24th July 2014

Last week, the BBC published this feature on how to have a wedding on a budget.  Their suggestions included ‘do it in November’ and ‘get help from your friends’, or ‘serve prosecco instead of champagne’.  Maybe not the fresh and inspirational kind of advice readers might have  been hoping for – perhaps the Beeb journalist had taken her eye off the boil to enjoy the glorious sunshine.

The article left me unhappy.  Not because of their money-saving, creativity-lacking suggestions, but this:




The implication being that wedding suppliers will rip you off every time with extortionate fees.  Just because a ‘wedding’ is involved.

I want to put the record straight on the cost of weddings.  I’m not going to rant, or get all righteous about something I feel strongly about.  I want to expose some of the hidden costs that wedding suppliers have to account for when pricing their products and services.  I also want to provide some really honest and truthful feedback from suppliers themselves.  I would like for this feature to be a resource to educate readers to the costs involved when planning a wedding, and to provide sensible tips to keeping these costs manageable and within budget.




This is quite a long post, but well worth taking five to read, so before you push to the ‘TLDR’ file, consider this:

My first and most valuable advice is that you do not need a single ‘wedding’ product to get married. You need a registrar and a registry office and two witnesses.  Any other cost you should actually enjoy adding.  Be pleased to part with some hard earned cash for a celebration. (Emma Meek, Miss Bush Bridal)

It isn’t usually long after we’ve started planning a wedding that the internal dialogue starts niggling away…

Why is my wedding dress so expensive? 
Why does this photographer want over £2,000 just to shoot my wedding for a few hours?
Why is the venue hire so expensive? I shouldn’t have told them it was for a wedding!
Over £500 for wedding flowers? Who are you kidding?!

Weddings can be as expensive or inexpensive as you like, but the view I have always held is that if you want to enhance your planning and wedding day experience by employing professional services, then you must expect to pay a fair and reasonable price for them.

The hours spent on e-mails, the time lingering over meetings, the extras, the travelling, the little things done to make someone’s special day even more special for no extra cost. Suppliers just don’t rock up on the day, do a job and get home by 6pm for an evening with their feet up. They plan, they prepare, they work relentlessly on the job and then they’re tidying up, sorting out, clearing away and finishing everything neatly afterwards.  (Tamryn Lawrence).

As you may or may not already know, Tamryn Lawrence is a member of the Love My Dress team.  She is also founder of The Candid Apple, a wedding PR expert, published author and former multi-award winning wedding planner.  She knows a thing or two about weddings, and she has a healthy and realistic view of the wedding industry.

‘Some wedding industry suppliers do over charge for their services. I’ve been in the industry for over 11 years now and I’ve met a few suppliers that frankly should be paying to attend weddings, not the other way around. Happily, I’ve met hundreds and hundreds more super talented, uber committed and downright fabulous people who work their backsides off going above and beyond for their clients.  If you think working in weddings is an easy gig and a quick way to make big bucks, then come and give it a go.’

Honest, refreshing words.  Now, given the nature of the BBC feature, I’m particularly keen to focus on the subject of wedding photography.   Wedding photography is often the first to get a bad rap by the press for being priced extortionately.  Thing is, most people planning a wedding will not ever have invested in professional photography services before, so in all honesty they are likely not to fully appreciate the associate costs, skill and expertise involved.



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23rd July 2014

Ciao tutti! I am soooo excited to share this wedding with you. As soon as I saw that it was in Italy, and looked though a few of these bellissime photos, taken by CC Rossler, I was well and truly smitten. At the start of our own wedding planning, Darren and I were sold on our very own Italian affair. Unfortunately this plan was thwarted in its early stages; so while I won’t be feasting on fresh antipasti, kissing my new husband under a gnarled olive tree at dusk nor singing till dark in a lantern lit courtyard, this is exactly what Stephanie and Colby did to celebrate their marriage.

This Canadian couple met at art/animation school and dated for about nine years before marrying at a Tuscan villa on 19 September last year.

“I let the countryside inspire us. I wanted to play off the vineyards and olive groves that scattered the area. My grandfather used to have an olive grove when he lived in Italy and that ended up becoming the theme. My colours were loosely based on wine and olives, purples and greens. I really just wanted the beauty of the area to take the stage, so we didn’t really have to do much in the way of decorating to have our intimate, rustic garden wedding.”

Photography Copyright (c) 2014, CC Rossler

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While the couple didn’t work with a wedding planner, they fortunately received a lot of support from the villa owner and her daughter. Along with the help of a well organised father and an Italian speaking mother, everything went smoothly. 

“We knew that we wanted a destination wedding but we didn’t want to do anything tropical and Colby had never been to Europe before. We chose Italy because that’s where my mother’s side of the family is from and I feel strong ties to my Italian heritage. We decided to marry at Villa Teresa near Cavriglia, Tuscany. It was in a beautiful area and the villa was a good size to accommodate everyone comfortably.”

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“I had a hard time finding a dress that I felt like myself in without breaking the bank; I also had to bear in mind that I would be travelling around with it before the wedding so I wanted it to be something short, simple and sweet. I drew up a sketch, picked out the fabric and my mother’s tailor sewed it. I love how light and flowy it was.”

Stephanie not only played a large part in creating her ideal dress but she also made her own adornments and jewellery. She made the pretty hair accessory by buying fabric, materials and a pearly trim and gluing them onto a simple headband. The bits and pieces for her necklace, earrings and bracelet were bought at Country Beads in Vancouver. “The ladies there were super helpful and gave me good advice. They are all made from freshwater pearls and sterling silver.”

This pretty little flowergirl wore a dress from Watters Seahorse collection.

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“We chose Stiatti Fiori as our florist as they had worked with the villa before. It’s a family owned business. I had to have my mom and the villa owner’s daughter translate everything. I mentioned the colours and what kind of flowers I liked but most were out of season. I also asked if she could put an artichoke in there! I know nothing about flowers so just told her to surprise me. I LOVE what she came up with!”

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I cannot say enough good things about CC, our photographer. I actually went to high school with her in Canada and would often check her site to look at the photos. I always loved her style of photography and her choice of lighting and composition. I think she captures feelings so well with still images. I didn’t think it would be possible for her to come all the way to Italy to do our wedding photos as she now lives in South Africa. However, we ended up chatting and she often does destination weddings! Originally we had thought that we would just go with an Italian photographer for ease of having a local, but in all honesty it was really great having CC there.

Having an English speaking photographer to help guide us on where to go, how to tilt your head, where to place your hand, made the shoot fun and effortless.”

weddings in italy, italian weddings, sequin wedding dress Continue reading…

23rd July 2014

When we asked you recently what you wanted to see more of on Love My Dress®, your reply was a resounding ‘more DIY features please!’. We took note and and we responded - and I really hope that you have been enjoying our recent DIY tutorials.  Today, Claire May Sankey the lady behind Essex based bespoke wedding florist, Lily and May is going to teach you how to make your own flower crown.  It’s a matter of fact that I adore floral crowns - I think the first flower crown we featured was probably this one back in 2011 and I’ve been smitten ever since.

Good luck with this tutorial everyone, I’d really love to see the fruits of your floral labours on Instagram! Remember to use the hashtag #lmdfloralcrown if you do.

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At Lily and May we love floral crowns and love any opportunity to adorn our hair with flowers. Although this tutorial is designed with weddings in mind, I’m sure there are many other occasions we can all find an excuse to wear a floral crown.

There are many ways to create a crown, although sometimes wiring is used on each flower before placing on the crown, we have decided to show you an easier way which means previous experience isn’t necessary. If you would like to know more about wiring individual flower heads please see our buttonhole tutorial.

So here it goes……

If you are familiar with our work you will know texture playa a big part in our designs, therefore you will notice we have used a large selection of flowers in this crown. Choosing less flower materials can be just as effective.

Materials required:

flower crown tutorial, floral crown tutorial, lily and may, essex florist

Flowers used:

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23rd July 2014

With all the fantastic options available for weddings these days, it’s easy to overlook the simple things that actually make a day most beautiful. For Emma and Edward Thomas, their wedding day was about keeping it traditional and celebrating with close friends and family. Here is a lesson in how to do countryside simplicity very, very well. And that dress! Vintage inspired, handmade and gorgeous.

Edward proposed on Christmas Morning, during a walk in Emma’s parents woodland, so it seemed like a natural choice to continue with that countryside theme for their June 2014 wedding.

“We wanted the day to be relaxed, rural and traditional – we were determined to make the wedding a reflection of what we like and how we live. We didn’t want any of the day to be constrained by having to cut the cake at a certain time or have too much structure. We also didn’t want to get sucked into buying things for the sake of it – so chair covers, anything glitzy (apart from the shoes) and any unnecessary fuss was banned!

We were also on a tight budget as we paid for the wedding ourselves. We were determined that a wedding shouldn’t cost the Earth, so we focused on the key elements, the traditional ceremony and a good party and meal after!”

Photography Copyright (c) 2014, Sally T Photography

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“We were married at our local Church, St Marys in High Offley. Our vicar told us two weeks before that she had to travel to the Shetland Islands for another wedding so we asked our amazing friend Father Richard Peers, who is normally a Headmaster in a Lewisham school, to step in for the day. It was so great to have your friend marry you – we were completely relaxed and made it extra special.

The church is a typical local 12th Century Church and is quite rustic and small inside. We were limited on our guest numbers on how many people could actually squeeze in.”

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Emma and Edward wanted the relaxed and traditional feel of their wedding to be reflected in their photographs.

“We had Sally from Sally T Photography - she was amazing. We didn’t even notice her taking the pictures and she was so lovely chatting away to all our guests. We had such good feedback from everyone on our photos which are so perfect. We can’t wait to get them all into frames. Sally has a great eye and as we didn’t want a lot of structured photography her style was perfect. She also produced an amazing slide show, we loved watching the day all over again!”

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handmade wedding, bride made her dress, sally to photography, countryside wedding

There are a lot of clever handmade details in this wedding, which always helps to make a day more personal. In particular I have a huge amount of admiration for a bride who makes her own wedding gown! Emma’s is a real beauty. It has a demure, edwardian quality that suits her perfectly.

“The dress was actually something I had never really thought about before I got engaged. I was determined to have something traditional that was appropriate for a church and comfy to wear. I went into one bridal shop and hated the experience, all the dresses were so heavy or strapless and I couldn’t get my head around trying on everything with people fussing around me. So I declared that I would make my own dress! My bridesmaid was horrified and started to quiz me on my sewing skills! Luckily I did sewing at school and had made clothes before but knew this was a bit more of a tall order!

I started to look at shapes which suited me and materials. I really like Jenny Packham designs but my budget wouldn’t stretch to that so I sourced the material via eBay, found some lovely vintage lace and got sewing. It took me 6 months and lots of revising with some help from mum but I got there. My dress was a perfect fit, comfy and unique. I found a beautiful Jenny Packham cathedral length veil on Ebay for an amazing price and that finished off the look perfectly.”

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22nd July 2014

Hello lovely readers, don’t we have a treat for you today! This is the kind of wedding that will make you wonder if you can possibly fit one or two more DIY projects onto your already brimming list.

Helena and Rhodri married on the 5th of April 2014, in the same place they had their first date, the iconic Ashton Memorial in Lancaster. They followed their elegant ceremony with a colourful reception at Forrest Hills, a gorgeous venue with a marquee allowing them to have two different colour schemes.  They made a lot themselves; Penguin book postcard menus, photo walls, an I-spy game, giant letters… You will be feasting your eyes on masses of gorgeous flowers, large tree stumps as centrepieces and metres of specially made crochet bunting and flowers along with an impressive ‘Great Wedding Bake Off’.  This wedding is truly a treat so grab a cup of tea and enjoy!

“I gave Rhodri my number while he was wearing a horse head mask at a Ball! He asked me to marry him the day after our two year anniversary in a tiny boat in Lake Windermere. We had a 14 month engagement.

We thought it was bound to rain in April so wanted a colourful wedding to cheer up a grey day! We had white and yellow flowers in the main building and lots of colour in the marquee with orange, pink and blue as our main colours.”

Photography Copyright (c) 2014,  Katherine Ashdown

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“Clare from The Flower Farm made the bouquets and supplied buckets of flowers for us to arrange at the venue. I wanted a fairly natural bouquet with lots of colour, it had lily of the valley, orange and pink roses, anemones, ranunculus, daisies, eucalyptus, peonies, rosemary and succulents. The groom, best men and dads had a pale pink ranunculus, succulent and eucalyptus stem buttonhole.

At the venue we had narcissus, daisies, September flowers, ranunculus, David Austin roses, eucalyptus, stocks, lily of the valley and anemones. The next day we gave the flowers to our army of helpers!”

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Of course, you’ll need to scroll a little further down to find out where these beautiful blue gowns worn by the bridesmaids came from…

colourful wedding, handmade wedding, justin alexander, katherine ashdown photography

“Our lovely photographer Kathy is a friend of a friend and we met her when Rhodri and I had been together for about three months. I loved her blog and website and was desperate for her to be our wedding photographer (when I was hinting to Rhodri that he might like to propose I pointed out how quickly she gets booked up!). Kathy was the first supplier we booked and one of our best decisions.

We absolutely LOVE our wedding photos – she captured the day beautifully and we will cherish our photographs forever. She made us feel so at ease in front of the camera. We cannot recommend her highly enough!”

colourful wedding, handmade wedding, justin alexander, katherine ashdown photography

colourful wedding, handmade wedding, justin alexander, katherine ashdown photography

Helena wore a divine lace dress by Justin Alexander  with a cathedral length veil and pretty Irregular Choice shoes with a tiny heel.

“I tried so many dresses on with my bridesmaid Kat in tow and kept changing my mind about the style I wanted. I took my mum and grandma to see another dress when the owner of Butterfly Bridal pointed out a new dress and as soon as I put it on I knew it was the dress for me! I love the lace detail and the back of the dress is just gorgeous.”

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