Real Wedding: A Knight In Shining White – Sophie & Ash’s Modern Cotswolds Fairytale

Most little girls start dreaming of their wedding young…. probably something to do with the abundance of Disney films where the princess/girl next door wins the heart of the handsome and charming prince who rides to her aid on his trusty stead. Here’s what happens when this dream is in the 21st Century, a modern cotswolds fairytale of course

So what happens in a modern fairytale? The trusty stead is replaced with modern day horsepower… a Nissan GTR Supercar of course. Married in a traditional church ceremony at the stunning St Michael’s and All Angels Church before riding off into the sunset (or to the reception!) at the historic hill climb racetrack that is Prescott Hill Climb.

Here’s what the bride had to say:

Our day was definitely ‘us’ – we made a pact that I could choose the ceremony venue and Ash could choose the reception – knowing his passion for cars (he’s a massive petrol head!) and being Bugatti members at the time it was a pretty sure run thing he’d pick Prescott.

Our budget was pretty strict, so a few things were created/done by ourselves and our families. At the time pocket fold invites were the ‘in thing’ for invites and I knew I had to have them, I just couldn’t justify the spend, so a lot of eBay rummaging later I found a bride selling off surplus of her invites on eBay – having designed and printed all the inserts ourselves and picking up envelopes and stock on gems from the local craft store, the invites only cost £15. We also created our Order of Services too. They were our best bargain wedding item.

We hired amazing florist Donna from a The Flower Studio to do our flowers – Donna created the exact vision I had in my head – which at the time even family and friends couldn’t see working. The florals were stunning. To complement Donnas flowers (bouquet, bridesmaids, buttonholes, top table and table arrangements) a close family friend created out church displays and then we had these moved to reception afterwards to dress the cake table and reception entrances.

The cake was made by me, having recently launched my own cake business at the beginning of the year it was a given I was going to create my own.

As Ash is into his supercars, and with his racing background we were able to secure the use of a Nissan GTR for the weekend from Dreamcare Hire. This may seem extravagant, but it was a must for us. I on the other hand walked to the church!

As we had everything crossed for a nice day – we wanted our reception to be held outside, we opted for a relaxed hog roast for the wedding breakfast. As it turned out we had the only hot weekend that July (2011). We also chose not to have a defined seating plan – this made things easier for us as no added stress and guests got to sit with who they wanted to sit with!

If you had to describe your day:

A traditional church service followed by a relaxed, alittle informal, alittle quirky reception with a petrolhead undertone!

Here are the snapshots of this beautifully unique day:

 

Ceremony: St Michaels and All Angels Church

Venue: Prescott Hill Climb

Wedding Photography: Shane Cox and Robert Leons

Dress: Sottero and Midgley

Suits: Slaters Menswear

Catering: Prescott Hill Climb

Cake: The Cheltenham Cakery

Event Decor: All About Fun

Flowers: Donna Beaver at The Flower Studio

Car hire: Dreamcar Hire

Engaged? Why your Planning needs a Plan

Engaged? Why your planning needs a plan

He’s proposed, it was the most surreal and beautiful moment of your life, you said yes (it was always going to be yes!). Suddenly everything is clouded in confetti covered specs.

Then it begins…… where to have the ceremony, will it be church or civil? At the same venue as the reception or local registry office. Home or Abroad? The start of a very long list of decisions.

 

wedding-day
Wedding day in diary

Many a consultation has seen me chatting to Brides who have had to spend money rectifying earlier mistakes simply because the excitement of planning her wedding has completely run away with her (one client bought 4, yes 4 different wedding dresses!). Of course what Bride to be isn’t excited, and I would certainly be concerned if your weren’t but with a few simple hacks it can be an efficient and streamlined process (with minimal stress!) and a touch easier on the pocket.

The biggest mistake that I commonly see Brides make is the same one I did. Newly engaged I rushed out and cleaned the shelf off every Wedding magazine known to man. I couldn’t wait to get home and  within an hour had planned at least five different weddings.

A favorite quote of mine is one from Winston Churchill:why-you-need-a-formal-marketing-plan-3-638

 

If I where to do it again this is what i’d do and in this order:

  1. Have a Wedding Planning Prenup

Sit down with each other and agree upon the length of engagement, take a rough look at costings (easily found doing a google search) and agree on your budget (then add on 10%). Write this down as an informal agreement between the pair of you – saves any arguments later.

2. Treat It As A Business

Your wedding planning will become a huge part of your life for a while……. Don’t make it become your life. Ensure you have set up a separate bank account for finances so you don’t lose track of what you’ve saved (direct debits into a designated account are great!) Set up a separate email address and use this for everything from RSVPs to conversing with suppliers. Into social media – set up a Instagram account with your own hashtag ie #mr&mrsliggat so any photos taken on the big day, respective stag and hen nights or for those times that your wedding planning ie dress and suit shopping,  your friends can use the hashtag and you can save or print pics as necessary.

3. Checklist, Checklist, Checklist

Yes its uber boring but make a checklist for everything, and I mean everything. Not just for the things you need to ie book venue, get dress, order suits etc but also for example a shot checklist for your photographer to ensure that those important shorts are captured, a checklist of approximate timing on the day (make sure that you give this to a couple of people in the wedding party in case you need it for reference on the day. It also means that when you suddenly cant remember if you’ve booked or organised something you have a written copy to refer to and wont need to ring a supplier in a panic to check.

4. Be Tourists

Your venue is one of the biggest spends generally, when researching the venue it really is beneficial to visit as many as possible, stay the night if applicable, eat there, experience the venue after all that is what you will be parting your cash for: the vibe and experience of your chosen venue. Don’t be afraid either to think a little outside the box , is there a restaurant, club or cinema that has special meaning to you both? We approached our local hillclimb racing track (hubby is an amateur car racer) and had our reception there, whilst friends of ours had their reception meal at the local indian.

5. Pound The Streets

Every girl wants to sort THE dress, before you do this you need to know what type of wedding your having: a festival, traditional church, castle, beach – a full on princess dress would be perfect for a castle wedding but may look alittle out of place if you having a festival themed do. Try and hold off and save your feet, until you’ve agreed on the venue and style of your big day.

Bridal Dress shopping – the one piece of advice I can give you here is to block out time to spend pounding the streets for the ONE. Wear a comfortable pair of shoes, take your trusted maids and plan which shops your going to hit and when (most will require you to book an appointment), with military precision. Whilst you may have an idea of the style and type of dress you like, BE OPEN MINDED. The dress I ended up with was not what I thought id have. Trust the stylists, they dress brides to be every day of the week!

6.  Choose Your Entourage Wisely

Whilst we all have our besties in mind when picking bridesmaids and best men, be truthful – how are there organisational skills? Can you depend on them? They need to be the people that will be honest with you that the puffball wedding dress you’ve got your heart set on actually makes you look like you’ve gained 10lbs, that pick you up when the alcohol hits on the hen night and you have a sudden drunken meltdown. Should something happen on the day would you trust them to make the right decisions in your stead?

5. Its Ok to Social Media Stalk

When picking suppliers, research, research, research. Social media is great for finding out what suppliers you like, monitoring their work, reading their reviews.  Once you’ve a short list arrange to meet with them – its vital that you have a great working relationship with your suppliers.

6.  Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Whilst it would be dreamy that you have real confetti petals, rose buttonholes for all the males guests and a rose wrist corsage for the ladies, a harpist while guests wait outside the church, an organist for the entrance, not to mention junior and senior choirs for that ‘voice of an angel’ hymn singing. Be realistic – what is important to you. Are real rose petal confetti going to mean the difference between a good and great best day of your life? Are multi pocket invitations in gilded gold really that important? By all means if you’ve the budget and you want them, go ahead. If you haven’t….. how important is it? Equally whilst its nice to have extras such as sweet charts, favours, table confetti, you don’t have to have them.

7. Don’t Underestimate the DIY

Every bride wants to feel like they have made a personal touch to their day, some more than others. However do not, under any circumstances, underestimate the time factor in your planning if you are DIY’ing aspects of your day. If its something you can only create nearer the day ensure you factor in lots of practice runs beforehand! I made my own invites – simple enough and I only needed 50 so a couple of hours work right? It actually took me 3 days and i eventually made double that number as I tweaked designs etc along the way.

8.Your Day, Your Way

You will have to learn to be diplomatically strong. Try not to take family comments to seriously if they express a dislike to something you have planned. Calming state that this is what you and your other half have decided  – once you enter into explanations of why you have picked that and not this you will irreverently start to doubt yourself. Remember this is YOUR day so its needs to be done YOUR way.

9. If It Goes Pete Tong………SMILE

Unless you have complete OCD or have employed a Wedding Planner, things will go slightly off plan. Its unrealistic to think it won’t. However only you will know if things have gone awry. At my own wedding i totally forgot to do a table plan – yes i know. However it wasn’t an issue… people thought what an refreshing idea it was to allow people to sit where they liked! I just smiled and let them carry on thinking id planned it!

 

wedding-planning-mistakes

Sophie

xx

 

 

Why there’s more to it than just a few pictures- Professional Wedding Photographer Susie Mackie tells us more…..

Inspired by a recent issue with a longstanding client over fees Susie Mackie, a professional wedding photographer felt the need to break down actually what was involved in capturing one of the  most important days of your life in pictures.

Susie is a romantic, fairyale and timeless portrait and wedding photographer based on Cheltenham and covering the Cotswolds and further afield.

Susie Mackie

 

Over to you Susie:

Shared of course with love and goodwill <3
SO JUST WHAT ARE YOU PAYING FOR WHEN YOU HIRE A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER?


Much of the cost of a photographic image or print produced by a professional photographer has a lot to do with the time, equipment costs, artistic vision and reputation of the photographer not to mention expertise and the usual costs of running a legitimate business.

The cost of TIME:
Approaching it from a time standpoint, let’s imagine that you have hired a photographer who has work that you love. This photographer is traveling an hour to your destination to photograph your session.
Here is an example of a time break down:
• Booking time: 30 minutes to one hour (client contact time + emailing/paperwork)

• Pre-session prep time (30 mins – 1 hour, includes equipment and back up equipment checks)

• One hour travel time to session

• 15-30 minutes prep time at client’s home

• 90 minutes – 2 hours with client photographing subject

• 1 hour travel time from session

• 30 – 45 minutes uploading time from digital cards from camera to computer

• 30 – 45 minutes time spent backing up the original images

• 2 – 5 hours editing time to present you with a diverse gallery of edited images

• 1- 2 hours prep time getting ready/printing orders

• 30 minutes – 1 hour prep time for delivery/posting

• Any additional phone time or time needed for add on ordering, shipment issues, quality issues

• In this example, the time spent per client can range from 13 hours to 17 hours – dependent on the photographer’s level of service. This is time dedicated only to ONE session. When the photographer charges £140 – £370 for the photo shoot (aka SESSION FEE) you are not just paying for the two hours of session time, you are paying the photographer for 12 – 17 hours complete time for your session – that is, the SERVICE.

• The images resulting from the service are the PRODUCT, whether they are digital, prints, canvases, acrylic blocks or any other medium, each of which has a monetary value (notwithstanding the emotional value and the longevity of this – which some might say is priceless).

The COSTS of maintaining a PROFESSIONAL photography business:
• Regarding equipment costs, a good quality professional camera with a selection of good optical quality lenses and digital storage mediums and computer set up can run from £10,000 – £30,000 costs dependent on the photographer.

• Even though you can purchase a really good quality digital SLR for about £2000 there are still other costs related to photography. Most of us have at least 3 cameras.

• A good lens for portrait photography can run from £900 to £2500. Most of us have 5 or more lenses.

• A dependable computer system with software loaded for business and creative usage can run £2500 to £8000 dependent on the photographer. Then come lab costs for specialty products, and professional photo printing equipment, archival inks and paper. Back up costs – external hard drives, cloud computing – we back up our files three times for safety, so if the client loses their images, we DON’T, and can always replace.

• As with other business equipment, deterioration, damage, and replacement must also be factored in.

• Costs of running the business, insurance (not just for equipment, also for personal indemnity and public liability), studio rental/mortgage, vehicular costs, costs of advertising/marketing, costs of sample pieces – all add up and all have to be paid for, just like any other business.

Susie can be found at the following links, I also highly suggest you check out her My Sensuality, she will find the goddess in all of us in this luxurious yet personal shoot that will allow your confidence as well as your beauty to shine through.



Susie Mackie Photography

Website – http://www.susiemackie.com/

Facebook –  www.facebook.cogm/susiemackiepics

My Sensuality

Website – http://www.mysensuality.co.uk/

Facebook – www.facebook.com/mysen2

Would You Skill Swap Your Wedding?

I am always intrigued behind Brides planning processes and how they choose to go about planning their wedding. When I saw a post on Social Media from a Bride asking suppliers to skill swap my interest was immediately pipped! Do people really do this? How does this work?

After contacting the Bride to be and asking if I could chat to her about her Social Media post and to discover what this actually entailed I met up with the lovely Nina. This is her story.

Nina Jenkins is the owner and therapist at Yin-Yang Therapies, her story begins back in 2009, after trying her first Reiki treatment and the immediate health benefits she experienced Nina was inspired to learn Reiki and after studying became a qualified practitioner which saw the birth of WakeyReiki.

After combining her Reiki with Swedish massage, Indian Head Massage and Holistic Facials,  Wakeyreiki has evolved into Yin-Yan Therapies where Nina says ‘ More recently I have been mixing up my treatments and tailoring them for my clients, this tailored ethos makes my offering very different to others. Yin-Yang treatments are about you and finding your optimum balance. Whilst you can sample each signature treatment as it is… I can also mindfully blend them so they are perfect – just for you’

 

YinYangD Yin Yang Therapies

Getting back to the Skill Swap, I asked Nina how the idea to Skill Swap elements for her day came about and how it had been received by suppliers.

How did you come up with the idea to skill swap your wedding?

I think we need to take a leaf from the old days. Bartering (or skill swapping) goes back centuries and as long as both parties are benefiting then why not? The average cost of a UK wedding is escalating beyond what modern day couples can actually afford sadly. Many are taking out loans to be able to fund large and elegant weddings and putting themselves under great pressure and some newly weds are actually paying off the debt for years after. I’m a believer of using your resources where you can, and if that’s a positive for all concerned then why not skill swap at least some of the things you would like for your special day?

 

How has the idea of skill swap gone down with suppliers you’ve approached?

Some have been very receptive and some have not been as enthusiastic. I think there are some grey lines with swapping, ie. are you both getting an equal share. For example, how much effort would someone need to put in to recoup the value of their services to £100? This differs with each service and product provided by suppliers so sometimes it can make it tricky.

 

Have you come across any difficulties with the skill swap set up?

Some suppliers haven’t totally understood the concept and this has lead to some difficulties regarding who was offering what. I was offered a swap for photography but the higher value services would have meant many hours of holistic treatments which made it unfeasible sadly. But I have found a great photograher who has offered to capture my day informally for an amazing deal.

 

Would you recommend it to to Brides on a  budget?

Yes I would as it can help cut costs and help others. My advice is to think about a fair deal between both parties (not just in terms of money but time and effort) and set out the guidelines so there are no grey lines before agreeing to a skill swap. I know that every supplier that has offered to swap with me is benefiting from receiving some lovely holistic treatments that will make them feel much better, help them to relax, de-stress and restore themselves, which makes them more happy and productive in work and in general life. And that makes me happy.

 

If you hadn’t of skill swapped some services, how would this have impacted on your wedding day ideas/designs/atmosphere?

I would not have been able to splurge as much on some things that I really wanted too.  I have managed to skill swap flowers,  bridesmaid presents, hair styling trial and hair styling on the day, wedding nails and some essential beauty treatments in the run up to the wedding, these really eat into your budget. For example, 2 months prior to a wedding it is recommended you get regular facials every 2 weeks so you can look your absolute best on the day, so if a facial is £45 that really adds up and many brides don’t factor nails, regular facials and hair into the equation when budgeting.

Any other tips for Brides looking to cut costs?

I would also recommend offsetting any crafty DIY wedding tasks to bridesmaids and close family to help even further. For example, do you have an Aunty that can make your bouquets or an uncle who can MC on the day? Can you make anything yourself? Asking for support from those close to you can often mean you don’t have to spend quite as much from the budget.

Also check out free wedding downloadables you can get from sites like http://offbeatbride.com/diy-wedding-printables/ they are really brilliant!

 

 

Check back here in the New Year to find out how Nina’s day went!

 

Sophie

xx

 

Nina practices her therapies in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and can be found here:

Website: www.yinyangtherapies.com

Email info@yinyangtherapies.com

Contact number +44(0)7903500837

Twitter @yinyangholistic

Facebook: @yinyangholistictherapies

Instagram: missyinyangholistic

 

 

We’re Launched & Live…..

launched-live

So today the button was pressed  and we are LIVE!!!!

The seed of an idea that has been germinating for 4 years is finally here!

With blog posts covering everything from actually how to plan your planning to suppliers, secluded and exclusive venues and How To’s for the DIY in you,  I hope you’ll love A Cotswold Wedding as much as I do.

Enjoy

 

Sophie xx

 

 

Calligraphy the Modern Way with Ollie’s Studio


When the opportunity arose to learn calligraphy I jumped at it. My grandfather could create beautiful calligraphy pieces and I always remember being in awe of the elegant place names and thank you notes he would write. After trying it a few years ago, I thought it would be an easy way to do my own invitations, unsuccessfully I put the ink and nibs away and forgot about them.

Calligraphy is a the art of producing decorative handwriting or lettering with a pen or brush, Modern Calligraphy is a more free flowing and informal style of calligraphy, and as such is easier for people to pick up. Even someone like me!

So what a delight I had in spending the morning with the beautiful Ofe of Ollie’s Studio in the equally lovely setting that is Tithe Barn, Bishops Cleeve. Ofe and her gorgeous daughter Ollie (Olivia) whom Ollie’s Studio is named after and her husband where warm and welcoming. I loved that this was a real family affair. Ofe is a woman of the world with Irish and Nigerian heritage, having studied in New Jersey and then Scotland before settling in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire when she met her husband. Even more admirable is at the time of teaching this workshop was heavily pregnant!

After a brief introduction to the tools and equipment in front of us and the workshop booklet that she had created we started initially learning the basics of individual stroke marks – this was a learning curve for me as it became apparent that the amount of pressure applied really is the key in creating beautiful calligraphy.

Then we moved onto letters – upper and lower case before trying out joined up calligraphy. Ofe is a patient and hands on teacher, happy to help you in any way from how to hold the pen and nib to movement of the wrist and shoulder in order to create some of the flourishings.

 

 

All of this with a mini break halfway with fresh hot coffee and scrummy pastries!

Ofe was keen to show the versatility of calligraphy, and how we could make our own style. We explored varying this with bouncy calligraphy letters, basic drawings and extra touches of flourishings.

Unlike many courses everything that we had been using was ours to take home in a little pack with follow up help emailed out to us.

I would thoroughly recommend this workshop for those who love crafting to those who perhaps want to DIY their own wedding invites, place names or table plan.

A thoroughly enjoyable morning was spent willing away a few hours learning Calligraphy, under her tutorship not a drop of ink was spilt or smudged, and I came away with not only a very useful new skill that I cannot wait to put in to practice but feeling refreshed and relaxed. Calligraphy is very therapeutic!

Ollies Studio have additional course dates available due to the popularity of this workshop and Ofe is offering a special early bird discount too. Book your place here: Beginner Modern Calligraphy Workshop Cheltenham

Sophie

Xx

Why Marry In The Cotswolds?

Getting married is an intimate and personal process – from the proposal to the choice of engagement ring to the wording of the vows and everything thereafter.

Everyone is individual, everyone has their own ideals and needs that must be fulfilled in order for the perfect day to be achieved. Choosing where to marry is one of the biggest decisions that a couple must make – after all this is the starting point for the beginning of the rest of their lives together and will be the backdrop of years of memories.

purple

Generally where to marry is governed by the usual factors, location, budget and availability….. so why is marrying in The Cotswolds more popular than ever?

The Cotswolds is the largest of 38 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England and Wales, spanning a vast area from Chipping Camden in the north to Bath in the south.

Famed for its idyllic villages, rolling fields, wild flower meadows and woodland copses, not too mention the cotswold stone walls, rustic barns and elegant houses all encapsulated under beautiful skies it is seen as the epitome of an English landscape. With this as a back drop who wouldn’t marry here. Its romantic to say the least…. oh and a photographer’s dream!

cotswolds_fourpillarsofw-1700x999

 

So be sure to sign up so when new blogs hit the web your the first in the know of whats happening here in the glorious Cotswolds.