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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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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New rules for weddings during a pandemic

New rules for weddings during a pandemic

Fourth of July

We’ve now been in lockdown for over 100 days, due to the Corona virus (COVID-19), and things are beginning to slowly ease to allow the economy to kick start again (for now at least).

The fourth of July will be a monumental date for most of England as more things open up. But rather than a focus on independence, the day also marks the time that couples can start to tie the knot again.

Since 23rd March, weddings and civil partnerships have been banned in England due to lockdown. But from 4th July they can now take place again. However there will be a number of restrictions in order for these to be able to go ahead, providing they are safe and follow guidelines.

Photography by Squib Photography

The new guidance from the government on weddings and civil partnerships in England includes:

No more than 30 people in total at ceremony

This not only includes the couple, family and friends but also any suppliers, officiants and witnesses (but not including staff at the venue). Venues will keep a register of every visitor for at least 21 days for track and trace purposes. Some venues will be also be able to help with remote participation at home for those guests that can’t be there in person.

Photography by Squib Photography

No wedding receptions

At most, couples can hold a very small reception after the ceremony. Although this can be with only two households indoors, or up to 6 people from different households outdoors. Face to face seating is being discouraged. On the adverse, this could be a real money saving aspect as the reception is often the most expensive part of a wedding.

Photography by Squib Photography

No food and drink

Nothing is supposed to be consumed as part of the event. Meanwhile, there is some discussion at the moment about reducing vat on the hospitality industry sector (to only 5%) to encourage spending. All this will help the wedding budget and will help couples save up to possibly have a sequel wedding or separate reception next year or at another time.

Photography by Squib Photography

Not too long

The advice is to keep things to a minimum and mainly keep to the legal bits. The official bit is actually only about 10 minutes long. Any order of service should be one use and guests will be encouraged to take their sheets away with them.

Photography by Squib Photography

No walking down the aisle

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. However, lockdown has certainly got people thinking more creatively, so I’m sure there will be some novel ways to be given away within social distancing rules. Look out for my alternative suggestions for this part of the ceremony coming soon.

Photography by Squib Photography

No singing

To avoid the spread of the virus via droplets, you can’t raise your voices to say your vows and one person is to speak at a time (or you may need Perpspex clear screens). Singing will not be allowed and instruments that are blown into aren’t permitted either. You are able to have organ music or you can use recordings instead. But you can not play loud music, as this would mean that people may need to shout to be heard or lean in to hear.

Photography by Squib Photography

Hand washing

On top of the usual advice, handwashing will be especially important before and after exchanging rings. And rings shouldn’t be handled by too many people either.

Photography by Squib Photography

Social distancing

Staying apart from people is still the key message and guests are advised to keep to the 2 metre rule (or 1 metre plus extra safety measures such as face masks or screens). Venues are being encouraged to improve their ventilation and to tape floors to help people keep their distance. Whilst you won’t have the stress of the seating plan at a reception, you may want to think about how and where people sit in the church or ceremony venue. Household/family groups could sit together closer than 2 metres, whilst others will need to be socially distanced from other households.

Photography by Squib Photography

No certainty

The biggest concern at the moment is the uncertainty of how long these types of measures will be in place. Lockdown could return (nationally or locally) at any time or restrictions could ease further. There is no knowing how long we will need to live with these rules. Some couples may be nervous and so may want more transparency and flexibility when booking. Couples need to have confidence to pay deposits and understand how contingency plans will be handled by venues and suppliers.

Photography by Squib Photography

Weddings during a pandemic

Weddings will look and feel very different for a little while and may not suit everyone. They will certainly be more intimate and personal. A limited guest list may ease some couples’ stresses whilst some of those with large families may be at a disadvantage.

Perhaps some will find weddings more clinical and less celebratory. A church service could feel more like a registry office style wedding, with just the legal bits and no singing.

Unless this is your only chance (due to ill health, work, forces or travel commitments) then what is a few months or a year to wait in the grand scheme of 40 or 50 years together? But if you are desperate to get married, then these are the types of restrictions that will have to be considered as the current norm.

Photography by Squib Photography

A break from tradition

However, perhaps these restrictions will focus couples on what a wedding really means to them. They will need to think about what is the most important part for them – whether that’s the ceremony, the start of a marriage, or a party and time to celebrate with friends and family.

This could be the time that wedding traditions change. This will challenge wedding traditions and force couples to think in new ways to hold their wedding. Suppliers and venues will need to adapt in order to survive.

So what does this mean for the future of weddings? At the moment, I keep coming back to the last scene of the third Back to the Future film. Doc Brown explains that the future hasn’t been written yet. ‘No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one. Both of you.’

Photography by Squib Photography

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 how you’re creatively dealing 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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5 reasons tiny weddings rock

5 reasons tiny weddings rock

Tiny wedding trend

Before coronovirus threw wedding plans up in the air, couples were already thinking about down sizing their weddings and decreasing wedding guest numbers. And now this could be a forced decision, so micro or tiny weddings are certainly a trend that will be at the forefront, especially when people’s planning can come off pause.

Micro weddings keep things small, personal and meaningful. Not always in the extreme of eloping but a step away from traditions and expectations. Making the day a wonderful experience for everyone, good value for money and would take possible social distancing guidelines into consideration.

Tiny weddings could range from having a dinner party in a private room, a picnic in a park, a weekend sleepover in a stately home or a destination wedding (when/if allowed) for your close friends and family.

Bigger doesn’t always have to be better. Here are 5 reasons why tiny weddings rock from Carly Straughan (from Epic Elopement) who, along with Claire Ady (Wed in Central Park), host Tiny Weddings – an exciting style of wedding fair for small, intimate weddings and elopements.

1. You get to spend the whole day with your favourite person.

When else do you and your future husband or wife get to spend a whole day just loving each other, celebrating your time together and thinking about your future? With fewer guests to entertain you will spend less time worrying about other people and more time with the person that matters the most. There are also some great studies that show the more intimate your wedding the more likely your marriage is to succeed (surely something to do with the stress of planning a big wedding!)

2. You will avoid the most common planning nightmares.

The hard parts of planning are almost always not related to making your marriage happen. The seating plan, the choice of dining options or what sort of music to play to please everyone during a 4 hour reception are avoided when you have a small group of close family and friends to entertain. Think of your celebrations as less of an operational ordeal and more of a larger dinner party and suddenly it all makes sense.

3. You can spend your money more wisely.

Having a small wedding or elopement may not even mean spending less than you would have spent on a big wedding. The difference is that you get to spend your money on the things that are important to you as a couple. Try making a list of things that you absolutely need to make your day work for you and then set your budget against that. If the dinner is a big part of your day then spend your budget on great food. Feeding 30 people caviar and champagne is much more affordable than serving 150 people a chicken dinner. If travel is your thing, a smaller wedding day can allow you to blow the budget on a mega honeymoon or even allow you to take your wedding overseas with a small party all expenses paid.

4. You won’t explain your quirks to anyone.

It’s much easier to share your plans with a smaller party and explain your choices to those who are invested in you as a couple. If you want the whole wedding party to wear a certain colour, travel to a remote location or do something seemingly random that brings you joy, it’s much easier to get buy in when you’re inviting only close family and friends. It’s going to be more difficult to explain your reasoning behind your choices if you have all your second cousins and great aunts chiming in. Spend your time and effort on the people and things that bring you joy, not arguing about chair covers with Sharon from work.

5. You’ll find suppliers who absolutely love their jobs.

If you’re looking to work with passionate individuals who will put as much effort into your wedding day as you do, then having an intimate wedding is more likely to help you find them. Larger suppliers need you to fulfil minimum orders, cover overheads for their venues and feed 100+ people to pay their bills. Small vendors usually have lower overheads, less staff costs and would be delighted to hear about a no stress wedding with under 50 guests.

About Tiny Weddings

Tiny Weddings is a joint venture between Carly Straughan (from Epic Elopement) and Claire Ady (Wed in Central Park). Having both had intimate weddings and working in the industry, exhibited and visited wedding fairs for years, Claire and Carly realised there was a space in the market for a fair dedicated to those who traditionally are ignored by the big wedding industry. Tiny Weddings Fair is the anti-dote to the mega fair that has grown up in recent years, bringing together vendors who specialise in intimate ceremonies and elopements around the world, whilst also hosting talks from experts in their field who can help couples find their own Tiny Wedding inspiration.

They held a very successful Tiny Weddings Fair on Sunday 30 September 2018, 10am-4pm at Wycombe Swan Theatre, High Wycombe HP11 2XE.

Look out for the next Tiny Weddings Fair coming soon (hopefully in the not too distant future, all being well).

About Tiny Weddings’s hosts

Claire is a wedding planner, specialising in elopements and small destination weddings in Central Park, New York, for couples from all over the world. She has been doing this for over six years and has planned almost two hundred and fifty weddings so far. All of her weddings have had under fifty guests and most have between five and fifteen guests. She knows the tiny wedding market well. She knows what drives a couple to choose a tiny wedding and what values and priorities are popular for the couples that take this route.

Carly has been blogging about elopements since her own elopement in 2015. Beginning her career in wedding journalism, Carly moved into wedding planning and events management but always knew it wasn’t her scene. Carly has planned and executed weddings, fairs and events for some of the UK’s most recognisable venues and attractions and continues to work with events venues day to day as a consultant. When her own marriage was imminent she quickly realised there wasn’t much choice for those who wanted a great wedding without a huge guest list, Carly began seeking out suppliers of tiny wedding and elopements around the world and the rest is history.


facebook logo@TinyWedsFair

First published 17 September 2018. Updated 10 June 2020.

Celebrate your original wedding date

Celebrate your original wedding date

Wedding plans on hold

What a strange few months we’ve been living through. A time when pretty much everything in our diaries has been wiped out. When plans have all been put on hold. It has all felt a little surreal, uncertain and apprehensive.

Obviously weddings have been greatly affected by current events with no sign yet on when they will be possible and in what format they will take when they are allowed again.

Celebrate your original wedding date

Meanwhile, wedding planner at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, Stacey Puffer has put together these lovely ideas for how you can still celebrate your original wedding date whilst plans are on hold (featuring some tantaslising shots of food prepared by Clerkenwell Green).

Your wedding day is one of the most exciting and memorable days of your life. Having to postpone your wedding day due to COVID-19 can be very upsetting. If you’ve had to postpone your wedding due to COVID-19, don’t despair there are still several ways you can still celebrate your original wedding date!

Exchange your vows

No doubt you’ve probably already written your vows, don’t let them go to waste, share them with each other on the date or your original wedding day.

Celebrate virtually

Whilst it’s not the same, why not get together your closest friends and family on zoom or house party app, pop a bottle of fizz and acknowledge that this was your original date!

Write a love letter

This will no doubt be a difficult time for you both, it’s something you’ve looked forward to for so long, so bring out some of those emotional feelings about your partner, the excitement of marrying them and what it means to you.

Order cake

Whether it’s a wedding cake or ordinary cake from your local cake/coffee shop (many are offering ‘order online’ services) order cake. Cake always solves everything – even if it’s for a few moments!

Date night

Share a romantic evening with your partner, whether it is a romantic meal cooked from scratch or your local take away, throw in a few rose petals on the table and a bottle of wine (maybe it’s one that you had saved for your original wedding date), or make your signature cocktail (if you were planning on having cocktails at your wedding). Whatever you decide to do, make it a special occasion and memorable to you both. This will help lift your spirits.

Put a ring on it

Why not celebrate your original wedding date with a symbolic ring (we all love a little bit of bling) or even your actual wedding rings, there is no reason why you couldn’t start to wear it should you wish.

Car parade

Whilst your nearest and dearest can’t be by your side right now, seeing family and friends (from afar) with beaming smiles, wedding bunting, maybe your first dance song blaring from the cars radio, supporting you in this current situation is a perfect way of helping you celebrate and marking this occasion.

Remember #loveisnotcancelled, you will get to say ‘I do’ and you will have your wedding day to remember!

instagram logo@staceypuffer_weddingplanner

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Stronger together

Stronger together


I’ve been quiet for a while. I haven’t really known what to say or do. Things are so hard to comprehend. It’s overwhelming. It’s scary. And it’s pretty much unbelievable.

What a year! Brexit, floods, Caroline Flack, storms and now a pandemic virus. Events that are happening now are completely unprecedented and will change our lives forever.  I keep thinking about how strong my grandparents must have been to live through the war.

Brave little fish

I read a book to my youngest yesterday called ‘Swimmy’ by Leo Lionni (originally published in 1963) and the message really hit home to me. It is a beautiful children’s picture book about a brave little fish that is left all on his own after his school of fish are all eaten. He has to find his own way around the ocean, meeting lots of amazing other creatures on the way. He meets new friends but they are too scared to come out of hiding to explore the wonderful world around them. ‘Swimmy shows his friends how–with ingenuity and team work–they can overcome any danger.’

Be kind

I hope that one thing to come out of this horrible year is that everyone is just a little bit kinder to everyone. To support one another. To keep it local and to help those in our community. Everyone is going to be affected by this and we need to stick together. We need to be more like Swimmy.

Come together

It is encouraging to see how companies are thinking outside of the box and diversifying. Adapting. Getting creative. Seeing what opportunities are now available to them. Taking a change of direction.

Technology, virtual solutions and social media are resources that our grandparents didn’t have in the war. Yes, they can be dangerous tools if used in the wrong way, but they are also amazing to bring people together, keep them talking and help them not feel so alone or lost.

Wonderful wedding suppliers

The wedding industry is getting hit hard. Everyone’s business is being affected. It got me thinking about what I could do to help the wonderful local wedding suppliers near me.

Stronger (virtually) together

So I’m offering my blog as a vehicle to local wedding businesses whilst this crazy scene plays out.

  • Please let me know if you’d like to place a free banner advert on the blog.
  • Or whilst your work load is possibly reduced, maybe you’d like to write a guest blog giving top tips from your part of the wedding industry – this would get shared across all my social media.
  • Or you’d like to submit a real wedding or styled shoot that you’ve been involved in.
  • Or perhaps you’d like to be involved in my next shoot (the April one has been postponed) and could start thinking about what you could produce.
  • Or you need help with virtual marketing, ideas on how to diversify or adapt to the current environment, or any other suggestions that you think I may be able to help you.

On hold

Wedding planning will (and should) still go on – it’ll be good to look forward to an amazing celebration when all of this is passed. 


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Get the bunting out!

Get the bunting out!

For centuries, ‘putting the flags out’ was the cue to celebrate something great that has happened and to really push the boat out.

And these decorative strings of paper or material triangles, often called ‘bunting’, have been used at many a street party commemorating a momentous occasion like D-Day, the Queen’s jubilees, royal weddings, and festivals.

The origins of bunting

The word bunting could have derived from the German word ‘bunt’ which means colourful.

Plus, bunting often refers to a collection of flags, particularly on the ships of the Royal Navy for communication purposes. A ship’s communications officer, who would’ve been responsible for raising the flags as signals, is still known as the “bunt”.

In addition, bunting was originally made from a coarse, loosely woven cotton fabric, with a very open weave, similar to cloth used to sift grain in the Middle Ages. The act of sifting was known as ‘bonten’.

Today bunting is used to describe strings of flags to decorate parties: inside or outside; made of cloth, cardboard, plastic or lace; in a variety of shapes and sizes; with or without patterns.

Take a look at these top tips from Doris and Tate to complete your venue with bunting.

Create a festival wedding

A hot wedding trend for 2020 is to recreate the magical feel of a weekend festival. Use colourful bunting fluttering across the tents and stages or from tree to tree. Serve hot food or ice cream from outside stalls or wagons, and light smoke flares to create wedding photos to remember. If your venue is inside but you’re still craving a festival vibe, try fanning long lengths of vibrant, colourful bunting from a central ceiling point out over the tables or dance floor. It’s an easy and quick way to create the ‘wow’ factor, and you can match the fabric to your wedding flowers for a Boho look.

More is more with bunting

The best thing about hanging bunting in your venue is that you can never have too much – in fact, more is more when it comes to hanging these cheery decorations. One the most impactful ways to hang bunting is lines of flags across the width of the room – this is particularly effective if you have a balcony or mezzanine so guests can look down on the bunting from above. If you’re using a venue with a high ceiling such a barn, using lengths of bunting strung across the room lowers the focal point of the ceiling and creates a more intimate space.

Make it personal

Make a length of your own bunting with fabric of sentimental value. Perhaps you have a special piece of fabric or an item of clothing (such as your mum’s old wedding dress) that you’d like to be part of your big day. Don’t try and take on the whole venue (you’ve got enough to do), but make shorter, more personal, lengths to hang on your top table, at the bar or over the entrance. Making a shorter length of bunting means you can use it in your home after the wedding, and you could even personalise it with letters to spell out your names.

Pick a colour scheme

If you have a smaller venue, choose bunting with a single colour theme for an ordered and coordinated feel. Forget twee union jacks, try darker colours for a more stylish look, jute tones for a natural feel or for the ultimate in timeless beauty, you can’t go wrong with pure white and ivory. Pick out coordinating colours from your bouquet and bridesmaids’ dresses to decorate the tables and the rest of the room.

Make it magical with fairy lights

We think bunting brings a venue alive and says ‘party’ all on its own. But for extra glamour and magic, think about draping strings of fairy lights over the top. This creates a twinkling layered look that provides a feast for the eyes, and ensures your bunting goes seamlessly from day to night.

about Doris and Tate

Doris and Tate is two cousins who are based in the village of Chalford, near Stroud, in the Cotswolds.

They make the ultimate in eco bunting – you hire it and it’s made from repurposed fabric – off cuts, fabric samples, clothes, chair covers –anything that is no longer wanted they transform into double sided, high quality, beautifully made eco bunting.

They love colourful, mismatched bunting but also adore a pure white swath of bunting draped from trees in the summer.

 instagram logo@dorisandtate

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