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  1. sparkly shoes A trip to the shops gives you a pretty much instant idea on the current fashion and accessories trends. Some things are still here from last year: sequins, lots of bling, pleated skirts and animal prints. Last year, I thought that all these sparkly and shiny things were way too much for me, but after a year of it, my eyes have become accustomed to the disco ball look and I am totally embracing it! Animal prints are rather classic, so I will not be surprised if they turn up next autumn winter too. 

    Things that I noticed were new this year: stars, velvet and big sleeves... I'm loving the cute star prints, star jewellery, and luxurious soft velvets on jumpsuits, long dresses, or even trousers, but the big sleeves are my absolute favourite this season. I must admit that the giant shoulders are not quite my thing, being quite petite in height and frame. I don't quite like the look of an inverted triangle, or even a big rectangle or square (if you happen to be a bit more peary in shape). But big sheer sleeves, yes please! Why? Well, for a start, I for once, am a huge fan of 'comfort' winning on style. And in the winter, it's cold! Sleeves are just the thing when going out an evening, without feeling like you will have to cross the tundra before reaching the bar.

    Secondly, my flabby arms are one of the things that I don't like about myself (like many people of course, there are lots of other little niggles that I am unhappy about, but let's not dwell on those!). So sleeves are perfect to hide these little arm imperfections, whether you have bingo wings, big arms, hairy armpits, pasty arms and other arm related issues! And sheer sleeves are even better in my opinion because they give the illusion of having your arms out, without actually revealing much detail. 

    And finally, after years of seeing people's shoulders out - strapless, little straps, complex straps, skinny spaghetti straps, boob tubes and the lot, it's actually lovely to see interesting shapes and textures being added on the arms and shoulders. My favourite is definitely any form of transparent fabric on the arms, whether it's a shape-holding organza for a bit of pouffiness, soft chiffon for boho flow, textured lace for a bit of a more classic look, or pretty embroidered tulle for a bit of quirkiness, I love them all.

    So as a little treat for myself, I made myself a dress for a Christmas party this year. And of course, it included big sleeves (I chose chiffon for a flowy style), velvet, and unsurprisingly for me, it was black. My husband bought me some sparkly shoes to match. And on my Christmas list this year, I've put a cute little star necklace... I'll have to wait and see if it will appear under the tree on Christmas morning!

    For now, wishing you all a very happy Christmas and a wonderful new year, and looking forward to seeing you in 2020!

    bespoke black velvet dress front  bespoke black velvet dress back


    Blue Lily Magnolia, Nantwich, Cheshire - makes bespoke dresses and accessories for formal occasions, weddings. For any queries on dress making or alterations, please contact Sharon on 07766766573, or email [email protected]

  2. The wedding season is in full swing, but 2019 is not yet over and still plenty of ladies and gents planning ahead for this year and next. Today in my little series of 'Let's talk about', which is about preparing for your wedding, I chat with Yifan Nairn from Yifan Nairn Designs, whom I have known for now over 15 years since our days at the School of Textiles and Design at Heriot-Watt University. Yifan and I, in a now distant memory, used to design and make wedding and formal dresses together, but we have now branched out into different areas. Yifan is passionate about helping independent women gain confidence and feel amazing about themselves by styling, designing and making outfits that show their personality. She has been in the fashion industry for over 20 years and has been designing and making bridal dresses in the last 5 years as well as providing colour analysis and wardrobe editing service to ladies who feel trapped in a style that doesn’t reflect who they truly are.

    The topic that we will cover this month is the tricky subject of picking a colour and style for your bridesmaids. If you're lucky enough to find that all your bridesmaids have similar skin tone, hair colour, and body shape, choosing bridemaids outfits is a breeze. In reality, most couples will end up with a range of silhouettes and skin/hair combinations, which in some cases can make it quite tricky for the bride (let's face it, most grooms don't get into the details of bridesmaids planning!). How do you make sure everyone looks and feels great? How do you get your bridesmaids to look amazing and happy next to you? Here are some questions I posed to Yifan:

    What are the popular colours at the moment for weddings and bridesmaids?
    2019 is all about bold colours if you have been paying attention to what’s selling in the shops. The wedding colour palette this year is a mixture of soft hues and pop of colours. The popular colours are Dusty Rose, Dusty Blue, Silver Sage, Mauve, Sunset, Rose/Wine and Yellow. It isn’t uncommon now that bridesmaids mix and match the colours and even different styles.

    What should brides consider when picking a colour theme for their bridesmaids?
    Most of you would book the venue first before carry on with anything else. The venue decides the atmosphere and theme for the whole event. First, I’d suggest you to consider the overall wedding colour theme based on where is the wedding reception is going to be. Is is an outdoor wedding? A barn? A castle? A hotel? The venue sets the tone for the overall wedding colour theme and what you choose for your bridesmaids should fit into the bigger picture. Secondly, consider which season is your wedding day going to be in. The background colours change massively from season to season which will effect how your wedding photo would look like. Last but not the least, make sure your bridesmaids are included in the decision about what colour dress they will be wearing. You do want them to smile on your wedding photos, don’t you? I often use to look for colour inspirations.

    How can they make sure everyone looks great in the choice being made?
    This question makes me laugh, thinking about the film ’27 Dresses’. If you realise you’re going to look at your wedding photos for the next 50+ years, you’d know the decision on bridesmaids dresses is just as important as choosing your own wedding dress. It’s a good idea to make these lovely ladies look and feel wonderful so that they smile even when they don’t think they’re being photographed! If you have more than two bridesmaids, it can be tricky to get everyone agree on one colour and style. You’re very lucky if you do! We all have different skin undertones, features, body shapes and personality. So if you struggle to agree on colours, consider to choose from one of these universal colours which means these colours suit just about everyone.
    - Teal
    - Purple
    - Emerald Turquoise
    - Lilac (or lavender)
    These colours are also perfect for gentlemen’s waistcoats, napkins, stationery, flowers etc.
    If you prefer all your bridesmaids to wear the same colour and you manage to agree on one, congratulations! Job’s almost done. If you've agreed on one colour, you can maybe be a little bit more relaxed about the style if your bridesmaids are more specific about the styles that suit them. I’d stick to either same colour with different styles or same style with different colours, otherwise it can look messy and hard to pull off.

    Can you share some basic colour rules for our readers?
    If you’re going for mixed colours for your bridesmaids dresses, I’d stay in the same tint, tone or shade. For example, lilac and sage go well together because they have similar level of white in them. If you’re choosing bold colours for the bridesmaids dresses, the same rule applies, try to keep them in the same shade. Always picture how the colours would look like with the backdrop. It’s like designing your own magazine cover. Make it fun!

    And for the final words, any advice for brides on choosing a style for their bridesmaids?
    There isn’t one style fits all magic pill because we all have different body shapes. Certain style looks fantastic on one bridesmaids might be the others’ worst nightmare. If you must choose only one style, wrap dress or empire dress style would be your best bet because they look okay on just about any body shapes. Try not to force a girl into a sleeveless dress when she’s conscious about her arms. In terms of necklines, halter neck has become
    popular but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. As long as you keep an element of unity, such as skirt length or colour, even with different necklines and silhouettes you’ll look fabulously put together.

    To contact Yifan, pop over to her website or email her directly at [email protected].

    Yifan1-minYifan Nairn Colour Consultant

    Yifan Nairn Designs offers bespoke bridal party colour & style package. It’s a get-together mini party: bride, groom, mother of bride/groom, bridesmaids, best man, ushers etc. Along with some bubblies, you’ll be receiving advice on wedding colour theme, outfits colours on all bridal parties including hints and tips on jewellery, shoes, button-holes, flowers, make-up, hair accessories, handbags, hair colours etc.


    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 Yifan, with permission to share.

  3. When we got married, the first thing that we booked was the venue, and the second thing, the photographer. Good photographers get booked sometimes years in advance, and my husband-to-be and I knew that we wanted someone who'd be able to see and reflect our personalities through their lenses. So if you are like us and want to have photos that you will treasure all your life, make sure you read what Sarah from Sarah Horton Photography has to say below.

    Award winning Sarah is listed for the second year in a row in the 50 Best Wedding Photographers, which described her work as 'unique, captivating and deeply romantic'. Based in Nantwich, where I met her at a local networking meeting, Sarah covers Cheshire and the North West area, but also destination weddings abroad. In fact, one of her photographs of a wedding at Lake Garda recently scooped 'Photo of the Week' at Brides Magazines.

    Sarah Horton Photography

    Here's what Sarah shared with us for this month's version of 'Let's talk about...'.

    Sharon: What are the current trends in wedding photography? What are couples looking for?

    Sarah: Ooh I’m definitely seeing weddings becoming more and more relaxed and moving away from tradition. I’ve chatted to a number of couples for this year who’ve decided to ditch the cake cutting pics, aren’t having a first dance, or only want 3 or 4 group shots. I’ve worked recently on a wedding where the bride and groom have got ready and walked over to the church together. Weddings feel much more about spending the day with loved ones and celebrating, rather than focusing on the details. Doing things your own way rather than 'just because' ensures a truly unique day. Elopements and small intimate ceremonies are more popular than ever, with many couples choosing to travel to somewhere special with their nearest few - this can make for some stunning photographs in epic locations!

    What's the best way for couples to find the right photographer for them?
    There are so many different shooting and editing styles and it can be totally baffling. Photography styles range from full documentary where moments are captured exactly as they happen, the photographer has little to no input into the day, rarely posing couples or shooting formal images, right through to traditional wedding photography, more like staged images where the photographer sets up each shot in a particular way, there might also be additional lighting used. I’m probably totally in the middle of the two, relaxed, natural light photography. For the most part I let the day unfold, looking for laughs and little moments, but will offer guidance as needed on posing and getting couples to feel comfortable in front of the camera. I use natural light as much as possible and try not to take couples away from their guests for long for portraits.  
    Again, there are a million different ways your images can be edited, and its totally down to personal preference. I'd suggest having a look at a good amount of photographers and see what you’re drawn to most, think about the kind of pictures you’d want to hang on your walls, or look back on in 20 years time. 
    Once you’ve found ‘the one’ be sure to get your date secured in their diary quickly. Dates book out as far ahead as 3 years! 
    What questions should they be asking? What should they watch out for?
    Ask as many questions as you like until you’re confident enough to book, we totally don’t mind! Definitely make sure you’ve seen lots of previous work, a good full portfolio or full wedding set with images consistently edited in the style you like, and look for reviews from previous couples. You might want to check about the number of images you’ll receive, what the editing turnaround time is and whether there are any additional costs - for example do you need to pay for extra images or retouching. Also ask about how long your photographer will be there on the day, will it actually be them who comes on the day or an associate, if they offer a second shooter, and what their deposit and payment schedule is. The answer to all of these questions will vary between photographers so make sure you have all of the info and ask away until you’re happy! 
    What should couples do to make the most of their photographic moments?   
    There are some little things you can do to really help with your images on the day.. 
    Bridal or groom prep spaces - choosing somewhere with lots of natural light and space to move around makes such a difference. Dark, cluttered or busy rooms are really hard to work in, not just for photographers but also for hair and make up artists too. Its worth taking the extra time to think about where you’ll be. 
    Unplugged ceremonies - this doesn’t have to be for the whole day, but I’ve got many a first kiss image with an iPad in the air, or a 360 camera on a stick across the aisle in front of the bridal party - encourage your guests to put the screens down and enjoy the moment :-) 
    The weather - The great British weather is something that worries lots of couples and photographers alike. If your wedding day happens to be wet I’d totally encourage you to embrace it - we’ll plan for inside space and continue to look out for dry spells but absolutely pack some brollies and wellies and get out in it, it makes for fab images! 
    Any tricks for looking great in photos?
    It’s easy enough to say but try and relax to avoid stiff or uncomfortable images! On your wedding day during your portraits might be the first time you get to spend some time alone together, I normally tell my couples to take the opportunity to have a catch up and it won’t feel all about the photographs. Im looking for little laughs and cuddles that will come naturally in that time. If you think it’s something you’ll stress about definitely look at booking a pre-wedding or engagement shoot with your photographer to have a bit of a practice run. A couple of little tips too - try and avoid fake tanning, it can look super obvious when standing next to someone with a natural skin tone! And if you’re having a makeup artist definitely book in a trial to make sure you’re totally happy with it, check it out in the daylight too! 
    If you'd like to see some of Sarah's gorgeous wedding photos, head over to her website here, and if you want a chat, I'm sure she'll love to hear from you!
    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 Sarah, with permission to share here.