'Countryside in the city' to become popular wedding theme

In the next few months, the countryside will be making its way to city weddings, as the director of Quintessentially Events predicts it will become a popular trend.

Writing for femalefirst.co.uk, Caroline Hurley expects brides-to-be to deck out their wedding venues with natural surfaces and textures, such as fur, pale grey marble and bare wood dining tables with Tolix and bistro chairs.

“What’s more, earthy, elemental inspired colour schemes are being predicted to dominate in 2015 with forest greens, petrol blues, caramel, ochre and violet at the bottom end of the spectrum, rising through the ranks of lilac, salmon pink, apricot, mint, sherbet yellow and even ultraviolet,” she writes.

Ms Hurley also believes couples will begin to tone their weddings down and keep things simple. Chloe Tejada, Huffington Post Canada’s style editor, agrees, stating that in 2015 brides will opt for simpler wedding dresses. She says shift frocks will be particular popular next spring, reports huffingtonpost.ca.

Orchids and other graphic flowers will become a big feature at weddings next year too, Ms Hurley states. She notes the garden theme will also be having an impact on what flower arrangements couples pick. Edible flower cakes could prove to be popular too.

Tie dye has seen a revival in recent years, so it’s possible that weddings will feature bright splashes of colour, notes Ms Hurley. However, she says that in order for this trend not to look like just a fad, there needs to be a focus on tone on tone, such as lilac slowly changing to indigo.

London Underground to be hit by more strikes

London Underground (LU) workers are planning yet more industrial action, as the ongoing dispute over ticket office closures continues.

Next Wednesday (September 3), thousands of station staff and supervisors will be banned from doing any overtime, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has said. The ban will continue indefinitely until an agreement is reached between RMT and LU management, reports standard.co.uk.

If the ban fails to make any impact, RMT has said further strike action could be taken. Mick Cash, RMT acting general secretary, accused LU bosses of failing to “engage in serious discussions over cash-led cuts”. However, Phil Hufton, LU’s chief operating officer, said there has been a “constant dialogue” between LU, its staff and trade unions.

“We have guaranteed that there will be no compulsory redundancies, anyone who wants to stay with us can have a job and no one will lose pay providing they are prepared to be flexible,” he stated.

LU plans to close all ticket offices and cut jobs in order to save £50 million a year. The cuts are required to contribute to Transport for London’s target, as it needs to save £4.2 billion by 2020, reports bbc.co.uk. Although LU staff members are against the cuts, Mr Hufton states that less than three per cent of journeys on the Underground involve a ticket office.

Ryanair targetting business travellers with new service

Ryanair is offering a new service to its passengers called Business Plus, in a bid to attract even more business travellers to fly with the budget airline.

A quarter of all Ryanair passengers are travelling for work purposes, so the airline hopes the new service will attract more of these fliers to spend extra with it. Business Plus gives travellers a whole host of benefits, including 20kg checked-in baggage allowance, the ability to make ticket changes, premium seating, priority boarding and fast track security at certain airports, reports traveldailymedia.com.

Prices for the new service start at just €69.99 (around £55.69). The airline’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said Ryanair has also recently increased the number of business routes on offer to customers, as well as the number of flights travelling to those destinations.

“This launch of Ryanair Business Plus, combined with our new groups and corporate service, and partnership with Travelport GDS (global distribution system) – with a second GDS partner to be announced soon – will make business travel with Ryanair ever simpler, as we continue to offer so much more than just the lowest fares.”

The addition of Business Plus isn’t the only step Ryanair has taken this year in a bid to attract more business travellers, as in May it introduced allocated seating, lowered charges and eased cabin baggage restrictions, reports buyingbusinesstravel.com.

London mayor highlights economic potential of estuary airport

Opening a new four-runway airport in the Thames Estuary could help to boost the UK’s GDP by £92 billion over the next 35 years, according to London’s mayor.     

As well as a direct financial benefit, Boris Johnson believes that giving the controversial plans the green light could support 336,000 jobs between now and 2050, standard.co.uk reports. 

The claims come as part of a last-minute bid to keep plans for the “superhub” airport alive, despite ongoing competition from other airports in the capital. 

The Airports Commission panel is expected to finalise its shortlist for potential changes in the coming weeks. The group’s chairman, Sir Howard Davies, has already added Gatwick and Heathrow’s separate plans to build extra runways to the list, and Mr Johnson is hoping his proposals will also make the cut. 

He was quoted by theguardian.com as saying: “A new hub airport, properly planned, has the potential to reshape the economic geography of London and the whole of the South-East for decades to come. 

“It would be a project of a scale we are no longer accustomed to in this country, though it has become commonplace elsewhere. We simply cannot afford to miss out on the opportunities a new airport would give us.”

A number of obstacles have already been highlighted by the Commission, including the need to move wildlife habitats and adjusting flight paths. It is also thought that the development could cost more than £100 billion.

More than a fifth of brides would ask guests to pay towards their wedding

In order to fund their expensive big day, some 22 per cent of brides would be happy to ask their guests for a contribution towards the overall cost, a new survey by Country Baskets has found.   

The average wedding costs around £18,000, and many people struggle to find enough money to pay for their big day. Around 46 per cent of Brits say the most stressful part of planning a wedding is the budgeting and financial issues, reports dailystar.co.uk. Moreover, 60 per cent of couples only end up forking out less than £5,000 of their own money on their wedding day.  

Laura Strutt, author of DIY Wedding Manual, notes that it’s okay to ask friends for contributions towards the big day, but they may not be strictly financial. For example, the bride’s sister may be able to make the wedding cake and musical friends could become the wedding band, reports hellomagazine.com.   

Brides themselves are willing to cut down their budget in order to save themselves money though, as the Country Baskets study showed some 67 per cent of people only spend £500 or less on their wedding dress. A quarter of couples have also missed out on having a honeymoon as a result of cost-cutting.   

Paul Crier, commercial director at Country Baskets, said the research reveals that couples are trying to be careful about how much they spend on their big day. 

“With 60 per cent of the couples that we spoke to already living together before they get wed, the need for typical wedding gift lists is on the decline,” he explained. “This new ‘guest-funded’ approach is a unique way of getting family and guests involved in your day, whilst ensuring you get the dream day you’ve always wanted.” 

Wedding size linked to marriage quality, study suggests

Couples who invite more people to their weddings have a better chance of enjoying a happy marriage, research from the US suggests.  

The experts from University of Denver found that a number of other factors could also influence the happiness of a marriage, including the number of previous partners each person has had and whether they’d cohabited before.

Researchers questioned 418 people as part of a dedicated survey to determine the quality of their marriage. According to latimes.com, those who ranked in the top 40 per cent were deemed to have a “high-quality” union.

Of the respondents who invited more than 150 people to their big day, 47 per cent fell into the top bracket, but this dropped to 31 per cent among those with 50 or fewer attendees. This suggests that couples who have big weddings are 52 per cent more likely to be happy years down the line.

One of the study’s authors, Galena K. Rhoades, was quoted by yahoo.com as saying: “We know from social psychology research that people like to be consistent, so making a public declaration of commitment may help people follow through on their commitments.

“This finding may also reflect that couples who have stronger communities and greater social support tend to do better.” 

London's historic statues come to life

Nineteen of London’s historic statues have started talking to passers-by, as part of an exciting new project.

Sing London, a non-profit arts organisation, aims to entertain Londoners and tourists and raise their spirits by having the statues tell tales of the past. To get the statues to speak – Isaac Newton at the British Library or The Goat in Spitalfields Market, for example – visitors simply have to swipe their smartphones over the signs indicated, telegraph.co.uk reports. 

Famous British actors and personalities including Patrick Stewart, Jeremy Paxman and Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville have lent their voices to the project. Stewart voices the Unknown Soldier at Paddington Station; Paxman defends free speech as John Wilkes in Fetter Lane; while Bonneville becomes Isambard Kingdom Brunel – also in Paddington Station.

Colette Hiller, creative director of Sing London, said: “Every city everywhere has statues that go ignored. So we thought about how we could work with the writers, the actors, the comedians from that city to bring them to life.”

Other celebrities who have voiced statues in London include Hugh Dennis, Frank Skinner, Sara Pascoe, Matthew Horne, Ed Stoppard, Simon Russell and Prunella Scales.

The participating statues will be talking throughout London for an entire year, abcnews.go.com notes.

Britain falling behind competitors due to lack of airport hub investment

Other countries are investing much more in their airport infrastructure than Britain, meaning the UK is falling behind, Heathrow airport has claimed.

The airport notes that Britain’s economic competitive advantage is at risk, and Dubai and other countries in Europe are being allowed to get ahead. Heathrow’s statement is in response to a report from The EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation for UK manufacturing companies. The report says that Britain’s long-term infrastructure needs should be handled by a new UK Infrastructure Authority, according to buyingbusinesstravel.com.

A spokesperson for Heathrow airport said: “This report is yet more evidence of the critical role infrastructure plays in the economic health of the UK. For 350 years Britain has been home to the world’s largest port or airport, with Heathrow providing the long-haul connectivity that has supported our trading position for decades.”

According to a recent EEF survey, three-quarters of manufacturers which export goods heavily state that airport infrastructure is important to finding new business opportunities. Moreover, aviation facilities are one of the main factors considered by half of foreign-owned manufacturing firms when they’re deciding on where to invest. Two-thirds of exporting manufacturers also state that investment in road access to ports and other international gateways is vital if their business is to grow, reports heathrowairport.com.

London retains influential status in magazine rankings

London has retained its status as the world’s most influential city thanks largely to its entrepreneurial reputation and global transport links, according to Forbes.

The business magazine ranked the UK capital above New York and Paris in its top-ten list, with fourth-placed Singapore hailed as the biggest rising star.

Researchers also highlighted the high number of company headquarters based in London, and said that its political and judicial systems have made it a model for the rest of the world, telegraph.co.uk reports.

Forbes’ rankings were formulated using eight factors, including the number of corporate headquarters, aviation links to other major cities, media power and levels of direct foreign investment.

In its report, the firm said: “For the time being, the future of the global city belongs not to the biggest or fastest growing but the most efficient and savvy, and those with a strong historical pedigree. This raises the bar for all cities that wish to break into this elite club.”

This isn’t the only time London’s entrepreneurial spirit has been highlighted in the last week. According to forbes.com, the city is now also the crowdfunding capital of the world. The Crowdfunding Centre ranked it above New York City and San Francisco in a recent study, with an average of 12 new campaigns launched every day.

More than 800 of London's most exclusive buildings to open doors

A collection of more than 800 exclusive London homes, sites and buildings are to open their doors in September.

As part of the annual Open House London, members of the public will be granted exclusive access to some of the capital’s grandest mansions, most impressive gardens and innovative public venues, timeout.com reports.

Open House London sees buildings and sites which are usually closed to the public open their doors for just one weekend. Now in its 22nd year, the not-for-profit organisation has grown from simply promoting London’s existing architecture to educating architects on sustainable building design, allowing them to pick up the necessary skills to produce great work in the future.

This year’s locations are split into five categories: Green Exemplar, Infrastructure/Engineering, Landscape and Public Realm, Design for Living and The Changing Skyline. Those currently confirmed include The White House, Ealing (home to Polish Prince Janek Zylinski), 55 Baker Street, the Abbey Mills Pumping Station and Lloyd’s of London.

While many venues either have free entry or are usually open to the public anyway, there are several which require pre-booking, such as 10 Downing Street and the Antony Gormley Room at The Beaumont, getwestlondon.co.uk reports.

Open House London 2014 takes place on September 20 and 21, with the full list of venues available online on Friday, August 15.