Garden wedding mood board

At first I really enjoyed planning a wedding. Time was mostly spent browsing Pinterest and reading wedding magazines, getting excited talking about all of the things we could do. Also because we were having a 2.5 year engagement, the pressure was truly off.

Half way through, the planning picked up as we booked our venue, caterers and I started trying on wedding dresses. It was still fun but we also began to realise just how expensive all of these things were. (All I can say is, thank you so much to our families for their generosity and help)!

And now with a month to go, I suddenly feel more pressure as the wedding is always at the back of my mind. There is a tiny little voice in my head that constantly asks; Did I pay that invoice? Did I reply to that email? What do I still need to do? How much money is left? Did we make the right decision on this? Have I forgotten something? Why is my eye twitching?

As someone who works in PR and is used to planning events, I have found it really interesting how different it is actually planning a wedding and also, what I have learnt about myself in the process.

So for any other brides-to-be or for anyone who is just interested, here is what planning a wedding is teaching me:

Greenwich engagement shoot

About Myself

I push things away.

This is something that surprised me as at work I have no problem tackling a big to-do list and rarely get daunted by one. However when it comes to the wedding and I look at all of the tasks involved, I am guilty of repeatedly putting them off and pushing away the stress for another day. To be fair, it is exhausting having to think about logistics after coming from a long day at work followed by a long commute but sometimes, you just gotta suck it up and get on with it.

I don’t like commitment.

OK, not the exact phrase that my husband-to-be would like to hear (!) but I have learnt that when it comes to making decisions and handing over money, I often get cold feet. Even if it is something I have been wanting the whole way through, as soon as it comes to committing, I suddenly doubt myself, wonder whether it is the best choice and back out. Definitely not the most productive way of working, so now once I have found something, I pass it over to Marc to confirm the rest. (Thanks Marc!)

 I give myself a hard time.

I think because we have had such a long time to plan this wedding and because part of my job involves creative events, I have put a lot of pressure on myself to create a really distinctive, beautiful, unique wedding. But of course budget is always an issue and it is also hard to think of something that hasn’t already been done before, so I am trying to stop beating myself up and accept that no one will be judging as it will be everyone we love and will be a happy day whatever happens.

About The Planning

Accept help!

Because of popular culture, I thought it was my duty as the bride-to-be to organise every part of the wedding and take complete ownership of it. But the reality is that it is a big task with so many little details (and emails) that go along with it. As soon as I started passing things over to (a very willing) Marc, it became instantly less stressful and a lot more fun.

Planning over the summer is great.

Lighter evenings have made it easier to be productive after work and easier for me to get out and do my fitness classes without lugging around coats/umbrellas/boots etc.

A dedicated wedding venue can be super helpful.

Back when we were trying to decide which wedding venue to choose, I was looking at all options, including a DIY village hall style. In the end we went for a dedicated wedding venue and even though it brings some restrictions (like having to choose from a list of suppliers instead of bringing your own food truck), generally it has made the process much easier, with staff on hand to advise and answer questions and suppliers who are completely used to working there.

Accept that it can’t always be like the weddings you see on Pinterest.

Pinterest is a great source of inspiration but it is also the cause of much of my stress! There are so many great ideas but it’s hard to choose between them all, especially when faced with a budget and – it turns out – no creative DIY skills whatsoever. So my advice would be to choose one or two elements that you really love, for example, we loved the idea of having a vintage barrel bar and invested in that.

Book your registrar early!

I wish someone had told us about this as registrars can get booked up really far in advance! I ended up booking 6 months beforehand and there was just one person who was available and we were incredibly lucky that the only time slot they could do was the exact time that we needed them.

Hatton Garden is a great place to buy wedding rings

The amount of independent jewellers in Hatton Garden can be a bit overwhelming but the great thing is that you can get lots of different quotes and haggle until you find wedding rings that fit your style and budget. Even the more expensive jewellers that we visited here ended up being cheaper than the high street!

Sometimes e-invites are best!

We liked the classic element of sending out a paper invite but if truth be told, managing the RSVPs was a bit of a nightmare! Some people did as instructed and emailed the correct email address, while others gave verbal answers, messages over Whatsapp, Facebook messages – the list goes on. So if budgets are tight for you or you are considering sending out an e-invite that people can reply directly to, I would say go for it my friend.

 

And there we have it! Have any other brides-to-be, wives or husbands got any advice or tips they want to share about their wedding day? Please leave a comment below if so, I’d love to hear from you!

And if you want to find out more about Marc and my relationship, you can visit the post below:

Being Young in a Long Distance Relationship

I follow many an account on Instagram but if I was only allowed to choose a handful, these 6 women on Instagram would all make the list.

I love these accounts for varying reasons; for the beautiful, inspiring imagery, the unbelievable travel photography, the cool aesthetic and the effortless, laid-back style.

So without further ado, the 6 women on Instagram that you should follow are:

Tezza MB

NYC girl that just oozes cool in every shot, whether she be in the city or on a roadtrip adventure. Obsessed with her Instagram!

Isabellath

Danish girl with an uber cool, effortless, Urban Outfitters-esque feel to her feed.

lucywilliams02

Lucy, of style focused Fashion Me Now blog, just nails effortless London cool and I love her paired-back outfits and travel reviews.

emmahill

Another laid-back London fashion blogger who can make the simplest of outfits look effortlessly cool. Great for those who like a streamlined wardrobe.

ohhcouture

Leonie’s travel focused Instagram feed is incredibly beautiful and will give you serious wanderlust (as well as hair lust). She now has 1.3 million followers, so I’m guessing you may have already heard of her!

polabur

Another beautiful globetrotting account with more of a girly, pretty feel than some of the others in this list. Beautiful pics that are guaranteed to inspire!

For more inspiration of who to follow on Instagram, you can check out my other posts below!

In the meantime, let me know if there are any other amazing Instagram accounts that I need to know about – I love discovering new ones!

More UK Fashion Instagrammers to Follow

More UK Lifestyle Instagram Accounts to Follow

More British Instagram Accounts You Need to Follow

Now and then, we all need a good pamper. If I’m feeling particularly low or stressed, a combination of sweating it out at my favourite boxing class followed by a trip to a beautiful salon is guaranteed to boost my mood.

Luckily there are plenty of awesome nail and blow dry bars in London to suit all budgets, so I wanted to share a few of my favourites below:

Cheeky and Barber & Parlour: Best for Pedicures

Holborn (smaller) and Shoreditch (bigger)

The Cheeky salons are probably my favourite ever places to get pedicures. The prices have risen slightly this year which isn’t ideal for my strict wedding budget but I personally haven’t found anywhere else that beats them!

The salons are always the perfect mix of exposed & edgy meets relaxing & friendly and I love how you dunk your feet into a big box of soapy water before the talented pedicure technicians get to work buffing, scrubbing and polishing. (I have done a full review of Cheeky in my London Manicure and Pedicure Recommendations post).

Barber and ParlourNail Salon ShoreditchCheeky Holborn best pedicure in London

Blush and Blow : Best For Blow Dries, Lashes and Pedicures

Parsons Green, West London

I visited Blush and Blow recently to try a half set of eyelash extensions for the first time and absolutely loved the grey and gold interiors (as well as the owner’s dog who was happily wandering around). It was such a beautiful space and would be ideal for a group of ladies to grab a blow dry before hitting Chelsea.

Blush and BlowBlush and Blow LondonBlush and Blow review

Duck & Dry: Best for Blow Dries

Oxford Street, Central London

Specialising in speedy blow dries, I recently visited here to get some bouncy curls ahead of my hen do weekend in Brighton. The lift was broken which was slightly annoying when I had my big suitcase with me but there was a motivational message to keep me going (!) and once I was upstairs I loved how airy, modern and Instagram-friendly the space was. There are plenty of blow-dry stations, making it ideal for large groups such as birthday parties, office parties and hen-dos, and there are also small makeup and nail stations on hand too if you need them.

The other reason I like this blow dry bar is because it is one of the most affordable in central London/Oxford Street (it cost me £32 for a hair wash and blow dry).

There is no lift to success stairs

Duck and Dry Oxford CircusDuck and Dry reviewDuck and Dry London

London Grace: Best for Affordable Manicures

Putney and Leicester Square

The original London Grace salon is in Putney but I tend to go to the Leicester Square branch as it is closest to my office and also because it is newer, less well known (and found in a nondescript alley), I can always book in at short notice. What is also great is that they run ‘happy hour’ discounts during the week and have a fab little bar that serve both alcoholic and soft drinks. The manicure stations are long benches which also means you can get your nails done at the same time as a friend whilst sitting next to them, making girly gossips that bit easier.

London Grace pedicureLondon Grace nail colours

If you are thinking of visiting London for a girly pamper and need somewhere to stay, you might want to check out Home From Home, a website that has plenty of beautiful short-term apartments in London to suit a range of budgets and group sizes.

And if you need more inspiration of girly things to do in London, you might also want to check out my posts below!

What to do For a Girls Day in London

Afternoon Tea Recommendations in London 

London Manicure and Pedicure Recommendations

Prettiest Places for a Drink in London

*This post contains a sponsored link to Home From Home but all thoughts and views my own.

Before our wedding in September, my goal is to turn my light blonde (read: invisible), straight lashes into dark, fluttery, long natural-looking lashes that will work for the wedding day as well as last for the honeymoon.

After trying a YUMI Lash Lift a few months ago (full YUMI lash review here), I was really interested in trying lash extensions to see how they would compare.

I was kindly invited down to Blush & Blow, a gorgeous blow-dry, nail bar and beauty salon near Parson’s Green (West London), to try out my first time lash extensions.

I popped in on a Friday afternoon and loved that it was so quiet as it meant I could take plenty of pics of the beautiful grey and gold interiors (and cuddle with the owner’s dog). This is honestly one of the prettiest salons I have been to and would be amazing for a girly pamper party.

Blow dry bar London

I was invited downstairs to one of the treatment rooms where my therapist and I discussed the natural, fluttery look that I was after.

She said that as I hadn’t done lash extensions before and am not super high maintenance, then a more natural looking half set would work best.

She prepped my eyes, applied a black tint onto my lashes for 10 minutes, wiped off and then began to glue the individual extensions onto my lashes. It was a long process (around one hour) but it was incredibly relaxing and as I listened to the spa-like music in the room, a couple of times I did feel myself drifting off!

Eventually, I was told to open my eyes. There was some stinging at first but the therapist trickled water down my eyes to help get rid of any of the glue or dye that may have irritated them and after a few minutes they felt fine. I was then handed the mirror to inspect.

So, moment of truth! Here are the (shiny, make-up-free, awful brows) before-and-afters:

Natural lashes beforeNatural lashes afterFirst time lash extensions

I thought she had done a brilliant job of making them look natural and felt very pleased with them. I feel that the result I got was great for holidays and for no-makeup days (it was SO good waking up in the morning to fuller, black lashes, as it made me look instantly more put-together and saved time getting ready) but I personally found that when I had the rest of my makeup on, they lost their impact and I still needed to wear mascara to bring the look together. So now that I know more about the experience, if I was to get them done again, I would probably want them to look longer and more curled upwards so that they looked more impactful.

For aftercare, I was told not to use any cleansing oils or mascaras with oil in (especially waterproof mascaras) as it will dissolve the glue and make the false lashes fall out quicker. I was also given a spoolie/mascara wand and told to brush them through each morning to stop them crossing over.

I have been doing as told and over one week, only a few have fallen out so far, which apparently is normal as it happens with your natural lash cycle.

So, one week on, this is how they now look (ignore that left eyebrow):

Natural lash extensionsLash extensions Steph Style

I have one month left to get the perfect lashes before the wedding, so do let me know if there are any particular treatments or salons that you would recommend!

In the meantime, thanks to Blush and Blow for a fabulous pamper.

Blush and Blow

I am obsessed with trying beauty products and absolutely love discovering amazing makeup that feels good, looks good and just does the job brilliantly.

Which is why I wanted to share these makeup bits with you as I personally think that they are some amazing beauty products that you really ought to know about!

I have been loving using all of them so much so wanted to explain why below:

June Favourites

 

Marc Jacobs Re(Marc)Able Full Cover Concealer:

This is a gorgeous pot of creamy amazing-ness that really covers my dark under-eye circles with just a few pats. It feels comfortable, creamy, doesn’t really crease and has lasted me such a long time already. This is one of my favourite under-eye concealers ever!

bareMinerals Statement Lip Under Over Lip Liner:

This August there will be a colourful, bold new ‘Statement Lip’ collection launching from bareMinerals and because I work for the brand, I am lucky enough to get to try it early! I am obsessed with this lip liner in shade 100%, a bold crimson that can be used not just to outline the lips but to fill them in too, making it SO easy to do a red lip that won’t smear on teeth or around the face! It has a matte finish, packs a punch and lasts for hours. SOLD!

Charlotte Tilbury eyeshadow palette:

I picked this up at the Stylist Magazine Beauty Awards and I am so pleased I did as it is now one of my favourite eyeshadow palettes of all time! The warm neutral, bronze and chocolate tones are flattering on my fair skin and it is so easy to create an elegant eyeshadow look with them. However you mix them, they all blend really well together, making it a pretty foolproof palette. The eyeshadows are highly pigmented too, so a little goes a long way. The perfect staple for a makeup bag.

Buxom Big & Sexy Bold Gel Lipstick in Guilty Angel:

I have made no secret of the fact that I love a nude lip and this Guilty Angel shade from new beauty brand Buxom is the perfect pink/peach/nude combo. I really rate Buxom lipsticks as they feel so soft, creamy and comfortable on the lips and the coverage is always great too.

Other good nude lips are: Laura Mercier Lip Parfait Creamy Colour Balm in Amaretto Swirl and bareMinerals Gen Nude collection.

(I recently posted on the Buxom blogger trip to the private island Osea here if you want to check it out!)

Marc Jacobs Re(Marc)Able Full Cover Foundation:

When I say that this is full coverage, boy, do I mean full coverage. I use a very small amount of the foundation each morning as I still like to let my freckles show through and this has instant full coverage that really goes far. Full coverage foundations can often feel quite heavy and cakey on the skin but this actually feels quite refreshing. It dries down to a matte finish but definitely keeps a little glow and is nowhere near as flat-matte as Double Wear can be. Absolutely loving this!

bareMinerals Invisible Bronze Powder Bronzer:

Just the perfect bronzer for sweeping around the contours of the face as it is warm enough to be a bronzer but seems to have a grey undertone that makes it ideal for contouring. I have raved about this previously – to see the full review, you can visit my A Beautiful New Bronzer and Illuminator from bareMinerals post.

Does anyone else find that the jeans struggle is real? 

I have written before (here) about my struggle to find good jeans on the high street. I find that they are either stiff and dig in or are soft, unflattering and unsupportive, and as someone who is annoyingly prone to bloating, both options are far from ideal.

The same problem goes for denim skirts, which are so often mini skirts that barely cover the arse or tight-fitting waist-high skirts that only allow you to take the tiniest of baby steps when walking. 

But just when I was about to give up, my colleague saved the day, rocking up to work in the most perfect pair of jeans I have ever laid my eyes upon. They were slim, not skinny. Tapered at the perfect point of the ankle. Soft yet firm. And they came from Levis. 

Levis denim

I had never visited a Levis counter before as the price point was a a deterrent but spurred on by my colleague, I hopped it down to the Carnaby Street branch that very lunchtime to check them out. After all, investing in a good quality pair of jeans makes sense over the long term and because Levis offer free alterations, in the future you can always ask to get them hacked into shorts.

The store was pretty empty which made me a little hesitant but the customer service was incredible. The staff were super friendly and didn’t loom over me, instead they waited until I was about to go into the changing room to ask what I was looking for and if they could bring some suggestions, which I agreed to.

As I pulled up the first pair, I waited for that horrible moment where they get tight and uncomfortable. And waited. And waited. The jeans were up, fastened and there was no discomfort whatsoever. The denim was thick but felt soft, it fitted perfectly around my hips and waist with no digging in and was flatteringly slim on my leg without being as restrictive as a skinny jean. It was the same scenario for the rest of them and I couldn’t believe that I could wear jeans comfortably with a post-lunch belly.

Sadly my favourite pair of jeans weren’t available in my waist size but I will definitely be going back to purchase. In the meantime, I am loving this skirt from Levis as (surprise, surprise) it is the comfiest denim mini skirt I have tried to date. 

If you are like me and struggle with jeans and general denim on the high street, I strongly suggest you pay your nearest Levis a visit. 

Levis denim skirt