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5 Wedding Mistakes To Avoid

Now, as most of you will know, planning a wedding is not easy! It's not all about trying on pretty dresses and tasting samples of delicious wedding cake. It's months (sometimes years) of brainstorming, planning, saving, worrying, researching and losing sleep.

I've compiled a list of the 5 most popular blunders that brides wish they had of avoided!

1 - Skipping a wedding videographer. I know videographers can be pricey and you have photographs to last forever but in my opinion, nothing beats a videographer. Most videographers will film all of the important parts of the day and put together some beautiful videos. There's usually a 4-5 minute video for you to share on social media and then a longer 30 (ish) minute video which highlights your best bits. Videographers often capture the bits you missed or forgot about. They're lovely to have for memories and I for one will definitely be hiring a videographer next year for our wedding.

2 - Picking the bridal party too early. I see so many complaints about this. People get engaged, set a date and then ask people to be their best man/bridesmaid etc. They later regret this decision when they realise the person in question isn't interested in their wedding, they show no support and they usually just drift away and avoid all wedding talk. The bridal party need to be reliable and trustworthy. It's all well and good making new friends but your bridal party should be people you've known a while, someone you know you can trust. Always think twice before rushing in and popping the question. I started with 5 bridesmaids, I now only have 2!

3 - Lack of entertainment. Lots of people try and cut corners when planning and that's fine. I understand most of us are on a budget and need to cover the essentials first but you need to realistically organise your day. I've known brides not think about this and then have to deal with 50 guests who got bored and went into town drinking because the bride and groom didn't provide any kind of entertainment during the daytime and evening turnaround. This is usually 2-3 hours so always make sure there's somewhere for your guests to sit with access to drinks. You don't have to break the bank to create a nice atmosphere.

4 - Under catering is a huge issue. Many people assume that not everyone invited will turn up. People then over invite and cater for less. They're in a pretty awkward situation when most guests turn up and not enough food is available. It's not a good impression to give out on your or your chosen venue. My advice is to get RSVP's back first and then final the numbers for the catering. Weddings are not the time for guessing games.

5 - Trying to please everyone. I rant on about this a lot because it really annoys me. People are so opinionated when it comes to weddings and often try and have their way and influence your plans. Remember that it's a wedding, a celebration of commitment and love. Not a people pleasing party.

I hope you found these tips helpful for any upcoming events you're planning I'd love to hear some tips from you below.

Choosing A Wedding Photographer

The first thing to do when choosing a photographer is decide on the style of photography you want for your big day. Until I started planning our wedding, I had no idea of the different. I assumed someone turned up with a camera and asked everyone to say cheese. Oh no! There's so much more to it than that.

Some of the most popular styles available:

Reportage (photo journalistic) - This is where the photographer will capture special moments and create a narrative story through images as apposed to have staged poses. Many reportage photographers are happy to capture staged shots too but it's much less obtrusive and the shots are much more relaxed and honest.

Traditional - Also known as classic or posed. The photographer will focus mainly on the traditional photos of the wedding party, lots of staged poses and saying cheese. traditional photographers will often ask you to write a list of any shots you want captured. I have a list as long as my arm!

Most photographers are more than willing to adapt their techniques to the style of photography you want. After all, that's what we're paying them for.

I'm opting for mixed photography as I want lots of different styles and shots. I want some portrait images, aerial images, close ups, unexpected, group shots, poses and staged shots as well as some fine art photography, a few black and white and some editorial shots.

Choosing a photographer is one of the most important decisions you'll have to make when planning a wedding. When the dress is put away and the suits are returned, the only memories you'll have forever are your photographers.

Photographers can be quite pricey but the work they put in amazing. Not just photographing the day but the editing until perfections weeks after the wedding, the finishing touches and making sure their clients are 100% satisfied with the finished product.

My advice is definitely not to scrimp on a photographer. Check out locals and ask to see their portfolio. Meet with them and make sure you feel comfortable around them. Many photographers offer a pre wedding shoot so you can get a feel of how they work and it makes the big day a little less daunting.

If you have any tips about choosing a photographer for a special occasion then I'd love to hear your comments below.

Casual Dating

I done a post a last week covering my first date with my husband to be and I touched a little bit on the dating game. I thought I'd share my opinions and views online dating/casual dating in a little more detail.

I've never been a dater to be honest. I've always concentrated on friendships more than relationships. In my younger days I had a few casual relationships and partners but nothing serious until I met my current partner and husband to be.

I was chatting with a friend last week and she was saying how sick of casual dates she is. We had a laugh and I was trying to brighten things up by giving her the pro's to casual dating.

No commitment
Your own money
Your own plans
The bed to yourself most nights
Freedom to do whatever you want, whenever with whoever

She argued that although that's fun, it does become boring after a while. I later seen her post a quote on Instagram saying ''I'd rather be wine and dined by the same man every night than a different man every week'' and I kind of agreed. There's so much effort required for casual dating. Now, I'm not saying you don't need to make an effort with a long term partner, of course you do! But you don't have the worries of being seen without makeup, the arguments about who washing up or the rows at 3am because they've snored all night every night for the last 3 years and you're so damn tired.

I'm a home girl. I like plans, organisation, commitment, trust, loyalty, routine and security. I don't think you truly have any of those when you're casually dating. So I guess it depends what makes you happy. That's the most important thing isn't it? Don't rush into a relationship if you're not ready. They do say you've gotta kiss a few frogs. It's personal preference and if you want to enjoy yourself, meet new people and experience the excitement of those first few dates on a regular basis then do it! Live it large as they say.

I'm not saying I don't agree with casual dating. I appreciate it's fun, thrilling and exciting but I guess my friend was right, it will get boring and there'll come a time where you stop and think. The effort you put in to impress a man/woman for a few dates, you could use that effort to blossom a beautiful long term relationship. Every relationship takes effort. Lots of it. Constantly. Consistently.

I suppose there's pro's and con's to both. It's never too late and it doesn't matter where you are, whether that be somewhere remote like the Shetlands you can check out Shetland Dating, if you're further south you have Norwich dating and Hereford dating or even if you're at the other end of the country you have Dumfries dating and over 50's dating Fife which is targeted at more mature people. There's always someone who can the tic to your tac, whatever your tac may be.

Maybe casual dating will lead to something more serious and steady? Isn't that what everyone is hoping for? Even the ones who are scared of commitment. They're maybe just scared because they've never experienced it before?

The dating game is tough! And a bit of a mystery. I'm glad I'm no longer a part of it. LOL.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on casual dating vs long term relationships.

This is a sponsored post however all words, opinions and views are my own

Monday Motivation Meal Planning

I had so many emails last week after my post about Meal Planning. I'm going to try and do this every Monday as it really does help me to keep focused and it may inspire others who are following a similar plan to me.

As you probably know I'm shredding for the wedding next year and I follow the Slimming World plan so all recipes will be adapted to be Slimming World friendly. I've tried several ''diets'' and have found Slimming World to be the best for me, currently at 6 stone weight loss.

So here we go.. the week ahead!

Monday - BBQ pulled pork done in the slow cooker served with a wholemeal pitta bread and salad

Tuesday - Steak served with vegetable rice and lots of salad

Wednesday - Macaroni cheese with leeks and bacon

Friday - Big Mac in a bowl served on a bed of crunchy salad

Saturday - Chicken and mediterranean vegetable pasta bake

Sunday - Roast pork lunch with rich gravy and seasonal veg

That's me all planned for the week ahead! I'd love to hear what you've got planned, I'm always open to new recipes and ideas or tips that help you stay on a plan!

To join the menu planning link up please visit Laura's blog.

Our First Date

I've rambled on about our upcoming wedding enough, I thought it might be beneficial to let you know a little bit about what lead up to the big day..

It all started with a friend request. Good old Facebook. Darren added me about 5 years prior to actually chatting. He was in a long term relationship and we never chatted or communicated. We lived near each other and had a few mutual friends but nothing ever sparked between us until one night, I was scrolling through Facebook and I updated one of those ''can't sleep'' status'.

I noticed Darren was awake too, he had been out with his friends. He was single by this point and had been for several months. We swapped a few messages then fell asleep. This was in the October. Over the next few months we continued to chat as friends. I loved chatting with him, we had a right laugh. He even started to take his phone to work with him during the day (something he had never done before) just so we could keep in contact. I thought that was cute.

It was January 2014 and I was celebrating my 21st birthday with some friends. I was chatting away to Darren and he asked if he could take me out for my birthday. I was gobsmacked. I never thought anything would ever come of it and the thought of meeting someone I didn't really know just filled me with dread! But something told me to say yes!

I somehow plucked up the courage and wee met on 11th January 2014 in a bar in town. I was 3 hours late due to nerves and Darren turned up drunk! He had been sitting in a bar with his friends waiting for me. Apparently the lager he consumed was to pass the time! He told me he bought me flowers but left them in the bar.. we both know there were no flowers!

I remember feeling so nervous but so giddy. I felt like a teenager all over again. It was so exciting.

Everything was going great, we were having a few drinks and getting to know each other then I turned to the side and spotted my best friend with her face pressed against the glass of the window where we were sitting. She was steaming drunk, spotted me and of course had to come and make her presence known! I was mortified so I rushed up out of my seat, ran outside and politely asked her to go away! LOL. We still laugh about this now. Darren calls her the crazy friend.

Our date continued with no further interruptions. Thankfully.

Darren was the least romantic person (and still is). I remember him saying the tattoo on my foot looked like a slug (it's a vine of flowers and I'll admit it's a bit of a mistake but come on.. first date?!) and then he pointed out a lovely big spot I had on my chin! LOL. We often joke now and say that was my queue to run.

We had a few more drinks and Darren walked me to the taxi rank, before getting in a taxi he asked if we could go back out the following week. Of course I said yes! I had a lovely evening and went home with a smile on my face.

When I got home we continued to chat and plan the next date. I knew then something special was brewing. When people say they have a ''feeling'', I definitely had that.

Darren lived at home with his parents and I had my own place about 20 minutes away from him. We had a few more dates out and then I invited him over to mine. He used to come everyday after work and then sleep over on the weekends. Things were going great between us.

We officially moved in together not long after and Darren popped the question in May 2015! We set a date and I can honestly say I've never looked back.

My family love him and he's the best uncle to my twin nephews and niece. He's the most loyal, understanding and caring man I have ever come across and as corny as it sounds, I can't wait to be his wife.

I never believed in love at first sight but I just knew there was something special between us. I had prayed and hoped to meet someone like him and I count my blessings every single day.

I have Facebook to thank! Without Facebook, I may not have ever met Darren. I know people can be a bit judgemental about online dating but I think it's becoming much more acceptable. The amount of dating sites nowadays is mass! Even down to specific locations like Somerset dating,Norwich dating and even rural area's like the Shetlands then you have Shetlands dating so it doesn't really matter you are, love is for everyone! So it seems.

Everyone deserves to experience true love and happiness at some point in their life. I think it's true what they say, we have to kiss a lot of frogs... you're never too old to find love or to let love find you, even if you're over 50 and live in smalls towns like Fife, you can check out over 50's dating Fife or for those further south there's over 50's dating Devon so never give up!

I've often read stories in magazines about couples who meet on the likes of POF (Plenty Of Fish) and end up getting married and having kids. I honestly don't think it matters about how you meet your loved ones, I'm just grateful that I was able to.

I'd love to know your thoughts on first dates and meeting people from dating sites/Facebook etc. Are you a yay or nay to online dating?

This is a sponsored post however all words and opinions are my own.

Beauty Giveaway

I'm no expert when it comes to beauty and I could definitely do with a few tips when it comes to skincare but I still do enjoy nice products.

I'm not really one for following trends and running out to buy the latest Instagram sensation but there's a brand I've used and loved for years.

More recently I've been working closely with them and I'm thrilled to be able to offer a giveaway!

Neal's Yard opened their doors on 4th December 1981 in Covent Gardens. They're a passionate company and believe that beauty should be natural. They believe in nature and honesty which I think is amazing. They're such a ethical company and firmly stand by their beliefs and morals.

This company is a bit of a hidden gem despite their many awards:

Ethical Consumer Best Buy 2017
Mama And Baby Award Winner 2017
Beauty Shortlist Award Winner 2017
Janey Loves Platinum Awards 2017
Green Parent Award Silver 2017
Veggie Award
Natural Health Magazine Beauty Award 2016
Best Organic Skincare Brand 2016
Best Bridal Beauty Award 2015
Earth Day Beauty award 2015

Pretty impressive!

I've been enjoying so many of their products lately.

The award winning Wild Rose Beauty Balm, it smells amazing and leaves my skin feeling silky smooth. The balm is so moisturising. It also comes with an organic cotton muslin cloth. I love the feel and smell of my skin when I've used this. I highly recommend it after the chore of shaving your legs if like me you're too much of a wimp for waxing.

White Tea Facial Mist has been a lifesaver during these hot days. My skin isn't in great condition at the minute and these changes in weather are definitely no help. If either really oily and my makeup goes patchy or I'm dry and flakey with lots of breakouts. The mist has been perfect for the warmer days to help keep my skin hydrated. Smells amazing too! I'm yet to find a Neal's Yard product that doesn't smell good!

Close Shave Oil - My partner has been using the Neal's Yard Men's Range. He was quite dubious at first as I'm always getting him to try products and have face masks but he went ahead and agreed to be my puppet for the day. He only shaves once a week and he usually suffers with little red shaving spots that irritate him even though he using pre and post shave balm and moisturises often. The Close Shave Oil smelt amazing! And he said the razor glided much easier, he only used a few drops on his face and said his skin felt so smooth afterwards. He didn't have any shaving either. It was a yes from him!

I've got lots more products to try out so I'll keep you all updated but I thought it would be nice to run a little giveaway and give others the chance to sample some of these beautiful products.

Winner will be picked at random using Rafflecopter, all entries will be checked and verified. UK entrants only.

This is not a sponsored post. 1 winner will receive a goodie bag of NYR products with a minimum value of £30.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday Motivation Meal Planning

It's that time again where I get a little boost of Monday Motivation.

As you may or may not know, I'm getting married next year and I'm shredding for the wedding. I've lost an amazing amount of weight (don't mean to blow my own trumpet but I've done so well and all will be revealed next week!) and one of the things that's helped me stay on track is menu planning. If it gets to 6pm, I'm tired, hungry and have no idea what I'm eating then chances are it won't be salad, vegetables or anything remotely healthy to pass my lips.

So to stay in control and keep focused I decided to menu plan! I'm not the most adventurous of eaters, in fact I'm a bit of a fuss pot but here we go!

I'm currently following the Slimming World plan so all meals will be adapted to Slimming World friendly recipes.

Monday 26th June -  Homemade burgers stuffed with cheese and garlic served with salad and garlic mayo.
                               
Tuesday 27th June -  Diet Coke chicken served with rice.

Wednesday 28th June -  Pizza topped gammon (you can change this to chicken) served with vegetables, coleslaw and jersey potato's.

Thursday 29th June -  Spaghetti Bolognese with Slimming World style garlic bread.

Friday 30th June - Chicken breast stuffed with garlic butter and wrapped in bacon served with salad.

Saturday 1st July - Slimming World style buffet - pease pudding wrapped in ham, seasoned chicken skewers, tuna stuffed cucumber, crustless quiche, salad, coleslaw, wedges, carrot sticks with dips and a fruit platter.

Sunday 2nd July - Slow cooked roast beef with vegetables, Yorkshire pudding, roasties done in the halogen oven and meaty gravy.

I feel so focused about the week ahead now I have a plan. I feel confident for a good week. Onwards and downwards!

I'd love to hear from anyone else who meal plans or any yummy Slimming World friendly recipes you may have.

If you'd like to link up, please visit Laura's Blog.