I'm sorry! When you start out with an online business you have all these ideas about a nice, original, informative blog feed. At least I did anyway. And with me, I retained those good intentions for months - the better part of a year in fact. But then I got busy (a good thing, I know!) and suddenly my poor little blog got abandoned. So I'm here to apologise to it and you, the reader, for not feeding it and letting it fade away in a back room of my website. I hereby announce that I will find time to make meaningful contributions in future and I promise to be a good little blogger from now on!
But hopefully not tears. Okay, okay - terrible play on words, I can hear the collective groans!
Seriously though: choosing a wedding cake (or indeed making your own) can seem like a bit of a daunting prospect. So many different shapes, colours and sizes, and that's just the aesthetics; never mind textures, flavours and fillings...
As usual here on the SHD blog, rather than offer my own random thoughts on anything non-stationery, I have sought the advice of an expert. Hopefully you'll be left a little wiser following the sage words of the talented and creative Katy Simmons of Katy's Cakes and Bakes.
"It's best to start thinking about your wedding cake once you have thought and even chosen your wedding dress, venue, colour scheme and theme," Katy advises. "These elements all contribute to what you may want your cake to look like and how you would like to tie it into your theme and your lives you have shared so far. You also need to consider how many people you have coming and what flavours you would like."
But how to convey those themes to your cake designer..?
"The best way to discuss ideas with your cake designer is talking. Tell them about you and your ideas, your themes, colours and details of your big day. Pictures are also good. If you find a picture and only like one element in that picture, save it and attach into an email. It's your cake designer's job to take all the small elements and make it into one beautiful cake that's unique to you. The more you can give them, the better idea they will have to create the dream wedding cake you will love."
You also offer private tuition, which must be the ultimate way to express your own ideas in cake form, but that has to present some additional challenges surely, especially for those among us who are less gifted in the kitchen..?!
"I believe that everyone can do it with the right guidance. I'm not going to say it's easy and that everyone picks it up like riding a bike. It can be frustrating for some people. But all in all the people I have done tuition with have found it fun - and stressful at times - but we're always thrilled with their end result. It gives a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment."
I've recently looked at the different input men have, versus women, when it comes to organising their weddings. Have you been approached by any grooms wanting to improve their baking skills?
"I haven't taught any grooms yet however I am always open to it as men can be very talented in this area. I offer cake decorating hen parties as this is a popular choice but this can be for stags if they are interested."
Looking at some of your fabulous creations, I'm left wondering if there are any limits to what can be achieved?!
"Almost anything is possible. However not everything is possible if you want it all to be edible. Personally I know my limits and I know my strengths and weaknesses, so if I feel I can't deliver your dream cake I will advise what I could do to give you a close similarity. I aim to please all my brides and grooms."
And what about a personal favourite...?
"Of course I have a favourite cake. I love my chocolate indulgent cake with vanilla buttercream, it's like a brownie and my lemon zingy cake with raspberry buttercream is beautifully refreshing. They are very popular but also stay moist for up to 72 hours after being cut. However they don't usually last that long!"
If you want to take a look at Katy's stunning cakes, they can be seen here:
And Katy can be contacted as follows:
Tel: 01252 202983
Mob: 07867 488725
I must confess, from time to time I've adopted the consensus that when it comes to planning the big day, most of the fundamentals are taken care of by the bride, while her other half generally puts in the odd token suggestion to show willing.
But in this day and age of equality, isn't it reasonable to suppose that he's getting involved just as much as she is? I've recently spoken to a few grooms-to-be about their wedding stationery, and you know what? The guys have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn't, and they're very creative with the designs they've suggested to me.
What about weddings as a whole though? Are you men dipping your toes into the wedding waters right across the board?
To find out more, I spoke to Charly Careless of Project Wedding, a wedding planning and coordination service with a difference. But enough from me, here's Charly with a bit of info before we begin...
"My background is in logistics and events coordination. Logistics due to serving 12 years in the Royal Air Force and events management started off as a sideline, taking an interest in organising social functions for my colleagues, Summer Balls with 150+ attendees, Christmas functions etc. After a successful and fulfilling career, I started to think my skills could be better placed doing things the way I would like to do it, so I decided to use a grant from the RAF to study for qualifications from the Association of Project Management. I have always enjoyed coordinating events and logistics and felt there was a gap in the market when it came to a methodical, practical wedding planner, owing to finding a lot of wedding planners being very creative and providing more than one service, often meaning that wedding planning was not their primary function."
I ask Charly what she thinks about the stereotype that weddings are a woman's domain.
"After attending numerous wedding fairs as an exhibitor, I would disagree with the statement that men are getting involved as little as possible! What with the rise of popular programs like 'Don't tell the Bride' and 'Four Weddings', it is clear that men are becoming more and more involved in all stages of the wedding preparations. I would even go as far to say I have met a couple of groom-zillas who are completely in charge of planning the wedding, leaving a chilled out, relaxed bride. Mostly, the guys are interested in the venue, groom wear and food, but I have met one that tried to be involved with the dress, suffice to say that didn't go down too well!"
Yes I think that goes slightly further than the 'token suggestion' I mentioned earlier...! But what about the dynamics - is there a particular element in which the man performs better than his bride-to-be?
"Men are generally more focused on one task," Charly observes, "and they will do it extremely well, whereas women are great at multi-tasking and taking on lots of things, sometimes to the disadvantage of themselves due to often not being able to dedicate the time to planning their wedding but being too proud to ask for help. That's where Project Wedding can step in, we won't take over the whole day, just take away the stresses of the bits that are overwhelming and/or critical tasks that could be forgotten about."
So come on, who's the more organised of the sexes?!
"I would say men are equally as organised but they just are wired differently. A groom will do one thing at a time, complete it and then pick up the next task, whereas a bride will generally do lots of things at the same time!"
A very diplomatic conclusion - hear hear!
If you're looking for the ultimate in organisational assistance with your wedding, Charly can be contacted as follows:
Tel: 07847 068722
Image copyright LSK/Dreamstime Stock Images
I don't know about you but autumn seems to be everywhere at the moment - yes I know, even as we progress into the white world of winter! But for now the trees are red and gold and every other image I see on my social media feeds is one of nature in all its blazing glory. No doubt, you can't count on temperatures above 12 degrees, but then again that's not so different to your typical English summer is it? And actually, that's reflected in a trend towards perennial weddings; why pay the extra for a summer wedding when the weather could turn on you mid August just as easily as it could later in the year? Anyway it got me thinking about the merits of an autumn wedding, and how a couple might make the most of such a striking season. I suppose an obvious place to start, given the influence mother nature wields at this time of year, is with a wedding florist. Well, meet Liz Williams, of Williams Wedding Florist, a true patron of the season so elegantly interposed between summer and winter!
"Autumn is beautiful!" Liz enthuses. "I think that it is best to go with the season of your wedding rather than try to fight against it. If you go with blooms which are in season they will be stronger and more cost effective, also they will really set the tone and complement your surroundings, especially if you have photos taken outside."
But what sort of colours are available?
"Autumn is all about golds, reds and oranges, though throw some purple or cerise in too for a really powerful combination. Autumn gives us gorgeous details such as rose hips and berries which would not be available or look out of place at other times of year. Roses are always fab, and for a bright autumn wedding orange roses would look really stunning. I also love gold bloom chrysanths and sunflowers for this time of year, they are so bold, and look wonderful in large scale arrangements, and again, they would not be right at other times. Alternatively, a muted, romantic palette also looks great, a sort of whimsical, summer-is-over look, all large bloom roses and soft filler flowers in soft peaches, browns and pinks, a nod to the popular vintage look."
As she paints an image of all those golds and reds, I have to wonder: why wouldn't you pick this time of year for a wedding? If you feel the same way, perhaps you're not alone. In which case, what about availability?
"As long as couples go for flowers which are seasonal to their wedding date, there should not be any major problems with availability. There are many flowers which are available all year round and can form a base for the theme and be added to with seasonal gems. Be mindful that world events, such as Valentines, Christmas, Mothers Day and Women's Day for example, can have a big impact on flower availability and their quality and price, I would advise to avoid these dates unless it is your wedding dream!"
Liz's passion for her undertaking is quite evident - just as well because most of us wouldn't know where to start when it comes to the creation of bouquets!
"I love a unique idea or theme, and clients can be sure that their wedding flowers will be unique to them and designed especially for them. I will be there every step of the way, from initial consultation to installation and delivery on the day. The look on the bride's face I deliver the bridal bouquets on the day makes it so special."
If you'd like to talk to Liz about your wedding flowers, you'll find her just as enthusiastic in person! She can be contacted here:
Tel: 07533 305532
Personally I’ve always looked at wedding music – whether that be a live band, a DJ, or a string quartet – as an ‘either/or’ settlement; you have to go with whatever you feel most of your guests will lean towards, and perhaps make a sacrifice or two along the way, maybe even surrendering a few of your own wants. Increasingly though, since immersing myself into the world of weddings, I’ve discovered that you don’t need to compromise – you just need to pick the right act.
Premonition are just such an example, and speaking to one half of the musical duo, Lisa, I found out why.
‘Premonition are Lisa and Gee Martin. We went to school together and 20 odd years later re-connected on FaceBook. We decided to go to karaoke for a night out together and blew each other away on the first song. That first night we decided to start a duo (having both been in bands previously). A psychic had told me 10 years previous that I would have a fantastic career with a 'Martin'...Premonition was born. We are definitely one of the (if not the) UK’s most versatile duo! We perform over 400 songs from Cockney Chas n Dave to Punk and every genre you can imagine in between. I am definitely a Disco chick and Gee loves his 50's Rock n Roll. I also love performing Soul and Pop and Gee is into Ska and 80's.’
So contrary to my original preconceptions about a lack of choice, now it looks like you’ll have your hands full choosing the right genres! I ask Lisa what’s popular at the moment.
‘Hmm..that is a difficult one as every bride and groom have very different tastes. We tend to get asked for a 'Through the Decades' set as the age range at a wedding is so vast. We also perform at the ceremony (walking up and down the aisle and signing of the register), drinks reception and wedding breakfast so a lot of ballads for the first two and the breakfast tends to be swing. 80's is always a big winner also!’
See – you CAN have it all! Any guidance though for brides and grooms to be?
‘If the 'party' atmosphere is really important to you,’ Lisa advises, ‘then make sure you choose a venue with a bar in the same room as the dance area. Some of the guests (particularly men) tend to think if they leave the bar it may disappear!’
(I can vouch for this!)
‘Also, don't forget to ask your musician/DJ for special songs. We always learn at least a few songs for the Bride and Groom which I think is very important.’
And of course, the obligatory anecdotes please!
‘I remember at one wedding we were singing at the signing of the register and then quickly ran along side the curtained area (so we weren't seen) and were singing ballads in the bar by the time the guests had walked in...we had a couple of very confused faces wondering how we got there. Another wedding reception, at a really beautiful location, the Groom and his men had asked for Metallica and were chuffed that we had learnt Enter Sandman, which is very 'rocky'. They were dancing around with their ties wrapped around their heads!’
Each to their own eh?!
I’d like to thank Lisa for taking time out of a busy schedule to spare some valuable information on planning your wedding music. I hope it’s as enlightening to you as it was to me, and if you’d like to get in touch with Premonition, they can be found at www.premonitionduo.co.uk or at the following social media:
If you’ve recently taken those first steps towards your wedding, be it a regal affair with a thousand guests or an intimate gathering of your nearest and dearest, you’re no doubt spending most of your waking life planning for the big day. It can be a daunting experience, albeit exciting, and you only get one chance to get it right.
Unless, of course, planning weddings is something you do professionally.
For an insight (and hopefully some survival tips for you soon-to-be-weds out there!) I caught up with wedding planner Michelle Healey of Ladybelle Weddings. Having spent countless late nights and early mornings organising my own wedding, I wondered what inspired someone to take on such a high-pressure role, full time.
‘I’ve had a passion for weddings since being very young,’ Michelle says, ‘and I always knew it was a field I wanted to work in. I have always been the one to organise a party, and friends always asked me to help them organise their own party events.’
Okay, parties are one thing – weddings are different kettle of fish surely?!
‘When I started to organise my own wedding in 2005 I loved every minute of it,’ Michelle enthuses. ‘Even on the day I was making sure everything was perfect and how I wanted it to be, when I should have been relaxing, enjoying the day and being a bride. I knew I wanted to be more involved in the planning and coordination of weddings and as friends and family started to get married I was asked to help them with the process.’
And from that spark…
‘Ladybelle Weddings is a company I set up by myself. I'm totally independent, meaning the wedding couple have the freedom to choose from my long list of suppliers to help make their day special. I work for the couple and I want to help them have the day they have been dreaming of. I want them to relax and enjoy the day knowing it’s in the safe hands of Ladybelle Weddings.’
So we’ve all seen the Hollywood rom-coms, but what exactly does a wedding planner do?
‘A Wedding planner is there to help the wedding couple with their wedding plans. It can be really stressful planning a wedding and if you have never planned an event before it can be quite daunting, and that's where I am here to help. I have 3 different packages on offer. The Diamond package is full wedding planning from beginning to end, with on the day coordination. I have the emerald package which is partial wedding planning – this means if they’ve already started the planning I’ll come in and help them where ever they are up to. It also includes on the day coordination. Then I have my sapphire package which is just on the day coordination. Which means I will liaise with their suppliers around 4-6 weeks before the wedding, and then coordinate the wedding day. All packages come with a free consultation to decide which package is best for them. All couples have unlimited contact with me to discuss their wedding plans.’
As I listen to Michelle’s genuine enthusiasm for her customers, I’m nevertheless wondering what kind of person would choose to work in that pressurised environment.
‘All of it is a huge pressure,’ Michelle accepts, ‘but I love the pressure, as long as I have it I know the wedding couple are relaxed, which is what I am here to do, keep them relaxed and I take on all the stress. I love all parts of wedding planning; I love it when I meet a couple for the first time and you can see how happy they both are, hearing about how they met and how he or she proposed and listening to their vision of how they want their day. I really enjoy the actual day itself and watching all the planning and preparation come together and seeing them so relaxed on the day and just enjoying their own wedding day – it makes me feel so happy and privileged that someone has allowed me to be an important part of their day.’
And then of course, there are those special moments which make it all worth while.
‘My absolute favorite has to be a wedding I did at Mitton Hall. The bride and groom turned to face each other to say their vows and their gorgeous little boy was stood by the side of them, and as they were saying their vows he walked in between them. It was so cute everyone's heart just melted in the room. It was perfect.’
Planning your big day is one thing, but what about budgeting for it? We’ve all read countless statistics of the average wedding cost, but what’s the experience of someone on the front line, and how can you stay in control of finances?
‘The average cost for a wedding seems to be around £15K, but everyone is different and some people spend more and some less. To me it doesn't matter how much a couple are spending, their day is still special as it’s about them pledging their love for one another in front of all their friends and family. I help wedding couples with their budget by asking what they feel they absolutely must have at their wedding and what they feel they would like but can do without, and then we work with the budget they have to achieve their dream day. I also have to make them realise how much things cost, as the last thing I want is a budget out of control. I always make sure they stay within their budget and sometimes that means sacrifices, but we always work together so they can have their day the way they want it.’
How about any tips for future brides and grooms out there?
‘Be realistic with your budget and what you want, make sure your wedding day reflects you two as a couple. Don't wish for the next part of your big day to happen, enjoy the moment you are in as the day is going to pass by so quickly. Try to take a moment together to look at everyone in the room and see how happy they all are sharing your day.’
Finally, here at Simply Handmade Designs we’re always keen on the latest trends, so what better person to quiz than someone who sees every aspect of a wedding!
‘This year seems to have been HUGE for Vintage style weddings. People seem to be loving vintage dresses, with lace. Also the colour purple seems to be quite a trend this year, I've seen lots of shades of purple being used.’ (Note to self – increase my stocks of purple shades!)
I’d like to thank Michelle for taking the time out of her busy schedule to talk to us and share some of her experiences. Good luck to everyone planning a wedding, and please do get in touch to share your ups and downs.
If you like the idea of letting someone take the stress out of your big day, Ladybelle Weddings can be found at:
Michelle is also on Twitter @LadybelleW and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ladybelle-Weddings/357829704323772?fref=ts
With the proliferation of musical acts available nowadays it can be pretty tricky selecting the right sound for your big day. If (like me!) you’re not particularly gifted when it comes to music, finding the perfect
band/act for your wedding can be a daunting task indeed.
So how do you know you’re going to hit the right notes when it comes to entertaining your guests? Well for one thing, you might consider an agency.
I recently caught up with Ben from earcandy, music agency extraordinaire, for the lowdown on how they can make all the difference to your wedding reception.
‘We started earcandy,’ Ben explains, ‘having all performed with and managed bands in the record industry. Having seen the record industry up close, we agreed that there was a lack of 'great' talent in the world of function bands. We weren't particularly excited by many of the agencies that were out there at the time; they didn't really seem to offer clients much more than a shop front. We formed earcandy to give a more personal service, and to give acts which are more entertaining. It's important that we manage all of our acts, so we can make sure that the quality is always up to scratch. We take the record industry tricks and techniques that we learned and use them to leave all of our clients smiling after their event.’
So approaching an agency means you’re not lumbered with the task of trawling the internet for the perfect act. You can talk to your agency and, if they’re up to scratch, they’ll give you exactly what you want and much of the guesswork is removed. But why earcandy in particular?
‘Earcandy isn't run like traditional agencies,’ Ben points out. ‘Most agencies act as 'shop fronts' for their acts, providing a convenient way to book. We do provide the same convenience with earcandy, but we also hand pick, and manage all of our acts. They are all exclusive to us, which means we can vouch for their quality and professionalism. With our three stage audition process we have a more rigorous quality control, meaning we are sure to make events unforgettable.’
And what about the music itself – what’s popular these days?
'It depends usually on the age group, for a younger audience, our pop rock bands such as 'Black and Gold' or 'The Somebodys' go down a treat. For the slightly older audience, 'Motown Gold' or 'Groove Environment' are sure winners. You can check out their videos on our website, to get a flavour for how
they might sound playing for you.’
Earcandy are based in London – fear not though if you’re planning a wedding somewhere further afield:
‘Our acts are all across the UK, from Brighton right to Scotland, and abroad. We've had acts in Russia, Dubai and Italy. Acts from the UK are renowned from being some of the best in the world.’
If you’re thinking of booking an act for a summer wedding, you might want to get in quick though:
‘Weddings are usually busiest around the summer periods. November to December is generally busy due to the holiday periods, and January is often the start of cruise ship contracts. Weekends are mostly the busiest, and you can often grab some good deals if your event is mid-week.’
And in case you were wondering, getting an agency to handle your music doesn’t mean you surrender the personal touch that an independent band might offer.
‘The great thing about this job,’ Ben enthuses, ‘is that our clients tend to put their own mark on their day. We've had grooms break out into a surprise song for their partner, friends singing 'karaoke' with our bands, right to our bands performing a song written especially for the bride and groom! Probably one of the most surprising things that has happened, was at a wedding when mid-performance a venue's power went down. At first, everyone was shocked, especially as it was in the middle of an upbeat anthem – but then the drummer started playing a 'percussion' performance of a lifetime. The guests were clapping along, and singing acapella with the band, for a full three minutes, it was electric! Then when the venue had restored the power, the band launched back into the song where they had left off.’
If this sounds like your vibe, earcandy can be found at www.earcandylive.co.uk or contacted on 0330 100 2820. For the social networkers among you, earcandy’s facebook page iswww.facebook.com/earcandy.uk
If you're having a hard time choosing your wheels for the big day, you might like to think about some of the less conventional modes of transport available for your trip to the altar.
SHD recently caught up with Steve Brookes from 80s TV Car Hire, where you can chose from such irresistible classics as The General Lee from Dukes of Hazard, The Fall Guy's GMC pickup or, surely the piece de resistance and epitome of 80s TV shows, the famous black van of the A Team's BA Baracus.
And these are no half-hearted attempts at vehicular emulation - we're talking bang on copies here, indistinguishable from the originals (at least under our scrutiny anyway). We asked Steve why you might choose one of these nostalgic rides over your classic Roller.
"80s TV Car Hire was set up to give wedding parties a choice of cars rather than a standard Rolls Royce. For grooms, and sometimes brides, it's a chance to relive their youth."
Okay, we're sold on the idea! But do the girls really go in for this as much as the guys?
"I did a wedding in Liverpool in the A Team van where the groom's side came as A Team members and the brides as Charlie’s Angels."
Now that is what you call inspired! How can that fail to turn a few heads? Also, just because these aren't the original vehicles, doesn't mean you're not ensconced in some form of celebrity. Not only is Steve building a reputation in the industry, but his creations have already witnessed their share of the limelight. Asked how he got into the business on the first place, Steve says:
"I built the A Team van for the series Little Britain back in 2005, and it took off from there."
Have a look at it if you get a spare minute and a half (and if you fancy a laugh!)
So what about future additions to the stable? Any chance we'll see KITT, the famous black Pontiac Trans-Am from Knight Rider?
"Yes if there is call for one. But at the moment no one has asked."
Um..can I suggest you all start making enquiries please, if only to satisfy the male contingency at SHD?! Yes apparently we have a Knight Rider fan among us, but what about the man himself, surely Steve has his own favourite 80s show?
"Oh it's gotta be the A Team. Who can forget Mr T....fool!"
Never has it felt so nostalgic to be insulted!
Steve can be found at www.80stvcarhire.co.uk or emailed here: email@example.com
Even if you're not in the market for a wedding car, it's well worth a look!
On Sunday we displayed at Beales Hotel, Hatfield – ‘the finest contemporary hotel in Hertfordshire’, alongside a host of other wedding exhibitors from florists to photographers, magicians to makeup artists and many more. It was great to see a crowd of enthusiastic bride- and grooms-to-be and to have the chance to chat to you all about your plans for the big date.
Our thanks to Beales Events Manager Katie White for putting on a great day, including two catwalk shows (announced by the fantastic Toastmaster Deborah Collings), Champagne and canapés and a wonderful venue, plus lunch/refreshments for the exhibitors!
Thanks also to everyone who came along to see us and for all the lovely comments on our range of bespoke wedding stationery – it’s always a highlight for us to meet people face to face and hear so many different stories. It was great to make some new friends and we look forward to working with you.
Watch this space for future events and updates!
What with the proliferation of ‘surprise dances’, ‘flash dances’ or whatever you want to call them, whereby the bride and groom break from the realms of conformity and indulge in some rather non-conventional first dance routines, we thought we’d feature this video which differs somewhat from the rest.
You have to respect any father of the bride who’s prepared to take to the floor with his daughter and strut his very funky stuff like that! Hope I can still pull off those moves at his age – actually, on second thoughts..
In any case, have a trawl through YouTube if you’re in need of inspiration for your first dance. Alternatively if you just like to watch people throw caution to the wind and make fools of themselves – well, there’s plenty of that to be found too!