Fleur de Force and her wedding planner sister Hannah on where on earth to begin, bridal beauty that looks ‘like you’, dress shopping and more…
Whether you’ve got a wedding to plan yourself, are gearing up for bridesmaid duties or are simply doing a bit of bridal meandering on the internet, it’s safe to say that weddings, while celebrations of love, can also become full-time jobs in themselves in the run-up. Tellingly, pulling them off with aplomb is in fact a career in itself, as Fleur de Force ’s sister Hannah would know. Having worked as a professional wedding planner, Hannah was Fleur’s first port of call when she got engaged, and the two sisters subsequently launched Bride de Force to document Fleur’s own wedding planning and explore all things matrimonial, from décor to hair do’s and everything in between.
After a hiatus, Fleur and Hannah relaunched Bride de Force this January, with fresh, innovative and inspiring ideas for every aspect of wedding planning, and a good dose of hindsight in Fleur’s case regarding dress technicalities and weather forecasting. Get the inside scoop on Fleur’s own wedding, what’s coming up on Bride de Force and what can make or break The Big Day…
Get The Gloss: Did setting up Bride de Force initially help you to envisage your own wedding? What did you learn in the process?
Fleur de Force: That was the idea! I wanted to both document my experience of planning the wedding, but also connect with other brides to share inspiration and experiences without overwhelming my current YouTube and blog audience with wedding content (not what they signed up for!). When we initially looked into it, we found that there was little to no content of this kind on YouTube! There were (and still are) so many wedding blogs, but very little video content around weddings - we couldn't believe it, so we also started making the videos to fill that gap a little bit.
GTG:Why did yourself and your sister Hannah decide to relaunch the channel?
FDF: A couple of reasons, really. Firstly because we now live quite far away from each other and it's a great excuse to spend more time together. We used to live together and we really miss that, so it's a great excuse to see each other more often, and we loved working together before. Secondly, because Hannah has a little more time on her hands now that her kids are at school. She's the main creative and planning force behind the videos, I just oversee things and pop up when we are talking about beauty and fashion.
GTG: Do yourself and Hannah have different skill sets where wedding planning is concerned?
FDF: Totally! Hannah used to be a wedding planner herself, so she knows it all when it comes to planning, from budgets and schedules to catering, venues and flowers. She's also a dab hand at DIY, so that's her domain on the channel as well. I'm obviously more experienced when it comes to the YouTube space in general, and more specific beauty and fashion content.
GTG: If you're recently engaged, where and how would you begin with planning a wedding?
FDF: That's exactly why we started the channel really, as that's what I asked Hannah, and one of the first videos we made when we first launched the channel! It's so hard to know where on earth to start. I think it's important to get the boring stuff out of the way first though. Work out a budget, set a date and decide on the type and size of wedding you want, so that you can make all of those elements work together.
GTG: How long did your wedding take to plan?
FDF: We had a little over a year between when I got engaged to the wedding day so we had plenty of time. I don't think that there's a 'set' amount of time you need to plan your wedding, it really depends on what you want, what your budget is and how much time you have to dedicate to planning. My personal advice when it comes to this though, is not to rush the planning process as it's such fun!
GTG: What beauty items did you carry with you on the day?
FDF: I personally didn't carry anything, but my friend who did my makeup for me on the day had a mini makeup bag with her for touch-ups: concealer, powder, lipstick, eyeliner, eyeshadow and my blusher colour. I think the essentials are always concealer, powder and/or blotting sheets if you have oilier skin, plus your lipstick.
GTG: What would be your key beauty tips for brides-to-be? Any particular do's and don'ts?
FDF: My main tip would be, if you have a makeup artist to do your makeup, don't let them dictate the look- it needs to be your look. If it's not quite right at the trial, make sure you ask them to try something different until you get it right! You want to look like yourself, just the best version of yourself! Also, designate one person as your makeup assistant for the day. One of your bridesmaids perhaps (if you don't have the person doing your makeup at the wedding itself like I did) can be in charge of carrying a little makeup kit for tweaks throughout the day.
GTG: Which aspect of wedding planning did you enjoy the most?
FDF: I loved dress shopping the most. I think that's that one thing I'm most sad about now that I’m actually married...I won't get to do that again. It's just a dream!
GTG: What do you think is the trickiest aspect of wedding planning?
FDF: Making sure everyone is happy. There are always going to be members of your family who disagree with your choices, whether it's the colour scheme, venue, service, food, seating plan...you can't please everyone and I think it's important for you and your other half to remember that as long as you're happy, that's the main thing! On the day people usually don't sweat the small stuff anyway, they're too busy enjoying themselves.
GTG: Did everything pan out as planned on the day? Were there any surprises, either good or bad? What advice would you have if anything were to go wrong?
FDF: We didn't have any major issues or surprises on the day. Well actually, I was 45 minutes late to the ceremony! Woops. Anyone that knows me knew I was going to be there (I'm always late for everything, a quality I really dislike about myself actually) but I think that the older guests were starting to worry.
We also had one of the guests who was invited to the evening only, turn up for the whole day! I remember seeing them when I was walking down the aisle thinking... "I'm sure you're not supposed to be here... where on earth are we going to sit you?!" but it was totally fine, my bridesmaids sorted it out and just added another seat to the table! I think you can't let that stuff worry you on the day. We also supposed to have terrible rain on the day and were all prepped with a huge pile of umbrellas, but it the rain went around us. Everywhere in the area had rain that day, except us. Definitely a good surprise!
GTG: Any tips for keeping costs down?
FDF: I think it's great to get involved and DIY if you can. It adds such a nice personal touch to the wedding, and I personally really like getting creative and making things myself. I also think calling in favours from friends is a great way to save money. If you know someone's great with flowers, get them to help make the bouquets. If you know someone who does calligraphy as a hobby, perhaps they can help with the table plan. If you know someone who's great with makeup, chat about doing your makeup, or that of the bridesmaids or mother of the bride.
The main thing with budgeting is to make sure that you are prepared and organised. Set a budget early doors and work out what you have available to spend on what, so you won't get any nasty surprises later on down the line, and you can also work out what you can perhaps save on and DIY.
GTG: How did you go about choosing a dress?
FDF: I went to a big shop that I knew stocked loads of different styles (Pronovias) and tried on everything. That way, I found out what kind of design suited me best and then went from there. Everyone has an idea of what style of wedding dress they like, but I think it's also important to try lots on, as you might surprise yourself! I ended up getting my dress from Reem Acra directly in New York. I loved my dress, but the whole process was extremely stressful. Bringing it back from the states was tricky and the in-house seamstress at Reem Acra was terrible - she made me cry twice during fittings! Funny now, but at the time it made the final step of dress shopping quite tense.
It's a tricky one to give advice on as some of the designers I went to directly offered incredible service (Philippa Lepley was definitely my favourite for service), but at the end of the day, you go for the dress, not the service and I was really unlucky on that front.
GTG: Have either yourself or Hannah ever planned a hen do? Any advice based on that or your own hen do?
FDF: We planned each other's’ hen do's and Hannah's planned a few others since. I think the most important thing when planning is to think about what the bride actually enjoys doing. Yes, you want it to be fun for everyone but if you're doing an activity that you know lots of the guests will enjoy, but the bride won't, you've got it totally wrong. It's also important to remember that you don't have to do what everyone else does. Imagine the bride’s dream evening, or weekend with her friends, and go from there.
GTG: What are your plans for Bride de Force?
FDF: We only relaunched in January so it's still early days. At the moment we are just working out exactly what the audience want, and finding out what type of content people are enjoying and which areas to focus more on. In the future, we would obviously love to see the audience grow, and I think our content will naturally develop and change over time. I personally would love to be able to make our own wedding planning book, and maybe even host some reader events to meet some of our audience in person.
GTG: Finally, if it's all becoming a bit overwhelming, how can you feel calmer and more in control?
FDF: I think it's really important to take a step back and remember why you're doing it. It's one day and it's all about you and your other half having an amazing time and celebrating, so it really shouldn't be stressful. Sometimes you need to check your priorities and spend some time together, just the two of you. It's also so important to make sure your two opinions are the most important during the planning process. Everyone will want to put their two pennies worth in, which is great to a certain extent, but remember it's your day, you need to do what makes both of you happy.
Fleur's wedding photographs shot by John Alexander