Author Archives: John

Children and Weddings – Ideas For Peace and Harmony

Keeping Control of Your Young Wedding Guests

Your mattress sized Wedding Diary has a reassuring column of ticks under the heading SORTED! It’s very satisfying to watch your plans progressing, but there is one area that needs attention and is often missed, namely, how do you keep the youngsters happy and under control?  People tend to fall into one of two camps when it comes to children being entertainedchildren and weddings. There’s the bring-it-on-the-more-the-merrier types, where a bit of raucous behaviour provides some welcome respite from the formalities of the day. Alternatively, there is the get-me-out-here-they’ve-gone-feral camp, where adults recall with a shudder the tsunami of breakages, blood, fisticuffs and outright rebellion wrought by 9 children with a combined age of 37. It’s your Wedding Day so you are allowed to call the shots – but if there are children in your life, there’s a sure fired way to keep them focused, engaged and utterly content on the Big Day. Here’s a few suggestions of Children’s entertainers available for hire to achieve peace and harmony and whole lot of fun!

Children’s Clown

If you think that a Clown might be old hat in terms of children’s entertainment – check out what the children think first! Clowns are skilled, perceptive performers, who will engage the children in a show where puppets, practical jokes and children friendly tricks abound. Their gorgeous costumes and props will have the children glued to their seats – not literally of course! Children's clownThere’s plate spinning, juggling and unicycle shows, and with a bit of magic thrown in too – children will be open mouthed with astonishment at their own special show. Clown shows are on the energetic side – so they are ideal for wedding venues where you can access a separate side room or outside tent. If parents wish to sit along side they are more than welcome.  Some Clowns can be available to meet and greet children after the Wedding Formalities, and run a tea party style event prior to beginning their show. This type of entertainment is ideal for situations where a formal sit down luncheon might be a bit daunting for a child – or later when the children might be getting a bit fidgety.

Story Teller

A Children’s Story Teller offers a range of interactive stories, bringing toys and props that relate to the tale, together with costumes, backing music and more. Children are given the opportunity to take on the role of a character from the story – it works for natural performers and quieter children too, who can hide behind their costume! The Story Teller will encourage the children to get involved with the process, giving out puzzles and quizzes about the story. Professional Story Tellers  are used to dealing with children of all abilities and will quickly ascertain who would like or need a bit of extra support.

They will require a space to set up their Story Chair and props – and room for the children to sit comfortably. Depending on the number of children attending, 3 x 4 metres should be adequate for the Story teller and  8-10 children. If the weather allows and there is a secure area outside, your Story Teller may well have their own Teepee or Tent.  Story Telling Shows usually last for about 90 minutes and are ideal for younger children. Pick an experienced Story Teller and you’ll see from their reviews and professional CV that they have the ability to capture the children’s imagination, focus their energies, and keep them fully entertained.

Balloon Technician

Balloon Technicians have a host of skills that children adore. Firstly, they use colourful, stretchy balloons to create a bonkers range of animals, toys, fruit, planes and boats. Balloon Modeller Children's EntertainerThrow in a bit of group singing and dancing, and some close up tricks and magic – and you’ve got a very happy audience.  Children revel in the element of surprise as one magical trick follows another, and who could resist having a life sized model of themselves made out of balloons! Anything and everything can be made with balloons and the children will get to keep their own special model at the end of the set. Shows vary in length from 30 minutes to a full two hours, which can include a scrumptious high tea – so everything is covered! Any good children’s entertainer will know instinctively,  how to encourage children to take part in the show and this helps to create an environment where the children feel safe to be themselves. It’s the perfect way to keep them happy – and what a wonderful set of memories for them too. Not stuck at a table, struggling with unfamiliar cutlery, but having the time of their lives with other children!

If you’re in doubt as to the value of this, consider what a welcome gift you are giving your friends and family.  Anyone with parental responsibilities knows all too well, that these big social events can be tricky to manage with young children. To be offered the opportunity to safely put down the reins for a couple of hours is the equivalent of luxury spa day. Your budget won’t be squeezed or stressed and neither will you on the big day. You’ll be amazed at the choice of children’s entertainers out there, and you’ll have fun finding the right person for your perfect Wedding Party.

Find out more ideas and helpful tips in this Ultimate Guide to Booking Wedding Entertainment produced by the experienced entertainers at Entertainers Worldwide.

How to choose a green, eco-friendly – and delightful – location for your wedding

By Suzan St Maur

Author of How To Get Married In Green

If you have your heart set on a wedding on a beach in the Caribbean surrounded by several dozen of your closer friends and relatives, the occasion is hardly going to be environmentally friendly even if you all wear locally-made sarongs and no shoes. Bottom-line says that transporting yourselves and even a few attendants and family/friends will result in an aviation pollution bleurrrgghh of many times that which any of us should contemplate.

Combining wedding and honeymoon: does this help?

In a word, yes. It does. A bit. But even if it’s just you and you’re intended jetting off to an exotic location in the tropical or sub-tropical wild blue yonder, you will need to assuage your consciences by ensuring that you offset the air journey there and back. For example, should you and your fiancé decide to fly from London to Jamaica for your wedding, the emissions you’d be responsible for amount to well over 4 tonnes of CO².

And before you start thinking that handing over the cost of a good bottle of wine to offset your flight pollution to Barcelona and back is well worthwhile, ponder this. Just how effective is it if you do hand over offset money in compensation? Increasingly over the last few years there has been talk in the media of carbon offset schemes and companies mushrooming up all over the place, and while all may be keen to take your money to plant a few new trees in Nicaragua, not all are quite as altruistic as you would want them to be. Carbon offset has now become potentially profitable business, and as such is beginning to attract its fair share of snake-oil salesmen. Be warned!

Home, sweet home

Although at first glance your own home – or the (large) home of a close relative – might seem to be a green choice. However it probably isn’t the greenest choice you could make. Unless the home in question is pretty unusual it won’t have the facilities and equipment on hand to cope with the cooking, food, drinks, seating, etc. and all the necessary items will have to be brought in, perhaps from some distance away. That adds to the pollution load. It’s true that putting a marquee up in a garden should not cause any lasting damage to the lawn and surrounding areas, but it’s surprising just how much damage a few dozen tipsy wedding guests can cause to flower beds and vegetable gardens. Plus, should your wedding take place at any time other than mid-summer (and even then we’re being optimistic for the UK) the marquee may need to be heated, which is incredibly wasteful and uses a great deal of power or fuel.

Unless your wedding is to be very small, there are other reasons why having it at home is probably not a good idea, not least of which is the stress and chaos that such an activity causes. This is hardly welcome when the run-up to the wedding in itself can be stressful enough without the added angst of caterers, florists, table servers, bartenders and various others leaping around like headless chickens.

Also, people often find that there is little or no cost saving by having a wedding at home; bringing in all the necessary supplies and suppliers can end up costing more than if you take your wedding to a venue that’s already set up and organised to handle it.

So where?

The location objective in terms of “green” weddings is to try to ensure that the wedding reception takes place either at the same venue as that of the ceremony, or failing that pretty close. In addition, a green wedding will be held at a location that’s within the shortest possible travel distance for as many guests as possible.

This may rule out your long-held fantasy of getting married in a church on a remote Scottish hillside no matter how eco-friendly that is – especially if you, your family and friends all live in Plymouth. However let’s not be total killjoys. If that’s what you’ve set your heart on yet you can’t bring yourself to disrupt the environment to shuttle everyone up there, get married locally in a registry office and afterwards go up to your church on the Scottish hillside for a blessing – just the two of you, and preferably by public transport.

If you are having a religious wedding, to an extent your choice of venue becomes much narrower, as you may well choose to be married in a specific church, synagogue, mosque, temple or other religious building. Try if you can to select a venue for the ensuing reception that is within walking distance of the ceremony venue. If it’s too far, consider organising a “park and ride” system for your guests so they travel independently to a given point at the beginning of the day, then get taken to ceremony and reception – and back – by coach or minibus.

Especially with all the controversy about just what really is green and what isn’t we probably shouldn’t agonise over whether three 15-seater minibuses are going to create more pollution than one 45-seater coach, or whether the reception is 100 yards from the ceremony or half a mile. What does make a difference is in containing the entire event within as small a geographical area as possible, and also in making the best use of local businesses and local produce. Not only does that keep transport and associated pollution down, but also helps keep alive the local economy.

If you’re having a civil ceremony, the whole thing becomes much easier from an eco-friendly point of view, because in the UK now there is a wide choice of wedding locations which are licensed for marriages, many of which are suitable as reception venues, too. These range from commercial businesses to charitable foundations. For example:

  • Hotels
  • Restaurants
  • Leisure Centres
  • Community Centres
  • Country mansions
  • Historic buildings
  • Castles
  • Pavilions
  • Universities
  • Schools
  • Museums
  • Islands
  • Barns
  • Boathouses
  • Pumping Stations
  • Mills
  • Mines
  • Quarries
  • Racecourses
  • Football Clubs
  • Cricket Clubs
  • Golf Clubs
  • Breweries
  • Film & TV Studios
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Theme Parks
  • Zoos
  • Theatres & Cinemas
  • The London Eye
  • Tower Bridge
  • Blackpool Tower
  • Airports
  • Railway Stations
  • Trains
  • Ships
  • Submarines
  • …etc.

And that’s not a complete list, by any means, especially as more and more venues are becoming available as time goes on. To find your choices, key “wedding venues” into your favourite search engine. There are several UK based websites like this one offering advice on venue selection, too.

Now, which are the greener choices?

Well, I suppose we had better rule out airports, to start with! But your primary criteria, as before, should be more about where and how big, rather than what, to minimise eco-damage. As I mentioned above, it’s pointless choosing a venue that’s very eco-friendly if it’s miles away from where most of the guests are coming from. A good hotel or restaurant in a town that’s within easy reach of everyone may not be as organic and may not even use only locally-sourced produce, but if it means avoiding 50 car journeys of 200 miles each, it may well be a better bet.

If the venue belongs to a large corporation – e.g. is one of many hotels in a chain – you may also want to consider how you feel about the business ethics of the parent company.

Next come the catering arrangements. Do the venue’s caterers use only organic and locally sourced produce? Do they offer organic wine, preferably British, or if not can you bring your own? Can you bring in your own caterers if you want to? Do they operate a good recycling and composting setup? If it’s a popular wedding venue, do they offer you the option of sharing floral arrangements and other decorations with couples immediately before and/or after you? If you’re going to bring in your own suppliers, how easy is it for them to access the venue? How much travel will be involved for them?

Another thing to bear in mind is that apparent beauty is often only skin deep in ecological terms. If you like the idea of having your wedding at a stunning country house hotel that offers all local produce from its own kitchen gardens and recycles all its wine bottles, you may like to consider how green they are with their gardening activities. That gorgeous, sweeping lawn may well have been treated with all kinds of noxious chemicals, weed killers, moss killers, etc., and be mowed almost every day by fuming petrol mowers. Even the vegetable garden may have been subjected to insecticides, weed killers, artificial fertilisers and various other things.

And before we leave the great outdoors, if you’re getting married in the UK, think about the weather. Much as it may be splendid, romantic and environmentally desirable to tie the knot in the open air under the great sky above, it won’t be much of an occasion if it’s raining. By all means seek an outdoor venue, but ensure that the ceremony and reception can be brought in under cover should the weather decide not to play ball.

As with everything else, making the greenest wedding location choice is about getting a good balance. Unless you go to ridiculous extremes, there will be some elements of your location choice that are probably as not as green as they could be. But if you ensure that there is a reasonable balance of eco-friendly measures you can go ahead and create a stylish, enjoyable wedding – with no guilt.

What you can do:

  • Avoid choosing a location abroad, even if you’re combining wedding and honeymoon
  • Pick a location that’s easily accessed by the majority of your guests
  • Organise a “park & ride” arrangement for guests, especially if the location is far from home
  • Pick a location that’s easily accessed by public transport
  • Choose a reception location within as short a distance as possible of the ceremony location
  • If you’re having a civil wedding, arrange ceremony and reception in same location
  • Ensure reception location has a proper recycling policy
  • Ensure reception location catering uses local, preferably organic produce
  • See if you can “double up” with other couples getting married at around the same time, for things like flowers and decorations
Suzan St Maur with her book of naughty, rude poetry!

Suzan St Maur with her book of naughty, rude poetry!

Suzan St Maur is a multi-published nonfiction author with several books on weddings under her belt, along with more than 30 other nonfiction, self-help and humour books. Check her out on her award-winning website here. A former ad copywriter and content marketer, she now devotes all her time to writing more books of her own – plus working as an author coach, providing clients with the expert support and advice they need to become published authors. You can get in touch with her here: suze@suzanstmaur.com

 

What To Do With The Wedding Dress After You’ve Said ‘I Do’

What do I do with my beautiful dress after I’ve said ‘I do’

Said “Yes to the dress”….said “I DO”….. I now have no idea what to do with my gown……sound familiar?

You said yes to the dress, and said “i do” to your significant other. That’s it, you are a wife! No more table plans, organising, worrying about the weather, what are you all going to talk about from now on? You all had a wonderful day and have now perfected your new Mrs signature status (have you had to tick a Married Box ✔️ yet on a form or website?….. It’s ok to yelp with glee when you do this for the first time, after that you need to calm down!!)

So, you now you have a wedding dress that has fulfilled  it’s destiny (and there is a high chance you have slipped it back on a few times since and marveled at its beauty in the mirror whilst running the hoover round, again that’s ok in the early days, expected even !)

What to do now?

Well our first bit of advice is get your dress cleaned (either by a professional or personally if you dare, with a lot of scrubbing, soaking and nail biting patience whilst you watch it whizz round your washing machine or submerged in your bath) ** disclaimer: no recommendations on how to clean are being made here…. Just to clarify!

One of our recommendations is reselling, giving the dress a new destiny to become someone else’s dream dress. The benefit of this is making some money back which can go towards a honeymoon or wedding photos. It also gives someone else a chance to buy a decent dress. Someone who may either be on a budget or just doesn’t want to pay as much for designer dress that they will wear for one day (besides the hovering) . And of course It’s good for the planet to recycle, lots of our brides are having an eco friendly wedding.

exterior

If you would like to gift your dress to a good cause you can pick your favourite charity and drop it of to them. Oxfam for example often have a whole wedding section in some of their bigger stores.

There is a lovely charity called the wedding wishing well  that help couples who have terminal illnesses plan and contribute to their wedding. You can gift your wedding items to them.

If you don’t want to part with your dress (and that’s ok), but you don’t want to keep it in the loft or under the bed because you love it as much as you love your new spouse and you would never keep him/her in the loft or under the bed (well who knows), consider one of these lovely ideas:

Buy a mannequin and display it in your house

Get it framed

If you really don’t have room for either of those options and want a keep sake, have your dress made in to a teddy for yourself or a child. You could also think of soft furnishings, make some cushions for your bed or make some wall art etc.

We had a dress in once that had such a great life: it was originally purchased and worn by one bride who then sold it in our Beverley store. The dress was reloved by another bride who wore it for her special day. She then had the dress sent to Bowman bears who made 2 teddies, one for her daughter and one that she donated to a children’s  hospital. ….. Now that’s a great journey for a wedding dress! We like that!

You could also donate it to a fashion school for the students to be deconstructed or consider a trash the dress shoot (although personally I can’t bear the thought of that **shudders and let’s out a little scream, I’d recommend a counterfeit dress for that kind of Tom foolery)

This article was written by Bridal Reloved.

Questions to ask when choosing your wedding venue

When it comes to choosing and booking your dream wedding venue, there are many things to think about and questions to ask. Here’s a handy guide to choosing the best place to tie the knot…

wedding venue

  1. Where?
    Countryside or city? Home or abroad? There are so many gorgeous locations to choose between – and not just in the UK. Drawing a circle around a rough location is a great way to know where to start looking.
  2. Is it licensed? If you’re planning a civil ceremony then be sure to check whether the venue holds the appropriate license – which includes special licenses for outdoor weddings, too.
  3. What’s the capacity?
    Who’s on your guest list? There’s no point considering a venue which can’t accommodate all your guests! Before you visit your dream venue, be sure to check their capacity.
  4. What are the catering options?
    If you are looking to hire independent caterers then this is something that should be checked with your prospective venue. As a rule, if they have in-house or recommended caterers, you will be obliged to use them.
  5. Do you have exclusivity?
    If you are planning a big wedding reception or perhaps just want some extra privacy, then ask the venue about exclusive use. Whilst many venues offer exclusivity, there is often an additional charge or minimum number of bedrooms you will need to book.
  6. How long can you party?
    If you’re planning to party until the early hours, then make sure you ask what time the venue can keep the bar open and music playing. Some venues will charge for extra hours, while some will have a strict limit due to noise restrictions.
  7. Is there a coordinator?
    Does the venue offer a coordinator to assist you with your planning, or to help on the day? Some venues include the help of a specific planner in their wedding packages whilst others have coordinators that deal with every wedding.
  8. How can we dress the venue?
    If you’re keen to add personal touches to your wedding day decor then remember to ask what the venue already includes. You can then plan any additional extras. For example, does the venue have a choice of table centrepieces or aisle runners? Some venues will also have restrictions on items like lit candles or pinning items to walls.
  9. Is there accommodation?
    Many guests will be keen to stay overnight after a long night of partying! Ask the venue about accommodation options and discounts for wedding guests. If your venue doesn’t offer accommodation, then ask for a list of nearby suggestions to check out.
  10. What’s their reputation?
    Check out reviews from other brides who have used the same venue. Reviews are a great way of seeing what level of customer service you could expect to receive.wedding venue

To find your dream wedding venue and filter by all these options, visit Guides for Brides today!

This was a guest blog post from Guides For Brides.

Top Ten Tips for Hiring a Wedding Band

You’re getting married, you’ve got your heart set on hiring a live wedding band, but you don’t have the foggiest where to start. There’s no need to develop a case of wedding-induced stress, Entertainment Nation are here to offer 10 expert tips on how to hire the perfect wedding band at the right price.

wedding entertainment

  1. Make sure you book your wedding band with a trusted wedding entertainment agency. Working with an established wedding entertainment agency has a number of benefits. First and foremost, reputable agencies only offer acts they know to be talented and reliable, so you can be confident you’re getting a band who can do the business on the biggest of big days.

Booking through a trusted agency gives you the peace of mind that contracts, PAT-Testing certificates and PLI insurance are all taken care of and that any payments you make are made securely.

Wedding entertainment  agencies also know a thing or two about what works well at a wedding reception, so can offer you expert advice and guidance on everything from potential band choices to working with sound limiters (more on which later).

  1. Hunt down independent reviews. Given that your choice of act can make or break your wedding reception, you only want to hire recommended wedding bands. As well as the reviews you find on the agency or band website, search for independent reviews through sites like Facebook, Google and Trustpilot, where you’ll get the unvarnished truth about the wedding band you’re about to book.
  1. Don’t wait around! All of these tips are important, but if there’s one we’d rate above all the others, it’s this one. Simply put: hire your wedding band as early as you can. Just like with in-demand wedding venues, the most popular wedding bands get booked for peak dates up to 2 years in advance. The peak wedding season seems to kick off earlier each year too, so don’t risk missing out on that whimsical folk band you’ve got your heart set on, get them booked ASAP!

wedding entertainment

  1. Book out of season. This is more of a general wedding planning tip that’s also applicable to hiring your wedding band. If you’re on a budget and want to get the most for your money, then opting for a date between October and April will leave you with more room to negotiate on prices. Sure, you aren’t guaranteed good weather, but then you wouldn’t be during the Great British summertime either! Another benefit to booking out of season is the larger selection of available bands to choose from.
  1. Book a date during the week. If you simply must have a summer wedding, but don’t want to pay the earth, then choosing a mid-week wedding is the perfect solution. As with booking out of season, you’ll save money and have a bigger selection of bands available to you. Your family and friends may be a bit put out that they have to dip into their annual leave to attend, but they’ll get over it once they see the bargain of a wedding band you managed to snap up!
  1. Leave booking your wedding band until the last minute. Yes, this is the complete opposite to what we said a few expert tips ago but bear with us. If you’re the kind of bride or groom who likes to fly by the seat of their pants, then booking a wedding band a few weeks before the big day could be a great way of securing a hefty saving on the total fee. You won’t have the same amount of choice as you would if you’d booked early and, if you’re getting married on a Saturday in August, there’s a chance ALL the good bands will already be booked. But if you’re a bargain-hunting thrill-seeker, the saving you’ll make is worth the risk.
  1. Go local. While most bands happily venture up and down the country every weekend, if you’re keen to keep costs in check it’s a good idea to hire a wedding band that doesn’t need to travel too far to your venue. Every mile on the road is money out of your pocket, so the closer the better. Plus, you’re saving the environment. Win win.
  1. Make sure your wedding band is self-contained. Self-contained? Like, the band comes in a capsule or something? No – a self-contained band is one that supplies everything necessary to put on a top-notch show at your wedding reception. This includes (fully-insured and PAT-tested) equipment such as PA and lighting, as well as a DJ service to keep your party in full swing while the band is recharging between sets. Most good wedding bands bring along everything they need to perform to a high level, but it’s worth making sure.
  1. Be clear about when you want your wedding band to arrive (and to leave). Individual wedding bands may vary, but the unwritten rule is that a wedding band will arrive at your venue and start setting up at around 5pm or after, and then finish playing at midnight. The price you are quoted will be based upon these standard timings. If you want the band to set up early for any reason, or you want them to play on until the early hours, you need to arrange this with the band at the time of booking or well in advance of the event. Early starts and late finishes incur a fee to cover the extra working hours of each band member.

wedding entertainment

  1. Check whether your venue has a sound limiter before you hire your wedding band. This may be our final tip, but it’s a biggie. Before booking a band, make sure you’ve spoken with your venue about any restrictions on live music they have in place, whether the venue is fitted with a sound limiter, and at what decibel level the limiter is set to. Most professional wedding bands are able to work with sound limiters, but they need to know in advance, so they can bring appropriate equipment.

Some bands are unable to work within tight decibel limits, especially larger bands with live horn sections. You don’t want to be faced with a wedding day disaster of hiring a band who are unable to perform to their full potential (or at all), so be certain to check.

That wraps things up for our top ten wedding band hire tips. We hope you’ve found it useful. If you need any further advice or you’d like to get on with the fun of booking a band, visit Entertainment Nation and give our friendly team a shout. They’ve helped hundreds of happy couples find their dream wedding entertainment and are around from 10am until 10pm every day of the week.

Guide to buying engagement rings in 2018

Buying engagement ringsWe’re sure you’ve already heard it a lot recently but, congratulations! You’ve found the one, mission complete. Level 2 – buy an enchanting engagement ring that will dazzle the mind of your soon-to-be fiancée or fiancé.

We’ll go through what the four main terms used for diamonds mean and how to know if they are of high quality or not.

Carat

The carat is a way of measuring the value of the ring you decide on. It can give you a price tag because it’s actually a weight. The heavier the stone the more expensive it’s usually going to be. Hence, the higher the carat of a ring, the more it will cost.

So, as you can imagine, the larger the stone is the higher the carat it’s usually going to be. With this said, some diamonds may seem larger but weigh less than a smaller one. This will be because the cut is shallower than the smaller yet heavier one.

Cut

This doesn’t describe the shape of the diamond, it’s referring to the way the stone has been cut. The better the cut, the better the sparkle, the better the diamond.

If you’re unsure then hold the diamond to the light and see if it reflects the light internally and externally well. You just want to see how bright it shines, to put it in other words. The cut also tells you how deep or shallow in shape the stone is.  

Colour grade

If you’re set on buying a diamond ring, you should consider the colour grade. Each diamond is rated on a scale starting at D to Z. A diamond grade D is the most popular because they are considered colourless.

The Z grade means the diamond is a light-yellow colour. Though you can also buy diamonds of green, red, blue, yellow and pink, clear is the most popular for engagement rings.

Green and red diamonds, however, are extremely rare so if you see one that’s in your price range, snatch it up while you still can.

Clarity

The clarity pretty much tells you if the diamond has any inclusions, imperfections and specks. No diamond is perfect, so don’t expect a completely clean clarity. But doesn’t that make each stone so much more precious and unique?

The style of the ring

If they love all things antique, you could choose from antique rings London. An antique ring usually is gold and often has a more unusual engagement stone, like an emerald or ruby for example.Buying engagement rings

The shape of the stone

There are 12 main shapes you can buy for an engagement ring:

  • Round

A round diamond is the most traditional shape for an engagement ring.

  • Radiant

Along with a beautiful name, the radiant shape is truly unique. They are square-shaped with flat corners.

  • Oval

Oval shaped diamonds allow light to reflect through easily, which effectively makes it sparkle more.

  • Emerald

The emerald shape is called this because it was once only used to cut emeralds specifically, however, you can now get diamonds and other stones shaped the same way.

  • Princess

This shape is square and sharp, though they look elegant and princess-worthy.

  • Pear

Also called the teardrop, it takes the form of a perfectly even droplet of water.

  • Trillion

Trillion cut diamonds are triangular and usually are used as accent stones to the main stone. With this said, they do also look stunning as the main-show stone.Buying engagement rings

  • Baguette

Baguette diamonds are rectangular and thin, so they are the best choice for those who have a minimalistic style.

  • Heart

Of course, you know what a heart shape is. This is the most symbolic shape for love.

  • Cushion

Similar to the princess shape, the cushion is square but has softer edges.

  • Asscher

These diamonds have more step-cuts than radiant diamond shapes, which allow the stone to sparkle extremely well, but the overall shape is very similar.  

  • Marquise

Also referred to by the name navette (little boat), the marquise is shaped like a small boat – hence the name.

Did this help you decide?

We hope it did! Let us know what engagement ring you decided on in the comments.

This is a sponsored post.

Guide to sorting out your reception without breaking the bank

Wedding receptions. The most fun part of any wedding. The time to relax, enjoy and stuff your face with scrumptious food. Oh, and enjoy your first dance as a married couple – that’s the most important part, clearly.

How do you plan to sort your wedding reception out without it costing an arm and a leg? You finish reading this article, that’s how!

An inside reception

wedding planningYou’ve decided on an indoor reception, perfect! Now, how do you chose the venue? Of course, you’ll want it close to the wedding ceremony so that people don’t have to travel. Some places that specifically cater for weddings will have a reception hall or an area for your party after the ceremony.

However, more nontraditional wedding venues may not. Hence why you should find a local hall or indoor space to host your ceremony, before you book the wedding venue. You don’t want to book a venue then later find there’s no indoor room near to hold a party.  

Money-saving tip

Ask your friend or family member who has the biggest shed or barn (if you know any farmers) if you can hold your reception at theirs. You can offer them money to rent it out too, which will cost less than renting out a hall.

An outside reception

So, you’d prefer your reception out in the wilderness? Well, not quite wilderness, probably more like in a large garden or park, but you get the picture. As long as the weather is decent, an outdoors reception is a brilliant idea!

If you want to buy canapes for the reception it’s a good idea to read up on reviews of the types the shop has. This will allow you to get the best canape for the predicted weather and one that will comfortably fit you and your guests.

It also helps to price check because they can be expensive depending on the size, material and quality. Reading others reviews gives you a clearer idea of what the canape will be like too, seen as their responses will be from experience.

Money-saving tip

Host the reception at a public park (some may require permission, so check before).

Food

wedding planningFor vegans or vegetarians, you can make skewers using tofu from Clearspring as an alternate no-meat option. As for allergies, you could make a ‘nut-free’ zone and a ‘lactose-free’ zone etc. for all the main food allergies.

You don’t need to go overboard with this though, just a few ‘free-from’ food zones would add an inclusive touch to your wedding reception.

Money-saving tip

Cook the smaller dishes/snacks yourself with the help of family and friends. It would be stressful and too much to do for you to do all of the food, but the small stuff can easily be done by yourself and will drop the food catering cost down.

Hiring a caterer

wedding planningIf you’re planning a fairly large wedding reception, hiring an organised caterer will take a lot of stress off your shoulders. Caterers can sort out the food menu for you and suggest ways to keep the costs down but quality up.

Again, reading customer reviews for all the caterers you are interested in hiring is the best way to go about this. Plus, it helps if you know people who have recently hired the same caterers so that you can get a realistic view of what they experienced with the company.

Money-saving tip

Shop around! If another place offers a cheaper catering service, but you really want the more expensive company, mention to them that the other place is less expensive but offers the same service. You never know, they could drop the price a little!

What’s your opinion?

Do you have experience with planning a wedding reception without spending a ton of money? Please share your experiences and tips for our other readers to adopt at their own wedding.

This is a sponsored post.

Finding the perfect wedding gift for a friend

So, your mates getting married. That’s great news, but what do you get them? If they opted out of a wedding gift wish list, then it can be tough to find something you know they’ll want and something that another person won’t gift them too.

wedding giftAll is not lost, so don’t threat! With this idea-list, you’ll gain inspiration and begin to think of ways you could put a personal touch on each gift idea.

Luggage sets for their honeymoon

Although this isn’t a traditional gift idea for weddings, it is extremely practical and thoughtful. Buy them a decent long-lasting luggage set that they can use for their honeymoon, and for any other holidays in the future.

You can always check out Gear Hungry and read their guide to buying luggage sets. It’s recommended to read reviews before making a decision to make sure you get a set that’s worth the money and of great quality.

Or, you know, they could take it the completely other way and use the suitcases to run away from each other. But that wouldn’t be your fault, you just provided the case!

In all seriousness though, in any circumstance, a high-quality luggage set will provide them with lots of use and practicality – whatever that use may be.

Photographs

PixaPrints have a wide range of photo printing services. Phone cases, canvas prints, mugs and more. Printing out a photograph of the couple is a nice way to remind them of an old memory.

If you’re very close with the bride and groom you could even print out an embarrassing photo you have of them. That way you can reminisce about funny memories and humiliating times – as long as you’ve got a close enough relationship for it to be funny, of course!

Just don’t go buying a drunken photo of the bride and groom if one of them also happens to be your boss, that would just be awkward and inappropriate (or hilarious if your boss would find it funny).

Wedding wish jar

wedding giftsFor the couple that love sweet gestures and simple but thoughtful gifts, a wedding wish jar is perfect. Fill it with your wishes for them and get their other friends and family members to add to it too.

It’s a lovely way to show them how much you care (a lot). Plus, they can look back on all the wishes you made to them years later. It could become a keep-safe jar which anyone can add to at the wedding.

A nice way to make it even more personal is to add small photos in the mix too. You can easily make a DIY wedding wish jars and decorate it as you please. All you’d need is a glass mason jar, small pieces of paper to write on and any decorations you want to include.

Unless you’re too busy or aren’t very crafty, in which case you can buy a wedding wish jar ready made with little wish tickets at almost any online gift shop.

What did you buy last time there was a wedding?

Think about the last wedding you went to. What did you gift the couple then? Was it something that you can buy again for your friends this time around?

Best wishes to you for finding the perfect wedding gift for your friend. Tell us what you ended up buying in the comments. And if you managed to grab a photo of the bride and groom’s reactions to the gift, share with us the funny or heart-warming pictures too.  

This is a sponsored post

15 Alternative First Dance Songs You Might Not’ve Considered

The first dance is as important to your wedding as the cake, the best man’s speech, the vows – everyone looks forward to it, and it just wouldn’t be the same without it. And much like all of these, you’re going to want your first dance song to reflect your relationship. There have been some wild cake designs, unheard of tales and truly touching sentiments at weddings over the years, so why not make your first dance a little different too? Here are some beautiful songs with meaningful messages behind them that’ll make a refreshing change from Ed Sheeran:

 1 I Believe in a Thing Called Love – the Darkness

Hard rock fans with a sense of humour find it hard not to smile when this track kicks off. The lyrics are pure romance, and the exuberance and energy of the music will make a believer out of anyone who sees you dancing to it.

 2 Never Met a Girl Like You Before – Edwyn Collins

This Bond-theme style hit from the 90s has a slinky, sultry feel punctuated by xylophones and ripped apart by screaming guitar solos. There probably isn’t a cooler way to tell someone how much they affect you.

3 Islands – The xx

Frank and minimalistic, the band whose name looks like two kisses set ruminations on what it means to be forever tied to someone to a dark, house-influenced rhythm. The soft, whispery vocals are reminiscent of a secret promise.

4 Stuck On a Puzzle – Alex Turner

This Arctic Monkey scored the indie flick Submarine, and in doing so captured the sound of sweet, confused teen romance.

5 Sea of Love – Cat Power

Ethereal and jazzy, Cat Power’s soothing voice will lap over you like waves in the sea she’s inviting you to swim in.

 6 Tainted Love – Marilyn Manson

 A darker take on a song made defiant by Gloria Jones and playful by Soft Cell, Manson’s rendition is slow, creepy and thoroughly entertaining.

 7 You’re Gorgeous – Babybird

 The chorus says it all – an uplifting rallying cry certain to get anyone who remembers the 90s singing along. Its mid-tempo, gentle feel will send you swaying.

 8 Two Doors Down – Mystery Jets

Indie fans’ trendy hearts will melt at this 80s-inspired track. It’s a plaintive, wide eyed love story with danceable rhythms, saxophone solos, plenty of ‘oohs’ and repetitions of the phrase ‘I think I’m in love’.

 9 Crazy For You – Best Coast

The title track from this dreamy surf pop outfit’s debut is a fun exploration of how irrational true love can really be – you’re up on minute, you’re down the next, but throughout it all there’s one person who’s your entire world.

 10 I’ll Be Your Mirror – the Velvet Underground

A song Lou Reed wrote specifically for Nico’s husky voice, this song is a sweet reflection on how sometimes all you need when you’re doubting yourself is for a loved one to remind you how they see you. The music itself chimes gently, as if reverberating off the glass.

 11 La La Love You – Pixies

A rather experimental performance piece featuring atonal guitar and wolf whistling, what could be sweeter than being told ‘I love you’ by each of the Pixies? The answer is: the chorus. Plain and simple – ‘all I’m saying, pretty baby…”

 12 Close to Me – The Cure

With nervous, breathy vocals and layer upon layer of random keyboard conversations, the sentiment of this Cure number is very sweet. The anticipation Robert Smith describes can easily be applied to this moment in your wedding, and the upbeat, positive music will crack many a smile.

 13 All Day and All of the Night – The Kinks

You’d struggle to find a guest who hadn’t heard this 60s classic before, but never were the song’s lyrics more applicable than right now. It’s fun, short and a beautiful declaration of love – the only time you feel alright might be by each other’s side, but it’s happening right now, and everyone can see how just how alright it is.

 14 Red Light – the Strokes

The track that closed the Strokes’ third and at the time most diverse album, Red Light features a irresistible skipping rhythm, some intricately smooth guitar interplay, and some of the sweetest lines Julian Casablancas ever committed to paper. When you’re both dancing to this, you really can believe two can be complete without the rest of the world.

 15 I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself – the White Stripes

Dusty Springfield’s version of this Burt Bacharach-penned masterpiece is beautiful, but Jack White’s intensity and desperation is so much more palpable, through both his vocals and his guitar playing. The slight, stop-start rhythm of the verse slowly builds into a four-to-the-floor fuzz fest as the singer seemingly descends into madness at the thought of not being with the one he loves.

 Written by Joe Hoten at Bands For Hire. Bands For Hire are a live entertainment agency in the UK offering a range of party bands, swing bands and more.

15 Popular First Dance Songs to Get You Started

The first dance is a pivotal moment in your ceremony. You’ve exchanged your vows at the altar, shared a kiss in front of your nearest and dearest, cut the first slice into your beautiful cake, and now, before all your friends and family finally let loose and party down, you’ve got one more opportunity to thrust your love into the spotlight. So you’re going to need a song that summarises all of these things and more, not to mention one that you both enjoy.

With every other song in music’s vast back catalogue being a love song, it can be tricky to know where to begin. It will, of course, be a far more special moment for you both if you and your beloved have chosen a song together that means something particular about your relationship. It could be a song from the first movie you watched together, or one that was playing in the background on your first dinner date, or a song that just reminds you of one another – whatever the reason, the two of you will have much fonder memories of your first dance if it’s to a song that’s of some significance.

But, for a myriad of reasons – like, if the run up to your wedding becomes a little too hectic, or if you simply have too many favourite songs between you to choose from – a list such as this may come as a relief. We do tend to notice trends in this business, and even if these suggestions aren’t quite your cup of tea, they may well help to spark off some ideas. At any rate, at the time of writing, these are some of the most popular first dance numbers from our wedding bands and musicians:

1. I’m Yours – Jason Mraz
Cast all doubt aside – your gentle, slightly reggae-flavoured moment is here, courtesy of Mr Mraz! These playfully romantic lyrics would be a lovely follow up to your vows and best man’s speeches.

2. Iris – Goo Goo Dolls
This may have been a one-hit-wonder for these 90s alt-rockers, but it hits pretty hard. For a swaying song with a rock-tinted edge, you can do no better.

3. At Last – Etta James
An enduring classic, these soulful jazz vocals sit perfectly over a wistful dreamscape of music. Celebrate finally finding your soulmate in style with Miss Peaches herself!

4. Wherever You Will Go – Charlene Soraia
Swapping out the guitars for tentative piano, this cover brings a new tenderness to the Calling’s monster hit, and its catchy chorus promises to make this moment unforgettable.

5. A Thousand Years – Christina Perri
The Twilight film franchise may have divided the opinions of cinema-goers, but it’s hard to deny the power behind this song’s message. Undying love that stretches across millennia isn’t just for vampires.

6. Perfect – Ed Sheeran
A study conducted by VoucherCodesPro showed that an estimated 1 in 7 couples would tie the knot to a song penned by this lovable redhead, and this schmaltzy modern take on 50s love songs goes some way to explain why.

7. Halo – Beyonce
A confession of vulnerability from a figure as strong and independent as Queen Bee is all the more meaningful, especially as it’s a vulnerability rooted in love. A pop ballad as powerful as this is really going to highlight to you both how important you are to each other.

8. Toothpaste Kisses – Maccabees
A celebration of the minutiae that make our relationships unique, this is an upbeat indie alternative to the more pop-orientated choices.

9. The Luckiest – Ben Folds
A simple, quirky piano ballad, reminiscent of a modern Disney song, inviting you sway lovingly before each other whilst appreciating how fortunate you both are that things turned out this way.

10. Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol
This ubiquitous 2000s track creates a moment where everything else ceases to matter – it’s just you and your beloved. And when that chorus kicks in, everyone in the room will be reaching for the nearest dance partner.

11. I Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Frankie Valli
This classic has everything – key changes, sing-along-able horns and a chorus to floor them all. Could you be any more frank with lyrics like ‘I love you baby’? Be sure to also check out Lauryn Hill’s fantastic cover for an updated, RnB feel.

12. All of Me – John Legend
The legendary purveyor of love songs strikes again! There won’t be a dry eye in the house as you dance with the partner you love with your entire being, down to the last atom.

13. Amazed – Lonestar
A well-timed left turn from these Country & Western darlings gave us this 90s gem – an ideal sentiment to share with the one you want to spend the rest of your life with.

14. I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing – Aerosmith
This power ballad had us all weeping in Armageddon, and that wasn’t just because the world was coming to an end. Far from it, in fact: this song’s lilting tempo wraps us in a blanket of devotion that seems to last forever.

15. Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
Here he is again! Good old Ed’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser, as his position at the top of every popular first dance song choices list would suggest, and Thinking Out Loud’s romantic music video proves that this earnest, mid-tempo ode to growing old together is destined to be the soundtrack of countless weddings to come.