Why hygge when you can cwtch?


Em’s middle one, cwtched up snug!

We love the whole idea of hygge – the buzzword right now as autumn starts to draw into winter and the idea of soft blankets, roaring fires and crisp cold days has serious appeal.

But here at Illustries, we know that hygge (rhyme it with hula!) is nothing new. It’s been a Danish mainstay for centuries, but we’ve got something closer to home that is just as warm and comforting.

Have you ever had a cwtch? You can rhyme it with ‘butch’ but it’s not at all similar! Cwtch is a welsh word that kind of means hug, but it is so much more. If you’re welsh it conjures up feelings of warmth and love, nesting and nestling. It’s a mammy’s arms around you, or a nanny’s soft cardie to cushion your cheek.

In Wales you can cwtch yourself silly. You can cwtch up – think wrapping yourself in a fake fur blankie or pulling your new winter coat in tight. You can cwtch down – imagine snuggling into clean sheets at bedtime. You can cwtch in – nothing like it, as you’re pulled into a warm hug on the sofa by your favourite person, in front of your favourite programme (cwtching in is perfect for Bake Off!). You can make yourself cwtchy – get those new pyjamas on pronto.

But best of all, you can just give in and ‘give us a cwtch’, because in the words of Cornorshop, doesn’t everybody need a bosom for a pillow?!


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Pinterest Top Wedding Trends for 2016

Relaxed Signage


Another of Pinterest’s ‘Top 16 for 2016’, a little rustic, laid back signage to your ceremony and reception is something a lot of you are thinking of. It’s a great way to add a little warmth and humour, and while there are lots of great companies out there, it’s also a great trend to DIY. Whether you use chalkboards or upcycled pallets, just a simple phrase or two (we love ‘Welcome to our love story’ for your entrance and what about ‘How sweet it is to be loved by you…’ for your candy buffet? ) is perfect. Our very own Sam had some beautifully simple signage made for the Smith big day, but don’t think you can’t combine rustic with a little bling, because when we hit the dance floor, this is the first thing we saw…

To keep on top of the trend, here’s some great #pinspiration!


Leave a comment

Filed under export

Pinterest Top Wedding Trends for 2016

Reinventing Confetti


Image courtesy of Brklyn View Photography and Rebecca Hansen Weddings via Brooklyn Bride

It seems everyone is looking for new ideas for the traditional ‘confetti toss’ – letting guests bring their own is not the done thing in the dream wedding world! Pinterest has lots of gorgeous inspiration, not least the idea of a ‘Petal Toss Bar’ where guests help themselves to your carefully selected pick of the petals – our friends at Shropshire Petals have natural petal confetti in a rainbow of hues and can help you achieve the colour mix you’re after. You could add some glitter (if you don’t mind it sticking to your dress – try foil stars if you’d rather avoid the ‘My Little Pony’ bridal look), use a paper punch for sweet little rice paper shapes, and a little lavender will make sure your moment in the confetti not only looks but smells AMAZING – and imagine that wonderful wedding moment coming to mind every time you smell lavender in the future!

If you’re keeping everything natural, we love the idea of using bird seed instead of the traditional rice – just pop into little bags and seal with a personalised sticker (‘seeds of love’ would make a nice sign off!). Dried leaves would be perfect for an autumn wedding, and skeleton leaves would be so pretty too. And what about honesty seed pods? Cheap but oh so elegant raining down on you with their translucent ivory loveliness (maybe mix with a little plain white confetti) – get them here.

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 11.16.16.png

And why not reimagine the rather overdone wedding bubbles on the tables by using bubbles as your confetti alternative? It makes for a great shot, but be careful to keep guests at a distance as the bubbles may stain! Same goes for cupcake sprinkles – wouldn’t they be supersweet (just watch the colour run!) And for DIY or homespun brides, what about pompoms? The pompom maker has transformed the old cardboard circle craft into something quick and easy, and you can pick out wool to suit your colour scheme then pop them into pretty bags for your guests – check the restrictions at your venue though, you may need to assign a pompom picking up party! Same goes for ticker-tape style confetti, which can give your nuptials superstar sparkle – really go for it and get a confetti cannon for around £200!

Whatever you choose, it is a special moment in your day and a great image for your album, so think carefully about how you want it to happen. Our very own Sam went for a ‘tunnel toss’, getting her guests to line the walkway from venue to reception so that Mr & Mrs Smith were cheered and confettied all the way from ‘I do’ to happy ever after. Beautiful!Sam_Mark_153_LR.jpg


Leave a comment

Filed under alternative confetti, confetti, export, illustries, Uncategorized, wedding

Are you bang on trend?

Top 16 for 2016_Graphic

Leave a comment

July 26, 2016 · 12:05 pm

‘Tiffany Blue’ to plan I do!

Who wouldn’t love something in an iconic little blue box? ‘Tiffany Blue’ was the inspiration for our limited edition Wedding Planner, but did you know that this exquisite robin’s egg shade dates back to 1845? It was carefully selected by Tiffany & Co founder, Charles Lewis Tiffany for the cover of Blue Book, Tiffany’s annual collection of handcrafted jewels.
Tiffany may have chosen the shade because turquoise gems were popular at the time. And Victorian brides would give their bridesmaids a turquoise dove brooch – now wouldn’t that make a great thank you gift!
The colour is now associated with quality, luxury and exclusivity. What better colour to choose for our run of just 350 of our best-selling Wedding Planners, chosen by notonthehighstreet.com as one of their iconic products of the past ten years!

You can buy the Limited Edition Wedding Planner direct from us while stocks last – but shop soon as they won’t last long!

Leave a comment

Filed under illustries, planning, Uncategorized, wedding planner, wedmin

Our 14 top tips for making, and saving, memories

It’s not difficult to make memories, in fact, we all do it everyday! But with family life becoming busier and busier, are you sure that you’ll remember all the little things that make your everyday special, let alone the milestone moments along the way? Here are our top tips for making memories, and making sure you remember them…

1. Draw up a cute timeline of milestones, add to it as it happens and frame it after a period of time. Or save them and make them into a ‘lifetime book’.

2. Create lists of current loves – things you love to eat, watch, follow, do and so on, and look back in the years to come.
3. Take the time to fill in a journal -our ‘Hey Baby’ journal and ‘Family Album make it really easy, and fun, to record a whole host of important, interesting things for newborns and familes, without it being a chore.
4. Record ‘chapters’ or ‘volumes’ in your life with photo books – one for every trip you take together, one per school year or for a special occasion, and give them a chapter or edition number.
5. Watch your family grow, literally. Draw around each family member’s hand regularly. Use the same piece of paper and layer up the hands, dating each one.
6. Create a time capsule – put 10 things that sum up your life at the moment into a tin and bury it in the garden (seal it well and maybe add some silica gel sachets), open it in 10 years time – don’t move house!
7. Create a selfie wall, print out your selfies and look back on the places you’ve been together and the great times you’ve had.
8. We all love the funny things kids say, but it’s easy to forget. Add the amusing sayings to a notebook or one of our journals (and read them back to them on their 18th birthday!).
9. Use a voice recorder, or your phone, to record them talking, playing and even bawling. Ask them to sing into it as a toddler, record their part in the school play and later a speech or two – play it back in years to come!
10. In pregnancy, take regular baby bump photos in the same position, wearing the same clothes and with the same hair style, use easy online tools or apps to turn it into a flip book or speeded up video.
11. Take weekly or monthly photos of your little ones – it’s a really fun way to capture their growth and record all the adorable outfits you dressed them in. Why not take a photo on the day that they were born each month. Put them in a photo frame or make a calendar as a keepsake.
12. Write a letter to your child each year, save them up and hand them over when they are all grown up.
13. Keep a treasure box. Sam has a box that her mum filled with things that she wanted Sam to remember from her childhood.

14. Be sure to capture the memory the moment it happens or soon after to free up space in your head!

To make recording memories that little bit easier, our baby record books and family books are available from illustries.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dad, Dad, You’re Not All Bad…


Emma would have loved her Dad to have been at her wedding, even in this outfit!

Dads are just great, but when it comes to weddings in particular, their greatness is often a double-edged sword. They’re great in those hero-rescuer-protector-entertainer-first love kind of ways. But they are also great in their very own ‘Dad’ ways – great sense of fashion, humour, fairplay, propriety and duty, all of which are inevitably unique to the individual Dad, thus proving slightly troublesome to the bride-to-be. Does your Dad think his caramel-brown ‘best’ suit that has been lingering at the back of the walk-in for fifteen years will ‘do for one last outing’? Is he spending hours honing the jokes for his speech that must have come from the book that daddies get at the birth of their first child, because only daddies tell them and only daddies laugh at them? Is he refusing to acknowledge that you’re a big girl and still making your groom sleep in the spare room? Ah, the perils of trying to get Dad to fall in line on the big day.

But do you know what? And we’re risking a sniffle here… we hope you cherish every awkward, indulgent, stubborn, erratic, wonderful moment of trying to shoehorn your Dad into your plans. Because no matter if he has to wear a corset to do up the suit he claims still fits, or his jokes fall flat while he sips a few too many bubbles, or he insists on having a ‘serious talk’ with your husband-to-be the night before the wedding, he’s your Dad, and that moment when he catches his first glimpse of you in your dress and sees his five year-old, gap-toothed, grinning girl all grown up…well, that moment will be worth it.

Illustries’ Emma wasn’t lucky enough to have that moment as her Dad passed away a few months before the wedding. He was oh so sorely missed, but she knew he would have wanted the show to go on so she bucked herself up and drafted in plenty of support – Mum, to give her away, sisters to give a speech. And they were perfect, of course. Just not Dad.

So, as Father’s Day approaches, cherish your Dad and all his foibles, embrace his eccentricities, celebrate his sentmentality, and just jettison his jokes. Because when you look back, we think what you’ll remember after your wedding day is how reassuring that arm felt as you begin your walk to your new waiting groom – not the fact that it was covered in scratchy caramel nylon…

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Seven ways to keep the kids occupied this spring!


It feels as though this winter lasted forever, but at long last it appears the ice is gradually beginning to thaw and spring is well and truly happening whether we’re ready for it or not. With the arrival of sunshine and longer days comes the need to entertain the children for what seems like hours longer than usual. Inspiration not coming naturally? We’re not surprised, raising human beings takes a lot of brain power, there’s not a whole lot of room left for creativity. Never fear, we have your back. Here are a few ideas…

Visit a National Trust property

The National Trust is one of the most wonderful things about living on our beautiful little island, they’ve got a whole host of properties right across the country just waiting to be explored. You can check out their website to find a list of locations near you and find out more about each individual site. They’ve often got some great activities on location for the little ones, keeping them busy running around while you soak up some historic anecdotes and idyllic landscapes.

Get crafty


Not all of the days in spring will be sunny. In fact, a fair few of them may well be drizzly and miserable, and you’ll still need something fun to occupy the days. Enter: crafts. Thanks to Pinterest, you’re only ever a few clicks away from a genius kids crafting idea. Here are a few of our favourites for Spring…

Chuck some wellies around

“Wellie wanging” is well and truly a thing, wikipedia says so. All you need for a wellie wanging tournament at home is some wide open space (your garden or the local park should do the trick), the kids’ wellies and a decent underarm. Everyone will have a whale of a time throwing their shoes as far as they possibly can.

Throw a May Day party

This is a great way to encourage the kids to invite some friends from school or nursery over, and a lovely chance for everyone to dress up and have fun together! Gather everybody together on 1st May for music and laughter – you could even make a maypole if you’ve got time.

Make room for nature

Doing our bit for our animal friends is a great way to keep the little ones quiet on sunny weekends, and a fab opportunity to teach them a little bit more about the world around us. RSPB have got some advice about making nestboxes for birds, you could plant flowers for the bees or make homes for hedgehogs – the possibilities are endless and very much mutually beneficial!

Visit some animals


A visit to your local farm or petting zoo is bound to go down an absolute treat with the kids, especially if they don’t have a pet at home or don’t get out to see animals too often! If you don’t happen to have somewhere like this nearby, perhaps look for long walks that would have you walking past cattle.

Sneak in some chores

Make a game out of washing the car or weeding the garden – or anything else that might need doing. Thank us for this one later!

Go swimming


An obvious but often overlooked activity – swimming! Bonus points if you can find an outdoor pool with water slides.

Whatever you choose to do to keep the family smiling through the sunshine this year, make sure you don’t lose a single memory with The Family Book!

Leave a comment

Filed under export, Uncategorized

A bit of a do! Our top ten hen party ideas

Organising a hen party is no easy feat. You have a venue to think about, the guest list, maybe even co-ordinated outfits to get sorted. It’s not just the preparation side of things that you need to keep a handle on either, once everybody is together, it’s your job to make sure they have fun! More often than not, at least a few of the hens present will be brand new acquaintances. The quickest way to have everybody getting along like a house on fire? Hen party games, of course.

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 09.21.08

Don’t forget to take plenty of hilarious pictures to stick in the hen book and bring a few biros to have everyone muck in on making those memories!

Banned words

Before the hen night begins, draw up a list of words and phrases that will be banned throughout the evening. Anyone caught uttering a banned word by mistake has to pay a forfeit. How difficult (or lethal, if you choose shots as your forfeit!) you make this game is up to you, choose your words and phrases wisely and keep that list short or you’ll never remember to listen out for them!

Hen bingo

Have bingo cards made up with classic hen night scenarios made personal to your flock. Hand them out to each hen upon arrival and give the promise of a prize for the first hen to call bingo!

Balloon question time

Write down questions – be they saucy, funny or serious – and slide them into balloons before blowing them up. Throughout the night, present the bride with one balloon at a time and insist she pops it then either answers the question hidden in the balloon with complete honesty, or pays the price. This game will ensure a truly blushing bride.

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 09.21.46

image: Sonya Green

DIY dresses

This one is a popular classic for so many reasons. It’s cheap, it’s fun, and it makes the bride look hilarious. Split the group into two teams, assign the bride to one team and a volunteer bridesmaid to the other. Both teams have 10 minutes to fashion a dress out of toilet paper for their bride or bridesmaid. Finished ‘dresses’ can be judged on originality, style or fit and the losing team buys the next round.

Mystery memories

Gather your hens! Get all the ladies to write a favourite (or hideously embarrassing) memory of the bride, fold it up and throw it in a bowl – if it’s easier, you can get the hens to email you their memories prior to the night and print them all out. The bride has to unfold each memory one by one and guess who it came from.

Dress the bride

Ask each hen to bring along an item of fancy dress or easily donned clothing that represents their friendship with the bride and bung them all in a box. Once everyone is together, the bride will put on everything from the dressing up box and then guess who brought each individual item.

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 09.21.57

Fancy knickers

This is a great game for hen nights taking place somewhere a little more chilled out than a bar, or for hens who aren’t old enough to go out and get wild just yet. Have each hen bring a pair of knickers to the celebrations and provide them with materials (anything from marker pens to glitter) once they get there to decorate their pair. Hang them out on a washing line to make a memorable picture for your hen book.

Pin the tail on the male

This game is a hen night classic that has countless varieties. We all know the drill. It’s based on the childhood classic, pin the tail on the donkey and has three definite factors: a great big picture of a man, something to stick on said picture of a man, and a blindfold. Blow up a picture of Ryan Gosling for maximum whooping, or get hold of a snap of the groom if you want to have everybody falling about with laughter.

Picture this

Before everybody gets together, have the hens dig out an old embarrassing picture of the bride. Pin them all up onto a board to put on display at your venue of choice and have the bride guess who brought which pic!

Nibble it

Give everybody a few sturdy biscuits (ginger nuts are a solid choice) and instruct them to bite each one into a different shape – go as rude as you fancy with this one. It’s bound to get everybody cackling.

The Maid of Honour or chief bridesmaid often has a difficult task, trying to pull together a Hen Do that keeps everyone happy and entertained. Our Hen Party Message Books make it easier to get the party started and keep it going, and with a combination of message pages, space for photos, conversation-starter features and loads more games to play, you’ll end up with memories to treasure rather than just a hangover!

Leave a comment

Filed under export, Uncategorized

In the mood for love? Our top ten date night ideas – family v couples!

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 12.10.51Date nights are the nights that make life worth living. Putting an entire evening aside for your loved ones – whether that’s your best friend, partner in life or the whole family – is essential for happiness. This Valentine’s Day, make sure you get something planned with the people you love. Here are a few ideas…

Fun for all the family

Modern families so rarely get the chance to come together as one unit and spend some real quality time together, why not use V-day weekend as the perfect excuse? It’s an ideal opportunity to start scribbling memories in The Family Book.

Ready, steady, cook!

Illustries Date Night IdeasEating together as a family all at the same table is one of the most important bonding experiences there is. So why not take it up a notch, delegate the cooking and make a date night of it? You could choose one cuisine and decorate the kitchen based on it, have a teenager compile the perfect playlist, get the younger ones making place cards and you could even get everybody involved in the grocery shop.
image: woodleywonderworks


Playing board games as a family sounds clichéd, but it’s a cliché for a reason: it’s an easy, fuss-free, low maintenance way for the whole family to get together and have fun. If you’re in it for the long haul, go for Monopoly – just watch big brothers, they’re a nightmare for trying to swindle the younger ones. Articulate is great if you’ve got bright sparks in the family, and the old classic of Scrabble is perfect if you’re into the occasional heated debate.

Camping at homeDates 3

If you have a big garden, embrace the full on ‘camping at home’ experience by pitching up proper tents, building a campfire and taking the acoustic guitar out for a strum – and don’t forget those marshmallows. If you’re not blessed with enough green space to play at outdoor camping, set up a pillow fort in the sitting room! Turn off all the lights and use candles and torches instead, eat delicious picnic food and read stories until everybody falls asleep. A ‘no screens allowed’ rule would be nice for this one if you can risk it!

Cinema in the living room

If you’ve got one blank wall in your living room (or anywhere else in the house), set up a cinema environment and screen a new release or and old family favourite using a projector! If you don’t happen to have a projector, try asking one of your neighbours – it could be the start of a new friendship. Don’t forget to buy in lots of popcorn (there are ‘pimp my popcorn recipes in The Family Book!).

Dessert tour

Dates 4We know that having dessert every night wouldn’t be the healthiest of habits, so this should be a rare and occasional treat, but… can you imagine the look on the kids’ faces if you told them they were having more than one dessert? Pick 2-3 eateries near you and have one (small) pudding at each of them, nobody will forget that night in a hurry! Although we do apologise in advance for Small Child Sugar Rush syndrome.

Just the two of us

Illustries Date Night IdeasAs fun as it is to hang out with the whole family, sometimes it’s nice to get a little one-on-one with the other half. Here’s how to do it in style…




If you live somewhere with a good view of the stars, it’s your duty to get out there and lie beneath them every now and then – it’s one of the most romantic activities there is. Don’t forget to research some constellations before you set off to see if you can spot them. If you live in a big city with a light pollution problem, find out if there’s a planetarium near you, it’s the next best thing and the talks are often fascinating.

Murder mystery

If you’ve ever wished you could waltz right into an Agatha Christie novel and get involved in the whodunit action, this is the date for you. Get all dressed up and attend a murder mystery dinner – or weekend! There are some amazing events going on up and down the country all the time that could be right up your street, you can check out http://www.murdermysterycompany.co.uk/ or just google “murder mystery” and your nearest city to find something intriguing.

The bucket list

This is the date night idea that just keeps on giving. Date number one: write a bucket list together, detailing all the things you’d love to do if you had the time. Dates forever after that: checking items off the bucket list.

Comedy night

Dates 6A night at the movies is great, but it can be so very overpriced and sometimes feels like such an overplayed experience. Why not check out your local comedy club? It gives you a chance to support a local business, laugh at some up and coming talent and hang out in a cool independent space. Win, win, win!
image: Ed Schipul

Scavenger hunt

The loved up romantics are big fans of the scavenger hunt. Leave clues in all your old haunts from your first months together, leading up the ultimate romantic venue to spend the evening together – just try and make sure the clues are guessable, you don’t want to end up in a tiff!

But no matter how you spend Valentine’s Day this year, make sure you never forget by documenting those beautiful memories in The Family Book. Have a lovely romantic and fun weekend, everyone!

Leave a comment

Filed under export, Uncategorized