The Blog

The best makeup lesson!

A few weeks ago I went for a makeup lesson with Clare Pinkney, Surrey based professional makeup artist. I’ve never really been that inventive with makeup before and have always stuck to the basics (foundation, blush and mascara) so I was excited to see how it would turn out.

In advance of the lesson I sent Clare a picture of a look I wanted to create, my expectation was she’d just show me how to create that look but I learnt so much more!

The lesson
Firstly Clare will ask you questions about your skin, your usual skin regime (that’s if you have one!), your makeup routine and what products you use.

I was blown away with Clare’s knowledge of skin care, I have been blessed with relatively good skin and I soon realised I wasn’t making the most of it nor looking after it properly. Clare used a range of products on my skin, she noted down what she had used and explained what I should be doing and how regularly, and just within the space of half an hour my skin already felt amazing.

Looking at the photo of the look I wanted to create, Clare talked me through the techniques that would have been used and we discussed makeup products, application and top tips for a fab end result.

Given the heavy eye makeup in my desired look Clare started with the eyes and not the foundation like I usually would have. I paid careful attention as Clare talked me through exactly what she was doing, the colours she used and the brushes she was using. Clare created the exact rose coloured smoky eye I was looking for and she would encourage me to take over recreate the same thing on the other side. Although I thought I wouldn’t be able to match up, doing parts by myself was perfect as I knew I’d be on my own when doing it at home. Some bits were harder than others (yes Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner, I’m looking at you!) any mistakes I made or if something didn’t look quite right, Clare would fix it so I still achieved the look I wanted.

Clare Pinkney Surrey makeup lessons
Moving onto my skin, I was surprised at how much I learnt, I mean how hard is it to apply foundation right? Clare introduced new products and application tips that left me looking radiant and also meant my makeup would look incredible all day long.

At the end of the session, Clare went through the products we’d used and wrote down easy step by step instructions for how to recreate the look again. I got to take home a face chart with what we had used and full instructions for what to do when I try it myself at home.

Would I recommend the experience?
I absolutely loved the experience and would highly recommend makeup lessons with Clare. I came away feeling empowered and armed with the knowledge to look after my skin and apply my makeup with confidence – I also thoroughly enjoyed it. Since the lesson I’ve successfully attempted a number of different looks with great success, all thanks to what I learnt in my lesson.

Clare was so personable and she instantly made me feel comfortable and relaxed. She was also extremely knowledgeable and her extensive training and expertise really shone through, it was obvious she knew exactly what she was talking about! I would highly recommend having a lesson with Clare. Whether you’re looking to do your own makeup for a special occasion, or just looking to feel more confident in applying your daily makeup, Clare will show you everything you need to know and more.

Clare Pinkney –


Find us on Instagram

As we like to show our invitations at their best, we use professional photography equipment to take photos of our invites and stationery for the website. However setting up all the lighting equipment, and even getting the settings right on the camera, can take quite a bit of time; therefore we’ve been a bit slow in sharing the latest designs with you.

To help solve this, we now have a Sussex & Surrey Invitations account on Instragram showcasing our collections and some of our new gorgeous bespoke wedding stationery. We’ll also be sharing them straight away on our facebook page so you’ll no longer miss out on seeing the latest wedding invitations and paper goods we’ve been working on.

So why not take a look? Our latest designs include carnival themed wedding stationery and elegant black and white sparrow invitations. We also have bespoke navy and yellow damask invites and a rustic barn wedding invitation design coming very soon.

We will endeavour to get our website updated with some lovely professional looking photos soon, but in the mean time make sure you follow us on Instagram and Like our facebook page.

The importance of wedding thank you notes

First let me start by saying thank you notes are a must-do for every wedding gift you receive. I understand after months of planning and the exhilarating celebration, a thank you note can easily be forgotten. But it is one of the most important details, whether someone has bought you a gift, given you money or contributed to your honeymoon, acknowledging a person’s generosity is essential in showing how appreciative you are of their heart felt gesture. And quite frankly, by not acknowledging an act of kindness, is just plain rude!

Wedding thank you notes

Sending notes in a timely manner
One of the first questions people often ask is when should they be sent. Sending notes in a timely manner is one of the most critical factors of thank you note etiquette. It’s likely you’ll dash off on honeymoon, or spend weeks reliving the big day, therefore I suggest couples should start to think about thank you notes before the wedding. You may have 100+ thank you notes to write and often this is a daunting task, so plan ahead and aim to write/send a certain number of thank you notes each day. Opinions vary as to what constitutes as a timely manner, some say within 4 weeks while other wedding experts say within 12 weeks. Personally, I think thank you notes should be written/sent within 6-8 weeks from the wedding date.

One scenario that might delay the sending of thank you notes, is you may be waiting for professional photos to come in to use on a thank you card. Many professional photographers will supply taster or sample images from your day while they are editing and combing through the rest of your photos, so if you let the photographer know what you are planning to do, they can supply you with your favourite taster image in a high enough resolution for print. If your photographer doesn’t supply any taster images, make sure you know their likely timescales for getting you the photos, then you can make the decision whether to wait for the photo or just use a more generic design.

What to say
A challenge couples often face is what to write in their thank you notes. The common components are traditionally as follows:

1. Greet the guest and address them by name
2. Express gratitude and say ‘thank you’ in your acknowledgement of the gift. Be sure to mention the specific gift, whether it is a floral china set, money, B&Q vouchers or a contribution towards your honeymoon.
3. Say something nice about the gift, either how much you liked it, appreciated the kind gesture, what you plan to do with it or details about the honeymoon that they contributed to.
4. Add a short sentence with a personal message where appropriate, this might be how you’re settling into married life or even how much you enjoyed seeing them at your wedding.

And don’t forget to sign it from you and your husband/wife.

What format should you use
This can vary greatly from couple to couple and you have a number of options open to you, and in today’s world an electronic thank you is acceptable. Although personally I think a thank you note or card is preferable, the most important thing is showing your appreciation for the gift, money or contribution you’ve received.

You may want to send a handwritten note, a card matching your invitations, a photo card with your favourite wedding photo, a printed note or even an email or Facebook message! I understand after the cost of the wedding, buying cards, printing costs or postage may seem like unaffordable cost, but when 80% of your guest list are likely to have email addresses or a Facebook profile, there really is no excuse for not saying thank you.


In all actuality, it’s never too late to send a thank you note. As embarrassing as it may be, 6 months or even a year is better late than never. It’s always best to send a note starting with “sorry for the delay”, than it is to avoid friends or family at gatherings because you still owe them a thank you note! If you make it charming and apologise sincerely for the delay, you’ll be forgiven, however try to avoid any awkwardness and get those notes out within 3 months.

Our favourite 2014 wedding trends

1. The moustache

And I’m not talking about Tom Selleck! It’s no surprise the latest moustache trend has caught up to weddings, whether it be moustache invitations, funny moustache favours, table signs with different moustache styles, moustache place names, moustache props for photos or chocolate moustaches!

Moustache wedding ideas

2. Ruffles

Ruffled wedding dresses, ruffled cakes, ruffled invitations and ruffled wedding décor! Gone are the days where ruffles are associated with fashion faux pars, they’re making an almighty comeback and can be used in a number of different ways at a wedding. My particular favourite is the ruffled cake by Jo at Peek-a-boo cakes.

Ruffle wedding ideas

3. Bum flashing

This year has seen the start of gorgeous brides and their bridesmaids flashing their bottoms for the wedding photography. I’m not really sure how much this one will catch on in the UK (although it’s currently a hot trend in the States), but it’s fun, cheeky and can be done very tastefully so I thought I’d include it!

Wedding party bum flashing

4. Photo booths are in!

Getting people to leave a message in traditional guest books has never been easy and thanks to the growing popularity of photo booths at weddings, the traditional guest book may soon become extinct! Some great ideas have appeared on the market to hire, from retro photo booths and taxi photo booths, to tent photo booths and even karaoke photo booths! All providing multiple copies so one can be stuck in a guestbook with a personal note, and one to take home as a reminder of the day.

Photo booth wedding ideas

5. Bold cake flavours

Once again I’ve been speaking to the wonderful Jo, at Peek-a-boo cakes. She has noticed a big change in flavours this year, it seems to be out with the traditional cake recipes and in with the bold flavours. Instead of fruit, vanilla or chocolate sponge, Jo has has seen a massive rise in requests for bold tasty flavours, such as her banoffee, lime and coconut, bakewell, mint chocolate and chocolate orange flavours! (And I have to say, I have tasted Jo’s mint chocolate cakes and no wonder people are moving away from traditional flavours, Jo’s recipes are incredible!)

6. Romance

Romance has always been a fashionable wedding theme but this year we’ve seen romance themes taken to a new level. Think morning suits, gloved waiters, crystal chandeliers, Victorian candlesticks and white roses. From classic elegance and roaring twenties to a more contemporary feel, and even a hint of sparkle.

Romantic wedding ideas

7. Sweet treats

Ok, this isn’t a new idea, however it seems an ice cream bicycle, sweet jars, pick and mix stands, cookie favours, or amazing dessert tables are becoming the norm for weddings this year. We’ve even seen a few Mr Whippy ice cream trucks, popcorn makers and slushy machines!

Wedding sweet dessert tables

8. Cath Kidston inspired

Cath Kidston prints are everywhere you look and although I’ve only seen one Cath Kidston inspired weddings this year, I predict this will be a trend we see lots more of in 2015 and I can’t wait. From 50’s polka dots, to vintage florals, the gentle elegant feel to Cath Kidston style prints make a great basis for a wedding theme. It can also be easily followed through on all your wedding items, such as your invitations, wedding cake, favours, cookies, table centers and all manners of wedding signage.

Cath Kidston Wedding Ideas

And not being able to help a shameless plug at this point, following your theme through on all these items is something we can help you with. We have recently partnered up with Peek-a-boo cakes and have created a flawless finish by continuing a wedding theme down to every last detail. Check out our facebook page for some photos.

It’s got to be vintage!

Vintage styles seem to be incredibly popular lately. From weddings, to home décor to fashion, I keep hearing the words “It’s got to be vintage”. It’s great to see vintage styles making such a come back and being applied in fresh, inventive ways.

I recently had the pleasure of designing vintage wedding invitations for my beautiful best friend Jenna. Knowing Jenna the way I do, I knew the invitations and other items would need to be classy, clean and contemporary but with a hint of tradition.

The invitation designs and coordinating items were looking great. Jenna mentioned she’d love to have her wedding cake match the theme and I instantly recommended the fab cake designer, Jo from Peek-a-boo cakes.

Jo took the invitation design and got to work designing a fitting cake for this modern vintage wedding. Jo transformed the brief into a beautifully crafted cake, consisting of 4 tiers covered in taupe icing, elegant handmade sugar flowers and a piped vintage design with a touch of lace. Vintage lace and flowers wedding cake Vintage lace scrolls wedding invitation Vintage scrolls place name Vintage lace and flowers wedding cake

I’m sure you’ll agree the cake looked stunning, and I can vouch that it tasted as good as it looked! The outcome of Jo and I working together meant Jenna had her perfect vintage wedding, down to every last detail.

If you’d like to discuss how we could match your theme, email me at Or if you’d just like to see more of Jo’s beautiful cakes, you can visit her website

Photos kindly supplied by Toby Phillips at Toby Phillips Photography

Welcome to our new website

It took a while but we got there in the end! Welcome to our new site, I’m Debbie Maxwell and I design the stationery here at Sussex & Surrey Invitations.

We’ve been hard at work putting together our new website and designing loads of lovely new invitation designs. As our new site uses the fantastic WordPress software, we’re able to share our new designs with you much easier so you can see the invites we’re adding to our ever growing collection, and all the new bespoke invitations we have created for lovely brides and grooms to be.

Our blog is a new part of the site which allows us to tell you about events we’re attending and share top invitation tips and great wedding ideas we’ve come across. It also gives us the opportunity to show you what we do behind the scenes at Sussex & Sussex Invitations.

We spent an afternoon with local Horsham photographer, Toby Phillips, who gave us some great tips on how to make our invitations look fabulous for photos, and after some guidance from Toby, we were snapping in no time and managed to take some great photos of our invites…

Vintage lace and scrolls wedding invitation Vintage lace and scrolls wedding invitation

Please take a look around our new site, we hope you like our new designs and website as much as we do and we’d love to hear what you think.

That’s it from me today, I’ll be back with wedding trends, top suppliers and other great news.