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A few key concerns come up again and again when I listen to brides… weddings on a budget, pressure to meet friends & family’s expectations, and the challenge of creating a unique and personal wedding.

All of these worries make sense to me, but I really think it’s possible to bypass them all if you can think creatively about your wedding. Creatively enough so that your friends and family have to throw all their preconceptions out of the window: then they can relax and enjoy your wedding.

How to have an alternative, affordable, family-friendly wedding

Make it different, first. Choose an unusual location, outdoor ceremony, colourful (non-wedding) dress, exotic buffet and unexpected timings for your day.

The less familiar the concept of your day, the easier it will be for guests to forget their preconceptions and enjoy your alternative wedding.

Read the articles on the English Wedding blog entitled Get Grounded. It’s all about starting from scratch: you need two people who want to get married, then you can pick and choose whichever other things you’d like to make your wedding day out of.

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The Pop The Question Ring in a sexy box

The Pop The Question Ring comes in a sexy little box

Another virtual Sunday drive around the wedding supplier map has led me to a brand new discovery – and a cracking idea! This is one to tell all your single friends about: the temporary engagement ring. Oh yes.

Marry Me Ring in a traditional engagement ring box

The Marry Me Ring comes in a traditional engagement ring box

I love the contemporary design of the Marry Me proposal ring

I love the contemporary design of the Marry Me proposal ring

Imagine the scene: romantic restaurant, candlelight, cosy corner table, loving couple. Boy gets down on one knee, makes little speech, produces intriguing little box…

And this is where it has to be just right. Inside the intriguing little box we all know there’s an engagement ring. But what’s it like, will it fit, will she love it?! In the case of Pop The Question – 1) she will and 2) she’ll get to go and choose one herself if she says yes!

The Marry Me Ring is in sterling silver with a real diamond

The Marry Me Ring is in sterling silver with a real diamond

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I should apologise in advance for this post, as I keep mentioning Christmas and it’s really far too early. However… I wanted to share this offer with you before you’re done with your Christmas shopping!

Cosmo Bride wedding magazine subscription You and Your Wedding magazine subscription

If you are looking for a gift for a bride-to-be, then a nice little treat is to get a wedding magazine subscription. Cosmo Bride and You & Your Wedding are both offering discounts when you order a subscription online: you can get 16% off Cosmo Bride or a whopping (love that word!) 23% off You & Your Wedding if you subscribe today!

Just click through to the websites and select either Give a Gift or Subscribe (after all, it’s Christmas… you can treat yourself too!)

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Stoke Place wedding photography

Inside Stoke Place this amazing blue stairway creates a unique backdrop for some of my favourite images from the wedding

Such an easy title to come up with for this gorgeous English wedding… in my quest to discover more wedding photographers I discovered Magic Photography this morning – and what a fab find! I hope you’ll agree.

Rebecca and Peter’s wedding was at Stoke Place in Buckinghamshire, a splendid hotel wedding venue originally built in 1690 to be a family home (a reeeeeally big one… it’s not like mine!!) with some of the most impressive gardens and grounds in the country.

What better setting then for a stunning fairytale wedding, with oodles of romance and lashings of elegance and sophistication – I hope you love this truly magical wedding day…

Bride with veil floating in breeze

Beautiful bride Rebecca works a little magic of her own

Mr and Mrs wedding day sign

Mr and Mrs wedding day sign

Wedding shoes with classy bling

Wedding shoes with classy bling

Rebecca’s pretty shoes are from Gina

Beautiful bride Rebecca

The beautiful bride

The wedding ceremony at Stoke Place

The wedding ceremony at Stoke Place

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Bunny delicious wedding invitation

fun, funky and fabulous wedding invitation by www.bunnydelicious.com

Believe it or not, while the shops are throwing tinsel and festive 3 for 2s at us and a few of us are looking at white-capped hills on the horizon (I can’t believe it, can you?!) it’s already time for summer 2011 brides and grooms to start thinking about booking wedding stationery.

When to order wedding invitations

When you should order depends where you’re buying your wedding invitations from. If you’re ordering luxury handcrafted wedding invites, November is a good time to get started.

Smaller companies are limited in the number of bookings they take on: this is because they generally concentrate on one order at a time, and because they sometimes have only one or two pairs of hands to work with!

Ordering wedding invitations before Christmas

Some of the popular wedding stationery suppliers get booked up very quickly. I saw on bunny delicious’s facebook page yesterday that Zoe is fully booked for August 2011! (Round of applause for Zoe, please!)

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Gavin and Stephanie by Matt Parry

Gavin and Stephanie's first dance. Photo credit: Matt Parry Photography

I’ve just sat and grinned through a slideshow of wedding images, twice – and had to share! The wedding I’ve just been enjoying is Gavin and Stephanie’s. They were married just a few weeks ago on a lovely sunny day, near High Wycombe – the reception was at The King’s Hotel. They chose one of my favourite wedding photographers: Matt Parry.

Gavin and Stephanie's wedding ceremony by Matt Parry Photography

Gavin and Stephanie's wedding ceremony by Matt Parry Photography

Stephanie wore a beautiful strapless wedding dress with a little bit of crystal decoration – and she’s absolutely gorgeous with her hair in loose curls with a crystal tiara. Both Stephanie and Gavin smile so brightly in every picture that, along with photographer Matt Parry‘s use of a lovely soundtrack by Amy MacDonald, I just think this is a really uplifting wedding in every way!

There’s another reason for my use of the word “uplifting” as well… apparently it was a surprise… watch the slideshow!

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The entrance to the lovely little World of Artcadia

The entrance to the lovely little World of Artcadia

Artcadia are one of those gorgeous little wedding stationery companies that it’s oh so easy to fall in love with! Visit their blog or website and you’ll find yourself falling for their designs and their philosophy all at once!

The Artcadia Team - coining the phrase "made with love!"

The Artcadia Team - coining the phrase "made with love!"

Artcadia are a husband and wife team who paint a beautiful picture of an idyllic lifestyle. Vici-Jane and Richard work side by side in the Artcadia design studio, which is located in rural Shropshire and – I love this bit – surrounded by their collection of goats, gerbils, chickens, and the list goes on!

Captain Swirly wedding invitation design by Artcadia

Captain Swirly wedding invitation design by www.Artcadia.co.uk

Captain Swirly calligraphy Save the Date by Artcadia

Captain Swirly calligraphy Save the Date by www.Artcadia.co.uk

Of course the best thing about Artcadia is their wedding stationery: they’ve a flair for the kind of rustic, vintage inspired and type-focused designs which are so popular at the moment. My favourite has to be Captain Swirly, a gorgeous quirky calligraphy-inspired letterpress wedding invitation.

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The lovely Josie from Savoir Weddings sent me this guest blog post for English Wedding, and I’ve saved it for the beginning of the week because I think it’s a great reminder, and really sound advice to carry through the week with you. If you’ve had a busy weekend of wedding planning, or if your to do list is getting you down, this one’s for you.

Wedding venue styling by Savoir Weddings, photographed by Lisa Devlin

Source: Savoir Weddings. Credit: Lisa Devlin (devlinphotos.co.uk)

Wedding planning is notoriously stressful. Even people who haven’t got married before know that. It’s the place where the dreadful ‘bridezilla’ concept emerged from.

Even if you’re lucky enough to have a completely drama free planning process, you will still have to deal with many issues you may not have had to face before. How to divide your wedding budget, what type of dress to go for, how on earth to choose what kind of food to serve.

There are endless choices to face – and you’re well aware your decisions will be loud and proud on your big day – in front of all the people you care about no less. No pressure then.

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This morning I’ve been on a little tour of the country via the rather clever wedding supplier map. Think of it as my Sunday drive! Every now and then I have a little peek to see who’s on there – and it’s fab to see lots of my favourite wedding suppliers already listed.

Moonlight bridal tiara comb

Moonlight bridal tiara by Julieann beads

Today I’ve rediscovered Julieann Beads Wedding Jewellery, a Wedding Ideas magazine favourite, and designer of pretty bridal jewellery from Shropshire (although via the Julieann website they ship all over the UK).

Divine bridal tiara with black

Divine bridal tiara with black by Julieann beads

Julieann Beads design and hand make all of the jewellery shown on their website. Their range includes bridal jewellery, accessories for bridesmaids and beaded jewellery for special occasions.

Moonlight cuff bridal bracelet

Moonlight cuff bridal bracelet by Julieann beads

Wedding businesses: Are you on the wedding supplier map? Take a look – perhaps I’ll see you on my next virtual Sunday Drive!

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A gorgeous bride and groom photo

Love is...

The wave of beautiful vintage themed weddings just doesn’t seem to stop – and I’m really loving all the gorgeous vintage wedding photography around at the moment.

Allison and Jeremy had a gorgeous wedding day in Wales, complete with pink rose flower arrangements Allison had made herself, a beautiful and unusual wedding venue, and a wedding dress and lace shrug that are out of this world!

Allison and Jeremy chose Devon based photographers Lime Leaf Weddings to capture their day. I’m a big fan of Laura and Henley’s photography work, and this series of amazing wedding images is one of their best: the wonderful lightness in every image makes me wonder if they carried along their own little sunshine in a bag with the camera equipment. Enjoy…

wedding day door plaque

A wedding day door sign begins a wonderfully unfolding story...

Bride's shoes in a window

I love the photos of this wedding for the beautifully playful light

Allison - strikingly elegant even in her dressing gown

Allison - strikingly elegant even in her dressing gown

Bridal preparations - on with the wedding dress

Bridal preparations - on with the wedding dress

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Aha. Market research. Best practice, essential for a successful wedding business.

So they say. And although I’m hugely proud of my marketing degree, I don’t always do everything they told me – market research has always got the better of me. I know what it is, I’m well aware I should do it, but I have to hold my hands up and admit that as far as my wedding business is concerned, I’ve blagged it and got lucky despite doing no research – or at least minimal research with a very informal approach. Naughty.

Nonetheless, I’m very aware that my business could do much better with a little research under its belt. I know a bit about my customers, and a bit less about the potential wedding calligraphy customers out there who aren’t buying from me.

What is market research for wedding businesses?

There are two methods of researching: primary research is asking potential customers for opinions and experiences, basically doing it yourself. That’s the hard way. Secondary research is finding results other people have done, articles, statistics etc. you can gather your research from.

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The wedding market is huge: over 200,000 marriages a year in England and Wales (source: government stats). As a wedding supplier you’d be naïve to try and sell to all of those brides. And you can save a fortune on advertising if you’re selective: It’s always easier to segment the wedding market, and to target a particular segment.

Where to start segmenting the wedding market

All you have to do is mentally identify a few groups of brides: it’s dead simple. Different ways to segment the wedding market are:

  • Demographically: into groups by budget, by religion, by age etc.
  • Geographically: into groups by physical location
  • Behaviourally: into groups based on personality, lifestyle, social class etc.

For example, you could identify a segment of alternative brides who are not religious and live in Lincolnshire, if that suits your business.

What do you need market segments for?

Defining the particular market segments to target can really help you focus on your business and marketing strategies.

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Modern blue styling ideas with calligraphy for an alternative beach wedding (18)

Image credit: Oobaloos Photography

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