3 Tips For Approaching Ring Shopping

Picking out an engagement ring is an important and difficult process, and one that most people are inexperienced with when it comes time to do it. There are many factors that go into choosing a ring, from personal style, to expectation, and of course, budget, and considering all of these factors equally makes finding the right ring very difficult. There are lots of jewellery stores, and lots of rings out there, and because this is something very important it’s worth considering as many of them as you possibly can. It’s also important to try to use some strategy as you approach the shopping process, however. So with that in mind, here are three important things you need to know if you’re buying an engagement ring for the first time.

1. To begin with, it is important to know that the diamonds in engagement rings vary in everything from style and shape, to rareness, to quality. Diamonds are rare stones that are extremely rich in physical detail, and each and every tiny detail factors into the overall quality of the stone. So, instead of simply keeping an eye out for the biggest or most expensive diamond you can afford for an engagement ring, take some time to learn what questions to ask in order to figure out the actual quality of the stone. You may want to start with the “four C’s” of diamonds: cut, colour, clarity, and carat.

2. Another thing to keep in mind as you start shopping for engagement rings is that you can actually do it online! There is certainly some temptation to want to hold and handle rings as you look through selections, but shopping in jewellery stores is very time consuming and tedious. Instead, consider using a site like 77 Diamonds, where you can easily compare different styles of rings, different diamonds, etc. Even if you only use Internet jewellery sites to get a better idea of what you are ultimately looking for, they can be hugely helpful in making your job easier.

3. Finally, diamond rings having been mentioned and discussed, it is also worth noting that diamonds are no longer the only stones that can be used for engagement rings. While they are still the most traditional, and the most popular by a wide margin, it is perfectly acceptable to use other precious stones under the right circumstances. For example, if sapphires have some special meaning to you and your fiancé-to-be, or if her birthstone happens to be a ruby and she loves wearing rubies, you may want to consider these stones for engagement rings. These are merely a few examples, but the point is not to shy away from alternative stones under certain scenarios.

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Wedding Speeches Guide Part 1

Firstly I would like to say we are not a company trying to sell you wedding speeches, we are just honest guys with our own experiences trying to pass some free advice on to you, so it would really mean a lot to us if you let us know if this wedding speeches guide helps.

Whether you’re the groom, father of the bride, best man or another person making a wedding speech, we hope that this wedding speeches guide will help you deliver the best wedding speech possible. We won’t lie to you, the wedding speeches are one of the main talking points for the rest of the day if not for some time afterwards. I’m not going to try to say don’t worry or be calm, the pressure is on, public speaking is a skill and so is speech writing. But we are here to help and if you follow the tips in this guide, practice and turn up on the day – we are sure you will be really pleased with the wedding speech you deliver.

Just think this is one of those things you dont have to pay for to make the day extra special. After my wedding was over, I can’t tell you how glad I was that I wrote my own, I can’t go back and change it, I had one shot and I made the most of it.

We are not going to give you sample wedding speeches, that’s rubbish – at the time I wanted a sample wedding speech (the easy way out) but I quickly found that the samples didn’t have a personal touch and although I hear you saying “but I want to see a sample grooms speech to get ideas” – I also did this and found it didn’t help, the jokes had been used hundreds of times before, people in the room didn’t really laugh at the copied jokes (I had about 3) – they laughed when I said something personal or made a mistake and recovered. Don’t forget the combined number of other weddings that people in the room had been to. The jokes have all been used before.

Getting Started, The approach

Wedding Speech Skeleton Structure approach

This was My (Rob’s) approach. I started with a skeleton structure of the speech. Basically I put down titles of the people and things I wanted to talk about, you can do this quite quickly, even if your not the groom and you’re the father of the bride or the best man. This allows you to move sections around and decide on the order quickly. The idea is you can then start to flesh out the sections, or sorry but “Put some meat on the bones”  Here is the skeleton structure I used(I was the groom)

  1. Intro(thank father of the bride for his speech)
  2. Thank everyone for coming
  3. Toast to people who could not make it or who are no longer with us
  4. How I met my bride (or a story about you both, as you write this funny things will naturally come out. You could write about the engagement – maybe something funny happened there)
  5. Thank brides parents
  6. Thank brides sisters/brothers
  7. Thank grooms mum and dad
  8. Thank grooms sisters/brothers
  9. Talk about your new wife(soppy – make her cry in a good way)
  10. Toast to the bridesmaids
  11. Thank anyone else who was involved in making the day so special
  12. Wrap up by passing the ball to your best man (as he is next and this is your last chance to get a word in before he does)

Now you have these sections – copy them into a word processor and then start writing under the section you feel you have the most material about. This approach really helps because you don’t need to start at the start – pick and mix so to speak.

Once you get going it will come naturally. If you need material, have a broad approach don’t just search for “wedding speech jokes” there are other forms of humour that might be useful. Don’t worry too much about checking the quality at this stage or how appropriate it is – when you practice this you can iron out the creases.

When you have a draft read it allowed to yourself, then move on to practising it in front of people - don’t practice it in front of anyone from the wedding, its tempting but worth the wait, natural reactions will make all your hard work worth while. Work colleagues make great wedding speech listeners.

So you have your speech – safe guard it! Another tip I can give you is to add little symbols from word to signify when you think people will laugh or clap (I used a smiley face and a hand symbol!). Pausing at the right part of the speech is very important and can control the pace.

I really hope this guide helps! let me know if you need any help, advice or even how it goes!

Good Luck!

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Honeymoons in Summer

For many engaged couples, summer is the perfect time to get married. The weather in the UK is about as nice as you’re ever going to get, family are eager for time off work should you be getting hitched during the week, and summer themes are bright, happy, and attractive. It’s perfect for an auspicious start to your wedding.

After your wedding, though, your reward, the fun part – the honeymoon! Your first week or two of bliss as a married couple is something that certainly deserves some consideration, and Turquoise Holidays are honeymoon specialists (http://www.turquoiseholidays.co.uk). They are always happy to help narrow down the choice of destinations and make booking as smooth and easy as possible. With this in mind, the have provided their top three summer honeymoon destinations, to help you choose for your time in paradise.

Kenya Honeymoons

While not the first choice for everyone, Kenya is a magical destination that really does have a lot to offer for eager honeymooners, and it’s a great destination from June straight through August. Couples who enjoy a bit of adventure and want to stay very active on their honeymoon will do best with this destination – expect early wakeup calls for safaris, magical sights, and evenings spent by the pool or enjoying a candlelit dinner in the bush.

Believe it or not, Kenya also has some incredible beaches, which means you can have a great combination of a safari beach honeymoon. And because Kenya’s beaches are a little less known than those in the Indian Ocean, you’ll find they are more secluded and peaceful than you’d expect.

Fiji Honeymoons

With incredible scenery, friendly people, and a lovely variety in island life, Fiji is a perfect choice for honeymoons looking for a beach stay with a backdrop. Scuba divers in particular will love the gorgeous world underneath the ocean – it’s a wonderful discovery to make together on your marriage, and provides great photos to show on your return home.

Fiji is also a relaxation haven, with a plethora of luxury beach resorts to choose from. Turquoise Holidays recommend two stops – one, in the lush, jungle-clad north of Fiji, and a second in Fiji’s more relaxing, traditional south. Pure paradise for the adventure lovers who want a side of relaxation after all that build-up for the wedding.

Thailand Honeymoons

Better towards the latter end of summer, in August and onwards, Thailand is a magical destination for many reasons. Not only is it excellent for beaches, which are the reason many people go, but it has a wonderful culture. Bangkok, “The City of Angels”, is a fantastic city to spend a few days in, enjoying the ambiance and going shopping, and a tour through the countryside can reveal many secrets of the country’s history.

Back to those beaches, though – Thailand has some of the most incredible secluded islands you’ll find, and they’re perfect for couples who simply want to luxuriate in their new marriage. Private pools, luxury villas, your own personal butler – paradise is within reach here.

For more information about these or any of Turquoise Holidays selections, feel free to contact Turquoise Holidays or visit their website at http://www.turquoiseholidays.co.uk.

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Ordering your wedding cake

A wedding cake is one item that appears on most people’s lists of things to order for the special day. For some the cake and more specifically the cutting of it is a significant part of the wedding experience, for others it does not feature so highly. Whatever your preference, there are a few things to consider when it comes to ordering your tasty treat.


This is something that will be entirely personal to you, your wedding and any theme you have decided on. Cakes come in a variety of sizes and shapes, from the more typical tiered cake in square or round layers to more unusual shapes such as hearts, flowers or customised carved designs.

Cakes can be decorated with flowers, either fresh cut, dried or modelled from icing or paste. Designs can incorporate shapes, figurines, logos, writing, piping, the possibilities are endless! If you are keeping a close eye on your budget bear in mind that the more expensive cakes are those with many layers and complicated designs that are time consuming from the decorators point of view. But don’t panic, this doesn’t mean you are stuck with a dreary cake, ribbons, brooches and flowers are all cost effective ways of making your cake look perfect and often it is the more simple designs that will wow your guests. Speak to your decorator about how they work out their costs, how long they anticipate your chosen design will take and any suggestions they might have for ways to reduce costs if necessary.

Consider how many guests your cake needs to feed if you are serving it at your wedding. Your cake maker should be able to give you an idea of how many people each layer or part of your cake will serve and this is often based upon each person getting a 1 inch wide rectangle of fruit cake or a 2 inch wide rectangle of sponge cake. If you have always wanted a tiered cake but are having a small wedding then your wish can still be achieved without having to have lots of cake left over! Decorators can use ‘dummy’ layers made from polystyrene which are iced and decorated just like the rest of the cake. You cannot tell the difference unless you cut them open! This is another way of saving costs whilst still achieving the cake of your dreams.


Wedding cakes are usually iced with either fondant (also called sugarpaste) icing or royal icing. Fondant icing is the soft rolled out paste that covers the cake and this can be coloured to almost any colour of your choice. Royal icing is spread on thinly in many layers to achieve a smooth hard finish, you will probably recognise this sort of icing from traditional wedding and Christmas cakeS. This can also be coloured but often looks most effective in white. Royal icing is a real skill and takes much more time to do which may be reflected in higher costs. This factor and changes in cake trends mean that it is more common to see cakes iced in fondant.


Fruit cakes and those covered with royal icing will almost always have a layer of marzipan before the icing is applied. Bear this in mind if you do not like marzipan or if you or your guests have nut allergies. Many decorators will also apply a layer of marzipan to sponge cakes before applying fondant icing as it gives a smooth, neat finish to the surface, so you should let them know if this is something that you do not want.


Again there are many choices to make with the flavour of your cake. No longer are designs confined to fruit or sponge. Wedding cakes now appear in all sorts of flavours, chocolate, lemon, carrot, coffee to name but a few and all can be matched with a complimentary fillings which often include jams and buttercreams. You may have a favourite cake recipe that is tried and tested that you could give to your baker to incorporate. A factor to consider is how the flavours may affect the design. For example, a fruit cake is much heavier than sponge, so in a tiered cake fruit cakes should appear in lower layers with sponge layers on top rather than the other way round! Also, fruit cake lasts much longer.

Once iced and if stored correctly fruit cakes will keep for years, a great idea if you want to keep a layer of your wedding cake for future celebrations like a child’s christening or an anniversary. Sponge cakes last up to two weeks once iced but are generally better to eat in the first week.

I would always recommend choosing a cake maker that you have experience of, either directly or because they have been recommended to you by someone who has used their services. If not then try meeting up for a consultation and tasting some examples of their work. The worst thing would be to spend a lot of hard earned money on a cake you don’t like the taste of!


Given all the other things you will have to think about on your wedding day I would always advise leaving the delivery arrangements to be organised between the cake maker and the venue, ideally with the cake arriving on the day of your wedding and being set up where it is to be presented. Remember that you have entered into a contract with the cake maker and until the product is delivered as ordered it remains their responsibility. Do not have the cake delivered to you or your family before the wedding unless absolutely necessary as any damage caused by you transporting it on to your venue will be your fault and the decorator has no obligation to fix this and may not have the time to do so. Handling and transporting cakes, particularly tiered cakes, is a delicate business and is best left with the professionals!

Other choices

You should consider whether want to have a single wedding cake at all. Many couples choose cookies instead which can often double as favours or place settings. Cupcakes are a current trend, either on their own or displayed underneath a single layer of iced cake and can be customised with a variety of toppings. Finally, there are cake pops. These are bitesize pieces of shaped cake covered in chocolate or candy coating on a stick, a cake lollipop! These are my absolute favourite, mostly because we had cake pops in the shape of mini two tiered wedding cakes for our wedding but they really were a labour of love by the time we had made 100!

In summary, your cake is another way in which you can add the personal touch to your wedding day and the only limit, aside from budget, is your imagination!

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Our Favorite Wedding Venues in Surrey

We thought we would start to put together a few of our favorite wedding venues in Surrey. Surrey is a stunning county with beautiful countryside, rolling hills and woodland. If you are searching for a wedding venue in Surrey then you should definitely take a look at these.

For a full list of wedding venues in Surrey check out our Surrey wedding venues listing page here.

Our Favorites

1. Pennyhill Park Hotel

Hidden seductively by 123 acres of woodland and parkland, Pennyhill Park Hotel is a delicately ivy clad, 19th century Mansion House framed by elegant garden terraces, formal lawns and flower beds. With individual flair and dedication Pennyhill subtly combines traditional style, award-winning food and intuitive service with imagination and copious space to ensure you enjoy the most special of days. Whether you want to arrive by helicopter, serve breakfast in the orangery or get married in the library, our experienced support will be discreetly by your side every step of the way – this is your day and we never lose sight of that. The Pennyhill Park Wedding Licence allows ceremonies for up to 140 friends and family.

2. Great Fosters

Great Fosters is truly one of the most romantic wedding venues in Surrey. Set amongst 50 acres of stunning gardens and parkland in Egham, it is the perfect setting for a wedding. In addition to hosting wedding receptions,the hotel is licensed to hold civil ceremonies and civil partnerships, both indoors and on the lawn. If you are looking for a beautiful Surrey wedding venue, then look no further!

3. Pembroke Lodge

Pembroke Lodge is widely regarded as one of the finest wedding venues in South West London. A beautiful, listed Georgian Mansion with bright spacious rooms and fabulous views to the West, the Lodge has eleven acres of beautifully landscaped grounds and is situated on one of the highest points in Richmond Park which provides 2500 acres of classic English countryside.

4. Savill Court Hotel & Spa

Savill Court Hotel & Spa is set amongst 22 acres of private grounds, featuring magnificent views of the surrounding grounds and woodland. The timeless elegance of Savill Court places it among the most romantic and exclusive wedding venues in Surrey. This authentic country house hotel is designed to host any occasion from intimate civil ceremonies to opulent wedding receptions. Versatile wedding function rooms, full of character and period features, can cater for up to 450 guests

5. Wotton House

Wotton House is nestled in 13 acres of spectacular listed gardens in the Surrey Countryside, on the outskirts of Dorking.  It is the ideal setting for a romantic getaway, the perfect base for a family holiday or just some me time.


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Belles D’Epoca and Oddfellows Wedding Fair

Yesterday we were at the Belles D’Epoca wedding fair at Oddfellows in Chester. Oddfellows is a unique wedding venue with a capacity for 60 reception guests and up to 150 in the evening. The style is old English quirky with original floor boards and high ceilings mixed with floral wallpaper and enormous photo-frames, very trendy!

There were 12 suppliers at the wedding venue from all over the North West there, here is the full list.

Oddfellows – Wedding Venue
Belles D’Epoca
– Bridalware
Paul Guard – Singer/Pianist/Entertainer
Acer Florist and Wrennswear – Wedding Florist and Grooms Attire
Amanda Morgan Photography – Wedding Photographer
Wedding Belles Bridal Boutique – Brialware
Lucy G Photography – Wedding Photographer
Vintage Styler – Bridal Wedding Accessories
Sal Norris Photography – Wedding Photographer
Stella & Dot – Bridal Wedding Accessories
Fabulously Sweet – Wedding Favours
The Secret Spa – Beauty Salon
<Awaiting name of Supplier> – Bridal Wedding Accessories and Bridalware

We met some fantastic wedding suppliers who were very passionate about what they do, a real credit to the wedding industry and the North West

We would like to extend our thanks to  the organisers Belles D’Epoca and Hosts Oddfellows for making us feel so welcome! Nice Canapés!

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Wedding Fair at Oddfellows Chester – Sunday 4th December

Oddfellows Chester are partnering with Belles D’Epoca and hosting a Bridal fayre on 4th December, 11am – 3pm.

Best of all one of The Wedding Review Team will be there! Looking forward to it!

Belles D’Epoca specialise in pre-loved and vintage gems, suitable for all brides budgets. They are continually sourcing new and beautiful dresses from around the world to bring brides to be the latest in vintage and on trend gowns for their very special day. They have a wide range of colours and sizes to suit any blushing bride and they will have a selection of gowns and will be on hand to discuss your dream dress & day.

Joining Belles on the 4th December will be Wedding Singer Paul Guard, Wedding Belles Bridal Boutique from Frodsham, The Secret Spa, Sally Norris Photography, Fabulous Sweets, jewellers Stella & Dot and many more besides. Oddfellows staff will be on hand to conduct show rounds of their venue matching rooms with requirements and there will be refreshments available as well as the opportunity to try some food prepared by our Head Chef. So if you are getting married and need inspiration, know someone who is getting married or you just love a good wedding you will love this fayre!

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Wedding on a farm

So, you’ve just got engaged but have no idea how or where you want to get married? You’ve been to some weddings and even though they were beautiful they were just never quite you? If that sounds familiar don’t worry – that was the exact position Philippa and I were in when we got engaged. We very quickly discovered a beautiful farm to get married on and what followed was an absolutely perfect day.

Wedding on a farm

I would highly recommend talking to a venue that does bespoke weddings on a farm. We had ours at Low Farm in Yorkshire and could not speak highly enough of Claire and her family who organised it. I’m sure you could organise one yourself given enough organisational skills – but do you really want to worry about the toilet blocks arriving on your big day? Or what happens when you generator packs in? You want the day to be as enjoyable and stress free as possible. Have a good look around our site and the Internet and go and see your farm. Talk to the owners about what it will look like at the time of year you are thinking too.

What you need to know

If you haven’t been studying your law text books you might not know that there are some archaic English laws that means you have to get married in a building with permanent walls and proper road access. This means you are forbidden at least in England (it’s not the same in Scotland) from legally exchanging your vows outside. The approach we took was to get legally married the day before in a very short ceremony in a registry office and have a humanist minister perform a ceremony on the farm. We had no music, no readings and no swapping of rings at the registry office and we deliberately chose this route so there could be no doubt that our real wedding was the next day.

Happily, we didn’t have anyone question this or think that it was odd. We absolutely loved doing it this way – it meant the wedding was extended out over two days and made us much more relaxed on the day as we were not trying to fit so much in. It also had the advantage of letting us pick our own minister on the day. We found a great humanist minister (we picked someone associated to the BHA but it really could be anyone) and he tailored a lovely ceremony for us. It doesnt have to be all hippy you can go quite traditional if you like, it’s just not legally binding. I cannot recommend a humanist minister highly enough, although you can just choose anyone you would like to do it – they would need to know how to talk to a group of people for 20 minutes but if Joey from Friends can do it then anyone can!

The weather

We were very fortunate with blues skies all day and for weeks before so the ground was dry – but you do need to consider how you might deal with adverse weather conditions. Make sure the organisers have plans – be it grass walkways, a tractor with a roof, etc. If you are having a ceremony outside think about what would happen if electrical equipment got wet, and consider having a backup if it rains (we had a marquee on standby). Equally if the weather is glorious you might want to consider your guests with hayfever and have some backup tablets in place. You can take the same route with suncream – we provided both of these and our guests loved the little touch. We only really thought of it a few weeks earlier having been to a wedding where I forgot both!

The venue

Your chosen farm venue might have a converted farm or outbuilding, if so, great! If not, don’t worry there are plenty of options. You can choose a marquee or something more unique – we went for a swedish tepee style called a Kata. It looked absolutely stunning – with added bonus that if you ever go to Glastonbury you can re-live your wedding in a few of the live music venues there!

Wedding on a farm

What will people think?!

A few weeks before our wedding I did start to get a little apprehensive about what the guests would think about having the wedding on a farm – I shouldn’t have! I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on peoples faces as they saw the kata we had as our venue, it was a wonderful mixture of happiness, surprise and genuine excitement. For me it was one of the best moments of the day.


You are probably going to have a lot of questions already but these are the ones we asked:

Is there a place all your guests can park? Will it get muddy? Can you use the tractor to get guests out? Can your guests leave cars overnight? When you go and check out the farm make sure you have a postcode that works so you can put in on your invites – the same is true for directions.

Ask about an electricity supply. Again if you are having a ceremony outside check if you will need a microphone. It’s actually pretty hard to have a whole group of people hear you on a windy day!

Consider if your guests will need to pay for their drinks at the bar with cash – if they will, make sure you put this on the invite.

If your guests have to walk any distance, say between the car park and your venue, think about how your elderly relatives will cope. Its a nice touch if the farm has some sort of 4×4 buggy although you might want to warn your grandma beforehand!

What next

If you have thought about an alternative wedding or your wedding on a farm, I would definitely recommend talking to some farm venues, it was one of the best things we have ever done my only regret is that we can’t do it every year!

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Compare wedding suppliers on our website

There is a really great feature on our site which will allow you to side by side compare wedding suppliers. Here is how to do it…

  1. Go to the first wedding supplier that you want to compare and click the compare check box
  2. You Will notice a small bar appear at the bottom of the browser window – this is a collection of the wedding suppliers that you want to compare – Lets go find our next wedding supplier to compare
  3. Click compare on the next supplier
  4. When you’re done finding wedding suppliers to compare – click the compare all button
  5. You will then be presented with a comparison screen where you can see the wedding suppliers side by side! Neat huh?!


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Congratulations to Louise for winning our competition!

On behalf of The Wedding Review site I would like to congratulate Louise for winning our wedding review competition to win £25. She wrote an excellent review about the wedding venue – The Kingscote Barn, which can be found here

Thanks to everyone else for taking part. Watch this space for future competitions!


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