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Yesterday marked 6 months since I officially launched my business, Rachel Dalton Weddings… how crazy is that!

It’s been one heck of a 6 months but it’s safe to say that I have absolutely LOVED it. And to mark the occasion, I’ve had a little change up over here on my blog.

When I launched The Ivory Book (which is also now 6 months old – yay!) I promised myself that I would let it grow organically and evolve with me. So, with that in mind, you’ll notice I’ve made a few tweaks to the heading bar at the top of my posts.

I’ve scrapped my two least used categories and replaced them with a ‘career’ category. Don’t worry, this won’t become a place for jargon-heavy business posts about how you must run your business (although if I figure that out, I’ll let you know!), instead it will be a place to lift the lid on the realities of owning your own business, have an honest chat about self employment and give the occasional bit of advice about how to get started with a career in the wedding industry.

So today, I’m kicking things off with an honest post about what I’ve learned in my first 6 months of owning a business.

 

Not everyone will understand what you do… and that’s okay

This may not be the case for every business startup, but one thing which I’ve definitely struggled with in these first few months is people actually understanding what I do. Perhaps it’s the fact that wedding planning is still a relatively new career, perhaps its my ever changing routine that is hard to keep up with, but my friends and family still frequently ask me what I actually do day to day, and I’m okay with that!

 

No one is judging you as closely as you think

No one’s noticed that you haven’t posted on Facebook in four days, nobody minds that you didn’t upload to your blog this week, no one cares that you haven’t nailed that cohesive Instagram theme that you were hoping for. Everybody is busy focussing on their own business and their own life so PLEASE don’t worry that you are being scrutinised. Just keep your head down and focus on you and your business.

 

Self employment can be a lonely business

I’ll be honest, this is probably the part of self-employment that I was most nervous about before my business launched. I’m very lucky that I still work elsewhere two days a week so I still experience some of that office camaraderie, but being your own boss can feel very lonely at times. As much as I hate to use the dreaded ’N’ word, networking is important and having supportive friends in your field of work will be vital in your first 6 months of business. Talk to them, you definitely won’t be the only one feeling like this.

 

What I've Learned in the First 6 Months of Business | The Ivory Book


It’s important to celebrate your successes, even if they aren’t business related

I think there’s an unspoken rule when you run your own business (or perhaps just with life in general) that feeling proud of yourself is something to feel guilty about. In a world where there is criticism everywhere, personally I think it is SO important to celebrate your successes, whether they are related to your business or not. Last month when I had the opportunity to visit New York Bridal Fashion Week, you can bet I shouted about it just as loudly as when I secure a dream wedding planning client. Success in life is made up of so many factors, and it is OKAY to feel proud of yourself.

 

Your friends and family are even more incredible than you thought they were

It might just be me who feels this, but starting my own business gave me an entirely new appreciation for my friends and family and the support they give me. Whether it’s supporting your social media posts, giving advice or just being there for a cuppa or a FaceTime on those down days – notice and appreciate everything that your loved ones do to support you. They’ll prove themselves to be even more amazing than you thought they were.

 

You don’t just sit at home in your pjs

…Sorry to burst that bubble.

 

 

There is no such thing as a ‘normal’ week

When you’re self employed, there is no such thing as normal. Some weeks you’ll feel as though you’re working on overdrive, flitting between meetings and events whilst trying to stay on top of your inbox. Other weeks, you’ll find yourself sitting in your office with your fifth cup of tea that morning wondering why your phone hasn’t rung in days. The lows feel incredibly low whilst the highs feel exponentially high, and that’s a part of self employed life that you just have to make peace with.

 

Looking back is important

I feel like one of the most Instagrammed quotes out there is ‘don’t look back, you’re not going that way’ but in all honesty, I disagree. It’s so important to look back and see how far you’ve come, see everything that you’ve achieved along the way (no matter how big or small the milestones are) and celebrate your accomplishments. Use it to push yourself forward and achieve even more.

 



And on that note, here’s to another wonderful 6 months!

THANK YOU to all of the amazing people who have followed, celebrated and supported this crazy journey so far, it doesn’t go unnoticed and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram to keep up with my latest posts and daily going’s on.

 


 

May 17, 2019

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If you’ve spent any time with me over the past two months you’ll likely have heard me go on about how much I absolutely loved Iceland. It was truly the most surreal, captivating country that I’ve ever visited and, since getting home, I have recommended it to just about anybody that will listen!

You might have caught my post last week with my top tips for travelling to Iceland (if you didn’t, you can go and give it a read here) so today I am rounding up of everything we got up to during our trip into one ultimate four day itinerary.

Call me biased, but I think we nailed it when it came to our itinerary for this trip. Our days were jam-packed and involved plenty of driving, however we still felt like we had time to relax and take everything in.

We spent 4 days travelling the south-western parts of Iceland, so keep reading to see everything that we got up to! I hope it inspires you to plan your own trip to this stunning country.

Iceland | 4 Day Iceland Itinerary | The Ivory Book

Day 1

Having landed in Iceland the day before and spent the evening settling in to our cabin, we woke up on our first day prepared for a busy day of exploring.

We spent our first day doing a version of the Golden Circle route. The Golden Circle is a route which traditionally starts in Reykavik and has three main stops: Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall and the geysers Geysir and Strokkur. It is a great route which will show you Iceland’s biggest attractions, although I would recommend adding in a couple of your own stops if you can as there is SO much more to see along the way!

Kerid Crater Lake

Setting off from Selfoss, our first stop was Kerid crater lake, the remains of a collapsed volcano which, although frozen over when we visited, was incredibly beautiful.

Faxi Waterfall

Next on our agenda was the much quieter but incredibly beautiful stop of Faxi waterfall. This is conveniently located on the route of the Golden Circle however it seems to be overlooked by most tourists – when we visited there were only around 4 other people there, which made it lovely and serene. Your are able to get up quite close to Faxi waterfall, making it the perfect stop for any keen photographers out there.

Faxi Waterfall | 4 Day Iceland Itinerary | The Ivory Book

Gulfoss Waterfall

We then visited Gulfoss Waterfall, one of the most popular stops on the Golden Circle but definitely one of the most spectacular! The views you get of Gulfoss are stunning, and if you are visiting in the summer months when it is less icy, you can climb down and get even closer to the waterfall.

Geysir & Strokkur

Not too far from Gulfoss, our next stops were the geysers Geysir and Strokkur. Although Geysir has laid dormant for years, Strokkur frequently erupts every 6-10 minutes and can reach heights of up to 40 metres!

 

Bruarfoss Waterfall

Our final stop of the day was Bruarfoss waterfall. There is a small car park for Bruarfoss just off the Golden Circle route, however the waterfall itself is a little off the beaten track and requires a walk to reach it. It’s important to note here that the road to Bruarfoss was closed a couple of years ago due to the damage the trespassers were causing to local houses, therefore parking in the official parking and following the 3km hike is your only way of reaching Bruarfoss waterfall. The view you will get at the other end is well worth the hike, however, with breathtaking blue waters and a welcoming sense of calm compared to some of the bigger, more touristy areas. Be sure to stop at Midfoss waterfall along the way, and don’t forget your camera – this stop was one of our favourites.

 

Day 2

On our second day, we set of on a mammoth road trip along the south coast of Iceland. There is SO much to see along the south coast and, similar to the golden circle, everything is very easy to find and mostly on the route 1 road. As well as the main stops, you’ll find so many opportunities to pull over along the way – this route is incredibly beautiful and the drive alone is something spectacular.

Seljalandsfoss & Gljúfrabúi Waterfalls

We started our day with a stop at Seljalandsfoss waterfall – a spectacularly tall waterfall which you can even walk behind! Although touristy, it is well worth a visit, and whilst you are there, be sure to take the short walk down to the much lesser-know Gljúfrabúi waterfall. This is a truly stunning waterfall hidden behind a huge rock, and it seemed to be one of the area’s best kept secrets! You will have to wade through a shallow river to get there, however it is definitely worth it to see the waterfall up close. And it goes without saying, wear a waterproof coat and be prepared to get wet! 

Gljúfrabúi Waterfall | 4 Day Iceland Itinerary | The Ivory Book

Skogafoss Waterfall

After drying ourselves off and warming up with a hot chocolate, we headed off for our second stop, Skógafoss, another incredible waterfall just a short drive from Seljalandsfoss. Here, you are also able to walk right up close to the waterfall, as well as being able to climb up a path and view it from above. Another must-see if you are going to Iceland!

Vik & Foss á Sidu

Next up, we made a couple of brief (but no less beautiful!) stops – pausing to see the black sand beaches of Vik, and pulling over at Foss á Sidu, a narrow but very tall waterfall which is right on the side of the route 1 road.

Foss a Sidu | 4 Day Iceland Itinerary | The Ivory Book

Fjadrargljufur Canyon

Unfortunately, we had to abandon our plans for our next stop, Fjadrargljufur Canyon, which was closed off due to the wintry road conditions. I still wanted to include it in this post however, as it looks like such a beautiful place to see if you are heading to Iceland in the summer months!

Skaftafell Nature Reserve & Svartifoss Waterfall

Undeterred, we made our way to the next place on our route, Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Skaftafell was incredible and, in total honesty, I think one of our only regrets of the trip was not allowing more time to explore here. There are some truly breathtaking glaciers (which you can take guided tours of, if you wish) and Svartifoss waterfall, which we unfortunately didn’t have time to see. 

Svínafellsjökull glacier

We discovered one of the most spectacular sights from our trip completely by accident, when we detoured down a small gravel road a few minutes down the route 1 road from Skaftafell Nature Reserve and discovered Svínafellsjökull glacier. The sun was just beginning to set when we arrived here and I can honestly say it was one of the most surreal moments of my life. We spent roughly an hour at Svínafellsjökull and saw no more than four other people up there, making it so serene and peaceful. I can’t recommend this stop enough!

Svínafellsjökull Glacier | 4 Day Iceland Itinerary | The Ivory Book

The Diamond Beach & Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Our final stop of the day was The Diamond Beach. By the time we got here, it was completely dark, and although this wasn’t ideal, it was completely magical to see the crystal blue icebergs glistening in the moonlight. 

To give the perfect ending to an incredible day, we were even lucky enough to see the northern lights that night, and we pitched ourselves under a bridge between The Diamond Beach and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon to watch them dancing overhead.

I feel that it’s important to note that, if you are planning on doing this particular drive, consider booking somewhere to stay the night near to your final stop. We found ourselves exhausted, hungry and 4 hours from our cabin at 10 o’clock at night and we chose to drive the long journey back (through a blizzard, I should add!) rather than stop at a hotel, which we both agreed wasn’t the most sensible idea.

Nonetheless, this day of our trip was truly unforgettable and I wouldn’t hesitate to explore more of the south coast of Iceland!

The Northern Lights | 4 Day Iceland Itinerary | The Ivory Book

Day 3

Day 3, and after a much-needed lie in we were headed for Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik. 

Hveragerdi

We made a quick detour on our way there and stopped off in the charming town of Hveragerdi, which is referred to as the hot spring capital of the world due to it being built on a hot spring field! We found this a lovely place to have a wander along the river and see the hot springs for ourselves.

Hveragerdi | 4 Day Iceland Itinerary | The Ivory Book

Reykjavik

Once we made it to Reykjavik, we stopped for some lunch before having a look around the city. Although it is a quaint place to visit, we didn’t find a huge amount to do in Reykavik and, overall, we felt glad that we hadn’t stayed there for the duration of our stay. Whilst you are there I would recommend paying a visit to Hallgrímskirkja church, one of Iceland’s most prominent landmarks.

The Blue Lagoon

We finished up our day with a visit to the famous Blue Lagoon. This is very near to Keflavik airport so, if you can, it is worth seeing if you can tie in your visit with your flight to/from Iceland, and make sure you book in advance because their morning time slots do get booked up! The Blue Lagoon is spectacular, incredibly relaxing (you get a complimentary drink and silica mud mask with your entry fee) and you could easily spend a few hours unwinding in their gorgeous blue waters.

The Blue Lagoon | 4 Day Iceland Itinerary | The Ivory Book

Day 4

With an evening flight booked, we made the most of our final day in Iceland and headed 2 hours north of Selfoss to the waterfalls Hraunfossar and Barnafossar. 

Thingvellir National Park

We took a slight detour on the way there and drove through Thingvellir National Park (a stop on the Golden Circle which we had missed out three days before) which made a beautiful drive, and would definitely be somewhere I would like to explore for longer next time we visit.

Hruanfossar & Barnafossar Waterfalls

With Hruanfossar and Barnafossar waterfalls, it’s safe to say that we saved something special for the end. They are a handful of incredibly beautiful waterfalls right next to one another, and the views you will get of them are truly spectacular. As it’s a little way from Reykavik, Hruanfossar is another waterfall that doesn’t attract a huge amount of tourists, so take your time enjoying the peaceful scenery.

Hruanfossar and Barnafossar Waterfalls | 4 Day Iceland Itinerary | The Ivory Book

By the end of our trip we were exhausted but completely enamoured with Iceland. The Land of Fire and Ice truly has so much to offer and it’s a place that has to be experienced to be believed. I have recommended it to SO many people since and I would return back in a heartbeat!


All of the images in this post were taken by Jordan using his Canon 6D, or myself using my Olympus Pen E-PL8.


 

May 14, 2019

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My career in the bridal industry has earned me some truly incredible opportunities over the years but it’s safe to say that this spring, when I had the opportunity to attend New York Bridal Fashion Week with my Anna Bridal family, it was the biggest highlight of them all. We were out there for the preview of the Berta S/S 2020 collection – the biggest event in the Bridal Fashion Week calendar and one of the most incredible runway shows I’ve ever witnessed.

Staying true to the iconic Berta brand, the ‘Milano’ collection is glamorous, romantic and the epitome of modern bridal. Featuring the intricate laces, show-stopping silhouettes and spectacular embellishment that has become synonymous with Berta designs, there is truly something for every bride in this collection.

I’ve shared some of my favourite images from the show below, so I will leave you in a moment to have a scroll and revel in aaaaall the bridal beauty.

BUT before I do… I am SO excited to reveal (after months of keeping it under wraps) that Anna Bridal Couture are now stockists of the Muse By Berta collection! It has been such a pleasure working with Anna on this incredible collaboration and I can’t wait to see the collection launch at Anna Bridal this summer. Be sure to follow Anna Bridal on Instagram to be the first to hear when the Muse By Berta collection arrives in the boutique!

Berta Wedding Dress | Berta Bridal | The Ivory Book

Berta Wedding Dress | Berta Bridal | The Ivory Book

Berta Wedding Dress | Berta Bridal | The Ivory Book

Berta Wedding Dress | Berta Bridal | The Ivory Book

Berta Wedding Dress | Berta Bridal | The Ivory Book

Berta Wedding Dress | Berta Bridal | The Ivory Book

Berta Wedding Dress | Berta Bridal | The Ivory Book

Berta Wedding Dress | Berta Bridal | The Ivory Book

Berta Wedding Dress | Berta Bridal | The Ivory Book

 Berta Wedding Dress | Berta Bridal | The Ivory Book

Berta Wedding Dress | Berta Bridal | The Ivory Book

Berta Wedding Dress | Berta Bridal | The Ivory Book

Berta Wedding Dress | Berta Bridal | The Ivory Book

Berta Wedding Dress | Berta Bridal | The Ivory Book

Follow The Ivory Book on Instagram to see more from our trip to New York Bridal Fashion Week and to keep up with my daily going’s on!

May 11, 2019

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2019 has so far been a year of travel and I am LOVING every second of it! In March, Jordan and I took our first big trip of the year and finally visited beautiful Iceland.

If I’m honest, I’d always been put off going on a ‘cold’ holiday, and this trip was definitely more Jordan’s choice than mine. Nonetheless, I was completely proven wrong and I wouldn’t hesitate to get my snow boots back on and visit another cold country soon.

There was something about Iceland that completely captivated me. It is like no country I’ve every visited (on the drive from the airport to our cabin I couldn’t stop squealing “I feel like I’m living in a water bottle label!”) and if you go to the right places, Iceland offers a total sense of serenity that has to be experienced to be believed.

I got TOTALLY carried away writing this post and quickly realised that I was going to have to split it into two posts, so stay tuned for my ultimate 4 day itinerary for a holiday in Iceland, which will be coming soon!

Today however, I’m sharing my top tips for travelling to Iceland, so keep scrolling to read everything I learned about visiting this incredible country.

Iceland | Tips for Travelling to Iceland | The Ivory Book


Iceland: At a glance

Currency: Icelandic Króna, however cards are widely accepted.

Language: Icelandic, although you will find that most people speak English. I would usually suggest learning some basic phrases out of courtesy (especially because the locals are so polite and friendly) but Icelandic was exceptionally difficult to read and pronounce, so stick to English if you’re not sure.

Getting there: There is a common misconception that Iceland is far away but you can actually expect to get from London Gatwick to Keflavík (the main airport in Iceland) in just over 3 hours! If you can, fly with Icelandair – we were very impressed by their planes for a short haul flight.

Getting around: Although you will find tours aplenty in Iceland, I would highly recommend hiring a car and finding your own routes around. You’ll find more on this below.

Where to Stay: We stayed in a lovely cabin just outside Selfoss, which suited us perfectly. Again, I’ve included some more details on why we chose Selfoss below.


 

TOP TIPS

Find your own way around

You will find so many tours and excursions available in Iceland but I would HIGHLY recommend hiring a car and finding your own way around. It will give you so much more freedom and, as you will quickly realise once you’ve visited Iceland, there are SO many photo opportunities available that you won’t be able to resists pulling over to take in the scenery. We hired our car from Geysir and we experienced no problems. Although the main roads are relatively clear, you can expect snowy driving conditions on some of the smaller roads during the winter, so I would recommend hiring a 4×4 if possible, and make sure that your hire car has winter tyres.

Iceland | Tips for Travelling to Iceland | The Ivory Book

Research, research, research

This goes without saying for any new country you visit, but do your research! We based our itinerary each day on some of the biggest sights in Iceland, but then spent a generous amount of time googling to find any lesser-know sights to stop at along our route, which ended up being some of the trip highlights for us. Icelanders are very proud to show off the hidden gems of their country, so look for blogs specifically written by Icelanders to find some sights that you might not have considered.

Visit in the winter

From what I’ve researched, there doesn’t seem to be a bad time of year to visit Iceland, however to be in with the best chance of catching the Northern Lights, visit between September to March. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t see them during your trip (I naively thought they would be much more common to see than they actually were), however the Northern Lights truly were a magical sight to see and I would DEFINITELY recommend that you try to view them at least once in your life.

The Northern Lights | Tips for Travelling to Iceland | The Ivory Book

Set A Budget

One of the things you will hear most when you tell people you are visiting Iceland is how expensive this country is, and they’re not wrong – Iceland is relatively pricey compared to most other European countries. Don’t let this put you off, however. Iceland is perfectly doable on a budget, just be prepared to be a little strict with your spending. My biggest recommendation would be to choose accommodation which allows you to self-cater. We cooked for ourselves or packed lunch supplies in the car for almost every meal, which really kept costs down.

Embrace the adventure, but be cautious

Iceland was, for us, the ultimate place for an adventure BUT that shouldn’t stop you from being cautious where necessary. Be respectful of any roads or paths that have been closed off due to dangerous conditions, take care when driving in snow or ice and always have emergency road assistance numbers to hand just in case you need them.

 Hruanfossar Waterfall | Tips for Travelling to Iceland | The Ivory Book

Stay outside of Reykavik

We chose to stay in Selfoss (around 50 minutes outside of Reykjavik) and I think it was one of the best decisions we made for this trip. Although a very pretty city, Reykjavik definitely wasn’t our favourite place that we visited (it is also very expensive) and Selfoss was much more centrally located for the other parts of Iceland that we travelled to. Our cabin was conveniently located close to route 1, the main ring road around Iceland, and it provided a beautiful, secluded and cosy place to relax between our busy days of exploring.

Invest in some snow boots

Of all the pairs of shoes that I own, I never thought that it would be a pair of winter snow boots that would steal my heart but I am SO glad that I invested in these before our trip. My snow boots were the only pair of shoes that I packed (this is officially the only holiday we’ve been on where Jordan has taken more pairs of shoes than me!) but they kept my feet warm and dry all holiday so I would definitely recommend!

Gljúfrabúi Waterfall | Tips for Travelling to Iceland | The Ivory Book

 

Pop back to The Ivory Book next week to read my ultimate 4 day itinerary for Iceland, and be sure to follow me on Instagram to keep up with my daily going’s on.

May 6, 2019

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Many wedding suppliers will tell you – inspiration for the styling of your big day can come from just about anywhere. And for me, one of the best places to look for some of the best styling inspo can come straight from the high street!

With many high street shops now having branched out into homeware (and many of them totally nailing it!), why not take a look at them for some one-off decor pieces that can provide the perfect finishing touches to your day.

Now, I’m of course not suggesting that you go and purchase 120 of those dreamy-but-could-never-justify-it glassware sets for your guests on the day (there are so many incredible companies with gorgeous tableware available to hire), however I would definitely take a look at what’s available on the high street for specific decorations or the perfect styling props for those detail shots that you are desperate for your photographer to capture.

It’s also worth noting, for any of my fellow planners or stylists that are reading this, that I often use pieces from the high street for styled shoots – as I did with the tableware in the images on this post.

Below you’ll find some of my favourite places on the high street for wedding props and decorations, I hope it provides some inspiration for the styling of your big day!

TK Maxx

You never quite know what you’re going to find when you venture into TK Maxx, but it can be such a great place to find some one-of-a-kind decor pieces – think interesting trays, unusual bowls and decorative baskets, which can all be great for wedding styling! You’re also pretty much guaranteed a great price at TK Maxx, which is perfect when you’re close to maxing out your wedding decor budget.

Ikea

Another wonderful and affordable option on the high street, Ikea is a good place to look for any decorative pieces that you are looking to buy rather than hire. I have previously used Ikea tableware for a photoshoot, however one of the things they are best for is candles and candle holders. It works out fairly affordable to buy a bulk-load of your favourite candlesticks / tea light holders from here, you can then either look into selling them on after the wedding or use them around the house as a reminder of your big day.

H&M Home

If you ever lose me, there’s a high chance you’ll find me browsing through the H&M Home in Westfield shopping centre. The H&M Home line is SO dreamy – always on trend whilst still being effortlessly timeless. For your wedding day, check them out for vases, decorative trays and candle holders, and if you are having a chill-out lounge area at your wedding, definitely take a look at their cushions.

Anthropologie

I will never get tired of the Anthropologie home section. It is much more on the pricey side, but it is definitely worth a look for any unique or alternative decor items and a few minutes on their website will leave you feeling seriously inspired! Some of my favourite pieces? Their intricate trays (perfect for stationery flatlays!), unusual vases and tableware and some gorgeously twee cake stands! At the very least, treat yourself to a couple of pieces to spruce up your marital home.

Matalan

I’ll be honest, I think I was in my twenties when I first shopped in a Matalan. I’ve always been skeptical of the quality of their products but definitely don’t let this put you off – Matalan shops are HUGE, their products are very affordable and they have a really great homeware section. Take a look at their vases and planters; they also have a wedding collection which includes some fairly cliché but incredibly fun hen party games and decorations.

Zara Home

The Zara Home collection is choc-full of all kinds of interior inspiration. Again, it’s a little more on the pricey side so I’d recommend selecting a few pieces that will really enhance your styling on the day – think pretty linens, interesting bowls and table accessories that you’ll continue to use long after your wedding day.

Tesco

Yep, you read that right! Tesco have a lovely homeware section called Fox & Ivy with some great quality yet very affordable pieces. It’s where I picked up the holographic glassware for this photoshoot, which I now continue to use at home for special occasions. You are only able to view their pieces in larger Tesco stores rather than online, but I would definitely recommend checking them out!

Oliver Bonas

Oliver Bonas is another store that is on the more pricey side but their pieces are SO gorgeous! They are wonderful for unique table accessories and vases, but they are also my go-to store for gifting so take a look if you are after an alternative yet thoughtful gift for somebody special.

IN THIS POST

Florals: Arcade Flowers

Stationery: Smitten With Ink

Plates & Linen: Matalan

Glassware & Cutlery: Fox & Ivy at Tesco

Napkins: TK Maxx

Candlesticks: H&M Home

Candles: Ester & Erik

Images by Charlotte Bryer-Ash Photography

 

For more wedding planning inspiration, visit my Rachel Dalton Weddings website.

April 10, 2019

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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.

 

To keep up with my daily goings on, follow me on Instagram.

April 5, 2019

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Oh Italy, with your incredible food, exquisite architecture and undeniable charm, you are undoubtedly one of my favourite countries in the world. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Italy a few times now but in February of last year, to celebrate a big birthday of my mum’s, we travelled to Rome for the first time and it’s safe to say it left an amazing impression on us.

Rome is a bustling yet charming city. We spent two nights there which gave us three days to see all that the city has to offer – and it definitely didn’t take long for it to steal a place in our hearts. Keep reading to hear how we spent 72 hours in Rome!


Rome: At a glance

Currency: Euro – cards are widely accepted, although I would recommend carrying a small amount of cash on you for smaller purchases.

Language: Italian. Learn some basic phrases out of courtesy, but the majority of people will speak good English.

Getting there: To make the most of a long weekend, take the 6.45am flight out of London Gatwick on a Friday, which will land in Rome just after 10am. Return on the 8.55pm flight on Sunday to give you 3 full days of exploring.

Getting around: The roads in Rome are notoriously hectic, but you’ll be grateful not to have a car when you realise how much more you’ll see getting around on foot. Public transport in Rome is also very good – I would recommend taking the train into central Rome from the airport; they also have an easy to follow Metro system.

Where to Stay: We stayed at the 4 star River Palace Hotel, which is conveniently located just a stone’s throw from the enchanting Piazza del Popolo and made the perfect place for us to rest our heads between three busy days of exploring. Oh, and be sure to take advantage of their five (yes, five!) hour long happy hour!


 

Day 1

Once you’ve arrived in Rome and dropped off your bags, set off on foot to discover all that the city has to offer. We spent our first day strolling through the charming side streets and stumbling upon some of Rome’s most famous sights. 

Sit people-watching on the Spanish Steps, throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain, immerse yourself in the history of the Pantheon and enjoy the fountains of the Piazza Navona (with some gelato in hand, of course). All of these sights are within walking distance of one another and you’ll find plenty of little shops and café’s to duck in and out of on your way.

After an afternoon of exploring, meander back along the Tiber River and find the perfect spot for dinner. Italian food and drink is my absolute favourite and, by the time this 3 day trip was over, I pretty much had to be rolled onto the plane after consuming so much pasta, pizza, wine and gelato. And personally, I say embrace the carbs because nowhere else in the world will you find food quite so good!

Day 2

Of course, no visit to Rome would be complete without a trip to The Vatican City. I would recommend allowing the best part of a day to explore The Vatican Museum and St Peter’s Basilica, which is what we did on our second day in Rome. 

You will most likely have to queue during your visit and be prepared for crowds of people, but you will be grateful for the slow moving lines because there is quite literally SO much to see. Learn about the incredible artwork and sculptures, witness Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel and experience the grandeur of St Peter’s Basilica – The Vatican was definitely an unexpected highlight for me and I can’t wait to go back one day.

Oh, and for the best view of Rome, I would definitely recommend climbing the 551 steps of the St Peter’s Basilica Dome. With unparalleled sights of both the inside of the dome and a magical view of the city, it is not to be missed.

Once we’d absorbed all of the art, history and architecture we could manage for one day, we wandered back to Piazza del Popolo and spent a lazy hour or so enjoying a cannoli in the square as the sun went down.

Day 3

On our final day in Rome we paid a visit to the famous Colosseum. We were met with a cloudy and drizzly day (which had turned into a definite downpour by lunchtime!) but this didn’t spoil our visit one bit – just be prepared to pack a waterproof coat if you’re travelling to Rome in February!

The Colosseum is an incredible sight to see from the outside. Many people visit without going inside, however we booked a tour around the inside which I would really highly recommend. It was so interesting learning about the history of the Colosseum (I also unashamedly had a Lizzie McGuire moment when I first stepped inside!).

Whilst we were in the area, we also visited the Roman Forum, which is located directly opposite the Colosseum. Again, I would recommend booking on to a tour of the Forum because there are so many interesting snippets of information which we wouldn’t have known had we not been told by a local.

Rome Colloseum | 72 Hours in Rome | The Ivory Book

 

We boarded the plane home feeling exhausted, full to the brim with pasta and overloaded with culture but with a new place in our hearts for this beautiful city. Rome is romantic, charming and perfect for history fanatics, art lovers and foodies alike.

Although I could have happily spent weeks exploring this enchanting city, 3 days was definitely long enough to see lots of what Rome has to offer. I hope this post inspires many of you to do the same! 

 

March 4, 2019

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Last night’s Oscars brought the 2019 Awards Season to a very glamorous close, and with a host-less ceremony, a controversial duet from Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper and an utterly adorable acceptance speech from Olivia Colman, it certainly gave people plenty to talk about.

But with Awards Season being Hollywood’s biggest chance to dress to impress, I want to talk about the gowns that ruled the red carpet this year and, in particular, the bridal-inspired looks which would look equally as stunning walking down the aisle.

From ruffles and tulle to beaded beauties and structured gowns – it has all been happening on the red carpet over the past few weeks and I’m rounding up all my favourite looks in this post. Brides to be, take note!

 

Regina King wearing Oscar de la Renta to the Oscars

 

Brie Larson wearing Celine to the Oscars

 

Amy Adams wearing Versace to the Oscars

 

Kacey Musgraves wearing Giambattista Valli to the Oscars

 

Michelle Yeoh wearing Elie Saab to the Oscars

 

Letitia Wright wearing Dior Haute Couture to the Oscars

 

Kiki Layne wearing Versace to the Oscars

 

Lady Gaga wearing Dior Haute Couture to the SAG Awards

 

Margot Robbie wearing Chanel to the SAG Awards

 

Rachel Weisz wearing Gucci to the BAFTA Awards

 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wearing Alexander McQueen to the BAFTA Awards

 

Letitia Wright wearing Stella McCartney to the BAFTA Awards

 

Michelle Rodriguez wearing Jenny Packham to the BAFTA Awards

 

Cynthia Erivo wearing Vera Wang to the BAFTA Awards

 

Kiki Layne wearing Dior Haute Couture to the Golden Globes

 

Dakota Fanning wearing Armani Privé to the Golden Globes

 

Saoirse Ronan wearing Gucci to the Golden Globes

 

Lady Gaga wearing Valentino Couture to the Golden Globes

 

Emma Stone wearing Louis Vuitton to the Golden Globes

 

Constance Wu wearing Vera Wang to the Golden Globes

February 25, 2019

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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.

 

Take a Trip

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!

 

Spend it with your Girlfriends

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!

Go Low-Key

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.

 

Learn Something New

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

February 10, 2019

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Happy Friday folks! And, even more excitingly, happy 1st February! January felt long this year (tell me it’s not just me who thought this?) but we made it – and I’m ready to embrace February in all of it’s heart-filled glory.

I’m doubly happy today because I am truly DELIGHTED to have had my first ever styled shoot published on Rock My Wedding! This is such a milestone for me, not only speaking on behalf of Rachel Dalton Weddings, but also for me personally. Rock My Wedding was one of the first blogs I ever read, so to see my own work gracing it’s pages today has me unashamedly squealing with happiness!

Photoshoots are nothing without the right team behind them and it’s safe to say that with this one, I well and truly hit the jackpot. I was lucky enough to bring together suppliers from Dorset, Hampshire, Surrey and London and I couldn’t have been happier with what we created.

On a personal note, I would like to thank each and every supplier involved for working with me, and trusting me with this editorial. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for lending your time, talent and creativity to the shoot – I can’t recommend you all enough!

Lastly, a huge thank you to Rock My Wedding for featuring us! I will leave a few images on this post to give you a peek at what we created, but I would love for you to head over there and read the full feature.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FEATURE

 

Credits

Photography: David Wheeler Photography

Planning & Styling: Rachel Dalton Weddings

Venue: West Horsley Place with Rhubarb

Florist: Emma Soulsby Flowers

Cake: MonAnnie

Makeup: Tara Sanger Makeup

Hair: Sacha-Lilly for EJW Hair

Dresses: Suzanne Neville and Jesus Peiro from Anna Bridal Couture

Linens: Just 4 Linen

Tableware: Couvert

Stationery: Georgina Read Creative

Model: Natasha

 

  

 

February 1, 2019

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