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The Best Flat Shoes for Brides

Paula McGarry

One of our favourite things (after stationery) is admiring the beautiful choices brides make for their head-to-toe look on their wedding day. From ornate veils to delicate lacing on intricately designed dresses, the details are mesmerising. Coincidentally this month, the heat wave in the UK has steered our thoughts towards combining style with comfort and how you can avoid overheating during your ceremony and celebrations. 

Of these thoughts, the one that stood out the most was transitioning from heeled shoes to beautiful flat shoes for your wedding day instead. Wearing flat shoes might sound less indulgent, but with both designer and high-street stores creating stunning styles, you will be hard pressed to not consider some of these brands and styles as a fantastic option. 

 

1.    Jimmy Choo 

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Jimmy Choo has long been a favourite of brides around the world. Their classic, understatedly luxurious designs mean that you can wear your shoes in the days after your weddings without receiving a raised eyebrow from passers-by. They have a range of different sized heels available, but their flat wedding shoes and micro heels are just as enviable. 

Unlike a large number of designers, Jimmy Choo have avoided the one size fits all model by offering a made to order service. You might find this particularly convenient if you are looking for a specific style and colour. 

Opt for the Romy Flat for some understated sparkle (£495) or the Romy Flat in lace (£495)  which is a more delicate version of the same shoe. 

 

2.    Manolo Blahnik 

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If you have had your eye on a pair of iconic Manolo's for some time, then your wedding day might be the perfect excuse to take the plunge. Manolo Blahnik has replicated their famous design in a flat shoe so that you can maximise style and comfort simultaneously. What makes Manolo an even better choice is their variety of open toe, closed toe and micro-heel options. 

Our favourite was the open toe, slip on bridal shoe 'Martamod Bride' (£745). Not only is it intricately put together with Swarovski crystals and silk, but it is also the answer to garden or beach weddings where a combination of heat and unlevelled ground are likely to challenge your poise. 

 

3. Aquazzura 

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If variety is what you need to choose your wedding shoes, then you will not be disappointed at Aquazurra. They have the most extensive selection of flat bridal footwear we have seen from designer brands, each with a distinct wow factor. 

From crystals to floral embellishments and subtle strap details, Aquqazzura has captured the epitome of a luxury flat shoe in their designs. Although the options are predominantly open-toe, they would be perfect for weddings that have guaranteed (or close to it) good weather or an indoor service and reception. 

The Mustique (£640) was one of our favourites. Both eye-catching and comfortable which is a sure win for your wedding. 

 

4. L K Bennett 

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Without a doubt, one of the most exciting wedding collaborations was between L K Bennett and Jenny Packham. The collection hosts both open and closed toe flat shoes as well as micro block heels which are another comfortable competitor to a standard heel. 

Most of the styles are strappy, delicate and feminine. Unlike some other designers and shoes, these look and feel like a wedding shoe. They are unapologetically occasional without the high-end designer price tag. 

The Cari Ivory Satin flats (£245) stole the show for us. The shoe has everything you would want in a higher heel and is dressed up enough to work for day and night at your wedding. 

 

5. French Sole 

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French Sole is perhaps one of the most subtle and practical brands for flat wedding shoes with their bridal offering comprising a range of decorated ballerina pumps. 

One of our favourites in this category is the Henrietta (£120), an ivory lace shoe that will do its utmost best not to distract from your dress while simultaneously keeping you comfortable and able to dance the evening away. 

With a regular refresh of styles and detailing, French Sole is on a revolving mission to produce the next best Bridal flat pump at a reasonable price.  

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Seating Plans - our top tips

Paula McGarry

Of all of the wedding planning, you will do in the run-up to your big day, the seating plan can be undoubtedly one of the most trickiest. Traditionally, wedding receptions have consisted of a 'top-table' containing your immediate family and several other tables for the rest of your guests. However, like everything else in life, sometimes seating plans aren't that simple. Blended families, divorced parents and wildly different sets of friends can make organising the attendees into groups a complicated affair. 

If a seating plan is on your list of things to worry about, then read our top tips for getting it right and staying sane along the way. 

First, nail down the basics. 

1. RSVP's

A seating plan is impossible if you don't collect all of your RSVP's. Send out your invitations as early as possible. It will give your guests ample time to plan, configure the logistics, arrange for pet or babysitters and give you plenty of time to schedule your RSVP chaser texts. By sending out your invites in advance (our favourites at the moment are the Emily and Felicity invitations available on our website), you will gain a good idea of who is attending from the outset and hopefully a steady stream of 'yes' responses that you can filter into your seating chart without having a meltdown. Smart websites such as Riley & Grey make an excellent addition to your paper invitations by providing your guests with a digital facility to RSVP and a valuable database for you to keep up to date with responses instead of manually keeping on top of texts, emails and phone-calls. Alternatively,mMost of our invitations are designed with an RSVP postcard style where all your guests have to do is affix a stamp to the back of the card.

2. Keep your audience in mind

Identifying your guests that have specific requirements is an easy way to build the base of your seating plan. For example, if you are allowing children to the wedding, you will need to decide whether you would like a children's table or whether children should be sat with their parents. Elderly relatives may be more comfortable sat closer to the exits where they can come to and from the bathrooms more easily. You might have friends with dominant personalities or more care-free tendencies that would do better sat away from conservative family members or colleagues. When you have found a place for these sets of guests, you will be in a better position to seat the more flexible, lower maintenance guests around them.

3. Understand your family politics

Blended families with stepparents, half-siblings, or divorced parents can be complicated to configure at weddings. You won't want to leave anyone feeling dejected or disheartened by your seating choices for them because they are likely to be your nearest and dearest. Instead of having a top-table you might want to explore a series of VIP tables with yourself in the middle, and 'buffer' family members in between those with difficult relations. Keeping the tables hosting your VIP family members the same size and decorated in the same way as each other will also make everyone feel included rather than excluded. Whatever you decide, having candid conversations with your family will help them understand your choices

4. Heed requests with caution

You will likely have friends or family making specific claims for where they are sat or who they are placed next to. In an ideal world you will be able to please everyone, but at weddings, this is rarely the case. Unless there is a glaringly obvious consideration you should be making, do not let the whims of your guests dictate the configuration of your plan, you can't please everyone, and the only people you really should be aiming to please are you and your husband or wife. 

Choosing your layout

After clarifying the basics in your mind, more thought can go into the design of your seating plan. For this, it is a good idea to have a firm hold on what vibe you want for your reception. Is your wedding going to be a formal event or something more laid back? Do you want all eyes on you throughout the day and evening or are you happy to blend in?

Formal

If you have decided you would like a formal wedding, then the ideal seating arrangements for you are likely to include the traditional top-table or tables configured into a large rectangle or U shape. The vibe of your wedding will be more focused on the order of the day and will likely keep your guests in the mind-frame to behave sensibly throughout. Generally, these types of layouts make for less socialising and mingling, but you can work around this by adding a cocktail or champagne reception to the order of the day before the dinner. 

Tip: Show your guests where they are sitting with stationery from our Emma or Elegance ranges. 

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Laid back

You might have decided that you would like a laid-back party atmosphere where you are in the crux of the action. If so, you could explore the idea of having circular tables with yours in the middle, tables built around a centrepiece dancefloor or ditch the formal dinner all together in favour of relaxed seating, food stands, stalls, bars and entertainers. If you want to find a mid-way point, then you can reduce or increase the sizes of your tables accordingly depending on whether you want to create a more intimate or vivacious setting. Having this flexibility is also helpful for weddings with children and weddings where there is one side with many more family members than the other. 

Tip: Show your guests where to head to with our Shine and Stardust stationery ranges. 

Tricks to remember

1. You can't please everyone, try, but not too hard. 

2. If you are concerned that people on the table won't get along very well, use tall centrepieces and sit them opposite each other. 

3. Some people are more social than others, an excellent way to even out the atmosphere is to provide menu cards for guests to mull over and discuss, a smart way to break the ice. You could also supply quizzes and dinner table games for when the conversation becomes a bit stale. 

4. Last minute changes happen, but at that point, you should be focusing on enjoying your day and not picking up more wedding admin. Accept that there may be a seat free on one or two tables and use it as an opportunity to let guests make their own decisions and shuffle around if they are desperate. 

5. Sign-up to a website that allows you to digitally arrange your seating plan by uploading your list of RSVPs to the database. Drag and drop features, scaling, design and venue layout features make this a fantastic way to visualise the plan. You will also be able to export the list and send it to us to make your seating plan for the guests, arrange the place cards and allow the wedding venue to be kept in the loop too. 

One final thing, if you give your guests enough fizz, they won't care where they are sat anyway. 

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Festival Hen Parties - our top picks

Paula McGarry

Since 1976 when the Times newspaper first formally referred to a 'hen party', the traditions, activities and style of the parties thrown for brides-to-be have been everchanging. From intimate dinners with our nearest and dearest girlfriends to elongated spa weekends and city break with scheduled activities; there has never been a time where choice has been available in such abundance. 

Stylist found that the average cost of attending a hen-do has reached £507 per person leaving a lot of women feeling stressed and pressured about the affordability. Looking past the price; coordinating dates, activities, travel, outfits, gifts, games and budgets is a hard task for any maid of honour and group of bridesmaids. 

The answer to solve these problems and satisfy not just the bride but everyone invited might come in the form of a festival. A natural haven for groups of friends, it seems like an obvious choice. The opportunity to dress up, experience a range of activities, dance, drink and have fun, travel and bond, are all very much available at a festival. In fact, it probably more readily available and cheaper to harness. 

When you consider how many people you know are planning or wanting to go to a festival anyway, combining a hen-party with something people genuinely want to do, is one of the easiest, fastest and most convincing ways to get people to commit financially without feeling 'put out'. 

It is also perfect for those that can't invest too much time. Most festivals have the option to purchase day tickets as opposed to weekend tickets, giving your guests control over when they come and go without missing out entirely. Added to this fact that some (not all, mind) festivals are relatively age-neutral means that your mother, aunties, and in-laws might even be keen to join in too, perhaps just not when it comes time to camp. 

And if you're worried that a festival hen party might get too rowdy, you can explore toned down versions that steer clear of the traditional expectations. Literary, film and cultural festivals can be found the world over with some of them taking place outside of the core summer months too. 

Tips for organising a festival hen party

Festivals all over the world are reaching peak attendance levels with some of the most popular ones selling out their first round of tickets in a matter of hours. What this means for you is you need to be quick. We suggest that you designate a few different people in the group to try buying tickets when they go online. Doing this will ensure that you can purchase enough tickets without exceeding the limit. It will also improve your chances of getting the tickets that you want. 

Entertainment is taken care of for you when you go to a festival but spending some time checking what extra activities are available isn't such a bad idea. Some festivals will have pre-bookable venues for food and drink, workshops and masterclasses that you might want to take part in.

Remember that everyone is there to have fun, but it is also about the bride. Try not to let the segmented nature of festivals split the group up if you don't need to be. Sticking together rather than slipping into a 'doing my own thing' attitude will ensure that the atmosphere is still very much 'hen-do' even if the setting is not. 

Most of the below festivals, you can camp or VIP camp if you want to make your hen weekend extra special.

 Image courtesy of shambalafestival.org

Image courtesy of shambalafestival.org

 

UK Festivals to consider:

Glastonbury - Pop & rock - ££ - Glamping available

Reading - Rock, Alternative, Metal, Hip-Hop, & Dance  - ££ - Pink Moon Camping (luxury camping)

Leeds - Rock, Alternative, Metal, Hip-Hop, & Dance  - £ - Glamping available

V festival - Pop - ££ - Glamping available

British Summertime - Pop & Hip-hop - £ - No Camping available

Wireless - R&B - £ - No Camping available

Isle of Wight - Rock & pop - ££ - Glamping available

Creamfields - Electronic dance - ££ - Glamping available

Download - Heavy metal‎, ‎rock‎ & ‎punk rock‎ - £ - Camping available, but not glamping

Lovebox - Dance - £ - No camping available, day festival, London location

SW4 - Dance - £ - No Camping available, day festival, London location

Port Elliott - All genres, from DJs to live bands! They also do workshops, a comedy tent, and wellbeing exercises, therefore, you'd have plenty to do and never get bored! This is for a 'smoother' hen festival. - £ - Glamping available 

Wilderness - Indie, soft rock & pop - ££ - Glamping available

All Points East - All genres! - £ - No Camping available

Shambala - Rock, pop & folk - £ - Glamping available

We Are FSTVL - Dance & EDM - ££ - Glamping available

Eastern Electrics - All genres! - ££ - No camping available, day festival, London location

 Image courtesy of Tomorrowland.com

Image courtesy of Tomorrowland.com

 

Top European Festivals:

Tomorrowland, Belgium - EDM - £££  - Glamping available, all about the production. - £££ - Glamping available 

Primavera Sound, Spain - Indie rock - ££ - No camping available

Roskilde, Denmark - All genres! - £ - Camping available 

Super Bock Super Rock, Portugal - All genres! - £ - Camping available 

Hellfest Open Air, France - Heavy Metal - £ - Camping available

 

 Image courtesy of Coachella.com

Image courtesy of Coachella.com

Our favourite Festivals further afield :

Coachella, California - Rock, indie, hip-hop, & dance. - Hippy vibe - £££ - Glamping available 

Pitchfork Music Festival, Chicago - Rock, indie rock, hip-hop - ££

The Governors Ball Music Festival, New York - electronic, hip-hop, indie, Americana, pop, & folk - ££ - No camping available 

Ultra Music Festival, Miami, Florida - Electronic dance & EDM - £££ - Glamping available 

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