Sunday, 9 June 2013

8 Ideas For Aisle Decorations

What a lovely UK summer we are having! Yesterday I attacked our garden so that we could have a BBQ today, which normally would result in a downpour of typical British rain. This morning however I was greeted by the sun pouring in the window! I hope you are all having a lovely Sunday, wherever you are in the world.

Today's Blog is going to be 8 ideas for aisle decorations. Here are a few ideas I have seen and think are so pretty. 

1) Glass Jars

What I really love about these is how simple yet pretty they are. If you are a flower person and having an outdoor wedding, or a venue with not much room for large flower vases this simple idea gives you the ability to put flowers on your aisle. Clear glass will go with any theme, change the flowers/colour of ribbon and instantly you have a decoration that will fit in with your wedding theme/colour. As I may have mentioned several times, I'm not a big flower person but I think these jars could be filled with a variety of things. Coloured sand for beach weddings, paper confetti, pebbles, petals, whatever takes your fancy.

2) Pew Bows

Bows are commonly used at the end of pews in weddings, what I love about these is once again they are so simple and you can buy these from a wedding decoration company or online quite cheaply. They are available in most colours to suit your wedding and even if you aren't having a church wedding these can easily be attached to most chairs.

3) Bay Trees

This is an idea my husband and I used. We had two at the top of the aisle, and two at the bottom. We tied a red ribbon on them and placed them in ivory plant pots to tie in with our colours. I would have inserted a picture of my own here but I can't find a good shot of them and they are hidden away at the back of our spare room not easily reached I'm afraid! I think bay trees are just so pretty and a lovely alternative to flowers. We were able to take them away and when we are done sorting our home out these will come in to use as house plants. Not always the cheapest idea depending on where you get them, but look around places like B&M, Home Bargains or wholesalers to get good deals. I think ours were about £12/£13 each.

4) Candles
Candles are romantic and the lighting they give is soft. I love the flicker of a candle flame. In the above picture they appear to have put petals in with the candles, which is so pretty and a great way to tie in your flowers/colour theme. Personally I'd probably just go for pillar candles in a large glass vase, but the petals do add a lovely touch. As much as I love this idea, I do also think you would have to have a very wide aisle. The last thing you want is to knock these over with your train. Other than that I think it's pretty and different.

5) Wicker hearts
I love these. So much so, that my husband and I had these for our aisle, we tied them to the chairs with red organza ribbons we had purchased on ebay. They are so simple, and of course hearts will go with any wedding! I purchased mine on ebay, but you can get them on etsy.com, amazon.com and so many other places. Shop around for a good deal. They usually come in plain wicker, white or cream, but if you wanted to and had the time you could buy spray paint and jazz them up a bit. Or why not look for other similar things to hang, such as faux starfish (perfect for a beach wedding) or even a bucket & spade!? The possibilities are endless.

6) Petals
Simple & romantic. Bit of a romantic at heart so this really appeals to me. If you are getting married in a church or other indoor venue be sure to check they don't mind you putting down petals as they will of course have to clean this up. As an alternative you can purchase Petal aisle runners (I think that is what they are called) where material/paper is covered with petals and you lay this on your aisle to walk on. Afterwards this can be rolled up and taken away, so a lot less clean up! 

7) Photos
As an alternative to the glass jars/wicker hearts, why not hang some pictures of you and your husband/wife to be from ribbon? I'm not sure this is something I would have used personally, but I do think it is such a unique idea. A very personal touch to a personal day!

8) Not even sure what to call these... Paper hearts on a stick?

For an outdoor wedding I just think this would be amazing and easily made your self. Just cut out hearts from thick paper/card in the colour of your choice and attach to sticks. Think cocktail sticks or BBQ skewers. Push them in to the ground at various heights lining your aisle. It's incredibly unique, easily adapted to your colour theme and BONUS... Cheap to do!


Well that my 8 ideas I have seen/liked/used. As per all my other wedding blogs, I think it's important to bear in mind where you are having your wedding and to check with any venues what they will or won't allow before you start purchasing anything. It's also a good idea to find out what will already be put in place for you. Some churches will have flowers there already and some venues will provide organza bows & ribbons in their packages. Check with your venue before you purchase anything. Within the limits that your venue and the budget you set yourself, I say anything goes! It's your wedding day so do what you want and what makes you and your partner happy! 


I hope this has given you some ideas and got those creative juices flowing! I also hope that you all enjoyed reading this. If you have any requests or comments please leave them in the comments box below or Email me. I'd also love to hear what you guys choose for your wedding day so let me know, or send me pictures :)

I'm off to have a BBQ with my husband & best friend now, I have no idea what my next blog will be, but I'm thinking maybe gift ideas for bridesmaids/groomsmen? 

As always, thanks for reading! 
Rachel xoxo

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Seating your guests - Tips on Table Planning

There will come a time in your wedding planning, usually around 1 month before your wedding, that your venue/caterers/decoration companies will require final numbers of guests, a seating plan and details of where you want any extra tables (for cakes/gifts etc). 

This was one of the tasks I found a little daunting, it sounded like a lot of hard work, but once I sat down and got organised it wasn't any where near as difficult as I expected it to be. Read on for my hints & tips on planning where to put your guests and how to get all those final details pinned down in time.

  • My first tip starts with your invitations. Make sure that you request RSVP's by 3 months prior to the date of your wedding. Although this may seem very early on and way in advance of when you need the figures, it will save you any headaches later on. This gives you time to chase up any late replies. It also means you can ensure you meet your minimum head count requirements. Most venues will have a minimum amount, and if you do not have this amount they will apply a room charge. For example, my venue required a minimum of 50 day guests and 100 evening. If when we supplied our final numbers we were short of this amount, they would apply a £250 charge to our final bill. This should have been explained when you signed the contract with your venue, but if you are unsure call your venue & double check to avoid a nasty surprise when you get your final bill.
  • Also, don't forget to ask for any allergies or specific dietary requirements on your invites. We had a set menu, but if you are offering a choice then you will need to request the choice is given at the time of RSVP. If you include this on your plan it makes it a lot easier for the venue/caterers when they are serving the meal.
  • Find out from your venue what size/shape tables they offer and any room layouts they use. If they regularly do weddings they will more than likely be able to tell you what will work best for the amount of guests you have. Bear in mind their recommendation doesn't have to be used, so don't be afraid to ask if you have a specific idea in mind. 
  • Start off working out how many tables you will need in total and roughly how many guests per table you will have. Each table may have a slightly different amount of guests on it, but try to keep them as even as possible. To give you an idea I calculated it like this: I had 52 guests in the day. 10 were on my top table, leaving 42 guests to seat. I put 8 on table 1, 10 on table 2, 8 on table 3, 10 on table 4, 6 on table 5. It wasn't the same on each table as certain couples, or groups had to be sat together but it worked out with a nice distribution across the room.
  • Next draw on a piece of paper how your tables will be laid out, leaving plenty of room to write names. Here's how mine looked before the names were applied:
  • You don't have to have the same lay out, you could have rows of long rectangular tables for your guests, a round top table, square tables, all the tables in a arch, or pretty much what ever you want within reason. Put this in to a simple plan as above, showing exactly how you want the tables laid out, including where you want the cake, gift table, guest book etc.
  • Traditionally on the top table you would seat the Bride and Groom centrally and then working outwards the parents would sit either side followed by the best man and maid of honour. But you don't have to follow this tradition, if you already have children you may want them on the top table with you, or if you have divorced and remarried parents, you may want your step parents on your table too. Generally you will have about 10 people on the top table. Try and be fair, so if you have a sister or brother on the top table, don't leave out your other half's siblings.
  • Next work through your guest tables. As an example we filled table 1,2 & 3 with our families, table 4 with our dearest friends, and table 5 was good friends & colleagues. I personally felt it was right to have our families on the tables nearest to us, but it's a choice you and you spouse-to-be will need to make together. 
  • Once we had worked out who was going to be on each table I started to think of the logistics. For example, our grandparents I put on the seats closest to us, but facing us so they didn't have to twist around during the speeches and struggle to hear, I surrounded them by their children and grandchildren. Mainly because that's who they want to be sat with, not my younger friends who want to have a giggle and mess about. I put children in between adults and not together on one table separately. If they get tired, or need help with cutting their food (for example) they will want their parents to help, not another child they probably have never met before. You don't have to group your guests in this way, and if there is a family feud, you may find a table of relatives isn't a good idea. But for us we felt it worked well and everyone was sat with someone they knew well so they could have a good natter and not feel left out.
  • Once you have written down where you want each guest sat on the plan it's time to include allergies, menu choices, or other special arrangements. We wrote a key on our plan as follows: C = Child, V = Vegetarian, P = Peanut Allergy, H = High chair. We didn't offer a menu choice but if you did then either use 1 = menu 1 etc or M = meat, F = fish. Next to each person in brackets include the corresponding code. For example my table place was written as - Bride (P). The venue knew I had to have no Peanuts near my plate and knew where I was sat (as if the big white dress doesn't give it away) when bringing out the different courses.
  • I put the plan away for a week and then went back to it to make sure it was exactly how I wanted it. I gave a copy to the venue at our last meeting, and the night before the wedding we went over it with our event co-ordinator to make sure there were no changes.
  • We did our own centerpieces so I didn't include this information on the plan, although our venue were a huge help setting up. If, however, a company are setting up for you, or you have specific table names, variations on decorations for different tables or any other detail you want to be perfect then I suggest you include this on the plan. For example if half your tables are in red, and the other half in gold, then write on the plan which ones are which colour. This will avoid any last minute panics on the day.
  • If you have a decoration company, or someone setting up for you then make sure they get a copy of this seating plan. Even though you can tell companies or little helpers what you want, if it is written down they can refer back to your plan and make sure everything is how you wanted it. It just saves stress, arguments and confusion for all parties involved.
This all may seem common sense, or even rather simplistic, but I looked online and found the best thing was to keep it simple. There were many complicated plans, long blogs and articles on etiquette & tradition but it was too complex. I decided that it was best to keep it simple & include the important information such as dietary requirements. It worked for us, with the venue commenting how thorough yet easy to interpret our plan was. So I suggest you avoid big pin boards and over complicated table lay outs. Simple means less mistakes can be made!

I was lucky that my venue supplied a Table Plan outside the door of our room for guests to check where they were sat. This was part of our package. If you want to make one yourself or if your venue doesn't supply one you can do this to match your theme, without getting overly expensive. If you want my ideas on an actual Seating Plan Board for the Wedding Day then let me know in the comments below. I will do some research and attempt to make one myself before I write a post for you. 

My last piece of advice is, do not get stressed over numbers, who is eating what and who is sitting where. It is your big day, and you are marrying the love of your life. If it makes life easy on you then have a set menu, if someone doesn't turn up then it's not the end of the world. So long as your spouse is there, your wedding is legal and you two are happy then that's what is important. The rest is just added extras.

I hope you enjoyed and I hope it has helped some of you bride/grooms even just a little bit! 

As Always Thanks For Reading :)

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Wedding Day Hair & Make-up - Brideology

Every bride wants to look & feel like a queen on her wedding day. We look for the perfect dress and put a lot of time, effort & money in to our outfits/accessories for the day. It goes without saying that you also want your hair & make-up to be flawless. 

To be perfectly honest, being so laid back I genuinely didn't even think about my hair & make-up to start with. The usual culprits ran through my mind, the dress, the venue, who will we invite etc. But it wasn't until we went to the wedding fayre and I was passed a business card for hair & makeup that I thought to myself can I really afford to budget bride this?

As you know I am all for a bit of D.I.Y. wedding preparation. I did my flower girls hair & attempted to help my bridesmaids with their hair before being shooed away to put my dress on! 


French Plait with Pearls

Despite being a D.I.Y. bride, I am not a make-up artist or a hairdresser. It is one thing putting my neices hair in to a plait, it is completely different styling my hair & doing my make-up well enough to last all day & look good for photos. Which led me on to my next worry. What if I did it wrong? What if I made my self look too bronzed, or not bronzed enough. I would have to live with my wedding pictures forever thinking "Well done Rachel you messed up your eyeliner". Plus there are plenty of things to D.I.Y. in the run up to the wedding. I deserved to have a bit of a pamper morning on my wedding day and have someone else do my hair & make-up. After thoroughly scaring myself at the idea of rubbish wedding pictures and realising just how lovely it would be to have someone do it all for me, I asked around to see if anyone knew of somewhere that was good at doing hair & make-up and was told to try "Brideology". 

Now before I go on to tell you just how amazing they are (because truly I couldn't have asked for better or friendlier service) I am just going to quickly discuss the pro's and con's of having someone else do your hair & make-up. **Also please keep your eyes out for part two coming soon with ideas for hair styles & make-up.**

PROS
  • You don't have to do it!
  • A professional will have better tools & make-up. They know what looks good & can usually match products to your skin tone/eye colour better than you will be able to.
  • These days a lot of services are available for mobile Make Up Artists and/or hairdressers so you don't have to leave your house. You can get ready at home minimising stress.
  • If you have the budget for it, or if your bridesmaids are happy to pay for themselves you can all get pampered together.
  • If you know what you want then of course your stylist can create the look you want. If you aren't sure a professional can help you work it out.
CONS
  • My one & only con is the cost. If you do your make-up yourself or know someone who can do it for you then it will of course be cheaper. But to be honest I think the cost is worth it. Hopefully you will only get married once so treat yourself! 
Just remember, if you D.I.Y. things for your wedding day, shop around and do your research you can & will save a lot of money. The average wedding costs around £13,000. Mine cost about £7,500. You can easily make this kind of saving and when you do you can reward yourself by letting someone pamper you. For me it meant I liked my pictures & felt good about myself all day. Money well spent!!


BRIDEOLOGY - MY THOUGHTS

I looked them up on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Brideology/213267495199?fref=ts
I also checked out their webpage: http://www.brideology.co.uk

Brideology are a Swansea based Hair dressing & Make up professional team. They are mobile so can come to your home or go to your venue for the trial and on your wedding day. Their prices can be found on their website (the link is above) but they are extremely friendly & helpful if you want to ring them and ask about their prices and services. 

The first thing I did was check out the pictures/gallery on Facebook & the website. I wanted to see the work they had done for other brides and I was absolutely amazed. All of their clients make-up was flawless, and the hair styles were like something off a red carpet event. I checked out their prices and decided to give them a call. Straight away Andria (Brideology's very lovely & friendly make-up artist) made me want to book. I didn't have a clue about airbrush make up or anything like that and she was very helpful explaining the difference in how it's applied, how long it lasts etc.

Luckily Brideology were available for the date I wanted so I booked and sent my deposit to secure my booking. 

Being the kind of bride I was, I pretty much knew what 'look' I wanted before I even booked. I wanted curled loose hair (but pinned on the sides to keep it out of my face) and gold/natural make-up. Knowing that I wanted my hair down & curled you would think I would realise I needed hair of a certain length, but no, being me I went and cut it all off about 10 months before my wedding "It will grow back" I told everyone. It didn't though!! So as the time for my trial approached I panicked and then jumped on facebook to message Andria for advice on where I could get hair extensions that wouldn't cost me the earth. Andria was so helpful you wouldn't believe. Not only did she tell me where to get the extensions (Sally's in Swansea) but she also told me how much they would cost and advised me to ask the shop assistant to help colour match me. She told me as soon as I left the shop I couldn't go back if the colour was wrong. I'm so glad she gave me this advice as normally I would pick up any old thing and take it back if it wasn't quite right. Armed with £60 I went & picked up my extensions, which the shop assistant helped me pick out. Good job really as my husband picked out four completely different shades of brown & told me all 4 shades were a match!? Men aye?

On the day of my trial I told Brideology exactly what I wanted and I got exactly that!


 Left - Me full of cold no make up and slightly horrified at the idea of a 'before' picture.

Right - Me after Brideolgy curled my hair & extensions, put my extensions in, & applied my airbrush make-up. (Head band/tiara was mine purchased online for £9.00).



After having the airbrush make-up, and my hair done I got very snap happy and was more than happy to let Mum & Brideology take pictures too. Unlike before hand... that was the one & only before picture allowed! 

I hope my phone camera hasn't let down the standard of Brideology's work. It was flawless and better than I could have imagined. Before the trial I was a bit nervous, but within five minutes of their arrival all my nerves had gone. They were so friendly and helpful, we chatted about my hen-do, my mums make-up, my hubby to be and before I knew it my make-up was all done and the trial was over. They explained exactly how they had made the look & wrote everything down so they could re-create it on my wedding day. They asked me more than once if I was satisfied with the look, it was obvious that they genuinely cared if I was happy with their work which just made me love it even more!

On my wedding day, with "Now that's what I call a wedding" playing in the background (courtesy of my big sister) I sat down to have my make-up & hair done again. I wasn't exactly stressed on my wedding day, even if I do say so myself, I think I managed to stay very calm until the time came to get in the car and head to the church. Even so Brideology were once again so friendly that if I had been nervous I think this would have relaxed me. After applying my make-up and fixing my hair they once again checked that I was happy with it, which of course I was!! I looked stunning once I was all done up! ... and modest too (can you look modest?) 

Also, earlier last year, I had won a free make-over for my Mum with Brideology for Mothers Day. Being kind & helpful Brideology let Mum save her make-over until my wedding day. Mum was over the moon with her make-up. It was natural & elegant, exactly as she asked for.

I genuinely can not sing their praises loud enough. My make-up was still on & my hair was still curled at 2am when the bar finally closed. Looking as perfect as when it was first done at 9am but with a slightly drunk bride underneath! In the run up to the wedding every question I had, every message I sent was always answered promptly, professionally and in a friendly manner. I felt comfortable & relaxed around them and felt it was worth every penny when I look at my pictures and see just how glowing and confident I was!

The one thing I would change? I wish my budget could have afforded my bridesmaids hair & make-up too. But with four bridesmaids & a flower girl I just couldn't. All of my girls looked absolutely stunning and helped each other get ready in the morning. But I do wish I could have treated them to a pamper too after experiencing first hand and seeing how much my Mum enjoyed.

My recommendation? If you are a bride getting married in the Swansea/South Wales area I would recommend you contact Brideology. 10/10 for customer service. 10/10 for helpfulness. 10/10 for trial & wedding day hair and make-up. 10/10 for being such lovely friendly people that made me feel relaxed at what could have been a very stressful time.

Final Comments? Don't forget to go to facebook & like Brideology. Also check out their website. Not getting married? That's OK they also help you get ready for any special occasion including school proms! Check out their website to see the full range of services they provide including spray tanning, microloop extensions and more. 

So that was my experience of being a celeb for the day & incase you couldn't tell I loved it! I really do recommend you that you contact Brideology. If you don't live in South Wales then... move? No I'm joking, that could get expensive. But look around & ask your friends, family & other married type people if they can recommend a service to you.

If you enjoy reading my blog please follow this page. There should be a button on the top right saying "Join this Site" click on there to keep up to date with my blog. Also if you want me to answer any of your questions, do a blog on something you are interested in or just want to say hi then you can email me by clicking HERE. Comment below with any queries, comments or thoughts on hair & make-up services you have used. If you used Brideology let me know just how much you loved them too!

As always thanks for reading! xox

Friday, 29 March 2013

Show some appreciation for your other half! (Wedding Gifts)

In the run up to your wedding day it's very easy to get lost in the last minute arrangements and appointments. It's easy to get stressed out, and panic that things won't turn out exactly as you have planned them. It's equally as easy to loose track of the most important part of your wedding - your husband/wife to be. After all your wedding day is about making a life long commitment to each other, acknowledging the love you have for each other and making a union in the eyes of the law and, if you are religious, in the eyes of your God.

I think it is very important to make sure you take some time out for each other in the run up. Go for a meal together, or have a quiet night in watch a DVD and just enjoy each others company. Remember why you are doing this. As lovely as your dress, make-up, flowers, cake, venue and so on may be, they aren't or at least shouldn't be your motivation for the day.

A mixture of forward planning and my husband kept me very grounded and relaxed in the run up to the wedding. I wanted to continue this laid back approach in the last few days when the final touches were being put in to place and it would have been easy to get very stressed. So my husband and I tried to spend as much time together before the wedding as we could. Nights curled up on the sofa watching DVD's, talking about the future and just generally enjoy each others company. Our budget couldn't afford nights out, but we managed a bottle of wine and some quality time. I think it's important to do this as it brings you back to earth & stops you getting too riled up and bridezilla-ish.

What we also did, that a lot of couples do, is bought each other a gift. I didn't know he was buying me anything & he didn't know I was buying him anything but on the day of our wedding we both received a lovely surprise!

My husband bought me a pearl neckace & earrings, which funnily enough I was going to borrow off my Mum so it worked out very nicely! You can just about see them in this lovely picture of me & my hubby. He also wrote a lovely card which just made my morning. Reading the card he wrote for me & receiving such a thoughtful gift meant the world to me. It left me buzzing with excitement all morning and I felt like a Queen wearing my pearls all day.


For my hubby I had a card made for him with pictures of our special place, first date, and other things that meant a lot to us, including the picture of us that we had put on our save the dates. Inside I wrote him a lovely message that was very long, but I knew would be appreciated. For his gift I selcted a pocket watch.



On the back I had it engraved saying "No more waiting, Love Rachel". The reason being that it is common knowledge amongst my family & friends that my hubby fell for me before I knew it, I kept him in the friend zone waiting for a long time and when we eventually got in a relationship he would remind me that he had been waiting a long time for me haha! I'm a lucky girl that he did wait for me, not many men would have the patience he had with me and I felt it appropriate to acknowledge how lucky I was with this little momento.  I also gave him cuff links the same as the rest of the groomsmen and he keeps both momentos in his little man cave - aka our spare room!

If your budget can't afford a big gift then get a card and write a personal message that will mean a lot to them while they are getting ready and the nerves are beginning to kick in. But if you can factor a gift in to your budget, such as cuff links for men, jewellery for women, flowers, or just something personal that your other half would appreciate then do it. When you can't see each other until you get to the aisle it's a big comfort to know your other half is thinking of you and went through the effort of getting something for you. 

Basically this little post is just to remind you that so long as your wedding is legal, and so long as your other half turns up then all the other stuff is just an added bonus. So if you can put the time in to arranging flowers, food, cakes, cars etc then don't forget to put some time and effort in to making sure your other half feels like a King/Queen on their big day. Spend time with them in the run up, because every moment counts.

The Wedding is a bonus, your marriage is what counts.

I hope you enjoyed reading & that you will enjoy picking out something special for your loved one. 

As always thanks for reading xox

Monday, 25 March 2013

Graze - Box 1 & first impressions

**Disclaimer** Although my first box from Graze was free, this was due to a code I was given by a friend. I have not been given anything by graze in return for a review. The opinions on this blog are my own and I have now paid for my second box. **

Having lost five stone in the 15months prior to my wedding, aiming to loose a few more stone and being a snack fiend, I am always on the look out for tasty but healthier snacks. I know everything is OK for you in moderation but I'm pretty sure if every time I wanted a snack I grabbed a Kit Kat Chunky or a cookie... well it wouldn't be considered "in moderation".

A colleague of mine recently introduced me to graze, showed me some of the snacks she had been sent and gave me a code that enabled me to have my 1st and 5th boxes free. I decided that as mean as the first box was was free I would give it a try and if after a few boxes I wasn't impressed I could always cancel my account with them.

Graze is a British company based in London which sends you four snacks selected at random on either a weekly or fortnightly basis through the mail. They are nutritional/healthy snacks, some are very nutritious & healthy, others may have a bit of a naughty twist but are still generally good for you. There are seeds, nuts, fruits, flapjacks, popcorn, olives, dips and alot more. If you aren't interested in the naughtiness you can select a "Nutrition Plan" which is a box full of their healthiest snacks. If you don't mind having some treats then select a nibble box and you will get a full variety of their snacks.

If you would like to try graze follow this link which will take you to graze with my personal code that will entitle you to try your first box for free. Alternatively you can just go to www.graze.com and input my code of M2KLRWY. Read on for information about graze & my opinions/impressions.

Important Information:
  • Graze will ask you have a nut allergy. If you have a nut allergy they advise you their items are all prepared and packed in the same area so they can't guarantee a nut free product. Best to avoid graze if you have a serious allergy. They state on their FAQ page that people with allergies can remove items containing the ingredient you are allergic to using the bin function, Graze can not however guarantee their products are suitable due to the fact everything is prepared in the same kitchen.
  • Once you sign up you can browse through the entire selection of products. You will notice they all have a default setting of Try. If you don't like certain things you have the option to Bin them which means graze won't ever send you these items. You can also rate everything you are sent so if you don't like it you can Bin it, if it's ok and you dont mind having it again you can Like it, and if you really enjoyed it and want it sent more often you can Love it. You also have the option of ticking a "Try soon" box for those items which tickle your fancy. The more you use the rating system the better and more customised your boxes will be.
  • Each box is £3.89, delivery is always free. Each box contains four items so that's £0.97 per item. Bargain!
  • You can choose weekly or fortnightly deliveries. You can change the frequency later on if you change your mind. You can order additional boxes if you need more, and you can push back deliveries if you want to leave it a bit longer. You can also "Book a Holiday". If you are going away you can make sure no graze boxes are delivered during that time.
  • If you aren't satisfied you can cancel your account at anytime. There's no strings attached, commitments or long term contracts.
  • Go to their FAQ page: https://www.graze.com/uk/help/faqs for more information. There's lots of information on there from the fact they are a British, London based company, to how they are supported by the NHS as part of the 5-A-Day Campaign. Well worth a read.
My First Graze Box

I was impressed to find the box fitted through the letter box so even though I wasn't in my postie could still deliver it. It's a pain going down the sorting office to pick up parcels. Although I must mention here that Graze do offer delivery to your work place if this is more convenient for you.The packaging is 100% biodegradable & 100% recyclable. Not only are the snacks good for you but the packaging is good for the environment.


Inside was a book with all the nutritional information about my lovely hand picked box, some vouchers with my code to pass on to friends and a little book with more information about Graze.


As I chose nibble boxes I get a good variety of treats and box number one impressed me before I even tasted the treats. It just looked so good!

The treats I received were:-

Natural Vanilla Seeds - Vanilla Sunflower & Vanilla Pumpkin seeds - 172 calories. These were probably my least favourite item from the box, but I still enjoyed. There was quite a large portion which was filling so I ate half for my morning snack and finished it off for my afternoon snack. Quite nice. 7/10. Like

Toffee Apple - Granny Smith Apple Slices with a sticky toffee sauce - 68 calories. Wow! I worried the apple would be a bit dry or tasteless and get lost in the toffee, but not at all. The apple was still quite juicy, cut through and complimented the sweet sauce perfectly. I had this as my desert after dinner to take away that sweet craving and stop my evening snacking habits, which worked. I was more than satisfied with this. 10/10. Love

Healthy Popping Corn Twist of Black Pepper - 125 calories. The only item from this box that required a little preparation on my part. But no big deal, just follow the instructions & pop in the microwave until the popping noise starts to slow down. I LOVED THIS! This was my absolute favourite treat in this box. There was so much popcorn in this bag that I ate half in the morning & half in the afternoon. It was tasty, filling and kept me away from crisps. If I could give a score higher than 10 I would. 10/10. Love

Bonnie Wee Oatbakes - Cheese & Chive Oatbakes with Red Onion Marmalade - 114 calories. Delicious! The oatbakes were tasty in their own right but the marmalade did compliment the cheese & chive dippers. My only criticism would be that the marmalade was a little vinegary for me, it wasn't awful or impossible to eat but I felt it could have been a little less vinegar in there. I still really enjoyed though. 9/10. Love



I enjoyed my first box so much. The fact that all the snacks are really tasty & for the most part were quite filling too was amazing for me, it really helped keep me away from those less than healthy snacks I usually enjoy! I'm currently signed up for fortnightly boxes but may change to weekly soon as I have been missing those treats for the past week and have begun to slide back to old habits. My next box is due for delivery tomorrow (Tuesday) and I am so excited to see what Graze have selected for me this week. 

Have any of you tried graze? Leave your comments below or email me with your thoughts. I'd love to hear other peoples experiences and feed back. I will do a blog on my next box once I've received it and tried all my treats. Don't forget using my code  M2KLRWY you can get your first graze box absolutely free, and I think you also get your fifth box free too? Maybe? Don't forget to look through all the products and bin anything you definitely don't like or don't want to try.

As always thanks for reading xox


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Wedding Favours: Part 2 - Ideas for all budgets

For those of you who want to know what I did for my wedding favours go and read Part 1 first, for those of you who didn't go and read part 1, it has a little story about the tradition of how favours came about, so go read that!!

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My favours were perfect for my wedding day & I am very happy with them. But being totally in love with weddings I have since come across a few other ideas I would have loved to use. Please remember when shopping for your favours £4 may not sound like a lot but if you have 100 guests then it just became very expensive & you just lumped yourself with a pretty hefty thank you gift bill. Do not forget your budget! I will include a variety of items for all budgets here so hopefully I will cover something for every one!

1) Personalised Magnets - I love magnets, my fridge is covered in magnets with quotes on them, or from places me and my husband have visited. If relatives go away they often get us a magnet and it always ends up on my fridge! So I think something like this would be really cool and I know I would keep it pride of place on my fridge to remember the wedding I attended. This little gem was discovered on www.etsy.com and is being sold by iLoveTrinkets. For 25 of these heart design wedding favour magnets it is $22.50 which works out at about £15.17. Postage to anywhere outside the US is £8.73 so that's a total of £23.90 which is less than £1 per magnet. Which I think is just fabulous! The shop owner states on the page that these can be made in any colour to suit your theme & obviously are customisable with names/dates. For the same price you can have these as buttons... which I think is what we call badges? Cute, I love these! Also worth mentioning iLoveTrinkets also sells Bridal party badges, customisable keyrings, pocket mirrors and more. The feedback on this shop is 98% which seems like a pretty good sign that these items are good quality & well liked.

2) Notepads - The practical girl in me loves a little notepad I can put in my purse or near the phone to write down important messages or things I shouldn't forget to do. Even better if that notepad was from a wedding and was personalised with the Bride & Grooms own message or their names? Maybe it's just me but the practical gifts seem so cool. This particular notepad is from www.confetti.co.uk which my big sister introduced me to when I was planning my wedding. They have so much information, hints & tips, as well as an awesome shop filled with wedding supplies. This notepad comes in Red, Purple, Saffron Yellow, Tangerine Orange, Watermelon (Pink), Caribbean Blue, Bright Green, Indigo Blue. They are customisable. The minimum you can order is 12 & they must be ordered in multiples of 12. If you order 12 they are £4.29 each, order 24-36 for £2.98 each, order 48-60 for £2.08 each and order 72+ for £1.69 each. Postage & packaging varies on how fast you want your item & how many you order. I do really like these and I like the fact it's cheaper for the higher quantities which may save you a bit of cash if your wedding is on the bigger side. 


3) Personalised Wine Glass - This isn't for the cheap budget although you may be able to shop around, the only way I imagine you could do this very cheaply would be if you could buy glasses from wholesale, or via ebay & engrave them yourself. Although to do this you will need a glass engraver which unless you already have one will cost you. If you have the budget that you can afford the expense of having them engraved or going online to purchase them then I think this is pretty cool. You could put sweets in them as an added extra but the glass would be more than enough as a momento. This glass is from www.fabgifts4u.co.uk. It's £9.99 per glass and they are customisable. Even if you can't afford to do this as a favour for all your guests it's a nice touch for your bridal party/groomsmen to say thanks.



4) Sweets in a unique/cute container. Any sweets or chocolates will do, heart shaped chocolates, sugared almonds, smarties, mini eggs, marshmallows, what ever takes your fancy. Go to a wholesaler, check out you local market & don't forget to check www.ebay.co.uk and www.amazon.co.uk for some cheap deals. Be careful you don't get caught out with shipping costs though. Below are five containers for your sweets I think are adorable. The price & the link to where you can get them.
Metal Favour Basket - £1.99 each for 1-9, £1.49 each for 10+ - Confetti.co.uk

Love Heart Filled Sweet Jar (approx 100g of sweets in each) - £2.99 each - Etsy.com from DreamFavours
100% positive feedback on this shop owner. Sells other colour & sweet variations, different favours, gift tags & stationary.

Personalised Heart Shaped Metal Favor Box - £21.29 for a set of 24 - http://www.lightinthebox.com

'Eat, Drink & Be Married" Bags - £10.00 for 12 - www.notonthehighstreet.com 

Laser Cut Rose Style Lantern - £0.50 each - www.favourfairy.co.uk

5) Practical Gifts. There are so many avenues you can go down with favours. One of the ideas I am really loving at the moment is the practical side. There are so many different things you can buy, like the notebook above. Or take a look at these three ideas I though were very cool.

These lips are toothpaste squeezers. You put them on your tube of toothpaste to help squeeze all the excess down the tube. I found these on www.lightinthebox.com. They are usually £8.52 for six, but currently have 60% off so are £3.40 for six. I think this is so different that I just loved it, it's not something people would ordinarily think to buy and everyone wants their wedding to be unique.

These are Heart shaped purse hooks. You place them on the table & hang your handbag/purse from them instead of sticking them on the back of your chair or on the floor. Ok so this is obviously more of a gift of women, but once again quite a novel gift. I found these on www.confetti.co.uk and they are between £3.39 & £2.38 each depending on how many you purchase.

Keyrings are always useful, and everytime someone takes their keys out they will remember your day. What's not to like? I particularly love these as they are butterfly shaped, but look around. Personalise a keyring with the Bride & Grooms name & the date of your wedding. Or maybe a personal message to your guests? These particular keyrings are from www.weddingpartyhost.co.uk and are £1.66 each.

6) Charity Donations - If there was one thing missing from my day it was a contribution to charity. If there is a charity you are particularly fond of, personally connected with then why not go to their website & see if they have an item you can purchase from them (such as a badge or keyring) where your guests will get a small gift & the charity will get your pennies. I won't post any links here as I think charity is a very personal thing & you should pick your own charity that means something to you.

7) Lottery tickets or Scratch cards - Go down the corner shop, or local supermarket & purchase one for everyone. Your guests might not win anything or they may win a few bob & be very happy with you! Either way it's a bit of fun & will cost you about £1 a person. Don't give these to children, if you go with this option buy an alternative for your under 16 year old guests. If you have the budget for it, why not present your tickets/scratch cards in a decorative envelope?


This ivory & gold envelope is from www.thelastdetail.co.uk usually £0.50 each,but they are currently £0.35 each.

8) Bubbles - No matter how young or old you are bubbles are always fun. Why not give your guests bubbles in addition to your favours. The following are all from http://www.thelastdetail.co.uk/product-list/668-bubbles.html
£6.29 for 24

£6.99 for 24

£5.59 for 24

£6.29 for 24

Check out www.confetti.co.uk, www.etsy.com, www.ebay.co.uk, www.amazon.co.uk, or any of the other websites I have mentioned above for other varieties in shape or colour. There are a good variety of bubbles on the market, but whatever you do, don't go to Poundland!! I was seriously disappointed with the £1 for 6 champagne bottles they did. 



There are plenty more ideas out there for you. Soaps, salt & pepper shakers, cuff links & compact mirrors. If you shop around it is likely you will find something that suits your budget, theme and is a gift you would be happy giving to others. I could quite happily sit here and post picture after picture of favours I love because there are so many traditional, unique, practical, edible & just plain cute gifts out there. So shop around and remember Google is your friend!

Follow me if you enjoy my blog. Comment below with any ideas you have seen & loved or any feedback on my blog. Or if you like Click Here to send me an email with any thoughts or questions. Don't forget to let me know if there is something you would like me to discuss on my blog, I would love to hear all your thoughts.

As always thanks for reading xox

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Wedding Favours: Part 1 - Our Favours

Wedding Favours are a tradition started by European Aristocrats. Sugar used to be rather expensive, so the rich would put sugar, sugar cubes or other confectionery in side trinket boxes (usually covered in precious stones) and give it to the wedding guests. It was a bit like a peacock flashing it's colourful feathers, only think rich people waving their cash around saying look how rich I am! As sugar got less expensive more people started to take on the tradition of presenting their guests with a small gift to thank them for being a part of their special day - Interesting little background for you there! Hehe!

It can get expensive buying even a little gift for so many people, but if you shop around & get creative you can do this on a budget as I did.

Part one of my exploration in to wedding favours will be me sharing & discussing the wedding favours from my wedding:


As Butterflies were the running theme in my wedding, with red & gold being the main colours, I was very excited to find these little beauty's on my old friend E-bay. Butterfly Favour Boxes - I went with gold as I already had a lot of red decorations on the tables & ribbons on the chairs. I purchased them on E-bay for £2.40 (including p&p) for 10. I purchased 70 in total to make sure I had plenty, that if any were damaged I had replacements etc, and that came to £16.80 in total. The seller I purchased them from doesn't seem to have these in stock any more, but I have checked and these are readily available in other colours if you wanted to purchase them. The come flat but are very easy to assemble.



Inside I had a little scroll & a heart shaped chocolate. Next to my boxes I placed bubbles, because every one loves bubbles, especially me!

The bubble wands were another e-bay purchase. I paid £18 for 70 of them. This may sound a bit steep, but I first purchased little champagne bottles from Poundland & I couldn't open them. When I eventually managed to open one, the bubbles didn't work & the liquid went all gloopy on my hands. The budget bride was caught out going for too cheap an option so second time around I made sure I spent a little more, and it was worth it. Besides it works out at £0.26 per wand which is great!

The heart chocolates were actually a freebie. I used my nectar points to purchase a £20 amazon gift card. (I have linked the websites so you brides to be can go & get yourself a nectar card and check out amazon) It was £5 for 50 chocolates, so I purchased 100. I can't remember exactly how much postage & packaging was, but I think it was around £3 as I had £7 left that I used to purchase other wedding type things. I don't really use my nectar card a lot, but I get points if I provide my gas & electric supplier with readings every month. I made sure I did this every month & before I knew it I had over £30 of nectar points. Normally I would be lazy & forget to provide readings, or let the points sit there, forgetting to use them. But if you have a nectar card or similar points style reward card then use it. It's basically free items for you.

The scrolls were another e-bay gem. Now don't get me wrong, you could easily make these yourself if you bought some paper, ribbons & took the time to type them up, add some pretty pictures etc. But honestly I had already taken on a lot of DIY projects. This would have been one thing too many to add on my list. As mentioned in my 20 things to do once you say yes Blog Post you have to be honest with yourself and know your limits. So I cheated and had someone else make them for me! I purchased them from http://stores.ebay.co.uk/personalised-weding-scrolls-gifts (Hessianback) I don't know if the exact variation I had are still available as they seem to have cute little flowers wrapped around them instead of bows now. Honestly though the flowers are probably better, as the ribbons were a bit fiddly to tie. I paid £5.98 and £1.70 p&p for 60 of these. I have kept one for me & hubby to put in our memento box & honestly I am just over the moon with them. I think they are just such a novel & cute way to say thank you, and for £7.68 you can't really go wrong. So that was my favours.

Stay tuned for Part 2 which I will put up on the weekend for you all. In Part 2 I have decided to compile a few little ideas for you, and being the lovely little helper I am I have taken things ranging in price range to suit all budgets. I may be a bargain bride, but I know not everyone enjoys scrimping & saving as much as I do! I will discuss some ideas I have seen, linking websites you can find these ideas & will discuss ways to save money for those of you on a tighter budget.

As always, thanks for reading! xxx

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Chewy Choc Chip Cookies - Baking with hubby!

It has been a long time since I have actually taken the time to bake something. So today I promised my hubby we would bake cookies together. Or rather I would bake while he stood around waiting for them to be ready to eat!! Cookies are pretty quick & easy to make, and very yummy to eat. I love cookies that are crispy on the outside & chewy on the inside, I don't like when they are hard like biscuits. So after trying a few recipes over the years, this is the one I love and use. Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients (Makes approximately 18 cookies)
Each cookie is approximately 310 calories
  • 250g Plain flour
  • 200g light brown soft sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 170g unsalted butter (must be soft or melted)
  • 2 eggs - 1 whole egg & yolk only of second egg
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 360g of chocolate chips or chunks
Hubby & I chose dairy milk as it's our favourite. But by all means use galaxy, chocolate chips, smarties, mini eggs, fruit, what ever you want really! If using a bar break the chocolate in to individual squares.

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 170C/Gas mark 3 or 150C for a fan oven.
  2. Sift your flour, salt & Bicarbonate of soda
  3. In a seperate bowl cream the two types of sugar & butter together until thoroughly mixed & fluffy.
  4. Add the vanilla extract, 1 egg & 1 egg yolk and beat until light & fluffy.
  5. Add the sifted ingredients and mix until blended. You should have a creamy but quite stiff dough.
  6. Add the chocolate and stir until mixed thoroughly.
  7. Take a baking tray and either grease with margerine/butter or line with greaseproof/baking paper.
  8. Spoon the mixture on to the tray, about 1-2 tablespoons of mixture per cookie. Leave plenty of space between each dollop and do not flatten the mixture. As it cooks the mixture will flatten out.
  9. Leave in the oven for 15-20 minutes, the cookies should be golden brown (more so on the edges) soft but not runny. 
  10. Serve hot with a dollop of ice-cream, or leave to cool & eat later.

Middle two are a little bit too close!



Starting to go golden brown but still uncooked in the middle, back in they go!


Perfect!

Even if I say so myself these were absolutely delicious! Give them a go and let me know what you thought!

Or do you have a better recipe for me to try? Chris & I love the large dairy milk chunks in our cookies, but what is your favourite chocolate/sweet to add?

As always, thanks for reading! xox