Saturday, 28 January 2012


Planning a wedding will undoubtedly be one of the most stressful times in your life. The list of things to do is endless and often you just don’t know where to start! Working full time whilst balancing busy social lives, plus having to plan a wedding is hard work. You may find that all of your evenings and weekends are taken up with planning the wedding, when you suddenly start to feel overwhelmed!
Well, it’s time to stop panicking and take control! Yes, there is a lot of work to do, but you will not be able to plan everything at once. Therefore, I have created a timeline which includes every last, little item that you need to consider to help you from start to finish and even after the wedding.
So take a deep breath and breath… follow my plan and start to gain control again over your wedding plans.

  • Announce your engagement to family and close friends
  • Decide on a wedding date
  • Go shopping for engagement rings with your fiancĂ©
  • Start a wedding file
  • Ask around your married friends for referrals of vendors who they have had good experiences with
  • Decide on the style, formal or informal
  • Choose the theme
  • Set your wedding budget and stick to it!
  • Discuss expenses and who is going to pay for what?
  • Put an announcement in the local paper
  • Hire a wedding planner
  • Select a ceremony location
  • Select a reception location
  • Start shopping for your wedding gown
  • Select a cake designer
  • Throw your engagement party

  • Select your wedding party
  • Decide on guest list. Consult with both families
  • Collect names, addresses and email addresses for invites
  • Start interviewing wedding officiants
  • Hire a caterer if the catering is not supplied by the venue
  • Hire a photographer
  • Hire a videographer
  • Hire a band or DJ
  • Decide on bridesmaid dresses
  • Sign up for a gift registry
  • Book the cars for your bridal party
  • Hire a chair cover and decoration company
  • Send out save the date cards
  • Set up a wedding website to keep friends up to date with the wedding plans
  • Take out wedding insurance if required
  • Book your florist
  • Order your wedding gown

  • Finalize the guest list
  • Shop for your wedding stationary
  • Arrange for accommodation for out of town guests
  • Select you wedding cake
  • Begin preparations for you honeymoon
  • Start diet and exercise regime now! No, can’t crash dieting for you.
  • Book honeymoon suit for your first night
  • Renew passports
  • Choose your wedding invitations
  • Decide on your table decorations, flowers, martini glasses, birdcages, etc,

  • Send out your invitations
  • Arrange for rental of items such as: chocolate fountains, silverware or china
  • Finalize menu plans with your caterer/venue
  • Arrange wedding transportation
  • Shop for bridal party gifts
  • Shop for your wedding bands
  • Discuss with photographer style of wedding and important shots
  • Discuss with videographer to discuss style
  • Select grooms suits and accessories
  • Shop from wedding bands
  • Choose your wedding favours

  • Choose your wedding music
  • Find a location for your rehearsal dinner
  • Confirm order with formal wear shop
  • Schedule for alterations
  • Schedule fittings for your bridesmaids and flower girls
  • Confirm your order with your florist
  • Start writing your vows

  • Design your wedding programs
  • Apply for the marriage license
  • Have a final gown fitting
  • Choose all your wedding accessories
  • Have a hair and makeup practice run
  • Discuss and finalize details with all of your wedding suppliers
  • Have your hen and stag party

  • Call any guests
  • Give the caterer a finalize head count
  • Pick up your marriage license
  • Give your DJ or band a list of songs
  • Confirm rehearsal plans
  • Obtain any legal information about changing for name, for drivers license, bank accounts, passport
  • Complete floor and seating plans
  • Confirm all rental and floral delivery dates and times
  • Check parking arrangements

  • Make any last minutes seating arrangements/adjustments
  • Organize your wedding attire make sure everything fits perfectly
  • Confirm honeymoon reservations
  • Confirm reservations for out of town guests
  • Pack for your honeymoon
  • Have a spray tan
  • Pick up passports
  • Gather all necessary documents for travel
  • Confirm rehearsal plans with attendants
  • Confirm reservations for the rehearsal dinner
  • Pick up formalwear make sure everyone tries everything on, to make sure it fits
  • Have a relaxing massage
  • Arrange for your cake to be delivered

  • Go through your list of things to do and make sure they are all covered
  • Pack your wedding day emergency kit
  • Get a manicure and pedicure
  • Give rings to best man
  • Get an early night you’ve done all the planning you can, it’s too late to change anything now so do not stress

  • Eat something you don’t want to be fainting whilst walking up the aisle
  • Get your hair and makeup done wear a button-up shirt to keep everything perfect
  • Have someone check the reception site as early as possible to fix any possible problems
  • Dress for the wedding
  • Have photos taken with the family
  • Most importantly have fun if everything doesn’t go exactly to plan, don’t worry and enjoy the day. Your guests probably won’t even notice

  • Have your gown preserved
  • Write thank-you notes
  • Change your name
  • Arrange to have your flowers freeze dried or pressed

I hope you find this timeline helpful. Each month set yourself tasks just like I have here, then break them down into monthly categories, so that you can focus on one task at a time so planning your wedding can become more manageable. Happy planning! 

Sunday, 22 January 2012


Getting engaged is such a magical and exciting time in anyone’s life, having finally found that special someone to spend the rest of your life with to share those special moments in your life and who will love you unconditionally forever. What a beautiful feeling. When your partner got down on one knee and professed how much they loved you, must have been a moment to cherish; one which you will look back on for the rest of your life. Whether the proposal was performed in front of family and friends, at the top of the Eiffel Tower, on a beautiful sunny afternoon overlooking the lake, it will be a day both of you will never forget.
Then you have the excitement of telling family and friends… then let the celebrations begin! You show off the ring to everyone and tell the story of how your partner proposed to anyone who will listen.

Then reality sinks in! You have an entire wedding to plan, and that in itself is an enormous task. At first it was fun flipping through the bridal magazines which you bought for yourself, but now you look through them feeling anxious with all the planning you have in front of you. It seems like the to do list is growing by the minute with choosing venue’s, deciding on a theme, how many guests to invite? What is the cake going to look like? What flowers should you choose? Should we have a band or a DJ? The list goes on and on and before you know it you are starting to freak out, and dreading the thought of planning your dream wedding.
So before you run to the hills, here are some helpful tips:

There are several factors you need to consider when planning your wedding. The first thing you need to do to draw up your guests list is, because in many cases this can determine how large your budget needs to be or for how many people it needs to cover. The average wedding now costs around £15,500. What you need to determine is what you can afford to spend. Do you have any savings? If not, then you may need to look at other ways of financing your big day.

In the olden days, as soon as the happy couple announced their engagement Mum and Dad would dig out their cheque book and pay for the whole wedding. The celebration would be held at a grand location with a large guest list and would typically cost a small fortune. Usually the parents of the engaged couple would have started saving from when they were children. But those days are gone, leaving the financing of your dream day to largely fall on you.
There are several options you need to consider, such as:
Do either of your parents have a special wedding fund? If so, now would be the time for you and your fiancĂ© to sit down with them and talk about the financials. It may be that as it is their money, they may already have some idea’s in mind for what type of celebration they want to throw. You might want an intimate wedding with family and close friends, but your parents may want to throw you a lavish wedding for 300 people. After all they are paying for it, so you may need to be prepared for this. Though, if you are ok with this then if I were you I would happily thank them and go with the flow. Any idea’s, theme’s or colour scheme’s you have in mind, sit down with mum or mother-in-law-to-be and let her know what is important to you. Even though they are paying for it, it is your wedding too.
However for their children’s weddings, parents do like to contribute, so if they do not have some kind of wedding fund set up for you, ask them if they are willing to contribute something such as paying for the reception or the wedding dress or the grooms suit.

Do you have any savings? If not, then maybe consider setting the wedding at least 18 months to 2 years away. This way, if are disciplined and save as much as you can every month, forgoing on those nights out and lunches with friends, in the end, having your beautiful wedding will be well worth it.
Also, if there is any overtime at your work place, then take it. Weddings are expensive and any extra money will be well worth the extra hours. However, savings will definitely help you to plan your dream wedding, and make life easier it is unlikely you will be able to save 10,000 or 20,000 in 1-2 years for you big day. 
Nowadays mainly the cost of the wedding does fall heavily on the bride and grooms shoulders so you have to look at borrowing the money, such as through a bank loan, or credit cards.
With a bank loan you will pay interest which will be added on top of the amount you borrow. The longer the term of the loan, the more interest you will pay. However the quicker you pay the loan back, the less interest you pay.
Credit cards can charge a very high interest rate. However there are cards out there that offer 0% on purchases. If you shop around you could find yourself a great deal. For example 0% of purchases for 18 months. If you took out a card with a large limit, this could fund your wedding and as long as you pay off the credit card before the 0% period ends, you will not pay any interest, otherwise once the offer ends, you may have to pay a high amount of interest each month.

Once you have the funds available to pay for your dream day and after determining the guest list, you then need to decide on list of “must haves.” These are items or elements of your wedding which are the most important to you and the groom. For instance, the brides top 3 “must haves” could be her wedding dress, the reception venue and the photography. The grooms must haves may be his stag do, the cake and the wedding cars. Therefore, you will have to allocate the budget to accommodate these items.
Remember to be realistic if you are on a budget. Don’t spend more that you can afford or you will put yourselves into debt and subsequently be paying off your wedding for many years.

Now it’s time to get to work. You need to gather idea’s for you big day. Do you want a formal or informal celebration? Are you going to invite everyone you have ever known, or will it be small and intimate? What colour scheme or theme will you opt for? Who will the bridesmaids and groomsman be? Do you want a winter themed wedding or a colourful summer wedding? 
There is so much to think about! It is enough for anyone to become panicky and start to regret getting engaged; therefore you need a timeline to stick to. One of the first things you need to look at is choosing a wedding venue as depending on the time of year, the most popular venue’s will book up at least a year in advance, and so do good photographers and catering companies.
Check back soon for my next blog - The Wedding Timeline. 

Monday, 16 January 2012


Baby showers in the US have been around for decades. We see them all the time in many American made films or soaps and are always attended by the mother, close female relatives and friends of the mum-to-be. However, after many years it seems as though us English have caught onto the trend and they are now taking off over here. Baby showers are a lovely idea. Throwing a small party for the expectant mother, usually attended by mainly female guests, to celebrate the up and coming birth of her baby is a great way to celebrate, and also to let Mum know that she has so much support behind her.
Possible shower room idea
The best time to throw a baby shower is in the last two months to 6 weeks of the mother’s pregnancy, however be sure not to have the shower too close, just in case she goes into early labor. This gives Mum and Dad a little bit of time to still purchase any items they haven’t received yet at the party.
You also need to consider your budget when planning where the shower should be held, therefore you need to know numbers. If your budget is small try asking around family and friends of expectant mum-to-be and see if any would offer their home for the party. If not, there are church halls, function rooms and halls for a very reasonable price. Or for those with a larger budget you could hold it in a restaurant, bar, county club, spa or hotel.
Cupcakes by Cake HQ
A close family friend or family member should do the organizing, as it would be unfair for the pregnant mother to be put under pressure if she is not feeling up to it and then have to clean up after everyone afterwards would not be enjoyable for her.
If she likes surprises, maybe you could throw her a surprise baby shower. That way, everything is already set up and organized before she arrives and the expectant mum doesn’t have to worry about a thing. Though make sure you invite the right people. Also surprise showers are seen as a nice gesture for expectant mothers on their second (or more!) pregnancy.  
However, if no one can help to organize the party due to other commitments, you should consider hiring a professional event planner. We have the knowledge, experience and creativity to make your baby shower a great success leaving mum, family and friends to enjoy the party.
Centerpiece idea's for your shower
This all depends on who many people you are inviting or the size of your budget. The best method of keeping costs low is to ask guests to contribute. There are several items that you need to consider when organizing the shower such as:
·         Decorations
·         Cutlery such as paper plates, plastic knives, forks and paper napkins
·         Cake
·         Invitations
·         Venue Search
·         Gifts
Favors for guests - Baby sock roses
We all want to have a little fun, and what better way to make Mum to be smile than with a few games? Such as:

Pin The Nappy On The Baby – Just like ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ using a photo of a baby instead. 
Measure Mums Tum – Measure Mum to be’s tummy all the way around. The winner is the guest who guesses the closest.
Guess The Sex Of The Baby – A great opportunity to reveal the sex of your baby at the shower by writing down on a piece of paper whether it is a boy or a girl and revealing the sex (if you want to) to the winner, or winners! 
Guest The Baby Pictures – Have everyone who attends the shower bring a baby photo of themselves. The guests have to try and figure out who is who. One game that is sure to get everyone laughing.
Putting On The Nappy Game – Have guests bring a doll from home and time each other to see who can put a nappy on the doll in the quickest time.
Baby Shower balloons great for any shower

There are several theme’s you can choose, from traditional to the more modern, here are just a few:
·         It’s a boy/girl with everything decorated blue for a boy and pink for a gir
·         Pastel colours such as yellow, pink, green, lilac and baby blue. These are very natural and would work well as any shower.
·         Baby animals such as childlike pictures of lions, bears, pigs, cows, etc
·         Base the theme on your childhood favourite books such as The Hungry Caterpiller,
·         Mad Hatters Tea Party shower is a more adult theme, as you can hold an afternoon tea party and get everyone to dress up in silly hats for fun to take Mum’s mind off the birth
Baby Shower garland

The general rule is that you buy gifts that will make life a little easier for mum to be or the expectant parents. Most guests tent to buy baby clothes, bottle, toys, nappies, bibs, etc as this will help greatly when the baby is born.
However, if money is tight, why not ask guests to bring along items that they no longer require if their children have grown up or out of baby items such as cloths, toys, prams, cots, etc.
Or how about a baby shower Gift Registry? All you have to do is pick the gifts you want and your guests can buy it for you. Simple! 

Wednesday, 4 January 2012


Disney’s Alice in Wonderland was one of my absolute favourite films growing up. I was amazed by the weird and wonderful world down the rabbit hole such as the talking flowers and the cards painting the roses red. More recently there was the more adult vision of the film released in 2009 with Johnny Depp, which seems to have made the film very popular again, resulting in many Alice inspired party and wedding theme’s for adults and children.

Whether you want an unusual wedding or party theme, intimate tea party with some friends, or simply a big Alice in Wonderland fan, the possibilities are endless. As there are so many different and memorable elements to the story, you could choose to combine them all and have a crazy looking party, which your guests will never forget. Or simply draw on one or maybe just a few elements if you do not want anything too full on.
For Example:

·         Mad Hatters Tea Party Theme
·         Croquet with the Queen Theme

If you choose the Mad Hatters Tea Party theme for example, you can decorate the tables with mismatching teacups and saucers, teapots, cake stands and plates of various styles, mismatching table cloths and chairs in different colours. The food would have an afternoon tea feel with finger sandwiches, mini cakes, cup cakes, scones, jam and cream. Ask your Grandma or older relatives if you could borrow some of their tea sets, cups and saucers, as they are the type to have something you can use which has been shoved to the back of the cupboard or gathering dust, but would look very elegant and vintage on your table display.

Croquet with the Queen would have an outdoor feel, Topiary three’s with red roses attached standing plastic flamingos ( £1.56 each, buy more than 10 price drops to £1.40), large cards on display, balloons shaped as club, diamond, spade and jack ( £4.14 each, buy more than 10 price drops to £3.72), and heart shaped table runners ( £2.94 each, buy more than 10 price drops to £2.64), to represent the queen of hearts, with a red and black theme. 
Or by sticking to one theme you can create something equally as Alice, such as a fancy dress party where everyone dresses up as characters from the film. Check out these great masks,
( you only need to add a few decorations to your venue, as everyone will be dressed up already which will add to the atmosphere. Then there are the crazy looking woods with talking flowers, the Cheshire cat and the smoking Caterpillar, 
ect, you could have lots of tree’s and greenery, and many flowers and toadstools on display, and oversized butterflies. Or having eat me, read me and drink me on various food and drinking bottles, or a Queen of Hearts and card theme, drawing on the different suits such as jack, shade, queen and king.
Quite simply in the world of Alice in Wonderland, the more weird and wonderful the better, and I say anything goes!

For those with a bigger budget and more space, the possibilities are endless. If you are having a large event, each table could be named after a certain part of the story such as ‘The Cheshire Cat Table’ or the ‘Queen of Hearts Table’ and the top table or guest of honor table could named as ‘The Mad Hatters Table.’ There are many ways to have a wow factor do, such as hiring Alice in Wonderland props, ( to really wow your guests.
You can really go to town with a larger budget, and even dedicate each corner of the room in a different part of the film, therefore your guests will be constantly entertained. 
However for a very large event and budget, to make sure your event goes off without a hitch, you will need to hire an event planner.
If you are on a small budget don’t despair! There are so many cheaper alternatives to make your event look fantastic. 
Follow this link for tutorials on how to create some Alice decorations:

For cost effective decorations make your own bunting like I have. It is so easy! Firstly I scanned in photos from the original Alice in Wonderland book by Lewis Carroll, created a bunting shaped template and cropped the image in Photoshop. Then I printed the bunting, cut them out and hung them over some string. They look very effective. If you have a colour theme in mind, simply print the bunting templates onto coloured paper.

Also using the Alice photo’s from the book, print off your favourite images, and place them in different shaped and size frames and place them on tables. Check out charity shops for vintage crockery, teapots, teacups, and saucers for budget tea sets, for any items you can use (or raid Grandma’s cupboards) for your vintage tea party, wedding or event. These can be displayed as centerpieces on the tables, maybe using some of the teapots to display table numbers. 

To tie the theme together, there are several elements you can include from the story. Such as:
  • Large playing cards
  • Topiary tree’s, artificial or real, such as cone, conifer, topiary ball or spiral shaped trees.
  • ‘This Way’ or ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ signs at the entrance of the venue, 
  • Red carpet at the entrance as well lining it with the trees.
  • The Mad Hatters Hat or top hats (
  • A black and white dance floor. There are many places in and around Manchester were can hire a black and white checkered dance floor (
  • If you are on a budget, you can buy a large black and white chess board can possibly double up as a dance floor. Or you can buy the large chess piece from £250.00
  • Plastic flamingos.
  • Rose petals or red roses
  • Bottles placed on the tables with tags around the neck of the bottle saying, ‘Drink Me’.
  • If you have printed material on the tables for guests to read, whether it’s a corporate function, or a program of the evening events, with ‘Read Me’ printed on the front of the booklet written in old fashioned letters, and printed on brown card, tied with string. Old fashioned labels can be bought from (


Monday, 2 January 2012


How many many of us each year in January vow to lose weight? Yet within a few days, we all crumble at the first sight of a chocolate bar. This could be from a lack of motivation or from not having a strong support system, or having a clearly defined goal. Well, for those of us, who are getting married this year (or like myself, renewing my vows to my amazing husband!), it is time to get serious. With a new year comes a new start, and a new found motivation – hopefully.

If  you are serious about shifting those love handles, you need to face this head on. Write your goals down. This shows you are serious and committed. However, for you it might not be about losing weight, but simply want to tone up. Record your weight or measurements or both to track your progress, this way you will know that your hard work is paying off, even though you might not necessarily see the results straight away. Carry a photo around in your hand bag of a picture of your dream wedding dress, and how amazing you would will feel wearing that designer dress, and looking back on your photos in years to come at how stunning you look, and feeling proud looking at the beautiful women in the photo’s staring back at you.

Now I am not a doctor, fitness instructor/coach, or a nutritionist, but it doesn’t take a genius to work out how to lose weight, does it? It’s simple, just move a little more and eat a little less. Of course we need to eat the right foods though, after all we don’t want to be fainting as we’re walking up the aisle! We should all take a vow now to lose weight the healthy way, and not the easy (but potential dangerous) way. Pills and silly faddy diets are for the weak, or those looking for a quick fix such as meal replacements, the cabbage soup diet, Atkins. Yuk! No thanks! I’ll do it the healthy way, thanks! You might stick to them for a few days or weeks, and eventually will fall off the wagon and gain all of your weight back and more, leaving you equally frustrated and even further behind you goal.

If you hate exercise, my theory is that you haven’t tried every exercise or program out there to hate all forms of exercise. Start off by trying something new, and if you don’t like that, then move on to something else. For example, try a Pilates class, if that’s not for you, maybe try spinning, or even a dancing class. From experience, I swear by Zumba. It doesn’t matter what level you are at, just follow your instructors moves. The great thing about attending a Zumba class is how much fun they are and the great atmosphere. There are many classes around Manchester which are at many different levels. However check out this list, I am sure will find something that is for you:

Aqua Aerobics
Body Conditioning
Disco Dancing
Horse Riding
Ice Skating
Kick Boxing
Line Dancing
Power Walking
Weight Training

Get started today! Having an impending wedding looming is just the pressure you might need to spur you on. This in one of those many tasks you may have on your ever expanding to do list that needs to be started as early as possible. So start today!

The many benefits of losing weight and getting healthy is that with all of the extra tasks you have to manage and the extra stress, exercising can give you extra energy and not to mention the extra health benefits and help to combat stress. No matter how stressful planning a wedding might be, running on the treadmill or attending a Zumba class for an hour, can help you to de stress you and leave you feeling more calmer and in control.

It is not always about discounted designer clothes, shoes, bags or DVDs, the wedding industry offers many discounts as well, such as getting married in winter months (check out my blog entry ‘Winter Weddings’ for more information on saving money by getting married in the cooler months). However, in January you can find many weight loss related products for sale. I have already seen a few Groupon/Living Social, ect deals offering several classes or gym visits at higher end gyms for a fraction of the price, or other types of deals offering cut price membership deals already, and it’s just turned 2012.

Depending on how large your wedding budget is, you should plan to allocate some of your budget to help you achieve your new fit and toned body. This could include gym memberships, training sessions or home gym equipment. At the very least book a onetime consultation with a personal trainer to help kick start your work out regime and weight loss.  
If you can afford a personal trainer, you can’t go wrong. Especially if you meet with them weekly, more than likely you should start seeing results a lot quicker than if you were to go at it alone.

We all know what the ultimate reward is – fitting into your beautiful wedding gown – but in order to stay motivated and stay on track, we need to reward ourselves and our hard work along the way. Every time you drop a dress size, but yourself a new outfit, or something you have really wanted. This will inspire you to work hard. Do not by your reward until you have achieved your small goal first or it defeats the object. Unless it is a dress a size smaller.

Though remember, it is not just about getting fit for your wedding, it is about getting fit for life!