With this ring I thee wed

Your engagement ring will probably be the first wedding-related purchase you make as a couple, whether you or your partner choose and buy it or you do it together. The ring can be a first chance to prove how well you know each other, if you’ve particular tastes or expectations. Or it can be a haribo jelly ring, hula hoop, or ring-fashioned tin foil to fulfil the role of ‘ring’ and be all you need. The engagement ring can set the tone for the wedding to follow. Much like the invitations, your ring will give your guests an idea of what to expect from the wedding. Is it contemporary? Antique? Traditional? Restrained? Elaborate? They will be looking for clues!

The choice of engagement ring will probably have most bearing on your choice of wedding bands. Do you intend to keep wearing your engagement ring after the marriage? Will you keep it on the same finger or move it to the other hand? Will you want to wear it alongside your wedding ring on special occasions or keep it in a box to hand down to the next generation? If your partner will only wear silver coloured metals or only yellow coloured metals does this mean your wedding rings will now not match? Do you need to consider a multi coloured gold band to tie the three rings together?

Jewellery is pretty. We love the decadence of it. It is never needed. This makes it all the more desirable. Getting married gives you a great excuse to buy not one but two rings plus jewellery to wear on the day! But spare a thought for your other half. The Groom will generally get a nice new pair of cufflinks out of it – if he’s lucky. After our engagement I decided to buy my fiance a watch. Not just a functional watch, but one that was special. One that was a bit over the top., a bit ornate. One that really spoke to him and spoke to me of him. He adores it to this day and wears it every chance he gets (whenever not at work). It’s a ‘for best’ piece, and because it was frivilous, because I told him to choose whichever one he wanted, instead of weighing up pros and cons or thinking of the watch as a practical purchase, it’s basically his most prized possession. A true gift, a treat, not a concession.

When we were shopping for his wedding cufflinks we were so bored by the masses of jokey modern Groom offerings. We eventually came across a pair of cheeky vintage links. My top tip: don’t search under the Groom or Wedding category for cufflinks. Think about the kind of design or look that would work with your theme. While we’re talking about thinking outside the box, there’s no rule that you have to have wedding rings. If you’re not really a ring person why not go for something more you – jewellery or otherwise? The purpose of rings in the marriage ceremony is firstly to symbolise your first gifts to each other, so you could opt to exchange pretty much anything instead, eg. roses, garlands, tokens, coins. Secondly, rings symbolise infinity. This could mean to you your unending love, your unending support for one another through live, or your unending bond together in marriage. Rings symbolise these things because they are circles so have no end. You could replace rings with any other circular object, for example, a bracelet.

With my own wedding jewellery, I thought about what I’d like to wear every day after my wedding around my neck to remind me of the promises we had made. I had been coveting a chunky heart pendant for ages but not being able to afford a gold one, I fell in love with a Murano glass range and ordered some bespoke earrings to match. This way for very little money, I got a necklace and earrings I had designed myself, having chosen exactly the perfect beads and fittings to go with my dress and my wedding theme. I ordered brooches for the Moms and pendants for the Bridesmaids from the same jewellery maker so that everything was in Murano, but as individual as the girls I was buying for. I ended up wearing my other Nan’s pearl necklace on my wedding day instead of the pendant, but I wear my Murano wedding jewellery all the time. It was really nice to have things to keep wearing on the honeymoon that reminded me of the wedding. It was one of those things you don’t plan but then just really appreciate at the time.

As for my rings, well I wanted an old ring that resembled one I had admired on my late Nan’s finger. When she died, I inhereited the ring but discovered it was damaged and not worth repairing. We scoured Oxford for something similar or reminiscent, and finally found ‘the one’ in Birmingham’s jewellery quarter, which meant a great deal to me, having a long line of ancestors from the city. Ben was very easy to please with a plain yellow gold band, but I wanted a design that symbolised our union and set about getting quotes for a bespoke ring with entwined threads of rose and yellow gold. Rose to symbolise me and the yellow to symbolise Ben. Our budget just didn’t stretch that far so I found a half diamond crossover design that would represent our differences and our joining well enough although I’d still love to get the ring of my dreams made some day. We had our rings engraved with words that meant the most to us. Ben’s ring says ‘Whole’ because he feels that our relationship has made him a whole man, ready for the rest of his life as his true self. It’s really nice that our words make sense when they are put together too. My ring says ‘Life’ because that is what I feel Ben gives me. The real start of my life, as a wife, we are a new family, setting out on a new adventure. By giving my heart and soul peace at finding him and knowing that he will always love me, Ben gives me the grounding to fully live and enjoy my life.

Jewellery and especially rings can be far more than just pretty. When it comes to your wedding, it’s up to you to take the opportunity to inject meaning into everything if you want to. There’s no reason why everything you choose to be a part of your day should not hold a special (and secret if you want) meaning to you and your beloved. How often do we get this chance? The world is your oyster. Happy shopping, and remember: the only limit to possibility is your imagination.



A season to wed

There’s no question, July and August are the most popular months for weddings. 6 out of 6 of my first wedding enquiries this year have been for those two summer months. If you’re hankering after an outdoor humanist wedding, or are hoping to serve a hog roast in the balmy evening at your reception you might think you HAVE to choose one of these 8 weekends most likely to guarantee warmth and sunshine. You might just LOVE summer, the brightly coloured exotic blooms, the long days, the happy childhood memories of frolicking through long grass and jumping on hay bales. Your choice might be practical and connected to your honeymoon dates. I’ve nothing at all against summer weddings, but here’s some food for thought about the more neglected seasons.


If you ask me, seasons in Britain are a matter of personal taste.I adore the spring. For me, there is nothing that beats that feeling of gardens coming to life, the relief and excitement shared by the birds, the bees, and the trees. Nothing beats the fresh smell of spring air, the urge nature gives you to clear out the clutter, and to start exercising more. I love the spring weather. Being an April baby my birthday has known snow, amazing sunshine, and many rainbows.There is something quintessentially English that is captured by springtime. Particular garden flowers, a particular air, a particular call to nostalgia, as if spring was the fuzzy round cornered 80s snap to summer’s pristine and crisp high definition shot. While every summer we heap our hopes up of mediterraneanesque glory only to complain when the British weather doesn’t live up to our dreams (or that it’s too hot); spring encourages us to roll with the punches, take it like a Brit, and come rain or shine, wed outdoors, party like its 1999 with wellies and umbrellas. Chances are, if you pick a day in spring for your wedding you will get a mix of sunshine and showers. To my mind, this is less depressing than an August day promising non-stop sun and delivereing non-stop drizzle and grey skies. If you’ve got your heart set on marrying outdoors, you have two options: draw up a contingency plan for wet weather; or screw up Plan B and get wet. Getting drenched might actually be the most romantic thing you’ve ever done.


We all love the crunch of fallen leaves underfoot, and the auburn beauty of avenues of turning trees. Autumn gives us some of the most gorgeous late afternoon dappled light when those last rays of sun hit your face to remind you that it’s still there. As the weather changes, what could be more romantic than cosying up with your new spouse, snuggling red-cheeked in front of the first open fires of the year. Autumn is the season of plenty, of bounty, of harvest – the perfect recipe for a wedding feast. If you’re not overly keen on a strapless dress anyway, why not consider the vastly enhanced options for autumn and winter brides? Shrugs, fitted bridal coats, long-sleeved dresses, wedding boots. Don’t try to conform to the cliches of a summer wedding if you’re marrying out of summer. Think about what is appropriate to the weather, and the changed natural scenery.


If you’ve seen Love Actually you’ll know what I mean by winter romance. Falling snow, candles and fairy lights twinkling and reflecting and glistening pure angelic white, ice sculptures, vodka ice bars, ice hotels, eskimo hats, ice skating, everyone in the christmas spirit of giving, hugging, eating and dancing. Sparkle sparkle sparkle! Lots and lots of couples get engaged over Christmas and New Year because it’s a very romantic and momentous time of year. Things come to a head. You are filled with a sense of hope and possibility. It’s a natural time of change in our lives, when you wouldn’t just be entering a symbolically new beginning with each other once as husband and wife, you would be entering a really new beginning, by entering a brand new year. The brilliant thing about this earth is that where there is winter there is also summer. You just have to go down under. So why not consider a honeymoon in the lower hemisphere? South Africa, South America, New Zealand? Likewise, marry in the autumn and you can honeymoon in someone else’s spring.

I hope I’ve shown that giving a bit more thought to which season to marry in can throw up some really fun wedding theme ideas. There are also practical reasons to get married out of summer. It might save you a lot of money. This goes for venues, all suppliers, and honeymoons. It opens up food options – choose the food that’s in season and can be sourced locally for a feel good, top quality, interesting twist on the trad wedding breakfast. Your flowers will look better if you opt for those in season and grown in Britain. Much better to have healthy, affordable, blooming flowers than poor, drooping, not quite right imported flowers. The beauty of wedding planning is in seeing the different elements blend together in perfect harmony. This is easy to achieve if you follow this one golden rule and go seasonal and go local! Choose food and drink that is in season and it will never look out of place. These guiding principles can help you acheive a really stand out wedding. Guests love to be surprised by difference, by the little touches. Consider commissioning small pieces for your wedding by local artisans. Be it rings made with local metal or stones, the wedding jewellery, or gifts, the Bride and Groom’s glass charms, a sculpture, carving, or stained glass piece. You will treasure bespoke one off pieces that featured as part of your ceremony or reception long after your wedding, far more dearly than items any Bride and Groom can buy at wedding shops on the High Street. Give some thought to the little things, and they might turn out to be the things that really matter. You might go to 6 weddings during the ‘wedding season’ so make yours stand apart from the crowd. Choose your season, and then choose your date.

Congratulations to all those newly engaged couples who are just setting out on their wedding planning adventures!