Monday, 14 September 2015

My Hen-Do Weekend!

About a month ago now, I was very lucky to have a fabulous, funny and very lovely hen-weekend away with the girls, in sunny Brighton!
All I knew about my hen-do were the dates, and the fact it was in Brighton. I had no idea where we were staying or what we were doing whilst we were there but I was more than excited to find out!

My lovely younger sister Laura pretty much planned and managed the whole thing, with some loving assistance and support from my other two fabulous bridesmaids, Laura and Milly. They did so well and worked hard to ensure myself and everyone going had a stress-free, fun and hilarious weekend away.

We arrived at the 'secret location' on the Friday evening, where I discovered we were staying in a penthouse, right on the sea front overlooking Brighton pier. It was fabulous and the perfect view to wake up to in the mornings.
The Friday evening we stayed in and ordered take-out and had a general gossip and catch-up. We then started playing games-such as pin the penis! (blindfolded and hilarious)!! Then a Mr and Mrs game, where I had to answer twenty questions about myself and Steve and for every question I got right, I got a prize from one of the girls. For every question I got wrong...I had to drink a delightful strawberry daiquri shot! It was really fun but also a thoughtful game, as the girls treated me to such lovely gifts and then at the end, presented me with one of the nicest, most thoughtful presents I've ever received...a memory book to remember my hen-do and wedding, and each friend (even some who sadly couldn't be there), had submitted a photo of myself with them to my sister, with a short story about how we met, about our friendship, funny moments and then wishing myself and Steve all the best for our future as husband and wife together. It honestly meant so much and is something I will treasure forever.

On the Saturday, we woke up to glorious sunshine and started the day with a lazy morning around the penthouse, with homemade cupcakes and a lovely breakfast the girls supplied, including crepes and Nutella with strawberries and croissants. I was then told to wear something comfortable, casual and what I didn't mind getting dirty in?! I had no idea what they had planned....they were all wearing similar clothing to me as well (think workout gear), so I started to suspect it was maybe something like a bridal boot camp where you have to crawl through mud and climb walls etc! I won't lie...a part of me was a little nervous at the thought of that as I knew I'd be rubbish at it and don't particularly like getting muddy...but I'd be up for it if they all were too! 
After brunch we went for a walk down the pier and stopped for some fun photo ops and looked around the amusements. Brighton is always busy and full of fun and life. I love the buzz there, you can't not have a great time!

We then headed to the 'second mystery location' wasn't far from the seafront and I couldn't see any signs of army boot camp guys or mud or nets...was I in the clear?!
We arrived at our destination where we were going to spend our afternoon and I was super excited to find out we were going to be taking a private dance lesson at 76 Brighton to Beyonce's 'Single Ladies' routine! It was honestly the best couple of hours and we all took it rather seriously! We had sashes on saying 'Bride', 'Maid of Honour', 'Bridesmaid' and 'Hen Party' on for each of us to wear and got down to learning the routine with our lovely choreographer. We'd stop in between to have sips of champagne and giggles over who could do what part of the routine, as well as who couldn't! By the end of the afternoon, we were pros and would have made Beyonce and her girls look rubbish! (well...maybe not quite but you know)! ;) It was a brilliant and very unique idea and is one I would definitely 

The Saturday evening we all got dressed up and ready back at the penthouse and into a cab for our meal at Bill's at 8pm sharp. I do love Bills and their laid-back but delicious approach to there food and restaurant environment. We were starting to order the cocktails in as well to get ready for a night of drinking and dancing ahead...after Bill's we walked a few minutes to an AMAZING club called 'Lola Lo'  . Seeing as I was the bride, they kindly let me in for free and the girls got in for £2 as apposed to £10! We got some discounted drinks to start the night as well, which really got us ready and well in the mood to let our hair down and have a good time. There were quite a few other hen and stag parties in there, which just added to the party, celebratory atmosphere of the place. I would definitely recommend when your next in Brighton for a night out, to go there and enjoy some of the yummy but sometimes bizarre cocktails and the DJ was playing some TUNNNNNNNES on that dance floor! Think KISSTORY but better! 

3am...we rolled in to bed-DONE!

(excuse the iPhone photos and filters, but didn't fancy my SLR on this weekend)!

Sunday we had to be up and ready and checked out the penthouse by 10am (ouch after the night we had) but were all done and ready on time. We then decided we 100% needed a full breakfast and made our way to The Breakfast Club. I have been to both The Breakfast Club's in Spitafields and Soho in London but never to the Brighton one. It was exactly what we needed! My poached eggs on toast with avocado was to die for and definitely made me feel a tad more human after maybe one to many cocktails the night before...

After brunch we headed out to The Lanes to look around the boutique style shops and paid a visit to the famous 'Choccywoccydoodah' store (check out their extraordinary and amazing cakes)! 
After some tea and biscuits, we headed back to sunny Essex about 3pm. We were all tired I'm sure but left knowing we had the best time and the girls really did give me the most fabulous send-off before becoming a wife. So girls if you are reading this...


Thursday, 10 September 2015

3 Weeks To Go...

I'm back!
MAJOR apologies for the lack of updates on here guys-I have been so, SO busy with the last bits of wedding preparation and meeting suppliers and the venue etc to get all those last finishing touches just right. I have enjoyed the process so much and will miss it once it's all over, BUT there is only 3 weeks to go now until myself and Steve finally get to say those magical precious words, 'I do'. 

At this stage as excited and overwhelmed with joy as I am, nerves are secretly starting to creep in...My loved ones already married have told me that's perfectly normal and not to fight it, it's all part of the experience and feelings you have as a bride but I still find it a little daunting to be nervous. I am not nervous at all about getting married (we have been together 11 years now) but I am more nervous about the running of the day and if people will enjoy themselves and like what I have worked SO hard on the past 14 months planing and designing. I am sure they will and lots of people coming have already expressed their excitement to me about seeing it all and being there to celebrate with us, but still...I am nervous! 

Next week I plan to dedicate a WHOLE week on my blog to all things weddings! Expect a new post every day about the wedding and planning etc. I hope it gives you more of an insight into it all as so many of you are very kind and lovely enough to ask me daily how it's all going and to share ideas etc. 

Until then, have a fabulous rest of your week! xxx

Friday, 14 August 2015

My Hen-Do Dresses Featuring COAST

Today marks the beginning of my surprise Hen-Do Weekend! In aprox three hours, I am being picked up by some of the girlies (the rest are meeting us at the secret location)!
All I am aware of at this point is it is in Brighton and we are away for two nights. I adore Brighton and haven't been in a couple of years, so I am super excited to visit once again and this time, with some of my wonderful friends for my own hen-do. I can't quite believe it's me getting married and I am 'the bride' on this weekend away :) It's incredibly exciting and I am very confident that my lovely sister and two other bridesmaids, have done an amazing job in planning a lovely, fun weekend away to celebrate before the big day itself!

A couple of weeks ago I went shopping to Bluewater with my mum, to get a couple of outfit options for one of the evenings on my hen-weekend, where I have been advised to dress up nice and glam for a night out. I immediately knew I wanted something special, not only for this weekend and for the memories an outfit would hold, but also dresses to keep for post-wedding celebrations and our honeymoon. 
I instantly thought of Coast as a first point of call to fit the brief above, as I have always admired their beautiful pieces and even got my bridesmaid's dresses from there a few months ago. 

The staff in the Bluewater store were extremely helpful and very lovely, in the sense they wanted to get to know their customers, to offer them the best advice and customer service that they could provide. I was asked by a couple of different member's of staff what the occasion was for and had some lovely congratulations from them and ended up taking over most of the fitting room area, with people seeing what I was choosing to wear and generally just creating a really fabulous and almost party like atmosphere! Sadly I find in high street stores, no matter what level of pricing on products you are looking at, you rarely get that type of service and atmosphere anymore, so it was very refreshing to see and experience for myself. 

My lovely parents very generously and kindly treated me to my outfit for my hen-do evening look, however myself and my mum could honestly not decide between two gorgeous dresses in there, so my mum insisted I got both! Again, very loving and generous of them and it just added to the wonderful feeling of the whole shopping experience. 

Below are the two absolutely stunning dresses I picked (with the help of the team there and mum of course)...

The grey dress with the cropped overlay top to it and blush and silver flowers, is called the 'Shola Metallic' dress. When on, I honestly feel like Carrie Bradshaw in it! It's nice and fitted at the top and nips in a t the waist and then flares out into more of an A-line style (with a slight prom look feel to it volume wise)! When you spin (hey, I'll be dancing on my hen right)?! -it lifts up a little and twirls so delicately and adorably. I love the contrast of the pale blush flowers and silver embroidery against the dusky grey background. It's very chic and elegant looking, but fun and flirty at the same time.

The second dress is also another real stunner and is called the 'Edie Print' dress. The fabric, print and cut of this dress really reminds me of something McQ by McQueen would design, which is a massive plus to me as I adore McQueen. This dress is very vibrant and bold but so chic and sophisticated at the same time. I love the feel of it-it's silky but has that scuba fabric texture to it a little as well. This dress is also fitted at the top and sleeves but then flairs out from the waist and is an A-Line style bottom which finishes above the knees.

Both dresses are by far the prettiest in my wardrobe and I am so grateful for both of them! The only problem is...which one do I take on my first hen do?! (I have a second one in a few weeks time, so could always wear one for that as well).

See you after a few cocktails guys...


Sunday, 9 August 2015

Wedding Wednesday-Series 5-Photographer

Photography to us was probably in the Top 3 most important things with regards to our wedding and planning it. These are the photos which will capture the wonderful day and the fantastic memories with yourself and loved ones, on the happiest day of your lives! We wanted to find a photographer who was quite modern in the way they worked, not too posey (I hate really posey pics)! , understood the importance of good lighting and the beautiful ways you can capture the changes in it throughout the day into the evening and who most importantly, we would feel comfortable and relaxed with and want them to follow us round on our big day we share together!

So-quite a lot to tick of the 'must have' list then isn't it?! You may wonder where we started then with regards to finding our dream photographer...well let me tell you...!

Firstly I spent a good couple of weeks (yes a couple), searching all over the web for a photographer's site and work which captured our hearts and imagination. I personally being really into photography, actually rather enjoyed these couple of weeks, pouring over every last picture on each photographer's site and reading review on them from the happy bride and groom. I think it helped that I knew the kind of style that I wanted us to have, so I knew what to look for and could tell straight away if I thought a photographer's work was far too formal for us or dare I say it, looked rather dated (think back to the 90's and how far wedding photography has come since then)! 

Finally we narrowed it down to 8 photographers. They all had fantastic portfolios and websites and were within a 2 hour drive of our venue (NB-This can be important to bear in mind, as if a photographer needs to travel too far to your venue, it will out their travel costs up). All of them emailed back very promptly and politely, informing us they could do our date and loved our venue etc...however this is where it can get a little tricky!

Some were coming back at such insane prices, I didn't know if to laugh or cry! Please don't get me wrong, I completely appreciate it can be a hard job and it's a full day and sometimes night work, however we just couldn't justify spending £2-3k on photography, when we had so much else to pay out for to make our dream wedding come true. Also, some of the photographer's we made contact with didn't seem so enthusiastic once you actually got talking properly to them. I think it's really important you 'click' with a photographer and you get the impression they really want to meet you and be a part of your special day and have the great responsibility of capturing that. It will not only put you last ease on the run up to the day itself and on the actual wedding day, but also reassure you afterwards that you will continue to receive brilliant service and beautiful photographs. 

We finally decided to pick just one to meet-that lucky lady was Kerrie Mitchell. There were three reasons we decided to met Kerrie in person;
1)-Her website and photography portfolio blew us away! We were so excited when we her style of work and the way all her couples looked totally at ease and very happy.

2)-She was within our budget (which always helps right?!)

3)-She was fairly local to us (within an hour)-so it would be easy to meet up with her.

We met halfway at a lovely pub one evening for a drink and a proper sit down to discuss all things weddings, all things photography and even dogs at one point! (She's a dog owner and lover, I liked her instantly) ;)

Kerrie was just so lovely and made us feel really special and like she wanted to really be a part of our wedding. Her portfolios and albums she brought were just beautiful and knowing she had been to our venue a few times before really helped put our mind at ease, as we knew she'd know the best places and positions for good pictures.
After meeting her that evening, I had the pleasure of emailing her the next day to let her know the good news-she was booked! :) 

Since then we have met Kerrie fairly recently for our engagement shoot (which was part of the package we paid for). Myself and Steve chose to have our shoot at the adorable Mersea Island with the fun and quirky pastel beach-huts. Again, Kerrie knew this location very well, so knew exactly where to put us and where to snap away for the best shots. Having the engagement shoot really helped me and Steve get to know Kerrie and her camera even better. We felt as ease very quickly and all three of us had such a laugh together, I didn't want it to go by so fast! The afternoon there with Kerrie made me and Steve even more confident that we had picked the perfect photographer and person for us and our wedding day. 

Below are my top tips on what to look out for when searching for a photographer:

Tip 1
Make sure you have a really, really good look through at all their work and photos on their website-not just the weddings they have shot at your venue before! You want to ensure that no mater the venue or time of year, the photographer can work with any option and deliver beautiful photographs.

Tip 2
Make sure they can travel to your venue and are obviously available on the date of your wedding! Ensure you let them know of any specific timings for the day itself and if there is anything they need to bear in mind about the venue (parking, food etc...)

Tip 3 
Look within your budget! There's no point falling in love with a photographer's work when you know they are very much out of your budget! Obviously if you can stretch your piggy bank a little more and maybe cut back on other much, much smaller details of the day which aren't as important as your photographs then great. However if you can't or don't want, remember what figure you want to stay within as a budget and don't be scared to ask the photographer if there is any negotiation or movement on the price (within realistic reason of course).

Tip 4
If you can, try and meet your photographer face to face, to really get to know them and ensure they get to know you and the style/theme to your wedding. If you are too far away or too busy to meet them, I suggest setting up a Skype call which is the next best thing. It really does help you and them get a better understanding of each other and you will be able to know pretty quickly if you feel happy and relaxed around them and would be happy for them to capture your day.

I highly recommend Kerrie and strongly suggest you check out her lovely website to learn more and find out her contact details to maybe discuss your own special day with :) Check out some of our gorgeous engagement shoot pics below as well to see her style of work.

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