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Free advice and inspiration for UK brides and grooms

Welcome! to English Wedding Blog’s free eBook for brides and grooms. I’ve had help from some of my best friends and wedding industry experts to compile this beautiful eBook with indispensable, down to earth tips to inspire your wedding planning. I hope it helps you! ~ Claire English Wedding Blog

•Advice from a top wedding photographer •Enjoying your wedding day •How wedding stationery works •Wedding magazines and hungry wolves •You are not a sausage! •How to release your inner diva •Be yourself, and be strong •Essential wedding supplier advice •Keep your wedding in perspective •Ditch the bad influences •Have your cake •Delight with your invites •Wedding guests aren’t the fuchsia police •Wedding favours and the devil •Fighting the favour corner! •Relax and enjoy the day •Negotiate with wedding venues •It’s only a wedding •Avoid the classic wedding photography mistake •It’s safe to shop with companies you’ve never heard of

These two pages and cover photo credit: Chris Hanley

Here’s the uber tip for your wedding dress fitting. No matter whether you’re a size 6 or 26, wedding dresses reposition stuff. When you stand in front of the mirror oohing and ahhhing, remember to pretend to hold a glass of water like a glass of champagne (as you'll be doing this a lot on your day), look at your boob line, look at the crease of skin between boob, armpit and the top of your arm. Get the dress designer to adjust your dress accordingly. Also sit down in your dress, make note of what pushes up, out or over. Especially at the back. Finally when you have the dress of your dreams, practice a loo run, it’s gonna take longer than you think and you may need help ;) Whatever your shape or size, you're beautiful, so enjoy being on the pedestal! ~ Chris Hanley Chris Hanley Photography These two pages and cover photo credit: Chris Hanley

Have a list of the important things to take to the wedding venue if you're getting ready there. It's surprising how many people forget something important Spend time with your guests on your wedding day. Many of them will have travelled to share your day with you and will appreciate that special attention Don't sweat the little things. Try to keep in your mind that your wedding day is about one thing ‌ marriage ‌ and focus on that if some little detail is missing Keep your wedding about you. It's easy to lose yourself in the opinions about your day, but it's called your day for a reason and it should be full of what you like ~ Phil Drinkwater Phil Drinkwater Photography www.

Order your stationery at least 9 months before your wedding. Agree a delivery date. Guests can be very slow to reply so post out about 5 months before your wedding. Please remember suppliers have other brides so once agreed it cannot normally be changed. Good suppliers get booked up very quickly from January onwards. ~ Julie Boyd Carol Miller Designs These two pages photo credit: Phil Drinkwater

Wolves are beautiful creatures. I love them – but as any good fairytale will tell you, you have to be a bit careful around them. It’s the same with wedding magazines. Buy them, admire all the beautiful things inside and use them for your inspiration and ideas. BUT don’t be taken in – you don’t need all those lovely things for your wedding day. See the pretty ideas on the pages? Note they all have prices next to them. Wedding magazines are there to sell things. They’re more like catalogues, with an average of 140 pages devoted to advertising. They want you to buy, buy, buy! Your wedding inspiration should come from inside you, not from wedding magazines. You’re an amazing person and you already know what you love, right? So use it: your very own sense of style, your favourite colours, the flavours and sounds you’ve always loved. Then you’ll have a wedding with personality – and it’ll be your personality, not a magazine editor’s. ~ Claire English Wedding Blog

These two pages photo credit: Phil Drinkwater

Remember the ad for a high street optician: “we won’t make you feel like a sausage in a sausage factory”? It’s all about customer service. Buying glasses is a very personal experience where you deserve the utmost in care and attention. Buying wedding dresses / booking venues / having couture stationery made for you should be the same. Your wedding is a unique experience in that you’ll be dealing with some very small businesses, and you’re investing a huge amount of money in your day. It’s up to you to make sure you choose to buy from people you can trust. It’s up to your wedding suppliers to make sure they’re offering you the very best service you can imagine. So always visit more than one supplier before you make up your mind. Never stick with a bridal store who are condescending, rude, or careless. Go with your instincts, don’t opt for a cheaper supplier if it doesn’t feel right for you. Expect personal, high quality service. If you’re not sure that’s what you’re getting, explain about the sausages, and get out of there! ~ Claire English Wedding Blog

These two pages photo credit: McAvoy Photography

Be true to yourself. Have your day exactly as you want it – not what you think you SHOULD have. Don’t worry about the little things - they are not what you will remember when you look back on your wedding day in years to come. Release your inner Diva-if you can’t be glamorous on your wedding day when can you be? Make sure you take time out to spend time alone with each other on your wedding day. It passes in a blur so relish the day together. ~ Jenny McAvoy McAvoy Photography

These two pages photo credit: McAvoy Photography

I didn’t want to wear a veil on my wedding day. I got married in 1998. The internet had only been going a year or so. Weddings were still very much traditional. I was told I would not feel like a bride without it. So like a child, I did as I was told, wore it and hated it. It was MY day, traditions change, times and fashions change, and if you ask your Mother, she will probably tell you of a similar tale of something she didn’t want to do on her wedding day. So, it’s important, VERY important, it’s your day and should have YOUR day as you see it in your head. Advice and opinions are OK, but the decision should lie with you and no-one should make you feel bad to create and live your own dream. ~ Zoe Rusga Bunny Delicious wedding stationery

These two pages photo credit: Martin Beddall

Choosing the right supplier is very important, as they have a huge effect on your wedding planning. These people can make or break your wedding. Please, please be sure to look around, do your research. Do not book the first supplier who chats to you at a wedding fair. You want one you can rely on and who will make your life as stressless as possible and deliver what they promised. DO NOT go for the cheapest! You will certainly get what you pay for. Do your homework, ask to see testimonials or speak to their past clients. If you have any doubts at all WALK AWAY! There are many excellent suppliers who will provide superb quality and really care about your day. ~ Julie Dawson The Wedding Genie

These two pages photo credit: Martin Beddall

We spend weeks, months, sometimes years planning for our big day and really, it makes sense. This is your wedding day and realistically you only get to experience it once! It makes sense then to invest in a fantastic wedding photographer, who ‘gets’ you as a couple. You are trusting this person with capturing your once in a lifetime wedding memories, so make sure you choose someone whose work & creative vision you adore and trust, someone who makes you feel at ease in front of the camera, and remember to smile! Having planned my own destination wedding almost 2 years ago now, my top advice for couples is not to lose perspective – while planning the wedding and on the actual day. Despite all the details & planning, the day is still really only about the two of you and the promise you are making to each other. Savour the moments you have to yourself as a couple on your wedding day and appreciate what is happening around you. ~ Anneli Marinovich Anneli Marinovich Photography

These two pages photo credit: Anneli Marinovich

Planning a wedding can be exciting, stressful or both (let’s be honest: usually both!) and in times like these you want and need the support of your nearest and dearest. So plan together as a couple. List your priorities and make sure they match. Then stick to your guns as your parents, bridesmaids, workmates and friends try to change your minds! It’s easy to get stuck in a trap of trying to please. Your mum might want to come dress shopping but if she’s the local vicar and you’re looking for a racier dress than she’d approve of, take your chief bridesmaid instead – mum can always join you at a later fitting. Wedding TV can at times rival Stephen King when it comes to a ruthlessly gripping horror story. If you can watch ‘Don’t Tell The Bride’ without having nightmares after, fine. If you’re already stressed, avoid it. Stop torturing yourself! ~ Claire, English Wedding Blog

These two pages photo credit: Anneli Marinovich

The two main costs associated with your wedding cake are the size and level of detail as you are paying for the time involved with decorating your cake, as well as the ingredients. For couples with a limited budget whose ideal cake is quite highly decorated, I would recommend choosing a smaller cake with more detail and serving the cake on the night to those who would like to try some, rather than offering each guest a slice to take home. ~ Beth Mottershead Cakes by Beth

These two pages photo credit: Adam Johnson

When your guests receive the wedding invite through the post, it's often the first they've heard about you getting hitched or it's something they've been looking forward to receiving. They open the envelope.... so what are they going to find? A visually gorgeous, personalised creation jumping out at them, getting them excited to attend your special day? Or the bland, drab, flimsy card creation that looks like your Aunty Pat has made it? Your wedding stationery sets the tone and feel for what the day is going to look like months before, hence building up the wonder of what the dress will look like, the venue, the flowers. We've all done it, made a judgement within 5 seconds of looking at the invite about whether or not it's going to be a good shindig. So my advice for anyone getting married and thinking about your wedding stationery, is: show your personality from the ' will you' to the ' I do' & then the ‘Thank You!’ ~ Nia Fiori Nia Fiori Wedding Stationery These two pages photo credit: Adam Johnson

Trust your gut. It is one of those bits of advice that sounds hoo-doo-voo-doo, but I really mean it. If you meet a dressmaker and she seems not to have her act together - she probably doesn't. If you meet a photographer and he seems snobby and overbearing - he probably is. People don't suddenly change after your first meeting with them and if something doesn't feel right, then you should run for the hills and never, never, never feel pressured into making a decision to use a vendor because you feel like they are the only ones able to provide a certain service. They aren't. Never make a decision on the spot. Take your time, leave the vendor's office/shop and talk it over with your fiancĂŠ - even if it is an hour or two. No 'discount' is worth having if the vendor won't wait a few hours for you to chew over your thoughts. Only book with absolute confidence and with vendors you trust - never with ones who pressure you into it. ~ Jaye Cole Tux & Tales Wedding Photography

These two pages photo credit: Jaye Cole

Most wedding suppliers will try to match a colour scheme, but don’t get stressed out over colours. Nothing will match exactly. Dress manufacturers don’t make ribbons, butterflies etc. so nothing will be an exact match. Every year there is a new colour trend for bridesmaid dresses – trends change quickly so don’t assume you will find everything to match. Sometimes when a new colour comes in to fashion it will be 1 -2 years before you start seeing matching accessories. If you can’t get a complementing colour.





Your guests won’t be offended if colours aren’t spot on - they will just know it’s a fuchsia colour scheme. They are there to share your special day, not to see if items match. ~ Julie Boyd Carol Miller Designs These two pages photo credit: Jaye Cole

Average favours are a waste of money. If you can afford to waste money, then fine. But this is what happens to dull wedding favours: Your guests will eat their chocolates before the end of the meal Flower seeds, sugared almonds and the like will be left behind Alcohol miniatures won’t last five minutes when your guests have sat down Instead of spending £5 per guest on favours, use the money elsewhere. Save it for your thank you cards, or make a creative photo booth for your guests to enjoy during the evening instead! Of course if you can afford little gifts for your guests in the form of favours and you really want to share something with them, it’s a lovely gesture. Don’t let me put you off: wedding favours never did anyone any harm, it’s not like you’re inviting Satan to join you on the top table.

~ Claire

These two pages photo credit: Joanne Linder

OK, so the gloves are off in regards to the satanic subject of those little gifts we give to our guests! I am, of course, fighting the Favour Corner! For me, it's about respecting an age old tradition that highlights the true meaning behind giving a small gift of gratitude to those who have taken the time to find a babysitter, buy a new outfit and post a cheque in your wedding postbox on your big day. My task at hand lies in creating something that people don't want to leave behind, that makes them scrabble around at the end of the evening looking for any spares that they can take home. Therein lies the beauty of taking the time to choose something special, to show your guests your appreciation for their love, support and well wishes. Just like in the old days. So my advice is this to all couples planning a wedding and considering favours – remove that term and its sterile, cheap and tacky connotations from your wedding vocabulary. Replace with 'memento' and a whole new world of sentimental possibilities will open up. ~ Joanne Linder Vintage Twee

These two pages photo credit: Joanne Linder

In order to do this, leave the running of the day to the best man / chief bridesmaid / other responsible person and let them worry about the details. Elements of the day will not go to plan, and that’s OK. The day is important, but it’s the first day of your new life together. If you want more natural looking photos, don’t look at your photographer as you go through the day and tell the bridal party to ignore them as well. Your photographer will let you know if they want you looking into the camera. The fewer group shots there are, the more time there will be to enjoy the party and talking to people. With all the fun & excitement don’t forget to eat and drink (non alcoholic) during the day, as this is something that sometimes happens with a resulting energy & mood crash in the evening. The day will seem to go by very fast for you. A good photographer will capture the details, mood and feeling of the day for you, so be ‘in the moment’ and enjoy it as you experience it. ~ Jonathon Watkins PhotoGlow Wedding Photography

These two pages photo credit: Jonathon Watkins

Be patient, courteous and firm. You will definitely be able to get a good deal. You may have to compromise if you really want that venue but generally they want your business. It may not seem it a first but they do! Of course the more popular do get booked and can charge a premium. I will give you an example, I started to negotiate at a venue and the price was £22,000!!! Yes I nearly fainted, after a couple of weeks of back and forth it was less than half. We did compromise a bit but we got exactly what we wanted. Just be calm and level headed, if you can’t do it get someone to help like a wedding planner. ~ Julie Dawson The Wedding Genie These two pages photo credit: Jonathon Watkins

It’s natural to feel overwhelmed with wedding planning: there’s so much to organise and it’s all very, very new. I have huge admiration for brides and grooms who plan their amazing celebrations down to the last detail. Wedding nightmares are par for the course as well. Visit wedding forums and you’ll see plenty of evidence of that. A little stress does funny things to us all! What’s important is not to let your wedding planning consume you. Take time off. Spend time together as a couple and relax. Have wedding free days. Go out with friends who aren’t interested in your flowers and canapés for a change! The most stressful aspects of wedding planning are guest lists and budgeting. These will affect you both so make a pact to watch out for each other. If the signs of stress are getting too much, slam the brakes on and think what you could do to alleviate a little stress. Never let wedding stress make you ill. It’s only a wedding. No matter what, you’ll still be married the day after, and that’s what it’s all about, right? ~ Claire English Wedding Blog

These two pages photo credit: Chris Hanley

Photographers are so important, be sure to shop around. Do not choose on price primarily, this is a very bad move, you will get what you pay for - unless you choose three excellent ones and they are all similar and you like them all. Absolutely do not get a friend to take wedding photos unless you want to look lop sided or out of focus in your album. In years to come this is the best memento you have of your day and I guarantee when it comes round to your anniversary you will not want to take out the scary album! In hindsight every bride I met who thought they were getting a good deal for a few hundred pounds always regretted it and wished they had spent more of their budget on photos. ~ Julie Dawson The Wedding Genie

These two pages photo credit: Chris Hanley

All too often brides and grooms buy from John Lewis / Moss Bros / BhS because they’re familiar. Yes, Marks & Sparks do serviceable wedding stationery. Yes, you can find nice bridal accessories in department stores. But you’ll struggle to feel different and unique if you do things that way. If that’s what you’re looking for, then don’t be afraid to find a quirky, bespoke little company to design something especially for you. The wedding industry is a place where creative little businesses thrive. There’s a thrill to be had in finding craft suppliers who are really special: investigate Etsy and Folksy, follow wedding blogs to discover new designers, visit craft fairs and wedding fairs in your area to see what’s out there. You’ll be surprised and delighted when you find something no one you know has had on their wedding day! ~ Claire English Wedding Blog

This page photo credit: Simon Hudspeth

Thank you for downloading and reading this free eBook from English Wedding blog. Without the help of my wonderful wedding industry friends and sponsors I couldn’t have made this book. Please – if you’re looking for UK wedding suppliers – do consider the names on this list. All come with my highest personal recommendation.

Chris Hanley Photography Phil Drinkwater Jenny & Keith McAvoy

Carol Miller Designs Nia Fiori Bunny Delicious

Anneli Marinovich Adam Johnson

Julie Dawson

Jaye Cole Jonathon Watkins

Cakes by Beth

Simon Hudspeth Martin Beddall

Vintage Twee

The Wedding Calligrapher (me)

p.s if you happen to be a bridezilla don’t phone me, I’m fully booked. Phone Claire, she’s lovely!!!! ~ Anon.

This page photo credit: Chris Hanley

Back cover photo credit: Adam Johnson

English Wedding Free eBook  

Free advice and gorgeous photography to help and inspire brides and grooms with wedding planning