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Over the next few weeks we’re bringing you some of our readers biggest and best honeymoon destinations. You lucky lot seem to have travelled the globe far and wide and are eager to share your travel expertise with couples still planning their own honeymoons. So today we kick off with The Wedding Dolls reader, Angie Picardo who is lucky enough to now live in one of my favourite cities in the whole world, San Francisco.

Here Angie tells you why her beloved San Francisco is one of the most uniquely romantic cities in the United States……..

“Known for its exciting geography and rich history San Francisco is an unforgettable adventure. Here’s my five must go places when you’re visiting the city.

“Fisherman’s Wharf has a delightful eateries, crab stands, fresh seafood bistros, the original Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop, Cafes and historical restaurants for just about every budget and it’s a fun place to see the rhythms of San Francisco’s people. The best way to experience this eclectic mix of food, people and salty air is at street view where you can enjoy the unusual street artists entertaining everyone. Some of the best attractions nearby include the Aquarium of the Bay, which features 20,000 varieties of aquatic life from the waters of San Francisco Bay and the Exploratorium, a world-class experimental research facility that Scientific American declared “the best science museum in the world”.

“One of the most unusual street in the world is San Francisco’s Lombard Street, with its 8 exaggerated switchbacks cascading down a 27% grade. The name was taken from Philadelphia’s Lombard Street and its famous one-way street a block long at the top of Russian Hill sandwiched between Hyde and Leavenworth streets. The best way to experience the street is to drive down at a speed limit of 5 miles an hour or take the Powell-Hyde cable car and walk down the red brick stairs and watch motorists negotiate the curves. There are gorgeous views of the city surrounded by the blue waters of the bay for romantic walks around this neighbourhood.

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“This rich alcove of Chinese culture is a must see part of your San Francisco trip. You don’t have to have much of a plan to enjoy Chinatown. Here you can walk in and out of fascinating merchant shops selling herbs, incense and fine silk clothing or relax in an acupuncture clinic and have tea in the many comfortable tea houses. There are many colorful festivals throughout the year including the upcoming Autumn Moon Festival in September in celebration of the full harvest moon and nature’s abundance. Other interesting places to visit is the Hang Ah Tea Room, the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory and America’s largest Buddhist Church – Buddha’s Universal Church.

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“Certainly not the most romantic thing to do in San Francisco, but a trip to Alcatraz is a complete must for its historical and somewhat macabre allure. Since the island is a National Park, the only way you can get there is through one designated ferry company, Alcatraz Cruises LLC. Best plan ahead for this adventure as you’ll need to order your tickets several months in advance. Not only can you experience the inside of the original prison and cells, there is a museum that tells the intriguing stories behind the island’s history and some of its most famous inmates.

“Make sure you take a ferryboat to the beautiful artistic village of Sausalito across the bay. Well known for its waterfront restaurants where you can watch the sunset it has a really Bohemian feel. With quaint galleries and street fairs there is always something going on. If you are an art enthusiast, don’t miss the annual Sausalito Arts Festival, set along the waterfront it showcases over 250 artists alongside tonnes of music concerts. At Dunphy Park, you can have a picnic in the sun and in the evening on the second Wednesday every month there is an Art Walk, where local artists exhibit their work.

“Whatever you decide to do, you will not be disappointed with this fantastic American city and the best way to see it is on foot. Make sure you plan ahead, make reservations early and dress in layers for the unpredictable weather conditions.

Above all have a happy honeymoon and you never know – I might just be on the trolley cart next to you!”

Angie x

Thanks so much Angie and watch out next week for our readers guide to Barbados! We can’t wait!

 

Angie Picardo is a staff writer, financial analyst, and content manager at NerdWallet.com, a site dedicated to empowering consumers to save money and make smarter decisions about their personal finances, travel plans, or higher education.

 

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Honeymoon

I love a weekend away. Nothing beats taking off for a few days and just relaxing and enjoying yourself in good old Blighty. With no airport hassle, passport control and driving on the wrong side of the road to contend with, you can just pitch up, unpack and get to the nearest pub sharpish.

As wedding budgets get tighter the traditional honeymoon is something that many wedding couples are deciding to delay until the bank balance looks a bit healthier. Ergo the rise of the Mini-moon takes hold and we’ve got five cracking places for you to spend your first few days as husband and wife, all without blowing the budget.

1. 5 The Lawn

With lots of glowing reports from lucky visitors this romantic retreat is tucked away on a private road of ten Georgian Villas in St.Leonards, East Sussex and is a great base for exploring the local area. Lovingly built for two, you’ll find everything you need and then some. With its own indoor heated pool, rainbow shower, surround-sound cinema and a fresh water jacuzzi on the terrace, this gorgeous hideaway is perfect for going out, as well as very luxurious staying in.

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2. The George in Rye

A personal favourite, I love this gorgeous hotel, where you can dine and relax in style after a days shopping in the many fantastic boutiques along Rye’s quaint little high street. Take a stroll around the harbour or have a lovely walk along the nearby beaches. With gorgeous rooms and a great menu you’ll be back for more.

3. Writer’s Cottage, Whitstable

Enjoy a good book? Then you’ll love Writer’s Cottage to bring out your creative side. Close to all the fabulous pubs and restaurants that Whitstable has to offer this little gem is fantastic for a cosy seaside break. Rent it through Mulberry Cottages or check out their other many romantic little hideaways dotted all over Kent.

mulberrycottage

4. Elvey Farm, Pluckley

We’ve not managed to get to this one yet but have had heard plenty of good things from those that have. A medieval farmstead, there are eleven rooms at Elvey farm, each one packed full of original features and set in either the Oast House, the old Granary, the Sixteenth Century Barn or the Stable Block. There’s a great menu and the team are very proud of the fact that they use Kent produce from local suppliers. Everything here is fresh, home-made and hearty. Perfect for farm loving folk who like all of life’s little luxuries. Just don’t forget your Hunters for those countryside walks!

elvy farm the_wedding_dolls

elveyfarm

5. The Reading Rooms, Margate

Margate might not be first on your list for a romantic break but this town is seriously ramping up it’s tourism charm with the Turner Contemporary for a bit of culture and lots of fabulous cafes and bars. In summer you can hop down to our favourite beach, Joss Bay for a surfing lesson or two or visit nearby Canterbury for a spot of retail therapy. Our accommodation of choice here is The Reading Rooms, which is a small but perfectly formed Georgian B&B. A design haven, the three rooms here cover an entire floor each. Look closely and you might have seen it before on Channel 4’s The Hotel Inspector.

So will you be going on a mini-moon?  We’d love to know where!

Happy Planning!

signature emma

Let’s face it weddings aren’t cheap. If you’re the Bride & Groom you’re expected to fork out to make your day perfect but now even attending a wedding can be an major exercise in budget control. From the present, to the new outfit, a possible overnight hotel stay and then attending the stag or hen do and you’re looking at a whopping £500 plus just to turn up. So as your guests have really gone to a lot of effort before they arrive try to avoid these five things that will strike fear into their little happy wedding hearts:

1. “I’m Hungry”

Think about the timing of your wedding and when food and drink will be available. Starting a wedding between 12noon and 2pm will mean guests have probably been rushing to make it there and not had much time to think about lunch. If you can provide a little snack or at the very least a drink on arrival or directly after the ceremony then do it. It doesn’t have to be alcohol or canapes! Use your imagination and check out our previous post for hints and tips.

2. “I can’t afford an Xbox”

Expensive wedding gifts always grind with guests. No-one likes a greedy pants and putting personal gifts like the latest games consule or GHD’s on a wedding list can look a bit off, as does a gift list with a minimum present price of over £100. Make sure you mix the list up a bit with gifts of varying prices or use a Honeymoon payment scheme so guests can donate what they want and help you to have fun as you start your married life.

3. “I think I’ve missed the last train”

If your wedding is out in the sticks or a long way from public transport then you will need to think about making sure your guests can have a good time and get home safely. Hiring a bus (red or otherwise) to take guests on mass back to a town centre or local hotel would be fantastic but if your budget doesn’t stretch that far at the very least make sure you book some cabs in advance. That way guests aren’t left without a ride home as sleeping in the Church generally isn’t an option.

@Michael Cockerham

4. “Urgh how do you spell C-o-n-g-r-a-t-s”

It never fails to raise a quiet chuckle when you pass around the “Guest Book” and see the looks you get. It ranges from a ‘kill me now I have literally nothing to say’ to ‘yes I’m taking it from you but I’m going to pass it on quickly when I think no-one is looking”. There’s nothing worse than having to write something heart felt and witty into a book once you’ve drunk half your body weight in wine. There’s loads more options out there now from Polaroid Camera Pictures hanging on a washing line, to finger print trees and Quiz books about the Bride and Groom to help your guests along a bit. Much more original and much more fun.

5. “I’ve think my feet have frozen off”

This is a pet hate, maybe because I should only really ever live in the Caribbean, but I hate being cold. To be MADE to get cold is even worse. If you’re having a Winter wedding make sure your venue won’t shove your guests outside in the driving rain or snow whilst rooms are being changed around. If you’re having your ceremony in a Church check with Father George that it’s alright to have the heating on so your guests feet don’t get frozen to the floor. English Summer weddings will also have the chilly evenings to contend with so how about having some wraps or blankets on hand. That way your guests can get nice and toasty and still feel the warm glow of your wedding long into the night.

 

Remember if you look after your guests first, everything else will fall into place and your suppliers will also be more than happy to bend over backwards to make sure your guests get the best service possible.

Happy Planning!

signature emma

Featured Image: Frank Amodo

Everyone loves a present so choosing your gift list should be a really enjoyable part of your wedding planning. Depending on your own wants and needs as a couple there are loads of options which don’t include a traditional gift list. Here’s five just to get you started.

notonthehighstreet.com

For a wedding list that’s a little bit different take a look at Notonthehighstreet.com which has loads of quirky and unique gifts that guests will be dying to buy you and that you and your home will love forever.

Make a request to the wedding team and you will be sent a beautiful pack, that includes a free wedding style book, a wedding list brochure and everything you need to know about the service, as well as an example of the invitation inserts (that are available free upon request).

Louise Boothe from Not on the High Street wedding team says “we also now have a great new feature within our gift list service which allows your friends and family to contribute money towards your gift list, giving you the choice and freedom to purchase higher-priced items or gifts of your choice after your wedding day”.

If you don’t need anymore ‘stuff’ then how about getting guests to ‘buy’ part of your honeymoon? Buy Our Honeymoon is the UK’s top online wedding list for dream honeymoons, who charge a one-off fee of £55 to manage your honeymoon experience gift list.

Your guests select any of the honeymoon experiences and activities you’ve listed, and leave you a personal message. They then pay the value of their gift to you directly, either into your own PayPal account, by cheque, or in person on the day of your wedding.

buyourhoneymoon

We caught up with Shelley Green from Buy Our Honeymoon, who told us that “couples can add absolutely anything from room upgrades and a romantic dinner to a day’s scuba diving or a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon, whatever you want.  You don’t have to have made any of your actual honeymoon arrangements prior to building your wedding list though— you can be as general or as specific as you wish. And if you get stuck, we’re happy to help with lots of suggestions”. You can try their website free for a week to see how it works and decide if it’s for you.

Smartbox is a unique gift concept which gives you the choice of up to 200 amazing different experiences. Inside a Smartbox there’s an illustrated guidebook with details of the options available and a voucher from your guests. All you have to do is book the experience and hand over the voucher as payment.

Bottom Drawer gives your guests the chance to add money to your online fund which you can then turn into a dream present. There’s loads to choose from including holidays, house and garden redesign or just receive vouchers for your favourite stores.

The Beyond Weddings Ltd gift service has a whole new take on wedding gift lists. Here you get the chance to work with an interior designer to improve your home on any scale or budget. Which means your guests can contribute to anything from your kitchen renovation to the re-upholstering of your much loved sofa!

Whatever you choose it’s like all your birthdays and Christmas’s have come at once – enjoy!

Last weekend when Joanne was busy with the blog and planning workshops I was sunning myself in the South of France. It was bliss. A few days of sun and long wine fuelled lunches was just what my hand needed to get a bit better. The splint did get lots of weird looks but at least it got me a fabulous seaview seat a few times so I’m not complaining.

Over one long lunch my husband muttered “oh god no here we go” when I spotted a wedding happening down of the street. Rushing off to take a look I watched the happy couple climb into a vintage car and take to the streets with lots of horns tooting and cheering all the way down the promenade. It seems even in Nice you’re not to posh to clap and cheer as the Bride and Groom drive past. Fabulous.

 

 

Next we took off to Monaco where another newly wed couple were climbing aboard their luxury yacht waving to everyone on the marina. With a beer costing around £13 a pint at Le Cafe de Paris in Monte Carlo though, you won’t find us mere mortals getting married there.

 

Safely back in the rain on Monday we saw the final choices of Bridesmaids dresses for a November wedding. Our favourite was a gorgeous Dessy dress. On Tuesday our feature fun showed how to be a wedding shoe showoff with shoe stickers by Nutmeg. On Thursday we took inspiration from the Royal Wedding and looked at hiring classic cars for your wedding ride. On Friday we shared a pre-wedding shoot by fabulous photographer, Kerry Ann Duffy. Watch out for the full wedding next week with the lovely Danielle and Chris who had an English Country Fair wedding.

Yesterday was the third part of our planning a vintage wedding special with vintage shoes galore. Next week it’s vintage wedding styling.

Enjoy the bank holiday weekend!

Emma x

It’s my birthday this week and to celebrate it in style I’m off to Nice for the weekend later this month. I’ve been scouring the shops for the best summer shorts to wear whilst I’m sightseeing and now won’t be leaving these ones just to you honeymooners…

1. Pink Denim Hotpants, £22, Topshop

2. High Waisted Denim Hotpants, £35, Warehouse

3. Matilda High Waisted Floral Denim Shorts, £20, Boohoo

4. BDG Dolphin Sailor Shorts, £35, Urban Outfitters

5. J Brand Denim, £185, Net-a-porter

6. Moto Sparkle Hotpants, £75, Topshop

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Categories

Honeymoon

Everyone loves a present (none more so than me) so choosing your gift list should be a really enjoyable part of your wedding planning.  Skipping round the shop floor of John Lewis shouting ‘I want one of those’ and beeping it into your handheld never fails to raise a smile.

Most guests are more than happy to buy you something from the gift list as it takes away any stress of choosing and wrapping a present, and has the added bonus of being sent directly to you.

However there are some unwritten rules that you might want to follow so as not to cheese off your guests. Firstly, the list should include gifts of differing values so guests can pick to suit their budget (anything from £50 – £150) and secondly, don’t even think about including a Playstation 3 or personal gifts like the latest GHD’s. Guests do not really want to spend their hard-earned cash keeping you entertained on Call of Duty (despite what the best man says).

Not on the High Street.com

For a wedding list that’s a little bit different take a look at Notonthehighstreet.com which has loads of quirky and unique gifts that guests will be dying to buy you, and that you and your home will love forever.

Make a request to the wedding team and you will be sent a beautiful pack, that includes a free wedding style book, a wedding list brochure and everything you need to know about the service, as well as an example of the invitation inserts (that are available free upon request).

Louise Boothe from Not on the High Street wedding team says “we also now have a great new feature within our gift list service which allows your friends and family to contribute money towards your gift list, giving you the choice and freedom to purchase higher-priced items or gifts of your choice after your wedding day”.

If you don’t need anymore ‘stuff’ and the gift list really isn’t for you, then how about getting guests to ‘buy’ part of your honeymoon? Buy Our Honeymoon is the UK’s top online wedding list for dream honeymoons, who charge a one-off fee of £55 to manage your honeymoon experience gift list.

Your guests select any of the honeymoon experiences and activities you’ve listed, and leave you a personal message. They then pay the value of their gift to you directly, either into your own PayPal account, by cheque, or in person on the day of your wedding.

Buy Our Honeymoon

We caught up with Shelley Green from Buy Our Honeymoon, who told us that “couples can add absolutely anything from room upgrades and a romantic dinner to a day’s scuba diving or a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon, whatever you want.  You don’t have to have made any of your actual honeymoon arrangements prior to building your wedding list though— you can be as general or as specific as you wish. And if you get stuck, we’re happy to help with lots of suggestions”.

You can try their website free for a week to see how it works and decide if it’s for you.

It’s like all your birthdays and Christmas’s have come at once – enjoy!

Emma x

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