Thursday, 31 May 2012

Jubilee Weekend Caption

So, we have a lovely long weekend coming up. What have you all got planned? Whether or not you're into the Royal Jubilee I'm sure most people will welcome a bit of a break.

Over on our Facebook page we have a little caption competition. Bingo is probably the cheekiest of the LGs and certainly the one most likely to get himself into a bit of a situation!
If you're on Facebook then head over there and leave your caption - would appreciate a 'Like' and for you to Share it too, or if you're not on Facebook then leave a comment for us here.

Here's hoping everyone has a fabulous weekend - I'm looking forward to seeing the Flotilla on Sunday.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

I Love Greens

Ok, not all of us like fruit and veg and it can be hard to stick to a healthy diet, but in preparation for a big event it can be especially important, as Nicola Ragon explains ...
How to ‘stress-less’ as a bride-to-be…..
As a bride-to-be (and a three times bridesmaid) I know only too well how, during all the wedding preparations, the pressure can mount until the word ‘stress’ doesn’t even touch how you’re feeling!  Most people just accept that this as par for the course, unless you’ve managed to delegate everything to a professional wedding planner (I wish!) or you happen to be super chilled out (I’m not!).  But as my professional head keeps telling me, by making some simple changes to our diet and lifestyle, we can help the body feel more in control when under pressure and actually reduce the feelings of stress.  And when I practice what I preach I feel so much better!

Stress isn’t always caused by one huge upsetting event in your life.  It can come about after an accumulation of small every day, not necessarily negative, events.  For example having the constant pressure of decision making, even for a happy event, can cause feelings of stress for some people.  Our different personalities have quite a bearing on what we are able to cope with.  Other common stressors during wedding prep include trying to lose weight (both the physical stress on the body as well as the mental torture if it’s not done properly!), time pressures, money worries, guest list issues etc. etc. Stressful events in themselves aren’t a bad thing; we are designed to cope with life’s ups and downs.  Unfortunately, sometimes when the stressorsare relentless our bodies just respond in the wrong way and it is this response and the diseases that stem from it that causes the problem.  Making sure the body is well nourished and rested can help to reduce these effects.

We’ve all experienced butterflies in our tummy and that urgent need to rush to the toilet; that is a direct effect of stress hormones, the ones we release when we are feeling nervous, frightened or under pressure. It’s what we called the fight or flight response and it’s a response to an immediate stressor.  Traditionally this would have been a big grizzly bear eyeing you up for lunch; for us that moment before walking down the aisle will probably cause the same response.  It’s the body’s way of getting ready for action by increasing heart rate, mobilising energy stores, increasing blood pressure and shutting down non-essential functions like digestion.  Now the problem is we’re not going to respond by running away at speed or fighting the vicar or registrar – well I hope not anyway – so all those hormones build in the body.

If the intense stress carries on over the longer term we continue to release the stress hormone cortisol and out body starts using up vital nutrients just to keep going and to produce these hormones.  You might feel like you’re coping but may also experience insomnia, headaches, anxiety.  Your metabolism and normal body functions are disrupted because you’re constantly producing these stress hormones.

Then finally, after a period of time exposed to constant stressors, we might reach the exhaustion stage, where our bodies just can’t produce the stress hormones in the levels needed.  We feel exhausted and may experience depression, low sex drive (certainly not what you want in the build-up to the most romantic day of your life), frequent infections and even changes in your periods and hormone levels.  Everything becomes just too much for the body.

Typically, someone who is stressed, struggling to cope and perhaps not realising it will….
  • drink alcohol to relax and send them to sleep, but the sleep isn't quality sleep
  • drink coffee in the morning to get them going after the poor sleep
  • have a cigarette to calm nerves after all the caffeine
  • eat stodgy comfort food for lunch
  • have a bar of chocolate mid-afternoon to get over the 4 o'clock slump
  • dodge the gym because they are too tired after work
  • reach for the take-away menu because the thought of deciding what to cook is overwhelming and they are starving

All of these things form a vicious cycle giving you a boost of energy followed by a slump, then requiring another boost of energy.  And they make things worse.  They also tend to encourage weight gain, poor mood and dull skin and hair - the exact things you don’t want as a bride!

Now being aware of stressors and the effects they have is the first step in being able to cope better.  And other than trying to reduce the stressors, the next step is trying to strengthen the body to prevent any negative effects. A well-nourished and healthy individual can cope with most things thrown at them!

Blood sugar balance – this is probably the most important thing to think about when trying to cope with stress. The body interprets imbalanced blood sugar levels as a stressor. When we eat carbohydrates this is digested and absorbed as glucose, a type of sugar.  Now refined carbohydrates like white bread, white pasta and sugar are absorbed very quickly because they don’t take long to digest.  This causes our blood sugar levels to rise very high, very quickly.  The body detects this and releases a hormone called insulin to remove this sugar and put it into storage but it panics because there is so much sugar in the blood and releases too much insulin.  This sends our blood sugar levels plummeting as too much sugar is taken from the blood.  It’s at this stage that we get the shakes, fatigue and cravings for sugar/carbs and other stimulants. So aim keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the day by eating a good mix of complex carbohydrates, protein and good fats.

Avoid stimulants (normal tea, coffee, coke) – these give an instant energy boost but reduce energy levels in the long term.Caffeine elevates the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin, and over stimulation can lead to irritability and a lack of concentration – the same symptoms as stress!  If you have to have coffee in the morning make sure it’s after breakfast.

Limit alcohol - not only does it interfere with good sleep but it depletes important nutrients like B vitamins required for energy production.  The next morning you’ll feel even more tired. 

Regular exercise – cardio work will use up those stress hormones to restore balance in the body.  Stretching and breathing exercises like yoga and Pilates will encourage you to slow down and relax.  Happy hormones will also be released so you are guaranteed to end up feeling happier.

Planning – the absolute key to making good choices during stressful periods is planning. That means making a shopping list, knowing what you will cook each evening, taking a packed lunch and always having the healthiest snacks available.

And finally…..

46% of women over-eat when stressed, compared to 17% of men!
And women are more likely to suffer from stress related conditions than men!
So as you can see it’s even more important for us women to take control when it comes to managing stress!  If you are struggling with stress why not consider visiting a qualified nutritional therapist to help you find a balance through diet, lifestyle and supplements (if necessary)?  If you can support your body you will stay happy and healthy - happy wedding planning!!

Now pass me the camomile tea!

To find out more about the services Nicola offers visit her website, find her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Planned for Perfection

Many people might think that hiring a wedding planner is just another expense on top of everything else for your big day. However wedding planners very often offer a range of services from full wedding planning to supplier sourcing or on the day co-ordination, and can sometimes save you money in the long run.

UK wedding planning company, Planned for Perfection has won the national award in the Best Wedding Planner (independent) category at The 2012 Wedding Industry Awards. The 2012 Wedding Industry Awards took place recently in London “recognising and rewarding excellence in the wedding industry.” Judges included Annabel Beeforth of prestigious wedding blog, Love My Dress, Editor of You & Your Wedding, Miranda Eason and Sky News Presenter, Sarah Hewson, along with an array of industry experts.

The award was presented to company owner, Jane Riddell, after a panel of industry experts and celebrity judges deemed the planning service to be the best in the country, based on feedback and votes from happy customers.
Planned for Perfection has been making dream wedding days a reality for six years. The company’s mission statement is: ““To provide a personal and flexible approach to wedding planning by helping couples to create their perfect day – with years of invaluable experience, every wedding really is PLANNED FOR PERFECTION….Affordable, Award Winning Wedding Planning!”

Company owner, Jane Riddell says: “I’m absolutely thrilled that Planned for Perfection has been recognised as a standard for excellence in the wedding industry. The fact that the decision was based solely on the feedback and votes from our clients is an incredible validation of the hard work we put in on a daily basis, and makes this award something to really be proud of. Reading the customer feedback was actually a very emotional and rewarding experience in itself, to win the best in the south west award was an honour but to win the national award was an amazing bonus.”

Jane’s extensive background in hotel senior management more than prepared her for founding Planned for Perfection six years ago, when her passion for weddings and events became a full-time occupation, and has earned her a coveted UKAWP (UK Alliance of Wedding Planners) membership. 

Jane feels it’s her ability to connect with couples and to deliver their dream day that has earned Planned for Perfection this latest award. She says: “The most important thing about planning someone else’s wedding is to make it theirs. It’s about being able to read people and understand their tastes and personalities. The wedding should say a lot about who our clients are as a couple and how they feel about each other, and there’s a lot of skill involved in narrowing down a list of suppliers that a couple will fall in love with.”

“We’re also very flexible and offer a range of packages to suit different budgets and needs. Our clients often give feedback about how personal our service is, whether it’s a full planning package, the finishing touches or on-the-day coordination.” Jane adds: “Couples need to have confidence that they’re going to have the day they want, without all the hassle of planning. I truly believe that a wedding planner isn’t a luxury; it can actually be a necessity for people with busy lives and a budget to stick to. Planned for Perfection has a policy of never working for commission from suppliers, we make sure our couples benefit from any savings. Instead we have a great network of contacts and we short list based on that’s right for each client.”

You can contact Jane through her website, find her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Yes, size DOES matter!

I'm talking about font size here everyone, amongst other things! I recently had a call from a b2b who was looking for a stationer to rescue her after being badly let down by another company. She had received the invitations and was pleased with them apart from the fact that the envelopes were not quite big enough to allow them to be sealed normally as there was a large bow across the front of the invitations, and the flaps had to be taped down leaving a very inelegant bulky item to be posted. This leaves me posing the question of why a stationer would go to the trouble of hand making each invitation only to have it forced into an envelope which is clearly not man enough for the job - I want my bespoke and handmade work to arrive with the invitee looking as good as when it left my office not crushed and crumpled, and if I were buying a product that had been carefully handmade and this was reflected in the price I would expect it to arrive looking good!

But then things got worse in that she kept having to chase for other items she had paid in full for such as the Order of Service booklets and the Post Box. When they did finally arrive the poor bride found that she could barely read the text as it was in such a small font. Now, she is young and in good health and had problems reading the text, so imagine how some of the guests whose eyesight was not so good may have struggled with using the service sheets. At most weddings there are generally older family members and those with less than perfect eyesight, and us ladies especially after a while primping and getting ready for the day don't want to be struggling with putting glasses on and off during the service and messing up our hair/hat/fascinator! 

I've seen and printed out the pdf version of the Order of Service that she was emailed to proof and it prints fine on A4 but when the A5 booklets came through the font size was around half the size of that in the pdf - I suspect that this was done purely to allow all the text to fit on three pages instead of working on the text to make it flow properly over four pages. I personally feel that this was a very sloppy and lazy solution to a problem, and that it is the job of the stationer to ensure that the text looks good, is legible, and flows correctly. Furthermore it is the job of the stationer to advice the client - if the client chooses to go ahead without taking advice then so be it, but if I feel that the job is not being done properly then I will say so, after all it's my reputation on the line!

Order of Service sheets are hard work, there is no getting away from it, that's why most people prefer to pay someone with experience of them to do the job, but if a company can't be bothered to do it properly then they shouldn't be offering the service in the first place. I always make sure that I tell clients how the pdf files are saved (e.g. A4 landscape) so that they can print them out and see properly how the text looks - a proof is not just for checking spellings and grammar! Where possible I also send or deliver a hard copy of the document fully made up.

Does this sound like a rant? Yes? Good, because you're more likely to remember it! The good news for this lovely bride is that we have managed to rescue the situation and the fresh Order of Service booklets are now ready, the Post Box has been rescued and other on the day stationery are well under way.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


How you get to the church and/or reception venue is an important part of the planning process for your wedding. Unless you know someone who has the perfect car for you to use then it can be a daunting process to find your ideal transport. This week Nigel from Wedcars tells us how his business grew and gives some valuable tips when choosing your transport.
The Wedding Car Hire Directory

Wedcars was started in 2003 with two classic cars. The initial remit of the business was the enjoyment of sharing a passion for classic cards and to allow the cards to 'earn their keep'.

The  number of bookings grew steadily, through the website, word of mouth, and campaigns with wedding outfitters.

Over the years we have received a great many enquiries for vehicles that we did not own, and some that we could not source. It became apparent that a great many couples were searching for some very specific wedding transport and having difficulty finding it.

In 2010 we started development work on a new website that would bring a new and fresh approach to the world of wedding transport hire.
Why is it different? Well, drawing on the many enquiries we receive it became obvious that couples don't want to be confronted by a list of supplier websites that make them do all the work in terms of searching each one in case the vehicle they want is listed. We therefore decided to put the vehicle at the centre of the process and allow customers to search for a wedding car based on any combination of country, make and colour.
For example, you want to find services in Derbyshire, you may be unsure of the vehicle you want, but you have decided it must be blue. Simply select Derbyshire from the map or dropdown, select blue and you will be presented with blue vehicles available in Derbyshire, simple and effective. From there you can then click on the thumbnail image to view further images of this vehicle and see any other offerings from this supplier.
Now the happy couple can simply fill in the form and send a message directly to that supplier who will then contact them to discuss their reuirements.

We hope that your readers will agree "That's an easy way to find your ideal wedding transport".

Here are a few tips to help you get the best out of your wedding transport:-
  • Always ask to see wedding cars before you book. Make sure you are happy with condition of the vehicles.
  • Ensure that the vehicle will meet your needs in term of access and comfort, particularly if the style of your dress is full.
  • Remember to liaise with your provider if you require any photo stops en-route.
  • Think about the timings, providers will usually offer advice on journey times, remember wedding cars generally travel more slowly.
  • The very important issue of hair/head dress! If you are considering an open top vehicle think about any issues with the weather and the distance to travel.
  • Does the provider have public liability insurance?
  • Ensure that your wedding car provider has agreed to any specific requests, such as a particular colour theme.
  • Clearly understand what decorations are included
  • How much is the deposit and when is the balance due?
  • Be sure that you understand how long you have the use of the wedding cars, and what for.
  • What happens if the car has a breakdown?
  • What happens if you cancel?
We hope you have enjoyed this insight into the world of the wedding car.

Visit the Wedcars Website and try it out for yourselves!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Hen House

Not all hen parties have to involve 'L' plates and pink sparkly deelieboppers! If you're looking for something a bit different then the Hen House can help you to find a suitable property and has suggestions for activities too.

The Hen House is run by a Devon based partnership Jill Nielson and Judy Lawson. Already running two other successful sites, Last Minute Cottages and Big Cottages, this site was set up partly by suggestions from advertisers on our other sites and partly because we felt there were very few web sites for the discerning visitors, providing accommodation at the higher end of the market for those who want to organise a hen party in beautiful accommodation and with a range of facilities and activities to choose from.

We have kept the site as simple and straightforward as possible. You can visit every venue advertised from a range of regions in the UK and we are now adding properties in Europe. We have asked owners to let you know what they have to offer on site as well as what is available nearby, so that you can make an informed choice depending upon your budget and what you would like to organise to do during your stay. The properties we have to show you are all owned and run by people who wish to provide you with the best.

Venues to suit all needs, tastes and all ages! We are not an agency, enquiries and bookings are made directly with the property owners.The advantage of contacting the owners direct is that they can give you lots of help with local facilities and services and what the venue has to offer your party. 

Not only do we offer fabulous properties we also have great hen party ideas pages;
Outdoor Activities; for the active hens,
Catering: for that wonderful meal you can all share and remember,
Entertainment; pottery painting, cupcake parties, relaxing spa treatments, naked butlers (well not quite!), cocktail making and  more!
Little Extras; hen party bags, games and balloons to mention but a few.

So, all in all, The Hen House offers a complete package to make your hen weekend one to remember and one that is taylor-made to just how you want it! You are in charge!

Take a look and begin your journey to the perfect hen weekend!
You can visit The Hen House website, find them on Facebook, and follow Jill on Twitter.