Our Big News From The UK Blog Awards 2017

You can achieve anything with a dream, so dream big.

If you follow Redamancy on Instagram then you'll most definitely have seen me plaster the big news from the UK Blog Awards 2017 all over our profile - I'm an excitable gal like that. If you don't follow us on insta (then you can do so here) but you're also probably wondering what I'm gassing on about. 

Well we were named as the Highly Commended blog in the Wedding and Events Category - so basically runner up! As a very young, new blog (or 'baby blog' as I like to call it - alliteration is fun and cool, people) this is a huge deal. I have been typing out my wedding musings for just over a year now and to receive UK recognition, beating some pretty professional blogs to this spot, is a huge moment for Redamancy. 

Blogging started out as a mere hobby for me. A University graduate with a burning passion to fulfil my lifelong dream of becoming a wedding planner, I was keen (read: desperate) to do anything that would get me closer to planning and styling some weddings. I enrolled on a couple of courses to further my knowledge and just immerse myself more in the industry. I've seen a million and one rom-coms about weddings over the years but thought a couple of professional planners might just happen to know more than Katherine Heigl or the wedding planner 'chick flick' edition - J. Lo.

What I gleaned from these courses was the best way to get your name out there in the industry and to show that you actually knew a little something about the world of weddings was to start a blog. I knew absolutely nothing about blogging when I shrugged my shoulders and thought "I'll give it a go". I had my own favourite blogs which I devoured and tried to learn a thing or two from (I'll leave them here and here because sharing is caring) but that was literally the extent of my knowledge. 

So what do you do when you haven't got a clue about how to go about something that you've illogically decided to give a go anyway? Hello, Ms Google! (Google is definitely a she because it knows everything). Now, coming from Newcastle originally, I like to think of myself as party-hard Geordie and I've devoured enough Happy Meals at three in the morning to know that I am capable of that lifestyle. But when I set my mind to something there is no derailing my intention or motivation. To that end, I spent many nights in bed, whilst my friends were out partying, reading blogs on blogging, advice on SEO and trying to absorb as much information as I needed to make some progress.

As determined as I am, I am also a perfectionist who will doubt myself to the ends of the earth. People can tell me that I am doing amazingly well but I have to keep going until I can look at something I have done and declare it "good enough". So for a long time writing my blog posts, although I was getting very positive feedback from people who didn't know me well enough to have to lie, I doubted myself. A prime example of this is the fact that I proofread each blog post I write about 7 times before I eventually publish it and share it on social media - neurotic, yes. But it ensures quality everytime and I'll be damned if I'm ever called 'slap-dash'.

After quite a few months of blogging I decided I would test the waters. (I always find it strange using this expression after my GCSE history teacher used this very phrase to describe Hitler's approach to invading the Rhineland - but I'm using it anyway as it's exactly what I was doing. Testing the waters of my blog's potential that is, not invading a loosely defined area of Western Germany). I entered my blog into the UK Blog Awards on a whim, thinking I wouldn't even make it past the first round. Spoiler alert: I did.

The first round required the public to vote. As a very new blog I was worried about making the cut against blogs that have a lot of subscribers. My little corner of the internet suddenly felt very lonely and isolated, but I persevered nonetheless; sharing the link across all my social media accounts asking for everyone's vote. I even wrote a blog post outlining the reasons why people should vote for Redamancy, with the same amount of passion of a parent rallying to get their child into Private school. Once the deadline of the public vote arrived, the organisers emailed the date that we'd be notified of the finalists. 

Waiting until the 2nd January felt like an eternity. Most people who know me can vouch for my total lack of patience to the extent that I can't help feeling that Take That wrote their song to plead with me. However, when the date arrived I was on a train back from London all alone and it's at times like this when my email anxiety (it's a real thing I promise you) kicks in. I tentatively clicked the email icon on my phone a couple of times before coming to my 'senses' and quickly shutting the app down before my fate could be revealed to me. It wasn't until boredom set in an hour later and I forgot what I was avoiding that I booted up Twitter to be met with tweets full of congratulations. I couldn't believe my luck as all of the other finalists were including me in tweets about making it to the next stage of the competition.

Once I'd revelled in the excitement I started off the new year working on my blog and making all of the adjustments that had been on my to-do list for a while. If my blog was going to be marked against a strict criterion by actual judges then I was sure as hell going to be ready for it. I made some design changes, went back and edited some images and content and made sure it was something I was really happy to have the Redamancy name attached to. After that it was a waiting game whilst the judges did their thing (which makes it sound a lot less stressful than it actually was).

Once I got the email telling me that the judging process was over I felt like I could finally breathe a sigh of relief, although that's when all of the doubts started creeping in. I'm my worst enemy when I know there is nothing more I can do in a situation but leave it in the hands of someone else, and as the day of the finals drew closer I began to feel like there was no point in getting my hopes up. I had checked out the other finalists' blogs in my category and knew how amazing they all were. A lot of them blog full time as their business, and my blog is really the side hustle to my wedding planning business, although I love it as much as if it were.

The day of the finals arrived after a massively busy week. I love doing my own hair and makeup too much to get a hair and makeup artist to do it for me, and so I treated myself to a day off work instead as my little indulgence. I had a lie in, got a quick workout in to get rid of some nerves and caught up on #GirlBoss on Netflix - it was such a dream! My partner even managed to get home from work a couple of hours early to join me in some G&T's before we headed off to the Park Plaza Westminster.

It was a true pinch-me moment walking into the event space at the hotel filled with other bloggers, guests and VIPs and feeling like I was meant to be there. After signing in and grabbing a couple of proseccos we went to explore the entertainment options prior to the awards ceremony. The theme for the awards was Superheros and there was a hero-themed photobooth to complement, which we made the most of, as well as lots of tiny burgers, pizza and mini fish and chips. Not expecting any prize at all I didn't shy away from the free booze - party-hard Geordie, remember!

At 8:30pm the announcement was made for everyone to move into the room where the awards would be announced. Seeing my name and my write up in the brochure is something I won't forget for a long time, whatever happens to my blog! After all of the introductions were made it was officially the moment we had all waited approximately six months for. An excited buzz settled over the room as the first set of judges made their way to the stage to begin the proceedings. There were two highly commended blogs for each category and then a winner. I'd just downed the last of my wine when it was time for the 'Events and Weddings' category to be announced. 

I was all ready to genuinely clap the success of the wonderful bloggers in my category, whose writing I had really enjoyed reading over the last few months, when I heard 'Redamancy Wedding Planning' called out as highly-commended blog. I was in utter shock! I kept waiting for someone to say "we're so sorry, there's been a terrible mistake" and my blog's picture would disappear from the screen, but it stayed there. Not only had I navigated my lil' blog all the way to a massive industry accolade, but I had beaten some popular blogs to the prize as well. In that moment I started believing in myself unquestionably. I knew I was good enough. I know I am good enough. And I have a swanky certificate to prove it.

The next morning, after some more wine and a celebratory Happy Meal (party-hard Geordie style) I still couldn't quite believe my fate. Sharing my success, and thanking everyone who had voted for me, on the 'gram is a moment I will never forget. I've been on a high ever since, and have put all of my adrenaline to good use by coming up with a newly revised blogging plan for the rest of this year - so watch this space. However, I have one last thing to do before I jump right in to blogging my butt off again... 

I want to thank every single reader of this blog - past, present and future - for actually taking the time to read what I write. If only one person read and loved this blog I would keep doing it because that's really what blogging is all about; writing something that other people enjoy to read. I want to thank everyone who cast a vote in the public voting stage and helped get me through to the finals. I wouldn't have won highly-commended had it not been for you. As a thank you, I promise to use the voice that I have in a positive way in the industry and to keep giving you genuine planning advice, and not to compromise what Redamancy is all about whatever opportunities come my way. 

It's hardly a rags to riches story, but I hope you have enjoyed reading my journey to the Blog Awards 2017, and I hope you'll all come along for the ride same time next year!

Charlotte xoxox