest portion of the money.

So first and foremost after getting engaged, you must set the budget.  Make it realistic.  Whilst it is fair to factor to factor in contributions from family whom you know for sure will want to contribute, it is unrealistic to try and factor in future savings (i.e. money you don't already have in the bank.)  However, agreeing not to start planning a wedding until you've got the amount you want to spend on the wedding saved up is a sensible idea.

Weddings should be paid for 100% from savings.  I do not avocate taking out loans for weddings as the interest you will end up paying on that loan will render the wedding 100% not worth it!  Small items that you can use again after the wedding, such as shoes or wedding night lingerie, could be paid for from your day to day bank account, but only after all your monthly expenses such as your phone bills, other utility bills, insurance payments, petrol/fuel costs, food shopping etc.  have been covered.  Also, never put wedding payments onto a credit card unless you know you have the money in savings to clear it.

It may help you to set up a seperate bank account for all wedding expenditure.  This will help you to see exactly how much is being spent on what.  If you cannot do this, make sure you keep a spreadsheet detailing all this information.  A spreadsheet can also help you keep an eye on any funds that are due in the future.

Although it may well be the single most important day of your life, your wedding is not worth getting into debt for.  Be smart with your money.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Something Blue, Something Pink, or Something Gold - Not wearing white on your big day

Long gone are the days of the bride wearing white.  It represented virginity, which is something not a lot of us can claim to on our wedding days these days!  Whilst ivories and warmer shades of white are still the norm, other colours are gaining in popularity.  This is due in no small part to celebrity influence.

Following her Friday nuptials to Prince Albert of Monaco, the new Serene Highness Princess Charlene could well be a trendsetter with this elegant blue suit.  The floatiness of the trousers gives it a romantic edge, whilst the jacket gives it a suitably formal edge for the civil ceremony.  The colour looks beautifully cool against the hot Monaco summer.  The duck-egg tones echo those worn by the Duchess of Cornwall at her wedding to Prince Charles in 2005.

Victoria Beckham opted for a champagne gold colour.  It was traditional enough for her Catholic wedding ceremony but still radical enough at the time to set her out as a trendsetter.  Since her 1999 wedding, similar colours have been spotted on the likes of Chantelle Houghton (2007) and Coronation Street actress Jennifer James (2001).

Red is the colour of romance, so therefore it makes for a good choice as a wedding dress.  Chinese brides often wear red as the colour is thought to bring good luck.  However, this large cherry on the top of the cake offering from Jodie Marsh somehow looks more monstrous than harmonious.

There is no one quite like Dita Von Teese so therefore we should have expected nothing less than originality from her when she married kooky rockstar Marilyn Manson.  This dramatic creation from Vivienne Westwood manages to be fairytale and dramatic.  And since purple is traditionally the colour of passion, I don't think we could've expected anything else from Ms Von Teese.

Her wedding still remains the biggest selling issue of OK! magazine of all time, so it's little suprise that Jordan's big fat gypsy wedding dress (back in the days when we didn't know what big fat gypsy weddings were) heavily influenced wedding dresses over the following years.  Women felt liberated after this dress; white was no longer the only option.  Sales of pink wedding dresses when through the roof after Katie Price's 2005 nuptials.  However, Katie was not the first celebrity bride to dare to wear pink...

Two years before, rock chick extraordinare Gwen Stefani walked down the aisle in  a John Galliano creation splashed with pink around the hem of the skirt.  Given Gwen's outlandish taste in fashion, this dress suited her to a tee.

FInding 'The One' (and I'm not talking about Mr Right) - Your guide to finding the perfect wedding dress

Whether you've been dreaming about it your entire life, or whether you've not got a clue where to start, you know that your dress is going to be the centre of attention on your wedding day.  It's going to be the one thing people are looking at and what they'll remember from it.  In years to come, another bride might wear it on her big day.  Suffice to say, your wedding dress may well be the most important outfit you ever buy, so you'll want to get it right.

First tip:  Even if you've got your heart set on a particular style, try on a range of different dresses.  You may find something that suits you even better and or something you like more.   It would be a shame if you missed out on something truly amazing just because it doesn't fit with a longheld ideal.

Think about the clothes you normally wear; think about your favourite clothes.  Why do you love them?  Which bits of your body do they show to advantage?  What shape are they?  All these answers should give you pointers as to the shape of dress you should be going for.

Think also about where you are getting married.  Is it a church?  A register office? Castle?  Stately home?  Hotel?  This will affect your choice of dress.  You should fill the venue accordingly.  A large princess line dress will look overwhelming in an intimate register office.  Likewise, a Bianca Jagger style suit will be almost invisible in the city cathedral.

When you've found a dress you like, you must practice moving in it.  Take you iPod or MP3 player to the shop, put on a favourite party song and try dancing around in it.  Try to dance like you normally would.  Also, soooo many brides forget to try sitting down in their gowns.  It's very important to test how comfortable the gown is for sitting in, as you will be doing a lot of this at the wedding too.

Take one or two people along with you for trying-on sessions.  Don't take any more people than that because too many opinions will leave you clueless.  Whoever you take should be people you can trust to be honest about what suits you and what looks good.

Ask them to take photos of you from a variety of angles; front, back, side etc.  Even on your phone is good enough.  You'll need to them to compare and contrast if you've got a decision to make.

Make sure you try on your dress with all your accessories.  It may be that that church-length veil with the pearl drops and the diamantes doesn't sit well with your intricating embroidered skirt.

Above all, picking your dream dress should be fun!  This is the time when you get to have everything as you want it.  Remember: marriage is a tricky business and the wedding is just the beginning! 

Friday, 1 July 2011

Monday's Bride is Fair of Face - tying the knot mid week

Peter Crouch is no stranger to starting trends.  Remember the 'Robot' victory dance during World Cup 2006?  His beautiful wife Abbey was part of the clan of women that earned the nickname 'WAGs' during that World Cup tournament also.  So perhaps, as a newlywed power couple, they may start a trend for mid week wedding.  They tied the knot on Thursday 30th June in Leicestershire.

Although far from common, weekday weddings are not unheard of.  In the Republic of Ireland, it is extremely rare for couples to marry on weekends with many priests refusing to perform ceremonies especially on Sundays.  Royals have been marrying on weekdays for years.  Princes Charles and Andrew both married on Wednesdays whilst the Queen got hitched on a Thursday.  Fridays are becoming more and more popular as wedding days because they mean a long weekend and plenty more time for partying and celebration.  This trend was typified by this year's royal wedding.

Even the Queen of Cool herself, Kate Moss, did it.

There are many advantages to marrying mid-week.  Cost is undoubtedly the first.  Suppliers expect to busier at weekends, potentially needing extra staff, and they will charge accordingly.  Availability is also another key factor.  You're far more likely to have your choice of venues, say, on a Wednesday than on a Saturday.  And because you're giving venues business they wouldn't otherwise have, they're far more likely to cut you a deal.

The main drawback is that not all of your friends and family may be able to join you on your big day.  It can be hard for some people, especially teachers and shift workers, to get the time off work.  The best way to get as many people as possible there is to give them as much notice as possible.  Normally, you should expect to send your invitations out 6 weeks before the big event.  With a mid week wedding, you should double this to around 12 weeks.  If you know for sure that some important people, e.g. close friends, relatives, siblings etc, are not going to be able to make it, consider hiring a videographer to capture the day and show them later.

P.S: Love her or loathe her, there is no way of getting around the fact that Abbey Crouch nee Clancey looked absolutely smokin' hot on her wedding day!  Congratulations to the happy couple.