8 things no one tells you about your wedding day!

  1. The exhaustion, the physical aches and pains. I’m guessing you probably haven’t ever worn such a big and heavy dress for such a long time. Its tiring. Your meandering around all day, mostly standing and its tiring, the day after and the day after that, I ached.
  2. The emotional exhaustion. Having so many people who love you, showing they love you in one place is a lot emotionally and can really take it out of you. I had the added emotions of it being the last time I was seeing my best friend who lives in Florida before she flew home and not knowing when I was seeing her next. Emotional is an understatement for our goodbye!Image may contain: one or more people, car and outdoor
  3. It goes in a flash! I know people tell you this but I was amazed at how fast the actual ceremony went, I would have like it to be three times longer which is something as a wedding guest I didn’t think I would ever say.
  4. The power of a white dress, I had folks dancing who would never have danced in a month of Sundays regularly but no one says no to a lady in white! frances-alex-wedding-803
  5. Something changes. We both said that after we had said I will (in the Church of England service it’s not I do its I will) we felt different and I really truly didn’t expect that.
  6. Confetti is really annoying. I emptied a tonne from my dress, my husband changed his shirt because it was full and the getaway car was filled by a very mischievous uncle! We are still finding it and it’s a lovely reminder of our day.
  7. People will be amazingly generous even if you ask them not to be. We had a no gift list because we a. don’t need anything b. wanted to make our wedding as accessible to our friends as possible and didn’t want to give them the added burden of a obligated gift from a list. Despite this we got given a lot of cash (that we are using with our date night jar from the guest book) to fund our year of fun times and dates.
  8. You need to speak up during your vows. During the rehearsal my mum did tell me this and gosh she was right. It feels like a very personal intimate moment which it is but you have invited these people to witness it with you so speak up even the people in the cheap seats want to hear!frances-alex-wedding-273

What did you not know before your big day?


Bridal Body Prep

Lets be clear this is not about loosing weight, about becoming a ‘new you’ or about what anyone else thinks.

This is about being the best of you, your spouse marrying you for you and about feeling fabulous.

Ok i’m done with the rant! So what did I do to prep for our wedding day, nothing revolutionary and nothing crazy lets hit it!

For my Body
Water, so much water in the weeks leading up. I bought a beast insulated flask a couple of months before and just touted it everywhere with me filled with iced water. Hydrated skin is happy skin!


I also started a month before sugar scrubbing about twice a week. I probably should have always been doing this to remove dead skin cells and give your self a glow but it’s an easy step to drop from your shower routine when you could trade it in for extra time in bed! I have been continuing this after and it’s keeping my skin smooth and silky! I am currently using a bath and body works scrub I have had hoarded but there are loads of great affordable options. The next unnecessary shower step that I started and have continued is an in shower body moisturiser. I wouldn’t get out of the shower without conditioning my hair so why not condition my body? Doing it in the shower is way easier and quicker than moisturising outside of the shower. I use the sanctuary in shower body moisturiser and it’s the bomb.

I was also really careful in the sun, I always wear facial SPF but knowing the cut of my dress I didn’t want any mental tan lines all across our wedding photos so was really mindful whenever I was in the sun to either remove straps or cover right up!


And finally for the body don’t forget your feet! It’s a long day and however comfortable your shoes are they won’t be at the end of the night and your feet will be telling you about it. I have a kind gross but amazing gadget called a pedi egg that essentially cheese grates your feet. Yes gross. Yes v effective. Follow it up with a pepperminty foot cream and its a dream. For an added treat and the night before the wedding (in preparation) I used a foot mask to give my little piggies the most papering possible.

Ok onto that beautiful face of yours!

I have developed quite a rigorous facial skin care routine and it has just made my skin look better. Once you start seeing the difference I have found it easy to stick to it! So I adore a mask, I use your good skin mask in the shower (it only needs 5mins to work) which means it is mess free, a bonus or I use moisture bomb tissue mask between showering and getting dressed. I also use the your good skin cleanser, the dairy moisturiser (which has a great SPF) and the serum. The serum is a game changer, I swear it makes me look less tired and is basically a magic gel! I also love the pixi glow tonic (original I know) which I used after cleansing before adding a cream or serum. And my final skin care but really self love item is a jade roller, does it really do anything, Young House Love thinks so and if it’s good enough for Sherry! It feels amazing on my face and does have a instant de-puffing effect especially on those days I have achy tired eyes!


These are the things that I do for my face and body that make me feel great, what do you do to feel fantastic?


Engagement Shoots Rock!

No really they do. Our wedding photography package came with an engagement (she calls them pre-wedding) shoot. This was one of the big things that I had been looking for in a Wedding photographer and i’m here to tell you why!

  1. You and your photographer can get used to each other before your wedding day. And not just in a cup of coffee and chin wag way (although that is great because they are going to be following you around all day!) In a professional sense, what are they telling you to do, how you and your partner naturally interact. This gives you both some practice at working with each other to get the best wedding pictures possible.frances-alex-kelmarsh-hall-19
  2. You get your pictures back before the wedding and you can see what you look like! How often do you have pictures taken? We really don’t, ever, and getting some images back allowed us both to have an ick i’m never doing that with my face/body/arm again moments! It also shows you what works for your body and what doesn’t.frances-alex-kelmarsh-hall-59
  3. You get a heck tonne extra pictures of just the two of you in a pretty low key environment just being yourselves. You could use these for your invites (I have a friend who did this and they were lovely), use them for home decor or use them for wedding decor like we did. wedding-photos.jpg


Have I convinced you or am I preaching to the choir! Did you have engagement photos?


Top Tips for DIY Wedding Bar

Lets heads up by saying that I know that this isn’t for everyone so I will start with our pro con list.

1. It was hard work setting it up, we used costco and two different supermarkets which took time (and petrol) to get to and energy to lug the drinks about, from cart into car, car into house, move about house a bit, house into car, into venue. You get the idea. Perfect if you have people who love you who you want to love you a little less when the wedding is over!
2. And on that note, you will need help so it does mean asking more favours of probably the same group of people who you have already exploited quite a lot (i’m looking at you Mum!)
3. And finally you have to store it at home. In a fairy normal English house this can be quite a challenge and I was delirious with happiness when we could use our patio doors again because they weren’t being blocked by booze mountain!


yes this all (except the nappies) ended up in my house!

So onto the Pros:
1. Hiring it out is EXPENSIVE. Not just for you but for your guests too. We wanted to make sure everyone could have a good time and not worry. And for us and our family and friends that meant be able to freely have a drink. We have friends and family in all different stages of life and financial situations and we wanted to make sure everyone could enjoy our day without having that nagging can I afford this £10 G&T in the back of their mind!
2. We were also aware than any leftovers could come back to our house or be a fun perk for those wonderful people who did our clearing up! It’s nice to have a stack of fun drinks to dip into and makes entertaining post wedding feel like a breeze, it’s the gift to ourselves that just jeeps on giving!
3. It meant we could completely customise what we were serving and make sure our guests had what we knew they would like. I got to indulge making some flavoured gins which were a nice personal touch.
4. And for us it really reinforced the informal feeling we were shooting for in all of our wedding, everyone helped each other and it generally made people chat more than they would have otherwise.


This is what we decided to stock and we had ample leftovers. This may have been in part due to the day (34degrees is really hot in the UK) which meant that less spirits were drunk than if it had been a little cooler than the fires of hades!

24x Red wine
24x Rose win (we decided against white as neither of us like it and felt we had enough selection!)
30x Bubbles (some pink and some champagne, for toasts and because I do love a glass of bubbles!)
2x Hendricks gin
2x flavoured homemade gin
1x Jack Daniels honey whisky
1x Malibu (for one specific friend!)
1x absolute vodka
72x can IPA
100x corona
250x bottled still water
150x bottled sparking water
500x canned soft drinks
Different fruit squashes and elderflower cordial plus orange juice as we had children at our wedding.

We also provided welcome drinks, a pink juice and a pimms to roll along with doughnuts and pasties.


We had LOTS but all of the still waters and most of the soft drinks got drunk. No one touched the spirits (except homemade variants thankyouverymuch!) but again I would put that more down to the weather than the crowd!

Some things you will need for your bar that could be easy to forget, napkins for those little spills, straws (paper because millennial!), bottle openers and corkscrews (have more than one because loosing or breaking one would be a disaster!) and some emergency plastic cups, for later in the evening when you can’t find a cup!

We also bought pouring measures for the spirits from amazon to prevent anyone getting crazy with the free pour (you know we have all done that at a party) and that’s when things can get funky!


This isn’t for everyone but having a DIY bar was fun for us and hopefully with these tips it could be fun for you too! What would you have on your DIY bar?


Flavoured Gins

Making flavoured gins is a quick and easy way to add some personality to your home bar or to package up for great personalised gifts. These are two very simple summer recipes but I have also had great success with rosemary, citrus and of course hedgerow fruit (like sloes and blackberries.)

I used the basic recipe from good food and then tweaked it for what I had to hand.

Basic recipe:

1kg fruit (trimmed and chopped into 1″ pieces)
400g caster sugar
800ml gin (i’m cheap by nature so always either use what I have or a supermarket own brand, don’t hate me!)

I used rhubarb for one and frozen mixed berries for the other. Just dump the fruit, sugar and gin into a large glass jar close the lid and shake it every couple of days until the sugar has all dissolved. I let mine infuse for 4 weeks before straining through a muslin into bottles I had saved and cleaned out for the purpose.


The rhubarb came up a pretty pink but the mixed berry came out red and when it’s diluted looks like tizer but actually has a more grown up flavour than the rhubarb! Both slip down a treat when paired with tonic and have the advantage of having a slightly lower alcohol content- ideal for a hot summers day!

Have you tried making your own flavoured spirits?


A Slightly Alternative Guest Book

I did not want a guest book.

I mean Polaroid cameras are fun and you can get super cute books to put your adorable quirky pictures in or for everyone to sing. But in reality one over enthusiastic 7 year old always gets hold of the instax and you end up with £45 of film of pictures of light switches and everyone’s feet!

I have similar feelings on instant cameras. My now darling husband attended a friends wedding and him and some cronies spent a good portion of the night using all of the disposable cameras on the tables to photograph not only all of the fittings and fixtures of the venue but also the other wedding taking place that evening complete with a picture of all of the naughty boys with the other happy couple! Do you know how expensive developing disposable cameras can be! Well dearest darling husband does now!

However I digress.


We did have a guest book, a kind a thoughtful gift from someone, so if I, guest book hating diva can end up with one then anyone can so to come up with something more interesting than a blank book and your guests imagination or a very expensive camera!

I love to over complicate and always want to be ‘different’ so I decided to create two different types of cards, advice for the new Mr & Mrs and date night ideas.

Guest book3

I had them printed (because we have no printer) and cut them out. I bought these brown envelopes from amazon and then used my personalised stamp to customise the back of the envelopes. Pritt stick then came into full force and I stuck them into the book.

Guest book1

Don’t forget some good quality pens then keep your fingers crossed to get lots of lovely messages or cheat and get your bridesmaids to sign it the night before to set the rest of your guests on the right track!

How well it worked, you will have to come back for that!

Bridal party gifts and hospitality

Lets start this by saying that I love my bridesmaids (and bridesman) very much but I had decided for sure that bridal party gifts were something I was not going to be doing. These people already love you right they are giving you their time because they want to help you have the most magical day ever. But if I can get swept into the manic gift giving then I assume you can too so this is what I have put together for my girls (and boy!)

First thing to note is that all of my bridal party are traveling a fair distance to be with us one even flying in from the states so I want to make sure that their stay is as seamless and hotel like as possible, hence why I have wrapped up hospitality into this too! Two of the three also have husbands so it took our headcount to house up to 5 and so it made the most sense to get them a holiday cottage all together for the weekend rather than hotel rooms.

We are going to fill their fridge with breakfast foods (quick and simple things) along with a few essentials (tea and coffee mostly!) and some easy to go breakfast bars.

bp gifts 7

When they arrive they will each have a pair of monogrammed PJ’s in their room along with their gift bags and bridesmaid dresses all ready and steamed (more on their outfits another time!)

bp gifts 8

The PJ’s for the girls came from Asda at the start of the year but i loved the satin finishes with the classic design. I free handed each a monogram (in the American style with first name, surname and then middle name or maiden name) on paper and traced it through onto the pocket using a water soluble embroidery marker. I used a combination of embroidery threads 2 threads of each (DMC 223 and DMC E168) and split stitched over the line I had drawn. I used a hoop to keep the fabric taught and kept an eye on the backside of the piece (since it would be visible).


I used the same monogram to freehand (using a gold paint pen) onto the hangers which I bought in the wonderland that is primark.

Onto the gift bags. So they each have a reusable coffee cup (£2.99 from B&M) so we can all get coffee on the morning of the wedding, I’m not a real person until I have had my morning coffee! A selection of naughty snacks because there is nothing worse than being a little hangry (all the snacks for the three bags came to £2.00 from various store). A little pack of paracetamol (half a pack costing £0.30 each) and a travel pack of tissues (£0.39 home bargains) because you know be prepared and then they each have a small wedding day useful gift. For both of my girls I got them heart shaped hand warmers (from poundland’s post valentines day sale for £0.50 each) and for my boy bridesmaid a cherry chap-stick because I know that is his jam! I wrapped these little gifts up to add something to the mystery and presentation because it’s all about the presentation.


For the two with husbands I didn’t want them to feel left out so I (of course doubled the snacks) and then added a big pack of their favourite snack and some of their favourite drink just to say a little thankyou for spending their time on us. These were all packaged up with a note to say thanks and topped with tissue paper.

bp gifts 1

I truly believe that presentation is important for these sort of small gifts. I used gift bags from B&M (£0.99), tissue from card factory (in two colours £0.99 each), scrapbooking tags from my stockpile and the same ball of twine I have been using for everything!  These cost me between £6.00 and £8.00 a bag but by spending some time on their presentation and searching for the items for each person I think them communicate how grateful I am for them spending their valuable time on us!


I also put together bags for Alex’s grooms party but instead of cups they got their ties and childrens books instead of munchy treats for their wives.  And my family, who are also coming into town I made them goody bags in the same theme with treats and little notes to let them know how much they mean to us.

So yes, it appears I went hard on the bridal party gifts thing and yes I probably spent more money than is wise but it’s a part of the day before I am really looking forward to, showing these people around us who care about us how much we care about them!

What are your thoughts on this kind of nonsense!


The MOST extra thing

Last night my fiancee and I were sitting on the sofa talking about weddings, well to be more exact the wedding (10 days and counting) and how totally done with weddings we are.

Everything that can be organised is, our house looks like a wedding monster threw up in it (we are doing a mostly DIY wedding) and quite frankly even I can not make any more lists! Yet still, I continue.

Which leads me onto these, the most extra thing I have DIY’ed for our wedding whilst in that frenetic wedding haze where everything that needs doing is actually done and you are just keeping yourself busy with stuff because you feel like you should!

Onward from the crazy mind dump to the DIY!

But what, hold onto your hats, DIY hand soap wrappers (told you I have lost my mind!)

I have always had this thing about bathrooms, wherever I go I am likely to use the loos and golly gosh they can say a lot about a place (or dare I say it) a person so having nice amenities was important to me.


I took these very basic (but good smelling) hand soaps from home bargains for under £1.00 each. When picking these I made sure the sided of the containers were square and didn’t taper in at all because that will make your job a whole tonne harder. I made a paper wrap using my standard set of wedding illustrations and the fonts I had chosen. This involved a bit of measuring and scaling on my computer screen to make sure they would print the correct size.


I got these printed on standard printer paper (and would have done this at home if I had a colour printer that I trusted!) and cut them out. I used double sided tape to stick them over the sops and voilla done. I paired them with a hand cream (also home bargains) in a complimentary scent because it’s all about the little luxuries! Very little time, effort or money (total cost under £5.00 and that’s because our local print shop are a rip off!) but yes I am aware very unnecessary.


What did you do to distract you from the wedding crazies!


DIY wedding stationary

When we started wedding planning I knew I wanted to design my own paper products for a couple of reasons.

  1. I have a friend who got married and spent £700+ on invitations alone which I knew we could never justify
  2. I wanted everything to match from table plans and menus to invitations
  3. I’m a control  freak at heart.

Honesty is important right!


The first step for me was choosing a illustration set. I considered DIY’ing illustrations using pen and watercolour but after a highly frustrating evening of trying I began scouring the internet for alternatives. I found  the creative market which has some gorgeous artwork available to buy for really reasonable prices along with some great freebies too. Knowing our colour scheme (English garden all centering around peach roses) I found this set and declared it perfect.

Next step was finding the fonts, I knew I wanted atleast two fonts (and we ended up with three.) This meant we could have a script font for aesthetics, a print font for small amounts of functional information and a even more simple print font for large amounts of information (this is what I used in our programs for hymns and the such.)

I browse the web for fonts and used fontspace for marigold our script, from dafont I chose optimus princeps as our print font and then used my computers palatino linotype as the most functional font. Having three levels of fonts allowed me creative freedom and also works as three levels of information, titles, preface and main body which is a system I am familiar using from my real job.


I decided not use black for my fonts as it felt too dark with the light breezy illustrations so everything has been done in a very dark grey which just takes the edge off.

Most of my paper products were made using word with margins set to 0 (to allow illustrations to fall right to the edge) but I would have preferred to use publisher just for ease of moving illustrations (you can use the whole work space as like a drop zone) and the ability to let them fall over the edge but I was working within my means.

So some of the printables I created include a bar list (for our self service bar, unplugged ceremony signs and invitations to mention a few.)

I will say that I have spent hours on these (and many more) so this is not a quick fix but for me it was an important area for me to invest my time rather than spending money for someone else to do it for me. The printing has been cheap and I can have everything proof read before I hit print.  It also means that all of the signage through our event will be cohesive and I won’t have to pen any chalkboards!

I hand-wrote my cousins chalkboard signs including a table plan when they got married in 2016 which looked lovely but by the end of it I had decided it was something I would never do again! The hand cramp was REAL.

I have a couple more ideas of ways to use these illustrations (getting your moneys worth no) coming up over the coming weeks. What do you think to DIY wedding stationary, worth the time?


Perfectly Pink Juice

Well mine isn’t quite pink more peach but darn doesn’t it still taste good!

I used this pink juice recipe as inspiration but had to do some substitutions to use ingredients we can easily get in the UK.

To make 2l of juice

1500ml pink lemonade
500ml pineapple juice
Heck tonne of ice
Lemon slices


Yes this isn’t even a recipe it’s a dump it in and slurp it down kind drink, very refreshing and not too sweet which is something many punches suffer from!

This is one of our welcome drinks for our cocktail hour (or in our cause doughnut and pastie hour!) served alongside pimms with a lemon slice and a gold paper straw!

I suppose the big question is should I add glitter to this punch? The answer is almost certainly yes!