Sunday, 25 September 2011

Birthday Girl

So yesterday was my 28th birthday and I had the most wonderful day with my family, spending the day in Rochester for a spot of lunch and antiquing-basically a typical Tiff day!

My Nigel Slater (I call him my food husband, his food is totally my style) plum & honey cake made by my mum

3 slightly drunk bears in the window of an antique shop in Rochester. They really made us laugh!

Some of my beautiful presents...and two magazines were waiting for me when we got home!

I thought it'd be fun to share some facts about me that you may not, or didn't know. Apparently as my readers you're enjoying the more personal here goes!

1. I don't drive. YET. I am learning...but it doesn't stop me getting to where I need to go.

2. I'm 1/4 Guyanese.

3. My 2nd cousin is Eddy Grant of 'Electric Avenue' fame. In fact, I come from a very musically talented family (that's how we roll).

4. I read with my left eye closed in bed. Sometimes I don't even realise I'm doing it but for some reason I feel more relaxed when I do.

5. I am an awesome cook. I'm also very modest.

6. Maths is not my strongest point, which is great news considering I have to manage budgets! When I was at primary school, I used to give my work sheets to my best friend who sat next to me to do. You can imagine my surprise when I moved to middle school and they put me in the top set. Needless to say, I didn't last very long!

7. Graveyards are a real draw for me. I love to spend an hour or so wandering round then, reading the head stones and trying to imagine what kind of people they were and who they left behind.

8. I met my husband at university. I was the student, he was the lecturer...although not mine I might add ;-)

9. I'm fiercely competitive. Seriously. If I feel someone encroaching on my turf, bring it on. It's good to keep on your toes though, don't you think?

10. My husband and I have been having a brazen love affair with Italy for the past 6 years and plans are being put in place for us to relocate out to Tuscany in the next few years. La dolce vita here we come!

So there we are. A little something about moi. Got any quirky facts about you to share we me?

Grant-Riley Weddings

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Planner's Guide: Wedding Casualties Part Two

I was utterly astounded at the incredible response I had from last week's post in The Planner's Guide series about my relationship with my father, divorced parents and dispelling some of the tension between divorced parents on the wedding day. Thank you for all your comments and support, I never knew how many of you were in similar positions and now I feel as though I can dispel the taboo surrounding "broken families" and the world of weddings. Life isn't perfect and there's nothing to be ashamed of.

So this week has a slightly lighter feel to it, although I'm still going to be uncovering some uncomfortable truths, dealing with friendships, bridesmaids (including being one...or not, but we'll come to that) and for those in the wedding industry, doing favours for friends.


My Best Friend's Wedding

I had a very close friend who got engaged in 2009 and as us ladies do we soon got together to chat all things wedding. She was a bridesmaid at my wedding so I was over the moon when she asked me to be her's. I had promised to help her as much as I could throughout her planning but, in order to have my undivided attention I felt it would be better to charge a small fee if she needed particular attention so that I could schedule her in as a client (mate's rates of course).
Having known each other for over ten years we had one of those fabulous relationships where even we if didn't see each other for months we could still pick up as if no time had passed at all. We knew each other inside out.

Last year I had my son and what with one thing and another, I fell apart. Trying to juggle my business keeping clients happy, adjusting to a tiny being having total dependency on me, nightmares breast feeding and it all got too much. I ended up on anti-depressants and the best I could do was put on a front and do the absolute basics. I was just about functioning. It was inevitable, then, that my attention as a bridesmaid would slip somewhat for my friend who was getting married the following August. I gave as much advice as I could, from sourcing possible venues, pulling together ideas for design, marquee companies etc, but I told her quite clearly that I had too much on my plate to organise her hen weekend abroad (nevermind leaving my son) make her dress appointments, provide constant support as well as for my clients and keep my head above water. I thought she understood.

1 week into motherhood
© Sara Thomas Photography

Fast forward to spring 2011. It's hectic. I've just taken on an intern to help with the work load, my sister is coming up to look after my son twice a week and there are three weddings in immediate succession from the end of May right through to mid June. When I hit wedding season, I have my head down until the dust has settled, it requires all my energy and concentration and that's that-most friends and family totally understand this. I felt terribly guilty that I wasn't around to support my friend, whose planning had been somewhat stressful given the numbers her family wanted to invite and logistics of it all, so I sent a message or two to let her know I was still there and would be back onboard with her after June.
You can imagine my utter surprise then when I receive a message from my friend to say that she felt it was best, given that my priorities had changed, that I wasn't a bridesmaid anymore. Wow. Really? 

As a planner I know all too well how brides can feel overwhelmed at times and that their wedding can completely overshadow rational thinking, but this was something else entirely. She had four bridesmaids to whom she could turn to for support, she knew how much I was struggling and indeed how much I had tried to help her during the beginning. I felt a little as though the main reason she'd asked me in the first place was because I was a wedding planner and therefore available all hours. The fact that she'd decided without talking to me first to un-bridesmaid and "downgrade me" to a guest really hurt and made me question our entire friendship.

To cut a long story short, I asked her not to invite us at all. She got married in August and that was that. I was so sad to have missed it and I mourn over our lost friendship. But they say that people come and go throughout life, perhaps she wasn't meant to stay in mine.

Doing Favours

No doubt there are many wedding professionals out there who have done favours for their friends' weddings, be it a way to gain portfolio, experience or just for the love of it. It's a great feeling to pour your heart into something for a friend and I love to do it as often as I can, be it making their cake, doing the flowers or providing advice.

There comes a time though, when it can all get a bit too much. It is, after all, your job. And whilst it's perfectly do-able to help out on bits and pieces, when it starts to become a little bit too much and you're not being paid to do it, you wonder what it's all for. It can create tension between you too. Have you ever noticed that? Suddenly you start viewing them in another light. A favour is a favour, not a full time job.

How Can I Help On My Terms? 

Agree exactly what you're going to do from the outset so that you both understand what's expected of you and what's outside of your agreement. 

Discuss what you're willing to do for free and what else will be charged for. 

Talk! For crying out loud, communicate. If either of you are unhappy with each other for whatever reason, talk about it before things reach the stage they did for me. Losing a friend is an awful thing to have to happen over such a happy occasion. 

Tell me about your experiences. Have you fallen out with a loved one during your planning? Are you trying your best to help a friend with their own and it's proving difficult?

Grant-Riley Weddings

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Reader Vote: Choose The New Homepage Couple!

Over the next week or so we're updating the images on the website and saying a fond farewell to our beautiful images from the Preston Court shoot back in 2009.

This is where you come in. I need you to vote for your favourite image of one of our recent couples to go onto the homepage. Choose the one that captures a moment of the day, displays real emotion or just the image you love most.

Lucy & Greg
Image One
© Devlin Photos
Image Two
© Devlin Photos

Hayley & Lucas

Image One
© Devlin Photos
Image Two
© Devlin Photos

Sarah & Ben
Image One
© Emma Case Photography

Image Two
© Emma Case Photography

To vote, simply leave a comment stating the name of your favourite couple and the image number. Couldn't be easier! 

Voting closes at midnight on Sunday 25th of September with the winner displayed on the homepage on Monday. 

Get voting! 

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The Planner's Guide: Wedding Casualties Part One

The word "wedding" is synonymous with love, happiness and celebration but perhaps not so much with feuds, fall outs and sadness. This is a subject that I'm unfortunately far too familiar with. I've toyed with writing about it for some time and have held back until now. I'm talking about the casualties of wedding planning, from fall outs with family and friends, to misunderstandings doing "favours" for friends who work outside of the industry.
It's a touchy subject and one that tends to end up buried under a mountain of confetti after the big day. Given the nature of the subject, I'm writing it in two parts...

The Family

When I was old enough to understand what weddings were all about, my first thought wasn't what my dress would look like or if I'd marry a prince, rather it was whether or not my dad would give me away or be allowed to be there. It might sound odd but if you've grown up with divorced parents you'll know what I'm talking about.

Me & my dad in 2007
My father was what you'd call a "weekend dad", although visits weren't as regular as that, owing to the fact he travelled a lot for work and pleasure, so being our father was more of a hobby than part of his being. It was hardly surprising then that over time we became estranged. Mum met a wonderful man who became our stepfather when I was 15 and that was that.

Up to the point I became engaged, our relationship went through various cycles of speaking and not speaking, being really close and falling out. All the while I agonised over whether or not my mother would be alright having my dad at the wedding and if the rest of my family would be able to be civil for the day. I always wanted to be a daddy's girl and would spend hours watching real weddings on Wedding TV blubbing as the bride's father walked her down the aisle. We didn't have that kind of relationship though, in fact, we hardly knew each other. So, thinking I was being diplomatic, I asked my younger brother to give me away knowing that not only would it be a lovely gesture to involve him but it meant that I wouldn't upset my father or step-dad by asking one of them to instead.

One afternoon I sat down with mum and discussed the taboo subject of "dad and the wedding" and very gracefully she allayed my fears and agreed to put the past aside for the day for me (it was my day after all and I was still his daughter) and that it was ok to invite him.

Mum accompanied me in the car to the ceremony. It was one of my favourite  moments of the day, she kept me calm.

Feeling as if a real weight had been lifted, I set about addressing our beautifully letter pressed invitations, his all ready to post the following day. I never got to send that invitation because that evening he called to say he wouldn't be coming as he felt hurt that I'd not asked him to give me away. Given his track record I'd said I thought it was obvious why I'd not asked him-you can't not help bring a child up and then claim the glory when you feel like it and that by asking my brother I'd thought I wasn't offending anyone. Surely to be present on your daughter's wedding day and see her married was enough? Apparently not.

My baby brother giving me away

Three years on, we haven't spoken since that day in May 2008, we were married that August. I've no idea if he knows about our son who is one in two weeks or how well my business is doing, that I've uncovered a whole contingency of his family through this article I wrote and that makes me feel incredibly sad.

Happy Days

For the most part, my clients' planning goes without a hitch and although I've had to be the impartial mediator at times to help them decide how to proceed through the day with their parents to ensure that both parties feel included, we've had no situations such as mine.

If you're wondering how to make it work for yourself, consider these points:

♡ If, like me your parents' relationship is particularly strained, make sure you discuss your wishes for your wedding day early on into your planning so that any issues can be resolved as much as possible by the day itself.

♡ Find a way to include both sets of parents in the planning-perhaps ask dad to find your transport and mum to shop for your dress and cake with you.

♡ A great way to keep both parents happy on the day is to have each parent host their own table with at least one familiar/neutral face on each. It'll make them feel included and should avoid any tensions.

♡ If you feel uncomfortable with a parent being at the reception in case there is bad feeling amongst other family members, then invite them to the ceremony only and arrange to have a meal together to celebrate another time. Explain your reasons. It might seem extreme, but they ought to see your side of the story.

♡ Worried about potential punch ups? Yes, I know it sounds extreme but alcohol is a wonderful catalyst for such things. Let a few trust-worthy, calm and reliable members of your party know your concerns and to keep an eye out during the day so that if anything should arise it can be diffused quickly and without a scene.

It's never an ideal situation to fall out with any family members. Weddings seem to heighten everyone's emotions, they're also the time when you find out both who is important to you and who you're important to.  Think rationally before you make any rash decisions in case you regret the consequences. In my father's case it was the nail in the coffin for us-I saw that his reputation was more important than me and I've closed that chapter.

On a happier note, when a family is close there's nothing more wonderful than seeing them spending time celebrating together at the wedding and I love being an honorary member for the day.

How are you finding planning with your family? Are you in or have you been in a similar situation?

Next Week...Wedding Casualties Part Two: Friends & Favours. 

Image Credits: Matt Faber Photography 

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Eye Candy #25: BHLDN

The love I feel for BHLDN is borderline obsessive indescribable. Given that it's sprung from the loins of Anthropologie it's hardly surprising is it? If you've yet to discover the beauties that lie inside the BHLDN dressing-up box of wonders, I'd advise you do it. Their bridal collection is out-of-this-world divine, and have you seen their decor? Perfect for a wedding gift list. 
So today, because I'm in a good mood, I'm treating you to some moving eye candy. Ooooooo mother, may I?!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

I ♡ Southwold

Several weeks back I took some time out of a busy wedding season to head back home up to Suffolk and stay with the parentals. As with any home visit, a trip to the Suffolk coast is essential and something we do without fail every summer. Breaking tradition, we decided against Aldeburgh and headed a little further up the coast to Southwold and armed with my brother's camera, I took some "shots".

The lighthouse near the Adnams Brewery. The smell of hops is just delicious combined with freshly fried fish and chips...

For some bizarre reason, the entire town was covered in ladybirds. Considered a lucky charm in Italy, I thought at first how wonderful it was...but by the end of our day we were cursing the lot of 'em. Grrrr!

If you're ever up in sunny Suffolk, put Southwold on your list, you'll love it. You can even hire a beach hut for £18 a day!

Grant-Riley Weddings

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Real Weddings: Rustic Retro

I just love it when I meet a couple who are on the same wave length, you know, when you completely and utterly "get" their style because it's so much of your own. Hayley and Lucas were one of those couples and their wedding was one of those epic days, hidden deep in the Suffolk countryside and full of their own design work. This stylish couple found me through Luella's Boudoir but it's such a stunner I couldn't not share it here. ..

Dress No.1

Craspedia buttonholes-super chic!

Hayley & Lucas designed their invitations

The First Look

You'll notice the brollies, it was windy and a little grey for the best part of the day...

Fresh delphinium petals

The Ceremony

Hayley walked down the aisle to Henry Mancini's Moon River. 

A beautiful ceremony with personal vows. 

The Bridal Party

Bridesmaids in cream. Beautiful.

Charlie and I worked like troopers to get the barn dressed in time!

Sweet Love


Chill out area

Couldn't get enough of these bouquets, with craspedia, daisies, thistles to name a few.

The Cake!
We thought we'd do a couple of "test shots" for Lisa before we opened the floor to the guests.

Me & second shooter Sara Thomas
Sara with my assistant Charlie.
The Bride & Groom

Styled Shoot
As if by magic the sun came out towards early evening and we got the "magic light" we'd been hoping for for Hayley and Lucas' styled shoot...

Hayley in her second dress

The owner of Alpheton Barn just happened to have a Triumph Stag hiding in the shed, so he parked it up for us. The perfect back drop, no? 

Isn't she stunning?

We left them as the sun began to set to continue partying into the night. This wedding was a real joy from start to finish, great guests, fantastic venue and best of all, a happily married bride and groom.

Check out more of Hayley and Lucas' work here and here. Utterly gorgeous.

The Team:

Venue: Alpheton Barn 
Photography: Lisa Devlin & 2nd shooter Sara Thomas
Florist: Cherubs Florists
Hayley's dresses: The Vintage Wedding Dress Company
Cakes: Queen Of Cupcakes
Caterer: Gemma Haining

Grant-Riley Weddings