The Wedding Blog Awards - Don't Try To Be Different...

So, if you've got a vague interest in the wedding world (and I can't think why you wouldn't!), you'll know that last Friday saw The Savoy throw open its doors to Wedding magazine and The Wedding Blog Awards. You might well also know that I was there, along with the lovely Caoimhe, representing Team Love My Dress. I could write a long post about the champagne, the canapés, the decor and the terror, twice over, of having to hop up on stage to accept the awards for 'Best Real Life Weddings' and 'Best Bridal Style' that Love My Dress scooped on the night. But, as so many wonderful women have already penned and published posts about these things (see list at the end of this piece), I'm going to write about something else. Obvs.

I do love a little bit of people watching and so having a good look around at everyone who was sipping champagne and waiting for the awards proper to begin was really interesting. And then it hit me, these women, these terrific and talented women who made up the shortlists for the awards all had one thing in common. None of them were trying to be different.

via  Pinterest

Now, this is the moment when you might well be sitting there thinking I've lost the plot completely but hang in there while I explain myself.

The key word in my bold assertion isn't different, it's trying. The blogs on the shortlist are all different, they have found their niche and they're totally working it. But they're not trying to be different or trying to be something they're not. And this is exactly why they're great.

Nova, the gorgeously passionate powerhouse behind the (deservedly) award-winning Nu-Bride is, when you meet her, exactly as you would expect from reading her blog. She's kind, caring, gentle and strong. Another woman who I fell a bit for was Charlotte from Fizzy Bunting. She 'isn't a dress kind of a gal' so rocked the tux at the awards and was true to herself. Raj from Secret Wedding Blog wanted to write about multi-cultural couples and weddings so did. B.Loved's Louise and Emma from Coco Wedding Venues are just as stylish as you imagine and they're also as warm and as positive as their writing suggests. In short, no-one was trying to be different, they were just being themselves. 

And that's really the key to it all. Don't work so hard to be different that you lose sight of who you really are. Don't strive to stand out when all you really need is to just be you. Just on a really good day. We all might have been dressed up fancy for a night out but everyone was still the same person. And it was great.

The wedding industry is a sociable place - people like to get together and you see a lot of each other. If you're putting on an act or if you're trying too hard, you'll get found out like the kid at school who pretends to be way cool when they're just not and ends up miserable, even when they're hanging with the crowd they want to be with. Because, now that we're not kids in the playground, we know that trying to be different never works out in the long run.

I got to be at The Savoy on Friday evening because a while ago, Annabel asked me to be part of Team Love My Dress. And it was revelatory. Annabel doesn't try to be different, she just tries to be good. And she, and the other fabulous, brilliant, spectacular and downright excellent women in the room on Friday evening, have totally nailed it.

Who doesn't sit on the stairs in The Savoy of a Friday night clutching two awards?

Who doesn't sit on the stairs in The Savoy of a Friday night clutching two awards?

So Caoimhe and I just  had  to get in on the photobooth action...

So Caoimhe and I just had to get in on the photobooth action...

So, if you want to read the reports and reflections on the awards, let me point you in the direction of these little beauties...

 

Love My Dress

Coco Wedding Venues

Nu-Bride

B.Loved

Fizzy Bunting

A Wedding-less Feature...

So this post might be a little off-piste but as the song goes, I'm so excited and I just can't hide it. However, I'm not about to lose control which should be a relief to all. What I am going to do is blow my own trumpet about a personal milestone so forgive the indulgence if you can.

My first published history feature! Thank you so much  Pretty Nostalgic .

My first published history feature! Thank you so much Pretty Nostalgic.

I am history geek and the stories of women during World War II are those that particularly push my buttons. From housewives to code breakers, land-girls to ATA girls, my bookshelves are laden with volumes of everyday heroism and outstanding bravery. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to lay my excited hands on copy of 'A Daughter's Tale', the wartime memories of Winston & Clementine Churchill's youngest child Mary. In these pages, I first found out about the gunner girls of the ATS who manned the anti-aircraft batteries during the Blitz and the flying bomb raids. And that was it, I was hooked and my research began.

The book that started it all...

The book that started it all...

Since then, I have read voraciously, I have tracked down old copies of books and memoirs, I have delved into archives and written pages and pages of notes. These women were amazing. In fact, amazing is too small a word to describe them. In a society that still wanted women to be decorative and sweetly feminine, these trailblazing women lived with the men, worked with the men and died with the men. They manned their guns on cliff tops and city centres, they shot down planes and rockets and were themselves injured, insulted and initially seen as objects of curiosity. But they won over the most battle-hardened soldiers and they played a real part in a war that liked to keep women well away from any action. Mary Churchill, as she was then, followed troops into Europe in the days after D-Day and was also one of the observers sent to the notorious Bergen-Belsen concentration camp just days after it had been liberated. All of the women of the ATS were proud to wear the uniform, proud to do their job and play  an active role. No more passivity for the girls behind the guns. 

There is one photo, from all of those that I have seen whilst researching this fascinating topic that sticks in my mind (and you can see it in the top right of my feature's banner). The alarm has sounded, the girls are running to man their guns, running into who knows what danger and they are smiling. Smiling.

pretty-nostalgic-goodwood-revival

So seeing this piece in print was a big moment. My first published history feature and I'm so chuffed to see it looking so beautiful in such a great magazine. The Goodwood Revival special edition of Pretty Nostalgic is packed with wonderful pieces - from an imaginary tea with another literary heroine of mine, Agatha Christie and craft and up cycling ideas to vintage fashion and beauty pieces. All in all, it's a fabulous read and I'm just so thrilled to be a part of it.

Earlier this year, I set my goals for 2014. One of them was about writing. It's going pretty well, I can tell you now...