Hello - I'm Back


Hello there, I am finally back to my little blogging world. It has been quite some time since I last sat down to write a blog post so this feels a little weird. 

Here I am; one year older, a brand new job, a new blog design and a new laptop - so not much has really changed around here has it?! Haha!

I disappeared from my blog when the whole hoohaa went down regarding a few blogging designs, I don't want to go too much into it but I didn't want to keep Little Talks online with a theme that potentially caused a bit of a risk. So I took her down for a while until I found the perfect design and well here we are! Not a lot has changed, I've kept it quite simple and very much similar to before but it was time for a little refresh.


So what has been going on in my life then?

Well we are just under three months until the wedding day - scary! Planning is all but done, just the DIY decorative bits to sort out and then pay off an enormous amount of money to every man and his dog, but it will all be worth it on the day. If you had been enjoying my wedding series on here, then fear not I have got a lot more posts to push out, so keep your eyes peeled.

In March I changed my job and had a little side move in my career, still in social media but not fully sticking with sport. It was quite the change, not an easy decision to make as I had been at my previous place for five years, I had made some great friends so it was so hard to move to a bigger company and having to start from scratch again. Something I find very difficult to do. 


Although working in a bigger city does have its perks, I get to go shopping on my lunch break. Although I'm not sure that's the best thing to do when we are trying to save for a wedding whilst paying a mortgage and all the bills - oopsie! 

I didn't completely disappear from the blogging world, I've uploaded one or two videos onto my YouTube channel (nice lil plug there haha). At the moment I have found filming videos a lot more fun, there's so much I have to talk about and the content has been much more engaging. When it has come to being sat in front of my laptop ready to type, my mind goes completely blank. Not sure why, but I feel like my writing mojo disappeared a long time ago and it's about time it came crawling back.

So without further ado, the blog posts will commence... 

Alice xxx


Finding Your Wedding Venue




I’ve gone back and forth about what should be the second post in my wedding series, everything just seems to be so important and if I’m going to be brutally honest, the initial stages seem to blur into one, well they did for me anyway. But I decided finding the perfect Wedding Venue is top of the list.

Now, don’t get me wrong you do need to think about budgets first and foremost we cannot all afford to splash that cash, money doesn't grow on trees after all but what you do need to remember is that you need to be open minded. Your budget will shift around, it will never be exactly what you initially planned unless you are exceptional thrifty, think of your ideal budget and then start looking into venues.

For me the venue should be the main priority before planning anything else, let's not be stupid you are going to have a look at wedding dresses and flowers etc but your venue sets the scene.



There's a hell of a lot of different style venues ranging from registry offices, castles, barns, beaches and hotels. The below points are what you need to look into when starting out the search

  • Location 
  • Style
  • Church
  • The Date 

Where do you see yourself getting married, not the venue but the location. We had two options; somewhere in Yorkshire as that's where we live or do we move it to Lancashire as that is where Martyn is from. Everyone has family who live all over the UK and maybe even abroad, so there is always going to be someone who needs to travel. 

Then do you want a church wedding or would you prefer to have it all in one place? If it is a yes to the church then you need to think logistics, is it going to be the local one you attend weekly or are you willing to choose a church close to the venue you want to hold the reception and evening do. You do not need to attend church regularly to have a church wedding but I believe there are some rules around having a church wedding (I'm not knowledgeable on this but I knew we qualified to have one).

From pinning down the location, this is where you then start looking into venues. I initially wanted a church wedding, even though I wanted to step away from traditions when it came to my reception and evening party it was important that I kept that old fashioned tradition of walking down the aisle in my local church. So for me I needed to find a venue that was no further than a 20 minute drive away, I needed to ensure those who needed to stay in a local hotel or air bnb were located in the middle of the two. Do you really want to waste your day driving around?! 

If you don't want to get married in the church, you need to find somewhere that has a licence to hold a wedding ceremony! 

In my head I knew I wanted my venue to be a little different, I love the industrial and urban style. For me a hotel was not going to cut it; don't get me wrong I have been to some beautiful weddings in the most dreamiest of hotels and manors but for me this isn't my style. I adore brick walls, bare concrete floors, piping running from floor to ceiling and cute industrial lighting with the filament bulbs. 

The first venue I came across that we were so close to booking is very different to the one we actually booked. It was an old mill/warehouse that had been turned into a party venue that also threw weddings; there was red pillows throughout the open plan room to keep the ceiling up, industrial lighting and those beaut banqueting tables. With this place, we had a humongous room that would need filling with decorations and obviously they needed to be a bit edgy to fit the style of the venue. The food choice would have been to the extreme and I would be getting married in the church. 

We hit a huge issue that I touched upon in my previous post, so we took a few steps back and had to start the search all over again. I am so thankful for my sister, she knew the style I was wanting and she had the patience and time to put together a list of around 10 venues that may be suitable for us. I would recommend accepting help; I'm a bit of a sucker for this and want to do it all myself but I was at the point of breaking. 

Once you have a list of places, email them to see when you can go and have a look around. Don't worry if you sound a little demanding, they need to cater to your schedule as well as their own. We could only do weekends or week nights after 6.30pm but we still managed to look around a few without any issues. A lot of venues also host wedding fairs; now these are good if you want to discover different suppliers etc but I personally didn't find them helpful as I knew what I wanted. 

From here, you will be able to get a better understanding of the style you like and hopefully finding the one. Do not give up like I almost did, if nothing takes your fancy from your first list of venues; have a look around for more, something will be out there! You might even realise that the style you have your heart set on might not be right and you might find something completely different that is perfect.


How do you know if it is the one?

That was a question I kept telling myself, each time we stepped foot in a venue (apart from one) I could see myself at our wedding reception, and I honestly believed they were the one. But there was always an issue that we could not find a compromise and we were back to square one again. However, as soon as we stepped foot in the venue we have booked we knew it was the ONE! I had waft of emotion running through me; there were goosebumps, butterflies and I wanted to cry through excitement. 

The only compromise we had to make was re budgeting as the venue was probably twice the amount we initially wanted to spend. This was due to the fact that it was not a packaged deal, we had to pay for the hire separately and then the food and drinks were both individual bookings through their retrospective companies. This is something else you need to take into account too, sometimes the hotel bookings include food and drinks and some don't so be aware of this!!

I hinted upon compromise earlier on and also on the previous blog post, but this played a huge part for us. I knew straight away that it wasn't going to be fee-sable to have a church wedding if I wanted that venue. But, the room where they conduct the ceremonies was and IS simply stunning, in fact it was that particular room that sold the venue to me and I knew I was happy to say goodbye to a church wedding. You will know if it is the right thing to do when it comes to a genuine compromise or even a simple decision. 

After we made the booking, we knew what was included and what wasn't but more importantly we knew what the price was for the hire. From here, we could get a solid idea of how much budget we had left and what we wanted it to go towards. 

We are extremely fortunate that we do not have to go crazy in terms of the decoration as the venue had it all, the fairy lights and candles. But some places are a blank canvas so you may need to pay that bit more or even hire a wedding designer to sort all of this out for you. 


Be in contact with the owners on a regular basis; not too many times but enough to build the relationship with them and also to put you at ease so you know you have the trust in them to make the day extra special. Ours are fantastic, I have been in contact with them so many times with a few questions that I simply couldn't find the answer to elsewhere and they have been amazing! 

Another compromise we made was the date of the wedding, we knew the time of the year when we wanted it but we were not set on a particular date. When we went to look around, they only had the one Saturday date left for 2019; I mean it could be a selling technique but we just knew we weren't going to risk it and booked it the following day. But you may need to change it to a week before or after if they don't have the specific date available. 

The most important thing is to enjoy the process, don't get too stressed over this as it isn't worth the hassle. Book where you two want to book not what others may want. 

I hope this helps you if you are currently looking for a venue. If you do have any questions, feel free to write them in the comments below or even send me an email :) 

Alice xxx



What I've Learnt So Far Planning A Wedding


Well hello 2019, I can now finally say that I am getting married this year... say what?!

13/10/2017 is the date etched in my brain as the most amazing and exciting day ever. The day he put a ring on it!! I never actually spoke about my engagement on the blog, it is something that's been mentioned on my social media but I never sat down to tell you how the engagement happened.

It was Friday 13th October 2017 and we were in Los Angeles about to have a private tour of the Warner Bros studios. Luckily for us we had friends in high places who were able to show us around without needing to be part of a huge group; thank god (this will be clear in a sec). Five minutes in and we stepped foot in the Central Perc set, sat down on the oh so famous orange sofa in the coffee house to have the obvious tourist photo. Little did I know what was about to happen, along with the poor lady who was trying her very best to get our two friends to be a part of the photos too.

It was all a blur, but seconds into the "photo shoot", Martyn got down on one knee and asked me to become his wife and obviously I said 'YES' along with the lady screaming and a very excitable gentlemen who worked there running in and saying 'He's her lobster' (Friends quote). A lifetime went by before the words 'YES' came out of my mouth, however video evidence says the complete opposite and Martyn barely finished asking me before my answer spurted out - oops.

Fast forward well over a year and we come to the year of our wedding :-) It has felt like a lifetime since we booked the date, it's been a whirlwind but also quite intense too, I really did not know what to expect. It's every little girls dream of having that perfect wedding right? Having those scrapbooks of every little detail of the 'dream' wedding! But not me, I thought about having a wedding one day but I never actually sat down to jot down what I wanted, I was too busy writing stories/songs and playing with dolls. Although I do have that board on Pinterest full to the brim with ideas; private of course.

We are currently seven months into planning and organising the wedding and I have learnt so much already, we have experienced a hell of a lot of stumbling blocks but also discovered a number of fantastic individuals who work in the industry who have been absolutely amazing and incredibly helpful in our journey!

This blog post could go on and on and on but I am just going to share with you the BIG things such as budgets and also the stumbling blocks we hit and how we overcame them. 

The first thing we did was figure out a budget, we knew it would be low but we loved the challenge to create the best day for us at a price that was affordable and didn't put us in any debt! I am now the person who deals with finances on a spreadsheet ... yes a bloody spreadsheet, who even am I? Jokes aside, this has been the best thing we ever did, this allowed us to know how much we needed to save and we put down an estimate of how much things cost so we could see what we were working with, if it was a no go or we could fit it into our day.

The spreadsheet we have is in the document sheets which both me and Martyn have access to via google documents and also on an app which is so handy when we have been sent through quotes. I would definitely recommend starting one whether it is planning your budget for a house move, general day to day life and weddings! 


Don't be a stickler, yes we all know that we cannot afford splashing the cash wouldn't it be lovely if money was no object, but your budget will change! We started out with an idea of what things were going to cost, but as we spoke to suppliers it was clear to us that things cost less than we expected - bonus! Things cost more than we thought - bummer! Our budget has switched around loads but we are still within a few hundred of what we agreed on! This is where shopping around and negotiating becomes vital. 

Secondly, came the venue and this is where we hit our first stumbling block and what a big one that was! I'm not being over dramatic here but it got to the point where I was seriously contemplating on not getting married for a long time. For me the venue is key, if it was not perfect then we could not have the wedding. It had to cater so many different factors; had to suit both of our personalities, be within our budget, suitable for family and friends i.e. wheelchair friendly etc and allow us to dress it up and have the perfect caterers etc.

We initially thought we had found the dream venue, perfect location, within our budget, suitable for everyone we would like to attend. It seemed to be too good to be true and guess what .. it was! The only issue we had was trying to barter them down on the minimum bar spend which was extremely high, little did I know the delay in us trying to reach an agreement was actually a saving grace. One day out of the blue, a local paper announced on their website that the venue was being sold for housing at the end of that year; we had zero communication from the venue owner but we could have lost a huge amount of money. So the search was back on and this is where it got very frustrating.

I actually left it in the hands of my sister, she's incredible at finding things online. I honestly have no idea how she does it but she has helped us so much (more of this later on in the wedding series.) She put together a list of places that she thought fell into my ideal category and it was down to me to have a look through the pictures and speak to the venues. I will obviously go into more detail in a future blog post on how I found the venue etc but as of June 2018 we had paid the deposit and the venue was ours! 


The next stumbling block we hit was probably getting a wedding photographer! If you follow my social media channels: Insta, Twitter (little ole' plug there haha), this has been a pretty recent issue. I found what I thought was my dream photographer via our venue's instagram page (I'm not going to hint where my venue is until after the big day, some things I like to keep private to make it more special). 

I had zero clue what I wanted in a photographer, there are so many different styles out there, who knew! But the ones that stood out to me were the more natural shots and images that captured the beautiful light as we all know I am a sucker for fairy lights and sunsets etc. This one photographer captured all of this and more, we booked them in for a skype session and we knew that they were going to be the one but months went by before we actually sat down to book and by then it was too late. I am also a believer of things happen for a reason and within 24 hours of disappointment we then found our photographer who is absolutely wonderful, they really are a dream to work with. 

At this point in time, these are the only issues we have hit, but I know we have so much more planning to do that there could be more issues along the way. I have learnt so much but also this process has helped me discover my vision for the day. 

I would also say that be prepared to compromise, this may be the hardest thing you have to do. The main thing I decided on was not having a wedding car, as my whole day is taking place at the one venue and no one would see me arrive I don't see the point in forking out on hiring one just to drive 10 minutes from where I am staying the night before to my venue. The only people who will see me is my parents and bridesmaids, I am perfectly ok to miss out on a couple of shots of me in a fancy car if I am going to save a few hundred pounds which can go towards my dress or the florist. 

Another big thing I would say is look around at who you know, its not as weird as what it may sound haha! Who do you know and what do they do? My sister is a graphic designer and she has kindly offered to make our wedding invitations for us which is incredible and it also makes it that little more special as you have created a lovely memory in the build up to the big day! 

Martyn's mum is incredible at baking, especially when it comes to decorating cakes! She has made a couple of wedding cakes in the past for his cousins so it was only right that she got the opportunity to make our cake too. All of these things are a great way of saving money, I am not saying use and abuse our loved ones, if they offer you it as a gift then that is incredible but make it known that you will pay for their services. 

We are almost there, I promise. But I wanted to end the post by giving you two top tips if you are ever planning a wedding, no matter who you are, what you want from your big day or what budget you are working with! 

Always shop around and negotiate! This could sound like such a faff but honestly, the extra hours you put in is so worth it! There are so many times I wanted to go with the first thing I saw; the venue, the dress, the florist and even hairdressers for my bridesmaids but I haven't and thank god because I have discovered new companies who are so incredible to work with plus we have managed to save so much money!  

All that is left for me to say is Congratulations on your engagement and I hope you have as much fun as we are having booking your day!! I hope to see you popping back when my next post in the wedding series is live! 

Alice xxx

Life Lessons in 2018



Wow, 2018! What a bloody year! 

Boy am I grateful to see the clock strike midnight on the 31st December 2018. 


One whole year, 365 days ago, I sat down with a notepad and wrote a number of aims I had for 2018. I decided to go against the whole new year, new me and resolutions as I quite frankly forget half of them and am just too lazy to complete them. 

Instead, I made a list of six to eight things I either wanted to achieve or change in my life for the better. I'm not going to share them with you as they are quite personal, some I may if they ever come to light in 2019 but all I can say is that 2018 was one hell of a crappy year! The only thing that did come to fruition was booking our wedding, this was probably the only highlight I actually have. 

I did however learn a number of life lessons which I will carry with me forever. 


The BIGGEST lesson I learnt was to cherish your loved ones! You just don't know what is around the corner, without going into details we had a couple of shocks during the summer time that turned our world upside down. Fortunately, things got brighter and I am happy to say that we got very lucky to be going into 2019 with these loved ones still around. 

Never take anything for granted, always take time out and make those memories that you can cherish forever! 

2018 was the year I struggled with my mental health, obviously the above didn't help but I just felt very lost! I feel like the majority of the year I was stuck in limbo; there were so many things I wanted to achieve, by putting that much pressure on me and wanting these huge changes to happen kind of pushed them all away! 


My second lesson, do not be afraid to speak out. It has taken me a good eight months to realise that I needed someone to go chat to, someone who is a neutral and wants to listen and has the advice to get me through different scenarios. It is not weak to get that help, it is perfectly ok and not scary at all! 

Finally, do not compare yourself to others. We are all very different people, we may like similar things but we are each unique, the world would be a very boring place if we all did exactly the same! 

The blogging community can be amazing but also very alienating; the growth and opportunities has been incredible since I started five years ago. Please do not be harsh or bitchy or gutted or jealous of someone who has shared adverts, sponsored posts/videos or going on these press trips etc, everyone works extremely hard to get these opportunities, your time will come one day. 


Do not be disappointed that your blog hasn't got the same reach as others who started around a similar time to you. We are all different, we will all have our time one day! You are incredible, keep it up! 

Looking ahead to 2019; I'm taking each day as it comes, I still have similar aims to what I did in 2018 but I am not going to put the same amount of pressure on myself as it isn't healthy. What I do know is, 2019 is the year I am getting married so I have got so much things to plan and get sorted before the big day! 

I hope that 2019 brings you a lot of happiness! 

Alice xxx



Top Tips on Becoming a Home Owner #2


Mortgages

This is where our story gets complicated so I will keep it as short as possible for you. It took us a hell of a long time to find somewhere to accept us and give us a mortgage in principle. There are so many companies or banks to go through, so definitely do your research as we got messed around a couple of times. This is not always the case as a couple of my friends got theirs straight away; ours dragged on for around two to three months.

As we were getting a new build, the housing company had mortgage advisors they worked alongside. The company was based three to four hours away from where we lived but we scheduled in a home appointment with one of their advisors, the day she was meant to come we were informed that she could no longer make it and we would be on a Skype call with another advisor. He went through all of our finances and I mean everything, it is pretty scary to see how much money we threw away on a daily basis without seeing any benefits.

For some reason, I didn’t get a good vibe from him and I thought it was pretty rude that they just did a Skype call on our initial meeting. It seemed far too unprofessional, rushed and negative so we decided to take our business elsewhere. Do not be scared to do this, you are well within your right.
We then wanted to get ours through Barclays Bank as I am aware they are quite loyal and can get good deals. We must have been in that bank for four hours filling in paper work, getting credit checks etc before being told we needed to give up the dream of purchasing that particular house we fell in love with. What was worse was the fact we put down a mini deposit on the land with it being a new build.



I’m not being dramatic but I went back to work in tears, it was like my whole world had crumbled down, I had worked so hard and it was as though we were just going to lose our dream house or not even get on the property ladder.

Fortunately, through my own work I discovered a local financial advisor who was a dream to work with and I regretted not going to see him sooner. We spent a couple of hours in his office going through most of our finances and giving him the details of our home and voila we had a mortgage in principle, we just had to wait on our health checks to be processed alongside other paperwork.
I would say that if your financial situation at the time of taking out a mortgage is suitable, go for the longer fixed rate – it does mean the monthly payments are slightly higher than a two year fixed rate but what it does mean is that your payment will be exactly the same for four years before you have to remortgage.

Once your fixed rate is up, the monthly prices will dramatically rise as they will be on a ridiculous variable rate (I believe that is). This is when you keep an eye on the house prices, if they have risen or dropped, this will affect your mortgage when remortgaging and the rates too.



Solicitors

There was still a long road ahead and we knew things could easily fall through, luckily there was no chain. If you are unsure on the lingo, a chain means that there is more than one person in the process, so someone could be buying your house or the person who is moving out the house you would like is buying another etc.

A top tip is to keep the decision of buying a house hush, hush. Tell as little people as possible so if something does go wrong there are less people to inform, plus until the payment has gone through and you have the keys in your hand anything could happen unfortunately.

Again, do your research into finding the perfect solicitor for you as you will be dealing with them on a daily basis. We got our solicitor through a company Taylor Wimpey had recommended and to be fair the lady we were dealing with was a god send. There are a lot of fees that are going to crop up throughout the process, so do not be alarmed if you have agreed the fee at the start and then it increases when it comes to pay at the end of the service, but do not be a push over and stand your ground! I even rang another solicitors to get some advice, they couldn’t tell me too much but they did confirm that our solicitors we were using were well within their right with this particular extra cost.
You will receive a hell of a lot of paperwork that you must read through! I did not have a clue about anything when I was reading them, it was so daunting but it does make sense as you go along. I also got my parents to read through them too to double check everything before I even signed the paperwork.

They will look into a valuation survey, property survey and the land the building is on. There’s so much that comes into play that is out of your hands but it is the case for everyone so do not worry.
They will keep you posted throughout the whole process and then it will come to the time that you finalise the offer and mortgage. Then all that is left to do is to wait for the exchanging of contracts, this is where your initial deposit will be paid and there is no going back!

Finally, you will get to the stage where you complete the purchase. Again it is out of your hands, you are waiting for that phone call from your solicitors to confirm they have transferred the remaining money owed to buy the property to the seller’s solicitor’s account, in my case it was Taylor Wimpey.
With ours being a new build, we sneakily went to our house before the money had been transferred and fortunately it was unlocked, don’t worry it was safe as the builders were still on our road. As we pulled up, I received the phone call from the solicitor to say that the final payment had gone through and we were home owners.

Soon after the lady from the sales team we had dealt with on our site popped down to hand over our keys and a lovely welcome home pack which had some coffee, magazine, biscuits and a mug which was lovely!

If you have purchased through an estate agent, you would either meet them at the house or go to their offices to pick up the keys. We didn’t go through this process so I don’t have a lot of information on this.

I have noticed that some building societies actually provide these cute packages when you purchase your house! It’s a lovely touch.


Hidden Extras

Please be aware that you will still need to pay out on a number of different things. Firstly, take out health insurance, it may sound morbid but if anything happens to you or your partner you know you have help with the mortgage. We did ours through our financial advisor who found our mortgage, it only took an hour and a few forms to fill out. A small tip is to take one out each as this will provide better cover rather than a joint one.

Take out contents and house insurance, it is a price to pay each year or you can choose to pay it through monthly instalments. Again shop around for the best deal for you but again if anything happens to your house whether it is a fire/flood/burglary you are covered!

This next thing is probably something most people forget; everyone will have set up their internet and Sky but do not forget a tv licence. It may be expensive but if you get caught out watching tv without one, you could be in a lot of trouble. It only takes a couple of minutes online and again you can choose to pay it in instalments or out in one go! We did ours the night before we picked up the keys so we knew we would be covered straight away.

There is probably a lot that I have missed off! But do not let all of this scare you off. Think about Chandler in friends the day he is getting married, think about each step as you go along, they are all manageable in their own right!

Finally, keep all of your paperwork in a fancy folder. There’s always going to be something you need to check on so keep everything!!

Good luck to everyone who are buying a house, I hope everything all goes well and enjoy your new life in your little abode.



Alice xxx