Thursday, 17 May 2012

Afternoon Tea - an alternative hen night

Hen nights can wild and rauscous affairs.  Thanks to Ann Summers, you can trot about the open roads and the various night spots, sporting L plates, tiaras, mini wedding veils and mini penises too.  But for those of us who prefer the more sedate things in life, why not celebrate the end of singledom with a traditional afternoon tea.

Afternoon teas are a brilliant way of involving your female friends of all ages, whether they're 9, 19 or 90.  Who doesn't like tea and cake???  Historically, they were started by the Duchess of Bedford as a way for her and her friends to gossip without their menfolk around, and to combat that mid-afternoon peckishness.  It became so popular that even men started to indulge.  Nowadays, it's fantastic little treat to yourself and your friends.

Source unknown

Afternoon teas are great for making you feel sophisticated.  If you're having a vintage wedding, afternoon tea is a great way for getting into the spirit of the occasion.  Here are my top recommendations for teas to tantilise the tastebuds:

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The Cadogan Hotel, Knightsbridge

This hotel is one of my favourite spots for afternoon tea.  The quiet restaurant, attentive staff and vast selection of teas make for a wonderfully calm atmosphere.  It's a great place to chill out, and it's close enough to th Kings Road for a spot of shopping beforehand.

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The Park Lane Hotel, Mayfair

This hotel has all the decadence and glamour of its rival The Ritz down the road, but without the ginormous price tag.  Enjoy sumptuous sandwiches and scones, and why not try the Irish Cream tea with just a hint of whiskey.  The harpist  playing away in the corner adds a refined feel to the atmosphere.

Author's own

The Goring Hotel, Victoria

If it's good enough for Kate Middleton, it's good enough for me.  A favourite with the royal family for decades, it's easy to fall in love with the gentle old world charms of the Goring hotel's dining room, not to mention the charming crockery in spite of it being yellow.  Not a cheap experience, but a memorable experience nonetheless.

Beatons Tearoom & Bookshop, Tisbury, Wiltshire

Author's own

A tearoom with a twist: enjoy a delicious cup of tea and pick up a delightful read at the same time.  Part bookshop part teashop, this wonderful quirky place in the village of Tisbury is well worth the effort of getting to.  Why not have a walk around the wonderful countryside afterwards to burn those cheeky calories off?

You have any recommendations for a great afternoon tea, please drop me a line at 

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Stay-cation - Honeymooning in the UK

Have you, or would you, ever considering honeymooning in the UK?  Yes, okay, I do know how mad that sounds, but hear me out...

As the adverts on TV say, why would you want to go abroad in 2012?  Around the country there are many events and festivals taking place to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee and the London Olympics.  There are a wide variety of museums and art galleries for all you culture vultures out there, including the newly opened Titanic Belfast museum.  

If you think that honeymooning in the UK is only for those who can't afford the Maldives or a Caribbean Island, think again.  Kate Winslet honeymooned in the Cotswolds with her first husband Jim Threapleton following her 'bangers and mash' pub reception.  Nearly every newly-wed couple in the royal family has spent part of their honeymoon in the UK.  You don't need to go abroad to have proper one-to-one time with your new husband.

One massive (and very romantic) advantage of travelling in the UK is that you can book your accommodation in your married names before you get there.  If you want to travel abroad using your married name, this will have to be changed on your passport before you're married.  The only way to do this is to change your name by deed poll ahead of the ceremony.  Not a problem if you don't need a passport.

The other great advantage of staying in the UK is that, by saving money on travel, you have more spending money to treat yourself to souvenirs and days out.  Have you always wanted to go to the opera?  Maybe you've dreamt of going to that fancy restaurant you've had your eye on for years?  Now's the time, seize the moment!


The honeymoon is often the part of a wedding that couples end up looking forward to the most. A lot of people do not appreciate just how stressful planning a wedding can be.  That's why having a honeymoon, or even just a few days away together, alone, after the festivities is vitally important.  It gives you a chance to reconnect as a couple and reflect on your special day.

Remember: Marriage is a tricky business and the wedding is just the start.

Monday, 7 May 2012

You Are (Un)Cordially Invited To... - Keeping the guest list simple

A nightmare that'll have you sweating and shivering.  Quite possibly the worst experience you'll ever have.  I am of course referring to compiling your wedding guest list.  Mind boggling, headache inducing, row causing... guest lists have been the death of more than one relationship before now.  Make sure yours is not the next casualty by following these basic tips:

 From author's private collection

When deciding who to invite to your big day, start with yourselves and who MUST be there and work out.  So many people I see start by panicking about the tangent relatives and former colleagues in far flung places.  There's the bride and the groom; that's two guests down already.  Your attendants must come next.  Then your parents: that's another 4.  Any siblings and other close family next, e.g. grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins.  Then go to closest friends, token family (i.e. godparents, step family etc).  Having gone through all of these, if you have any space left over you can start thinking about work colleagues, distant family and neighbours.

From author's private collection

Your venue will dictate exactly how many people can be accomodated.  If you're holding your venue and sit-down reception in the same venue, find out the capacities of the ceremony room and the reception room.  If there is a discrepancy between the two, go with the smaller figure for your guestlist.  (As per previous blog entry, it is the epitome of bad manners to invite someone to the ceremony and not invite them to the sit down reception.)  Trust me, erring on the side of smaller numbers not only cuts costs, but it also makes putting your guest list together much simpler.  If you're worried about cutting some people out, no one is unlikely to be cross with the line "The venue is strictly limited as to the number of people we can invite."

Author's own

My most important rule is that your wedding is YOUR day, yours and your husband-to-be's.  No one else's.  If anybody makes that bigger a fuss about who should be there and not, they don't love you enough to care about what is really going to make you happy.  And frankly, their invite is the first one that can go in the bin!

From author's private collection