Fashion & Beauty


Whether you are a bride wanting something super chic, or you are looking for the perfect bridesmaid dresses to compliment your leading ladies – I always think dresses by British designer duo Belle & Bunty are a beautiful style choice, and the colour of this petrol blue dress totally stole my heart on a recent shoot I created at Thyme Barn at Southrop, in the Cotswolds.

I can’t wait to share more from the full shoot with Katie Julia, but this dress absolutely deserved its moment in the spotlight. Would you dare to switch traditional white for bold blue? Or would you choose something blue for your maids?

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Styling: Jessie Thomson | Photography: Katie Julia | Dress: Belle & Bunty | Hair & Make Up: Heidi Vince | Jewellery: Ruth Tomlinson | Flowers: The Rose Shed | Venue: Thyme Barn

As featured in Wedding Sparrow.


As a wedding planner I’m often called on for advice outside of what most would consider “normal” duties! One of them is to recommend beauty products to brides, whom almost always want to be looking their absolute best on their big day (this usually means long locks, clear skin and healthy nails!). So here are a few of my tried and tested products, from personal experience and feedback from my lovely ladies.


Described by Vogue as “probably the best cleanser in the world”, this has been my number one skin care recommendation since I first tried it 5 years ago – it’s a balm that effectively cleanses, exfoliates and tones with the regime that includes massage using a muslin cloth. It’s expensive but lasts forever, and basically replaces a lot of your facial care steps (unless you are me, and you buy new products simply because the packaging is pretty!).


I’ve experimented with a lot of moisturisers, a lot! This one is my all time fave, for sure. It’s totally gentle, suits all skin types, smells lovely and makes your skin feel all glowy. The packaging isn’t anything to write home about, but I kinda like the old school French pharmacy looking products on my shelf. It is both rich and light, which is hard to find in a moisturiser I think.


My make up artist (the extremely lovely Sophie Everett) introduced me to by Terry when I got married, and I adore this lip balm that also doubles up as a fabulous treatment for nail cuticles. Good news, they also do them in tinted colours now!


The whole collection of hair treatments in this range is amazing, totally restores hair that’s been frazzled by heat/bleach/sun (or in my case all three!). Fabulous for those ladies (99% of us) who want to grow our hair out for TBD (The Big Day).


If like me your hair turns a little brassy a couple of weeks post highlights, then you definitely need a purple shampoo. This one smells amazing and is really pigmented, so works a treat! I reviewed it before here I’m also about to trial this one from Bleach London, who are constantly tempting me to buy their lilac hair dye. I’m not brave enough though, not nearly! The Aveda shampoo and conditioner called Blue Malva is also scent-a-licious but I find it’s not so pigmented. Perhaps better for every day use though!

Anyone else got favourite products for brides-to-be that they’d like to share? I avoided the nitty gritty stuff like teeth whitening, tanning and waxing – needless to say with all that prep, what you pay for is what you get, and don’t try anything new close to the wedding date!



IMAGE CREDIT: Taylor Barnes Photography



Ok so you may already know that I am massive fan of Lush Cosmetics. You didn’t? Huh. Maybe you need to go read about my review of THE BEST SHAMPOO (for blondes) EVER.

I know that most of the world fall into two camps on this though…

1) WTF? That place smells hideous, I need to cross the street when I pass one of their shops it’s so gross.

2) OMG! That place smells so darn good I need to go in immediately and buy sh*t loads of bath bombs!

I’m in the 2nd group, in case there was any room for doubt. I mean aside from the eco-credentials and the fact that they refuse to test on animals, it’s like actual heaven to me in there.

So I popped in over the weekend to try and get my hands on some of the highly anticipated shower gel being launched in stores this week, “Rose Jam”. Since it’s only available from today I actually walked out with a tub of Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner instead (pretty much the same scent) along with a few more hair conditioner samples (I’m on a mission to rid my life of silicones… but I am an addict. Which is bad).

lush ro's argan body conditioner


I tried out my new tub of rose scented cream in the shower this morning… it’s a bit like a hair mask for the body, use it in the shower or bath, and totally skip your post shower or bath moisturising duties! I used a pretty small dollop and smothered it from chin to toes, then rinsed.

Well you know what, not only did I smell like a super sexy turkish delight for the rest of the day, but my skin was super duper smooth and soft too. I love it. LOVE IT!

I plan to buy a massive bottle of the Rose Jam shower gel and just layer up these two products for the rest of my life. Ok, ok, until something better come along (I’m such a product tart!). Until then, this is a firm fave.

Go on ladies… go buy it… trust me on this one, if you like florals and you’re lazy it’s a winner!




WATERFALL BRAID TUTORIAL {Professional Tips on How to Create Boho Bridal Hair}

Not so long ago I shared a fabulous DIY classic bridal make up tutorial with you from professional make up artist Sophie Chamings. On that lovely day of pampering I also had my hair styled by the very talented Chris from Fordham Hair Design, who created a gorgeous waterfall plait in my hair with loose waves.

I have to say, my hair was still looking pretty fabulous when I woke up the next morning… so pay attention to his top tips for getting a relaxed look that actually lasts!

Thanks again to Marcus from Bigeye Photography for snapping away and giving us these great images.

Make Up and Hair Tutorial by Bigeye Photography (99 of 119) loose curls hair tutorial

Chris Fordham: Most brides love the idea of having a special ‘hair do’ for their big day, but the biggest request I receive when conducting bridal hair trials is to not make them look too bouffant or give them an ‘Essex facelift’. With this in mind and wanting to create a hair-style that worked with many wedding themes we decided to style Jessie’s hair into a ‘boho chic’ waterfall braid with tousled beach curls.

This look would work well with a country barn celebration and equally with a high end 5 star venue wedding, the juxtaposition of the casual feel of a water fall braid and a beautifully fitted wedding gown works beautifully.

Make Up and Hair Tutorial by Bigeye Photography (20 of 119)Make Up and Hair Tutorial by Bigeye Photography (21 of 119)

The key to any bridal hair style is preparation, the average wedding day lasts around  12 hours, add  to this a lot of mingling, a splash of photo booth action and a few dance floor moves and you soon realise that your hair style needs to stand up to a lot!

I prepped Jessie’s hair with Schwarzkopf Silhouette setting lotion spray (£6.75). The term ‘Setting Lotion’ sounds terribly old fashioned but in this case Granny certainly knew best when it came to making a hair style last and this modern version works just as well but leaves the hair soft to the touch. Once I’d quickly dried this into the hair I added a few drops of Argan Secret’s ‘Oil of Marakesh’ (£17.99) this oil is the hair product equivalent of the multivitamin drink! A great product that protects the hair against heated appliances while adding incredible shine, reducing frizz and softening the hair.

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Make Up and Hair Tutorial by Bigeye Photography (31 of 119)

Make Up and Hair Tutorial by Bigeye Photography (32 of 119)

To create the beach curls I turned to my faithful GHD straighteners, these really are the ‘King of straighteners’, it may seem a contradiction to use ‘straighteners’ to curl hair but they give a great finish.  I do however find that people very often struggle to perfect the technique and they end up with weird kinks and not enough curl.

The secret is to take a SMALL postage stamp sized section of hair and to clamp the hair at the scalp with the GHD’s, while clamping the hair rotate the GHD’s a full rotation so the hair wraps around them, then SLOWLY pull the GHD’s along the section of hair almost like you would curl ribbon with scissors at Christmas time!

Make Up and Hair Tutorial by Bigeye Photography (62 of 119)Make Up and Hair Tutorial by Bigeye Photography (61 of 119)

Once curled all over I quickly spritzed the curls with L’Oreal ‘Fix Design’, this professional hairspray is a favourite with celebrity stylists at London Fashion Week for its ability to hold a style in adverse conditions.

The next stage was to weave the ‘Waterfall Braid’, starting at the temple the hair is divided into 3 sections and plaited in a conventional ‘French Braid’ for approximately ½ an inch.

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Make Up and Hair Tutorial by Bigeye Photography (68 of 119)

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Then we start to drop out the lowest section as we weave and take another piece from behind the ‘dropped’ piece, so the hair is always being braided with 3 sections but always ‘dropping’ the lowest section to make the cascade effect, it may sound complicated but it really isn’t and a few practice sessions will soon have you mastering this on trend look!

Make Up and Hair Tutorial by Bigeye Photography (83 of 119)

Make Up and Hair Tutorial by Bigeye Photography (89 of 119)

Make Up and Hair Tutorial by Bigeye Photography (101 of 119)

Waterfall Braid Hair Tutorial By Chris Fordham at Fordham Hair Design:

M: 07735 055 146 | | |  |

Makeup by Sophie Chamings

All images by Marcus Ward at Bigeye Photography


So Chris makes that sound very easy indeed, but I have a feeling that it probably takes way more practice to get it looking just right. So, if you give this a go do leave a comment on whether you managed to do it perfectly first time round!




Did you see Part 1 of the gorgeous gowns featured in Cotswold Life and shot by White Room Images at Barnsley House and Spa? No? Well hop on over there now, because that first Sassi Holford dress is a stunner!

The lovely team from Dragonfly Contemporary Designs came together with top local Gloucestershire suppliers to showcase some of their beautiful wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses in a typical English country garden setting, with ethereal veils and pretty accessories to match.

barnsley house cotswold wedding venue

This gorgeous dress is “Lantana” from Alan Hannah’s MiaMia range, and the veil is by The Couture Veil, both available at Dragonfly Contemporary Designs.

romantic veil in sunset alan hannah mia mia

Again, I love how the look can be totally transformed by adding or taking away a simple veil. The bouquet is by Bloomers of Cheltenham and perfectly complimented the setting at beautiful Cotswold wedding venue Barnsley House.

alan hannah dress with veil lantana alan hannah mia mia

Dragonfly Contemporary Designs have also recently launched their own bridesmaid dresses in a variety of colour-ways and lengths – seen here in a blush pink shorter style and a navy maxi style.

navy bridesmaid dress blush pink bridesmaid dress

I love this next Sassi Holford dress called “Olivia” so much because of it’s versatility. The lace detail at the top with a more simple skirt is just the right amount of pretty. The glittery headpiece is by Polly Edwards, again all available at Dragonfly Contemporary Designs. The freshwater pearls are from Cheltenham based RJ Spicer.

lace wedding dresssassi holford miaside swept loose curls bride

Thanks to the beautiful girls Nikki and Olivia for wearing these dresses so beautifully. I think they were in dressing up heaven!



Photography: White Room Images |

Bridal Gowns: Dragonfly Contemporary Designs |

Flowers: Bloomers of Cheltenham |

Hair: Gorgeous Hair |

Make-up: Alice Tenton |

Wedding Planner: Jessie Thomson |

Models: Nikki Cooke and Olivia Pym

Wedding Venue: Barnsley House and Spa |


A few months ago the lovely David from White Room Images in Cheltenham contacted me about helping him to plan and come up with a design concept for a bridal fashion shoot for the wedding edition Cotswold Life magazine. When he told me that the team at Dragonfly Contemporary Designs were already on board, I couldn’t resist really could I?!

We decided pretty early on that we wanted to go for something very Kate Moss inspired, a classical country bride but with a rock n’ roll edge. The perfect wedding venue was of course one of my favourites in The Cotswolds, Barnsley House and Spa.

I’m excited to share the first set of photo’s with you from this beautiful bridal fashion showcase as seen in the latest edition of Cotswold Life Pure Weddings magazine. There will be more to come… so many gorgeous shots that I needed to split it into more than one feature for you.

letterpress wedding stationery cotswolds

The stunning stationery was supplied by super duper talented David from Cherry Press. He is so passionate about his art, and it shows beautifully in his creative work. We used neutral and classic colours in this shoot, so David used gorgeous grey’s on the “Namosa” range from his collection.

The bridal gown featured in the next images below are of “Bluebell” by Sassi Holford from Dragonfly Contemporary Designs. I love how it’s a big dress that’s quite formal and statement making, yet paired with a floral crown normally reserved for boho girls it’s kept fresh and contemporary with those long wavy tresses.

barnsley house wedding

white floral crown blonde hair

A touch of grunge with those charcoal black nails (totally works doesn’t it?!). I adore the floral crown by local florist Bloomers of Cheltenham using baby’s breath and daisies. So sweet and simple. Those stunning pearls can be purchased at Cheltenham jewellers RJ Spicer.

tulle wedding dress white flowers long blonde hair bride

The long and loose wavy bridal hair was created by the team from Gorgeous Hair. If you want a big statement or more formal dress but also lust for a more low key affair, a compromise with this loose “down do” might work for you.

classic english country wedding kate moss style bridal shoot at cotswold wedding venue barnsley house

The bouquets were also by Bloomers of Cheltenham, that “just picked from a meadow” look will always appeal to me.

white unstructured bouquet country wedding floral crown with big wedding dress

This next dress is called “Mia” by Sassi Holford and is also from Dragonfly Contemporary Designs. I love how the simple addition of the pink belt and veil totally changes the whole look. An easy way to change the dress from ceremony to reception.

vintage lace wedding dress barnsley house gardens wedding

The headpiece is by Polly Edwards and also available at Dragonfly Contemporary Designs. Makeup for both models was by Alice Tinton – a soft natural look for brides that won’t age.

bride barnsley house classic bride cotswolds

I still love lace dresses going into 2014 – the style of this dress is so flattering, and though not as big as the first one, it still makes an impact whilst remaining nice and covered on the shoulder… so perfect for a church wedding.

veil with loose curls simple lace wedding dress

Aren’t the grounds of Barnsley House stunning? Wait until you see the next part of this series, which will also feature pretty bridesmaid dresses and some incredible sunset shots. Meeeep!



Photography: White Room Images |

Bridal Gowns: Dragonfly Contemporary Designs |

Flowers: Bloomers of Cheltenham |

Hair: Gorgeous Hair |

Make-up: Alice Tenton |

Wedding Planner: Jessie Thomson |

Models: Nikki Cooke and Olivia Pym

Wedding Venue: Barnsley House and Spa |


CLASSIC BRIDAL MAKEUP TUTORIAL {Professional Tips to Achieve a Beautiful and Natural Look}

A few weeks ago I was treated to a makeover with two of Gloucestershire’s finest wedding suppliers, make up artist Sophie Chamings and hair stylist Chris Fordham. They arrived at my house with their magical kits full of goodies to make me look suitably bridal, so that we could give you lovely readers two fabulous tutorials on how to achieve the look yourself at home.

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So I’m excited to share the first part of this series with you, a classic bridal makeup tutorial. Perfect for those of you wanting to look healthy and glowing without being too obviously made up. Even if you’re not a bride to be, read on for some great product reccommendations and beauty tips!

It was a little nerve wrecking to find myself sitting in front of the camera without any make up on at all when we started out, but wonderful Marcus Ward from Bigeye Photography started chatting away and as always, made me totally relax and forget to feel self conscious. So thanks to him I don’t look totally awful in the “before” pictures (and I didn’t pay him to edit out my flaws… promise).

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Sophie Chamings: Integral to everything I do is beautiful skin and flawless make-up. If you look good, you feel good too and this is especially important on your wedding day!

I worked with Jessie’s colouring, character and natural style to create a look unique to her using some of my favourite products!

As you can see by the end results, having a professional do your make-up really does make a real difference. But if you are braving it yourself, these step by step instructions should help. Remember you might need to tweak the colours to suit you! Seek advice from a consultant you trust at your favourite make-up counter.

And, don’t forget to invest in some good quality brushes as this will make all the difference!

Classic Bridal Make Up and Hair Tutorial by Bigeye Photography

Make Up and Hair Tutorial by Bigeye Photography (8 of 119)


Always do your eyes first so you can lean on your face with your hands and clean up any mess underneath afterwards without ruining your beautifully applied foundation.


Start with a primer – absolutely essential if you want your eye make-up to last all day! My favourite is Laura Mercier’s Eye Basics (£20.50) in a shade or two lighter than your natural skintone (I used Linen on Jessie). It’s brilliant and will ensure the colour of your eyeshadow is fresh and bright too. Simply apply all over your eyelid blending into the socket line.

Eyeshadow – lighter shade

Next, apply a light shade all over your eyelid on top of your primer. I used No 7 eyeshadow in Wheatsheaf (£7) here which looks great on everybody!

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Eyeliner- upper lash line

Then, using an eyeliner (liquid or pencil depending on the drama you want to create), draw a line along your upper lash line. I used Estee Lauder’s Double Wear Stay in Place eyeliner here in Coffee which is a dark brown.  Then I used a small eyeliner brush (or thin tipped brush from an art shop for a cheaper option) to perfect and soften the line, adding in a small flick at the outer corners.

It does take practice so keep cotton buds and water based liquid eye make-up remover nearby (recommended Rimmel liquid eye make-up remover £2.99).  If you go wrong, simply correct your mistake with a cotton bud dipped in a small amount of make-up remover.

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Make Up and Hair Tutorial by Bigeye Photography (24 of 119)


Then it’s time for your lashes! Get the curlers out and give them a good curl before applying 2-3 coats of black or dark brown mascara.  I did this on Jessie but then decided that fake lashes would be a good addition so I applied No 7 False Eyelashes 10 Natural Volume £7.50. They really added that wow factor that most brides want! For a more natural look, Eylure do some very fine ones which look great!

Once this is done, you can add a darker/contour shade to the outer part of your eyelids and sockets. Don’t go too dark especially if you are fair and keep assessing what it looks like with your eyes open during application.  On Jessie, I used a soft taupe/heathery shade. I mixed Lancome and MAC shadows but most brands offer this shade so try a couple on and see which one looks best! Matte shades generally look softer.

Make Up and Hair Tutorial by Bigeye Photography (45 of 119) Make Up and Hair Tutorial by Bigeye Photography (44 of 119)

Eyeliner and mascara – lower lashes

I then applied a soft line of eyeliner along the lower lash line followed by mascara on the lower lashes.

Make Up and Hair Tutorial by Bigeye Photography (47 of 119)


Primer and Foundation

Again, always start with a primer. I used Laura Mercier’s primer for normal skin (£28) on Jessie which is my favourite primer and is great on all skin types.  I then applied Lancome’s Teine Idole Silky Matte liquid foundation 24 HR (£25) foundation for a soft creamy flawless finish. For a more radiant finish, my favourite is Estee lauder’s Double Wear.

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Under the eyes and brow bone, I then applied a concealer. I used my newly found Rimmel Match Perfection Illumintaing Concealer which I love for both what it looks like and its price point £5.99!

Make Up and Hair Tutorial

Make Up and Hair Tutorial by Bigeye Photography (56 of 119)

Blusher and powder

I then applied a fresh peachy blusher – Boujois Blush Pot in Rose Ambre (£5.49). I applied it to the apples of Jessie’ cheeks blending up along the cheekbone for a natural and fresh look.

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I finished Jessie’s complexion with a sweep of Laura Mercier’s Pressed Mineral Powder (£31) to set and soften the look.

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Prime first! I used Guerlain’s Kiss Kiss liplift (£23) which is my favourite lip primer of all time. It softens and smoothes the lips like you wouldn’t believe. I then applied a natural coloured lipliner (Nars lip liner in Papau) all over the lips to create lasting colour. I finished by applying a Body Shop lip gloss in colour Lychee to add a bit of shine!

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Sophie Chamings | Bridal Make-up Artist | w | m 07734 994783

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Make Up and Hair Tutorial by Bigeye Photography (109 of 119)

There you have it! Sophie makes it all sound so simple, but being one of those girls who doesn’t normally wear a lot of makeup I know it’s not as easy as it looks. I have never mastered the art of eyeshadow, and my default is to wear a layer of great mascara and a red lip. Despite owning more makeup than I’d ever need in my lifetime, I’m still not that good at actually applying it. So personally for my wedding I opted for a professional who made sure I looked flawless in my photos.

Make Up and Hair Tutorial by Bigeye Photography (107 of 119)

By all means give this a go, and if you are pleased with the results then fantastic! But if you are anything like me and you can’t apply false lashes without poking yourself in the eye, or worry it might all look “too much”, then I’d highly recommend booking in a trial with a professional make up artist for some peace of mind!

Watch out for part 2 of this series where Chris Fordham shows you how to create loose curls and a pretty waterfall plait – perfect for a bohemian or festival bride.



Make up by Sophie Chamings

Hair by Chris Fordham

Photography by Marcus Ward at Bigeye Photography 





Fashion Friday: Summer Hair Trends {The Top Knot}

Woo hoo it’s Friday! The sun actually started to shine this afternoon so I’m hoping that y’all have a lovely weekend ahead planned. My “Fashion Friday” pick this week goes to a hot hairstyle for the Summer… The Top Knot.


Ok so I rock this trend pretty much all the time, not so much because I am super cool… more because I’m a Mummy blogger/wedding planner and washing my hair is waaaayyy down my list of priorities some days, and on other days I just want it off my face while I tap out contracts, emails and blog posts on my laptop.

So how do you do it? Gather hair off face, tie into pony tail, twist around into bun and secure with grips. Sometimes I even skip the pony tail bit, just twist and secure! A messy version is just as hot as a neat version, and if you are feeling posh then you could add in a hair bun for a bit of oomph.

Just in case my instructions aren’t enough to get you through the top knot technique… I found a little video tutorial for you here. This girl also uses a bit of backcombing, which I think is optional depending on your hair type and length.

This how to do a top knot tutorial via is a bit more like my technique on a good day.

Ok so there you have it ladies, bet loads of you were rocking this on trend look without even realising it huh?!





Fashion Friday: Pretty Pleats

Last year I bought rather a lot of pleated dresses and skirts, and this year I still love them – easy to dress down with a tee and flats, or dress up with heels, or you can even hitch up a long pleated skirt under your bust or armpits to make a floaty dress (good for those of you with a bump!).


pleated beige dress


Beige Pleated Dress from Olive

sheer pleated skirt

Sheer Pleated Dress via Pinterest

bump shoot

Image via Taylor Barnes Photography

That last shot is actually me when I was super preggo with Flora Belle, so there you have it ladies… proof that I practice what I preach!



Fashion Friday: The Pini Dress

Today’s fashion focus is on an item of clothing I never thought I’d wear again, you know being a Mama and edging ever closer to the big 3-0. But I am finding myself strangely drawn towards the new highstreet trend for the pinafore dress. Slightly childlike yes, but less so than a pair of dungarees which are just one step too close to dressing like my baby girl for my liking.

But yeah, I like a bit of tom boy dress up, and even though this is a throwback to my school years in the 90’s I think I might be able to pull it off even now!

spot pini

Denim Spot Pinafore Dress from ASOS

toppers pini

Coral Pinafore Dress from Topshop

Hope you all have an amazing bank holiday weekend, let us all keep everything crossed for a bit of sunshine!



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