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 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.
Photography: David Wheeler Photography
Planning & Styling: Rachel Dalton Weddings
Florist: Emma Soulsby Flowers
Makeup: Tara Sanger Makeup
Linens: Just 4 Linen
Stationery: Georgina Read Creative
January has hit me HARD this year. With chillier days and darker evenings I can’t help but spend these winter months dreaming about sunnier climes. Which is why I thought I would use this post to rewind to last summer when Jordan and I headed to Croatia for a week of sunshine and exploring.
Croatia has always been one of the top countries on my bucket list, so when it came to booking a last minute holiday at the end of September, we both jumped at the chance to spend a week travelling around this beautiful country. Whether you are planning a European honeymoon, your next summer holiday, or simply looking for some travel inspiration, I’ve condensed everything we learned about travelling to Croatia into this post. I hope it inspires you to plan your own getaway!
Croatia is one of those places where, as soon as you start researching where to go, you will feel well and truly spoilt for choice and will likely find many conflicting opinions on which regions to visit.
We decided to spend the majority of our trip in the northwestern peninsula of Istria, flying in and out of Pula airport. And of course, we couldn’t go to Croatia without paying a visit to the incredible Plitvice Lakes National Park – a real must-see if you are heading to this part of the world!
Our first stop was the coastal town of Opatija on the eastern side of the peninsula. If I’m being completely honest, this was probably our least favourite out of the three places we stayed. Although it wasn’t cold or raining on the two days that we stayed here, we didn’t have the sunny, late summer weather I was hoping for (according to the locals we were just a week too late!) – and the town somewhat lacked the Istrian charm I was hoping to find.
Nonetheless, we had a fun time exploring the area, and we stayed in a beautiful apartment just a short drive from the main town which was the perfect place to relax. I’d recommend taking a meander down the Lungomare Promenade to see the Maiden With the Seagull statue; we also spent a morning at Trsat Castle in nearby Rijeka, which is well worth a visit.
I’ve never visited anywhere quite like Plitvice National Park, it feels worlds away from the Adriatic coast and it’s safe to say it stole a piece of my heart. The park is comprised of 16 crystal clear lakes connected by a series of waterfalls and it truly is incredible.
One thing I feel I should note is that I massively underestimated what the weather would be like. Don’t let that bright blue water and shimmering sunshine fool you – Autumn had well and truly arrived when we visited and it was COLD. When we woke up on our first morning there to find ice on our hire car, I very quickly stowed the pretty playsuit I had planned on wearing that day back into my suitcase and layered up with any warm clothing I could find (which, incidentally, wasn’t anywhere near enough)!
As it turns out, I think early Autumn was the perfect time to visit. Although still very busy, the crowds were significantly less than they appear to be in the busy summer months, and the leaves had just started to turn beautiful shades of orange which made for some truly beautiful photos.
There are two entrances to the Lakes and several routes that you can take around the National Park. It’s definitely possible to see everything in one day, although if you are able to spend two days there I would highly recommend it. We spent our first day exploring the whole park, and on our second day we were able to skip certain parts and go straight back to the areas we wanted to revisit (which predominantly meant beating the crowds there).
Tickets prices vary depending on the time of year you visit, but you can expect to pay between 55-250 Kuna (£6.50-£30) for a one day ticket and 90-400 Kuna for a two day ticket (£10-£50).
I genuinely can’t recommend Plitvice Lakes enough. Not only is it packed with incredible scenery, it offers an indescribable tranquility that’s like nothing I’ve ever felt before. It was without a doubt the highlight of our trip and we both agreed we would return again in a heartbeat.
Take the road less travelled: We hired a car during our trip, which I would highly recommend for getting around. The drive from Istria to Plitvice National Park was around 3 hours, and we purposely avoided the main roads there, which not only avoided tolls, but also forced us to take a stunning route along the Adratic coast and through the mountains. It was the most beautiful road trip I’ve ever taken – we couldn’t resist stopping to take pictures several times!
Get there early: Plitvice Lakes are open between 7am and 8pm and I can’t recommend enough being there as soon as they open. We did on both days that we visited and agreed it was the best decision we made. The Lakes start to get exceptionally busy around 9am so enjoy a couple of hours of unspoilt tranquility before most visitors arrive.
Find the best (secret!) views: Wondering where those epic, postcard-worthy shots of the lakes have been taken from? We happened to stumble upon them by accident but we were SO glad we did! To find the viewpoints, follow signs to ‘Veliki Slap’ (or Big Waterfall), and take the small stepped path up on your left just before you reach the waterfall. There are several viewpoints along the top, the most favourite with photographers being one 200 metres down the road to your right. It’s well worth making a little excursion to get the perfect, uninterrupted view from up high – we only saw around 3 or 4 other people up there.
Be Patient for the Perfect Photo: Plitvice Lakes is PERFECT for any photography fans, but don’t expect to point your camera and immediately get the perfect, tourist-free shot first time. We took our time and were more than happy waiting 5 or even 10 minutes to get some beautiful (people free!) pictures – be patient!
Don’t expect to go swimming: As tempting as it looks to jump in and go for a dip, swimming isn’t permitted in Plitvice Lakes. However, if you are looking for an alternative Croatian waterfall that you can swim in, try Krka National Park – which is definitely on my bucket list after this trip!
Our final stop on the trip was the highly charming town of Rovinj, on the western side of the Istrian peninsula. When we visited in September, it was touristic without losing it’s Croatian authenticity. We were also very fortunate with the weather and had beautiful sunshine for the two days we were staying.
If you’re a big foodie, be sure to taste the Istrian cuisine that you’ll find on offer here. Fresh seafood, olive oils and Istrian truffles are all a must in this area. Or why not make a day of it and go wine tasting or truffle hunting?
There aren’t a huge amount of sights to see in Rovinj; instead, I would recommend losing yourself around the winding cobbled streets of the old town, paying a visit to the bell tower of the Church of St. Euphemia which dominates the town, and be sure to return to the harbour in time to watch the sunset in the evenings – it truly is stunning.
Confession time – I definitely intended for this blog post to go up earlier than the second week of January! You might have caught this post all about my 2019 bridal style trend predictions at the end of December, but a bout of winter flu between Christmas and New Year meant that sharing my trend predictions for weddings in general got pushed back a week. Better late than never, right?
Nevertheless, I have LOVED putting this together. I’ve had a delve through the trends I’ve seen emerging recently and my predictions for what is going to be huge in 2019, so settle down with a hot drink and get stuck in!
This has been my favourite colour styling trend recently and I am firmly hoping will stick around for a little longer. Pastels have been huge in the wedding world for years but in 2019 they’re getting a grown up makeover by being paired with rich, darker tones and I am obsessed!
Some winning combinations? Pale blush with warm lilac and a pop of rich burgundy, or go sleek and modern with a subtle nude and strong black pairing like the tablescape I created below.
Weekend-long weddings have soared in popularity over the past 12 months and I think they’ll be even more present in 2019. With many couples now inviting guests from far and wide, it’s no surprise that weddings are being made even more of an occasion.
The most popular schedule for a weekend wedding is an intimate rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding and a relaxed, informal brunch the day after. Looking ahead to next year, I can see couples getting even more creative with ways to extend the celebrations – including activity days in and around the local area and festival-style events the day after the wedding. This also brings me quite nicely onto my next prediction…
Going perfectly in hand with weekend weddings, many couples are now forgoing favours at their wedding, instead supplying their guests with a personalised welcome gift package when they arrive for the festivities.
You can find some tips on what to include in a welcome gift and how to put them together in this previous blog post – but as a guide, think miniature bottles of drink, some snacks to keep your guests going and hangover kits for the morning after. They’ll be sure to be appreciated much more than the forgotten favours that you painstakingly laid out for everybody!
Image by Lissa Ryan
Couples are more conscious than ever about the impact their wedding could have on the environment, and rightly so! Princess Eugenie led the way with her plastic-free wedding earlier this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if many couples opt for a similar approach going into 2019.
Another emerging trend amongst florists which I am fully on board with is the use of foam-free florals – omitting the use of non-biodegradable, plastic Oasis from wedding florals in favour of reusable, environmentally friendly techniques.
One for the foodies, grazing tables are styled up tables of cured meats, cheeses, breads, dips (and so much more!) that will be sure to go down a treat with both your guests and your Instagram feed!
Unique, colourful and bursting with selection, grazing tables are the perfect informal dining option and will provide a great talking point amongst your wedding guests that they’ll remember long after you say ‘I Do’.
Grazing Table by Your Platter Matters
Hygge swept us all up in a comforting hug way back in 2017, but this year I’m predicting it will make it’s way into the wedding world too. If you’re not familiar with the phrase, ‘Hygge’ (pronounce hoo-ga) is a Danish term that loosely translates to a sense of comfort, togetherness and wellbeing. As Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book of Hygge, explains “it is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe.” Which sounds like the perfect atmosphere for a wedding, don’t you think?
Think intimate, relaxed weddings; atmospheric candlelight; minimal, Scandinavian decor and technology-free ceremonies that are all about family. This is a theme that is all about a feeling of joyfulness and comfort and I am so on board.
Images via Rock My Wedding
I had to give a mention to the 2019 Pantone Colour of the Year – Living Coral, which is sure to have a huge influence on the wedding industry over the next 12 months. I can see many couples forgoing the pastel shades that we saw everywhere in 2018, instead opting for brighter, more vibrant hues.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a self-confessed lover of all things blush and if you are too then you MUST choose a colour palette that you love, BUT if you are looking to be a bit more bold with your colour choices then why not consider a bright coral, vibrant fuchsia or even a pop of navy. You can read more about how to style Living Coral here.
Image by Luna de Mare Photography
Thanks to the two gorgeous royal weddings we had in 2018, we’ve all gone a bit obsessed with statement florals! From Meghan and Harry’s floral archways to Princess Eugenie’s autumnal hued displays, dramatic florals are definitely having their moment.
If you don’t quite have a royal budget for your own florals, invest in one big installation to be the focal point – it will make much more of an impact than several small displays and you can always ask your florist to use individual bud vases or foliage-heavy arrangements elsewhere in your space to keep costs down.
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!
Bridal styling is something I could talk about all day and with a background in bridal wear, I am always keeping an eye our for what brides will be wearing over the forthcoming year. I was so excited to take a look back at what brides have been loving style-wise throughout 2018, and forecast my predictions for 2019.
From trouser suits to texture, this post is packed full of bridal style inspiration for the next 12 months so make yourself comfortable and get stuck in!
Who wears the trousers? Well… whoever wants to really! Trouser suits ruled the runway this year, with the likes of Suzanne Neville, Ines Di Santo and Rime Arodaky adding tailored two-pieces to their 2019 collections. When it comes to rocking a bridal suit, go for strong tailoring, subtle details and, of course, some epic shoes to show off!
Blush pink got a romantic makeover this year, with our very own Princess Eugenie opting for a stunning rose-toned Zac Posen gown for her second wedding dress, and both Mandy Moore and Malin Akerman giving blush pink an ethereal vibe for their laid back weddings. From sand and champagne to the perfect powder pink, there’s a hue to suit every skin tone and I’m predicting that it will be the colour for 2019 brides.
More so than ever, we all have a duty to be kinder to the environment and it’s a mantra that many couples are applying to their wedding day too. To support this when it comes to your wedding attire, opt for designers who use ethically sourced fabrics and sustainable manufacturing methods and let your bridesmaids and groomsmen choose outfits that they will actually wear again.
Sparkle has been around in the wedding world forever but this season it’s had a lesson in subtlety and the effect is truly beautiful. Think twinkly fabrics, fully sequinned gowns and delicately beaded dresses that shimmer in the light as oppose to being in your face with bling. Not ready for sparkle on your dress? Go for a beaded hairpiece to give a nod to the trend in your outfit.
This post wouldn’t be complete without giving a mention to the royal weddings we’ve had this year and the influence they are bound to have on the bridal trends we see over the next 12 months. With Meghan Markle shunning lace in favour of two completely plain wedding dresses, I think we’ll be seeing a huge rise in the number of brides opting for classic and simplistic gowns that are all about the cut and silhouette of the dress (weren’t we all obsessed with that halterneck second dress!).
Meghan Markle wears (L-R) Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy and Stella McCartney
Whether they’re neat and small or organic and oversized, bows are making a huge statement right now and they’re more fashion-forward than ever. Personally, my favourite way to style this trend is by going for a gown that is clean cut and simple at the front with a dramatic half tied bow at the back.
Take the plunge and go for a gown with a plunging V neckline, a shape that is perfectly feminine and super flattering (especially on a smaller bust). Fit is everything with a daring neckline like this, make sure that you have a trusted seamstress on hand to alter your dress and make you completely comfortable on your wedding day – and remember to pack some fashion tape just in case!
3D flowers, feathers, pique fabrics and geometric lace – unique textures are everywhere in the bridal world at the moment! Playing around with the texture of your gown is such a fun and modern way to create a one of a kind bridal look. Designers such as Berta have been leading the way with this trend for the past few years, however I think 2019 will be the year that we see many more bridal designers get a little more experimental with their fabrics and I am so on board!
Another important royal wedding moment this year has been the significance of using your veil (or lack of!) to make a huge statement on your wedding day. The 16 foot veil worn by Meghan, featuring embroidered flowers from all 53 countries of the commonwealth, was a breathtaking sight to see walking down the aisle of St Georges Chapel and I imagine many brides will be emulating Meghan’s style with a dramatic long veil. Princess Eugenie, on the other hand, opted not to wear a veil at all for her wedding in order to show off the scar on her back from an operation she had as a child – a equally poignant statement about celebrating your scars which I hope inspires many brides to be.
(L-R) Meghan Markle wearing Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy and Princess Eugenie wearing Peter Pilotto
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
I am so excited to be sharing the first instalment in my ‘How To Style’ series, which will explore different ways to style current themes into your wedding day – and what better topic to kick things off with than the recently announced 2019 Pantone Colour of the Year: Living Coral.
Vibrant, lively and playful, Living Coral is described as ‘symbolising our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits’, which makes it the perfect tone for couples who are looking to inject some fun into their big day! From bright pinks and corals to soft, peach-toned oranges, a pop of coral paired with muted blushes, an abundance of greenery, or even dark navy can make a real impact at your wedding.
Whether you opt for a less is more approach or go full on flamboyant with this lively hue, Living Coral is a colour I am well and truly on board with. Keep scrolling to get inspired!
A pop of coral will add such a fun element to your bridal look- consider incorporating some coral florals into your bridal bouquet or a hairpiece, or why not go bold and wear coral shoes underneath your dress? When it comes to beauty, I’d go for soft peach tones and a fresh, dewy complexion as a subtle nod to the theme.
Think relaxed, natural and organic when styling coral into your tablescape. Foliage-packed, loosely arranged centrepieces with bright coral florals such as peonies and roses will make a real statement. With such a bold centrepiece, keep your tableware neutral and classic and perhaps use your menus or place names to add a little extra colour!
If you’re wanting to wow your guests with your coral colour palette, don’t be afraid to go BIG with your decor. I’m sure you’ve gathered by now that, in my opinion, flowers are the best way to inject colour into your day, so I’d suggest being bold with a vibrant floral arch or installation and pairing this with muted colours in your signage and furniture.
Where better to involve coral into your wedding than behind the bar? Ask your mixologist to create a vibrant coral cocktail for your drinks reception – a guaranteed way to please your guests! Elsewhere in your big day, use coral-toned styling props to capture the smaller details such as your stationery and rings.
For more ideas and image credits, visit my How To Style… Living Coral Pinterest board.
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.