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How to write your wedding vows

5 Sep

Lots of couples are opting to alter, or even ditch altogether, traditional wedding vows. But what happens next is sometimes a struggle. While they might be bursting with feelings, many find themselves frustrated, staring at a blank piece of paper and willing adequate words to magic themselves onto the page.  If you’re stuck writing yours, I’m sorry to disappoint but this post isn’t going to tell you what to say. It might, however, provide you with some tools to get the creative juices flowing – and to unlock what you truly feel about your future husband, wife or life partner.

Some of you might know that, while I’m the Shabby Chic Bride by night, I’m a writer (of sorts) by profession. As such I’ve found a few techniques and tricks really helpful in finding the right words to express myself.

1. If you can’t write, borrow. You might not be Shakespeare – but guess what? Shakespeare is. If writing isn’t among your talents, then choose the words of others that resonate with you. After all, there’s no such thing as truly original material – and you can’t beat some of the best lines of the classic poets… or have a flick through Love Letters of Great Men and Women to see how the pros pour their hearts out!

2. If you can write, don’t try to make it perfect. Nobody’s expecting award-winning prose, and sometimes the most heartfelt vows are the ones that are raw, simple and real. Don’t lose the heart of your vows in complex language – just tell it as it is.

3. Make them personal. Write down all the things you love about your other half – not generic qualities, but the little things that make your relationship unique. Keep it PG-rated though! Every relationship has its own challenges and every couple has unique promises to make to each other – so make yours relevant!

4. Think back to the beginning of your relationship – it tends to reawaken old feelings of excitement and anticipation that sometimes get forgotten in the rush of everyday life. Remember those butterflies? They’re still in there – and if you listen really carefully, they might just tell you what to say!

5. Do something that inspires you – take a walk and clear your head or have a bath. And carry a notebook everywhere – sometimes inspiration hits when you least suspect it.

6. Write them together. Your vows are about your commitment to one another. Unless you’re set on surprising each other, why not talk about your relationship priorities together. That way your vows will really unify you – and they’ll be important to you as a couple.

7. If you’re funny, use that strength in your vows. Now, when I say this it comes with a big disclaimer: USE WITH CAUTION. If you’re the kind of person whose jokes tend to be met with rolled eyes, don’t attempt this. Also don’t make any jokes about sensitive issues such as weight, ex partners or anything that could upset anyone. However, including some lighthearted references in your vows can help you ease nerves. Just keep it at a minimum as you don’t want your vows to turn into a bad comedy show.

8. If you’re close to your parents, here’s a unique way to honour them: ask them each to write one wish for your marriage, which you can read out as part of your vows. This brings together generations and is a nice way for them to give you their blessing.

9. This is certainly not for the conventional couple – but you could write each other’s vows! Perhaps not as a final draft, but it will be revealing of the commitment you’re each looking for from one another.

10. And if you can’t think of anything, simply say “I will love you” – it’s simple, timeless and Carrie Bradshaw promises she won’t take credit for it.

Did you write your own vows? If so, where did you find your inspiration? Leave me some comments!

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Are you a Bridezilla?

1 Sep

Last night I was watching a Don’t Tell the Bride recap episode, where couples from previous shows looked back on their behaviour while the groom planned the wedding.

What interested me the most about the brides reflecting on their actions was how contrite they all seemed – for coming across like a Bridezilla. That’s what inspired me to write this post. Well, that, and I also had a dream about Godzilla last night (yes, Godzilla).

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably thinking you’re more Shabby Chic Bride than Bridezilla. However, I was having a very interesting conversation with a well-known and fabulous industry hairdresser the other night who said something very interesting: “all brides are the same – even if they think they’re different. They all want their wedding to be impressive.” So perhaps there’s a little Bridezilla in all of us.

So here’s my little Bridezilla quiz – answer honestly!

How involved is your groom in the wedding planning?
a.) Very involved – we have long discussions about the important decisions and make them as a team.
b.) I show him things. He grunts. I go ahead with them.
c.) He’s not remotely interested – I have to do everything myself.
d.) He keeps trying to help, but he’s mad if he thinks I’m going to trust him with anything!

How do you refer to the wedding?
a.) Our wedding or the wedding.
b.) My wedding.
c.) Mostly “our wedding” but occasionally a “my” slips out!
d.) My party. Or, to be more specific, my pretty white dress party.

How often do you talk about the wedding?
a.) Only when people ask or when I’m talking to suppliers or my groom – I wouldn’t want to bore people.
b.) I try to keep wedding talk at a minimum but do tend to go on a bit if asked.
c.) I probably talk about it more than I should, but hey, you only get married once, right?
d.) All the time. To everyone who’ll listen. Even the postman knows what my centrepieces will look like.

How did you choose your bridesmaids?
a.) Easy. I chose my closest friends – the people I love enough to have around me on my big day.
b.) I chose a mixture of close friends and family.
c.) I chose people who seemed most helpful and “into” the wedding.
d.) I deliberately chose bridesmaids who wouldn’t upstage me. Wait till they see their dresses!

How far in advance did you plan everything?
a.) Plan? I’ve just booked things as and when – going with the flow.
b.) Booked the essentials around a year in advance but sort of left everything else to the last minute.
c.) Booked and planned everything around a year in advance – I’ll need a year to sort out last-minute details.
d.) I’ve been planning my wedding since before I could talk. In fact, if you look closely at my childhood crayon scribblings, you can just about make out a hand-tied bouquet of garden roses and peonies!

How many suppliers do you meet before you choose one?
a.) Meet? I go with whoever has the nicest website!
b.) I shortlist a few on the phone or via email, then meet one or two.
c.) I make a comprehensive shortlist based on reviews and style – then I meet at least five based on their attitude on the phone before I make my final decision.
d.) I meet as many as possible – and bring a detailed list of questions (with a ranking system) to decide who’s most suitable.

Which of these statements rings most true for you?
a.) A wedding is the union of two people in love, who are committing to spend the rest of their lives together. All other details seem inconsequential.
b.) A wedding is about committing your life to the person you love – but it’s a real also once-in-a-lifetime occasion and should be treated as such. If things go wrong it’s a shame, but it’s not the end of the world.
c.) If you’ve decided to get married, you’re probably already in a loving, committed relationship. A wedding is about throwing the party to end all parties to celebrate and it’s hard to do that if things go wrong.
d.) Every girl should be a princess on her wedding day – and it all has to be perfect.

Your favourite wedding film (of the following is)
a.) My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It’s a simple love story of two people crossing cultural bridges in order to spend the rest of their lives together. Despite the name, the wedding is all about family and the couple never go too OTT.
b.) The Wedding Singer. It’s about a girl planning her dream wedding – which is, of course, important. But it’s not complete until she finds her dream groom.
c.) The Wedding Planner – how apt that someone who spends their life planning lavish weddings probably gets her own – we wonder what she’ll come up with!
d.) Bride Wars. June at the Plaza? Sigh. If my best friend stole my wedding date, there’d probably be a low level war.

A close friend gets engaged while you’re planning your wedding. Your first thought is:
a.) I’m so happy that she’s found the love of her life!
b.) I’m really happy for her, now we can have fun planning together and I’ll have someone to talk weddings with.
c.) I suppose I’m happy for her but I’m a bit miffed to have had my thunder stolen. I’ll have to make my wedding way better than hers.
d.) HOW DARE SHE? If she gets married before me, I’ll kill her.

And finally… your dream wedding would be:
a.) Any scenario where I get to marry my amazing husband to be!
b.) A nice, intimate ceremony with personal touches and close friends and family attending.
c.) Something either stylish or a bit quirky and retro. I want people to talk about it afterwards.
d.) Big, lavish and, of course, all eyes on me. I want my fairytale.

And now it’s time for the results… DRUM ROLL PLEASE!

Mostly A

Woah, you’re one chilled out chick. Some might say too chilled out. It’s lovely that you’re so blissed out with your groom, you’re willing to get married any way, anywhere. But remember, a wedding won’t plan itself. So either hire a planner for those details, or perhaps take on a little Bridezilla vibe to motivate you. Either way, have an amazing day.

Mostly B

You’ve got it pretty much figured out. You might occasionally slip into Bridezilla mode (which, let’s face it, is hard not to do) but you have a good grasp of what’s most important and don’t tend to forget it. Just make sure you think your decisions through carefully before you rush into what seems like the easiest option.

Mostly C

Careful there, is that a little fire I see coming from your nostrils? Only joking. You’re passionate about your wedding and want it to be memorable, but make sure you don’t lose sight of the fact that after the party is over, you’ll be married! Take some time out from planning every now and then to spend some quality time with your groom.

Mostly D

OK, step awayyyy from the cake knife! You’re either the world’s most organised bride or… it may be time to admit the truth. You’re a Bridezilla. Just remember, your wedding isn’t all about you. And the most important thing is getting married, so don’t ruin the day for yourself by getting worked up if something isn’t right. I’d suggest some hot Horlicks, a bubble bath and if all else fails, a strong tranquliser. Juuust kidding!

Farewell Cosmo Bride

25 Aug

I have to admit, I’m a bit of a wedding magazine addict. OK, a full on junkie. I read all of them religiously, devouring the real weddings, jotting down ideas and cutting out pictures for my wedding scrapbook.

Today is a bittersweet day. Like any other wedding magazine publication date, I’m excitedly anticipating the latest copy of Cosmo Bride. But I’m also sad because I don’t want to read it. Once I read it, that’s it! No more Cosmo Bride for this Shabby Chic Bride. Sad face.

So I just want to pay a little humble tribute to my dear friend, frequent train companion and provider of some of my favourite ideas (for which I will give full credit on my wedding day – of course!) You taught me how to take vintage decor to a whole new level. And the wonders of peach – now my must-have colour. You showed me the true meaning of homespun chic. You were the first wedding magazine I anxiously plucked off the shelf, still half feeling like a fraud as a newly engaged gal! Thanks for everything. I’ll look forward to reading the last issue – you may be gone, but in the scrapbooks, weddings, hearts and minds of thousands of brides, you’ll live on!

DIY shabby chic wedding invitations

21 Aug

I would LOVE to be able to afford some gorgeous, bespoke wedding stationery. It goes without saying that for good quality, expect to pay good money. But if you don’t want to pay out big money and still want something gorgeous and unique to send to your guests, why not make the invitations yourself?

Here’s how I’ve done it!

You’ll need

  • A pack of pre-made A5 cards and envelopes.
  • Multi-purpose glue and a glue brush.
  • Scissors (and a guillotine is optional depending on how steady your hand is)
  • Vintage-style scrapbook paper
  • Ribbon and / or lace
Most of the above can be found at Hobbycraft or any other craft or haberdashery shop – but I’d seriously recommend Hobbycraft for the scrapbook paper.
How to
1. Step one is to separate the paper. It will often be two-sided so decide which sides you like better of each. Then group the ones that mesh well together.
2. If you got your card from Hobbycraft, it should naturally bend in the middle. If it’s not pre-folded, fold your card in half.
3. Choose a background for your invitation. Then put your folded invitation against in and cut around it.
4. Put a couple of dabs of glue onto your card and spread with a brush. Leave it for thirty seconds and stick your craft paper background onto the card, smoothing it down to make sure there are no lumps or air pockets.
5. Find a detail or pattern that you like from a different but matching piece of craft paper and cut it out.
6. Paste the back of the cut out and stick it onto the card.
7. Add your final detail, such as a piece of lace tied in a bow or a ribbon.
8. Et voila – you have yourself an invitation!
Now all you need to do is find a pretty font and background, print out A5 inserts with everything you want to say and pop them in the post!
And because I’m covered in glue and quite proud of myself, here are a few more I made earlier!
So there you go – they may not be the most professional looking cards in the world, but they came from the heart and everyone who receives one will hopefully appreciate how much effort an care went into them. Leave me some comments and suggestions as I’m still learning! 10 down, 120 to go!

Pretty things… introducing Moll and Mostin

18 Aug

You may have guessed by now that the Shabby Chic Bride likes to do things a little differently. That’s why it’s always fun to stumble upon a quirky and unique wedding business.

So check out Moll and Mostin. Perfect for the bride that’s allergic to flowers, their gorgeous wedding products encapsulate everything that’s vintage and unconventional.

I’m also a bit in love with how Moll and Mostin came about. The lovely Lucy, who founded the company explains: ” Moll and Mostin was inspired by a love of paper and vintage images, and a serious flea market, antiques market, secondhand shop and car boot habit. I started it in my bedroom, with a one off run of twenty cards, and a quick trip along Brick Lane to find a shop to stock them. Now I am manning market stalls and supplying different shops in London, websites and other small creative businesses,  working from a studio space somewhere between St Pancras and Camden.”

“Since starting to make cards, I have been looking for ways of using the beautiful vintage paper I had in a more creative way, and using the qualities of the paper as well as the images. This is when I started making paper roses, and this has led me to work on a specific wedding range – whereby you can order just a bouquet, or everything you need, including bouquets, corsages, button holes, fascinators for bridesmades or mothers, or bunches of roses instead of regular flowers on table tops.”

“Moll and Mostin are the names of my two great-aunts – two little ladies with twinkly eyes and a grasp on living life, and my very own inspiring retro relatives.”

“I really like working with a range of papers – from old novels, magazines, to sheet music and beautifully coloured maps. Roses for a wedding can be made with a range of papers or with just map for those travelling types or just music for music enthusiasts.”

You’re invited! Kind of… more etiquette advice from the Shabby Chic Bride

12 Aug

I always swore I wouldn’t have evening guests. Why would I want to treat any of my friends any differently to each other? There are many people who are important to me and I’ve always been adamant that I want to include them in my big day.

Until I did the numbers.

It’s a disappointing process to have to single out your family and your very very closest friends as day guests, but sadly most people simply don’t quite have the budget to have everyone they’d like at the whole day. That leaves two options: do you leave people out altogether? Or do you invite them as evening guests?

If the thought of having to cut people from the guest list altogether is too upsetting, then you face a dilemma as to how to approach the evening guest question.

I’ve been to weddings where I’ve been invited just to the evening party. Equally, I’ve heard of weddings where guests have been invited to the ceremony and the evening reception but not the meal in between. There are two schools of thought on this and, in the interests of objectivity I’ll share them both with you (and to make it all a bit more straightforward I’ll relate this to my own wedding):

Pros of inviting guests to both the ceremony and the evening reception

The obvious benefit is that you get to have as many people at as much of the wedding as possible. For example, despite the fact that I can only really afford a meal for family and people directly involved in the wedding, that doesn’t mean that my other friends aren’t extremely important to me. I know a lot of them would be really sad not to hear us say our wedding vows and would prefer to have a bit of a break in between the ceremony and evening party than to miss out on the most important bit.

Besides, many of them will have traveled from other parts of the country to be at the day and will want to get as much from it as possible. A couple of hours’ break means that people can go, freshen up and come back looking more gorgeous than ever for the evening party.

Cons of inviting guests to both the ceremony and the evening reception

Some people will inevitably by offended. No matter how noble your intentions, it still stings on some level to have to leave the festivities and come back later when you know they’re going on without you. Also, many weddings are now taking place in one venue. For example, my ceremony, meal and evening reception are all in the same place. So rather than leaving a ceremony venue and some people going on elsewhere, there will be that awkward moment when people have to leave.

It’s also somewhat unfair to expect people to travel and pay for a hotel for your wedding when you’re not going to be feeding them a full meal. Plus they might not relish the thought of wandering around a new place while you’re having the meal.

In short, guests shouldn’t have to feel obliged to give up their whole day when they’re not involved in every part of it.

So how do you manage it?

If you do decide (as I probably will) that you love all your buddies too much not to have them involved as much as possible, then there are a few ways to show them how important they are to you and to let them make a decision about how much of the day to attend:

1. Be honest – explain that your budget is tight and that you can only really have family and those directly involved with the wedding at the whole day. If your friends really care about you they’ll find a way to understand.

2. Give them a choice. Word the invitation as you would for an evening guest and then add at the bottom the time of the ceremony and that all are welcome to attend should they choose to. That way guests can decide for themselves if they’d like to attend the ceremony and will do so with a full understanding that there will be a break during the day.

3. Have an afternoon ceremony. Rather than expecting guests to sit around all day, make the break as short as you can, no more than two or three hours. That means that people can go off and freshen up or have some food but that boredom won’t set in.

4. Create a list of local attractions and restaurants. Make sure that evening guests can find something to do in the break, and that it’s all affordable and convenient.

5. Introduce people you think will get along. If someone has come to the ceremony and evening reception but doesn’t know anyone, pair them up with people you think they’ll like. Then they might well make some new friends before the evening.

6. Make the evening special. Perhaps save the majority of the speeches, the cutting of the cake and the first dance until the evening party. That way nobody misses out on too many of the truly special moments.

7. Be consistent. Seriously only invite those who must be invited to the meal. Definitely don’t pick and choose between groups of friends and set clear and understandable reasons for why some are invited and some aren’t. For example, only invite family and the wedding party to the meal.

8. Have a photo booth set up for the evening. That way people won’t miss out on being in photos even if they missed the meal, as well as breaking the ice.

9. Make sure you’re not all sozzled by the time the evening guests come back. That will leave them feeling awkward and give them a lot of catching up to do. Try to keep a respectable lid on the drinking until everyone’s there to enjoy themselves.

10. Spend proper time with your evening guests. If they made the special effort to come to your ceremony AND your party without coming to the meal, they must really care about you, so show them how grateful you are.

The whole question of who to invite and how is a difficult one, and it’s all about personal choice, but hopefully this post has offered you some guidance – good luck!

Wedding etiquette dilemmas – the Shabby Chic Bride way #1

8 Aug

OK, I’m the first to admit that this Shabby Chic Bride has hardly been through finishing school. But I do have the benefit of mulling (and agonising) some of the more difficult dilemmas. So, I’m going to hang up my Shabby Chic hat and become an agony aunt for the purposes of this post. This week I’ll be going through a few classic dilemmas and telling you what I would do about them.* First up is the classic kids at a wedding question…

*Disclaimer – what I would do is not necessarily the objectively correct, polite, or moral thing to do. I accept no responsibility if you take my advice and it blows up in your face 🙂 Just kidding.

Dilemma: I don’t want kids at my wedding – but I know this will offend people. Help!

There are some couples that go all gooey at the thought of rosy cheeked little ones running around and enjoying a wedding. There are some for whom the thought of a baby screaming over their “I dos” is intolerable. If you fall into the latter category, you may want to consider a child ban at the wedding.

First of all you need to decide on a cut off age. Is it just babies that are facing the ban? Under 16s? Under 18s? Once you decide on a cut off you need to stick to it. Seriously, you’ll ruffle a lot of feathers if you make any exceptions. The only way around this is to appoint the kids you DO want there as flower girl, page boy etc. etc. but even that might anger a particularly touchy guest.

Then you need to break the news that your friends and family will have to leave their little darlings at home. This isn’t always easy and the most tactful way to do it is to say that the party is going on late and that it’s adults only. It’s better to couch it that way than to bluntly write “no kids allowed”. I’ve read a lot of rubbish about how if you only NAME the adults on the invites they’ll magically know that only means them. Load of crap if you ask me. Before you were involved in weddings would you have had any clue about the coded wording of a wedding invite? Best to tell it straight to avoid embarrassment and confusion later on.

If you really can’t stick to your guns but can’t bear the thought of the moment you declare your infinite love for someone interrupted by a grumpy infant, then it might be worth investing in a childminder or creche facility away from the main event. That way people can have peace of mind knowing their kids are close by but your wedding will also go off without a hitch… unless someone objects!

Good luck!