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Keeping Focus vs Keeping Up

Image by Courtney Horwood

Image by Courtney Horwood

Pinterest, Instagram and wedding sites are awash with examples of incredible weddings. Whether an elopement at Everest base camp or an elaborate, over-the-top wedding that cost upwards of a million dollars, there are a wealth of images from weddings at each end of the spectrum and everwhere in between that continually reinforce the need to go big - go bigger - outdo! But somewhere in the constant surge to compete, your budget escapes and more importantly, so does the root meaning of the wedding itself.

In its purest essence, your wedding is simply you and your beloved coming together in front of those who know you and support you the most to profess your love and loyalty to each other, unifying your lives together as one.

We know as planners we should in theory be prompting you to spend more, to go for the big weddings and yes, big weddings make up a significant portion of our client base but we also know that brides who were so adamant about including every tiny added-extra they could from favours to gift bags to custom designed dance floors, on the actual day, more often than not, didn't really notice the fruit of their muse, they didn't concern themselves with fulfilling every single tradition or having their wedding feature on a blog or in a magazine - that comes later, what they thought of on the day and all they're really concerned with in the moment, is celebrating with their family and friends, snuggling into the chest of their shiny new husband, revelling in the joy they feel as a newlywed, imagining their futures and celebrating their present and that's something we see at every wedding - regardless of whether we're helping with day of coordination at a DIY backyard wedding or we've planned and styled every tiny full service detail to a bride's elaborate specification for a private fine art wedding only accessible by air or sea. Your wedding will be memorable because of the way you felt, the way your guests felt, the atmosphere, the sense memory and the revelry.

Don't get swept up in creating an elaborate wedding based on your social competition. By all means, make your wedding a spectacular star-studded event if you desire - for many, it's not about keeping up with Jones', it's about their personal tastes, their style as a couple and for some of our celebrity clients, it's about expectation and publicity.

Scale Everest if you have the funds, the experience will be so worth it and the photos will be amazing and unique, just keep the root of the wedding true to who you are as a couple, make it about creating an atmosphere rather than replicating a scene from a movie.

Your wedding comes but once, place the biggest focus on the truest value - the two of you.

Honeymoon Venue: Casa Madrona Hotel And Spa, Sausalito

When considering an overseas honeymoon (or even a destination wedding), the venue selection can be rather harrowing with an entire world to consider. As part of our #honeymoonhumpday series, we're going to be bringing you a variety of venue profiles, honeymoon styles and tips every Wednesday to help you narrow your options down to somewhere truly amazing.

This week's honeymoon destination is Casa Madrona Hotel and Spa, situated in the beautiful city of Sausalito – California’s very own Mediterranean Riviera. Perched upon the hillside and overlooking the picturesque seaside, Casa Madrona is a tranquil retreat with many places to explore nearby to help celebrate your honeymoon.

Awarded second place in the 2016 Boutique Hotel of the Year by the Boutique and Lifestyle Lodging Association, Casa Madrona combines modern day hospitality with its storied heritage to make for the ultimate stay. The hotel offers rooms in three different lavish styles, The Mansion, Hillside Cottage or Bayside. The Mansion is Casa Madrona’s signature luxury residence, which offers its respected guests grand style and a unique experience. The renovated 1885 Victorian estate provides guests with a private chef, an exclusive yacht and the utmost in comfort and service. The Hillside Cottages are designed in an apartment styles with breathtaking views of the San Francisco skyline. The nautical décor and modern design combines impeccably with its historic touches. Should you opt for a Bayside room, enjoy a modern, expansive room with a four-poster bed, beautiful French doors that open onto your private balcony and a range of amenities for your personal comfort.

For a chance to relax, take advantage of Casa Madrona’s spa. Inspired by the hotels seaside location, their treatments include natural elements to help refresh and revitalise your mind, body and soul. Get pampered from the extensive spa menu of treatments. During your stay, Casa Madrona recommends that you visit Poggio Trattoria, a classic Italian restaurant adjacent to the hotel. They use the finest of local, organic ingredients in their menu which changes daily, to help you experience the soulful and classic tastes of Northern Italy.

When in Sausalito there is a range essential activities to do and sights to see. First and foremost is the infamous Golden Gate Bridge. The iconic landmark can provide you with a spectacular background to your honeymoon photos. In the evening, take a stroll through Sausalito’s waterfront and cobbled sidewalks. Enjoy the sea air, ambiance and a collection of unique shops and restaurants. If either you or your partner are an Otis Redding fan, take a trip to the cities main dock where you can find the very bench that he wrote “Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay” from. If you are after a ferry ride, a trip to the notorious Alcatraz or even some delectable seafood, head to Fisherman’s Wharf where you can find all this and more.

On the hillside of Sausalito, Casa Madrona Hotel and Spa is an elegant accommodation choice surrounded by exciting activities and sight seeing opportunities to make for a memorable honeymoon.

Choosing your Engagement and Wedding Rings

Deciding on both your wedding rings and engagement ring can be a daunting and time consuming task with many technical and personal aspects to take into consideration. To help you, we have put together some basic information that we recommend keeping in mind when making the important choice. After all, diamonds are forever!

The 4 Cs

There are four main characteristics to consider when you are looking to purchase a diamond, these being, cut, clarity, colour and carat. The cut of a diamond defines how well the diamond reflects and absorbs the light – it does not refer to the shape of the stone. Clarity means the amount or type of inclusions that are present in the diamond. When a diamond is examined under 10x magnification and has fewer flaws, it will receive a higher grade. The colour of a diamond gets rated on a scale of D to Z, with D having completely no colour and Z being more obviously yellow. Diamonds rated D to F are the most sought after and also the most expensive. Carat refers to how heavy the diamond is, the more carats, often the larger the stone is.

HG Tip: Make sure if you're buying a solid diamond, that you ask for it be taken out of the setting as the claws are a classic place to hide flaws. Also ask if possible to view it in natural light as the light in a jewellery store is made to enhance the sparkle and colour of the diamond.

Stone Shape

With an array of diamond shapes such as, emerald, asscher and radiant, choosing the right shape of stone can be an overwhelming decision. A round diamond is the most classic and is popular due to its 58 facets, which maximise its sparkle. We recommend doing thorough research on different shapes, visit stores as well as look online to discover which shapes you like and what would suit you best. A ring that has a well-shaped diamond will enhance its overall beauty and worth.

Should Mine Match His?

It is entirely up to you whether or not your wedding ring matches your partner's. Some couples opt for similar rings while others go for the complete opposite. Whichever you choose, there are various customisations that you can make to your rings to make them more similar, should you choose to. You could consider having your names, wedding date or even the special place that you were married engraved on the inside of your rings. Or, for subtle personalisation, you could add each other’s birthstones to the inside of your rings.


Engagement and wedding rings can largely vary in price so it is always important to have a budget in mind. Traditionally, people are willing to spend two to three month's salary on an engagement ring. Although, the key is to decide on a budget that you and your partner are comfortable with and can afford.
Wedding rings will usually be anywhere from a few hundred up depending on how elaborate the wedding ring is and if it was part of a set with the engagement ring - remember marquise and halo rings may look incredible alone but adding a wedding bandmeans custmoising a wedding band to fit under or around the shape of the engagement ring. This is becoming more popular with the advent of such shaped rings but it will add to the budget of your complementary wedding band.

Remember the Long Term

While it is important to have an engagement and wedding ring that you love, it is necessary to also think about the long-term factors. If you decide on a ring that is more fashionable, with a coloured stone or unique shape, remember that it is going to be with you for the rest of your life and could look dated in years to come. When thinking long-term it is also important to remember to not skimp on the quality of your ring, quality workmanship is essential to ensure your ring lasts for the years to come.

Choosing for her

For the person proposing, it's generally quite a daunting task if she doesn't have input into the design.
It's becoming increasingly popular to purchase the diamond in a temporary setting for permanent setting into a design of her choice at a later date.
Alternatively, short of her circling jewellery brochures and stratetgically leaving them out for you, she may be ahead of you with her design choices having pinned an array of examples to keep you on track.
Something to keep in mind is her hobbies or line of work - if she's working with her hands or climbing mountains, a giant rock isn't going to be appropriate, similarly so if she works from home or is a stay at home mother who uses her hands all day everyday because we've heard so many tales of brides reaching into a cupboard and coming out withou the diamond.

Something else to think about is her preference for metals and gems - maybe she's not a diamond girl, perhaps she'd prefer a sultry ruby or forest green emerald. Similarly, take a look at the jewelery she currently wears, is it all gold? silver? - this will help you to work it out.