Wow what a year 2019 has been for The White Emporium!
When I first started The White Emporium it was by dream that I would be able to give back to and support causes close to my heart. After many years of building the business gradually I found myself in a position earlier this year where I either walked away from the small business I loved or I take the jump and make it my main income. As much as I hate talking about The White Emporium as a job as I see it as a passion, it does have to pay my bills and contribute to supporting my family. I am so excited to say that my decision to proceed and take a risk has paid off, over 6 months later The White Emporium has grown bigger than I ever believed it would and I am constantly chasing my tail to keep up.
With this growth comes my ability to give and after months of thinking about what is important to me and my family and where can The White Emporiums support do the most good not just now but in the future as well. I am literally so excited to announce that I have partnered with The Forest of Marston Vale to help contribute towards their mission to plant an extra 5 million trees in the Bedfordshire area. Country life is at the very heart of what I do, it inspires me, defines my styling hand writing and out in the fresh air is where I feel happiest and relaxed. I want to be able to help teach Devon the importance of protecting the environment and caring for the world around us so that her generation can help protect it for years to come.
Here’s a little more about The Forest of Marston Vale –
”The Forest of Marston Vale is a Community Forest and a Charity, planting trees and using woodlands to make life better for the people and wildlife in the 61 square mile area of the Marston Vale, between Bedford and Milton Keynes The Charity has planted over 2 million trees to transform the landscape and improve the prospects of the Marston Vale, because trees make life better – for people, for wildlife and for the planet. They help to cool and clean our air, lock up carbon, reduce flooding, provide sustainable raw materials, and are our best hope in combating the climate crisis. The Charity’s ultimate goal is 30% tree cover across the Forest and that means planting another 5 million trees.”
So when one of my amazing couples books either a ‘Take The Weight Off‘ Styling service or ‘A Helping Hand‘ styling service with a minimum hire spend of £500 then I will donate a tree to the forest tree planting initiative. So far in 2019 I will be donating 9 trees to next years planting. I will soon be emailing the couples who’s weddings have helped contribute to say a huge thank you and inviting them to take part in public tree planting days.
There are many other ways that I am tackling my environmental impact which I will be blogging about in due course but I just couldn’t contain my excitement about the trees so had to shout about it! It has always been a goal of mine to be able to give back and I am so pleased I am finally in a position to be able to make a difference no matter how small.
Images from Lola Rose Photography
For more info about the work of The Forest of Marston Vale follow the link.
I don’t know if it’s because I am a mum, or small business owner or both, but I find it incredibly difficult to take me time. Any time I do spend by myself that’s not work related is usually spent punishing my body at some gruelling exercise class. Great for cleaning out the cobwebs and a de-stress, but not so great for a relax and unwind.
When Lords and Ladies asked me to try their new Therapeutic Harmony Massage I couldn’t say no. 85mins of peace and quiet away from a computer, phone (I bet my i-phone thought it had been abandoned) or baby. Absolute bliss! It was during this 85 glorious minutes this blog post was born, as in the back of my mind that little niggle of guilt was speaking to me. Should I really be laying there with my eyes closed when there was so much to do and I had left Little D in the care of family, should someone else be looking after my child when I was basically off having a jolly! As Amy’s skilled hands pummelled and smoothed my overworked body my mind was free to wander and soon banished the feelings of guilt away. Not only can I not remember the last time I was that still and quiet without being asleep but I actively chose not to think about work. Instead I set to solving the problems of Brexit, day dreaming about where I would love to go on holiday and wondering just how Game of Thrones was going to end. In the past year I don’t think my brain has dared to venture outside the realms of weddings or babies.
The massage itself was everything I could have wanted it to be. Amazing smelling oils, firm hands that got into those hard to find knots made worse by the constant lugging of heavy boxes (oh the glamour of being a Venue Stylist) all set in the stunning ambience of this gem of a salon. The mix of deep tissue massage, head massage and sweeping strokes was really vitalising. when I stood up I felt like the elastic man, with a flexibility lost since the day Devon broke me. I also walked out mentally pumped, my brain was on fire and it continued into the next day, I was so motivated, the massage proved to be a non toxic version of Red Bull!
So why don’t I take more ‘Me Time’ if it’s good for business and my energy levels then surely I should feel ok about it. Maybe it comes from the comments made in jest about my daughter forgetting who I am as I am away for work, (I know they don’t mean it but it stings all the same). If I have to leave her for work then I shouldn’t choose to leave her for pleasure. I am terrible at switching off, always thinking about the work that needs to be done, what candle sticks need to be de-waxed, terrible at sitting down still, when there is always something itching at me to be done.
But the concept of ‘Me Time’ is so important. Throughout my NCT classes they almost drilled the concept into you, find some time to switch off and unwind, it will make you a better mum. But in reality who actually does it? But we should! we really should! I sometimes think of my life as that of the old advert for the Duracell bunny, the bunny keeps going because it can, because it’s packed full of energy but eventually it also falls over. Mums and business owners are the same, if we don’t stop, take that half hour out, get our brain lost in that book then at some point we to will burn out.
So I have made a promise to myself (I will try very hard to follow) to take time out. starting with picking up a book again, so the last thoughts I have before I go to sleep aren’t about answering emails or how I will juggle looking after Devon with trying to pack for a hire collection, but about something meaningless, something I have spent 5 blissful minutes escaping into.
Throwing it back almost 4 years to the second styled shoot I ever worked on. This beautiful Camber Sands styled shoot featured in Rock My Wedding , given it’s age I still feel it looks timeless and elegant. Full of the perfect boho beach inspiration.
Georgina and Patrick were the most wonderfully in love couple, that just oozzed chemistry. Georgina had a messy fishtail braid, perfect for a windy beach, her dress was simple, elegant and so relevant in today’s bridal fashion trends. Patrick wore light coloured chinos, paired with a white shirt and braces. How wonderfully laid back they looked!
To keep the look of the table in keeping I styled a low level striped back palette table, with scatter floor cushions, a splash of sequins and mini cacti. The perfect elopement setting included a lace tipi, perfect for snuggles and getting out of the breeze.
The flowers included peachy tones, whites and hints of blue corn flower.
To make the shoot even better Guinness the horse got in on the action and made the perfect model.
Photos: Summer Lily Studio
Styling: Moi – The White Emporium
Hair: Updo’s by Natasha
Make-Up: Mackenzie – Live Life Pretty
Cakes: Petals and Crumbs
Very soon I will be merging the featured and the blog sections of my website together, this will mean you will soon be able to find all inspiration content in one place. Yippeee, no more back button just endless scrolling!
To start off here is the beautiful humanist wedding of Ali and Pat from July 2018. Ali and Pat had a to die for humanist ceremony followed by a reception in a yurt (my second yurt wedding of 2018) their full wedding is now live to browse on Rock My Wedding follow the link here.
I created a modern calligraphy welcome sign chalkboard for them to keep as well as adding calligraphy to their order of the day palette, globe, milk churns and watering can. They hired a chalkboard A-frame with an unplugged ceremony quote, menu chalkboards complete with writing and my Mr & Mrs wooden signs.
This wedding was lovingly shot by Michelle Wood
Now I am not a pink girl, I don’t own anything pink and won’t really wear anything pink. But I am currently totally head over heels in love with the colour! This maybe because it is one of the key colours of 2018 and my Instagram feed is filled with it but I just can’t help screen shotting away at all the pink loveliness that is put before me. So this post is going to be on the image heavy side, a real visual delight for this grey Tuesday and a little delve into pink wedding inspiration.
So I thought I would share some of my favourite images with you. When I talk about the pink I am in love with I don’t mean the solid blocks of colour from yester-year I mean the tonal layers, with a
depth and variety that is all mixed together for a feeling that is quite fresh!
Of course flowers and foliage play a huge part in building this vision, and as a styling trend it is one that needs to be accessed as a bigger picture to really create dramatic effect.
Lets start with the florals –
I love a dramatic bouquet and these beauties do not disappoint, I love their effortless, wild style and the depth of texture colour built into them.
Move over millennial pink there is a new shade taking over 2018 and it’s all about the peaches, with the Beast from the East blowing a chill and making this feel like a very long winter, the brightness and vibrancy in these tones has got all the spring vibes going. The perfect fresh breath for pink wedding inspiration.
We can’t leave out aisle style, I love a good ceremony backdrop and with key textures such as chiffon and velvet dominating the fabric world I can’t think of a more perfect frame to stand in front of than this beautiful setup –
I love the grass and dried flower mixes filling my Instagram feed, the delicate feathered floral textures are a fresh way to add a little drama to your tablescape and styling. If you love all things pink then Charlotte Nichols Weddings is a great feed to check out on Instagram.
Wedding photography and styled shoots are making a shift towards a slightly harder hitting, dramatic editorial style. With more punchy shots, risque poses and bolder styling choices. There is still a lot of translatable wedding inspiration to be found in these images, I mean how amazing would a setup like the below be on top of a fire place at the bottom of your aisle. I love the mix of the height from the twigs, the contrast in feathery textures and the use of candles.
One of key trend directions for 2018 has been the mixing of soft subtle colours with, darker, moodier tones, perfect for low lying displays and a stylists dream as we get to be creative adding into vases and candle sticks. You will be certainly be seeing more of this in some of my weddings coming up this year. Find out about the brass vessels we have available to hire here.
Its not all about the dusky tones, the desert pinks and the peaches, the below shoot as featured on BLoved Blog is a perfect example of a fresh use of Millennial pink, are those chairs not amazing!
Bridal fashion doesn’t go untouched, the new Bridesmaids collaboration between Woburn Bridal and Sharon BowenDryden soon to launch at Most Curious Wedding Fair is packed full of soft pink separates perfect for statement making maids!
Flower crowns aren’t going anywhere and the crown designed by The Flower Story as featured in the ‘Bold Woman’ shoot we styled is still one of my favourites. I love the mix of peachy tones and the height!
Need a little inspiration, the interior world is full of pink and I love the effortless desert pink hues contrasting against the earthy textures of the wood and pampas grasses in this image below. Inspiration for styling your wedding decor doesn’t just have to come from the traditional wedding blogs, look to interiors, fashion and design blogs for something a little less ordinary.
Below is the hit list for everything you need to find more pink wedding inspiration. Image sources are listed in the order they appear on the blog.
I hope you have found this little feed of pink wedding inspiration useful and it has your creative pulses raring to go!
The White Emporium xxx
Now this is just a very little snippet for some of the floral inspiration in 2018. I love flowers and incorporating them into my styling, both working with trained florists and having a dabble myself, in recent years my tastes have swayed to the wild, natural and untamed. A firm advocator of the home grown I love foraging and the rise of flower farm small holdings. Now flower terminology is not my forte, I can create a stunning display but please don’t ask me to remember flower names, so any florists amongst you reading this blog please don’t call me out on the inaccuracies and just cringe quietly into your cup of tea.
I have also noticed a movement against the word trend, now I believe that weddings should be personal and unique and represent the couple behind them and this is the ethos I use behind all weddings. However trends do exist, trust me after 8 years of being a fashion designer even an anti trend is a trend! So incorporate the elements you want to, in ways you want to, don’t feel pressured into following certain movements just take these ‘trends’ as inspiration and build your wedding your way.
Grasses and Seeds –
This has to be one of my favourite floral movements coming through in floral inspiration 2018, pretty much because its so versatile. Pampas grasses have taken the wedding industry by storm and it’s about time they got some positive press after the whole 70’s swinger innuendos. Fill large glass vessels with tall grasses and exploding seed heads of all shapes and sizes including bamboos and cotton, vintage bottles (which we have loads of Vintage Bottle Hire )look so delicate and light when filled with grass stems and I love the contrast against the cold hard texture of concrete. This is great for the scandi movement and the air of simplicity we see floating across from Europe. Create beautiful airy tablescapes with striking china layered upon crumpled linen table runners.
Moody Mixes –
Probably the complete opposite of the above trend, here comes the dark and dramatic. Use bold floral choices and unusual flower combos, mix rich hues with soft undertones, orchids with roses, pale pinks with dark mauves and highs with lows. This is a kind of everything goes trend, as long as there is an underlying dark tone running through the florals then this is your chance to be bold and dramatic. Perfect for intense back drops and floral installations.
Pairing it all back to the simplistic vibes, the need for neutrals and airiness is running through a lot of home décor trends at the moment. Plants such as honesty have been popping up all over Instagram and the emergence of dried flowers and grasses have been filling my screen shots folder. Think about dried flower boquets, head pieces, backdrops and place settings. I love the depth of texture created when using dried foliage, perfect for layering over rustic tables and fabric runners. What’s not to love, especially when we have hundreds of various rustic and unique bottles waiting to be filled with something beautiful!
The amazing thing about social media, is the whole wealth of inspiration out there, I have more screen shots on my phone than photos, so don’t be afraid to step outside of the ‘norm’ when looking at floral inspiration 2018. There’s going to be so much beauty gracing our screens this year!
My next blog post will be looking at some key colours coming through this year.
Have a lovely weekend.
The White Emporium
Image Links top to bottom –
In the first of a series of blog posts I will be looking at some of the key styling trends of 2018, with details soon to be hitting the new wedding scene, don’t worry the good old brass candle stick isn’t going anywhere, but it does have some new friends to sit with.
Like all trends they are influenced by social movements and whats happening in the world of interior design, refined by wedding creatives in styled shoots they then find themselves as key parts of your day.
This year we have seen the introduction of Perspex as stationary material for the use of everything from table plans to place names. This now goes one step further with ghost chairs and Perspex tables making their way across the Atlantic from the dreamy outdoor weddings of California. Admittedly a ghost chair isn’t for everyone and I would always pick a chair to suit the venue, they do however add an amazing level of light and freshness to your wedding décor. Not quite sold on the Perspex then glass will be in abundance, next year I look forward to writing table numbers on glass photo frames and filling large glass distillers with an array of grasses and greenery.
Nothing makes for a blog submitting wedding more than a dramatic backdrop. Whether that be at the bottom of your aisle or behind the top table. Stylists and florists are getting more and more creative in their designing and the results are all about adding that wow factor. A lot of it is about building on textures and this is where a stylist and florist working together can really come into their own. Key materials include of course Perspex and glass, but also softening chiffon and wire frames, really think about depth of framing yourselves with adding in plinths and details on the floor, such as candles and Perisan rugs. Shapes of backdrops are changing as well, crescents and circles are key shapes for floral designs and chiffon and fabrics are suspended in the air as if they are floating. A simple archway turns into a grid and the flowers just get more dramatic.
Grazing Table –
2017 was the year of the doughnut 2018 will be the year of the grazing table and the rise of the savouries! (Yes finally!) A cheese board has never looked so good when it its styled with an array of meats, antipasti, chutneys and breads. This isn’t going to be just for the rustic lovers either, think about adding Perspex (oh gosh I said it again) stands and marble trays to create light displays or go full on with wooden crates, slate tiles and wooden serving boards.
For more inspiration and styling trends 2018 head over to my Instagram feed and Pinterest boards ( The White Emporium Pinterest ) where I pin away to my hearts content. Why not head over to our hire page to see what decor would be perfect for styling trends 2018… Hire Page
Next week I will be looking a little more at floral trends.
As I sit here in my garden with a milkshake in hand I thought it was a good a time as ever to get back to blogging. It has been countless New Years resolutions to make this a weekly thing, but I think I might just have to face facts and admit it will be sporadic. However this is a blog post I have been meaning to write for sometime as I have some exciting news to share and it’s about chasing my dreams for The White Emporium.
As of the beginning of May I left my full time job to pursue my dreams with The White Emporium, admittedly I wasn’t brave/ crazy enough to stop paid work completely but I believe I have found a happy balance working part with my new family The Vintage Suit Hire Company. I wanted to share my story as it’s achievable to everyone, I’m just a normal girl with a dream and from somewhere I grew a pair and took the leap.
The White Emporium started after my own wedding, I loved the designing and styling so much I wanted to share my passion with others, I had previously never imagined working in weddings, but my won wedding gave me such a buzz I couldn’t let it go. The first year of business was more of a hobby, I honestly made little money and it was more about me having fun, some of the posts I shared on social media were horrific and as I have grown and learnt these have swiftly been removed, looking back there are a lot of ‘what were you thinking’ moments. I did some horrific wedding fairs, one where no one turned up apart from my best friend who came to be nosey and one where I felt so uncomfortable and out of my depth as the newbie I was to scared to speak to anyone. In hindsight I can see I had to experience these situations to be able to learn, however at the time I nearly gave up. In the summer of my first year I had bookings – Hallelujah!!!! I charged peanuts to style some weddings and I received great feedback. The White Emporium could be run in a couple of hours every week, I would share a few images on Facebook and Instagram, write the odd blog in my lunch break and send a couple of emails – it was fun!
Year 2, is when it started to get real! I got involved in some styled shoots, re-vamped the website, took more bookings and got behind with the blogging. The White Emporium could no longer be run in a couple of hours, I was now working on it every night and most weekends, I had the bug and I wanted to keep growing. I won The ‘One to Watch’ at the local wedding awards and people started to take notice, I was no longer the newbie, I started to forge strong friendships with other local wedding suppliers, this was a vital turning point in my business as they would recommend me to their brides and I began to develop a reputation. Year 2 however is when I realised I couldn’t have it all, there were dark days when I mentally could not comprehend the work that had to be achieved. I was working 9-6 with an hours commute each way, my job was stressful, demanding and sucking all the energy out of me. When I would return home from work I would cook a 15minute dinner and then hit my laptop, I was waking up before 6 to do an hours work on The White Emporium to return home to do a further work. My mind was stretched, my creativity destroyed and I was sad. My husband found it hard as I was always working in one form or another, there was little time for us. There was zero time for The White Emporium promotion, when I looked at other businesses and the outreach they were achieving I would kick myself and get so mad. I was in a vicious never ending cycle of work that I couldn’t see the end of. Yet year 2 I worked on some amazing weddings, the styling projects got bigger, the photoshoots bolder and I began to get featured in blogs and magazines. Year 2 was about fighting the battle!
Year 3 saw some hope! At the start of my third year in business I had already booked weddings for the next year which marked a massive milestone, it showed there was longevity in my plan. For some crazy reason I felt like this wasn’t enough and The White Emporium could do more, I had been touched by a couple charities and the work they do so decided in my infinite wisdom to organise a charity gala. I learnt so much from this event, what I am mentally and physically capable of, that anything is possible when you put your mind to it. Without any previous event organising experience I managed to pull it off and raise a considerable amount of money in the process. Pat on the back for me but back to the dark days of working all hours. I lost weight, everyone would tell me how great I looked but I knew it was exhaustion, I would drive to and from work but not know how I got there, I felt like I was letting everyone down. In November 2016 I won the Venue Stylist of the Year at the Four Counties Wedding Awards, this got me thinking if I could win an award when I had no time to spend on The White Emporium, imagine what I could do with more time! More weddings got booked in and everyone wanted to get married on a Friday, something had to change. I sat down with my husband and we made a plan, if I wanted to make a success of The White Emporium I needed to dedicate more hours, but I still needed to pay the bills, the goal was to go part time by July. I started 2017 with a plan and a goal but like all well made plans the unexpected happens. I was still miserable, more miserable than I had ever been, finding a part time job that would allow me to work on The White Emporium seemed unachievable and my full time job had me at my lowest ebb, this is where I learnt my two biggest lessons… Never give up and open yourself to unexpected opportunities. My part time work with The Vintage Suit Hire Company was a twist of fate that I could never have imagined would fall my way. They took a risk, I took a risk and so far it is paying off. Within days of being presented with this opportunity I had handed my notice in on my full time job, it felt so right I wasn’t even scared, this was a job I had trained four years for, got myself in thousands of pounds of debt for and here I was giving it the big middle finger with a huge smile on my face.
So here we are nearly 1 month in and the sun is shining. I realise it won’t always be plain sailing and milkshakes, I am faced with the biggest challenge of all; turning my passion into a business, I have had time to re-stock, take on advice and get an action plan in place. There will be more styled shoots, more conceptual weddings and The White Emporium will become more visual. My styling packages will soon be better defined, more props and décor added and occasionally you may get a blog post! It’s going to be a bumpy ride but I am so glad I had those dark days so I can truly appreciate the freedom I have to dream now.
My advice to you is to have faith in yourself and follow your dreams no matter what they are.
The White Emporium
Happy Thursday! I am delighted to have below the first ever guest post from the lovely Jo Cowan and Claire Chapman. They run Belle Bridal in London and are here to guide you through all things Festive wedding! Enjoy ….
With long nights, clear frosty mornings and cuddling in front of an open fire, Christmas is one of the most romantic times of year. When planning a wedding, there’s no better time to choose if you love accessorising and making your wedding fit to burst with little touches that bring out the magic of the day.
You’re almost so spoiled for choice for winter wedding ideas that it can be difficult to nail down some ideas — but fear not! Here are five important things to keep in mind while you organise your special day that can give it that gorgeous winter twist.
1. Play Around With Your Lighting
The long nights of winter mean one thing: fairy lights and fires. When the Christmas lights go up, the world instantly seems brighter and the winter blues are chased away. Experiment with lights draped in different patterns around your wedding venue. If you have a wedding space with an outdoor area, you can make use of the trees and bushes to drape lights through. You could even spell out your names in the lights, or make love hearts.
For a more intimate feeling, you can really make use of candles to your advantage. Not only are they inexpensive, but the flickering light will create a warm glow that’s flattering for all ages. Just make sure that you try your makeup out in candlelight before your big day, to check that the tones work. If you accessorise with jewellery, try and choose jewellery that catches the light, to better reflect the flickering candles and create a truly romantic atmosphere.
If you’re crafty, you can really go all out with creating your own whimsical table decorations for your wedding. Instead of name cards, why not make gingerbread biscuits with names on them? Or how about collecting baubles for each guest with a name card tag attached? Not only are they seasonal, but they’re create memories of the day for your guests to take home.
You can also theme the food and drink to reflect a wintery feel. Have mugs of hot chocolate ready and waiting on the tables for your guests to warm up with, and instead of a punch bowl, how about some mulled wine? Decorate the middle of the table with fake snow and candy canes and the tables will look beautifully festive.
Christmas is off-season for weddings, so take advantage of this and browse through the wedding dress sales in London or your nearest big city, to see what you can find. Wedding dress sample sales in London are great ways to find something spectacular that you possibly wouldn’t be able to afford at other times of the year.
When choosing your dress for a Christmas wedding, don’t just think of it as just a dress, but part of the entire outfit. You can accessorise with gloves, faux fur shawls, stockings and other layers that will both keep you warm and add to your outfit’s overall look. When you’re visiting wedding dress shops in London, you can hunt through vintage jewellery shops, looking for oversize pieces that will reflect the candlelight.
For a Christmas wedding dress, look at styles like ball gowns or lace-covered wedding dresses. While spring and summer are seasons where less is more, in the winter, you can be more excessive with your dress and style. Choosing a dress that’s more covered up is also an excellent way to keep warm, as well as being a beautiful option when done right.
Winter is the time for dark, rich colours like emerald green, dark teal, burgundy red, royal purple, silvers and golds. If you’re choosing fabrics, then pick satins, velvets, or something similarly heavy will bring warmth into the room. You can match the colours in your table settings, your flowers and your wedding party outfits.
Colours aren’t only important to make the room more interesting, but they can also change the mood of your guests. Depending on what atmosphere you’re trying to create, aside from the dark, rich colours bringing warmth and opulence into the room, choose colours that you want to reflect the tone of the day.
An important tip from wedding dress fitters is to take the accessories and shoes you’re planning on wearing with you when you’re fitted. So when you go to the wedding dress shops in London, make sure you take some of the accessories you plan on wearing with you. Especially for a winter wedding when you’re free to accessorise so heavily, the shoes, jewellery and layers you’re planning on wearing can make or break your decision about a particular dress.
It doesn’t have to be just jewellery, either. If you plan to have your hair up, you can even accessorise with natural red berries or pine cones, or sprigs of holly, as a small bit of colour in your outfit. You could even go bigger and make yourself a flower crown. You’re sure to look beautiful and to carry the feeling of Christmas with you as you walk down the aisle.
Christmas isn’t a time to hold back when you’re planning your wedding. If you’ve chosen a date during winter, go all out in decorating and accessorising. Your guests are sure to remember the magic of the day for many years to come.
Author Bio: Jo Cowan and Claire Chapman have been running their wedding dress company in North London for over six years. Belle Bridal is a family-run business which aims to deliver the highest standard of service. They specialise in sample dresses, so you can get a designer gown at a fraction of the price.