Friday, 30 January 2009

Eye Candy #17: Fancy Nancy Cakes

I'm very privileged to be able to introduce you to Fancy Nancy cakes! We met the lovely Juliet and Nancy last week as we were keen to sign them up as our latest suppliers. Their famous patchwork cake had the UK wedding magazines clammouring to be the first to feature it in their magazine and it caused a real stir among the brides, so we knew we had to get a slice! With them they brought a delicious box of kitsch blue and black cupcakes and pink and red glittery lip biscuits for us to sample...needless to say we spent the afternoon gorging and were not disappointed!

The girls have just found themselves a gorgeous shop in Leigh-on-sea and are now busying themselves in time for its launch, ready to fill it full of bespoke, hand painted cakes, cupcakes, biscuits-the works. They even work with a local fabric designer whose pattens can translate onto your cake and match your colour scheme. 

Welcome on board girls-we can see big things happening for you!

Image Credits:

**all images copyright of Fancy Nancy

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Paris Fashion Week: Chic at Chanel

I know that a lot of the fashion you see on the catwalk is totally off the wall, but sometimes I see some really gorgeous designs that would translate really well into "real life". Chanel had me drooling over these shots and it looks as though corsages, heavy embellishments, chiffon and statement headpieces are what it's all about this spring. 

The set dressing is beautifully delicate too-a paper garden wonderland! This is a great idea if you don't want use flowers at your reception and fancy something different. I'd get someone who is handy with a pair of scissors though...and don't forget to recycle afterwards! 

Image Credits:
Copyright of Rex Features at MSN

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Pick of the Bunch: Spring Florals

It was wonderful to see the first of the tulips, irises and crocuses peeking out of the flower beds this morning. I love how they store themselves away through the winter and shoot out full of life in the spring. So in the spirit of new life, I've picked out a selection of gorgeous spring flowers...

from the mottled parrot tulips...

ruffled skirts of lisianthus, hellebore and sweet pea...

hot and vibrant purple anemones and yellow poppies...

to the sweet, billowy plumes of ranunculus. My favourite spring flower, this beauty doubles up as a rose and peony offering you a pleasing array of shades and all the glory. 

Bring the scent of spring into your flowers with fresh herbs-rosemary is a wonderful addition if you can find it, as is lavender although this is more of an early summer herb. Opt for a hand tied bouquet with embroidered ribbon. Perfect!

Image Credits:

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Dress Your Girls...

Dress Your Girls...

in green. This is for Ali who requested a green/brown outfit with a summery feel for her own garden party wedding.

I've chosen a floaty cocktail dress in a light fabric such as silk with jewellery in a lighter, contrasting shade to lift the outfit and give it that summery feel. Metallics always work well for summer weddings and the gold shoes really compliment the green. I've kept the brown to a minimum so as not to make it all too dark, but you could use a lighter shade-perhaps a toffee colour of which you could have their bouquets wrapped in ribbon or tie in with a sash around the dress.
Note that the florals are very fresh with white and yellow flowers-I struggled to find a bouquet that really fitted the outfit. Ideally I'd recommend something along the lines of black and white anemones, with chocolate cosmos and a brown rose such as Marrakesh to bring in more of the brown.

I hope this gives you some inspiration Ali!

Wedding News: Plan Your Wedding with Luella's Boudoir

I'm VERY excited to announce that I have been made official bridal coordinator for the Wimbledon based bridal boutique Luella's Boudoir! We're currently working really hard in time for the launch of the new planning service at the beginning of February and brides will be able to book a number of planning solutions through us, from full coordination and on the day services, through to bite size rescue surgery sessions, designed to get you through those testing times. 

The boutique also has a fabulous selection of recommended suppliers for you to choose from, each one carefully vetted by myself and Luella's founder Rachel Attwell. Make sure you pop in to the one-stop shop for all your wedding needs from February. You can also find out more from the website once the new service launches! 

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Hopelessly In Love With...J Crew

I'd not really heard of J.Crew until Michelle Obama-sorry, the First Lady, came on the scene. Now it seems, it's the name on everyone's lips and she's got the whole family wearing it.

It just so happens that they also have a rather gorgeous range of wedding dresses and I'm in love with those details, from pockets and beading to feathery pleats...

Annabelle Gown

Lucienne Gown

Linen Silk Tussah Rosette Gown

Jewelled Cady Gown

Crepe Mimi T-Shirt Gown

Feather Chiffon Gown

Image Credits:
**All images taken from J.Crew Brides

Monday, 19 January 2009

Dress Your Girls...

Bridesmaid: Brown

in brown. During the last of the winter months we can still get away with enjoying some of the more earthy and rich colours nature has to offer. Don't be afraid to combine with other soft shades of pinks and soft metallics with an injection of zingy green in the flowers. I've also brought floral touches into the outfit with a vibrant green cymbidium orchid corsage. The dress I've chosen is actually intended for a much younger little girl, but this style of dress (in a larger size) looks demure on a woman, particularly for a more traditional affair, and the velvet adds a little extra luxury to the ensemble. 

As a new addition to the Grant-Riley Weddings blog for 2009, Dress Your Girls is dedicated to giving you and your bridesmaids inspiration for their own attire for your big day. If there's any particular colour combination you're struggling with or would like to see, do drop me a line.

Image Credits:
For a breakdown of all items, click on the image. 

Sunday, 18 January 2009

1940s House

Thank you for the lovely comments on my last post, I am so excited and surprised by it all and as a great believer in fate, I think I was put in the right place at the right time!

Anyway, the whole reason I went to the museum in the first place was to visit the 1940s House, a reconstruction of a typical suburban house in West Wickham during WW2. It was stunning, oh how I wish I could've moved in-everything was exactly to the letter, from the wooden staircase, the wallpaper border detailing, bed quilts-the works. Just behind me was an old couple who as they wandered around got so excited remembering all those little details from when they were children-it was wonderful to listen to!

Feast your eyes on these piccies!

The House Facade

The Living Room

The Dining Room

The Kitchen

Congratulations to London Bride too on her recent nuptials-I hope the wedding was everything you hoped for and I'm looking forward to seeing those photos!

Image Credits:

Friendly Ghosts

I had the most wonderfully emotional day last Wednesday. I'd just been to the Merchant Taylor's Hall for a meeting (all will be revealed shortly!) and had a sudden urge to visit the Imperial War Museum. I'd never been before but as I've been reading a book called Nella Last's War, a collection of diary entries by a 1940s housewife taken from the Mass Observation records, I was desperate to immerse myself in some more history.

As I arrived I noticed there was an exhibition about the Windrush dedicated to Caribbean service men and women, so I spent quite some time there. In the second half of the exhibition I felt drawn to a cabinet, dedicated to the life of Cyril Blake who was a popular jazz musician as well as serving in the RAF. Inside, there was an old photograph of Cyril (sat at the front with his trumpet in hand) and his band the Emperors of Jazz and stood at the back, holding a clarinet is the man I believe to be my grandfather.


I know, it's totally out of the blue. I never knew him as he was in New York by the time I was born and he died three years later. He was so illusive we only have a small amount of information about him. His name was Freddie Grant (which is also the name of the man in the photo) he played clarinet and saxophone (see the clarinet in his hand) but most of all, he LOOKS like my father...and he has the Grant cheek bones and smile! When I got home I did more digging and all the dates, locations etc all add up and it turns out this Freddie Grant was a key player in the world of Calypso Jazz. So now, my mission for 2009 is to prove this man is my grandfather. Wish me luck!

Mood Montage: Soft 'N' Sweet

Soft 'n' Sweet

Now I'm not normally a pastels girl at all, but I'm full of the joys of Spring (yes, I know it's still only January) and this montage just came together on the page. Again it has a real 1950s vibe to it especially with the rainbow bridesmaid dresses which were typical of the 50s. Birds and soft feathers also feature heavily, with plenty of velvety texture, making this a very fresh theme.


Saturday, 17 January 2009

Reception Style: Belvoir Fruit Farms

I'm deeply in love with Belvoir Fruit Farms. Deeply. I just think they make a rather gorgeous addition to any reception table-particularly one with a vintage theme, and they offer enough colour schemes that there's something for everyone.
As an avid cordial maker (you'll find me picking the first of the Elderflowers in summer with hubby in tow!) these taste virtually homemade and come in a variety of scrummy flavours: Raspberry and Rose, Ginger and Elderflower cordials are my favourite.

Just to make life even better, they have a great selection of gorgeous cocktails on their website which would make wonderful additions to your drinks reception, as well as recipes which use their drinks!

Image Credits:
**All taken from Belvoir Fruit Farms

Friday, 9 January 2009

Mood Montage: Strawberry Ice Cream

Strawberry Ice Cream

I've been tinkering around with a new program and updating the mood montage format a little bit. Just an experiment-let me know what you think.

This concept is for a laid back, fun loving couple and is perfect for a Spring/Summer wedding. Scrummy!

Image Credits:
For full list of credits, click the image. 

Monday, 5 January 2009

Stress Management

With the Christmas period over and a new year started, it's highly likely that many of you will be continuing with the planning of your wedding for this year. First of all, I will expect a full report WITH photos from all of you (!) and secondly, I wanted to share with you some personal tips for coping with the stress of it all. There is no doubt that somewhere along the way you will hit a bump in the road or be faced with a decision you'd rather not make, but that's all part of the rollercoaster...

Use Your Time
My first port of call when meeting with a potential client is to determine how much time I have in which to bring everything together before the big day and how best to utilize it. I've planned a wedding in four months and another in two years and while I wouldn't recommend putting together a big celebration from start to finish in less than six months, it can be done if you get organized and you're realistic about your expectations. 

Prioritize. Identify the most important and time consuming aspects first, such as writing your guest list, choosing your venue and arranging the legalities before you turn your attention to the details. Yes, these are important of course, but without the bare bones you won't be able to build on them confidently. 

Timeline. Most planners will divide tasks up in a month by month timeline, starting (as above) with most important and finishing with the little bits and pieces that need tying up. It's always nice to try and have everything ready and signed off at least a couple of weeks before the big day so that should anything else arise, you have a little extra time to deal with it and to generally relax and prepare. But who am I kidding? I was up at gone midnight the night before the night before finishing our programs and packing everything!

Create Your Team
It's important that you and your fiance have a good support system around you, from friends, family and suppliers...

Family and Friends
You will always have the odd family member or friend who just won't care if you're panicking over finding the right shade of napkin etc. and you have to remember to try and keep the wedding talk in moderation, as not everyone will find your wedding the most exciting event in history (unfortunately).  However, it's generally said that "everybody loves a wedding" and in my experience relations of the bride and groom are always more than happy to offer up help in whatever shape or form, so use it and get them involved!

Bridal Party
Make sure you have a really good think about choosing your bridesmaids, best man (or men) and ushers as they are there to make life a little easier and to shoulder some of the responsibility on the day. Don't choose a rather unreliable friend to be chief bridesmaid/maid of honour as you will end up worrying if she'll pull it off on the day. The same can be said for the best man-if he's a bit of a prankster and you think your fiance will end up naked tied to a lamppost 70 miles away from you on the morning of the wedding, then it's probably a good idea to reconsider your choice!

Don't try to do everything yourself. If you're making your own stationery, make a day of it, get the girls round and create a production line! If you happen to have musically talented friends, ask them to create your playlist for the evening reception or play you down the aisle (as ours did). Perhaps you could give your fiance the job of booking the honeymoon and arranging the transport. Just remember that you're only human and providing you share the load you'll get through it just fine. 

Take the time to see at least 3 suppliers for each area you're covering so you can gain better scope of what is available to you. Don't be afraid to negotiate fees either as most suppliers should be happy to cater to your budget within reason. Make sure that you discuss your choices thoroughly with your fiance and be totally secure in your decisions before you book anyone. View their recommendations, portfolios, taste their produce and check out their legalities before you go ahead. These people will make up a large portion of your team on the big day so you need to be able to trust them. 

Watch Your Budget
Money can be a really touchy subject, particularly when it's in short supply. I won't kick start the planning process until I'm absolutely certain my clients have set their budget. It determines everything-from the size of celebration you can have to catering, entertainment-the lot. Don't kid yourself either. There's no point looking at designer florists if there isn't enough budget to cover one, so divide up what you have wisely and prioritize. I had to forego my vintage car and chair covers so we could stretch our budget further...and did anyone notice? Nope!
Don't forget your contingency either-this is a little safety net should you come up against any added costs along the way and is generally 10% of your budget. 

Time Out to Talk
It's very easy to let things get on top of you and before you realise, the flavour of your cake has taken presidence over your entire relationship! Remember the reason why you're marrying in the first place and give it some attention. Spend the odd weekend together where wedding talk is strictly banned and get back to doing whatever it was you did before you got engaged! If things are worrying you, get it all out in the open and work from the same page together. Communication is absolutely the key, be a team!

And if all else fails, I can totally recommend Bach Rescue Remedy!

Image Credit
**The wedding of Minhee and Truman at Martha Stewart Weddings

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Eye Candy #15: Claire Pettibone Rock N Roll

Goodness me. I have a treat for you today ladies, from the lovely Claire Pettibone (whose designs I adore) and I have to say, she's bringing sexy back in 2009. Yes. I did just say that. Just take a look for yourselves...






Embellishments are hotter than ever for 2009, from jewelled beading and sequins, corsages and textured fabrics-think heavy lace, sexy satins and velvet. Heaven. 

Image Credits:
**all images taken from Claire Pettibone