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Meet A Real Bride

Meet A Real Bride - by Hannah Graveling

Recently engaged bride tells us how she felt about planning her wedding


I asked Leslie, a good friend of mine who recently became engaged to her long-term boyfriend, Rob, to sit down with me and talk about the excitement of planning her wedding. She was very enthusiastic, if a little overwhelmed by the prospect, as many brides-to-be are. This is one of the reasons why some couples hire a wedding planner; to keep the excitement without having it dampened by the stress and worry of planning a major event alone.

When I spoke to Leslie, it was via Skype, with Rob wandering in and out of the room, bent on other tasks. It is sometimes easy to forget that people who are planning a wedding are actually trying to do so around their everyday lives, which can be quite enough to manage in the first place! A good wedding consultant will understand that you have other things going on in your lives and will attempt to work around your schedules where possible.


Why don’t you start by telling our readers about yourselves?

L: We met the first day of university, during the induction to our halls. And we’ve been together … how long?

R: (out of shot) Too long!

L: Ha! Lovely. It must be almost 4 years now… wow, really? We have lived together pretty much since we met, on and off depending on where we were working. We got engaged in September 2013, but our career plans have been changing since then and we’ve only just decided to set a date and started planning the wedding.


What is your wedding budget?

L: I don’t have one right now! I’m just gathering ideas still…


Your wedding is almost exactly a year away now isn’t it, so what stage of the planning are you at?

L: We’ve got the location for the ceremony and the ideas for pretty much everything else!

R: (from the hall) That’s news to me!

L: (calling off screen) Haha, no it’s not you’ve seen my Pinterest! Yeah, the chapel is booked and we’ve got a clear idea of the theme so it’s just putting them together now, but because of work I don’t really have time. I’m so tired when I get home, I can’t think about making arrangements. At least we’ve got an actual date now, that’s nice.


What is the most stressful part of the planning process so far?

L: Doing the guest list! It’s actually really stressful trying to decide who to include in the reception but not the ceremony, as it obviously has to be smaller. I want everyone who attends our vows to really want to be there!


What made you choose your particular ceremony venue?

L: We chose the Royal Holloway chapel because it’s beautiful and it’s the only churchy place that meant anything to either of us, and it’s not grey like other churches. Plus, we both studied at the university. I’ve always wanted to have a proper ceremony wedding with a priest in a church, that felt right, but that’s the only church that I know and love.


What are you most looking forward to on the day?

L: Getting married! Walking down the aisle! I might cry.


What if you fall over?

L: I’ll just laugh. I’m sure someone will help me up.

R: Not me.

L: So mean! I’ll be laughing. Then I’ll get up and leave! No don’t type that.


Who is supporting you the most in this process so far?

L: Probably friends. Rob’s been helpful. He gives me yes or nos, or “that’s nice”.

*Rob attacks the screen.*


L: I’m giving him choices by showing him things on Pinterest. Whether I listen to him or not is another matter! I’ve added him to the page and it’s private so everything will still be a surprise for everyone else, but he can see the ideas we have agreed on so far. Keeping it private is nice because I don’t want loads of people trying to have a say in it or butting in with their ideas- it should be ours, unique to us. Plus on Pinterest you can just endlessly search for stuff. When we booked the date I went a bit crazy with that…

What have you been researching?

L: I want a crazy cake. It has to be chocolate, taste amazing, maybe a lemon drizzle tier for Rob and I like different coloured layers like in this photo. (see cake photo.)

I can’t wait to do to the tasting as well, that’ll be nice to do as the two of us. The problem is I don’t really know what I want. Our theme is just a colour; it’s not based around either of us culturally, so the food choice is still wide open. I’m finding it hard to search online for caterers as well, since I don’t know companies in that area.


So what is Rob in charge of?

L: Suits. I’m not picking what he’s wearing. And food, of course, we’ll do that together. And actually, thinking about the cake- (calls offscreen)- Rob, what about two cakes- a normal one and a cheese-cake, like made of cheese?

R: yeah that sounds great!

L: I saw it online and thought “that’s great, let’s get it imported from France or something!”


What aspect of the planning might turn you into a Bridezilla?

L: The dress. I don’t know what else. I’ve got my dream dress in my head so it’s just finding it that’s hard. I spoke to my mum about getting it tailor made because she did that for hers. I don’t think I’d be happy with the dresses I’d try on because I’ve got such a clear idea of what I’m looking for. That, and the stress of making everyone happy of course. I’m going to cry a hell of a lot. A year of crying and organising. Happy crying though! Now if I see any wedding show on TV I get weepy. We were watching Modern Family with Rob’s guy friends and someone was getting married but I thought, “don’t cry, you’re surrounded by boys!”

It sounds like Leslie is already caught up in the thrill of planning their wedding, and despite himself, Rob clearly is too. As mentioned, Pinterest is a very useful tool for gathering inspiration, but it is important to remember that although you can get some great ideas there, everyone’s wedding day is unique and it’s great to personalize it to yourself as well. Rather than copying a cake straight off the internet, why don’t you ask your cake maker to give it a twist, maybe the same flower that you have on your dress, or swap the cake topper for a kooky one of your own?

Leslie also drew attention to the frustrations that sometimes arise from trying to plan your wedding in another area of the country. This is where a local wedding planner can really come in handy, as they will already know all the best vendors to suit your needs. However, if you want to plan it yourself, I would suggest finding a wedding directory, where approved local vendors come together to share industry knowledge. Find a caterer there and they will likely also know a florist, or marquee hire company to suit your style. If you find a vendor in any area that you click with, who understands your theme, feel free to ask them questions like these! You can make contacts in the strangest of places sometimes.


Good luck planning your own weddings and if you have questions or something is stressing you out, why don’t you contact one of the lovely wedding consultants on this website.

Getting Married- The Legal Bit

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Getting Married- The Legal Bit - by Hannah Graveling


Congratulations- you’re engaged!


Now, you might be immediately distracted with where you want your wedding, who is invited, and how much can you possibly afford to spend on all this, but don’t forget that your wedding will not count for anything unless you follow the legal procedures as well. They’re not as fun or as glamorous, but you will have to budget time and money towards it so we’ve made you a handy guide.


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The most basic rules are ones that hopefully you shouldn’t have any problems with.


1) Being over 18. You could get married at 16 with your parents permission, but what’s the rush kids?! Marriage is a serious business, best done by adults with credit cards, dating history, and the ability to grow a beard (men only hopefully).


2) You shouldn’t be closely related. I know; I’m cringing even thinking about it. If you have any niggling doubts about your other half’s ancestry- check that out first! Trust me, it’s better you know beforehand, but if you find out afterwards that your adopted husband is actually your half-brother, your marriage will be void in any case.


3) You should be free to marry. That means if you’ve been married before you will need to produce proof that your ex has either signed a divorce paper or popped his clogs before the wedding.


Assuming you fit all those categories, you should now register to marry. This costs £35 each at the local registry office. You have to book an appointment and you will need to bring proof of your name, age and nationality: e.g. passport, driver’s licence, NI card etc. You should also bring proof of your address, such as a bank statement or a household bill. This only applies within the UK so you will have to do some research or ask your wedding planner if you’re going abroad to see if you still need a certificate. After 15 days of displaying your intent to marry publically, you will get paper proof that lets you go ahead and get married.

Some registrars (or religious officiants) are allowed to register for you, mainly ones from the Church of England, so check with them first.


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Your religion and whether you are marrying someone of the same or opposite sex can affect where you marry. Anyone may choose a civil ceremony in a neutral location but then there cannot be any mention of religion at all. And same sex coupes may still be more limited with which venues have a licence to hold the ceremony.


It is important to research any location before setting your heart on it. You may not know that you can only marry in a premises approved for weddings by the local authority in England, e.g. a church or hotel. They have to be public locations, with a built structure- hence why it does not count to get married at home or on a beach. In Scotland these laws are a bit more relaxed and you can get permission to marry lakeside or even up a mountain!



The second step to being legally married, apart from getting a certificate from the registry office, is to sign the marriage register with two witnesses present. This can be done at the reception or in an anti-chamber just after the ceremony, just make sure you’re not on a plane to Bali before you remember that other little thing you had to do! In England and Wales, you can get copies of a marriage certificate from the General Registry Office, whose contact details are available with lots of other information, at www.gov.uk


Whilst we are talking legalities, you might want to think about entering into an agreement should you ever want a divorce. I know it’s not a thought you want to entertain but if one or both of you have a lot of wealth or assets, or even children that will need some kind of financial protection, then it might be worth making an agreement while you still love each other and can do so amicably. Whether it’s a pre-nuptial agreement or post-nuptial (literally just before or after the ceremony), your decision will generally be upheld later in a court unless the judge decides that the resulting split is unreasonable.


Now that you have got all the legal stuff out of the way, you can enjoy the fun part of planning your wedding day!

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Second Hand, Not Second Best

Second Hand, Not Second Best - by Hannah Graveling

Why choosing a pre-owned gown might be for you


The concept of buying the most important dress of your life second-hand might appall some people; however there are a number of benefits that are worth taking into consideration. Firstly, second-hand does not mean old fashioned, stained or even pre-worn. Many second-hand wedding dresses for sale were never worn, and it is a great way to pick up something designer that you never would have been able to afford before.


On the flip side, yes that stunning white dress is the one you had been dreaming about all your young life, but you only wore it for one day and honestly, would you wear it ever again, or just stare at it wistfully on occasion when you are digging through your closet? Many women have opted for selling their wedding dresses to pay for new memories instead; a trip, evening classes, or money towards a new kitchen.


Advice on buying a pre-owned dress:

Your gown is usually a large part of the budget you have allocated to your wedding so you need to know that is it perfect. You might be fashion-minded, you might not, but the one truth that all style gurus will echo is that the fit and match to your body shape is the most important factor in choosing your dress. Therefore, does it not make more sense to buy that Alan Hannah dress second-hand at hundreds of pounds less and then pay to have it fitted to your body? Alternatively, you may find luck using one of the many websites that allow women to personally sell their dresses online, as these usually include details such as the lady’s height and heel size so that you can compare the photos of the dress being worn to what you might look like in it. This is far more accurate than simply going for a stock size 12. (And remember: buying bigger makes altering easier!)


When you work out your budget, the idea of adding a professional clean and alteration costs on top of your dress might sound mad, but this can still be a lot cheaper. Many new dresses start at £800 rising to thousands of pounds, but a pre-owned dress can start as low as £100, especially if the owner knows that it will need a clean. This is becoming more and more mainstream so do not concern yourself with what others might think. Saving money in this area could lead to a better honeymoon, or the funds for that venue you always dreamed of- being money-savvy is nothing to be ashamed of!


Plus, there are ever more benefits to buying second-hand. Unless you are extremely lucky, it is very unlikely you are seriously considering buying from a top designer like Vera Wang, but let’s be honest; you have noticed them in your bridal magazines and taken a moment to dream. Why not see if you can make it a reality by searching for one second-hand? Many of these have not even been worn as they were show pieces only.


Now, you may be worried about the technicalities of the idea. Will the dress be perfect still? Is it safe to buy online? These are certainly factors to consider, but take a moment to think about the care that you would use handling your own wedding gown. Although some sellers may still recommend a professional clean, it is probably the only purchase you will make online that you could almost guarantee was treated with an almost worship-like adoration. Internet safety is always a concern when it comes to exchanging money, but there are easy ways of protecting yourself. Always go to see the dress first, see the colour and know what you are buying. For this reason it might be easier to search locally. Also, if you meet the vendor in person, it is safer to hand over cash for the dress than to transfer online and assume the gown is on its way.


Finally, you can help other people as well. Whilst you might not be feeling wealthy enough to encourage your guests to make a donation instead of helping with the costs of your honeymoon, you can still feel good by donating through your gown. Oxfam and Bernados have opened pre-owned bridal stores and donate the money to help those living in poverty. And once you have worn it, why not donate it back for them to sell again?


Advice for selling your wedding dress:

There are many different ways of selling your gown and many reasons for doing so, here are just a few.


Obviously your wedding dress will always be important to you- out of all the expenses involved with your big day, this is one of the few things that you get to keep afterwards. However, a lot of women simply do not have the space to keep it in their closets and it ends up vacuum-packed in the attic, never to be seen again. At the end of the day, many people simply do not have a use for a dress they cannot wear again, and the money you could earn selling it can pay you back somewhat for what is a very expensive day.


Most of the easiest ways to sell are online through websites like eBay, Preloved or many other specialist ones. These often allow you to upload photos, add details, pick your own price or allow an auction, and also limit the sell to your local area to save on any postage costs. Make sure you check whether they charge any commission or flat fee to advertise. Alternatively, there are also high street retailers that specialise in second-hand or sample dresses who may be interested in buying your dress to sell on in a boutique style. This could be a quicker and simply alternative, although obviously you will have no idea which lucky lady ends up with your gown.


To make a sale online you will have to put some effort in, especially with something as important as a wedding dress. Serious buyers will look for clear photos of the dress when it is worn, preferably some professional ones from your wedding day. You should mention any alterations you have had done, and maybe your measurements as well so that they can compare themselves with you in the photos. If you like, you could get the dress professionally cleaned for them, which is an expense, but you may be able to charge more and make the costs back.


As I warned above, please make sure that you are operating safely when selling online. There are plenty of scams out there to avoid but there are also certain things you can look out for. A serious buyer should want to see the dress first and in person. They should be excited to be getting married, have already researched the dress online, and not want to pay any more than the asking price. Anyone who offers more is suspicious- as the old phrase goes, if it looks too good to be true… If you must post the dress to them, always use your own shipping. There are scams that offer to use their own shipping and have you pay them back. You should not be giving them any money, ever! Finally, if possible get the money in cash so you can see that it is real. If you have to accept an online transfer rather than meeting in person wait until the bank has confirmed that the money is there and cannot be rescinded before you send it. I also recommend not accepting cheques as they may bounce after you have handed over the dress.


If you really want to protect yourself, a good idea is to set out in writing whether refunds are accepted or not and the condition of the dress at time of purchase. As long as you use your common sense, selling online should not be a worry, after all millions of people do it every day and the notion of making another woman’s wedding day perfect with the dream dress has got to be worth it!


If you are interested in buying or selling your dress, please take a moment to check out Only Wedding’s own Pre Loved Gowns page, which is currently in development.




Blooms of the Season

Blooms of the Season – by Hannah Graveling

Another way to choose your wedding flowers

It may not cross your mind but many flowers are flown from abroad, costing money and damaging the environment. By supporting British farmers and buying flowers that are in season here, your bouquets will be fresher, more fragrant, and can still contain the abundance of colour and vibrancy that you expect, whilst not impacting too heavily on your budget.


Seasonal flowers do not necessarily mean a wild flower bouquet; even more structured, formal decorations can benefit from careful thinking when it comes to your choice. It can really pay to think about what season you are holding your wedding in when it comes to which flower arrangements you pick.


Not only can choosing blooms that are currently in season dramatically reduce the cost of your arrangements, but they can add so much more to the feel of your day, emphasising all the best aspects of the season. Flowers that bloom in summer are often boisterous, boldly scented and cheerful, whereas winter plants can be more classy and delicate when moulded into the design. By choosing flowers that are in season, you can also open your options regarding florists, as most will have plenty of options in stock and will not have to charge as much to source them in large qualities.



Whether you wanted a glistening, silver wonderland, or a candlelit, cosy celebration, there are seasonal flowers that bloom in time to arrive for your big day, even in the middle of winter. If you were looking for an alternative to the classic white rose, a Winter Hellebore could present a stunning arrangement. Hyacinths can bloom in winter and in many bold colours, but if you prefer a colder palate, Goat Willow is pale green with interesting shapes and textures and, naturally, Mistletoe is synonymous with the season. If deep down you are really a summery person, there are still options. Dutch Crocuses add shocks of colour even in the coldest months.



As you would expect, this season brings life to many more types of plants, which is even more reason to source locally. Peonies and Tulips make an alternative to roses if you’re a fan, and many types of Ranunculus flowers have graduated colour in their petals, which is completely in style this year. Alternatively, Irises bloom in early spring and in many different colours to compliment a variety of designs.



This is arguably the most beautiful season for the amount of variety in the country’s flora. It is the season of Roses, Sweet Peas, Sweet Williams, Foxgloves, Hydrangeas and so many more! Fragrant Lavender is a shining example of how the scent of nature can be brought into an event to beautiful effect. The mood of your big day can be subtly guided by the choice of your arrangements. In bright summer sunlight, a large yellow Sunflower can make anybody smile!



An autumn wedding can be a truly elegant and graceful affair. Whilst you may associate the season with the time many plants go into hibernation, there is still actually quite a large range to choose from, and they are often incredibly tasteful. Crocuses bloom in autumn with bright purples and yellows, but are still very poised, almost tulip-like in shape, whilst on the other hand Dahlias provide giant, colourful blooms than can be absolutely stunning.


Each season also has a wide variety of options regarding foliage, which can really round out an arrangement. It would be a good idea to ask your florist what they would recommend, as they can often suggest an even wider range of options of all shades and textures to really compliment your theme.


So remember, if you really have your heart set on daffodils in your wedding bouquet, don’t plan it for September, use your head when planning, save money, and book for the right season!

Flavour of the Year

Flavour of the Year - by Hannah Graveling

The cakes on trend for 2014

Choosing your wedding cake can be one of the most enjoyable aspects when planning your wedding. Quite aside from all the delicious tasting, modern wedding cakes can be decorated to match the theme of your day in a big way. Below are some of the biggest trends emerging this year. Whether you aim for high fashion or not, this should certainly be food for thought.


One of the ideas that people seem to love at the minute is to follow a minimalistic, geometric style, using bold colours and patterns. Plain white cakes have been replaced by colour blocking in tiers or simple lines, matching the wedding scheme in great style. The wedding colour of the year is agreed to be Radiant Orchid, which could be used in a pretty hint of colour, or just as beautifully as a bold statement piece.


Centre Piece:

Of course if you are looking to make even more of a statement, now is the time to try something new. Brides are commissioning upside-down cakes, non-traditional shapes, and intricate designs with frills and rosettes more usually seen on the runway than the cake stand in an attempt to make their cake the most fantastic show stopper their guests have ever seen. The fashionistas among you will know that soft pastels in shades of grey, blue and green are all the rage this year. If you aim for unforgettable, maybe some of these will inspire your creations!

Whilst vanilla, chocolate and lemon flavourings are still as popular as ever, more and more couples are choosing to splash out on the inside of their cake as well, adding liquers, gelees, buttercreams and conserves to raise the bar. These ideas also include hidden designs and colours inside the cake to make the cutting more exciting.


The metallic trend began last year and shows no sign of fading away. If you are planning to have gold or silver in the rest of your colour scheme, this is a fantastic way to bling up your cake and make it something really special without having to design something that appears to defy gravity. Whether you want tasteful touches or glamorous glitz, metallic additions can be used in many elegant ways.



The natural and outdoor style of wedding so well suited to home made cakes, fruit, and seasonal flowers is stronger than ever this year with themes like The Hunger Games all the rage. And they have brought naked baking into vogue, that is un-iced cakes, not what you were thinking! These styles rely more on flora and fruit than icing and colourings for decoration, resulting in a healthier and tastier look than the more common patterned towers you find.


Pastels, pale pinks and vintage looks are not new styles for weddings, but they are a flourishing trend in 2014. Lush sugar iced flowers adorn tiers along with strings of dusky coloured pearls. Other additions include hearts, bows, broaches and lace to make this arguably the most feminine style of cake. If you have based your theme around an Instagram heaven of vintage favours and up-cycled furniture, this would make the perfect addition to your top table.


Dessert Bar:

Some couples, of course, opt out of a traditional wedding cake that must be formally cut, preferring instead to cater to their guests’ differing tastes with a dessert bar, or sweet table, which may contain a range of options. Modern ideas include doughnuts, cupcakes, and ice cream or frozen yoghurt with a variety of toppings available. This allows your guests to be as health-conscious or as indulgent as they like.

Hopefully this has inspired you into giving more thought to your wedding cake, as a means of personal expression, an extension of your theme, and one of the highlights of your entire event. For more information or recommendations, please contact us.