Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Planning a Wedding on a Budget

Sponsored post.

I'm sure you already know unless you managed to miss my many posts on Instagram, tweets or this sappy blog post that I'm getting married next year (although ironically I've just realised I'm not wearing my engagement ring as I write this post - I haven't left the house today OK?). I'm not going to do too many wedding-related posts until after the event (when I will be spamming until you probably all unfollow me) mainly because I don't really want to give too much away and would rather wait until afterwards to share the details. However I thought I would do a post about planning a wedding on a budget. We're extremely lucky that my parents are paying for our venue, registrar and food, but just because they're paying for those things doesn't mean we want to spend the earth on our wedding. In fact we agreed that we'd plan the wedding as if we were paying for everything ourselves because we wouldn't want my parents to spend money that we wouldn't be happy spending as that would just be silly. 

When you start planning a wedding its easy to see how people do end up spending a lot. These days there just seem to be so many elements and add-ons available, plus put the word 'wedding' in front of anything and it seems to add a fair few £££. The average price for a wedding in the UK is now £24,000 (according to Bride's Magazine) and that just seems ridiculous to me. That's a house deposit. I totally get that people want to have the perfect day, but to me one day just isn't worth all that money and I hope to prove that you can have a lovely wedding without spending too much.

The venue | Firstly we knew we wanted everything to happen in one place, which already completely cuts out the need for transport from the ceremony to the reception. That wasn't actually our reason for wanting everything in one place, we just thought it would be easier and the day would run smoother, but we've managed to save that in the process. We also knew we wanted a flexible venue where we could pretty much do everything ourselves, which cuts costs as well as making sure the day is completely your own so we've gone for somewhere that's almost a blank canvas so we can do our own thing. 

The food | This is where I'm going to hide behind my hands because our wedding is just over eight months away and we still haven't booked a caterer - minor detail right? We're having our ceremony late in the day, which means we're only going to have to feed people once so straight away that's saved money - again, our reasoning wasn't actually to save money, but more to not have a long drawn out wedding (nice one making it sound like an execution Amy).

The entertainment | Again, this is something we haven't booked yet - whoops, I am not panicking AT ALL. We have looked around a lot though and I think we've managed to narrow it down to a few bands (we decided band over DJ after going to my friend's wedding and her band being amazing). It's difficult to know where to start when looking for a band, but websites like Headliner make it much easier. You can search by area, genre and budget to narrow down your choices, listen to previews of each band and then even book them through the website so you're not sending money to someone you're not sure if you can trust or not. The website was actually set up when the founders had trouble finding a band on a budget for their wedding so there are a lot of affordable options on there including some very unique and less 'stereotypical' wedding bands.  

The outfits | I may not have booked a caterer or entertainment, but I have bought my dress so that's the main thing isn't it? I managed my goal of getting one for under £200 as it came in at £199. Outlets are definitely the way to go with wedding dresses, I saw some gorgeous ones in the one boutique we went to, but over £1000 on a dress I'm going to wear once? No thank you. Bridesmaids dresses will most likely be from Asos and we're not actually planning on matching suits for the best man and ushers, they can pretty much wear what they want and we'll buy them matching ties or a buttonhole to differentiate them as part of the bridal party. 

The details | Because of the venue being very DIY it leaves everything up to us, which I love. Here is probably where you could spend a lot of money, but I'm planning on doing my own flowers, we're doing our own centrepieces/decorations and also providing our own alcohol (thank you very much Sainsbury's for your 25% off 6 bottles or more deal). We're also designing our own invitations and having them printed, which is even cheaper than pre-bought invitations. Looking at what you could spend on these things makes my mind boggle so I'm very glad we're doing it all ourselves.

If you're planning your own wedding I'd love to know your tips. Have you come across Headliner?

Amy x

This post was kindly sponsored by Headliner, but all words and opinions my own. 

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Wardrobe Staples | Denim Shirt

When I first started this wardrobe staples series I thought I'd run out of staples pretty quickly, but here we are in September and it's still going so it would appear I have a fair few. It's been an interesting series to do too, as it's made me analyse my wardrobe (lol at me making that sound like some sort of scientific experiment) and it's taught me which items I really do rely on.

This month - the denim shirt. To put into context how much of a staple a denim shirt is for me, I've had the one I'm wearing in this post for eight whole years. That's a long time in a world of fast fashion. I wore it on my first day of university because I felt like it gave me the kind of cool edge I was going for (turns out I was not at all edgy by South East London standards) and I still wear it when I need something to make an outfit casually chic. It makes a great cover up although more recently I've tended to wear it standalone as I am here. This one is from Topshop (I didn't shop anywhere else when I was 18) and I can't remember how much it was, but I'm pretty sure the price per wear is way down by now. I also have a darker denim shirt from H&M, which was actually a cast off from one of my first year flatmates (so that one is in its seventh year) and I wear that one just as much. 

I find denim shirts so versatile. As I said, they can be worn standalone or as a cover up, which means they can be worn with pretty much anything - over dresses, tucked into trousers, even with jeans on the bottom half if you're brave enough to go for double denim. Both the denim shirts I own have buttons halfway up so you can roll the sleeves up and fasten them so they'll stay put so having the sleeves up or down adds another versatility too (also I love that I can roll them down if I get cold).

The shirt in this post is super soft, then my other one is a bit stiffer and more structured so if I'm looking for comfort (which lets face it, I always am) I'll turn to this one. I'd never actually worn this shirt with these trousers before these pictures and I'm not sure why I've never thought of the pairing because it's perfect. I love denim and stripes, but usually I end up with stripes on the top and denim on the bottom and obviously it works the opposite way round too. I actually wore this outfit for travelling down to Warwickshire (post about that trip here if you're interested) and it was the perfect travel outfit - so so comfortable, but I still felt confident in it. The culottes have been featured on here before countless times, as have these rose gold trainers of dreams (yes my dreams have rose gold trainers in them - don't yours?).

So anyway, yes, a denim shirt - basically it's one of the most versatile (how many times can I fit that word into a blog post?) things I own and I get so much wear out of it. Luckily it's stood the test of time and doesn't show much sign of wear aside from it getting a little paler over the years and seeing as I already have a dark denim one, I won't complain at that. 

Shirt - Topshop (old) | Culottes - Topshop (old) | Trainers - Pimkie via Asos (old)

Amy x

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Exploring the UK One Groupon at a Time

In a very badly timed fashion my passport expired in August and seeing as I'll be changing my name in June I've made the unfortunate decision to save some dollar and not renew it until then so I don't have to pay twice. It's not like I'm always holidaying abroad, but it's weird to not have that as an option and pointless to carry on with my usual hobby of scouring Skyscanner to see where I could go for cheaps next week. So from now until our honeymoon it's UK breaks all the way and actually, seeing as I made a vow earlier on this year to explore more of the UK anyway, it's the perfect excuse to do so.

I've been dubious about Groupon since I booked a weekend break through it and the hotel contacted us to let us know there wouldn't be any electricity or water during our stay. I'd heard various people saying that when you're on a Groupon break you don't get as good service because the hotel know you've not paid very much and in this instance those people were proved right. I can only assume that the reason they decided to do the electricity/water works while we would be there was because most of the people staying were on a Groupon deal. Since then I've steered clear.

When it came to the week before we were supposed to be going away and we still hadn't booked anywhere though, Nick turned to Groupon to find us somewhere random, but nice that could fit us in at short notice. I didn't actually know where we were going until we got there, but we ended up in Warwickshire, which is a gorgeous part of the country and somewhere I hadn't been for a long time.

The first night we stayed in the Salford Hall Hotel, which was basically a castle in the middle of nowhere (although the castle pictured is most definitely Warwick Castle and not our hotel!) Because it was fully booked we were upgraded to an executive suite so had a huge room at the top of the hotel with big old fashioned windows, a stunning fireplace and a ginormous four poster bed (this is where I have to apologise for being a bad blogger and not getting any pictures of the room - you'll just have to take my word for it or go and have a look at the website soz). We got a cream tea on arrival with fizz served in the conservatory, which was the plant filled, black and white tiled sun room of my dreams. Basically the whole place was extremely Instagrammable, but I was too chilled out to bother, which was very nice at the time, but I'm slightly kicking myself for it now especially as I've decided to write a blog post. Also included in this deal were tickets to Warwick Castle, which are actually worth about £20 each so I would never have gone if they weren't included in the Groupon because I just wouldn't pay that high an entrance fee. Although I'm not sure it was worth the £20 per person the castle was still well worth a visit. It was huge so there was lots to see and walk around both inside and outside and there were plenty of shows/tours on too as well as yet another dreamy plant filled conservatory that acted as a cafe. This Groupon cost us £99 for our executive room, cream tea, breakfast and Warwick Castle tickets so a huge discount and there was no disappointment or lesser treatment just because we were on a Groupon!

The second night we stayed in a different hotel with a different Groupon deal. This one wasn't quite as good value for money (although it was cheaper anyway) purely because the room wasn't particularly nice (The Bosworth Hall Hotel). We did however get upgraded on food - included in the deal was a carvery, but for some unknown reason we were upgraded to the fine dining restaurant so got a three course meal and a bottle of wine instead. Nick did ask both hotels on booking if an upgrade was available and although they said no it appears it's well worth asking the question!

I made a lil' video on my YouTube channel of our trip so hope over and watch that if you fancy!

So the question is, where do we Groupon next?

Amy x

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Transitioning My Summer Wardrobe | Playsuit

I feel like I blinked and missed summer this year. I don't know if it's because I was busy doing mainly DIY (see my last post) or if the weather just hasn't been that great this year anyway, but I definitely don't feel like I've got as much wear as I'd have liked out of my summer wardrobe, which has me feeling a little sad at the thought of having to put everything to the back of my wardrobe until next year especially as I'm big into making my price per wear as little as possible to justify my addiction to clothes shopping. So I'm taking on a little experiment and seeing how many of my summer clothes I can transition into autumn and possibly into winter too and hopefully I'll turn it into a little mini series on here throughout autumn (unless I find that I only have the ability to transition one outfit and then this is your lot...) I feel ridiculous mentioning this before I get into the post, but if you think I look mega tired in these photos it's because I'm a numpty and forgot to take my mascara away with us and I wasn't bothered enough to go on a specific trip to buy some more. So there you go, enjoy my mascara-less face.

Anyway, the first transitional outfit comes from when I was browsing my wardrobe for outfits to wear for our little trip away last week. I came across this playsuit (I know the floatiness of it makes it look like a dress, but it's not), which I haven't actually worn at all this summer because it was double hung with another playsuit so I guess I just hadn't spotted it or even remembered it existed, which is a shame because I love it. It's obviously rather summery and seeing as I hadn't even had a chance to wear it yet this year it seemed like a pretty good place to start in terms of transitioning my wardrobe so hopefully I can at least get a bit of wear out of it before it turns into super chilly jumper all day every day weather. I have a couple of other playsuits that I can hopefully transition in a similar way too. am I going to transition it you may ask (or you may not because you might not really care, but I'm going to tell you anyway so I guess if you really don't care you should probably stop reading). The key to transitioning anything is finding the right things to layer it with. I recently picked up this blazer from Berskha, having previously not really been a blazer person, but I've seen checked blazers look amazing on so many people on Instagram that I couldn't not give one a go myself (and also it was an absolute bargain compared to all the other blazers I've seen so that's a big plus). To begin with when I tried it on I didn't massively like it and then Nick suggested I roll the sleeves up a little and it somehow completely transformed the whole look of it from 'I'm wearing my boyfriend's suit jacket over my outfit because I got cold' to chic and put together.

This playsuit and this blazer aren't two things I'd immediately think of putting together (the old me would have run screaming from print and checks), but once I tried them I found that they really worked especially as a transitional outfit. I also tried my other main summer playsuit under this blazer (the one from this post) and it went really well too. I think it must be the contrast between the casual summeriness (yes I'm making that a word) of the playsuit and autumnal smartness of the blazer that makes the outfit work. LOL at the whole of the previous sentence, I'm so bad at articulating things.

This outfit leaves room for more layers too. It's just about warm enough still to forgo tights if you have layers on top, but either nude or black tights could easily be added to this outfit when it gets a little colder or I could even go all out and tuck the playsuit into some trousers. When it gets really cold I think it'd look nice with a roll neck jumper over the top of the playsuit with the blazer on top too so even though it's quite blatantly a very summery piece it's definitely transitionable. Oooh and with little ankle boots too, YES I'm excited to style this multiple ways as it gets colder.

Playsuit - Byer Too California (old) | Blazer - Bershka (here) | Sandals - Primark (old)

Amy x

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Kitchen Transformation

Well this post has been a long time coming! In January I asked Nick when he thought we'd finish the kitchen. He said March, I said May. Here we are in September and I'm finally writing our kitchen transformation post after nine months of work. The thing with doing everything yourself is it always, always takes so much longer than you anticipate. In the first year of renovating our house I wrote quite a few transformation posts, but the kitchen was by far the biggest project yet so it's been a whopping eleven months since I've written a renovation post. So for those of you who are a little newer around here, I'll link the previous transformation posts at the end of this one in case you want to have a nosy at the rest of our house! And you might want to make a cuppa because this will be a long one. As always, the before pictures and the during pictures aren't great quality but there ain't no way to make those pretty anyway!


When we first moved into our house we hadn't even considered changing the layout of the kitchen because we hadn't quite got our 'we can do anything with this house' mindset yet so we went from just wanting to decorate and refresh it to deciding on a whole new kitchen and a completely different layout. When we moved in the kitchen had a dining area with a bay window, a blocked up fireplace (that was covered in moisture because it hadn't been given any ventilation) and built in cupboards, which although they were original and gorgeous were also old, tatty and slathered in a hundred years worth of paint. Then there was a narrow kitchen space with a sink underneath the window with a narrow porch off to the side leading to a downstairs loo. The porch was so narrow I can't think of any other purpose of it than separating the kitchen from the toilet so it was kind of dead space. The floor was half old dirty lino, half thin faded carpet and it was all wallpapered in a blue pattern that made the room feel quite dark. 


I mean, I could probably write an essay about the process, but I'll try and keep it as brief as I can. We ripped all the old kitchen out ourselves, as well as the inbuilt cupboards and the blocked up fireplace. Nick completely excavated the fireplace space so we could have a little feature there. We decided we wanted to change the layout by removing the porch and having a utility space at the end that would lead into the downstairs toilet so moving the door to that in the process. We did contemplate building the stud wall ourselves, but decided that it would be worth paying someone to do it considering how long it would take us to do and how very wrong we could get it. We then had it plastered and also got builders in to put in a new back door and windows to let more light in. At this point we hadn't decided on a layout for the actual kitchen yet, but eventually decided on having units along one wall and then a sort of island but that's actually attached to one wall (hopefully you get what I mean from the pictures!) The island separates the kitchen from the dining area where we have our table that Nick cladded himself. We designed, built and fitted the kitchen ourselves (including the worktops), painted everywhere, tiled the floor and the wall and Nick also did all the plumbing for both the heating and water with help from his Dad and YouTube. We also tiled and painted the downstairs toilet and installed a sink as it didn't have one before. The downstairs bathroom is so small it's difficult to photograph, but it's practically a smaller version of the main bathroom!


I'll probably do a separate post on all the finishing touches because I could probably talk for days, but the kitchen itself is all from IKEA (we didn't really look anywhere else because we knew we wanted something affordable and that would be easy to build ourselves), the walls are painted an off white because we wanted to keep it all fairly neutral and we went with a herringbone pattern for the splash back tiles to add a bit of a feature, but we kept those white to complete the clean finish of the kitchen. There's a lot of wood in the kitchen too - the worktops are wood look laminate, the floor is wood look tiles (although it looks SO real it's crazy) then we've got the wooden table and the wooden mantelpiece which is an old beam that was in the ceiling. We've added a few copper accents, but only with things that are easily changeable in case we want a little revamp in the future!

As promised here are the links to my previous renovation posts: Bathroom, Bedroom, Office, Living room

I'd love to know how you'd decorate your kitchen!

Amy x

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Can I Pull This Off?

Read the title of this blog post and consider how many times you have asked yourself that question. Can I pull this off? I ask it pretty much every time I'm in a clothes shop fitting room, I ask it when I put something on that I haven't worn in a couple of years, I ask it when I see a style I love on someone else a bit more daring than me.

But why do we ask ourselves this? Do we think we need to be/look a certain way to be able to wear something? When I consider the items of clothing I personally think I can't pull off (pencil skirts, crop tops, anything with spaghetti straps) it's not really got anything to do with how I look in them, it's about how I feel in them. I don't feel confident wearing certain clothes and therefore I think I can't 'pull them off'. There also seems to be a similar worry if we stray too far from our usual style. I used to think I couldn't pull off colour. Correction: I never used to wear colour so I just wasn't used to seeing myself in it and didn't feel confident in it. We all have our style comfort zones and pushing ourselves out of them doesn't mean we're wearing something we can't pull off, it just means we're gaining confidence wearing new things. You don't have to be/look a certain way to pull something off, you've just got to feel confident in it.

My most recent purchase (who am I kidding, one of my most recent purchases) was this dress from H&M. It's not really my usual style - it has spaghetti straps (that you can't see because it was cold OK?), a straight neckline and the frills along the bottom are just a bit 'fussier' than I would usually go for. It reminds me of something I would have bought a few years ago when I was a bit more experimental, before I fell into my 'safe' style. But I love it, I feel confident in it and it was only £5 in the H&M sale which has a lot to do with my love for it. Polka dots are an old favourite of mine and I can just see myself wearing this again and again. I love the asymmetrical hem, although I've never worn anything with one before and because it's more breezy on one side I'm constantly paranoid that I have my dress stuck in my knickers (can someone else who's worn an asymmetrical hem reassure me that that's not just me?!) The frills make me feel all sassy too and like I want to twirl around in it all day (I don't though partly because dizzy and partly because, you know, 26-years-old and all that).

I'm a big fan of things that I can dress up or down and this dress is perfect for that. On this occasion I dressed it down with my old favourite denim jacket and some sandals, but I can easily imagine it on an evening with a leather jacket and some heeled boots. In fact, just typing that has made me want to make evening plans soon so that I can wear it just like that.

Dress - H&M (current sale, not online) | Denim jacket - Asos (old) | Sandals - Primark (old)

Amy x
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