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  1. This month, as part of my series of talking with professionals on the topic of 'getting ready for your wedding', we talk dancing with Kristina Jones from Wedding Dance Chester. Who doesn't love to see people performing a great dance routine?? But at the same time, the first dance can be a little bit nerve wrecking for some couples, as let's face it, we are not all natural born performers! Kristina shows us how dance is not just a part of the wedding that you have to dread and go through, but a way to have fun and feel good about yourself.

    wedding dance

    Kristina, tell us a bit about yourself and your business. What led you to where you are?
    I am a dance teacher based in north Wales, teaching wedding dance for the last 10years. I've always wanted to be a dance teacher, friends would always want to perform but I loved sharing my dance passion and knowledge. I believe that dance is a skill for life and everyone should have the opportunity to learn. It's invaluable. Not only does it give you some confidence to get up on the dance floor at parties and weddings but also is great for
    your health.

    I started teaching wedding dance for a national company as a freelancer all those years ago and was instantly hooked. 5 years ago I decided to take the plunge and set up on my own and offer wedding dance tuition in the north west. It had to take a back seat while I had my daughter but has grown naturally through recommendations and meeting couples at
    wedding fayres.

    I like to think that the reason people book lessons with me is because its no pressure. just me sharing some of my knowledge to make that awkward three minute dread - I mean dance - fun ;-) and a chance to learn a new skill for life.

    We see a lot of great dances on social media, from couples to bridal party dances - what do people mostly come to you for? What do you help them with?
    I mostly have bookings for couples just wanting to learn a few moves to make it a less scary part of their day. A confidence boost for when their guests are watching.
    however my favourite is definitely the full routines. Last year I had a 90s mashup which was brilliant, Spice Girls, Avril Levine and Steps! It was fab! I also had Dirty Dancing routine and recreated the dance from Napoleon Dynamite! Really fun to teach and great for the couples to show off at their weddings.

    Hen parties and secret flash mobs are also popular but harder to arrange. If anyone in your wedding party wants to do this it is usually greeted with mixed responses. This is partly down to confidence. However the way we plan our routines is simple movements performed in patterns to make them most effective. The same as the wedding couples it’s all about adding in the wow factor.

    How long in advance should people start preparing for a dance? And how much extra practice do they need at home?
    I try to not book couples before 8-10 weeks before hand and that's normally for a full 4mintute routine. We have to be realistic; this is one day and only a very small part of
    it. On the build up to the wedding you are working, suit fittings, dress fittings, sorting favours and other last minute bits. So to try and fit in several hours of tuition is crazy and takes away all the fun. One hour a week is realistic. Then practice wise - put the kettle on and have a 5-10minute practice each day. If you try to block out too much time you just won't do it. Dancing is easy when you are taught in a way that works for you. Because
    my teachers and I work with just one couple at a time we can switch to help you learn the steps however is easiest for you.

    What should people take into consideration when picking their first dance song?
    It has to be something you both love. Love to listen to and make you want to move. This will be YOUR song forever. My advice is to create a playlist of all the songs you both love and then spread them throughout your day. Walking up and down the aisle, signing the register, while guests await arrivals, wedding breakfast. Then you can pick the song
    that you like or is easier to dance too, but still use the others in your day.

    Speed makes no difference, in fact faster songs can be easier to dance to. Don’t get caught up on the song having to be slow - your dance, your wedding therefore your choice.
    You have planned this wedding and tried to make it personal to you both, so don’t lose that personality for your dance.

    A few years ago a couple chose an instrumental and slowed down version of Mountains by Biffy Clyro. It did not suit them as a couple, as beautiful as the song was, as soon as I played the original it all just clicked. They relaxed, moved better and had more fun.

    And finally what tips can you give for the first dance?
    My top tips are
    - Always to walk in with the start of the music. Waiting for the DJ to stop talking and hit play or the long introduction to the song can feel like forever and build up those nerves of everyone watching. By walking in together you can reduce the nerves and just enjoy that moment of coming together to dance.

    - If you don’t want to do the full song, tell some friends or the DJ to join you after the first chorus. Then there is no awkward turn to the guests to ask them to come on... it puts pressure on you and the guests

    - Think about the song playing after. Your first dance (or the father daughter dance if you’re having it) is the start of the party. Good DJs have some great ideas but only you know your guests. We chose a song that wasn’t romantic in the slightest but we knew our friends would instantly jump up and join us. The atmosphere was amazing and really did
    start the party. If your friends or family love the Hokey Cokey - have it. Upbeat and fun, end your wedding day with a bang!

    Wedding dance doesn’t need to be nerve racking or scary. Simple movements and a bit of confidence can have a huge effect. Wow your guests, show off your new skills and set some couple goals!

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    weddingdancechesterThank you Kristina for sharing your thoughts with us on this exciting topic! Click here if you'd like to find out more about Wedding Dance Chester, and if you'd like to get in touch directly, Kristina can be reached on [email protected]

     

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    This blog is compiled by Blue Lily Magnolia, provider of bespoke and alteration services for wedding and bridesmaid dresses and accessories. Photography has been supplied by Wedding Dance Chester, with permission to share from owners.

  2. This year I am hoping to interview lots of professionals to get their tips on getting ready for your wedding. From make up artists to florists, we'll have lots of advice and suggestions for you every month or so. This month to start, I am talking to the lovely Shona Tomkinson from Excel Training Studio in Nantwich, who tells us that there is more to exercising and fitness than just having a good looking body. I have been going to Shona's training sessions for a number of years now and she's a legend among the local mums!

    Shona, tell us about yourself and Excel

    Shona+18I'm a single mum of a fabulous and very energenic 7 year old and my ethos for fitness was to develop a training method that was both functional and time saving alongside providing confidence and strength of both body and mind. Excel is a family-friendly, small group personal training studio based in Nantwich, specialising in Hybrid/Fusion acceleration training.

    My client base is varied but definitely family oriented. So we may have mums with very small children looking to work out somewhere where their children can come along and be with them. We also have many partners coming in together to train for their big day, and families just looking to increase their fitness and wellbeing together.

    How do you see exercising and fitness fitting into the pre-wedding plans?

    For brides and grooms to be especially, the training isn't just about toning in order for them to look good in their outfits for the big day together. It is about gaining confidence and also enjoying a healthy mental state throughout all of the planning, which can be quite stressful! At the end of their training, they should not only feel confident and strong with bucket loads of self-esteem, but have had the mental strength to deal with the pressures of planning too.

    Have you got any general fitness advice for brides-to-be (and grooms-to-be)?

    In terms of fitness advice, it is important to keep your goals achievable and also make your fitness regime fun and manageable. You are more likely to keep on track and not lose momentum. Ensure you are keeping your mind healthy as well as the body, so consider looking into your daily eating habits and if lacking in areas, consider introducing lots of extra fresh fruit and veg to really get that body feeling lively, not to mention your complexion too!

    What should people consider in the run up to a big day?

    On the run up to the big day, brides-to-be need to be ensuring that they keep well hydrated to banish any bloating, plenty of sleep and also consider including some relaxing yoga moves in with their training to help with mental relaxation too.

    And finally, your top tips for toning up?

    Shona+8In terms of some little 'super moves' to help with that extra little toning, here are 4 moves that will help tone the arms, back, tummy and all those important areas for a wedding dress.

    - High knees

    - Standing crunch

    - Tricep dips

    - Plank

    Shona WorkOut

    And for a little bit more of a structured workout, try that 30 minutes beginner HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout illustrated on the image left. All of it without any equipment needed, and anyone can do it. Although I must admit, after a few rounds, this gets quite hard!

    Thank you Shona for your time and advice! If you want to find out more about Excel Training Studio and how Shona can help you, click here.

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    Blue Lily Magnolia offers bespoke and alteration services for wedding dresses, bridesmaids dresses and other formal occasion wear. I also have a bridal accessories shop here and on Etsy. If you are a wedding related professional and would like to feature on this series of blog, don't hesitate to get in touch via [email protected] !

  3. Whether you have an off-the-shelf dress, or a bespoke one made to measure, getting your dress fitted is one step closer to the reality of the big day. Your dress is one of the most important elements of your wedding, but more than just being something that looks great, you must also be able to feel amazing in it. And that’s where fittings and alterations come in. In this blog, I share with you my top tips for making the most of your wedding dress fitting.

     

    1) The Very Least

    Once you have chosen your dress, you might have heard it many a times before, but there are three basic things that you need to make sure you have for your final fittings:

    • the underwear (essentially, your bra (if any) and shape-wear) you intend to wear on the day

    • your wedding shoes (or at least alternative shoes of the same height)

    • your petticoat or under skirt, if you’re wearing any.

    All of these affect your posture, the position of your curves, the length of your legs, the length of the skirt, and even your size. Bringing them along early ensures that there are no surprises on the big day.

     

    2) Invite the Helpers Along

    If you have a dress that you will need help to get in or fasten, it is nice to have someone accompany you on one of your fittings, so they become familiar with the best way of getting the dress on - bearing in mind that by the time you get in your dress, you will have full makeup on and hair done. There are little things that can make a difference, e.g. attaching the hook and eye fasteners first before the zip, how to make sure nothing gets caught in the zip, attaching the waist stays, ensuring all the layers of the skirt are pulled down properly, attaching a sash, making the perfect bow, etc. It is not a necessity to have someone along of course, but it does help alleviate the stresses of you, the bride-to-be, having to remember everything about the dress. In addition, if you have features at the back of your dress that need to be scrutinised during the fitting, it does help to have someone else look, rather than try to see yourself by twisting and turning in front of the mirror.

     

    3) Take a Good Look at the Features of your Dress

    When it’s on the hanger, have a good look at your dress, inside and outside and ask questions at the fitting. Are there features in there that you don’t know about? How do you make the most of the dress? For example, many strapless dresses will have an internal waistband to help hold the dress - have a look at how it is attached before you put it on. Are there loops and buttons to hold your train when you dance? Is any part of the dress detachable? Looking at the dress properly, you might also notice little imperfections that may be easily fixed before you pick the dress back up after your fitting.

     

    4) Take a Seat and a Walk

    It is easy to forget to sit down and have a little walk when you’re trying your dress on - mostly, we just want to stand still when we look in the mirror. If you can though, it is a good idea to try walk around a little bit - you will notice if any part of your dress  has a tendency to catch to your shoes or toes, or if there’s something that doesn’t feel quite right when you walk, or if you bend down to pick up something, put your shoes on, etc. Have a think of how you will be dancing in your dress, and ask the fitter for advice on how best to hold the dress then. Likewise, many brides-to-be have dresses that are quite snug when standing up (making them look great while standing up), but then find out that it’s impossible to breathe in when sitting down. And you will be sitting down at some point, especially in front of a meal, making everything even tighter!

     

    5) Plan when to Stop Losing or Gaining Weight (if you are)

    This final point is of course only for those who are actively planning to change their weight (or those who tend to lose or gain weight with stress). Losing a little bit of your curves towards the end may not make a huge difference to the fit of the dress, but it is better to try to achieve a stable size at least 4 weeks before the wedding, and ideally for your final fitting. Check with your designer / dressmaker when they would need all your measurements to be final, and plan your weight loss accordingly, focussing on toning and stabilising instead of losing weight in the final weeks.

     

    6) Take Photos

    And finally, before you step out of the dress, take some photos of you in the dress, front, back and side, so you can be sure that everything looks right even after you leave the studio. If there is anything that you are unsure of when you get home, don't hesitate to re-arrange an appointment sooner rather than later!

     

    That's it for today; hope that these tips are useful for you, and if you have additional tips based on your own experience, add your comments on!

     

    Wedding Dress Alterations

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    A first version of this blog was first published on the Restart Coaching website. Blue Lily Magnolia does bridal, bridesmaids and other alterations, bespoke dresses and custom made accessories. To enquire or book an appointment, email [email protected] or call/text/whatsapp Sharon on 07766766573.