The £60 wedding dress

H&M £60 wedding dress

 

I think I speak for most brides when I say that the minute that ring is on the finger, it’s ALL about the dress. Because that’s what makes you a bride, right?

My own dress story was nothing like what I imagined it would be. Mostly because I ended up with three – yes, THREE – dresses. Of course, the one I ended up wearing was The One, but I won’t lie – the whole process of picking a dress ended up stressing me out. There was so much pressure to look like the perfect bride, in the perfect dress, with the perfect accessories that in the end I was blinded by everything I tried on – I wanted to be every type of bride, but couldn’t streamline it into one single, simple look and it was hard to know where to stop. My mind worked overtime as I researched different ways to customise and add things to dresses or different ways to style my hair. And at one point, when I had 6 months to go and NO dress, I had no idea at all how it would work out.

But like everyone always says, it does work out in the end; and part of the reason it did was that I went to a dress shop where I felt comfortable enough to be honest about not liking my original choice, much less the one I STUPIDLY bought off of eBay in a blind panic (which I sold on for a profit, so all’s well that ends well and all that).

I know I’m not alone in being a bride that didn’t have the perfect road to the perfect dress; perhaps it’s the amount of choice we’re given these days, the amount of ‘competition’ we’re faced with daily on wedding blogs or simply the fact that we’re told over and over that ‘it only happens once’ and so we’re clutching on to the whole bride-to-be experience with both hands and just want one more chance to play dress up that makes it so hard for some of us? Who knows.

What I do know, though, is that there is a dress out there for everyone. And what you spend on it does not. matter. one. bit. Because of all the things I learnt in my quest to find the perfect dress was that I would have paid whatever I could have afforded to feel like a bride. Whether that was £100 or £1,000, I simply wanted to look in the mirror and feel like the best version of myself. Because when I look back at the photos now all I see is how I felt on the day and that’s priceless.

The ironic thing is, I stressed myself to the point of obsession over my dress. And on the day? I could have been standing there saying my vows in my pyjamas and I would have still had the most amazing day of my entire life. The sky could have been pink and I wouldn’t have noticed. And that’s the beauty of hind sight, because if I’d known that in the first place then perhaps I wouldn’t have been so hard on myself in the run up to the wedding.

Which is why, when H&M announced this week that they were releasing a bridal collection which included a wedding dress for £60, I was all ears. Sure, it’s not to my personal taste – and I’ll be the first to put my hands up and say that I would never have foregone the whole dress shopping experience, despite the tribulations it brought me – but for someone somewhere out there it will be their dream dress. And the fact that it costs £60 shouldn’t put anyone off.

We all have different ideas of the perfect wedding with the perfect dress (thankfully) and it’s very easy to quickly become consumed by the notion that we have to spend thousands for everything to be deemed ‘perfect’. But you know what, if spending £60 makes YOU feel like a princess for the day, then who is anyone else to judge?

 

Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter

body shop camomile cleansing butter

 

It’s not often, these days, that I’m really wowed by beauty products. I’ve worked in and around beauty for so long now that I’ve come to know what I like and what works for me. But that’s not to say I don’t still enjoy testing stuff out. Coz that would be a lie. If I had a pound for every time I went into Boots to buy one thing and came out with ten other things I didn’t need then well…I’d have a lot more money to buy a lot more things I didn’t need.

Any way, I digress. A few months ago I begrudgingly signed up to yet another beauty box. I say begrudgingly because it really was. I was at the point where I was completely done with the whole beauty box thing. Having tried so many in the past and cancelling them after 6 months of disappointment (not to mention arguments with the postman about leaving them somewhere that was a) not on my doorstep in broad daylight and b) not in my ACTUAL rubbish bin) I swore I’d never sign up to another. Ever. Well, that all went out the window last Christmas when I decided that a chocolate advent calendar just wouldn’t be enough any more, and I really, really needed wanted the You Beauty Advent Calendar. 25 treats for £50 was just too much of a bargain for me and I signed straight up. Except, as with all things that seems too good to be true, there was a catch. A rather mighty catch; in order to get the advent calendar, I had to first pay £6.95 to become a You Beauty member. I was livid, I won’t lie – I absolutely hate it when companies throw a catch like that in when you GET TO THE CHECKOUT. However, I read on and discovered that if I continued my membership each month, then for that little sum of £6.95 I would get to choose 2 beauty products each month. In a box. With some extra treats. So essentially, it’s a beauty box. And I nearly stopped there, to be honest. But what stood out about this box, for me was that a) there were no P&P charges, b) I got to choose the beauty products I wanted and c) there would always be a couple of extra treats thrown in the box too.

Sold. It was as easy as that. And I have to say, I’ve not been disappointed by it one little bit. I love the fact that I get to choose what I want each month (great for months when you’ve run out of mascara and spent all your wages on prosecco and, um, daffodils, it turns out) which also means I can check the sizes of the products and the price against what’s in store and actually nab myself some real bargains.

Take this month for example. Obviously I put the Crabtree & Evelyn rosewater hand cream straight in the basket (nice packaging, good scent but not the best for moisturising, FYI) and for my second treat I went slightly off tangent. I’ll always choose a make up product over skin care, mostly because I don’t like messing with my skin too much and also because the samples are never that big. However, this month I spied the Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter – and it was FULL SIZE. That meant that for nearly £7 I was getting a hand cream and a full sized skin care product. So in it went.

And you know what? I’m really impressed. I’d read a bit about this on some other beauty blogs a little while ago and earmarked it for a future purchase that never happened (prosecco and daffs people, that’s what Spring is made of) so I was eager to see if it would be as good as people were saying. It’s a bit strange to get your head around at first – most cleansers I’ve ever used have been cream or gel, so this is completely different – but I really like it. You only need a tiny amount, rub all over your face then wash off with the muslin cloth and some hot water. Not only did it make my skin lovely and soft afterwards, but it’s also really cleared it up as well. This could be a massive coincidence, but I really have had less spots since using this, which makes me think that perhaps the cream cleansers I’ve been using are far too heavy for my skin. Interesting.

I’ll definitely be re-purchasing this again when it’s all gone, and for £12.50 it’s much cheaper and more effective than quite a few other hot cloth cleansers on the market.

Oh, and anyone who’s looking for a new beauty box to try? Definitely give You Beauty a try. Not only did I get some free tea bags this month, but I also got a set of tweezers from the Vintage Cosmetics Company. These have since been commandeered by Mr. B (for what I do not nor need to know since I’m not allowed anywhere near his eyebrows. God knows I’ve tried often enough), so there’s something in there to please everyone in the household!

You Beauty Discovery Box, March 2014

Fever London: vintage wedding inspiration

It’s not often I get an invite to something I find hard to refuse. But throw the word ‘vintage’ and the phrase ‘a few surprises’ in there and you’ve pretty much sold it to me. Put them together in the same sentence and that’ll have me booking my train ticket right there. Which is how I came to find myself in London last week, taking in a much needed dose of Spring prettiness after such a L-O-N-G and dreary Winter.

Fever London is home to some of THE prettiest and of-the-moment bridesmaids dresses I have ever seen (and I’ve seen a lot; if you think picking a wedding dress was a hard enough task for me then don’t even get me started on the bridesmaids), all of which are inspired by different vintage eras.

I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking for this post, but suffice to say I was in dress heaven – and if you love pastels, floaty fabrics and lots of beautiful detailing (think chiffon, floral embellishment, lace and polka dots) then you will be too. And as much as I loved the final choice of outfit for my bridesmaids, I can’t help but wonder whether my head would have turned in a different direction had I known about Fever London this time last year…

vintage pastel bridesmaids dresses

vintage pastel bridesmaids dresses

vintage shoes and jewellery

Vintage hair by Alexyi Reneece

Cakes by Cakefully Yours

I probably don’t need to explain how much I enjoyed this particular event – I was thoroughly impressed by not only ALL of the dresses but also the special guests for the day; Alexyi Reneece is a true genius and, considering how much hair I have, didn’t bat an eyelid when I sat down to have my hair styled (honestly, the pic above does it NO justice – and it lasted all day which, if you know me and my hair, is an actual miracle). A freelance hair dresser, he specialises in vintage styles and works with each bride to create something unique within her brief. AND he also makes hand makes those stunning head pieces – each one completely unique and bespoke.

And those cakes? Not only beautiful (how much love for the gold leaf?!) but so tasty too (for where there is cake, there is always me). Run by French husband and wife duo, Cakefully Yours have taken the vintage trends and inspirations that are currently coming from America and are well and truly running with them.

All of the dresses in the collection are reasonably priced (not far off the high end of the High Street, to be honest), but what I love most about them is that a) you could easily mix and match all of the styles and colours if you’re having more than 3 or 4 bridesmaids who don’t all suit one dress (totally what I would do if I had my time again) and b) all of the dresses could easily be worn again – a big bonus when you’re paying a reasonable sum of money for dresses that YOU won’t even wear.

You can view the whole (not-captured-on-an-iPhone-after-two-proseccos) collection for weddings here. Or for occasion wear (mother of the bride and wedding guests) click here.

A big thank you to Fever London for allowing me to drink prosecco and eat cake on a school day having me – I had an absolute blast and can’t wait for an excuse to come and visit again soon.

How to choose your wedding ring

Of all the things I expected to be a glamorous experience when I first got engaged, picking my wedding ring was up there. I imagined I’d most likely be sipping champagne whilst dressed to the nines and wearing a ring on each finger. In reality I was tired, wearing grubby work clothes after a 10 hour shift and actually encountered some of the worst customer service I’ve ever had – all because I was, at that time, wearing braces and the sale assistant obviously couldn’t see past those.

Anyway, we did eventually pick a ring that day (despite the terrible service we had left it a little WAY late with the ring picking and it was an order-now-or-improvise-on-the-day kind of scenario, which definitely wasn’t an option) and needless to say I adore it, but the experience I had was far from the one I pictured.

And in my haste to get my ring sorted, I probably neglected a lot of the most important things that I should have been concentrating on when picking it. Did you know there are 11 different types of metal you can choose from? No, neither did I. And did you sit and ponder the cut, clarity, colour and carat in the diamonds you wanted? Nope, I didn’t do that either. Once that sample ring was on my finger I was whipping Mr. B’s credit card out quicker than you could say ‘there’s a sale at Primark’ and that, my friends, was that. There was nothing special about the experience – in fact, it was actually a little stressful and we probably ended up paying over the odds for a ring (albeit beautiful) that we could have shopped around for. So much so that Mr. B’s wedding ring ended up being a £30-from-eBay number (not that he cares, he’d probably wear an onion ring and be happy).

Admittedly, the type of wedding ring I ended up with was pre-determined by my engagement ring, so shopping for it was more a case of looking within our budget, but still – I expected it to be something more than it was. And the annoying thing is, it could have been what I wanted it to be, if only I’d done my research. Had I thought outside of the box a little and not assumed that we could only buy my wedding ring from a high street jeweller then we might have a) got better service and b) both got rings we were happy with and not had to compromise on price.

Enter Wedding Rings Direct. If you’re struggling with how to pick your wedding rings at the moment, then I would certainly suggest you check this particular Brighton-based company out. Not only are the prices cheaper than conventional high street jewellers (because they are, essentially, an online workshop), but bespoke is their speciality – and there is so. much. choice. Literally, I wouldn’t even know where to start if I were doing it form scratch.

Admittedly, when I first read about how they worked I was slightly dubious – people actually order their wedding rings online?! But once I’d sat and read through their blog (which has some super cute stories about the couples they’ve worked with, FYI – and who doesn’t love to be nosey) I completely got the concept.

Wedding Rings Direct Workshop

What these people know about jewels is endless, and the advice on their blog alone has certainly made me a bit more confident about buying jewellery in the future and knowing what to look out for. For those ordering online, samples are sent out for you to try before you buy, and the designers will work with you every step of the way to make sure you end up with the design you want. For those wanting to actually sit and talk to someone, or who literally have no idea where to start, you can take a trip to their workshop to discuss your ideas with the sales team. They even offer loads of great advice for men who want to propose but aren’t sure how to keep it all a secret!

Luckily, it’s not too late for me to relive the dream of ring picking – I’m pretty sure if I hint (it’s not nagging people, definitely NOT nagging) enough then an eternity ring may be on the cards for the first wedding anniversary, and if that’s the case then I definitely don’t want the experience I had last time. Now to find where Mr. B has hidden that credit card…

*PR collaboration – all thoughts, opinions and feeble attempts at humour are, of course, my own.