BRIDAL SHOP ASHTEAD

How to be a Great Wedding Guest (what NOT to do)...

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There are a lot of blogs out there offering hints and tips for couples on how to prepare for their big day, what to do on the morning of your wedding and how to cope with such a big life change. But there are less blogs available on the unwritten etiquette for wedding guests. It may seem so obvious and yet, in my some 10 years working in wedding venues and at events as well as being a guest myself, there are some ‘classics’ that crop up time and time again that really should be avoided.

The key to being a good wedding guest is to practise true empathy and to really and truly put yourself into the position of the couple. Lateness, talking during speeches, ignoring requests, being fussy with food, making everything about you - these are just some of the things I' have seen in my time and I know I’m not the only one. Basically, don’t be an a***hole and you’ll most likely be going home with all of your friends, a slice of cake and with any luck, a sore head the next morning. Here are a list of my top things NOT to do as a wedding guest!

DON’T BE LATE

I know what you’re all going to say….’DUH’!!! But I guarantee you, if you ask 3 people you know who have got married in the last 5 years, they will tell you that at least one person or one couple rocked up late to the ceremony and had to sneak in during their nuptials. For me, lateness is just so unnecessary and so inappropriate. If you know you take a million years to iron your shirt or put your eyebrows on, then get up 30 minutes earlier and sort your lives out. There is nothing worse than late guests turning up when the ceremony is in full swing and having to make the ‘walk of shame’ to some spare seats at the back. It’s disrespectful and there is really no excuse. (Also, if you are so late that you’ll be walking in during the ceremony, just wait outside until it’s over. If you didn’t care enough to arrive on time, you clearly don’t care about seeing the iconic moment when the couple are legally married. Grab a coffee and think about what you’ve done).

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LEAVE YOUR DRAMA AT HOME

Sometimes, we fall out of favour with people. We still love them but they are not necessarily high on our list of dinner guests. However, a wedding is one of the most special and life-defining moments that anyone will go through during their lifetime and as such, we often still go out of our way to invite these people. They could be family or long-term friends and ultimately mean something to us.

If this is YOU, do everyone a favour and make sure you do one of the following. 1) Politely decline and wish the happy couple well or 2) leave your drama at home! 364 days of the year might be about you (although it’s doubtful) but on this 1 day, make it about someone else. Leave your issues at the door, have a glass of champagne and enjoy the celebrations. If you can’t do that…GET, IN, THE, BIN.

EAT WHAT YOU’RE GIVEN AND DON’T COMPLAIN

Back to basics with this one! If you didn’t reply alerting the couple that you are allergic to prawns or that you are now a vegan, then prepare to eat whatever the waiting staff put in front of you. Not what you would put on your ideal menu? #mermaidhairdontcare

If you don’t eat pate, then pop it on someone else’s plate, enjoy a bread roll, hunker down and pray for mains. Don’t judge the food, don’t bad mouth the food and don’t complain if it’s not enough - you probs won’t starve. You’re not paying and therefore, you are not permitted to have an offensive opinion. Make small talk with your neighbours and in general, remain delightful.

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DON’T GET PLASTERED (too early on…)

There is nothing worse than all of the attention being on you for the wrong reasons. If you’re wasted before you arrive, do everyone a favour (including yourself) and go and grab a sandwich and an Evian and sober up. Drink slowly throughout the day and work your way into a marvellous stupor with everyone else, just in time for the final dance of the night (which should always be ‘We Are the Champions’ fyi). Please don’t think that you’re funny drunk on a table full of sober people, because you’re probably just annoying lol that’s right. We’re laughing at you, not with you. Sense the tone of the wedding and drink responsibly AND respectfully.

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RESPECT THE SEATING PLAN

Believe it or not, I’ve seen guests swapping their place cards to different TABLES in the past. Without being too harsh…..’get a life’ lol. If you can’t see any familiar names, enjoy an hour and half of meeting new people and then sit wherever you like thereafter. Swapping place cards stuffs up seating for other guests and causes unnecessary hassle when people are trying to find their seats (and it’s a bit awkward and weird). If you don’t like it, grab a seat outside and enjoy the views!

THE CAKE CUTTING & FIRST DANCE

For me, the best way to execute these two iconic moments of your day is to have one and then the other. Cake cutting and straight into first dance. It keeps the evening moving and you can get everyone involved in both special moments. (If only they would all move).

If you hear the venue staff, catering teams or indeed bridal party asking you to head to the dancefloor to be part of the cake cutting and/or first dance, don’t be a jerk. Just go. The bar will still be there when you get back, I guarantee it. But these moments, no matter how small they may seem to you as a guest, are moments that the couple will never get back. Make it special for them and crowd around, take photos and throw out the occasional supportive ‘woop’! Your beer will still be cold when the 5 minutes have passed.

ALSO, when I say ‘crowd around’, sitting on a table next to the couple is NOT the same thing. If the dancefloor is in the centre of the room, unless requested, get out of your seats and CROWD AROUND the couple. It makes for a MUCH better atmosphere and after all, it’s about the couple. Not you. For the cake cutting, CROWD AROUND for the countdown. Take photos and relish the merriment! To summarise - be a good human.

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STAY AWAY……FROM THE DRESS

This one sort of correlates with getting seriously drunk as usually, it’s the seriously drunk ones that forget all personal space limitations, sorry……personal dress space limitations. I remember one wedding many years ago when one of my brides came to me in tears because someone hadn’t seen her and in a drunken blur, had stepped THROUGH her train with a nice big size 12. Luckily, I had an emergency kit and I sat on the floor and stitched the lace back onto the dress. Give the couple the respect they deserve. Keep make-up away from the grooms shirt (air cuddles are underrated) and give the bride ample space to move without damaging her attire. It’s worth more than your right arm.

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RESPECT THE VENUE

If anything gets damaged at the venue or goes missing because you think it’s funny, the couple are the ones that lose out because it will 100% guaranteed come out of their pockets. As the only points of contact for the venue, they take full responsibility for the premises on the night of their wedding - that includes you. If you’re children have been lucky enough to be included, don’t let them turn feral. Keep an eye on them and make sure they stay out of mischief as well as you.

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DON’T JUST, NOT TURN UP

Ultimate un-cool points awarded to people who don’t turn up to a wedding. Did you know that per head, you are worth anything from £70 to £250 ON YOUR OWN which has been paid in order for you to attend and is non-refundable. If you decide you’re not going, give at LEAST 4 weeks notice, BEFORE the final bill is paid.

REPLY ON TIME TO YOUR INVITATION

Make things simple for the couple and reply on time. There will be a generous deadline date on your invitation - read it. Without your acceptance or refusal, budget control goes out the window, seating plans can’t be created, menus can’t be decided upon and in general, it’s just an unnecessary headache! Reply on time AND in the preferred method of the couple which will be on the invite. (NB. Sending a text saying ‘I’m coming’, doesn’t count).

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DON’T WEAR WHITE

You know it’s wrong. Even if you think it’s outdated, today isn’t about what you think (quite frankly). Unless you KNOW the bride is wearing black and she has OK’d guests wearing white, just steer clear. Rule of thumb - if you have to ask if your dress looks ‘too white’….don’t do it.

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DON’T HECKLE DURING THE SPEECHES (unless it’s invited…)

Unless the best man, groom, bride or bridesmaid gives an opening to be heckled or you know is SUPER confident, just keep your mouth shut. It’s not cute and it’s not funny, especially as public speaking is quite high on the list of people’s ultimate social fears. If you feel your heckle diarrhoea coming up, pick up your drink and hold it to your face until the feeling has subsided.

DON’T KICK UP A FUSS IF YOU DON’T GET A PLUS ONE OR IF YOUR KIDS AREN’T INVITED

New boyfriend? Going well? Best week of your life? So happy for you! He’s not made the cut….it’s super unreasonable to expect to bring a +1 if they have never met the majority of people in attendance, especially the couple! Bring him along for the evening and he can nibble on the filo prawns and have a dance, but don’t throw your toys out of the pram if your friends don’t want to pay £120 for a stranger.

Same with children - if the invite says ‘no children’, then it means, ‘no children’. Don’t get me wrong - I totally understand that some people don’t have a family/friend baby sitting option for the day and it might cost a chunk in childcare. But ultimately, it’s not as much as the bride and groom have paid for their day which they want you to be a part of. It’s your choice whether you attend and pay the childcare fee or not but don’t begrudge the couple for wanting a child-free occasion. We all love kids (most of the time) but realistically, it is a grown up celebration, so it’s often a lot easier to leave your kids at home!

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Adhere to these few and very simple suggestions and you will be classed as GREAT wedding guest and not be exiled from the family or friendship group. It’s not hard to enjoy a wedding. Everyone is normally excited, you get to dress up, have great food, drinks, dancing and copious quantities of merriment. So relax, enjoy and celebrate with new and old friends.

DO THE RIGHT THING. BE A GOOD PERSON. BE A GOOD GUEST.

Hannah x

Gate Street Barn – A Luxury Barn Wedding Venue in Surrey…

Gate Street Barn, nestled just outside of Guildford in a little village called Bramley, is nothing short of perfection. As a venue it has everything and as a team, they have everything covered to make your day unforgettable.

Photo by Fresh Shoots Studios

Photo by Fresh Shoots Studios

The main barn where you can have your civil ceremony and it’s quite frankly exquisite. A truly magnificent barn that is perfect for couples looking for a little rustic glamour. There is a glass conservatory that has been lovingly added to the main barn, leading out to a courtyard area which is truly quaint. There are other buildings dotted around the courtyard including the main office space that is so in-keeping with the style of the property, you would think it was a little annex. There is also a wonderful cottage where guests can stay overnight to extend the celebrations. It is utterly charming and has a very traditional style.   

Photo by Fresh Shoots Studios

Photo by Fresh Shoots Studios

Back to the main barn….

The vast size of the barn allows for a really fluid and private celebration. When you hire Gate Street Barn, you take the whole property. This means no restaurant, no public bars and no hotel rooms. It is an exclusive hire making the celebrations all the more intimate and personal. When it’s time for a drink post-ceremony, guests move through to the beautiful bar area, clad with luxury wood and a light and bright conservatory space that joins the bar and main room. This is a gorgeous place to relax and admire the rolling fields behind the property.

Photo by Fresh Shoots Studios

Photo by Fresh Shoots Studios

Photo by Fresh Shoots Studios

Photo by Fresh Shoots Studios

Time for dinner…

Head back to the main barn where as if by magic, your tables are dressed for dinner. Gate Street Barn has several options for catering and you will not be disappointed with any of them. From Kalm Kitchen to Just Jane, Tandem to Rhubarb, the team at Gate Street have picked some of Surrey’s finest catering companies to cater for their guests’ culinary whims.

Party time…

Drinks are flowing, celebrations are in full swing and It’s definitely time to put on your dancing shoes and take to the floor for some epic moves and photos! As the barn is an exclusive hire, your guests are free to mingle, relax in a quiet corner or chat by the bar in total privacy. The only thing left to do is grab a glass of wine and something to eat from the evening snack bar.

Photo by Fresh Shoots Studios

Photo by Fresh Shoots Studios

We are so proud to be one of only two recommended bridal boutiques for Gate Street Barn and offer fun and unique appointments for our brides in a relaxed and no-pressure environment. We have a gorgeous collection of dresses that fit the theme of Gate Street that we like to describe as ‘bohemian glam’. Taking earthy tones, playful materials, floral applique, interesting patterns and truly unique wedding dresses that fit with the luxurious yet rustic nature of the venue.

We have created a gallery below of our favourite bohemian style dresses that we think go perfectly with Gate Street Barn. For more information on this beautiful Surrey wedding venue or our bridal shop in Dorking, simply head to our website and get in touch!

All photos of Gate Street Barn were provided by one of our favourite Surrey Wedding Photographers, Fresh Shoots Studios.

Hannah & Team   

Has bridal fashion been inspired by Meghan Markle & Princess Eugenie?

Meghan Markle & Princess Eugenie Wedding Dress Inspiration…

One of the most common questions asked when guests arrive to our boutique is “do you think the royal weddings have influenced bridal fashion”? In a very simple word – yes. When we first opened our boutique in April 2018, there was hardly any demand for super sleek and simple gowns in mikado or satin.

Photo Source - TimesLIVE

Photo Source - TimesLIVE

Photo Source - Brides.com

Photo Source - Brides.com

Photo Source - People Magazine

Photo Source - People Magazine

Six months later in the autumn and into winter, there has been a huge change in bridal fashion, I believe inspired by our two beautiful members of the royal family, Meghan and Eugenie. Markle’s simple Givenchy wedding dress was demure and elegant from head to toe in a figure-hugging fabric that showed her lean and statuesque figure with full sleeves. Her evening gown for her reception was also a simple gown with clean lines and crisp finish. It was a glorious halter neck that made a statement feature of her beautiful shoulders and slim figure.

Her stunning tiara and extra extra long veil has also inspired our designers to up their ‘sparkle’ game and we’ve been seeing an increase in popularity for BIG tiaras as well as new ranges of veils that are now available in ‘abbey’ length to rival Markle’s exquisite veil. They are over 3ft longer than the cathedral veils we stock so definitely pack a punch!

Photo Source - Cosmopolitan

Photo Source - Cosmopolitan

Eugenie wore a stunning satin off the shoulder gown with a gloriously long train and again it had full sleeves. I think this has certainly inspired the next year of bridal fashion as brides aren’t afraid to have a little more train than they may have normally chosen. Interestingly, Eugenie chose not to have a veil and instead gave all the attention to an awe-inspiring emerald tiara, a loan from her majesty – how kind!

Photo Source - Hello Magazine

Photo Source - Hello Magazine

Photo Source - Cosmopolitan

Photo Source - Cosmopolitan

Photo Source - Hello Magazine

Photo Source - Hello Magazine

I also think it made a lot of us look back to Kate’s wedding dress when she married Prince William back in 2014 and remember how drop dread gorgeous her gown was designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen. The long lace sleeves, plunging neckline and exquisite skirt and train. The world fell in love with her style all over again! Kate’s evening gown was also to die for, again in simple satin accessorised with a beautiful long-sleeved angora shrug.

Photo Source - Brides.com

Photo Source - Brides.com

Photo Source - rd.com

Photo Source - rd.com

Photo Source - people.com

Photo Source - people.com

Our wedding dress shop in Surrey is now know for having a very varied selection of gowns, all different from one another and these include some gowns inspired by our Duchess and Princess. Our wedding dress designers Modeca, Ella Rosa and Phil Collins all have some gorgeous bridal gowns that embody simplicity and are truly stunning and effortless. You can see some of the designs we carry below in the royal gallery!

A lot of girls also have a preference for some sort of sleeve or strap on their wedding dress. Strapless gowns have a beautiful and clean finish but 90% of our brides prefer a little more coverage, just like the royals. We carry a range of dresses with wide straps, off the shoulder straps, thin delicate beaded straps and illusion necklines as well as strapless dresses.

As we offer completely private appointments for our brides and their tribes, with a fun yet relaxed and completely no-pressure environment, we are recommended at some of Surrey, Sussex and London’s most beautiful venues that are fit for a royal occasion! These venues include – Wotton House, Hartsfield Manor, Burford Bride, Gate Street Barn, Denbies Wine Estate, Gildings Barn, Kingswood Golf Club, Nutfield Priory Hotel & Spa, Russets Country House, Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens, Kent House Knightsbridge and Patrick’s Barn.

For more inspiration on finding your perfect wedding dress, whether that means channelling inspiration  from our royal family or creating your own unique look from boho to barbie, follow us on Instagram and Facebook and keep up to date with our wedding dresses and visit our beautiful bridal boutique in Surrey for your exclusive appointment.

Hannah & Team

    

Winter Weddings at Wotton House...

Lots of couples choose to get married in the summertime. There’s always a hope for glorious long sunny days, Pimms on the lawn and having the opportunity to be outside for lots of photos. But if you’re like me and LOVE the romance, intimacy and cosiness of a winter wedding, it’s a great time to start looking for inspiration on how to achieve a beautifully styled celebration that reflects your personality and makes the most out of the season of giving.

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We are the exclusive recommended bridal boutique for Wotton House in Surrey and we’re celebrating that with ‘Wotton Week’ on the blog and on social media. Therefore, we have chosen to take Wotton House under the microscope and pick out some of the key features of this exquisite Surrey wedding venue and suggest some options on how to create an effortlessly magical winter wedding at one of Surrey’s most popular wedding venue.

The Old Library

One of Surrey’s most enchanting ceremony spaces that truly defies belief. In itself, the deep wooden floors, dramatic pillars and vaulted stone ceilings already create a feeling of warmth and cosiness. We recommend accentuating this with an abundance of oversized candles lining the aisle with lots of fake snow sitting beneath. Not big on candles? How about large hurricane vases filed with bundles of fairy lights? Or even tall water filled lily vases with a small LED light in the bottom that changes colour and a floating candle on top?

Photography by Be Unveiled  Dress and Cape by BRIDE by Aster

Photography by Be Unveiled

Dress and Cape by BRIDE by Aster

Atmospheric lighting on the pillars and fairy lights is always a great way of really adding depth and atmosphere to a space and you could even add some moving lights to the ceiling and walls to project the illusion of falling snowflakes!

Make people feel as if they walked into a winter wedding and instead of chiavari chairs, why not hire in wooden benches and dress with faux fur throws and blankets. Instead of fresh and structured floral arrangements, opt for loose and wild foliage with hardy winter flowers and pops of dark burgundy, navy blue and shots of ivory for crispness.

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The Dress

A winter wedding doesn’t mean you need to dress as if you’re going on an exploration of the arctic. But it does mean that you might want to consider a sleeve or some sort of warm accessory to your ensemble to ensure that when you do go outside for photographs, you’re nice and toasty. Thankfully, we‘ve got you covered (get it?)

Choose from our unique collection of stunning dresses including full length and tea length wedding dresses in our Surrey bridal shop. We have dresses with long sleeves and short sleeves, fur wraps and long sleeve lace boleros. We also have our gorgeous capelets that can be added to a lot of different dresses for a little variety.

Photography by Donald Wales

Photography by Donald Wales

The Evelyn Suite

This beautiful wedding suite is light, bright, classy and elegant. It lends itself perfectly to icy blue and snowy silver colour palettes with injections of gold and pastel pinks. However, as the room itself is fairly neutral, it could certainly take a darker and stronger colour palette such as burgundy and navy or forest green and copper. Flowers by Elaine are partially included in Wotton House wedding packages and they have such an amazing variety of centrepieces to choose from to create your signature look.

Whichever colour palette you settle for, accentuate with lots of candles and soft lighting. Turn the lights down in the ceiling and add extra lighting to the tables and uplight the walls in soft shades and warm tones. This brings in the atmosphere and makes everything feel so much cosier.

Photography by Hayley Bray

Photography by Hayley Bray

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Wedding Theme Advice - your ‘theme’ is not the same as your colour scheme. For example, your ‘theme’ cannot be ‘blue’. That means, that anything that is blue could feature in your wedding and this can lead to a very confused and non-cohesive style. Choose a few words that best describe the look and feel you are trying to achieve AND choose a colour palette. You will find that you eliminate or include things based on these titles and end up with something far more cohesive. An example of this would be ‘enchanted winter woodland’ and ‘copper, ivory, navy blue’. Taking these into consideration, you will begin to avoid anything that does not fit the brief of a woodland themed wedding and in turn, you will end up with a very clear and finished decorative look.

The Roman Temple

Let’s be honest. You’re probably not going to have your reception outside between the months of October and March. However, that doesn’t mean that you should avoid the stunning grounds at Wotton. On the contrary! Winter creates some of the most emotive lighting, the most dramatic and tempestuous skies and the most turbulent winds. Get your welly boots and/or umbrella and get outside for some unforgettable photos! The Roman Temple, also known as the Turtle House, is simply magnificent and should be frequented for photos all year round as well as Wotton’s stunning grade II listed Italian gardens.

Photography by Kevin Watkins

Photography by Kevin Watkins

Whatever the weather at your winter wedding, embrace the dwindling light, the endless possible alcoholic hot chocolate combinations you can create on your bespoke hot choc station (Bailey’s for me) and the romance and ‘togetherness’ that the season so effortlessly commands. We can’t wait to see more of our brides winter wedding photos at this stunning Surrey venue.

Hannah & Team x

Wotton House – One of Surrey’s finest hotel wedding venues….

It’s not difficult to fall in love with Wotton House. From the impressive gravel drive way leading up to an imposing façade, the long and winding corridors within and the beautiful classic yet contemporary styling of the reception suite. This is all before we’ve even stepped foot in the quite simply mesmerising library which is licensed for civil ceremonies or outside to the gardens and al fresco secret ceremony garden.

One of the main features for us is the Old Library at Wotton. This room with its’ feature pillars and almost gothic charm, is licensed for civil ceremonies for up to 140 and surely one of the most glorious in the county to exchange vows. The long aisle, fireplace, dressed pillars and vaulted ceiling is completely charming and undeniably has the wow factor.

Be Unveiled Photography - Dress by BRIDE by Aster - Decor by Flowers by Elaine

Be Unveiled Photography - Dress by BRIDE by Aster - Decor by Flowers by Elaine

You’ve just said ‘I do’. Your guests erupt with cheers as you are announced a newly wedded couple and you kiss in an embrace that feels as if it could last forever. You slink back down the aisle, hands locked together and are offered a glass of champagne before you are whisked outside to have photos in the enchanting gardens at Wotton.

There is absolutely no shortage of photo opportunities at Wotton House. Whether you have your couple shots in the roman temple or the Italian gardens, come rain or shine, you are guaranteed memories to last a lifetime. Their 17th century gardens are deemed as such historical interest, they have been given a Grade II listing in addition to the house. Wotton have two recommended photographers; Simon Pope from Be Unveiled or Hayley Bray Photography. They have both worked at Wotton for years and are exceptional photographers, capturing special moments expertly and discretely.

Roman Temple Outdoor Ceremony Garden at Wotton House  Photo credit ‘trulyquirkyweddingvenues.com’

Roman Temple Outdoor Ceremony Garden at Wotton House

Photo credit ‘trulyquirkyweddingvenues.com’

It’s time to eat! Catering at Wotton House is as beautiful as the surroundings, so you and your guests are in for a culinary treat. Choose from an extensive selection of seated menus, afternoon tea or buffets. Invite extra evening guests to celebrate in style; Wotton House are licenses for up to 200 guests in total for an evening celebration.  

Their bedrooms have, along with the rest of hotel recently undergone a £6 million refurbishment, using soft colours and contemporary touches, making Wotton House a truly unique award-winning venue. Many couples choose to host their family and friends at Wotton the night prior to their big day, extending the celebrations and being able to wake up relaxed in the morning, knowing their Parents, Bridesmaids, Best man and guests are all on site. The morning after your special day, all your guests can join you for breakfast and recount all of the days happy memories.

Hayley Bray Photography - Evelyn Suite at Wotton House Hotel

Hayley Bray Photography - Evelyn Suite at Wotton House Hotel

Fun Fact - Did you know that there is supposedly a tunnel at Wotton House leading all the way into Dorking that the servants of the house used to use. There is still a visible doorway in Dorking somewhere!

We are hugely proud and privileged to be the only preferred bridal supplier at Wotton House, offering every bride a unique, relaxed and fun bridal experience. An extra bonus of being a Wotton House bride is that we offer a 10% discount on any of our bridal gowns and we are also based in Dorking, Surrey. Whether you are looking for a classic yet unique princess dress or fitted silhouette wedding dress, we look forward to welcoming you to our Surrey boutique!

Hannah & Team BRIDE