Inspiration: african/english fusion garden wedding

Inspiration: african/english fusion garden wedding

A relaxed, family-oriented celebration in May 2019 saw the rustic fusion wedding of Rachael and Godwin at Worton Hall in Oxfordshire.

The energy and exuberance burst out of these images with pops of lavender wedding inspiration. What a jam-packed wedding full of colour, music and vibrancy. The African dancers stole the day, blowing everyone away with their epic singing, dancing and drumming.


Cotswold farmland venue

All members of the wedding party and families stayed at Worton Hall the night before. The groom and his family were in the main Farmhouse, whilst the bride stayed in one of the cottages.

handmade decor

Almost all of the décor was handmade by the bride, her friends and family. The bride and friends dressed the main hall the day before the wedding, and then 2 friends went out in the morning and put finishing touches to the décor. Simple, romantic and quintessentially english country garden styling.

English wedding ceremony

Rachael and Godwin got married in the wooden pagoda on ‘The Green’ in front of the beautiful old Farmhouse at Worton Hall. Oxfordshire’s registrars undertook the traditionally English ceremony whilst the guests baked in the lovely hot sunshine.

It didn’t take long after the ceremony before the champagne was flowing. Everyone enjoyed fizz on the lawns before throwing epic amounts of fresh lavender confetti over the bride and groom.

afternoon tea

Later, everyone headed into the main hall for a traditional cream tea. The English buffet-style afternoon tea was delicious, especially the freshly baked scones.

african traditions

Speeches were dotted throughout the afternoon. And in line with African tradition lots of friends and family members had the opportunity to stand up and speak.

And then after a quick outfit change for the bride and groom, they were walked back into the main hall by African dancers singing traditional African folk songs. The dance show was just epic.

An African Feast was then served with an out of this world peanut butter spinach dish.

dance the night away

The dancers came back and rocked the party again after everyone had finished their traditional African feast. Guests were given shots as favours and flip flops to wear to dance the night away.

Dancing, mischief, one hell of a fight over the bride’s bouquet and loads more dancing to end the night. What an incredible day.

Venue | Worton Hall |
Photographer | Charlie Flounders Photography |
Dress | Wed2B |
Suits | Menswearr |
Cake | made by bride’s talented sister
Entertainment | African Dancers | Shasheboys |
Flowers | Sarah Horne Botanicals |
English tea catering | Jo’s Kitchen |
African meal | a family friend

Plus loads of other fabulous but low key suppliers who don’t have website links.

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Top wedding styling trends for 2020

Top wedding styling trends for 2020

[As featured on pages 65-67 of the October/November 2019 edition of Your Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wedding]

Couples are currently looking at ways to personalise their nuptials and break from tradition. Wedding styling is seeing an abundance of original alternatives that blend together cultures, creativity and lots of personal touches.

Mixing and matching seem a great way to compromise, as couples decide that they don’t have to settle on one particular style. This gives a great fusion of modern and vintage, along with contrasting textures, colours and mixed metals.

It’s why there’s an abundance of beautiful wedding styling trends to look out for at the moment. Here’s my top pick for 2020:

Photography by Farrow Photography
contemporary classic

Subtle updates to some traditional wedding styles include an injection of more vibrant colours. The use of colour is being used more subtly though and is often paired alongside neutral colours. And it certainly isn’t the case of everything having to match anymore.

Coloured linens are giving white napkins a run for their money, whilst cutlery is coming in different colours too. The best use of colour is with mix and match bridesmaids, where the styles and hues of dresses compliment each other or are in varying shades of the same colour.

Nods to Art Deco are appearing again in wedding themes, paying homage to the golden jazz age and The Great Gatsby era, with lace also seeing a revival. Scents are becoming important at weddings to appeal to ALL the senses, so more personalised scented candles are being used around the venue to enhance the atmosphere.

Couples are choosing to sit intimately on their own sweetheart table, whilst an array of cakes are being displayed on dessert tables. And whilst there is a move towards having less décor, some couples are supersizing their décor elements to make an impact.

Photography by Farrow Photography

country garden

The greenery trend is still going strong with couples wanting connections with nature. Weddings are bringing the outdoors in with an abundance of foliage, trees, enchanted indoor forest walks and floral arches. Banquet tables are being decorated with low florals (so guests can see one another across them) or hanging centrepieces above the tables.

And couples continue to use alternatives to real flowers such as pot plants, succulents and air plants that can be reused again after the wedding. But the biggest trend right now is the use of grasses, pods and dried flowers, with pampas grass seeing a huge surge in popularity. This is being used across all elements of décor from the big statement pieces (like ceremony backdrops, aisle runners and chandeliers), to fillers in bouquets (or big statement bouquets), table centrepieces and accents on the cake or table plan.

One plume or a huge arrangement, dried or fresh, pampas grass is proving to be versatile across seasons and marries well as a neutral with many colours.


Industrial banquet | Journey to the Centre of the Earth | modern ethereal winter styled bridal shoot by Hanami Dream | agate | marble | airplants | tulle | pale blue | gold | Oxleaze Barn | Gloucestershire | October 2017 | Photography by Squib Photography
modern minimalism

Thanks to the Marie Kondo effect, minimal weddings are still popular and continue to exude sophistication especially when couples stick to one colour, such as white, to make an amazing statement.

To achieve maximum impact the minimal way, couples are keeping decor, florals and styling to a few key pieces.
The use of metallic decor, silverware and mirrors bounce natural light around the space, along with clear tables and chairs with no fussy table cloths or chair covers.

Use of geometric shapes such as hoops and prisms in different scales add to the modern styling. With free-flowing modern calligraphy on stationery items.

urban cool

Industrial venues often offer a complete blank canvas and statement backdrops to the traditional wedding elements. Couples can design the layout of the room, complete with make shift aisles and chill out lounge seating areas.

Old warehouses, city pubs, or disused factories with deteriorating brickwork, wooden beams and big windows, all provide a great contrast with a relaxed wedding vibe. These are the perfect venues for some New York loft styling and to mix modern and vintage elements together.

Décor is focused on concrete, stone and cement details such as marbled concrete pots, concrete coasters, concrete letters, and concrete table numbers.

And it’s all about unique lighting with vintage lampshades, statement chandeliers and 80s inspired neon.

Photography by Farrow Photography

quirky and personal

Personalisation is still the most prevalent theme in weddings right now. Couples are making their nuptials as individual as they are and are breaking from tradition. There is an abundance of original alternatives that blend together cultures, creativity and lots of personal touches.

Couples are going beyond paper stationery with different material types such as Perspex, denim, wood or agate slices. And printing invites on things their guests can use again. Likewise, guest books are things couples will use or see every day such as recipe books, furniture and artwork.

Alternatives to real flower bouquets include flowers made of fabric, felt, paper, sheet music or comic book pages. Carrying flowers in different arrangements such as pomanders, hoops and wreaths. Holding objects instead of flowers, using sparkly things to make a bouquet or using other natural alternatives to flowers. Plus, paper flowers are being used for décor and in ceremony arches.

Couples are considering new ways to wear flowers such as bow ties, corsages, floral rings, anklets and chockers.

Llamas seem to be the animal of choice to be a guest at weddings. Plus, the evolution from Chinese lanterns and sparklers has now moved on to super dramatic smoke bombs.

Photography by Farrow Photography

bohemian and vintage

It’s a sad fact that, by their nature, weddings can be quite wasteful. However, more couples nowadays are choosing eco-friendly and sustainable options to reduce the impact that their wedding day has on the environment.

Where possible couples are thinking about foraging, borrowing or hiring items, upcycling vintage décor, making their own items and considering how to pass on items afterwards. Food is more seasonal, local and vegan. With couples looking at how to make their wedding a plastic free event.

The other trend to look out for is Kintsugi. This is upcycling Japanese style – the art of repairing or recycling broken items in beautiful and artistic ways.


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Take the leap in 2020: save the date

Take the leap in 2020: save the date

Leap year proposals

There’s an extra day to play with this year as 2020 is a leap year. So we will have the pleasure of the 29th February for the first time again in four years. When it comes to proposing, traditionally a leap year meant that the tables were turned and women could have the chance to propose.

Unlucky leap year

Superstition suggests that 2020 may be a bit erratic. Many cultures believe that leap years are unlucky. Reportedly, the world goes a bit erratic with crazy weather patterns, additional suffering and a pretty gloomy outlook. Hence why some countries believe it is unlucky to make major decisions in a leap year like buying a house or car, or getting married. It is also traditionally seen as unlucky to get married on a leap day (29 February), though some people comment that you’d only have to remember your wedding anniversary every 4 years.

Whether you’re superstitious or not, before you rush to send out your save the date cards, here’s a little help with picking a date for your special day (and take a look at this useful guide to setting the date too).

Friday the thirteenth

There’s another two seemingly unlucky Fridays to avoid in 2020. Superstition often forces couples to avoid the 13th of the month (especially if it falls on a Friday). Other dates that are supposedly unlucky include your birthday, the day of a full moon, April Fool’s Day and it used to be forbidden to get married in Lent and Advent by the church.

Set the date

Some people think that 7 is supposed to be a lucky number whilst 4 is deemed unlucky in Japanese and Chinese traditions, so dates with these numbers may be sought after or avoided by couples. Instead perhaps you want to pick a meaningful date to you such as the anniversary of the date you first met, a memorable date that you’ll remember like 12/12/12 or a nod to your heritage such as your grandparents’ wedding anniversary date.

Think ahead

Consider which year you will get married. This may seem basic but if you want to do something soon then suppliers and venues may already be booked up. So, think about how long you have to plan the
wedding. The more notice you give then the more likely you are able to have your first choice of date.

The four seasons

Depending on when your wedding is in the year could affect what the weather is likely to be like. It could also influence your themes, colours, venue, attire, transportation, food choice etc. Also, different seasons can have an impact on the price and availability of food and flowers. Venues may have different prices depending on the time of the year. And it’s worth bearing in mind whether your key guests or wedding party would be available in school holidays.

Gone till November

Old superstitions state your fate as a couple depending on the month you choose to wed. Some say it was unlucky for a couple to get married in May. Whilst June and other summer months are very popular and even December is gaining in popularity, presumably so that people can use holiday time around the big day. It is worth considering different months as popular ones are in demand so prices may increase and availability will decrease.

Eight days a week

Ironically in another old poem, it states that getting married on a Saturday is unlucky which nowadays is the most common day for people to tie the knot. However, it is also one of the most expensive days too. More people are now considering other weekdays as options and Sundays too (although this used to be deemed as a mark of disrespect).

A hard day’s night

A wedding after dark used to be considered unlucky but you could split your guests up to have some come for the whole day and others just join you for the evening part of the day so you don’t have to pay for all of them to have a sit-down meal.

Look outside your bubble

Make sure you think about what else is going on in the world such as national, local and annual events. Take in to consideration public holidays , sporting events, religious festivals and other key guests’ occasions (like birthdays or wedding anniversaries.

Blue engagement ring | Journey to the Centre of the Earth | modern ethereal winter styled bridal shoot by Hanami Dream | agate | marble | airplants | tulle | pale blue | gold | Oxleaze Barn | Gloucestershire | October 2017 | Photography by Squib Photography

Here’s a list of some events in 2020 (in England) that could influence your choice of dates, that you may wish to avoid or embrace:

Public holidays

  • New Year’s Day 1 January
  • Good Friday 10 April
  • Easter Monday 13 April
  • May Day Bank Holiday 8 May (changed this year in order to coincide with VE celebrations)
  • Spring Bank Holiday 25 May
  • Summer Bank Holiday 31 August
  • Christmas Day 25 December
  • Boxing Day 26 December

Sporting events

  • Six Nations Tournament 1 February – 14 March
  • Super Bowl 2nd February
  • Boat Race 29 March
  • Grand National 4 April
  • London Marathon 26 April
  • FA Cup Final 23 May
  • Champions League Final 30 May
  • UEFA Euro 2020 12 June – 12 July
  • Royal Ascot 16 – 20 June
  • Tour de France 27 June – 19 July
  • Wimbledon 29 June – 12 July
  • Henley Regatta 1 – 5 July
  • British Grand Prix 17-19 July
  • Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo 24 July – 9 August
  • Paralympic Games 25 August – 6 September
  • ICC World Twenty20 18 October – 15 November

Religious festivals

  • Epiphany 6 January
  • Orthodox Christmas Day 7 January
  • Orthodox New Year 14 January
  • Passover 8 – 16 April
  • Easter Sunday 12 April
  • Ramadan begins 23 April – 23 May
  • Eid 31 July
  • Diwali 14 November
  • Hanukkah 10-18 December
  • Christmas

Other occasions

  • Burns Night 25 January
  • Chinese New Year 25 January (year of the rat in 2020)
  • Valentine’s Day 14 February
  • Leap day Saturday 29 February
  • St David’s Day 1 March
  • St Patrick’s Day 17 March
  • Mother’s Day 22 March
  • Shrove Tuesday 25 March
  • Clocks go forward 29 March
  • April Fool’s Day 1 April
  • St George’s Day 23 April
  • Eurovision Song Contest 12 – 16 May
  • Chelsea Flower Show 19 – 23 May
  • Trooping the Colour 13 June
  • Father’s Day 21 June
  • Glastonbury 24 – 29 June
  • Independence Day 4 July
  • Clocks go back 25 October
  • Halloween 31 October
  • Guy Fawkes 5 November
  • Remembrance Day 11 November
  • Thanksgiving 26 November
  • St Andrew’s Day 30 November
  • New Year’s Eve 31 December

‘Unlucky’ dates

  • March 13th 2020
  • November 13th 2020
  • August 13, 2021
  • Friday, May 13, 2022

Good luck on your quest to pick a date for your wedding day (and therefore your wedding anniversary date for years to come). I know a lot of thought will go in to answering the question of ‘So, when is the big day?’ Remember to pick a date that works for you.

Enjoy celebrating in 2020 and I wish you a very Happy New Year.

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Pantone® announce the Color of the Year 2020

Pantone® announce the Color of the Year 2020

Pantone® have picked a soothing and refreshing blue as their colour of the year for 2020. Don’t feel blue! You’ve got ‘Classic Blue’ to get you through the first year of the new decade.

Classic Blue

Funnily enough blue was my hot tip for the Pantone Colour of the year in 2020 – take a look at my review of the Spring/Summer 2020 colours. And Classic Blue sits perfectly in the beautiful seascape of colours to embrace next year.

As Pantone® Vice President Laurie Pressman said, it is “a timeless and enduring blue hue, timeless in its simplicity … Classic Blue is calming and confident. It mixes well with shades across the color spectrum and serves as an anchor on its own.”

It is “a reassuring presence instilling calm, confidence and connection”. … “It is this kind of constancy and confidence that is expressed by Classic Blue, a solid and dependable blue hue we can always rely on.”

Calming influence

The emphasis on a bold primary colour feels like a big back to basics statement and a strong, emotive and versatile colour.

Classic Blue (also known as Pantone® 19-4052) feels like a good palette cleansing colour after the vibrancy of Living Coral in 2019. Perhaps a safe choice, hopefully not political but beautifully calming in a sea of constant change and uncertainty at the moment.

It is natural, neutral and nautical.

2020 weddings

Classic Blue is exactly what it says on the tin. Classic. A core basic colour and a stylish accompaniment to any vibrant pop of colour. I look forward to seeing couples incorporating Classic Blue into their wedding colour schemes in 2020.


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Top Spring 2020 colours from Pantone®

Top Spring 2020 colours from Pantone®

Back to school

I really didn’t want the summer to end this year. I enjoyed all those long lazy summer days together as a family and loved being by the seaside. There’s just something about being by the sea. And like Moana, the line where the sky meets the sea – it calls me and I come back to the water.

So with a bad dose of the post holiday blues, it has been back to school and routine again this week. But I’m ready for the new term and am feeling rejuvenated with some new (school) year resolutions.

My back to school blues have already been allayed thanks to the latest Pantone® announcement. Their prediction of colours that will dominate the scene for next year’s spring and summer are a wonderful reminder of my recent summer holiday with some calming sea colours, pale ice cream colours, alongside some bold primary colours.

Spring 2020

So with the fashion weeks kicking off (this week is New York, then on to London, Milan and Paris), Pantone® have shown their hand for the Spring/Summer colours to look out for early in 2020. And it’ll be great to see which colours will appear in weddings next year.

At first glance I was disappointed as the colours have a similar look and feel to last year I didn’t expect it to feel so repetitive of what we’ve seen recently. I had imagined that the seascape of blues and greens would be more dominant and there would be more of a pastel palette. So I was surprised to see such a vibrant set of colours that we’ve already seen with red still at the forefront.

However, on closer inspection, I realise that maybe this kind of stability is exactly what we need at the moment in a country of such uncertainty. Perhaps an air of familiarity is calming in a sea of constant change. In times of austerity, reusing and recycling saves not only the pocket but the environment too.

Bold primary colours

It feels quite fitting at the time of year when the children are going back to school that the top three colours to be announced at NYFW are the bold primary colours of red, yellow and blue (Flame Scarlet, Saffron and Classic Blue respectively). It feels like a big back to basics statement and an education on how you learn colours first at school. And is this a subconscious way of displaying political allegiances too? These are strong, emotive and empowering colours. Take a look at my stance on the colour red in my colour report for Fall 2019 colours.

Ice cream pastels

For balance, there are a set of paler tones of each of the main bold colours which provide softer versions. It’s like looking at ice cream cones dripping with vanilla, strawberry and mint ice cream (of Sunlight, Coral Pink and Biscay Green).


On reflection, I shouldn’t be disappointed at this set of colours as there are actually three blues that have made it in to the Spring list (of Classic Blue, Faded Denim and Mosaic Blue) and some complementary greens of Chive and Biscay Green to make up a beautiful seascape. And blue is my hot tip for the Pantone Colour of the year in 2020.

Transitional warm secondary colours

Alongside the primary colours sit the secondary colours of green, orange and purple. A perfect lesson on how to mix colours – keeping the theme of back to (school) basics at the forefront. These are also warm. comforting and remincenct of a nice mug of mulled wine. Even the colour names of Cinnamon Stick, Orange Peel and Grape Compote are fragrant and warming.

Spring 2020 colours

The top twelve colours for Spring 2020 are:
  • Flame Scarlet PANTONE 18-1662
  • Saffron PANTONE 14-1064
  • Classic Blue PANTONE 19-4052
  • Biscay Green PANTONE 15-5718
  • Chive PANTONE 19-0323
  • Faded Denim PANTONE 17-4021
  • Orange Peel PANTONE 16-1359
  • Mosaic Blue PANTONE 18-4528
  • Sunlight PANTONE 13-0822
  • Coral Pink PANTONE 14-1318
  • Cinnamon Stick PANTONE 18-1345
  • Grape Compote PANTONE 18-3513


Spring 2020 extra colours from LFW

Plus a couple of additional pinks (rather than an orange and denim) from London Fashion Week round off the colours for Spring 2020:

  • PANTONE 18-2143 Beetroot Purple
  • PANTONE 14-1513 Blossom

Neutral basics

Pantone® have also updated the Classic Colour Palette. These are a group of neutrals that are core basics in the form of a taupe, navy blue, white and grey.
The bonus classic neutral colours for Spring 2020 are:
  • Lark PANTONE 16-1324
  • Navy Blazer PANTONE 19-3923
  • Brilliant White PANTONE 11-4001
  • Ash PANTONE 16-3802

Colour themes

It’ll be great to see how couples incorporate these colours in to their weddings next year. I can see how the classic neutrals will play a big part in coupling up with some of the more vibrant choices.

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.

See some of my trend predictions for weddings in 2019 and look out for my report when the 2020 colour of the year is released later in the year.

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A guide to eco-friendly wedding rings

A guide to eco-friendly wedding rings

Your wedding ring is probably the most important piece of jewellery that you’ll ever wear. Not only does it play a symbolic part of your wedding day but it is also a long lasting keepsake that will stay with you for ever. So choosing, making or buying a wedding ring should be an important part of your wedding planning journey.

Things to consider when choosing your wedding bands include:

  • the metal
  • the shape
  • the width
  • the weight
  • the size
  • how it compliments your engagement ring
  • whether you want to include any gemstones
  • if you both will wear a wedding ring
  • whether the two wedding rings will match or differ

How your wedding ring looks and feels is only one part of the process to think about as you may also wish to consider the impact that your decisions have on the environment.

Holly & Locky made their own wedding bands | photo credit R Pugh

Here are some top tips from Charlotte Berry Jewellery on having wedding jewellery with love at its heart:

wedding ring tradition

It is said that the wedding ring is worn on the left hand, because the ring finger is connected directly to the heart and will allow love to flourish.

Through the centuries the symbolism of the wedding ring has not changed. The circular shape represents the never-ending nature of eternal love. However, attitudes towards wedding jewellery are rapidly changing, and today many couples are not only looking to show their love for each other, but also their love for the environment by investing in eco-friendly, responsibly sourced and ethical wedding rings and jewellery.

ethical and responsibly sourced jewellery

Only jewellery that has been produced with no negative impact on people and their human rights, or the environment can be classed as this. Being able to trace jewellery back to its source is vital. For example:

  • the materials used in the manufacture can be traced back to source to ensure that they have come from certified sources (eg. Fair Trade mines)
  • the manufacturing process has not polluted or impacted the environment in a negative way
  • using eco-friendly materials such as recycled precious metals and gemstones
  • using synthetic gemstones or diamonds to ensure that stones are ‘conflict free’
  • no human rights have been violated in the production of jewellery such as no child labour in mines and fair working conditions and wages

eco-friendly 18ct gold wedding bands made from customers heirloom jewellery

tips to ensure that your wedding jewellery is responsible, ethical and eco-friendly

My top tip is to research. If you are buying your wedding jewellery or wedding rings from a high street jeweller then ask about the provenance of all materials used. If they can’t answer, walk away!

A greener alternative to the high street is finding an independent jeweller who will be able to make your dream rings/jewellery to your exact specifications and design. You can ask for recycled metals, reclaimed materials and ethically sourced stones. Anything you like! Many bullion dealers now sell an ‘eco’ option for silver, gold and platinum, and many jewellers only work in these materials now.

If you are lucky enough to have family heirloom jewellery which has been passed down to you, then why not use this as your green alternative to buying new. There are lots of different options which a jeweller will be happy to discuss with you. Old wedding bands can simply be resized, or they can be melted down and made into new rings. And not just rings; old chains and other items can be melted and re-purposed too.

recycled star sapphire and diamond engagement ring made from customers heirloom jewellery

make your own wedding rings

To make your rings that little bit more magical and personal, you can always make your own. If getting crafty and creative is something that inspires you, some jewellers offer ‘make your own wedding rings’ workshops where you can choose your design, materials and any additional personalisation.

If you are worried that your jewellery doesn’t cover all of the points raised, my answer is: Don’t worry! So you can’t trace the source of your grandmother’s wedding band. Well, reusing or repurposing the metal makes your ring recycled/eco-friendly, and re-using antique diamonds is eco too.

Small changes add up to a BIG difference.

about Charlotte Berry Jewellery

Founded in 2007, Charlotte Berry Jewellery creates bespoke ethically sourced and sustainably crafted fine jewellery in beautiful rural Oxfordshire.

Using traditional techniques, she creates ranges of wearable and stylish contemporary jewellery; which she hopes “will be worn and passed down from generation to generation. One day becoming someone else’s treasure with new meaning and sentiment. Part of the beautiful humanity of daily life.”

Charlotte also offers one day wedding ring making workshops for couples to design and make their dream rings.


instagram logo@charlotteberryjewellery

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A (Brides)made to measure wedding dress

A (Brides)made to measure wedding dress

Wedding dress shopping can feel like a fairy tale to some but can also be a little overwhelming. Oftern bridal dress shops have a sea of (generally) white dresses laid out before the lucky bride to be which can leave some feeling a little daunted.

There are a few routes to take when thinking about finding the perfect wedding dress:

  1. buy a new wedding dress off the peg
  2. buy a second hand wedding dress
  3. borrow a wedding a dress
  4. have a wedding dress made to measure

Susie Grist Couture | Dale Stephens Photography | Silver Pear Weddings at Friars Court | Emma Goodwin Hair & Makeup | Yurga Makeup Artist

Here are some top tips from Susie Grist Couture on having a bespoke wedding dress made for your special day:

a wedding dress made just for you

By having your wedding dress made you can create the perfect gown with all the elements that you love. You are part of the design process, so you get to choose the style of it, the fabric, the colour, the type of lace, and any adornments. This means that the dress becomes part of you and will reflect your personality as this will influence the choices that you make. It will be a unique dress and no-one else will have exactly the same one, unlike if you bought one from a high street shop.

Another advantage of a bespoke wedding dress is that it will be tailor made to fit you, no matter what size or shape you are, so that you will feel confident on the day. When you buy a dress from a high street shop they come in standard dress sizes. As most people are not a standard size you will most likely have to pay a seamstress to have some alterations made for it to fit you properly.

Susie Grist Couture | Dale Stephens Photography | Silver Pear Weddings at Friars Court | Emilee’s Hair

designing a wedding dress just for you

Inspiration can come from many different sources such as bridal magazines, Pinterest, royal weddings, red carpet events, television and films. Or perhaps you have a favourite dress or top that you like the neckline or sleeves, or a favourite style of skirt. Or maybe you’ve tried on some wedding dresses and like certain elements about them but not the overall look.

To start the design process, it is helpful to collate your ideas and take them to an initial design consultation. By talking things through with your wedding dress designer you can pinpoint the best ideas and amalgamate them into the perfect design. Through asking the right questions, the designer will guide you through the design process even if you are a bride who is not quite sure what you want.

Susie Grist Couture | Dale Stephens Photography | Silver Pear Weddings at Friars Court | Emma Goodwin Hair & Makeup | Yurga Makeup Artist

wedding dress designer

The relationship between the wedding dress designer and the bride is a collaboration and it is important that you get along as you will be spending quite a bit of time together.

As you go through the various stages of making your bespoke gown ,the design will evolve and may even change as ideas progress. If at any stage throughout the process something is not how you envisioned, or you have a new idea it is important to tell your designer as soon as you can. They will help talk through the ideas and changes with you to see if they would work. After all, they are there to bring your dream dress to life and want you to love it.

You will have to make quite a few decisions along the way, but the designer is there to help point you in the right direction so don’t be afraid. It is a very exciting, satisfying and worthwhile experience.

Susie Grist Couture | Dale Stephens Photography | Silver Pear Weddings at Friars Court | Emilee’s Hair

made to measure costs and timescale

One of the first things everyone thinks about is the cost of a bespoke wedding dress. It may not be the cheapest wedding dress option, however it doesn’t have to be wildly expensive either. And it will be made to fit you exactly.

It is a good idea to research bespoke dress makers in your area and talk to them. You will need to know how much they charge, what is included in the charge and what is extra, when each instalment will be due for payment and how long it will take to make your bespoke dress.

Susie Grist Couture | Dale Stephens Photography | Silver Pear Weddings at Friars Court | Emma Goodwin Hair & Makeup | Yurga Makeup Artist | All About Flowers

fitting of a made to measure wedding dress

Just as with any wedding dress fitting, it is a good idea to buy the shoes and underwear you will be wearing as early as possible to wear to your fittings as this can influence the fit and length of the dress.

It is also nice to bring along accessories to your fittings so that you can try them on to see if they are working with your dress design.

If your size changes in the build up to the wedding, then having a bespoke dress is ideal as you will have several fittings throughout the making process and at each stage the dress will be altered to reflect your size.

About Susie Grist Couture

Susie Grist Couture specialise in designing and making individual bespoke wedding gowns. Based in Abingdon-On-Thames working from a home studio.

She has over 18 years of professional sewing experience and has been designing wedding dresses for nearly 6 years. She makes bridal gowns, bridesmaids and flower girl dresses and even outfits for mothers.


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instagram logo@susiegristcouture

image credits:

Dresses | Susie Grist Couture |
Venue | Silver Pear Weddings at Friars Court, Clanfield |
Photography | Dale Stephens Photography |
Hair (purple lace dress & aqua blue with ivory lace dress) | Emilee’s Hair |
Hair (blush & ivory dresses) | Emma Goodwin Hair & Makeup |
Make up (blush & ivory dresses) | Yurga Makeup Artist |
Flowers (ivory dress) | All About Flowers |


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Celebrating 5 years of Hanami Dream!

Celebrating 5 years of Hanami Dream!

What a day for celebration the fourth of July is: Independence Day, Alice Day and also the 5th birthday of Hanami Dream weddings and special occasions!

five years since my first styled shoot

Yes, July marks five years since I published my first styled photo shoot under the umbrella of Hanami Dream. After that Alice in Wonderland shoot in 2014, came the Wizard of Oz, followed in 2016 by a Wind in the Willows wedding. The following year saw the addition of 3 more styled bridal shoots: a modern Edwardian Secret Garden themed wedding, a real break from tradition with a Festival style wedding and also a lovely winter Journey to the Centre of the Earth themed wedding. I love working with amazing local suppliers!

Photography by Cat Stephens Photography

five years since my first tweet

From my first tweet in 2014, to a steadily increasing readership (and social media following) with around 1,600 unique page views a month on average. Plus a combined social media network of over 5,500 followers and ongoing promotion and networking means this is ever growing.

five years since my first blog post

It’s crazy to think how much has evolved over the past five years; now 367 blog posts later and winner at the Event and Wedding category at the UK Blog Awards last year.

five years of accolades

I have had my styled shoots published in print and featured in Your Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wedding magazine and Your Glos & Wilts Wedding magazine. Plus, an article I wrote on 2019 wedding styling trends was published in Your Berks, Buck & Oxon Wedding magazine.

I was proud to have one of my wedding marketing advice articles published on Bride magazine to help wedding suppliers to start and maintain a good company blog.
And Hanami Dream featured in the local press covering the role of judge in the UK Blog Awards 2019.

five years more credentials

I’m really pleased with my honoured collection of accolades, which include #QueenOf Wedding Inspiration by The Royal Connection, the #SmartSocial award from Marketme, #BrightPig’s Business of the Week, WOW Winner picked by Jacqueline Gold CBE. As well as winning Theo Paphitis’s #SBS (Small Business Sunday).

During my career I’ve obtained my CIM Professional Diploma in Marketing and worked in various marketing roles for 13 years before starting my own business. I’ve also obtained my Diploma in Wedding and Event Planning with the UK Academy of Wedding & Event Planners making me a Certified Wedding and Event Planner.

Over the last year, I’ve been pleased to be nomiated in the Foxy Deer Awards and the Cotswold Awards.

five years of supporting couples with wedding planning

I launched #UKWedLunch nearly 3 years ago, as well as being a guest host on #BrideHour and this year I was the wedding judge at the UK Blog Awards 2019.

I was also pleased to see the entries for a #WonderfulWeddingWares Instagram challenge this May.

five more years’ experience

As well as writing an award winning wedding blog, I’m also a wedding marketing specialist, with 18 years experience in a number of industries.

As well as providing inspiration to brides and grooms in the Cotswolds, I’ve continued to combine my previous 13 years of marketing experience, with my local knowledge, in the scope of the wedding industry. I provide marketing consultation to some local, independent wedding businesses in and around Witney, Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds where I’ve been affectionately titled the Wedding Inspector – a bit like the Alex Polizzi of the local wedding industry!

work with Hanami Dream

It has certainly been a busy year already and it is excitedly looking good for the remainder of 2019.

I’m looking forward to working with more local wedding professionals, services and venues #keepitlocal. And I can’t wait to produce more styled photo shoots and have more opportunities to collaborate with local suppliers.

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, write a guest post or need some marketing advice and guidance. Together we can build the local wedding industry and inspire brides and grooms for their special day.

Happy birthday to Hanami Dream – now where is the cake?!

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Keeping your wedding guests well watered

Keeping your wedding guests well watered

With World Gin Day this weekend, my thoughts go to wedding drinks.

Keeping your wedding guests well fed, watered and entertained is key to a really happy wedding day. Get this right and you’re on to a winner.

Remember everyone loves free things! If you can’t afford to pay for the bar all night then perhaps welcome drinks and some with the meal will be a nice gesture.

Here’s a quick guide to getting the drinks right for your wedding day.

1. Drink seasonally – if the weather is hot then you’ll need to make sure you’ve got plenty of cool drinks including non alcoholic beverages and possibly extra ice too. And vice versa, if it’s cold then consider offering a hot toddy, mulled wine or a hot chocolate to warm up your guests.

2. Service – if your guests are serving themselves then they may pour more than a bar tender. However they may drink less depending on the time of your wedding or on a weekday. So allow more or less accordingly.

3. Bar – the main alcohols to stock a basic wedding bar include: gin, vodka, rum, tequila, whisky, beer, wine, and champagne. And make sure you have a good selection of soft drinks, mixers and non alcoholic options too.

4. Drinks with the meal – roughly you can get 4 servings per bottle of wine (and 18 servings per bottle of liquor). Consider placing bottles of wine (and water) on the table for people to serve themselves during the meal.

5. Drinks with the toasts – allow 1 bottle for every 8 guests for the champagne toast and only pour half glasses (as most guests will just take sip and go back to their original drink).

6. Quick calculations – Here’s a quick sum to give you a rough number of drinks needed for your wedding = number of guests  x  1.5  x  number of hours of serving.


Photography by Farrow Photography


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Dealing with difficult wedding guests

Dealing with difficult wedding guests

There will probably be some tough decisions to make with your guest list. Ultimately, it all boils down to who you want in the room with you and how well do you want to know the people that are there.

After the guest list headaches, chasing RSVPs and endlessly revising the seating plan, there may be some issues to consider so you can avoid any dramas with tricky wedding attendees.

Here are my top 6 tips for dealing with difficult wedding guests.

1. Think about your guest list from the start. Be specific on the invitation to avoid unexpected plus ones. Have a plan if an unexpected guest arrives.

2. Brief your attendants. Perhaps give them on stand by with a secret code word to intervene with difficult guests. Think about any guests that may need to be kept a part (or away from the free bar!)

3. Seat difficult guests near the back or side at the reception. Consider seating divorced couples apart. Think about having a sweetheart table if your parents are not able to sit together on a traditional top table.

4. Ensure guests are kept well fed (it helps soaks up alcohol) to avoid drunken antics. Happy guests are less likely to be tetchy or bored.

5. Ask for any dietary requirements in advance. Make sure there’s no surprises on the day.

6. Keep the children entertained to stave off boredom. Consider outside or an additional room for them to play.

Photography by Farrow Photography



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