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Thanksgiving – When you Can’t Be together in Person

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I live in the UK, but being on Zazzle I like to design for holidays other countries celebrate too including Thanksgiving, which is a holiday celebrating the blessings of the past year. A day when friends and family generally get together to celebrate and give thanks. This year in the USA it falls on Thursday 26 November.

 

But of course, this year 2020 has been a year like no other. Extraordinary to say the least due to COVID 19.  Sadly, lots of events have had to be postponed and plans put on hold.

 

I guess we are fortunate that technology has allowed us to find different ways to “be together” without actually being together in person. Especially so in these unusual times. Many parties, showers and even weddings have gone virtual this year, with live streaming via Zoom and similar.

 

It looks likely that many celebrations for Thanksgiving this year will also be going virtual to stay safe and keep within social distancing guidelines. Not quite the same, but definitely better than not seeing each other at all.

 

You can still make it as special as possible! Send out your invitations, to invite your friends and family to your virtual gathering.

Here’s a selection from my Zazzle store and there are some more at the bottom of this page too!


You have a to be a little more creative when it comes to a virtual dinner party of course! Maybe eat your main meal with your close family first, followed by an online get together with your other invitees afterwards. Grab yourself some snacks, bubbly and raise a glass!  Chat, giggle, play games and quizzes. Just as you would otherwise.

 

Howsabout a special background to place behind you? Here are some from my store, not just for Thanksgiving, but handy for other occasions too.

 

And if you are able to be together in person, these what better favor this year than a personalised hand sanitizer! Very practical.

 


And of course you will still want to send out your Thanksgiving greetings!

 


Wishing you a wonderful time, however you are able to celebrate!


Creating Artwork on my IPad Pro

So, I thought I’d run you through the process of how I created these pictures using my IPad Pro and IPencil, including a timelapse from beginning to end (if you manage to stick with it!!)

Here’s the two finished pictures:

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Procreate is my go to app for my artwork, it’s brilliant! It has everything an artist could possibly want. Not to mention it makes awesome time lapses automatically. I find it quite fascinating when I look back through the stages of my art – I surprise myself at how often I flit and change my mind. But interesting to look back and see how a piece evolves!! I usually get there in the end, although sometimes I don’t. That’s the advantage with working on the IPad I guess, you can experiment to your hearts content, which is a great way to practice and learn. 🧡

 

If you’re not familiar with Procreate App, basically you can either use brushes to draw and paint from scratch or if you need a little help along the way as I sometimes do, you can use brush ‘stamps’ which can be anything from leaves and flowers, to figures and faces, and just about anything in between. The brushes are in any medium you could wish for …pencil, charcoal, Watercolor, acrylic etc. Yep. It’s amazing what you can turn that lil’ ol’ IPencil into! And no mess. Yay!!!!

 

And here’s the time lapse, followed by an explanation of what I was doing at each stage throughout. Scroll down to the bottom of page to see them on various products in store.

I do sometimes work totally from scratch (honest, gov!) but brush stamps can be a great timesaver. I have loads in my Procreate arsenal – all bought with the necessary commercial use licenses of course! So in this artwork for example, I used a combo of stamps alongside my own hand drawing, painting and blending. As you can see, this time I started with stamps for the lips and outline of the eyes although often I’ll draw these from scratch. I’d recently bought some great eye stamps so wanted to try them out.  I then colored the irises using the various blend modes which Procreate has to get a translucent effect for a sense of realism, and added lines and shadows for depth.  I used a stamp brush for the rather impressive eyelashes manipulating them with the warp tool to fit the eyes. 

 

Then came the face … I hand drew the shape and painted in the basic layer in flesh tones, then started experimenting with hair. As you can see lots of variations tried to no avail! So decided to leave the hair for a bit and concentrated on adding shading to the face and neck. I love adding and blending the different tones. It’s the point when the picture starts coming to life – literally taking shape! Procreate have a great blender tool which makes this a joy to do. Very therapeutic!!

 

Next stage was trying some background colors and opted for a blue watercolor at first. I used a stamp for the hand – I find those very tricky to draw from scratch 🤪 I colored in some rosey cheeks and eye shadow. Then back to hair! I opted for a hat (again using a stamp) which subsequently changed color! I eventually opted for abstract gold block type hair and blue for the dress. The nose took a while to get right as you can see! Noses can be make or break. I added a little more shading and some finishing touches such as gold stars and leaves using stamp brushes. Then saved it! 

 

A few days later I decided to use the same basic drawing for a different variation. I used the same Procreate doc, hence the timelapse continued to record as the new picture came together. I kept the actual face the same, but with some added brows. I felt no hand for this one and as it was on its own layer I was simply able to turn the layer off, and then tidy up the area underneath. I worked on the shading around the neck area. 

 

Then of course came the hair – more experimenting! I changed it to wavy long and black at first, and quite liked it simply black but couldn’t resist experimenting with autumnal colored strands in reds and browns on top of the black. I’ve bought some brilliant hair brushes for Procreate. I have loads now in fact, which is possibly why I spend so long working on hair, experimenting with the various brushes and colors. Unlike for the first picture where I didn’t use a hair brush, just a block type brush then added a gold texture on top.

For the dress, I used a collage technique, importing a patterned texture into the Procreate doc, and then rubbed out the edges to get the correct arm and shoulders shape. Lastly, I imported in licensed clip art leaves, and used some star stamps, which I colored in different shades, to finish it off.

So ready to go. I thought about which Zazzle products they would work best on so I could add them to my Zazzle store. As well as canvas wraps and posters, I chose some home decor, notepads, postcards, clocks and more. The beauty of Zazzle is that customers can transfer the artwork to other products too. Although the artwork may need adjusting a little to fit. 

Here’s the collection to date, please click if you wish to view in store.

Mad March 2020…AND SPRING CAME ANYWAY

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Who’d have thought when we were tucking into our Christmas dinners with our loved ones, that three months later the majority of us would be confined to our homes, with schools, shopping centres, restaurants, gyms, parks etc closed, empty shelves in the supermarkets, no online shopping slots and not be able to find those little necessities we usually take for granted – loo roll or soap, anyone? – for love nor money. And that “social distancing” would become the temporary norm and a commonly used phrase.

 

Nope. I doubt any of us could have imagined this surreal situation that we and the whole world have found ourselves in due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

 

Unbelievable isn’t it?

 

First and foremost, I hope you and your families are keeping safe and continue to do so.

 

It’s such a shame too for all the weddings and other parties and events that have had to be postponed. What an impact this is having on so many things!

Of course, along with everything else, for the time being, my photoshoots have been suspended, and at this time of writing, we have no idea when it will be deemed safe to start them again.

 

Luckily, I also have my Zazzle Print on Demand store which is keeping me sane through all this craziness! I am counting my blessings that I can continue to do what I love, working from home, as is the norm for me, and creating new designs and keeping my store up and running.  Strange though isn’t it, much as I adore working from home engrossed in my art and, in normal circumstances I have to drag myself away from my desk as I can’t get enough of it,  when you are being forced to stay indoors due to the current lockdown and isolation, all you want to do is get out and about!

 

How fortunate that we have apps like FaceTime and Zoom so we can virtually connect with our families and friends through all this, when we can’t physically get to see them. This week I am arranging a virtual “coffee morning” with my sister, and also an online get together with a group of friends, I expect with a glass of vino in our hands!  Obviously, we’ll be having lots of virtual meetups with our boys too.

 

I feel so much for some elderly folk, like my own mum. Not only do they have the extra worry of being in the most vulnerable category, many of them aren’t so internet savvy, or familiar with apps where they can use Facetime to speak to their loved ones, nor have access to things like Netflix to keep themselves occupied. Without being able to enjoy the same technology that lots of us use to entertain ourselves, even more so at the moment, boredom seeps in.

 

And heartfelt thanks to our doctors, nurses, care staff, emergency service workers, everyone working in the supermarkets and shops, postmen and delivery drivers and to anyone else playing a vital role right now, who are working so hard through this troubled time to keep us safe and fed and watered. Our Angels in Disguise for sure.

 

Dreadful as things are right now, I truly believe that positives will come from all of this and I know I am not alone in thinking along those lines.

 

Someone in the Zazzle forums posted a poem, which I found very uplifting with a very inspirational message.

 

I believe it was originally written by an Italian journalist named Irene Vella. The version posted below was translated into Dutch from the original Italian language, and then from Dutch into English. So, I’m not quite sure how closely it resembles the original words and some of the lines aren’t grammatically correct once translated into English, but the sentiment remains.

 

I am going to include the whole poem below, even though it is long. But I think it’s so very beautiful and maybe just what we need right now.

 

May you find it as inspiring as I did. Take good care of yourselves 😊

 

BUT SPRING DIDN’T KNOW…

It was early 2020
Winter had been long and dark,
February had been a very restless month with lots of storms and lots of rain
Nature was restless, as if she wanted to tell people something,
as if she wanted to warn people about something

 

And then came March

 

It was March 2020…
The streets were empty,
most of the shops were closed,
most of the cars stayed parked on the side of the road,
people almost never left their homes, all over the world,
countries were locked,
people couldn’t believe this was happening,
it was so surreal
Everyone knew what was going on

But Spring… did not know
And the flowers started blooming
And the sun was shining
The first beautiful spring day since long arrived
And the swallows came back
And the sky turned pink and blue
It got dark later and early in the morning the light came through the windows

 

It was March 2020…
Youngsters studied online from home
Inevitably, children played mainly at home
Adolescents were bored, parents did not know what to do
People only came outside for shopping or to walk the dog
Almost everything was closed
Even the offices, hotels, restaurants and bars
The army began to guard exits and borders
People had to work from home
Entrepreneurs ran into problems
Most children were no longer able to go to school
Suddenly there was not enough room for everyone in hospitals, operations and investigations were postponed
Everyone knew what was going on

 

But Spring… did not know and it sprung
She imperturbably continued her annual program
She gave us her most beautiful flowers and her most wonderful scents

 

It was March 2020…
Everyone was quarantined at home for health or preventive reasons
Some people were no longer allowed to go to work, others had to
Hugging, kissing or shaking hands was suddenly a threat
Everyone had to keep a good distance from each other,
All sorts of shelves were empty in the supermarket
All kinds of fun things were canceled,
a lot of things had to end and nobody knew when that would pass
People were limited in their freedom while there was peace
All over the world, many people got sick and it was contagious
There was isolation, illness and panic
And then the fear became real!

And the days all looked the same
And the weeks suddenly lasted much longer
And everyone hoped that no more strict measures would follow
People were stuck in a movie and hoped for the hero every day
The world had slowed down when it wasn’t a vacation,
nobody expected this
Everyone knew what was happening

 

But Spring… did not know, and the roses continued to bloom
The Magnolia was budding
And the birds started building their nests

 

And then…

It was the year in which people recognized the importance of health and connection,
of togetherness,
of social contacts and perhaps also of their vocation,
this did something to the collective consciousness,
this did something with all people
The economy almost went under,
but it didn’t stop, it reinvented itself
It was the year when the world seemed to stop,
the year we would get into the history books together…
We all knew that

But Spring… did not know
And the flowers continued to bloom, and the trees sprouted
The weather was getting warmer
And more and more birds appeared

And then…Came the day of liberation…
People watched TV and were told… the emergency was over
And that the virus had lost!
That everyone had won TOGETHER!
And then everyone took to the streets…
With tears in their eyes…
Without masks and gloves…
Neighbours hugging as if they were brothers
And the world had become more beautiful and more loving
And people had become more humane
And they again had values ​​and norms
People’s hearts were open again,
which had positive consequences
And because everything had stood still, the earth could breathe again,
she too was healed of what people had done to her earlier

 

And then Summer came

Because Spring… didn’t know
And she was still there
Despite everything
Despite the virus
Despite the fear
Despite death


Because Spring didn’t know, everyone learned… the power of life

Sharing is Caring – Best Sellers on Zazzle

Having a Zazzle Store isn’t just about promoting your own stuff. Oh no sireeee!!! There are millions of incredible designers on there, so the product range is quite simply out of this world!

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Being a part of this wonderful community is amazing, and it’s great to be able to support fellow artists and photographers. There are lots of Facebook Groups for “Zazzlers” and which is brilliant to chat to like minded folk and share tips and tricks and help each other with any issues along the way.

Some of my blog posts are all about store highlights, both from my own store and other designers. Today is all about Zazzle’s best sellers and I’m happy to promote some of the recent ones here for you to see. I haven’t specified a particular theme or product this time just highlighting a diverse range of what’s been selling best recently from a range of Zazzle stores.

Zazzle are very encouraging for us to share each others’ stores and goods, so I do get a small commission should you choose to make a purchase through any of my links at no extra cost to yourself.

Have fun browsing! Don’t forget if you’re looking for a unique gift, easy personalisation is the key to a lot of Zazzle stuff and that makes the pressie all the more special for your recipient.

Here goes then …

Beach Please!

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Loads of New Beach Themed Items in Store NOW! SCROLL DOWN TO SEE THEM!

It’s July and the sun is shining here in the UK. Yay!! We’re making the most of it! It inspired me to do lots of beach and summery designs for my store – how could I resist in this glorious sunshine? From stylish home decor with a summer vibe -ideal for beach house and vacation homes or just to bring a little bit of summer into your home all year round – to trendy clothing and totes with beach themes to get you hot footing to the seaside in style!

Here’s some highlights from the new beach theme goodies I have in in store!  I especially love the new wooden display blocks Zazzle have recently introduced. They are perfect for presenting beach and seaside designs as they bring a true rustic feel! I bet they’ll look great in holiday homes and bahrooms with a beach theme.

Hope you enjoy browsing the new products! Wishing you a fabulous summer and a happy vacation wherever you may be off to!

My Two Hats!

 

Here we are almost at another summer holidays already and another year zooming by! There’s been lots going on here!  Read on and I will explain all!

 

 

 

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So what’s this all about…two hats??   Well, since opening my Zazzle store, I now split my time wearing the two hats, so to speak. Romsey Fotografix being one, and my Zazzle Store – Fotografixgal Designs, t’other.

 

 

Now please don’t get me wrong. Just because I have found a new love in my Zazzle store, doesn’t mean I’m no longer “in love” with my photography and Romsey Fotografix. Nah, not at all, that’s still my baby. As we all know, when the second “baby” comes along, you love it just as much don’t you, if you’ll forgive the analogy!  I guess what I’m saying is, it’s possible to love two babies equally.

 

 

Of course, finding time to devote to each and give them both my all has meant a little compromising. I have cut back on my photoshoots, which means that I can still devote the time necessary for each photo session and the subsequent edit and correspondence, and thus maintain the standard of customer service I like to give.  My time is split about 50/50. Best of both worlds!

 

 

I do my photoshoots at the weekends and edits early in the week afterwards, and the rest of my  time I devote to designing for my Zazzle store. This really has become such a passion for me, I can’t tell you just how much I enjoy it! Haha my friends and family know exactly how much as I do go on about it a lot!!!

 

 

 

Running a Zazzle store is actually quite complex, it’s not just a question of designing and plonking it onto any old products if you want to progress and do well on there. When I first started on there about a year ago, I had no idea at all about best practices for it and it was frustrating not to be making many sales at the time. I took the step of investing in some fantastic training from Elke Clarke one of Zazzle’s top sellers.  I can honestly say it was the best money I ever spent and am so pleased I decided to go for it. I’m sure I would never have got so far so quickly on my own. It’s been onwards and upwards since putting into practice everything I learnt (and am still learning).  The training from Elke doesn’t just stop when you finish the course, so you’re not left high and dry. She has a private Facebook group and does regular live sessions so we can ask her anything we need to know. She also assesses our stores if we ask her to and tells us how we can improve and what we’re doing right and wrong which has been invaluable.  A year in, and I’m delighted to say my sales are really starting to take off which has been very encouraging. Ironically, my most popular items are wedding stationery, photo gifts and photo blocks – so the “sisters” Romsey Fotografix and Fotografixgal Designs do cross paths in some ways!  Oh and not forgetting inspirational/motivational quote products, I have loads in store, which I decided to do not only because I love this sort of thing myself, but I reckoned they would be popular as you see them in shops all over the place nowadays don’t you. And indeed they have become bestsellers for me – I’m always racking my brains so I can add new ones.

 

 

In the main I use my Instagram and Pinterest accounts to promote my Zazzle store. Social Media takes such a lot of time to get it right. There’s quite a strategy involved if you want to keep your loyal following entertained. I’m pretty sure I haven’t got it all sussed but I do my best :)

 

 

I’m a firm believer in doing what you love most in life, after all you only get one shot at it (excuse the photography related pun!!) Grab those opportunities as they arise!    You gotta be content and fulfilled in your work!!

I have found my very Happy Place.

 

 

 

 

The secret of being happy is accepting where you are in life and making the most out of every day.

Anonymous

5 Undeniable Reasons to Love A Cup Of Positivity

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I have a sign by the bed which is probably the first thing I see when I wake up.

 

It simply says

 

 

TODAY IS A GOOD DAY TO SMILE

 

Nothing fancy, just those few words. But powerful none the less. A little bit of positivity for the start of my day.

 

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Right. I put it out there – I’m a huge fan of inspirational quotes and messages. My Instagram feed is full of them and all sorts of goodies with different kinds of quotes on, from inspiring to funny, feature a lot in my Zazzle Store!

 

 

Methinks I’m not alone in this, judging by the number you see on social media, and on loads of items in shops wherever you go – from pillows to mugs, on clothing, fridge magnets, cards, notebooks, cosmetic bags, crockery, etc. etc. and of course posters and signs and wall art.

 

 

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Very popular. There’s something about emotive quotes that really draws you in, especially on any with words you personally resonate with.

 

 

How great for giving too! What better way to show you care than by sending someone a gift or card with a message of encouragement or positive vibes. Nothing like being told how great we are to make our day!

 

 

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So here’s what I reckon are the 5 undeniable reasons to Love a Cup of Positivity …

 

  •  Brings The Feel Good Factor

 

 

 

When you feel good about yourself, it makes it simpler to feel positive about other things in life generally. Encouraging messages help you to believe in yourself more and therefor feel good about yourself.

 

 

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  • Creates a Positive Vibe

 

 

 

When you have a positive attitude – it’s catching! People around you respond to it, which in turn makes for a happier atmosphere around you which makes everything much more bearable to deal with.

 

 

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  • Helps to get us through Life’s Challenges

 

 

 

No one ever said it would be easy – nope! Life throws all sorts of stuff at us, both good and bad, sometimes it’s hard, even virtually impossible to stay positive through it all. It actually takes practice to keep positive and upbeat but truly worth it.

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Obviously you can’t be happy about every situation but simply trying to find a positive from a negative situation, and possibly learn from it, will certainly help to make you feel better.

 

 

 

 

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  • Reminds us to feel grateful for what we have

 

 

 

 

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“The world has enough beautiful mountains and meadows, spectacular skies and serene lakes. It has enough lush forests, flowered fields, and sandy beaches. It has plenty of stars and the promise of a new sunrise and sunset every day. What the world needs more of is people to appreciate and enjoy it.” Michael Josephson

 

 

 

 

When I read  The Secret by Rhonda Byrne a couple of years ago, I got a lot from it. It was actually quite a turning point for me. I was inspired to set up a Law of Attraction Board on Pinterest.

 
One of the most important things I learned was to remind myself of all the things I have to feel grateful about every day.

 

 
Being grateful has a very profound and positive effect on the way we feel; it makes us more optimistic and kind, less judgemental, so just generally makes for a happier and kinder person to be around, which again, is contagious!

 

 

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  • Just Because

 

 

 

I guess they’re not for everyone, but there’s no denying inspirational quotes are hugely popular right now.  They can be amusing, emotional, encouraging; they virtually give us “permission” to be who or what we want to be so we can go ahead and just do it!

 

 

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As I see it, there can be no harm in spreading joy and comfort with kind, inspiring and motivational messages, whether it be on your social media sites, on presents you give, or just getting it out there on a T shirt!

 

 

 

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And if you fancy more of the same, I expect it won’t surprise you to know I’m always  Pinning inspiring words – Pinterest has millions!

 

 

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“Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, more talented than you know, and capable of more than you imagine”  Roy T. Bennett

2019 Wedding Trends

 

Wow!  You said Yes!!! Whoohoo! Congratulations!!!

 

How exciting – now the fun begins!!

 

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No matter how far ahead your big day, from here on in, I bet it will be uppermost in your mind! So much to think about, where to start?!

 

I guess you’ve already decided on a venue and managed to get the date you wanted! You’re on your way!!

 

Now’s a perfect time to send out some Save The Date cards to your intended guests – and maybe treat yourself to a Wedding Planner notebook so you can jot down everything that springs to mind and that needs organising, and a file to put all the paperwork you’ll accumulate, so you have everything in one place and know exactly where to find it. I expect you’ll want to keep everything stored on your computer or mobile or tablet too, sensible idea! But nothing quite like a handwritten journal as well – makes a lovely keepsake for years to come too!

 

So, what are the wedding trends for 2019?

 

No doubt you’ll be on Pinterest pinning ideas right, left and centre, maybe trying to find something a little bit different. Gosh, so much to choose from – colors, styles, decor, and all those wonderful little touches and favors that make every wedding unique! No need to worry about those at this stage though.  One step at a time, otherwise you’ll be completely overwhelmed by it all!

 

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First things first … you may already have a favourite color scheme in mind, or are you just open to any ideas and inspiration? Your wedding venue may be the inspiration for the style and colors you decide on.  If you’re having an outdoor barn wedding, rustic may be the way to go. Or maybe you’re getting wed in a church followed by a reception in a 5 star hotel, so perhaps an elegant watercolor floral design with a geometric frame.

 

You’ll find oodles of choice on Zazzle, oh yes!!  As a designer in the Zazzle marketplace, I have been researching trends for this coming wedding season. I’ve discovered that less is more in lots of respects, from minimalist, yet elegant wedding stationery suites, through to nature inspired plants in wooden or ceramic containers, pampas grasses and even elements such as crystals and stones for table pieces.

 

Color schemes are a little more flexible for this year; it’s popular to just blend colors together in similar tones, rather than have the colors matching exactly. It’s a great idea to have bridesmaids in various styles of dresses along the same lines, and in different tones of the same color, or similar colors, so they look coordinated but not in a rigid way. Added plus – each of your bridal party can chose a style they feel most comfortable in.

 

Richer and bolder colors are proving popular, such as shades of orange, berry, yellow and red.  Sage green, coupled with earthy tones such as taupe, beige and soft greys; blush pink with greys or navy; copper with rose pink; dusty orange with earthy creams and browns; sunshine yellow with shades of pale green and burgundy; berry pink matched with bluey grey tones; dusty blues; and pretty corals are right on trend.

 

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ACCESSORIES AND FINISHING TOUCHES

And then there’s your dress – where to start with that! Sometimes it’s better to have a completely open mind, as if you try and find that “dream dress” you have pictured in your mind you may be disappointed! I had a very specific style and color of dress in mind for when Lee and I renewed our wedding vows a couple of years ago – could I find anything like it? No of course not – unless I had got it custom made and there was no way I was going to do that!! In the end I found a beautiful outfit, completely different to what I had had in mind, but I was thrilled with it none the less.  You’ll have no problem finding your perfect dress I’m sure – there are a lot out there to choose from!! I’m sure you’ll get plenty of inspiration from bridal magazines and Pinterest and try quite a few on before you find “the one” but once you do, you’ll just know it’s right! Here’s a little inspiration to get you going. Awww, Gorgeous eh!!

 

Mustn’t forget the handsome groom and his groomsmen! Lots of dapper ideas for them too!

 

Today’s couples have become very environmentally-aware when arranging their wedding and look for creative ways to save on waste on their big day – these ideas prove that having an eco-friendly wedding doesn’t mean having to scrimp on style.

 

You’ll also be thinking of ordering your cake and booking a florist – and don’t forget to arrange your photographer and vidoographer in good time too!

 

Once you’ve sorted all the main stuff, the fun begins deciding on those all important little finishing touches that will be unique to you and make your day unforgettable! It can be tempting to go overboard as there are so many brilliant ideas around and you can end up going round in circles trying to decide which best suit your day so hopefully this link will help you on your way!

 

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The best advice I can give is to try and not get too stressed out by all the planning and panic as the big day gets nearer about tings that might not go as smoothly as planned.  There is naturally a lot of anxiety in the build up, but we’ve had the joy of photographing a lot of weddings over the years and all in all they go just fine despite any little mishaps that might occur last minute. Your guests will enjoy it all no matter what, as will you. At the end of the day, it’s the happiness you share as a couple, the joy of entering into wedded bliss and the looking forward to your future together that are the most important things.  So relax, revel in the excitement of the planning, then enjoy and make the most of every second of your special day and cherish the lovely memories it will bring for years to come.

 

I wish you every happiness!

 

 

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