Author Archive

A Destination Wedding in Italy: Sam and Charly, Lucca (Tuscany, Italy) June 2018

Posted on: July 16th, 2018

When Sam and Charly asked me to play at their wedding at Villa Grabau near Lucca in Italy recently, I was in the fortunate position of having already sung at a wedding abroad. Last year I played for Jess and Nik’s big day on Lake Como, so I know that it would be logistically possible. It was a case of getting my guitar through security at the airport, purchasing an extra seat and bringing what I could!

Sam and Charly’s wedding was organised by Wiskow and White, a partnership between Lucy and Danielle that ensured the day ran seamlessly. Lucy had liaised with the DJ, who provided me with the required speakers, speaker stands, mixing desk and mic stand.

Lined by orange and lemon trees, Villa Grabau is a remarkable sight.

Guests were very pleased to get their hands on some ice cream during the aperitivo.

Guests were very pleased to get their hands on some ice cream during the aperitivo.

The ceremony area was surrounded by tall trees, providing some relief from the heat.

The ceremony area was surrounded by tall trees, providing some relief from the heat.

I played during Sam and Charly’s ceremony, afternoon drinks reception (aperitivo) and most of the meal. Sam chose to walk down the aisle to Only Love by Ben Howard, and the couple also picked Wasn’t Expecting That by Jamie Lawson and Be Mine by David Gray for their ceremony.

The setting of Villa Grabau was spectacular, and following the ceremony guests headed to the fountain near the villa for some canapés and drinks, and of course some gelato! We experienced a little rain but this quickly blew over, and guests then settled in to their seats for the meal, which was held in a beautiful old building that would not have looked out of place on the set of the film Gladiator.

Friends and family were starting to enter the party spirit so I played some livelier songs, including Faith by George Michael, Hold Back The River by James Bay and Blame It On Me by George Ezra. Before long the dancing was underway. We even had a raucous singalong to Wonderwall!

Sam and Charly’s day ran very smoothly from start to finish.

Sam and Charly’s day ran very smoothly from start to finish.

It was a privilege to play for Sam and Charly, a lovely couple.

It was a privilege to play for Sam and Charly, a lovely couple.

The Gladiator-esque setting was majestic.

The Gladiator-esque setting was majestic.

Weddings abroad or ‘destination weddings’ are becoming an increasingly popular option for engaged couples. Often the costs can work out to be very reasonable in comparison with having your day in the UK. True, guests have to travel, but believe me if you select somewhere as picturesque as Tuscany to tie the knot, you won’t regret it.

Looking for advice about music at your wedding, or other planning tips? Contact me here.

A London Wedding: Sarah and Michael at Kew Gardens

Posted on: June 14th, 2018

I don’t often venture into London to sing at weddings, but when I do, the venues can be breathtaking. That is certainly true of Kew Gardens, where I recently played for the wedding breakfast and first dance of Sarah and Michael.

Earlier in the day, guests were treated to a tour of the gardens while the couple had their photos taken. The evening reception was held in The Orangery, which functions as a cafe during the day for visitors to Kew. The building is absolutely stunning, and its high ceilings and hard floors were perfect for carrying music to everyone’s ears.

The cake looked ever so tasty. It is always placed temptingly close to where I’m singing!

Beautiful decorations adorned the two long tables.

Building up to the first dance…

Security at the venue is very tight and only a few cars are allowed on site at a time, as the public are still walking around the grounds during set up time. I received an escort courtesy of an electric buggy, which felt very rock and roll indeed! I set up in The Orangery and waited for guests to arrive. Sarah and Michael did not have the customary large round tables that usually seat eight to ten guests. Instead, they had two long tables, in the style of a Viking feast. The tables were elegantly decorated.

Michael and Sarah: a charming couple who were extremely welcoming.

Michael’s speech was very entertaining and contained several toasts.

It was a cloudy but very warm day. Kew looks picturesque whatever the weather.

I played two sets during the meal, which followed the speeches. There was quite a wide range of ages, so as well as playing the usual Ed Sheeran, George Ezra, Tracy Chapman, John Mayer and so on, I also played songs by Paul Weller and Dire Straits to cater for the more ‘experienced’ audience members!

I then moved down to the other end of the hall to play Sarah and Michael’s first dance after they had cut the cake. The couple had organised a Ceilidh for the evening entertainment, and this was provided by Rabscallion, a great bunch of musicians and very nice people too. They kindly allowed me to use their PA system to perform the first dance, for which Sarah and Michael had chosen ‘Die A Happy Man’ by American country singer Thomas Rhett. I don’t often get asked to sing country songs at weddings so that made for a nice change.

My favourite photo of the day shows the tables ready for guests to arrive.

The hard walls and floor meant that the sound carried and my songs could be heard all around the room.

A Ceilidh is a popular option for evening entertainment, and Rabscallion did a super job.

And that was it, job done. The pleasure of singing at weddings is the fact that you get to visit places that you might not otherwise see. The team at Kew were very well-organised and easy to work with. Whether you are getting married or not, the gardens are well worth a visit. For this wedding, it provided the perfect spot.

A Wedding On The Water in Herts : Jack & Michelle, Ware Priory

Posted on: June 6th, 2018

On a sweltering day in May I was booked to perform at the wedding of Jack and Michelle. The ceremony took place at Ware Priory in Hertfordshire, and for the afternoon reception guests boarded a boat set for Stanstead Abbots. It was my job to provide music for the ceremony and for the boat trip, including the couple’s first dance.

For the ceremony, Michelle had chosen to walk down the aisle to an instrumental version of Paramore’s ‘The Only Exception’. For her exit with Jack at the end of formal proceedings, they asked me to play an instrumental version of ‘Hotel California’ by The Eagles. It seemed I was saving my voice for later!

After moving my equipment on to the tug boat and setting up, guests started to embark. Jack and Michelle had invited around 50 friends and family to celebrate with them on the water. The professional team at http://www.leeandstortboats.co.uk were there to greet the wedding party and ensure that the trip went smoothly, in addition to the all-important management of the bar!

It was great fun playing for Jack and Michelle.was great fun playing for Jack and Michelle
The couple were showered with confetti as they exited the ceremony room.The couple were showered with confetti as they exited the ceremony room
Everyone had a quacking time.Everyone had a quacking time
Having a wedding on a boat was an unusual idea that really paid off.Having a wedding on a boat was an unusual idea that really paid off

The boat trip lasted roughly three hours and I played two extended sets during this time. It was quite a young group so I played some of my more contemporary covers including Craig David, Hey Ya by Outkast and Mr Brightside. Jack and Michelle chose to have Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran as their first dance, and there were plenty of emotional speeches too. Time flew by and before we knew it we were docking once more at Ware Priory.

The couple and their guests moved on to The Saracens Head in Ware to continue their celebrations as evening guests arrived. They were a great bunch of people and it was a pleasure to be involved with a wedding that was refreshingly different. We didn’t lose anyone overboard and I think everyone had a good time. Success!

Are you looking for some help with planning your big day? Contact me here.

Speeches took place onboardSpeeches took place onboard
A safety briefing took place before departure A safety briefing took place before departure
It was a lovely sunny day for a wedding
I played two instrumental pieces during the ceremony

A Hertfordshire Wedding – Hannah and Ross at South Farm, Royston

Posted on: April 17th, 2018

For the wedding of Ross and Hannah at South Farm in Herts, I played three sets: one for afternoon reception drinks, one during the wedding breakfast and one for the turnaround when evening guests arrived.

The couple’s ceremony took place onsite and guests then poured out into the courtyard. Ice cream was on offer, made fresh at the venue, and although it wasn’t a hot day, friends and family still took full advantage!

South Farm is a very picturesque venue and a number of animals including pigs and geese came out to say hello to us during the day…

Following the first drinks reception, guests made their way into the barn. Ross and Hannah had chosen to have their speeches before the meal rather than at the end, which seems to be an increasingly popular option. The father of the bride, groom and best men definitely get to enjoy their meals more this way, without having to be stressed about speeches.

The barn looked wonderful.

There was a large group photo outside the main house.

It was the first wedding with my new guitar; it did a great job!

The decorations at the wedding had a very rustic feel and each table was named after a different musical act that Hannah and Ross had been to see, including Ed Sheeran, Bastille, One Republic, James Bay and Coldplay. I decided that I would ask round the room and play a song by each artist.

I moved back into another part of the farm to play as evening guests arrived. As expected, it was now appropriate to play some more upbeat numbers. Playing RnB tunes such as Mario’s Let Me Love You has been effective lately, and I’m sure this trend will continue into the summer. I entertained friends and family until it was time to return to the barn for the first dance and evening celebrations.

It was a privilege to play for Hannah and Ross.

The South Farm ice cream went down a storm

My final set was the turnaround for newly-arrived evening guests.

I worked alongside photographer Lily Lane Photography, with Sophie Lake as second shooter (www.sophielakeweddings.co.uk, @lakeysophphoto) and videographer Danny Jack (www.dannyjack.co.uk). All of them did a very professional job, and hopefully I’ll be bumping into them again.

All in all a lovely day in a beautiful setting. Hopefully I can return to South Farm soon; it is one of many Hertfordshire venues that is within an hour’s drive.

The wedding had a rustic feel.

Ross chose to have the speeches before the meal was served.

Each table was named after a music artist that the couple had seen live.

Looking for wedding planning tips? Get in touch with me here.

A Suffolk Wedding – Kirsty and Adam at Hengrave Hall

Posted on: April 15th, 2018

Playing at the wedding of Kirsty and Adam was my first visit to Hengrave Hall in Suffolk, and what an impressive venue it is! A very imposing and grand building, I drove up the long entrance driveway and was excited to make my debut there. The weather was a little grey and misty, but this only added to the splendour of Hengrave.

I performed some more upbeat numbers during the wedding breakfast

I played right up to the start of the speeches.

Hengrave Hall was a very grand setting to sing in.

Kirsty and Adam had a fabulous wedding cake.

I played for Kirsty and Adam during their afternoon reception drinks and the wedding breakfast. The drinks took place in a beautiful drawing room with hard floors and wood panelling, which was great for the acoustics. The couple had not been very specific about what they wanted me to play for them, and left it to my judgement. I therefore played a lot of the classic and popular songs that tend to go down well from my repertoire, including tracks by Jack Johnson, Tracy Champion, Ed Sheeran and Jess Glynne.

I had been booked to play at the wedding of Kirsty’s sister Lisa at Down Hall in Hertfordshire a couple of years ago, so it was nice to see the family again.

Everyone wanted a photo of the happy couple.

The drinks reception area was well-suited to acoustic music.

The staff at Hengrave Hall set up the room beautifully for the meal.

A wedding is all about the fine details.

Once the drinks reception was over, I transferred my equipment into the banqueting hall for my next set. The guests were a lively bunch, so I threw in some of my more adventurous numbers towards the end of the meal, including Craig David and R Kelly. I was positioned right beside Kirsty and Adam’s magnificent wedding cake, which looked very tempting indeed!

It was nice to meet some suppliers that I hadn’t come across before, including photographer Julia and You (juliaandyou.co.uk) and videographer Mike Savory (mikesavory.co.uk), both of whom did an excellent job and were great to work with.

Kirsty and Adam’s wedding at Hengrave Hall in Suffolk was a very classy affair and it was a privilege to be their wedding singer.

An Essex Wedding – Betty and Eric at Parklands, Quendon Hall

Posted on: April 13th, 2018

I recently performed at the wedding of Betty and Eric at Quendon Hall, Parklands in Essex. I am quite a regular at Parklands and have sung there many times. However, Betty and Eric’s day was a little different. They did not have a DJ, and it was my job to provide all of the musical entertainment. With my trusty guitar and Bose PA system, I was up for the challenge!

The couple had enjoyed a traditional Chinese tea ceremony in addition to the wedding ceremony earlier that day. It was quite a small party of 40 or so guests, which made for a very intimate evening.

Eric and Betty chose Stand By Me as their first dance, and confetti cannons were fired during the performance.

All of the guests enjoyed Eric’s speech, which followed the meal.

The couple were a pleasure to play for, and I even managed to correctly guess the orange and blue colour scheme!

My first task was to play Eric and Betty’s first dance, for which they had chosen Stand By Me by Ben E. King. This was accompanied by a couple of confetti cannons. The couple had supplied me with a playlist to put on in between my sets, and had chosen a nice selection of chilled and upbeat tunes from my repertoire.

Playing a highly energetic set in order to get (and keep) guests on the dance floor was a refreshing change for me. I played everything from Chaka Khan to Kevin Lyttle to Faith by George Michael and entertained the crowd. As is invariably the case at a wedding, there was quite a spread of ages, so it was important to play songs that are timeless and would be well-known by younger and older guests.

As the wedding was on a Tuesday night with a smaller number of attendees, Betty and Eric’s day had an earlier finish than usual, and the bride and groom had selected some more relaxed music as the night drew to a close and friends and family said their goodbyes.

A lovely couple, and as ever a pleasure to play at Parklands and be looked after by the helpful staff.

Looking for tips to plan your big day? Get in touch with me here.

Are you choosing a wedding ring? Make sure you read this first…

Posted on: March 1st, 2018

Your wedding rings are a fundamental part of your special day. An unbroken circle, they represent you and your partner’s married life together. For this post I speak to Colin Tuson of COO Jewellers, who has been advising couples in Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk, London and beyond about wedding jewellery for many years, from the company’s bases at Martels Wedding Village in Essex and Hatton Garden in London. Colin shares his many years of experience and top tips below. If you are looking to choose a ring, his advice will come in very handy…

What is important to bear in mind when selecting rings?
Your wedding ring is something that you’ll want to wear for the rest of your life, so it has to have the wow factor. Whether you want a traditional band or something more individual, it is important that a ring complements the bride’s engagement ring and suits a couple’s personal style. That said, you’re free to mix and match. If you prefer platinum and your partner likes yellow gold, that’s fine. There’s no rule that says you both have to have the same metal or style. All that matters is that you both love the rings you choose.

How important is the choice of metal?
The choice of precious metal for the bride’s ring should be the same as her engagement ring. Precious metals vary in hardness, if you put a harder metal next to a soft metal, the harder metal will wear away the softer metal. As the groom usually wears the wedding ring on its own, any of the precious metals can be used. Platinum rings are becoming increasingly popular with modern couples as it offers a lifetime of maintenance-free wear, as does palladium, which looks very much like platinum but is available at a lower cost. White gold rings are usually rhodium-plated which dulls over time, so the cost of maintenance is something you should consider when selecting your wedding ring metal.

Engraving on the inside and outside of the ring is very popular.

Matching up precious metals is important, though not essential
Colin naturally has a great love of diamonds, and his biggest advice is to ‘sparkle on’.

Is bespoke best?
Most couples choose to have bespoke wedding rings made, as this way they get to have some input in the designs and it feels more personal than choosing a mass-produced ring. If you take this option, you should always allow at least eight to 12 weeks for bespoke rings to be made so they’re ready in time for the big day. Ordering well ahead of time could also save money, as you can avoid the rising gold and platinum prices.

Should it be a surprise or should couples buy rings together?
Buy your wedding rings together. Being given an engagement ring is a nice surprise, but choosing the right wedding band is much more fun to do together. Talking to a specialist wedding ring jeweller will be helpful, as their years of experience will help you choose a band that complements your engagement ring. They’ll also have hundreds of rings you can try on, so you can be guaranteed to find the perfect fit for you.

What about personalisation?
Engraving your rings really adds the personal touch. You can add your wedding date and names or a personal message. You can even keep these secret (which means your partner won’t see the message until the day. Laser engraving is the clearest method of engraving; it costs a little more than traditional etching but is well worth it.

Bespoke rings are particularly beautiful and personal.
Timelessness is important. You’ll be wearing the rings for a very long time (we hope!)
Roman numerals are often used when engraving rings.

Does it have to be a ‘forever’ decision?
Wedding rings are for the long haul. While you shouldn’t be afraid of picking the ring design you like right now, just remember you’ll want something timeless that’ll still look fabulous through your silver, ruby and gold anniversaries! Nonetheless, if you feel you like your ring finger needs an upgrade in the future, that’s OK. After all, you married the person, not the ring.

In your experience, what looks particularly great?
Diamonds, diamonds and more diamonds! If you add a vintage feel, you could be on to a winner. It is important to keep them clean though, and looking their best. You can keep yours gleaming by placing your ring in hot soapy water – an egg cup is fine – overnight. In the morning, brush the diamonds with a baby soft toothbrush which will remove lotions and hand cream. Rinse under warm water and dry it before popping it back on.

Any more top tips?
Enjoy choosing your wedding rings! This is a wonderful experience to share with the one you love.

COO Jewellers is located at 14 Greville Street, Hatton Garden, London EC1N 8SB (Tel: 020 7404 0757) and at Martels Wedding Village, High Easter Road, Barnston, Dunmow, Essex CM6 1NA (Tel: 01245 263950). Visit www.coojewellers.com or follow @coojewellers on Instagram for further information.

Looking for more advice on planning your special day? Contact me here.

Wedding Hair and Make-Up Advice from A Pro: Gemma Peace

Posted on: February 20th, 2018

During my time singing at weddings in Essex, Herts, Suffolk, London and beyond, I have met and worked alongside some fantastic professionals who really know their stuff. One such supplier is Gemma Peace, a professional hair stylist and make-up artist (MUA) who has a great deal of experience working at weddings. In this post, Gemma offers a fascinating insight into her world, and provides some great tips for any bridal party planning a look for their big day:

How did you become interested in hair and make up as a profession?
Originally I wanted to be an actor, so I went to university to study Performing Arts. I started designing the hair and make up looks for performances at uni and discovered a love for it. I thought that if I kept acting as a talent on the side, I could work as a hair stylist and make up artist alongside acting. I graduated, and my dad suggested professional make up artistry training as my next platform, to understand every aspect of it. I was accepted at Delamar Academy, next to Ealing Studios. I was there for four months on a short course and learned wig work, postiche [a hairpiece], special effects, prosthetics, hair styling and anything else you can imagine! I was preparing myself for every single route. I could use my knowledge and experience around the camera to create high quality work.

What was your first job in the industry?
I got in touch with the presenter at MTV, and she hooked me up with the lead make up artist there. At that point I decided that I’d never go back to acting! I had become too shy in front of the camera and preferred making people up and seeing how happy they were with the final outcome. Weddings followed naturally from that and I have been getting busier and busier with them.

Tell us about your experiences at weddings…
I have worked with many different brides, and every day is a new challenge. You get a real mix of personalities, so you need to approach each job with a positive mindset and have that positivity rub off on the bridal party, who are nervous as well as excited. I always suggest that they have a glass of prosecco to calm them down! I bring a range of scented setting sprays with me including coconut and lavender, which helps to achieve a calming effect. I also bring a small gift for the bride to every booking; it is important to recognise that that bride has chosen you over many other possible MUAs.

Gemma Peace trained at the Delamar Academy and has wedding clients from all over the UK. Gemma Peace trained at the Delamar Academy and has wedding clients from all over the UK.

Do you feel under pressure?
There is pressure that comes with my job, but the important thing is to approach it calmly. If the bridal party notices that you are stressed out, it stresses them out too. I don’t think I have ever worked at a wedding where I haven’t organised a trial beforehand. Some people say ‘I don’t want a trial before, I only want to look like that on my wedding day’ but in my experience I would advise against this, as timings will run more smoothly and you will have a better outcome with a trial.

Gemma adds some final touches. Gemma adds some final touches.
Some brides opt for subtle and elegant while others take a more extravagant approach. Some brides opt for subtle and elegant while others take a more extravagant approach.
Gemma always ensures that she builds an excellent relationship with the Mother of the Bride. Gemma always ensures that she builds an excellent relationship with the Mother of the Bride.

What unusual weddings have you worked at?
I have worked on a few themed weddings before, including Alice In Wonderland, which was interesting, as the party wanted old-fashioned victory rolls in their hair, a fake mole, and so on. Some people are very traditional, while others just want to party!

Who do you work closely with on the day?
I work with the whole bridal party and a wide range of ages. I coordinate what I’m doing with the photographer and work closely with them, so I know when they need to come in to the suite to take photos of moments such as the lipstick prep on the bride. Some brides like to have photos of me putting powder on their face, adding last minute touches. It is important for me to get close to the Mother of the Bride, as sometimes they can be more stressed out than the bride themselves! Most weddings are quite relaxed though. I ensure that I say hello to everyone and make them feel comfortable, so that everything runs smoothly.

How have make-up trends and styles changed during your career?
Make-up has definitely got progressively heavier since I first started. Who knows, it could be the influence of the Kardashians?! But trends are forever changing. Flawless perfection is what people tend to ask for, and this very difficult to achieve. I have sat down with bridal parties for a long time in advance, just to make sure that what they have in their minds is what they really want. I advise them to bring a picture as a reference, but it is important to note that what looks good in a photo may not suit you as a person, due to different face shapes and features. But this is all part of the trial stage. A selection of photos is preferable, and not one of themselves as I always want to do what complements their face and what suits them, rather than basing it on what they have created on their own faces before.

What about hair trends?
Some people have poker-straight hair and they come to me wanting it really curly for their wedding day. With the best will in the world, this is not going to last – it is going to drop. It is important to be realistic in what you are trying to achieve. A lot of the weddings I have done recently have been either hair down, half up and half down, or a curly blow dry. One thing I have noticed is that a lot of girls don’t like their ears showing. Even though it is quite elegant to have hair away from the face, brides often like to have their ears covered or partially covered. Personally I think that hair up looks more elegant, but it also depends on what dress they are wearing. I always ask to see the dress and often base hair and make-up around it, because if they have a lot of embellishment in the dress, you wouldn’t choose to have glittery eyes too; you’d want to play it quite simple and have more of a glowing look. If the dress is a bit plainer you could have a red lip on your wedding day, or bigger hair.

What was the most memorable wedding you worked at?
I did a wedding at Hedsor House in Buckinghamshire which was unbelievable. It was a Russian wedding, and it was the only one that I didn’t do a trial for. I had one day’s notice! It was a party of five people. They had gone all out for this wedding: the flowers were amazing and the setting too. The bride wanted loose, wavy hair. It sticks out vividly in my memory because everyone was so extravagant and there was a real party atmosphere in the room while everyone got ready to loud music. Other times though, the bridal party wants to get ready at home in their own space, because they are more comfortable there. But some clients want to be in an extravagant setting because it makes them feel their best – in this way it has similarities with acting. People end up seeing themselves as other people, and have a new-found confidence.

Weddings can be a stressful occasion for families, so a positive mindset and calming influence is paramount. Weddings can be a stressful occasion for families, so a positive mindset and calming influence is paramount.
Gemma has used her acting and production experience to good effect, and also performs make up work for film and TV. Gemma has used her acting and production experience to good effect, and also performs make up work for film and TV.
Wedding clients are aiming for flawless perfection.

What feedback have you had from clients?
So far, I have never had anyone say they don’t like my work. I’m not expecting this to continue forever, but so far so good! I always stay until they are totally happy, to give my best service and keep my reputation. Service and giving that little bit extra is so important.

What are the most common questions you are asked?
Everyone asks me about spray tans and whether they should have one. If you have a spray tan on your face, the make-up can go quite ashy, so I request that brides have a spray tan only up to their chest, which means I can blend in the rest and go round that area. Also, having a spray tan blocks your pores, and they could break out into spots, especially with potential nerves and worry, which is best avoided on your wedding day. I suggest having a facial a few weeks before. It is relaxing, it is good for your skin and is a real treat. Not many future husbands want to see their fiancee caked in make-up, it is not what they are used to seeing and it goes without saying they are in love with the person as they are. Some people want to change their look for their big day, but then they look back on photos and think ‘I look nothing like me’.

What other requests are popular?
Eyelashes have come more into fashion. People are going to lash professionals to have them individually stuck on. From my knowledge, they last as long as your own last and naturally fall out with your lash growth. I personally prefer strip lashes that I apply on the wedding day and the client removes at night as different false lashes suit different eye looks.

Do you find yourself competing with blogs?
It is definitely true that people are influenced by bloggers and trends, and therefore may request certain lipstick shades or products. I am here to advise people as well as work with them and often they are happy to listen to my opinions. When people endorse products, it may not be because they believe the product is nice and beneficial, but rather just to sell it. Being a professional artist, suggesting gorgeous products to my clients is something I adore because I then know they will not be wasting their time and money.

Why is a MUA so important at a wedding?
I definitely think that a make-up artist is an essential at a wedding. Sometimes this is not only about the make-up and hair: it is about being a calming influence and an outsider, which can be a good thing when families are feeling under pressure. Everyone wants to feel special on their wedding day. When you meet someone in a trial, you build a connection before their day arrives, so it is not like having a stranger in the room, which everyone really appreciates. They can get frustrated at you if they want to, or you can be their best friend on the day. I’m always prepared for both.”

To find out more about Gemma, follow her on Instagram @gemmapeacemua or click here https://www.instagram.com/gemmapeacemua/.

Looking for more tips on booking live music or other services for your wedding? Contact me here.

How To Choose A Wedding Dress: Tips From An Expert

Posted on: February 5th, 2018

During my time singing at weddings in Essex, Herts, Suffolk, London and beyond, I have met and appreciated the work of dozens of talented suppliers, including magician Nick Brown. Naturally I am a big fan of live music at weddings (and an acoustic guitarist and singer is a fantastic choice!) but I’m also keen to share the wisdom of other wedding suppliers. For this post, I spoke to bridal wear specialist Nell’Amore, based in Halstead near Colchester, Essex and owned by Lauren Jeffs. Lauren has been providing great advice on dresses for brides and running her own business for more than seven years. I am no expert on dresses, but fortunately Lauren is! Here’s what she had to say:

Embellishments are popular, as is having an oyster or gold hue. Lauren says that ‘more creative and daring backs’ are often seen too.
Nell’Amore prides itself on providing a relaxing atmosphere for brides to try on dresses.
Nell’Amore is dedicated to dresses, but also stocks shoes, accessories and outfits for flower girls.

Why did you decide to open up a bridal wear boutique?
Before Nell’Amore started I had worked in bridal wear for a few years, but due to a car accident and surgery I had to leave that position. I really missed working with the brides and going on their journey with them to help them find the perfect gown. After going through a multi car pile-up you realise how short life can be and I didn’t want to have any ‘what ifs’, so at that point I decided that opening Nell’Amore was something I had to do.

What are the most common questions you receive from brides?
Brides definitely want to be individual, so many brides ask me how many other people have purchased a particular dress, or whether a certain style has been popular. This is understandable; your wedding day is one day that you really don’t want to be like everyone else.

What has been your most unusual request?
The most unusual, but surprisingly common request is when a bridesmaid, mother of the bride or friend asks to try a dress on too. I completely understand if this guest is getting married too, and has a prior arrangement that the bride has made and discussed with us. But many get quite excited and announce that they would like to try a dress on during the brides appointment, which has led to some upset brides.

What are the current popular trends with bridal wear and dress style?
Dresses with a tone of colour are popular right now. Having an oyster or gold hue can really work on many different complexions. Three dimensional detailing and plunging necklines have been huge on the catwalks for 2018. Looking ahead, we are seeing more creative and daring backs with detail running into the trains. I’ve also seen a lot of flowing crepe fabrics, and lace and embellishment continues to be very popular too.

Can you describe how the process works with a typical client?
The first appointment with us usually consists of lots of trying on and discovering what the bride likes and dislikes. It isn’t uncommon to find the perfect one on the first appointment. Once measurements have been taken, it takes between four and six months for the bride’s dress to be made, and then it arrives in store with us. Behind the scenes, we spend time checking and steaming the dress before the bride’s next appointment. At this appointment, she will try her actual dress on for the very first time. Following this fitting, six to eight weeks before the big day we start alterations. The final fitting with the seamstress may be the week before the wedding, to ensure the fit is just right.

Aside from bride dresses, what else do you specialise in?
We like to solely dedicate the shop to the bride. Aside from gowns, we also stock shoes from Benjamin Adams and accessories from Ivory & Co and Richard Designs. As many brides like to match flower girls with themselves, we also stock a small collection of flower girl designs.

What would be your three top tips for brides choosing a dress?
1) Try on an array of shapes and work out which is best for your figure, but don’t ‘over try’. Trying on too many can confuse what you like.
2) Bring the right people with you who will help you make the right decision. Huge groups of people can cause confusion for the bride by asking too many opinions.
3) Try not to re-design. If you are changing the dress design too much, you probably haven’t found the right dress for you.

For more information about Nell’Amore Bridal Wear, visit https://www.nellamore-bridalwear.co.uk. Lauren can be reached on 01787 478987 and the address of the shop is 14 High Street, Halstead, Essex CO9 2AP. You can also find the shop on Instagram @nellamore.bridalwear or Facebook @NellAmoreBridalWear.

For further advice on planning your special day, contact me here.

Looking to hire live music? Read more about the services I provide, view my repertoire, watch videos, see prices or read testimonials.

Great Reasons To Hire A Magician For Your Wedding…

Posted on: January 23rd, 2018

I am a singer and acoustic guitarist who is very experienced in performing at weddings in Essex, Herts, Suffolk, London and beyond. I am a great believer in live music, but I am also a great believer in wedding entertainment in all its forms! For this blog post, I sat down with magician Nick Brown, who told me a little more about the art of magic and performing it at special occasions. Magicians should never reveal their secrets, but here Nick lets us in on one or two:

How long have you been interested in magic, and why weddings?
My interest in magic started when I was a small boy. I used to spend my school holidays with my Grandad, and he would show me tricks, sparking my interest. Around 10 years ago I decided I would like to turn professional, so I started studying, practicing and taking one-to-one lessons. Before long I was working semi professionally and then moved into full-time three years ago. I’ve been performing at weddings at every stage of this journey. Weddings are my favourite events to perform at, and where I think I can make the most difference.

Which parts of the wedding day do you perform at?
I offer my services for three distinct parts of the day: the drinks reception, the wedding breakfast and the evening. I find that drinks receptions are the most popular. The bride and groom are off having official photographs and guests can sometimes feel like they are not involved. I mix and mingle, pull small groups together and give them five minutes of fun. It’s a great ice breaker.

What props do you use?
My close-up case contains obvious items such as cards and coins, and some less obvious things such as keys, rubber bands, fruit, snooker balls and cutlery. I like to work with everyday objects and with a good variety of props. I also perform with borrowed objects such as bank notes and jewellery, which are always returned safely!

What is your favourite type of trick to perform?
The oldest magic in the world is the famous cups and balls trick. I perform my own version with a Costa Coffee cup and a rolled-up bank note. It plays well to ages 8 to 80 and gets big reactions.

What was your most memorable client?
I think my most memorable booking was two years ago at the Riverbank Plaza Hotel in London. It was a corporate booking for a paper and print industry lunch for 300 people. I had been to this annual lunch many times in the past when I was working in that industry, and then all of a sudden I was there as the professional magician entertaining lots of people I used to work with and do business with. It was a stark reminder of how much you can change your life if you make the effort and take some risks.

How do you recover when tricks don’t go to plan?
This happens very infrequently, and much less now than when I first started out. In most cases experience enables you to recover things, but not always. Sometimes you have to just relax and say you’ve messed up! Everyone makes an occasional mistake. If the rest of your magic is brilliant, people won’t even notice it.

What are your favourite venues to perform at in Herts and Essex?
The list, in no particular order, would include Down Hall, Parklands, Fennes and Leez Priory. The most upmarket place I have worked, albeit not in Herts or Essex, was a couple of weeks ago at the Guild Hall in London.

Are some guests more difficult to perform magic to than others?
Yes. I would say that 90% of people love magic and participate fully in the fun. The other 10% can be more difficult to perform for, either because they’re very shy and don’t want any attention, or because they get very frustrated by not being able to work out how things are done. On other occasions, they may simply be drunk! However, every guest receives my full attention and best effort, and the 10% of doubters can more often than not be converted to magic lovers in the end.

Why should couples opt for a magician at their wedding?
I think that couples should always have some form of entertainment for their guests. Guests spend a whole day at a wedding and there are parts of the day which lend themselves to some entertainment. This makes things more fun for the guests, more memorable and creates a talking point. This entertainment can be anything. I have seen musicians, caricaturists, singing waiters – I even saw a Derek Trotter lookalike at one wedding! A magician is just one option, but the great thing about magic is that it is highly visual, interactive and great fun.

Find out more about Nick and how you can book him via his web site http://www.essex-magician.com and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/nickbrownmagic/. For advice on booking entertainment at your wedding, contact me here.