Picture this

You’ve chosen your professional photographer and come up with a list of must-have shots and group poses. You’ve done your homework and know exactly the style of photography you want for your wedding and have given the photographer a long brief to that effect. You’ve even bought your wedding photo albums. You may have decided to hand out disposable cameras for your guests to take snaps throughout the reception. You’ve bought a nice guest book for friends and family to sign and a special pen to go with it.

STOP!

What about…

Wedding Photo Booth

A photo booth that produces strips of passport photos, unlimited and free of charge to your guests! It’s set up and managed for you. Most companies will provide props.

Needed: Try to get a recommendation for the company you use.

Pro:

  • You can leave the professionals to it, totally hassle free
  • Tremendous fun for your guests, particularly i) squeezing multiple people into the booth ii) time pressure between snaps iii) taking loads of snaps and getting creative with poses
  • The booths produce a copy for the guest and a copy for the guest book
  • Booth prints look cool on your fridge as well as in albums
  • Quality print outs
  • Great if you and your guests like dressing up/getting creative

Con:

  • Close up shots only
  • Limited number of people per shot
  • Crazy rush to change wig/specs/mask in between shots can result in lots of blurred ‘fail’ shots
  • You’re reliant on the props provided – not tailored to your theme
  • More expensive than the DIY option, extra expense if you choose to have a professional photographer aswell

DIY Wedding Photo Booth

The homespun version of the above.

Needed: A backdrop of sorts, picture frames in various sizes, cut out boards, props, chalk and blackboards, a camera, tables, chairs, instructions for guests

Pro:

  • Complete control – you can tailor it to your theme and your guests, you can personalise it
  • A relatively cheap alternative
  • You can set up your booth outside!
  • Flexibility – You could use a digital camera, a polaroid camera, or even disposable cameras
  • Polaroids look cool in frames or pinned to the fridge or kitchen noticeboard as well as in albums
  • You can fit as many people as you like in the shots
  • If you supply a chalk board for guest messages you won’t need a guest book at all

Con:

  • Someone has to take the photo (This could be a paid pro but it defeats the money-saving aspect. This could be whoever is free, but they might take bad photographs!)
  • Stress over/time spent buying props
  • Stress over/time spent setting the booth up
  • Stress over the camera going missing/breaking
  • While digital snaps can produce multiple printouts, you only get one polaroid so you’d have to stop your guests from taking them home!
  • If you don’t use a polaroid, you might wish you had spent a bit extra and got more professional looking pics

Caricature Artist

An artist who will mill around your guests informally and draw funny pictures of them. The drawings can form a photo/guest book of sorts.

Needed: Phone or internet and credit card to book with. Try to get a recommendation for the artist you use.

Pro:

  • Captures your guests personalities as well as their looks
  • A very different type of guest book to flick through in years to come
  • Could be right up your street and your guests could love it
  • Drawings can feel more personal than photographs
  • Doubles up as entertainment for your guests
  • Drawings can be framed and displayed on walls
  • No risk of expensive equipment breaking or going missing

Con:

  • Drawings take longer than photographs
  • The artist probably won’t get round all your guests
  • Single portraits only, no group shots
  • Only produces one copy and your guests are likely to want to take drawings home with them
  • Caricatures are not very flattering
  • It’s not everyone’s cup of tea

Picture Frame Decorating

An activity for younger guests. They can make their own frames for you to use with photos of them from your day.

Needed: Cardboard, scissors, glue, glitter, other craft supplies, on a table covered with an oil cloth (for spills)

Pro:

  • Keeps younger guests entertained
  • A lovely gift from them to you
  • Saves you having to buy lots of frames
  • Cheap and easy
  • Personal

Con:

  • Could be messy
  • You might want someone to ‘supervise’

Wedding cakes with a twist

Wedding Cake Traditions and Traditional Wedding Cake

Wedding cakes make fantastic centre pieces, and are chosen as much for their visual appeal as for how they taste! The classic multi-tiered affair became popular I believe in Victorian society after a cake designer took inspiration from St Bride’s Church in London. I wonder if the steeple itself took inspiration from the cute older tradition of piling cakes as high as possible to challenge the Bride and Groom to kiss over the top of the cakes? What a fun game! As with most wedding traditions, the couple could expect prosperity and fertility should they succeed in kissing over the cake tower! Nowadays the ritual associated with the special cake is the joint cutting of it and feeding it to one another by the newlyweds. These important first joint acts and exchanges as husband and wife symbolise the bodily and spiritual nourishment the couple have pledged to provide each other throughout their marriage.

http://www.1weddingsource.com/history.php

The luck imbued in the cake was treasured by couple and guests alike after the Wedding too. Ladies! If you sleep with a slice under your pillow you will dream of your future husband! While the convention of saving the top-tier of cake for the Christening of your first-born child has recently given way to saving the top-tier for your first Anniversary. But with fewer people opting for fruit cake and fewer cakes having tiers, the saving of cake to be eaten at the next big event looks set to become a thing of the past.

One delightful cake tradition that has sadly fallen out of fashion is to bake different charms into the cake, (“cake pulls”) so that when ribbons are pulled, your Bridesmaids receive different blessings depending on the charm revealed. A Heart: for love. A Clover: for luck. An Engagement Ring: you’ll be the next to wed.  An Anchor: adventure will come your way. A Flower: love is going to bloom. A Horseshoe: you are lucky in life. If you like the idea of the nostalgic bridal luck charms I discuss here, why not make this sweet tradition part of your wedding too?

http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?um=1&hl=en&safe=off&client=firefox-a&sa=N&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&biw=1280&bih=681&tbm=isch&tbnid=TH4MraMreDuawM:&imgrefurl=http://jewelrybyrhonda.com/webpages/cakecharmpics2.html&docid=_1fZyL9LYPf4IM&imgurl=http://jewelrybyrhonda.com/images/cakecharms/cakepullneworleans.jpg&w=541&h=343&ei=ayViT6__E8ab8QPl3sXmBw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=965&vpy=130&dur=515&hovh=149&hovw=201&tx=155&ty=90&sig=104008391997752555404&page=4&tbnh=149&tbnw=201&start=60&ndsp=20&ved=1t:429,r:14,s:60

Reinventing the Wedding ‘Cake

I like to deconstruct every element of the wedding so that it can be reimagined in a fresh, fun way which suits the couple and the wedding they dare to dream of. A wedding cake generally serves the following purposes:

  • It is a stunning centrepiece to the reception room
  • It is a tasty treat for guests to look forward to
  • It has to feed all your guests
  • If you want to cut it, it needs to be cuttable
  • It has to not spoil or melt as it stands on show for at least a few hours

Given this ‘cake’ criteria it is apparent that the cake need not be made of make at all. There are many reasons why you may not want a cake cake. If you are servings lots of cakes as part of an afternoon tea spread; if you dislike cake; if you want your food budget to go further; if you particularly like the look of towers or croquembouche; or particularly like another type of sweet treat.

Cheese

Myself and my husband went for a cheese tower draped with tomatoes, figs, and grapes instead of a cake cake. A) I love cheese, and it just seemed so fitting B) we didn’t have a traditional wedding breakfast but afternoon tea, so we needed savoury not more sweet! C) the cheese tower still had the shape of a wedding cake, and the three tiers could still be cut by us.

Pie

Pork, chicken, vegetable… theoretically you could make a tower of pies, with any firm filling. A fruit pie would soon turn to messy mush, but savoury pies provide an easy to slice, tasty and substantial alternative. A practical option with the oooooooo! factor.

Chocolatehttp://www.choccywoccydoodah.com/product/0363/Three+Tier+Vortex

If money had been no object? Choccywoccydoodah, and not just because they have a funky name. These chocolate sensations do look quite tricky to cut and are ‘only’ chocolate coated. But what a coating. These cake cakes are all about the chocolate and the sculpture created. If you were going to choose a cake cake, this company offers the most delectable choice of sponges as opposed to the usual vanilla, chocolate, lemon or carrot.

Don’t Tell The Bride does have its moments. A creative Groom designed his own chocolate box wedding cake which instead of a cake and fruit filled chocolate box tower cake you can order from Patisserie Valerie or Druckers (YUM!) he went further and revealed to his Bride a chocolate made chocolate box with individual chocolates inside it! Marvellous! I wonder if Thorntons do these.

Towers

Pile fudge, l, or profiteroles high to make a wedding cake shaped tower. There are no tiers and it might be impossible to slice but who cares when you can dive in and start scoffing these morish morsels!? Cupcake towers have become uber popular lately. It’s cake already individually portioned so saves all that cutting and holding the crumbley slice over a napkin while you eat it, but it’s still cake. Bitesized confectionary or patisserie somehow seems more decadent. I also love that while the individual pieces of yum are easily plucked one by one, they can be laced together with streamers of chocolate, so that the ‘cake’ is one.

Twistshttp://www.marthastewartweddings.com/226890/gateaux-de-mariage-croquembouche

I think what makes tiered cakes so pretty is the diagonal dressing with flowers or other decoration, so that the tower takes on a twisted effect appearance. Towers can easily be given a twist by stacking slightly asymmetrically. My advice with every aspect of your wedding is to think about what suits YOUR wedding best. So if you are having an early wedding and want to serve brunch, how about a sweet breakfast pastry tower – almond and chocolate croissants, Danish pastries, cinnamon swirls. For an evening do how about an after dinner coffee and mint theme or cocktail theme? For weddings in the tropics, baked Alaska; and for winter weddings serve your cake hot, flambe and carve the sponge and serve with custard?

For a metaphorical twist, there are cakes with a super surprise inside. Yes this could be a full-blown person, but think along the lines of the bridal good luck charms, and perhaps you could hide sweets, chocolate money, lottery tickets, easter eggs, kinder eggs! inside a regular looking sponge cake.

Fountains

If you don’t care about the cake being sliceable, but want maximum tower centrepiece effect, why not consider (guilty pleasures of mine) chocolate and/or champagne fountains? I adore the concept of these edible fountains. They really encapsulate the spirit of sharing and diving in I associate with the wedding cake. An added bonus is that unlike the other options, as they are devoured, they do not lose their shape or illusion of plenty. Who wants to choose between chocolate and champagne? If I could plan my wedding over again, I’d have one of each.

~

Our cake 🙂

Cutting our mini cheese tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben getting a mouthful

A cracking cracker

 

 

Hen Night Hangover

I recently rewatched the movie the Hangover. I turned to my husband and said something like “…but that is THE destination though isn’t it. If you lived anywhere near there, you just would, wouldn’t you? It’s pretty hard to beat!…”

I was of course talking of Las Vegas. Sin City. The adult’s play ground. It’s like a much, much more glamourous and much, much more serious Fun House for adults many of us early 80s kids have wished someone would invent! More than anything I think Las Vegas is super cool. You can really fancy yourself in Las Vegas, you can take yourself seriously as a grown up, but have an absolute blast. You can be pampered, you can indulge, you can completely lose track of time. You can act like a big kid or you can go all classy and demure. Anything goes.

image from ioffer.com

But let’s face it, most British hen and stag dos cant stretch to that airfare + hotel tarifs + spending money! So where else could you go on your bachelor/bachelorette party as the Americans call them? It got me thinking of other super cool destinations for your party of a lifetime…

The first and largest hotel made of ice can be found in Swedish Lapland. A trip to Ice Hotel offers amazing experiences like taking in the stunning Northern Lights, snowmobiling and skiing, but it’s only open December – April. The mindboggling thought of sleeping in an ice bed in an ice room in an ice hotel actually sounds lovely! You get togged up in your sleeping bags and sleep on reindeer skins. They bring you a hot drink in bed in the morning. Then you warm through in the sauna and showers before breakfast.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/northernlights

Closer to home, Ice Bar London is a fabulous venue, with the bar itself and various lounges available for private hire. The bar is made entirely of ice, and is open year round. Dine here before sipping cocktails out of glasses made of ice! How fun! The Ice Hotel project is a must for art and architecture lovers. These party venues are art installations in themselves.

Staying with London – think big! If you have the budget, you can hire any number of places to hold your party including museums, performing arts venues, and royal palaces! If you’re hiring a venue like this for your wedding, it’s a nice excuse to try it out with just the girls (or boys)! Whatever you do, DO NOT search for “hen/stag party venue” and click on one of the many event management sites that hire venues as part of a hen/stag package. It might be easy but you pay for the ease of a package. If you go down the private hire route you’ll get a better deal, and your event will be tailor made to your requirements. How about chocolate tasting in a private capsule for 20 of your closest friends, on the London Eye?

http://www.virginballoonflights.co.uk/blog/when-is-an-envelope-not-an-envelope/

Now think bigger than London. Is a hot air balloon ride something you’ve always wanted to do? A basket can hold 16 guests! Choose to fly over the place you got engaged, your old school and stomping ground, magnificent castles or beautiful countryside. Now think boat party. River boats are cool, but how about a yacht on the Solent? Or off the Devonshire coastline? Onboard jacuzzi and sunbathing, a dip in the sea, dolphin spotting, BBQ, and of course oodles of champagne. What more could we want?

Your hen or stag do can be anything you want it to be. As with weddings, they should not be generic and impersonal but reflect who you are and what you love. Get creative and go all out. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend some high class, quality time with the girls/boys and to make lifelong memories. You probably wont be organising your own shindig but that doesn’t mean you can’t drop big hints. Just send your Best Men and Ladies over to my blog, or email them a few links to check out. 😉