5 stunning shoes for your winter wedding

Brides are definitely becoming more and more adventurous with the shoes that they wear on their wedding day. We are no longer restricted to ivory or white satin with a sensible heel. Bright colours, glitter, pearls, jewels, the higher the better! As we approach the Christmas wedding season, here’s my pick of 5 of the most gorgeous shoes available right now, perfect for flashing under your incredible wedding gown.

1. The Haute Couture Bridal Shoe

Nicholas Kirkwood White Leather Lace and Glitter Sandals bridal shoe couture designer

Nicholas Kirkwood, €650 at net-a-porter.com

2. Velvet Luxe

Berry velvet high heels ASOS bridal

Velvet look, €85.72 at asos.com

3. Whimsy & Sparkle

Miss KG Gabriella high heel shoes, pink bow and sparkle bridal shoes

Miss KG, €88.00 at Debenhams

4. Crystal Couture

Manolo Blahnik Hangisi Metallic Crystal Shoe bridal shoe

Manolo Blahnik, approx €790 at Bergdorf Goodman

Psssst! Want these, but can’t afford the high-heeled price tag? Check out this pair by New Look, over 95% cheaper!
New Look Scramble High Heel bridal look

5. Satin Dream

ASOS Picture Perfect High Heels bridal shoes wedding shoes

ASOS, €64.29 at asos.com

For more gorgeous wedding style inspiration, be sure to check out our Pinterest board!

Quirky and Different Hen Party Ideas

A hen party, or bachelorette party, is an event planned to celebrate a bride’s singlehood before she ties the knot. Typically, it involves the bride’s closest female friends and family getting dressed up and hitting the town – many hen parties will travel to another town or city for a full weekend of fun, including group activities, dinner, cocktails and then dancing the night away. The bride herself is usually adorned with a mini veil, garter and ‘L’ plates. In recent years, the themed hen party has become more and more popular, with gaggles of bunnies, devils and even nuns being spotted in various nighttime hot spots. An effort is really being made now, however, to steer away from the typical hen party activities, and create a more unusual and unique theme for the girls to enjoy.

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I spoke to Claire of thehenplanner.com about what she thinks are some of the best ideas for the modern hen. As not every hen can afford to fly off to a foreign country for a long weekend (some costing thousands of euros!), budget is very much a consideration that the bride and bridesmaids will want to take into account. “Just hang out! There is so much pressure on hen parties to do an “activity” and the reality of it is, a bunch of ladies together is usually an activity in itself. My recommendation if you want to keep a budget down, don’t feel pressure to do an organised activity and keep it simple. Depending on where you are, head out for a walk, have a nice meal, play some games, DIY cocktails, a good playlist, get dressed up and just have a laugh. Stick to one night. One night hen parties are definitely becoming more common. Brides are more mindful of the hen party budget which will go a lot further for a one day and night event.”

Claire also recommends DIY for the budget-conscious hen. “If the bridesmaids are into events, DIY activities are a great way to keep the budget down. From lovely girls competitions to flower crown workshops in the garden to manis and pedis… or just something totally random that plays on the bride to be.”

For something different, and especially for those who can’t stand the idea of a booze-fueled weekend, a healthy hen is a great idea. “In line with the latest healthy and celebrity advocated trend, healthy hens are in! From yoga, to ballet barre classes to stand up paddle boarding, a healthy activity is a great way to spend an afternoon and prepare for whatever the night entails. Healthy hens are great when teamed with glamping. There are some gorgeous sites around the country and they work really well on the hen party budget. They usually have special offers and will include a barbecue and breakfast. There will also be activity options to choose from, from foraging to crafts to bushcraft. Some ladies will love this for the fashion side of it – boho dresses, flowers and messy hair.”

Boho bachelorette party picnic

For those seeking something a little more luxurious, Claire recommends checking into a boutique hotel with spa facilities, or luxury self-catering. Murder mysteries and Gatsby parties are a great way to get the girls all glammed up, and luxury yacht cruises on the Shannon will make you and your hens feel like you’re sailing on the Riviera, if only for the weekend!

For the hens who love retro and rockabilly, look no further than Betty Bang in Leitrim! Angi Dixon has created the most fabulous 19050’s ‘frock shop and pin-up parlour’, hosting glamorous retro tea parties and styling pin-up and rockabilly photoshoots. Check out their ‘Nifty Fifties in a Jiffy’ package – “We roll up to your venue of choice in Betty our vintage caravan. We krank up the choons, you crack on with the cocktails and we commence our Rockabilly Riot! Expect Victory rolls. quiffs, bombshell lips & feline eyes and a Marilyn beauty spot!”. Not just for hen parties, this is ideal for birthdays and weddings too!

Regardless of what hen party style or theme you choose, some personalised goodies are a must-have. Check out The Hen Planner for great vintage style accesories and decor. Zazzle were also so kind to send me on some great personalised canvas tote bags, which are perfect for your hens to store their party swag, such as shot glasses, photos, hangover kits and, ahem, ‘phallic’ straws!

Thanks to The Hen Planner, Zazzle and Betty Bang!

Quirky Groom Looks – Little Monster Bow Ties

In my second post celebrating all things groom, I’m looking at a great new handmade product. Little Monster Bow Ties are a fantastic range hand created by Dublin-based Darragh Collopy. Darragh was kind enough to send me a custom-made red bow tie with navy detail, which arrived complete with hand drawn and painted monster and packaged in my favourite, brown parcel paper! Darragh then told me a little bit about how Little Monster Bow Ties came about.

Little Monster Bow Ties

How did you come up with the idea for Little Monster Bow Ties?

I wanted a bow tie that would match my brown shoes for my graduation, and the closest thing that I could think of was wood. After studying product design for 4 years this gave me the ability to look at things differently and I wanted something I had designed myself for my graduation ball.
The idea of the Little Monsters came from my initial packaging when I saw monstrous eyes from the shape of the bow ties. Each bowtie has a specific monster that wears the bow tie. I named them Jonc, Slyv and Ogle as I thought the names suited the characters I had created.

When did you first start selling the product?

I have only started selling the bowties since the end of September after my graduation. A lot of people told me that they loved my bow tie and I should start selling them. The wise words of my secondary school PE teacher came to mind ‘If not you, who? If not now, when?’ . So I went for it.

Little Monster Bow Ties quirky looks for grooms menswear accesories

How long does each one take to create?

From start to finish for the bowtie takes about 4 hours, which doesn’t include the coats drying in between. The packaging takes another hour as this is all hand drawn and cut out by hand.

Can people order custom made bow ties to suit their outfits?

The whole idea is that each bow tie is custom made to order, so they are as personal as possible, ensuring each Little Monster has its own personality, just like you.

How can people get in contact with you?
Facebook is the best way for communication or conversation about the product and what the costumer wants and how to customise it to their needs; it is easy to send me photos of their outfit and we can collaborate on colour schemes etc. From here I can accept paypal or else if they want to pay by card I direct them to my etsy store.

http://www.facebook.com/littlemonsterbowties

The etsy store also allows conversation and I really encourage customers to get involved and not be shy so that they can have as much say as possible.

http://www.etsy.com/ie/shop/LittleMonsterBowTies

Customer reviews:
“Stylish, handmade, personalised! Love my new bow tie from Little Monster Bow Ties! Delivered promptly! Get yourself one! It is awesome!”

“Thank you Little Monster Bow Ties. It is awesome, prompt delivery! Loved the box and simply adore the bow tie! Suits all occasions and it is a real game changer.”

Darragh, thanks so much for the fantastic bow tie, and I’d like to wish you and your new business venture all the very best for the future!

10 spooky yet stylish Halloween wedding ideas

Would you dare to choose a spooky Halloween theme for your wedding? It doesn’t have to be a mess of black and orange! If you’re brave enough, here are our top ten ideas for creating a Halloween wedding that is stylish, not scary.

1. Perfect Pumpkins
Pumpkins are a great way to decorate your Halloween wedding, and messy carving is not always required! This is ideal if you are looking for a more rustic and natural Halloween feel. Hollowed out pumpkins are perfect to use as lanterns to line the aisle for your ceremony and halls of your venue; while painted and lace embellished pumpkins are stylish and elegant way to bring in just a touch of Halloween goodness.

2. Little Black Dress
For the daring bride, a black dress on Halloween can look gorgeous and dramatic.

3. Trick or Treat
Treat your guests to Halloween inspired food and drink

4. Gothic jewels
Add a touch of gothic elegance to your outfit with a bejewelled choker

5. Dramatic venues
A Halloween theme wedding will work best in a dramatic setting. Think castles and manor houses with high ceilings, gothic vaulting and winding staircases.

6. Literary Greats
Take inspiration from classic horror books such as Dracula, Frankenstein, and the works of Edgar Allen Poe.

7. Dark Details
A black palette for little details such as table numbers, favours and centrepieces will create a spooky atmosphere.

8. Movie Madness
Let scary movies serve as inspiration for your table names and cake

9. Fearsome favours
Treat your guests to spooky favours and escort cards

10. The devil’s in the details
Finally, a selection of some horrendously good Halloween wedding details

For the above images and more inspiration, check out our Halloween Wedding Pinterest board!

Oscar de la Renta 1932-2014

Oscar de la Renta, one of the world’s most eponymous and elegant fashion designers, has passed away at the age of 82. Trained by Cristobal Balenciaga, he had been creating some of the world’s most beautiful gowns since the 1950’s. His iconic designs have graced the forms of first ladies Jackie Kennedy, Hilary Clinton and Michelle Obama, award winning actresses Anne Hathaway, Amy Adams and Penelope Cruz, and most notably in recent weeks, he designed the stunning bridal gown wore by Amal Alamuddin on her marriage to George Clooney.

He only took his first foray into bridal design in 2006, resulting in some of the most gorgeous gowns we’ve ever witnessed. One of his creations famously featured in the Sex & the City movie for Carrie’s photoshoot for Vogue. Celebrities Kate Bosworth, Jenna Bush and Amal Alamuddin stunned audiences worldwide in Oscar’s signature elegant bridal style.

His passing marks yet another loss of one of the original greats of the fashion world. Today we celebrate his life with our favourite Oscar de la Renta bridal looks.

Groomed to Perfection – Top Five Looks for Grooms

It’s often all about the girls, so today I’m kicking off a series of posts specifically aimed at the guys – including tips for style, grooming and skincare, stag parties and wedding survival tips. Today we are looking at menswear looks inspired by the catwalk shows, for the groom who wants to be stylish and unique (without looking like a member of One Direction). Up to now, especially in Ireland, the easy choice has been for the groom to head to a formalwear rental store with his band of merry groomsmen, pick out a typical three piece suit and a cravat that somewhat matches the bridesmaids. To this we say “no more!”. Be individual, be stylish. Don’t settle for anything less than perfection.

1. Velvet
Yes, velvet, but in a good way. Dolce & Gabana models strode down the runway at the autumn/winter 2015 shows in opulent velvet suits in shades of onyx, plum and midnight blue, combined with crisp shirts in muted shades and silk ties in subtle paisley patterns. The overall look is elegant and expensive.

2. Tweed
A rise in rustic and vintage styled weddings calls for suitable suits. Tweeds jackets and waistcoats combined with creamy shirts and whimsical ties or bowties are on trend. Finish the look with a natural boutonniere of berries, herbs and leaves. For this style, vintage is a good place to start, or try Hackett for the designer look.

3. Denim
The denim-on-denim look is hard to pull off, but Ralph Lauren have made it work. This three piece suit combined with a brass pocketwatch looks perfect without being pretentious.

Ralph Lauren denim suit groomswear

4. Colour
Black, grey, charcoal, navy…sound familiar? These are the go-to colours for 99% of grooms. There has been a swing in the direction of blue lately, combined with tan shoes, however this need not be the only foray into colour that grooms take. Dolce & Gabana, Marc Jacobs and Brioni provided us with dashes of stunning jewel coloured suits and tuxedos – a word of warning though, I would not condone wearing these without socks!

5. Casual
Step away from the formal three piece suits, tuxes and cravats toward a more relaxed look – perfect for a wedding abroad or outdoors. If you are a groom who doesn’t like the idea of dressing too formally in everyday life, don’t feel that you have to do so on your wedding day. Bear in mind the overall style of the wedding though – a shirt without a tie and linen trousers won’t work for a black tie affair in a castle.

For more inspiration check out our Pinterest board ‘For the Groom’

Winter Wedding Inspiration

Winter is a fabulous time to get married; regardless of grey skies and cold weather, this is the perfect time to get really creative with your colour scheme, your wedding attire and your food and drink. Today I’m sharing my top tips and inspiration for winter weddings, exclusively for fans of Loughrea Hotel & Spa.

Colour & Décor

As the light is fading and the leaves have left the trees, you are left with what really is a blank canvas on which to paint beautifully warm and rich colours. The go-to colour for winter and Christmas weddings has been burgundy for many years, but you are certainly not restricted to this. Think jewel tones of emerald and amber, vivid raspberry and icy blue, combined with soft gold and silver tones for a colour scheme that will really pop in your wedding photographs. These will also suit the new décor in the Loughrea Hotel & Spa beautifully. For décor, the shorter days mean that candlelight will be acceptable everywhere! Candles are a beautiful and inexpensive way to decorate your wedding, from the ceremony to the reception and everywhere in between. Candelabras, lanterns and bowls of floating candles will look elegant and provide a warming atmosphere. If you are getting married around the time of Christmas or New Year’s, a bit of sparkle is completely acceptable and encouraged!

Food & Beverages

Your drinks reception is the ideal place to serve some warming winter favourites, such as hot toddies, Irish coffees and warm apple cider with cinnamon. Warm your guests up with shot glasses of hot soup and mini toasted sandwiches instead of the usual tea and finger sandwiches. Keep the kids happy with hot chocolate and marshmallows. For the meal itself, bear in mind the outside temperatures – a chilled sorbet or cold salad may not be ideal, so choose a heart-warming soup for your appetiser. Bear in mind in-season produce rather than choosing ingredients more suitable to a spring or summer wedding – the chef at your venue will be able to help advise you on this.

Style

The main factor to keep in mind when choosing your attire for a winter wedding is warmth. You will be standing for quite some time for your ceremony (possibly in a chilly church) and afterwards when taking photographs, all the while getting more and more hungry! When choosing a wedding gown, bear in mind the type of fabric. A light, chiffon dress will not give you the coverage you’ll need on a cold day, so it may be wise to go with a heavier fabric. Long sleeves may be a good option here too to avoid frost-induced goosebumps and will help you avoid fake tan disasters. A cover-up such as a faux-fur bolero or beaded shrug is a gorgeous addition to keep you warm, and don’t forget to add a little bit of sparkle or colour to your hair and accessories. Closed toe shoes are recommended, and try to source heel protector caps as the ground may be wet, and these will keep your shoes protected should they sink into the grass. For the groom who wants to be a little different, a great winter look is a tweed suit. A boutonnière featuring winter berries will complete the look.