There’s no point having an online gift list where you can have anything you want, and still going for the department store standard bits. So here are some quirky ideas to get your creative gift-adding juices flowing:

This is exactly waht is says on the tin – a Grow your own Wine Rack Kit! You get a kit of willow strips, which you plant in such a way that they graft together to make a wine rack for 10 bottles. You’ll need patience as it will take 3 years to form, but then it really is a talkingpoint – and very unique. Your friends will be fighting each other to get it for you. Perfect for any wedding gift lists from Autumn through to late Spring, as the willow needs to be planted in the winter months. Currently £31.64 from EcoCentric.

I love how much eco homewares has developed in the last few years. Not more of the obvious recycled items trying so hard to be something else. Greener Abode has some stunning finds and I love this Recycled Tyre Photo Frame, which is cool and classic, perfect for that stylish large black & white print of you from your wedding day (It is 1m square). And being black it will fit any room in your house, so even if you don’t know where you’ll be living yet, put it on the wedding list!

I must admit I am a lazy gardener, but I love having acolourful garden. This gardening gadget is perfect for lazy gardeners, or guerilla gardeners – flower bombs (Banksy would be proud!) The SeedBoms (From Kabloom – love it!) are biodegradable grenades filled with seeds and organic compost – simply throw in the garden (or nearby wasteland), then open a beer, sit back and let the sun and rain do the hard work for you. Just make sure they don’t get into your honeymoon hand luggage, or you might have some explaining to do at the airport…

So, research has shown that houseplants help keep the air clean in your home, so probably its best to have a leafy green right by your bed when you sleep, right? So obviously you’ll be wanting this mini-plantpot and clock in one… This really has to be the quirkiest gift on the wedding list… and the great thing is, it doesn’t require batteries so you can get using it straight away. Perfect! The Clean Energy Water Clock is just £14 from Natural Collection.

Any other ideas that you want us to know about, leave a comment below, or tweet us @weddingnotebook or like us on facebook.com/weddingnotebook

If you want to set up an online wedding giftlist for your big day, it is free from weddingnotebook.co.uk


Plants in glass jars

We love this creative and cheap favour idea from Daisy & Ben via Emma Case Photography.

Loads of plants self seed, creating more little plants than you can handle and spreading halfway across your garden, or your parents, or neighbours… Get them to plant up herbs, flowers or any spare seedlings into clean jars of various shapes and sizes and coordinate them by tying a ribbon round the neck. Et Voila!

Image via Emma Case Photography

Despite being watched by 2 billion people worldwide, there were touches thoughout the royal wedding day which made it personal.

Take history down the aisle. Make Granny’s day and borrow jewellery or accessories to wear on your big day. There may not be a 1936 Cartier tiara in the family safe, but a delicate locket or earrings can complete an outfit and incorporate family history as your ‘something borrowed’. The silk bridal bag I carried was first taken down the aisle in the mid 1800’s, and my necklace was a gift between my husbands grandparents.

Write your own prayers or vows. They may not have had the liberty to write their own vows, instead opting for the traditional anglican wedding service, but during his address at the royal wedding the Bishop of London read out a prayer that William and Kate had written for the start of their marriage. A truly intimate act, in writing a prayer together you will discuss what your hopes and expectations are for the rest of your lives and your roles towards each other. Not only does it reveal your hearts to your guests, but you can read it over throughout your marriage to bring it back to basics.

Follow family traditions. Is there a flower that has been used in brides bouquets through your family? Perhaps not a family mertyl bush that Queen Victoria first used for her bouquet… Instead of laying your bouquet on the tomb of the unknown soldier is there a family grave that has been honoured by brides through the family. Ask your parents and grandparents about their big days and pick the aspects that you would like to start as a new tradition. It will be fun just looking through all those all photos and hearing the romantic stories over a cup of tea…

Annual reminder. The tree lined aisle from Westminster abbey will be replanted in Highgrove and the strawberry and Lily of the Valley plants donated to charity. Use trees or flowers in your decorations that can be planted afterwards and will remind you of your big day whenever they flower, or fruit! Give each guest a favour of a potted bulb that will flower during the season of your anniversary to remind them of your big day. Make sure you reserve some for your garden or window box too!

Who said state occasions need be all gilt and flamboyance. With all the budget in the world it could be easy to try and fill every aspect of the day with all the frills, but the wedding of William and Kate was elegant with timeless style. Take some tips from the royal wedding to create your own day with elegance and style by keeping it simple and incorporating nature.

Image: Daily Mail

No frills. Echoing the wedding gown of Princess Grace, Kate’s dress flowed with clean lines. We may not all be able to afford a couture designer but a simply cut silk gown is a classic. If a lace overlay is too costly then a lace bolero over an elegant dress is a winner.
Perhaps if she had not been marrying a future king, the crepe cowl neck dress worn by bridesmaid Pippa would have been Kate’s wedding dress of choice, and would be a more wear-again wedding dress style, rather than it entering the Royal archives!

Clean lines. Instead of over the top ornamental floral displays, a line of trees framing the aisle creating a spectacle and bringing nature into the building. You don’t need to spend a fortune on blooms, as around the base of the trees were planted British wild flowers; Lily of the Valley and white flowers from wild strawberries. And rather than letting the flowers wilt or go to waste, the couple show their loyalty to their causes by donating the flowers (and fruit) to charity and replanting the trees in the grounds of Highgrove. If you have a long engagement you may have time to grow your own flowers or strawberry plants, but if not, you could hire potted trees for the occasion.
Image: Flickr

Spring fresh. Dress the church in displays of white and green. Traditionally royal brides have carried bouquets of white flowers, and Kate chose to keep the colours simple though all the flowers and dresses. Easy for any bride to emulate, foliage is cheap and creates a look that is fresh and perfect for a Spring wedding with a few choice blooms. Follow Kate’s example and choose springs of mertyl, ivy and eucalyptus with white flowers which are in season, not only saving money but means the flowers will be fresher and more likely to be locally grown.

The eyes have it. A simple area to save a few pennies for any bride is to take the task of beauty in-house. So with a budget to die for it shows how that Kate Middleton is a down to earth girl in choosing to do her own make-up, especially when an estimated 2 billion people will be watching, some in HD. There again, she had been taking lessons from bridal makeover expert Arabella Preston.

Kate’s wedding style

Kate Middleton has only been a member of the royal family for a few hours but already she has made her mark, with her understated glamour in the dress, flowers and decoration of the abbey. Far from the pomp and circumstance of previous royal weddings, today’s occasion simply reflected the personal taste and interests of the couple. Fresh, natural and simple, classic yet modern.

The best kept secret about the wedding was revealed as Kate stepped out of the limousine outside Westminster Abbey. And she could not have chosen a better person to emulate, a hollwood icon turned princess with timeless style.

Grace Kelly, Princess of Monacco, is one of history’s great style icons and today we saw her classic wedding style echoed in Kate Middleton’s wedding dress designed by Sarah Burton, head of Alexander McQueen fashion house. The McQueen signature shillouette of narrow waist and padded hips blending structure and modernity with vintage style wedding dress. The finishing touch was the tulle lace veil edged in floral embroidery – a real fairytale princess.

Do you think when she was little she would have imagined wearing a vintage 1930’s diamond Cartier tiara owned by the Queen of England…

Tradition and history were echoed through Kate’s delicate bouquet of Lily of the Valley, the flower of choice of Grace and the Queen Mother; a nod to the family she has joined. Lily of the Valley are only open in April and May, so a truly seasonal choice.Perhaps the sprigs of Sweet William were for her husband! The fresh green and white colours of the bouquet were echoed throughout the decor.

Many eyebrows were raised as the English Maple trees were brought into the abbey this week, but they created a dramatic but softened effect with the trees contrasting with the architectural  lines of the gothic cathedral. What a spectacle, as Kate glided down the tree lined avenue of the aisle to marry her prince. So romantic.

Far from being a day of excess and waste, William and Kate’s personal interest in the environment have been entwined in planning, with wild strawberries growing round the base of the trees and their request that after the big day the trees be planted in Highgrove (Charles’ residence) as a lasting memory of the day.

As dress design and wedding style develops through the years, so does the way the guests give gifts to the happy couple.

When puffy sleeves and peach bridesmaid dresses were all the rage, guests were calling up the brides parents to ask what they should buy from a handwritten list pinned up by the telephone, and gifts were duly ticked off as guests called to make a pledge. A slight improvement on previous eras where guests bought whatever they thought the couple would need – usually including 3 toasters and a couple of hoovers. If Ebay had been around it would have seen a plethora of unwanted wedding gifts on its pages…

In the 90’s technology was developing and department stores devised a way to make sure all the gifts for a wedding were purchased from their store. We are all familiar with the John Lewis gift list, where the couple spend an afternoon browsing the store with a ‘zapper’ and giving the guests an easy way to choose and purchase a gift instore or online. This method of creating a gift list soon monopolised the market.

Far from being detatched from reality, the royal wedding embraces the trends and needs of the times. William and Kate, like many couples trying the knot, already live together and so have all the cutlery, toasters and bedding they need. So rather than having the usual gift list of homewares they have opted for the ever popular charity donations option. The Royal Wedding Charitable Fund lists many charities around the commonwealth with focus on youth, environment and the armed forces, causes close to the hearts of William and Kate.

When the ‘alternative gift list’ was first used there was concern it would be viewed as rude to ask for donations or non-physical gifts, but it is now accepted that each couple is unique and the needs they have differ and so can’t be standardised by one type of gift.

The trend for the gift list which encompases a variety of needs is on the increase with couples opting for the charity, honeymoon or a combination wedding gift list. It will soon be the case that requesting a variety of gift types on one list is no longer called an ‘alternative’ gift list.

The convenience of the online gift list can be used for a combination of gifts with an online gift list organiser, such as with Wedding Notebook where you can create your own wedding website with incorporated gift list organiser where you can add gifts from anywhere – online, local, charity donations or honeymoon vouchers.

If you want to be ahead of the game in searching out new ethical fashion brands and outfits but don’t have time to spend hours browsing the web then you will be excited to hear about the new ethical fashion portal Stylewithheart.com which just launched.

There are hundreds of clothing and accessories brands, some that will be well known to an ethical fashionista, and other new or smaller brands that are worth investigation, for Men, Women, Kids and accessories listed under categories such as Fairtrade, Organic, eco-friendly and Other, which include upcycles brands such as From Somewhere. The site even helpfully separates out companies who offer fairtrade or fairlytraded, for those items which it is still not possible to certify as ‘fairtrade’ with the mark but are traded and produced under fair (and often advantageous) standards.

One of the best things about this site is that it is not just another middleman but more like a directory of ethical fashion. It directs you straight to the original site to browse, rather than taking a cut if you buy through them, and so more of the price of that garment goes to the producer or designer.

Creator of Stylewithheart, Gillian Osrin, combines her passion for fashion with a desire to help people look fantastic with as little impact as possible on the environment.

“So many people told me they wanted to shop for ethical or eco-friendly fashion but thought it was too difficult to find or weren’t sure there would be styles to match their tastes. The idea behind StyleWithHeart is that it is a portal which gathers all the best eco and ethical labels on one site and allows people to shop directly on the brand’s website. There’s no other website out there which features as many eco-ethical brands.”

All the brands are carefully vetted for their eco and/or ethical credentials before being accepted on the site. There is a wide selection of companies, from small boutiques and vintage shops to well-known brands, all of which have their own special story.

StyleWithHeart is not just a fantastic way to find a whole host of fashion brands, but an excellent resource for journalists and students who want to find out more about the world of eco-friendly fashion. Key terms such as organic and upcycled are explained and there are links to useful organizations including the Fairtrade Foundation and the Ethical Trading Initiative as well as a magazine section which welcomes new contributors.