SPOTTED: Gorgeous Vintage-Style Wedding Dress by Caroline Castigliano

Walking past bridal gown designer Caroline Castigliano‘s Central London store on Berners Street is always an exciting experience.   The dresses in the window always make me stop and stare but, being a lover of vintage bridal designs, I often find her elegant gowns too modern for my tastes. Until today.

The vintage-inspired gown seen below took my breath away. I love lace, sparkle and sleeves and this one has all three (thank you Princess Kate for starting the sleeved trend again!)… Despite the fact that marriage will never be in my future, when I see a dress like this one, I feel a wistful pang (sad and pathetic, I know):

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Caroline Castigliano Bridal Gown - Berners Street Window Display

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Caroline Castigliano Wedding Gown - Vintage Style

The dress was difficult to photograph through a glass window but I’ve blown up sections of the image and added colour effects to try to bring out some of the gown’s intricate, gorgeous detail:

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Caroline Castigliano Gown - Amazing Detail!

The above images don’t do the dress justice but I tried my best! Whichever brides may get to wear this stunning gown are very lucky indeed. Wishing you all a beautiful wedding and a blessed future.

PHOTOS: The Cake & Bake Show 2013

I saw some cracking cake designs at this year’s Cake & Bake Show at Earl’s Court on Sunday 15th September – great inspiration for your wedding cake!

From vintage to abstract, there was every conceivable design to view. Here are a few photos of my favourites:

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Stained Glass Window Design

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Elegant Yet Modern!

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Vintage Elegance

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Colours & Petals

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Helter Skelter & More!

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All Wrapped Up!

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Feathers!

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Black & White!

Lessons from THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

The sign of a good man is not his status, wealth or estate – it is his humanity. The Dark Knight Rises is not the best Batman movie ever made but it is the best representation of not only the character but also of what denotes a good human being.

When the going gets tough, Bruce Wayne can choose to run away and turn his back on the citizens of Gotham, including his friends, yet he doesn’t hesitate to don the cape and bring out ‘Batman’.

Ready to fight to the bitter end to put right old wrongs, protect the innocent and atone for past sins, it’s worth remembering that ‘The Dark Knight’ is still just a man: Bruce Wayne – a scared, scarred, lonely man with little faith in himself or much of mankind.

We have all felt like Bruce Wayne at some point. We have all had to retreat into our own shell at least once, whether it was because we felt too weary to face the world or just needed some time to lick raw wounds inflicted by others.

Wayne is a man without special powers, devoid of extraordinary gifts enjoyed by other superheroes such as ‘Superman’ or ‘Spiderman’. Yet when Gotham comes under attack, he never shirks from his responsibility because he knows that it’s the right thing to do.

You see, when the going gets tough and reality comes to bite you on the rear with the ferocity of a Great White shark, there are only two options: fight or flight. When all around you the world seems to crumble – and betrayal, fear and evil suddenly invade and threaten to conquer – it’s the ultimate test for all your bonds: family, friendship, love.

A decent person with a good heart, whose friendship or love is genuine, would never abandon you to save their own skin. They would stand with you and for you, no matter how shaky the ground upon which you stand may be.

In times of trouble, those who turn their backs on you are those who lack that inner core of courage that is the true mark of our humanity. Even the villain in the movie, the mask-clad Bane, stands until the bitter end in support of his friend – going to battle for them, with them and alongside them.

Whatever your view of this “mercenary”, his loyalty is noble and admirable. At his core lies a compassionate man, turned into a vengeful brute after abandonment and cruelty. Ultimately, we are faced with a being who needs to belong and will do anything for those he loves and a cause he believes in. This is a trait shared with Batman – hero and villain are only separated by a hair’s breadth of difference. For both men, fighting to preserve their inner humanity is not a choice, it’s a way of life.

Thus, when I reflect upon a life-changing betrayal by a supposed ‘best friend’ earlier this year, I feel more sorry for them than myself. I was willing to stand by them, even after all they did, yet they ran away to bury their head in the sand. Were it out of shame, I might understand their behaviour. However, their motivation seems to be convenience: brush things under the carpet and then they don’t exist.

I, however, follow the Bruce Wayne / Batman school of thought: stand up for what’s right, fight for all that is good and never run away from your responsibility to others, no matter how small. When we abandon those principles and forget to tap in to our inner Dark Knight, we risk becoming as misguided as Bane: fighting for the wrong side and losing sight of our own humanity – a very sorry state indeed.

Wedding Favours – Homemade Macarons

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As much as I love vintage and antique wedding features, I do like the idea of making homemade Macarons to give out in pretty bags as wedding favours.

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They’re really simple to make, taste great and, depending on the filling, can be made in advance without requiring refrigeration. They also bake really quickly and are a doddle to assemble. Lovely!

Can A Friendship Survive Without Trust?

They say “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”. Such is the world in which we live; a place where smiles mask hostility and people willingly hide behind a veneer to keep up the illusion of ‘friendship’.

Imagine someone you have been ‘friends’ with for over 5 years is suddenly revealed as someone to have routinely lied to you, made fun of you behind your back, used you for their own gain and took pleasure in repeatedly humiliating you? What would you do? Would you forgive, forget and give them a second chance? Would you secretly regard them as a ‘frenemy’ and resort to playing them at their own game by pretending to be friends? Or would you turn on your heel and walk away?

It’s a taxing dilemma. In our current society, many will veer towards keeping up appearances – say nothing and feign friendship. Others will feel outraged and hurt by the deception and unceremoniously  kick the culprit to the curb. But what of the rest? The compassionate folks who are willing to give the person another chance? Are they the weak or the strong ones? Walking away vs. trying to forgive – it’s one hell of a bitch fight for your conscience. Both options are draining and take a lot of resolve and inner strength.

What would you do? And what do you think of those who would do the opposite?

Love Lost

Love rises like a sun to give warmth and light,
Feelings start to grow like delicate flowers,
Colours are vivid and unnaturally bright,
In a body so charged with amazing superpowers.
Eyes dance and glow like firefly swarms,
Cheeks ache from smiling for hours unbroken,
Every beat of your heart miraculously warms,
Ailments are cured with words unspoken,
Love is a wonder more devastating than war,
The most dangerous risk offering the biggest reward,
There isn’t a moment you don’t hanker for more,
For time spent in love before your heart was cruelly broken.

To All The Wannabe Players

A ‘player’ is just a desperate man trying to hide all his personality defects behind the adulation of his peers. They idolise him because he can pull women. They think he’s ‘the man’ because he shags girl after unsuspecting girl, using childish playground techniques to lure them into bed. Or, if he’s really pathetic, he relies on books like ‘The Game’ because he can’t think of how to attract the opposite sex without help.

In Hollywood movies, he starts off being the guy every other man wants to be … He’s the envy of his friends. To them, he has charm, charisma, sex appeal and balls of steel. He punches above his weight and seems to have it all. Fast forward to the end of the movie and he’s the one all his friends have outgrown. He’s the one without a family, trying desperately to hang on to the fringes of his buddies’ lives. The pals who once wanted to be him now find him immature and annoying. He’s suddenly the one his mates are least likely to want to emmulate. Instead, they all have lovely girlfriends or wives and beautiful, endearing kids who give unconditional love – they accept their man / father for all that he truly is and not for what he could be.

A player thinks excessive sex and breaking women’s hearts makes him a real man but real men don’t use women. They don’t treat them as possessions. They don’t lie to them without conscience. They don’t feel the NEED to pull for an ego boost. They don’t fear or disparage committment. They don’t run away from relationships. And they don’t ever abandon their kids.

If you’re one of these sad losers that always idolises the player in the movies and stupidly thinks they’re living a better lifestyle *NEWS FLASH* – NOBODY EVER WANTS TO END UP WITH THESE DUDES. Not even their friends. If that’s a future you want, then carry on gaming. No-one will care because, eventually, everyone around you will start to recognise you for the insecure, fragile guy that you’ve been so desperately trying to hide. Everyone’s true colours show in the end and the picture you paint to all the people you meet along the way will define you forever.

Still think players are cool? Yeah? God, I feel so sorry for you. You’re insecure AND dumb. Wow.

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Antique Engagement Rings

Vintage 1.56 Carat Old European Cut Diamond. Circa 1935.

 

I adore antique and vintage engagement rings – especially if they include diamonds! It’s not just the cushion cut of the rock that makes them sparkle brighter than Angelina Jolie’s teeth, it’s the the incredible style of the actual bands and stone settings that make them stand out from the rest. It’s so boring to see modern rings with their plain bands; I want detail, height, filligree, engraving – you name it, I want to see it! If you’re looking to buy an antique ring, check out this link to the current offerings for sale on Etsy. If I won the lottery I’d scoop the lot, and wear a different one every day for the rest of my life. OTT? Maybe. Obssessed? Definitely. And very proud!

The stunning ring pictured above is on sale through the Erstwhile Jewelry Co. on Etsy. The listing for the ring can be found here. It will set you back $10,000 (so if any UK folks have a spare £6,000 lying around that they don’t know what to do with … Hi! Please buy this ring for me and make a stranger soooo happy.

 

North London Wedding Venue: Vintage Glamour

London’s ethnic minorities have been leading the way in vintage themed weddings for decades, but most of them haven’t even realised it. With a need for venues capable of seating hundreds of guests, London’s Greek, Turkish, Italian and – more recently – Eastern European communities have been flocking to The Regency Banqueting Suite in North London for years:  http://www.regencybanqueting.co.uk/gallery.html

Venues for big numbers are hard to find – especially at a reasonable price. Many Central London hotels have lovely suites on offer, but the cost can start from as much as £60 per guest, for food alone! Some couples turn to local community spaces (church halls, school gyms etc.) but these are usually very plain in their decor and you’re forced to be extra creative with table decorations and other accessories, just to transform the space into a romantic vision.

That’s why The Regency Banqueting Suite is a saving grace in the mid-priced wedding venue sector. As its name suggests, the interior is styled in the oppulence of the Regency period, offering a luxurious, vintage themed backdrop for loved up couples to either tie the knot or celebrate their union.

There’s even a huge drinks reception room for cocktails or champagne ahead of the main party in the banqueting room. Thankfully, the catering is good, too. They even provide a choice of Meditterean appetisers (like tangy humus, delicious salads, refreshing tzatziki), ahead of your actual starter, helping you to provide a four or five course meal at a reasonable price!

Admittedly, the outside of the venue is not much to look at and the limited parking at the rear of the building isn’t perfect but, once you step into their banqueting suite, it immediately fades into insignificance. All you feel is the splendour and glamour you’re suddenly cocooned within. What more could any couple want on their big day?

Dance Like Beyonce At Your Wedding (Crazy In Love)

You’ve got to admire Beyonce … The woman rocks out arenas for two hours straight, night after night, wearing ridiculously high heels. That’s got to hurt. If it was me, I’d be guzzling painkillers the whole night through. It’s bad enough when you hit the club on a Saturday night. It’s not long before you start scanning the venue for a comfy seat, or even resort to kicking off your stilettos to go barefoot. Foot ache can start to nag like tooth ache very quickly. Unfortunately.

There are no such choices for Beyonce at her gigs and your wedding day is your own Beyonce moment; all eyes on you, hour after hour, all night long. You’re the queen of the dancefloor, jumping, shimmying, shaking and swaying through every single song being delivered by your band or DJ. Your feet start throbbing and no amount of adrenalin can anaesthetize the pain. There’s no avoiding it; the wedding’s in full swing but the bride’s about to fall flat. Thank God. For flat soles, that is. Yep, most savvy brides have their maid of honour stash a pair of flats for them in a bag, ready to produce at that crucial moment when you’re ready to start crying or screaming.

A simple satin pair of ballerina pumps, dyed to match the colour of your dress, will suffice. But, if you want some bling to match your wedding ring, I’d suggest this sparkly, white, patent pair currently on sale in Fenwicks (Brent Cross Shopping Centre). Check out the faux diamonds and pearls… Even Prince (Symbol or whatever he’s called these days) would surely approve.

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For £25, these will be a cheap saviour on the most important night of your life. So, let things go flat on your wedding night – and have a better time!