How To Plan The Perfect Wedding

Ella and Will are sitting at a table in a pub, playing a card game. They are smiling at each other.-this is a contributed post-

Whether you have spent your life dreaming of the perfect wedding, or you have only recently come around to the idea of getting married, you’ll want the day to be perfect. But with so much to think about when it comes to having a wedding, where do you even start with the planning?

There is a great deal of stress associated with planning a wedding – trust me, I know! So how can you cut down on the stress that you’re under so that you can relax and enjoy what should be one of the best days of your life? 

Getting Inspiration

When starting out on your wedding planning journey, the first thing that you should do is look for inspiration for the wedding that you want. There are hundreds of different styles ranging from glam, to rustic, to full-on themed weddings.

You may have a clear idea in your mind about what you want already, but having a visual guide to the ideas that you have in your mind will make it easier for you to communicate your wishes to your wedding vendors. Start a scrapbook or a Pinterest board to collate all of the images that relate to your wedding concept. 

Booking Your Venue

One of the first things that you’ll need to do is to book your wedding venues. If you plan on marrying in the same place as you host your reception, this will be easier, otherwise, you will need to check that there is availability at both the service venue and the reception venue for the date that you want. 

You may want to look for an Exclusive Use Wedding Venue. This will mean that you will have the run of the entire venue to yourself and your guests and you won’t have to think about whether there are any other parties going on nearby.

Styling Your Wedding Your Own Way 

While many people will opt for a very traditional wedding, you don’t have to if you don’t want to. This is your wedding, and you should do it your own way. Check out some alternative weddings for some inspiration of how wild you can leave your imagination run. 

Hiring a Photographer  

Your wedding should be one of the most memorable days of your life. That is why you’ll want to have a photographer there to help to preserve the memories. 

When choosing a photographer, don’t be persuaded by the price that they charge. You will get what you pay for. Don’t just rely on a friend with a camera to take all of the pictures for the day either – you’ll have these photos FOREVER – do you really want to cut corners?

A good wedding photographer should cost a sizeable chunk of your wedding budget. You’re paying for someone’s time for the entire day and potentially dozens of hours sorting and editing the photos so that they are the best that they can be. 

Remember, your wedding is your own though, so you should always do what is right for you – don’t get persuaded into choosing what other people want. It should be fun and not stressful, so make sure you find the time to enjoy the actual day.

Five Tips For Growing Your Side-Hustle

pot plant in a pink pot, next to a side-hustle notebook with a pen laid across it. A cup of coffee sits next to them in an orange mug which reads go get em

2020 is the year of the side hustle. COVID-19 has allowed thousands of people to take a little bit of time off ‘real life’, and put their efforts into their passions. Whether that’s freelance writing, a craft business or even making artisan jam, it’s getting to the point where people are actually seeing that they could make a profit from their humble hobbies and side-hustles.

For the last two years, I’ve been doing what was once my side-hustle full-time. It took a while, not going to lie – but I got there and I am never going to look back. Honestly, the idea of going back to an office, unless it’s completely on my own terms, fills me with dread. 

I’m not a side-hustle genius, everyone is on their own journey, and what works for one may not work for another, but there are a few fool-proof things you can do to give you side-hustle the best chance of growing into something that can sustain you full-time.

Organise Your Day

Organisation is important, and planning out your day properly is essential. I can’t stress the importance of having a good to-do list! We all have the same amount of hours in the day to work with, so how could you go about utilising yours more? Don’t worry, there might be periods within the day that you get lethargic or procrastinate, and that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with having a quick flick through Instagram, or a scroll through Twitter – none of us can be productive all of the time. Just don’t let it consume your day. I always do the thing that I’m dreading most, first thing. It’s called ‘eating the frog’. Just do it, and everything else will be easier to deal with and you won’t have that one thing hanging over you.

Outsource What You Can’t Do On Your Own

I can only speak from my own experience, but outsourcing can really help your business, regardless of whether you’ve just started it or you’ve been going for a while It can be hard to manage all the things that need doing with the limited time you have. Personally, I’m looking to take on an intern if I can, to help me with all of those little fiddly bits I keep pushing back but which need to be done – I usually end up doing them at the weekend and I really want to reclaim that time! If you have a side hustle, you probably don’t have the full day to take advantage of, so it’s worth outsourcing some of the tasks out to companies or individuals who can help. Companies like OBT exist to help individuals and businesses to utilise their time more by taking some of the workload needed.

Use Social Media Like A Personal Billboard

It’s important to not shy away from social media because every man and his dog is on some form of social media, even if it’s just to observe what other people are doing. I use Twitter and Instagram to promote and grow my business, to interact with others in the same space and also to spot opportunities! For your side-hustle, you should be making use of this huge global potential that social media can offer – don’t write it off.

Listen To Criticism

It can be super hard to listen to feedback about your side job. Like, it’s your baby right? It’s personal to you and that’s great, but there is a danger that what you’re doing is too close to you and you can’t see the woods from the trees. Take constructive criticism for what it is and see it as an opportunity for growth and learning.

Sell Yourself (Not Like That)

When you’re running a side-business, every social occasion, whether it’s with family, friends, colleagues, or on a professional level, can be an opportunity for a conversation about what you do and how you can help them. Don’t shy away from promoting yourself or your business. For me, it’s as simple as asking if people have a handle on their internal comms, or if they’ve someone in-house for their blog work. Often they haven’t, and BINGO, I’ve set up a pitch call for the following week.

You’ve worked hard to get where you are right now – tell people about it! Grab some business cards with your website, social handles and most importantly your NAME, so people don’t forget you.

Good luck, I can’t wait to see what you can achieve! Keep me updated?

The Jones Wedding Update – August 2020

Man and woman in front of hen do and tag do balloons drinking prosecco and orange juice

I know I say this EVERY time – but I can’t believe how MUCH time has gone by, yet again. Last update, we had accepted that we’d not be able to go ahead with the 23rd May, as COVID-19 had well and truly sunk its claws into 2020 and wasn’t letting go. 

We arranged a new date of 3rd October 2020, not thinking by any stretch of the imagination (possibly naively) that things would still be as bad. Well – haven’t we been mugged off.

The May date passed by, and while we had a lovely day by ourselves, with all of our friends and family supporting us from a distance, it was still so sad knowing that we were supposed to have been married that day. Although, the weather was shit to be honest, so maybe best. 

As we sailed through June and July, we slowly came to the realisation that we just wouldn’t be able to have the day we’d planned in October, especially with the guest limitations.

So, rather than postponing again, William and I have decided to carry on with our wedding ceremony on 3rd October, and push back the big wedding day until next year. This way, we get to have a tiny, intimate ceremony with our parents and siblings –  and still look forward to a celebration with everyone who’s supported us, in 2021. 

Although it’s sad we can’t have the full day in October, we just really want to be married to one another and don’t want to wait for what is essentially a party.

So, here we are – only 39 days out until we’re officially Mr and Mrs Jones – the closest we’ve ever got.

We can’t wait! x

4 Ways to Enjoy Your Wedding Day – Despite The Pandemic

Apple laptop, a white pen and a clipboard with a piece of white paper which says wedding list on it
How are we already in August, guys?

What a real rollercoaster ride this year has been so far, and it’s definitely double the headache if you had or still have wedding plans to organise for 2020. There’s an update to come from me about ours…stay tuned!

Some areas in the UK are slowly easing the lockdown restrictions and along with that, venues are allowing for social gatherings – although they are still limited in number. Importantly it means that you can still go ahead and marry the person of your dreams. COVID or not, you are going to enjoy your day and I wanted to share with you to ensure you can do just that.

Have a wedding run-through

Although most venues and registrars have done this hundreds of times before, it’s likely this is the first time you’ve been married, so it’s not surprising that you’re not sure what to do, where to stand, where to walk. They will probably offer it, or just ask your venue if you can have a little run through with your main wedding party – who stands where and when people come into the room. When I found out my venue offered this, I was over the moon as I was worrying about people getting all mixed up and confused. Ease your mind and have a practice run.

Plan your party ahead of time

After the wedding ceremony is over, it’s time to kick back, enjoy and celebrate with your friends and family. Although numbers are still limited, I’ve seen plenty of wedding entertainment still going ahead – we’ve been offered small jazz bands, for example. Whether you prefer a DJ or you are looking for live music for your wedding, the decision is ultimately a question of personal taste. However, before you make your decision, there are some other things you need to take into consideration. Firstly, consider the size of your venue – is there enough space for the band, DJ and dance floor? How long should the band play, and how loud? What is your music style or your preferred genre? Once these details are all ironed out, and the entertainment is taken care of, then you can place your focus on other areas of your wedding.

After all that organising, share the load!

A great way to make sure you enjoy the day is to share the load. I’ve got a lot of suppliers coming in on the day and I will be so focused on – you know, marrying the love of my life – that I won’t want anyone to bother me. However, I’m the one who organised my wedding day, and I’m the one who knows all the details. My photographer told me a great way to get round this. If you know that you’re a control freak, then before the day arrives, consider making lists beforehand. Have a list of everything that has to be done on the wedding day, as well as a list of the day’s schedule and contact details for each supplier and whether they have been paid or not.

When the day comes, simply hand over your list to someone reliable (or a couple, we’ve chosen people who are less likely to get hammered) who can iron out any last minute details to ensure that your day runs smoothly.

Get rid of your phone

Another way to have a stress-free wedding day is to consider either giving your phone to a bridesmaid or to leave it somewhere out of sight completely, like in your hotel room. Sorry to say, but that phone is going to be ringing off the hook because you’ll be surprised by the amount of guests who will call unable to find the location – like you have any time for that! You’ve hired a photographer for the photos and no one wants to be perusing social media on their wedding day – so leave it behind! Like the lists, hand over last-minute details to someone who you trust to cover them.

I’m so excited that weddings for 2020 are still going ahead and like I say, stay tuned for our update soon. It’s such a lovely light at the end of the tunnel when back in March, we were all faced with our perfectly planned days crumbling in front of our eyes. We’ll all get there in the end!

Lots of love,
Ex

Kiev, Ukraine: 5 Things To Know Before You Go

couple in Kiev, Ukraine carrying small monkeys

I surprised William with a trip to Chernobyl a while back and whilst I’ve made a video about that separately, I never got round to telling you about Kiev, where we stayed. Kiev is the capital of Ukraine and where you’ll likely fly into. It’s about two hours drive from Chernobyl.

We’ve always liked going off the beaten track a little bit, so whilst we haven’t yet visited classic places such as Rome, or Paris for a romantic break, we thought nothing of packing our rucksacks to go and explore lesser-known Ukraine. 

Chernobyl was a whole experience in itself and I will follow up the video with a full overview of THAT experience, but for now, here’s a few things we thought we should pass on if you want to experience Kiev. 

We absolutely loved it and are hoping to go back at some point to explore more; we never seem to have enough time to squeeze the experience out of a place!

1. You Can’t Take Currency With You

The Ukrainian Hryvnia is a closed currency, which basically means that you won’t be able to get any from your local Bureau de Change before you go. We couldn’t, and I was super paranoid because I like carrying at least £50 in local currency wherever we go, just in case. However, when you’re there it’s easy to grab some from the airport ATMs – off the top of my head I don’t think the fee was too much at all. After this, you can find ATMs all around the city, and many places will take debit and credit cards. Depending on where you ask, some places will also take Euros. Another tip: if you’ve got cash spare before you leave, you may as well spend it because you likely won’t be able to change it when you’re back in your country. FYI, as of June 2020, £1 is 33.21 UAH.

2. The Food Is Awesome

I have a rule that when I’m in a different country, I try to eat as much local cuisine as possible. To that end, we sought out little local boutique restaurants for our meals. Sometimes, especially when there are dodgy English translations, it’s hard to know what you’re ordering, but to be honest, it was so cheap that you can order a selection of things to try. The best thing I tried were these little boiled dumplings filled with meat and soaked in butter (Varenyky). The amount of different cheese, pastries and sweets on offer was insane and I wished that I couldn’t get full up so I could carry on. The worst I had was this stew which on top wasn’t bad – it was rich meat and cheese, but underneath was this thick, bland wallpaper paste that I later discovered was cornmeal (Banosh) – vile. We also both tried the local Borscht – a beetroot soup that we both absolutely haaaated but everyone seems to eat so much of it that we must be wrong.

Woman standing in front of 1970 Chernobyl welcome sign

3. Hire A Guide 

We’re arrogant little buggers and prefer to be left on our own when we’re travelling, doing some research beforehand and going to find landmarks and figuring things out ourselves. Whilst this is good in some respects, we sometimes don’t get the most well-rounded experience. This was super true in Kiev. We went to visit Kyiv Pechersk Lavra which was a monastery in some underground caves. It was an incredible experience but we didn’t have a CLUE what we were looking at or what we should be doing. Everything is in the Cyrillic alphabet as Ukraine is not as geared towards tourists as other countries. This is a great thing on one hand as everything feels unsullied and authentic, but on the other, it can be difficult to get around!

Two moments that stick out in my mind are when we entered a church and began to look around, but were told off for walking on the carpet by someone – god knows why! Secondly, women were wrapping up modestly to go into the caves (as you would when you visit a Thai temple for example), but some weren’t. I just looked helplessly at a woman and she wrapped a scarf round my legs (I was wearing jeans and a big coat) and sent me in. I’m sure there’s a good reason, but it didn’t make sense to us – having a guide that day would have been great and if we did it again, we’d get one.

4. People Will Be Surprised You’re There

Lots of people we met, especially people drinking in bars and waiting staff appeared shocked and surprised we were visiting, especially when we told them we’re from London. After watching a band in a bar one night, I asked if they were on Instagram so I could keep up with their journey as they were bloody good. They were so excited that we were going to be FOLLOWERS from LONDON we were a bit taken aback. I’m not sure really why this is, so if someone knows, let me know! We went to Kiev pre-HBO Chernobyl, so with the worldwide interest garnered from that, I’m not sure if this will have changed. 

Another thing we noticed is that people were really interested in asking about the UK and London especially. I think the reason for this is that whilst it’s easy for us to visit the Ukraine, the UK has a  disproportionately strict visa policy towards allowing Ukrainian residents to visit us. 

5. It’s Cold!

After underestimating Berlin in February, I came prepared to Ukraine with thermals. However, getting out of the taxi during a blizzard and trying to find our hotel was a SHOCK. We did go in February though, so with temperatures hitting about -7 to -10 for us, either go later in the year or go prepared!

Couple standing in front of Chernobyl ferris wheel

Finally…is Kiev safe?

People ask this question quite a lot of us, and I’m going to go with yes. I never felt unsafe once whilst out there. For the most part, people are either very friendly or ignore you completely. We did see some police presence (and obviously military in Chernobyl) but nothing worrying. As always when visiting another country, it is best to be courteous, kind – and if you’re not sure – ask with a smile and bang out the old Google Translate.

Have you been to Kiev or do you want to go?