Top Spring 2021 colours from Pantone®

Top Spring 2021 colours from Pantone®

Some normality

2020 has been nothing like normal. So it is almost reassuring to have some familiarity appear in the calendar this week, with the fashion weeks starting and the announcement of colours for the forthcoming seasons.

In light of new government laws, it seems that things are going to tighten again and we should strap ourselves in for a rocky winter time. So thinking forward to next Spring (when experts suggest we may start to hopefully emerge on the other side) is not only apt but a ray of sunlight to yearn for.

Spring normally brings new hope and the start of the growing season. And next year also brings new promise and a chance for us to finally breathe again (please forgive the unintentional pun) after, what we pray, is the worst of Covid-19. By Spring 2021, I’m hopeful that we will be able to hit refresh and the mood can finally be lightened. 

The latest Pantone® announcement predicts that the colours that will dominate the scene for next year’s Spring and Summer are light, bright, fresh and soothing. Just what we’ll need after a dark few months.

Spring 2021

So with the fashion weeks kicking off, Pantone® have revealed the Spring/Summer colours to look out for in 2021. And it’ll be great to see the colours appearing in (possibly postponed) weddings next year. 

I’m not usually a massive fan of pastel colours, but this set of colours seems so calming. To me, they paint a wonderful picture of being by the seaside with bright colours of the sun, calming colours of the sea and sky, along with pale ice cream colours, cheerful beach hut bunting colours, plus some grounding sand colours. 

There is the chance to have fun with these colours and create some beautiful and unique combinations. The Pantone® Color Institute’s executive director Leatrice Eiseman said “What it’s playing to is this whole idea of more choices for people. The idea is that they have had so little choice in so many other areas of their lives in the last several months, let’s try to have some fun again. That’s what we’re looking for and fashion gives us that opportunity.”


It’s no secret that I love being by the seaside. In fact, I also dreamed of living by the sea which has bubbled up more to the surface during lockdown. We live in probably one of the parts of the UK that is frustratingly furthest away from the seaside. During lockdown we longed to be more remote and get away from the same four walls.

Thankfully over the summer we had a couple of day trips to a wonderful secluded beach and it felt like complete escapism. It was great to be by the wild sea, where the kids could run free on the beach, and we could feel energised by the sun. The change of scene gave the opportunity to relax and forget. 

So I’m pleased to see that blues (of Cerulean, Colour of the Year in 2000, and French Blue) will continue to feature in the colours for next year. Creating a great seascape of the sky and sea. 

Sunny colours

Despite the current autumnal mornings and evening becoming a bit chillier, there’s some more sunny weather on the way next week. Hopefully this will keep us going until the longer days return in the spring.

In the meantime, the page lights up with the sunny shades of Marigold and Illuminating leading the way in the Spring 2021 colours (which are my hot tip for Colour of the Year 2021).

Beach huts 

The glorious shades of Green Ash, Burnt Coral and Amethyst Orchid (not a million miles away from Radiant Orchid the Colour of the Year in 2014 and one of my favourite colours) could easily be the frontage of beach huts, all butted up next to each other on the sea front. Or perhaps adorning bunting blowing in the sea breeze.

They are beautifully unique and make a statement which is exactly the personalised way weddings will be next year.

Ice cream 

Even the names of some of the colours conjure up mouth watering fantasies of dripping ice creams, ate in deckchairs on the beach. Delicious Raspberry Sorbet or palette cleansing Mint could easily be scooped in to a cone and enjoyed watching the waves crash in.

Or perhaps you’d prefer some sugary candyfloss that is evoked by one of the pastel colours. 


Nothing quite beats taking off your shoes and getting the sand between your toes and walking along the beach with the sea lapping around your ankles, avoiding seaweed and tidal driftwood. It is grounding and feels likes getting back to nature.

A number of the Spring 2021 colours such as Rust (along with the neutral colours like Buttercream, Desert Mist and Willow) are natural, subtle and far from over powering.

Spring 2021 colours

The top ten colours for Spring 2021 are:
  • Marigold 14-1050
  • Cerulean 15-4020
  • Rust 18-1248
  • Illuminating 13-0647
  • French Blue 18-4140
  • Green Ash 13-0117
  • Burnt Coral 16-1529
  • Mint 16-5938
  • Amethyst Orchid 17-3628
  • Raspberry Sorbet 18-2043 

Spring 2021 extra colours from LFW

Plus a few additional colours from London Fashion Week round off the colours for Spring 2021; paler variations of pink and green (in Piroutte and Pickled Pepper), and a brighter orange and turquoise (with Orange Ochre and Blue Atoll).

Neutral classics

Pantone® have also updated the Classic Colour Palette. These are a group of neutrals that are core basics in the form of a black, grey, cream, taupe and khaki green. Perfect grounding colours. 

The bonus classic neutral colours for Spring 202 are: 
  • Inkwell 19-4016
  • Ultimate Gray 17-5104
  • Buttercream 11-0110
  • Desert Mist 14-1127
  • Willow 16-0632

Colour themes

It’ll be great to see how couples incorporate these colours in to their weddings next year. Especially as there could be some couples having to rearrange their weddings in 2021 and perhaps in a different season than they first planned. 

I can see how the classic neutrals will play a big part in coupling up with some of the brighter choices. Plus, there’s plenty of scope for unique colour combinations and personalisation. 

Pantone® is the world-renowned authority on colour and the Pantone® Color of the Year is always really influential in any popular colour themes in fashion, interior design and weddings.

Look out for my report when the 2021 Colour of the Year is released later in the year. 

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“Your work is invaluable to us”

“Your work is invaluable to us”

“Thank you very much for the work you have done investigating new business opportunities and advising on improvements to existing revenue activities at Cogges.

Your work has been extremely thorough and enabled us to make both immediate service and sales improvements and to consider the potential of new income streams for the future. 

Your work is invaluable to us, particularly as we now pick up the pieces of the Coronavirus season and look towards making ourselves more resilient to future disruptions.”

Chair of Trustees, Cogges Heritage Trust, September 2020 

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Socially distanced hen party ideas

Socially distanced hen party ideas

2020 continues to force us to think of alternative and creative ways to celebrate milestone occasions. Weddings can now take place with up to 30 people (within government guidelines). Many weddings have been postponed or paired down.

Here are some alternative ways you could hold a socially distanced hen party in 2020 so the build up and preparations don’t get overlooked:

Host a virtual hen party from the comfort of your own home

Get all the hens online with a drink in hand and enjoy all the usual hen party games at home. Party game classics include:

  • Mr and Mrs game
  • Drinking games
  • How Well Do You Know The Bride quiz
  • Who in the room? party game
  • Cards Against Humanity (who now have an online game)
  • Cheeky charades

Other online activities can be done together such as:

  • virtual cocktail classes
  • virtual scavenger hunt
  • virtual wine tasting
  • online escape rooms
  • video chat quizzes
  • watch a comedy gig or film at the same time as each other

Send party bags in advance

If you’re meeting virtually, you can send the party bags in advance for activities to be used together on the night. Or send masks for hens to personalise in advance of the party or provide hand sanitiser for everyone.

In lieu of a memory book, put together a digital book of photos and memories or video messages from all the hens to play on the night or as a gift for the bride to be to treasure.

Weekend away

Quarantine rules when travelling abroad are changing regularly so big weekends away may be off the cards at the moment for some hens. If you do choose to travel in the UK or further afield then consider booking individual hotel rooms rather than cottages or shared facilities at the moment.

Private rooms

Private dining experiences for small groups with minimal contact may be an option at some point, although at present there are restrictions around booking numbers in restaurants.

Outdoor activities

Whilst the weather is still good, you could gather a small number of hens together outside to take part in a socially distanced activity including a visit to an outdoor cinema, zoo or theme park. Or why not try geocaching, footgolf, a scavenger hunt or a social distanced picnic.

Host a hen party in your own garden

Picnic parties have become the hottest trend in 2020 and can take place in a home garden. A party picnic is a take on the usual checked blanket and straw hamper, but far more luxurious. Think low level trestle tables adorned with fresh flowers, candles, place settings, scatter cushions and blankets, teepees and belltents.

A picnic party also involves home comforts since it can be hosted in your own garden. This allows a more personal celebration where older or younger relatives can be included, without the worry of age restrictions or mobility issues. A great option to celebrate without breaking the bank with prices from as little as £12 per person and everything you need (minus the food). Event planners like The Party Picnic Co will work with you to make your vision a reality. Matching the party perfectly to the bride – no matter how quirky.

about The Party Picnic Co

Event planners like The Party Picnic Co will work with you to make your vision a reality. The best thing about using a supplier is that you can opt for as much or as little involvement on the day. The Party Picnic Co will take care of the complete setup, planning and styling so all you have to do is turn up on the day.

 instagram logo@thepartypicnicco


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Weddings in the news

Weddings in the news

I don’t think there’s been so many changes in the law around weddings in such a short amount of time. This year (and the unfortunate Covid-19 guest) has brought much anguish, speculation, comment and concern about weddings.

New guidelines

As restrictions have been eased or tightened, so have differing guidelines to ebb and flow in accordance with current conditions.

Photography by Cat Stephens Photography

Wedding receptions

The latest update is that from 15 August (a two week delay on the original plan) wedding receptions (such as a sit-down meal) will be permitted for up to 30 guests as long as they are in a COVID-19 secure venue.

Wedding receptions should not take place in a private home or gardens and should be undertaken in a safe, socially distanced way. Where possible guests should remain seated and have food or drinks brought to them at their tables, with outdoor table service preferable. Guests are encouraged to wear a face covering and utilise hand sanitiser and wash their hands frequently throughout the celebrations. Venues will be recording names and contact details of guests for the NHS Test and Trace.

Dancing isn’t permitted. Music cannot be played at a high volume that would mean guests would need to raise their voices. When the couple are cutting the cake, the guests should maintain social distancing. Throwing confetti and the bouquet should be avoided. Plus giving cards or gifts should be minimised at the reception.

It is recommended that speeches should be given outside or in well ventilated area. And to avoid the speakers having to raise their voices, it is suggested to use amplification. Windows and doors should be opened as much as possible.

Photography by Cat Stephens Photography

Cut of vat

At the beginning of last month, the government announced that it would introduce a temporary 5% reduced rate of VAT for certain supplies of hospitality, hotel and holiday accommodation.

This drop in VAT from 20% to 5% for six months came in to force from 15 July 2020 (until 12 January 2021) with the hope to boost consumer spending and that suppliers would pass on the reduction to customers.

There is nothing to force a business to cut its prices in line with any VAT cut so it remains to be seen if these will be passed on to the end user or help out the business.

The sector most relevant to the wedding industry will be the supplies of food and non-alcoholic drinks from restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and similar premises across the UK.

Photography by Cat Stephens Photography

Review of wedding laws

Two big changes could be afoot concerning wedding laws in England.

1.Legal ceremonies

Last month, six couples took a case to the High Court in a bid to get legal recognition for humanist weddings in England and Wales.

Currently, humanist ceremonies are not recognised in law, so couples must also have a civil ceremony in addition, which this case says discriminates against them because of their beliefs. This differs to the law in Scotland and Northern Ireland where humanist ceremonies are legally recognised.

The outcome of the case saw High Court judge Mrs Justice Eady DBE decline to make a formal declaration that the Government is acting unlawfully at this time. But ruled that the Government is currently reviewing marriage law in this country.

This review could take in to consideration not just humanist but independent celebrants too. This would give couples the legal ceremony they want regardless of religion.

Photography by Cat Stephens Photography

2.Outdoor weddings

In addition, in 2019, the Law Commission began a two-year review into marriage law around outdoor weddings. In light of COVID-19 restrictions, this possible change in the law in 2021 could revolutionise the wedding season with outdoor celebrations.

Photography by Cat Stephens Photography

Royal wedding

Normally, I’d love covering the trends and insight from royal weddings. However the one this year, of Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi in Windsor in July, was much more of a private ceremony than first planned and initially postponed.

It was the first royal wedding behind closed doors for 235 years due to the pandemic (which also helped to avoid the scandal surrounding the bride’s father). The royal wedding was attended by the Queen, with just 15 family and friends present making it possibly the cheapest royal wedding ever.

The biggest take away from this royal wedding was the element of sharing and reusing such as the wedding dress and accessories from the Queen and shoes that she had worn many times before. A proper ‘something borrowed’. Renting dresses, buying second hand or upcycling is certainly a growing trend to watch out for.

Plus an intimate ceremony means that you can splash out on certain areas as you aren’t spending as much on other things. For example with flower statements such as the arch that the royal couple had at their wedding.

Photography by Cat Stephens Photography


I’d love to hear if you’re having a wedding in the next few months and to hear how you’ve creatively dealt with the restrictions.

Images on this page taken by Cat Stephens Photography from Hanami Dream’s festival styled shoot at Cogges Manor Farm. See all the fabulous suppliers that were involved in this styled shoot.

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Paused not cancelled

Paused not cancelled

For me it feels like life is paused, especially in the wedding industry. I sometimes wonder if weddings have been forgotten.

postponed weddings

For so many couples, suppliers and venues the future still looks so uncertain. Plans have been adapted or postponed. Some making several revisions as restrictions ease and are then reintroduced.

wedding restrictions

There’s still so much to think about in the news and things can change quickly. Wedding receptions were due to be allowed from 1st August for up to 30 people (without live music, dancing, or buffets). But this wasn’t the case as the lockdown reductions were delayed by 2 weeks to 15th August at the earliest.
What will the governments review announce this weekend?

Since 8th August wedding guests have to wear face coverings in public indoor settings (such as places of worship) or any enclosed public space where there are people they do not normally meet.

change, adapt, evolve

Meanwhile, whilst on pause we need to evolve and change – personally as well as professionally. We need to do things differently when the play button is finally pressed.

At the moment it feels like it’s back to basics whilst we learn how to survive all over again. But in order to grow, improve and thrive, we need to firstly revise, rethink, reform and adjust.

According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.

Let’s rewrite wedding traditions

Lots of buzz words to prepare for the new norm. But basically it boils down to having the chance to do things differently.

I’d love to hear if you’re having a wedding in the next few months and to hear how you’ve creatively dealt with the restrictions.

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Inspiration: wedding under new rules in Oxfordshire

Inspiration: wedding under new rules in Oxfordshire

Just one month ago, the wedding of Hannah and Richard was held at stunning Friars Court in Oxfordshire. A no frills or fuss, intimate ceremony on Saturday 4th July 2020 saw one of the first civil weddings in Oxfordshire under the new social distancing rules.

new rules

After a hiatus of nearly 4 months of paused and postponed weddings in England due to lockdown, the 4th July marked the date for weddings to take place again. Now with a number of restrictions that couples must follow in order for their wedding to go ahead safely.

By 1st August, we thought that things would be easing further around restrictions for wedding receptions. But these are still limited to only two households indoors in most parts of the UK, or up to 6 people from different households outdoor. Whilst social distanced ceremonies can currently be held for up to 30 people.

new plans

This happy couple decided to go ahead with their original date of 4th July to perform the legal part of the wedding. Their wedding had been booked since last August following their engagement in Italy on 5th July 2019.

Hannah and Richard chose Saturday 4th July as it was the closest date to the first anniversary of the proposal. They were one of the 2020 couples who held onto the hope they’d have the entirety of their wedding on their planned date for as long as possible.

As the date was significant to them, they decided to have the civil ceremony at the very least. So they were happy to go along with whatever was necessary to make that happen.

new dates

They’re still hoping they’ll have the planned reception this September. However they are mindful that this may not be possible in the current climate or it may need to be a significantly pared down version.

They have managed to move all their suppliers to 19th September 2020 in the hope that they will be able to celebrate with friends and family. They also plan to have a mock ceremony so Hannah can walk down the aisle in her dress and recreate the ceremony again. The venue and suppliers were great in accommodating the new date which instantly put the couples’ minds at rest.

Their reasoning behind going ahead with a ceremony on their original date of 4th July is so that they don’t need to delay starting a family. If the worst case scenario happens and the September date is not able to go ahead and they have to delay until 2021, they could start a family in the knowledge that they are already married.

new guest list

Originally, they had planned for 85 of their family and friends to attend with a number travelling in from France, Dubai and Canada.

To meet new rules, they needed to reduce the number of guests and households. However to avoid any upset when choosing witnesses from family and friends they opted to prune this to the bare minimum. They asked the two venue owners to be witnesses. And when the photographer had to drop out (due to insurance issues), the venue also stepped in as wedding photographer too (with a zoom lens to keep distant). So, along with two registrars there was a total of 6 people present (two registrars, two witnesses, plus the bride and groom).

new focus

No big grand traditional entrance for this wedding as the couple arrived together in their own car. But the venue still bestowed a grand setting and provided the couple use of it’s grounds for this special day.

Friars Court in Clanfield is a privately owned, mid-17th century house, in 600 acres of beautiful Oxfordshire countryside. Friars Court was granted a Civil Ceremony licence in 2003 and in that same year set up Silver Pear Weddings. Since then they have worked with over 350 couples celebrating their marriage at Friars Court.

This certainly was the smallest civil ceremony the venue has ever hosted in nearly 20 years and is the first time they’ve acted as witnesses, for what turned out to be the second civil ceremony across the county under the new rules.

Unfortunately the 2020 season will the final one for Silver Pear Weddings hosting wedding receptions at Friars Court as from 2021 onwards they will purely host ceremonies.

minimal decor

As this was just a ceremony the couple did not unleash their full plans and colour scheme, which they will hold for a later celebration.

So the venue set the room out based on plans and guidance that the registrars provided. Without decor, the room looked quite bare so the owners arranged a few flowers from the venue’s garden for the registrars’ table.

something old (not new)

Both bride and groom were dressed in smart casual clothes. Hannah wore a full-length lilac party dress, a bridesmaid style dress in keeping with her bridesmaid colour scheme. Richard wore a work suit. They are saving their wedding outfits for their celebration day.

new ceremony time

Hannah and Richard were offered the choice of either an 11am or 3pm wedding ceremony time. They chose 3pm to avoid rushing about in the morning. The first ceremony in the county was at 1pm. So if they’d gone with an 11am slot they’d have been the first civil ceremony in Oxfordshire but were still the second one.

The registrars had been in charge of writing the guidelines for ‘weddings during a pandemic’ so they’d specifically requested to come (rather than the usual registrars from Witney) to road test their amended version of a ceremony to see how well it worked.

new format

The presentation of the bride was omitted because there wasn’t anyone there to ‘give her away’ and under current guidelines, unless a bride lives in the same household, then walking in with anyone other than her future husband isn’t permitted.

With the ceremony being just the couple, it was also decided to eliminate playing any music. So as their interviews took place where they were going to stand for the ceremony, there was no point in any entrance. So the registrar went straight into the welcome and whipped through the abbreviated ceremony in no time.

The ceremony itself was a lot shorter than you might expect for the obvious reasons of there being no guests to tell stories about where the couple met, where the proposal took place and any other details for the registrar to share. The registrars were lovely and made the couple feel comfortable throughout. Richard said that:

‘There was an odd sort of feeling to proceedings as you are extremely aware that there are only 4 other people in the room, however with that said there was an intimate feeling and a truly personal experience had by doing it this way. It reminds you that this day is absolutely just for the two of you.’

Most of the ceremony was the same as usual; using the short option of “I am” (free to marry) and “I do” (take this man/woman). Keeping that part short is intended to reduce the length of the ceremony as the registrar did mention about the unfortunate necessity of keeping things ‘short and sweet’. The registrars weren’t exactly rushing the ceremony but they didn’t take their time either in order to reduce the risk of exposure by making the services as brief as possible.

new accessories

Hannah and Richard were asked beforehand whether they would like the registrars with or without masks. Whilst not a problem at this ceremony, the registrars voiced their concerns about the new rules and envisaged possible difficulties in ensuring guests staying exactly where they are put.

As the registrar leading the ceremony was on one side of the room and the couple on the other well side (more than 2 metres from either registrar) she removed her mask which meant she was far more audible. The registrar doing the writing kept her mask on for the duration.

The couple signed the register both having to wear a bright red rubber glove before handling the pen (the registrars had a box of them) and all commented on how odd that felt. The gloves were meant to come off for signing photos but instead the pair waved their gloved hands at the camera.

Certificates are posted to couples after their weddings at the moment so there was no presentation to wind the ceremony up. However, the registrars did make their congratulations and then left so the couple could go out for a few photos in the grounds before the rain started.

newly weds

Hannah and Richard wandered the grounds whilst the venue owner very kindly took some photos to remember the day. They then popped back inside with their own picnic hamper to have a little DIY afternoon tea for two in the middle of the empty Garden Room.

All the traditional milestone elements of a wedding reception (cake cutting, first dance, entertainment, favours etc) have all been saved for their celebration later in the year.

Afterwards they headed off for a couple of nights in Malmesbury.

Our fingers are crossed for 19th September or sometime in 2021 for their sequel wedding.

Venue | Friars Court |
Photographer | Silver Pear Weddings |
Dress | boohoo |
Jacket | Moss Bros |
Trousers | Zara |
Afternoon tea | own hamper

I’d love to hear if you’ve had a wedding recently and to hear how you’ve creatively dealt with the restrictions.

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Weddings through the decades: 1970s

Weddings through the decades: 1970s

The current guidelines for weddings are making couples re-evaluate what is important to them for their wedding. In some ways, it is stripping the wedding back to just the ceremony and the legality about becoming married. It has actually made me consider whether there is maybe too many extra frills added to weddings in this day and age. Are couples putting too much Instagram-ready stress and Pinterest-perfect pressure (both physically and financially) on themselves to have the ‘dream’ wedding day? Maybe stripping back the wedding will bring things back to basics and focus on what really matters.

weddings through the decades

During lock down I’ve felt quite reminiscent. It has certainly been a time to look back and reflect. So whilst weddings are going through a transformation, I am taking a look at some real weddings over the decades to see if there are some things that we can take inspiration from and use to help with wedding planning in the future.

Rewind over 40 years ago to my parents wedding in 1974 and it wasn’t the norm to have a big wedding reception. The ceremony was the main event. There’s more than a few other similarities between then and now to take note of too:

Britain in 1974

Seems like times were tough in 1974 too, in some ways like what we are facing this year. Britain was in its first post-war recession; they faced months of the Three-Day Week; two general elections and major government reorganisation; a state of emergency in Northern Ireland; many IRA bombings; lots of large companies struggling; plus oil shortages.

My Mum often speaks about the fact that during the 3 day weeks they were finally allowed to wear trousers to work as it was so cold when this ran between January to March. These measures were introduced to conserve electricity, due to the oil crisis and industrial action by coal miners. Aside from key services, people were limited to three days in a row of consumption each week and were not allowed to work longer hours on those days. TV stopped broadcasting at 10.30pm to conserve electricity. It was finally lifted on 7 March 1974.

In addition, new speed limits were brought in to help to curb fuel usage.

Bombings in Britain included the Houses of Parliament, the Tower of London, Birmingham pubs, M62 coach, and even the former prime minister’s London home. It was scary and uncertain times.

When my parents got married, Harold Wilson had just taken over as Prime Minister on 4 March, a labour leader of a minority government, from Edward Heath (Conservative). There was another election again later in the year. It was a time of huge change and turmoil.

highlights of 1974

Meanwhile, excitedly the Eurovision song contest was held in Brighton in 1974, the one when Abba won with the song ‘Waterloo’. Liverpool won the FA Cup adding to their trophy cabinet, a bit like this year.

Ceefax started, though I wonder how many people planned their wedding or booked a honeymoon using this sure predecessor to the internet. And McDonalds opened their first restaurant in Woolwich.

Princess Anne’s first wedding

Whilst a dramatic kidnap attempt on Princess Anne was the focus in 1974, her wedding at the end of the previous year had brought royal wedding fever to the country, albeit a bit more subdued compared to more recent ones. The wedding of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips took place at Westminster Abbey in London in November 1973. She wore a high necked, high-waisted, embroidered Tudor-style wedding dress, with a high collar and medieval-influenced sleeves. Anne had her trade marked beehive up-do.

I’m not sure that Anne’s wedding had the same impact as the modern royal weddings of William or Harry. However, she was the first of the Queen’s children to wed and the event was televised. Much of my parent’s wedding had been already organised by the time of Anne’s but there are still some influences in hair and dress styles that can been seen.

wedding trends in the 1970s

Regardless of the decade, every wedding photo is a time capsule for dresses (material, styles, length and colours) along with bouquets, veils and hair styles. They are an exaggerated example of fashion trends of their day and epitomise moments in time.

Some decades certainly have common trends. In the 1970s, this could be seen with two distinct looks: hippy style, long sleeved, high necked, longer length dresses. Or trouser suits with big floppy hats. First and foremost, the bridesmaids never outshone the bride.

Weddings were intimate and not frivolous or extravagant, often with the reception held down the pub. Typical food could have included prawn cocktail, fondue, vol au vents, pineapple and cheese on sticks, chicken kiev, or steak Diane and chips if you were splashing out. With arctic roll or black forest gateaux for dessert.

But money was tight, with an average weekly wage of only £34.64. Families helped couples pay for their big day and a wedding in the 1970s cost just £1,850 on average. (Compared with an average spend now around £27,000 on a wedding before lockdown).

weddings in 1974

In 1974, there were 384,389 marriages in England and Wales (compared to 40 years later of 252,222 in 2014). In 1974, there were 69 men marrying per 1,000 unmarried males and 53.7 females, compared to 23.0 and 20.9 in 2014. The number of weddings has steadily declined over the years.

The average age of men getting married in 1974 was 28.8 and 26.2 for women (compared to 37.0 and 34.6 respectively in 2014).

53% of weddings took place in a religious ceremony in 1974 versus 27% in 2014.

real wedding from 1974

My parents, Barbara and Gary, married on Saturday 16th March 1974, over 46 years ago.

To quote my mother, weddings were not so ‘flashy’ back then, without extras ‘like today’. There wasn’t any money then – they didn’t have any and neither did their parents. The groom even had to borrow money from his father in order to buy the engagement ring.

Weddings were very traditional, almost following a formula or cookie cutter approach.

formal invitations

My parent’s wedding invitations were very formal and sent from the bride’s parents. They were simple, classic and from a stock suite including silver embossed bells. The same style was used for the Order of Service too.

full length attire

The bride wore a Pronuptia A line dress with high neck and long sleeves and a long veil, along with some white platform shoes. She carried a bouquet of freesias (her favourite flower) and roses.

Whilst there wasn’t a specific colour scheme or theme that went throughout the wedding, the 3 bridesmaids all wore lilac coloured dresses (which was a copy of the bride’s dress) that matched the flowers. They all had their hair the same – up like Princess Anne – and the bridesmaids had lilac flowers in their hair.

Meanwhile the groom and best man just wore their own best suits and wore carnations as buttonholes.

The bride was driven in a car hired from a local firm, whilst the bridesmaids were just driven by a friend of the family in his own car.

local ceremony and reception

As with the majority of weddings in the 1970s, they had a church service at Burnham United Reformed Church starting at 2pm. Afterwards, they had their reception at a simple village hall, Burnham Park Hall, that cost them £8.80 to hire the hall and kitchen from 10.30am – 6pm. After the meal, the speeches followed the usual order and focused on the father of bride, best man, plus the groom.

minimal decor

They didn’t decorate the hall. There were only tables with white tablecloths on them. But the curtain material in the background of photographs gives away the era completely. It would have been hard to compliment them with many colour schemes!

cost efficient food

The guests ate a buffet by The Barn Restaurant, Salt Hill Park, Slough. It may have been a beige buffet typical of the time although it obviously wasn’t too memorable as my mother isn’t sure what they picked. The accountant in her can remember that the prices started at a mere £0.85 per person. And their drinks bill cost £29.61.

traditional cake

The wedding cake was an incredibly traditional square 3 tier fruit cake made by a family friend. There weren’t any added extras like favours at the wedding.

shared entertainment

My parents didn’t have any entertainment or music at their wedding. However, there were 2 other couples from the same village as my father who also got married on the same day as them. So they all had a joint disco in the evening but it was not the norm to have anything other than a reception after the service.


These pictures have been both wonderful to look through and also rather poignant, as my parents’ marriage sadly ended. However it is lovely to see how happy and carefree my mother is in these photographs. And I raise a toast to absent friends who we have unfortunately lost since this happy day.

There’s certainly many things couples of today’s circumstances can take from the weddings of the 1970s. If our parents/grandparents can make it through tough times, then I’m sure we can get through the craziness we’re experiencing right now. It might mean tightening our belts or reevualting plans but going back to basics may not be a bad thing. 

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Wedding venue review: Ashmolean Museum

Wedding venue review: Ashmolean Museum

Ashmolean Museum wedding venue review

You’d be forgiven if you didn’t realise that you could get married at the magnificent Ashmolean Museum in Oxford – there are some wonderful unknown venue options on offer right on our doorsteps.

Photography by Zaki Charles Photography

Licensed wedding venues

In 1995, the law was changed to allow marriages to be conducted in other civil approved venues in addition to a registry office or religious premises. Now over 50% of ceremonies are carried out in these type of venues and there are some truly beautiful venues to choose from in Oxfordshire and the surrounding Cotswolds.

Whether in a barn, a manor house, a marquee, a museum, or a hotel, there are some amazing places to hold your wedding or special occasion. There’s something out there to accommodate most styles, guest numbers and budgets.

Photography by John Cairns

Location of the Ashmolean Museum

Founded in 1683 The Ashmolean Museum is the oldest public Museum in the world. It is slap bang in the middle of a wonderful university city – steeped in history, with an abundance of amazing architecture, and nicknamed the ‘city of dreaming spires’.

Just a few minutes walk from the city centre shops is this impressive building, conveniently opposite the prestigious MacDonald Randolph Hotel, where guests often choose to stay and then can just walk across the road.

Photography by Martin Phelps Photography

Impressive backdrops

The Ashmolean Museum gives you maximum impact with minimal effort, as the backdrop of this venue needs no help in packing a punch – the wow factor is there for you already!

Photography by Zaki Charles Photography


One of the most striking things about this venue is there are many options and different ways you could use a combination of the galleries for your drinks reception, licensed ceremony, dinner and dancing. Each gallery has it’s own character, atmosphere and capacity that can be suited to your number of guests and requirements.

This is a venue which is quiet, personal and intimate, yet very much on the grand scale.

Once the museum has closed to the public, you have full rein of the venue from 5.30pm. For example, you could choose to have a drinks reception on the Rooftop Restaurant Terrace where it has a more contemporary feel; your wedding ceremony in the European Art Gallery with imposing portraits, picture perfect harpsichord playing and a sweeping staircase to make a grand entrance; dinner in the Greek and Roman Sculpture Gallery; and then dancing in the Vaulted Café in the basement with booth style seating and nightclub feel.

Additionally the European Art Gallery is also available for exclusive ceremonies in the daytime whilst the Museum is open.

The contemporary Atrium is a popular choice for drinks and canapés receptions – typical guests numbers are 150 but it’s adjoining galleries and four floors can be opened up to accommodate as many as 900 guests. 

There’s certainly nothing staid or boring about this museum. And whilst I visited on a grey day at the end of May, there still was loads of light pouring into the venue.

Photography by Martin Phelps Photography


Brides come in through a side entrance secretly to avoid the guests who are coming in through the main entrance. Then the bride is often brought down the grand staircase to make an entrance into the European Art Gallery complete with stunning gilded chandelier.

How awe-inspiring to spend your wedding day looking at half a million years of art and history with great masterpieces and statues looming over proceedings. All you need to decorate most of the galleries would be some up lighters for alcoves or where statues stand and spot lights for the aisle.

The Museum use Clerkwenwell Green as an exclusive catering partner to complete the wedding experience at the Ashmolean. Being a bespoke Events Catering Company based in Hoxton London, they too take the guests on a journey, delivering cool, confident and considered food that has been created with passion and designed carefully to showcase the best seasonal ingredients available throughout the year. Head Chef Mike Dewing was awarded ‘Chef Of The Year’ in 2017 by Benugo.

Chairs and tables are included in the price and they also offer a range of table linen, china and glassware.

Photography by Matthew Pattimore


There doesn’t seem to be anything that is too much to ask of this venue. They seem extremely flexible to accommodate couples’ wishes for their big day. With the understandable exception of red wine (apart from in the dinner and dancing areas), anything seems to go!

They can offer expert guides and access to special exhibitions should you wish to add something different for your guests during your wedding festivities.

Stacey is their amazing onsite wedding planner and she is on hand to help you through every detail and aspect of your wedding day. Not a cookie cutter style wedding in sight – just the personal touch all the way.

They offer all couples a complimentary anniversary dinner with fizz in the Ashmolean’s Rooftop Restaurant. Plus any couples who book an evening reception, they offer a complimentary tasting with their exclusive caterer as well as a case of Champagne delivered to your door after your special day.

Photography by Martin Phelps Photography


This is a beautiful hidden gem of a wedding venue in Oxford. From the outside you don’t know the expanse of options that are available inside. It provides a truly wonderful labyrinth of options to hold a wedding or special occasion.

Photography by Zaki Charles Photography

Type of venue:
Find out more:
Location: Beaumont Street,  Oxford, OX1 2PH
Wedding season: year round after 5.30pm (plus exclusive ceremonies in the daytime whilst the Museum is open)
Guests: 20-150 (depending on gallery) for wedding breakfast / maximum 900 for reception
Marquee option: n/a
Ceremony: the entire Museum is licenced for ceremonies
Venue hire: tbd based on requirements and how many galleries you want to use for the day
Nearest church: St Mary Magdalen’s Church, 9 Magdalen St, Oxford OX1 3AE
Wedding breakfast: packages with Clerkwenwell Green
Accommodation: local hotels and b&bs and opposite the Randolph Hotel
Wedding fairs: Wedding Open Days throughout the year
Other things worth a mention: impressive backdrops in every room – your ‘something old’ sorted in an instant

First published 16 July 2018. Updated 7 July 2020.

Alternatives to walking down the aisle with your father

Alternatives to walking down the aisle with your father

social distancing rules

Due to the current government restrictions for weddings during the corona virus pandemic, you may have to rethink some of your wedding plans. Unless you live in the same household as your father, you may need to omit the tradition of walking down the aisle arm in arm.

Photography by Squib Photography

walking down the aisle

In order to keep within social distancing rules, you may want to think more creatively with some novel ways to be given away:

  • walk yourself
  • walk with a pet
  • both have an entrance, one after the other
  • both walk down together
  • both enter from either side of altar
  • processional bridal party followed by guests
  • make the guests walk in with couple already waiting at the altar
  • walk around seats set in a circle or spiral
  • video montage played on a screen of those who can’t be at the ceremony
  • make a bouquet whilst collecting flowers from guests (one for when social distance restrictions are lifted)

Let’s rewrite wedding traditions. This is the chance to do things differently – your way.

I’d love to hear if you’re having a wedding in the next few months and to hear how you’ve creatively dealt with the restrictions.

Photography by Squib Photography

Images on this page taken by Squib Photography from Hanami Dream’s secret garden styled shoot at Cogges Manor Farm. See all the fabulous suppliers that were involved in this styled shoot.

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Celebrating 6 years of Hanami Dream

Celebrating 6 years of Hanami Dream

Fourth of July

What did you do this fourth of July? Did you celebrate the easing of lockdown due to corona virus (COVID-19) in most of England? Did you go off to the pub? Get a hair cut? Or tie the knot?

The fourth of July is often a day of celebration with Independence Day and local Alice Day. Plus it also marks the 6th birthday of Hanami Dream weddings and special occasions!

  • six years since my first styled shoot – the Alice in Wonderland shoot in 2014 started it all for Hanami Dream
  • six years since my first tweet – from my first tweet in 2014, to a combined social media network of nearly 7,000 followers
  • six years since my first blog post – now 387 blog posts later and a UK Blog Award in the trophy cabinet
  • six years of accolades – including being shortlisted in the West Oxfordshire Business Awards 2020
Photography by Farrow Photography

Photography by Farrow Photography

six years of celebrations

This year though my own celebrations are a bit more subdued. With over 100 days of lockdown under my belt, home schooling 3 children and supporting my husband, I’m quite exhausted.

Over the last few months I’ve felt anxious, over whelmed, and often found things quite hard going. On the other hand, I’ve also found it extremely rewarding and wonderful to see my children’s amazing work and to see them blossom, learn and grow. They seem to just take everything in their stride and it’s been nice to share more experiences with them.

Photography by Farrow Photography

six more years’ experience

Until mid March, I was enjoying providing marketing consultation to some local, independent wedding businesses in and around Witney.

But it does feels like there’s been lots of tricky decisions to tackle recently. For me, one of those has been to pause my marketing support for the time being and take a break from the business side of things due to continuing family commitments in the unprecedented circumstances.

Photography by Farrow Photography

six years of supporting couples with wedding planning

Where possible, I’m still blogging (there’s some great guest posts, wedding inspiration and other content in the pipeline to share). Otherwise, there’s one job where my focus needs to be right now. My time is dedicated to one thing. And that’s being a mother. I’ll review, regroup and reassess things over the next few months.

Photography by Farrow Photography

taking a breather

Sometimes we need to take a break, to reflect. Because taking a step back sometimes means we can regroup and plan our next route. A pause isn’t stopping but getting our breath. A minor hiatus. Let’s hope that the storm we are riding at the moment is followed by a rainbow.

Photograph by Farrow Photography

keeping it local

I love working with small, local, independent wedding business in and around Witney, Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds. And now more than ever we need to keep it local. To think and buy locally and seasonally. And not only for weddings. Recently I’ve been so grateful for discovering new amazing local suppliers and companies diversifying to keep us all going.

Photography by Farrow Photography

work with Hanami Dream

Please get in touch if you’d like to advertise on the blog, submit your own wedding details, would like to collaborate on a shoot, or write a guest post. Together we can support the local wedding industry and inspire brides and grooms for their special day.

Happy birthday to Hanami Dream – let’s see what direction the future holds.

Photography by Farrow Photography

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