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One Late Summer’s Day in Wiltshire

13 Oct
I remember reading a post on A Practical Wedding, where Meg talked about her fear of forgetting how it felt on her wedding day, and it’s something I can completely relate to. I’ve left it so late to write this down – I’m terrified of it slipping away. I loved every aspect of our wedding day, except how quickly it flew by.
  
We did all we could to drag it out – starting with a rehearsal dinner the night before at our regular haunt, Pino’s. We took over an entire room of the restaurant and tucked into their delicious pizzas before a swift last drink in our usual pub. It was really cool to have all our favourite people in our same-old haunts. One of the loveliest things about getting married in our home town was definitely the act of adding the special to the familiar.

Back to the house with three of my bridesmaids for a glass of wine and bed. I woke up early the next morning to a phone call from Patrick, informing me that my present had been hidden behind the bed for the past few weeks – a framed original sketch from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. I grew up addicted to the film and the read-along story book, and this was definitely a way to make up to me the fact that he won’t let me call our first daughter Aurora! Once the other bridesmaids arrived, we breakfasted on croissants and champagne while the make-up artist and hairdresser started work on making us beautiful! The all-important dress was by Disney Fairytale Weddings designer, Kirstie Kelley, and was found purely by fate! Some of you will know what a massive Disney fan I am; others may know my disdain for how strapless dresses sit on me. If I were I slender size 6, I might have fancied the look of one of the more ethereal styles that look so beautiful, but I am most certainly not – I wanted straps and boning and beautiful, beautiful material. It seemed like it just wasn’t possible to find a dress that addressed my three wants, but by some miracle I found this one – in my size, in a tiny boutique in a nearby town, within my budget, and as a bonus – with a Disney label! My veil was from Etsy seller Damselfly Studio, and I found the perfect lariat necklace at Liberty in Love. The shoes were hot pink Louboutin, with as killer heels as I could muster – my groom is a clear foot taller than me!

The girls and Mum went on ahead; it started to rain as we left the house, but all I could really focus on was not crying! I’m a big crybaby – anything can set me off, from Westlife songs to Cancer Research ads. I bawled for about half an hour when Patrick proposed!

Waiting outside the church was such a rush – nerves and excitement. The day had been so long in the planning, and now it was finally here! When you walk down the aisle, I swear it’s impossible to look elegant and ethereal – grinning hello at lovely friends and family on either side and clinging for dear life on dear old Dad’s arm. Some of the ceremony was a blur – I don’t remember the hymns. I do, however, remember how cool it was to hear and say those words that I’d seen at numerous weddings (excluding bridesmaid Helen’s – she went for the full “love honour and obey” malarkey!) and yet feel like they were completely ours.

Patrick’s Uncle Alastair, a former Baptist minister, gave the address based upon my Granny’s reading from Collossians. I can’t hear I Corinthians without thinking of Four Weddings and a Funeral, so we asked Patrick’s uncle to choose the reading for us. The essence of the address really meant a lot to us, especially as it is sometimes difficult to defend the choice of marriage when you are both children of divorced parents.

He spoke of the importance of “putting on” the behaviours and actions of love; and the message that a marriage takes work, and that it’s something we will always have to actively decide to strive for. I’d like to hope that I never got overly caught up in the superficial elements of the day to the detriment of its more sober meaning, but the address really helped to cement the more serious aspects in the middle of it all, and we were so grateful to Alastair for bringing it to the forefront in such a good way.

Our lovely friend Sam and his brother, Nico, sang an amazing a cappella version of a song that we love called Promise by Kellie Coffey. The song is played as Epcot, one of the parks at Walt Disney World closes down each night, and the lyrics are just beautiful. As we stepped out of the church, the bells began to ring, the rain seemed to disappear and the sun came beaming through. We just couldn’t have wished for better luck.

We moved up to the marquee at the rugby club where Patrick plays, where the reception was starting. After we were announced, we cut the cake. My sister-in-law and bridesmaid, Robin, started her bakery, Cakes by Robin, back in 2008 after being made redundant from the banking industry. Her cakes are incredible – not only beautiful but really delicious. We gave her basic guidelines, and requested a combination of grapefruit and vanilla, and she did the rest! She also has a store at Not on the High Street, where you can order her cakes directly – perfect with Christmas coming up! Our escort cards doubled up as favours – miniature bottles containing lottery tickets for that evening, with parcel tags indicating which table – named after pubs that had featured prominently throughout our relationship.

 

While we’re talking about suppliers, I just have to sing all of their praises. Hamish Roots, our photographer, did a spectacular job. He is the ultimate stealth photographer – he caught so many beautiful, candid shots of our guests, and all of the photos in this post are his work. I’m a complete flower newbie, so our florist – Wendy Lewis – was an enormous help. She managed to get just the right balance of rustic and romantic in my bouquet, and captured the gentle Alice in Wonderland theme in the centrepieces perfectly.

The food was spectacular – Patrick and I both agreed that it was the most important thing apart from the marriage itself! We used a local caterer, Moran’s, and the only thing stopping me from taking a third helping of their signature bay-flavoured creme brulee was the corsetry of my dress! Our marquee was provided by Marquee Vision, who just had the best customer service and quality product of any marquee company in the area.
 
Before this starts to sound like an Oscar acceptance speech, I will carry on with the day! We spread the speeches out, so as not to bore people. My Dad, Patrick, and Patrick’s best friend George are some of the most verbose people I know, so they had to be broken up a little! My favourite part of other people’s weddings is the father of the bride speech, and Dad did not disappoint! There was laughter – especially when a slip of the tongue found him saying “fart” instead of “heart” (we’re a sophisticated bunch) just as he moved from joking about my ex-boyfriends to the serious part of the speech – and tears as he said how proud Grandad would have been, had he been alive today. Patrick brought the hankies out further, as he described what had happened a year earlier. George had people in stitches with his very management consultant-esque PowerPoint presentation, complete with pie charts.
 
It had been gently raining throughout lunch, but as soon as we got outside again, the sun burnt through and a game of rounders started up. Well, with Patrick’s friends, and my family, there was no chance of it being a competition-free day! I even scored a few myself, with some help from a lady-in-waiting to hold my skirts!
 
At around 6pm, the evening guests started to arrive, and the dancing began! We had ummed and aahed about the music situation, but in the end couldn’t bear to risk something so important being compromised by someone who liked the sound of their own voice, or who played too much current chart music, and the only good DJ we know was going to be a guest. The combination of laptop, iTunes and PA system worked like a dream, even when naughty youngsters had a go at making their own playlists! We had dance lessons in preparation for our first dance by REO Speedwagon, and our friends and family were very amused to see two klutzes actually move with some grace! Of course, dancing can result in some of the most awesome pictures ever, as evidenced by this masterpiece by our friend Chris. Thankfully the suit hire people didn’t deduct for the friction burns from Patrick’s kneeslide a few seconds before this was taken! The night finished off with a demonstration of Patrick’s party trick – downing a pint while standing on his head.
 
It was such an exhausting, exhilarating, wonderful day – just the right combination of traditional, sentimental and personal. I worried that I’d feel so sad once it was over, that it was something I’d never have to look forward to, but I’m surprised and pleased to say that hasn’t happened – I still feel so joyful that we were able to enjoy such an amazing day with the people who mean the world to us.

Leaning A Little To The Left

1 Oct

While lurking over at Cakes and Bunting, I came across http://www.theanycampaign.co.uk/ – a petition set up to allow weddings to take place outdoors. If you’ve ever drooled over American wedding blogs where people celebrate their nuptials overlooking beautiful landscapes, on the beach, or in their parents’ back gardens, then you’ll understand!



(source)


Please head over there and sign the petition – and while you’re at it, go and visit Claire’s blog!



Wandering

1 Oct

Today, I am guest posting for the lovely Fliss over at Any Other Wedding. If you haven’t discovered this blog yet, do go and check it out – Fliss and Aisling discuss all things wedding, from a real-girl perspective!

Today’s pic – one of my favourites from a solo-travelling sesh through Spain, France and Italy back in 2005. Cinque Terre is a beautiful area on the south coast at the top bit of the boot that is Italy. It was full of the most beautiful multi-coloured houses on the hillside, and this is the first time I thought “ooh, wouldn’t it be cool to be able to take photographs?”

Ivory Brollies, Anyone?

15 Jul
According to legend, if it rains on St Swithin’s Day, it will rain for the next forty days. This isn’t just a folklore thing – there are scientific reasons that explain the superstition. Apparently, the position of the jet stream at this time of year means that weather suddenly becomes completely consistent for the next month or so. As I stare outside at the dreary, grey clouds, I have to remind myself of this gorgeous wedding and how fabulous those mean ol’ clouds look.
Yes, the bottom of my perfect dress is likely to get muddy, and yes, we may be lumbered with a load of supposed-to-be-giant-but-actually-just-slightly-larger-than-usual games that haven’t even been used, but sod it, we’ll maintain that stiff upper lip and have a great time anyway. We are British after all – we’ve seen worse weather!

Socks

7 Jul
I’ve been having cold feet. As the dust of planning settles, and everything falls into place, I’ve had time to think – to freak out a bit, and to realise the things that will never be. I’m never going to date a pop star; volunteer with the Red Cross; or be an FHM High Street Honey. Well, yeah, those things were probably never going to be anyway, but you know what I mean.
I did Economics GCSE, and we learnt about opportunity cost. Every choice we make means a road that we didn’t take – something we missed out on. But, you know what? Every time I feel this happy, safe and loved, I realise that those choices are exactly what got me to this place, and I wouldn’t change a thing. The opportunity cost is negligible.
In one month and one hour, I will be walking down the aisle, on the arm of my new husband, and the road I won’t be taking will be far from my mind. Just thinking about the possibilities that lie ahead, and my best friend at my side warms my feet up no end.

Photography Gripes and Seeing Results!

6 Jul
One of my blogger faves – Nodakademic – posted this very informative post about what it’s like to photograph a wedding.  Rather than totally hijack her post with my thoughts-in-general about the world of wedding photography, I thought I’d share over here!
Having watched our photographer in action at a wedding recently, I have no doubt that it’s a physically and emotionally tiring job. He was wearing a pair of North Face-type shoes, which my fiancé (his friend) commented were rather scruffy for a wedding, until he started leaping almost ninja-like from rock, to bench, to bit of ruined castle, all to get the perfect shot, without getting in the way of anyone.

The niggle that I do have about wedding photography is why photographers aren’t more straightforward with their charging methods. When someone quotes me £1500 for a fancy album that I don’t want, or £3000 for the jpegs as they don’t want the quality of their work to be compromised by cheap printing or online sharing, it’s hard not to be really confused about what exactly the role of a wedding photographer is.

Our wedding is not a piece of art, it’s a day from which we’d like visual mementoes, and we don’t want to have to rely on friends/family members (like we would at a regular party) to give up their party time – so we hire a photographer. We want them to have photography skills, an inquisitive nature, and a keen eye for detail.

That’s where the first issue arises – with the increased popularity of recreational photography, there are more and more alleged professionals popping up with no more skill than I have with a camera.

While the improved accessibility is wonderful, and competition is healthy, the fact that these lower-skilled photographers are charging as much as the good ones is just not on. We, the laymen, are not always equipt to make the best decision regarding photography – we may naively fall in love with the details of a wedding and confuse that with good photography; a good-looking couple can also sway us; and the number of photographers peddling tales of celebrity clients is amazing. I know it’s all a case of caveat emptor, but the accountant in me is just crying out for industry regulation!

My dream photographer? Someone who says “I’m going to be with you for X hours; travelling for Y hours; processing for Z hours. My hourly rate for onsite work is £A; my hourly rate for travelling is £B and my hourly rate for processing work is £C.” They then charge for products at cost plus mark-up, like a regular business does.

I’d be happy to pay a handsome hourly rate to get exactly what I want – nothing more, nothing less. Good photography is a great skill, and it should be rewarded – but an industry where there is such emotion attached – it is rare to hear a bride confess that the photographer had been “just ok” – and where repeat custom is almost non-existent, I’m not sure that fair rewards are being paid.
I’m currently in negotiations with a boudoir photography company (I shall report more later!) who charged £50 for an hour-long shoot including five minutes with a make-up artist, and one 5″ by 7″ print. The next level up is four 5″ by 7″ prints, for £250! Not only were there not four that I *loved*, but this is a gift for the groom – but having already bought him a beautiful watch, I’m really not planning on spending even more. We’ve got a wedding to pay for, after all! 
I offered them a further £75 for a second print – there are two that I love – but they declined, saying that they felt their packages provided good value. Um… Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t buying more than you want kind of go against the principles of good value? Sort of why I’m not allowed to fill my trolley with the 10p-a-punnet tomatoes that are just about to go off. 
So, I’m just sticking with one photo. For the cost they have incurred providing the photographer and the make-up artist, not to mention the overheads –  a pretty studio; hefty marketing; two reception staff – they are reaping a total of £50, simply because they didn’t want to compromise. And for the baby bump picture I was planning in the future? I’ll be looking elsewhere.
Couldn’t just leave you without sharing a pic of my super-slummy lunch! Half a vegetarian lasagne from Sainsbury’s; brussels sprouts and spring greens, all on a tasty corn tortilla with lashings of extra virgin olive oil. 
Here’s a little story about EVOO, as the food bloggers call it: some time ago, I read an article in goodness-only-knows-what magazine, but a chef who said that you should never use EVOO for cooking, because it loses its flavour – only ever for dressings and such. It was one of those things like saying “hippopotami” or naming your child after a celebrity – people do it to appear refined, but actually show themselves to be less so than if they hadn’t tried in the first place. Well… Ha! Mr Snooty Chef. Call me unrefined, but I think that EVOO tastes delicious when used in cooking, and I definitely notice that it tastes fruitier than normal olive oil.
As a result of this discovery, I have decided that any calories I have left over at the end of the day (according to my beloved MyNetDiary app) will be used in a big ol’ drizzle of olive oil in my supper. It makes even the diet-iest of meals taste like a treat – and the presence of good fats means that my body isn’t going to freak out that I’m eating less and exercising more.
So… I should probably share some of my results thus far – 

Whoop! The dotty line is what the scales say; the solid line is the TrueWeight smoothing out. And… The dress is fully zipping up!! Relief. Now I can just get back to slow and steady health-improvement.

As an aside – I apologise if anyone felt that my use of actual monetary figures was a little crass – I just felt that quantities were necessary to make the illustration. x

Ack… The Dress, and The Final Hour

14 Jun
So… I tried on the dress on Saturday, and it’s about an inch away from doing up. Oh the horror! 54 days to go, and let’s be serious – I’ve kind of known about this day for almost 18-months, now. *Sigh*
Sometimes I think that maybe I just prefer myself cuddly, but I know that’s not true – when I got down to a still-considered-obese-by-the-health-industry 12 stone after a week in hospital last summer, I loved how slim I felt! So, the military “get Becca into her dress” operation has been stepped up a notch. I have officially sworn off alcohol for the next fortnight, and the gym sessions are going to have to be longer!

Yummy lentils, spring onions, red peppers and apple balsamic vinaigrette for supper last night!

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