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If Simon Cowell got in touch with a list of the UK’s top 50 wedding bands, I’d be less than impressed. He’s no expert on music if you ask me… just a very shrewd businessman. When I see a list of ‘the top 50‘ or ‘the UK’s best‘ I’ll sit up and pay attention if it’s compiled by an expert. Otherwise, I’m at best disinterested and at worst alarmingly cynical about these sorts of things.

real English wedding

Image credit http://www.duntonsphotography.co.uk/

Who knows who’s best?

I was included in a list of ‘the UK’s top 25 wedding bloggers‘ back in July. Nice to be noticed, I guess. I wonder how GoHen compiled the list – from Google? or by looking on UKWed.com maybe.

A list of wedding bloggers is harmless. But a little while later I noticed they’d published a list of the top 50 UK wedding photographers (here). Uh-oh… The article is written by GoHen – “the dedicated hen weekends division of StagWeb – the event specialists, established in 2001”. Their ‘about’ page gives no mention of any expertise in wedding photography.

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When you’ve spent a couple of years running your own creative business you reach a point where you can’t ever imagine a different way of life.

Of course it’s tough being self-employed. It’s scary being so utterly in control of your financial future. But the freedom of making a living doing something you love is worth more than anything.

I don’t miss the routine of my old daily commute into Manchester before 6am. I don’t miss the pressure. It’s amazing knowing I’ll never set foot inside my office again! I love being able to change my days when it’s sunny, or when there’s a concert and I want to finish early.

wedding styled blog shoot (4)

Photo credit Matthew Bishop Photography | Styling by Petra Opperman – click to see this styled shoot

The delights of being your own boss

I love being part of a creative community most of all. People say it can be lonely working for yourself and from home, but there’s a craft revolution happening and the likes of Mollie Makes and Etsy are taking over the internet. Communities and forums for designers and creatives are all over Facebook, not to mention the wedding forums and fan sites we all know and love. Lonely is the last thing I feel.

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Hi everyone! I hope you’re having a lovely weekend.

I’ve shared a couple of blog posts in the past about copyright in the wedding industry, how to avoid buying cheap copies and fakes – that sort of thing. I know other wedding bloggers have shared similar advice for brides and grooms – like this copyright article on Rock n Roll Bride. But it’s an ongoing debate which seemingly has no solution…

Or does it? I’ve been chatting with some industry insiders on facebook this week. Reputable and established designers I know well and trust have been discussing issues they’ve had with their designs being copied.

Some commenters were quick to blame wedding bloggers for promoting cheap copies of designer bridal accessories, which I found quite insulting! The bloggers I know, and to the best of my knowledge, will never knowingly promote designers who copy other people’s work.

But for all the complaints we hear about jewellery, stationery, flowers, cakes and even photography being copied, it’s very rare that a designer will speak out and name the companies who are copying their work.

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I’ve worked with brides and grooms for eight years, and never been nominated or put myself forward for an award for my wedding calligraphy. I adore my job and my clients love their calligraphy – so I promise this isn’t sour grapes (hehe) but I wonder whether having an awards badge on my website would make much difference to people. To be honest I doubt it would. What do you think?

I’ve been involved in a minor way with the Wedding Industry Awards for a couple of years, as a consultant judge. It was good while it lasted, and certainly an eye-opener. When the awards began I was impressed with the very fair system of judging and the extensive use of genuine customer reviews in selecting winners. You can read my (honest and very enthusiastic!) opinions on the first Wedding Industry Awards here.

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Fakery, dodgy copies and stealing designs is a big issue within the wedding industry. You might have stumbled across a cheap and nasty veil on ebay (I did once!) or seen online retail sites with too-good-to-be-true prices for accessories and jewellery. While this can have a devastating effect on small craft business owners, it can also have a real impact on your wedding day – so here’s my guide to fakery and copyright in the wedding industry, with examples from my friends on facebook and tips to help you avoid getting scammed by the fakers.

I’d love to hear your stories on this feature as well, so please use the comments form at the end of the blog post to share. The only thing I ask is that you don’t ‘name and shame’ any suppliers here for legal reasons. Thank you!

How fakery in the wedding industry could affect your big day

From buying something that falls apart, to getting a call from a designer who’s seen your wedding photos online and claims you’ve stolen ideas… what copyright means for you:

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A guest blog post for you today – as couples focus on saving money, the wedding industry will be there to help! Wedding budgets have fallen by £6k in 6 years… and guest blogger Tom’s article explains why, and how, and what it means. He had me gripped with this one… and I know you’ll like reading it. Oh! And the presentation is the coolest thing ever to play with… click Play, and Enjoy! Claire x

In 2013, the cost of a wedding is set to fall. Again. Whereas in 2007, the average cost of a wedding was around the £22,000 mark, 2013 will see wedding spend dip down towards the £16,000 mark.

What’s fascinating about this is that the economic downturn has really focused the happy couples’ minds on driving down the overall cost of the wedding, and it’s really focused the wedding industry on providing added value in a turbulent economic period. The trend is not necessarily towards less lavish weddings – the trend is towards getting the best price for every single item on the list.

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Have you ever heard a wedding supplier talk about educating brides and grooms? I have, many times. As a bride or groom, do you think you really need educating about weddings?

wedding photography credit Simon Biffen

Wedding photography credit Simon Biffen (click to Simon’s website)

Or does the notion of being educated about weddings instantly make you put your guard up? Educating brides and grooms could be all about telling you to buy more essential products and services for your big day…

Depends who’s offering you the education, I guess!

Why do we talk about educating brides and grooms?

Wedding planners often talk about educating brides: some of the wedding planners I love most in the UK are passionate about this. For most it’s simply about helping you plan your wedding. Most couples haven’t been married before: planning a wedding is a once in a lifetime experience, and it’s tricky knowing where to begin! So wedding planners will help you get started with tips about what to book first, how much to pay for key suppliers, how to manage your wedding budget etc.

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Hello lovely blog readers – I hope you’re having lovely days, doing lovely things (or at least not working too hard 😉 If you’d like a little distraction for a moment or two, then I have a question about UK wedding fayres you could really help me with.

bouquet by Red Floral photo credit Damian Hall

Bouquet by Red Floral – famous for stunning, contemporary wedding show displays. Photo credit Damian Hall. Click the image to see more from their Alternative Britannia wedding shoot!

Wedding fayres – love ’em or hate ’em, they are as vital as wedding magazines to the UK wedding industry. A great place to meet essential wedding suppliers in person, and a source of inspiration to couples everywhere.

Our UK wedding fayres need a good shake-up, don’t they?

There are bad wedding fayres out there. (Often the ones who spell ‘fayre’ with a y. As lovely bride Tanya once told me, it’s not even a real old-fashioned word. I’m using it in a slightly ironic way)

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I keep reading the phrase “wedding vendors” on British wedding websites. It makes my eyes itch. It’s a word which isn’t commonly used in English over here; we’re used to talking about wedding suppliers and wedding businesses instead. And anyway: it sounds funny.

wedding vendors UK photo credit Lucy West Images

Photo credit: Lucy West Images. This was a fabulous wedding – click the picture to see David and Rachel’s amazing wedding celebrations on the blog!

I don’t consider myself a wedding vendor. It makes me think of vending machines on station platforms. Pop 50p in my ear and poke me, and a wedding place card will pop out of my mouth… no! I don’t “vend” my products – I write, design and sell them. Buying calligraphy isn’t as soulless as buying a Mars Bar or a can of Coke.

OK, so I’m not setting out to offend anybody here. I love wedding blogs as much as I love the English language. And therein lies my dilemma…

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May I ask you a question, lovely blog readers? I know there are quite a few wedding suppliers reading English Wedding Blog – so hopefully you can help me with something today.

athelhampton house wedding blog Linus Moran

Athelhampton House wedding photography by Linus Moran – click to see the full blog post (it’s gorgeous!)

How are you finding the wedding season this year? I know of a few small wedding businesses who are struggling a little more than usual – the summer seems unusually quiet.  My calligraphy enquiries are on the slow side compared to last year, and I have friends who simply haven’t seen orders pick up over the summer months as they usually do.

So – a question for any wedding suppliers out there – how is this summer for you? And if you’re noticing it’s quieter, why do you think this is? Olympics fever? Are there fewer weddings this summer or are couples spending less and working to tighter wedding budgets?

I’d be very interested to hear what you think 🙂

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Here’s an interesting question and one which I can’t answer on my own – so I need your help, lovely couples and wedding suppliers alike. There are two perceptions of wedding supplier discounts, and I’m no longer sure which side of the fence I’m on here!

wedding discounts discussion

Original photo credit: Tony Gameiro. Click to see the full wedding feature

So – as a bride or groom-to-be, or as a wedding supplier: what do you think of discounts?

Are discounts great, a way to save on quality wedding goodies?

There’s no getting away from how hideously expensive weddings can be. For couples choosing to have all the bells and whistles to help celebrate their marriage, budgets can easily grow and get out of control. All too often a wedding budget which starts at £8,000 can leap to £12,000 by the time your big day comes around.

If you’re on a tight wedding budget, and a top supplier who is just out of your price range offers a great discount, then you’re in luck. Discounts like this are a way to get wedding accessories and treats you couldn’t otherwise afford.

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This is what English Wedding blog is all about. As well as lots of lovely real weddings, the blog was born because of my deep-rooted annoyance at our little industry. Brides, grooms: welcome to our twisted and sometimes beautiful little world. Wedding suppliers: you’ve heard bits of this before – but never quite so publicly. Awareness of the issues in the wedding industry is the first step towards change, and we need to start looking at and fixing problems before the financial and emotional pressures get too much.

Let me add a little qualifier here before I get stuck in. There are lots of fabulous, amazing, honest, genuine, creative, professional, dedicated, wonderful people in this industry. I love it – I work full time as a wedding supplier. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it. I have met many brilliant people – brides, grooms, suppliers – through my work. This blog post doesn’t define my world. It just sets out the wonky bits so we can all help put them straight. And I’n not criticising weddings themselves: it’s your choice to celebrate however you choose, and to spend however much you want to and can afford. But I’d love to see that choice become freer, with no outside pressures from a £5.5 billion industry…