Please help me to find you, awesome wedding suppliers!

Dear wedding suppliers!

Let me introduce myself first.  I am getting married soon, and in the last couple of months, I have spent lots of time hunting down you guys.  Have you seen my comprehensive lists of Exeter photographers, florists, venues,and hair or makeup artists?  However, just because I have been able to find your service doesn’t mean that all of your potential customers could.  I have a huge desire to make my wedding perfect and patience.  Anyway, let me try and share with you my thoughts. Ready? Let’s start!

One. Blog

Why do you need to blog?  From my understanding, Google loves websites that are updated frequently.  In other words, blogging on a regular basis alone may increase your chances of appearing on the first pages.  Now, I could be wrong.  I know nothing about Google, to be perfectly honest.  As a bride, though, I like to see work done at my wedding venue.  I am curious to see how other brides have decorated my venue, which dresses and veils they have picked, at which particular spots they have their photos taken, etc. I would search using key words, “Reed Hall wedding florists,” “Reed Hall wedding photographers,” etc.  So why not showcase your work and inspire me?  I would love to spend more time browsing your website, and I am pretty sure that my behaviors, overall, will signal to Google that your website have relevant and high quality content, and Google would be less hesitant to recommend it.

In short, blog, please.

[Do you know what else I look for in your website, blog or Facebook fan page? While I am examining your portfolio, I still seek for other reputable wedding suppliers. Don’t you want to help your colleagues find jobs?  They will probably do the same to you if you are kind to them.  And the more websites/ blogs/ facebook refer to your page, the more Google loves you.  You can learn more about this with the keyword, “backlink.”]

Two. Be active on Instagram and Facebook.

When was the last time you posted on your page? If you don’t know what to publish on your page, you could try posting

  • an inspirational quote/ poem/ videos about wedding and marriage
  • tips on preparing for the wedding day (skin care/ hair care advice, for example)
  • a thank-you card from your former customers
  • your makeup kits/ photography gears/ flower studios
  • your recent work (taken by a professional photographer is highly recommended)
  • your previous work (Write about what you did that day last year and send the couple some love on their anniversary.)

Please don’t forget to use hashtags on Instagram.  You could use something broad, such as #love, but don’t forget to be specific.  By that, I mean ‘yourcity’weddingphotographer, ‘yourcity’bridalbouquet, etc.  If you cover more than one city, have more than one hashtags.  You could always go to popular Instagram accounts and see if you could learn from your colleagues.

I suggest that you add lines (dot/enter/dot/enter) between your main caption and the hashtags.  You could do this by typing out everything elsewhere (Facebook, for example), and then paste the entire message to Instagram.  Why?  Some expert think without those spaces, you seem to be so desperate for likes.

Three. Build good connections with your colleagues.

Do they recommend you on their website?  Do their Facebook pages like your Facebook pages? Do they think about you first when the wedding party is large and need an extra hand to ensure everyone is ready on time? When they are booked, do they recommend you to their otherwise-would-be customers?  If you are sick or have an emergency on a wedding day, are they willing to show up and help your customers?

I don’t know how you could work without colleagues, to be honest.

Four. Run Facebook advertisements.

Target your audience carefully.  Of course, you probably won’t be wrong to target those whose relationship status is engaged and living in your city.  If you are a florist, makeup artist or hairstylist, you could target Facebook users who claims that their gender is female.  In my opinion, it is more likely that they make the final decision on which suppliers to pick.

Six. Get your name out there.

Collaborate with other suppliers, and do editorial shoots. Participate in bridal shows and competitions.  Advertise your business on local newspaper.  Pin your business cards on coffee shop bulletins.  See if an influencer could be so kind as to write a review of your business and share it on their page.  Leave comments on your colleagues’ Instagram posts.

In the end, I don’t think you will be able to attract new customers if you are neither kind nor skilled.  Thus, as you learn about how to run a business, don’t forget to sharpen your technical skills.  That’s more essential.

Best of luck!


Wedding photographers, florists and venues in or close to Exeter

Hi there,

Thanks for visiting my page and congratulations on your engagement.  Try not to be stressed over wedding planning.  At the end of the day, I’m sure you will wed the person you love so dearly, and that’s all what matters.  If we haven’t been introduced, my name is QuynhNhu Phan, and starting September 2017, I shall pursue a Master degree in Special Education at the University of Exeter.

Have you read my previous post (wedding hair and makeup artists in or close to Exeter) yet?  Similar to that one, this post aims to help you find the majority of local wedding suppliers.  You won’t believe how long it took me to compose this post.  I read wedding blogs, looked at South West Wedding Awards Finalists in the past 4 years, employed hashtags on Instagram, etc.  Perhaps, I should be a detective, or offer a course on marketing for wedding suppliers.

My budget is low (5000 pounds), yet I am a creative artist with high expectations.  Are you curious about my final choices?  Our wedding venue is Reed Hall.  As we are both alumni of University of Exeter, this venue is meaningful to us.  We are also pleased that Reed Hall is an exclusive use venue.  As soon as we expressed our interest in hiring the building, they reserved all the bed and breakfast rooms for our guests.

Additionally, we are able to host our ceremony and reception at the same place.  This saves us from the trouble of organizing the transportation to our guests, who will be coming from Vietnam, Europe, and the States.  Besides huge glass doors, the Woodbridge restaurant at Reed Hall has a hardwood floor, providing us with an amazing opportunity for folk dancing.  (For your information, I fell in love with James not at first sight, but at our first folk dance.  Our wedding first dance, therefore, has been planned to be our first dance.)

Equally importantly, Reed Hall is a perfect choice for us because it’s quiet, peaceful, beautiful, and not close to the city center.  We are not a huge fan of the traffic around Christmas.  Likewise, there are ample of parking spaces nearby, free of charge.  If you live in Exeter, don’t you agree that parking near the city center can be expensive, and sometimes, impossible?

I hope that my sharing is helpful.  Let me know if you would like to know how I have picked my photographer, florist, hair and makeup artists.  I probably won’t start writing any reviews until my wedding is over though.

Best of luck!
QuynhNhu Phan

P/S: I’m sorry that the majority of my blog is in Vietnamese.  Raised up in this beautiful Asian country, I enjoy sharing my experience living in the States and in the United Kingdom to my friends.




Hair and Makeup Artists in or close to Exeter


Thanks for visiting my page.  My name is QuynhNhu, and I am a Vietnamese girl who has immigrated to the States in my twenties.  While studying abroad in England, I met my now-fiance.  He proposed to me last December, and since then, I have been planning our wedding from across the ocean.

What makes this process so challenging is that many wedding suppliers are not good at promoting their services.  Now that I have successfully booked my hair and makeup artist, I feel obliged to share this list with future brides and grooms.  Hopefully, this list will make your planning easier, and that you will not regret your decisions solely because you are not fully aware of all of your options.

QuynhNhu Phan

Makeup Artists


Hair and Makeup Artist

If you have found this list helpful, you may want to take a look at this list of Devon-based florists, photographers, and venues as well.

The Mercy Seat

The September 11 attacks shook our nation.  Numerous buildings collapsed, and thousands of innocent people perished.  The rest of the United States was in shock, in panic and in pain.  In “The Mercy Seat,” Neil LaBute refrains from expressing his political viewpoints regarding terrorism.  Instead, he focuses on another war—a fight against honesty that most human beings wage.  “The Mercy Seat” tells a three-year love affair between Ben Harcourt and his manager, Abby Prescott.  The devastating event on September 11th, 2001, opens up a opportunity for Ben to pretend that he has been buried under debris, escape his unpleasant marriage, and start a new life with Abby.  The conversation they have reveals a great deal about their personalities, their fears, and their struggles.  Of more importance is their gradual reexamination of their own selflessness and selfishness.

Ben has been continuously tortured over the past three years; living a dishonest life and betraying his spouse fills Ben with guilt.  His negative feelings are particularly intensified when he makes love to Abby.  He favors doing it from behind so as to avoid her eye contact.  When Abby pressures Ben to give her a reason as to why they do not have sex in a different position, Ben admits: “It’s probably just guilt or whatever. The “doggie-style” thing . . . I mean about cheating and stuff . . . Maybe it’s just hard to look you in the face or, God, I dunno” (LaBute, 2003).  He desires Abby, yet he lacks the courage to confront his wife and bring their marriage into termination.

Mr. Harcourt procrastinates breaking the news to his wife because he is overwhelmingly concerned about his young daughters.  In spite of failing to fulfill his role as a father, Ben’s love for his daughters is unquestionable.  While arguing with Abby, he references Alanis Morissette, a Canadian singer that one of his daughters admires.  He cries: “I watch VH1. . . My daughter liked it! There, how’s that? . . . Because my twelve-year-old . . . likes the same fucking song that you just used to tease me with!” (LaBute, 2003).  His attitude discloses that he treasures the precious memories he has with his teenage children.  The thought of his daughters weeping tears of sorrow over his death causes him pain, and imagining that they will have to grow up without a father figure due to his dissolution of marriage shatters his heart.  Not hiding his true motives, he tells Abby: “Letting ‘em think whatever happened, okay, rather than dragging them through court for a year and fighting over who gets which Barbie, and for how long, and at which designated location” (LaBute, 2003).  Though Ben has been inconsiderate to achieve his life goals, he never prioritizes his own welfare over his children’s well-being.

Ben’s behaviors are consistent with his priorities.  On his way to work on September 11th, he decides to leave Abby.  When Ben calls Abby at the end of the play, he confesses: “I wasn’t gonna phone home, Abby, I can’t do that.  You can call my wife, spill your guts if you want to, but I’ll never be able to” (LaBute, 2003).  The shocking event offers an easier solution to the puzzle.  Ben has a once-in-a-lifetime chance to rebuild his life around his sweetheart without hurting his children to the same degree.  Ben attempts to explain to Abby how this path would be more beneficial to his children.  The more Abby reminds him that he will never be able to see his children, take family vacations to Walt Disney parks, or attend their weddings, the more distressed Ben becomes.  He yells: “I GET IT! Fuck . . . you think I didn’t consider all that? Weigh it in? Well I did” (LaBute, 2003).  He tries in vain to make Abby understand that he is not self-serving, and to persuade her of the plan.  He repeatedly stresses: “It is the best thing for all of us” (LaBute, 2003).  When forced to choose between his mistress and his daughters, Ben selects the later and walks out on Abby.  The love Ben has for his children guides his decisions.

Abby does not agree to Ben’s plan, partly because of his lack of commitment.  Adoring Ben, Abby firmly states: “I want to be with you . . . together, with you, for the rest of my life” (LaBute, 2003).  His reluctance to establish an official long-term relationship with her, therefore, bothers her enormously.  She notices that Ben is not comfortable taking phone calls or listening to messages around her.  She confronts him, stating: “I want the whole “you” or not at all” (LaBute, 2003).  Doubting if his feelings for her are sincere, she asks: “You’re asking me to do this . . . all these things, for us. . . In theory, would you make the same kind of gesture for me.  If I asked you” (LaBute, 2003).  Ben’s indecisiveness is interpreted as lack of devotion to Abby.  When Abby could no longer stand Ben’s indecisiveness, she mocks: “That’s what I like about you, Ben. Your absolutely rigid commitment to being a flake” (LaBute, 2003).  Abby is correct to conclude that Ben values his children above her.

Besides, accusing Ben of being selfish, Abby herself cannot let go of her unsatisfying life to start fresh with Ben.  In her forties, Abby is a successful woman.  In fact, she manages to “snag the position [they] have both been gunning for” (LaBute, 2003).  To be promoted to such a position of seniority, Abby makes trade-offs, with which Ben is familiar.  He calls her lifestyle “less than desirable,” and depicts it as a way of living that “[he hears her] crying about at, like, 2:30 in the morning” (Labute, 2003).  In Ben’s opinion, Abby could find a more rewarding job, but Abby is unable to sacrifice her investment.  Admittedly, Abby questions if Ben’s promises are truly worth it.  She claims: “After everything I’ve worked for, the pounds of shit I’ve eaten to get where I am . . . to blow it all on a piece of ass.”  Because Abby views Ben as undevoted, she feels too insecure to join him in his illegal plan.

The play is a tug-of-war, with both sides thinking of themselves first and trying to act selflessly.  Ben places greater emphasis on the happiness of his children than his own, which refutes Abby’s argument that he is a narcissist.  Nevertheless,  Ben seldom takes into consideration the sacrifices he asks of Abby.  From this perspective, he seems manipulative.  Similarly, Abby selfishly clings to her social status, though she fancies the idea of marrying Ben.  Neither is willing to give in.  Nail LaBute puts a logical end to their love affair, but the audience is left with intriguing thoughts about the complex and brutal reality.


LaBute, N. (2003). The Mercy Seat. New York, NY: Faber and Faber.  

The impact Facebook has on my relationship with J.M.

James and I are indebted to Facebook in some ways.  After we had our first danced together, I added James on my Facebook in an attempt to maintain a new friendship.  Later that night, I invited him to go watch a movie with me, and my invitation was accepted. Following our first date, we spent approximately two hours chatting on Facebook on a daily basis.  By the end of that week, I had become Jame’s companion on the visit to a magnificent  mansion.  Little did we realize that we were getting into a very serious relationship…

Perhaps the most embarrassing moment for me was when I announced on my Facebook that James and I were in a romantic relationship.  Earlier that night, he held my hand as we were walking to his house.  At some point, he even wrapped me in his arms.  These behaviors revealed romantic attaction, and accordingly, I thought we started to be romantic partners.  As soon as James was notified about the change in his romantic relationship, he was astonished.  He could hardly believe that it was true.  He was not truly ready for it.  He did not expect that I would be delighted to be his girlfriend.  When my friends sought clarification of my love story, I realized that something was missing.  James did not have a chance to ask me to be his lover.  Worse still, he did not have a chance to respond to my offer, either.

My fundamental mistake no longer concerned us. Both James and I were thankful that Facebook allowed us to casually follow up on our first meeting, which led to many surprises.  The fact that our relationship became official on Facebook before it became official in life made our story no less sweet and memorable.

Facebook can lead to conflicts if partners do not view and use Facebook in similar ways.  James was a quiet human being, and he first posted a photo with me on his Facebook last October, eight months after we started dating.  In the caption, he referred to me as QuynhNhu Phan, no more, no less. James’ hesitance to express his affection towards me in the online world made me question his commitment at times.  His relunctance to change his cover photo from one of mountains in Norway to one of us upsetted me.  The more I bragged about our relationship, the more I was worried about negative social evaluation.  In other words, it bothered me that I might appear in a one-sided intimate relationship, trying to win his heart.

Having studied the influence of Facebook on our lives, I told myself not to be a slave to this social media page.  The experiences we shared together spoke volumes about our feelings and commitment towards each other.  Why would I let the lack of sharing on Facebook put a strain on my relationship?  The last thing my love story needed was external validation.  Besides, the race for likes and admiration on Facebook can do more harm than good.  Sharing too many intimate memories threatens the privacy and intimacy of romantic relationships because little secrets make partners special and irreplaceable.

Media Critique: Depression

In the article, “Instagram Account of University of Pennsylvania Runner Showed Only Part Story,” Kate Fagan sought to inform the audience of an appalling tragedy that happened to the Hollerans.  Their vivacious nineteen-year-old daughter and sister, Madison Holleran, took her own life.  Although Madison indicated feelings of depression and thoughts of suicide, the news came as a shock to her friends and her family because nobody expected her to follow through.  Her social media account, Instagram, highlighted only the edited moments of her life.  In fact, from the headline to the last sentence of the article, Fagan tactfully suggested that social media, in general, had created an illusion of perfection, and this effect could be deleterious.  Viewers are left to read between the lines and acquire a sophisticated understanding that Madison’s unexpected suicide is a product of her genetics code and the stress that comes from her environment.

Applying abnormal psychology to this article shows that Madison Holleran was at considerable risk of having her mental disorder.  Genetics contribute to depression (Barlow and Durand, 2015).  Madison might have inherited a depressive gene from her father’s family, which predisposed her to stress.  Additionally, Madison could have been more susceptible to depression because of her biological sex.  The fact that her older sister, Ashley, once found herself so miserable that she eventually decided to transfer out of Penn State should have alarmed Madison’s family and school administrators that Madison could benefit from some sort of interventions.  The possibility that Madison would suffer from a depressive disorder increased as she transitioned into emerging adulthood.  Research found that 24% of young adults aged from 18 to 23 have fallen into major depression (Barlow and Durand, 2015).  Unfortunately, American higher education was a stressful environment, which triggered Madison’s depression.

Madison should have received more attention because her biological vulnerability to developing depression could manifest itself in a demanding environment.  As a college freshman, Madison struggled to fulfil the expectations from college professors.  As aspiration to achieve snubbed the joy of learning, pressure to get involved in extracurricular activities diminished the joy of play.  Spreading herself thin, Madison admitted that she was inundated with practice and school assignments.  Before the spring semester started, Madison seriously considered quitting the track and field team.  Equally importantly, Madison mentioned that adjusting to dorm life was tough for her.  For someone sensitive to outsiders’ opinions and criticisim like Madison, social media only served as a cut-throat competition for self-validation. Without these compounding expectations and experiences, Madison would probably not have slid into depression.

Madison exhibited a number of symptoms for depression before she committed suicide.  Firstly, she was in a depressed mood.  When Madison’s father dropped her off at school in the spring semester, he himself could see Madison’s low spirit.  During the winter break, Emma, Madison’s friend, and her mother spotted that Madison’s melancholy.  Madison described to them that she felt as if she were imprisoned.  She had chosen to attend Penn, so she had to stay in Penn.  What Madison shared was consistent with what she wrote in her diary: “Help!” and “No, no more help.”  Madison showed signs of helplessness in dealing with challenges, but she was not merely anxious about upcoming future events.  Madison was in bleak despair, and she abandoned hope for a more positive future.  Secondly, Madison appeared to feel guilt and worthless.  Her sister, Carli, recalled a conversation with Madison, when Madison divulged that she did not perceive that feeling dejected was normal.  Madison’s confession made clear that she was haunted by guilt about her desolate outlook.   Emma, moreover, remembered Madison’s major concern was that if she quit, she would be considered a failure.   Thirdly, Madison disengaged herself from activities she used to enjoy doing.  She stopped baking and rejected her father’s invitation to attend an event they had always been to. No longer finding these hobbies pleasurable, she experienced anhedonia, which was a mark of depression.  Above all, thoughts of death crossed her mind, and her physical functions were disturbed, indicated by her significant weight loss.  It looked like she had a depressive disorder, instead of “battling anxiety.”  Additional information on Madison’s interest or pleasure in daily activities, her sleeping patterns, and her ability to arrive at daily decisions will aid to the diagnostic process.

Worse still, coming across insurmountable obstacles, Madison lacked a coherent social support network—a reliable predictor of the onset of depression (Barlow and Durand, 2015).  One time, Madison typed in a text message, “These are the types of friends we need to find at Penn,” which showed that the majority of friends she had encountered were incomparable to the ones she had at home.  While her new friendships at Penn was growing and deepening, Madison was not comfortable being honest with her hometown friends.  Before heading home for winter break, Madison revealed that Madison did not know what to say to them, and that everyone but she had been having a marvelous college experience.

Throughout the article, Madison was depicted as a young adult full of potential, and Madison’s decision to terminate her life provoked a feeling of uneasiness in readers.  Madison had exhibited subtle symptoms of depression, which, sadly, were misdiagnosed as anxiety.  Fagan should not have attributed the blame for Madison’s depression solely on Instagram, nonetheless.  Madison was born susceptible to stress, and her biological and environmental factors combined to produce her depressive disorder.


Barlow, D.H., & Durand, V.M. (2015). Abnormal Psychology: An Integrative Approach (7th Ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.








IVFDF 2016

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Jennifer Morgan for letting me take the photos of IVFDF 2016. To be perfectly honest, when assigned the task, I was tremendously nervous, as I didn’t have a zoom lens or a wide angle lens. The majority of the dance venues lacked sufficient lighting. And the fact that everyone was constantly walking, turning, swinging, hopping, and galloping made it more challenging for an amateur to capture these movements.

To my astonishment, some of the photos were terrific. In fact, while retouching them, my eyes were filled with tears. But I couldn’t take credit for the entire success. The camera cannot lie. We did have enormous fun, did we not? From all different walks of life, we came together and danced. No experience was required. Mistakes were forgiven in the blink of an eye. There were no boundaries; everyone, regardless of gender, age, race and personality, was welcome with open arms. Dancing for three hours and a half straight on Saturday night, I had so much pleasant memories to cherish. Hopefully, through the lens, I was able to express my feelings of relaxation, contentment, enthusiasm and excitement, as well as my warmest thanks to each organizer, each steward, and each participant, who made the festival not only possible but also memorable. They were the ones who brought out the genuine smiles I happened to record.

While practicing my photography skills, I didn’t expect that my photos could help promote folk dancing, or connect me with new friends. It is such a nice surprise. Among all the compliments I have received, I love these two the most. Thank you for taking the time to acknowledge my talent and contribution. I greatly appreciate it.

“In many of your photos, the eyes and the smiles are right in the middle of the picture. You are drawn to the emotion of the dancer, not just the moves. It is hard to get good photos of folk dancing, I’ve been trying for several years using the Sidmouth photographers. Too many photos of big halls full of people. Keep taking photos.”

“I think that QuynhNhu Phan photos are the best that I have ever seen of IVFDF. They capture the joy and spirit like none I have ever seen before. A series of individual moments amongst a sea of smiling people. She has captured the sly looks and shared enjoyment. They bring tears to my eyes.”

P/S: When I decided to attend the Jane Austen Dance exactly a month ago (on February 5th, 2016), I didn’t think that I could dance, or that I would be interested in participating in Exeter University Folk Society (FolkSoc) or IVFDF 2016. Likewise, I didn’t think that the new hobby would allow me to establish new beautiful friendships, let alone find my significant other (who is smart, kind, supportive, and considerate). So… if you haven’t tried folk dancing , but already decided that it’s not something for you, please consider stepping out of your comfort zone. You will probably be amazed.


I have been nominated to study abroad in South Africa this summer. Moreover, it is such a huge honor to be awarded Reves Summer Scholarship ($3,250) to pursue this opportunity. After taking into consideration my career goals, I have decided to accept the internship offer at Florida International University instead. This is not an easy decision to make, and I can only thank my students for reminding me about who I am and want to be.