Saturday, 30 April 2011

Venetian Masquerade Ball

I have always had a fascination for Venice, with it's incredible canals and ancient buildings rising out of the water and of course the romance of the gondoliers (although there's nothing particularly romantic about the cost of these apparently for the unwary tourist!). It is a city high on my 'must visit' list and I would particularly like to go during the Carnival and attend a masquerade ball. This mood board I hope captures the opulence and fun of such an event.
Gowns: Ian Stuart
Shoes:  Aruna Seth
Masques: Masque Boutique
Cakes:  Pink Rose Cakes
Perfume Bottle Favour: Lil'Guy
Table Plan and Stationery: LilGuy

Friday, 29 April 2011

Amethyst Photography

As mentioned in a previous post, working from home I do miss out on 'office gossip', but make up for it by going onto Twitter. Not only do I get to tweet with people I now consider to be friends but I also make valuable contacts within the wedding industry and I get to introduce them to my readers here. Today I'm pleased to feature Wayne Cook from Amethyst Photography, who I consider to be a friend as well as a great photographer - so if you're in the Stockton on Tees area and need a photographer check out his work. Here he shares with us one of his favourite weddings - he sent more photos across than I asked for so that I could pick and choose from them, but I couldn't, and I make absolutely no apology for using them all!
Amethyst Photography Wedding Photography, Portrait Photography,Materinty Photography, Model Portfolios, Makeover Photoshoot, Boudoir Photography, Event Photography, Commercial Photography for the North East
This is the wedding of Claire and Andrew a couple from Billingham, who married at Judges Country Hotel in Yarm.

Claire is a senior buyer for a company and Andrew is a trainee teacher, and had been planning all aspects of the day for a couple of years.
Sadly, Claires father had passed away a few years ago, and wasn't able to walk his daughter down the aisle so she was given away by her twin brothers John and Kieron. Andrew is a bit of a sporting celebrity locally, as he plays semi professionally at football and also cricket.
The day itself was pretty cold, and Andrew and Claire, decided as it was that once in a lifetime day, they would brave the cold winds and wander around the grounds for their photographs, as Judges has many lovely areas to have shots taken, from the bridge over the lake, to a circle of thorns.
There are also many secret gardens hidden among the grounds and we explored all in our time with them.

This was quite a surreal wedding for us, as we not only knew the bride and groom and family, but also a large majority of their guests which made ordering them around for shots so much easier.

Despite the weather, everyone had a fantastic, and at times emotional day.

I'm sure you can all see why I found it impossible to chose which photos to use. I love the mix of black & white and colour and the way Wayne has captured the essence of happiness and joy without formality.

So, a fun, friendly and above all professional photography company with competitive prices! You can contact Wayne through his website, find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

One Life Ceremonies

Three years ago yesterday Mrs Lil'Guys and I tied the knot.  It was second time around for both of us and so we decided to have a civil ceremony rather than  a church wedding.  We investigated the options: expensive hotel do; register office for our area (horrific impersonal concrete office building); nearby market town register office in the old town hall on the edge of the medieval part of town; in the garden at home. In the garden at home was our first choice but sadly not to be since you can only get married at home if one half of the couple is incapacitated so as not to be able to travel.  Whilst I'm sure Mrs LG contemplated the practicalities of that (!) we settled on the register office in Horsham which at the time was in the old town hall and had a pretty garden outside for photos and a view down a Medieval road towards the church.  We were limited to 24 people in the room, which sounds a lot but really isn't when you start making a list of the people you really want to witness your vows!  After the very short ceremony (which we kind of blinked and almost missed!)  and a few photos we headed home for a reception in a marquee in the garden. We had the most memorable and fabulous day and I don't think now that we would have changed anything about it, however we did feel very restricted by numbers.  Today we welcome One Life Ceremonies to the blog with an alternative .....

One Life Ceremonies are Laurra and Maria Nalty, a mother and daughter team based in Yorkshire who like to do things a little bit differently... they write and conduct wedding ceremonies that can be held in any location, including outdoors and their aim is to create exactly the wedding ceremony that you want with no restrictions.

One Life Ceremonies - Outdoor Weddings
Your wedding day is one of the most important days in your life and the wedding ceremony is your opportunity to make commitments to one another and express your undying love in front of you family and friends - so why shouldn’t it be exactly as you want it and held exactly where you want it to be too?

Can we hold our wedding outside?

This is one of the first questions many newly engaged couples want to know. As our summers become hotter and holding an outdoor wedding becomes much more plausible the idea is high on many dream wedding lists. With America and Australia leading the way with outdoor weddings, we see countless images of beautiful ceremonies on beaches, in forests and gardens with a happy glowing couple, their hair lightly blowing in the gentle breeze... ahhhh... then we find out that England is still living in the dark ages.

Now this may come as a shock to some of you but in the UK it still remains impossible to get legally married outside. In fact you are limited solely to venues licensed for marriage, the Register Office or within a church.

So the dreams of a beautiful outdoor ceremony in the bright sunshine with butterflies fluttering by as your guests fan themselves down become relegated to a ‘oh well... it would have been nice but ..’ and the next thing you find yourself booking the local hotel wishing things could be different.  

Now they can be! Yes there is another option that allows you to hold your wedding outside and it is becoming extremely popular with many UK couples who don’t want to be restricted to a licensed indoor venue.

But how can we have an outdoor wedding?

In the UK a legal marriage can only be conducted by a Registrar or a designated religious representative and it must be performed indoors within a church or in a venue licensed for marriage. The marriage itself is a formal procedure in which a set of standard statements must be made and a Register signed, these are the only rules and there is nothing to stop you going along with your two witnesses in your jeans before your wedding to complete the legal documents.

So onto the exciting part... with the legalities out of the way this leaves you free to have exactly the wedding that you want and hold your wedding ceremony wherever and whenever you choose!

Your outdoor wedding can be traditional or completely unconventional and it can include everything a wedding should include; the giving away, personal wedding vows, poems and readings, an exchange of rings, your first kiss! 

So ok, you won’t be signing the register, but you can do everything else and it means you are totally unrestricted!

Some outdoor wedding ideas:

  • Beach wedding  
  • Wedding in a marquee
  • Wedding in an unlicensed venue
  • Wedding at home or in a garden
  • Wedding in an unusual venue or location
  • Wedding the grounds of a hotel or the hotel itself
  • Wedding in a castle
  • Wedding in a tipi tent

One Life Ceremonies are highly regarded for their personal service and attention to detail and will work with you to create the outdoor wedding ceremony you’ve always dreamed of. They also place no time restrictions on the ceremony, meaning they won’t be watching the clock if the bride is a bit late! They can also help you to find the perfect location to hold your outdoor wedding if you’re stuck and need some ideas.

You can contact Maria or Laurra by phone ((0113) 868 0072), via their website, by email, follow them on Twitter, and Facebook

Photography by Olivia Brabbs 

If you think it should be legal to get married wherever and whenever you chose why not sign The Any Campaign petition and help to get the law changed!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Happy Wedding Anniversary

Today is our 3rd wedding anniversary. I'm sure there are many businesses out there which wouldn't be as successful if there was no one 'behind the scenes' doing things like building a website, setting up a blog etc. Mine is one of them. I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank publicly Mr LilGuys for all the hard work he has put in re-designing our website, setting up this blog (which I frequently hijack!) and our Facebook page, especially as he is working hard to get his own business going. He deserves special thanks also for taking on two teenage boys as part of the package - they are very good as teenagers go, but it's still a daunting task taking on someone else's children!

I sincerely hope that our wedding anniversary this year is less eventful than last year. I had just arrived at work when I got a phone call from the school to say that my youngest son had 'had a slight accident' - their idea of a 'slight accident' and mine clearly differ as when I arrived at school (following a faster than normal drive up the A23) it was to be greeted by the sight of a paramedic ambulance! The school nurse said that she thought that he'd probably sprained his wrists (having fallen off the school stage). Seven hours later Toby had both arms in plaster (yep, broken, not sprained) and 8 or 9 x-rays later the hospital were happy that he hadn't in fact cracked his skull open!
So, much love and thanks go to Mr LG - and Toby, please stay out of trouble this year!
Best Photo of the day
Our favourite photo of the whole day was taken under the old tree by the pond at the front of the house - what it doesn't show is that Dean was holding onto me to help me as my heels were sinking into the grass which resembled a sponge after 3 weeks of rain!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Made Up For You

, There are many things that go towards making your wedding the best day of your lives and memorable for all who attend.  One thing you want to be absolutely certain of is looking your best and feeling your best.  All the details, large and small, can take much time, energy and mental stamina and can be costly, so the last thing you want is to look less than your best in the photographs.  We've had words of advice in earlier blog posts regarding enjoying having your photos taken and of preparing your skin, hands & feet, mind & body so that you are relaxed and ready for your big day. 

Two weeks before our wedding I was let down by my hairdresser skipping the country and not telling me - I found out when I turned up for my pre-wedding trim and trial!  On hearing this a friend of mine sent her daughter, who is qualified as a hair and make up artist, to our house early on the morning of our wedding.  Having thought I was going to be doing my own hair and make up I can't tell you how wonderful it was to have it done for me by someone who knew what she was doing.  She helped to keep me calm, made some good suggestions, gave me confidence, and above all gave me a flawless and natural look which lasted all day. Today we welcome Made Up For You who can help to make your wedding day a very special occasion.

Made Up For You is a Bridal & Special Occasion makeup business owned by Natasha Lythe and Wendy Fensome (mother and daughter) who are BTEC qualified in makeup artistry. 

We started the business in August 2010 but spent more time advertising, getting ourselves noticed at wedding fayres and creating a dynamic website rather than concentrating on bringing in the money for 2011. This has helped greatly and, with the added support of a Facebook profile, business page and group alongside Twitter, we are now widely recognised with enquiries and bookings coming in at a faster pace for the next couple of years. Natasha is based in Westgate-on-Sea, Thanet and Wendy is based in Ashford so this enables us to cover the whole of Kent without passing high travel costs onto our customers. 

We are always looking for ways to develop the business and to provide a better service which is why Natasha has now joined Mary Kay Cosmetics as a Beauty Consultant. This will benefit our customers with the same quality skincare and cosmetics but with the added bonus of being able to order the products used via ourselves. Other products used also vary in price range and we tailor make bridal packages at a discount so that we can keep our costs affordable to everyone. So whether you are planning a special night out or your ‘big day’, you can rely on us. We are ‘Made Up For You’!

You can contact Natasha and Wendy through their website, join them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Peacock Pavilions

Today is a beautiful Spring day, much like April 26th in 2008 when Mr LilGuys and I tied the knot. We'd had weeks of rain, the ground was like a sponge and squelched rather alarmingly when you walked on it, the marquee guys got a bit damp as they transformed our back garden the day before the wedding. We were fairly philosophical about it, after all if you plan a wedding in April in the UK you have to be prepared for the worst! 

I was up at around 5.30am and from the bathroom window I could see the day beginning to dawn, with a clear sky and a golden glow on the marquee, the rain held off all day for us and it was a beautifully warm day. More about our own wedding another time as today's blog post is about honeymoons, or more specifically a suggestion for a honeymoon destination if you're still struggling with that one. Morocco is a destination I have yet to visit but have always wanted to, and even more so now after reading about Peacock Pavilions! I'm sure I would fall in love with it just as Chris and Maryam did.

A tale of an Arabian Honeymoon

A row of fountains amidst a garden of roses lead you to the treasures of Peacock Pavilions.  Everything you see here has a story to tell. Place yourself into the hands of the Pavilions’ attentive staff and let your honeymoon magic unfold.  
Enter into the exotic dining tent that provides the perfect backdrop to the scrumptious banquet. Of course your candle-light dinners will not only be a feast for the eyes. 

Peacock Pavilions is nestled in an olive grove and you will soon feel like the pashas of this peaceful oasis. Enjoy a private screening of Casablanca in the outdoor cinema, complete with popcorn and hot chocolate (or champagne, for the extra spark).
Should you ever grow tired of the glistening waters of the pool, the romantic fireplaces and the cocktails on your private roof terrace, then the wonders of Marrakech are all waiting for you.

Your taste buds will go wild on the Djema Al Fnaa square or at a Palace Restaurant where your dinner will be accompanied by belly dancing.

Shop for massage oils and spices in the local souks, and let the scent of tajines and kebabs lead you back to the zesty circus in the heart of the medina.

Let the world go by as you relax in a Hammam or join in on the adventure, be it on the back of a camel or gliding over the red city in a hot air balloon.

Coming to an exotic location means scintillating all of your senses and Peacock Pavilions and Marrakech will dazzle them all.

Visit the website for more information on staying at Peacock Pavilions, email for further information or reservations. You can also find them on Twitter and Facebook, and read Maryam's blog.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


Mrs LilGuys fills up our Sky + recorder with many different programs to do with weddings - apparently this is 'work' (much like all the wedding magazines piled up in her office!), and I must confess that for some obscure reason I do sometimes sit and watch them with her!. From all these programs it shows that there are very different budgets and very different priorities for each wedding. Some couples go overboard on the venue, some on the outfits and some on the flowers. Others prefer to cut back on one area to concentrate on another. We are incredibly lucky where we live in that we are surrounded by fields, hedgerows and footpaths which are filled with a great variety of wild flowers and greenery. We (Mrs LG!) planted loads of bulbs in advance of our home based wedding in 2008 and they still flower each year at more or less the right time in a burst of bluebells and other similar coloured blooms. Budget was priority for us in all areas, but we managed to have a lovely variety of flowers without breaking the bank, partly from our home grown blooms and partly because we are lucky enough to have a very good friend who is a florist.  Our guest today is Chloe Plester from BareBlooms with some advice and ideas on budget flowers for your big day........

I think the general trend at the moment for 'Vintage', 'Shabby Chic' and 'Homemade' is filtering into the floral trends, coupled with the state of the economy and everyone trying to save money, natural, home grown British flowers seem to be appearing more frequently then the over stylised imported exotic flowers. This trend is also environmentally friendly (which is a bonus) all great for anyone trying to save money!

So why not skip the florist (I am doing myself out of money here!) and arrange yourself or get friends and family to help? If you plan far enough in advance you could even get friends and family to help grow too? Or find a company such as BareBlooms that grow themselves or source locally from their (in the process of being formed) ‘Flower Cooperative’.

When working with flowers that have been grown locally and naturally in this country one really can't go wrong. The less fuss and arranging the better which is perfect for the 'do-it-yourself' wedding.

My tips:

- Take a walk along a native British Hedgerow for inspiration. Look how nature does it. This random informality with lots of greenery is what one is looking to replicate to achieve a natural look


Ideas for cheap table centres:

- Check out junk shops, car boots, etc for old bottles and mustard jars. Or even recycle tin cans or jam jars, tied with pretty ribbon or jute twine. These make simple 'shabby chic' table centres. Their small size mean they are easily and cheaply filled with simple posies of sweet peas for example or other British garden flowers. In my opinion much prettier than formal oasis filled exotic blooms. Add some bunting to your hall and you have the perfect 'village fete' style reception, perfectly on trend at the moment.

- You don't have to have cut flowers at all, how about a very simple pot with one of your favourite plants inside? Something simple and very English such as a native primrose or viola??

Many thanks to Chloe for sharing this budget buster with us.  You can contact her through her website as well as finding her on Facebook  and you can follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Does Budget have to mean 'Cheap'?

When I first started my business I wanted to create high quality and beautiful invitations for couples who are not as handy at crafts- and I still do. I soon recognised that not everyone can afford to pay for handmade stationery, but it took me some time to come up with an alternative. Because whilst I saw the need for budget stationery I could not get my head around the fact that all the budget ranges I saw were 'cheap' in a bad way.

The first thing you normally see for someone's wedding is their wedding invitation. If it is badly printed on thin rough card it does not create a good first impression. How does it make you feel to receive such an invitation? Do you feel that it's a shame to have settled for poor quality? Are you less likely to make an effort on the day of the wedding with how you dress? I readily admit that I'm something of an invitation snob! I'm in the lucky position of making gorgeous stationery for people and of having access to the best materials. If I receive an invitation, however plain, on a good quality card where care has been taken over the printing then I am more likely to be excited about the thought of attending the event than if it is something very slapdash on thin card.

I have been on wedding forums where many brides-to-be seem to rave about certain on-line printed wedding invitations, relishing the fact that they can sometimes get their invitations free and they just have to pay for the postage. I was also shown an invitation to one of my b2b's from a friend of hers which was clearly printed at home or work where the picture on the front and the writing inside hadn't even been centred properly! Whilst the days of having a stack of invitations printed on extraordinarily thick card propped up on the mantle piece have long gone (think Jeeves and Wooster and The Mitford Girls!) there is something rather nice about receiving a pretty or plain invitation to stand on a shelf, one that is robust enough to stand up on it's own!

Do you think that budget has to mean 'cheap' in the wrong way? Not everything that costs a lot of money is necessarily the best quality. Some suppliers put a premium price on anything to do with a wedding, which we discovered when we were getting married 3 years ago, which is quite wrong and doesn't happen with us - after all I want happy customers and repeat customers (birthday celebrations, parties, christenings, etc.,) which I'm not going to get if I've charged through the nose on the first job!

Our budget range  combine a very reasonable price with outstanding practicality and quality. They combine invitation, information or map for guests, RSVP card and envelope all in one, on a gorgeous 290gsm card - we currently offer Candlelight Cream and Marble White.
The invitation details are printed on the top portion underneath the 'envelope flap', the border colour can be changed to match the colour scheme of your celebration. The wording is printed in a dark charcoal which is classier and easier on the eye than hard black. On the next portion of the card you can have additional details that guests may need to know or a map printed, or even a picture if you wish (again the border colour can be changed), and the lower portion is the RSVP card which is perforated for easy detachment. 

On the reverse of the invitation portion the name and address of the guest is printed, and on the reverse of the RSVP card the return name address of the host(s) is printed. All your guests have to do is to complete the RSVP details, detach it, stick on a postage stamp and post it back to you. Experience shows that the easier you make it for your guests to reply the quicker you will get them back and you will have fewer stragglers to chivvy along!

Folded and ready to post!
The invitation is folded up into itself, with the RSVP card inside and the guest name and address on the outside and then sealed with either envelope tape or a clear seal on which you can have your initials printed if you like.

For as little as £2.80 per invitation plus a one off set up fee of £10.00 you can have fully personalised invitations sent direct by us to your guests. I think this is good value for money and many professionals have agreed, and proof that Budget does not have to mean 'cheap'!  If you would like to see and feel the quality of these for yourself please go onto our website and request a free sample today! 

Monday, 11 April 2011

Julieann Beads

,There are so many different styles of jewellery to choose from for your wedding - every time I see gorgeous new and beautiful items Mr LilGuys runs and hides the credit cards.  The new Verity Fleur bridal jewellery range from Julieann Beads are incredibly pretty and deserve to be worn many times, not just for your wedding day!

julieann beads logo
The vintage inspired Verity wedding collection from Julieann Beads remains extremely popular. Brides seeking nostalgic and romantic wedding jewellery just love Julieann Beads designs hand created from the finest Swarovski sparkling clear crystals and glittering diamante.

For 2011 Julieann beads are introducing a new Verity Fleur bridal jewellery and wedding hair accessories range; right on trend for vintage inspired chic with a huge retro feel. Hand created from gorgeous Swarovski diamante encrusted filigree in a stunning flower design featuring sparkling clear crystals and dainty silver lined glass beads. A gorgeous Verity Fleur bridal pendant necklace, deluxe wedding grips and pretty combs for this season’s latest hair style trends all link in with Julieann Beads best selling Verity bridal collection

Verity Fleur Pendant £35.00
Verity Fleur Comb £10.00 
Verity Fleur Comb £35.00
The amazing array of beautiful designs, sizes and colour options means that there is something for everyone; exquisite bridal style at highly affordable prices; Julieann Beads at their best.

“Vintage inspiration is still one of the hottest bridal design trends this season with brides loving our Verity wedding jewellery. Feedback already suggests that our new Verity Fleur range is set to become a bestseller” says Julieann Bird owner and designer at Julieann Beads. The Julieann Beads new Verity Fleur bridal jewellery collection was officially be launched on Friday 4th March 2011 at the NEC, National Wedding Show.

You can view all of Julieann's collections on her website, find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.  Now, where did Mr LG stash the credit cards ...........?  

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Energise Weddings

As you probably all know by now, Mrs LilGuys is something of a magpie and loves a bit of sparkle!  There are many talented people in the wedding industry making many different styles.  This week Mrs LG would like to introduce Energise Weddings, who produce lovely jewellery for your wedding day, your prom or for attending a wedding.

Energise Weddings

Energise are Sarah Sutcliffe and Sue Corke.  Our business started out as an alternative health business, with both of us training in various therapies and also selling a range of products both online and at fairs. In particular we worked with the health benefits of crystals, designing sterling silver and gemstone jewellery.

In 2008 Sarah's now sister in law was struggling to find jewellery for her bridesmaids. They were wearing chocolate brown dresses (2 different styles) and had burnt orange gerbera flowers.  She asked us to make something for them and we came up with two designs, using the same beads to tie the two dresses and the colours together.

Since our first taste of the wedding market we have not looked back and now design jewellery, headwear, button holes, bouquets and table decorations using Swarovski crystals and pearls and glass beads.

Our main passion is our bespoke service.  There is nothing more satisfying than working with a bride to design the perfect pieces for her big day. 

We also have a range of ready to wear collections – well we don’t want to waste the fabulous designs that our brides don’t pick! These can be ordered in any colour combination to suite any wedding.

Where brides are local we will meet up with them to discuss ideas and if possible try them on with the dress (any excuse to try on the dress again!) but our service can be provided by phone and e-mailFor a no obligation consultation please contact us via our website or by ringing 07925 057555.

You can also join the girls on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.