Saturday, 30 July 2011

Lovely... why yes you are

I'm a big perfume fan. Nothing better than spritzing your favourite scent to lift your mood. And who doesn't want to smell fabulous on their big day?

It's not a new fragrance but one of my favourite fresh, summer scents is SJP's Lovely. 
It's one of those scents that's not overpowering but not too sickly sweet. And a good spritz lingers too.

And the fact you can purchase 30ml for a mere £12.99 makes it a wedding day staple I reckon.

What about you lovelies, what's your favourite perfume?

Friday, 29 July 2011

Analyse this

 No not this dodgy film, your website. Analyse your stats peeps.

You may well have heard about Google Analytics. Chances are if you run your own business or update the website at your place of work, you'll at least be familiar with the term.

You may also (like me, I have to admit), be more familiar with the fact you should be familiar with the term than with the concept itself.

Confused yet?

Yep, me too.

It's important in life to admit defeat. Thankfully people are good at different things. And the lovely Janina over at Handpicked Hotels is definitely knowledgeable about this murky, grey area otherwise known as 'who looks at my website, and how can I use this information to my advantage'.

For part one, the intro on Google Analytics see Harlequin & Romance (and then pop back here for part 2).

Take it away Janina:

Google Analytics:
The simple guide PART 2
By Janina Downey, guest blogger, e-commerce specialist and lover of helping others.

Now the simple explanation is out of the way and what a great response from
you all that own a www. Now for the exciting stuff and analysing what lovely
online visitors help make your business succeed and how to build upon this!

Who are these people and how to get more…

In part one we established ‘what is Google Analytics’ and just how simple it is
to use this FREE tool to look at your website.

Looking at your website more in depth will help you to understand which
marketing efforts have paid off and which ones; not so well. Running your own
business or department is time consuming enough so being pro-active and
using the strategies that worked can help manage your marketing time more

Using the interesting features such as the site overlay which visually shows
you where web users click on your pages and also how many times is
interesting to placement and content.

Google Analytics gives you the big picture about your website which in turn
helps you interpret your site and add to your advertising needs. Following the
trends and patterns will help you engage more customers and focus on what
works allowing you to in turn increase awareness and sticky content to your

You can also use Google Analytics to determine which of your ads are
performing (when used in conjunction with Google AdWords, Google’s Pay-
Per-Click advertising). Google Analytics also provides shorthand information
for the non-techy user and much more in-depth info for those who are a little
more of an expert on web analytics (after all my articles you will be!).

Any questions setting up or understanding your data please just contact me,
but now I hope you are all using and understanding your website data to its
maximum potential!

Props to Janina for trying to explain to us laymen how this shizzle works. And keep your eyes peeled for more hints both here and over at H&R.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

You can do it put your back into it...go on, make your own cake stand

I found this over at Betty Bee and thought it might be worth posting and linking to because good quality, affordable cake stands can be a challenge to source sometimes.

Although I haven't tried this myself yet it looks reasonably straightforward and if you can find plates cheaply at a car boot sale or charity/vintage shop you should be able to do for under £10.

Head over to Betty Bee for the full how-to guide and if you do make one let me know how it goes. As in, is it as easy as it looks?!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Black wedding dresses

I salute anybody brave enough to rock a black wedding dress. In fact I wish more brides wore black at their wedding, it's so dramatic and glam.

Technically this is an engagement shoot, but it's pretty enough to be a wedding dress so I'm including it.

When I looked into it though, it seems it's pretty tricky to find black wedding dresses that aren't gothic. Surely there's a market for them? I know Vera Wang does a splendid black wedding dress but unless you're got that kind of budget there doesn't seem to be a lot out there. Certainly not in the UK. 

So designers are you listening? We need some classy, elegant, fun, sexy, whatever, black wedding dresses. As much variety as with the white dresses please.

Thoughts? Am I alone in this? Is this why there don't appear to be many decent black wedding dresses out there? 

Monday, 25 July 2011

Do I exist more online than in real life??

 This picture has no relevance to this post, just using it because I'd like to be 
at the seaside today because the weather is glorious.

I have to admit, before I became a wedding planner I pretty much avoided being online. Okay so I had a Facebook page but that was about it. I certainly couldn't imagine ever that they'd be a time where I'd be 'connecting' with people through so many different mediums. At the moment my online presence includes about 7 different mediums. All of which are business related (except for my personal Facebook page and although I imagine this will become about self promotion too).

So now a large part of my day starts with the checking in of all this social media forms. Which is good because it is nice to connect with people when you're technically a freelancer and work alone.

But it does make me wonder whether it's all going to implode in on itself or whether we're just going to get more and more things to sign up to. Which I generally want to because they're quite exciting, (at least at first).

If this is what we have in 2011 I wonder what will be on offer by 2015 say, not just in terms of tools for promoting our small businesses but just generally.

Currently I exist on the following sites:

Google +

Phew, exhausting. Is there anything else I've forgotten? What's your favourite online resource/tool? I think if I had to pick, it would be Pinterest, just because it's full of pretty images. It's also a useful resource for brides seeking inspiration. Kind of like the best of all the blogs.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Ridiculously easy floral photo-booth backdrop

I really dislike blogs that post D.I.Y ideas and claim they're so easy. Then when you try, and find it not so easy, you feel like a big fat failure.

This floral backdrop/wall decor really is so easy, I promise.

I saw this idea somewhere ages ago and thought it would work just as well jazzing up some dull wall space in your wedding venue or better still, as a photo booth backdrop.

This cost me around £8 to do and took about 10 minutes. Ideally you need flowers that won't wilt, especially if you're going to keep them up the duration of the wedding.

But as they're so easy to set up (literally a bit of tape, I used waterproof cloth tape), you could assign one of your 'maids, (or wedding planner) the role of holding and taping when you're ready to get your photo booth going.

I used a white wall but they'd work just as well against a variety of backgrounds (I'd like to try against brickwork one day).

And you don't need to worry about 'styling' them properly. Just bung them up in whatever haphazard way you like.

What do you think? Simple but effective, no?

For another photo booth backdrop idea see Fanning around.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Wedding cinema

One of my brides is having a wedding at home and she mentioned the idea of showing movies late into the evening. Then I found this image and realised we have to try to make it happen.

The later part of weddings can be exhausting for guests, (and the happy couple), all that merriment takes it out of you. And what better way to unwind than by reclining and watching your favourite films under the stars.

I won't mention how vital a balmy summer evening would be for this to work. Let's just pretend London weather is as sunny and reliable as say, L.A for the purpose of this post yes?

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Gothic glam engagement shoot

One of the best things about being a wedding planner & stylist is the diversity of the couples and therefore weddings I get to work on. At one time for instance this summer,  I was working on a traditional Nigerian wedding, a Jewish summer garden wedding and this delightfully dark gothic do. No way I can complain my clients are all the same.

I've been working with Alix recently on her wedding styling, and I've got to say her wedding is going to be epic. There really is no other word. And it's all going to be captured by Lisa Devlin no less.

I thought Alix & Zach's engagement shoot would be a perfect introduction to their upcoming gothic glam Victorian carnival inspired wedding.


Seriously can't wait for this wedding. I do love the pretty femininity of lots of the weddings I work with but for sheer dark glamour, this one definitely rules.

Thanks to Lisa for the images (and Lisa Brown who was the second shooter), you can see more of this shoot over at Lisa's blog.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Fanning around

Happy Monday! Here's a big bright explosion for your peepers this morning.

I'm a big fan of photo booths (see what I did there, clever no?), so when I stumbled across this I just had to share. 

There's a lot of hoopla over photo booth props (we've come along way from the humble moustache these days), with pretty much anything you can hold, sit on, eat, look at being used for a bit of photo booth action. 

This photo booth is the perfect antidote to trying to come up with original props. Just make the backdrop amazing and you don't need anything else.


These images are from the wedding of the ridiculously lovely, talented and oh so cool, LA based photographers Love Me Sailor (aka Dominique and Ron).

The fans were assembled into this display by Jeffrey of Mr.Caballero Creative who is an event and floral designer based in L.A. I like what he's done here and will be keeping my beady eye on more of his work. There is a definitely a strong connection between florals and wedding styling and quite fancy developing a sideline in floral design myself one of these days.

Anyway if you haven't already, you've got to head on over to 100 Layer Cake or the photographer Joielala Photographie's blog for their full wedding in all it's epic glory.

Thanks to Dominique for letting me show this. And I hope you folks find it as inspiring as I do. 

Thursday, 14 July 2011


Bring a little stardust to your wedding styling. What about a moon and star cut out as your photo booth? Click here for how to make yourself. 

You don't want to go overboard with the star & moon styling, just a sprinkling here and there but then it can look pretty ace...

from top left:

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

If a fairy got married...

... She would surely wear one of these ridiculously ethereal perfections...


I could cry these are so beautiful. Or stamp my feet because I'll never get to wear one.

The man behind these creations is designer Elie Saab. If you happen to read my blog Mr Saab, and want to loan me a dress if I ever get married, I'll be a happy girl indeed.

Monday, 11 July 2011

To haggle or not to haggle?

I thought I'd start the week with a contentious issue - the subject of haggling.

There are certain areas of life where haggling is okay/expected and others where it's not.

You go to a car boot sale and they say £10, you say £5 and so on.

But you go to the hairdressers and they say £40, you don't say £25. In fact, can you imagine doing that? The receptionist would look at you like you're crazy and tell you the price is £40. 

So how does this all apply in the wedding industry? Brides are constantly told to get their money's worth and try to negotiate. Which is fine but can lead to this kind of scenario:

Bride: 'How much is your XYZ service?

Wedding planner/photographer/insert any wedding professional: For that service the cost will be ABC.

Bride: I'd like to pay DEF, can you do that?

W.P: Well possibly, but it won't be the above service, it will be JKL.

Bride: But I'd like the XYZ service.

W.P: Well then I'm afraid you'll have to pay for it.

If you're not totally confused by my XYZs and so on, let me try to explain.

I am not saying that trying to get a good deal and negotiating are 'not allowed' in weddings or that it shouldn't be done, but there are ways to go about it that are fair to both parties.

If somebody enquires about a service of mine, I give them the quote based on a variety of factors. This quote is what I feel is fair to both the bride and myself. No one gets into wedding planning to get rich quick! We do it out of love, but do have to try run a business at the same time.

So if the bride tells me that's higher than she expected, I ask her what she wanted to pay. And then where possible I try to create a bespoke package that she can afford but that is financially worth me doing too. So I'll offer less hours, or less meetings, or some way to reduce the price but still be fair. Basically I'm prepared to negotiate. Up to a point.

And the same applies when approaching wedding photographers for instance. If a photographer says on their website their fee is £1800 for 7 hours, and you say you'll give them £1500, the photographer will most likely say no. And be a bit affronted. If you only have £1500, then by all means ask if they are willing to do it for 5 hours for instance.

Negotiating on price in essence is a good thing, (I do it a lot for my clients obviously), but it's the way you do it that counts, especially when it comes to individuals running their own businesses - planners, photographers, stationers etc. These people have set their prices for a reason - it's what they think is fair to both themselves and their clients - and it's important to respect that.

My advice to those dealing with hagglers - be polite and flexible where possible - but don't forget to respect yourself and your business at the same time, otherwise you'll take a job on but be resentful, and that's not worth it for anyone.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Listen to me, pool party, peeping tom...

You can't really get better names for nail polish than these Topshop delights. And delights they are for they don't chip and I've been wearing their Nails in Listen To Me for nearly a week now.

Hands down best nail varnish I've bought in a long while. And at £5 a pot rather good value for money too.  Perfect for a bride to be looking to jazz up their digits for the big day.

For my other best beauty/make up recommendation see here.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Taking the inside outside - DIY cushion covers

If you're having an outdoor wedding or want to create relaxed little pockets for people to chill out in you need some seating.

And hiring/buying furniture can cost a bomb. Which if your budget is already stretched isn't ideal.

One way to avoid this is to make your own large floor cushions. Or the cushion covers at least. I used this idea in the 70s shoot I did recently.

You can buy cheap cushion fillers easily and then you just get to choose your fabric. I bought this star fabric super cheap in Brixton (works out at £2 per cushion incidentally). But you could be a little fancier with some more luxurious fabric, whatever suits your wedding and budget.

You don't even have to be crafty, I didn't have a lot of time (and no sewing machine) so these won't impress the beady eyed stitching queen.

Imagine lots of them piled up under a tree, and your guests reclining on rugs or blankets, with lots of lanterns and candles as dusk falls and you've got yourself some cheap and easy outdoor wedding seating.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Wedding photography is like wine


A large part of being a wedding planner is helping a couple have the wedding they want. So even if a couple want something I personally wouldn't have, as long as they can afford it and it 'works', it's not my place to tell them whether they can or can't have it.

Except when it comes to wedding photography. As I'm sure my couples will attest, this is one area of wedding planning I am forceful about! Quite frankly, scrimping on wedding photography just ain't allowed.

Wedding photography is like wine. In that bad wedding photography is like a cheap, chardonnay. It seems like an okay idea at the time. You kid yourself it will be fine when you see it on the shelf and hand over your £3.99 but inevitably when you open it it's horrible and you chastise yourself for your bad decision.

Lots of people have friends who fancy themselves as amateur photographers and offer to take wedding pics as a present. Or are even inviting a professional photographer as a guest who say they'll take some photos for mates rates. And it's definitely tempting when you consider the cost of a good wedding photographer.

But, there are many reasons why I wouldn't recommend this, from having seen it ruin friendships,(seriously), to hearing of one too many people saying they wished they'd hired a pro, and a pro they weren't friends with. Or at least a pro who is there as a pro, and not a guest.

There's a whole other blog post here about friends and wedding help, which I'll do another day. This is just to say, your wedding pictures you will look at forever. So pay the maximum you can afford. For someone whose work you love. Following on from my appalling wine analogy... the chances are, if you go for the £3.99 chardonnay of wedding photography, you will know it. And probably regret it.


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