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How to Create a Wedding Budget - The Full Spending Breakdown

Videos, Wedding Planning AdviceRachel WaringComment
How to create your wedding budget.jpg


Does the word “budget” bring you out in a cold sweat? Creating a wedding budget doesn’t have to be as stressful as you think, and if you do it in the beginning then it’s actually a huge stress-buster while your planning the big day.

This is part two of my Wedding Planning 101 series - if you haven’t read part one all about setting your wedding priorities then I would pop over here and read that first to get the most out of this advice.

If you’ve already done that - YAY, we’re ready to start the next phase. Watch the video below or read the highlights, and good luck budgeting babes.


A lot of couples skip the actual budget planning step because they think if they just constantly try to save money along the way then they’ll be fine. But I tend to disagree with this common belief, and here are the reasons why I think it’s a great idea to make a budget breakdown first:

  • The most obvious reason is that it helps you save money on your wedding.

  • Planning a budget in advance also helps you pace your spending throughout your engagement, so that you’re not dropping all the cash right at the end (which can be quite a shock to the system let me tell ya).

  • Setting your budget early also helps you set the tone for your wedding. It helps you make decisions about the kind of wedding you and your partner are hoping for.

  • Planning a budget means no nasty surprises later on, so you can go about your wedding plans with much less worry and stress.

So now, on to the steps for planning a wedding budget like a pro:

Look at your money picture

Sit down and have a good look into your financial situation. Look at all your existing savings, calculate potential savings, think about how much you want to put away each month and create a realistic savings plan. Have conversations with any of your family who might want to contribute, and try and settle on concrete numbers with them. This can be a really awkward conversation, but having it now will save way more awkwardness later on, and it helps you know what to plan for and what to expect.

Set your wedding priorities

If you still haven’t watched the first video in the series then now is the time to do that, and fill out your wedding priorities checklist. This step really helps you work out what you want from your wedding together as a couple, so don’t skip it.

start a wedding budget spreadsheet

Spreadsheet nerds, this one’s for you. It goes without saying, but if you’re going to plan a budget you’ll need a place to keep a record of it, somewhere you can update as you go along. I have a free budget planning spreadsheet you can download here, so that’s half the work done for you.


Go back to your wedding priorities checklist, and put those big important things in first. This ensures that you’re creating a budget for the wedding YOU want to have, and not just responding to outside pressure. Then once all those things are plotted in, then work the rest of the stuff around them.

Do Your Research and Get Real Quotes

It’s no good just guessing, because that won’t give you a realistic picture of how much your wedding will cost. Don’t be afraid to chat to the suppliers you’re interested in, do your research, ask for quotes and compare them. This helps you plan out your budget in a realistic way instead of stabbing in the dark.


Put a date in your diary every month to check in with each other over your budget sheet, fill in any spending you’ve done, or any updated quotes you have. These monthly check-ins are really useful for keeping you organised and on track with your to-do list as well, so it’s a win-win.


Finally, make your wedding budget work for you. Don’t give in to family or societal pressure. Don’t compare your wedding to other weddings on the internet, and don’t feel any shame or guilt around your personal money story. Everyone’s financial situation and priorities are different, so celebrate that and do what you want works for you ALWAYS, then as long as you’re happy you can never go wrong.

Wedding Planning 101 - Where to Start?

Videos, Wedding Planning Advice, Married Life, Wedding Styling TipsRachel WaringComment
Wedding planning 101 where to start?.jpg


Did you just get engaged and you’re already feeling overwhelmed? Well firstly CONGRATULATIONS, and secondly I promise you’re not alone. The number one struggle I hear from couples I work with is they don’t know where to start with their wedding planning. There’s so much to remember and so many decisions to make, how do you go about tackling this massive life project that no one teaches you how to plan?

Well today I’ve got you covered, in this first part of my Wedding Planning 101 series, I’ll teach you my failsafe first step that will help supercharge your wedmin hours. This exercise will get you and your partner on the exact same page, and you’ll have a crystal clear idea of what your priorities are so you can hit the rest of your planning with laser focus. It also makes it even more FUN.

Watch the video for the full lowdown (it’s bite sized five minutes long), or read below for the highlights.


It sounds simple, but your wedding planning needs to start with proper, honest conversation between the two of you. Notice how I said the TWO of you, not you and everyone else you know. There will be time to include your friends and family later, but this first planning chat needs to be a date night kinda thing you know? Keep everyone else’s opinions out of it for now.


The best place to start with your big wedding chat, is to each list out your individual priorities when it comes to the big day. Be prepared for some of these to be the same, and some of them to be different. For example, my husband is all about the logistics, so to him, the flow of the day was super important. He didn’t want anyone to be bored waiting around for food. But my main priority was the visual aesthetic and atmosphere (obvs), so we had to make some compromises along the way to make sure both of our needs were met.

download your free priorities checklist

To help you structure this conversation and keep you on track, I made you a free wedding priorities checklist that you can download and fill out for yourselves. It includes some prompts to get you started, because I know it can be hard to think of things under pressure.

Some examples of things you might list as priorities might be: live music, food, being able to invite loads of friends, entertainment throughout the day, an absolutely killer wedding dress…. you get the idea.

Ask yourselves the big questions

When do you want to get married? How long do you want your engagement to be? What season are you imagining it to be? What general atmosphere do you want to create? Again, use your free checklist as a guide, but be totally honest here about your dreams for your wedding.


This is the fun bit. Take all your priorities you’ve written down, and each rank them in order of how important they are to you.

Then compare your lists. Where do they match up? Where are the differences? This is the time to chat it out and compromise if you need to, but having everything listed in order of importance to each of you will really help you get on the same page, and create a vision for your day together as a team - which is how every marriage should start don’t you think?


  • Having a frank, structured conversation early on in your wedding planning will really help you set expectations for the months to come.

  • A clear view of what your priorities are will make decision making 10 times easier, because you can always refer back to your list as it relates to each decision. Does it match up with your priorities? Yes? Great. No? Cut it.

  • It helps avoid arguments. I know it’s not nice to think about, but wedding planning can actually put quite a strain on your relationship if you don’t communicate and stay in the zone as a team. This foundation will help you do this, and keep you pals throughout the process.

  • It helps you communicate your ideas to other people in your life who might be helping out with the wedding. Everyone has that family member who tries to help but doesn’t really “get” your vision. The more clear you are on your wish-list, the more effective the help of others will be to you.

  • BUDGETING. Your new priorities checklist will massively help you with the next stage, which is setting your budget. I’ll be walking you through that step in the next part of this series.

Are you ready? Have fun with it, and don’t forget to download your free priorities checklist below to help you along the way.

Blank Canvas Weddings - with Courtney, MD of Blank Canvas Venues

Wedding Planning AdviceRachel WaringComment

If you know me, you’ll know Blank Canvas Wedding venues are my favourite. Which is why I couldn’t wait to chat with Courtney of Blank Canvas Venues and drill him with all my questions about working with unconventional wedding venues.

Courtney started Blank Canvas with a vision to convert disused industrial space into events venues. With a background in real estate and property development he began approaching landlords with proposals to generate income from their empty spaces.

Blank Canvas quickly built a reputation for itself among landlords and as the portfolio grew so did the variety of events it could cater for.

Fast forward several years and Courtney has built a portfolio of over 15 venues and a team of experts covering everything from event management to plumbing. Blank Canvas’s vast portfolio includes venues of all shapes and sizes, including disused power stations, churches, warehouses and some VIP spaces. The portfolio and his team's experience mean Blank Canvas can deliver any kind of event, from fashion launches to weddings.

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Tell us about your venues. What kind of spaces do you have on offer?

We currently have 13 venues with capacities ranging from 75 - 800 but we're adding to our portfolio all the time. Our venues are all blank canvases, many with an industrial feel, so the bare bones of our buildings need to be something really special. We want people's jaws to drop when they walk into one of our spaces as they realise its potential.

What are the benefits of hiring a Blank Canvas venue over a more traditional venue in your opinion? 

We find with many traditional venues the list of what you can't do is longer than the list of what you can do. We are the Yes people!! Your wedding day is obviously one of the most important days of your life and with our venues your wedding can be whatever you want it to be.

How would a couple go about choosing the best Blank Canvas venue for them? 

Browse the website, then speak to a member of our team. They know our spaces inside out and they’re a terrifically creative bunch of individuals. They will know what questions to ask you to help guide you to your perfectly-matched venue.


Any tips for planning a wedding in an unconventional space? 

Think logistics. When couples walk into a space and fall in love with it, it’s all too easy to forget to ask the questions that really matter. Is there a noise curfew and can it be extended if desired? How well connected is the venue in terms of public transport? Are there any power or water supply limitations? But that said, by far and away the most important thing is to make sure you've got the right catering partner. Thankfully we've built up a network of some of the best in the business, so you can be sure the food and drink will exceed your guests’ expectations.

What's the most exciting wedding you've seen in one of your venues? 

We hosted a summer wedding Canvas One this year. With a reasonably small budget the couple transformed the courtyard using simple furnishings and wild foliage, which worked so well with the industrial backdrop. It was testament to what you can do without huge resources and a little creativity.

What do you love most about working with blank canvas spaces? 

It's when the penny drops for a couple that they can pretty much do anything they want with the space. Second to that is the moment the venue is ready for the big day and they have realised their vision. It's such a humbling experience to know that our venues have been an integral part of that. 

What's one thing that couples always forget to source for their blank canvas venue wedding? 

Fridges and chill bins! Ensure there are enough fridges/chill bins for the drinks as no-one likes a warm white wine!

Final parting words of wisdom? 

It’s the little things that make a wedding memorable. Get on Pinterest and do loads of research for details that fit your theme and will show your friends and family how much you appreciate them celebrating with you. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune but will make a big difference to the overall look and feel of your day.

Thanks Courtney for sharing your wedding venue wisdom with us! If you’re on the hunt for your own wedding venue, I have another blog post full of tips for working with a blank canvas venue, and of course don’t forget to check out Blank Canvas - you might find your dream space.

8 Binge Worthy Wedding YouTube Channels

Wedding Planning Advice, VideosRachel WaringComment
 Ready for our countdown of the best, must subscribe wedding related YouTube channels?

Ready for our countdown of the best, must subscribe wedding related YouTube channels?

Engaged and looking for as much wedding inspiration (or wedspo) as you can get your hands on? I know how you feel because I was the SAME (still am because we all know I love weddings). That's why I thought I would help you out today and give you my list of the best wedding related YouTube channels - I've done the hunting for you friends, so you can just sit back and binge-watch to your hearts content. So without further ado, here's my list of the best wedding related channels on YouTube. 


If you are a sucker for a proposal video, Brides on YouTube is for you! They have a whole collection of tear jerkers, along with wedding tips, real wedding inspiration, marriage advice from married couples, and beauty tips. This channel is a must have in your sub box for all things Wedding, especially because their bite size videos are easy to watch, even with a busy wedding planning schedule.

 Image via their amazing   'Love Without Boarders'   series 

Image via their amazing 'Love Without Boarders' series 

Bride De Force

Created by sisters Hannah and Fleur, Bride De Force is a treasure trove of wedding inspiration, DIY tutorials, styling tips and real wedding videos. The channel seems to be on a hiatus at the moment, but that doesn't stop you bingeing their back catalogue for all the juicy wedding tips. Their 'best of Pinterest' videos are a goldmine for ideas, and their super chatty and friendly format makes for easy viewing. 

Bespoke bride

These lovely ladies pride themselves on really fun daily videos such as DIY'S, how to's and styling videos. Each one is, again, super short, so easy to watch, yet super super informative (they have great background music too.) This channel in particular is great if you're looking for some general wedding inspo, as the content is so varied, that you'll definitely find some inspiration from Bespoke Bride

 Image via  this blog post

Image via this blog post


Although not strictly a wedding channel, (don't hate me) The Sorry Girls is full of useful DIY content that can be adapted for use in your wedding. They do have content specifically about weddings though, but some of my favourite videos are their dollar store challenges, because who doesn't love a bargain? These girls are super down to earth and funny too, so they're perfect for binge watching. 

 Image via  this video

Image via this video

sophie hannah richardson

This colourful haired beauty has recently got married, and her wedding content is some of THE best. Sophie Hannah's wedding day tips is one of my favourite videos, and I especially enjoy her vlogs on a weekly basis too. She also quoted us as one of her favourite Instagram accounts on her blog recently, making her even more of a babe.

 Image via   this blog post    Images by   Jess Soper

Image via this blog post  Images by Jess Soper


This channel is the literal Queen of beautifully edited masterpieces, and each one is unique to the wedding they're showing. Pen Weddings feature weddings with all different kinds of themes, locations and general atmospheres, so they're great for helping you pick the kind of day you want to create. They're also super heart warming and lovely. Definitely worth a watch.

 Image by   Pen Weddings     via

Rachel emma studio

Yes, that's right, us! We have a Youtube channel (Rachel Emma Studio) with weekly content just for you lovely lot. Not only do we have wedding content such as how to make a bridesmaid's proposal box, but we have beauty tips too. We've also recently branched out into weekly vlogging (slightly daunting, but we're loving it) so you can check out the weekly running in the studio, you might even see your order being made. 

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I hope that gives you plenty of inspiration for your days of being engaged, if you have any more suggestions for us then leave a comment below, and don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for weekly vlogs and plenty of wedding inspo. 

8 Tips for Surviving your Wedding Day as an Introvert

Wedding Planning AdviceRachel WaringComment
How to survive your wedding as an introvert.jpg

If you're an introvert like me, you might be thinking about being centre of attention for a whole day at your wedding and feeling a twinge of dread. It's so exciting to have everyone you love all in one room, but they're all going to be looking at YOU - arghhhhh! 

Never fear my fellow inward pals, I've got your back with this fool proof guide to surviving your wedding day as an introvert. 

1. Consider having a smaller wedding. 

If the idea of a room full of hundreds of people just really isn't your bag, then don't feel pressured to have a big wedding. Smaller, more intimate weddings have some huge plus points - you can spend more money per head for one, meaning you could really pull the stops out on an amazing experience for each guest.

2. Choose guests that lift you up.

For our wedding, we knew that we wanted to invite lots of friends - so that meant there was less room for the distant relatives that we had some outside pressure to invite. Make a rule - if you haven't seen or spoken to them in over a year, they don't get an invite. Seems harsh, but if you are prone to social anxiety it's made a whole lot easier if you limit the guest list to people you REALLY want to be there. 

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3. Wear something that makes you feel like you. 

If that's a big white wedding dress, great. If it's a sparkly trouser suit, amazing! If it's jeans and converse, go for it. Standing up in front of everyone feels a lot easier if you're wearing something you feel brilliantly "you" in. 

4. Build in some introvert time throughout the day.

If you are an introvert, you get your energy from being on your own or in very small groups, so build in opportunities to recharge your batteries throughout the day. Make sure you schedule in 15 minutes here or there, to share a glass of bubbly with your partner and soak it all in - you'll be able to keep going for longer that way. 

5. Have a practice/engagement shoot with your photographer.

I know I know, having your photo taken isn't exactly a shy persons dream, but trust me, a practice session with your photographer before your wedding will make you feel so much more at ease. You'll be able to get to know them so you're more comfortable around the camera, and they'll be able to give you tips to make you feel and look more relaxed. 

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6. Do the legal ceremony on your own. 

If the ceremony is the bit that's making you feel stressed beyond belief, then why not skip it, or at least modify it. You can get married just the two of you and two witnesses, and then on the day either write your own more chilled ceremony, or skip it completely and go straight to celebrating - it's your marriage and you get to decide how to start it. 

7. Consider a First Look

If it's that moment of walking down the aisle that fills you with a sense of impending doom, then why not have a first look? You can share that intimate moment with your partner instead of in front of loads of people, and then everything feels less pressured.

8. Make your wedding suit your personality 

Such a biggie, and probably my most important tip. If the whole day feels like you, then you won't feel so self conscious. Also, if you create a day that really reflects you both and your love story, you'll be so excited on the day and feel so at home that your nerves should fall away. Try to be present, remember that everyone on the day loves you, and remember what it's all about - you marrying your best friend.

If you'd like some help to make your wedding suit you, I have the best free resource for you! My 5 Step Guide to an Extraordinary Wedding is totally free, and takes you through the first steps you should take to make your wedding ooze personality. Get the guide here. 

What happens when you hire a wedding designer?

Wedding Planning Advice, Wedding Styling TipsRachel WaringComment
 Photo by  Rebecca Emily

Photo by Rebecca Emily

Do you feel like your bridal brain is bursting at the seams with information about different wedding suppliers? There are wedding planners, stylists, designers and consultants, and that's just the tip of the iceberg - how do you know what they do and which one you need? 

As a wedding designer, I know sometimes it's hard to know what to expect from our services, because every wedding is different (as they should be) and often our work is completely bespoke. So today I thought I'd take you through my process as a wedding designer, step by step, so you know exactly what to expect when you hire me. 

 Photo by  Rebecca Emily

Photo by Rebecca Emily


You've decided that you're interested in my work (awww thanks!) so you made it on to my design services page. On that page, you find a snazzy questionnaire, and who doesn't love a survey - it takes you back to your cosmo girl days. 

You fill out the questionnaire with all of your hopes and dreams for your wedding, including any of the details you might like me to design and make for you. There's even some exciting options like an on the day styling service - have someone else set everything up on the big morning while you sip champagne with your bridesmaids? YES PLEASE! 


In the questionnaire of dreams, you have the option to book a free consultation with me to chat all about your wedding in detail. If you are local (Derbyshire, UK) then you can come and visit us in the studio for some bucks fizz, or if you are further afield we can talk on the phone or over Skype. Don't let the geography bother you though, we work on weddings all over the world.

During your consultation we go over any specific ideas you have, and I come up with design ideas to fit your big day. We chat prices up front, because I don't like cost surprises (only nice surprises allowed around here!). 

 Photo by  Rebecca Emily

Photo by Rebecca Emily


You leave your consultation full of wedding glee, and I come up with your bespoke quote based on all of your amazing ideas. I send the quote over to you, and you get to pick and choose the exact things you want to move forward with. It's like choosing options off a super fun wedding menu, and you only pay for the services you actually want, instead of paying a blanket fee. 


Work for me that is, not for you. I squirrel away behind the scenes making, sourcing and sprucing, to get all of your wedding details ready for you. You sit back and enjoy being engaged, knowing that everything is taken care of, and you feel super clever to have saved yourself loads of shopping and DIY nightmares. 

 Photo by Jason Williams

Photo by Jason Williams


Today's the day! If you opted for my on the day styling service, I'm there up a ladder at your venue (my natural habitat) setting everything up. If not, you've already had your exciting wedding parcel arrive in the post in plenty of time - so you (or your army of family helpers) set everything up at your leisure.


Your wedding day is over (cry!) but your guests won't stop talking about it. Everything was so beautiful, and so "YOU" - they couldn't have imagined a day more suited to you both and your cool sense of style. You jet off on your honeymoon with zero wedding regrets, and feel safe in the knowledge that you definitely won at weddings. 

 Photo by  Rebecca Emily

Photo by Rebecca Emily

Pretty great right? If that sounds like fun to you, you can start off your journey and fill in the questionnaire here

6 Unique and Fun Wedding Food Ideas

Wedding Planning AdviceRachel WaringComment
Fun and quirky wedding food ideas.jpg

Let's be honest, we all have a love/hate relationship with wedding food. Sometimes it can be really really good, and sometimes people just get it wrong. Hours and hours waiting around at your table just to be served the tiniest portion of dry chicken? No THANKS. While there are obviously lots of ways to get a traditional sit down wedding breakfast right, today I'm sharing some fun alternatives for you for a more chilled wedding vibe. 

 Pizza oven weddings are the best!  Image via.

Pizza oven weddings are the best! Image via.


Who doesn't love pizza? A pizza oven is a great novelty talking point at a wedding, and it's a very low maintenance option too - no cutlery needed am-I-RIIIGHT?! Unless you're one of those weird people that eats pizza with cutlery, and if so I don't know what to say to you. 

 Homemade barbecue sauce is a must for a garden wedding right? Image via.

Homemade barbecue sauce is a must for a garden wedding right? Image via.

A wedding Barbecue 

A BBQ can be a great, low cost option for a wedding, and brings a fun summer vibe along with it. Some points to consider: don't forget your veggie friends; be sure to get plenty of sides and salads to make it interesting; and get plenty of biodegradable plates and cutlery to avoid plastic waste. My advice would be not to DIY this, as tempting as it might be. Bring in a professional BBQ caterer to take care of it all for you - it might cost a bit more money, but you'll be glad of it when they take away all the mess with them at the end. 

 Food trucks will make you super popular with your wedding guests -  image via

Food trucks will make you super popular with your wedding guests - image via

Food Trucks 

Nothing brings a festival vibe to your wedding quite like a food truck. You could have proper pies, fish and chips, ice cream, pulled pork (if you want to be super hipster), or my how about my personal favourite, halloumi fries?! There are so many great street food options to choose from, and the best thing is that your guests can go up and grab their food whenever they want, which gets rid of that hungry waiting time all together. 


 Who doesn't love a potluck?  image via.

Who doesn't love a potluck? image via.

A potluck wedding

For those not familiar with the mighty potluck, it basically means that everyone brings a dish and adds it to the wedding buffet. This can be a controversial option, because some people don't like the idea of asking their guests to bring their own food to a wedding, but if you are on a tight budget it can be an amazing money saver. I also think it's really fun, because people can get quite competitive with their culinary skills and you get to compare amateur chefs. One thing to watch out for though is that you don't get loads of the same thing, you'll need to get a spreadsheet going and get people to give you an idea of what they're bringing in advance. 

 Picnics are a great idea for relaxed outdoor weddings -  image via. 

Picnics are a great idea for relaxed outdoor weddings - image via. 


A picnic can be a lovely option, especially if you want to bring a bit more of a relaxed vibe to your big day. Picnics are also super pretty to look at, which is a bonus for your wedding decor! Some top picnic tips: warn your guests before hand in your invitations so that they can plan their outfits accordingly, and be sure to include plenty of chairs for people who don't want to/can't sit on the floor (i.e Granny). 

 A homemade burger bar?! Yes please! -  image via.  

A homemade burger bar?! Yes please! - image via. 


Food stations are a huge trend in weddings this year, and I can see why, there are so many fun possibilities! Build a burger, pimp your prosecco, taco stands, cocktail mixing.... there are plenty of ways to get this trend into your wedding - the most successful ideas include some sort of DIY element to get your guests involved and break the ice. We recently published a blog post with some inspiration on DIY stations for your wedding, so if you're looking for more inspo then look no further! 


What do you think, have I convinced you on any of these? Did I miss any out? For more fun ideas, tips and inspiration, why not join my mailing list - that's where I keep all my best pals up to date with my latest wedding goss. 

10 Tips to Make your Wedding More Ethical

Wedding Planning AdviceRachel Waring1 Comment
Tips for an ethical wedding.jpg

If you're reading this, I'm pretty sure you’re a big hearted soul who cares about the world and your impact on it. You try to live as ethically as you can, so why shouldn’t your wedding reflect those lovely values of yours? 

There are loads of ways to bring a bit of conscience into your wedding, and most of them end up saving you some money and faff too - extra bonus! 


1. Check your suppliers for ethical standards. 

The best way you can make sure you have an ethical wedding is to work with ethical suppliers. In your checklist of questions you ask suppliers, male a point of asking them about their process and sustainability policy. For example, do they make everything in house with sustainable materials? Do they treat their staff well? Do they make a bigger impact in the world by pairing with causes they believe in? These are all ways to give back while hiring someone for your wedding. 

2. Ditch the plastic crap - buy stuff you’ll want to keep. 

We’ve all seen those tiny plastic champagne bottle bubbles as favours.... do you really need them? Aside from the fact they look naff, most of them will end up in landfill - along with all those disposable cameras that seemed like such a fun idea at the time. My advice? If you want favours for your table, skip the extra stuff you’re adding just for the sake of it, and instead go for thoughtful things people will actually want to keep. This goes for anything else you buy for the wedding, try to think about where it will end up afterwards, if the answer is “in the bin” try and give it some more thought. 


3. Go for ethical jewellery 

There are some amazing designers that use fair trade and recycled gold and silver in their jewellery. Going for ethical jewellery means you know that everyone involved in making it has been treated fairly - what’s not to like? Wild Fawn has some beautiful designs, especially if you like a delicate minimalistic style for your jewellery. 

4. Upcycle as much as possible 

Think about ways you can buy things second hand, whether that’s going for a vintage wedding dress, or scouring boot sales for furniture to decorate your wedding tipi. The bonus of this is you’ll get a really cool eclectic look for your wedding, and save money too - win win!  

5. Support small local businesses 

Your wedding is the perfect opportunity to support local small businesses. Your business means the world to small biz owners, and buy buying something local you are helping them live their dream! Buying local also means you know that there are no horrible sweatshops involved, and everyone who had a hand in your lovely wedding thing has been treated like they should be. 

6. Choose an ethical venue. 

Be sure to ask plenty of questions on your venue visits. What's their sustainability policy? Do they recycle? Do they work with ethical suppliers? Working with a venue that's focused on sustainability is one of the most important first steps in having an ethical wedding. 

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7. Is your stationery sustainable? 

Check with your stationery designer if they use FSC-certified paper, which means it's approved by the Forest Stewardship Council. Making sure your supplies are FSC-certified means you can have beautiful invitations with confidence that the paper is not damaging our forests in the process. Pssst, the paper I use is always FSC certified. 

8. Donations to charity instead of gifts or favours 

Do you have a cause you're passionate about supporting? Why not ask for donations to charity in place of your wedding gifts, or you can even substitute favours for a small donation on behalf of your guests. Don't forget to leave a little card on the tables though letting them know - it spreads warm and fuzzies, AND raises more awareness for your charity in the process. 


9. Hire furniture instead of buying 

Anything you can hire instead of buying is always a great shout. Logistically it helps you not be left with piles of stuff that may end up in a skip, and it can also save you money too!

10. Make your food veggie /vegan  

This can be a touchy subject in some families, but especially if you are veggie/vegan yourself, it makes perfect sense to bring those values into your entire wedding, not just an option. Think of it as a chance to allow your meat preferring guests to try something new, or if not, use caterers that supply organic, ethically sourced meat. Another great idea is to donate your leftovers through apps like Olio, so nothing goes to waste. 

Did you like these tips? I hope this gives you some ideas, but there are loads more ways to be ethical and sustainable while also having the best time ever on your big day! My best advice is just to stay informed, ask questions of your suppliers and most importantly stay true to your values. That's pretty good advice for life anyway right? 

Tips for Attending a Wedding Fair

Wedding Planning Advice, Events + FairsRachel Waring1 Comment
Tips for attending wedding fairs

As wedding season is officially upon us, lots of you might be attending wedding fairs in your local area to get ideas and suppliers for your big day. There are definitely ways to get the most out of your visit to a wedding fair, and there are also some mistakes to avoid, so today I'm sharing my six best tips with you so you can get the most out of your trip. 

1. Look up the exhibitors before you go

Most good wedding fairs will have a directory of exhibitors on their website. Make sure you check this out before you go, so you know who to look out for on your way round!

2. Go with ideas

The more specific you are about what you are looking for, the more likely you are to find it. While it is also good to keep an open mind incase you find something you would never thought of before, having a rough idea of the kind of suppliers you want to find will help you fight overwhelm on the day. 

3. Don't take ALL of the leaflets 

Wedding fairs can be a little bit of a paper overload, and you might find leaflets being handed to you at every turn. What's the point in accepting leaflets that you are only going to throw in the bin because you're not interested in them? My tip is to be selective about the leaflets you take - this helps you manage your options when you get home, and also saves paper - win win. 

4. Chat with the suppliers you like the look of

Don't be shy! I know that wedding fairs can sometimes get a bad rep because people feel pressured by pushy/salesy vendors, but the good ones aren't like that. Most good suppliers just love weddings and people, so feel free to chat to them and ask questions, they are not out there to swindle you. 

5. Leave your email address

If you really like the look of a supplier, join their mailing list so they can follow up with you afterwards. This is the best way to make sure you get to work with the people you like, and often they might have deals for people they met on the day.

6. When you get back....

On the same evening, go through all of the leaflets, business cards and pictures you took, and write notes on anything you liked the look of or ideas you had. Also remember to follow the suppliers you liked on social media, because believe me if you leave this task until later you will most likely forget all about them! 

I hope this was useful, if you are off to a wedding fair anytime soon then have fun, and don't forget to grab a cocktail while you're there - you're celebrating after all. 

8 Apps to Make Wedding Planning Easier

Wedding Planning AdviceRachel Waring1 Comment
Best wedding planning apps.jpg

I don’t know about you, but I love a good life hack. I am all about finding ways to make wedding planning easier, less stressful, and more organised, so hopefully this round up of super handy wedding planning apps will appeal to you as much as it did to me! I am seriously kicking myself that I didn’t find some of these while planning our wedding. But I’m passing on the time saving to you instead - you’re welcome!

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1. Pinterest

I almost didn’t include good old Pinterest because it almost seems too obvious, but then I thought - what if someone out there isn’t using it, and therefore isn’t experiencing its brilliance?? So here we are. Pinterest is probably the number one resource for wedding inspiration. You can set up your own wedding pin board, invite your partner, bridal party or family to it (if you want), and use it as your online hub for your wedding inspo. I even use Pinterest as a search engine even over Google, because the results tend to be higher quality and more relevant to me. It comes with a set of challenges: comparison and inspiration fatigue being some of them, but really you can’t beat Pinterest for the ability to find amazing ideas and collect them all in one place.

Cost: Free

TOP TIP: Read my blog post on how to avoid pinterest fatigue to really maximise your use of the app.

2. Trello

I can’t imagine my life without Trello. Well I can, but in that imagined life I am much less organised! Trello is a task management app, which can be utilised amazingly to plan your wedding. You can write and organise lists, set due dates, add attachments, and generally use it to keep track of all of your wedding related tasks.

Cost: Free

TOP TIP: I love Trello so much that I even made a video that shows you how to use it for wedding planning, which you can watch here.

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3. Postable

Does collecting all of your guests addresses for their invitations fill you with absolute dread? Postable is the answer for you! This amazing free app acts as an online address book. You get a custom link which you send by email to your guests, they then click through and add their details, and that’s it. You can even export the addresses to excel, so if you love a good spreadsheet then that’s an extra win for you.

Cost: Free

4. Top Table Planner

One of the most stressful and down right annoying tasks while planning your wedding is arranging the seating plan. With all the politics involved in where people are going to sit, there is inevitably a lot of swapping and changing involved, it’s like a big game of human tetris! Top Table Planner is a great drag and drop tool, which helps you to visualise your seating plan and rearrange to your heart’s content. It is slightly pricey for the full version at approx $20, but you can use the free trial if you don’t need to save the plan - which is great for just planning it out.

Cost $20 (approx £14) but with a free no sign-up trial.

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5. Wedpics

A super easy way to collect all of your guests photos from your big day in one place. Gone are the days of having to individually chase everyone up for photos when you get back from honeymoon - with Wedpics, you can direct your guests to download the free app, and they can even add their pictures to it on the day while they’re waiting for their meal. You can also now add videos - which is an exciting development and a great way to experience the day again through your guests eyes.

Cost: Free (with premium upgrades available)

6. Etsy

The number one handmade marketplace, Etsy is a one-stop shop for everything you need for a beautiful wedding. From personalised favours, gifts for your bridesmaids, to even wedding dresses (fun fact, I got my wedding dress from Etsy!) - the range really is limitless. Also, bonus points for supporting handmade businesses, and helping creative people live their dreams - isn’t that a lovely feeling?

Cost: Free

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7. Appy Couple

This app seems to top all of the wedding app charts. The ultimate hub for all of your wedding planning needs, Appy Couple allows you to create a wedding website for your guests, collect RSVPs, manage timelines, collect your photos and loads more. You can keep all of your information handy in one place, and your guests can even book their travel through the app! It’s not cheap, but this is one of those ones that I WISH had been available when I was engaged, it really looks like the bee’s knees of planning apps.

Cost: £45

8. Pantone Studio

Colour pallets are one of the first things people think about when planning a wedding - especially as there are increasingly less weddings with just one colour as a theme (thank goodness!). This app by colour masters Pantone allows you to test out colour pallets, extract colour matches from photos on your phone, and find complementary colours - all very useful tools when you are designing the look of your wedding.

TOP TIP: if you are still deciding on your wedding theme, I have the PERFECT blog post for you - there’s a workbook and everything.

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I hope that was useful for you happy couples out there! Don’t forget, I have a host of my own handy planning resources to help you with wedding overwhelm, and they are all completely FREE. You can sign up for the instant downloads here.

Nailing Hen Do Planning – Top Tips from Away With The Girls

Bridal Party, Wedding Planning AdviceRachel WaringComment
How to plan a hen do.jpg

Planning a hen can be a little daunting, as well as ridiculously exciting! Are you in the midst of hen planning overwhelm? I’ve spoken with Away With The Girls founder Paige, who has kindly shared her top tips to make sure the hen party is perfect for your best bride-to-be pal. I'm planning a hen myself this year, so I'm definitely pocketing some of these tips! 

Away With The Girls know how to plan hen parties. We know what women want and throw
them a hen party to remember! It certainly seems that the expectation of a hen party has
evolved over the last few years – we expect and want MORE! It’s about saying goodbye to L
plates and matching school girl outfits… and HELLO to sophistication and being different!
Here are our top tips to planning that awesome hen party! Planning is key, so follow these
tips and tricks and thank us later.

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Think about the bride

At the end of the day, this hen party is for her! Everything should be planned with the bride-
to-be in mind. What type of character is she? Ensure activities/locations compliment her
personality. What are her favourite sweets/drinks – these small touches are lovely personal
gestures to highlight through the hen party. Tailor the location, activities, and accessories to
her personal taste. Ask her if she has a loose idea on when she’d like to have her hen party,
and what she previously has liked/disliked about other hen parties she’s been on. This will
be really useful insight that will help you get on the right track from the beginning.

Save The Date – Easy Scheduling

So you’ve made your Bride Squad guest list, and are thinking ‘wow… that’s a lot of
people…this is going to be tricky’. Fear not! There are so many tools to help you pin
everyone down to communicate on one of the most important things: the date! We’d
recommend Doodle for finding out everyone’s availability. Simply create suggested date
options, and Doodle will send this polling calendar that can be sent to the group for
feedback. It’s visually easy to see which dates received the most votes, and therefore how
many people can/can’t attend. 

Once that’s done, head over to Facebook to create a hen group, or even a WhatsApp group
so you can easily send messages/give updates to the group as and when you need to! Trust
us – it’s so much easier than sending individual messages to everyone.

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Budget Brigade

Deciding on a budget at the earliest opportunity is always a wise idea. Be realistic! The
reality is if you want to go abroad for a hen weekend, it’s always going to be more expensive
than having a day hen party in the city for example. Consider what is more important for the
bride... Having a hen party abroad, or making sure as many people as possible can attend?
Once that’s decided, you want to make sure it’s as easy as possible for people to pay you
their instalments. Aside from online banking being super easy these days, there’s also some
great apps out there that make it even easier – hooray! PayM is a great app that allows you
to pay someone by providing the contact’s name and mobile phone number. The app has
partnered with 15 UK banks so the chances are everyone can use it.
If you’re hen party is abroad and you are dealing with foreign suppliers for activities, always
ask from the get go what their payment method is. If it’s bank transfer for example, take
into account there will be overseas transfer fees, so make sure you include that in your per
person charge so you’re not left with the bill!

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It’s in the detail

Microsoft Excel will probably become your new best friend. Use spreadsheets to keep track
of locations you have in mind and even important pieces of information such as guests’
dietary requirements. Tab the hell out that excel spreadsheet girl! If you’re relying on taxis,
save the local taxi numbers to your phone so you don’t have to worry about that on the day.
You can even take a guestbook to the hen party and ask everyone to write a special
message so the bride-to- be can enjoy reading through everyone’s messages after the event.

Final Countdown

Two weeks before the big event, spread the word to the group reminding them of times,
locations, etc. If there’s anything they need to bring, this is a good time to remind them. For
example, it may be that you’re doing an active activity so need to bring trainers, or you may
be going to a pool party and want everyone to wear black. Now is the time to spread the
word on those details!

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Break the Ice

It’s often the case that the entire hen party group won’t know everyone already, so it’s a
fantastic idea to kickstart the hen party with an ice breaker activity! You can do this in many
ways…. Ask everyone at the start to write down their best memory of themselves and the
bride-to- be (you can get cute cards on websites like Etsy) and this allows everyone to share their story and introduce themselves. Stories will often be hilarious, and probably happened
when they had one or two G&Ts, so it will no doubt get people giggling and be a great

Enjoy, Don’t Stress

Lastly, and most importantly… enjoy! It’s so important you also enjoy the hen party that
you’ve planned for the bride-to- be. Let your hair down, and don’t worry – all your planning
will have paid off. You may have found yourself becoming Monica Geller throughout the
planning process – which is totally acceptable – but by the time the hen party arrives, make
sure you relax and celebrate the results of your hard work! Create memories and capture
the moment with pictures/videos so you can reminisce with everyone after the event. It’s a
lovely way to round off the event and thank people for coming!


To find out more about Away With The Girls, visit our website or follow us on Instagram and Facebook @awaywiththegirls

What to Include in Your Wedding Invitations (The No-Fluff Guide)

Wedding Planning AdviceRachel Waring1 Comment
What to include in your wedding invitations.jpg

If you hadn't already guessed, I’m not really the formal type, and neither are my wedding stationery designs. A lot of the information out there on what to put on your wedding stationery is all about “etiquette”, and I don’t know about you but I find traditions and etiquette in weddings a tiny bit eye-roll worthy. Do what you like I say, as long as you make sure you have the info you need to get your guests to your wedding. So that’s what this guide is for, a no-fluff guide to your wedding stationery, so you can choose what’s right for you.

Things to think about before you start:

  • What style would you like your invitations to be in? Be sure to look at the stationery designers past work as that can often be a good starting place for your own custom design.

  • How formal would you like the invitations to be? Are you a “cordially invited” or a “YAY WE’RE GETTING MARRIED” type of couple? This is an important thing to decide right from the off because it will affect the tone of your entire stationery suite.

  • How many individual cards will you need? Would you like a simple one and done kind of invite? Or a full set with details, gifts and info cards? If you have a wedding website that’s a great way to free up some real estate on your paper invites.

  • How will you be collecting your RSVPs? This can be done paperlessly through a wedding website or by email, or you can go for the route of having RSVP cards with return envelopes. Completely up to you and your budget!

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And now, here are some of the things typically included in your wedding invitations:


This is the who, the what and the where - the essential details, and can include:

  • Your names (obviously)

  • The date of the big day

  • The time your guests will be expected to arrive for your ceremony

  • Your parents names (if they are hosting or you want to go down the traditional route)

  • The ceremony location

  • The reception location (if different)

  • “Carriages” or a less formal way of saying finishing time.


You can have as many of these as you need to get any of other information across to your guests. Do keep in mind though that the more extra information cards you have the more your invitations will cost. Things that can be included on an extra info card:

  • Directions to the venue

  • Accommodation

  • Gift list

  • Whether or not children are invited

  • Dress code (this is only really needed if you have a dress code that’s out of the ordinary for weddings - eg. do they need wellies??)

  • Local taxi numbers

  • Wedding website address

  • Anything else you feel like it’s important for your guests to know beforehand


If you are collecting RSVPs by post, you’ll need a seperate RSVP card with a matching envelope for your guests to send back to you. Things often included on RSVP cards are:

  • A space for the names of your guests

  • Check boxes to say either yes or no (or a more fun way of phrasing those!)

  • Dietary requirements

  • Song requests (these are becoming more and more popular!)

  • The return address for them to send it back to you

  • A RSVP by date

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Of course, everybody's weddings are different (as they should be!) so you should feel free to add/eliminate anything you want in your invitations. Your wedding stationery is the first glimpse your guests will get of your day, so make sure that the wording and style of your invitations reflect the tone that you hope to have on your day. It’s always weirdly jarring if a fun-loving casual couple uses super fancy wording on their invitations…. Just be yourself, don’t worry about traditions and as always YOU DO YOU pals - your guests will love you for it!

9 Ways to Make Yourself Miserable While Wedding Planning (and how to avoid them)

Wedding Planning AdviceRachel WaringComment

A lot of messages to couples out there in the wedding industry make planning a wedding sound like an amazing magical time full of rainbows, engagement parties and smiling shopping trips - best days of your life right?! And where that may well be true, there will also most likely be a few hiccups (ahem, tears in my case) along the way. The important thing is not to be surprised when things aren't always so rosy, and make steps to manage your mindset, workload and stress levels.

There are a few common things that trip happy couples up time and time again. From engaging in family politics, to taking on way too much DIY, these pitfalls can really derail you and make wedding planning a lot more stressful than it needs to be. Because I am all about less stress and overwhelm, I've laid out some of the most common wedding planning thought traps here in the hopes that this will help you avoid them. So without further ado, here are 9 ways to make yourself miserable while wedding planning (and how to avoid them). 

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1. Try to please everyone. 

The number one difficulty most couples face when planning their wedding is family politics. You'll be surprised the number of people who have strong opinions as soon as weddings are involved. It's YOUR wedding, and you'll need to make peace with the fact that not everyone will be happy with every decision you make, unless you want a day that's all about everyone else and not about you. You don't have to keep every single person happy, but what's important is the way you handle yourself during those difficult conversations.
There will always be someone who wished they were there for your "real" ceremony, or who will raise an eyebrow at your choice of flowers. It's especially difficult when family members are footing some (or all) of the bill, and this might mean that a few more compromises have to be made. The bottom line is you need to do what's right for you, and if you are always kind and respectful whilst standing firm in your decisions, your relationships will stay in tact and hopefully clashing opinions won't be too stressful.

2. Compare your wedding to everyone else's (and the whole of the internet).

It's so easy to get caught up in comparison when planning your wedding. Pinterest is a fantastic tool for ideas, but it can cause unrealistic expectations which result in disappointment. But comparison is the thief of joy my friends! Everyone gets married in different circumstances and with different resources at their disposal, so comparing your wedding to others is just a recipe for big day blues. Stay in your own lane, and prioritise the things that make you happy. 

3. Don't compromise with your partner.

So remember when I said you don't have to please everyone in your wedding planning? That doesn't count for partners. You're in this together, 50/50 split - don't go leaving them out. Even if they seem like they're not at all interested, your wedding should be about your relationship and life as a couple, and this might mean you have to compromise on a few things for a day that reflects BOTH of you. 

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4. Have unrealistic expectations.

BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE are my least favourite words used in the wedding industry. I'm serious. The amount of pressure this puts on your wedding day is unreal. Of course, I'm not saying that it won't be your best day ever, but go into it expecting that it definitely will be and you will risk feeling deflated. That pressure is overwhelming and can get in the way of you being present on the day. You might find yourself thinking "is this the best day of my life?" all day instead of just enjoying it. 
It's like when you go on a night out that you hadn't planned and end up having an amazing time, vs when you go out on New Years Eve. Think about it. 

5. Don't ask for help.

Trying to do it all yourself is a one way ticket to stress-town. Hire who you can and delegate the rest. Trust me, I know from experience that while you are running around trying to do everything, you're missing the important moments that you should be soaking in. 

6. Spend more than you can afford.

Managing a budget is hard, especially when you don't set out a proper plan before hand. Everything costs more than you expect, and extra things always pop up towards the end so you really don't want to be worrying about bankruptcy the week before your wedding. 
On this note, I've made a handy budget planning spreadsheet for you to download if you want to set yourself off on the right foot. 

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7. Expect your wedding to be everyone else's number one priority.

Ooof this is a tricky one. While all of your guests are no doubt over the moon excited for you, it's really important to remember that they have their own lives and their own priorities. Attending a wedding can be expensive, both financially and in time - especially if you are in the bridal party. If you expect too much of people then you are setting yourself up for hurt and disappointment. Be gracious and appreciative at all times and you can't go wrong. 

8. Leave it all until the last minute.

So easily done, but also so easily avoided. Did you see my latest video on organising your wedding planning through trello? If you follow the steps on there then you will not need to worry about this point, you will be the most chill and organised engaged couple ever. 

9. Expect nothing to go wrong.

And on top of this, expect to love every second of wedding planning. Confession: this was my personal downfall. If/when things get stressful while you are planning your wedding, it's ok not to enjoy it. I know that sounds obvious, but it can be easy to slip into feelings of guilt if you are not 100% enjoying every day of being engaged. It's a huge project, with basically everyone you know getting involved and sharing their opinion. It's ok if you don't breeze through it like a beautiful graceful swan having the time of your life. I just wanted to make sure you knew that. 


How to Stay Organised While Planning Your Wedding

Wedding Planning AdviceRachel WaringComment
how to stay organised while planning your wedding.jpg

Wedding planning can be overwhelming, so it's important to stay organised! Today I'm teaching you how to use my favourite free web based app Trello to help you plan your wedding. Watch the video below, and if you'd like to copy the board I use in the tutorial as a template I've made it available for you for free so you don't have to start again on your own. You can grab that here


Trello is an organisation and collaboration tool that allows you to plan out your thoughts, ideas and to-do lists in "boards". In this video I'll teach you the basics of trello and how to use it to organise every aspect of your wedding so you have everything in one place and nothing will get forgotten.

By the way, I'm not affiliated with Trello in any way, I just LOVE the app so much, I use it every day for my business and also used it to plan my own wedding! 


- There are so many components to planning a wedding, it's very easy to forget things or leave them until the last minute, which can be costly (last minute things are always expensive!). Trello helps to keep everything in one place and you can also add deadlines to things! Perfect if you need that little reminder sometimes. 

- Trello is a web based app and easiest to use on your computer, but as long as you have your phone and an internet connection, you can get on to your trello boards from anywhere. This means you can refer back to it on the go - on your shopping trips, when you're visiting your venue etc.. 

- You can assign tasks to different people! Perfect for delegating to your partner or family members ;)

- It's fun! Have you noticed I'm a serious geek about this kind of stuff...? 

Links mentioned in the video: 

- Create an account with trello.

- Grab your free copy of my template wedding planning board. (Remember to MAKE A COPY of this board to your own account so that you can use it to put your own details in).

- More trello tutorials 

Common Concerns About Hiring a Wedding Designer

Wedding Planning AdviceRachel WaringComment
Should I hire a wedding designer.jpg

It's very understandable to have concerns when you're hiring anyone, but especially when it's for your wedding. There are so many choices and things to remember, it's only natural to worry if you are making the right decision.

You might have wondered whether hiring a wedding designer is the right choice for you, so I've laid out the most common concerns I often hear, and hopefully some helpful advice to help you decide. 

Concern 1: I don't really understand what a wedding Designer does

Although wedding designers and stylists are becoming increasingly popular to have on your bridal squad, a lot of people still don’t know what exactly we do. Why would you want to hire a wedding designer? What’s the difference between a wedding designer, wedding stylist and a wedding planner? I’ve actually written a whole blog post on this topic, but in a nutshell a wedding designer/stylist is a trained professional, usually with a background in design, that will help you with all VISUAL aspects of your wedding. From the initial concept, to the details like stationery and decorations, to making sure that you have a wedding that reflects you as individuals, I like to think of my role as a wedding bestie that can support you in the design of your wedding from start to finish, or as much as you need.

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Concern 2: We can't afford it.

I hear you, weddings are crazy expensive, and if you are trying to have a wedding on a small budget then hiring a wedding designer is probably the last thing on your mind. However it's a common misconception that designers and planners are only reserved for huge super fancy weddings. I know this might sound a bit "yeah right", but hiring a wedding designer can actually save you money in the long term.

Think about it, this is most likely your first wedding, but wedding designers have done it all before. They know all the best tricks and have all the budget stretching knowhow to help you design the most beautiful wedding possible within your budget. The upfront investment of hiring a wedding designer totally pays for itself with all the money and time (and not to mention stress) you'll save throughout your whole wedding planning journey. 

It's really important to me that my services are accessible, which is why I start off with a simple questionnaire and a free consultation where you can tell me all about your wedding needs. This alone can be enough to set your wedding planning off to a great start and can really help save you time and money along the line. Then if you do decide you want to continue working together, I price everything else in an itemised list, so you can pick and choose the items you want to suit your budget rather than paying a big blanket fee. 


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As a past DIY bride myself, I totally understand this way of thinking. It's your big day that you have been dreaming about for years, and you want to have a hand in making every little detail. While this can be great, it also can be a recipe for stress and overwhelm.

I am definitely PRO DIY weddings, a huge part of the fun is hunting around for bargains and getting crafty with your bridesmaids, and I love working alongside creative couples to help make their dreams a reality. But trust me, and this is a tough love alert, if you take on every single thing yourself your wedding planning can turn into a total nightmare (unless you have unlimited time and money).

People often don't value their own time enough - you don’t get to be engaged for long in your life, and think of all the fun memories you could be making in the time you save by hiring a wedding designer. Do you want to spend the night before your wedding drinking bubbly with your guests, knowing everything is ready and prepared for the morning? Or do you want to be up until 2am crying about table plans? 

Hiring a wedding designer doesn't mean you won't get to do any fun creative projects for your wedding, it just means that you'll have a willing helper and guide that will make the process a whole lot easier. 


Concern 4: I have family and friends that I can delegate things to.

Working as a team with your family can be really fun in the run up to your wedding. But there are lots of things that come into play when delegating to family members that a lot of people don’t think about.

For example, if you give all the jobs to your friends and family then they are not as free to enjoy and revel in this exciting time with you. No one wants to be a cause of stress to their family, and delegating too much can cause guilt on your side or even resentment to start building up on their side.

Also, your family and friends are most likely not trained wedding professionals, so their level of skill and taste may not match up to exactly what you were hoping. We’ve all had those awkward moments when you get a gift you hate from your great aunty… imagine that but with your wedding details! No fun at all.

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Concern 5: I have no idea what theme I would want or what I would ask a designer for.

This is a totally fine, if not great position to be in when hiring a wedding designer. A good wedding designer will be able to talk to you about your relationship and personalities, and come up with ideas and themes that will suit you perfectly.

Think of it like personal fashion styling. Some people find it very difficult to know what kind of outfits and colours suit them, but a personal stylist will be able to pick out clothes that flatter them and bring out their personality. A wedding designer has similar skills, but for weddings. It’s all about you guys, and the details of your life that make you special.

Concern 6: I don't want someone else to design my wedding for me - I have my own ideas.

A good wedding designer will NEVER make design decisions without working closely with you first. When I work with couples, I always start by chatting with you and getting to know your tastes, personalities and individual love story.

If you have really specific ideas already, great! That just gives me more to work with. I'm there to make YOUR wedding design dreams a reality, not to force their own ideas on to you. This is your wedding, I had mine already.

Concern 7: I don't care what my wedding looks like AT ALL.

Ok, this one is the only one I can’t really argue with. If you really have no interest at all in what your wedding looks like then you probably don’t need a wedding designer. And hey, no shade from me, I respect that and admire your chilled attitude!


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I hope that helps clear a few things up. If you'd like to hear more about the design services I have to offer you can find out more here.

If you are still on the fence, please feel free to drop me an email and we can chat about whether my styling services are right for you. Believe me I would never want to work with someone that I thought wouldn't need, want or love my services. I like praise way too much for that and I HATE disappointing people, it's my least favourite thing ever. So if I feel like you wouldn't benefit from hiring me I will let you know. Pinky Promise.

The Coolest Wedding Venues in Derbyshire

Wedding Planning AdviceRachel WaringComment
Coolest wedding venues in derbyshire.jpg

Are you on the hunt for a wedding venue? Yay how exciting! It can be a super overwhelming process with so many options, so I thought I would lend a hand by sharing some of my very favourite venues with you.

As I’m sure you know by now, this is a no cookie-cutter wedding zone! So with that in mind, the venues I’ll be sharing all have something a bit different about them - whether it’s beautiful industrial architecture or a sweet blank canvas deal where you can really make it your own.

I’m starting off with my list of super cool Derbyshire wedding venues…

 Image by Rosie Kelly 

Image by Rosie Kelly 


This beautiful industrial style venue is one of the most exciting on the list because it’s BRAND NEW. So new that if you were to book your 2018 wedding with them you would be among the first couples to get married there. Set in the outskirts of the beautiful market town of Wirksworth, Haarlem Mill has the perfect balance of urban styling in a country setting. Concrete floors, exposed brickwork and beams, gorgeous windows and soon to be two floors of industrial beauty - this venue is one to put on your visit list for sure. 

 Image by  Rosie Kelly  

Image by Rosie Kelly 

Key Features:

  • Gorgeous converted mill, industrial aesthetic

  • Two floors (with the next phase opening in June 2018)

  • Beautiful surroundings in lovely market town of Wirksworth

  • Bar and catering, and a talented list of recommended suppliers.

  • Soon to be licensed for ceremonies. 

Location: Wirksworth, Derbyshire

Guests: Up to 150

Accommodation? No - but lots of great options nearby in Wirksworth

Licensed Ceremonies? From June 2018



Calke Abbey Weddings.jpg


Run by the talented planning and styling team Honeysuckle and Castle, The Riding School at Calke Abbey is a breathtaking space, with high ceilings, perfect brickwork and beams to boot. Situated in Ticknall in over 600 acres of Derbyshire countryside, this grade 1 listed building has all of the charm of a country manor but with a cool edge.

Calke Abbey Weddings 2.jpg

Key Features:

  • High vaulted ceilings with rustic beams

  • Exposed brickwork

  • White drapes to section off space

  • In house exclusive catering

Location: Ticknall, Derbyshire

Guests: Up to 240

Accommodation? Yes

Licensed for ceremonies? Yes



 Image by  Ian Daisley  - you can see more of this wedding in my styling portfolio soon! 

Image by Ian Daisley - you can see more of this wedding in my styling portfolio soon! 


Confession: The word “hall” in a venue title can sometimes put me off, because I have a preconceived notion that "country hall" weddings can be super grand and impersonal. But Yeldersley Hall has none of that. It has all of the best bits about being a “Hall” but still has a really lovely family feel to it. The best part of this venue is the on-site accommodation. The bridal suite is upstairs, with a gorgeous spiral staircase leading down to the courtyard and other cottage style properties all on the same grounds. It amounts to the feeling of a mini wedding holiday, and that’s a winner in my book.


Key Features:

  • Beautiful grounds with a walled garden

  • Marquee reception

  • Very convenient accommodation, has the feeling of taking the whole place over for the wedding.

  • Victorian style greenhouse (amazing for pictures)

Location: Yeldersley (near Ashbourne) Derbyshire

Guests: 80

Accommodation? Yes

Licensed for Ceremonies? Yes



West Mill.jpg


I couldn’t do a roundup of the coolest Derbyshire venues and miss out West Mill could I? Established in 2014, and set on the banks of the river Derwent, The West Mill is the bee’s knees in industrial chic. It’s a restored mill, with an impressive exterior and a gorgeous interior, with barrel vaulted ceilings and of course those ever popular exposed brick walls - the perfect canvas for decorating.

West Mill 2.jpg

Key Features:

  • Industrial aesthetic

  • On site catering company with a fab menu to choose from

  • No corkage venue

  • Accommodation nearby in the Mill House.

Location: Darley Abbey, Derbyshire

Guests: 160

Accommodation: Yes

Licensed for ceremonies? Yes





If you are looking for a rustic farm venue, Lower Damgate Farm is a really great choice. A total blank canvas nestled in the peak district countryside, with ponies, goats and alpacas - I’m sold! A big plus point of the farm is that you can take it over for three days, with plenty of accommodation for your guests, it’s perfect for a wedding with a mini festival feel.


Key Features:

  • Fully blank canvas deal, you have free rein to do whatever you like with the space.

  • Great accommodation on site

  • Farm with cute animals!

  • 20 acres of gardens and grounds

  • Hot tub in the bridal suite

Location: Ilam, Derbyshire

Guests: 60-140

Accommodation? Yes

Licensed for ceremonies? No





If you have your heart set on an outdoor ceremony, but you still want to combine that with your legal ceremony - Masson Farm could be the perfect solution! Their beautiful Swallow Barn is licensed for ceremonies, but has space for your guests to sit on the lawn outside, so you can have the best of both worlds. Plus, you get the beautiful backdrop of the Matlock hilltops too - what’s not to like?

 Image by  Samuel Docker

Key Features:

  • The ceremony space is a serious winner

  • Gorgeous countryside setting

  • Space outside for an outdoor marquee or tipi hire

  • Organic farm with a carbon-neutral ethos.

  • Located by the top of the Heights of Abraham, so you could arrive to your wedding by cable car!

Location: Matlock

Guests: 100

Accommodation: Yes

Licensed for Ceremonies: Yes



I hope that helps you get started on your Derbyshire venue hunt. My best advice for choosing your wedding venue is to set your priorities before you start looking, and list them in order of preference. Depending on your budget, it’s likely that you may have to compromise somewhere, so it’s always good to know which features are up for debate and which things aren’t.

Most importantly, give yourself time and assess lots of options. Go and visit venues and make sure you love them in real life, ask questions, take pictures and notes. Your venue is probably the most important choice you'll make during your wedding planning, so enjoy it and keep an open mind, you might find a perfect match that you never thought of before.

Good luck pals!

How to Make a Mood Board for Your Wedding

Wedding Planning Advice, Wedding Styling TipsRachel WaringComment
HOW to make a wedding mood board.jpg

MOOD BOARDS! My fave! Today I'm teaching you how to make your very own for your wedding. Watch the video for the full tutorial, or read the highlights below. 

Whenever I start designing a wedding, I always make a mood board first and they are really useful for wedding planning in lots of ways. They help you decide on what you like and what your tastes are - which will help you on your wedding shopping trips. They help to bring everything together in a cohesive theme, as well as being perfect for communicating with your suppliers. Sometimes it’s difficult to explain something in words, but a mood board will show other people the vibe you want instantly.


Collect everything that you are visually drawn to in one place. Don’t think about budgets or practicalities at this stage, just look around for things that inspire you. You don’t have to just stick to weddings, anything goes as long as something about the colours, tones or textures spark your imagination. You can always edit later. This helps tame any perfectionist tendencies and helps you discover things about your own taste.

Some great places to collect visual inspiration are:

  • Pinterest is the most obvious choice. What I would do is make a “secret” board and go on a 10 minute pinning spree. You can always edit the board and make it public later.

  • Books and Magazines - looking in real life printed media can be a nice break from your computer screen.

  • Look in your own house and wardrobe, are there any colours and textures that you go back to again and again? This can be a really great hack to getting to know your tastes as a couple.

  • Go window shopping - what colours are you drawn to time and time again? You can even visit DIY stores, fabric shops and places like IKEA (my personal happy place) for inspiration.

  • Look in unexpected places. Paint chips, wallpaper samples, fabric scraps, anything that inspires you, pop it in your pile. Different textures really help a mood board communicate atmosphere.



Now’s the time to go back over your mountain of inspiration materials and be selective. Take it off Pinterest and onto real paper - I recommend A3 size or bigger to give you enough space. Weed out your very favourite pieces. What do they have in common?

Notice if any themes are popping up again and again. This is a great way to choose a theme for your wedding!


  • Start with your main images and lay them out on the paper - don’t stick anything down yet!

  • Then pick out your colour pieces like paint chips and swatches and arrange them on the board.

  • Add some texture with fabrics, ribbons and even dried flowers or foliage if they complement your theme.

  • Once everything is arranged you can go back and stick everything down. You can use glue, washi tape - or I like to use double sided tape runners because I am lazy and don’t like waiting.

Now that your mood board is finished you can put it up somewhere. That’s why I like to make a real one instead of just Pinterest, because being able to look at your inspiration images often will help you stay on track and keep everything cohesive in your wedding planning.

If you still feel like you are nowhere near being able to decide on your wedding theme, then don’t worry - I can help! I wrote this blog post on how to decide on your wedding theme, and there's a free step by step workbook to help you get ideas. 

Wedding Stylist or Wedding Planner - What's the Difference?

Wedding Planning AdviceRachel WaringComment
 Ever wondered what the difference is between a wedding planner and a wedding stylist? This post outlines the main points.

Ever wondered what the difference is between a wedding planner and a wedding stylist? This post outlines the main points.

The roles of stylists and planners in the wedding industry have shifted a lot in the last five to ten years. They used to be thought of as an extravagance only useful for super fancy weddings - think Franck in Father of the Bride (although who wouldn’t want to hire him?!). But fast forward to 2018 and couples with all sorts of weddings and budgets in mind are utilising the skills of stylists and planners. This is great news for the industry because it means more creative weddings with more variety!

There are so many different terms to cover this area in weddings. Planners, stylists, designers, coordinators…. But what’s the difference and which one is right for you? There are a lot of overlaps between these roles, and of course every supplier is slightly different. Hopefully this post will help shed some light on the subject and help you to decide which one (if any) will be the right choice for your wedding.

wedding planner or stylist.jpg

What does a Wedding Stylist do?

A wedding stylist is all about the visuals and the atmosphere of your wedding. Their job is to dream big with you and help you realise a beautiful and cohesively designed day that celebrates you as a couple. Your wedding stylist is in charge of all the aesthetics, and takes the workload off you in the making of all the details. Some examples of things that a stylist can do for you are:

  • Creating a cohesive and original design concept for you based on your ideas and personalities as a couple

  • Suggesting and curating suppliers that compliment your theme.

  • Making and sourcing props and decorations

  • Remembering and designing all the details, from place cards to cake toppers.

  • Keeping you on budget, and often saving you money as they know all of the best tricks

  • Helping set up the visual elements on the morning of the wedding, and making sure everything lives up to your plans.

what is a wedding stylist?.jpg

What does a Wedding Planner do?

A wedding planner is all about the logistics of your wedding. Think about them as really clever project managers - your wedding planner is basically the chief of all of your wedmin - from the booking the catering to setting out the seating plan. The list of things that wedding planners cover is huge, but it includes things like:

  • Helping you choose a venue

  • Booking suppliers for you

  • Looking after your budget

  • Working with caterers to develop a menu

  • Making sure everything is completed and booked for the day

  • Communicating with suppliers and organising logistics for the day

  • Leading a team to set up and manage the day itself.


What does a Wedding Coordinator do?

A wedding coordinator has a lot of crossover elements with both planners and stylists, but is usually onboard for a much shorter time frame. A coordinator will usually work with a couple from about a month before the wedding, and their main role is to make sure everything comes together on the day itself and that it all runs smoothly. Both planners and stylists usually incorporate some coordination into their service packages.

pink menu 1.jpg

There are of course lots of crossovers between these different job titles. Some wedding planners do a bit of styling, some stylists do a bit of planning, and stylists and planners often do a bit of coordinating. That’s why it’s really important to research the suppliers that you’re interested to make sure you go for the right option for you. If you’d like to have a look at how I can help you with your wedding, you can read all about my styling services here. Spoiler alert I'm on the aesthetics team ;) 

10 Tips for Planning a Wedding in a Blank Canvas Venue

Wedding Planning AdviceRachel Waring
tips for a blank canvas venue wedding.jpg

Blank canvas wedding venues have become increasingly popular over the last few years, and for good reason! Whether it’s an industrial mill, a woodland wonderland, a barn or an abandoned warehouse, the term “blank canvas” covers all those fabulous venues that act as an empty shell to house your wedding in, giving you complete creative freedom. 
While having total control of your venue is a massive plus - it can be overwhelming and there’s a lot more work involved than getting married in a hotel for example. But don’t worry, unconventional venues are my specialty and I’m here to help! 

1. Think about why you want a blank canvas venue. 

Is it because you are up for a project? You have a big vision for what you’d like your wedding to be and you love the idea of having total freedom to do whatever you want? Or have you just fallen in love with the gorgeous textured walls of that industrial mill? Either is fine, but your answer will inform whether you actually want a fully blank canvas venue or an unconventional venue that's already set up for weddings - which brings me to my next tip...

2. Do your venue research.

If you want the atmosphere of an unusual venue but the amount of work involved puts you off, there are loads of amazing unconventional venues that are set up specifically for weddings. You may have to sacrifice some control over things (for example some venues have preferred caterers etc.) and it might come at a higher starting cost, but if you'd rather have a simpler planning experience then these venues can be a really great option. 

blank canvas wedding tips.jpg

Image by Katie Harmsworth via Nouba

3. Don’t try and do everything yourself!

Take this from a girl who knows, weddings are a LOT of work, especially in a blank canvas venue. The more you can delegate, the less stressful it will be for you and ultimately it will save you disappointment on your wedding day. The ideal way to combat this is by hiring a wedding stylist that specialises in unconventional venues (hi that’s me!) because they can take your ideas and help you turn them into reality in a practical way that will work in the space you have. 

4. Plan your budget wisely.

Sometimes a blank canvas venue can seem like a really affordable option, and they often are, but don’t forget to factor in hidden costs that are usually included in other venues. Things like marquee hire, table ware, furniture and even toilets may all need to be hired and paid for separately, so definitely don’t just look at the cost of the base venue hire. 

5. Find out what’s included.

Think about ALL the different aspects you’ll need to make your wedding a success. For example, if you’re hiring a teepee in a field, will you need to hire a power generator, or does your venue supply one? What about parking, kitchen facilities for your caterers, a bar, lighting? A pro tip from me is to do an imaginary walk through of your day from start to finish, and think of all of the logistics based things that will need to be in place to make everything happen. 


image by Kate Ignatowski via Style Me Pretty.

6. Ask the right questions.

Be sure to visit your venue ahead of time and ask lots of questions so that you are on the same page in terms of what's expected, and any rules/restrictions they may have. It's hard to remember all of these things on the spot, so remember to take a list with you so you don't forget anything. 

7. Where are you doing your legal bit?

If you are in the UK there are some pretty specific restrictions on where you can get legally married. If your venue is licensed, great! But a lot of blank canvas venues aren't, so you will need to consider where you are having your legal marriage ceremony if you want it to count in the eyes of the law. A lot of people go for the option of having a small legal ceremony a few days before, and then a bigger, more personal "blessing" ceremony on the actual wedding day. Another bonus of this is that you have much more freedom in what you can choose to include in your non-legal ceremony. 

8. Find clever and cost effective ways to transform the space.

Decorating a blank canvas venue can be costly if you don't plan ahead. Think about the features of the venue and how you can make the most of them with your decorations. If this sounds overwhelming to you, this is something I can help you with!

Celestial Backdrop.jpg

9. Plan your set-up well. 

There's nothing worse than buying your perfect set of hanging paper flowers and then finding out on the day that there's no ladder at the venue to set them up with. Setting up a wedding can take longer than you think, so planning for every eventuality will help avoid unnecessary hiccups. 

10. Make the most of it!

Blank canvas venues offer an amazing opportunity to do something different for your big day and really make it your own. So do it your way; be bold, be brave, and dare to dream up a wedding that you and your guests will still be talking about on your ruby wedding anniversary. 

Don't forget to sign up for your free guide, Five Steps to an Extraordinary Wedding, to really get your planning off on the right foot :) 

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Your Wedding Theme

Wedding Planning Advice, Wedding ThemesRachel WaringComment
How to choose your wedding theme (new).jpg

Is your wedding pinterest board confused?

If you are recently engaged, you might be already scouring the internet for big day inspiration and trying to pin down a theme. Now just a disclaimer about the word "theme" before we start....

Themes can get a bad reputation in the wedding industry sometimes, because the word invokes thoughts of super match-y match-y cookie cutter weddings with no personality, or novelty weddings that are basically a bit cringe. You might be put off by the word “theme” because it sounds a bit restrictive, or maybe even makes you think of a kids party.

I totally get it, you are complex people and don’t want your wedding to be put in a neat little box. But it doesn’t have to be like that. A theme is just the setting for telling your love story. It sets the tone and atmosphere for your day, and will go a long way to creating the vibe that you’d like your wedding to have.

If chosen well, your wedding theme can be your North Star in the planning process; keeping you from decision paralysis, overwhelm and silly last minute splurges. Choosing a wedding theme can actually save you time, stress and money.

Wedding cake topper

Ok now the disclaimer's out of the way, let's get into it...

Choosing a theme or style for your wedding can be hard work. Your theme is the foundation for all your ideas, it’s the basis of the experience of your guests and will ultimately affect how they remember the day. Having too many ideas can result in a completely directionless wedding where nothing looks as good as it could. Not having enough ideas makes finding accessories, stationery, decorations really difficult because there is TOO MUCH CHOICE. The good news is, I'm here to help you and I am a massive geek about this stuff. 


If you’re ready to find your perfect wedding theme then I have the steps for you all laid out here. I’ve also made a free workbook for you, so you can download that and use it to record your notes and ideas while you work through each step.


 Bride to be? These steps will help you plan your perfect wedding theme. 

Bride to be? These steps will help you plan your perfect wedding theme. 


There are some important things to consider before you can start to think about your wedding theme:

  • Where do you want to get married? In the countryside, in the city? A destination wedding?

  • What’s your budget?

  • What season would you like it to be?

  • How many guests do you imagine being there?

All of these things affect the theme that’s likely to work best for your wedding. You probably wouldn’t want to plan a winter wonderland wedding in June, so it’s best to get these things decided first. This would be a great time to read my post on the first steps to take when you’re engaged if you haven’t already ;)

 Personalised cake topper to reflect the theme of your wedding day.

Personalised cake topper to reflect the theme of your wedding day.


There’s a lot you can learn from other people’s weddings, especially ones you have been to as a guest. It’s the perfect way to see how things work in real life practice, and also the reaction that they get from guests. To make the most of the lessons you can learn from other people’s weddings:

  • Think about all the weddings you’ve been to and what you liked (and perhaps even more importantly, disliked) about each one.

  • Have a read of some real wedding stories online and in magazines. Pay attention to the full story and not just the pictures. What is it about the vibe of that particular wedding that you resonate with?

What do all of these weddings have in common? For example, are they all outside? Do they all have industrial elements? They were all fun and like a huge party? Use your workbook to note down any details that come up again and again.

 Top tips on gathering wedding inspiration and making mood boards. Original photo by Jenna Kutcher.

Top tips on gathering wedding inspiration and making mood boards. Original photo by Jenna Kutcher.


Here comes the fun bit. Collect everything that you are visually drawn to in one place. You have my full permission to go wild at this point. Don’t think about budgets or practicalities for this stage, just look around for things that inspire you. Some great places to collect visual inspiration are:

  • Pinterest (the most obvious choice). For this particular step I recommend making a “secret” board and going on a 10 minute pinning spree. Don’t just stick to weddings, anything goes, as long as something about the image captures your imagination. I find this helps tame any perfectionist tendencies. You can always edit the board and make it public later.
  • Books and Magazines - looking in real life printed media can be a nice break from your computer screen.
  • Look in your own house and wardrobe, are there any colours and textures that you go back to again and again? This can be a really great hack to getting to know your tastes as a couple.
  • Go window shopping - what colours are you drawn to time and time again? You can even visit DIY stores, fabric shops and places like IKEA (my personal happy place) for inspiration.
 How to make a wedding mood board. 

How to make a wedding mood board. 


Now is the time to go back over your mountain of inspiration materials and be selective. Weed out your very very favourite pieces. What do they have in common?

A few tips for a great mood board:

  • Take it off of Pinterest and onto real paper. I recommend A3 size or bigger to really get your imagination going.
  • If you don’t want to cut up your treasured wedding magazines, photocopy/scan the bits you want to use. This means you can always donate them to someone else after the big day so they are not wasted.
  • Look in unexpected places. Paint chips, wallpaper samples, fabric scraps, anything that inspires you, pop it on there. Different textures really help a mood board communicate atmosphere.
 how to choose your wedding colour palette - image sources  1  /  2  /  3  /  4

how to choose your wedding colour palette - image sources 1 / 2 / 3 / 4


Your wedding keywords will help you a huge amount while you plan the big day. These are the words that you can always refer back to when people ask what your wedding is going to be like or what your theme is going to be. The more thoughtful and selective you are with your wedding keywords the more they will help you to find ideas, decorations, stationery and even the perfect suppliers for your wedding! To find your wedding keywords:

  • Set a timer for 5 minutes, look at your moodboard and write down as many words as you can to describe what you see. Eg. Bright, fun, colourful, monochrome, etc..

  • Once the time limit is up, look through your list and choose the three words that resonate with you most in terms of your dream wedding. If you find choosing just three really hard, work backwards and cross out the ones that you don’t want first.

  • PRO TIP: when you think you have your three words, type them into search on Pinterest with the word wedding (eg. Bright, fun, relaxed wedding). If what comes up looks like your dream wedding then you are on the right track! If not, go back to your list and try again.

Tropical Wedding Stationery low res.jpg

If you’ve made it to the end of these steps, YAY! Great work! You should now have the whole wedding theme package: a mood board, a colour pallet and the right keywords to help you on your journey in planning your dream wedding. Don’t forget to download your free workbook, and for bonus points, I’d love to hear what your three keywords are! Let me know in the comments or over on Instagram :) I can’t wait to hear about your wedding themes.

 Sign up for your  free workbook  to help you choose your wedding theme. 

Sign up for your free workbook to help you choose your wedding theme.