Wedding Dress ideas on the High Street

Just happened to be hurrying through the Arndale Centre in Manchester the other day and noticed some great dresses in Monsoon.  So having a few events coming up this summer I thought I would take a look.

There were some really lovely wedding dresses in there.  Fabulous beaded stuff and very pretty.  Certainly as lovely as some of the dresses I’ve seen with designer names attached. 

I didn’t look at the price tag though. They won’t be dead cheap but they won’t be a hideous price either compared to the prices in some of the specialist shops.

Go upstairs and have a look round – there was a very helpful assistant in there too.   There’s also another Monsoon on King Street in Manchester too.

Whilst I’m talking about fashion bargains –  if you like the ditsy little pumps that are ‘in’ at the moment pop into Clarks.  Now… my mate Jane ridicules me because I wouldn’t normally touch a pair of Clarks….however, I do keep an open mind and often pop in to have a look and check out whether they have forsaken the Cornish Pasty look. (Not me at all).  I spied a pair there which were really dinky, beige patent numbers going for about £45 where I’ve seen pumps which aren’t as well designed going for upwards of £75.

Check it out.

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Wedding cakes

dsc_32701Just did a wedding yesterday where the cake  was made by the mother of the bride.

Louise's Mum made and decorated this funky little number

Louise's Mum made and decorated this funky little number

This is my most favourite type of cake – because it has been made with love.

Louise and Darren had a really fabulous cake as you can see.  Jan and Darren Zemlik who got married about a year ago also had a great cake – again made by Jan’s mum.  Both Mums have truly great cake decorating skills – one with sugarpaste flowers the other with fondant icing modelling.

dsc_32712

When you have decorating skills on this level why would you spend such a huge amount of money on a wedding cake? 

Well the answer is that lots of people simply don’t have the skills to decorate a cake with such professionalism.  The finish on both these cakes are tremendous  and it does take either a lot of natural ability or a lot of practice to get it right. Also required is quite a bit of equipment to do it properly (I did a cake decorating course in a previous life so I really do know what I am talking about).

Firstly what you need is a really good cake maker because it doesn’t matter what the cake looks like, if its inedible its a total waste of money.   So make sure you taste some of the samples that are usually on offer.

Secondly, be prepared to spend more money on what I would call classic decoration techniques with royal icing and sugar paste flowers etc. than for the fondant icing that you can roll and mould into little figures. 

On a purely personal level this is the type of cake decoration I prefer. It looks more delicate, more finished, more skilled in presentation.  But you should be prepared to pay a big price for this skill because it takes a huge amount of time.  Many, many man hours will be spent on that sort of decoration and you should be prepared to pay for this.  Much more so than with fondant icing.

It is probably also more suited to fruit cake recipes.  The fruit cake is notoriously less popular than sponge, carrot or chocolate cake – I happen to love it but I’m in the minority.  The number of weddings I have photographed where the vast majority of a rich fruit cake is left at the end of the night is untrue.  But remember you can’t adhere to tradition and keep the top layer for the first Christening if you have a sponge cake.  (Then again lots of couples already have children by the time they marry so that tradition has been blown out of the window anyhow!)

Another real favourite is the chocolate cake which was very fashionable a couple of years ago,  and one of the loveliest I saw was by ChoccyWoccyDooDah – it will have cost an absolute fortune but it was a showstopper.

The fondant icing variety is not my personal favourite. It does depend on who is doing it though.  What you need to look out for is a really great, smooth finish without lumps and bumps or raggedy bits.  It does allow for  wacky colours too whereas you are  limited with royal icing to pastels.   

Another option which I saw  about 2 or 3 years ago was a magnificent Croquembouche – the french style wedding cake which is really a profiterole tower.  Cover it in spun sugar, and beautiful sugar flowers and it looks truly amazing and it also can fulfill the role of your pudding too.

Finally your other option is to purchase a plainly iced cake either fruit or sponge, from somewhere like M&S, Sainsbury’s or Waitrose and get your florist to create a floral arrangement to go on the top of it.  Its a budget solution to what can often be a big expense – but make sure that you don’t blow what you’ve saved by paying the florist a fortune to create the finishing flourish.

Ultimately its a bit like photography – lots of people think that they can be photographers or cake decorators.  I mean…how difficult can it be?!! The reality is that unless you absolutely know that you have the necessary skills don’t even consider it – hire a professional.

Here endeth the lesson!

Yvette and Yvonne X

When I visited the Lytham Hall wedding fair recently I caught up with a lady that I met at a lunch a while ago (I am that lady that lunches!!)

Yvette makes great jewellery for weddings although she didn’t necessarily intend it to be that way.  But her necklaces and bracelets are absolutely ideal for either a very sophisticated or a very funky bride.  Or both – one doesn’t necessarily exclude the other. 

It is only since January that she and her partner, Yvonne, have started to make tiaras.  The pieces are refreshingly different to the standard stuff that you see at wedding fairs.

Hopefully we’re going to do some photography for her in the future but I don’t have anything to show you yet.  However, when I get a chance to link you into her website, which she has yet to get sorted, then I will do and you can see for yourself.

The jewellery is very funky – lots of pearl beads and antiquey bits all put together in a sort of muddled kind of way that looks very exuberant, and lush.  If jewellery can be exuberant and lush! 

You need to be a quite outgoing person to wear it and I don’t think Yvette and Yvonne would mind me saying that it makes quite a statement.   Delicate, retiring and shy it definitely isn’t so if you don’t want to be the centre of attention then it probably isn’t for you. 

One thing to bear in mind though – if you are getting married you’re going to be the centre of attention so you might as well do it with a bit of flair!

Yvette’s email is info@yvettex.co.uk and her telephone number is 07876 403303.

Blogs – now lets be totally honest

Just a word about blogs.

As a bride or groom looking at a wedding supplier blog such as this one , do you ever wonder why every other supplier is ‘fantastic’, ‘fabulous’, ‘talented’ ‘professional’ and so on and so on?  Yawn, yawn!

Well just so you know – a well read blog that is linked into other websites (I’m not technically minded – I just do what I’m told works!) by Tags and by mentioning other businesses, gets more traffic to their own site.  This means that it goes higher up the rankings … and is more likely to get looked at ….. and goes higher up the rankings ….  and is more likely to get looked at …..etc etc.

You get the picture.  Those fawning recommendations are usually because A) its better for website/blog rankings to attach tags identifying other businesses and you can’t really do that if you’ve slagged off their business and B)its not great business sense to dish the dirt on another business in the same industry.

Now then – where does that leave you as a bride or groom wanting to know which supplier is best?  That’s the difficult bit because the wedding industry is quite incestuous.  Generally suppliers tend to recommend the people that recommend them.  Its not generally geared to finding the very best supplier in their field – and if it was then actually there would be a lot of wedding supplier companies who wouldn’t survive.

So when a wedding company is raving about another – just ask yourself ‘why’.  Is it genuinely admiration for their services?  Is it because they receive a commission for recommendations?

There is no foolproof way to find out – apart from meeting with the supplier in question, looking at their service and examples of their work and making up your own mind.  Don’t take anyone else’s word for it and trust your instincts.

Recommendation is a great thing – but only from people who have sampled the service as a customer.  Not from another supplier.

You have been warned!

 

Incidentally the tags I’m going to attach to this post are completely genuine because I like what they do and if I were looking at their businesses as a consumer, I would still like it.  In other words I’m  being honest.  However, half of them have nothing to do with weddings or photography!

Some new stuff 17th March 2009

Firstly I didn’t manage to get to the Sparling with Christy from Lytham Hall this week – disappointing, but with all the palava from the Wedding Event there she had too much going on.

When we popped into the Hall on Saturday there weren’t that many of you there – where were you all?   We weren’t exhibiting ourselves (that sounds a bit odd!) but we know so many faces on the wedding scene and we have so much experience that it was nice to just say hello. 

It was great to meet up with Yvette and her business buddy, Yvonne.  I met Yvette a few years ago now at a lunch and since then she has started her own jewellery making business.  When I saw her at King Edwards before Christmas she wasn’t displaying any wedding bits and pieces but has now started making tiaras which I think are divine.  They are so funky that you needn’t just wear them for weddings either – they’d make a great prom gift for daughters too.  Her address is on the Fotoamour friends section on the website.

Also promoting their business was The Rooms.  This is a new(ish) B&B in the heart of Lytham.  I have often thought that Lytham is really lacking a good place to stay with a different atmosphere to The Clifton Arms – or if The Clifton is full which I suspect during the height of the wedding and holiday season it probably is.

The Rooms was set up a little while ago by Andy and Jacky and, by coincidence, we used to get their post (its a long story).  It would be a great idea to visit their website to get an idea of the sort of quality that you are talking about here  www.theroomslytham.com .  And if you are planning a wedding locally and think that you might need some rooms for your guests (they’re not hideously expensive either) this is the place to go.

We photographed some bridal prep there at Becky and Lee’s wedding last October.  To be honest, when we’re shooting a wedding our main focus is the bride and groom so we’re not thinking about taking room shots unless its particularly relevant.  For us the most important thing is you – so we’re not out to compromise our service to you in order to promote our business on your wedding day!  

But it doesn’t stop us noticing other excellent businesses!  And The Rooms is an excellent B&B.  Why not check it out?

Our old friend Peter from S&P Hair was there too – Stewart was running the salon that day and is great at wedding hair.  He is one of the few hairdressers with a salon that will go out to the brides’ homes on the wedding morning.    Do check out their website www.sandphair.com where you’ll see one of Martyn’s pictures of Stewart doing a bride’s hair.  I will add it to this blog as soon as I can.  Funnily enough the reception took place at Lytham Hall too, preceded by The White Church.

It would simply be churlish not to mention Steve and Stephanie Ashton who had the photography slot there this weekend.  They are fine photographers and, above and beyond that, good friends of ours who have given us plenty of help and advice over the years.  I hope that they had a great weekend with plenty of bookings coming in.

As far as I know the event was coordinated by Jane at Flower Design who are popular florists in this area.  Their floristry is very lovely and there was plenty of it on display to enhance the superb surroundings.  I hope it went well for them and that they got the acclaim they well deserve for organising the event.  Well done to all of you.    

Speak to you soon,

Jo

Lytham Hall Wedding Event this weekend

Lytham Hall is one of the loveliest spots to hold your wedding in the Fylde area.

Trees in autumn at Lytham Hall

Trees in autumn at Lytham Hall

So you’ll all be delighted to know that my friends Christy and Richard are holding a wedding event there this weekend.   The purpose of this is to show people around this beautiful house and it’s gorgeous grounds, with a view to them booking their weddings there.

Yesterday as I drove through the park on the way to see Christy with some of our details for the fair, I spotted a magnificent heron just a few feet away from the driveway.  Its so peaceful there that birds and other wildlife roam around and you’ll get to see rabbits and pheasants in large numbers.  I am sure that there must be deer and foxes too but they are more reclusive obviously.

 Christy and Richard are a great team and it was good fun working with them last October on Becky and Lee’s wedding there.  The ceremony took place in the Green Room (I think that’s its official name but I could be wrong!) whilst the meal was catered for by Rowley’s, with Paul and his team also providing some gorgeous canapes and all the drinks. 

Becky and Lee on the way back to the Hall after photos

Becky and Lee on the way back to the Hall after photos

Lytham Hall is one of those great, and unusual places, where the interiors are big enough to hold a substantial number of people if the weather isn’t too great.

One of the mistakes that its easy to make when booking a venue is to imagine it will be sunny, warm and dry on your wedding day.  It’s lovely if that is the case  but it could be pouring down.  So look for room size and comfort – you want somewhere big enough to house all your guests comfortably.  Are you happy that they’re all squashed into one space (is it big enough?) or does your venue have lots of separate small rooms so your guests won’t be quite so encouraged to mingle with each other beyond their friendship groups  (does that even matter?)

Where Lytham Hall wins is that there is plenty of space even on a rainy day, and its fairly grandiose too so you’re not losing any atmosphere by being indoors.

And, of course, if you are fortunate enough to have lovely weather the grounds are stunning.  We have done a few marquee weddings there in our time and they are simply gorgeous – but then I suppose the question is that if you have those fabulous interiors why have a marquee at all?

So if you haven’t booked a venue yet – and loads of the people I’m speaking to at the moment are still in the process of doing so for 2010 – then get yourself down to Lytham Hall and have a look around and talk to Christy.

We’re going out to lunch on Monday at The Sparling in Lytham so I shall report back on how the wedding event panned out – and I’ll give you the Pearson review on The Sparling too! 

See you then.

Dr. Mark Porter – God Bless Him!

Just want to show you all another example of someone who is in praise of marriage!

Dr. Mark Porter was writing in The Times that those couples who get married tend to ” get fewer colds and have better teeth”! 

He obviously practices what he preaches too because he has been married for 22 years.  Apparently single people now outnumber married people of the same age group which is a shame – marriage is a great institution.  That is providing you follow a few basic rules.
A friend of mine is currently writing a book on the 5 rules of marriage.  He reckons that there are 5 rules to remember if you want a happy marriage.  I know what they are  – but do you?

 

If you have any unusual ‘rules’ which you think will ensure the success of this notoriously difficult relationship – but one which is well worth investing in – why not leave a comment here?  Let’s only have nice ones though – nothing too raunchy please!

Why not read Mark Porter’s full article online? – www.timesonline.co.uk/markporter

Happy reading!