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Category: Tips and Suggestions

  1. Let's talk about... Wedding Photography!

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    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.
  2. Let's talk about... Feeding your Body!

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    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. Let's talk about... Your Wedding Dance!

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    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.