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.

Products & Services 9Arrow Cinema Sign by Hey Style Hire

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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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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On Working in a Partnership with Friends

Working in a Partnership with Friends

Photography by Craig Dearsley Photo

As many of you will know last month saw us celebrate our blogs 3rd birthday, so in light of that I wanted to get all warm and fuzzy and reflect on the amazing time I have had working with Jess – ‘happy Friendiversary’!

To this day I still find it quite unbelievable that three years ago, I was living a completely different life to what I am today, I was still at university, had just been made redundant and was looking to make some extra cash getting creative with eco stationery. It was around about that time I contacted my hairdressers daughter (Jess – who at that time was a start-up wedding photographer) to find out if she would be interested in taking some product shots of my stationery. She came to my house a few days later and it was on this very first meeting that I told her I had just read an interesting article about ‘blogging’ which I thought might be a great way to promote my business. To my surprise Jess had also been wanting to create a blog for her wedding photography and so naturally for fear of the unknown, we thought it would feel a lot less scary if we went on this journey together and combined our skills.

It would be much more professional for me to sit here and tell you that before deciding to go into business together we sat down and had serious discussions about the legal bits, the business bits and the money bits but in all honesty we didn’t and that is because it was never our intention to make our blog a business. It wasn’t long however until we wanted it to become more than a hobby. Blogging for us felt more fulfilling and exciting than our own individual projects. It was refreshing to be able to work on something together, as many small business owners will know, self employment can be terribly lonely sometimes and we found ourselves looking forward to the days we got to work together on our blog!

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Off The Record: Happy 3rd Birthday!!

Bespoke Bride Instagram 3rd Birthday

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Can you believe that Bespoke Bride is  3 years old this week! That is so crazy right! I never in a million years thought I would be saying that, when we started our little old blog in my tiny spare room back in 2011. So much has changed since then for both me and Jess, but it still only feels like yesterday that we made the best decision of our lives! So to celebrate 3 years we have decided to do a little recap of all the awesome things we have done in that time.

And to all the wedding suppliers reading this, be sure to read to the end because we have a fabulous celebratory gift to share with you, for being so flippin amazing and supporting us the whole way!

Lets start with a few of our most favourite posts!

EMILY LOVES…

Banoffee Pie in Disguise!

 Glastonbury Festival Themed Wedding at the Eden Project

How to Decorate a Confetti Cake

♥ Alice in Winterland – A Colourful Trash the Dress Including a Fluffy White Bunny Rabbit

♥ A Willy Wonka Styled Shoot for Weird and Wonderful Wedding World!

 A Creative & DIY Wedding Filled With Talented Etsy Suppliers and a Hint Of Hollywood Glam!

JESS LOVES…

A Mexican Fiesta Engagement Shoot! 

 DIY Ombre Wedding Dress

 Harajuku Girl Visits English Country House!

 DIY Geometric Concrete Candle Holders

 10 Ways A Dog Wedding Would Be PAWsome! 

 The Love Of The Irish Styled Shoot

DIY Feather Headdress or Crown

DIYS

♥ How To Make Oreo Pops (Aka…The Yummiest Favours Ever!)

 Festival Feather Headdress Tutorial

How To Make a Vibrant Floral Crown

♥ Polka Dot Pom Pom Balloons with Tissue Paper Tassels

♥ How To Make Your Own Terrarium Centerpiece

 How To Make Your Own Fun Pineapple Floral Arrangement

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Why Do Wedding Blogs Request ‘Exclusivity’?

Bespoke Bride by Craig Dearsley Photography

All Photography by Craig Dearsley Photo

I have a feeling that today’s post is going to go down rather like a jar of Marmite. You are either going to love it or hate it!

I am writing this today after watching a rather uncomfortable debate unfold on social media a few weeks back that suggested photographers and suppliers boycott blogs that request exclusivity. Whilst I accept that everybody is entitled to their opinion, I felt that this statement was harsh and in turn I felt moved to write today’s post explaining why we personally request exclusivity and why we are more than happy with our policy.

Our decision for requesting exclusive content wasn’t taken lightly. We had been blogging for over a year and felt that if we were ever going to stand out from the crowd and carve our own niche in what seemed like a sea of wedding blogs, then requesting exclusive content needed to be our first step. Previously we had been blogged weddings (with the consent of both photographer and the blog in which the wedding first featured) that had been blogged elsewhere, however it didn’t take us long to realise that this was having a negative effect on our blog. By the time a reader had come to us they had already seen the wedding elsewhere, and so we were losing their ‘custom’ so to speak.

Now before anyone says “It shouldn’t matter as we all have different blog audiences”, that is not strictly true. Jess and I spent a lot of time last year attending and exhibiting at different wedding fairs. Anyone that has a blog that tries exhibiting at shows will know just how difficult it can be to advertise a blog, so we utilised our time by doing some research whilst there, asking brides & grooms which blogs they had heard of and which ones they read. Now I won’t name names (you can probably guess who they are anyway) but pretty much the same three wedding blogs kept coming up over and over again and rightly so, as these are the blogs that have paved the way for wedding blogs here in the UK. All these blogs have very different niches, one specialises in alternative wedding inspiration the second is top of the class for style and the third is full of elegant fashion, all of which were the top three most read by each of our subjects. The point I am trying to make here is that it would be extremely naive of us to think that our readers only visit our blog. There is a good chance that many of the people that join us here are avid wedding blog fans, we are more than likely to be just one in a long list of blogs on their readers that they visit on a daily basis during their work commute or lunch break.

I also feel it is important to mention here that we are in fact a blog that aims to inspire couples using innovative & original content, we would sound rather hypocritical if we started sharing work that appeared on all the other blogs don’t you think?

In an ideal world we would all be able to share the same content to get all of our suppliers maximum exposure but unfortunately blogs just cannot work in that way, especially if like us, you want to make a living from your blog. Think of us as a storefront, the real weddings, DIY’s and Styled shoots are rather like the products we have available in store. We aim to stock (or share) the latest, most innovative and original ‘products’ in order to create high volumes of traffic which in turn sees our suppliers receiving more ‘views’. Blogs are essentially a marketing tool for suppliers so it is easy to in this instance why exclusivity is important to us.

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Money Talks: When Should You Talk About Finances in Your Relationship?

Money Talks

Photography by Katja Hentschel

If you are anything like me, one of the most awkward conversations you will ever have with your partner will be about money. I have always had a rather unhealthy relationship with money in that I have never really had a lot or made much. I have pretty much spent most of my life as a student and as soon as I finished in education I decided to start my own business, so as you can imagine I have always been pretty skint, learning to just scrape by with whatever money I had. In the past it never really bothered me, I only really had myself to think about so if it meant I had to go without luxuries I got over it, that was until I met and then moved in with Mr T.

All of sudden it wasn’t just me anymore and I soon began to feel ashamed that Mr T was being subjected to my simple,  student style of living. Before he met me he would go to concerts, have holidays, weekends away and more importantly have food in the fridge but now all of that was being put on the backburner and I started to feel resentful of my business choices and guilty that he was no longer able to enjoy all the things he did before. I was afraid that he would end up resenting me, so it was time to bite the bullet and have the money talk.

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Off The Record: Birthdays, Booze and Blurry Eyes

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Happy Happy Sunday ladies and gents! It was my birthday Friday so I have spent much of the weekend celebrating and I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a few celebratory drinks, and this morning I am definitely feeling it. Next week will be another exciting week for me as myself and Mr T are heading out to Sweden to visit my best friend in Lund. We will arrive in Stockholm and spend a few days there, then move on to Lund and finally Copenhagen. I am so stupidly excited and they have already had the first sightings of snow so I know its going to make me feel very festive indeed. I really must thank my other half for this gift I am so very blessed!

Emily Loves…

Visiting our local christmas craft fair – the smell of mulled cider and roasted chestnuts really had me feeling all festivally and listening to the Victorian Choir was amazing!

Thanks to Jess I can now add a new Crown and Glory crown to my little collection as she so kindly bought me the new Sophie Glitter Rose Headband. I have had my eye on that crown for some time and will now be proudly wearing it for the rest of the christmas period!

Starting to make our house a home. We moved into our house last summer and I have to admit we have been a little bit lazy when it comes to making it ours. We finally made a start this week putting up blinds and buying a few more bits and bobs. Over the coming months I have big plans to completely renovate our old dining room table and book shelves as well as lots of other features which I am totally psyched about!

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