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Wedding Dress Shopping For the First Time: Tips & Advice

Stick to budget
One of the first stages of wedding planning is setting your budget and you do that for a reason so it's important that you don't completely ignore it when you start dress shopping. You don't necessarily have to start your appointment by revealing your budget, it might only come into play when it comes to decision making. Some shops will have the prices on the dresses, others might only tell you the prices of the dresses you show a particular interest in. Whatever happens remember if you go over on the dress something else will have to suffer!

What to wear
You'll spend part of your appointment standing in your underwear and a pair of heels so try to wear something you'll be at least a little bit comfortable in. A strapless bra is a good option to help show the different dress designs off. As for knickers you might just opt for white or nude, or a pair of spanx if that's something you'd consider on your wedding day. You don't have to take heels with you, especially if you haven't even considered your wedding shoes yet, most shops will let you borrow a pair for your appointment. 

Who to take with you
You need to make sure whoever you take with you is someone you trust and someone that will be honest with you. Your Mum and/or your bridesmaids tend to be the best support but Granny's, Aunties and Mother-in-laws to be are all good options. That saying 'too many cooks' can sometimes come true in the bridal shop if everyone is quite opinionated. Some shops are also quite small so you can't fit your whole entourage. I took my 3 bridesmaids and my Mum and it was perfect - everyone chose out a dress which definitely helped at the start and everyone was on the same wavelength. Don't feel bad if someone can't make it to a dress appointment, they can maybe come to a different appointment or a fitting.

Don't worry about style before
I was one of those bride-to-be's that walked into my appointment with no clue in my head. I'd barely even looked at wedding dresses with real focus or intent, except 5 minutes on Pinterest before travelling to the shop. This turned out to be a really good 'blank canvas' to work with. I was open to trying different styles and ideas and I quickly came to realise what styles and designs I liked. The shop owner was an absolute star for taking on board my likes and dislikes and picking out different variations. She also took the time to show how dresses can be changed with straps, sleeves, belts and embellishment. Even if you have an idea in your head, be open to trying different things. It's better to try it on and rule it out than risk missing out on the potential one. Having my bridesmaids and Mum choosing out a dress was a fantastic was to get to see the different shapes and details that really suited me.

Give yourself plenty of time
Choosing a wedding dress isn't necessarily going to happen in the first shop you walk in. Start looking with plenty of time, around a year to 8 months before the wedding is a good time if you can. You need to have time to order, have fittings and make alterations. You don't want (or need) the stress of everything running out of time. Wedding dress appointments can get booked up quickly, especially if you're hoping for a Saturday appointment so be prepared and get booked in well in advance. When it comes to the appointment make sure you've got a good few hours. You don't want to be watching the clock because you've got somewhere else to be. You want to be relaxed and able to enjoy it. My first appointment was 2 hours long and I must have tried on around 10 dresses.

Think it through
Don't rush. After your appointment try and gather your thoughts and take note of what you liked. Find out the designers and style number and have another look online. It might be time to book another appointment or perhaps it's time to try the one on again. Don't be disheartened if you didn't have a movie style dress discovery with tears all round. Keep those preferences in mind and trust your instinct.

OOTN: Floral Dresses

Last week I went to my first wedding dance of the Summer with 2 of my best friends and bridesmaids. We had a fantastic night drinking Prosecco, dancing and catching up. The bride looked beautiful, she had a stunning dress, the band were really good and the venue was decorated so nicely.  All 3 of us were wearing floral dresses, mine was from Quiz and actually one that's been tucked away in my wardrobe for 2 years. It was a bit tight when I bought it and now it's a little too big but really comfortable, I'm glad I finally got a chance to wear it. My heels are from Primark and I lasted all night in them, even with a bit of dancing. My clutch bag is also from Primark and a really good size for all my essentials. The girls were wearing dresses from New Look and Want That Trend - 2 good places if you're looking for an occasion dress. My hair was curled with my Babyliss Curling Wand and I added in a French Braid crown for something a little different. I don't really like wearing my hair up so I'm on the lookout for some different hairstyles, any ideas?

Holiday Supplies Haul | Superdrug

As soon as my summer holiday was booked and I'd done all the essentials like travel insurance and airport parking I headed straight to the Superdrug website for some holiday supplies. Superdrug had some impressive deals and offers, I don't think there was much that I actually paid full price for.

The first offer I signed up to was 2 for £18 on Nip+Fab products. Nip+Fab are fast becoming one of my favourite skin care brands and considering a lot of their products are around £15 this wasn't one to miss out on. I didn't want to take micellar water on holiday because knowing my luck it'll leak so instead I'm going to take the Nip+Fab Gylcolic Fix Gentle Pads for Sensitive Skin. For £3 more I could get something else so I opted to try a range that I've never used and a product I don't really own; an eye cream. The Nip+Fab Bee Sting Fix Eye is for battling fatigue and plumping skin and I've got my fingers crossed it'll be a slight difference to my under eye area. 

The next offer I couldn't resist was a double deal. Aussie products were on 3 for £10 and if you spent £10 on Aussie you got a free dry shampoo - win, win. I chose two shampoos, Winter Miracle for Dull and Tired Hair and Aussie Beach Mate Shampoo, and the Aussie Winter Miracle Conditioner. Yes, I know it's not winter but it's good for my hair type. I saved £4.07 across the 3 products and got a free dry shampoo which would normally be about £4.49.

Onto the real holiday essentials, Superdrug has buy one get one half price on selected suncare. I've already bought my suncream so took advantage of the offer by buying Banana Boat Aloe Vera Aftersun Gel and Superdrug Buzz Off Insect Repellent. Another saving around £3. I bought a delicious holiday smelling Mojito shower gel from the Star Buy section for 59p and lastly bought some eye drops that I use daily for my contact lenses.

All that with free delivery, 8 freebie sachets of Garnier Moisture Bomb Moisturiser and a saving of just over £19. I'm so ready to fly off to Turkey now.

Wedding Planning - eBay Finds

With wedding planning well underway I spend a lot of my time looking for ideas on Pinterest and thinking up all the DIYs I can get up to this Summer and the things I'll need to buy instead.  It goes without saying that weddings are expensive so I don't want to spend over the odds on all the added extras so eBay is pretty high up on my list and my watch list seems to grow each week.

I'm going to making my own stationery and making my own place cards is something I'm likely going to do but if it gets closer to the big day and I've not tackled them yet I would be so happy to buy these Gold Confetti Personalised Place cards. I love the font on them and the foil/glitter design isn't too much. We're not going to be having any children at our wedding but I feel like a sweetie table is more for the big kids anyway. If we do decide to keep the sweet tooth guests busy then I would love a wooden Mr & Mrs Sweetie Display tree. It would make an amazing centrepiece on the table. 
Talking about sweet stuff, we're already in talks with our cake maker about what we'd like. I can't wait for doing some taster sessions! With what we've got in mind we want to keep the design pretty simple and have a Personalised Cake Topper on top to do all the work. I know I said I'm planning to tackle the stationery myself but the Wedding Table Seating Plan is something I'm not quite sure about yet. There's so many different ways of doing it and if I go down the 'all on one piece of paper' look then I'd definitely consider getting it done for me. I can't print in A3 at home so why not take all the stress away? I absolutely love the Dotty Hens eBay items especially their Wedding Gift Bag. This would be gorgeous for the thank you gifts that need to be given on the day of the wedding. 
Obviously the thank you's don't stop on the day of the wedding so some Personalised Thank You stickers are bound to come in handy, whether it's on envelopes of thank you cards or wedding cake boxes. A cute little added extra. So far I've already gathered a couple of bridesmaid thank you gifts and this Bridesmaid Keepsake Box would be gorgeous for gathering it altogether. Maybe even a personalised one with their names on it! Any other ideas for bridesmaid presents? And who all do I need to buy thank you presents for? Wedding planning is like a part-time job sometimes!

NOTD: Summer Pink & Glitter

The sun has been shining (a little bit) and it was time for some new nails. I've gone from very long, classy French Ombre nails to something a little bit more fun. I chose a pink/coral colour and 2 glitter accent nails. I love how the glitter looks in the sunshine, absolutely perfect for holiday nails. I'm loving my almond shape and that these are all my own nails, no tips in sight. The shellac and gel builder has done wonders for strengthening my nails.

Ted Baker Cecilie Pearl & Crystal Purse

I had a House of Fraser voucher burning a hole in my purse (thankfully not literally, but it wouldn't matter too much now) and what better way to spend it than in the Ted Baker sale? I've had a black and purple striped Michael Kors purse since I went to Las Vegas in 2014, which is absolutely mad. I've finally decided to mix it up and go for something different. I love Ted Baker accessories and have admired some of my friends' purses but have never had one of my own.

The Cecile Pearl and Bobble Leather Purse is currently on sale on both the Ted Baker and House of Fraser sale down from £80 to £48. The good thing about HOF is the student discount through UNiDAYS. So along with being on sale and using a giftcard I got 10% off too. There wasn't many colours to choose from, as a few of the classic colours are still full price, and the options are going down more as the sale goes on but I'm in love with my bright pink choice. It's so bright and happy, it's perfect for Summer and the big change that I needed. It injects a bit of colour into my black handbag. It's also available in the smaller size but I much prefer a long purse that fits notes in flat.

The Pearl and Crystal bobble leather matinee purse is made with 100% bovine leather which has a patent finish and 100% polyester lining. There's a large coin section, plenty of card space for up to 12 cards including ID, a generous note compartment and a zip section on the back. There's so much space, I can even fit my iPhone 6 in one of the note sections which is handy for quickly popping to the shop. I love the attention to detail in Ted Baker products, right down to the 'See a penny pick it up... Good Luck' lettering along the flap over section.

Love Abode Personalised Wedding Gifts

Wedding season is upon us and I've got two within one week, this month. For one couple (who already have everything) we're teaming up with friends to buy a hotel and spa voucher. The other couple have a gift list but after a browse on it I was really uninspired. I've mentioned before that I love personalised gifts best and I've come across a gift I would buy time and time again as it's personal, practical and pretty posh (okay maybe classy is a better description but it didn't go with my alliteration). After coming across Love Abode through Instagram I was intrigued by their slate tableware and more specifically the personalised ones. They had a few different wedding options but I was drawn in by the Family Name items. A gift that will be relevant and stylish while they are a newly wed couple and throwing dinner parties right through while their family grows. It's never going to be out of date.

Both the placemats and coasters come in different quantities, which is good depending on your budget. You can get anything from 1 to a set of 8. The placemats are a good size - 20cm by 30cm, while the coasters are 10cm by 10cm. Both are made from 6mm thick natural slate which is undoubtedly excellent quality. The font is slightly different on both but they are clear, easy to read and well engraved. The slate is really practical with it being easy to clean and it will look good on whatever style dining table they have.

Though these are bespoke, personalised products they have absolutely fantastic delivery times. I received my order within a week which is fantastic if you're getting a bit disorganised and running out of time. Orders over £30 have free delivery as well which is always a bonus. All of this slate is pretty heavy but it was well packaged and protected by plenty of bubblewrap. Now I'm just not sure how to gift wrap it.

I'm so happy with this personalised wedding gift I'm already heading back to consider which one I could add to my own wedding gift list! 

Slimming World - Month 6

June started off a really positive Slimming World month and ended with a week away on a residential trip with school where I had absolutely no control over food (and hence no photos of it either). Throughout June I lost 2.5lbs and managed to maintain that loss from the first fortnight of the month by having a few SP meals in amongst a Pizza Hut and Burger King visit and a big hen part night out. Unfortunately I've not weighed in since my school trip but fingers crossed with some more SP days and a bi of focus I can even out an inevitable gain. Here's to the summer!

Fruit and Vanilla Skyr Yogurt
Fruit, yogurt and Alpen light Bar
Fruit and Muller Light
Breakfast biscuits, nutella and strawberries (4 syns)


Pasta 'n sauce
Salads for work
Naked Noodles Singapore Curry
Sweet chilli chicken Pitta

Salt and chilli chicken fakeaway
Salmon and Cauliflower rice
Chilli and wedges

Chicken fajita salad
Pimped mac and cheese
Lettuce fajitas
Chicken fried rice

Steak ciabatta, chips and salad
Salmon salad
Chicken burger and sweet potato chips
Asda Nacho chicken and wedges

Not so Slimming World
Catering for Hen party - cakes, traybake, sandwiches
Cajun Chicken Salad
Pitcher of mojito

Cup of tea and Orkney fudge (lots of syns!)
Cuppa and Salted Caramel Hifi (HEXb)
Speedy Fruit Salad
Freddo Caramel (5syns)

Why I love Slimming World
A nice little non-scale victory, these shorts were literally falling off me. They've gone straight on eBay.
 I enjoyed a big big of chocolate cake to celebrate my Mum's birthday and the best thing was I used my syns wisely and had it guilt free.

New Look Holiday Haul

It's the first week of my Summer holidays from work and I've still not booked my holiday. With a pretty flexible diary and requirements of just sun and All Inclusive cocktails, we're hoping for a last minute deal. Regardless of that minor detail I've still made sure my holiday suitcase won't be empty by placing an order on the New Look Website. They had a good offer recently with £10 off orders over £50 so I may have placed 2 separate orders...

Playsuit Coverup
I'm loving playsuits and jumpsuits recently. The colour and print of this one jumped out at me first. It's really lightweight so will dry quickly if I put it on after a dip in the pool and it's a perfect coverup for heading to lunch or going for a walk. The price is pretty good too. 

Colour Block Bikini Top and Bottoms
These Triangl inspired bikinis are my favourite style. The bright colours and comfortable shape make for a good sunbathing outfit. As they come as separate pieces I was able to pick and mix sizes for my bigger bum and smaller chest. I also like that the bikini top is underwired and bra style. The colours are going to go well with my cover up.

Lace Trim Shorts
With a little bit of sunshine recently I raided my shorts to find out that nearly every pair is too big (success!) so a comfortable pair of simple shorts was a must. The lace makes these a little more girly and dressy while the lightweight material and elastic waistband make them a holiday essential (and a Slimming World friendly pair).

Black Underwire Bikini Top
Another underwire bikini top sneaked into my basket but this time I already had bikini bottoms to match. Unfortunately this didn't fit the same as the other one and I've had to return it. It's worth trying them on if you're in store. I could have fit a water-balloon in each cup too!
Tan Sandals
Who knew the 915 teenager range went up to a size 5? I was looking at a pair of sandals in the adult range and for the price of 1 pair there I could get 2 from the teen section so why the heck not? These are a little tight and I think it's because the 3 straps go over the widest part of my foot. A size 6 would be better for me.

Rose Gold Sandals
Another bargain pair of teen sandals and these fit perfectly. The rose gold is gorgeous and they're actually really comfortable. I've worn these to work already and had no problems with rubbing or sore toes so they've got the thumbs up from me.

What other high-street stores have good holiday clothes? New Look is well worth checking out.

Up, Over and Down Under #BOXMEUP July

Makeup, flowers, cocktails... there's a subscription box for everyone these days and they make for a fantastic gift. I've never really bought one for myself but after a stressful time at work last month I decided to treat myself to a one off box from Up, Over and Down Under. I found this brand on Instagram and loved their pictures and was left intrigued by their luxury lifestyle monthly boxes. I really liked that you could order a one off box for a little bit more (and get free delivery) because without that I don't think I'd have been able to justify a present to myself. The monthly boxes are dispatched on the 1st of the month and contain 5-7 items with a bit of a theme. My box arrived yesterday on the 5th of July and I couldn't wait to see what was inside!

I was a little surprised because not everything fit inside the box so two of the items were separate to the box, in the parcel bag, and because of that they were a little bit bashed but never mind that's just packaging. So the July box was without a doubt a Summer BBQ party theme and I love it! There was 6 items inside; 3 big and 3 small. The bright colours and exciting selection put a smile on my face and that confirmed how good a present this would be. Onto the contents...

The first thing that got me talking, and hinted on the Summer BBQ theme, was a hamburger press. If you've ever tried to make your own burgers then you'll know how useful these are to have Instagram worthy burgers. My fiance has claimed this as his already and if it means he's doing the cooking then I'm all for it!

The next item that didn't fit inside the box was a cute little pineapple LED light. I'm not quite sure where this will end up living but it might just brighten up my kitchen throughout the summer.

One of the smaller items, but the cutest was a set of summer themed straws. This set of 4 is definitely reserved for me and my 3 bridesmaids. Our cocktails are going to be looking much more photogenic for Snapchat.

Possibly the best thing inside the box was the mini Cinematic Light Box. This little battery powered box is fantastic quality and has a really good selection of letters and numbers. I've already got an A4 box but I would be more than happy to take this into my classroom or even have it in a different room in my house. This is definitely worth the most money in the box.

The last two items are both flamingo themed and I love the bright pink and blue colours. I would never normally buy napkins but these are good fun for a BBQ or summer party. The flamingo paper garland is probably the item I'm least likely to use and would have been least likely to buy but it might brighten up my garden fence if we're having people round.

Like what you see and want to get yourself a July box? Don't leave it too long and you might be able to order one before they're out of stock. If not, you can sign up to the August box ready for next months treat. As for the subscription options there's 3 months, 6 months, a rolling monthly subscription or a whole year! Anyone want to buy me a present...?