Friday, 28 February 2014

Ooh! Mrs James: Beautiful Affordable Vintage Wedding Dresses

Today I'm totally delighted to tell you all about the beautiful online Vintage Bridal Boutique and blog Ooh! Mrs James. The boutique is full of seriously pretty vintage and alternative wedding dresses and the best thing is most of them are under £400! You can buy them online here or by private appointment. Jackie who runs the boutique and blog answers some of my nosy questions about her lovely business and her very pretty dresses..

Tell us about what you do and what services do you offer? 

I own a blog helping couples find the perfect wedding supplier for their big day needs and since 2012 have run a vintage and vintage inspired online bridal boutique. I offer advice on how to find your perfect dress and offer private appointments at my home.

How long have you been doing what you do & how did you get into it?

I launched my blog at the beginning of January 2012 and started the dress boutique in November of the same year. After I got married in August 2011 a friend of my husbands contacted me to help her find a vintage dress as she was inspired to go vintage after seeing our wedding pictures. After giving her a list of places as long as my arm and off the top of my head, my husband leant over and told me I should be doing this for a living. The blog started as a way for me to help fellow vintage and alternative brides to be help find independent suppliers that would help make their wedding day perfect (and affordable!). The dress shop started after I visited a lot of wedding fairs for the blog and realising that there was a need for more affordable vintage dress sellers. I went to a wedding fair in Chelsea where the dresses were falling to bits so you couldn't try them on and cost over £1000, that was my main motivation to set up my own shop and bring beautiful gowns in great condition to the masses!

What makes your business stand out from the crowd? 

I think each business is special in its own way, mainly due to the people behind the company. I think I bring great passion to my shop and the gorgeous dresses I have in stock. People often tell me my brain is a goldmine of information on where to get great vintage pieces and coordinating my dresses with beautiful accessories from other suppliers, so I'm great at putting a whole outfit together. I think the key to making independent business work is to work with and recommend other suppliers that compliment your own shop. I believe what comes around goes around!

My favourite era is the 1950s and I have a lot of wedding dresses from this era. Wedding dresses were made using machine made lace because of the rationing on silks and the rise of modern factory technology. This makes the dresses cheaper in terms of fabrics without losing any of the beauty away from the design and it also makes them longer lasting. Wedding dresses were carefully packed away after the wedding day and therefore kept in great condition. Some dresses suffer from terrible stains and tears which is why I carefully cherry pick my stock and lovingly repair each piece, bringing them back to their former glory. This attention means that I can buy for a good price in the first place from someone who is not willing to put in the time and effort restoring them, which means I can pass this saving onto my brides.

What’s the best thing about doing what you do? 

I love helping people! It sounds really cheesy but I love it when I've put time and effort into finding a bride to be THE ONE and get a real thrill when they decide to take one of my dresses home! I will always try to go the extra mile for my customers and get great satisfaction when it all goes right. I recently heard from a lady in Australia who I helped find bridesmaid dresses for in 2013, it was a great feeling that after she married she thought to get in contact to thank me for all my help and share her pictures with me.

Do you have a money-saving tip for Brides & Grooms to be? 

Be savvy, shop around and get lots of quotes from people. A great way of saving money is to get married during the week and ask your chosen venue if someone is getting married there just before you, you may be able to save money on marquee erection and even decoration if the other couple wants to save money by going halves on the flowers for example.
Don't scrimp on your wedding photography, it could be your worst mistake if you do! Sit down and decide what things are most important to you and compromise on everything else in your budget planning. Buy vintage! Its cheaper!

If there is anything you have in mind but I don't have it in stock please ask anyway! There is a surge of interest in 60s short wedding dresses at the moment, which I don't really stock, I am happy to help you source a dress that you have in mind. I also sell reproduction 1920s dresses which are all under £400 and make stunning alternative wedding dresses!

{Photography by: Nicki Feltham Photography}

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

DIY: Photobooth style magnetic save the dates

Today's post was submitted by Kerry from Lace & Teacups, a bride to be blogging about her wedding planning adventures. These are the save-the-dates that she's made for her wedding and I think they are incredibly cute and super cheap to make too!

Things you will need:

*A ruler
*Glue stick
*Photo paper
*Coloured A4 card
*Printable labels
*Self-adhesive magnetic strip
*Washi tape

Cut the card so that it is 25cm wide
Mark out 7cm sections and fold on the lines

Glue along the edges of 2 of the sections and fold onto each other (creating a pocket) 

Fold over the corners of the remaining section leaving a space, roughly 1cm underneath
Cut off the corner and fold over twice, glueing as you go 
Continue around the top so you have a neat edging of 1cm. The envelope is now done!

Take some photos on your camera or smartphone against a blank wall or make your own backdrop. We used a mini blackboard that I picked up from The Works for our save the dates but you could use any thing you like! We then used an amazing website called Photoboother which allows you to upload your pictures for FREE and it formats it to look like it was taken in a photobooth! So easy! Print onto photo paper and hey presto! 

Cut the magnetic strip into sections and attach to the reverse of your photo. Use the labels to add additional info about the venue etc

Pop into the envelope! 

Use the washi tape as a cute way to seal the envelope! (If putting in the post, I would recommend using glue to seal the envelope first.)
So that's it! Our easy, cost effective Save the Dates in 11 simple steps!!  

Monday, 24 February 2014

Shop Local: buying local produce for your wedding

Today we've been chatting to Kenny Pang who along with Paul Richardson, runs The Shef's Table. Based in Sheffield {but always happy to travel} Kenny & Paul have over 30 years combined experience in catering weddings, sports, events, fundraising events and even movie premiers.

They provide a totally bespoke service tailored to your budget, creating anything from casual buffets to themed fine dining experiences. I asked Kenny if he could write a post for the blog about the benefits of buying local produce for your wedding if you are buying in catering or indeed self catering your day... {over to you KP}

If you are thinking or have chosen to provide your own food in your wedding you may be thinking about where’s best to buy your ingredients. With the numerous supermarket superstores making it easy and convenient to shop, when you’re planning the most important day of your life there may be a few other things worth considering.


Generally, local food tastes better! Really? Really. Local foods are fresher and in season. There is a difference between the taste of a freshly picked apple compare to one picked 4 months ago, factory washed, stored in an industrial fridge and driven hundreds of miles. Eating locally also means eating seasonally. Locally, naturally grown produce are packed with flavour. There is no comparison between a locally grown tomato to an artificially gas ripened one. You know the one I’m talking about, the one that’s been pumped full of water, the one you leave untouched on the plate the last time you had a salad in that pub. Eating seasonally means that that you have to do without certain produce in certain times of the year. This does mean that after waiting 9 months the taste of that strawberry will taste even sweeter!


You may be aware that eating local may reduce the need to import produce from thousands of miles away. That’s a lot of carbon footprint for a few sprigs of thyme. But buying local also helps maintain the farmland and green space.


The fewer steps there are between your food's source and your table the less chance there is of contamination. Also, when you know where your food comes from and who grows it, you know a lot more about that food.


Your local supermarket may have some classic tomatoes, maybe some cherry tomatoes, a couple of vine tomatoes and some overly packaged beef tomato. Go to your local farmers market and you’ll know what I mean. You get Ferlines, Gardeners, Sweet Millions, Tornados, Tumblers, Alicante, etc. All types of produce in a variety of colours and flavours. Local foods tend to create a greater variety of foods available

Support your local economy 

Money spent with local farmers and growers and independent shops means that the money all stays close to home. It works to build your local economy instead of being handed over to a corporation in another city or country. Since the food moves through fewer hands, more of the money you spend tends to get to the people growing it. Knowing where your food is from connects you to the people who raise and grow it. Instead of having a single relationship - to a big supermarket - you develop smaller connections to more food sources. All of the sudden you know vendors at the farmers market, the buying manager at the local cheese shop, the butcher at your favourite meat counter. For some people, this may not be a benefit, for others the benefit of this is social and psychological; for all of us, though, it pays off in the foods we eat. People who know you tend to want to help you, whether it's giving you a deal on rack of lamb, save you a wedge of special cheese or hunt do the bottle of whiskey you’ve been searching for.


With the wedding to plan for, the cost savings may be the most interesting point for you. It would be misleading to say that buying from local suppliers would definitely save you money. This will be dependent on who you buy from and the time and effort you invest in as well. The key is buying straight from the producer. One difference between a local farmer and your local supermarket is that you can barter. The farmer is use to it so don’t feel shy to try. You will most likely be buying in bulk in a wedding and the farmer would be keen to strike a deal. When dealing with specialist shops, inform of your needs in advance, this means that they can pre-order and can negotiate on prices themselves with their suppliers as well. Use your supplier’s knowledge by telling them what you want and see whether they can recommend alternatives, it might end up cheaper and better than what you had in mind.

At the end of the day, use your wedding and tug on the heartstrings to get yourself a bargain.

{Photogrpahy: Diamonds & Doodles: Sheffield Wedding Photography}

Saturday, 22 February 2014

DIY guestbook

For my first DIY post {the wedding rings didn't count really as you'll need and experts help} I thought I'd share something really simple... {Also something really cheap to make so it doesn't matter if you mess it up}

Guestbooks are a lovely thing to have as a memento of your wedding day but they often get forgotten in the excitement of the day and there are usually many blank pages left at the end.  It's only a little thing but you'll be glad you had one and is almost as nice to look through from time to time after your wedding had long since passed as your photos...

There are loads of guestbooks out there on the market, from the ones you can buy from places like hobby craft to some really fancy expensive ones designed by wedding stationers.  But if you don't want to have the same simple guestbook as everyone else out there then get out your scissors and glue and lets jazz one up!

What you'll need:
1 sketch book
assorted pieces of card or paper
double sided sticky tape
fine liner pen
a few assorted mini envelopes
2 pieces of ribbon {equal length} 

Start with the cover; for this one I've used some white card to contrast with the brown paper book and drawn a super simple little design with the bride & grooms names on. I always use double sided tape when creating things from paper as glue can often seep through paper and make ink bleed...

Open the book up to the inside cover and with a small piece of double sided tape stick the end of one of your pieces of ribbon down. To make sure that it's extra secure I always add a piece of card over the top, slightly larger than the ribbon, again stuck down with double sided tape. Now flip over to the back inside cover and do the same with your 2nd piece of ribbon on the back to fasten.

So to make your guestbook a bit more enticing to write in than a ream of blank paper try adding some of these details...

Stick down little envelopes filled with mini cards and tags with little hand written notes on that say things like "words of wisdom" or "write us a note" these act as great little prompts for people to scribble down their thoughts and are a lot less scary than a big blank page.
I always struggle with what to write in a guestbook that actually means something and isn't super cheesy so I often draw a little picture instead! To make that prospect a bit more inviting to others, on some pages, stick down little frames cut from contrasting paper.

Leave your guestbook in a prominent place and make yourself a little sign to let people know its there and you would like them to write in it {yes people really do need that much direction} also to make it a bit more interesting why not set it out on a little desk with a pot of various pens and crayons, a pile of stickers, post it notes and other scrapbooking bits and bobs {tip:stick to dry media e.g. pencil crayons and fine liner pens, don't put paint out or you'll regret it!}

{Pro Shots: Diamonds & Doodles Sheffield Wedding Photographer}

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Real Wedding: Matt & Claire

Matt and Claire married in Birmingham's Jewellery quarter at St Pauls Church on the 20th July, Matt was in his full military uniform and Claire wore a dress that she had made herself, with a little help from her friends. I think this is just such a lovely thing to do and that more people should give it a try. Time was that members of the family would craft the brides dress but making your own seems to have gone out of fashion these days. Clare didn't really have any dress making experience to speak of and saying that neither did I really but I made my own wedding dress too. Making your own means you can get exactly the shape and fit you want and all without shelling out a small fortune for a bespoke made gown (though don't get me wrong if I had the spare cash I know a couple of amazing dress designers I'd happily throw it at)...
(Photography Diamonds & Doodles: Sheffield Wedding Photographer)  

Top money saving marks for:
Claire making her own wedding dress
DIY maid of honour dress
Making their own wedding rings 
Choosing gorgeous high street shoes
Matt wearing his military uniform
Growing & picking flowers from the garden for bouquets and having a florist arrange them 
Choosing a ceremony only option from their photographer

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