Friday, July 30, 2010

Feature Friday featuring Sharon Hawkins of Girl Power Network & Routes2Reality

Welcome to our regular Feature Friday article, featuring a fabulous woman run business - today we're featuring Sharon Hawkins from Girl Power Network
Thanks for chatting with us today Sharon - can you introduce us to yourself and your company?
Girl Power Network offers an affordable way for ladies in business to meet and share their advice, ideas and services without the rigid structure and expense of member networks. Time is a valuable commodity and so we invite ladies on an informal basis to come along and chat over coffee, at a convenient time that doesn’t eat into work or family life. No membership fees; no pre-booking; just turn up on one of the days that suits and feel welcomed, supported and part of an encouraging community that will help you grow your business.

Where did the idea of running this as a business come from?
Michele and I met just under three years ago at a networking event. We knew networking worked because 80% of our work originated from it, and we couldn’t deny the support we received from other business owners really made a difference. However, we were tired of expensive annual membership fees and rigid structures that meant we had to be in a certain place at a certain time every month: and usually inconveniently slap bang in the middle of the day. Flexibility was something we knew was lacking and so we decided to create a different kind of networking group. And so Girl Power Network was born! The commercial incentive behind the idea was that we would develop our own network and build relationships for us and for others; the stuff that business development is made of.

What do you love most about your business?
Seeing the business grow is exceptionally rewarding. Every meeting sees at least one new attendee and it is wonderful to see the group get so much out of our guest speakers, who we choose selectively for their value in advising and guiding business owners. The fact that everyone always takes something away from each meeting is something I personally love; whether that’s a new contact, an idea, or simply the feeling that they have support and are not alone.

What would you like to change?
Rather than change anything I would say it is more about developing what is already there. I’d like to see a higher degree of diversity of industries attending our meetings.

What is your aim for the next year?
To enhance and build on what we already have is our aim. To grow the number of attendees and in doing so increase opportunities and support for all our attendees. We also intend to expand into new areas: Brentwood for starters is imminent and Thurrock is on the agenda for 2011. Another goal is to attract a wider variety of speakers to add greater value to each meeting.

Where do you ultimately see yourself?
The ‘bigger picture’ aim is to develop a franchise offering over time.

What are your Top 5 tips for new Business Women?
Tip 1 - Network
Tip 2 – Seek support from those in the same boat
Tip 3 – Seek advice from those who’ve been there and been successful
Tip 4 – Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Tip 5 – Set clear goals and stay focused on them

If people are interested in attending any of your events, how can they contact you for details?
You can contact me via our website or email me on; you can also catch us on our Facebook page at and our Twitter page will be coming soon!

he network sounds like a fantastic idea and echoes a lot of what we're trying to set up for Creation|Collaboration - we are firm believers in networking and the huge benefits it can bring for small businesses.
For this Feature Feature, we're doing something different - Sharon actually runs two businesses (where she gets the time I do not know - she must be Superwoman or something) and here is our profile of her second business Routes2Reality.

Sharon - can you tell us about your other company?
Routes2Reality provides affordable, value added solutions for small and start up businesses; solutions that get companies noticed and present a consistent, professional profile. Routes2Reality offers website design; print design; promotional copy writing; online marketing and offline marketing support: basically all the things a business needs to get noticed via an ‘out there’ profile that is designed to be razor sharp and outstandingly edgy when stood up alongside competitors.

Where did the idea of running this as a business come from?
Having attained a degree in Business Studies with a specialism in marketing, as well as a Masters in e-Business, again with a marketing specialism, my natural path was to move into employed work in the marketing sector and all positions involved building and maintaining websites. However, because of the marketing education, the work was not restricted to design; I was always focused on the bigger picture. How will this website work for your business? What do you want to achieve from the site? How will you attract new business and capture data?

After my daughter came along I lost the will to travel 100 miles a day to work and decided it was time to put my experience and bigger picture knowledge into action, doing things the way I knew from experience would work. And so Routes2Reality was born!

What do you love most about your business?
Total diversity; one day I’ll be working on a project for a building contractor, the next will be a motor home manufacturer. Every day brings new opportunities; starkly contrasting conversations and a plethora of personalities with which to deal. Developing a network and bringing clients and contacts together to provide an all round service is one of the greatest parts of the job, as is seeing a project through from start to finish. And I adore the flexibility of being my own boss and being able to allocate time for everything that’s important, including family.

Is there anything you'd like to change?
In all honesty I wouldn’t change a thing, but I would build on what I have. I’d like to receive more enquiries and to expand my network. And I have solid plans in place to do so!

What is your aim for the next year?
To increase enquiries and therefore sales and to expand my network; business building is the major goal for the next twelve months.

Where do you ultimately see yourself?
Heading the business development arm of Routes2Reality! My strengths lie in building relationships and so I’d like to work more in this area whilst mentoring technicians in the service and quality ethos of the company so that they can get the work done without compromising our exceptional standards; standards for which I want Routes2Reality to become known and standards which are affordable to the smaller business.

What are your Top 5 tips for new Business Women?
Tip 1 - network
Tip 2 – allow a realistic budget for marketing
Tip 3 – know when to outsource
Tip 4 – be comfortable with the fact that you can’t do everything: it’s normal
Tip 5 – never, never, never, ever give up on your goals

If our readers are interested in any of your services, how can they contact you?
I can be contacted via my website at or they can drop me an email at; alternatively, we also have a Facebook page and they can "Like" us at or Tweet us on

Thanks os much for chatting to us today Sharon - you really are a powerhouse and I don't know where you get your energy from!!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Start Up Sunday series - Week 8 - Online Marketing & Social Media

Start Up Sunday – Week 8 Online Marketing & Social Media

These days, the world is far smaller than it ever was – we can converse in real time with people from all four corners of the world via the internet. We are inundated with information all at times of the day and night. Whilst this can lead, at times, to information overload or major repetition (evidence Sky News rehashing the same topic over and over again, from every conceivable angle when something even remotely interesting happens), but from a business perspective it means that there are people out there, possible clients, who want and actively seek out information – information we can provide them about us and our business in an easily accessible, inexpensive and readily available manner.

Small businesses, generally speaking, do not start out with mega marketing budgets. These usually are factored in over time, as the business begins to make enough money to cover those types of costs. Whilst that makes total sense, the question remains – how do you get your message out to your potential customers if you don’t have a budget? How can you compete with the “big boys” if you don’t have a budget to match their marketing strategies?
The question is at your very fingertips. The internet and the use of social media. Most people have heard of Facebook and Twitter and many people use it regularly to catch up with friends and colleagues. But how do you turn something used for social purposes into a vibrant, exciting business marketing and promotional tool?

Firstly, you should know that setting up a Facebook page or a Twitter account costs nothing. It is entirely free. You can set up a business page very simply and add an image of your logo or one of your products. Include details of your website, blog, contact information – add photos and say something interesting about them. Make a page you’d like to read as a possible customer… ask yourself what you’d like to see and provide that. Then you can go ahead and invite your friends and family to join.

When you’ve built up at least 25 fans, you can change your Facebook fan page to what they call a "Vanity URL". When you first create your Facebook fan page, the web link will pretty much just be a string of letters and numbers and will be long and not very attractive. To make it more like your own site link, that contains the name of your company, click on to At the bottom of the page, you'll see a link called "set a username for your pages". Click on it and then you'll see a drop down - click on this and you should see your "business fan page". At that point, you should put in the name of your company/fan page, ie Soaperstar. Word of warning, at this stage you have to make commitment to using that name - you can't go back and change it later so make sure you've clicked the right thing!!!

After doing all this, you'll have a nice simple Facebook Fan Page address instead of a mass of jumbled up letters and numbers after the dot com. This is handy to quote on your business cards, the end of your emails, on Twitter, your blog, the end of forum signatures etc.

Setting up a Twitter account is really easy also – use an ID name that includes your company name; mine, for example, is @Soaperstar… some names are already taken so try something that is readily identifiable as you. Always, always, always fill out your complete profile – this will help you if people want to find out more about you before they decide to follow you. Personally I won’t follow anyone who doesn’t have some information in their profile (at minimum location and a blurb about themselves, but it’s far better if they have a link to their website – an excellent way to drive people there also). Choose a picture as an image of your and/or your company. Mine is really simple but people know it’s me/Soaperstar. My advice is don’t change it too often or at all – this is because a lot of people rely on the images against account names to recognize a person… change that image too often and people won’t remember who you are.

If you're using Twitter regularly, I would personally recommend that you download Tweetdeck, click; it's free and it manages the process far easier. You can set up columns for your friends or for specific people you want to keep a track on. If you want to use hashtags (which are used for subjects of interest to people - if lots of people use it for the same subject, it's called trending) then add your hashtags, ie #weddingplanners and/or #weddingfavours to your Tweet. Then people can search for all the #soap tweets if they want. Also it makes it a more trending topic.

Ok, so now you’re all set up. What do you do next? Well, here comes the bit where it is going to cost you … but not in money. One of the real keys to good social media interaction is that you have to spend time on it. Social media works so well because you form relationships with people – you create a page, you show your products, you give them the link to your site… but why should they visit, why should they look at your page, why should they talk to you? Another key ingredient in the successful use of social media is making networks, which basically means making friends. Whilst you may have invited your family and friends onto your Facebook page or chat to them on Twitter occasionally, you’re not really going to make your fortune from them so you need to extend beyond them. However, they can be important to help drive their friends and colleagues to your page so encourage them to invite others to join. An incentive often helps so, depending on your product or service, offer a giveaway or a discount for your Facebook or Twitter friends. People love a bargain, especially in these recessionary times and if they think they just have to send a few invites to your page or recommend you on Twitter and have a chance of getting something for free, then they’ll do it.

One of the problems people have when they first start on Twitter (and Facebook to a lesser extent) is that they have no clue how to start a conversation or get someone to chat to you. How do you make friends? You do it the same way you do anywhere else - online is no different from offline. When you don't know someone but think they might be nice or interesting, you say "Hi, how are you, having a good day?" or something, to them. It's not going to rock their world (but it might make them happy, sometimes a nice hello is worth its weight in gold) but it's going to say that you're a decent nice person... generally speaking, the reaction will be "hi, I'm fine, how are you?” And so it starts. Just like it does no matter where you are - yes, it feels a little awkward at the start but it does in real life too. You cannot get to know someone without starting off with a Hello!

So now I hear you saying, "Ok, that's fine, just say hi, what next?” What's next is keep up the conversation, or chat to others in the same way ... talk about something interesting, something they might want to talk about. For example, imagine you're selling ski equipment - a hard sell but you could start out with a shout out to everyone saying "I've just come back from a ski holiday, it was fantastic, anyone else been on one?". You'll no doubt get an answer or two .. ask them some questions, be interested. Don't jump in with "oh wanna buy some equipment?".. drop the fact that you sell equipment into the conversation but don't make it the topic of the conversation. They'll know now that you sell equipment but it doesn't mean that you're a nameless faceless person selling equipment and nothing else - you're a human being, interacting with them, being interested, being funny (hopefully!) who happens to sell ski equipment. Keep up that conversation over time, make friends, chat when you get online and who will they go to for their ski equipment if they need any?? Their friend, who's a nice person and funny and who, handily enough, sells ski equipment. Get it? That's the beauty of social marketing and the key to it - you have to be a person, you have to be real, you have to be YOU. You are the company yes, but you're also a person with feelings and thoughts and opinions, not just a person selling ski equipment. So share yourself, whilst you're sharing your business.

That's the thing to remember about social media and marketing - it's sociable! You need to interact with people, chat, talk about things, give an opinion, be yourself. Drop in some tweets or Facebook updates about your business in the mix, link it to what people are talking about, let them know that you sell handbags or soap or ski equipment or whatever and do it in a way that it seems to meet people's needs and wants.

You will slowly but surely build up a network of friends, some of whom will become your customers, some not. They are people that see you as a person .. but a person who runs a business and when they need what you provide, the first person they’ll think of is you.

If you're a small business starting out, think about your marketing strategies, your budget available to you - see what time you can offer to social media (it does take time to build up friendships, online or offline, so dropping in and out once a month isn't going to cut it, I'm afraid). Don't be afraid to be yourself, show people that you're someone they want to get to know, be funny, be interesting. Get your brand out there via your profile, your personality and your business related tweets but don't make it just about the business - the business is you not just the brand.

Some key do’s are:
  • Put time and effort into keeping both your Facebook and Twitter pages up to date and interesting
  • Plan a certain amount of time a day that you’ll devote to marketing and choose the time of day wisely. Not that many people will be around at 3.00 am but more may be online at 7.00 or 8.00 pm – work out when the best time is for your particular audience 
  • Be personable, be yourself, be pleasant  
  • Do be honest – if you don’t supply something, can’t supply it or can’t provide a service, be honest and say so  
Some key dont's are:

  • Don’t swear or rant and rave about customers or suppliers – it’s not professional or businesslike
  • Don’t think a “hit and run” approach to social media will work – it won’t. You’re wasting your time if you think you need to drop in once a month and say nothing.
  • Don’t underestimate the value of social media to your business – you are talking to a huge potential market out there. One of the most famous business Twitter users is Dell, which said that $9m of its 2009 sales came directly through Twitter and Facebook combined . It has been argued that smaller businesses also benefit from using Twitter, since they can compete on equal terms with larger businesses within the Twitter platform . In the UK, a survey indicated that 17% of small British businesses were using Twitter, mainly to attract new customers.

On Friday 11 June 2010, Mashable (one of the most influential blogs reporting on social media) reported on a survey they held asking users to define social media. They noted 20 key words that were used by people as their personal definition: 
  • Collaboration
  • Network
  • Conversation
  • Sharing
  • Relationships
  • Multi-dimensional
  • Inclusive
  • Information
  • Community
  • Personalization
  • Empowering
  • A Radical Shift in Communication
  • Real-time
  • People
  • Content Distribution
  • Self-expression
  • Unity
  • Dynamic
  • Discovery
  • Power of the Crowd
These words are hugely powerful and illustrate for anyone starting out in business how important involvement in social media is – to network with real people in real time, to build relationships with people, to distribute your company information in a dynamic powerful manner to reach your intended audience. I personally find these words are inspiring for a small business owner because it proves that one person can involve themselves in a community of like minded people, building and maintaining relationship with friends and customers alike.

I hope that this blog post has helped you understand the importance of social media as a key marketing tool for small business.  Now... make sure you set that Facebook and Twitter Page up today - link your new pages in the comments below and we at Creation|Collaboration will be very proud and happy to follow you!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Feature Friday features Tracey Phillips of Bridal Designs Wedding Jewellery

Welcome to our regular Friday Feature here at Creation|Collaboration - today we're featuring Tracey Phillips from Bridal Designs Wedding Jewellery

 Hi Tracey and thanks so much for chatting with us today.  Can  you introduce us to you and your company?
My name is Tracey Phillips, I am 38 years old and am the owner of Bridal Designs Wedding Jewellery. I design and handcraft bridal jewellery with Sterling silver and Swarovski crystal.

Where did the idea of running this as a business come from?
I was working in a jewellery shop and started studying the jewellery closely - how the stones were attached and the wire looped, I was curious as to how it was done and started looking on the internet for jewellery making instructions. After a lot of practice I made up a few pieces, my sister saw them and asked if I could make her a necklace for her wedding. After changing her mind a few times (brides/womans prerogative!) and after she had chosen her necklace I ended up with quite a collection of different necklaces with no homes. I bravely decided to approach a local wedding shop t see if they would be interested in stocking the jewellery. I was terrified walking into the shop but they said on the spot that they would be interested and I’m still working with them 2 years later,along with others. A year ago I decided to make the move to online selling also and set up my website.

What do you love most about your business?
I love working for myself and I love the feedback I get from brides-It’s the biggest day of their lives and they have allowed me a part of that. I always feel privileged.

What would you like to change?
I’d like to know more about websites so that I could do more to it myself…unfortunately I am quite technically challenged!

What is your aim for the next year?
I have no delusions of world domination-I would just like to be recognised as someone who makes quality jewellery and cares about her customers.

Where do you ultimately see yourself?
As a recognised name in the Bridal market and successful enough to have someone on call 24/7 to sort my website for me!

What are your Top 5 tips for new Business Women?
Tip 1 Don’t let people tell you you can’t succeed
Tip 2 Don’t tell yourself you can’t succeed!
Tip 3 Use Twitter and Facebook-Invaluable for contacts
Tip 4 Listen to yourself-if something doesn’t feel right it’s probably not
Tip 5 Carry your business cards everywhere you go and if you make something wearable-wear it! You are your own best walking advert

How do we contact you?
I can be contacted via my website at or you can email me at; I can also be found on Facebook at or on Twitter at

Thanks so much for talking to us today Tracey - your designs are absolutely wonderful!!

Remember to check out our blog next Friday for another Feature Friday article - if you would like your company featured, please drop us an email at and put the words "Feature Friday" in the subject line. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wedding Wednesday - Choosing a Wedding Ring

The wearing of wedding rings on the third finger of your left hand dates back to the 17th Century BC.  The ancient Egyptians believed that this finger contained a special vein of love that ran directly to the heart.

 The idea was that, by placing a metal band around this finger, your everlasting happiness was assured.  There are many things to consider when choosing a ring, but it is an enduring reminder of your special day, and a very important element in the act of getting married so take time to get it right as you want to choose a piece that is timeless, and of high quality.

There are 4 popular metals used in the creation of these rings:
  • Yellow Gold - traditional and a symbol of wealth, comes in 9,14,18 and 14 carat.
  • White Gold - increasingly popular and a hot trend as it co-ordinates really well with silver.
  • Platinum - a stylish and hard wearing metal, but slightly more expensive.
  • Titanium - a striking grey metal which is extremely durable, and which is a popular male choice.

Things to consider when buying your rings are:

  • Will it fit/match your engagement ring

  • Will it be durable enough to sustain implications from your lifestyle

It is really important that you are happy with your choice, as this is reminder that will, hopefully, be with you for the rest of your life.  Take lots of time to research different styles, thicknesses, metals. Choosing a wedding ring is a little like choosing your partner, it has to be a very considered choice.

A growing trend these days is to have your ring specially designed, and in the era of all things vintage, using an heirloom lets you honour your family member that has passed, and be very on trend.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Start Up Sunday series Week 7 - 6 Steps to Better Branding

Welcome to Week 7 in our Start Up Sunday series - today we'll be talking about branding and detailing the 6 Steps to Better Branding.

So what is a brand? Well, it isn’t just your logo, your strap-line a colour or your ever so pretty packaging. These are representations of your brand.

Branding is your connection to your customer. It is the personality of your business, key to generating sales and should be at the centre of your marketing strategy.

In order to develop an effective brand there are a 6 things you should know inside out:

No. 1 - Your Competitors:  Watch them and analyse them. Social media is great for helping you do this. Follow them on Twitter and "like"  them on Facebook.
  • How does their pricing compare to yours?
  • What marketing do they do?
  • What is their product or service offering?  
No. 2 - Your Marketplace:  Looking at your marketplace will help you determine how to brand your product/service.

  • How much is the market worth?

  • What are the underexplored areas?

  • What are the best selling ranges, products or services?

  • Can you identify any niches or gaps in the market? 

No. 3  Your Customer: What do they want? Know as much as you possibly can about them. Get under their skin, listen to them, understand their lifestyle. 
  • Are they cash rich and time poor or watching the pennies?
  • Do they have children?
  • How do they spend their time? 
  • How much do they spend with you?
  • What channels are best to reach them? 
  • Where do they buy from?
  • What search terms do they use on Google? 
  • What magazines and newspapers do they read?

No. 4  Your Product or Service:  What exactly are you selling? Sum it up in a simple message. What makes you stand out from competitors? Cheaper, better quality, customer service? Once you have researched and understood all of this data, then you can start to decide the look and feel of your brand.
5  Your Tone of Voice:  Establish a tone of voice to use across all your communications. Serious and business like, fun and lively, knowledgable and approachable, you choose what suits your brand. If you sell face to face you should be able to carry this across then too, so pick a style that you personally are comfortable with. If you are selling bank accounts your tone of voice will be very different to selling baby clothes. What’s right for you?
Use your communications to spell out the benefits and features of your product or service. For example, a feature of myroo skincare body butter is that it is deeply nourishing and moisturising. The benefit for the customer is softer, smoother skin.
6  Your Style: Develop the visual aspects of your brand, your font, colours, logos and so on to match the output from all your hard research. So if your target market is high end don’t go for lurid colours, if it’s mainly men, don’t choose pink. If you are going for a vintage look, avoid over contemporary fonts and so on.
If this is all a little mind boggling and your business can afford it then it can be well worth spending some money with professionals to help you create your brand identity.
And finally, a little caution, there’s no point in spending time and money developing an image that you can’t live up to. Choose branding that feels honest to you, then aim to always deliver what you promise, maybe a little more, and you won’t go far wrong.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Feature featuring Janet Mc Kenner from Delicakes

Welcome to Feature Friday from Creation|Collaboration - today we're featuring Janet Mc Kenner from Delicakes.

Thanks for chatting to us today Janet - can you introduce us to you and your company?
This is actually my third career - previously I have been an auditor and taken a second degree in psychology as a mature student. I am delighted to be back with my first love of food after originally studying food science and cooking.

Where did the idea of running this as a business come from?
As I was finishing my degree, I realised I was making more and more cakes in the evenings and weekends for friends and friends of friends. It evolved into my business because, being honest, it's all I ever wanted to do was bake and create exceptional sweet foods. I was worried that it may not be financially viable so I agreed with my husband I would not expand out of the home kitchen until after the first year.

What do you love most about your business?
Transforming pure ingredients such as; sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, and chocolate into a cake that becomes the feature point of a celebration. A birthday party needs a cake to put candles on, a wedding needs a centre piece. I love that the cake provides the central photo opportunity of the event and my creative skills bring pleasure and a WOW factor on special days.

What would you like to change?
I wish that local authorities did publicise your Hygiene score if you work from a home kitchen – but the rules are they only do this if you work from a purely commercial kitchen with no dual use.

What is your aim for the next year?
I want to expand my wedding cake business to form the core of my work. This would mean I have more planned work and less ad hoc and last minute orders. To achieve this I am currently creating my website and it will be styled as

Where do you ultimately see yourself?
I believe, by my third year, I will have a house style and will launch a new range each wedding season in keeping with the upcoming bridal trends for that year.

What are your Top 5 tips for new Business Women?
Tip 1: Stop doing the research and give it a go now – especially if you can limit costs
Tip 2: Be financially organised so you know your profit margins on every product you sell
Tip 3: Think of ways of upselling your product or range – in my case if you order a birthday cake, I ask if you want cupcakes to match, or if you order a wedding cake I ask if you want cookies as favours
Tip 4: Be flexible, my original idea for expansion was to deliver cakes to local businesses but I found this was time consuming and not as profitable as celebration cakes – hence I am now going to focus on the big celebrations
Tip 5: Don’t walk before you can run – yes a shop would be lovely but with overheads and the cost of staff this is a step change investment that needs to be just right before

A few last words - How do we contact you?
I am featured on until my own site is launched; you can email me at; you can also catch me on Facebook: at and on Twitter at

Thanks so much for chatting to us today Janet, your cakes are fabulous looking and I'm sure people are so delighted to receive them!

Don't forget to check back next week when we'll be featuring another woman run business!! If you're interested in being featured on this blog, please drop us an email to with the words "Feature Friday" in the subject line and we'll get back to you.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wedding Wednesday - How to Save Money on your Wedding

Welcome to Wedding Wednesday on our blog - today we'll be talking about how you can save money on your wedding costs, a hugely interesting area especially in these recessionary times.

Weddings and celebrations can be an expensive business, but there are many ways where you can cut costs, without comprimising on quality.

1. For a wedding, consider a long engagement.  This gives you time to save up but, on the flip side, a short engagement doesn't give you time to keep changing your mind.

2. Subscribe to wedding or party planning forums to talk to like minded people who will share their tips on saving the pennies - You and your wedding, Wedding Ideas, Scottish wedding Directory, Confetti.

3. Book suppliers as far as you can in advance to get offered "this years prices".  This might not always work though as you have to take the chance, especially in this economic climate that suppliers will cut prices.

4. For a wedding, if going abroad, consider buying your wedding rings there as you can often get better value for money.

5. Consider a midweek or Sunday wedding or event as usually less expensive than a Friday or Saturday event.

6. Look for a stunning party dress at the New Year or Summer sales and also for bridal shop sales for your bridal gown or attendants dresses.

7. Many high street retailers now offer beautiful bridal gowns and bridesmaids wear at reasonable prices - For example, BHS, Debenhams, Monsoon, Coast all stock fantastic party wear.

8. Beautiful tiaras and bridal and event jewellery can now be found in the high street- Monsoon, Next, Debenhams, BHS and consider fantastic designers such as , , or 

9. Ask a friend that is gifted at make up to do yours for your party or big day.

10. When hiring kilts and suits for weddings and events, ask for details of discounts for multiple hire.
Available in places such as Moss Bros and Youngs suit hire, and most Highland Wear suppliers do deals when hiring many.

11. Book that special holiday or honeymoon through an independant travel advisor rather that the high street chains, thus avoiding overheads ie. or

12. If you have time and are crafty, consider making your own stationary for weddings and events.
Hobbycraft is an excellent source of materials for this. However, if you decide to go with this option, it's important to remember what you save in money should be balanced in time cost.

13. Supermarkets now offer celebration cakes that can be customised for your event with your colours and theme.  A three tier comes in at under £100, feeding at least 120 people. I am a big lover of the Marks & Spencers cakes having had one for my own wedding.  Also speak to many cake designers who these days can be adaptable to budget constraints.

14. Have a buffet or hog roast instead of a sit down meal and, to follow this through, consider an independant venue instead of a hotel where you can bring in caterers.

15. Ask a friend or florist to move your flowers from ceremony to reception to cut down on costs, and consider seasonal flowers.

16. Ask a friend with a luxury or quirky car to drive you, also VW camper vans are very "in" right now.

17. Consider having disposable cameras on your tables, it's a good an cheap way to capture the informal side of the day. These can be purchased at camera shops such as Jessops and in most supermarkets Tesco, Asda etc.

18. Consider asking friends or family that are talented at perhaps singing or playing and instrument. This will save you money on entertainment for your guests and can also be a lovely personal touch to your ceremony.

19.Consider hiring a wedding planner whose job is to get you the best at the best prices and within your budget and who will also save you time and money, ie

20. Always, always, always get wedding insurance. It will be the best £50ish you will ever spend, especially in this economic climate.

There are an enormous amount of ways that you can save money on your wedding, without feeling like you're skimping on what you really want - the most important thing about the day, of course, is enjoy yourselves!