How To Travel Safely During A Pandemic

-this post is contributed-

It’s safe to say that people worldwide are missing being able to pack up and jet off whenever they want to experience the world. From spur of the moment trips to carefully planned holidays abroad, the lack of travel plans in people’s lives can really be a depressing thought. 

We got married in early October (two months ago now – going so quickly!) and we’re yet to have a honeymoon. Not essential, not too awful in the grand scheme of things, but irritating and sad nonetheless. We love nothing more than packing our rucksacks and heading off into the unknown.

With the world ever-changing, rules are constantly being reexamined and new information updated, and it can be hard to keep up and know exactly what it is safe to do and what to avoid. That doesn’t mean you should avoid planning holidays – especially for 2021!

Even the thought of getting away in the distant future can be a goal on the horizon to look forward to in the coming months. We are planning to travel in 2021 if we can, heading to Thailand on our honeymoon for a month, and then a week in NYC at another point in the year. We’ve been planning for months, so all we need now is the go ahead to travel safely.

So, what are the best ways to prepare for travel in a pandemic?

Travel Corridors

The UK has set up safe travel corridors to specific countries, meaning you can travel there when it is safe to do so depending on current UK restrictions and tier levels. Countries on the safe list mean you do not need to isolate on your return. Check this daily to keep up to date with changes in the upcoming weeks before your travel date. This will allow you time to prepare should the rules change between now and your arrival/departure date. Things are changing every day, and there’s no guarantee a ‘safe’ destination won’t be added to the ‘do not travel’ list – so bear that in mind.

COVID Test

You’ll likely have to take a COVID test to prove you do not have the virus, leading up to your travel plans. You can do this through the Government scheme, or if you’re short on time or can’t get a test, go private. Taking a private fit to fly test will give you and your travel providers peace of mind that you have taken the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe before you travel.

Travel Insurance

Obtaining sufficient travel insurance is vital. Firstly you need to make sure you are covered for your destination and any pre-existing health conditions. Secondly, you need to check the small print and make sure your plans and indeed yourself are covered in the event of a positive COVID test. The last thing you want is to be stuck in a foreign country after catching the virus and then be unable to cover medical or accommodation costs. Ensure that you are covered before you travel, and you know what to do in the event of being unfit to return home due to a positive COVID test.

Isolation Rules

As I mentioned above, when discussing travel corridors from the UK for foreign countries, you need to be aware of rules regarding travel and isolation upon arrival at your destination. Having to isolate for 7, 10 or 14 days can seriously eat into your holiday time, especially if it is a short trip. It may be that you need to consider travelling elsewhere or not at all if you will need to spend the majority of your trip inside. There are fines applicable in destinations with this type of restrictions should you be found to be breaking the rules. The same applies to your return to the UK. Follow UK guidance on when you should isolate upon your return.

Look, we all miss travel. It’s such a shame and a kicker in the horrible year that has been 2020. However, I just implore you to simply travel safely, to avoid putting not only yourself at risk, but others too. Your holiday isn’t worth infecting other people – and the destination will still be there when we can travel more freely. Think it through and do the right thing.

The Jones Wedding Update – October 2020 – WE DID IT!

Image of a bride and groom in front of a green background of bushes. Bride carried a bouquet of pink roses and eucalyptus. Groom wears a matching rose in his buttonhole

Well, it felt like it took far too long to get here, but I finally get to say it. On 3rd October 2020 at 2pm, we became man and wife.

Most of you know that we had to postpone our 120 person wedding back in March 2020, as coronavirus took over (I literally never want to hear that word again?). We pushed it back until October, not knowing that the c-word was very much still going to be out in force.

Bride looks into the camera holding bouquet of pink roses and eucalyptus while mother of the bride in a red dress looks into the distance

The decision was taken out of our hands again on 22nd September when Boris Johnson announced that only 15 people could attend a wedding ceremony and reception (a reduction from the original 30). I had a LOT to say about this, and most of you who follow me on social media will have seen that I was on BBC, ITV, Sky News and BBC London Radio talking about the stress the restrictions are putting couples under across England, as well as the impact on the wedding industry – and events in general. It was a whole thing. I was on telly every day for five days. Can I just say, I’d hate to be a celeb? It was exhausting!

Our COVID wedding

LUCKILY, we’d decided to reduce our numbers down to 12 (including us) anyway, so we didn’t face the heartbreaking task of having to ring people and uninvite them, like many others had to do. We chose to just have our parents, siblings and my friend Lucy attend.

Bride and groom sign the registry book after saying their vows. The groom holds the pen and both look down as he signs his signature.

It was honestly the best day of my life, the proudest I’ve ever been. We were so worried about it as we’d been told the restrictions were so intense. We weren’t going to be have a toast, throw confetti and all of the other things you’d like to do on your wedding day. But none of it mattered.

Thankfully because we were such a small group, allowances were made in that we were allowed pictures after the ceremony together and to throw that bloody confetti! We had hired the upstairs of a restaurant with a 15 capacity, so we just jolly well got on with it and ate, drank and enjoyed the day.

People keep saying nice things like hope you had a lovely day even though it wasn’t what you wanted – but realistically, it was exactly what we wanted. We wanted to stand opposite each other and bond ourselves together – which we did.

A groom smiles at his new bride after signing the marriage registry book. Their witnesses stand either side of them.

When the registrar left my room after my pre-marriage interview and it was time to go downstairs to see my husband-to-be, everything melted away and I truly wasn’t bothered whether there was 10, 50, 120 or 500 people waiting to see us tie the knot – all that mattered was him and I.

I don’t have much advice for other brides and grooms who are affected by coronavirus, except to really think about what you want. Who knows how long this will go on for? Yes of course, the planning and the vision you have for your wedding may not work out exactly, but does it matter? Realistically? Regardless, you need to do what YOU want to do and bugger everyone else to be quite frank. It’s not their wedding, it’s yours.

A bride stands next to her bridesmaid and holds a pink roses bouquet with eucalyptus. The bridesmaid wears a pink mid-thigh dress. Both are smiling.

Jones Wedding 2.0?

I’ve added a few never-before-seen pictures of our little COVID wedding here, but most of the pictures and details of the day I’m keeping back. I don’t really know why. I think maybe it’s because it was so lovely and intimate, I’m not willing to bring too many people into it, as it was perfect the way it was.

We’ve still got the renewal of the vows and big party booked in for April 2021, but whether we can go ahead with that is anyone’s guess. Of course, we’d love to go ahead with it to celebrate and give everyone the party they’ve been waiting for, but if for whatever reason we can’t, I won’t be too upset. This was enough.

Sincerely,

Mrs Jones x

A bride and groom sit at the table where they have signed their marriage document. Their family (five on each side) surrounds them. Everyone is smiling.

How To Accessorise With Jewellery

Photo by Joeyy Lee on Unsplash - white skin tone hands wearing gold jewellery including rings and bracelets

-this post is contributed-

I was never really one for much jewellery, preferring to stick to simple silver studs and a couple of thin silver rings on one hand. However, in more recent years I’ve been making up for lost time and really embracing a new love of rings, bracelets and necklaces. I love how one simple thing can tie together or change an outfit entirely, and I am always blown away by the choices on offer.

If you’re reading this, chances are you already know that the way you dress can make you feel more confident. Your accessories can also play a big part in the way you style your outfits, and the way you feel about what you’re wearing. Jewellery can be hard to get right though – I’ve had a few hard lessons – but there are some ways that you can accessorise with jewellery to enhance your outfit, and not detract from it. 

Here are a few things I’ve learnt along the way…

Keep It To One Statement Piece

This is a classic rule for accessorising. It might seem obvious, but it’s classic because it works. Focusing on just one statement piece is a great way to stop your jewellery from overpowering your wardrobe. It’s always a good way to make sure you don’t need to own a huge amount of jewellery. You can only wear one statement necklace or one pair of statement earrings at a time, so you don’t need to invest in too many different pieces. For example, choose from the 2 carat diamond rings here, or one statement ring. 

Consider Your Skin Tone

If you want to make the most of a jewellery investment, then make sure you’ve considered the ‘canvas’ it will sit on. Is your skin tone warm or cool? White gold looks best against cooler skin tones, whereas olive skin tones are flattered by yellow shades of metal. Silver flatters everyone – probably why I wore it for so long – a safe choice! 

Accessorise For The Occasion

Choose your accessories to suit your plans for the day. If you’re going to be sitting at a desk working for most of the day, then you probably don’t want chunky rings or bracelets that dangle, as they’ll just get in your way and be annoying. I used to wear a heavy Pandora bracelet which would catch on my keyboard so now, I wear a bangle that I can slide further up my arm so it doesn’t.  When you’re heading out, add more statement pieces. I love choosing a nice pair of earrings that can be seen easily, as I think it completes my ‘out out’ look. 

Set Your Own Rules

Do literally whatever you want. Your jewellery, like anything else, is a reflection of your personality. One of my friends favours huge, dangly Pat Butcher style earrings which I’d never be able to carry off, but they suit her so well. Another of my friends wears no jewellery at all except a thin silver chain bracelet and doesn’t even have her ears pierced, but this suits her delicate, simple style. Remember that you don’t have to follow the rules. Use the rules as a base to jump off from, and use them to experiment with your style in any way you like.

Wear whatever you want – and wear your accessories however they bring you joy.

5 Ways To Dress Confidently and Feel Better in Yourself

Clothes rail with neutral cotton clothing

-this post is contributed-

Fashion isn’t my forte to be honest, and it’s taken me a long time to figure out what suits me and how to feel comfortable. I’ve done this mostly through trial and error and wearing some super questionable things just because everyone else was, but I’m finally getting there. So, if you feel as though your fashion sense is letting you down or if you feel like nothing you wear is making you feel good (as it should!), then there is an opportunity to change that. Here are my tips on dressing confidently and feeling good about yourself.

Grow to Love Your Body and Shape

With Instagram, you can drive yourself mad looking at tiny waists and elongated limbs. Spoiler alert, most images are doctored, and the body image that’s ‘in’ right now will change in a few years. Work on your positive self-talk and tell yourself that it’s absolutely fine to be shorter than the models you see on catwalks, or that you don’t see Kylie Jenner’s body when you look in the mirror. Another spoiler alert – Kylie Jenner doesn’t even look like Kylie Jenner. For me, it’s my stomach. I’ve always hated it and I can’t put my finger on quite why. 

I’m coming round to the way of thinking though, that as long as you are healthy and taking care of yourself, your figure is a secondary notion. What I’m finding is that the more I’m working on loving myself from the inside, the more I’m liking what I’m seeing in the mirror. Essentially, when you are confident in your shape and who you are, then dressing confidently will be much easier.

Know Yourself and Flaunt What You Love

I have to preface this one with a note that you can wear WHATEVER you like, whenever you like – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

At the risk of sounding like Trinny and Susannah, if you want to dress for your figure, focus on the areas you love and accentuate them. If you love your waist, use a belt that has a huge buckle if you want to bring out your waistline. I love my angular collarbones and like wearing bardot tops to bring them out more. Things like this can really work in your favour and you would be surprised at how much it could help you to feel better about yourself and the body you have.

Wear Clothes That Make You Feel Comfortable

When I met Will, my idea of fashion was wearing heels and skinny jeans every day. I didn’t own a pair of trainers and the idea of wearing a tracksuit in public was hideous. As he has boosted my confidence over time and I’ve grown to love myself, I’ve found joy in wearing clothes that are comfortable, while still fashionable. At the moment, I’m loving mom jeans with chunky white trainers – so much nicer and easier for my fast-paced life! I have also learned not to jump on fast-paced fashion trends that I’m not actually comfortable with. I hated the velvet trend and bought a skirt anyway which I never wore. I’ve also always hated stilettos, but have owned a few pairs despite favouring block heels. You should never try and force any kind of fashion upon yourself because if you do then you may find that you never feel quite confident in yourself, and that you are simply doing what everyone else does – and who wants that?

Wear Sunglasses that Match your Outfit

Wearing some great sunglasses can make you feel way more confident. I love hiding tired eyes and tying an outfit together with a stylish pair. I wear contacts usually, but I’ve recently bought some new glasses which really add to my style – I actually love them! If you want some new specs or sunglasses which are stylish and comfortable then make sure that you check out: www.eyeglasses.com

Have Fun with Fashion

As above, I’m no expert and still learning as I go. I take most of my inspiration from Instagram and what I see others wearing, then adapt it to suit me. I spent quite a long time wearing black, to the point that it was a running joke between my friends. I still love black of course – absolute staple – but I’m making bolder fashion choices and trying things on that I wouldn’t usually. I’ve found that the more I practice, the more confidence I feel. Don’t restrict yourself by saying that you never look good in colours such as red, or that you can never pull off a hat. This is not true at all, in fact, it’s more than possible for you to pull off any outfit you want when you put your mind to it. Go for it!

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.