Charlotte Balbier
Festival Wedding Exhibitions

the big debate: first look or grand entrance?

April 29th, 2016 | Rachel Parry

Image by Helen Russell Photography

image by Helen Russell Photography

As couples continue to bend the ‘wedding rules’ in order to have a big day that’s done their way, we are seeing more traditions fall by the wayside.

Previously through The Big Debate we’ve discussed whether or not couples should stick with tradition by spending the night before the wedding together or part. It’s a contentious issue as superstition has it that it’s bad luck for the bride and groom to see each other before the ceremony. But for some couples it’s all about feeling comfortable and at ease, rather than running scared of marriage day myths.

This desire to feel relaxed on the day of the wedding has now also led to some couples opting for what’s known as a ‘first look’ prior to the ceremony. So instead of setting eyes on each other as ‘bride’ and ‘groom’ for the first time at the altar, the couple share a private moment together ahead of taking their vows where they can see and speak to each other, calming any pre-wed nerves. In most cases the couple’s photographer would join them for the first look moment to document the ‘big reveal’ emotions, just as they would usually capture it at the beginning of the ceremony.

So today we discuss if ditching tradition in this case will make that big reveal moment more, or less, special?

Image by JPRShah Photography (2)

Image by JPR Shah Photography

rachel says: save it for the ceremony

During our previous debate on the night before the wedding I said I was willing to risk the bad luck factor of spending the night with my hubby-to-be in order to get a good night’s sleep ahead of the big day. However I stipulated that I’d still want to go our separate ways on the morning of the wedding in order to achieve that highly-anticipated entrance at the ceremony, in front of both the groom and the guests, and I stand by that.

I’m certain I’ll suffer wedding-morning nerves, as in case you didn’t know I’m a worrier by nature, (I worry about worrying!) but I fear that seeing the groom just minutes before the ceremony would turn me into even more of an emotional wreck than I’ll already be.

Also, I’ve found that the brides we feature on the blog often say their favourite part of the wedding day was meeting their partner at the altar – the expression on their face and perhaps any words they exchanged is what they remember most. I realise you can still get this with a first look, but I think the big reveal is one of the most memorable parts of the wedding for guests too, and something that they feel blessed to be a part of. For example last year when my cousin got married, she cried as she reached the front of the church and watching the groom wipe away her tears, put a tender arm over her shoulder and make her laugh and smile instantly showed us onlookers how perfect they were for each other – and that moment is now etched in my mind!

There’s no doubt that emotions will run high, but that’s all part and parcel of a wedding day and I don’t think the bride and groom need to keep such moments to themselves. So along with not walking under ladders, smashing any mirrors or putting up umbrellas indoors, I’ll be avoiding bad luck by saving the first look for the ceremony!

Image by Sarah Brabbin Photography

image by Sarah Brabbin

julia says: just the two of us

Prior to my own wedding day, I wouldn’t have been game for a sneaky peek, or “first look”. I was firmly of the opinion that the arrival of the bride should be met with awe and wonder at the end of an aisle… veil down, music high, anticipation huge.

That’s until I learned that my nervous new husband had spent the best part of the wedding morning literally almost throwing up with nerves. Worries about marrying me? Never! Slight hangover? Possibly. Crowd shy? Very.

When we got hitched waaaaaay back in 2010, the whole wedding scene was still pretty traditional compared to now. A first look wasn’t even mentioned, let alone properly discussed.  If it had been, I probably would have discounted it (hey, it was “my moment”!) but in retrospect, it might have worked very nicely for us – him especially – whilst also allowing us a special photo opportunity and a lovely moment of togetherness and anticipation before the ceremony itself.

Some might think that its bad luck to meet before the service, but it’s hardly cheating if it’s on hallowed (or licensed!) ground, is it? For me, a first look only ups the excitement factor, is cute and romantic and is all about togetherness – a stolen moment for just the two of you to cherish.

And hey, if you still want to do the whole big entrance thing, your partner can always sneak in the side-door as The Bridal March starts up.  In fact, no one need ever know it happened at all…

Image by Laura Calderwood Photograph

image by Laura Calderwood Photography

what you said on social:

Natalia says: “We are only having a very intimate wedding of 20 guests so I don’t see the need for a first look ahead of the ceremony as I will be comfortable with everyone that will be present.”

Jenny says: “I’m not good at being centre of attention so we’ve decided to have a first look to help ease my nerves. I know seeing my partner will calm me down and give me the confidence I need to make a good entrance.”

Clare says: “I’m totally superstitious so won’t be taking any chances! I’ll be spending the night before away from the groom and then won’t see him until I get to the altar. I think doing it any other way would lessen the magic and excitement that builds while you are apart!”

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style sheet: pantone 2016

February 16th, 2016 | Rachel Parry


For some couples giving their wedding day a theme makes it feel a little gimmicky, and so they prefer to keep things simple by coordinating the details to a chosen colour scheme instead. But which hues to choose?

Some brides will simply go with their favourite colour(s), while others will pick shades which complement the season of the year in which they will wed. Those needing inspiration meanwhile can always turn to colour experts Pantone, who forecast the top colours each year based on a snapshot of what is taking place in our culture.

For the first time ever, Pantone has introduced two colours for 2016 – rose quartz & serenity – both of which make dreamy wedding colour schemes, either alone or when combined together. So today we’re giving you, our lovely brides-to-be, ideas on how to pull off the perfect Pantone palette for your big day…

rose quartz

Rose Quartz

Clockwise from top left: image source| image source, photography by Masha Golub| image source, photography by Laura Gordon Photography| image source| image source, photography by Matthew Morgan Photography| image source, photography by Elizabeth Messina| image source, photography by Ryon Lockhart| image source, photography by Sarah Mellor| image source| image source.

Described as a warm tone that reflects wellness by Pantone, this stunning dusky shade of rose pink is particularly elegant and would suit various styles of weddings, from classic to contemporary.

Sweet and soft in its appearance this shade is the epitome of love and romance and is also gentle on many skin tones, making it an ideal choice for bridesmaids. It’s also an option for brides looking for a subtle alternative to ivory, with a growing number of designers introducing blush gowns to their collections.

Brides sticking to tradition however can still incorporate the rosy hue into their attire through their shoe and accessory choices; whether it be a blush garter, pink pearl necklace or dusky stone drop earrings.

Thankfully when it comes to flowers, there are plenty of pink blooms for brides to choose from, such as peonies, lilies, astilbe and anemones. In addition to bouquets and button holes, such blooms can be incorporated into the décor and even the cake design. It would also be a nice play on the colour scheme to feature roses in the theming, both in terms of the flowers and design of elements like the stationery.

Weddings that are light, soft and delicate in their appearance will work best with this girly hue so just be sure to keep things simple, clean and classy.



Clockwise from top left: image source| image source| image source, photography by Ben Yew Photography| image source, photography by Fuller Photography| image source, photography by Anastasia Belik| image source| image source| image source| image source, photography by Amaranth Photography| image source.

Every bride needs a something blue for her big day, so why not choose Pantone’s serenity for an on-trend and elegant colour scheme.

Described as tranquil and soothing by the colour forecasters, this is an ideal choice for those wanting a laid-back yet loved-up feel for their wedding.

Though not the most popular choice with brides, we have seen an increase in the number of steely blue dress designs hitting the bridal catwalks, notably from top designers such as Ian Stuart and Monique Lhuillier. Brides wanting to play it safe meanwhile could go for the classic something blue in the form of their shoes, adding a pop of colour to their attire.

For bridesmaids the cool tone could be a little tricky to match to varying complexions and so a mix of differing blue tone dresses might work best, whilst also adding depth and interest.

Grooms can also get in on the blue colour scheme for their attire. Though serenity is a mid to lighter shade of blue, which many men might not feel comfortable in, there is the option of a navy suit matched with a tie or dicky bow in a similar shade to serenity, whether it be plain or patterned.

Elsewhere blue can be reflected through flower choices such as hydrangeas, thistles, eucalyptus and iris. Cake designs can also feature the hue, with watercolour, ombre and wedgewood styles lending themselves particularly well.

As to not make the overall look too cold and controlled, try to keep to the powder side of blue and soften décor with the use of pretty petals and bows.

blue & blush

Blue & Blush

Clockwise from top left: image source, photography by Into the Light| image source, photography by Loft Photographie| image source, photography by Natalie Bray Photography| image source, photography by Rebecca Amber Photography| image source, photography by NJ Wedding Photographer Kay English| image source, photography by Eve Photography| image source| image source, photography by Tiffany Hughes Photography| image source, photography by Caroline Tran| image source.

Finally for a complete colour contrast, couples can fully embrace Pantone’s picks of 2016 by incorporating both blush rose and serenity blue into their big day.

Focusing on gender equality, Pantone points out that bringing the two shades together creates something of a gender blur, though for weddings it could be seen as both a reflection of the bride and groom through both a feminine and masculine colour combination.

Working in perfect harmony Rose Quartz and Serenity are particularly appealing for those wanting a sweet, surgery and elegant look to their wedding.

Bridesmaids can be mixed and matched in the two colours, or alternatively kept in one shade for their dresses and then have the contrasting colour for either their bouquets and/or heels.

In terms of décor, coordinating and contrasting blooms and vases, jars or bottles work well, as do pretty paper pompoms or lanterns in the two shades. Crockery and glassware can also be mismatched to reflect the scheme, and in pastel shades can work particularly well with vintage and afternoon tea style settings.

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wedding planning 101: saving for your wedding day

February 12th, 2016 | Julia Braime

Honeymoon Fund

image source

It’s mid month and we’re all feeling the pinch, right..? When payday feels like such a long time away, it’s often easy to worry about how you’re going to be able to afford that dream day that everyone keeps mentioning.

We’re huge advocates here of doing things your own way on your wedding day, and achieving the perfect day (your version of it!) within your own budget, whatever that might be. Yes, its a super important day in your life, but it really is just one day – don’t give yourself a lifetime of debt to furnish 100 guests with the perfect wedding favours! Unless you’re very comfortable financially or The Bank of Mum & Dad is paying out big time, we think it might be time to get saving.

Luckily, our sponsors at TSB have come up with some handy tips for saving for your wedding without breaking the bank. Take a look, and here are some of our favourite tips, combined with a few of our own…

set a budget

It’s important to be realistic and set a budget for the big day, but also all the smaller elements of it too.  Be strict, because if you go over budget on each part, you might find yourself in trouble when it comes to paying the registrar! TSB advise that setting a limit on the amount you can spend on your dress is a good place to start.

“Budget before you go and be realistic by only trying on dresses that are within your budget,” says Phil of Phil Collins Bridal. “You don’t want to be disappointed by falling in love with a dress you can’t afford.”

limit the numbers

Yes, obviously, less bums on chairs will bring the overall cost down, but you might like to consider the number of people in the actual wedding party very carefully too.  The cost of six adult bridesmaid dresses can really add up.  Consider keeping the number of attendants and groomsmen on the smaller side, or ask if they would mind contributing to the cost of their outfits if you are prepared to give them some flexibility in the style stakes.

double up

TSB suggest cutting costs by using your flowers and decorations at both your ceremony and reception venue, if they are separate (ushers at the ready)! It’s wise to make sure you have factored in absolutely all costs – as well as the cost of hiring the venue, remember any decor you may wish to use; flowers, the photographer and transport.

continue reading

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wedding planning 101: super stylin’

September 29th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Be My Bridesmaid

image source

Having set your budget, booked your venue, sent out your save the dates and secured your photographer and entertainment, it’s time to move onto tasks that many brides deem as the more enjoyable and exciting parts of the planning schedule.

This is because it’s time to start thinking about how to style yourself and your venue for the big day to come! So in today’s wedding planning post we’ll be talking blooms, bridal boutiques and bridesmaids.

Check out our earlier posts in this series by clicking here (the early stages) and clicking here (the next steps).

flower power

Today beautiful blooms tend to stretch way beyond bouquets and button holes with many couples opting to incorporate pretty petals into their décor too. From dainty pew ends to grand floral chandeliers, the possibilities are pretty much endless, though you will need to find a florist that shares your botanical visions in order for them to become reality.

When searching for the right florist, it’s important to look for a trusted supplier with good testimonials from previous couples. You will also want to view examples of their recent work to get an idea of the styles and arrangements that they can achieve. So it might be that you are looking for a florist known for loose, natural and rustic designs, or perhaps neat and elegant arrangements or those that can wow with modern, striking floral structures.

Once you have whittled down a short list meet up with the florist to see how you ‘click’ and if they share your visions on bouquets and floral decorations. They might even suggest great ideas you’d never even thought of.

the one

In many cases shopping for the dream dress is a bride’s favourite part of the planning, though it can be daunting and frustrating at times too with so many options to choose from.

Having done your initial wedding dress research using magazines, blogs and websites to get an idea of the type of gown you might like and to suss out which designers fall into your dress budget, it’s time to search for boutiques that stock your chosen designers and make appointments to visit.

When attending bridal boutique appointments it can be easy for brides to get carried and invite a small entourage to accompany them but it really is best to keep numbers to a minimum to avoid becoming confused by differing opinions. Take those who know you and your style best and will give you an honest opinion – so perhaps mum, sister and maid of honour.

Though it’s good to have an idea of the type of dress you might like, it’s also good to be open minded at your appointment as a style that you’ve never considered just might turn out to be ‘the one’. Bridal stylists know their stuff so if they make a suggestion to try a certain gown on, go with it but don’t feel pressured – the decision is ultimately yours.

leading ladies

Once your dress is sorted you can move onto finding the right gowns for your maids. Again, though most ladies love to shop, bridesmaid dress hunting can be far from retail therapy with bridesmaids clashing on what they would and wouldn’t want to wear.

To avoid shopping centre tantrums it’s a good idea to get together with/speak to your bridesmaids about what type of design and colour you were hoping to dress them beforehand, giving them an opportunity to express any concerns early on. If you have maids of varying figures you could dress them in one colour but different styles of dresses to suit their individual shapes. Alternatively, if you have maids of varying hair colours and complexions, you could ask them all to wear the same design but in varying complementary colours, to suit both them and the wedding styling.

Also, when picking suitable colours for the maids’ dresses think about the styles and tones of flowers you’ve picked and how they will work together.


At this point in the planning process it’s also a good idea to get the catering search underway if the venue you’ve booked won’t be providing the food.

Over time wedding breakfast menus have been extended beyond traditional meat and vegetables, meaning that there are now lots exciting options to whet your appetite. Some couples base their food choices on their personal preferences while others make their decisions by the season of the wedding. There’s also the option to pick menus that complement the style of the wedding, so for example afternoon tea for a rustic, country themed wedding, or street food, such as pizza or Mexican, for informal outdoor weddings.

Whatever you decide look for caterers with good reputations and find out what is included in the price, such as waiting staff and glass/crockery hire, to avoid any hidden costs. Then it’s time to sample the goods with a tasting session so you’ll know exactly how the food will look and taste when it’s served up on the day.

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a wedding alphabet. n is for name change

June 24th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Found on

image source

Today on the blog we return to our wedding alphabet to discuss something of a contentious issue – the name change – whether a bride should take her new partner’s surname or not.

From the moment I started dating a guy I was guilty of thinking how their surname would marry with my first – how would it sound? And as a journalist, how would it look in print and how easily could it be misspelt/mispronounced?

I suppose I’m a little shallow when it comes to the name change debate in that I would happily take the groom’s name in place of my own, on just one condition: that it’s not an embarrassing surname. I’m sorry to the Cockburns, Nutters and Shufflebottoms out there but there are certain names that I wouldn’t voluntarily adopt, even if it is ‘the done thing’. I also personally wouldn’t want to land myself with a rhyming name, but fortunately not many things rhyme with Rachel, so I’m pretty safe in that respect.


image source

However for other women the reason for not wanting to change their surname goes much deeper than this. It might be that the bride’s parents haven’t had any sons and therefore the family surname will undoubtedly die out unless they keep it going. Then there are those that choose to stick with their own name for professional reasons; they’ve built a career under their maiden name and don’t want to feel like their achievements would be somewhat erased when with a simple ‘I do’.

Then there’s the biggies – equality and identity (which I totally understand). Over the years females have fought hard for women to be seen as equal to men – having the right to vote and for the same pay – so why should one have to change their identity upon marriage and the other not?  It’s a fair argument and I fully respect any woman that chooses to keep her surname for such reasons. Hey, he can aways take your name, right?

And what about our same sex couples out there – do you plan to keep your own names, combine the two or adopt one over the other?

Beyond my fear of being lumbered with a surname that saw children at school continuously teased, I, like many other women, am also in favour of sharing a surname simply to tie the family together as one for that day when children come along. Of course there are ways around this in that the children can have both parent’s names hyphenated, even if their parents haven’t chosen to go down the double barrelled route (which again, in my non-deep opinion, can sound incredibly posh given the right combination).

Now I’ll probably regret my decision when I’m neck-deep in account and ID name-change applications, but for me currently I’m happy to stick to tradition on this one (it might also cause me a few less problems with the numerous interpretations of Parry people come up with during phone conversations – Perry, Harry, Barry and even Charlie, I kid you not).

Found on Pinterest, image by Melissa Milis (1)

image by Melissa Mills 

Whichever way you choose to go yourselves ladies, surname intentions are going to crop up at some point so it’s well worth giving this some serious thought and discussing with your husband or wife to be!

We’d love to know your thoughts – will you be taking your other half’s name, keeping your own, is your partner taking your name… or something else entirely?

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wedding planning 101: the next steps

June 12th, 2015 | Rachel Parry


image source

Following a surge of proposals over Christmas and New Year we brought our novice brides-to-be a post on early planning, offering advice on where one should start when trying to organise possibly the biggest day of their life. A few months on and it’s time to tackle the next lot of hurdles set out on the wedding planning track.

Wedding planning folders at the ready girls…

spread the word

Ok you’ve set a budget, drawn up the guest list and booked the venue, so now it’s time to share the news by sending out your save the dates – yes, things just got real!

Save the dates are particularly important if you are planning to tie knot at a busy time of year, such as Easter, Christmas or late summer. To avoid guests double booking on your big day it’s a good idea to get these sent out about a year before the wedding.

If you want your wedding stationery to be consistent from beginning to end this means finding a designer who can create the pretty paper you desire for everything from your invites and menus to your thank you cards. When searching for a supplier and the type of stationery you’d like, be sure to keep your budget in mind as the design, paper, printing process and quantity will all make a difference to the overall price.

snap happy

A great photographer comes high up the priority list for many couples meaning the earlier you can secure your top choice the better – these talented individuals get booked up fast!

Once the big day has been and gone your wedding album provides the lasting memories and therefore you will want to find a professional that you feel comfortable with to zoom in and capture those all-important special moments.

Recommendations from friends and family can be a good place to start when searching for a photographer, as well as the internet as most photographers now have up-to-date blogs and galleries of their work online. In addition to looking at examples of their previous work to make sure their style suits your requirements, you will also want to check the price and what’s included – some photographers only stay up to the first dance while others stay for the majority of the reception, also is the price of your album included?

Once you have someone in mind set up an appointment to meet them so you can see if you connect well and feel relaxed when they put you in front of the lens. As part of the booking you might also want to arrange a pre-wedding shoot to give you somewhat of a practise run before the real thing.

music to your ears

Just as good photographer can get booked up, musical entertainment such as DJs and bands can also be in high demand so it’s a good idea to tie these down early on too if possible.

Your chosen venue will often have recommended DJs which can help save you time and stress. If not recommendations are certainly a good way to go to ensure you get a DJ that plays what you and your guests want to hear rather a classic wedding soundtrack of Oops Upside Your Head and Come on Eileen. Fine if you want cheese, but incredibly cringe if not!

Other than the evening disco think about what other musical entertainment you might like taking your personal tastes, wedding theme and setting into account before beginning your search. It may be that you want an opera singers to lift the roof of your ceremony venue, a string quartet to play during your drinks reception or an energetic band to get the party started in the evening. Again use the good old world wide web to research the options. See what’s available in the area of your wedding and look at pricing and testimonials. Often you can listen to the artist on their website too giving you a taste of their sound if it’s someone you’re familiar with.

here comes the bride

Enough about everything else, let’s talk dresses! Deciding on the right time to start your search for ‘the one’ can be tricky as begin too early and you run the risk of changing your mind in the run up to the big day and leave it too late and you could panic-buy a dress that you come to regret when looking back through your wedding album.

While most brides-to-be can’t resist flicking through magazines for inspiration as soon as that ring lands on their finger, it’s sensible to leave the actual boutique visits until around 11 to 12 months before the big day.

So while flicking through those mags, or swooning over blogs and Pinterest, make a note of the designers you’re drawn to and then lookup bridal boutiques in your area that stock such names and make appointments to visit. When doing so try to keep an idea of price in mind so you know if the dresses you will be trying on are within your budget to avoid heartbreak later on.

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