Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Sweets for my sweet!

We are supplying, as most couples do, an evening buffet. As this only includes savoury foods we thought we’d like to treat our guests to a little something sweet! We’ve decided to add a candy table!

We want to include some American favourites such as Hershey’s Kisses and Milk Duds as well as purple chocolates like miniature Dairy Milks. The plan is to display them in large and varied shaped bowls, dishes and vases. These are some of my favourite candy tables.

I wanted a quirky way for people to hold their treats, I’ve seen allsorts of bags and boxes and didn’t really like any of them, I told Suzie this and she said “What about Starbucks cups?” me: “What a bloody brilliant idea!!” We searched online for anywhere we could get our hands on 200 Starbucks cups, of course this was impossible! So I gave up hope, until… i was copied into this email

“Hello Starbucks!

I am writing to you with a plea!

Next year my best friend is getting married, I have the privilege of being her bridesmaid and am helping her in what way i can to make her day the most perfect it can be.

I’m sure you’re very busy but think a little background info may help with my plea so please bear with me.

Laura (my best friend) met her now fiancé Hassan in Starbucks in Solihull town centre, it’s there that they became friends and also there that on the 8th November 2001 Hassan asked Laura out. Eight years passed and on 24th September 2009 Hassan asked Laura to be his wife. They are having a New York themed wedding on the 5th November 2010, tying in all there favourite things. I would like to help Laura tie Starbucks in to her day by using small Starbucks branded cups to go on the Candy Buffet table for the guests to put their sweets in.

As you will know these are near on impossible to buy online, so here comes my plea (thanks for your patience so far, i’m almost finished - i promise) I was wandering if it would be possible to send me some cups? I think there will be near enough 200 guests so as many cups as you could spare near to that number would be great.

I understand that its a lot to ask by as the saying goes:
Love conquers all things; let us too surrender to Love - Virgil, Eclogues
Please help, very much looking forward to your response

Many thanks


I tried not to get my hopes up as Starbucks could very well turn around and say no, but honestly I knew I would be so upset if I couldn’t have Starbucks cups on my candy table.
Fast forward about 2 weeks to today and I get a call from Suzie, the very generous people at Starbucks are sending us 200 3 oz cups for our guests to put their sweets in!!

I’m so excited and so thankful that I have a wonderful, wonderful bridesmaid! Thank you Suzie, I love you loads!!

P.S I had a Starbucks at lunch to say thank you!! x

Do me a favour!

Most bridal magazines you read will suggest “DIY-ing” as a way to save money, I on the other hand want to DIY because that’s what I enjoy. I’ve already made a start on the invitations and another thing I wanted to do myself was the favours.

My initial idea was to buy chocolates from New York, but quickly changed my mind. I wasn’t sure they’d survive the plane journey and to be honest most American chocolate is just a bit gross! I still wanted to continue the New York theme over to the favours so I designed my own wrappers! I’ve decided to bulk buy delicious Green & Blacks miniature chocolates and wrap them (with the help of my wonderful bridesmaids and mommy!) in these.

The ladies will have their chocolates presented in these.

And the men will have theirs in these.

They are flat packed boxes which need to be assembled and decorated.

I really lucked out with the children’s favours, I found these adorable jars in Confetti at a bargain price. They were heavily reduced because the jelly beans that were inside were coming to the end of their shelf life. I intend to fill them with either jelly sweets or chocolates like smarties.

I also had a go at making my own wine charms, hopefully I can get the staff at Nailcote to attach them to people’s glasses, else I’m going to have to pop them in the bags. I managed to make around 90 of these charms in a few hours. It was actually quite relaxing!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Let's get quizzical!

I absolutely love this from Pretty Wild, it's a table quiz card.

It would be super easy to make, we could do ours to include questions about New York, films and music... all things Has and I love!

i.e, Name the film Bill Murray shouts "Nobody steps on a church in my town!" at a giant Marshmallow Man?

Answers on a postcard...!

We've been engaged a year!!

This time last year we were in Las Vegas and Has was a bag of nerves!!

I can't believe how fast this year has gone! Only 408 days to go!!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Posing in the Puddles

Getting married in November means our chance of a shower or two are quite high! Instead of panicking about something I can’t control I’m going to roll with it.

Some of the best photo’s I’ve seen are when it rains on a wedding day. They are full of drama and romance.

I plan on buying a pair of funky purple wellies to put on for some photos outside, and maybe a cute umbrella to match! Something like this

Nailcote Hall has fabulous gardens and I intend to make the most of them! So unless we have hurricane force winds with torrential rain I shall be out there posing in the puddles!

Engagement Party

When we got back from Las Vegas the world of weddings hit me. I struggled to get my head around how we were going to plan a wedding. I barely knew where to start! It was a little overwhelming to say the least! We decided to throw an engagement party. We thought it would help us get into organisation mode and seeing as our wedding was still over 2 years away we thought it would be a nice way to introduce members of our families to each other.

So we searched for a small function hall that was available in November. My Nan and Grandad came up trumps with the hall at their British Legion. Obviously the décor was a little dated but we couldn’t afford a lot more. To save more money we planned to supply the food ourselves as well as the music.

Together with my Uncle Tony, Has worked out he could hook up his laptop to some speakers and light system and hey presto! Music sorted! Has spent about 2 months working on a playlist choosing music everyone would like and dance too without straying too far from the tunes we like.

The morning of the party me and Mom met Hayley in Asda for some last minute food shopping, we then raced over to the cake shop to pick up the icing decoration to sit on top of our cake. I left to have my hair done whilst Mom and Hayley headed over to my Nan’s house where we had an army of spreaders, cutters, sandwich fillers and cheese and pineapple stabbers!

Once the food had been sorted it was then a mad dash to get ready before heading over to the hall to lay out the food and set up the music. From then on in the night was a blur! I barely saw Has, I was running around all night making sure I had said hello to everyone, introduced family to people they didn’t know and before I knew it people were saying goodbye and my mom was clearing the food away… I hadn’t touched a bite!!

The night was so much fun, our friends and family were so generous and we received so many beautiful cards and presents! I am so glad we decided to have an engagement party, not only did it give everyone chance to get to know each other it’s also given me a heads up as to how the wedding will be. Has and I barely saw each other, in fact there is only 1 photo of us together and that was at the start of the evening before everyone had come!

Here are a few snaps from our party

Stationery Stress

From the word go I knew I wanted to make my own wedding invitations. As a hobby I make cards and I work as a graphic designer. I’m very critical of my own work and have high expectations. I feel like people will also be expecting something great considering my background and I want people to be “wowed!”

I started of by searching for styles I like and came across these.

I have experimented with a few designs, I like the swirls and the wallets I can slot extra information into. So far i’m 99% sure I have the wallet and inside swirl design I like, but I’m still looking for inspiration for the outside.

I’ve used a Pearlescent A6 pocketfold wallet in “Morphing Mauve” from PDA Card & Craft and ivory pearlescent card from Staples to print the design on to.

This is the layout of the invitation

The main part of the invitation will sit at the top and the extra information such as directions and RSVP will slot into the bottom.

After 6 different designs, 3 different styles of wallets I think I may have finally found an invite I like!

I intend to place tiny flat backed pearl in between the swirls and perhaps use them on the front design as well.

Wedding Weight Loss

As I’m sure most brides do, I want to look my best on my wedding day. I want to open up my photo album in 10, 20, 30 years time and think “Wow I looked amazing! I wish I was that slim now!” I’d hate to look back and think “I really should have tried harder to work off those extra pounds!” I know it sounds incredibly vain but I want my future self to be jealous!

Just before my 21st birthday I joined Weight Watchers and successfully lost over 2 stone in 6 months. Since reaching goal and abandoning the weekly meetings I gained it all back again! I tried to join Weight Watchers again a number of times but I felt I was too used to the diet and had found ways to cheat it.

It wasn’t until my friend and bridesmaid Hayley joined Slimming World in July this year that I decided to get back on the wagon.

My mom and I have now been going to Slimming World meetings for 7 weeks and are both really impressed with our weight loss. Even though the wedding is still a while away I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself, I know I can lose the weight slowly which means it’s more likely to stay off! Also I am a bridesmaid at Suzie’s wedding in February 2010 and I wouldn’t want to ruin her photos!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Painting the city purple!

I have to confess to thinking about colours and themes before I was even engaged, I’d changed my mind about a hundred times but just before we went to Las Vegas I came across a US blog called Snippet and Ink. The writer regularly publishes inspiration boards, which focuses on one or more colours. She sources wedding related photos and creates a mosaic of ideas. I saw one called “Purple and Vine” and instantly fell in love with the colours.

The day after Has proposed we sat down by the pool, admiring the sparkles my ring was giving off in the sun, texting my friends and discussing wedding plans. I remembered the inspiration board I had seen a few months earlier and asked Has how he felt about purples. We both agreed the colours would suit the time of year we had decided to get married and the main thing was it wasn’t a “girly” colour! Secretly I think Has was worried I would suggest pink as our wedding colour!

Has and I love New York, we first went when I surprised Has with a weekend away for his 21st Birthday ever since we’ve been besotted with the place. We’ve visited a number of times over the last few years, we seem to be addicted! It is because of our love (and obsession) with New York that we have decided to place suitable links to the Big Apple in and around our wedding day.

A number of ways we hope to do this are

  • Have each table named after a New York landmark, with a black and white photograph of Has and I when we visited.
  • I ♥ NY chocolate wrappers around small Green and Blacks Squares as the favours.
  • The ladies will have their chocolates presented in a handbag shaped favour box, a la Sex and the City
  • Our centrepieces will be large martini vases filled with flowers.
  • And of course we plan to visit New York on our Honeymoon!
As the planning has evolved we’ve picked up a few other things to be included in our theme. Not giving too much away about my dress, but that is why pearls have be introduced. We’ve also added a light sage green to lift the purple and stop it looking so flat. This will only be very subtle but enough to compliment the other colours. I have done my very own inspiration board to try and display the mood and feel of our wedding day.

I think it will be fun to do another one of these using photographs of things that will actually feature in our wedding!

Bouquets, Brooches and Birthdays

As I do most days I was trawling the internet looking at wedding websites and pictures when I came across an idea I loved! I found this picture (not sure from where though!)

The bride has accessorised her bouquet with a gorgeous brooch and I knew it was something I wanted to copy!

I wanted something with a bit of sparkle so it would catch the light but it also needed to include pearls to carry on the wedding theme. I searched for ages and ages but nothing I found really wowed me. That was until I came across Yarwood-White’s Modern Heirloom collection. Featured was a delicate pearl and diamante brooch. I swooned over this brooch for months. The only thing stopping me from clicking “add to basket” was the price tag. I tried to put it out of my head, £150 was a lot of money to spend on a brooch, wasn’t it?
As if to tease me this brooch popped up more and more in wedding magazines but I had fully accepted that it was far too much to spend and I would find a cheaper version that was just as nice…

August 28th saw my 25th birthday, as is tradition my whole family came round to sing happy birthday and watch me blow out the candles. My mom handed me a beautiful gift bag and I checked the tag “To Laura, Happy Birthday, Lots of Love Mom, Dad & Paul” I opened the bag to find a white box at the bottom wrapped in the signature Yarwood-White brown and cream ribbon “Oh you didn’t!” The brooch is even more special, even more delicate and even more beautiful in real life!

Problem now is… I just have to have the entire Modern Heirloom collection to compliment it…!

Say Cheese!! ... But no Macarena!


After the venue our next priority was the photographer, we wanted to make sure every special second of our day was captured by someone who had an eye for detail. Both Has and I like the reportage style of photography, we want our photos to be natural and not too posed. We feel these types of pictures always come out best as people are more relaxed.

We saw a few people who we were almost happy with, none of the companies we saw seemed to offer the right package. We wanted two photographers, a CD with all of our high resolution photos, a pre-engagement shoot and all in at the right price!

I’d found a website of a lady in Staffordshire whose photos I adored. Her prices weren’t on her website so I sent off for a brochure. It came with a DVD of photos she had taken at a recent wedding. We were all really impressed and decided to arrange a meeting with Deborah Stott. Deborah is everything Has and I wanted in a photographer. On the day we will have reportage style photography by 2 photographers, who will both be there from the moment we start getting ready right up to the evening to capture the first dance. We will also get a CD with all of our high resolution pictures and a pre engagement wedding shoot. Her work can be found at her website and I am constantly checking her blog for any new weddings she’s photographed!


Another important element of our wedding was the entertainment. We’d always said we wanted a live band. The idea of a cheesy DJ blasting out inappropriate tunes like “Young Hearts Run Free” or songs with their own dances like the “Macarena”, sent shivers down our spine! Don’t get us wrong a little bit of cheese is a good thing, but we’re talking about classic cheese like “God gave Rock ‘n Roll to you” by Kiss!

The Subterraneans had played at various family and friends weddings and knew Has’ brother Mos quite well from the days he used to book them to play at the Slug and Lettuce. The Subterraneans are now regulars at Birmingham’s Jam House and have had rather impressive slots at Glastonbury, the Ashes and the LG Arena. We are super excited about having them perform at our wedding we know no one will be stuck to their seats once they start playing!

Friday, 18 September 2009

"Oh, it's adorable...Oh, it's very nice...Very romantic. We change it all, though."

When we both sat down and discussed our budget and what our wedding priorities were the venue came out on top. We wanted to make sure the place we got married was perfect. It had to have a beautiful interior with plenty of good spots to take photos. As we’ve set the date for the beginning of November we knew we couldn’t rely on the weather for us to have photographs taken outside. Our venue needed to look good on the inside as well as the outside.

We also decided that the venue should be a hotel, so the ceremony and reception could be in the same place. We didn’t want our guests worrying about getting taxis and we also liked the idea of waking up the next morning and having a big breakfast with everyone who had stayed over. So armed with our check list we visited a number of venues.

Our first stop was the Billesley Manor Hotel. I’d fallen in love with this property from looking at the brochure and website. Outside the hotel was very impressive, amazing grounds for photo opportunities but we were not too impressed with the inside. The man who showed us around was scruffily dressed and rushed us around the building. We could have looked past most of that, that was until we reached the room where the wedding breakfast and reception would be held. The room was… boring! It lacked the character the rest of the building had. It was obviously the newest part of the building and just didn’t tick the box!

Next to see was Ardencote Manor. This was much better. The wedding day would be held in a large conservatory styled room which overlooked the hotel’s gorgeous gardens. My only issue with this property was the bar was in a different room. I had visions of the dance floor being empty whilst people queued or stood around the bar talking!

We went to see a few more venues, but none of them really stood out. In October we went to the National Wedding Fayre, it was there we heard about Nailcote Hall. Their stand had a massive poster of a bride and groom standing on an elegant staircase with their guests behind them. It was quite impressive. So off we went again for another viewing. The moment I walked into this hotel I was impressed. We were showed to the hotel’s bar area where we were served tea and biscuits… and if you know me you’ll know I’m easily won over by a good brew! Michelle came and introduced herself and told us a little about Nailcote Hall. She then walked us in the hotels marquee. It was actually set up for a wedding breakfast that was to be held later in the day, I was speechless. I had to hold back the tears.

The marquee was perfect, it’s a large space with windows that look out on to the hotels gardens and 9 hole PGA golf course. The roof is decorated with white draped fabric and chandeliers. Above the stage and dance floor the material is black and peppered with tiny sparkly lights. Michelle then guided us to another part of the hotel. The grand staircase. My words will really not do this room no justice at all, the carpeted staircase takes you down below ground level but the massive skylight above fills the room with light. The room is tastefully decorated with a Mediterranean theme that makes you feel like you’re in a courtyard. When we left the hotel Has put his arm around me and said “I know you like this place because you’ve gone all quiet and emotional!” Oh how he knows me!

The final test for Nailcote was to show my Dad, I knew he’d be impressed with the golf course but I hoped he would love the building just as much as we did. Michelle wasn’t available that evening to show us around so the hotel’s general manager Skandu was our guide. I love Skandu! He’s exactly like the wedding planner “Franck” from “Father of the Bride” He was excitable and extremely accommodating, a little hard to understand but his enthusiasm was infectious it wasn’t long before we were all laughing and joking together, it was like we’d known him for years! I truly did feel very comfortable at Nailcote Hall.

Thankfully my Dad was just as impressed as we were and we put our deposit down. Our wedding is now all set to take place on Friday 5th November 2010 at Nailcote Hall, Berkswell!

Nailcote Hall

The room we will be getting married in!! Yes i have to walk down those stairs...

Another view of all those steps!

The marquee

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Best girls for the job

Choosing my Bridesmaids was always going to be easy, I am blessed with amazing friends and family and before my engagement ring was even on my finger I had them all ready picked out! During the rest of the holiday I kept thinking about asking the girls and what their reactions might be! I was so excited!!

I knew I had to pick girls who would get excited with me, understand my obsessions, bring me back from the edge of becoming a Bridezilla, be my saviours throughout the 2 years of planning and to obviously look gorgeous!

I am lucky enough to have the most beautiful, sweet and amazing cousins, Natalie and Sophie. The day after we returned home from Las Vegas my parents had arranged a little party so my family could celebrate with H and I. Natalie arrived first, straight from school still in her uniform and wasn’t feeling great. I remember asking her if she would do be a big favour and be my bridesmaid. A huge smile spread across her face as she said yes! Since then Natalie has come with me to try on wedding dresses, offer words of praise and encouragement and even try on a few dresses herself. One thing is for certain Natalie is going to make a stunning bridesmaid… I’m going to have to watch she doesn’t upstage me!!

Sophie was the next to arrive at the party, being 7 I wasn’t sure she’d fully understand what a bridesmaid was, when I asked her I got a shy smile and a quiet “yes”. Following that we have dragged Sophie around BHS to try on princess bridesmaid dresses and it’s lovely to watch her float around in the changing rooms with a big smile on her face, although even at 7 she’s very particular! Her shoes have to have a little heel and she can’t quite make up her mind as to whether she wants a big skirt or something a little more grown up. What ever she wears she’s going to look beautiful!

Before my friend Hayley was even in the door I shouted the question at her “Will you be my bridesmaid?!” She sort of squealed and threw her arms around me, is that a yes then? So far Hayley has been amazing, ready to listen when I needed a moan, ready with a camera when I was trying on my dress when my batteries had died, she even tried on a dress for me when she didn’t have matching underwear on! Whether Hayley wears matching underwear or not, on the day she’s going to look gorgeous!

Next to ask was my friend Suzie, having only recently gotten engaged herself I knew planning our weddings together would be a lot of fun! Pre-engagement we’d spent many a night at Suzie’s flat planning our weddings, poor Rob would sit there trying his hardest to ignore our conversations about flowers, rings and dresses. We already knew that we would be each others bridesmaids so when I met up with Suzie for a Starbucks I only had one thing on my mind! Of course Suzie said yes and is now my saviour in the battle against wedding stress! She’s listened to my ideas, listened to me change my ideas, and then back again! She even committed a few minor driving offences when my mom called her to say “Suze I think she’s found THE dress!”

All in all I think I have the best bridesmaids any bride could ask for, I can’t wait to see them all dressed up on the morning of wedding. They are very special people to me and I love them all very much!

Dress Stress!

Arguably the most important wedding purchase would be the dress!

After getting engaged in the September I wasted no time in flicking through bridal magazines and designers websites to decide which style of dress i liked... wow there's so much choice! A line, mermaid, full skirt, Sleeves? No Sleeves? Strapless? Oh my gosh it all sounds so confusing. So i did what i usually do in these situations, i put it to the back of my mind and didn't look at wedding dresses again! That was until i came across a thread on a wedding forum where a bride was showing off pictures from her wedding. She had worn the Sassi Holford dress "Hayley". Wow! The dress is absolutely beautiful, I managed to track down a stockist and thought I’d ring up to see whether they had it in stock... they did. "Would you like to book an appointment to try the dress on?" the lady asked. Oh! Do i really want to? It's a bit early isn't it? i thought. My mouth replied for me "Yes!"

So off i went early and excited one Saturday morning with my Mom and best friend and bridesmaid Suzie. The lady in the shop suggested I try on a number of different styles and save the "Hayley" dress until last, so I did. After a few undignified minutes in the changing room standing in my smalls with a lady I’d only just met, i stumbled out of the changing room and looked in the mirror.

People told me I would enjoy this experience, spending the day with my mom and girlfriends prancing around in gorgeous dresses with that princess feeling. I however felt the furthest thing from a princess. All i saw were my hips. Do they really look that big!

Dress after dress my enthusiasm and smile were wilting, shouldn't this be more fun?! Trying to perk myself up I remembered I still hadn't tried on the "Hayley" dress. Surely this beautiful dress would lift my spirits? As I stepped out of the changing room I looked in the mirror with some trepidation. My heart sank. This beautiful dress did nothing for me. The shape of the dress was wrong and I looked like I was 5 years old attending a little girls birthday party dressed in my best.

So I left the dress shop feeling disappointed. Mom and Suzie did their best to try and cheer me up offering words of encouragement, but I couldn't help feeling betrayed by all those things I had read about it being one of the best experiences a girl can have and felt bitter towards those women who had loved the first dress they tried on. Why couldn't that be me?

Over the next few months I searched through more websites and magazines and encouraged myself to try on a number of different styles, none of which suited me. I began to hate trying on wedding dresses. The whole thing was hanging over me, what if I never found my dress, I would be walking down the aisle in my jeans! Even though I still had over a year until the wedding I knew that if I didn't keep searching for the dress I was not going to be able to enjoy the wedding planning.

Whilst browsing the internet one boring afternoon at work I came across the Justin Alexander website, one dress jumped out at me and I promptly emailed the link to my mom. "hmmm I'm not sure I like the colour" was her reply. The dress on the website was shown in the colour "Coffee" but also came in a "Natural" I put the dress to the back of my mind but bookmarked the page.

That Saturday we visited another bridal shop and when trawling through the racks I saw the Justin Alexander dress. I had to try it on! Again we had lined up a number of dresses to try on including a dress by Maggie Sottero. My mom fell in love the moment I stepped out of the changing room, I wasn’t so convinced, something wasn’t right. I tried on the Justin Alexander dress and I loved how it made me feel. The material was light the bodice was gorgeous, my waist looked tiny and I felt really good about it. My mom was still blinded by the colour and the fact that she liked the Maggie Sottero dress, so we left. It wasn’t until we got home that we realized my friend Lauren, who was getting married before me, had actually chosen the Maggie Sottero dress for her wedding. So that one was out!

Throughout the week I kept looking at the Justin Alexander dress and actually started to refer to it as “My Dress” I made my mind up to go and try it on again. So off we all went to the bridal shop, I smiled when I saw it again and couldn’t wait to get it on. This was a good sign. I floated out of the changing room and stood in front of the mirror. Then came the tears! I knew I had found my dress, my mom after seeing how happy I was instantly fell in love with the dress and cried along with me, soon enough all of us were in tears including the sales lady!

After months of searching, disappointment and upset I had found MY dress, the dress I was going to walk down the aisle in, the dress I was going to say “I do” in and the dress I was going to wear on the happiest day of my life.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The beginning

Has and I have been together now for almost 8 years, we met back in college and soon became best friends. We spent most of our college years in Starbucks, talking about everything and anything.

Despite seeing other people Has and I always seemed to have a connection. It wasn't until our second year of college that we both realised our friendship was growing into something more.

I was nervous about entering into a relationship, I was scared that if it didn't work out between us then I would lose my best friend. Has reassured me that no matter what happened between us we would always be best friends because we were meant to be together. So there on the 8th November 2001 our relationship took on a new meaning.

Fast forward 7 years Has and I took a trip to Las Vegas. I had no idea he was planning to propose and was actually incredibly difficult! He wanted to eat in a nice restaurant and me being the fussy eater I am couldn't make up my mind and suggested a fast food style restaurant! Oops! We finally settled on the Shanghai Lilly, a very posh Chinese restaurant at the Mandalay Bay Hotel where we were staying.

Dressed up to the nines, we ordered very strong long island iced teas, I couldn't drink all of mine so Has kept taking sips so not to waste it. When Has started to get out of his seat to get down on one knee, I thought he was drunk! I couldn't believe the man I loved was on his knee proposing to me! Of course I said yes, and we both tearfully rang our parents (it was 5am UK time!) my parents already knew because Has had asked them for their permission, which i know meant a lot to them.
Our room at the Mandalay Bay over looked the pool area which had a stage in the middle. That night they had a tribute act playing. We stood at our window whilst they played "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey. I will never forget that moment, wrapped in the arms of the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with, with a smile from ear to ear. I was happy. It was perfect

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