Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Wedding Show of the Season

Next weekend (4th – 6th March) sees the return of the UK’s biggest wedding show to the NEC in Birmingham, where you can experience every element of your dream day unfolding before your very eyes. From discovering your perfect venue and trying on the dress of your dreams to sampling delectable delights, eyeing up fabulous floral creations and seeking out your idyllic honeymoon hideaway; The National Wedding Show is the ultimate one-stop-shop to discover the wedding experts in every field. Endless inspiration and countless shopping opportunities to try, buy, book and hire everything you can imagine for your big day, all under one roof.


Kickstart the day by taking a seat at the renowned Catwalk Show to see the latest trends for all the bridal party brought to life on the runway. A showcase of the hottest collections of the season from the nation’s finest designers, boutiques and retailers, provides invaluable inspiration for not only the bride, but also mothers and fathers, beautiful bridesmaids, dashing best men and ushers and not forgetting the man of the moment, the groom. The must-see line-up includes designs from the likes of Jenny Packham, Sassi Holford, Suzanne Neville, Ian Stuart, Halfpenny London, House of Mooshki, Nigel Rayment, Jeff Banks Savile Row, Ted Baker at Moss Bros, Ghost London and Maids to Measure, to name just a few*.

Get up close and personal with the all-important wedding dresses by hitting the designated Bridal Boutique and Designer Boutique to browse and try on an unrivalled selection of dresses under one roof. From high street to couture, short and sassy styles to long, glamorous, show-stopping numbers, there is something to suit every style, shape and budget.

Head to the Wedding Theatre to discover all you need to know about big day beauty, hair and style. The National Wedding Show’s glam squad will share their Top 10 Tips for achieving your perfect wedding day look through demonstrations and revealing trade secrets for brides, bridesmaids and mothers of the bride and groom. During each session, one lucky bride will be selected for a makeover live on stage and presented to the audience in a breath-taking ‘big reveal’.

You’ve nailed the look for you and your bridal party, now it’s time to turn your attention to the all-important venue. Transform your wedding destination into a spectacular backdrop for your dream day by seeking inspiration from The National Wedding Show’s host of wedding planners and stylists. Create the perfect ambience through clever lighting schemes, stylish tableware and signage then get the party started by discovering the ultimate DJ or live band and top it off by ordering a must-have dazzling dance floor or perhaps ensure the night goes off with a bang with some top-class fireworks.

Floral fantasies become a reality at the Designer Flower Market, where you will find inspiration-a-plenty from the show-stopping displays together with expert advice from a line-up of top florists. Whether you are dreaming of a big, traditional fairy-tale wedding or planning an intimate summer garden affair, there are stylish solutions for all themes and colour schemes.

If you’re looking for something a little more alternative for your big day, head to The Rock n Roll Bride Collection. Brand new for 2016, the Rock n Roll Bride Collection will feature everything from bridalwear and accessories to flowers, cakes and stationery, to make your big day truly unique in every way. The Rock n Roll Bride Collection will also play host to the The Rock n Roll Café, the perfect place to unwind during an action-packed day of shopping, wedding planning and inspiration.

Round off the day by registering for your gift list and perhaps even booking the honeymoon of your dreams. Your high-street favourites will be on hand to help, including John Lewis, Debenhams, Sandals, Thomas Cook, Sandals and Turquoise Holidays.

After an action-packed day of shopping and planning, make a beeline for the Champagne Bar to enjoy a well-deserved glass of bubbly and raise a toast to your exciting big day ahead! If you appreciate the finer things in life then get ahead of the crowds and enjoy the show in style with VIP tickets. The exclusive package includes fast track entrance to the show, reserved seating at the Catwalk Show, unlimited access to the VIP Lounge, a complimentary glass of fizz, a mini make-under from bareMinerals, and a goody box containing beauty products to pamper yourself in the build up to your big day.

blog-weddingshow03To book tickets, visit or call the ticket hotline on 0844 874 0486.

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*seen on the autumn 2015 catwalk

Warm & Cosy Home Sweet Home

To avoid unnecessary this, Aspire recommend having your boiler and heating system serviced by a Gas Safe Registered professional, cleaning out your gutters, inspecting your roof and chimney for missing/cracked tiles and sealing draughts in windows and doors (a much cheaper option if you can’t afford to replace windows and doors). Yours isn’t the only home that’ll feel the effects of winter; many homes across Britain will feel cold, especially the traditional, period and character properties that make our country so unique. As with anything, preparation for cold weather is key; pay attention to weather forecasts and gear up for cold spells now to avoid disaster come winter.


It’s not just spring that’s a perfect time for cleaning, so give every room a good tidy up (put away summer coats, shoes and toys) and give every room an autumn clean, from ceiling to floor. If winter 2015/16 is a cold one, with the mercury regularly dropping below zero, now’s the time to cosy up your key rooms, such as bedrooms and living rooms. You can do this by adding sumptuous throws, cosy hot-water bottles and indoor games/activities to keep the whole family warm, cosy and entertained throughout the winter. Don’t forget to invest in new draught excluders, soft rugs (especially if you have hard wood floors) and even thicker curtains and blinds to keep the cold out and the warmth in.

Another essential pre-winter task is to get your fireplace ready. Again, it’s best to call in the professionals to cap the top of your chimney to keep out rodents and birds, sweep the chimney to rid it of soot and creosote and inspect the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing. The only thing you really need to do once you’ve called in the professionals is to buy or chop firewood, keeping it dry and away from the exterior of your home.

If you’re looking to update your home this winter or even next spring, it’s worth working out what you can afford to spend and stick to it. It’s amazing what a fresh lick of paint can do – if you want to make the accessories stand out, or make the scheme easy to change, opt for a neutral colour, but if you want to make a statement, choose a colour you love and complement it with natural/neutral furniture that can be used time and time again. Filling your home with personal mementoes ensures your house always feels like home.

In the last decade, buying vintage and pre-loved items, both to wear and to use within our home, has become fashionable and ‘cool’. We used to have spare cash to splash out on new furniture and accessories, but the recession and following economic instability has made us re-assess our spending habits. Many of us are now making do with what we have, or hunting out pre-loved quality items on eBay, at car boot sales, house clearances and at reclamation yards. Home to a wealth of unwanted yet pre-loved, quality items, reclamation yards are the perfect place to go if you want to update your whole house, or just one room, on a tight budget.

Every home takes years to grow, to become a personal space filled with memories, mementos and souvenirs of the people that live there, so don’t force the look of any room; let it develop and grow naturally.

Stay Motivated & On Track

So, to aid you on your way, we’ve come up with some reasons, means and ways to stay motivated for the three most popular resolutions to ensure 2016 is the year you finally make the changes your life needs…

Stop Smoking


For this resolution to be successful, you’ll require an enormous amount of willpower. For many, habit controls when they smoke – with the morning coffee, after a meal, whilst walking the dog – so to break the habit, you may need to change your routines as your willpower slides. You need to identify your own ‘habits’ and find ways to break them; try having your morning coffee at work indoors, where it’s illegal to smoke, or try walking your dog a different route so you have new scenery to look at.
Alternatively, you could try replacing your cigarettes with something else, such as mints or chewing gum. If you’ve tried this and it just doesn’t work, you may need to invest in one of the many over-the-counter nicotine remedies to help your body cope with the withdrawal slowly and effectively.

If you’re really struggling, or have even given in to smoking again already, there are people who can help – you don’t have to do it alone. Visit for advice and to order your free Quit Kit.

Get Fit

The start of a New Year always sees numerous ‘celebrity’ fitness DVDs released, so why not buy one and aim to do it at least three times a week. Don’t go crazy to start with, as if you’ve not exercised for years, your body will need time to adjust, so try exercising every other day to begin with and after a fortnight or more, you can increase this to the recommended five times a week.

Once the weather brightens up, try different things, such as a run in the park, a game of rounders or football with the children, or even organise a day out at your local activity centre and try canoeing, rock climbing, or raft-building.

Lose Weight


With the average festive weight gain standing at a button-popping 5lbs, your jeans are probably feeling even tighter than before Christmas. People tend to make losing weight more difficult than it actually is; it’s actually pretty simple. You need to eat less calories than you burn and increase your activity levels. However, many people tend to focus on the short term, when they should be looking at the long term.

Firstly, don’t fad diet. The claims made by these fad diets are just too unrealistic to be maintained – no one can exist for any length of time of just cabbage soup or without carbs! As soon as you reach your goal on these diets and you return to a ‘normal’ way of eating, you’ll pile the weight back on, and more!

Also, don’t be fooled by the word ‘detox’. Many detox programmes claim to rid your body of toxins that have built up during your indulgence, but there’s no scientific proof that they work and research suggests that detoxing could actually be counterproductive. These programmes claim the pills, juices and treatments they offer help detox your body, but what they neglect to tell you is that your body is already extremely proficient at detoxing itself. It’s been doing it for years! All you really need to detox your body is plenty of fresh air, eight glasses of water a day, the recommended amount of exercise (30 minutes three to five times a week) and a good, undisturbed night’s sleep of eight hours.

Hopefully you’ve made good strides in getting back to eating healthier eating routine, but now is the time many dieters are tempted by chocolate, cakes and crisps – all the usual bad food – so to stay motivated, Aspire would like to suggest a reward scheme.

You need to set a realistic weight goal – 1lb a week is not only realistic, it’s healthier, meaning you’re more like to keep the weight off once it’s lost – then set yourself smaller goals; so, if you’d like to lose a stone, why not give yourself a treat once you’ve lost 4lbs – and not a food-related treat. Choose something that will make you feel good, such as a manicure, a massage or even that designer pair of shoes you’ve had your eye on! By setting smaller goals and rewarding yourself for your success, you’re more likely to stay motivated and actually reach your goal!
Whatever your New Year’s Resolution this year, you’ll need willpower, so stay focused on the end goal, whether that’s to be healthier, to be a slim bride, or even to change your career, and 2016 will be your most successful year yet!H

A Winter Wonderland


Winter is the perfect time of year to get married if you want to create a warm, cosy atmosphere, especially if you choose the festive month of December. Imagine walking up the isle, towards your future husband, and being surrounded by Christmas decorations, festive lights and the smell of delicious mulled wine welcoming guest to your reception. Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it?

Alternatively, the month of November is perfect if you want to start married life with a bang! Fireworks are becoming a popular wedding reception feature, but can be difficult to see against a summer night’s sky. By getting married in November, you can truly light up the sky with your chosen display, as the dark, smoky air is the perfect backdrop.

If you can’t quite bring yourself to get married in the winter, October is the perfect choice. It is on the cusp of autumn and winter, so if you tie the knot before the clocks go back, you can still enjoy relatively light nights, gorgeous carpets of fallen gold and brown leaves outside, and moderately mild weather. If you want an unusual/unconventional wedding day, you could even theme your day around Halloween!

February is officially the most depressing month of the year, so why not give your friends, family and loved ones something to look forward to by having a February wedding – you could even tie the knot on St Valentine’s Day!

January is the perfect time to beat those post-Christmas blues. Why not buy lots of Christmas lights in the sales and transport your guests into a magical and romantic fairyland.

If you dread the thought of walking down the aisle during the winter but still want your pick of venues and dates, why not consider the month of March. You’ll avoid the darker, shorter days while still enjoying the pleasure of unique and original nuptials.
Great Winter Wedding Ideas

Serve warm apple cider or mulled wine to keep guests warm and toasty.

Add a touch of glamour to your wedding with a colour palette of silver, light blue and navy or create a fun yet festive atmosphere with red, green and gold.

Red roses, calla lilies, and amaryllis are wonderful winter flowers.

As winter weddings in the UK usually have to be held indoors, make it a black-tie event and encourage your guests to dress to the nines.

Splurge and have ice sculptures created to ‘wow’ your guests.

Ramble On!

Walking is an excellent form of exercise that not only burns calories (in fact a brisk walk burns the same amount of calories as a run over the same distance), but also builds stamina, helps beat stress, lowers your blood pressure, and can cut your risk of heart disease by up to 50%. It’s also good for bones and muscles and helps to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and the risk of some cancers… and it’s FREE!

If you’re new to walking, why not visit, where you’ll find loads of tips on how to get started and increase your fitness slowly and steadily. There’s even a personalised 12-week programme for you to get involved in.


We’re spoilt for choice on places to ramble in this country thanks to our variety of landscapes and environments. The Aspire region has many parks and national trails for you to explore – places such as Bradgate Park, Rutland Water, and Brixworth Country Park are all great places to enjoy a leisurely afternoon stroll, even in the cool, crisp winter air!

There are plenty of destinations a little further afield but still here in the UK that provide excellent walking opportunities, including:

The Cotswolds - this Area of Outstanding Beauty is littered with gentle hills and honey-coloured stone villages, and has some of the best walking in England. The footpaths are exceptionally well maintained, whilst the nature of the landscape means that the walking is within the capabilities of almost everyone. Aspire would like to highly recommend walking the 100 miles of The Cotswold Way, which starts in the quaint town of Chipping Campden.

Pembrokeshire – although the coastal path is 186 miles long, it’s the perfect way to see the best of Pembrokeshire. Luckily, if you’re not up to the challenge, but still want to discover Britain’s only coastal National Park, the Coastal Bus Services are perfect for one-day hikes or for linking multi-day walks together.

The Lake District – known as the walker’s favourite UK destination, the Lake District has an abundance of walking opportunities for all levels, whether you’re looking for a relaxing lakeside ramble, a classic mountain walk, or an exhilarating high-level traverse.

The Peak District – if you’re looking for a walk through ancient woodlands, a walk around the Chatsworth estate, or just a leisurely stroll taking in stunning scenery, the Peak District is the place for you.
If you’re interested in having a go, but don’t want to commit to a walking holiday, the National Forest Walking Festival takes place every May and offers something for everyone. With more than 80 varied walks, the Festival is the best way to discover rolling English countryside, dissected by meandering rivers and canals, dotted with picturesque historic villages; from a gentle stroll, walks for the whole family, walks suitable for wheelchair users, to longer more strenuous rambles for keen walkers, the packed programme has something to suit you! You can find out more by visiting

When planning a walk always remember to check the weather and choose your route carefully. Be sure to wear appropriate clothing and footwear, and if you’re planning to be out and about all day, remember to take plenty of spare layers as the weather can change quickly. You should also consider packing a small first aid kit and a torch in case of emergency.