Judge at the UK Blog Awards 2019

Judge at the UK Blog Awards 2019

Winner at the UK Blog Awards 2018

Usually at this time of the year, I’m asking you to kindly support me and vote for the blog in the UK Blog Awards. As you may know, I was absolutely delighted to win the UK Blog Award in the Individual Event and Wedding category last year. And so, it is with great excitement that I’m pleased to say that I am a judge at the UK Blog Awards 2019.

The UK Blog Awards

The mission of The UK Blog Awards is to recognise the unique and resonant nature of the Internet community – from bloggers to Social Influencers and through organisations and individual creators. The UK Blog Awards is the most prestigious, and the only, multi-industry awards honouring online excellence.

Now in its sixth year, The UK Blog Awards continues to celebrate the most resonant and engaging content creators in the UK, those inside and outside of the prevailing trends.

This year, they have expanded the mission by introducing even more categories and there’ll be a completely live and online stream of the UK Blog Awards where the winners and highly commended bloggers will be announced in April.

Photography by Squib Photography

 

 

My judging credentials for the UK Blog Awards 2019

Being a judge for the UKBA19 is a great honour and a wonderful next step and evolution of my involvement with the UK Blog Awards.

I’m delighted that my wedding blog, Hanami Dream, won the individual Event and Wedding UK Blog Awards 2018 (as well as being a finalist in 2017 and highly commended in 2016). Being a judge of the UKBA19 will combine my marketing skills, blogging experience along with my passion and knowledge of the wedding industry.

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 in 2014. I’ve also obtained my Diploma in Wedding and Event Planning with the UK Academy of Wedding & Event Planners.

My marketing background gives me the insight and experience to help local wedding businesses with their marketing strategy and promotional plans.

All this will put me in great stead when reading through the blogs in the wedding category.

Photography by Farrow Photography

 

My judging criteria of the UK Blog Awards 2019

I’m looking forward to reading some fresh content, with a unique angle and a new take on topics. I can’t wait to read the blogs, especially those tackling novel subjects that are ahead of trends and give a modern stance on the world of weddings and modern alternatives to old traditions.

I love something that reads well, speaks to the audience, looks good, plus uses its own imagery. I’m not a fan of too many typos and spelling/grammatical mistakes (which I think harks back to my proof reading days when my boss used to mark my work with a trusty ‘old red’ biro!)

I love that the wedding genre overlaps many other categories nowadays, with topics touching Eco, Law, Lifestyle, Fashion and Finance amongst others.

The current trend in the world of weddings is about making your mark, being different, not having a cookie cutter wedding like the next person, and personalisation. I believe that should be the same in the blogging world – make your own niche, be yourself, be unique and do what you do best.

Blogging for me is about being a content creator, a journalist in your own field, reporting on your area of expertise as you see it.

Menu and floral display on table | 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 www.squibphotography.co.uk

 

UK Blog Awards 2019 wedding judge

I’m looking forward to being inspired by the wedding blogs I have the pleasure of judging. I’ve already judged the first round and look forward to the next exciting steps.

Take a look at all the finalists of the UK Blog Awards 2019 in all 27 categories.

 

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2018 review of the year

2018 review of the year

I hope you’ve had a wonderful time celebrating Christmas. At this between and betwixt time, I often take the time to reflect on the past year. And what a fantastic year it’s been for Hanami Dream weddings and special occasions in 2018.

Highlights of 2018

My blog has had a really exciting year and continues to go from strength to strength. The highlight of 2018, has to be winning the event and wedding UK Blog Award in April.

I was also thrilled to obtain my Diploma in Wedding and Event Planning from the UK Academy of Wedding & Event Planners to become a Certified Wedding and Event Planner.

I was pleased to be shortlisted in the Foxy Deer Awards and the Cotswolds Awards. Plus I was a finalist in a Pantone® colour trend challenge again.

Hanami Dream blog

This year, my focus has been on developing the blog commercially, as well as providing inspiration to brides and grooms in the Cotswolds. And 2018 saw a new look for Hanami Dream with a logo refresh and a complete redesign of the website.

The blog has featured posts on different elements of wedding planning:

As well as some submitted real wedding inspiration:

Along with my own winter bridal styled shoot:

And a video of my secret garden styled wedding shoot:

Trend posts have been exciting to write this year as we’ve had 2 royal weddings to draw upon this year:

I continue my review of local wedding venues:

Plus some wonderful guest posts from local wedding professionals have featured on the blog  (with top tips and an insight in to different elements of wedding planning from their area of the wedding industry):

See the top posts of 2018 on Hanami Dream.

Marketing support

I’ve continued to provide marketing consultation to some local, independent wedding businesses in and around Witney, Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds. It’s great to combine my marketing experience, with my local knowledge, in the scope of the wedding industry. Some of my clients have included a fantastic florist, a few wedding venues, a children’s toy hire company and a vintage Rolls Royce hire company.

I’m delighted to have enquiries for different aspects of the business including venue styling and consultancy, as well as such lovely testimonials from happy couples and suppliers I’ve worked with in 2018.

In print

I have been chuffed that some of my shoots have been published in print this year 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 has been published in Your Berks, Buck & Oxon Wedding magazine and have an article in Martha Weddings due to publish any day.

Looking forward to 2019

Now is also a great time to look forward to the brand new year ahead. I’ve lots of plans afoot including focusing the blog on supporting and promoting 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. Plus watch this space for my ‘wedding fairs with a difference’ coming soon.

Meanwhile, I’m excited about being a judge at the UK Blog Awards 2019 early in the new year.

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.

Many thanks for your support in 2018 and here’s to an exciting and very Happy New Year!Candles and firelight tablescape | 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 www.squibphotography.co.uk

 

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Top blog posts in 2018 on Hanami Dream

Top blog posts in 2018 on Hanami Dream

  1. http://www.hanamidream.co.uk/top-spring-2019-colours-from-pantone/
  2. http://www.hanamidream.co.uk/inspiration-journey-to-the-centre-of-the-earth-wedding/
  3. http://www.hanamidream.co.uk/top-local-catering-vans-for-weddings-in-the-cotswolds/
  4. http://www.hanamidream.co.uk/inspiration-intimate-castle-wedding/
  5. http://www.hanamidream.co.uk/wedding-venue-review-lapstone-barn/
  6. http://www.hanamidream.co.uk/top-fall-2018-colours-from-pantone/
  7. http://www.hanamidream.co.uk/top-20-local-wedding-venues/
  8. http://www.hanamidream.co.uk/top-local-wedding-transport-suppliers-in-the-cotswolds-get-me-to-the-church-on-time/
  9. http://www.hanamidream.co.uk/inspiration-modern-edwardian-secret-garden-wedding/
  10. http://www.hanamidream.co.uk/wedding-venue-review-oxleaze-barn/
  11. http://www.hanamidream.co.uk/2018-wedding-fashion-report-from-lyst/
  12. http://www.hanamidream.co.uk/top-local-wedding-favour-suppliers-in-the-cotswolds/
  13. http://www.hanamidream.co.uk/wedding-venue-review-ashmolean-museum/
  14. http://www.hanamidream.co.uk/inspiration-french-foodies-fete-barn-wedding/

 

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winner UK Blog Awards 2018

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“I couldn’t think of anyone better to help us ”

“I couldn’t think of anyone better to help us ”

“Nicola kindly agreed to assist our small, independent business in starting our own blog for our website. Being an award winning blogger, I couldn’t think of anyone better to help us on our way.

She gave us some great top tips that were easy to follow but in enough detail to really make an impact.
We now have our blog up and running thanks to Nicola.”

Erica, Busy Brush Cafe – December 2018

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Vote for Hanami Dream in the Cotswolds Awards 2018

Vote for Hanami Dream in the Cotswolds Awards 2018

I’m delighted to have been nominated for Cotswold Blogger of the Year 2018!

Please take a couple of moments to follow this link (scroll down about 3/4 of the way to find the blogger category). I’d really appreciate your vote for Hanami Dream.

https://www.cotswoldsconcierge.co.uk/cotswolds-awards/

We live in such a stunning part of the country, it’s no wonder that every year 21,000+ of couples getting married in England choose to say ‘I do’ in a wedding venue in the Cotswolds.

My Cotswold wedding blog offers tips, tools, trends and traditions to help couples celebrate their special day. Based in Witney Oxfordshire, Hanami Dream avidly supports local wedding suppliers in the surrounding Cotswolds, as well as couples in the midst of wedding planning. Assisting stunning venues and highly talented wedding industry professionals from small, local and independent businesses, providing consultancy, venue styling, wedding fairs and styled shoots.

If you live in the Cotswolds (lucky you) then you’ll no doubt spot a few gems on other parts of the list you can vote for too. My particular favourites to recommend (in their respective categories) are:

Voting in the 2018 Cotswolds Awards begins on the 7th of September 2018 and ends at midnight on the 6th of November 2018.

Many thanks for your support.



Celebrating 4 years of Hanami Dream!

Celebrating 4 years of Hanami Dream!

What a day for celebration the fourth of July is:  Independence Day, Alice Day and today is the 4th birthday of Hanami Dream weddings and special occasions!

four years since my first styled shoot

Yes, today marks four 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 by a Wind in the Willows wedding in 2016. Last 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’m enjoying working with some amazing local suppliers!

four years since my first tweet

From my first tweet in 2014, to a steadily increasing readership (and social media following) with around 1,100 unique page views a month on average. Plus a combined social media network of over 5,400 followers and ongoing promotion and networking means this is ever growing.

four years since my first blog post

It’s crazy to think how much has evolved over the past four years; now 310 blog posts later and this year I won the Event and Wedding category at the UK Blog Awards after being a finalist for the previous two years running, I’m now a Certified Wedding and Event Planner, and have recently had one of my shoots featured in Your Glos & Wilts Wedding magazine.

four years of further accolades

I’m really pleased to continue to add to 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).

I am an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a Certified Wedding and Event Planner with the UKAWEP.

Plus I launched #UKWedLunch nearly 2 years ago, as well as being a guest host on #BrideHour.

four years more experience

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

work with Hanami Dream

I look 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 – definitely time for cake now!

 



Winner at the UK Blog Awards 2018!

Winner at the UK Blog Awards 2018!

Winner at the UK Blog Awards 2018!

I am absolutely delighted (and still somewhat overwhelmed) to share the amazing news that my wedding blog has won the Individual Wedding and Events UK Blog Award this year! I am completely over the moon.

The news is only just sinking in and I’m feeling pretty darn chuffed to be brandishing this shiny badge!

announcement of the UK Blog Award winners

Last month, one Friday evening, I sat down on my back step with the bifolds open, enjoying the warm evening air, hunched over my phone trying to follow the results from the UK Blog Awards 2018. Sadly I wasn’t able to physically attend the award ceremony this year and, whilst I’m pleased to have avoided the big smoke of our capital city in the midst of a minor heat wave, I’m disappointed that I wasn’t there for the announcement of the UK Blog Awards and to hear my company name be called out as a winner.

My wedding blog has come so far … from highly commended in 2016, to winning in 2018. I’m pleased that this time my company name was pronounced correctly at the ceremony, though a little disappointed that my big moment was marred by a glaring typo in my name on the big screen. Nevertheless, this doesn’t take away from the fact that my wedding blog was chosen to be the individual winner this year.

Despite my best social media stalking, it was tricky to follow who was winning the awards on the night and they seemed to be whizzing through the categories. Then out of the blue, someone sent me a congratulations tweet. I wasn’t quite sure what this meant. Had I got highly commended, had I actually won, or was it just a prank?

I spent ages trawling through twitter for confirmation. I felt that I couldn’t get too excited until I knew for sure. Then a couple of other bloggers from my category very kindly tagged me in their Instagram stories and included shots of the big screen showing my name as the winner. It was the confirmation that I needed but then I was in shock!

Photography by Farrow Photography
why I entered the UK Blog Awards

My tutor, from my time studying with the UK Academy of Wedding & Event Planners, gave me some brilliant advice. She said to play to my strengths, enter competitions, have a niche and fit my business around my life.

Three years later and I’m combining my photo shoot experience and marketing background with my passion for weddings and supporting local businesses.

I’ve also entered the UK Blog Awards for the last 3 years and have been lucky enough to be a finalist each year. I was honoured to get a highly commended in the events category in 2016. However, against stiff competition, last year I returned home empty handed.

I guess I kind of fell out of love with blogging and twitter for a while after this knock. And this was wrong as I had forgotten to look at what I had done rather than what I hadn’t achieved. I didn’t take my own advice and ‘look at the donut instead of the hole!’

It was whilst I was on holiday, that I took a step back and looked at where my strengths lie and what I am really good at. I stopped worrying and looking at what others were doing and concentrated on my own stuff and focused on what I do best – creating my own content.

So, last year I organised three wonderful styled wedding photo shoots. It is really important to me that my blog creates wedding inspiration in the beautiful Cotswolds. The uniqueness of the blog comes from showcasing my own beautiful and inspirational, trend-led styled wedding shoots, collaborating with local venues and innovative wedding suppliers.

That is why I’m so pleased to have won the UK Blog Awards in a year when I’ve been doing what I enjoy best – showcasing my own content and keeping it local.

Bride looking down in the garden | 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 www.squibphotography.co.uk
what it means to be a winner at the UK Blog Awards 2018

Just being a finalist in the UK Blog Awards for a third year gave me a huge sense of achievement, it is great recognition and a wonderful testament to the level of support shown by my readers.

For full disclosure, I want you to know that I didn’t pay to enter these awards. I nominated my own blog and then it was down to a public vote to get through to the finals. Out of 4,000 entries and nominations I was one of only 6 bloggers in my category. So I was pretty chuffed and honoured to even be considered alongside the calibre of my fellow finalists in the Individual Wedding and Events category.

Then a judge picked one winner and one highly commended blog from the 6 finalists in my category.

To win the category is most definitely the icing on the cake and I can’t wait to see where this recognition will take the blog.  You can see all the winners and highly commended blogs from the night at the UK Blog Awards website.

It is great to have another reason to shout about my business and to connect with other professionals in the blogging world, wedding industry and local businesses.
This added promotion not only gives my blog extra exposure, but I’m pleased it also showcases the stunning venues and highly talented wedding industry professionals from small, local and independent businesses, that my blog supports in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside of the Cotswolds.

Photography by Squib Photography
why I blog about weddings

In a nutshell, I love weddings! How wonderful to have all the people you care about, from different walks of your life, in the same room at the same time on your wedding day!

I get to combine my passion for weddings with my skills and experience of organising amazing styled photo shoots. In particular, I love the unique detail shots. After all, it’s all the little details that bring any event to life.

My local Cotswold wedding blog compiles, creates and collates inspiration, providing couples with wedding planning tips, tools, trends and traditions to celebrate their personal milestones.

Since 2014, this blog has evolved (and continues to) wherever new opportunities and avenues take me. The possibilities are really exciting and my blog conveniently fits around my family commitments and lifestyle.

The beauty of blogging is that I can work anywhere, at any time and write about the things that really interest me. I’m a big fan of local wedding businesses and I support and promote them whenever I can.

Bridesmaid deep in thought | 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 www.squibphotography.co.uk
thank you for your ongoing support

A massive thank you to everyone who reads and shares this blog. And thank you very much for your votes to get it to the finals in the UK Blog Awards again.

Thank you also to my incredible family and friends for their unending support.

A special thanks goes to my wonderful webmaster at Wondernet (and the best boss I’ve ever had) – his advice and teaching have played an important part throughout my whole career.

Photography by Squib Photography
development of the blog

I’m still feeling fairly chuffed about the UK Blog Award win at the moment. More importantly I’m now spurred on to develop the blog further. Being alongside such amazing blogs has given me the chance to re-evaluate things again, providing an impetus to continue to improve it and a challenge to think about further evolution.

Photography by Farrow Photography
work with Hanami Dream

Now is also a great time to look forward to working with more local wedding professionals, services and venues. And I can’t wait to produce more styled photo shoots and have opportunities to collaborate with local suppliers.

Please get in touch if you’d like to advertise on this award winning blog, submit your own wedding details, would like to collaborate on a shoot, write a guest post or need some marketing advice and guidance.

Many thanks for your support and here’s to more exciting times ahead!

Photography by Cat Stephens Photography



Top tips on getting your wedding photographs picture perfect

Top tips on getting your wedding photographs picture perfect

Top tips on getting your wedding photographs picture perfect

After choosing a venue, the next important supplier to pick is the wedding photographer (and often the second most expensive element too). After all, this is the supplier who will be immortalising your special day and creating the keep sake to look back on in years to come. So it is vital you get this part right if you want to have amazing wedding photographs on your mantel piece.

Hire a professional photographer

Don’t dismiss the need for a professional photographer or think that you can just rely on people’s iPhone snaps. Nothing beats professional photographs!

When you’re looking around, please bear in mind that just because someone has a decent camera, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they can take good photos. However, advancement in technology does at least mean that there is more chance of getting it right.

Digital photography makes such a difference to capturing special days like weddings. There are so many advantages of having digital photography, no more so than having instant results. There’s no waiting around to get the photos developed, so the photographer can see what they are capturing straight away and make any adjustments as they go along. Hopefully this means more reliability and less surprises, plus more shots can be taken (as you’re not limited to a certain number of rolls of film) and you could change between colour and black/white images more easily. It also means that photos can be edited, backed up, stored, and shared with others online afterwards.

Photography style

Photographers may offer different styles of shots in their wedding photography repertoire. Think about the style of photos you want and pick a photographer who has this style in their portfolio whether that be formal, candid or reportage:

  • Formal shots = this is the more posed stuff, perhaps with groups of people in scenes and is likely to be staged, with everyone looking at the camera
  • Candid shots = these are a bit more relaxed and are more about catching a moment in time
  • Reportage = this style tells a story and follows the main events throughout day in an informal manner

Practice makes perfect

Consider having an engagement shoot so that you can get comfortable in front of the camera with your photographer before the big day. Plus this will give you a chance to recce some good photo locations at your venue too.

Think about contingency plans – what happens if the photographer can’t do your wedding at the last minute? Do they have a stand in? Check what your insurance covers and ask your venue if they have a designated space for group shots in case it rains. It’s always best to plan for the worst, hope for the best.

Checklist for selecting the right photographer for you

Here are some other things that it is worth checking when you are considering the photographer to hire for your wedding day:

  • Portfolio – take a look at their previous work and any weddings they’ve shot before
  • Style – does their style of shots suit how you’d like to have your photos taken?
  • Ability – are they able to do the style that you’d like?
  • Qualifications – are they a member of the Association of Photographers, British Institute of Professional Photography, Society of Wedding & Portrait Photographers?
  • Testimonials – what have previous couples had to say about them?
  • Award – have they won anything for their work?
  • Experience – how long have they been shooting weddings?
  • Familiarity with venue – have they done any weddings at your chosen venue before?
  • Availability – can they do your chosen date?
  • Turn around time – how quickly will you get your photos back after the wedding?
  • Insurance / contingency – what happens if they can’t do your wedding at the last minute?
  • Presentation – does how they dress and carry themselves fit with the style of your day?
  • Personality – do you gel with them? Would you want them to be at your wedding with you?
  • Cost – how much do they charge, for how long and what is included in the price?
  • Is an album included in cost? How many photographs are in the album?
  • What other expenses are included/additional? Travel? Food?

Help your wedding photographer get the best results

Share the schedule or running order of the day with your photographer so they don’t miss key moments. Look after your photographer and don’t forget to feed them – it’s a long day for them too!

A good photographer will already know the shots that they would capture for a wedding day. However, it’s good to put together a shot list for your more obscure requests. Think about the shots you’d like to sum up the day (formal, candid and details).

You may well go for a mixture of colour and black/white, plus a combination of formal and informal shots to give you a good representation of the day, as well as some group shots to keep the older relatives happy too!

It’s a good idea to nominate a couple of your most reliable attendants in charge of rounding people up for the big group shots. Have the giant group photo of all the guests taken from up high. That way you’ll be able to see everyone’s faces and fit them all in.

Suggested wedding photography shot list:

Shots to sum up the day

  • getting dressed
  • getting ready to walk down the aisle
  • close ups of couple individually just before the big entrance
  • exchanging vows and rings
  • the first kiss
  • walking up the aisle after the ceremony together
  • getting showered in confetti
  • in the wedding car leaving the ceremony
  • chatting to guests
  • the toasts
  • couple sharing a private moment
  • the first dance
  • cutting of the cake
  • tossing of bouquet / lantern release

The formal shots

  • couple individually
  • couple signing the marriage certificate
  • couple outside the service venue
  • couple with each set of parents
  • couple with both sets of parents
  • couple with each of their immediate families (grandparents, siblings etc)
  • with the bridesmaids
  • with the best man and ushers
  • couple with any special friends
  • the entire wedding party
  • reception shots per table

The candid shots

  • wedding party getting ready with hair and make up
  • big reveal to rest of wedding party
  • couple’s first glimpse of each other
  • wedding party making their way to, and arriving at, the ceremony
  • guests arriving/with drinks before the reception
  • the couple chatting to friends and family
  • receiving line
  • entrance of newlyweds to the reception
  • guests signing the guestbook
  • guests dancing
  • entertainers/musicians

The detail shots

  • clothes hanging on the wardrobe or bedpost
  • close ups of dress, shoes, accessories
  • wedding rings resting on an invitation
  • close up of the couple holding hands (focus on the rings)
  • close ups of wedding details (stationery, favours, place cards, table settings, table plan)
  • the guestbook
  • the cake before being cut
  • bouquet and floral arrangements
  • close up of the wedding car/transport
  • room all set up

Wedding guests taking photographs

You may want to remind your guests politely to make sure that they don’t block the photographer on the day. And also consider having a unplugged wedding so you can see their faces (not their phones) when you look back on your photographs. Perhaps, chose a moment in the ceremony when guests can take their own photos.

Strike a pose

Above all, you want to look good in these momentous photos so here are some final tips for being picture perfect:

  • Hold your flowers by your belly buttons to make a nice shape with your arms
  • Keep your arms slightly away from your sides to give you biceps room to breath for a flattering look
  • Take phones and keys out of trouser pockets to give a better line
  • Get plenty of full length shots of the dress
  • Avoid the midday sun (and squinty eyes!)
  • Use the best ‘golden hour’ light 1 hour before sunset for some amazing shots!
  • Smile with your eyes!

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Behind the scenes: Journey to the Centre of the Earth shoot

Behind the scenes: Journey to the Centre of the Earth shoot

Here’s a look behind the scenes of one of my recent styled shoots.

I was over the moon to be approached by a beautiful local venue last year (via a great photography partner) to style their wedding venue in order to show it off in a new light and provide all involved with wonderful lifestyle imagery.

It was wonderful to work alongside Steve from Squib Photography again (we previously worked on another styled bridal shoot last year). This time we were at Oxleaze Barn and we collaborated to produce an amazing bridal styled shoot inspired by Journey to the Centre of the Earth. It was also a privilege to be able to showcase some amazing products from some fantastic local suppliers.

Theme

I always have a number of ideas swilling around inside my head that are waiting for the right venue and season to utilise a certain theme. I’d had this particular theme in mind for a while and it had evolved and I had time to mull it over a long time before I’d even visited the venue for the first time. As soon as I saw Oxleaze Barn, I noticed all the blue accents around the 1700s barn and farm, so I knew that this theme would work perfectly there.

Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne (published in 1864) features an expedition to Iceland and exploration through volcanic tunnels. (See some of my previous styled shoots based on other classic books.) The Icelandic edge took me to cold, icy places and this wintry theme seamlessly fitted a modern winter styled barn wedding. I especially wanted to emphasise that this wedding venue was available year round, thanks to their underfloor heating, and wanted the images to exude warmth and play on the hygge trend with a relaxed and intimate vibe. Plus it was great to have the opportunity to showcase the evergreen and expanse of their garden.

I also wanted to include nods to the book with the inclusion of volcanic rock themes through slick agate, intricate hollow geode or timeless marble.

Hanami Dream | inspiration | mood board | 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 www.squibphotography.co.uk

Styled shoot

It is really important to me that my blog creates wedding inspiration in the beautiful Cotswolds. The uniqueness of the blog comes from showcasing my own beautiful and inspirational, trend-led styled wedding shoots, collaborating with local venues and innovative wedding suppliers.

Before starting Hanami Dream in 2014, I worked for over 6 years for an international clothing brand where I planned and managed photo shoots in some fabulous locations around the world. Now I get to combine my wonderful experience with my passion for weddings whilst supporting local businesses.

A styled shoot takes almost as much time and effort to produce as a wedding day and entails bringing together everything from many different suppliers.

For me the process always starts visually. Firstly on Pinterest where I collate my thoughts, then secondly on paper where I sketch out a floor plan, each scene and how every element will come together on a tablescape. Sometimes I have an idea of a product and I search for the best local supplier to provide that item. Other times, I see something that someone has created and I file it away for the most suitable shoot in the future.

The beauty of styled shoots (versus a real life wedding) is that it is a great opportunity to be a little more extravagant and really show off what you’ve always wanted to do. You can indulge your fantasies with new trends or products that couples may not have seen yet or something really unusual.

This styled shoot was a collaboration of like minded people that created great things together but perhaps didn’t have the budget to produce this kind of work if they all worked independently.

And most importantly, the suppliers I used are all local to the venue. This means that for anyone planning their wedding at this venue, this look and feel is completely achievable and realistic. The images might be Pinterest worthy but they are not unattainable.

Whether it is a styled shoot or a real life wedding day, the key is that each event is personal and tailor made.

Table runner with candles and floral displays | 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 www.squibphotography.co.uk

Brief

We are very lucky to live in a beautiful part of the UK and are surrounded by some seriously talented wedding venues, professionals and suppliers. It was brilliant that so many wanted to be involved in this shoot and they certainly didn’t disappoint with the products that they provided.

They were all given the same brief of what I was trying to achieve:

volcanic rock elements to make a statement at this wintery wedding alongside grey, icy blue, gold and white accents coupled with acres of tulle and delicate airplants

I also provided them with my collated vision and ideas on my Pinterest board.

The themes I wanted to encapsulate included:

  • winter
  • modern
  • industrial
  • tactile
  • ethereal
  • delicate
  • hygge

The colour palette followed the Spring 2018 trend colours of grey, blue and lilac, alongside gold and white accents including:

  • Little Boy Blue
  • Pink Lavender
  • Ultra Violet
  • Almost Mauve

Alongside neutrals of:

  • Sailor Blue
  • Harbor Mist
  • Coconut Milk

Designs

The creative suppliers worked wonders in transforming my overflowing pot of ideas and pairing it down in to realistic and achievable products for us to showcase.

Usually each shoot starts with a muse or product that sparks the theme and everything flows from that element. For this shoot, it was some marbled concrete pots, concrete coasters, concrete letters, and concrete table numbers. Unfortunately due to ill health, the supplier wasn’t able to provide these items in the end for the shoot. However this marble look and feel was present on other elements.

  • Cake design – I wasn’t sure that a Cotswold barn wedding was the right setting for a geode cake, so marble made the perfect theme for the cake. The Pretty Cake Company never fail to impress with their spectacular cakes and exquisite replica flower sugar work. And the beauty for this shoot included 4 different tier heights and the cascade of flowers matched the real ones immaculately.
  • Stationery design – Continuing my quest to present novel alternatives to paper stationery, I initially was keen to utilise actual shards of agate for table numbers and place names. Sourcing these locally, economically and timely proved harder than first planned. Thankfully, the incredibly talented Emerald Paper Design was able to create trompe-l’œil card replicas to give the same look and feel along with her beautiful gold calligraphy. The whole suite featured geode style watercolour stationery with gold accents and a navy envelope.
  • Flowers – despite my love of flowers, I’m discovering that a lot of my briefs recently have become almost ‘anti-flowers’ (ie just foliage, paper flowers, plants in pots) and this shoot focused heavily on succulents and air plants. Succulents are certainly one of my own fascinations and I’ve even started to propagate some for my own terrarium at home. For this shoot, I wanted the bouquets to feel modern and give a contrast against all the soft tulle. I loved the use of delicate air plants (a wonderful evolution on the succulent trend) and glass suspended baubles. Plus Enchanted Floristry brought along their amazing moongate that helped encapsulate the sense of entering a volcanic tunnel.Bride looking to side in front of moongate | 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 www.squibphotography.co.uk
  • Jewellery – It was brilliant to work with We Three Kings and their pieces echoed the colours and accents incredibly.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 www.squibphotography.co.uk

Suppliers

It’s the little details that bring any event to life and this was made possible by the wonderful local suppliers who provided their time, services, venue and products for free. Together we showcased the amazing talent that our part of the UK has to offer the wedding industry.

Despite the snow machine not materialising and a last minute change of models, the finished result was well worth the effort again.

  • Dress – From the outset, I wanted to include a blue dress in this shoot. Ideally I wanted a bridal separate like the Sweet Caroline Norma J separates but these aren’t readily stocked in local dress supplier shops. However thanks to Fairytale Occasions we were able to demonstrate a blue dress alongside a full tactile tulle white dress.Bridesmaid looking to side in garden | 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 www.squibphotography.co.uk
  • LightingOakwood Events are an absolutely amazing company – friendly, reliable and highly sought after. Despite their really busy schedule, I was fortunate enough to involve their services again and showcase a brand new addition to their portfolio (which they sped through the design process especially for this shoot). It’s like they can read my mind! And luckily they don’t think my ideas are too crazy! I love that these displays give an industrial feel which is a great contrast with the relaxed vibe in the room.Banquet style seating | 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 www.squibphotography.co.uk

Take a look at all the fabulous suppliers that were involved in this styled shoot – Keeping it local with suppliers for the Journey to the Centre of the Earth shoot

And see more about the Journey to the Centre of the Earth shoot – Inspiration: Journey to the Centre of the Earth wedding

Marble cake with sugar succulent cascade | 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 www.squibphotography.co.uk

Please do get in touch, if you are a local venue, wedding supplier or photographer and are looking to collaborate on a styled bridal shoot in the future.

#keepitlocal