5 Books to read before you walk down the aisle

Planning your nuptials is a big project, which can feel both exhilarating and exhausting. If you want your wedding planning journey to be filled with joy rather than jitters, being informed and organised is key. Take a look at our selection below to get from clueless to clued up on every aspect of your big day.

  • The Step-by-Step Guide to Planning your Wedding, by Lynda Wright, £ 8.99: This book is an easy-to-use guide taking you through all the details of your wedding preparations. If you love using ‘to do’ lists and being hyper organised this book is for you!


  • Wedding Bible, by Sarah Haywood, £26: Filled with detailed advice and budget-friendly shopping tips, this book offers tips and insights from some of the biggest names in the wedding industry.


  • Vintage Weddings, by Marnie Fogg, £24: A journey though some of the most beautiful wedding dresses from the past century, the book will teach you about choosing the right silhouette, style, fabrics and accessories for your body shape.


  • My Handmade Wedding: A Crafter’s Guide to Making Your Big Day Perfect, by Marrianne Mercer, £11: Whether you want to make every aspect of your day yourself or simply choose a few projects, this book is filled with easy-to-follow instructions and helpful tips – all you have to do is take your pick from the 20 projects available!


  • A Modern Girl’s Guide to Getting Hitched: How to Plan, Survive and Enjoy Your Wedding, by Sarah Ivens, £9.99: Both entertaining and informative, the book offers a fun and lighthearted perspective on wedding planning – exactly what you need when things start to get stressful.


For even more wedding planning tips and inspiration, check our our winter issue here.

St Peter’s Hospice Wedding Fair

Preparations are really heating up for the Wedding Fair in partnership with Bridal at St Peter’s Hospice. This exciting event will bring together talented wedding suppliers from across the region under one roof – Chipping Sodbury Town Hall. So head over to the medieval market town of Chipping Sodbury on Sunday 2nd October, between 11 am -3 pm.

Photo by Rich McD Photography

Aiming to help you bring your wedding planning to life, here are but a few of the things the wedding fair organisers have in store:

  • Around 50 local exhibitors, including cars, photography, and flowers
  • Live performances
  • A St Peter’s Hospice pop-up shop with preloved wedding dresses and suits
  • A fashion show at 1pm
Photo by Rich McD Photography

A Bristol-based charity caring for adults with life-limiting illnesses, St Peter’s Hospice, have recently opened a couple of wedding related charity shops in the city. The event will be free to attend, though visitors are encouraged to make a charitable donation to the door.

Wedding jewellery with a touch of luxury

A symbol of purity and love, white pearls hold a special place when choosing bridal accessories and wedding gifts. Celebrating the simplicity and elegance of pearls, the new 18 carat pearl jewellery range from Lustrous brings a contemporary edge.

Cluster White Pearl Drop Earrings

The new dazzling collection from this London-based boutique jeweller is sleek, stylish and forever fashionable. Each piece is crafted with the finest cultured Japanese Akoya and fresh water pearls, set in polished carat gold for an ultra-luxurious aesthetic. The boutique also offers pearls in a kaleidoscope of colours, including South Sea golden lusters, champagnes, ivories, pinks and peaches.

Lin Johnson, founder of Lustrous, explains: “Unlike other gemstones and accessory trends, pearls offer wearers timeless allure. While they’re reminiscent of old world glamour and antiquated affluence they’re also utterly on-trend.”

18ct gold Akoya pearl earrings


18ct Gold Flower White Pearl Ring

White Pearl Necklace with Large Bow


Across the global fashion scene, pearl jewellery is growing in popularity. From the refined style of the Duchess of Cambridge, the elegant ‘English rose’ aesthetic of Emma Watson, the edgy chic of Katy Perry,  to the  catwalk swagger of Candice Swanepoel and the powerful dress sense of Hillary Clinton, pearls are a versatile accessory choice for ladies of all walks of life.


Irregular Pearls Drop Earrings 18ct Gold Five Cultured Pearl Ring 18ct gold bow and pearl pendant necklace

For more wedding accessories and jewellery inspiration, check out our previous feature on Amanda Wyatt’s collection and Heirloom London’s tips on choosing real diamonds.


Essense of Australia designer weekend at All About Eve

Brides, you’re invited to the Essense of Australia designer weekend taking place this Satuday 19th and Sunday 20th March. Award winning bridal boutique All About Eve is holding an exclusive event at their Chepstow Store to showcase the new range of wedding dresses from the Australian label.

The signature Essence gowns

Combining a superb fit with couture finishing, the Essense of Australia designs bring an attention to detail that sets their wedding dresses apart from those of many other designer labels and makes your wedding truly memorable. Each gown is elegantly crafted using luxurious fabric and embellished with exquisite beading.

Jules and the team will welcome brides with goody bags and the first 10 brides who purchase their gown during the event will receive gifts All About Eve and other local businesses. You’ll also get your hands on the spring issue of West weddings magazine to help you on your planning journey.

Spaces fore the event are filling up fast, so make sure you call 01291 629338 to book an appointment.


All About Eve
W: allaboutevebridalwear.com
T: 01291 629338

Behind the scenes: Love is in the air at Ston Easton Park

For our spring photoshoot, we took our team of talented local suppliers to the magnificent Ston Easton Park, in Somerset. In the warm sunshine, our models Holly and Martin explored the luxurious Palladian Mansion and hidden spots within the ground. If you’re planning a spring wedding, we hope you feel inspired by these behind the scenes images captured by InterlacePhotography.

A happy couple posing at Ston Easton ParkWinner of the Bristol and Somerset wedding photographer of the year award for 2015, Eleanor from Interlace Photography knew exactly how to work with the venue and zoom in on those pretty details like the bride’s dresses cake, flowers and stationery.

Ston Easton‘s rich history and original features bring back to life bygone ears of wealth and opulence, when romance prevailed. Indeed, the venue has many hidden treasures, including a library with original mahogany bookcases, a beautiful stone staircase and six registered ceremony rooms. The river Norr runs through 36 acres of landscaped parkland where you can often spot the deer grazing.

Holly’s dresses came from the famous Spanish bridal label Pronovias, renowned for creating the classiest and most sophisticated wedding dresses. You can find all the three enchanting gowns at the local boutique LuxquisiteBridal Couture, in Bath, where Holly works. Amanda Davis-Harrison from Bridezillas was in charge of the accessories to finalise each look.

For Martin’s outfits, we turned to Anne Harding, a leading name in menswear and suit hire for weddings. During the shoot, our groom switched between a charcoal grey, lightweight Mohair suit with matching trousers from the Claverley range and a silver grey lounge suit made from the same lightweight fabric.

Getting our bride camera-ready was easy with the help of makeup artist Kathryn from Powder & Paint, and professional hair stylist Stacy from Stacy Jade Hair. The duo worked in unison to make Holly look and feel like a real bride.

Dressed tables by Bijoux Floral DesignThe bride’s spring garden bouquet, created by Becci Hobbs from Bijoux Floral Design, featured a selection of seasonal blooms, including Delphinium, Orange Ranunculus and Mimi Eden Spray Roses.

The pretty handmade wedding stationery from Topikkimatched the colours of the top table flowers. Bright spring shades of orange and yellow stood against a soft pastel background, while blue ribbon and hand-die cut flowers added a nice twist to the design.

Making a focal point on the top table was a traditional tiered cake tower from Pretty Amazing Cakes, featuring petal ruffles and pink cherry blossoms. Anne Gliddon, winner of Wedding Cake Designer title at the Bristol & Somerset Wedding Awards 2015, took inspiration from blossoming cherry trees for the design of the three-tier creation and result was amazing!

A special day meant that the cars had to be extra special too, so we called on AJE Classics’ Jaguars in pale blue and green.

For even more wedding inspiration, check out our spring 2015 editorial shoot and summer 2015 photoshoot.

Dana Dallal launches debut bridal collection

This spring sees the launch of an exciting new name in bridal design, Dana Dallal, whose couture collection is both contemporary and affordable. One of the key features of Dana’s creations is her modern and directional approach to wedding dresses, which is unlike any of the styles seen on the bridal catwalks.

Fashion forward wedding dresses

Canadian-born Dana brings over 6 years’ experience in a range of of luxurious London labels such as Roland Mouret, Mary Katrantzou and Kurt Geiger. Her interest for bridal design was spurred whilst shopping for her own wedding outfit.

“When I was looking for a wedding dress, I had a really hard time finding something that was to my taste, well made and within my budget. There are some beautiful bridal collections available in London at a reasonable cost but I just couldn’t find something modern and fashion conscious so that’s what I set out to do,” explains Dana.

Beauty in every detail

With prices starting at £950, her styles include high necklines with lace features, fluted or fitted sheer organza sleeves with beading and metallic details across the front of dresses. The designs are produced in the UK using high quality and luxurious materials, to create modern and skillfully-cut wedding dresses.

Dana’s designs use geometric cuts on the bodice with mesh inserts and classic spaghetti straps, with a unique twist of water marks clouding the trains with colour.  Other details include lace in irregular patterns and printed fabrics giving a feminine look with a sharp edge, the colour pallet is classic neutral with hints of pale blue and dusky pink.

“A Dana Dallal bride is a contemporary woman who loves to dance and isn’t afraid to kick her heels off! Layered and fussy dresses just won’t work for her wild abandon when she decides to have fun. She doesn’t fit into a box, she loves fashion and wants a dress as individual as herself, outlines Dana.

You can view Dana’s collection live at the highly anticipated A Most Curious Wedding Fair, at the Truman Brewery in London, on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th March.

For more wedding dress inspiration, check out our features on Vicky Rowe’s and Amanda Wyatt‘s collections.


Dana Dallal Bridal

W: http://www.danadallalbridal.com/

TV programme helps grooms with the wedding speech

An important wedding tradition that forms part of the reception, wedding speeches are an opportunity to share a touching story of the happy couple and create a great atmosphere. But how do you get it just right? It’s not easy writing an a memorable speech that is lighthearted, fun and touching.

Well… we’ve got some very good news for you!  Whether you’re a groom, best man, or even the bride’s father, a new TV programmer from Channel 4 can help with writing your wedding speech. The way this works is very simple and with minimal time commitment. 

Farrah Jaufuraully, Producer and Director of the show explains the process: “I will shoot a very short interview on a handheld camera, where they can tell me that they need to write a speech but haven’t yet done it for whatever reason. A speech will then be written for that person and I will film their reaction. Once you receive the written speech, there is no obligation to use it if you don’t like it and it doesn’t matter how far away the wedding is, either.”

If this sounds like something you’d like to get involved with, contact Farrah Jaufuraully by email farrah.Jaufuraully@tellycopter.tv or phone 0203 618 5589. 

In the meantime, you can also check out our toasting tips feature and think about the message you want to get across. 

Would you like to say ‘I Do’ on the Côte d’Azur?

Getting married abroad is very much en vogue at the moment and the South of France and Monaco, can be two of the most romantic locations for tying the knot with that special je ne sais quoi! We spoke to Anne Ager, Director of Côte Weddings, about the appeal of the French Riviera and the things to consider when choosing to get married abroad. 

With a destination wedding date in the diary, many people are swept away in the heady romance and glamour of their dream day, without considering the essential do’s and don’ts. The glistening Mediterranean, eternal blue skies, endless balmy summer evenings, breathtaking venues, and the heady smell of lavender and pine, are an irresistible temptation to brides from around the world. However, on such an occasion, the wedding is not taking place in the home country of the bride-to-be or the groom: in fact it is a truly foreign affair!

Location, location, location

Weddings can be stressful enough, when they are happening ‘just around the corner’, but, when the location is several hundreds of miles away, the rules are slightly different – and suppliers usually speak a completely different language to you. This is when everything can easily become a wedding nightmare, unless you have a resident wedding planner – particularly one who speaks the local language – with feet on the ground to hold your hand and guide you. 

 “I would recommend allowing at least 1 year for planning a destination wedding,” advises Anne Ager from Côte Weddings. “You will want to visit the chosen location at least two or three times before the wedding date, arrange visits to different possible venues, taste some menu dishes and wines, meet with the celebrant  for the ceremony, and allow your guests enough time to book flights and accommodation. A good wedding planner will arrange most of these things for you!”

Help with every detail

Côte Weddings looks after all of your arrangements, from your very first planning discussion (on the phone, by e-mail, or preferably face to face), right through to the celebration day itself and up until the last guest leaves the celebrations! Whether your wish list features a magical château, a converted abbey, a luxury seafront hotel, a private villa or even a superb yacht, the team puts all the essential pieces of the ‘wedding puzzle’ together, ensuring that everything is coordinated to perfection, in order to realise your individual dream.
The planning itself is enormous fun, and a very joint affair, when it comes to choosing colours, flowers, menus, setting the scene, the music and the cake! The region has some of the best florists in France (the choice of flowers is simply magical), superb patisseries (for the cake and edible table favours), candles of every shape, size and colour – even those that will float on the sea – every style of music you could wish for, and four of the most charismatic priests/celebrants to conduct the ceremony. A personal Pinterest board is set up for each wedding couple, which is a key part of the integrated planning. This is a great way for  Côte Weddings to add suggestions, and for the bride and groom to make their own changes!
Whatever the season and size of the wedding party, the South of France is quite definitely one of the most idyllic places to say “I Do”! 

For even more helpful advice, read our practical guide to getting married abroad and check out this eye-catching infographic with the three key factors to consider. 
Côte Weddings

DOs & DON’Ts on involving Mums with wedding planning

As a bride, you’ll know that Mums enjoy wedding planning as much as you do, and they’ll want to be there for you along the way with ideas, advice or even some unexpected skills. 

DO: Let her know from the start where you’d like her input and assistance and what aspects you’d rather plan yourself, so that you can avoid any misunderstandings later down the line. 

DO: Many brides take their mums along to wedding fairs to look at ideas for invites, cakes or flowers. It’s also a good idea to have your mum with you when trying out wedding dresses, if possible.

DON’T: Although she may have lots of great ideas, so do you and this is your big day! Listen to her input, but don’t feel like you have to follow every single piece of advice she offers. 

DO: As time goes by and the big day approaches, keep her updated with how everything’s progressing and check she’s happy with the seating plan arrangements for the family.  

DON’T: Arrange for both mums – and dads – to meet for a casual chat before the big day. Don’t leave it till the wedding day to introduce them to each other. Even when parents live abroad, it’s important to allow time for them to meet prior to your nuptials so that everyone feels more comfortable at the event. 

DO: While candles, chocolates or flowers make a great present for Mother’s Day – don’t forget to get yours for Sunday 6th March – when it comes to choosing suitable mother-of-the-bride and mother-of-the-groom gifts, you need to think of something truly special and memorable. So how about unique vintage jewellery pieces or precious stones?

With that in mind, Laurelle Antique Jewellery  – established antique jewllery experts specialising in Edwardian, Geworgian, Victorian and Art Deco periods – have put together an inspiring infographic, which looks at ‘The Hidden Meaning Behind Your Birthstone’. Visit: 
www.laurelleantiquejewellery.co.uk/the-hidden-meaning-behind-your-birthstone to see suggestions on precious stones for each birth month. 

Laurelle Antique Jewellery
W: http://www.laurelleantiquejewellery.co.uk/

Wedding planning just got easier

If we asked newly-engaged couples how they feel about wedding planning, the answer would most likely to be a mixture of happiness, excitement and worry. With so many aspects to consider and organise as well as finding the best suppliers to fit within your budget, often couples can feel overwhelmed and stressed about it all.  

Here’s where the new search tool from The Wedding Calendar can help make planning your wedding a more pleasurable experience. Neil de Villiers, founder of The Wedding Calendar, explains exactly how the novel tool works and what couples and suppliers can look forward to.

To begin, can you share how you previous experience has led you to set up The Wedding Calendar?  

As Managing Director of Blue Square Deals, we had provided deal platforms for some wedding related companies (this is where companies can list products and services at discounted rates) on their own websites. When these did not perform as well as we had anticipated, I started to speak to some experts in the wedding industry to ask for their advice on the subject.
One of my examples, during these discussions, was of a venue that perhaps had a recent cancellation. The suggestion was that, when a venue has cancellations, they don’t have many ways to advertise availability, especially not at late notice.
Without exception, everyone I spoke to agreed that this was indeed a big problem. Some even suggested that if there was a way for venues, and indeed any other wedding related service providers, to advertise their availability in a way that was easily accessible, then this would be fantastic and they would promote this to their contacts and members.
The challenge to provide this type of solution was not an easy one. We spoke to as many service providers and venues we could to gain an understanding of how they worked, how they found now customers, and more importantly, how their customers usually found them.
Finally we discovered a way to provide a real solution to this that we knew would work. In fact, the end result is far more exciting than we even imagined at the beginning.

In your own words, what are the key advantages for suppliers of enlisting their business into your new directory?
The simplest way to describe The Wedding Calendar is to see it as an availability listing of venues and wedding services. This is where these venues and suppliers will list what they do, where they do it, and most importantly, when they are available for hire.
This means that couples and wedding planners can very quickly find venues and services that are available on the date of their choice. In fact, we believe that instead of taking weeks to find available services for their wedding, couples (and wedding planners) will now be able to do the same tasks within minutes. Due to this convenience factor that The Wedding Calendar will now bring to the industry, this is set to become the wedding planning tool of choice over the next year or two.

Can you explain how the calendar feature works?
The Calendar element of the website is the most powerful part, because it provides a very simple way to find venues or services on the date of your choice, very quickly. Using a range of filters for each category and tag, couples can see immediately the listings available within their date range (eg. a list of entertainment options available from March- May 2016). 

In addition, a selection of different displays is available – you can select a day, month or a posterboard listing (which is what we show by default on our calendar) or a basic list, according to personal preference.  
Clicking on any listing, regardless of view, will take you to the details of that service, where all the information and contact details are available, including links to other websites, review sites, etc. This means that as soon as you have identified that someone is available, you can contact them and reserve them immediately for that date.
If you want to tell someone about it, then you can easily share it (sometimes family members are drafted in to help find services, etc.) using email, Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

On 21st January 2016 you launched the Wedding Calendar through a lavish event at Donnington Manor Hotel. What were some of the highlights of the day?
The day was more than I had expected, and everyone that attended left with a thorough understanding of exactly how it all worked, as well as all the features.
We started with Bradley Osborne, an accomplished guitarist who had previously been signed for the Columbia record label as part of an Indie band, who entertained us with a number of cover versions of current pop songs.

Guest speaker, Matt Evans (photographer – regional runner-up in the Wedding Industry Awards 2015) addressed the audience with his own (often humorous) experiences of cancellations, lost bookings and the continual challenge of finding new couples. Sarah Dillingham (Wedding Dress Sample Sale website and recent bride) followed on with personal experiences of her trials and tribulations of trying to book wedding services from a distance (she lives in London, but got married in Bristol)
These two speakers brought home the difficulties both sides of the wedding ‘fence’ experience in a very real way that the audience could easily relate to. This sparked a fantastic Q&A discussion the possibilities of how The Wedding Calendar could and would be used by couples planning their weddings, as well as professional wedding planners, expanding significantly on our initial expectations of the benefits.

 As a directory service, how does the Wedding Calendar fit within the industry? What unique features does it offer suppliers and clients?
Each member of The Wedding Calendar will have their own private calendar to maintain. This is where they will update their availability as and when it changes. The power of The Wedding Calendar is how these individual calendars then all feed into the central calendar, and it is the central, combined calendar that is presented on our main website.
While the complete central calendar is displayed on our website, each member can very easily display their own private calendar on their own website too. The benefit of this is that they can show their own availability on their own website, and these dates will match The Wedding Calendar main site. Automatically, their availability is shown in two places — great for marketing!

Additionally, we are able to show a filtered listing of services and make that available to be placed on any other website. For example, we are able to filter our central calendar to show all venues and services in Cornwall, Summerset and Devon, and make this available to be placed on the West Weddings website. People coming to your website would then be able to find available services and venues in those counties directly from your own website, but services from other regions would not show.
Another very interesting feature that The Wedding Calendar introduces is the ability to ‘subscribe’ to a calendar. When you ‘subscribe’, you effectively add the calendar to your own calendar application, such as a Google, Outlook, or Apple Calendar. This means that services and venues can subscribe to their own calendars, and have a convenient listing immediately available, even on their smartphone.
What this means for wedding planners is even more unbelievable. As we know, every wedding planner will naturally have their list of preferred suppliers and venues. They will now be able to subscribe to the private calendars of these members individually, and immediately have their availability to hand, right on their own computer or smartphone, without even needing to visit any website and without even phoning their suppliers — imagine that!

How does your service enable brides and grooms to have a stress-free planning experience? 
While I don’t believe that there is such as a thing as a 100% stress-free wedding planning experience, The Wedding Calendar will certainly reduce the number of hours spent searching for venues and services that are available on the date of your choice.
One of the biggest stresses involved in planning weddings is the endless phone calls to lists of possible suppliers until you find someone who is actually available when you need them.
A simple, two minute search on The Wedding Calendar will quickly identify who is available, leaving you with a far easier task of selecting your preferred choice from the list of available suppliers, rather than settling for the only one you have been able to find in hours of phone calls.

Looking ahead, how do you envisage your service developing over the coming years? Have thought of  ways to expand your list of suppliers?
A common philosophy of marketing is to spread the word down many different avenues. This is just as true for The Wedding Calendar. The ability to place calendars onto various websites, whether it is the full calendar or a filtered version, means that it is possible to become embedded into The Wedding Industry very quickly.
I am so excited with the possibility of being able to make a very real impact on reducing the overall stress levels of the wedding industry over the coming years.
To help people involved in the wedding industry level out their streams of revenue, we have started a reward program, where we (financially) thank those members who spread the word about The Wedding Calendar on a continual basis. If we are worthy of speaking about, and are doing a good job for the existing members, it is likely that they would want to tell other people about it too. It is for this reason that we encourage our members to join our reward program too.

The Wedding Calendar
W: http://weddingcalendar.co.uk/