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  1. Emma and Richard tied the knot this spring at Stapleton Church, just outside Shrewsbury. They held their reception in Richard's parents' back garden, where three joined tipis squeezed into a corner of the garden, creating a spectacular 'secret garden' theme. In this blog, they share with us their beautiful and quirky story and wedding memories, with some advice on making your wedding unique and your own .
    The pair met on - it does work!! Emma says, "We had our first date at The Old Market Hall in Shrewsbury where we talked and drank more tea than a human being can consume in one sitting, until finally we had to leave as they were closing. We both knew then and there that we were onto something special."
    Richard proposed in their kitchen. He had prepared her a meal that they had seen Mary Berry cook at a Good Food Show - duck and apple chips. "I hadn't even got through the door from work when he popped the question. He was very nervous and couldn't stand waiting any longer. It was simple, and perfect", Emma recalls. 

    The couple really took care to include both their personalities into their wedding celebrations, which made it all very personal as well as uniquely quirky and memorable. Richard and his family are very musical. They had a brass quartet playing in the ceremony, and Emma walked down the aisle to the quartet playing "Rule the World" by Take That. To add more musical elements, their confetti cones were homemade out of Richard's mum's old music sheets. "Rich and I love going to ceilidhs so we had  a ceilidh as our entertainment in the evening."

    Emma is a biker, so all her family and bridesmaids wore leather jackets and she wore white and gold boots as she can't live without her leather boots! Emma tells us, "I also wanted to wear a leather jacket on the day and so had the idea of painting a jacket with the words 'Mrs Jones'. I bought a really lovely jacket off ebay for next to nothing and painted a flower design on the back with leather paint, with the words 'Mrs Jones' in the middle. I'd never done anything like it before so I was really happy with the result. Rich loved it when I showed it to him so he decided to do one himself, although he cheated and bought an iron on vinyl that said Mr Jones. Not only was it a crowd pleaser, the evening was so cold that it was a life saver too!"

    "Rich had the crazy idea of me arriving at the church in my brother's motorbike and sidecar because I am a biker. I was up for the idea but the sidecar was still in the 'project' stage as my brother was restoring it. The weather was pretty windy and rainy when I got to the church so I was glad that we decided on a classy Rolls Royce instead!"

    As with any British wedding, one has to be prepared for any weather eventuality. The only little hiccups for this magical wedding were unsurprisingly mainly to do with the weather. Richard is a meteorologist, so nice weather tends to be rather boring for him! Of course, it had to be 'interesting' weather on their wedding day! It started with Richard and his family getting up at 5am to tie the tipis back down as they had come loose in the wind. They even had to get the tipi company out to try and secure it for the day. Thankfully Emma blissfully didn't know anything about this as she got ready in her nice warm cabin surrounded by her bridesmaids and family. She recalls, "The weather cleared up thankfully in the afternoon but it was still chilly for spring time - not helped by the fact that our blown air heating in the tipis ran out of gas and members of our families had to try and track down a new gas bottle".

    The couple did most of the wedding organisation and decor by themselves, which was a lot of work as it was a completely DIY wedding. They rallied friends and family on the day and they all chipped in to make sure that everything was running smoothly. They made all the decorations themselves, so everything had a 'homemade' feel to it. And a fabulous quirky idea was that of having a guest 'bench' rather than a guest book which is now in their garden:  "We love reading all the messages when we sit in the garden".

    With all the hard work put into the preparations, Emma and Richard remind us that all of it is actually rather unimportant considering what was actually happening on the day, i.e. getting married, making a commitment to each other. "When you're wedding planning you get very bogged down in the details of the table decorations and how the dress is going to look and so on but that was all forgotten as soon as we said our vows. For both of us, it was like there was no one else in the room when we said out vows and it was truly magical - definitely the best and most important moment of the day!"

    What would be their advice to couples getting married? "I think it's the advice that everyone gave me beforehand - what matters is that you are getting married, not the decorations or the guests or the venue. The day is an absolute blur and we made a real effort to have moments together. Our photographer commented how much we were together on the day and that was because we made sure that we didn't experience our wedding day separately as we had seen so many couples do at weddings."
    And their advice to couples looking for something a little different and fun? "Pinterest is your best friend! And also don't be afraid to make things yourself - we bought so much stuff from Facebook groups and it was a great way to find interesting and quirky things. We made our decorations out of embroidery hoops and hula hoops, garden string and artificial flowers and it looked great."
    EmmaRich3-min  EmmaRich2-min
    Photography by Florence Fox with permission from Emma and Richard. Thank you :-) To see more of Florence's work, pop over to her website here.

    Emma's gorgeous dress fitted perfectly but the length was altered by Sharon at Blue Lily Magnolia.

  2. Lillie Pragnell NutritionistToday, as part of my series of short chats to professionals on the topic of 'Getting Ready for your Wedding', I talk to the lovely Lillie Pragnell, a nutritionist, personal trainer and author of 50 Days to Restart Your Life, who is based in North Cheshire. Lillie and I met through the Cheshire Bizmums group a few years ago, when she volunteered to model our wedding dresses. In this quick 5 mins read, Lillie gives us some of her own personal tips on feeling good about yourself (whether you are getting ready for a wedding or not!).

    Lillie, tell us a bit more about you and what you do

    I am a nutritionist and a personal trainer and I work with clients on a 1-2-1 basis to help them change habits and bad lifestyle choices in a simple, easy way. I find out about their everyday routines and choices and what influences them. This then helps me work closely with them to advise on tweaks they can make.

    How can making little tweaks to your food habits make a difference to your life?

    Massively! It seems so simple and so easy - but it actually is. What I advise has never been rocket science, it is common sense. But sometimes this gets overlooked and we forget how to look after ourselves properly.

    In the context of getting ready for a wedding, what can brides (and grooms)-to-be do with their diet to help them prior to the big day?

    Keep a diet diary is probably the first thing I would suggest, this helps people see where they are making poor choices or what foods might be causing them upset. Look at portion size is another big issue. Over the years, naturally, our portion sizes have become larger, what I would recommend is eating more frequently but eating less at main meals and having healthy snacks throughout the day to stabilise your blood sugars, preventing the energy slump. 

    What are your top tips for:
    Glowing skin - definitely water! We all know this, but we should be drinking 2-3litres a day. Not only does it give you gorgeous skin it helps with cellulite and fat loss too. 
    No bloating - keep a diet diary to help you identify what causes you bloating and discomfort. I would advise you steered clear of carbonated drinks (including prosecco ????)
    Feeling energised & positive - avoid alcohol and reduce your caffeine to ensure good deep sleep on the lead up to the big day. Opt for a nice chamomile tea before bed to help you feel sleepy this will mean you wake up feeling full of energy and no under eye bags to be seen.
    Any final dietary tips for our brides and grooms for the big day itself?

    Confidence and a smaile is always the most beautiful look for any bride or groom. Just remember to be happy with who you are.

    Lillie is also a co-organiser, with Jo Howarth, of the Family Tree Wellbeing Festival, Saturday 3rd August 2019, for wellbeing ideas for all the family. This amazing event will be at Success Factory in Cheshire, with speakers and workshops on all aspects of wellbeing aimed at everyone from children to grandparents.There is an early bird ticket price for the first 100 tickets. The price is just £10 per adult and £5 per child with under 3s coming free. You can find the full programme and book your tickets here:
    And to contact Lillie directly for any queries on her services, you can email her directly at  [email protected] or follow her Instagram feed @restartcheshire, which has tons of healthy ideas for meals, snacks and treats.
    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 Lillie with permission to share. 
  3. 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!


    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]



    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.