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Scrabble Picture Bride’s Gift

18 Jun

Here’s another idea from my friend ‘Badger’.

Inspired by something she’d seen on Not on the High Street she created a picture from pictures of scrabble tiles for her friend’s hen party gift. She wanted to create a scrabble board using words that related to things to do with the hen party so she’d have something to remember it by.

She found tiles on this website Fuzzimo and used Paint and Microsoft Excel to create it. It was very simple but took some time to make everything fit in and look like an attractive patten. Finally she bought a frame from ebay and put it all together.


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…

Cheerful carnations

18 May

Carnations get a bad rep. They are mostly known for being the flowers that people buy when they are desperate – wilting flowers from the petrol garage bought in a fit of “SHIT I HAVEN’T GOT THEM ANYTHING”.

But is that association really fair? Traditionally they represent love and fascination, and although they are generally cheaper and a bit smaller than roses, they are still beautiful and come in a huge variety of colours and even patterns. For me the lower price just means they are more affordable and the fact that they are available everywhere means you have no excuse for not having fresh flowers at home!

P and I have been thinking about how we want to arrange our wedding flowers and carnations proved a great flower to test with. We aren’t likely to be using them on the day, as we are looking at wilder flora like heather and ferns, but we wanted to test how our cordial/passata/olive bottles/vases would look with some kind of flower arrangement in them. I hope you agree, they really do look lovely!

2 bunches for £5 from Marks and Spencer

Arranging flowers in the kitchen

Two bunches provides more than enough flowers to fill four bottles/vases – I could probably have filled five for just £5!

How do you think the vases look? I am thinking of dipping them in creamy paint so that just the water level is painted. But I’m worried about how much it will drip! Have you done this before? Any tips, let me know in the comments…

And what do you think of carnations generally? Take the poll over on our Facebook page.

(PS! That’s passata, cordial, olives, passata up there – they make great vases and cost nothing as we ate the previous occupiers…)

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!

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?

Collecting Vintage China

6 Nov

Last year I started collecting vintage china to hire out for weddings, hen parties, christenings or just to make a tea party a bit special. The idea came from seeing the explosion of vintage interior styling in magazines and the new trend of having afternoon teas at weddings.

It started as a business idea but it’s become a passion. From trawling car boot sales, charity shops and vintage fairs (see our visit to The Vintage Event) to scouring ebay and having friends all over the country looking out for pieces it’s on my mind all the time. (I must be driving them mad because I have had numerous birthday cards I’ve had with a teacup and saucer on since I started!) Other kind friends have given me china given to them by grandparents that they haven’t used.

It’s also taken over my home. Where I used to have candles and other ornaments there is now china. A cluster of sugar bowls next to the television, cake stands on the living room shelves, a gravy boat holds keys, buttons and other bits and bobs in my bedroom. I have favourite cups and saucers on a display shelf and others dotted around. As my collection grows I’m having to operate a rotation system otherwise the flat will start to look like it’s owned by a mad old lady.

If you’d like to start your own collection I recommend a few rules. Firstly, set a maximum price on every piece you buy. Teapots in particular are hard to come by, I guess a lot of spouts get broken. You could pay £40, £50 or more but I have set a limit of £15 on every one I buy. Secondly, only buy what you like. At first I snapped up everything I saw but now I’m more discerning as I know I wouldn’t be comfortable hiring out pieces I didn’t like myself. But that takes me on to my third point – if you are planning to hire your collection out, don’t get too attached! Breakages do happen.

I named my vintage china hire company Millie Wilkins China Hire after my grandmother who was a tour de force when it came to catering family parties, including my parents wedding. I hope my china is used to serve many more happy family events in the future.

If you’d like more information about hiring my collection please visit my facebook page.

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 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 Event at Balham Bowls Club

16 Oct

The Vintage Event run vintage fairs around London gathering together a handpicked selection of vintage traders selling vintage fashion, accessories and ‘objects of desire’. We visited them at the Balham Bowls Club yesterday, an amazing venue which is full of loads of amazing furniture, decor and ornaments even before the traders set up. During the day it was all about shopping but from 8pm it turned into a dance with music from the 40s – 80s

I was really impressed with the range and quality of items for sale. I’m not into vintage fashion myself because I’m the wrong proportions to wear it but these hats definitely caught my eye.

Katie always keeps an eye out for potential wedding dresses and found this amazing 70s one at Pippa and Me but it wasn’t quite her style.

But she did buy some of these fabulous original magazines from The Hostess Hotties which will no doubt become part of a project soon.

I was tempted to a couple of items to add to my collection for Millie Willkins Vintage China Hire. I already have one of these Sadler teapots so was really pleased to find one in a different pattern at Simply Vintage Designs. And I was really pleased with this sugar bowl with built in sugar tongs from Tea-licious.

After all the shopping and chatting to the stall holders we were in need of refreshment, thankfully Mother’s Ruin were on hand to proved cake and cream teas.

All in all it was a brilliant event and one I’m sure we’ll be visiting again. Hopefully next time we’ll be able to stay for the evening too.

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

DIY wedding bouquet

20 Sep

Wedding bouquets can be incredibly pricey. The alternative bride’s bouquet of choice at the minute seems to be made of buttons. I can appreciate that this can be very personal and ‘quirky’, but I’m afraid I am absolutely not a fan. Flowers are the only way for me.

Prices I have been looking at range from £40 to several hundred pounds. The ones I have seen in wedding magazines which I have really liked have cost around £75. The flowers do look beautiful, but I would like to spend around £15 for my bouquet, which is going to mean attempting to do it myself.

According to the instructions in this video, it doesn’t look not too hard at all. But then the woman creating the bouquet in the video is clearly a professional and I, with my very limited flower arranging skills, am not.

Well, last weekend I went to the New Covent Garden Flower market to find out what was in season for our centrepieces, and to buy some cut flowers to attempt some bridal bouquet making.

And you know what? It wasn’t that hard.

Unlike Madonna, I love hydrangeas, and wanted to incorporate them. Each flower has a very large head, meaning you need to buy fewer of them.

Start by cutting off all the extra leaves, keeping only the ones you would like to include in the final arrangemnt. Hold them in your hand with their stems crossed and then add 5 stems spray flowers in where you want them.

Tie them with a string to make the ribbon tying easier. You definitely need someone to tie the string around the flowers – I don’t know how you would do that on your own. Then wrap around 3/4 of a metre of ribbon tightly around the stems, where you will be holding them.

Pin the ribbon closed and then cut off the bottom of the stems. Next time I would leave more green between the end of the ribbon and the end of the stems on my bouquet. I don’t seem to have a photo, but I don’t know why I cut them so short – there is no green after the ribbon, which will likely result in the ribbon coming off during the course of the day. NOT what you want to be thinking about!

In the end, I only used three heads, which cost around £7.50.

Next I created a test for the bridemaids, using stocks and the same spray. I used another 5 stems of spray. The stocks and spray together cost £9 but I had enough stocks for two bouquets, with 5 stems each.

I absolutely loved both of these! I like the colours and the combinations. To be sure, if I was a professional I’m sure these would be more neatly fastened, and lots of the bouquets seem to have 4-5 varieties within them, but I think they look beautiful. Plus they were really easy to do – they took around 10 minutes each.

With myself and four bridesmaids I would need:

  • 3 heads of hydrangeas (£7.50)
  • 3 bunches of spray (£12)
  • 2 bunches of stocks (£10)

Bringing the entire cost of the flowers for the bride and bridesmaids to around £30.  The bridal bouquet on it’s own would be £10. Not too shabby! For the event itself, I might splash out and spend an extra £5 or so on some additional flowers to go in between the hydrangeas and add a bit more dimension to it.

My mother kindly bought my testing flowers today, which came to around £25 altogether as we bought slightly too many, so including this trial run and the ribbon (£3.95), the total cost will be £58.95.  However, I’m tempted not to count the flowers bought today in the total cost because they are now in vases on my mantlepiece and look so pretty!

What do you think? Do you know anyone who has made their own bouquet? How did it go?

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