– 2016 in review –

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So, I’m a little late to do a blog post review of 2016 and that’s probably because I’ve never done one before!! So, to celebrate one year having this gorgeous website by La Happy I’ve decided to spend a little time reflecting on the year that has just passed because I know there are lessons to remember and moments to treasure.

2016 was one of those years I think many people struggled through but also found themselves. I personally to began the year with such hopefulness with the launch of this very website and the dreams of becoming a married woman. A lot was going to happen to change my world.

 

JANUARY

 

This month served at the start of the refreshed home and brand for The Wedding Stylist. We opened it’s doors on Friday 8th January and from then on continued to fall in love with it each and every day. It’s pages began to flourish and my services grew even more. We worked with Sally & Chris of La Happy for over 6 months pulling this gorgeous transformation together and in that time I was doing a tonne of soul searching and exploration in what I wanted my business to be.

I can honestly say, to this day, it was one of the greatest decisions I have ever made and by investing such love and commitment into my brand has pushed me to work harder and become an even better designer.

The rebrand pushed me, throughout 2015 until January 8th 2016 when we opened the doors, to consider why I did what I did, why am I a wedding stylist. I truly challenged my process and questioned what it was that I offer my couples.. why would they book me? what is it that I offer to them personally that no one else can?

Either way, this website and rebrand was an incredible step and just the best choice.

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January,  was also the month I travelled with my parents to Chennai in India to begin purchasing all the items required for our Hindu wedding happening later in the year. It was a great time to spend alone with my parents, as the last holiday together with me as their “little child”. (though I’m pretty sure I still am!) It was a real turning point for us and again proved emotionally growing.

Finally towards the end of the month, we saw the real wedding of my couple Petra & Jon feature over on Rock My Wedding. A gorgeous duo and even more beautiful wedding in the amazing British summer time.

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FEBRUARY

 

We did a mini shoot for showcasing Classic Crockerys new set of stock at Bush Hall with Green Antlers Photography and a team of great suppliers. It was fantastic to work with a palette of deep and bright colours but within a space with NO natural light. Definitely a slight variation from my usual love for neutral colours, natural light and soft styling however it was an absolutely fantastic day working with a whole host of new friends.

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MARCH

This month saw the first of the refreshed Instashoot Workshops in conjunction with the brand update along side a mini brand instashoot with Something Blue PR (a service now exclusive to their clients) For the first workshop of the year, I had Cecelina Photography join us to capture the day and honestly had the best time ever teaching this intimate group. Millbridge Court has been the most supportive home for the workshops and I was excited to plan the next two for the winter season.

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Also, I celebrated 2 years of being in business on the 24th March! It was crazy and scary to realise that i’d been doing the lone entrepreneur thing for two whole years but i’d made it! What a thrill.

AND finally, it was the month Andy and I discovered our dream home. We visited it one drizzly weekend in March on a saturday, view it again on the Sunday with an offer made on the Monday…. to be accepted by Tuesday! We set out moving date for July to August time and breathed a sigh of relief at the the excitement and great luck we had.

Side note |I It was also the month I began having dressing fittings for my wedding gown… something I just had to mention!!!!!! My mum joined me for a few of my fittings and it was such a special time for me. Whilst I’m sure my parents never realised I’d end up having a traditional “white” wedding my Mum truly enjoyed this time with me and experience seeing my gown come together. Back over 25years ago, in England, my parents got married in a local registry office in the most amazing lacey 70s style frock. I tried to incorporate the style of sleeves and full length look from her original dress to my design. An unexpected joy for her and me to do together.

My dress was bespoke made by a dear friend I used to work with, Laurie Smith. She sourced the perfect lace and designed the entire dress from scratch from my vision and I couldn’t have been in more in love with it!!

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APRIL

A month before our wedding and an equally crazy busy one, I prepared for two back to back summer weddings to occour right after my return from honeymoon, along side making much of the items for our own wedding. So, to help out with the work load and pressure I began the search and interview for my first ever assistant to join the team.

April was also the month Andy and I took a moment out of time to have our engagement shoot with Dominique Bader. We spent the day hugging and laughing in the beautiful countryside near Dominique’s home. I’d personally never seen a bluebell field before so was just in awe of the magic, you can see more of our engagement shoot featured here on Rock My Wedding

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April also played host to my one and only styled shoot of the year… Flourish & Fragile. It was one of the most magical of days with a team of just superb suppliers all taking their inspiration from the words

Flourish : for movement, freedom, curves, air in space
Fragile : delicate, breakable, embellishment, precious

The venue Fulham Palace was a key monument for the design of the shoot with myself and Emma Pilkington Photography wanted to emphasis it’s antique feel and vast spaces. You’ll be able to see more of this shoot super soon……

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This was also the month I found Nira, my fantastic assistant who has been at my side ever since working on every single project I took on in 2016.

MAY

I began the month with styling my sister-in-laws baby shower and worked with the incredible Bridie of Little North Sea Side Studio for the paperie. Sarah of Floribunda Rose provided the stunning lilac blooms as we took over a nifty little space in central London. fullsizerender-jpg-2-side

All in all it was a bit of a hectic month for Team The Wedding Stylist with a whole load of work and preparation along side my own wedding prep however with Nira at my side it ticked along as smoothly as anything.

I have to admit, this month is a massive flurry of wedding prep, client work and I didn’t close my studio and stop working on my work until right before we legally got married…. 21st May, we popped down to Leatherhead registry office with a gaggle of our family and closest friends to get married. Never did I expect to sob through the whole thing, Andy and I had down played the ENTIRE thing but we were a mess. Sobbing, crying, everything. It was one of the best days of my entire life and so ridiculously simple. I have to shout out to Marks and Spencers where we got all the food, to my local florist back in Thames Ditton, Secret Garden, who whipped up a cute little bouquet the morning of for me and of course all of our family and friends who attended. We just ADORED this day.

After this day, the wedding celebrations began..

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28th and 29th May, but you know all about those weddings 😉

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then honeymoon in Bali and Sumba….

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june

We returned from honeymoon and I kicked jet lag in the butt with a whole lot of coffee. So, began the wedding season at The Wedding Stylist. First at Nonsuch Mansion, then at Clock Barn. Two magical weddings later then we began prep for late summer weddings!

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JULY

Was a quiet one on the weddings front on purpose due to the crazy personal things we had going on. From moving home to attending friends big days, I knew right after our own wedding and honeymoon backed up by immediate clients, I needed July to be a breather month. So I began writing Reflect Create Grow, I also took the time out to plan the teaching parts of my business from workshops to the online course.

Andy and I also began travels to the South of France then Italy to celebrate a friends wedding before moving out of our flat in Surrey to then return… and……..

AUGUST

…. immediately move into our new home on the 1st August. (Yes, we packed it in so tight!) We also (a bit silly) had our wedding gift list packages arrive on the same day *face palm* – our new home was so filled with boxes it took over 2 months to fully unpack everything!!

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On 4th August I drove up to Norwich to study from one of the leaders in our industry alongside a woman I have admired from afar for a while, Jo flowers. I spent the entire day with her and think my emotions were heightened for every single moment, from the minute I sat down and drank the first cup of coffee in her stunning Kitchen. I still have to pinch myself to this moment from how honoured I felt to work in her home and learn the skills which will never leave me!

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After learning from Jo, we celebrated my niece being cutie 41 days old (something we do within the Tamil culture) and on the Friday before the party I spent creating the fun flower arrangements with beautiful blooms purchased from my local grower Jane M.

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I then for the rest of August threw myself head first into concepts and admin for the following years weddings along side the final wedding of the year in September for Lisa of Paperknots.

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SEPTEMBER

In rolled September and Lisa & Chris’s day at Brympton House. A beautiful day that my husband even got to help out on as we attended as friends as well. It was the most stunning wedding day all captured by Emma Pilkington Photography and I cannot wait to see the images featured very soon…!

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I also had the thrilling pleasure of visiting the venue for one of my Summer 2017 clients down in the South of France. This will be my first ever European wedding, all to be photographed by Cecelina Photography and I’m currently working through the finer design details with my couple and there is a lot of squealing going on….

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At the end of Semtepber, I began to shoot with Dominique Bader images for the Reflect. Create. Grow. online course which I slowly but surely began to chip away at with hopes of it being released before the year was out. I put all the florals together myself and spent an entire day with Dominique and Nira creating beautiful visuals

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OCTOBER

And like a snap, October is here along with Autumn, workshops and my birthday. This month I host one of the first winter Instashoot workshops captured by Xander & Thea Photography, yet another inspiring and warm workshop where I tried my hand at producing the florals myself… something I loved but definitely thought I’d not do again as I already was organising a hell of a lot for the actual day 😉

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At the end of the month I celebrated my birthday with a surprise trip from my husband to Iceland. A whirlwind of a trip where we finally got to spend some quality time together and catch our breath a little after such a busy time over Summer through to Autumn. It was pretty darn cold but what an amazing place to visit, I am already hoping to go back someday soon!

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NOVEMBER

November swung round… and I spoke at (in my opinion) the best networking and educational conference for the wedding industry The Chosen Wedding Collective Hub. An entire day of inspirational chat, goodies to devour and pretty to absorb. It was one of those days that you JUST need and I was able to meet and make so many more friends out in our small business community, thank you Kiki for asking me back!

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Finally… as the year slowed down, my husband, in between jobs booked us away (with my freaking out at the amount of work I had going on) to go away to Antigua. It was one of the best things we had done to help our relationship and to help our mental health. It was just blissful and I felt such inspiration to knuckle down and continue writing the final parts of Reflect. Create. Grow. An utterly divine experience and one that helped our hearts so much.

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Upon our return, I hosted my final workshop of the year which became a bit of a light bulb moment for me afterwards. After trying to do too much last time, I called up Sarah for florals and my students were utterly spoilt with such beauty. I was also lucky enough to have Gyan Gurung come and photograph the day!

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I neglect to mention that in the last few months there are many venue visits and fantastic journeys across the UK. From Nancarrow Farm in Cornwall to Syon House back in London, I am so excited at all the places that my couples are taking me next year!

DECEMBER

Wow. We’ve finally hit the final month and the time I FINALLY have the public release of Reflect. Create. Grow.

My favourite and most challenging written piece of work to date. From July to December I toiled and grew the course and against all the changes made to Instagram tried my best to keep the content fresh and easy to understand… I absolutely ADORE it and now feel at rest when I receive emails asking about workshops that my students can’t make to. The course is now the main education tool I was to get out there whilst I totally redevelop The Instashoot Workshops.

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So there you have it friends. The bite (blog) sized version of my 2016. Whilst yes I missed out a tonne of stuff, I feel at peace sharing the tid-bits that I have done so above. Those were the peaks of my year and the moments that made me pause and capture.

I hope you enjoyed reading through this (and if you didn’t I don’t blame you!) – It was definitely a therapeutic post for me, to just look back and breathe deeply on how much I’ve worked through in 2016.

Thank you to every single person I worked with, celebrated, created and designed for this year. Thank you to all those who up lifted me and to the ones who supported myself and my HUSBAND (squee) through every step we took last year. It was a big one for us.

So yep, I’m ready….. come at me 2017!

S x


Winter table & Mince Pies

I’ve been wanting to share this shoot for so long, because it’s such a fond memory and also because I just ADORE the images from it.

So last year, I spent the day with Dominique Bader Photography, creating a simple dinner party set up for her guests that evening. We made mince pies, had a glorious cake from The Floury and a lot of fun. AND right now I’m here to give you a few tips on designing your winter table but if you’d like further tips on having a stress-free Christmas then head on over to Rock My Style for our feature. You’ll also read below my simple mince pie recipe which I follow yearly. It’s not only something I love to do as it gets me in the spirit but it’s also RIDICULOUSLY easy.

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  • TABLE SCAPING

    So when thinking about your winter tablescape you want to follow a few tips below along with some super handy shopping suggestions:

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  • 1 | When you want to put together a quick dinner party styling for winter time, foliage is your friend. Things like ivy or branches you can forage from your own garden or local forest are great options. Make sure you don’t steal from someones home if you don’t know them!! OR pop to a flower shop and pick up a few stems of something branch like to lay along the table. There’ll be a lot of twig like options right now. Try and stay away from anything glittery!
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  • 2 | Declutter. The key to a table lay is it being functional and intentional in it’s beauty. The table is set for people to sit at, drink, eat and chat at. You don’t want too many fussy items that can be knocked over or detract from the function of the dinner party. Simple is always best.
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  • 3 | Add candle light! With our shorter days you’ll most likely be dining in the darker hours. You can buy beautiful frosted pillar candles to add texture and beautiful lighting to your table. The candles sit beautifully in-between branches laid through the centre, they also take a while to burn so you won’t need to worry about them running out if dinner goes on for a bit longer as well as you can use them over and over again!
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  • 4 | A fabric runner adds movement and softness to a table design. It also gives context to the design of the centre of the table. Even if you want to have a table cloth, consider a simple piece of fabric to bring attention to the centre.
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  • wswinter-0043wswinter-0040-side5 | Your normal crockery will be perfect, don’t worry about fancy plates. Consider laying your larger plates down to act as a charger for the rest of your meals.
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  • 6 | Simple neutral flowers in old incense bottles are great in added a little floral touch, around winter time there won’t be an abundance of locally grown florals, but you’ll be able to pick up a few beauties
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  • 7 | Consider adding a scented candle to add to the evenings senses. Neom are great for truly perfuming a space!
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MY TOP SHOP PICKS

 

Cox & Cox |

A great online shop to purchase beautiful decor items. I love their pillar and shaped candles which work great for a dinner party. Don’t forget some glass plates to catch any melting wax.

John Lewis | 

I love adding coasters under water glasses, it might sound silly but I feel it gives the glass grounding and adds to a table setting. A considered thought has gone into using a beautiful marble coaster. These coasters are my favourite and always used at dinner parties. They work for any style of event and work through spring, summer right until winter.

Zara Home | 

The mother land of crockery, napkins and extra details. Remember to keep things simple but buying  new addition for your dinner party will excite you about setting the table. Because sometimes, it can be a little dull can’t it!? A textured napkin against a neutral table linen or runner is a favourite choice of mine OR setting a stunning place mat can make a table even more inviting. It also gets you feeling the table is special when guests arrive rather than look like any old weekday dinner 😉

Fabric shop or Kate Cullen Fabrics |

Pop on down to your local fabric shop to get a cut of around 3m of a chiffon or crepe to use for your table. It’s a quick an cheap alternative to buying a linen however it will have it’s raw cut edges, something to note! Or if you want to invest in something totally special and to be used multiple times, I recommend a gorgeous cotton runner from Kate Cullen, a stunning choice and she has hand-dyed to the most perfect shades.

H&M Home | 

This place offers up beautiful and inexpensive options for cake stands and display platters for your food.

Old incense or candle bottles |

A slightly random tip of mine is saving up old bottles from incenses you may have had. You’ll see in the photos I used old Dr Vranjee’s vases (which you can buy from Amara) for flowers. Wash them up and use them for home display of flowers or simply just to create a little additional detail to your home.  Whilst you may not go through many of these beautiful scent bits, you can take the time to collect a variety of beautiful re-useable items to pick and chose from whenever someone comes to visit

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BAKING MINCE PIES

I quite enjoy baking, I don’t claim to bake often nor that well, but a few recipes over the years I have used again and again and always achieved good/great results. That didn’t happen the day I made mince pies with Dominique, but that might have been because we were laughing SO much and enjoying each others company…

Either way, I thought I’d share with you my mince pie recipe which (usually) creates impeccable, delicious and scrumptious mince pies! It’s just an easy BBC one

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METHOD

  1. 1. You want to place the flour and butter together in a bowl and rub together to create a crumb consistency. Then add the sugar and 1 egg and mix together to make a sticky dough.
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  3. 2. Tip the ingredients out onto a lightly floured surface and fold until it comes together to create a firm dough. Wrap it in cling film and pop in the fridge to cool for about 10minutes.
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  5. 3. If you’d like, add the satsuma, apple and zest to your jar of mincemeat. I typically don’t do this to make it easy 😉
  6. Pop your oven on to 220C/200C for fan assisted ovens or Gas 7.
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  8. 4. Roll out your pastry to 3mm thickness and begin cutting the shapes. I use a textured round cutter to create the base, usually with a scalloped edge. You should be able to cut around 12 with left over pastry.
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  10. 5. Remember to grease your cupcake tin then pop your circular pastry bases in, pressing lightly. Tablespoon your mincemeat into the base and brush the edges with your whisked egg.
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  12. 6. Re-roll your left over pastry and create your star-shaped tops which you simply pop on top and glaze as well
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  14. 7. Bake your mince pies for 15 to 20minutes – I usually find 15minutes is enough! then take them out to cool before picking them out of the tray.
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  16. 8. Finally dust with icing sugar!
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PHOTOGRAPHY | Dominique Bader Photography

LOCATION | Dominique’s home

CAKE | The Floury

STYLING & FLOWER ARRANGING | The Wedding Stylist

FLORALS | provided by Floribunda Rose

CALLIGRAPHY & ILLUSTRATIONS | Beautifully Lost Studio


Reflect. Create. Grow.

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Photography by Dominique Bader

The moment I realised I loved teaching was the minute I began speaking at my very first Instashoot workshop at Tanya’s Cafe in London. I had a small group of 9 small businesses from all walks of life sit around a table together, amongst gorgeous flowers, their flower cat ears in place all ready to work through the exercise book I’d poured all of my learnings into. That adrenaline kicked in and I felt energised and joyful discussing Instagram with these peers and inspiring women sat around me.

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Photography by Natasha Hurley

After a year of successful workshops I began receiving emails on how other solo-preneurs were too far to attend and sad to miss out on the in-person teachings. I didn’t initially consider writing an online course because of the beauty of in-person teaching, I’m a sponge, i love to soak up energy and talk to my students. I wanted to hear their stories, talk through their struggles and truly connect with them however my writing bug got the better of me this year and I decided to try my hand at writing some of what I taught.

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Photography by Cecelina Photography

I did worry that if I wrote an online course it would eliminate the beauty of my in-person workshops but over time as my workshops have developed I’ve realised they, too, have become more than there were originally set out to do. At my latest one at Millbridge Court, I made the decision that all future workshops will only have a maximum of 6 students, reducing from my original class size of 10. The reason behind that is to get more talking happen, get more community spirit building and so I have even MORE time individually with each student rather than darting around at the end to try and have in-depth conversations with everyone.

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Photography by Gyan Gurang | Floral design by Floribunda Rose

At my workshops, I made friends, I cried and I spoke so honestly about my own growth that the room felt like a space of friends rather than industry peers. I am so honoured to have taught intimately over 40 students since beginning the workshops and hope to continue to do so many more, however I’m hoping that this online course is going to offer up the same warmth that my in-person students receive. I truly spoke from the heart in this course.

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Photography by Xander & Thea

One thing you may have already figured out about me, I absolutely adore writing. From instagram to fictional stories, I have such a passion for putting pen to paper (or finger tips to screen) and scribbling away all my thoughts, words and dreams. Whilst I’m not the best at language and I make a whole load of spelling errors, I adore this way of communicating with my audience and even in my workshops. That is how I developed the Instashoot Workbook.

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Photography by Gyan Gurang

When I began to write my teachings for this online course, the words seemed to just happen, whilst I had a stressful time figuring out the entire structure (I’m a perfectionist and want everything completed yesterday), I soon began to feel that this course was much more than just Instagram styling but a story of my businesses growth, how I gained my following, how I grew my client book, why I did what I did back then and where work takes me now. Never had I looked at my timeline of my story before but I’ve put it out there for you in this course, so you can literally see, step by step, how I came to where I am now.

Whilst I’m no millionaire (and have no ambition to be) I am the happiest I have ever been when I first decided after university that I wanted to work within weddings. I found my calling finally and found my voice.

Now, let me do the same for you. I’d love you to read more about the course, what is included and all the details you’ll want to know.

So click here to be taken through to the pre-orders page

A N D  D I S C O V E R  E X A C T L Y  W H A T

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I S  A L L  A B O U T !

 

Thank you

with love,

S x