Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Sending Thank You Notes to Wedding Guests

After the wedding is over and the honeymoon is almost done, you will have to pause and think about the people who showed up to your wedding day.

Thinking of those people will never be sufficient. Adhering to wedding etiquettes, you should appreciate them and show your appreciation through a material token. 

That is where the thank you notes come into the picture. Wedding experts and society or lifestyle gurus advise married couples to send out tokens of appreciation or simple thank you notes to their wedding guests at least two weeks after the event.

Thank you notes should or must be sent especially for those friends or guests who showed up with wedding gifts. Wedding etiquette will also have you send thank you notes to people who were not able to come to the wedding, but sent in their gifts.

To outdo wedding etiquettes, it would be better if the couple will send out personalized thank you notes.

It is not against wedding etiquettes to buy thank you note templates, but be sure to personalize it by adding your personal hand written notes of appreciation. Some couples also prepare the thank you notes along with wedding invitations to save time and money.

When you opt to do this, just be sure you order enough or plenty of extra copies to so you will never run out in case too many people show up.

Etiquette when writing thank you notes

A couple of do’s and dont's will help you get away from troubles that may arise in writing wedding thank you notes. It is not enough that you show up efforts to sincerely thank and appreciate the presence and gifts accorded to your romantic wedding. 

Wedding etiquettes have it that thank you notes should be written appropriately. Even the paper used for the notes should be written on white or ivory-colored paper. Some couples prefer to have their thank you notes monogrammed, but others feel it's just okay if everything is handwritten. 

Here are some guidelines that adhere to wedding etiquettes when it comes to sending out thank you notes:

  • Remember to send thank you notes to relatives and people who coordinated showers and parties for the both of you. It would be okay if you thank them for the efforts within the same card sent to them for their gifts. 
  • Wedding etiquettes suggest that you appreciate each gift you have received. 
  • Advanced wedding gifts or gifts that arrived before the wedding you must be immediately responded to so you will never have the chance to forget to send out thank you notes for them. 
  • It might be time and money saving, but it is not advisable to send out preprinted thank you notes. Sending preprinted cards will give the person receiving the thank you note the impression that his or her effort or gift was not totally appreciated. 
  • Personalize your thank you note by handwriting the message. Warm but short thank you notes are better than longer but non-personalized or insincere notes. 
  • Write the thank you note message in blue or black ink. It is for the simple reason that the colors are far more readable. 
  • It is in accordance to proper wedding etiquettes that you put or include your new return address on every thank you note you have sent. The recipients will greatly appreciate the gesture if he or she is informed or posted of your new and correct address (if you are moving).
  • Never start the thank you note with the pronoun “I.” To create a good and lasting impression use “You” as often throughout the note instead of “I” or “me.”

Monday, 20 June 2016

Eating to Beat Pregnancy Fatigue

Most pregnant women who are in their first or third trimester will answer the question "How are you feeling" with "tired". Infact is one of the first clues that pregnant women may have.

Doing simple tasks can leave you desperate for an afternoon nap. The energy you use to have is now faced with the challenge of growing a baby and your body is hard at work. You are also producing more blood, using more water and nutrients and have a higher heart rate and metabolism when you are pregnant. 

While the best defensive against the tiredness you will face is to get more sleep. There are also some healthy foods choices you can make that will help you get through your day if you do not have the opportunities to take naps.  

First, adjust the size of your meals.  
Anyone who eats a large meal is going to feel tired afterwards regardless of if they are pregnant or not.  Being pregnant is going to make the effect of a big meal that much worse.   Most of your energy is going to be used towards digesting the meal so of course you will feel sluggish and drained.  Eat smaller meals and eat more often.  Eating six small meals a day will help you combat fatigue.  

Eating a good breakfast is the best way to start your day.  
You are refueling your body after a long foodless night with a good breakfast.  A good breakfast is not a cup of coffee and a piece of toast. You want to stick to complex carbs and protein.  Whole grain cereal and a banana for example. These foods will stay with you and keep your blood sugar and energy level up for quite a while. 

Do not skip lunch. 
There are many people who skip lunch thinking they will make up for it by having a big dinner.  This is bad when you are not pregnant but it's even worse when you are pregnant. You need that midday meal to help refuel your body. As with your breakfast, you should keep it filled with whole grains and protein. Have a whole grain pita and stuff it with chicken salad and add a side of grapes or an apple.

Plan to eat most of your calories during the day. 
A pregnant woman needs an extra 300 calories a day throughout their second and third trimester.  The first trimester those are not needed yet. You should eat these extra calories throughout the day in the form of healthy snacks such as nuts, cheese, veggies and dip.  Do not save your biggest meal until the end of the day.  Your body needs these calories to help you get through your day. Steer clear of the quick sugar fixes. In the end these will only make you more tired.

Lastly, make sure you are getting enough iron. 
Eat iron fortified food such as spinach and lean red meat to keep your energy up.  There are times when extreme fatigue could be the symptom of an iron deficiency and you might need an iron supplement also.

Besides eating well, make sure you get plenty of rest even if this means pushing your bedtime up and giving up those late night TV talk shows.  As any parents of newborns will tell you, get your rest while you still can. 

Sunday, 19 June 2016

[Wedding] Amy & John, A Military Wedding at Wentworth Castle

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of Photographing Amy & John's Wedding at Wentworth Castle. I have known Amy and John over the last 3 years since having Jack, and welcoming Thomas too - so it was lovely to see them become Husband and Wife too.

I started with Amy who was getting ready with her 6 Bridesmaids at one of the bridesmaids houses. Hair and makeup was well under way when I arrived and plenty of fizz was being consumed. Amy had made her personalised bridesmaid glasses and was in love with her sparkly Louboutins which were her Wedding Shoes!

We all headed off to the Ceremony at Wentworth Castle which was being held in the conservatory. It was very warm in the conservatory but it is such a beautiful venue looking like you are outside whilst you are getting married indoors!

John was in uniform whilst waiting for his bride-to-be and they had such a lovely personalised service.

Amy and John are so very much in love and I am sure that many people thought it was about time! 5 Years engaged, two gorgeous kiddies but they finally did it!

Drinks were served on the terrace before we started group photographs first. The weather held off, was warm and cloudy but no squinty eyes!

After being given a quick golf buggy lesson, John, Amy and I all headed off on the golf buggy around the beautiful grounds of the Wentworth Castle Gardens before heading off back to the Long Barn for their Wedding Reception.

It was such a lovely relaxed day. From Fish & Chips for lunch followed by Ice Cream and a Hog Roast in the evening! Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it! And the evening party started with lots of fun and laughter!

Thank You Mr & Mrs Holmes for allowing me to share your special day and the big moments in your life. I wish you all the best for your future!

[Wedding] Sam & Shaun - A Beautiful Day at Waterton Park Hotel

On Friday, I had the pleasure of Photographing Sam & Shaun's Wedding at Waterton Park Hotel. It's where I first met them both before they booked me to photograph their big day.

I started with Sam who was getting ready at the hotel with her bridesmaids. A hive of hair and makeup but a very calm atmosphere. Sam was with her 4 bridesmaids with mum and dad popping in towards the end.

Sam headed downstairs to meet a slightly nervous Shaun in the ceremony room - where the two flower girls were followed down the aisle by her bridesmaids before Sam entered with her Dad.
The Ceremony had two readings, including "how to be a good husband" a nod to Shaun!

After the ceremony, we headed outside for a Confetti shot before heading over onto the island for welcome drinks and group pictures. Sam knows I love a good confetti shot and she does too so she had purchased extra confetti in case people had forgotten it! And it worked lovely!

Whilst it was not a sunny day, the weather played ball allowing for lovely photographs for Sam and Shaun. Whilst it may have rained a little later in the evening - it kept the clouds and weather perfect for what we needed.

We headed off upstairs for speeches before dinner was served for the guests. With Sam's Mum, Shaun and 3 of the groomsmen gave speeches too.

Thank you for allowing me to share your special day Mr & Mrs Kelly!

Thursday, 9 June 2016

RMB Volunteer Photographer- One Year On

Well, it has been one year since I joined Remember My Baby as a Volunteer Photographer and today I renewed my membership to continue being a volunteer.

I thought I would write this blog about what I’ve learnt in my year of becoming a Volunteer Photographer, for people to read about the different experiences, for photographers who are thinking about Volunteering, and for other Volunteers who know they are not going it alone.

I’m not going to lie, I ummed and ahh-ed a lot before I became a Volunteer. At the time I mainly shot natural light and didn’t understand why they stipulated we should have flash images too - NOW I totally understand why. It doesn’t matter how capable you are or how much you understand natural light, sometimes there is nothing natural available and you may just have a horrible strip lighting above the bed - or in the corner of the room. It's about giving the best possible images for those parents who are going through an unimaginable nightmare for those of us who have never been through it ourselves.

So I joined, one year ago today I paid my membership fee after having my application reviewed and accepted and started my journey into being a Remember My Baby Volunteer Photographer.

Images used with kind permission of parents.
In those 12 Months, I have photographed some absolutely beautiful babies. The youngest at 20 Weeks Gestation, to 3 Months of Age. You see, Remember My Baby covers babies lost before, during or shortly after birth - or babies that never get to go home.
Images used with kind permission of parents.
I was the first volunteer in South Yorkshire, but being based in Barnsley meant that if a session needed covering with our volunteer agreement that we have signed that I can cover West Yorkshire too. I have covered sessions at Barnsley Hospital, Martin House Hospice, Doncaster Royal Infirmary, Forget Me Not Hospice, Pinderfields Hospital, Leeds General Infirmary and Leeds St James. Sometimes the requests come via midwives who already know about the service we offer, sometimes it comes directly from parents who have been told about us. But the important thing is to keep getting the word out.

So in this last year, I have learnt…

Your first session always stays with you
Whether your first session was on your own or you shadowed someone else, that first session will always stay in your heart. It the first set of parents and family you met who was going through a child bereavement and you were there to do a job, and what a job you were doing. You won’t forget how thankful they were for you just being there for them. I won’t forget how tightly mum hugged me and said thank you what felt like a million times.

It’s not as scary as you expect
The fear itself of doing a session, seeing the parents and baby is a lot scarier than the actuality of it. But it's still scary. I’m not going to tell you it's not - but it's not as scary as you think it's going to be.

Images used with kind permission of parents.
There won’t always be tears
When you get a call to go to a session for someone who has lost their child you expect there to be tears, and lots of them. I expected uncontrollable sobbing, the kind of crying where people are wailing in pain. It's not like that. Sometimes there is silence. Sometimes there is just general chatter. Sometimes there are silent tears, that look and pang of grief. And sometimes there is laughter. Sometimes families and partners are laughing and joking with each other. A lot of the time when you walk into the room - it's not fully hit them that they won’t get to take their baby home.

Some people won’t understand
Some people won’t understand that you do what you do. Some people won’t understand why people would want photographs of their “dead baby” (yes some people are brash enough to say those words to you!). And it's not just general people, even sometimes midwives won’t understand why you’ve been called in by a family. But a good bereavement team will support the decision.

Some parents won’t want to see you
As a volunteer photographer I don’t always meet the families I photograph and just photograph baby alone. There are varying reasons for this. Sometimes the parents are going through a hard time of acceptance but want the memories when they are ready. Sometimes they are angry that things weren’t picked up sooner. Sometimes they feel guilty that they’ve not spent long with baby and in their eyes you may spend longer with baby than they have. For whatever reasons parents don’t want to see you - just use the midwife as the go-between and deliver as many beautiful images as you can.

Sometimes it's hard to get into hospitals
You'd think that a FREE service for bereaved parents would be welcomed by all hospitals that were approached but this is not the case. Sometimes they have things already in place, have midwives that have gone on courses in bereavement photography. Sometimes the hospitals are happy with what the medical photographers provide, or sometimes they may think that families won’t want a “stranger” in at their most vulnerable time. Being a Volunteer photographer and getting “turned away” isn’t easy especially when you know that there are parents who would love the service. We just have to remind people that we aren’t there to replace anything that is already in place - we are just there as an additional service should we be requested.

Someone will always be touched by what you do
Planning the Charity Event that I am in Barnsley for Remember My Baby I have been touched by how many people have said how amazing it is what us Volunteers do. People you may never have ever spoken to will message you to say how amazing they think the charity is. That they know someone who lost a baby and it would have been a welcomed service. It shows that the charity is needed. 

Each session is different
No two Remember My Baby sessions are the same. Whether it is with parents there, or not, with siblings included or not. Sometimes there’s extended family - sometimes it's just you and baby. The time that you visit after baby has been delivered is different too. Hospice and NICU sessions can be a bit more relaxed and less tense than hospital sessions. Remember to go into each session with a fresh pair of eyes and know that it's not always going to be the same as the last one you did.

Sometimes people can’t volunteer
Just because someone is a photographer doesn’t mean that they can volunteer to be a Remember My Baby Photographer. It’s not necessarily that they aren’t good enough to be one - just sometimes they don’t have the right “headspace” to do it. Being a Remember My Baby Photographer isn’t for everyone. People think there are more volunteers in the charity than there actually are - and certain areas are crying out for more. The aim for me is to speak to people who are photographers and they know what I do as a volunteer. I will speak honestly and from the heart and with passion - but if they cannot volunteer for whatever reason then that is their choice. I just ask that they spread the word whenever they can about the charity and the good work it does.

And who would think that the charity runs solely on donations, from cofounders to volunteers every position is voluntary. The charity will turn 2 in August and I hope that we raise plenty of money for them on my Charity Night in July.

Here’s to another year of being a Remember My Baby Photographer. Meeting families I really wish didn’t need us.

To find out more about being a Volunteer Photographer visit here
To find out more about offering Remember My Baby in your Hospital visit here
To find out more about donating to Remember My Baby visit here
To find out more about the services offered to families visit here

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Gift Giving Cash Wedding Etiquette

Do you have a Wedding coming up soon and thinking of what gift you should give? Do you know that there is a gift giving wedding etiquette? Yes, there is such a thing. If you are contemplating on giving cash as a gift, read on first the gift giving cash wedding etiquette before you do such a move.

  1. If a guest who receives an invitation can't make it to the wedding, they are not obligated to send gifts and much more cash gifts. Wedding etiquette dictates, however, that those who are unable to attend should send a congratulatory card for the groom or for both couples or a simple best wishes note to the bride.
  2. Cash gifts or any gift items may be sent to the bride or groom's home before the wedding or to the couple's new home one year afterwards. Also, your cash gift will be a great help to couples within their first year of marriage who are still in the stage of raising their own savings. 
  3. Giving cash gifts are not a violation of wedding etiquette. Couples need cash as a start-up money for them or to put towards something they are saving for such as a family, honeymoon or a house deposit.
  4. So how much should you give if you decide to give the couple cash as a gift?
    It is a horrible idea that the amount or price of one’s wedding gift should equate to what the couples had spent on your dinner at the wedding reception. It is untrue. You can give as much as you want and as less as you want, if your budget is really tight. 
  5. Also, don't stop yourself from giving cash gifts if the couple has listed their preferred wedding gifts in registry. Buying gifts from the wedding registry list are optional; you can either give the couple the gift of their choice or don't.

Monday, 6 June 2016

[Wedding] Toni & Glyn - It's a love that lasts forever, The Spiced Pear

On Friday, I had the pleasure of photographing Toni & Glyn's Wedding at The Spiced Pear, Hepworth.

I met Toni with her mum and bridesmaids (and some partners and friends) who had staged a takeover at the Sunnybank B&B in Holmfirth - a beautiful b&b up some of the wonderful tiny little lanes that Holmfirth has to offer.

Hair and Makeup were already underway with the bridesmaids when I arrived with some fabulous pin curls and french pleats.

When I first met Toni to discuss her Wedding to Glyn it was originally planned to be an Alice in Wonderland theme Wedding - however, it ended up being a complete mix of their loves from Dr Who - The Beatles - Harry Potter and the rest!

The bridesmaids were wearing dresses which were made to order and were very similar to a Lindybop Dress that I wear to photograph Weddings - and very almost wore to this one! I could have totally been an honorary bridesmaid!

We headed over to The Spiced Pear for the ceremony which was held downstairs in the tearoom. The sign outside was handmade by Glyn! Which was absolutely amazing!

After the ceremony, Toni, Glyn and I headed in the car to Langsett for some photographs of them both together. Whilst there they took the time to read personalised vows to each other privately - well apart from me and the driver! There were laughs - and tears - and a mass of Beatles lyrics from Glyn - oh, and a Scroll! It was amazing to be apart of something so special and personal.

We headed back to The Spiced Pear for a few close group shots before Afternoon Tea was served (which was super Yummy!)

Afterwards, speeches, a few larger group shots happened and lots of mingling! It was such a lovely day. The evening consisted of dancing, a Naked Cake, a Donut Tower, a cake of Cheese and an evening BBQ - great for the food loving family and friends of Toni & Glyn!

Thank you for allowing me to share your special day!

What To Expect From A Twin Pregnancy

Imagine wishing and trying for one baby and ending up with two! Statistics show that there has been an increase in twin pregnancy the past few years and this short guide should answer any questions you have to giving birth to multiples!

How do twins begin?
There are two kinds of twins: identical twins and fraternal twins. In the case of identical twins, the egg is fertilized and then splits into two cells. Each cell carries identical DNA and so both children will look exactly the same with only slight differences such as height or birthmarks. Fraternal twins are not identical. Instead of having one egg that splits into two, there are two eggs that are fertilized by two different sperm at the same time so they could be of two different sexes with different physical characteristics.

Early signs of twin pregnancy
An early sign of twin pregnancy is excessive morning sickness and extreme fatigue. Morning sickness is common with all pregnant mothers but those who are giving birth to multiples tend to experience more morning sickness than usual. Exhaustion is another early sign of twin pregnancy. Again, it is not uncommon for pregnant women to be more tired than usual but those who are having twins tend to undergo enhanced exhaustion. Twins are hereditary and so if you are feeling excessively tired, are often nauseous and twins run in your family, you very well could be giving birth to multiples!

Twin pregnancy facts
With twins, you’ll have to prepare for double the trouble! This means you will probably be gaining more weight than with a single pregnancy. Due to this extra weight, a pregnancy with twins can often be more uncomfortable – severe exhaustion, stronger backaches and headaches, etc. So get plenty of sleep and rest. Try a pregnancy massage, a great stress reliever to those giving birth to multiples. Also be prepared for a possible c-section, as with multiples this is the more common way of giving birth. Because a twin pregnancy is considered a high risk pregnancy, you will probably need to consult your  midwife and consultant more often than if you were having a regular pregnancy. Do not be fazed as this is quite common with twins.

Having a twin pregnancy is most certainly a mixed blessing. Whilst having two children is an amazing experience, the pregnancy itself can be tough so make sure to take care of yourself.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

[Wedding] Shani & Gary - A Happy Love Story, Keepmoat Stadium

On Saturday 4th I had the privilege of photographing Shani & Gary's Wedding. I originally met them at the I Do Doncaster Racecourse Wedding Exhibition but then again when they came to my studio for my Wedding Open Day.

Sometimes it seems such a long time since people booked, and other times it seems two seconds away! 

I started with Shani at her parents house which is just a short walk from the Church in which she was to be married. The house was a busy hive of people, drop offs and pick ups, nerves and feeling sick - and the grooms house I heard was just as bad. 

Shani wore a pair of gorgeous Vivienne Westwood Shoes and her "Something Old - Something Borrowed" was a 72-year-old watch which her Nan, Mum and Sister had also worn on their Wedding Day too.

We headed off to the Church where Gary was waiting, only a small but beautiful church where Shani was walked down the aisle by her dad. The ceremony included two readings and three hymns, and plenty of emotion.

Outside the Church we started the family group photographs. Shani & Gary had originally intended to get married in the Town Hall as they wanted something small and intimate, and stuck to their 40 guests.

After the Church, the guests headed to the Keepmoat Stadium where the reception was to be held, where Shani, Gary, their daughter Lexie-Mai and I headed to the Lakeside for a few photographs to be taken by the fountain and spend a little time on their own before joining all the rest of their guests.

What a lovely happy, and in love family they are! 

I continued photographing on into the evening including emotional speeches, first dance and capturing lots of other memories along the way. Thank you Mr & Mrs Turner for choosing me to be your Wedding Photographer - I had a lovely day! X

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