Photo Courtesy of Joe Conroy Photography Portlaoise at the wedding of the lovely James and Christine
Photo Courtesy of Joe Conroy Photography Portlaoise at the wedding of the lovely James and Christine
Tell us, Who are SD CAKES?
SD CAKES is run by Saima Hebel and her husband David Hebel. They specialize in designing very unique and creative wedding cakes which showcase that WOW factor with bold colors and intricate details turning these creations into dreamy wedding cake designs and a display of the fascinating beauty of art.
We are a home based business and we are based in Portlaoise, Co. Laois.
SD CAKES have been published in many Irish blogs, as well as wedding cakes magazines around the world, including Cake Masters Magazine, UK American cake decorating magazine , USA and few Indian publications .
Tell us a little about Wedding Belles;
Wedding Belles is a bridal accessories studio and online store located
in the quaint village of Castlemartyr in Cork. We stock all the finishing touches for the bride to be and Ellen, the owner, will go to the ends of the earth to assist a bride to be with her accessory selection. There aren't many shops like Wedding Belles around that focus only on bridal accessories...basically I eat and sleep them and I am never off duty, always available and more than happy to chat with a bride to be over Instagram DMs, Messenger, Whatsapp or whatever medium they use.
Where might we have seen Wedding Belles featured before?
Wedding Belles has been featured in The Wedding Journal after our fantastic win in 2018 of their Bridal Accessories Award. More recently, we got an amazing write up on Evoke.ie at the beginning of Lockdown (1.0) which was excellent coverage for Wedding Belles. We have had write ups in the Evening Echo in Cork and featured in multiple photo shoots over the last couple of years with our accessories as we have something to suit every taste and style.
AHHHH! My first Giveaway, can you believe it?!
I have teamed up with the wonderfully talented Anneli's Illustrations to give one lucky winner a bespoke bridal illustration, the most amazing keepsake. I am over the moon to be offering such a beautiful prize for my very first giveaway. This will definitely make one lucky persons week! Anneli is an incredibly talented artist, let me introduce her and her work:
This week we watched eagerly for announcements regarding the possibility of moving to a level 5 lockdown and wedding numbers being cut once again from 25 guests to 6 guests. At 9pm on Monday, the couples of Ireland breathed a sigh of relief, in the news that weddings will remain at 25 guests for the remainder of the year. When did we ever think the news that weddings of 25 people would be celebrated so greatly, as it was for many couples last night?!
This pandemic really has shaken and changed everyone’s preconceptions of what a wedding “should and needs” to be. Of course, we have all seen so many family and friends postpone until 2021, in the hope that they can have a larger wedding, and rightly so, always do what feels best for your day!
However, as someone who is not even engaged but had an idea of what I thought my wedding would look like, I have found myself reevaluating. Seeing weddings of 15 – 25 people and the joy and amazing time had by all, it just made me think “They had an amazing day with 15 people, imagine what you could do with a wedding of 60-80 people?" I had always considered this a small wedding by the standards of the hotel, I was wedding coordinator, the majority of the weddings were averaging 150-160ish people. However, now looking at it with a set of new eyes following 2020, it sounds like a dream.
One (among many reasons) why I always thought I would have my wedding in Ireland or locally was to facilitate a larger wedding. I am sure I am not the only one thinking about elopements and or weddings abroad, following the shit show that 2020 was for so many couples. So, I reached out to Rachel Rose Weddings to help us navigate the idea of weddings in Spain. Rachel actually helped to plan a friends beautiful wedding in Cortijo Rosa Blanca. Said friends have also kindly allowed me to use their incredible wedding photos, shot by the very talented Rafal Borek, based in Co.Sligo. Now, it's over to Rachel Rose Weddings!
Congratulations you’re getting married! My name is Niamh and I am a bridal hair stylist, a mammy of three smallies, and wife to a very patient man who helps me with all my admin… and grammar! I have become a bit of a gardening enthusiast since lockdown, I love the simple things in life and I like to think this shows in my work.
I qualified from Robert Chambers School of Hairdressing in 2011 and went on to work in some amazing hair salons. I always had a love for up-styles from the very beginning! So, I finally decided in 2019 to specialise in bridal work and I can honestly say” I looove my job”. I have trained with some of the best bridal stylists out there, including Joanne Kelly (Joanne was so good I went back a second time), Aisling Hamill, Audrey Cashman (up style junkie) Katrina Kelly and Kasia Fortuna. You never stop learning and I’m always upskilling to be the best I possibly can, for all my lovely brides.
I am lucky enough to have been present for Hundreds of wedding speeches, using this experience I hope I can provide some clarity around good speech content as well as the logistics of the wedding speeches! Some of the most common questions I get regarding the speeches are:
"Who goes first?"
The traditional order of speakers is as below:
The Best man typically acts as MC throughout the speeches introducing each speaker
Father of the Bride / Speaker from the Bride's Family
Father of the Groom / Speaker from the Groom's Family
And the Big Finale – Best man
"When should we do our speeches?"
Before Dinner - Doing the speeches before dinner allows the more nervous speakers to “get it over and done with” meaning they can relax and enjoy their dinner. As soon as we introduce the Bride and Groom into the ballroom and seat them at the top table, we normally hand the mic straight over to the Best man to get the show started!
The timing of these speeches needs to be quite precise. If you are considering having the traditional 4 speeches and you are allowing 10 minutes per speech that is an additional 40 minutes before dinner service begins. I'm hungry just thinking about it. Of course, some speeches will run under 10 minutes. However speaking from experience the majority run over.
After Dinner - Having the Speeches following dinner is the traditional route. All guests are full and content and ready for some nostalgia and sentimentality before the dancing begins. From a dinner service perspective this can be the easier route. Once we introduce Bride and Groom into the Ballroom it is straight into serving the first course ensuring a smooth service. The main downside to this is if you have a very nervous or anxious speaker it does mean prolonging their nerves through the dinner service.
During service - Definitely seen least often, as it can be difficult from a food service perspective. Anyone who has ever cooked a Sunday roast knows when the roast beef is ready it's ready. If it is kept warm , as opposed to being served once ready, you run the risk of it drying out. This applies to many popular wedding menu choices including salmon. Obviously, Chefs are professionals and can of course avoid this better than any of us Joe Soap’s cooking a Sunday roast. However, should a speech run for 30 minutes rather than the promised 10 minutes there is only so much can be done. I would personally avoid this option altogether.
"Have you got any advice on the Do's and Don'ts of a wedding speech?"
Do practice out loud - Practice reading your speech aloud once you are happy you have finished writing it. This will help you ensure it flows and makes sense. Then practice “Giving” your speech. This will highlight where you need to emphasise, where you need to pause and where you can take a deep breath to relax.
Finally practice with whoever will listen! The more times you perform your speech, the more comfortable you will be on the day and less reliant on your flashcards/script. If you are very nervous about speaking in public try reading your speech for one person initially and then when you're comfortable build up to two and three. In my previous blog, I talked about how to deal with nerves surrounding speech giving, as well as all other aspects of the wedding day. You should check it out! (plug...plug...plug!)
Do consider using visual aids – Speeches are made all the more fun/interactive when photos or props are included! Personally, I wouldn’t use projectors or screens but instead get said Photos printed on A3 / A2 cards and ask a groomsman to hold up said card at designated times during the speech. Wedding speeches are nerve wracking enough without worrying about working with equipment unless of course you are well used to working with projectors and slideshows etc. Even still I would consider props over technical equipment. Should something go wrong it is much easier to poke a groomsman to hold up the right picture than it is to find a replacement HDMI, mid speech.
Do be yourself - Giving a speech can be completely nerve wracking and people sometimes feel that if they portray a character/persona it will be easier. It won't. Just be your genuine self. People understand how intimidating it can be standing up in front of a crowd and will be on your side when you stand up to give your speech. Take advantage of this empathy and allow it to give you some comfort.
Do smile! - Don’t be afraid to laugh at your own jokes or give a little smile. It is super endearing for an audience to see. When you smile the whole room smiles with you. This is 100% true and who doesn’t want to see a room full of happy people when giving a speech!
Do get a little sentimental - Open up about how you feel about what the groom means to you, let everyone know what he, his friendship and his happiness with his new life partner means to you. It’s a day for love and lord knows the world needs more brotherly love!
Here are a few helpful tips to help cope through from the initial planning process right through to your first dance!
The planning process surrounding your day
As a wedding coordinator I have had the pleasure of looking after many different people and personalities in the lead up to the big day. In my experience the main reason for people worrying in the lead up to their day is that, for the majority of them, this is their first wedding. They have never had to organise a wedding before! At most they have been involved in perhaps a sibling’s planning process or as part of a friends Bridal Party. However, the feelings do change when it is your own wedding, your own table/seating plan and of course your own Budget! I would always tell my Brides and Grooms if they needed anything wedding related to just ask, be it just someone to bounce ideas off of or if something you are unsure of is playing on your mind. This is where you should really take advantage of having a dedicated wedding coordinator/planner/consultant! You may not have been through this process before but your wedding coordinator lives this process day in and day out, use their experience.
One lovely couple in particular comes to mind, in relation to wedding planning nerves. The groom was an admittedly anxious person, he said he was aware he might find the planning process stressful. He had already envisioned the many nights of lying awake worrying about “should they or shouldn’t they’s” surrounding their wedding. The main stress being that they had no idea what to expect or what was involved in the wedding process.
We sat down over coffee and went through the main milestones in the planning process from Bedroom allocations, to invites and RSVP’s, menu tastings, final numbers and table plan deadlines to name but a few. I told them not to dare lie awake at night wondering and worrying about something and instead to send me an email, not matter what the time, asking the question and take some comfort in knowing there was a response for that worry on its way to them.
There does come certain point a few weeks before where all the planning is done, no more can be done and you can relax a little more. The time for changes and adding extra bits on is all done and dusted and it's time to enjoy the excitement of what's to come in addition to the Hens and Stag do’s of course.
The wedding day jitters
Once the big day arrives it is completely normal to have a few nervous butterflies in your tummy that morning. However once the bridesmaids /groomsmen join you to start getting ready your mind is so focused on what is happening around you rather than on the walking down the aisle portion of the day. I loved when we had a civil ceremony within the hotel, the Bride normally stayed the night before and got ready in one of our larger family rooms with plenty of room for hair and makeup. I would pop up to them about 11.30am to check in and see how their morning was going/ how they were feeling. It allowed me to offer that extra bit of support the morning of the wedding. Everything from making sure she is feeling ok to making sure she has enough prosecco/snacks on standby. (which in my opinion mean the same thing)
The most important thing is to know the order of your day inside out! Have a schedule in your head but try not to focus on the clock to much. If things don’t happen to the second as planned, which is normal, this can create unnecessary stress. Speak to your suppliers in advance to ensure they know how important punctuality on the day will be for you. Perhaps designate one person in your wedding party to make sure things are happening reasonably on schedule. One last tip would be, if you are having a wedding car do ask them to arrive 30 minutes before you are due to leave for your ceremony. This will allow you to relax once you see the car outside awaiting you. Also, a great opportunity to grab some photos with the car!
An interview with Bridal Makeup Expert Bronwyn Dunne
Bronwyn Dunne is a certified beauty therapist, makeup artist and salon owner. She graduated from the Bronwyn Conroy Beauty School. She had the pleasure of being trained by Irish celebrity makeup artist, Paula Callan. For those who might not know Paula Callan, she paints the faces of such beauties as Roz Purcell and Doireann Garrihy, as well as many many others. Bronwyn has kindly sat down and answered all of our questions regarding how to choose the right makeup artist for your Wedding Day.
You graduated from Bronwyn Conroy Beauty School and have been trained by the experts, should we be looking for accreditation when choosing a makeup artist?
When it comes to choosing a makeup artist, I do think a certain amount of accreditation is important to determine the makeup artist you’ve chosen has a basic understanding of correct makeup application but more importantly a certification in safety and hygiene.
I know from personal experience as soon as my friends and I have a function to attend we start the search for a make-up artist and for us, that search starts on Instagram. Is social media presence important when considering a makeup artist?
I believe some form of social media presence or a professional website is hugely important when choosing a makeup artist. Pictures of past clients will give you a clear look at the makeup artist's general style of makeup and it is proof of how much experience they’ve had and more importantly a testimony to how many satisfied clients they’ve had.
Also, reviews and word of mouth give you a great insight into a makeup artist’s general reputation. After you’ve done your research and found a makeup artist you like, it’s important to get an idea of how their past clients rate their work and their overall service. Peace of mind is key in the days leading up to your wedding and it’s imperative to know you can trust this person to be punctual, cooperative and professional when the big day rolls around.
Social media being social media, people tend to get hung up on aspects such as ‘followers’ and/or ‘likes’. Is this something we should be aware of when looking through social media for a professional makeup artist?
I wouldn’t look too closely at their social media following, I think it’s just a numbers game. Peer pressure is a powerful thing, especially when you’re planning a wedding. Everyone will have their own opinion as to who is the best choice according to their social media influence or their popularity. However, I think everyone’s style and taste in makeup is very personal and unique. If you like the work of a makeup artist and it speaks to your personal style then that should be enough, whether they have a thousand or ten thousand followers on Instagram or Facebook. It’s YOU they have to convince, not the masses!
I am definitely a fan of a good Instagram filter for sure, but is this something we should take into consideration when looking for something like makeup looks or artists?
If you have spotted a makeup artist on social media that you like but you’re worried their pictures have been heavily edited or photoshopped, the best thing you can do is trial the makeup for yourself. The proof is in the pudding! I cannot stress enough the importance of a trial makeup for the bride. It’s a crucial time for you and your makeup artist to come to a mutual understanding of your needs and your expectations. I like to ask my brides to save the trial makeup for a long day or night out to really put it to the test. The hen party is a great opportunity. It gives you an idea of the staying power of the makeup (i.e.. how it looks on the skin throughout the day) and there are plenty of photos taken to be sure how good it looks in person translates through the lens.
I have had some shy brides who maybe felt bad or even embarrassed to want to change things or even tell me maybe they didn't like an idea or suggestion. I always reiterate that this is your day, you are more than allowed to ask for/ tell your suppliers what you would like! In light of that, how important is it for Brides-to-be to give feedback to their makeup artist following a trial?
After the trial, make note of any observations you had. Were there elements that you loved? Was it durable? Did you need to top it up or add powder? Have you changed your mind about certain aspects of the makeup? I’ve had clients come to me very set on a certain idea or trend, only to change their mind having seen the look on themselves or in pictures. This is completely normal! The trial is the time to make these alterations so that you know exactly what to expect on the day of the wedding. Your makeup artist should have no problem tweaking the plan to suit your observations. However, if you are completely unhappy with the look and overall quality of the makeup trial then it is completely acceptable to inform the makeup artists of your concerns and to go another way. A trial makeup is not a contract!
What are the questions you get asked most? What questions should we be asking a potential makeup artist?
As for what you should be discussing with your makeup artist, the most common questions I get would be regarding the morning of the wedding (how the morning will go/ how much time will the bridal party need) and then how to top up the makeup during the day.
Personally, I allow at least one hour for the bride (who has already had a trial) and 45 minutes for any member of the bridal party thereafter. The bridesmaids will all have their own personal touches and requests but they generally follow a look and colour pallet complementary to each other. In my experience the mother of the bride or groom often values a good base on the skin and a youthful glow. Everyone is different, and I like to give each client the time they deserve to feel completely happy and confident. I also allow a cushion of time at the end for final touch ups. For an average bridal party of five I allow five hours in total, usually arriving at the location at 7:00am to set up my makeup, chair and ring light to start at 7:15am and ideally finish up for 12:15pm.
It sounds precise because it has to be! There is nothing like the buzz the morning of a wedding. Spirits are high and it’s easy to get side-tracked as there are so many little things left to organise. It’s honestly a joy to be around and I like to keep things moving so the bridal party has time to enjoy these special moments. Any bridal party of mine will tell you that I’m a stickler for schedule, my phone alarm is set to go off every 30mins or so to keep us all on track as the morning goes on. It sounds extreme but it brings such a sense of calm and control to an otherwise hectic time!
Venues had without doubt already seen a growth in demand for smaller, more intimate, weddings. Even when worldwide pandemics, lockdowns and social distancing were mere concepts in the movie “Contagion”. I believe this trend will only increase over the coming months as a direct result of the Coronavirus.
If this lockdown has given us anything, it is a newfound appreciation for what really matters. A time in our lives that physically distanced us to an extent we never imagined, has brought us even closer to those who matter most.
We know weddings will look different over the coming months, with the new social distancing regulations. However, I personally believe there will be a certain category of couple who will jump on board with the smaller wedding trend. Couples who previously felt they “couldn’t” have a smaller wedding. It seems Irish couples in particular do feel slightly more pressure to invite the whole G.A.A club or 4th cousin Jimmy to attend their Big Day and you know if you invite Jimmy sure Angela has to come.
Of course, we all know this doesn’t really matter and your day is about the two of you and celebrating the beginning of your new life together as a married couple. I have friends who have decided to get married abroad with just their nearest and dearest or eloped, just the two of them, for specifically this reason. However, a lot more couples than you might think feel this unspoken pressure to have a big gathering on their big day.
This uncertain time around gatherings and weddings in general will undoubtedly afford these couples more leeway and understanding from the extended family and friend groups. Meaning, they will be able to have the smaller more intimate wedding or even Micro Wedding they have secretly wanted for so long. Micro Weddings are typically 20 people or less. They are a lovely alternative to the traditional wedding, a more relaxed day without the constraints of timings and tradition.
As a wedding coordinator I have seen wedding couples craving the “something different” and wanting to invest their money in creating a unique day through personalised elements rather than inviting the whole parish. If you are someone who is detail orientated, a smaller scaled wedding can definitely work to your advantage. Needless to say, the first thing people will think of is the savings on having a smaller wedding. As a result of this smaller guest list, this may afford couples the opportunity to put additional budget towards those personalised details that perhaps wouldn’t have been an option at a larger scale wedding.
I have had the pleasure of organising a few different types of weddings all based around smaller numbers but all VERY different from the last and I think that is the amazing opportunity in something like this. Please don’t mistake me, every wedding day no matter what the size is unique to each individual couple. Smaller weddings just tend to be less tied into traditions and the traditional timings of the occasion.
The Day Two has grown hugely in popularity over the last couple of years and the available offering for this has become as important to people when booking a venue as the Wedding Packages themselves. Perhaps you are one of our 2020 Couples who has been forced to postpone, maybe you never considered a Day Two, but with a little extra time to save, it's on your mind about what you might like to add on to make your patiently awaited big day all the more wonderful when it does arrive.
Here are a few ideas to get you and your other half started:
The Home Bird
Initially having something small at home can seem like the easy option, especially for those who grew up with a field or two outside your front door or simply enough room for a marquee. In the Irish climate you know a marquee is an absolute essential. There are lots of excellent Irish owned events companies with marquees available for hire at reasonable prices!
There are lots of options for at home shindigs, Pig on the Spit or BBQ with the option of BYOB (Bring your own beer) for family and friends. As an at home gathering is usually a slightly more relaxed vibe, BYOB would be an acceptable invite request. However you could of course have a few buckets of ice with a selection of beers available. For those who might like to get a little more “Boujee” with the at home affair, Mixologists or Cocktail Bar hire are an excellent addition, not only do they provide top notch cocktails they also have amazing entertainment value; the same goes for the Pig on a Spit it has huge entertainment value. The company PigSpit.ie, whom I have worked with on events and weddings previously were extremely professional. In my opinion they offered an excellent value for the service with their “Hog in Hand Package”, a client (and personal) favourite. It consists of slow-roast hog, homegrown on their farm, served with a choice of ciabattas and brioche buns plus a choice of two sides! This business established by Johnathan Marry comes from family farm roots in Meath so you know you are getting quality Irish produce. The wonderful advantage to this option is that it can be served Outdoors or indoors so it is a great flexible option to compete with the ever-changing Irish Weather.