A TOPP WEDDING: The Bridesmaids Dresses

Today I thought I would talk about my gorgeous bridesmaids. I’ll start with the gifts I put together for them, and then talk about what bridesmaids dresses they wore. (If you want to read about how I asked them to be part of our special day, click here).

Topp Wedding The Bridesmaids Dresses

GIFTS & ROBES

I really wanted to spoil my three best friends and thank them for being such a special part of our day, so I put a lot of thinking into what would be the “perfect pre-wedding bride/ bridesmaid” experience.

Topp Wedding The Bridesmaids dresses

I had this thing about us girls having lovely robes to get ready in (if we were being photographed with no make up on and hair in curlers, the last thing I wanted was to be captured slobbing in our PJs too!) so I’d saved up my pennies and ordered floral robes for all of us off Etsy. The morning was a bit chaotic  – we never actually got a photo with all 4 of us together! Whoops.

Topp Wedding The Bridesmaids Dresses

Topp Wedding The Bridesmaids Dresses Donna Morgan

I left the robes hanging in their bedrooms on personalised hangers (I bought wooden hangers from The Warehouse and applied personalised transfers I had ordered from a seller on eBay). I made little goody bags for the girls too, which I left in their bedrooms to say thank you.

Bridesmaids Goody Bags

When the girls arrived the afternoon before the wedding, there were squeals of excitement when they entered their bedrooms and found their treats. I’d included:

  • Thank you card
  • Little bottle of bubbles
  • Ballet flats for them to slip in to if their feet got sore in their heels
  • White pashmina’s to pop over their shoulders if they got cold in the evening
  • Pink Lindt chocolates and a Peanut Slab for energy
  • Ibuprofen
  • Tissues
  • Mini deodorants
  • Pack of gum
  • Watermelon lip balm
  • Facewipes, a facecloth, and a face mask
  • Little body moisturiser
  • Earrings and hair clips
  • Fun blue sunglasses for our photos

Topp Wedding The Bridesmaids

After we had finished the set up on Friday us girls had a snack/light dinner in the bridal suite and a bottle of bubbles, and some much needed deep & meaningful bestie chat. We all headed off to bed around 10pm, to get some beauty sleep – it was an early start the next day!

BRIDESMAIDS DRESSES

Everyone has a different opinion on how the bridesmaids dress thing should go, but my personal view was that they should be able to choose something that they felt gorgeous in. I thought I was pretty relaxed about it all, and the last thing I wanted to do was push my opinions on the girls.

In hindsight, I think I made things too hard for my bridesmaids. By leaving it completely in their hands, I didn’t really give any guidelines for them to work within and it was a big wide scary dress world out there.

It was 4 months before the wedding, and no one had their dress yet. I started to panic because I knew ordering timelines off international websites could be up to 12 weeks… and then you might need time for alterations. Similarly, we’d missed the summer stock in the UK (where I saw plenty of coral options) but if dresses weren’t bought before Christmas in New Zealand I knew that the sales would kick in in January and then the stores would be filled with Autumn fashion.

Topp Wedding Bridesmaids Dresses Donna Morgan

I would have loved to organise a girls shopping trip – but with me over here, and them over there – that wasn’t happening either. Fate kicked in and I happened to read a post about weddington way on Bec’s blog and got searching on there, and at the same time I saw some pics on pinterest (above and below). The dresses were Donna Morgan dresses and I loved the look of them.

Topp Wedding Bridesmaids Dresses Donna Morgan

I was able to send the favourites in an album through to the girls via the weddington way website. I loved how the website had examples of real girls (not just models) wearing them at weddings, and comments like “fits true to size” and “had to have them all shortened but that was the only alterations needed”. Really helpful stuff!

Bridesmaids Dresses Donna Morgan

I ordered a few fabric samples and loved the watermelony pink colour (honeysuckle) that arrived in the post. It was perfect for what I had envisaged – bright and summery and floaty. Luckily the girls agreed.

Laura ordered the Rhea

Aleisha ordered the Anne

Natalie ordered the Blaire

Bridesmaids Dresses Donna Morgan

The dresses were ordered directly from the Donna Morgan website, which had free shipping within the USA. Luckily Laura has a US mailbox through NZ Post, and so only had to pay the postage to NZ (no duty/ tax). The dresses came beautifully presented in huge boxes and were gorgeous – fully lined, boned and had an internal bra. The girls needed minimal alterations to take them in and make them an “on the knee” length.

The first time I saw one of the dresses was at my hen’s weekend, when Aleisha tried hers on – and I immediately started crying. The dress was so beautiful and SO perfect, and I hope the girls enjoyed wearing them as much as I loved seeing them in them!

Topp Wedding The Bridesmaids Dresses

I bought all of the girls shoes in the UK. I fell in love with a style at New Look – an antique gold which had a wedge heel (not too high or hard to walk in). Unfortunately I didn’t buy them immediately when I saw them as I needed to gather the girls sizes… and when I went back to order online the style had gone on sale and were sold out! I scoured almost every New Look in the UK and didn’t find the right size anywhere…so, I turned to eBay again! I managed to buy all 3 pairs, plus a pair for my oldest flower girl  – over the space of about 5 months. I didn’t exactly make it an easy job for myself though, oops!

Topp Wedding The Bridesmaids Dresses Donna Morgan

Accessories wise I bought a few options and left it up to the girls to decide how they accessorised. I found some fancy earrings from Dorothy Perkins – I wasn’t sure if they would go with the dress or not. I also bought them tulle flowers from H&M for their hair – but apparently the earrings were a winner!

I’m sure you will agree they looked absolutely gorgeous!

What did your bridesmaids wear? Have you ever been a bridesmaid – what did you wear? 

All Photos by Coralee Stone. 

Want more wedding goss? Catch up here with the rest of A TOPP WEDDING posts:
A TOPP WEDDING: The Dress
A TOPP WEDDING: The Accessories
A TOPP WEDDING: The Groom

My Top 3 Travel Items

We’ve been travelling for 4 months now – part of it was spent backpacking the Balkans (Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia & Serbia), and the rest has been in our Spaceships Campervan. We’ve just arrived in South America… so it’s fair to say I’ve had a wee while to think about my absolute essentials for long term travelling!

TRAVEL KETTLE 

We both have at least one coffee every morning, and thoroughly enjoy it.

Coffee while travelling

When we first were moving overseas to Canada from New Zealand, we identified that our daily coffee purchase was an area we needed to cut back on to save more money. We started making our own in a keep cup every day (except for Fridays, our “treat coffee” day), banked the money ($25 NZD a week EACH) and over a year we saved enough to pay for a weeks holiday in Rarotonga for our friends wedding.

When we started travelling Europe from our base in London, we also started using Trail Wallet. If you travel regularly, download this app now! It’s our best budget friend. After numerous trips to destinations like Prague and Barcelona and Budapest – we quickly realised the amount we were spending on buying coffee (at least 1 or 2 a day each) was a significant travel expense. One we needed to cut back on, especially if we wanted to save for the ToppAdventure we are now on, without sacrificing our weekend trips.

Coffee while travelling

We bought a mini travel kettle. BEST PURCHASE EVER. It fits in our hand luggage if we are taking carry on, and it boils enough hot water for 2 small cups of coffee. It comes with 2 tiny cups which fit inside it, and we carry Nescafe Gold individual coffee sachets. In our previous travels we have used it in hotel rooms – so many don’t provide basic tea & coffee making facilities these days; In AirBnb’s when they don’t have kettles; and in a couple of backpackers/ hostels when we wanted to enjoy a coffee in bed without having to go out to the kitchen to use the facilities.

Now that we are in the camper van, we used the kettle every day. In some campgrounds when we are staying longer we pay extra for power (we have an outdoor extension cord) so we can enjoy boiling water quickly at our pitch, but in many campgrounds we find power points (in bathrooms/ washing up rooms/ laundry rooms) and simply plug it in and come back 5 mins later. It’s so small that most people don’t even notice it, but so far no one has given us the side-eye! So convenient, and it’s literally saving us cash we 100% would be spending every day.

Coffee while travelling

The other reason I LOVE the kettle is that I can make my coffee how I like it. Do you know how hard it is to work out how to say “americano” or (the NZ version) “long black” in multiple languages? Half the time I have ended up with an espresso any way – which I just don’t enjoy as much. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes there is nothing better than enjoying a coffee at a cafe – it’s part of experiencing the culture, and good for people watching – and we sometimes do this too. But for the day to day “I just need my cup of black coffee” – I’m more than happy with my instant solution.

Sleeping while Travelling

Also – coffee in bed on lazy mornings with the back doors are opened out to the beach. Can’t be beat!

A mini travel kettle is £10.99 and available from Amazon here. 

 

PACKING CELLS

Slightly controversial, you either love them or hate them – I’ve been told both by travellers I have met along the way. Personally, both Jase and I LOVE our packing cells which we bought from Kathmandu. I’ve had mine for years and always used them on weekends away/ carry on – my large (trousers/ dresses/ scarves) and medium one (tops, jumpers) fit perfectly together in the suitcase, with just enough room to squeeze the little one on top (underwear/ socks/ cords).

Kathmandu Packing Cells

When our luggage was stolen at the start of this trip, one of the things we both missed A LOT were our packing cells. Our (new) clothes were every where, with no organisation at all. We missed the cells so much that we ordered some more to a friend in London, who brought them over to Italy for us!

Backpacks while Travelling

We knew that when we have our backpacks on our backs again, having everything well organised inside makes life so much easier. Plus – we know that the cells FIT together inside, just like a jigsaw puzzle! If our stuff doesn’t fit inside the cells, then we know we have overpacked!

You can buy Kathmandu packing cells online here:

Large for £11.99
Medium for £9.99
Small for £7.99

TRAVEL HAIRDRYER

Travel Hairdryer

I bought this after a February weekend in Prague, where the hotel didn’t have a hairdryer – and after washing my hair in the morning I had no way of drying it. It was snowing outside. My hair actually froze!

I picked up the Babybliss travel hairdryer and I’ve used it non-stop. It folds in half which makes it easy to fit in any type of luggage, yet at 2000w it’s powerful enough to dry my hair in 10 minutes. My hair is LONG right now (I kept it long for the wedding, and can’t wait to get it cut shorter!) and so when it is wet it can really give me a chill. Moving between countries and hemispheres means I need to be prepared for all weather, and having dry hair is an essential for going outside on a cold day for me!

You can buy the Babybliss travel hairdryer for £14.99 here. 

OTHER LITTLE ESSENTIALS

As a bonus – here are a few other random little essential things that we threw in our bags at the last minute but have used TONNES. These are:

  • canvas tote bag (used for everything from grocery shopping to shower bag (hangs on door hooks, holds LOADS so you don’t have to worry about dropping your towel or dry clothes), to laundry bag, to beach bag). Takes up no room and weighs nothing

Travel Umbrellas

  • Small fold up umbrella – used more times that we would have liked, but again, lightweight to carry around
  • Corkscrew – because screw cap hasn’t reached Europe and, well, WINE!
  • Duct tape and/or cable ties – we have used both, for such random things! Fastening things, attaching things, repairing things, hanging things… definitely worth having in our bags!

What are your travel essentials? Liz from Passport Packed wrote a really good list here, which helped us with our packing originally!

This post contains affiliate links, which helps a poor traveller out! All products were purchased by me and endorsed after extreme overuse!

Run This World: The Roman Road, Portugal

Throughout 2015 I’m travelling the world. The “Run This World” series documents the places my legs take me and the sights that I see along the way. I hope you enjoy coming on the journey with me!

http://wilderness-travel.org/european-wilderness/peneda-geres-national-park/attractions-in-peneda-geres-national-park/

We crossed the border from Spain in to Portugal via the Peneda-Geres National Park. While trundling along a dirt road we talked about finding a hiking trail for the next day. But why hike when you can run?! It was the perfect excuse to pull out our trail shoes and strap on my Nathan Hydration pack and head off in to the early morning sun! 

Location: Campo de Geres is a small village on the edge of the Peneda-Geres National Park in northern Portugal.

Information: NOT a lot at all. Googling about the hiking trails we found barely anything documented, so we asked the reception of our campground – who gave us a printed leaflet. The English version was rather vague, so we followed it the best we could! 

This website has the best (but short) description I could find.

We stayed: A busy and popular campground in the national park, Parque Cerdeira

The Run:

http://wilderness-travel.org/european-wilderness/peneda-geres-national-park/attractions-in-peneda-geres-national-park/

We started our run at the campground, heading right out of the gate and along to the dirt road we had driven along the day before. Our leaflet told us to find a path between the fork in the road – which we did! It even had a signpost on it, a most promising start. 

http://wilderness-travel.org/european-wilderness/peneda-geres-national-park/attractions-in-peneda-geres-national-park/

The military Roman Road was called the Via Nova (New Way) and is thought to have been built towards the end of the 1st century. It connect Braga with Astorga (Spain) and is approx 320km long. The section of road that runs through the national park is known as Geira – and some of the original pavement, walls and a couple of “mile marker” stones are still visible.

Run This World Campo De Geres Roman Road Portugal

http://wilderness-travel.org/european-wilderness/peneda-geres-national-park/attractions-in-peneda-geres-national-park/

We decided we would run along the track/road/path as far as we could navigate, or until we got tired – and then we would head back. The start was in the wide open and easy to follow, with the huge Vilarinho da Furna dam on our left. The surface was rocky and dry, and you really did have to watch where you put your feet! I spent a lot of time watching Jase’s back head off into the distance, apparently the guy has discovered he loves trail running and is part mountain goat! I meanwhile need to be careful with my dodgy ankles and tendency to take epic falls.

Run This World Campo De Geres Roman Road Portugal

Run This World Campo De Geres Roman Road Portugal

A couple of kilometres on and the path narrowed and we found ourselves running alongside a wall of stones. Wait, a WALL of STONES. This was it, ye olde Roman road! We came across two large round stones, with clear markings in them – indeed we had discovered ancient mile markers.

Run This World Campo De Geres Roman Road Portugal

Run This World Campo De Geres Roman Road Portugal

According to our leaflet, we were in the XXIX mile area.  Not that we could make it out in the carvings ourselves, but apparently one of the “miliarios” (mile stones) has the name “Calfumio Rantio” marked in it, which was the governor of Hispania Citerior between 78 and 80 bc. That’s MINDBLOWINGLY OLD.

Run This World Campo De Geres Roman Road Portugal

We continued on in to shady bush, and then hiked up a steep hill (boulders up to my waist, had to get Jase to help pull me up!) to get to the roadside (where we found another sign, hooray. But it was pointing back the way we came, bummer).

Run This World Campo De Geres Roman Road Portugal

Run This World Campo De Geres Roman Road Portugal

From here we lost the track a bit… we ran down the road a further 500m but didn’t really see the “Geira” track go off on either side. After an attempt at bushwhacking (following a small marker post…) and heading up into the trees for a few hundred metres… we decided that we could end up a bit lost, and maybe it was about time to head back any way.

Run This World Campo De Geres Roman Road Portugal

We retraced our steps back to the Geira sign, past the mile markers and the walls, and back to the shade of the campground.

Run This World Campo De Geres Roman Road Portugal

Run This World Campo De Geres Roman Road Portugal

In total we covered just over 6kms – and were very satisfied with our morning effort. We hadn’t realised that there was a time difference between Spain and Portugal, and had ended up going running at 7am! Such early birds.

Run This World Rating: 4/5 – Interesting scenery and history – just wish it had been better signposted/ marked/ documented so we could have continued a bit further. We came across The Roman Road in other parts of Portugal we visited, and it was cool to say “we ran a bit of that!”. 

Run This World Campo De Geres Roman Road Portugal

I wore my Kalenji running shorts from Decathlon – honestly can’t get enough of these, they may have solved my running shorts problem!

Have you ever run in footsteps of history? We couldn’t imagine Roman soldiers trekking ALL this way, and building walls and markers while they were at it! 

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