Happy April lovelies! And WOW do I feel happy to say that after what felt like the busiest March ever!
Today’s post is a very impromptu one (as I’m currently writing this it’s twenty past midnight and I’ve just put on a sheet mask) however I felt like it was a very necessary post. Grab a cuppa, it might become a long one.
I’ve had this blog for just over four months now and I’ve tried hard to post content that is intentionally thought out and which comfortably sits under the umbrella of wedding and lifestyle. But today, in a moment of calm after a very crazy month, I wanted to post something with a little more heart. An honest chat about how I’m really feeling about my blog and a catch up about what’s been going on around here.
Starting my blog was always part of the plan for me. If you’re a small business owner, you’ll likely be inundated with advice to blog as much as possible (which strikes total dread in some people) however when I set out on this venture, The Ivory Book was never designed to simply be a marketing tool or an SEO driver.
It was designed to be it’s own entity. An accompaniment to my wedding planning business but also an outlet for my own thoughts and, ultimately, a familiar corner of the internet for brides to be, business owners or simply my fellow twenty-somethings who are trying their best to navigate their way through life.
Let’s be real now though – blogging is tough. Sure, anyone can put together some words, add some nice pictures and click upload, but when we’re immersed in an industry that is inundated with incredible bloggers, can anybody really blame us for feeling under pressure to nail it from day one?
It also boils down to quality and consistency. Before my business launched, I confidently said that I would blog twice a week. Now, four months in, I’m quietly chuckling at my naivety as I scroll through the Instagram feed that I’ve neglected and the blog that hasn’t seen any action in a month.
Putting your written voice out there for the world to see is SO hard, especially when you’re not sure if anyone is reading it yet. I’ve designed my business to be an extension of me – it’s my name, my face and, let’s face it, you won’t have to scroll too far down my Instagram feed to find out a personal fact about my journey into the wedding industry or my addiction to diet coke. But there is nothing more exposing than posting something that you’ve written and opening yourself up to the potential scrutiny of your peers (or, even more terrifyingly, that girl you used to go to school with or the woman who stands across from you at Zumba).
The truth that I am skirting around here is that I started to get the fear. Fear of posting, fear of sharing, fear of judgement and fear of aiming big whilst The Ivory Book was still small. Time to put a stop to that, don’t you think?
Spring is, and always has been, my favourite season. It’s a transitional time, an optimistic time and, personally, I like to think of it as an opportunity for a fresh start. So, with that in mind, I’m quashing the fear and focusing much more of my energy on this little blog of mine this month. I’ll stop making promises about how frequently you’ll see me posting, but there will be more posts on the way – with the same thought and intention, just with a bit of added heart.
March was a busy but incredibly exciting month for me – I coordinated an incredible Masterclass Event, arranged a beautiful Photoshoot, attended London Bridal Fashion Week, met with some wonderful couples and suppliers and I even managed to fit in an amazing holiday to Iceland (more on all of that soon!). Now, I am enjoying a brief moment of quiet before a SUPER exciting adventure next week!
So, as we enter the new season and a beautifully transitional period of the year, I invite you to join me in suppressing the fear (be it about blogging, business or any other area of your life) and persevere with the things you care about most. Grasp every opportunity that comes your way, don’t be afraid to shout about it and definitely don’t worry about who hears it.
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Valentines Day is just around the corner – and if that sentence makes you clam up and think of couple-filled restaurants or an M&S meal deal for two, keep reading!
Personally, I love Valentine’s Day, but I firmly believe that it doesn’t need to be a day full of cliches and it definitely doesn’t need to cost the earth either. However you are deciding to celebrate this year, or even if you’re deciding not to celebrate at all, it’s so important that you do something that suits both you and your valentine.
Today, I’m thinking outside the dinner-and-a-movie box and giving you four alternative ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day. So, whether you’re planning something special for your special someone or a galentine’s day you’ll never forget, here are a few ideas on how to do February 14th a little differently. And I promise, there’s not an M&S Meal Deal in sight.
Beat the winter blues and use Valentine’s Day as the perfect opportunity to take a trip with your significant other. Cities renowned for romance such as Paris and Rome will likely be busier around Valentine’s Day (although no less charming!), however for many parts of the world February means ‘off-season’ which makes it the perfect time of year for a budget-friendly getaway!
What better way to celebrate a day focussed on love than with your best girlfriends? It doesn’t matter if you’re single, your partner is away (I’ll stick my own hand up to that one!) or if you just fancy spending it with friends – rallying up your girls for a fun-filled Galentine’s day is something I’m fully on board with. For me, this Valentine’s Day will be spent with my bestie, Patrick Swayze and a bottle of wine – perfect!
If there’s ever a day of the year that people feel as though they have to put in an effort, it’s Valentine’s Day. Realistically though, some of my most memorable V-day date nights have been spent doing as little as possible. Agree with your partner beforehand, but if neither of you are feeling flashy this year then tone things down and do something low-key which you’ll both really enjoy. Frozen pizza and a Netflix crime documentary? Just tell me where to sign up.
If flowers and chocolates aren’t really your thing, why not treat your significant other to a new activity or experience as your Valentine’s Day gift. Consider trying a cookery course or go for an adventure-packed activity like rock climbing or kayaking. And if you’re spending the day solo this year, see it as the perfect opportunity to try something you’ve always wanted to do – a calligraphy workshop, floristry masterclass or a yoga retreat are all great options if you’re going solo!
Image by Nataly J Photography
Happy New Year! And a very warm welcome to my first blog post of 2019. If you are new here then I am so happy that you’ve stumbled upon my little corner of the internet. I have lots of exciting things planned for The Ivory Book this year so I am delighted to have you along for the ride.
2018 was an incredible year for me but it’s safe to say that in between all of the wonderful things that happened my New Year’s Resolutions got put on the back burner a little bit (I still can’t cook and I definitely could’ve read more books than I did). So, for 2019, I’ve set myself four small, attainable resolutions to focus on – I hope it inspires you to set yourself some goals for the next 12 months too!
I travelled more than ever before last year (you can read about my top 5 travel destinations here) and I definitely want to visit even more places in 2019. This Christmas, Jordan and I agreed not to get each other physical presents and instead put the money we would have spent towards a holiday that we would both enjoy much more.
Top of my 2019 travel list is to see much more of Europe this year – Tuscany, Amsterdam, Germany and Edinburgh to name just a few!
2018 was a very ‘yes’ year for me when it came to work. Without really realising it, I adopted the mantra of saying yes to any career opportunities that came my way and figuring out how to cope with them later.
Going into this year I definitely want to keep the same attitude towards any work opportunities that I am faced with. It is so easy to spend our time worrying and talking ourselves out of something which we don’t believe we are capable or deserving of, so in 2019 I’m saying a big fat YES to more of the incredible career opportunities that come my way.
I wasn’t quite sure what to say about my plans for The Ivory Book in 2019 but I think ‘find my feet’ sums it up quite nicely. I had always planned to launch a blog alongside my wedding planning business at the end of last year and over the next 12 months I want to gain more confidence and establish my blog as a place that truly embodies what I love to read and talk about.
I’m not going to set myself any resolutions for how frequently I’ll be posting or limiting the topics I talk about; instead I will be focussing on developing a writing style that sounds like me, remaining authentic both here and on my Instagram, and posting content that I am completely proud of.
Towards the end of 2018 I took a couple of much-needed breaks from social media and it did wonders for my mental health. It is so easy to get swept up with the notion that we always need to be present on social media (especially when you run a small business) so it was a total revelation that the insta-world was completely fine without me for a few days.
In 2019, I will be much more conscious to schedule in some phone-free time – and I definitely urge everybody reading this to do the same!
Images by Charlotte Bryer-Ash Photography.
I was scrolling through old photos on my phone a few weeks ago and it made me realise just how much travelling I’ve done in 2018 compared to previous years. I’m a self-confessed homebody, but I do love to explore new places and I definitely want to travel more in 2019.
My job as a wedding planner has taken me to London, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Surrey, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Dorset and Devon this year – which is one of the reasons I love what I do so much. In my personal life I’ve taken several unforgettable trips too, so from holidays abroad to UK weekend breaks, I thought I would round up the top 5 travel destinations I’ve visited in 2018.
My family and I had a weekend break in Rome this February to celebrate a big birthday of my mum’s and it was wonderful! Although I’ve always loved Italy, this was my first time visiting Rome and it didn’t take me long to fall in love with this beautiful city.
Rome is steeped in history and there is incredible architecture around every corner – visit famous sights such as the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, St Peter’s Basilica and the Pantheon and, if you have time, I would highly recommend a tour of the Vatican Museum. Walk as much as possible and absorb the Italian culture as you wander around the charming streets and ornate piazza’s (whilst of course consuming copious amounts of pizza, pasta, wine and gelato).
We arrived early Friday morning and left late on Sunday afternoon which gave us 3 (almost) full days of exploring and plenty of time to see what Rome has to offer – although once you have fallen for the city’s intensely romantic charm, I wouldn’t blame you if you never wanted to leave.
Anybody who knows me will know just how much I adore New York. I first visited 10 years ago and have been desperate to return ever since, so in April me and my sister jumped on a plane and had the most unforgettable trip.
I find an inexplicable sense of belonging in New York, it’s such a world away from the place I’ve grown up in and yet there is something so special about this vibrant, lively city which completely draws me in. I will have to write a separate post to give all of my recommendations of what to do in New York, but some particular highlights were walking over the Brooklyn Bridge (and demolishing the Grimaldi’s pizza we ate on the other side), afternoon tea at The Plaza and watching The Lion King on Broadway.
We stayed for 3 nights at The Archer Hotel (which I can highly recommend) and we completely packed the time we had there full of things we wanted to do. We returned home exhausted, jet-lagged but buzzing with the most incredible memories from this epic trip.
In July a couple of friends and I decided to head to Bath for a couple of days and it was the perfect place for a girly weekend away!
I’ve visited Bath several times now and it is such a relaxed city, full of historic sights, small independent cafes and pretty little houses. On this occasion we spent the day shopping and enjoying the sunshine, but if you have time I would recommend paying a visit to the Roman Baths.
On our way home, we took a detour into Bradford on Avon, a beautifully quaint town only 8 miles outside of Bath. There are so many amazing places to eat and drink, as well as many independent shops and plenty of Insta-worthy opportunities around the town, so it was easy to lose ourselves in an afternoon spent here.
Croatia has been on my bucket list for years so in September, when Jordan and I decided we wanted to book a last minute summer break, it didn’t take us long to decide where to go.
We spent a week travelling around the Istrian coastline, with a trip inland to Plitvice Lakes midway through our holiday. Croatia as a whole blew us away but it was Plitvice Lakes that well and truly stole our hearts – even though there are lots of tourists around many areas of the lakes, there is a feeling of complete calm and serenity that I’ve never experienced elsewhere. We spent two days at Plitvice (arriving as soon as the gates opened in the morning to avoid the crowds!) and we would return back in a heartbeat.
The Istrian peninsula was completely different once again and has such a charming, relaxed atmosphere. My favourite town that we stayed in was Rovinj – a coastal town with cobbled streets, a strikingly beautiful church tower and a breathtaking view of the sunset. Visiting in late September meant that we mostly missed the tourist season and instead found Rovinj was lively with locals, which only added to it’s charm.
This was definitely the most low-key trip this year but still one of my favourites! At the start of June me and Jordan went for a weekend away just outside the Cotswolds and it was exactly what we needed to recharge our batteries after a busy few months of work.
We did very little aside from curling up and watching movies, strolling into the nearby village and enjoying the long evenings of sunshine with a glass of wine – and that suited us perfectly! It is so important to set aside time together and I am determined to make this a frequent trip.
We stayed in this gorgeous little Airbnb which was like a cosy home away from home, I truly can’t recommend it enough!
London is without a doubt one of my favourite cities in the world and at Christmas it becomes even more magical. I always try to visit at least once each December and absorb some of the festivities that are on offer.
There is so much to do around this time of year, many of which don’t cost a penny, so whether you are travelling to London for a holiday or simply being a tourist in your own city, I’ve listed some of my favourite things to do in the hope that it will inspire a festive day out!
Christmas Markets are a fun, free and festive thing to do at Christmas time and there are so many to choose from in London. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is one of the biggest and there’s fairground rides, family-friendly shows and a choice of TWO Christmas markets to visit, promising a fun day out for all ages.
Be prepared for it to be busy, especially in the weekends leading up to Christmas, but I say embrace the crowds, find yourself a glass of mulled wine and eat, shop, drink and be merry.
Image courtesy of Winter Wonderland
Last month I finally got round to going ice skating at The National History Museum and it was such a wonderful afternoon out. With the stunning building of the museum behind you, a carousel and the magnificent Christmas tree in the centre of the rink, an hour or so here is sure to put you in the festive spirit!
Elsewhere around London there are ice rinks at famous attractions such as Somerset House, The Tower of London and Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.
Or window shop, at the very least! One of my favourite things to do is see the gorgeous Christmas window displays at some of London’s biggest department stores throughout December. Harrods, Selfridges and Liberty London all put on some epic displays that are truly not to be missed.
If you’re ready to face the crowds (these stores will be thriving throughout December) then get some Christmas shopping ticked off the list, treat yourself in the food hall and have a mooch through the Christmas department. And afterwards, be sure to reward yourself with a big mug of hot chocolate!
Technically this one isn’t in London but a train and shuttle bus will get you from London Euston to the Watford Studio Tours in 35 minutes, so it is well worth a day out. Hogwarts is transformed into a snowy wonderland until 27th January and it is truly spectacular!
Take a wander through the original film sets, see costumes and props from the movies and refuel with a glass of butterbeer in the onsite cafe. I visited Hogwarts in the Snow at the end of last month and, even though it was my third time visiting the studio tours (self confessed Potter nerd over here!), none of the magic had been lost. Allow the best part of a day for your visit and enjoy every moment!
Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Studio Tours
When in London it is so easy to hop on a tube to get around but without a doubt one of my favourite things to do is just walk around and absorb the sights. Everything in the city is so close together so spend an hour wandering around and I guarantee you will see so much!
See the Christmas lights in places like Carnaby Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street, take a stroll along the Southbank or visit the huge Christmas trees in Trafalgar Square or Covent Garden. Christmas time is the perfect excuse to wrap up in your warmest winter coat and lose yourself in the sights of London.
Image: World Of Wanderlust
The decorations are going up and the radio in my car is tuned to Heart Christmas which can mean only one thing – December is well and truly here! It’s during these winter months that I like to take a moment to overhaul my skincare with some of my favourite products for the colder weather.
Whether you are a bride to be looking for some recommendations for your pre-wedding regime or simply wanting to give your skin some TLC this winter, here are 7 of my skincare favourites for the colder months. I’ve enlisted the help of my best friend Nia who works in the beauty industry (and is my absolute skincare guru!) for this post, so you’ll see a couple of her recommendations thrown in here too!
This product is such a treat for your skin, particularly on those days where your skin is feeling dry, dull and flat. It contains hyaluronic acid which can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, so really locks hydration into the skin! REN products are also free from parabens, mineral oils and artificial fragrances.
I use this once or twice a week after cleansing when my skin is in need of a boost, or for any special events where I want my skin to look as flawless as possible. Apply a small amount to your face dry, then splash a little water onto your fingertips and massage into the cream. It makes such a lovely base for your moisturiser and will give your skin a lift that will last all day long.
When it comes to exfoliating, I have always been a little addicted to scrubs. However, it’s only in the past couple of years that I’ve realised just how much damage constant use of those harsh exfoliators was causing to my dry skin. These Nip + Fab pads are soaked in glycolic acid, and provide a gentler way of exfoliating your skin and rejuvenating your complexion.
I like to smooth one over my face once a week as part of my evening routine, before applying a moisturising night cream. You’ll wake up with skin that feels clean, plumped and refreshed!
I am a slave for my evening routine – no matter how tired I’m feeling, I will always find time to remove my makeup and cleanse my face before bed. This product is a really easy way of removing makeup, but also feels lovely on your skin and will leave your face feeling beautifully clean and cleansed.
To use, smooth onto dry skin and take some time to massage the product into your skin. The gel will turn into an oil which will melt your makeup away and can simply be rinsed off with warm water.
This is one of Nia’s choices and it is such an amazing product. It has a beautifully rich texture without being heavy or greasy, and will provide your skin with plenty of hydration throughout the day. What’s more, it’s also SPF free, so ideal for photographs (brides to be – take note!) as you won’t risk having flash back in any photos taken with the flash on.
It is on the pricier side for a moisturiser, but for good reason – so use it whenever your skin is feeling particularly dry, especially in these colder months!
This is the most affordable product on this list but without a doubt my most used! Perfect for removing makeup, easily cleansing your face and tidying up any mishaps when doing your makeup. At the moment I’m using the formula for combination & sensitive skin, but I’ve previously tried both the original one and the oil infused one and both are just as wonderful.
I like to swipe a cotton pad with some micellar water over my whole face morning and night after cleansing my face for a quick and easy double cleanse and to leave my skin feeling extra-clean before I apply moisturiser.
I’d heard such amazing reviews about the Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour range, and these two products truly live up to the hype.
The 8 Hour Lip Protectant is a wonderfully moisturising lip balm and ideal for this chillier time of year when chapped lips can be a problem. It’s also always the final step of my evening skincare routine before I go to bed.
The mist is beautifully fine and so light on the skin. During the summer months, I like to spritz this all over my face (and it can go over makeup) for a cooling boost, but during this colder time of year I tend to spray a layer on after cleansing on days where my skin is feeling dull to give my complexion a surge of hydration.
Pixi has such a cult following, with their Glow Tonic proving particularly popular, and it’s easy to see why. It contains 5% glycolic acid, which will exfoliate away dead skin cells in a much more gentle way than a scrub, improving the skin’s texture, tone and brightness. It also contains soothing aloe vera and is alcohol free, so it won’t dry out the skin.
The glow tonic is gentle enough to be used daily, although glycolic acid can make the skin more sensitive to the sun so Nia recommends using this product at night and wearing an SPF during the daytime. It’s also worth noting that both the glow tonic and the Nip & Fab Glycolic Pads contain glycolic acid, so on days where you use the Nip & Fab Pads as your exfoliant, swap out your Pixi Glow Tonic for a hydrating toner instead.
There are some moments where I have to pinch myself to believe that I am lucky enough to be given such incredible opportunities and on Wednesday evening, as I found myself walking up to Kensington Palace for the Historic Royal Palaces Wedding Showcase, I experienced that very feeling.
I was kindly invited, alongside some other incredible wedding suppliers from across the country, to attend the evening of festivities – and what a magical night it was!
We arrived at the palace and were greeted with a glass of Cattier Champagne (supplied by Boutique Brands) and the opportunity to explore some of the incredible rooms inside. We then moved through to the King’s Gallery for a talk about royal wedding style over the past 200 years from Harper’s Bazaar’s Executive Fashion and Jewellery Director, Kim Parker. This breathtaking room has recently become licensed for weddings, so you could be the very first couple to marry here!
The Kensington Palace Pavilion, which provides the perfect blank canvas for evening receptions and parties, was transformed into a floral haven by Hayford and Rhodes alongside production from Wise Productions, furniture from Great Hire and our evening’s entertainment from Sternberg Clarke. The evening’s beautiful stationery was created by Anaya and their incredible new collection was on display for us to preview throughout the night.
Blue Strawberry, one HRP’s fabulous recommended caterers, set up four food tasting stations around the room. With delicious options such as scallop ceviche on the menu, all paired with a perfectly complimenting wine, we were well and truly spoilt. Later on in the evening, a series of mouthwatering miniature desserts were served in amongst the floral installation – can you think of a more exciting way of being served dessert?!
The evening was rounded off with a spectacular catwalk show courtesy of The Wedding Gallery. Beautiful designs by the likes of Inbal Dror, J Andretta, Reem Acra, Suzanne Neville and Valentini were showcased against the epic floral display, alongside groomswear by designers such as Thom Sweeney and S.J Soane. (more…)
I work from home, which is why it is so important to me to have a separate space in my house which is entirely dedicated to work.
Recently I turned an empty room in my house into my office space and gave it a little spruce up to make it the perfect place for me to work without it costing me too much time or money. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to share 6 easy ways that you too can give your office space a little lift!
I chose to paint the walls of my office white, which not only kept costs down but also allowed me to inject colour into the room using artwork instead. I have a wall of prints behind my desk, all from Desenio, which I am OBSESSED with!
I went for prints of various different sizes all in black, white and blush tones, which I hung up in plain black frames from Ikea. I included some quotes which inspire me, some beautiful floral prints and (my personal favourite) a ballet-inspired black and white print as a nod to my background as a dancer. Desenio have a huge selection of prints and fantastic delivery times, so definitely check them out and create your own feature wall.
The thought of being responsible for anything living has always terrified me, hence why I had previously never owned a house plant. However, this year I decided to bite the bullet and become a plant mama – and I am so glad I did!
Not only do plants provide lovely and inexpensive decoration for your office space but they are also so beneficial for your working environment. Scientists have proven that having greenery in your office can improve productivity, reduce stress AND boost creativity. If it’s good enough for science, right?
The key thing for me when I was designing my office was that I didn’t want it to cost me the earth. I wanted to create a space in which I could shut myself away and fully focus on work. It’s not perfect, but it definitely suits me and my current situation.
With that in mind, I didn’t want to spend more than I had to on the big items of furniture, so I managed to nab an unwanted desk and a shelving unit for free from my sister when she recently moved house.
I bought my desk chair new from Ikea – I’ll admit, it was the blush colour of this chair that I was initially drawn to, but when I felt how comfortable it was, I was sold. I have an irritating habit of curling up into my chair when I’m working, so it was imperative to me that my chair enabled me to do that with maximum comfort!
My desk faces a shelf of books related to weddings, blogging and business and I find it so motivating. Not only are they great to flick through when I’m looking to relax for half an hour, but they also provide me with so much inspiration when I’m having a particularly ‘meh’ kind of day.
My book shelf favourites:
Candles are such an easy way to create a calming environment and fill the room with a lovely scent. Fresh, clean fragrances are a must for my office.
Some of my personal favourites when it comes to luxury candles are Neom and Diptyque, however this Grapefruit & Rose Water candle from Sainsburys Home is a fresh and fruity affordable scent which I’ve been lighting almost everyday recently.
This is arguably the simplest tip on here, but don’t be afraid to move around your office furniture and try a new layout for the room! Maybe even ask a friend or family member if they can think of a way of arranging the furniture which you haven’t thought of.
If you’re fed up of staring at the same wall everyday, why not rearrange your desk so that you’re looking out of a window? If you find that you’re sitting down for a prolonged period of time too often, try putting a cabinet or shelf that you always use on the opposite side of the room to encourage you to stretch your legs more frequently.