Oh my how you will LOVE this detail. The Bride’s Mum is a wonderful florist, and has literally taken this wedding to the next level. The Bride, Maddie, Madeleine, wears Madeleine Roses in her bouquet, already lovely enough right? Well, they were from her mothers garden that had been given to her by her Midwife when Maddie was born. Gold! I mean how bloody lovely is that!!
This Tipi Wedding at the Brides family home in Cumbria is a prime example of how the Great British weather can try to ruin your day. It shows exactly how with good friends and family your day will still be wonderful even with rain, or thunder and lightning as this couple experienced.
Lot’s of pale, dusky pink, white and mocha flowers, handwritten details, festoon lights and of course rain! The beautiful Bride wears Essence of Australia from Angelica Bridal and her handsome Groom wears an olive Next suit and Tan Office Shoes. Photography is by the fabulous Claire Fleck who brought us the prop’tastic wedding of Lauren & Finlay.
Maddie the Bride: The day was made so special by the open-heartedness and generosity of our friends and family whom shared in our vision and showed their love for us by volunteering. My mum was the star of the show, making so much from scratch, giving 110% to make the day such a success. She did it with so much enthusiasm and always with a smile on her face.
Maddie’s Mum, Pauline Kelly, made a beautiful floral headpiece with David Austen roses and a small bit eucalyptus that clipped in above the silk veil, borrowed from Maddie’s sister Hannah Montgomery. The bridal bouquet was made with pale pink, dusky pink, white and mocha coloured David Austen roses and a few very special ivory roses from Pauline’s Garden, colloquially named the ‘Madeleine rose’, planted when Maddie was born, a gift from Pauline’s midwife.
Maddie’s hair was washed and set in rollers the morning of the wedding by Helen at Shelly Knowles Salon in Kendal. Maddie then fashioned her hair by herself. Maddie’s make-up was done by her cousin Anna Hall.
Jacob’s olive coloured textured suit was from Next fashioned with brown suede shoes from Office. The bowties Jacob and his groomsmen wore were handmade by Pauline Kelly out of a very pale pink pashmina Jacob found in TKMaxx. Jacob’s groomsmen all wore a grey suit of their choice, with coordinating bowties, brown shoes and lapel.
The bridesmaids wore floor length dresses of their choice. All dresses were a shade of opal grey, all differing in tone. The bridesmaids were coordinated with a small hair piece made from Yasmin, David Austen roses, Eucalyptus and bouquets made with David Austen roses, Astrantia, Astilbe, Fountain Grass, Wax Flower, Eucalyptus and White Heather from the garden.
Venue and Decor, Tipi and Festoon Lights
The venue was a large tipi from Special Events Tipi’s. The tipi had a catering section and separate tipi to chill out in away from the music with sofas, poufs and a fire pit. The tipi was set up in the field adjacent to Maddie’s parents garden. The walk-way from the garden to the tipi was decorated with pots of tulips, planted by Pauline which she seemingly had to work hard to stop from blooming before the wedding by putting them in the shade and in the cellar. A hawthorn tree that fell down during the same year was chopped up and the stumps used as a platform for floral decorations within the garden and grounds.
All the décor was very much floral festoon lighting outside and fairy lights inside. In the large tipi big hoops made out of twining and decorated with greenery from the garden were hung just below the three points of the tent. Table centrepieces were made from Eucalyptus and David Austen roses with slow burning candles and black lanterns. The tables were named and painted by Maddie after all the different types of flowers used within the wedding. The names of the tables were handwritten, displayed in a selection of photo frames found in charity shops, and hung from an old wooden door to display the table plan in the entrance to the tipi.
The Ceremony and Entertainment
Maddie’s Mum and Dad walked her down the isle. Maddie’s sister and maid of honour Hannah Montgomery gave an address during the ceremony based on Romans 12:9 and Psalm 23:1-6 from the Bible. The Zealots lead the worship during the ceremony and performed ‘Ever Glow’ by Coldplay during the signing of the registers. The Zealots then played in the tipi for the evening entertainment and dancing. Friend, Max Eaton sang the first dance song ‘Still’ by Jake Isaac. The order of service cards were envisaged by Maddie and designed by Single Malt Design.
Catering and Wedding Cake
David Dunderdale from Newfields Catring and his team served canapés, individual pies with seasonal vegetables, potatoes and gravy for main and a choice of puddings.
Majestic Wine supplied the red and white table wine and Hawkshead Brewery supplied a couple casks of beer. The welcome drinks were a combination of gin, homemade pink elderflower cordial and soda water, named Elderflower Blush, invented by Maddie’s Brother David Kelly and sister-in-law Hattie Kelly.
The cake was made out of cheese from the Cheese Larder and decorated by Maddie and Maid of Honour Jessica with flowers. Maddie’s Auntie Alison and friend Rachel made Jacobs favourite dessert; individual bake-well tarts, for the evening ‘grazing table’.
Maddie the Bride: Our photographer was the lovely Claire Fleck and Patrick Phillips who captured our day beyond any of our expectations. Even though the wind blew and torrential rain came down, Claire and Patrick magically captured the joy amongst the commotion.
The UK outfit recently stopped by SiriusXM to record a special four-song session, which included performances of High as Hope singles “Hunger” and “Sky Full of Song”, as well as “Cosmic Love” from their 2009 breakthrough LP, Lungs. The fourth entry, however, is easily the one that steals the show. Backed by little more than a piano and acoustic guitar, Welch led the band through a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s 1976 song “Silver Springs”.
We’ve grown so accustomed to hearing Welch’s vocals swell and soar in epic fashion that we (or at least I) forget she also wields plenty of power and grandness in even her most subtle state, which she showcases here. It’s a stripped-back rendition, sure, but I got chills within the first few seconds of just hearing that stunning voice.
Check out the cover below, followed by the rest of the SiriusXM session.
After a summer filled with music festivals, Florence and The Machine will embark on a North American fall tour; find their full schedule here.
It’s likely you’ve heard these terms mentioned in the news recently, but unless you work in banking, these terms probably don’t factor much into your day-to-day work. Let’s face it – customer experience doesn’t often overlap with the world of financial technology.
But blockchain is a technology that holds the potential to revolutionize the way we all do business, far beyond its potential to change financial transactions. Enterprises everywhere seem to think so too:
* 90% of North American and European banks are exploring blockchain technology [Source]
* Nasdaq is piloting a blockchain-powered private market exchange [Source]
* IBM and Comcast Ventures are backing a fund for blockchain startups [Source]
* Kodak share prices leapt 117% after announcing a new blockchain initiative [Source]
* Gartner predicts the total business value-add of blockchain to reach $3.1 trillion by 2030 [Source]
If your business has anything to do with customers, the processes it follows to sell to them, market to them or share information with them could be radically transformed by blockchain.
That might sound intimidating. But blockchain has enormous potential to change customer experience for the better – improving access for disadvantaged customers, making businesses more accountable, and increasing security in all kinds of business-customer interactions. In this article, I’ll walk you through some examples of how blockchain could change the customer experience, and the firms that are pioneering those changes. But first, you’ll need to know a little about how blockchain works – not an easy feat for something so technical. I spoke to Andy Spence, Workforce Advisor and faculty member of Blockchain Research Institute, who gave me a crash course on what blockchain is about and how it’s being used.
Andy says there are two main things to consider when learning about blockchain. Firstly – blockchain and bitcoin (or cryptocurrency) are completely different concepts. Although bitcoin is built on blockchain technology, bitcoin represents just one example of how blockchain technology can be applied. Blockchain technology itself can be applied in many different ways, far beyond just cryptocurrency.
Secondly, blockchain isn’t just used in financial settings. There are a lot of examples of blockchain technology being used in a wealth of industries for different applications. For example, blockchain technology is already being used for charity donations, voting systems, HR processes and more – far outside of the scope of finance. And there’s a lot of potential CX uses for blockchain too, which I’ll explain in a moment.
So how exactly does Blockchain work? I’ll explain (although if my explanation is too simplistic for you, I recommend this excellent primer from Blockgeeks).
Imagine you have to send some money to a friend. To do this, you contact your bank and ask them to send the money to your friend’s account. The bank has a ledger of transactions. To perform the transfer, it removes the funds from your account, adds them to your friend’s account, and records it all on their central ledger.
Blockchain allows for transactions to occur without a single authority to oversee them. It does this by recording transactions on an electronic ‘ledger’ that everyone can access. Computers all over the world hold copies of this ledger and continuously work to verify transactions registered on it.
Transactions made on the blockchain are stored forever, and it’s impossible to tamper with them or alter them once they’re made. Sensitive information relating to each transaction can be cryptographically secured, meaning that it is only accessible by those with the right keys to unlock it. That information can be disclosed at will by the parties involved in the transaction.
At the moment, blockchain is being used most notably by Bitcoin to provide decentralized payments – that is, payments that don’t need to occur through a bank. And while the example above uses banking as an example of a transaction, blockchain technology could be used for all sorts of information that moves from one person to another, not just financial transactions.
In short – Blockchain democratizes and secures transactions, taking transactional ledgers from the hands of authorities and putting them into the hands of everyone.
Businesses of every kind hold ledgers which record the moving of things from one place to another, whether it’s money, products or services that are changing hands. For example, CRMs exist to record details of customers’ identities and their ownership of products and services.
Now imagine if all the transactional information your company holds wasn’t located inside of your business – imagine it existed in an external, decentralized way, on the blockchain. Suddenly, there’s a whole lot of extra possibilities for customers, and enormous implications for businesses.
Here are some conventional processes that customer service functions perform now, and how blockchain could transform them in the future.
Sending and Receiving Payments
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies use the blockchain to send money from one person to another. It’s a secure yet transparent system that operates with no need for a central bank, allowing strangers to transact without needing a third party to oversee the transaction.
Our modern banking systems are not perfect. Clearing and identity checking takes time. International payments can take a long time and usually come with high fees. Customers who are disadvantaged or disabled may not have a bank account or be able to get to a bank.
Payments made through blockchain technology could cut out these banking-related issues, letting money move freely between businesses and their customers, with no banks or payment processors needing to act as a middleman. It could cut payment processing times to minutes (in some cases, from days or weeks), and completely revolutionize processes such as clearing. In fact, change is already underway – Mastercard is even opening up its own blockchain as an alternative payment method.
Sending or Receiving Products
The Internet of Things (IoT) is getting bigger, and this technology combined with blockchain could allow for massive improvements in how customers pay for and receive products.
Customers commonly complain when they have paid for a product or service that they haven’t received. Those complaining customers are the tip of the iceberg of problems with the dispatchment and receipt of products – for every customer who complains, 26 remain silent. Those 26 customers are opportunities lost for businesses. Rather than highlighting service problems and giving companies a chance to improve on them, those customers just walk away.
IBM’s Watson IoT blockchain offerings allow for goods to be tracked along each point of a supply chain, with information about the status of a package updating via GPS as it moves, and payments being released when each section of a transaction is verified as having been completed smoothly. Holding this information in the blockchain means that neither party needs to prove the delivery status of a package if it goes astray – the transaction’s status is an objective truth held within the blockchain.
As well as allowing companies to act proactively upon service issues, this means that businesses can gain increased visibility into their supply chain since they would no longer need to rely on customer feedback as an indicator that a process hasn’t worked correctly. This new insight into service failures could open up the potential for service improvement of a kind never seen before.
In the future, businesses could even have the capability to take customer funds only when a product has been verified on the blockchain as received by the customer. This type of blockchain-facilitated process change could be used by companies as a strategic differentiator, helping to reassure customers that they won’t be at risk of losing out if a package goes astray.
In the same way that IoT and blockchain could revolutionize the transaction of physical goods, there’s potential for non-physical exchanges to be changed too. One way this can be done is through smart contracts, facilitated through the blockchain.
Using the blockchain, contractual obligations can be tied to specific actions through an “If/Then” model. These actions are triggered when contractual conditions are verified through the blockchain as having been met or not met.
For example, imagine that a customer signs a contract with a cable firm. The cable firm agrees to have service available by a specific date. The transaction is held in a smart contract and recorded on the blockchain. If service is not delivered by the specified date, the customer gets a refund. Or, if service is set up on or before the specified date, payment is taken from the customer, and the service begins.
Because the transaction is verified publicly and cannot be altered or tampered with, all parties are held to their contractual obligations and action can automatically be taken if they are not met.
Real distress can be caused to customers when companies don’t keep to their side of a bargain. The burden of proof often rests on the customer to chase, discuss, persuade and fight for compensation. When things go seriously wrong, cases often get referred to third parties such as complaints teams (or even consumer affairs regulators) who are needed to verify claims of contractual wrongdoing and put situations right – a layer of operations that’s often resource-heavy and complicated to administer.
But with smart contracts automating the consequences of contractual non-compliance, third parties and complex processes become unnecessary. The time and effort required to put situations right can be reduced, while leveling the power imbalance between customers and businesses. It also helps companies with great processes gain a competitive advantage, especially when compared to companies who seem to only stay in business by making it prohibitively difficult for their customers to complain.
You might have heard about smart contracts having the ability to revolutionize our voting systems, which is exciting in itself. But in the world of everyday business, smart contracts are already being used by Barclays Corporate Bank to verify ownership and release funds between banks, and there’s vast potential for contracts of all kinds to switch to a smart model too.
Customer Record Keeping
We’ve all heard horror stories of companies who have failed to keep customer data safe. Whether it’s personally identifiable information, passwords, sensitive health records or even information that reveals political preferences, businesses and customers everywhere are rightfully concerned about the security of customer data.
As it stands, customers have to trust that companies only hold information about them that’s reasonable and proportionate when in reality, that might not always be the case. Not to mention that each time customers hand over their personal information to businesses, it puts them at risk of identity theft.
Companies are working on systems to store customer identity information on the blockchain, with that data secured in an encrypted form that customers can disclose as they choose. Ultimately, this could mean that in the future businesses wouldn’t need to hold the personal information necessary for customers to pass data security checks. Companies wouldn’t have to worry about keeping that data safe, clean or compliant as it won’t be held internally, and customers won’t have to worry about excessive or unsafe personal information being held by companies.
Compliance processes are also an area ripe for massive disruption by blockchain – as the backbone of compliance rests in rigorous record keeping. With a recent Accenture report showing that 23% of financial services firms spend as much as 5% of their annual net income on compliance every year, there’s the potential for substantial cost savings through moving internal records to the blockchain. Here’s an excellent article that explains more on this, if you’re interested.
The Future of Blockchain?
“We should think about the blockchain as another class of thing like the Internet… But the blockchain concept is even more; it is a new organizing paradigm for the discovery, valuation, and transfer of all quanta (discrete units) of anything, and potentially for the coordination of all human activity at a much larger scale than has been possible before.”
– Blockchain, Blueprint for a New Economy – Melanie Swan
Blockchain technology is a fantastic concept to explore for anyone who loves ethical business, who loves exploring new ways of working, or who wants to make business better for customers.
This new technology gives us all the opportunity to reconsider traditional business processes from their foundations. It’s not far-fetched to consider that in the future, companies like yours and mine could employ blockchain specialists not just to remove liability from businesses, but to make all kinds of processes fairer for customers too.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal has caused customers everywhere to question who holds their data, and why. We’re all living in a new age of data insecurity and mistrust. Blockchain technology could act as the antidote to this consumer skepticism, as the decentralization of customer data could usher in radically open, more transparent customer relationships – which could even be the next big differentiator for businesses.
Blockchain adoption could allow our businesses to demonstrate this increased transparency and enable us to build a new type of relationship with our customer – one built upon core values of security, fairness, and equality. Blockchain could even usher in an entirely new era of customer expectation: the expectation that customers should be treated fairly by the businesses they spend their money with, and what’s more, that the blockchain itself can act as a guarantee for that fair treatment.
That’s why customer experience professionals everywhere need to be aware of the potential of this new technology. Of course, nobody knows to what extent blockchain will be adopted. But with publications like Forbes and Fortune predicting blockchain will, quite literally, change the world – along with blockchain ventures launching from some of the world’s most prominent and influential businesses – we all need to watch how this technology develops.
Ernesto Neto, “Somos Todos Seres da Terra / We Are All Children of the Earth” (2018), ramie crochet and stone plaster, 220 x 10 x 8 cm. Photo Credits: Fondation Beyeler, Atelienave, Mark Niedermann.
eBay for Charity has partnered with artist Ernesto Neto to offer a limited edition artwork, with proceeds benefitting the American Friends of Fondation Beyeler (AFFB). Available exclusively on eBay, the new work is titled We Are All Children of the Earth (2018), and is a numbered limited edition of 1,000 available for $620 each at eBay.com/ErnestoNeto, beginning July 23.
The limited-time sale coincides with the Fondation Beyeler’s public art installation by Neto in Zurich Main Station, titled GaiaMotherTree, on view through July 29, 2018. Inspired by GaiaMotherTree, Neto’s latest sculpture is a hand-knotted crochet-bag carrying a holy fruit, the mango, made of stone plaster. The sculpture hangs from the ceiling with the mango suspended in the long, crocheted bag.
Ernesto Neto, “GaiaMotherTree” (2018).
Neto’s ideas have been influenced by the Brazilian Neo-Concrete movement of the 1960s and also by Minimal and Conceptual Art, and Arte Povera. Spirituality, humanism, and ecology are among his principal concerns. His work since the 1990s has been characterized by the use of materials and techniques that are unusual in art. His sculptures and installations often feature biomorphic forms and organic materials, with transparency, sensuality, and a spirit of community playing a major role. Viewers can touch the works and walk through them or set them in motion; in many cases, they also appeal to the sense of smell. The visitor is invited to concentrate on his or her own perception and interact with the work and its environment.
From June 30 to July 29, 2018, the Fondation Beyeler will be showing a project by the Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto in Zurich Main Station. The monumental work GaiaMotherTree, a sculpture made of brightly colored hand-knotted cotton strips, resembles a tall tree, extending right up to the ceiling of the station concourse, which is twenty meters high. GaiaMotherTree is a walk-in structure that functions as a meeting place and a venue for interaction and meditation. A varied program of events for adults and children, with music, meditations, workshops, talks, and guided introductions to the work, will take place inside the installation.
Ernesto Neto, “GaiaMotherTree” (2018).
GaiaMotherTree was made entirely by hand. Strips of cotton were knotted together with a finger-crocheting technique to form a giant transparent structure. The upper part of the work, shaped like the crown of a tree, will cover the ceiling of the station concourse. At the base of the tree, there is a large space where visitors can linger and rest on seats arranged in a circle. Drop-shaped elements hanging from the branches are filled with aromatic spices and seeds.
eBay for Charity helps enable members of the eBay community to connect with and support their favorite charities when they buy or sell in the U.S. and abroad. Sellers can donate up to 100 percent of the proceeds to a charity of their choice, while buyers can add a donation to their purchase during checkout. To date, nearly $810 million dollars has been raised for charity by the eBay community.
Jess looks utterly gorgeous in her Giselle dress by Anna Campbell, found at one of our favourite boutiques, Jean Jackson Couture. It’s the perfect mix of sparkle and elegance, making it ideal for this relaxed wedding at Sefton Park Palm House.
Images come from the ever lovely Sarah Jane Ethan, whose positive, warm vibe never fails to bring out the very best in her couples. Enjoy team, it’s a very pretty wedding day…
Jess the Bride: The designer of my gown was one of the first things I decided on after getting engaged. I have always loved all things vintage and particularly fashion from the turn of the century. When looking at Pinterest and googling Edwardian themed weddings, I came across the designer Anna Campbell and fell in love with her romantic, vintage inspired gowns. I had to have one! I found the nearest UK stockist to me at the wonderful Jean Jackson Couture, a beautiful family owned boutique in the trendy Northern Quarter in Manchester. I knew what I wanted and had a list of gowns which the lovely Felicity pulled for me, also sneaking into my dressing room her favourite dress, “Giselle”. Although I loved them all, Giselle was the one for me! I didn’t want a veil as the back of the dress is so detailed and beautiful so Felicity suggested a dainty headpiece from the Anna Campbell collection which finished the Edwardian look off. Felicity was wonderful, really gets to know her brides and knows exactly what you want before you do!
I kept my jewellery simple on the day wearing of course my engagement ring (and then wedding ring!) along with a bracelet my husband bought me as a gift on the morning of my wedding and finally a ring which belonged to my friend and bridesmaid who we sadly lost the year before the wedding.
The suits were the last thing we decided on for the wedding. After scouring every suit shop in practically the whole of the Northwest we found a lovely shop called Groom hidden away inside the “Wedding House” in Liverpool. Ste had decided he wanted tweed quite early on and Groom had lots of option available. We also wanted him to stand out as it seems unfair that the bride always be the centre of attention! Because of this, we decided to dress the groomsmen slightly differently and mismatched all the suits. Ste wore a tweed jacket, waistcoat, navy trousers, matching spotty tie and spotty pocket square and brown brogues. The groomsmen wore the full navy suit with the tweed waistcoat, matching spotty tie and pocket square and brown brogues. We hired all the suits but bought the waistcoats as they originally came with a red silk back which I didn’t like and had theme replaced with navy in keeping with the theme. Ste wore a pocket watch on the day bought for him by myself as a wedding gift. I had the watch engraved with “See you at 3pm, don’t be late!”
The venue is a beautiful grade 2 listed glass house built in 1896 and houses rare varieties of Palms, orchids and various other tropical plants and flowers. After buying our first house in South Liverpool, I fell in love with the area and particularly Sefton Park and its Palm House which is only a 10 minute walk from our front door. I’d sneaked a look at many weddings here on our walks and always dreamed of getting married here myself. When Ste proposed, I went straight to the wedding fayre there 2 weeks later and put our names down! I loved that we would getting married so close to where we had decided to set up home.
I was quite set on not having a colour scheme as such as I didn’t want the wedding to look dated in years to come. I decided on grey for the bridesmaids as felt this was a classic yet modern colour that would stand the test of time (hopefully!). The décor I really struggled with at first. The Palm House is such a beautiful venue that I didn’t want to draw attention away from the flowers and Palms themselves with fussy décor. I settled on minimal festoon lighting across the wedding breakfast/dance floor area with some up-lighting placed in the Palms to really accentuate them in the evening and that was it!
My florist was recommended to me by a friend and I jumped at the chance to meet with her when I found out she had already done other weddings at The Palm House. Again, due to the beauty of the venue, I worried about the flowers and centrepieces that they would get lost amongst the botanicals already there. I met with Yvette (florist) and tried (poorly!) to explain the feel of the wedding. Relaxed, non-traditional and non-fussy. She knew exactly what I meant and excitedly showed me lots of Pinterest boards, magazines and images of ideas she had. As I didn’t have a colour theme, I decided on white flowers with lots of greenery. I wanted that “I’ve just gone to the nearest meadow and scooped these up” look!! Yvette was just fantastic and I needn’t have worried.
The centrepieces were all mismatched with jam jars, boxes, vases and various other bits filled with loose arrangements of mixed foliage and white flowers throughout. Each table had a tall vase with a loose arrangement of hydrangeas and delphiniums with a rustic box containing textured foliage to go with it followed with numerous smaller jam jars.
My bouquet was gathered and relaxed with lots of foliage including eucalyptus, berried eucalyptus, ivy, ruscus, stocks and senecio. White veronica and white thistle were added for texture and delphiniums, lisianthus, stocks and astilbe added for touches of white throughout finished and bound with twine for a more natural look. The bridesmaids carried smaller versions of my bouquet with smaller foliage and white lisianthus buds for buttonholes.
The Wedding Party
My bridesmaids wore grey. I wanted a neutral colour that fitted in with our relaxed feel. I let the girls pick their own dresses as I felt it was important that my best girls be comfortable and have the best day! We arranged appointments at 6 shops and my mum had a strict itinerary we had to stick to in order to get to all shops in one day. The first shop we went to was “One Fine Day Bridal”. The girls straight away picked two dresses they liked, tried them on and 15 minutes later had decided and I was paying! Claire at the store was shocked at how easy and quick we’d been (as was I!) The groomsmen as said in point 2 wore a variation of Ste’s suit.
Our string quartet played all the music for our ceremony. I walked down the aisle to “Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. The Wizard of Oz is one of my favourite films and I heard the version by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole played during a luau on a family holiday to Hawaii and fell in love!
We signed the marriage register to Celine Dion’s “My heart will go on” (played by the string quartet). My favourite film of all time is Titanic and anyone who knows me knows how obsessed I am with it! After Ste vetoed having a full titanic themed wedding (in hindsight thank god he put his foot down) I knew I had to fit it in somewhere. It was quite nice to see the smiles on our guest’s faces when they heard the music playing!
Finally, we walked out to “We Found Love” by Rhianna, again played by the string quartet.
We had two readings during the ceremony. The first was an extract from Winnie the Pooh read by my oldest friend and bridesmaid and the second a quote by Albert Einstein read by one of Ste’s oldest friends and groomsman. We spent a lot of time choosing the readings as we wanted ones that would mean something to us and reflected us a couple. I chose the Winnie the Pooh extract as it’s one of my favourite books and loved that it focuses on friendship. Ste, as a lover of science, chose our second reading.
We decided to have a candle lighting ceremony as we liked the symbology of bringing to people and families together and it really completed our ceremony.
The day entertainment was provided by The Wedding String Quartet. As mentioned above, they played whilst our guests arrived, during the ceremony, the reception drinks and throughout the wedding breakfast. They did a medley of songs ranging from Beyonce to Game of Thrones! They really made our day and we received so many compliments on just how good and different they were.
For the evening entertainment, we decided to have a DJ. With our invites, we asked all guests to choose their favourite song that would get them all dancing. Our DJ, Chris, was fantastic. He put all the requests together to create a really good playlist and the dance floor was full all night!
As really foodies, the food was one of the most important parts of our day. We met with a number of caterers who all provided set menus and were quite inflexible in changing that. Our final meeting was with Adam Franklin, owner and head chef of Adam Franklin Bespoke Catering. Adam was absolutely fantastic. We’d decided to go with our relaxed, Edwardian wedding that we wanted to have a picnic. This was looking less and less possible after meeting with other caterers but Adam’s face lit up when we told him. He was so excited to do something different and excitedly started running around finding picnic hampers he had and drawing various diagrams of what he envisioned! We knew straight away that he was the chef for us.
Adam created the most beautiful wedding breakfast which consisted of our guests each having an individual mini picnic hamper containing a homemade pork and apricot sausage roll, a pork and bramley apple pie and a black pudding scotch egg served with chilli jam. In the centre of the table on a lazy susan was a selection of terrines, platters, salads, tarts, cheeses and artisan breads to share. Adam had asked me during our meeting what our favourite deserts where. We both agreed that we couldn’t decide between Tiramisu and lemon cheesecake so Adam decided we didn’t have to and made mini versions of both for each of our guests!
Our canapes consisted of mini gruyere & pancetta palmiers and shallot and dolcelate tarte tatin’s. For our evening food, we chose mini halloumi burgers and mini beef burgers, to soak up the alcohol! For our cake, we chose a “half dressed” three tier cake. The bottom tier was lemon sponge filled with lemon buttercream and lemon curd. The middle tier was a vanilla sponge cake with raspberry preserve and vanilla buttercream and the top tier was coconut sponge cake filled with coconut buttercream and lime curd. The cake was decorated with foliage and flowers provided by our florist to match our bouquets and table centres.
I found our wonderful photograph, Sarah-Jane Ethan, after trawling the internet for days and days. I was so adamant that I didn’t want formal wedding photos that at first we were planning on not having a photographer at all! Little did I know at that point that the amazing Sarah-Jane Ethan existed and thank god she did! I instantly fell in love with her work. Each image looked like a dream and at that point I knew I had to either have her or have no-one! I and Ste were a little apprehensive about having our photos taken at first but we needn’t have been. SJ made us feel at ease from the moment we met her. She fitted right into our day as if she were one of our guests. The images she created of us are so beautiful and I still can’t believe that’s us and our day! She captured all the moments we missed, beautiful images of our special guests celebrating with us and having a fantastic time. I’ll never get bored of looking at them!
DIY Projects & Other Bits
Wedding sign – I really wanted a wedding sign made and had showed my Dad over dinner one evening what I had been looking at. I got the usual response of “don’t waste your money, I’ll do that” and two days later there it was! A lovely handmade wooden sign with a base that was the trunk of a Birchwood tree and the sign post made from an old pallet he had found. I then hand painted “Welcome” “Jess & Ste” and the date “04/08/17”. It looked fantastic on the day and in keeping with our rustic, relaxed wedding.
Table plan – Another of my Dad’s “don’t waste your money” creations was our table plan. He used an old pallet to drill mini silver pails to which our florist then filled with our wedding flowers. I then made luggage tags and printed our tables and guests names to each one. So simple but looked so beautiful!
Bridesmaid’s gifts – I bought little boxes and made up gifts to give to my bridesmaids, mum and aunty on the morning of our wedding. Each box contained a dressing gown, champagne, a hangover kit and a bracelet, the proceeds of which went to the teenage cancer trust in memory of my bridesmaid who we had lost to cancer the year before.
Groomsman’s gifts – We bought each of our groomsmen a mini hip flask that we had engraved with the date and filled with whisky.
Favours – After losing my bridesmaid, it was really important to me that she be remembered and included in our day. Our favours was a donation in the name of each guest to the charity Steph’s Wishes who provide memory days for young people with terminal or recurring cancers. A charity close to my heart as they provided a day for my bridesmaid, Becky.
First dance – Our first dance was to Florence and the Machines – You got the love. We chose this song as we had met at Leeds Festival 9 years earlier and Florence played whilst we were there.
My one bit of advice to anyone getting married would be to take time for yourselves! Adam our caterer called our guests to dinner sneakily 15 minutes earlier than he needed to. He then whisked us off to a bench outside and placed a prosecco in our hands and left us. These 15 minutes spent quietly together were my favourite of the entire day. The time fly’s over and you’ll find yourself being passed from guest to guest but try to take time for yourselves and remember why you did it in the first place!!
Call it generosity, call it collusion, call it outright Super-Rugby-tipping-panel-fixing if you must. Whatever it was and whatever you want to call it, it decided a winner for 2018.
And that winner is the king of the Monday Wrap, the man with four TVs permanently locked on rugby from around the globe twenty-four-seven, the man who stepped out from behind the Allanthus tag, acclaimed author and voice of reason, Geoff Parkes.
So, to wrap up the competitive element of the tipping panel for 2018 – something Harry did months ago, mind you – here are the final standings for the season.
THE FINAL: Digger, Geoff, Brett, and The Crowd 1; Harry and Nobes 0.
OVERALL: Geoff 88, Nobes 87, The Crowd 82, Digger 81, Brett 80, Harry 72.
But the panel has one more week in us, and I was really pleased that guys all jumped at the chance to wrap up the Super Rugby season as they saw it.
For the first time this season, there was no format, no template, and no real word limit (though I didn’t tell them that; we’ve all seen the length of some of their comments). I simply asked Geoff, Nobes, Digger and Harry to conclude the tipping panel and Super Rugby for the season however they saw fit.
Seta Tamanivalu of the Crusaders (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
Highlights and lowlights? Fine. Serious or not-so-serious awards? Great idea. Loves and hates? I’m all for it. 2019 Predictions? If they’re bold enough.
With my sincere thanks to the guys for the input over the last six months, I present the 2018 Super Rugby season that was…
Thanks to Brett, fellow panellists and readers for a fun time. Look forward to doing it all again next year!
The Good: Not only did the best team win, they did it in a manner that honoured all that is great about rugby – hard work, teammates playing for each other, committed defence, set piece proficiency, desire to stay in support of the ball carrier, skills execution at pace, just to name a few. Hayden Parker’s kicking.
The Bad: Officialdom may have lost its way a little with respect to TMO involvement and cards, but the overreaction was childish and out of proportion. Scott Higginbotham started the year aiming a shoulder at the head of a pinned opponent and finished the year still believing he was a victim of a ‘soft’ red card culture that is killing rugby. Please…
The Ugly: Lopeti Timani’s end of season mug shot. That a personality like Amanaki Mafi, who provided so many high moments, could leave Super Rugby and the Rebels on such a low note almost beggars belief.
The Promising: The Jaguares finally showing that they want to belong in Super Rugby. Damian Willemse. Solomon Alaimalo. Taniela Tupou – he’s only just scratched the surface so far.
The Downright Weird: Drew Mitchell conducting a half-time interview at Allianz Stadium wearing one black glove. Had he dropped the other one? Or used it to wipe up Kearnsy’s dribble? Or was this a 1968 Mexico Olympics style ‘Black Power’ protest? Or is it just a Sydney fashion thing the rest of us haven’t caught up with yet?
Defender comes from no man’s land to prevent certain try
Curious decision by Quade Cooper almost pays dividends
Joey’s produce EPIC trysaver against Newington
Barker stunner seals late come from behind win over Waverley
The new 15-team version of Super Rugby turned out to be more entertaining and competitive than the two previous versions, despite the fact that it culminated with the same champion and runner-up. The matches were less predictable in their results and that’s good for the competition.
The outstanding and not-so-much of this season, in my opinion:
Best attack: Lions
Worst attack: Stormers
Best defence: Crusaders
Worst defence: Sunwolves
Best scrum: Chiefs
Worst scrum: Jaguares
Best line: Lions
Worst kine: Blues
Best conduct: Lions (one yellow)
Worst behaviour: Reds, Rebels, Crusaders (ten yellows)
Team with the best balance: Crusaders
Team with the worst balance: Blues
Team that improved the most: Jaguares, Rebels.
Team that worsened the most: Stormers.
Team that failed to deliver: Blues, Sharks.
Most effective player in attack: Ben Lam, Ngani Laumape
Most effective player in defence: Franco Mostert, Matt Todd
Most undisciplined player: Duncan Paia’aua, most yellow cards (3)
Players with more minutes on the field for better or for worse: E. Jantijes, Franco Mostert
Rookie that I liked the most: Aphiwe Dyanti
Most destabilising player: D. McKenzie, Israel Folau
MVP: Richie Mo’unga
Best coach: Scott Robertson (also coach of my TotY, below).
My Super Rugby Team of the Year: Israel Folau (WAR) Ben Lam (HUR), Ryan Crotty (CRU), Ngani Laumape (HUR), Emiliano Bofelli (JAG), Richie Mo’unga (CRU), TJ Perenara (HUR), A. Mafi (REB), Matt Todd (CRU), P. Matera (JAG), F. Mostert (LIO), Sam Whitelock (CRU), Beast Mtawarira (SHA), Malcolm Marx (LIO), Sekope Kepu (WAR)
Bench: A. Creevy (JAG), Dan Lienert Brown (HIG), Steven Kitshoff (STO), Brodie Retallick (CHI), Siya Kolisi (STO), Bryn Hall (CRU), Reece Hodge (REB), Ben Smith (HIG),
The selection is based on what was done by the players in 2018 and not because of their trajectory.
Israel Folau of the Waratahs (AAP Image/Paul Miller)
Another season done in what again feels like a flash, and with the best side taking out the title.
The Crusaders were certainly a highlight; again setting the standard for other franchises to follow, along with the play of Richie Mo’unga, my personal player of the tournament along with Malcolm Marx.
While we did see more of the same in terms of the top sides, there was some pleasing shuffling going on with the Waratahs and Jaguares forcing their way into the mix, and the standard on the field was quality viewing across the board.
Unfortunately, injury robbed me of viewing a number of exciting prospects in action this year, notably Asafo Aumua, Damian Willemse and Alex Fidow, but plenty more made me want to tune in each week. Tongan Thor certainly one, but Tom Banks and Aphiwe Dyanti were two players I just wanted to see get the ball.
Of all the more established players, the stick-out-like-a-sore-thumb award outside the obvious contenders was Reiko Ioane; shuffled around the Blues backline, yet still able to impose himself on matches for an underwhelming Blues side. I hate to think what some of the scorelines may have been if he had been unavailable.
Rieko Ioane (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)
A ‘giggle’ highlight for me was Lima Sopoaga accidently referring to Rod Kafer as ‘Kearnsy’ – oh, the indignity!
If there was a disappointment from the season, it was the fan reaction at times to perceived ‘soft’ cards, and I can be as guilty as the next person in the heat of the moment. I get it, when I played ‘toughness’ was certainly valued and expected, but more slack should be given while attempts are made to get this right.
Player safety should be paramount and front of mind, given the knowledge that we now have today. Issues such as concussion are the greatest threat to this game and its continued health and needs to be taken more seriously by all stakeholders.
Super Rugby 2018 was a brutal travelling carnival of speed, youth, athleticism, and truth.
The best and deepest and happiest team won it all, coaching quality and philosophical continuity and management mattered most when looking at the final four, but for a variety of reasons, the fans just did not seem to care enough to go see it in person.
The top teams treated three points as if they carried the plague; “have a red-hot go” is the Super Rugby ethos. There were only two made ‘droppies’ all season (and only five attempts).
Yet, the northern hemisphere has 100,000 rabid fans for the big club finals and we are struggling to hit 30,000 in the playoffs; all because of geography, lost superstars, and quaint amateurism still ruling the day.
But the real shocker was my poor quality as a prognosticator. My tipping was Eltonesque. I had rounds that looked like a Mafi family reunion. Dr P ‘rhuled’ me, ‘gelanted’ me, and made me want to ‘kwagga’ up my bunny chow.
Still, the actual quality of play went up, with notable tactical innovations on defence especially, and young stars popping up all over the place.
My team of the season (not over-valuing the playoffs, unduly):
The tackle-busting, impossible-to-ignore, Ginga Ninja Steven Kitshoff paired with tighthead nightmare Taniela Tupou in the front row; both about 500 metres run, over 50 tackles broken, and perfect posture at scrum time. The hooker is obvious: Malcolm Marx fixed his lineout throwing and continued to destroy opponent’s rucks (24 turnovers won, which is only two less than the Brumbies as a team) and busted 30 attempted tackles.
In the second row, Scott Barrett and RG Snyman are unlucky, but I’ll pick the hardest working locks: Brodie Retallick and Franco Mostert, who never seemed to take a breath. My flanks are demonic defenders: Pablo Matera and Matt Todd (Kwagga Smith and Jean-Luc du Preez probably unlucky). No 8 was between the impossible-to-tackle Akira Ioane and the guy you don’t want to have a beer with: Amanaki Mafi. Mafi, because 1,782 metres by a forward is like 5,000 metres for a fullback.
At the base, yappity-yapper TJP because he was just a bit more well-rounded than Smith, Weber, and Genia. Richie Mo’unga is the pivot. The midfield would be a bit slow, but big and mean: Ngani Laumape, the wrecking ball (over Michael Little, of the Sunwolves) and Jack Goodhue (over Rob Thompson).
The wings: Reiko Ioane (just pipping Emiliano Boffelli) and Taqele Naiyaravoro (over George Bridge), and at the back, Tom ‘Drunken Horse Run Through Fences’ Banks (a Solomonesque choice).
I would be unfair not to point out that Raymond Rhule made huge strides in his tackling technique, and surrendered his ‘missed tackle’ crown to Elton Jantjies (45 misses), who perfected a style of ‘slipping’ and skidding that always made his misses look unfortunate. A shout out to Kurtley Beale who tied Jantjies in 240 fewer minutes, which is phenomenal.
The 2018 Super Rugby season proved two things to me. Actually, ‘proved’ probably isn’t the right word, because they’ve both been true for a good while. ‘Confirmed’ fits in better, for sure.
The first was that like plenty of other sports – g’day to any NRL fans popping over to the rugby tab for a look – you really don’t have to dig too deeply or try too hard to find fault with the competition.
The conference system, the weighting of the draw to more intra-conference derbies, the perception of softer and harder draws because of who teams played and where, the standard of refereeing, the consistency of refereeing, the subconscious and apparently even the conscious bias of referees and TMOs, the appointment and non-appointment of neutral referees… it was all there, if you wanted to pile on.
Equally though, if you were prepared to wade through all of the above, there was some wonderful rugby played by teams who on their day could beat pretty much anyone (with the obvious exception of the Crusaders, who only lost to the Hurricanes and Highlanders, back at the end of summer).
There were amazing tries scored by exceptional athletes who’ve been punishing themselves since November just to find an edge over their opponents. There was incredible defence on display, steadfastly presenting a fifteen-man wall (or sometimes 14, and occasionally 13 men; see two pars above) determined to let no-one pass. The set piece proved to be as crucial as it ever was, and if your team didn’t have a seventy-five percent goal-kicker – at least – then your side probably struggled.
The common element in all the points above is that Super Rugby remains frustratingly under-promoted as a competition.
It features the best players from most of the best rugby nations in the world. It should be the second-easiest rugby tournament in the world to market. It’s not. And SANZAAR as a collective body, and the four member unions individually, need to have a bloody good look at themselves.
The Crusaders after their victory (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)
That the quality of rugby on the field remains as good as it is, despite a seemingly co-ordinated drive to promote self-interest and instead self-wound, would have to be one of the great marvels of modern professional sport.
And that continues to annoy the hell out of me.
Fortunately, I’ve had these four blokes in all the corners of the Super Rugby world to share an ongoing six-month conversation with every week. My sincere thanks to them, and to you out there in The Crowd, for making this panel so easy to put together and fun to be part of each Thursday.
Oh, and to all of you out there in The Crowd: best of luck with your tipping in 2019…
Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she’s not budging from her Supreme Court Seat for half a decade and we’re here for it
There hasn’t been a ton of feel good stories in the news lately, but leave it to badass 85-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to keep us hopeful. The second-ever female justice stated on Sunday night that she’s not retiring any time soon.
“I’m now 85,” Ginsburg said. “My senior colleague, Justice John Paul Stevens, he stepped down when he was 90, so think I have about at least five more years.”
The feminist justice spoke publicly after going to see a production of “The Originalist” at the 59E59 Theater in New York, a play about late Justice Antonin Scalia. Ginsburg and Scalia were long-time friends despite their stark political differences.
“If I had my choice of dissenters when I was writing for the court, it would be Justice Scalia,” Ginsburg said, saying that the back and forth would help her form her arguments. “Sometimes it was like a ping-pong game.”
I almost broke down in tears when I saw Ruth Bader Ginsburg trending. So relieved to find out that she was just planning to stay on the Supreme Court for at least 5 more years. Keep lifting those weights, RBG! pic.twitter.com/aTlfx6F43g
Democrats have feared that the “Notorious RBG” would retire during President Trump’s first term, allowing him to nominate another conservative judge and skewing the Supreme Court as a whole sharply to the right. Earlier this month, Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh for the vacancy left by retiring judge Anthony Kennedy — a man with a history of conservative leaning when it comes to gun laws, women’s health, and immigration.
Earlier in his term, Trump nominated conservative justice Neil Gorsuch after Barack Obama was blocked by the Senate from nominating a judge at the end of his term following the death of Scalia.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg will celebrate 25 years on the Supreme Court next week — she was sworn in after being nominated for the court by Bill Clinton in 1993. During her time on the bench, she’s been a champion of women, minorities, and the underprivileged, and well-known for everything from her eloquent written arguments to her amazing robe collars. She’s also a two-time cancer and heart surgery survivor who’s barely missed a day on the bench.
85-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg today:
"I have about at least 5 more years" on Supreme Court .
In other words Trump won't be picking this amazing woman's replacement as long as she stays healthy.
During the Trump administration, she has been looked up to as a vital voice of dissent — at the same time that many left-leaning fans desperately hope that she stays healthy and able to work. Even Stephen Colbert joined her for one of her famed daily workouts.
RBG also had a few words to say about the current administration as she discussed politics with “The Originalist” Director Molly Smith. When asked what keeps her hopeful, Ginsburg talked about her husband Marty Ginsburg, who died in 2010.
“My dear spouse would say that the true symbol of the United States is not the bald eagle — it is the pendulum,” Ginsburg said. “And when it goes very far in one direction you can count on its swinging back.”
If an 85-year-old cancer survivor can stay positive and keep fighting — for years — so can we.
Looking for some gift inspo for some soon to be newlyweds in your life? Look no further! If you’re after an alternative to cash or want something sweet that they’ll cherish for years, there’s some fab pieces you can pick up from beautiful paintings to gorgeous gift boxes. Check out some of our fave wedding gifts below that are sure to be a hit with the happy couple!
If you’re looking for a gorgeous personalised gift the newlyweds will treasure forever, this one is perfect! Wedding Art create one of a kind fine art oil paintings inspired by the wedding couple and their story. It has up to five key scenes such as where they met,where they got engaged, their wedding venue and other important symbols, combined to create a unique and truly beautiful painting. It would be a fab reminder of such a special time and one gift they’ll be dying to hang on the wall – find out more here.
We love a good hamper and this one from Léanas Gift in a Box is made with newlyweds in mind! They specialise in gorgeous vintage style gift boxes with products sourced from locally based Irish small businesses where possible. This keepsake ‘Happy Couple’ gift box comes with a ‘Rings & Sparkling Things’ Ring Dish, scented candle, homemade lemonade, handmade chocolate, confetti and card so they can enjoy their own personal mini celebration! Browse their other options here including engagement boxes, as well boxes for brides, grooms and bridesmaids amongst others.
Pretty Little Ideas are an Irish company that make unique, personalised boxed frames for all the bridal party including this adorable one for the happy couple! They also stock gorgeous gift boxes and tags for brides, grooms and bridal parties as well hanging wooden hearts, freestanding wooden letters and all sorts of other beautiful personalised goodies so it’s the perfect to spot to have a browse if you’re after a special wedding pressie. Click here to see their full range!
If the happy couple have put together a gift list with the likes of The Wedding Shop, it’s the perfect opportunity to pick up an item you know they’ll adore and might not have wanted to splurge on themselves! From beautiful throws and cushions to artwork, nifty gadgets and insanely pretty dishware (couples also have the freedom to combine fab gifts with memorable experiences or honeymoon and cash contributions or donations to a charity close to their heart), you can scroll through their list of coveted items to find something you know they want (as they’ve picked it!) and something they’ll cherish for their home for years to come. Win win all round!
Your pal’s wedding will be full of special memorabilia from their invites to the place cards from the top table! So if you’re looking for a sweet and thoughtful gift as a little nod their big day, a keepsake box is perfect. This personalised wooden box from River Lane Memories is a classic and timeless piece that can be personalised with their name and wedding date and will be something they can turn to over the years as a reminder of their Big Day.
If you’re after a gorgeous token the couples will have as a reminder of their day, look no further! Irish online company WowWee.ie is home to a range of fab gifts for everyone from the bridal party to the happy couple themselves. They’ve got some fun pieces that newlyweds will love including wedding frames and personalised cushions. They also stock a His & Her towel gift set, personalised Christmas decorations and a Personalised Fairy Door if you’re after something unusual! Shop their range here.
If you’re looking for a fun alternative to cash, you could gift the newlyweds a night away! After all the wedding madness, they’ll love the opportunity to jump in the car or on the train and enjoy a day away making memories. If you’re after some inspo, take a peek at these incredible minimoon destinations in Ireland. Or if you don’t fancy choosing a hotel, another cute options is tickets to a gift or comedy show or a voucher for their favourite restaurant.