May, 2013

May 13

The wedding rings

The first time we went out on the hunt for the all-important wedding rings was Valentine’s Day weekend. We thought it would be a romantic thing to do on our first February 14th as an engaged couple – so we headed to Hatton Garden, where Sean bought my engagement ring from, to suss out prices and get a feel for what we were after. (And also to go for a cocktail and a game of table tennis at nearby bar Bounce, one of our faves.)

We had the best day – even though we didn’t end up buying anything. And I have to say, the staff at the shop my engagement ring came from were incredible. The moment we stepped through the door I heard a man’s voice exclaim “Sean!” and come rushing over. Excitedly, he said: “She said yes then! Tell me all about the proposal. You went to see the Northern Lights in Iceland didn’t you?” ushering us into chairs and taking our coats, and telling me what a pleasure it was to meet me finally.

I've been on the hunt for the perfect wedding ring for three months now. This is one I found on the high street.

I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect wedding ring for three months now. This is one I found on the high street.

I couldn’t believe it. What amazing service. How many customers must they have a day, and they’d remembered Sean from back in November last year? And not only him, but everything he’d told them about me and the way he was planning on popping the question? The people in the diamond business are pretty damn good at customer service.

He was the jeweller who’d actually designed and made my engagement ring as a one off, and he seemed really proud of it. Consequently he was brimming with ideas of what sort of wedding ring we should buy to go with it. Because my diamond solitaire protrudes a bit from the band of my engagement ring, he recommended we opt for a wedding band with a twist detail to accommodate it, and suggested a few small diamonds to finish off the look. Unfortunately most display rings come in silver, so it’s hard to get a feel for what it would look like in the 18ct yellow gold I’m after. But this is what he picked out for me:

Potential wedding ring? This is what the jeweller who designed my engagement ring picked out...

Potential wedding ring? This is what the jeweller who designed my engagement ring picked out…

I liked it – but I didn’t get a “this is the one” feeling from it. After trying on about 100 more we decided to call it a day. There’s plenty of time before the big day to decide on this, anyway. Turns out Sean’s not going to be a problem to kit out. He declared he was happy with the very first one he tried on. He’s definitely not fussy!

A couple of weeks later I was at a wedding fair with my mum and sister when I stumbled across what I decided was my absolute dream ring. It was being sold by a company who don’t have a shop – instead, they come to see you in the comfort of your own home, which they claim helps them cut costs. They quoted me a great price for the ring and they had a gorgeous brochure, and a huge selection of bands both with and without diamonds, so I booked an appointment for them to come over the following month.

I thought this was my dream ring. Turned out it wasn't.

I thought this was my dream ring. Turned out it wasn’t.

Let’s just say it was a bit of a disaster. The woman, who was perfectly nice, showed up at our house, armed with a sample of the ring I’d picked out. Only it turned out I’d been quoted one third of its actual price when I’d been at the fair.

I was so upset. It was now totally out of our budget. But because this woman was in our flat, we felt completely pressured into buying something from her. In the end we reluctantly settled on matching plain gold bands (which were ridiculously over-priced, I think) and gave her my credit card details just to get her out of the place. I don’t know what I was thinking. Luckily, Sean came to the rescue and took charge, calling her later on to cancel the order.

Which left us right back at square one.

Another one I'd tried on...

Another one I’d tried on…

I had a look around the high street but couldn’t find anything I wanted there, either, and I was beginning to give up on finding something special. Then, my mum called one day and mentioned that I could use my grandma’s wedding ring.

I am SO close to my grandma. When we were little, she and granddad used to take me and my brother and sister on holiday – we lived right by them and saw them all the time, and always have done. Even though I don’t live down the road anymore, grandma and I speak every day, either on the phone or by text. (She’s a very cool grandma!) My grandparents are really my second parents. So I can’t think of anything more perfect, or anything that would mean more to me, than using my grandma’s wedding ring as my own. Especially as she and my granddad have had such a long, happy marriage. Definitely something to aspire to. (Incidentally, I’m not stealing the ring off her finger! Grandma doesn’t wear it anymore, because she wears her mum’s.)

It’s the perfect solution and I’m going to love it so much more than anything I could ever buy. So now we just need to find a band for Sean – which, judging by our trip to Hatton Garden, is going to be pretty straightforward anyway!

May 13

How will I have my hair for the big day?

My hair has been a lifelong battle. It’s curly and thick and difficult to control if it’s anything but sunny and dry – and I’ve already formed a contingency plan to have a pair of emergency GHDs at our venue in case it’s raining. Because rain equals game over on me looking well-groomed, whether it’s my wedding day or not!

People keep asking me how I’ll be having my hair at the wedding, and until recently I hadn’t given it much thought, other than that I definitely want it long and down. Then, I went to the launch of Holly Willoughby’s latest clothing line and she was wearing her hair in the perfect, perfect style. I snapped a cheeky photo while she was giving a speech…

I think Holly's 'do is perfect for a wedding

I think Holly’s ‘do is perfect for a wedding

I think I’ll probably get a hairdresser in to do my hair on the day – not to wash and blow dry it (I find I get better results myself because professionals always underestimate how unruly it is!) but to put it up and make sure it will hold in the style I choose.

Other than style, there’s the issue of colour to tackle. I veer between being blonde and having my hair red – and since I’m getting married in the Autumn, I’m thinking red would look the best. (Also, it suits me best red anyway.) But getting the shade right is tricky.

So when Wella invited me down to their HQ to try out their new Illumina range – which apparently leaves your hair 70 per cent shinier than it is naturally – I didn’t hesitate in saying yes. Who better to advise me on wedding hair than the experts?

My hair was looking pretty dull, drab and lifeless before Martin worked his magic.

My hair was looking pretty dull, drab and lifeless before Martin worked his magic.

While getting my hair done and munching on the tasty pizza they’d provided, I picked the brains of my colourist Martin Quenault, salon director at KH Ashby and art team member at KH Hair. He’s behind loads of poster campaigns for KH and works the shows at London Fashion Week, so I was in good hands.

“Get your final colour done about a week before the wedding,” he advised. “You don’t want any regrowth but you do want it to settle down a bit. Definitely experiment before this, though. Decide what colour you want long before you get your final colour done! While you’re working out what you want, take in swatches of your bridesmaids dresses so your hairdresser knows what shades will and won’t look good on your big day.”

Interesting! I’d never have thought of that but it definitely makes sense.

Flicking through the Illumina colour charts!

Flicking through the Illumina colour charts!

“Don’t do anything too drastic before the wedding – unless you’re super confident. And look around for hair accessories you want well in advance. They have to go with your dress, obviously, and you’ll need to take them with you to your trial.” I’ve already bought mine, but I’m keeping them hush hush along with the dress… I’d best make sure they arrive before I book a hair trial with a stylist, actually. I’ll add that to my ever-increasing ‘to do’ list.

Martin put three colours on my hair – Very Light Brunette Blonde mixed with Medium Red Gold Blonde mixed with Light Blonde, and I was really, really pleased with the results. This is definitely how I want it for the wedding – if I can find someone to do as good a job as Martin, that is…


Ta-dah! The end result.


May 13

The lowdown on wedding videography

When I went to the National Wedding Show a couple of months ago, I was struck by how many stalls there were offering videography packages. We’d already booked ours, thank goodness – as I’ve said before, it’s a bit overwhelming when you come up against so many different options in one go.

Everywhere we turned (well… when we weren’t ricocheting between photo booths and donning comedy wigs – I think mum and I had one glass of fizz too many!) we came across another company offering a different take on the idea – some of them provide cameras for your guests to film the day themselves, some provide fancy dress, others put together a professional, edited film of the day’s action, complete with music, messages from your guests – all sorts.

It can all get a bit confusing, particularly because it’s a relatively “new” concept. So I decided to speak to a professional to get the low-down for me – and all you other brides-to-be out there! Our videographer Rachael Givens is creative director, filmmaker and chief editor at Lovebug Films, and was only too happy to chat to me and offer up some tips. (She’s lovely – and a true romantic, too! And having set up her own company when she was just 19, she’s an absolute expert.)

Screen Shot 2013-05-11 at 22.25.18

“I think having your wedding filmed should be a must for every couple getting married, and more couples are choosing to do this in addition to photography,” she says. “Hearing your vows to each other is the most beautiful thing to watch back – you’re so nervous on your wedding day and time just goes by so quickly you forget all the little details. Through social media, couples are now able to display their wedding film for all their family and friends to watch too which I think is a great thing – especially if there are family who couldn’t make it to the wedding.”

That’s true, and something I hadn’t thought of. Our guest list is so tight because of numbers and cost – for people we’d love to be there but who we unfortunately can’t invite, this could be a good way around it?

“Choosing the right videographer for you is crucial,” she adds. Rachael has given me five top tips for making sure you’ve got the right person for the job…

Top Tips…

1. When looking for a videographer you should always meet them first – as they will be a massive part of your big day. They’ll be there from beginning to end, even if you don’t notice them around, so make sure you choose someone who is easy to get on with and who is passionate about their job!

2. You should choose a company who can give you what you want, for example, their style of filming, editing and finished product.

3. Watch their films to make sure you are happy with what you’re paying for. You must have an emotional connection to the films – I always secretly love it when people cry watching my films, it means I’ve captured their hearts.

4. Speak to the videographer. Tell them your visions and ideas – I always feel the better films of mine are the ones where the couple are themselves around me and forget the camera is there. They talk to me about the proposal, funny stories, little details etc. That way, your film represents your love story to the best of my ability.

5. Think about the costs. When it comes to paying for your videographer sometimes cheaper doesn’t mean worse and pricey doesn’t mean they’re the best. I would advise lots of research into getting your package right.


After speaking to loads of people about videography, I had a few questions about it too. I gather I’m going to be pretty busy on my wedding day (!) – do I have time to be filmed, too? Rachael has answered my questions below:

How long are you at the wedding for? As long as you would like us to be! On average we normally arrive at the brides house when she is scheduled for hair and makeup, and we stay til 20 minutes after the first dance.

When do we get the finished product? 12-14 weeks after your wedding.

How much input do you have ie do you tell us what to do? As much as you would like us to have!

How many people film and edit? There are two film makers, myself and another fully trained film maker. I edit myself as it’s my favourite part if it all, watching it come together.

Do we choose our own music? If there is a certain song you would like I always try to include it.

I forgot to ask what happens if I trip up. Will it be edited out?! Anyway. Turns out it’s not just wedding videography that people are after these days either.

“An engagement film is the ‘new kid on the block’ in the videography world,” Rachael says. (Click here to watch one of hers.)  “It allows the couple to practice being in the company of the filmmakers and cameras. It also provides an opportunity for your love story to be told, because many of your friends and family may not know how you got together or how he proposed. This can be filmed several months before your wedding and can be sent round via social media and DVDs for your guests to watch before the wedding, giving them a taster of what’s to come. It can also be used as a save the date or wedding invitation – something very different – and what I’ll be doing when it comes to my own wedding. For some weddings, couples can have their engagement film played at their wedding before they enter the reception as husband and wife!”

Makes our plain old paper save the date cards seem a bit dull, really…

For more info about Rachael visit her website by clicking here.


May 13

Videography – yes or no?

A videographer was second on my list – right after photographer – of ‘things that I believe are absolutely essential to our wedding’.

As all my friends and family know, I am partial to taking a lot of photos. Too many, some might (and do!) say. I document everything – and everyone I ever go on holiday with (apart from James, my bridesman, who’s as enthusiastic as I am. “Al! Al! Take a photo of me looking nonchalant in this Hungarian subway!” etc) is driven mad by me making everyone line up and say cheese – or pout – every five minutes.

Not getting a videographer is often, apparently, a bride's biggest regret

Not getting a videographer is often, apparently, a bride’s biggest regret

But fast-forward ten, 15 years – more – and nobody ever regrets having ‘too many’ pictures of a holiday or a family party. Who is it that everyone comes to to go through photo albums and laugh about hilarious times at uni, foreign jaunts we’ve been on, misjudged hairstyles and outfits, how disheveled we looked (and we thought we were cool!) when we went backpacking on the other side of the world, family snaps – birthdays, get togethers, wedding anniversaries, new babies, Christmas – from way back?

Me, of course!

And what do I love even more than my thousands upon thousands of photos? My videos.

Nothing takes you straight back to a memory quite like a video. Hearing people’s voices, laughter, watching them move – it’s like they’re right there in the room with you and you’re reliving a moment that’s long gone. My grandpa, who passed away two and a half years ago, was an incredible jazz pianist. I have so many videos of him playing the piano at Christmas and at big family parties, with everyone dancing away as he bashed out a version of Sweet Georgia Brown with my Uncle Ron…These are precious memories that a photo can’t even begin to capture.

Which is why I spent ages and ages and ages convincing Sean that we absolutely 100% need a videographer on our big day.

“It’s a waste of money,” he argued at first. “Anyway, nobody will want to watch it but us.”

I did a lot of research on this in my bid to win him over. Apparently, not getting a videographer is one of the biggest wedding day regrets. Hardly surprising – the day goes by so quickly (so I’m told), and I bet you miss so much when you’re the bride and groom. Everyone I know who had a videographer to document their day tells me they can spend hours rewatching their wedding video and that every penny was well spent.

I’m happy to say Sean is now totally on board with this. He’s even planned which songs we’ll use in the video as background music. I think his change of heart is down to our amazing videographer Rachael. More about her in the next post…

May 13

Florist to the rescue

A few weeks ago I was having a panic about my bridesmaids’ dresses. In fact, that’s an understatement. I’d totally gone off them. I still loved the style, the length, the neckline… all of that. But the colour? Nope. I’d made a terrible mistake.

I don’t know whether it was because they were bought on the hop – before I’d even really had chance to think about what colour I wanted – but I’d convinced myself they just weren’t going to work with the overall colour scheme of the wedding. In fact, they’d changed the overall colour scheme of the wedding to something I really, really didn’t want.

Uh oh.

Flowers, flowers, more flowers...

Flowers, flowers, more flowers…

I’d worked myself up into a right tizz, putting in calls to my sister and inundating her with Facebook messages full of different dresses in different colours. Poor Verity. “Don’t worry, we can get new ones – it’s not too late!” she reassured me.

Sean, knowing I’d already spent our allocated bridesmaids’ budget on them, wasn’t so impressed with my change of heart, I have to say.

All this was the week before I had my first appointment with our florist Chris – a lady who lives in the same village as my grandma, who I’d asked to take charge of sorting out all our flowers. (On a side note, fellow brides-to-be – delegation is key! My grandma was more than happy to take on this job for me, I love her being included – and it was a weight off my mind. I live a couple of hundred miles away from our venue and trips back and forth are costly and time consuming.)

The Flower Lounge in Neston are doing all our flowers - and I'd highly recommend them to anyone else getting married in the area

The Flower Lounge in Neston are doing all our flowers – and I’d highly recommend them to anyone else getting married in the area

I took one of the dresses along to the appointment, which I went to with my mum and, of course, grandma. Needless to say, Sean was sitting this one out. I doubt any groom is ever going to be particularly fussed about the flowers…

I’d done no research into the names of the flowers I wanted – all I knew was the colours and overall ‘look’. But my florist, Chris, was brilliant. She was immediately on the same page as me, suggesting different sorts of flowers I’d never heard of, pulling out samples of foliage, reassuring me that it would all work and look gorgeous. I was impressed. She even offered to post me two of the main flowers we’d settled on so that I could take them with me when we go to choose Sean’s suit, to makes sure it all ties together nicely. Great service! Grandma had really played a blinder on this one.

Speaking of flowers... now that spring has finally sprung, London was looking gorgeous this May bank holiday. I snapped these daffodils in Greenwich Park and it made me think how pretty they'd be at a wedding around this time of year

Speaking of flowers… now that spring has finally sprung, London was looking gorgeous this May bank holiday. I snapped these daffodils in Greenwich Park and it made me think how pretty they’d be at a wedding around this time of year

After we’d sorted out a rough plan of how many table decorations, pedestal arrangements, corsages and buttonholes we’d need, and discussed what I want for my bouquet (shower bouquet or hand tied?) and my bridesmaids’ bouquets – plus baskets and wands for the little ones – I glumly pulled out the dress.

“It’s not going to work with this though, is it?” I asked, telling her the colour I thought might be better. She was horrified. “That would look terrible!” she exclaimed. “The dress you have is perfect. It’s going to be really unusual, and really striking.”


Well, if the professional says it works, then that’s good enough for me.

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