Friday, May 20, 2016
Friday, July 24, 2015
|Northern Flower on Tib St.|
|Jane's Floral Mood Board on 'Hitched'|
|The Crystal Suite, Britannia Hotel, Portland St. Manchester|
As a girl I dreamed of marrying my Prince in a Fairytale Castle. Well having found Prince Martin, The Britannia, Portland Street is the nearest a girl can get to a latter day city castle. It comes complete (quite literally) with turrets, immense kitchens, banqueting halls and a truly grand staircase. So where does the boho touch come in?
Here's the shock; I don't want a bouquet of white roses. White roses have become a wedding cliche. I do like them. My mother had red roses but I wanted something alternative with a little seasonal October flair; I wanted snowberries.
Snowberries? Snowberries are a delightful wintery, magical and incredibly pretty alternative for white winter wedding bouquets. My wedding is on October 28th this year, not in the very heart of the season but on the threshold. I wanted to add a unique and quirky boho touch to my bouquet for the boutonnieres and my bridesmaid's posies. Here's the sort of things I have in mind:
Snowberries combine well with so many other white flowers; lilies, spray roses and a little greenery to give a beautiful textured wintery romance to an October wedding bouquet. It's such a lovely idea.
So how did I go about achieving all of this. I didn't want any ordinary florists's shop. Cue Northern Flower in Manchester's Northern Quarter. Imagine a cute, quirky little boutique florist's, a potting shed style shop on Tib Street. It stands next to Sugar Junction; one of my fave tea shops and is staffed by Rowan and Lyndzey. Nothing was too much trouble and I got the friendliest service when I went there to discuss floral arrangements. My previous forays into flower shops have left me underwhelmed, frustrated that we weren't on the same wavelength. My experience has been shops that are sterile, over clever and immaculately arranged, who try to impose their own preconceived ideas on you. My experience at Northern Flower was the opposite, completely different, helpful and incredibly easy. I left feeling happy and even closer to the wedding of my dreams.
|Lyndzey and Rowan|
So what next? I'm sure you can imagine; centrepieces, menus, groomsmen, favours, honeymoon arrangements, hairstyles....so much to blog about!
Jane (the soon to be Mrs Williams ;) xx
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
This is a defining moment for me. I'm now a very different person to the shy, diffident girl who penned her first blogging effort back in 2011. My eighth post online ever was entitled 'Wedding Belle Blues'. In that piece I mused about relationships and what the future might hold. Now I'm planning my wedding! That is one very special journey for me but how different is it to anyone elses?
I've found myself increasingly aware that most of us Brides have so much in common. I look around me and find that suddenly, everyone seems to be newly married or a Bride to Be. From being scared to be 'left on the shelf' I'm now on 'cloud nine'. I love being me, I'm happy, I have friends, a job, a social life, a family, a 'husband to be' and now.....
I have bridesmaids....
Such an iconic photo! I totally love that film. The photo: totes amazeballs, I must get one taken of me and my maids like that. Here, hold the camera, stand over there, hang on a minute, we won't be a sec....just a few little probs to smooth out....
Choosing an MoH and Maids is:
PROBLEM No. 1. There are all manner of articles about this onlin, including algorithms and decision trees (for the project management minded) and good old fashioned Mumsy advice for more spontaneous Bride.
I started off with two maids. Talking to other brides and friends at work, it seems that's how it usually begins. Having two bridesmaids keeps things nice and simple: There are only two dresses to buy, two posies to arrange for, two sets of accessories and presents. Apparently it hardly ever stays that way.
It hasn't. First there is J a colleague at work; confidential, wonderfully supportive, recently married and full of good advice and good ideas. She wouldn't be my MoH on the day but was happy to do everything else. This lead to me asking: G: a best friend from school, I sang with her, she's very organised, a Girl Guide leader and now my MoH. Only one maid in a dress on the day? That won't do, which lead me to ask: K a co-worker and total girl like me. She is savvy, clever, very petite and a great friend.
Still, on reflection, 2 barely seemed enough which lead to me asking S. She is a fab, fun loving friend with a smile that can light up a whole room, she lives 2 hours away in the Midlands, she's always wanted to be a bridesmaid. Now I'm begining to wonder whether 3 maids on the day isn't a little lop sided...wouldn't it be better to ask another,( J, my longtime hair stylist and friend) to join us and make it an even 4? OMG what am I getting myself into!
Those of you who've been involved in weddings before will know that bridesmaids come in ALL shapes and sizes from petite and pint sized to curvy and womanly. So...
PROBLEM No. 2 is finding a dress to suit everyone. That's where I am now. I had visions of everyone in floor length strapless chiffon gowns but there's no way THAT's going to happen! My choice of navy blue has gone down very well. It's flattering for most people and not so bridesmaidy that you can't wear it again afterwards. We've settled on Tea length for now....I think (hence the picture above). There is some uneasiness amongst some about bare arms....but I'm hoping for the best. The last thing I want is anyone feeling uncomfortable or wearing a dress they hate. So now to get the dresses bought. That brings me to....
PROBLEM No. 3: My maids are scattered all over the UK...Yorkshire, Worcestershire, Anglesey, Denbighshire, Conwy...Convinced it would be impossible to get everyone together to go shopping ANY time soon, I've gone down the road of ordering 'prêt-à-porter' from a major supplier and having them delivered to try on. Problems abound: We all, (myself included) consider ourselves a size smaller than we really are, especially when it comes to weddings. Sending items back and re-odering new sizes becomes hideously complicated when one person pays but another takes delivery (wedding suppliers...GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER!) We're in the process of doing all of this now. I'll let you know when we're done!
You're okay standing there holding that camera aren't you? You might be waiting a little while!
(the soon to be Mrs Jane Williams)
Monday, June 1, 2015
One of the downsides of being Cinderella is that until your life takes off, it can be REALLY depressing. All those years dating guys who turn out to be total jerks can make you a trifle cynical and despondent. In the end you never imagine falling in love, maybe 'Friends with Benefits is a better option.....and then KABAM!
Cue the Dreamboat...
Those of you who know Martin, my fiancé, will understand what I'm getting excited about. For those who don't, suffice it to say that Mum never told me men like him existed...he's a total guy but incredibly caring and loving too: A guy who is so practical and yet romantic as well. Before he came into my life, I missed him so so much. Now he's with me I'm NEVER ever letting go.
So, these days at work there are SO many question. 'Jane: Have you named the day? Arranged the venue? Got the dress? Chosen your bridesmaids? Decided on your theme?
Yes to all of the above and yet the excitement still mounts...the date is 28th October this year, the venue is The Britannia Hotel Manchester, the dress is err...shhhhh (don't tell the groom), the theme; stylish city nuptials; white, gold, the bridesmaids will have navy blue dresses. It's only now I've sorted out these things that I've begun to see how much there is still to do. There are things to buy, collect, borrow and beg, so much to arrange!
Some of these things are WAY more important than others.
All Brides, myself included tend to focus on THE DRESS. But the BIG problem is we don't always think about what goes underneath. It was Coco Chanel I think who said 'Fashion is architecture, it is a matter of proportions.' Proportions and shape are so important. My dress is A-line. It has a gorgeous outward sweep and fullness that makes you feel like a Princess....except it won't if it doesn't have something underneath to hold it out.
Cue the hoop petticoat....
Hoop petticoats consist of layers of tulle over a lining material. Sewn into the lining are casings for circular boning to form a hoop shape. A petticoat can have one or more hoops of varying sizes. They are usually adjustable to suit the dress. However, hoop petticoats are ridiculously expensive costing upwards of £70-85, I have blown my budget buying a £1,400 dress, can I make savings elsewhere so that I can afford one?
Gumtree is an online classified ads site. Friends had suggested it, other Brides had heaped praise on it, I wasn't sure. Memories of wading through lists of closely printed local newspaper ads came to mind. It's so tedious. Would there really be anything out there? I had a very clear idea of what I wanted, I could even see it in my mind's eye.
So what should I do? try Ebay? I can't do with that whole online auction thing. I wanted to find someone LOCAL, see what I'm getting before I buy and talk to the seller at first hand. Wouldn't it just be easier to fork out for something full price, even if it means doing without something else?
Then it occurred to me: All over my area, girls like me are getting married, THOUSANDS of them, all enjoying their special day and wearing everything, once? Somewhere out there, not far away, there must be dozens of nearly new wedding items and Brides who want to pass them on. I decided to give Gumtree a go, so glad I did as it happens.
Creating a Gumtree account was easy, I did that online in my coffee break at work. Unlike some annoying sites, Gumtree works really well on my iPad and iPhone meaning that I could keep looking and searching in odd moments at work. There WAS no laborious sifting. I found that I could search on particular items, 'Hoop slip' revealed any number of results, many with photos. Though some of these were in places like Nottingham and Middlesborough with 'collection only' in the description, I found I could narrow my search down to a 50 mile radius. I travel regularly to and from Manchester. Was there anywhere en route? Chester, Runcorn, Warrington?......Bingo!
A lady near Warrington had something that sounded promising...a Jupon hoop petticoat, the sort I'd looked at before but dismissed as too pricey. The photo she provided however didn't give much away. In the picture the skirt was rolled up in a bag. Seeing a link to email the seller Claire, I dashed off a quick line asking for more information. By the time I was on my afternoon tea break she had replied, promising to post more photos that evening. By the following morning I was making arrangements to call in that Saturday and look at the skirt. She even sent me her postcode, I put it in my Maps app: Brilliant only a few miles out of my way. By then, I was also hooked on Gumtree searches. veils, fascinators, tiaras....there was so much out there and at a fraction of the price I had been expecting to pay. Fast forward to Saturday.
Cue the Dreamboat again...
Yes, he drove me to Warrington on our way to a weekend away. Leaving him in the car outside Claire's home, I was invited in to see the petticoat (pictured above). 'Oops, I must have worn it with the tag still attached', she laughed. She only wanted £20; an incredible bargain. Claire had other things for sale too; children's toys. I had therefore expected someone young, not a similar age to myself. It turned out we were both 'Encore Brides', both having married very young with grown up kids. She had remarried, to the guy of her dreams and started a brand new family. She too had worn a lovely A-line dress.
'Second Time Around' is always the best, she said with a smile, and, talking about her second family: 'You never know, maybe you next?'. It made me smile so much. Not only had I found EXACTLY what I needed and wanted, I felt I had made a friend, not the sort of experience I'd have enjoyed if I'd have gone to a Bridal shop!
'Don't look Darling', I said to my fiancé as I hid 'the item' under a rug on the backseat of the car. It wouldn't have done to have him see it and guess the sort of dress I would be wearing, (fortunately he knows little about such things). 'It looks like a dead dog' he observed laughing...and indeed for several days, until it got hidden away safely, 'The Dead Dog', became it's name. Yesterday I persuaded one of my bridesmaids to photo me wearing it (as above). The press stud on the waist needs moving a little bit but that is all. I'm so pleased with the dog....err I mean petticoat!
Will I use Gumtree again? Most definitely! I have so many other bits and pieces that I want to buy and Gumtree's classified ads are certainly the best place to find them, at the right price and local to me. Moreover, once I'm happily married it looks like the best and most convenient market place to sell some of my Bridal stuff.....and toddler toys? We'll have to wait and see about that one lol,
(the soon to be Mrs Jane Williams)
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
My Dream Wedding Dress
I've scarcely ever set foot inside a wedding boutique. I did once as a little girl when a friend of Mum's was getting married. Being small it all seemed very grown up and sophisticated, princessy and glamorous. Sadly I was just simply tagging along with Mummy not being asked to be a flower girl. Hopes of being asked to be a bridesmaid throughout my later childhood and teens were wishful thinking but at least I could draw pretty pictures of fantasy wedding dresses. It was nice to imagine the gown I would choose if I ever did get married and to dream of being a bride.
Inevitably, given the generation I grew up in, glamour and society weddings fed a lot of my dreams. That includes my ideas about a wedding dress. I wish I had kept some of my drawings in a keepsake box: They would be interesting to see now. My dress designs included lots of lace. They started off as ball gowns like Cinderella's: Princessy creations that would have meant a double door entrance just so I could fit through! In time, the sort of retro movies my mother made me me fascinated with clinging, lacy, beaded dresses, beautiful couture and expensive jewellery.
As a grown woman thinking about my dream wedding dress, I realised that most of those ideas were still there. On Pinterest, my 'Wedding Dress Inspiration' board is full of exclusive, high end designer dresses following that 'Hollywood Glamour' trend. Sheath dresses feature very highly, lace and beading, low backs, wide shoulder straps and V necklines. There are very few strapless gowns, little satin and taffeta, no A-line silhouettes and certainly NO ruching.
Total Miss ControlFreak that I am, I did my homework, created a mood board, set a budget, talked to other Brides and took advice. I researched shops and designers, I booked appointments. I was clear in my mind what I didn't want....(as above)...., no train (or maybe just a sweep train), no strapless gowns, no A-line silhouettes and definitely NO ruching....it was a mantra to be recited to make sure I got what I wanted.
So, a recent Saturday saw myself and a very good friend from work, heading to the City of Chester to fulfil this mission.
Chester is across the border in England, almost exactly an hour by train: The county town of Cheshire, pretty much the 'Surrey of the North', Chester's streets are host to a wide selection of wedding boutiques, most of them rather expensive looking! Well the day started well, coffee more coffee and yet more coffee (was that wise? - what about peeing?) then we started on the shops. 'This is going to be easy' I thought' as we started to place coloured bobbins on hangers of dresses I wanted to try. I rejected any dress that was either too expensive or had any of the attributes listed above. In the first shop there were still seven I really liked to try on. The day was stop start bridal shopping punctuated by lunch with wine and then more shopping. I was in seventh heaven. I'd been looking forward to this day for so, so long!
But how was it? Well, forget your existing changing room experiences in New Look or Debenhams. You WILL need help. Nobody gets into a wedding gown unaided. This is the moment when, with an assistant helping you, you are either glad you picked out a nice bra and knicker set to put on that morning....or you feel embarrassed. I was so glad I had bought mine previously, another thing my groom hasn't seen (yet). Choose something you would wear on your wedding day even if you later find something better.
Wedding Dresses either have to be stepped into or go over your head with your arms above your head. Depending on the dress, it will fasten with a variety of lacings, fabric covered buttons or zips. You may need to wear a dress hoop or hoops to hold the dress in shape. You won't be able to do any of this on your own! Putting on a bridal gown is a process that either transports you back to childhood memories of Mummy putting you into pretty party dresses or maybe even the 18th century. Be prepared to feel laced in place, stand patiently while being attended to and become a Princess!
Once you have tried on at least seven dresses it becomes serious. Fortunately, my friend was on hand to take lots of photos, front AND back (you do want to know how you'll look from behind don't you?). She was amazing. Telling me what she thought, asking me what I thought, making suggestions....I couldn't have done it without her. At the end of the day however, roughly 20 dresses later it was difficult to remember the first ones and the best ones. There tended to be two I had really liked in each shop and one total favourites not each place. I visited 2 shops and was still undecided when I reached the third and last one.
In the last store, Berkertex Bride, we had the benefit of Chris, a knowledgeable assistant who worked really hard to help. Here was where I left my comfort zone and began to think more clearly. Based on my selections, Chris suggested other dresses and more importantly encouraged me to try things I had ruled out. She persuaded me to try on a tea length dress, ruched ones, ones with court trains and yes, even strapless gowns! I confronted many of the things I thought I didn't like. I tried on veils and tiaras, princess gowns and A line ones and was amazed at what I saw.
We often say 'save the best till last' without really thinking much about it. Brides sometimes say, you will KNOW when you find that special gown, the one you HAVE to have. I was a little sceptical about this: I often have trouble deciding on a restaurant or dinner, let alone dresses! Even so, one of the last dresses I tried really captivated me. I asked to try it again after all the others. This was the gown that changed me. It turned on my head almost every idea I had about what I wanted. This was the one I put on and thought, 'this could be IT!'. In all the dresses I tried, this was the design that made me feel right; a dress to say 'I do' in; the one I could imagine myself wearing on my special day and that 'future Mrs Williams' dress!
Pause for thought, something practical and sensible inside made me want to review ALL the possibilities. We retired to a local pub where we'd enjoyed lunch and began to work our way through a bottle of Freixenet. There is nothing quite like cool intoxicating Cava (unless it's Prosecco) for freeing your up mind and helping you make a decision. I came to realise in that moment that although buying a wedding dress is a major purchase it is unique. Wedding gowns are totally special, unlike any other garment you've ever had and meant for a truly memorable day marking the beginning of a new life. This is not the time for 'this one is a little cheaper than the other' or 'this would go better with shoes I already have'....
With that sudden realisation came the admission that I REALLY wanted this dress! Then there was the mad scramble to return to the shop. The door was locked but they opened up especially for us. Was it a sign? I like to think it was.
Returning home on the train I don't think I have ever felt quite such a sense of achievement (and yes I do have a PhD). It felt so good to have found what I was looking for (even though I was looking for something else!)
To those of you who want photos you will simply have to wait until after the wedding. No way am I risking my H2B getting a sneak peak at my dress. Like you, he'll just have to bide his time and be surprised. I'm so looking forward to seeing the look on his face.
Jane xx (Miss Jane Ward for now - well until 28 October)
Thursday, September 4, 2014
The 'Statement Jacket', that fashion piece that can transform an outfit and change it's tone entirely....I love them. Wear a beautiful dress and you can look fabulous, team it with a denim jacket plus a pair of Converse to give you edgy and street. The next time you want to wear something more stylish to a weekday lunch date, just try it. Another pairing I love is my work blazer....err hang on...work blazer? Yes I confess, I'm totally addicted to bodycon dresses....they can kinda look a little racy for work but team one with a blazer and hey 'I'm Miss Ward. How can I help you?'
Blazers don't have to look corporate: Take the same jacket out on one of those cool damp city shopping days when you're wearing jeans; so versatile.
Tired of wearing black? Faux leather doesn't have to be chic biker either. Think colours. Think neon brights :)
This gorgeous orange version came from Pull and Bear.
In fact, what I love about my jackets is their ability to be a cardigan substitute, coat, fashion accessory and utter complement to what might otherwise be a naff outfit choice. Take a romper for instance: I just love the way that styling it with a faux leather jacket takes off any unwanted throwback to childhood. Romper on it's own; little girl: Romper with jacket; all grown up! If in the end you're still not sure what to wear you can always slip on.....yes you've got it....
Friday, June 13, 2014
OMG it's warm again, the Summer is finally here and you might get to leave those tights off for once! A girl gets kinda restless this time of year and longs for something different. I’ve been spending the Winter rocking black tights, shorts & block heeled ankle boots. It’s a look I love but the rising mercury makes me want to leave that behind and reach for something sassy and cool.
Enter the Romper (or Playsuit as we prefer to call it over here in the UK). Dare you wear one? Not sure? For some of us, the last time we wore Rompers was when we were little girls. They had handy poppers underneath for when Mummy needed to change you LOL.
For those of you old enough to remember you might also clock that like most things fashion wise they’re a vintage idea recycled. Do you remember these?
Kinda cute and carefree or at least that’s what the fashion plate wanted you to think. I have to confess, my last foray into playsuits was in a period of my life obsessed with vintage clothing. I bought a retro inspired one from VOH. Somewhat like the one below. (Vivien of Holloway online http://www.vivienofholloway.com/women-c70/trousers-c14/playsuits-c44 or from their store in Holloway (£59.00))
These days however when you think of playsuits, something more like Rita Ora’s gorgeous red snakeskin number springs to mind. Doesn’t she just totally rock on the cover of ‘I will never let you down'?
But what about the rest of us? Take a look out there and Playsuits are everywhere. From pretty florals to bright summer neon prints and denim, Playsuits are everywhere, with a variety of necklines and fits from boho to chic. As for me I fell for this totes adorbs AX Paris one in the label lounge section of Liverpool ONE's New Look store.
Okay I know that there's a price to pay and I don't mean the tag lol. Going to the loo means getting undressed...err....totally: Once my boyfriend closes the back zipper on this one and fastens the hook and eye at the top I'm utterly captive and can't even go to the loo without his help! If you're going to a Festival and have to face portaloos or worse you might want to choose a front zipper or something else. Even so I still love the playsuit.
So what is so special? I totally adore them when summer comes because you can get away with a hemline way shorter than any dress or skirt in your closet. You can bend over or sit down without showing all you've got and there's nothing that says summer street style more than a playsuit.
If you want to buy it AX Paris number also comes in a gorgeous neon pink print as well....should I have bought two?
Currently a steal at £25 online or 10% off with an introductory first offer discount, what are you waiting for?