Bridal Confidence – The elephant in the room

Weddings are a source of excitement and enjoy, admittedly there may be tense moments, families are a rich and diverse collection of people and on occasion may not blend together, but on the whole its against the grain to think that for some their wedding day just doesn’t conjure up quite the same thoughts of eternal elation.

The thought of posing in countless positions for photographs, to speaking in public about their undying love is enough to bring about a cold sweat and thoughts of eloping or in extreme conditions ‘calling it off’! Even the most confident bride can experience a wobble and may need alittle help to channel the beauty from within, because yes brides to be… you are all beautiful.

So whether you need a pep talk to get you going or to talk through how to stand or pose for the best pictures we have the experts on hand to help.

Two such ladies who understand the pressures of wedding planning and more importantly women are Susie Mackie and Dawn Swinley.

Susie Mackie is a wedding photographer who is passionate about photographing people. However Susie’s passionate goes deeper than just capturing your perfect day. Recognizing a need that some Brides needed a little boost she created My Sensuality  – a boudoir experience that she originally created for brides to be which revealed the beauty within, whilst giving brides an experience that they found liberating, confidence building, empowering and fun!  For some it has changed their lives forever, and for others they simply see themselves as others do – beautiful.

Susie says:

My style is timeless, emotional, and genuine; I capture your natural sensuality revealed through your eyes and body language, talking you through your poses and enabling you to feel truly liberated. To me, people are unique “living art” – the texture and tone, character and curve – and I celebrate this through my imagery.

My mission is to give you the confidence to feel good about all of you – from the inside out! If a very brief encounter with Penny and me at a My Sensuality shoot can empower you to feel good about yourself and love your images, then we have achieved what we set out to do!

Dawn Swinly is a nutrition and wellness coach , her business Mode-De-Vie provides a variety of solution’s to today’s modern women’s issues and her aim is to help you enjoy all that life can offer without you being burdened with unattractive and unnecessary body fat or health issues that drain your energy, ruin your looks and diminish your self-confidence.

Dawn says:

‘Many people don’t understand the power of nutrition and its impact on their mind, body and spirit. Or they think to be healthy, you have to live on rabbit food or starve yourself or not enjoy any treats. No Faddy Diets or Finger Pointing Here. What you will get is someone who is a qualified Nutritionist who understands what you need to feel amazing and it’s not starving yourself, being scolded or trying to sell you the next “Magic Bullet” to being slim.

So what have these two fabulous ladies who understand women been up to? and more importantly how can they help you!

They bring you – Complete Bridal Confidence


The ultimate in boosting your Bridal confidence by dedicated experts in a relaxed, warm environment with of course complementary fizz. Helping you to look and feel fabulous both inside and out and allow the best possible version of you shine.

Susie and Dawn will be introducing their amazing new concept CBC – Complete Bridal Confidence on 8th May 2017 at The Greenway Hotel and Spa, Cheltenham.

There support network includes a private Facebook group called Brides United, you can join it HERE. This is a place of sanctuary where you can ask questions, find out information and discuss your wedding with other contributors.

Be sure to join them and enjoy a glass of fizz, soak up invaluable information, ask our experts for advice, and enjoy our short but enlightening presentation when we will outline the concept of CBC – and share a super special offer for the first 5 brides to book a CBC package!

By the time you leave, we are confident that you will be happy in the knowledge that we are all there to hold your hand during your wedding planning, and will help make your dream wedding a reality, because as the L’Oreal adverts say ‘you’re worth it’.

Get your tickets for the launch event here:   Complete Bridal Confidence Tickets

It promises to be a fun, informative and enlightening experience, why not book tickets for mother of the bride and your maids too?

Happy planning

Sophie xx


Snow Wedding or No Wedding?

The last few days here in the UK has seen a Siberian polar front collide headlong into Storm Emma – the result minus temperatures, heavy snow and ice. Just in time for those getting wed over the weekend.

So if an unexpected Siberian weather front suddenly threatens your big day what do you do? Do you cancel or do you embrace the change and spend your last remaining hours wedding planning pintrest’ing the perfect snow wedding pics?

Honestly….. it’s your call and you need to do what’s right for you. But I truly believe that only you can let bad (unplanned) weather ruin your day.

Here’s a few tips for when the weather doesn’t play ball and snow threatens play:

  • wellies – don’t leave home with out them
  • blankets and wraps – nothing makes you feel warmer than snuggling in a selection of cosy cover ups – think thick, textured fabrics to ooze luxe
  • Add a touch of colour to pop against the snowy backdrop – think faux fur coats, tweeds etc why not colour coordinate with your wellies!
  • warm drinks – it may be preferable to switch the welcome fizz for hot chocolate (with cream and marshmallows of course!) and luxury coffees
  • Transportation – the beautiful Rolls Royce may not be able to make your day, consider hiring or borrowing a 4×4
  • How will your guests get around?
  • Can you hire rooms closer or at the venue for your guests?
  • As unsexy as it sounds can you get away with wearing thermals under your dress – it’ll make the outside snow shots that little bit warmer to bare 😉

For more inspiration here’s a few snowy shots:

Happy Planning



We’re Planning a Wedding

If you recently got engaged…. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

It’s inevitable when your bestie finally (it’s been a long engagement) sets a date and your asked to be Maid of Honor that planning fever sets in! I actually think I’m more excited than her – but that’s because I get to help plan a wedding all over again, it certainly wasn’t all smiles when I planned my own and you can read about that on Engaged? Why your planning needs a plan

Now the big days September 2018 – not long at all (9 Months! Ekk) and the couple have already chosen and booked their venue but that it! what about the other weddinphernalia? There’s still so much to do!

So join us and follow our exciting journey as we delve into the depths of wedding planning through the highs and lows for those hidden gems, hilarious outtakes and of course some of the best DIY’ing tricks we’ve come across

We can’t wait to share our planning journey with you

Sophie & Sarah


Why January need’nt be Blue – Financially Freedom Fight to the Wedding of Your Dreams

 Amongst the enthusiastic ‘Happy New Years!’ there are bound to be a multitude of  congratulatory posts as couples become engaged over the festive period. Once the snow has settled, realization kicks in – wowsers a wedding to organise and pay for, and with your credit cards looking a tad unhealthy after all the turkey they pilled on over the last few weeks it can feel abit daunting.

Fear not! Speaking to the queen of savvy that is The Financial Freedom Fighter, Fanny Snaith, here’s some tips on making the most of your available budget and how she had the wedding of her dreams without blowing the budget.

How to make sure that your wedding day is the best day of your life and not one big expensive headache!

I get it, everything has to be perfect on your wedding day right?  But think about what “perfect” actually means.  What is perfect?  Is it the biggest and the most expensive everything of everything?  I don’t think so.   Some of the best days I have had in my life have been the cheapest and the most unplanned.  So what was the recipe that made them so great?  The people, the love and the chemistry.   So what are the ingredients for the perfect wedding day?  Easy – the person you are marrying, the people you invite and magical chemistry that simply cannot be bought.

My wedding was perfect – we married in a very pretty registry office, then took a short journey to a small hotel in Lincolnshire that we had booked out. The twenty-six of us spent the day and night there eating, drinking, singing songs, dancing and telling stories.  It was close, personal and magical.  Everyone said so.  We went off to India on a three and a half week backpacking trip and came back to a massive get together in our local pub in London – where, this time we went wild and partied until dawn.   Lots of sore heads and smiles!

That was the year 2000.  I know it was cheaper back then but we did the whole thing on £5000.  Yep – that included everything – clothes to cake, party to photographs and honeymoon to hats!

Getting married on a budget can be a challenge – but it doesn’t have to be.  Why not follow my tips below and see if you can create the magic to give you the day of your dreams, without busting your budget and buying you a  one-way ticket to Struggle Street!

  • Decisions, decisions – it takes two.

So you have said “yes” to THAT question – now it is time to start thinking about what sort of day you would both like.   Scratch the individual thinking, and talk TOGETHER to discover who has what wedding dreams.  Think carefully… together, about how much you are comfortable spending.  Make priorities and stick to them.   If you both have very different ideas and can’t seem to agree, try writing down each of your top three priorities for the day – you might want a live band, he is set on a fab venue.  One of you is keen on a free bar, whilst the other wants delicious food. Then look at the list and use them as a starting point so that both your ideas are included.  Think about the mood of the wedding – the look, the style and the emotions you want to conjure up with your guests.   A picture will start to appear – capture it and use it to help you with the unavoidable budget.


  • With a Little Help from your Friends part 1.

Whilst you are brainstorming your wedding ideas, get your closest friends to join in.  Often they will have great budget slashing ideas that can save you not only money, but time too.  Neil’s sister suggested the venue, and as she knew the owner she bagged us a great deal.  Good friends and family are always there to help so why not ask them?

  • Buddy up with your Budget.

Once your picture has taken shape, it is time to do some serious number crunching.  Downloadable wedding lists and budgets found on line are brilliant.  They breakdown everything you need to think about a list – and they even put that list in clever sections to help it all make sense.  Go through each line item and put a figure in the box.  Is there anything missing?  This is the place for every cost item to be listed, from stamps for the invitations (often forgotten) to hair pins!  Get to be buddys with your budget as you will find this list invaluable in so many ways.  Yes, yes – it may seem unglamorous putting numbers into boxes now, but it is far better than feeling uncomfortable and full of regret for a spend that wasn’t planned.


  • Wedding Gifts… with a little help from your Friends part 2. Putting the gift list together can be stressful – deciding what you would like and where from…  We had a small wedding list at John Lewis but we also had friends who were willing to offer their services in lieu of a gift.  Our wedding day photographs were the work of a dear friend who did a great job. It saved us a packet.   Cousin Sally made the cake for us, Neil’s Mum was chuffed to bits to be asked to organise our flowers and my brother in law donned a cap and acted as wedding driver in a very smart car he was able to borrow.  All these things helped to keep the price done massively and we truly benefited from the personal touch.


  • Know what you DON’T need. Napkins personalised with your picture?  Personalised Love Heart sweets?  A hen party in Vegas? Ice sculptures?  Personalised finger print rings – really?  These things all mount up and honestly…… do you need them?  Think about the invitations too. Do you actually need an expensive print job that, realistically guests are most likely to chuck away?  Back in 2000, options were expensive print or DIY.  I bought a ream of red paper and did DIY.  Nowadays there are so many options – maybe try an online invite?  We received one recently and it was lovely – had an online envelope too!  Try


  • Guests – how many? Tempting as it is to invite everyone you know – this isn’t always a good idea.  If you have decided on a free bar, a bloated guest list can sky rocket the budget.  Keeping the guest list small might allow you to make it extra special for the intimate crowd.  Our guests were treated to a full sit down three course lunch with an open bar all day.  Not possible with 100! We mingled with all our guests and everyone felt included and cherished.


  • What to wear? I dreamed of my wedding since I was a little girl.  The bit floaty white dress – looking like a princess walking up the aisle on my father’s arm.  Funnily enough though, my dress search began in a second hand retro shop in London, coupled with a very decisive friend to help!  She picked out a great dress which was only £25!  Ok, it needed a nip and a tuck but again, a friend offered her services instead of a gift.  She also made a matching bag and wrap to compliment the dress in a dramatic red velvet.  Second hand gold and red jewellery was the icing on the cake and I looked stunning – even if I do say so myself!  I actually spent more on my wedding lingerie than I did the dress!  Not too much detail – but it was money well spent!  So – advice note – think outside the box.  Think different, think second hand – maybe with a twist, think – well anything that could keep the cost down and the effect dramatic!

  • When… a long engagement can save you a heap of money.  Booking venues early secures the price, also you have time to take peruse the offers on sites like Groupon and Living Social.  There is more time to research and more time to save up!  End of season or off season weddings are often cheaper too, as are non-Saturday weddings.  Alternatively, a quickie can also save you a pretty penny as there simply isn’t enough time to plan a huge day costing the earth!  I have heard it said that the last minute minimalist weddings have sometimes been the best – worth considering!


  • Honeymoon you will need some time away after the big day, but don’t make the mistake of doubling the wedding budget if you can’t afford it. You will be in love where ever you go. Again, talk together about your priorities and stick to them.  Booking a villa can be cheaper than a package and there is no need to search honeymoon specific holidays either – as these can prove unnecessarily costly. You could also save money by getting married abroad, but this does not always impress the guests, whether invited or not!


  • Don’t let your wedding… make you feel guilty.  Guilt is rubbish and has no place here.  There is nothing worse than spending years feeling guilty for any part of your wedding day – going over budget, not inviting auntie Sheena (sorry Sheena!), wishing you had bought the “other” dress. Don’t compare your wedding to anyone else’s.  Please, don’t design your wedding to others expectations.  It is your day – have it YOUR WAY.


If you discuss, plan and budget your wedding in good time, openly with your partner, you will get your wedding recipe right.  This is a day that is for you both to enjoy together – so plan it together, live it together and love it together – feel the magic.  We had the best day – we really did.  I hope you do too!

If after all of that you yearn for some of those additional extras, Fanny can help you whip your finances into shape, freeing up spare cash from your daily spends and helping you make informed decisions over any future purchases.

About The Financial Freedom Fighter

Fanny Snaith proves coaching sessions with individuals and couples helping them to  financial literacy and freedom. With clients all over the UK Fanny can help you  become buddies with your budget and find ways to free up cash by spring cleaning the deadwood from your finances.

The Financial Freedom Fighter.

A Cotswold Wedding is a Wedding inspiration blog of eclectic venues and unique suppliers. Our aim is to  showcase the very best that the Cotswolds has the offer.