WHAT TO DO, WHERE TO EAT & WHAT TO SEE IN ZADAR & SPLIT, CROATIA

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I can’t believe it’s been over two weeks since I came back from Croatia, I spent a week in this beautiful country and ticked a couple of places of my ‘to see’ list whilst I was there! If you’re planning a trip here anytime soon, or maybe you’re thinking of visiting Croatia for your honeymoon or are simply dreaming up new pretty place to explore in the future then be sure to pin this page to your travel board for future use! I’m going to be sharing places to visit, where we stayed, what to eat, my favourite moments and a few helpful tips and tricks!

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VISIT IN SPLIT

Hands down my favourite day of the whole trip was when we took a day trip to Krka national park. This park is full of these insanely gorgeous natural waterfalls that you can gawk over! (Actually if you go in the summer months you can swim in them!) we booked our tour with a company called Splitlicious and I couldn’t recommend them enough! We got picked up in a mini bus around 8am in the morning and headed to Krka, it takes about 40 minutes to walk around the entire park and there’s a lovely little restaurant that over looks the waterfalls where we ate lunch.

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A GUIDE TO PHUKET (IF YOU’RE AVOIDING BANGLA ROAD)

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Happy hump day guys! I’m so excited to share some tips and advice on my recent trip to Phuket with you today, if you’re planning a trip to Thailand soon, considering it for your honeymoon or are simply dreaming up new places to visit in the future then be sure to pin this page to your travel board for future use! I’m going to be sharing places to visit, where we stayed, what to eat, my favourite moments and what you should pack!

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VISIT

Obviously one of the best things to do if you’re staying in Phuket is to visit Phi Phi Islands, they’re a set of 6 beautiful islands each with their own unique qualities! The most famous of the bunch is the uninhabited Phi Phi Leh since that classic scene with Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘The Beach’ was filmed there. Beware though it can get RIDICULOUSLY busy! We visited Phi Phi with a tour called Simba Sea Trips which got us to Phi Phi Leh for about 6:30am, the sun had just rose and we ate breakfast on the beach which was beautiful. When we arrived there was maybe less than 30 people there but our tour guide informed us that by lunch time there’s normally around 1000 people! And let me tell you, it’s a small beach. So get there as early as you can if you want to get some nice photos and really soak up the atmosphere undisturbed.

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FLORENCE IN A DAY

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One of my favourite things about Italy is that no matter what part of it I’ve been to it’s always been beautiful and the food has always been incredible! A few weeks ago me and James took a break in Italy, we stayed in Pisa, rented a car and explored Cinque Terre and Florence while we were there. In case you missed it, you can see our guide to Cinque Terre here with lots of helpful tips! Today though, we’re going to be talking about Florence!

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As I mentioned before we rented a car and it took us just over an hour to get to Florence from Pisa. Parking there can be a little tricky due to the ZTL. Basically, you can’t drive into the City walls unless you are a resident or have a permit. If you cross into the ZTL then it’s a costly error as you can incur a fine of up to €100 each time you enter it. (yikes)

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CINQUE TERRE: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO GETTING THERE, WHAT TO SEE & WHERE TO EAT!

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You know when you’re scrolling through Pinterest and you come across those beautiful places and you pin them to that ‘some day travel’ board? Well, let me tell you, Cinque Terre has been on that board for a long time my friends and last week I finally got to experience the unforgettable place! It was a Birthday surprise from James and I couldn’t have been more excited to get there, see the colourful buildings, explore the charming little streets and stuff my face with Italian food! While we were there I felt like we learnt a lot and definitely picked up some tips to make the entire trip run smoothly so I figured I would share as much of our Cinque Terre travel advice with you as possible, you might want to grab a brew guys, it’s a long one!

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HOW TO USE BESPOKE BRIDE TO PLAN YOUR WEDDING

DIY-ombre-tulle-skirts-two-tone-blue-purple-orange-pink-8 While many of you will be returning to work today (booooo!!), some of you will be heading back with some very exciting news to share with your peers: Christmas 2015 was the year you got engaged! If you are one of these lucky lovelies we would would like to say a HUGE CONGRATULATIONS and for those of you that have been here before we would like to welcome you back and we wish you a very happy new year.

Whether you are new to the world of bridal blogs or a wedding blog connoisseur, we have created this handy little little guide to help you make the most of our platform whilst on your wedding planning journey, so be sure to save this to your favourites as we think you are going to want to come back…

First let us introduce ourselves, we are Emily & Jess, friends and co-founders of Bespoke Bride and BB boutique (we will tell you more about that in a sec). We started the blog in 2011 after dabbling in our own startup wedding businesses and used the blog to collate inspiration, chat about our own ideas and share our own products and images. We wanted to create a platform where we could share the weddings we had come to love, those that were detailed, original, creative and innovative – those that reflected the true personality and character of the couples themselves!

So how can you use our blog to help plan your wedding?

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Photography by Brilliant Imagery

Be Inspired

“Inspired by Us, Created by You!”

We share everything from real weddings & styled shoots to engagements & bridal showers, all of which are a great source of inspiration. Our real weddings include helpful information from brides that have first hand experience of planning a wedding, this can be anything from how the couple decided on a venue, to budgets and vendor information. Styled shoots are a little different, although they are created by real vendors, the couples involved are often models and the shoot has been created in order to showcase a particular theme or trend, as well as the talents of the vendor for inspiration.

Here are some of our most popular to get you started…

A Kate Spade-esque Styled Shoot with a Magnificent Black & White Stripe Dress

This Couple Went on a Colourful Wall Crawl for their E-shoot and Found a Giant Ball Pit!

Botanical Bridal Shower: Gossip Girl Meets Pitch Perfect

Pink To Make the Boys Wink: An Eclectic Las Vegas Elopement

Gummy Bears & Nerf Guns! A Colourful Handmade Wedding at a Forest Retreat

Playful Destination Wedding Inspired by Mexican Tradition

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Find Vendors

Whether you already have a clear idea of what you want your wedding to look like or you have happened upon this blog in search of recommendations, it won’t be long until you mind is brimming with ideas. Now you just have to find the vendors that will  help make it happen, well this is where BB boutique comes in.

Our carefully curated marketplace, contains over 50 high quality, unique and stylish wedding suppliers, offering hundreds of unique products, including bridal gowns & accessories, decor, favours and stationery, many of which can be customised to fit the bespoke nature of your wedding. Here you will also find a comprehensive directory of high quality services, including photographers, transport providers & videographers. Our platform enables you to buy all the products you require from one single checkout, as well as contact vendors.

Create Wish Lists

The wish list feature on BB boutique is a very handy little tool that enables you to organise, compare and keep track of the products and vendors that you have your eye on.  You can name your wish list, add a description and choose whether to make the list private or share with your family members and friends.

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WANT TO OWN A PART OF BB BOUTIQUE? WE ARE NOW OPEN FOR INVESTMENT!

BB Boutique devicesHave you ever had a business idea but insufficient funds to get it off the ground? Or perhaps you have already started your business but need money to grow? Well that is what happened to us 2 years ago. Sat on a sun lounger in Mexico (that’s how all great stories seem to start around here!) I read ‘How To Build a Business From Your Kitchen Table’, written by retail experts Sophie Cornish & Holly Tucker founders of Notonthehighstreet.com. Their story was incredibly inspirational and I totally related, as we too have always been extremely passionate about championing small, unique & innovative wedding businesses on Bespoke Bride.

I thought about how awesome it would be to create a similar platform for weddings, not only selling stylish and personalised items, but also promoting creative services such as photographers, venues and videographers. When I got home I shared the idea with Jess and she was instantly onboard. For some time we had been chatting about how impractical traditional blog advertising had been for our couples and thought this would be a fantastic tool to effectively help couples find the best suppliers to make their weddings personal and unique.

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As we started our search for a web designer we soon realised our business idea was going to be costly and we would definitely need a lot more cash. We exhausted our own savings, took out personal loans and even borrowed money from family but it wasn’t long before that had run out too. By chance we happened upon a competition being held by Upstart Women, looking for women in startup tech businesses like ours to enter for the chance to win a place on a business incubator and a £10,000 investment. This was the first time we had ever seriously considered investment, and we certainly didn’t take it lightly. So after a lot of research we finally decided if we were ever going to grow this little business idea of ours, we would need to take the leap. To our surprise we ended up winning and since then a business idea born on the beaches of Mexico is finally a reality.

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So why raise more investment?

Since its launch, it was soon obvious that we desperately needed more manpower if we were to make BB boutique the success we had always wanted it to be. Some also rather unforeseen circumstances meant we were forced to release a beta version of our site instead of the more complex software we had originally planned, which meant it wouldn’t be long until we would need to find more money to help evolve our software and that is where we are at right now and is why we have turned to ‘crowdfunding’.

We already have an extremely supportive community here at Bespoke Bride, many of you have shared your words of encouragement for both our blog and BB boutique and have told us how excited you are to see us grow! You guys are our ‘Crowd’! And a pretty rockin’ crowd at that!

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OFF THE RECORD: ITS TIME TO BINGE ON TV, READ BOOKS AND TAKE LONG BATHS

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EMILY LOVES…

Binging on TV! When the days are cold are wet like they are today all I want to do is get into warm pyjama, jump on the couch with a blanket and my cat and watch Pretty Little Liars. Anyone else as obsessed as I am? 

Dreaming of summer and booking our holidays!! I am so excited as this week we booked our trip to Mexico. This will be the second time me and Mr T have been and I am just dying to see our hotel because it is part of Xcaret, only one of my most favourite places in the world!!! 

♥ Having my future told by a clairvoyant! I obviously can’t tell you what was said but lets just say I am really looking forward to the year ahead!

Heading to Slimbridge for the Festival of Birds, I shared some of my images over on my personal blog.

Ginger, Orange and Carrot juice! I just cannot get enough!

My new book by Mike Dilger ‘My Garden & Other Animals‘! I cant wait to start making some changes to our backyard over the next few months and did you know it is now only three weeks until the start of Spring. Summer will be here before we know it!!

JESS LOVES…

Going to one of my favorite restaurants, El Puerto to celebrate mine and James’s three year anniversary! It was the place we had our first date and the food was just as delicious this time, I love me some tapas!! 

Spending the evening in a snazzy hotel too, the bath had a TV at the end of it so I made sure to take a Lush Bath bomb and make the most of it, I must have been in there for an hour and a half! 

Having lunch at PieMinister, anybody else obsessed with this place?! The Heidi pie is so scrummy! Hello sweet potato, goats cheese and spinach! 

Getting back to creating our DIYs for ‘A Month of Hearts’ I am absolutely loving having more focus with them and it’s been so fun dreaming up our future ‘months of”, there’s lots of exciting things coming up! 

Having my friend Anne come and visit, she’s from Canada but is spending 6 months studying in London so it was awesome to have her come stay for the weekend and show her around my home town! 

Watching The Walking Dead, oh my days, we’re on season 4 now and I can’t help but keep watching and watching, I’m glued to it! The suspense!! 

WHAT WE’VE BEEN LOVING AROUND THE WEB…

DIYS

Photography by Brittni Mehlhoff

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12 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR WEDDING MORE YOU – WITH ADVICE FROM OUR PREVIOUS BRIDES!

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A Fun Filled DIY Wedding With a Nod to Chinese & Japanese Culture

One of the things we are often asked is how to make a wedding more personalized. Now for us that seems like an insanely simple answer, yet that is because we spend almost every waking moment being creative, for us adding personality is a fun challenge. However, for others the idea of adding a personal touch sounds more complicated, especially as the word DIY usually finds its way into the same sentence.

Although I agree crafting personal touches can add a little something unique, it isn’t the only way to make your wedding more you. So we have listed our top 12 original ideas, using tried and tested advice from our previous ‘real brides’. Enjoy!

Write Your Own Vows

We wrote our own vows in secret, only consulting on the maximum length. No-one was more surprised than us, that we had picked out the same anecdotes from our relationship to highlight. I was very close to tears and it just cemented the knowledge that we were meant to be together. We also wrote our ring exchange based on our wonderful experience of making our rings in Dorset at Flux ‘n Flame jewellery school.”

Rainbow themed wedding

Mutual Weirdness Forever

Make Your Outfits Work For You

Ronnie chose the groomsmen outfits based on his own quirky style. Knee socks are a Ronnie staple! We knew that the only way Ronnie could truly enjoy our day was if he got to experience it in his own version of dressed up. It was because of the outfit choice that we decided on the color scheme, which ended up morphing into the theme of the wedding, I even had a friend add a rainbow tulle petticoat to my dress. Multicolor and mutual weirdness sprung from who we are! We wanted our guests to feel like they were celebrating us in our way, just as we are!”

Intimate, Rustic DIY Wedding

An Intimate DIY Wedding Filled with Laughter

Drive to the Ceremony Together

“One of my favorite parts of the day was the drive to our venue. The Groom and I drove together, and had a sing-along to one of our favorite bands to get out some nerves.”

A Science & Glitter themed wedding

A Glitterific, Scientific, Museum Wedding

Choose Your Own Dancing Tunes

We planned all of the music ourselves. We are both huge music lovers and we didn’t feel happy paying a generic DJ to play the top 40 for us so we designed playlists on Spotify for each part of the wedding, even the order the songs would play in so they faded into each other correctly. The music was a real labour of love and we will treasure those playlists forever.”

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10 TIPS FOR SUCCESSFULLY BREAKING INTO THE WEDDING INDUSTRY

10 Tips for Breaking into the Wedding Industry

Photos by Bespoke Bride

I felt a little uncomfortable writing today’s post as I wasn’t sure if I would class myself as having enough experience or knowledge to give advice on how to ‘break into the wedding industry’. I am by no means an expert and although our blog is now 3 years old I would say we are still very much in the learning phase, in fact I don’t think we will ever stop learning? I am sure many owners of businesses, big or small, will agree that a lot of owning a successful company is to keep acquiring knowledge on your industry. Things change all the time and so it is vital that you are open to new ideas and not afraid to try something new in order to keep up with this ever changing, crazy world!

So what spurred me to write today’s post? Well, to our surprise over the past few months we have received a lot of enquiries from businesses, from fledgling to much more accomplished, looking to break into a new industry. Questions have ranged from who they should network with? What events they should go to and How should they market their product?

As I said before I am not an expert and the only advice I can offer is based on personal experience, so if you are reading this and think you can offer even more help, then hop on down to the comments section and feel free to share your pearls of wisdom. After all that is what this blog is here for. Now lets get started!

1. Get Some Experience

This is more for the newbies but I suppose this could also apply to those more established businesses looking to break into a completely different sector? For example if you are a fledgling photographer looking to go pro, why not enquire with a couple of photographers about second shooting, not only will this help build up your portfolio but you will pick up some great hints and tips from the pro’s that you might not have learnt anywhere else, not forgetting to mention making some super valuable connections. If on the other hand you already own a well established company but are thinking of adding wedding packages to your repertoire, then make sure you do your research first. Is there a real need for you in this market? Will you have the extra time, staff, money needed to take on extra work? You might even want to offer your services to a friend for a trial run (the wedding industry isn’t for everyone!) or maybe offer a discounted rate whilst you build up a bigger portfolio in that particular niche.

2. Define Your Brand

This is something we are particularly passionate about. Your brand is so important for attracting the type of potential customer that you would like to work with. For example when considering our branding, we chose bright colours,geometric shapes and bold fonts. Why? Well, first we wanted our brand to reflect our personalities and second we wanted to attract the more modern couple, those that weren’t afraid to stand out and be different, those looking to make a statement.

Not to blow our own trumpets or anything, but I think we did pretty darn good job too,  as we have achieved exactly what we wanted!

3. Get to Grips with Social Media

Personally I think every business should have at least a Facebook page? I know there may be tonnes of business out there without one and they might be doing perfectly fine with the clientele they have and that is ace, but in order to get new clients and spread the word I really feel that your business needs to be on Facebook. Personally I don’t think it is difficult to set up and it requires minimal input, so even the busiest person can keep it up to date. Ideally I would look at posting at least 2-3 times a week if you can manage it, if not, just try to be consistent and use it to network when you have time, then you won’t go far wrong. If you are already a well established business consider setting up a wedding specific page that promotes the services you offer for this particular niche.

Again if you have time, I would suggest Twitter being the next platform you log into. I can honestly say that we have made some of the best business connections through this platform and I would highly recommend it for building relationships with others in your industry. It is especially good for being helpful so Twitter gets a big thumbs up from us!

Another note I would like to make on social media, which I have mentioned before, is to make sure you are keeping it professional at all times. I not only speak for myself when I say I can’t stand to see business pages slagging off other businesses, it gives me a bad impression immediately and I am scared to build a relationship with them, in fear I will one day be the subject of their latest rant. It is a huge no no!

If you really are ready to go full steam ahead with social media other platforms you might want to get involved with are Pinterest, Instagram and Google +, however I would make sure I was at least a master of one before I started on another. There is nothing worse than seeing a bunch of social media platforms, with some half arsed attempts.

4. Build a Portfolio

I don’t know about you but I will never book or order anything without seeing it first. So why would booking for a wedding be any different? Couples want to know they are getting value for money, so they will want to see examples of your previous work before they consider hiring you. This is where a portfolio comes in, some businesses display this on their website whilst others will have good old fashioned hard copy. If you are a fledgling business this might prove to be a little problematic but this is where experience comes in handy. Try to get involved with as many projects as you possibly can? Talk to other newbie suppliers about setting up a styled shoot, this will be a great way of you all showcasing your skills without any added pressure and who knows, if it turns out to be successful you could also get it featured on a blog and then you will have a shiny ‘featured on’ badge to display on your website.

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