Pip’s gone crazy and customised her Bridal Shoes…

In October promised that I would start posting more “personal” Wedding Planning stories. I realise I’ve not really done that yet. Mostly because I didn’t have anything that I wanted to reveal/share. Until now.

If you’re like me and have a few unusual ideas about what you want for your Wedding floating around in your head, then you might appreciate this post. I’d like to start by saying that the following is not going to be many people’s cup of tea. In fact, when I told my mum what I was planning to do to my Bridal Shoes, she told me, “you can’t do that!” in a tone that signified that she thought I’d either lost the plot or was being silly.

I got the idea to customise my Bridal Shoes from a friend’s facebook newsfeed back in July. She was raving about Cherry Choo’s, an astonishingly talented lady in Gloucester who customises shoes (mostly converse-style trainers and dap-type things) with various motifs, though most of her work consists of animation characters. I was inspired by this. I’ve always had a girl-crush on Rogue from the original X-Men TV series, and began having crazy thoughts about having Rogue drawn on my Bridal Shoes. So I emailed Cherry Choo’s. She was so helpful and made me feel that this strange idea of mine was not only awesome, but completely possible. I like people like that.

[Below: the image of Rogue I wanted on my shoes, taken from the cover of one of my brother-in-law’s comic collection]

1 Rogue

As per my chats with Cherry Choo’s, I acquired the shoes I wanted to use from a Debenhams sale online.

[Below: my chosen Bridal Shoes]

2 Shoe

3 Shoe

Once I’d gotten hold of the shoes, a few creeping sensations began to plague me. First: I’d bought my shoes too early, and I spent ages doubting whether or not customising them was the right thing to do. I had too long to contemplate this. Second: I’ve always loved drawing, and was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t do this for myself. I was convinced I could do it. So I started drawing Rogue. My first attempt was too detailed, and I knew I couldn’t replicate it on a shoe. I also didn’t finish it, which was concerning… and it didn’t really look enough like the original image.

[Below: first attempt at Rogue]

4 Rogue

My second attempt, although a lot less detailed, was too big, and I struggled to envisage how I could get the whole image on a shoe.

[Below: second attempt at Rogue]

5 Rogue

Then, I had an epiphany. Tracing paper! I decided that I didn’t need the entire image, and I could just use whatever of the original would fit on the shoe. I drew around the available space of the shoe onto the tracing paper, so that I knew how much Rogue to draw.

[Below: tracing paper Rogue. Much better than my freestyle attempts]

6 Tracing

This set the ball rolling. It took a bit of courage and a “ they’re my shoes and it’s my Wedding!” attitude to pin the tracing against the shoes and start pressing the pencil marks into the patent leather. But I did it.

[Below: pinning the tracing paper to the shoes with bulldog clips and the resulting pencil marks]

7 Tracing

8 Tracing

9 Tracing

10 Tracing both

I then took the plunge and started drawing over the pencil marks with a Sharpie permanent marker on the left shoe. I was shaking with nerves, which meant that I accidentally made a mark near the left shoe Rogue’s nose. More on that later. My main problem at this stage was that some of the pencil marks on the shoe were not clear, and I tried to use the original picture to help me. This was problematic, as I’d flipped the image on the shoe, so the picture I was using to help was backwards.

[Below: the customisation takes shape and gathers mistakes]

11 Eyes

12 Eyes

13 Eyes and hair

14 Eyes and more hair

I then realised that the best thing to use as a guide was the tracing paper drawing. I kicked myself for not thinking of it earlier. At this stage, I came across another problem that some of the pencil marks hadn’t taken at all – particularly for the arms, which were along an awkward bend in the shoe. I couldn’t re-apply the tracing paper, so had to sort of make it up.

[Below: using the tracing paper picture as a guide and making up Rogue’s arm]

15 More with tracing guide

16 Arm difficult

17 Arm done

I was really pleased with the first completed shoe, even if she had a defect near her nose.

[Below: the completed left shoe]

18 Shoe done

19 shoe done

20 shoe done

I decided to start the right shoe before worrying about what to do about left shoe Rogue’s nose defect. However, I should have waited. I should have calmed down. I was far too enthusiastic and dare I say it, even slightly cocky at this point. I’d been nervous with the left shoe, but that meant that I generally took a “less is more” attitude, and made careful, purposeful marks. The right shoe, however, saw me slapping on marks because I thought I’d get it right. I did not. I was careless and didn’t refer to the original trace enough. This resulted in right shoe Rogue looking a little like a toad, with too heavy eyes and too massive a pair of lips.

[Below: the completed pair of shoes. Notice in the second image how right shoe Rogue looks like a toad. I’m not afraid or too precious to admit this]

21 Pair done

22 Pair done

23 pair done

That evening, I googled how to remove Sharpie marks from patent leather. One method suggested nail varnish remover. The next morning, I tested a little bit on the underside of one of the shoes. Although it didn’t remove it completely, it certainly made the test mark a lot fainter. I thought this might be enough, so applied some nail varnish remover to the defect near left shoe Rogue’s nose. I don’t have an image of the mess I made doing that – I was far too stressed about it to take a picture at that stage. The tiny mark blurred across her face. I was gutted, but decided to raid my collection of paints. I found a “titanium white” acrylic (apparently permanent paint – we’ll see on that one), and gently dabbed it over the horrendous mess with a brush. This seemed to do the trick. I decided to paint over a section of right shoe toad Rogue’s lips to make them appear less bulging. I’m not sure why this didn’t work as well. I think perhaps I should have used the nail varnish remover first to make the permanent marker fainter, but given my experience on the left shoe, I was worried about doing that. It means now however that right shoe Rogue still looks like a toad, with an opaque black mark near her toady lips.

[Below: the patch-up paint jobs on imperfect left and right shoe Rogues]

24 Paint nose

25 Paint mouth

26 corrections

I wish I’d taken more time with right shoe Rogue, as I know I could have done better. But that’s my only regret about doing this. I know that they’re not perfect, but I love them all the same, and am proud of what I’ve done, even if people are going to think I’m mental.

I’m fairly realistic about my strengths and weaknesses when it comes to drawing, and can reconcile with myself when I make mistakes. But I was still daunted by this task. If I hasn’t been sure that I either a) could do this or b) could accept my shoes, regardless if I made a mistake on them, I wouldn’t have done this myself. If you’re thinking of having customised Bridal Shoes, but can’t draw/are too scared/have too much to organise to be faffing with drawing on your shoes, then I’d recommend contacting Cherry Choo’s. Not only was she lovely and helpful, she was also very reasonable.

[Below: my finished Bridal Shoes]

27 done with corrections

28 side shoe

29 finished

30 Pair finished

Pip x

Hen Do Trends – Spabreaks.com via Branded3

As a female who is quickly approaching a terrifying milestone involving the numbers “3” and “0,” you can probably imagine that I have reached that point in life where Hen Dos dominate.  I’ve been on numerous, and I imagine like many people, have noticed that they tend to be fairly similar, involving:

  • Staying away from home for at least one night. If more than one night, the first night is dedicated to staying in with some sort out pampering or “getting to know you” type of activities. The second night involves going out.
  • At least one activity. I have come to realise that given that Hen Do groups usually involve people who do not know each other, the activities serve to familiarise Hen Do attendees with one another. They also fill time before going out. If there is more than one activity, there will usually be at least one ‘active’ and one ‘pampering’ one.
  • There is usually a theme. I’ve noticed lately that themes are becoming more subtle. For example, there might be a colour theme, rather than all-out fancy dress theme. The standard L Plates and men’s tenders are also taking a bit of a back seat these days, with many Hen Parties opting for sophistication over embarrassment.


[Below: standard Hen Do fair of men’s tenders, witnessed on my very first Hen Do. Oh, the memories…]


The above similarities of Hen Dos are not a bad thing – in fact, this can be useful, as it enables attendees to know what is likely to happen, resulting in reduced stress.

However, just because I’ve noticed a few things about Hen Dos doesn’t mean that the above is fact. Luckily, I’ve been presented with some market research by Spabreaks.com (which came to me via Branded3 - this blogging lark is complicated), who have kindly shared their amassed data about Hen Dos with me. It was an interesting read, and I’ll share my findings here, with an emphasis on what the ladies of Bristol had to say for themselves.

The ladies of Bristol prefer relaxing Spa break Hen Dos, with almost 77% saying yes to those. The remaining respondents liked “a bit of a mixture” – which from a market research point of view is useful data. Always nice to have specifics. What was really interesting was that 59% of ladies from Bristol agreed with the notion of “what happens on a Hen Party stays on a Hen Party.” I’d never realised that Spa breaks were racy enough to deserve this attitude. Maybe I’ve been on the wrong types of Spa breaks.

Another interesting piece of data was 53% of ladies in Bristol would want to pay up to £50 for a Hen Do, and no more.  This seemed odd to me, as I don’t think I’ve ever paid less than £100 for any Hen Do I’ve ever been on, so thought this would be higher. The £50 maximum was in fact pretty common – the ladies of Liverpool agreed, and it was only the ladies of Belfast who seemed happy to pay more. Then again, the ladies of Belfast also were the most keen to go on a wild night out, and 100% agreed that “what happens on a Hen Party stays on a Hen Party.” Looks like Belfast is the place to go for a Hangover style Hen Do!

The ladies of Bristol preferred a countryside setting, but it wasn’t by a large margin – 47% wanted countryside, 35% city and 18% overseas. Younger respondents were also more likely to choose a city setting.

The responses provided by the ladies of Bristol for fancy dress themes were hilarious, ranging from ‘school uniform’ to ‘bumblebees’ to ‘dogs and cats’. The most frequently chosen fancy dress theme by Bristolians was ‘tarts’. However, my favourite fancy dress theme requests were ‘Historical Women in History’ as chosen by a lady in Liverpool and ‘SNOW WHITE’ chosen very enthusiastically by a woman in Sheffield. One woman in Glasgow also wanted ‘buxom wenches,’ which also made me laugh. Going through the fancy dress choices made me realise that aside from the ladies who were totally against fancy dress, two themes emerge: glamorous fancy dress and comical fancy dress. It seems as though ladies are torn between presenting themselves in their best light on a Hen Do, or making fun at themselves and enjoying the comedy that ensues.

Another thing I’ve noticed about Hen Dos is how stressful they are to organise. I helped organise a Hen Do a couple of years ago, and despite it being a simple idea (Edinburgh Fringe Festival) with only a few people attending, it still took a lot of hard work. Since then, I’ve been on much bigger Hen Dos with lots of activities and sleepovers in barns, I am amazed that the bridesmaids/ladies organising survive the weekend with their mental health intact.

From spas breaks to wild, anything goes fancy dress nights out (Belfast, Belfast, Belfast…), I think the main thing to remember is that the Hen has to have an awesome time, and from the above, it appears that throwing lots of money at the event should be the least of our concerns.

Pip x

Financial Advice for Wedding Planning – creditcardinsider. com

Nine months in, I can confirm that Wedding Planning can be a stressful venture. It’s very easy to get swept up into a whirlpool of expectation. I started off with very modest ideas of what my Wedding would be like. However, there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s an expensive endeavour, and even if you try to keep things simple, you’ll inevitably end up spending more than you thought you would. At least, that’s what I’ve found so far. As everything is so expensive with Weddings, it skews your perception of the value of money, and you end up agreeing to buy expensive things based on the fact that they are cheaper than the ludicrously expensive alternatives.

With this in mind, I’d like to share with you some financial advice for Wedding Planning from CreditCardInsider.com. A little while back I was made aware of their budget calculator for Weddings, and their accumulated knowledge from Wedding Bloggers. I had a go at the calculator, and although it’s in dollars, I found it fairly accurate, given the average Wedding. As the cost of living is lower in America, the estimated costs worked out fairly similar to sterling, so it’s worth a look.

I liked the financial Wedding Planning advice in the infographic from CreditCardInsider.com as well. It got me thinking about what my main advice for Wedding Planning is. Hummmmmm. This may be controversial and I know that a lot of Bride-to-bes will disagree with me on this one, but my main advice is to ditch the Wedding Magazines. I find them totally useless. I have my own ideas of what I want, and looking at magazines not only leaves me feeling like my ideas are totally against the grain, but also make everything seem more overwhelming than it needs to be. Lots of aspects of Weddings are needless; there are so many little details that magazines make out to be essential or of high importance, but in reality no one will notice them on the day, or in the very least will forget about them very quickly afterwards.

[Below: the budget calculator from CreditCardInsider.com - click on the picture below to access]

Wedding Budget Calculator from Credit Card Insider

[Below: an infographic provided by CreditCardInsider.com of financial planning advice from Wedding Bloggers]

Financial Advice For Wedding Planning from Credit Card Insider

I hope this has enlightened or at least given some couples in the midst of Wedding Planning something to think about. I know it’s not the festive and jolly, “Yay, it’s Christmas and Weddings are awesome” post that probably would have been more appropriate, but when you’re planning a Wedding and Christmas looms, you start to get a bit real about this sort of stuff.

And I promise to do a slightly happier post just before I sign off for the year. I am excited about Christmas – promise!

Pip x

Magic, Mince Pies and Manicures

This week we have a guest blog post from Helen, who scoped out the Earl’s & Co Christmas Party on Saturday, 7th December 2013 for me with her fiancé Graham. Cheers people! Pip x

It takes a certain something to get me feeling festive – I can’t put my finger on what it is – but I found it last Saturday night at the Earl’s & Co Christmas party, which I attended with my fiancé, photographer Graham Nightingale.

As we first approached the wreath-adorned red door, lit by a street lamp on a crisp and cool night on Cheltenham’s Regent Street, we could have been forgiven for imagining ourselves in a scene from Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’. The warm welcome which followed, however, was a million miles from Ebeneezer Scrooge.

[Below: the red wreathed door of Earl's & Co. All images by Graham Nightingale]

1 Front door Earls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  9

A cranberry-filled glass of champagne at the top of the red-carpeted stairs filled me with excitement for what else lay in store. The gorgeous Holly greeted us as we arrived, and then we were invited through to the bar to mingle with other guests.

[Below: champagne with cranberries. How very festive]

2 Cranberry Champagne Earls & Co Christmas Party Graham Nightingale

[Below: Holly in her glamorous fur coat welcomes guests]

3 Holly Earls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  5

[Below: festive mince pies on arrival]

4 Mince Pies Earls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  2

Shortly after, we were privileged to be able to observe Jason, Earl’s & Co’s charming barber, carry out Traditional Hot Towel Wet Shaves and Facial Treatments upon some of the lucky guests. To me, this is the epitome of what Earl’s is about – the pampering experience for Gents offered by no one else around.

[Below: Jason doing what he does best]

5 Jason Wet Shave Earls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  49

[Below: the chairs in this room fascinate me – I learned that they are two of only four in the country!]

6 Chair Earls & Co Christmas Party Graham Nightingale

Next we ventured upstairs into what is normally the treatment room, where Earl’s & Co proprietor Jess had organised for several businesses to showcase their brands and services. It was buzzing!

Our first stop was at Overeem Tasmanian Whisky, imported by entrepreneurs Toby and Jonah. They had a great story behind the brand, which is now on sale at Earl’s. Whilst travelling in Australia they came across the drink and upon their return to the UK began reminiscing about their travels and pondering their next career moves. Having fondly remembered the whisky, they began to look into importing it so that other Brits could also enjoy it. I’m no whisky drinker but this was smooth, warming and delicious!

[Below: Tasmanian whisky, Overeem]

7 Overeem Earls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  19

[Below: Toby and Jonah from Overeem]

8 Toby Jonah Overeem Earls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  68

We were delighted to spot the lovely Felicity and Amy from Virgin, who were on hand to offer holiday and travel advice. We chatted away about potential Honeymoon destinations and were so grateful for the knowledge and suggestions they gave us. Virgin offer such a great hands on personal service where they can tailor a package to suit your budget and tastes, I wanted to book there and then!

[Below: Felicity and Amy of Virgin Holidays]

9 Virgin Earls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  16

[Below: The fella. Graham Nightingale (@hotrodgraham)]

10 Graham Earls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  88

Glenfiddich ‘blind tasting’ by the enigmatic Mingus drew a strong crowd throughout the evening. Ok, so the lure of free alcohol played some part I’m sure, but Mingus’s passion and energy demanded the attention of the audience. Following my dabble into whisky drinking earlier in the on in the evening, I felt it only right to continue my education. Lessons at school would be so much more successful if done in this way…

[Below: getting excited about the upcoming whisky tasting]

11 Helen Whisky Earls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  40

[Below: Scottish Whisky-expert extraordinaire, Mingus]

12 Mingus Earls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  15

Castle Fine Art Gallery, based on The Promenade, were represented by the wonderful Zoe and Becky, who share over sixteen years experience between them. They had brought along a fascinating array of works from the gallery, which suited the surroundings perfectly. My personal favourites were the rare photos of Marilyn Monroe by Eve Arnold, the Profile of Time sculpture by Salvador Dali and, the standout piece for me which was called ‘Romeo & Juliet’, seen below. It is a miniature of the star-crossed lovers set inside a hollowed out book.

[Below: ‘Romeo & Juliet’]

13 Romeo & Juliet Earls & Co Christmas Party Graham Nightingale

[Below: Becky and Zoe of Castle Fine Art]

14 Castle Gallery Earls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  55

Member of The Magic Circle, Richard Parsons captivated the party guests with his awe-inspiring card tricks. There were audible gasps from whichever corner of the room he was in and it was a great talking point between everyone.  I was astounded by the card trick Richard showed me and it has had me lying awake at night, trying to figure it out ever since!

[Below: Richard mesmerises the guys with his baffling tricks]

15 Richard Parsons Card Earls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  7

[Below: the unbearably talented Richard Parsons (@glosmagician)]

16 Richard Parsons Lollipop Earls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  45

Over in the Champagne Nail Bar, Ashleigh had a waiting list of ladies wanting one of her famous mini manicures.

With such a lovely array of Opi & Leighton Denny colours to choose from, I was spoilt for choice when my turn arrived. I opted for an opulent peach/pink to go on my wonderfully named ‘squoval’ shaped nails (you learn something new everyday…). This was a lovely treat to end the evening with. Thank you, Ashleigh!

[Below: guests getting the star treatment from Ashleigh]

17 Ashleigh Nails Earls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  31

[Below: my gorgeous Opi Christmas nails]

18 Helen Nails Earls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  85

At the other end of the room, Earl’s & Co.’s very own Emily and John Paul were on hand to rustle up cocktails. Boy, were they busy! My personal favourite was the Lemon Frost – a mix of Limoncello and Prosecco with a sugar coated rim and sprig of mint. Simply divine.

[Below: Emily and John Paul creating their magical cocktails]

19 Cocktail Making Earls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  67

[Below: Lemon Frost and me]

20 Lemon Frost Earls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  34

I can’t remember the last time I was at a party where Santa stopped by, nevermind one where I witnessed him having a manicure or enjoying a glass (or two) of whisky – but then this is Earl’s & Co after all, and as the saying goes, ‘when in Rome….’.

[Below: even Santa gets a mani – pedi. Who knew?]

21 Santa Nails Earls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  71

[Below: spotted with a cheeky tipple….]

22 Santa Whisky Earls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  66

The evening was rounded off with a very generous raffle. Although I wasn’t fortunate enough to have my number drawn, there were plenty of delighted winners in the room. Prizes included treatments in the Champagne Nail Bar and Barbers, Piper Heidsieck Champagne, dinner for two at Brasserie Blanc and Tullamore Dew Irish Whisky.

[Below: nervously awaiting his number being called]

23 Raffle tickets Earls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  80

[Below: one of the lucky winners]

24 Raffle winner Earls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  82

[Below: the winning numbers were drawn by Mr Claus himself]

25 Jess Santa RaffleEarls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  81

This was a Christmas evening with a twist, as the guests could interact over the activities and share in the experiences which were on offer. It was glamorous, nostalgic, luxurious and eye-opening. Everyone had such a wonderful time and was left wanting more.

Jess certainly knows how to throw a party, and how to make her guests – like her customers – feel at home. I can’t wait to return.

Merry Christmas!

Helen x

[Below: Jess convinces Santa that she’s been a good girl this year]

26 Jess Santa Earls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  56

[Below: Jess, Jamie, Jason, Ashleigh, Emily and Santa aka Team Earl’s & Co.]

27 Earls Earls & Co Christmas Party 2013 - Graham Nightingale -  86

Find Your Perfect Venue.com

What is the most important decision a couple can make for their Wedding Day? There are lots of contenders for this one: date, guest list, venue, etc. One which I think takes a lot of time an effort to organise is the venue. Possible venues all need to be viewed, as most couples probably wouldn’t book a venue without at least looking around the place. That requires time. Something that a lot of us don’t have.


I’ve recently been made aware of a website that can save couples time and effort when it comes to selecting a venue for their Wedding. www.FindYourPerfectVenue.com is a website that allows couples to search for venues in a chosen location, based on several different parameters. You can search by “Venue Type,” “Venue Style,” “Venue Region” and via an interactive map. The listing for each venue has a description of it, pictures, a map and a handy “key information” box, which summarises some basic information about the venue, such as capacity and accommodation.

[Below: a selection of images of venues listed under “South West” on the website. First image: Almonry Barn, Taunton]


[Below: Blackdown Events at The Haymeadow, Somerset]


[Below: Boconnoc]


[Below: Beach Weddings, Bournemouth]


[Below: Cornish Tipi Weddings]


[Below: Dartington Hall, Devon]


[Below: Eden Project]


[Below: Kings Weston Hall]


[Below: Lantallack]


[Below: Pentillie Castle]


[Below: River Cottage]


[Below: Stockbridge Farm Barn]


[Below: Thornbury Castle]


[Below: Tone Dale House]


This website is the brainchild of Rachel Titman and her partner Mat. Designed with the concepts of simplicity and collaboration in mind, it gives you the opportunity to not only search for venues in an easy way, but also the chance to see photos of the venue that include the work of local vendors, to give you an idea of what is possible. There’s no premium listing tactics either, so you’re not likely to be pushed to consider a particular venue – you’re simply given a list of venues that have registered with the site. Oh, and another time saver is that you can easily access this website via mobile and tablets, as it is optimised to be used in those formats.

[Below: Rachel and Mat]


Happy venue hunting – made that little bit easier by www.FindYourPrefectVenue.com.

Pip x

DIY Bridal Make-Up: SimplyBridal.com


You’ll notice that the last post was at the start of September. That marked the last time I had any spare time that wasn’t devoted to my day job. Sad, isn’t it?

Now I can’t promise that the next few months will signal the start of regular posting. In fact, with the threat of a college inspection and the sea of UCAS applications I’m currently wading through, I can almost guarantee that posts will remain sporadic. However, time away from the blog has given me time to have a re-think. I’m going to take the blog in a slightly different direction. I hope to still bring you general Wedding things and recommendations of great local vendors, but I’ll also try to share some more personal Wedding planning stories. We’ll see how it goes.

Today is a follow up to the last post: DIY Bridal Make-Up. SimplyBridal.com have kindly sent me some more information about this topic, to help the undecided and confused.



Cheers then,

Pip x

DIY Bridal Make-Up

Just a quick one today – have been flat out with work/car issues this week (yes, am currently playing a violin and weeping on the sofa) and am desperately trying to get some lesson planning done before I set off for my friend’s Hen Do in Hay-on-Wye later today. Thought I’d take a quick break from work and post a tiny bit on DIY Bridal Make-Up.

I plan to do a bit more on this in the future, but thought I’d start this topic by posting two great links to DIY make-up tips I’ve discovered recently.

The first is a video by SimplyBridal.com. They have a Youtube channel, so don’t forget to check out the rest of their videos. To watch the quick make-up tutorial, click here.

Second, I have a brilliant post by Jessie Thomson. Wedding stylists/planners are excellent people to know! Click here for Jessie’s photo-based tutorial.

Last, even if you’re doing your own make-up for your Wedding, you might still like to have a Bridal make-up trial, so that you can get some ideas about how you’d like to look and how you can achieve it. I can recommend two make up artists for this:

  1. Make up Lane (based in Forest of Dean-ish area) – my cousin Jody is a fabulous MUA, and has recently added examples of her work to her facebook page. Check it out here.
  2. BouLou (based in Gloucester/Cheltenham area) – I’ve covered Lucy before, and have seen her beautiful work. Click here for my blog post about BouLou.


Pip x

Earl’s & Co – First Birthday Party

When most people say they’re going to a first birthday party, you imagine them to be heading towards somewhere that’s noisy with the sounds of crying and cake mashed into the floor, and where the words “sleep deprivation” are cheerily slurred by adults with brave faces and bags under their eyes. I went to a first birthday party recently. This party was noisy with the sound of laughter and clinking glasses, with neatly wrapped sushi rolls on tables. The words “champagne cocktail” or “whisky” were cheerily slurred by adults with manicured nails and cleanly shaven faces.  This was the Earl’s & Co’s first birthday party.

I attended this event with Charlotte Macey from Charlotte Macey Textiles, on the 17th August, one of the few rainy evenings I can remember of this summer (didn’t think I’d be saying that this year…). I’m always guaranteed a fun evening with Charlotte, and the backdrop of Earl’s & Co, with their fabulous activities and provisions made it a lovely evening.

When we arrived, we immediately made our way upstairs to the champagne nail bar to scope out manicures and cocktails. While waiting for our manicures, we also had a go at whisky tasting. The representatives from Glenfiddich were brilliant. They were really friendly and talked us through what we were tasting and what sorts of activities and mood would best suit each one. Charlotte was not too keen on the whisky….

[Below: our whisky tasting experience. Images by me]

Earl's & Co Whiskey experts

Earl's & Co Whiskey glasses

Earl's & Co CMT Whiskey tasting

We then had our nails done. We only had mini manicures, but they were brilliant. I went for neutral tones, but Charlotte decided to be a bit more daring.

[Below: Charlotte’s manicure experience. And some other examples of the Earl’s & Co manicures]

Earl's & Co nail filing 2

Earl's & Co nail filing 3

Earl's & Co nail painting 2

Earl's & Co nail painting 4

Earl's & Co nail polish

Earl's & Co ladies' nails

Next we hit the champagne bar. This is usually a champagne nail bar, and ladies can have all sorts of pampering here, including waxing and massage. Great for pre-Wedding preparations/relaxation, or as a Hen Do activity. Massage doesn’t take place here – there is a separate room for that, meaning fellas can get all relaxed too. At the party, Charlotte had the Earl’s & Co custom cocktail, and loved it. The bar staff were very friendly and up for a good time, whilst still maintaining a high standard. We also chatted to some other hilarious and entertaining party goers, who were having an amazing time.

[Below: our time at the champagne bar]

Earl's & Co Nail Bar

Earl's & Co cocktail making

Earl's & Co Champagne cocktail

Earl's & Co CMT enjoying cocktail

Earl's & Co ladies

Earl's & Co Pip and CMT

It was up in the champagne bar that we bumped into Jessica Earl, proprietor of Earl’s & Co. She’s so sweet and spent her evening making sure everyone was having fun. That sums up Earl’s & Co – they provide an excellent, ‘more than you asked for’ sort of service that ensures that you have a great time there.

[Below: Jessica and her friend Guy]

Earl's & Co Guy and Jessica

We then had a perusal of the whisky bar and barber’s downstairs. I’d been here before – for his 30th, I took James from PicturesandPiano to Earl’s & Co for a traditional shave and massage. They were demonstrating their barber’s services at the party, and although it looks scary, from James’s review after his birthday experience, it’s awesome. I imagine that it would be a fun way for a Groom and his Ushers to prepare for a Wedding, as you can drink whisky whilst you’re having a shave/hair trim and get a complimentary shoe shine.

[Below: whisky bar and traditional shaving]

Earl's & Co Whiskey Bar

Earl's & Co pre-barber shave

Earl's & Co wet shave

There were a few Wedding Industry people there; I saw Ali from Cotswold Bride and Pia from Vanilla Pod Bakery, who were having a great time. I was lucky enough to have been loaned camera equipment by PicturesandPiano, so I had a bit of a play and pretended to be a proper photographer. James would have done a better job, but below are some of the more arty shots I attempted.

Earl's & Co cocktail mixing

Earl's & Co guests whiskey tasting

Earl's & Co Champagne bar 2

Earl's & Co busy champagne bar

Earl's & Co balloon 3

Earl's & Co balloon

Charlotte Macey and I had an awesome time at the Earl’s & Co first birthday party. Thanks to Jessica and her team for a fun filled evening… and Happy Birthday!

[Below: the lovely Jessica and her man on the red carpet of the birthday party]

Earl's & Co Jessica red carpet

Pip x


Earl’s & Co: www.earlsandco.co.uk

Eve Dunlop Photography – take two

As a lovely August Bank Holiday weekend post, I have another set of images from Eve Dunlop Photography to share.

The following photos are from the gorgeous Wedding of Kelly and Sam, who were married at The Kingscote Barn.

Other details: the Bride’s pre-Wedding preparations took place at Will’s Cottage (part of Kingscote Barn), with her headpiece being from Rainbow. Catering for the event was by Fosters.

Enjoy, and have a great weekend!

[Below: images by Eve Dunlop Photography]

Eve Dunlop Photography 1

Eve Dunlop Photography 2

Eve Dunlop Photography 3

Eve Dunlop Photography 4

Eve Dunlop Photography 5

Eve Dunlop Photography 6

Eve Dunlop Photography 7

Eve Dunlop Photography 8

Eve Dunlop Photography 9

Eve Dunlop Photography 10

Eve Dunlop Photography 11

Eve Dunlop Photography 12

Eve Dunlop Photography 13

Eve Dunlop Photography 14

Eve Dunlop Photography 15

Eve Dunlop Photography 16

Eve Dunlop Photography 17

Eve Dunlop Photography 18

Eve Dunlop Photography 21

Eve Dunlop Photography 22

Eve Dunlop Photography 23

Eve Dunlop Photography 24

Eve Dunlop Photography


Pip x

Cherry Press

It’s great meeting Wedding vendors for the blog and finding out what they do. What’s especially great is when you get to see what they do.

Last week, I visited the effortlessly cool David of Cherry Press in his Cotswold studio. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had a vague idea of what Letterpress printing was all about, but had never seen it done. With hindsight, I hadn’t expected the machinery and the process to be as traditional as what I met at the Cherry Press studio. Everything about Cherry Press is time honoured, which in turn means that everything is hand-made and bespoke quality.

[Below: some of the traditional machinery and pieces that make up the Cherry Press studio]

Cherry Press 1

Cherry Press 2

Cherry Press 3

First, I was introduced to Martha. Martha is the name given to David’s oldest printing press. One hundred and thirty-two years old, everything printed on Martha is done using manual twists, turns and pushes of massive wheels and pedals. The ink is spread across a huge disc at the top of the machine, and with a heave of this and a turn of that, gets impressed into the paper that is inserted by hand, one sheet at a time.

[Below: manual Martha]

Cherry Press 4

Cherry Press 5

I was also shown Marigold, the electric and therefore sprightly (made in 1963…) printing press of the Cherry Press studio. This one impressed me. There’s still a lot to do by hand (David manipulates the machine by deft pulls and twizzles of levers), but the insertion of the paper and the motion of the press is powered by electricity.

[Below: electrified Marigold]

Cherry Press 6

Ink (mixed by David) is applied to a roller, which then spreads its load across other rollers. This gives the ink an even layer to then be applied to the paper. The principle of the press is the same as the manual Martha, with the design of what is to be printed and pressed moulded onto a plastic sheet called a plate. Ink is applied to the plate, and this is then pressed into the paper – leaving the ink and an impression on the paper, which gives that “embossed” feel.

[Below: ink applied to Marigold; the plate used to press the design into the paper; Marigold in action]

Cherry Press 7

Cherry Press 8

Cherry Press 9

Cherry Press 10

To see Marigold in action, and listen to the satisfying noises made during the printing press process, click on the following links:

  1. Marigold in action
  2. A jaunty angle of Marigold in action
  3. A bird’s eye view of Marigold in action


Once the printing is finished, the meticulous David then checks over the work to ensure perfection. Once this has been done, he guillotines the work to the desired size, using Fred – an old school guillotine that could take your fingers (and probably head) off.

[Below: Fred the guillotine]

Cherry Press 11

Cherry Press 12

Cherry Press 13

Click here for a video of Fred in action.

Aside from seeing the magic of the printing press, I managed to have a chat with David about Cherry Press. With a background in digital print and design, David always had a love of the traditional printing press methods, and decided to make a career of it. Beginning with an old cherry coloured press some years ago, he taught himself the ways of Letterpress printing, which is demonstrated when you watch him work. He knows every inch of those machines, and insists on overseeing each press. He covers both Wedding and business stationery; for Weddings he can make everything from save the date cards to menus and orders of service. He has a collection of designs on the Cherry Press website, which couples can either choose from, or use as inspiration for a bespoke design (to see the collection, click here).  He’s constantly updating his collection, and is working on an innovative design that is much more tactile than traditional invitations (I don’t want to give away details here, so keep your eyes on Cherry Press for that one).

I asked David for advice for couples when it comes to Wedding stationery. His main message was to take time to think about the stationery. Whilst it might be easy to see it as a card that gets sent out with a date and time on it, for many of your guests it is their first exposure to what you’ve planned for your Wedding. It sets the tone of the day and wets their appetite for your day.

He also said that the wording of the invitations needs to be checked carefully. Remember, those who are responsible for printing your invitations will follow your instructions, so if a date/time/person/people to be mentioned are wrong but spelt correctly, how are they to know that it is a mistake? A mistake like that could be costly in both time and money.

Cherry Press offers a personal service, meaning they suit a range of different clients. From those that have a creative background and are just looking for a print partner, to those who have a theme but no definitive direction or design, Cherry Press is more than happy to discuss ideas and requirements to help bring your stationery to life.

My visit to Cherry Press was intriguing. Being a bit of a geek for details, I enjoyed watching the machines at work. I also liked seeing the process, and David is master of his printing press domain. I got a real sense of the quality of his workmanship, and his obsession for perfection. If you want your invitations and stationery made by someone who knows exactly what they’re doing, and can make it to a precise, exact finish that is impressive to hold and look at, then be sure to get in touch with Cherry Press.

[Below: examples of Cherry Press’s work]

Cherry Press 14

Pip x


Cherry Press: www.cherrypress.co.uk