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Designing invitations

21 May

I have written before about how difficult I found it to design our invitations. I’m not a graphic designer and know next to nothing about fonts, but I really wanted to make these myself and I’m so glad I did!

For the front of the invitation, I kept it pretty simple and similar to the Save the Date cards we sent out last year. I had to change the font from the Save the Date because numbers didn’t read out that well, but I think the replacement worked out fairly well. I’m still not that happy with the scripty font but at there are only so many times you can look at the calligraphy section of dafont without your eyes crossing (or maybe that’s just me).

After looking at LOADS of invitations on Pinterest and changing my mind every week or so about what I wanted to do, I ended up focusing in on the two venues, which are both beautiful buildings.

I looked up some nice pictures of the venues on the Internet and then sketched them roughly and painted them in. I wanted them to look colourful and friendly, which I hope is how they came out.

I don’t have a scanner, so I just took really close up photographs of the buildings on our camera and manipulated them using GIMP (free photo editing software).

I had to swap them around on the invitation as I accidentally drew them in the wrong order, but it meant that they had a natural place to overlap – the trees!

We also created a similar, but slightly different invitation for the evening guests, using just the blue building.

The invites have (almost) all gone out now (there are a few that we haven’t yet posted for one reason or another) and the RSVPs have started coming in. Hurrah! There are still months to go until the wedding, but it is starting to feel very real now!

What do you think? Do you have a favourite calligraphy font? Please give me your recommendations! Have you designed your own invite? I would love to see your photographs…

Cheap date: A great London walk

25 Apr

Back when P and I were first getting to know each other, we went on walks all over London. Our first date involved walking along the Regent’s Canal from Paddington up to Primrose Hill, which is a walk I highly recommend, but if you’re planning an activity for someone who lives in London already, the walk we took on our fourth date was a corker.  It’s pretty long, but worth it – from Tower Bridge to Greenwich.

You can walk along the Thames Path for almost the entire length of the journey, which is clearly sign posted throughout the walk. You go from touristic and beautiful to converted wharves and council estates, with lots of beautiful scenery along the way.

Places to stop along the way:

Along the Bermondsey Wall there are several great stopping points in quick succession. A grassy area outside the Angel pub used to be a manor house owned by Edward III, and you can see the foundations and read about it on a helpful little plaque the English Heritage has put up.

Once you have marvelled at how far the Thames has moved, stop in at the Angel pub and pick up a pint of something tasty to go (they helpfully provide plastic glasses), and drink it on the Kings Stairs gardens, a lovely, quiet park. You can sit on top of a hill and watch the river traffic go by. The Angel pub apparently has a tiny little balcony right on the water, but I’ve not been on it so I can’t recommend (although Tom Jones has and recommends it on his Tired of London blog).

If you are still thirsty after your drink, you could stay right there (it is lovely), but my recommendation would be to go on to The Mayflower pub, which is the oldest pub on the river and has a fantastic deck right on the water (you might get splashed if it’s high tide!). They also do decent food, so if you haven’t brought your own picnic it’s a good place to stop.

Surrey Docks farm, on the other side of the river’s bend, is also worth stopping in to, if only to feel like a little kid again whilst admiring the HUGE pigs. I don’t know if it is Charlotte’s Web or Babe, but I am a big fan of pigs.

The Cutty Sark, which reopens this weekend for the first time in years!

There are so many other places to stop along the way – interesting pieces of artwork and buildings to admire and river barges tied together with shared water gardens and if it’s low tide you can go down on to the beach and feel, for a minute, that you are somewhere else.  Have you got a particular favourite spot along the walk? Let us know in the comments.

Finally, once you get to Greenwich (which is worth a day out of it’s own with the Royal Observatory and the Maritime Museum and straddling the timeline etc), take one of the amazing Thames Clipper boats right back to where you started at Tower Bridge. If you have an Oyster travel card it’s just £4 and you get to rest your legs and experience the whole journey again from the river.  It really is a WONDERFUL date idea.

Total time: around 2.5 – 3 hours taking it fairly easy (it’s around 7 miles)
Total spent: if you BYO food and drink, nothing!

Wedding invitations: the design process

3 Apr

I haven’t written about my wedding planning in a while. There was a brief lull where P and I moved house and then had to concentrate on DIY and then I started a new job (yes, it has been a stressful year so far!), but now I feel back on track again and am trying to crack through the to-do list. First thing on the list? Invitations.

Getting a beautiful wedding invitation is easy these days. There are all sorts of Etsy people these days who you can give your details to, and they design them up to look spiffy and send you the pdfs to print. By looking over even just the first couple of pages of the search results for ‘wedding invitation’, I found loads that I liked. Some of my favourites were:

These green and grey text invites from the Fine and Dandy Paperie;

These mason jar invitations from Jen Simpson design;

And this gorgeous illustrated wedding invitation from Ello There.

And yet, I am making them myself. As someone who always prefers to hand make cards where I can, it seems strange to hand over the design process for the wedding invitations to someone else. The invites above are all gorgeous, but they aren’t personal to P and I. I wanted to make something different and something that meant something.

Having said that, it has been as massive struggle. The things that mean something to us – each other, our home, our family – don’t really make for amazing invitation images. I tried all sorts of different things – different fonts and frames, photographs, background images, colours, layouts… I started back in February and after getting VERY frustrated, I only now feel that I have something I am reasonably happy with.

I’m not going to share the pictures until they have been sent out in the post (and received by the guests!), but I will say that I have a brilliant night recently with the paints that Hannah got me for my birthday.  We’re having some dummy invites printed this week and all being well should be ready to post them out next week! Very exciting stuff.

And if you’re just starting out in this process and are wondering whether you should make them yourself? I wouldn’t have changed what I did, but I would say that having a clear idea of what you want the invites to look like is a pretty important starting point, and one which I took over a month to get to. Wedding invitation designers – I salute you!

Valentines Day Party for Single Girls

12 Feb

Pendant by Christy on Etsy

It’s almost impossible to escape Valentine’s Day but there’s no need to feel bad if you happen to be single. If your purse can’t stretch to a spa day or Sex and the City style cocktail night out why not plan a party at home for your girl friends.

Firstly, choose a film. You can either go down the romantic route and hope that cosmic ordering up your own Mr Darcy works, in which case I would suggest Bridget Jones, When Harry Met Sally or Pretty Woman. Or you can celebrate girl power and watch Thelma and Louise, Erin Brockovich or 9 to 5 with Dolly Parton.

Gather a pamper pack together including a face pack (you could make your own using the recipe in Queen of Crafts), a hair mask, some new nail varnish and a nice scented candle. I love the ones from Neom which have aromatherapy qualities. For some nail art inspiration have a look at my previous posts Marbled Nails and Newspaper Nails.

Make an Anti-Valentine’s Day cocktail –Punchbowl have a couple of suggestions – Cupid’s Broken Arrow and Love on the Rocks.

Split out all the party components and get everyone to bring something so it doesn’t break the bank. Put it all together and enjoy.

Finally, research has shown that laughing releases endorphins that make you feel better (and helps to combat stress) so after your girls film put on a comedy and have a chuckle!

Valentine Ideas

10 Feb

It’s hard not to be inspired when there are so many lovely gift and styling ideas out there at the minute around Valentine’s Day.  Here’s another little round up of some ideas I have spotted recently – I hope they inspire you, too!

A DIY tutorial for making an accordion card via Martha Stewart.

A lovely tutorial from How About Orange on creating edible paint – you can decorate plates or cups or whatever and eat the designs! Yummy (and pretty!)

Give your friends a little treat with these decorated matchboxes stuffed with sweets. Via Sweet Mabel.

This is a WONDERFUL tutorial for making heart shaped cake stands – I am definitely going to be giving this a try! Via Say Yes to Hoboken.

Staying with the pink and red theme, but on a much ‘manlier’ note – how about these meat biscuits spotted on the Whipped Bake Shop on etsy! What a cute idea (but you had better have a steady hand!)

What are you planning this Valentine’s Day?

Valentine’s Day Cards

2 Feb

I love these cards from Wit and Whistle – they are so quirky and funny – certainly a lot better than most of the V-Day cards on the market!

Are you getting or making your Valentine a card?  What has been your inspiration?

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

30 Jan

Whether you love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. If you are looking to give your loved one a gift without spending too much money, here are some lovely ideas I have spotted recently.

We met, we married, we live

Via Minimoz

Via Bloomize

Via Poppytalk

To be fair, I think these ideas are gorgeous, but I’m not sure how appreciative MY Valentine would be of any of these gifts. They are quite girly! Maybe I should get out my heart shaped baking tray and make him some of these instead…

Via Martha Stewart

I think those would go down a treat!

If you are single, why not celebrate Valentine’s Day with your friends? Or, if you are feeling miserable this year, why not throw yourself a pity party? I LOVE that idea (and I have thrown several unofficial ones for myself over the years…)

What are you doing for Valentine’s Day? Do you love it and celebrate with cards and gifts? Do you hate it or try to ignore it?

Wedding invitation inspiration

17 Jan

Last year I blogged about putting together the save-the-date cards for my wedding using free photo editing software and images sourced from license free websites. I loved our Scrabble based cards, even if they did have completely the wrong date on them (luckily no one thought I wanted to get an RSVP from them in 20111).

This month I am starting to think about the invitations themselves.  I am thinking of having a bit of A3, folded in half, then into four, so it folds out and out with more information and pretty pictures on each part (can you imagine that or is that description really confusing? I know what I mean!). I have also been scouring Pinterest for inspiration. There are so many great ideas out there!

How cute is this!? via Style Me Pretty

I love the map on this invite from Suann Song. However, although I love the look of lots of individual postcard sized papers, I worry that people would lose them (what I would do)

Oh Martha. I love you. These are wedding programmes, but what a great invite idea.

Unlike the save-the-dates, which can be really basic and straightforward, the invite needs to have a lot more information on it – hotel suggestions, maps, gift list information (v important, that one!).  But how do you fit all that information on to one invite? A lot of people swear by wedding websites (which are easy and free to create), but I’m still not convinced. What do you think?

Affordable wedding dresses: look overseas

24 Oct

If you’ve exhausted the UK high street while looking for your wedding dress, why not take a look overseas? A lot of US websites now deliver to the UK and accept returns at no cost.* The dresses are still (mostly) under £500, but unlikely to be exactly the same as anyone else’s English wedding dress. My top picks are:

J. Crew.

I. Love. J Crew. Last time I was in the US, I managed to spend about 90% of my budget here. I know the designs are preppy in the extreme, but what can I say? I love that look. Their bridal store is gorgeous. Top tip – the exchange rate is TERRIBLE if you convert the store into pounds. If you know someone in the US and can get your dress bought and delivered there, you will save around 30-40% on the cost of the dress.

Ann Taylor

I would love to post the Olivia gown at Ann Taylor, but their website is based in flash. Sorry. Trust me though (or click through to here), it’s pretty.

Shopbop

Shopbop was suggested by my friend Caitlin. It is based in the US, but ships all over the world. Just go to the site and select ‘white dresses’. Some of my favourites were:

One more picture:

Banana Republic, which is now over the UK, also seems to have great stuff overseas. For example, my friend got married recently in this AMAZING Mad Men inspired dress, which never made it into stores over here! It’s currently not even available through eBay, so can’t provide a good link, but how gorgeous is that!?

What stores do you love to shop from overseas? Have you spotted any other great wedding dress websites? Share them in the comments!

*I have not checked all of the delivery policies of the sites featured on this post, so make sure you check that out before you buy!

The Vintage Wedding Dress Company: Trunk Sale

13 Oct

On Saturday my mum and I went along to the Vintage Wedding Dress Company in central London to try on a range of their dresses in their trunk sale.

I went along to the sale because I fell in love with one of their dresses online, booked an appointment and then realised that their dresses were crazy out of my price range. The dress I loved so much costs £1850 retail with some of their others costing even more. Then I saw that they were having a trunk sale and I thought maybe that would be my way in.

When we arrived at the venue, we had to check our coat and bags so that we didn’t take any photographs, so I’m afraid the above is the only picture I managed to take! Discreet, isn’t it? The trunk sale itself consisted of loads of dresses on rails in a big open room, with lots of brides-to-be changing. I have to say I thought it would be uncomfortable, changing in front of so many people, but that feeling lasted about five minutes – about as long as it took to get the dress on..

The staff were really friendly, helping me in and out of dresses, attaching sleeves, tying sashes – one of them even put a veil on me! I told her I had no intention of wearing one, but she said I should put my hair up and put it on ‘just to see what it looked like’ – it looked a.m.a.z.i.n.g. I’ve thought for ages that I didn’t really like wedding dresses, but then I saw all the wedding dresses on offer there and I have to say, my opinion has shifted a little bit!

In the end, the dress I loved so much from the website didn’t suit me at all. But there was another dress (this one, with lace sleeves and a silk sash) which looked absolutely beautiful. I tried it on in a gold-y white colour, as opposed to stark white and it was so gorgeous. I think my mum teared up a little bit. She tried very hard to get me to buy it, but I just couldn’t do it.

The dresses are significantly cheaper (it worked out to be around 40% off on the dress I loved), and because they are samples, I think the sales team would be open to bargaining. However, it was still £1200. I know that this is a very reasonable price for some people to spend – especially when the quality of cut is so high and the dresess are so flattering (really – the dress made me look RADIANT) (I am clearly not over my decision yet). But it was the first wedding shop I tried anything on in, and knowing I would have to buy it then and there to get the discount, without trying anything else on, and spending such a lot more than I had planned on spending, made me eventually (it took some deliberation) decide that it wasn’t for me.

However. If you do have £1200  to spend on your dress, I would highly recommend going along.  There were a lot of real vintage dresses (as opposed to the ‘Decades’ collection which are new, but inspired by vintage looks), which tended to be less expensive, and the Decades dresses, which were lovely.  The next trunk sale is in 6 months and, you never know, if I haven’t found another dress by then, I might be there with you pulling on one dress after another!

The Vintage Wedding Dress Company – website // Twitter

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