Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Inviting approval?

It has happened - the invites are on their way out! I haven't sent all of them yet, but we've already had seven RSVPs - and a range of positive comments!

I'm pretty relieved about the comments - it was always going to be a risk sending e-vites, but we decided that it was a risk we were prepared to take. You can't please everyone, but  it seems you can please some people - even if you just do what is easiest for you. Several of the replies we've had have included comments about how much they liked the invite and website - some were friends, but one was an older relative - so hopefully we've not upset too many people!

I've also only had one failed delivery email, and my parents were able to provide an alternative address for that person. So now it's a case of watch this space, and hope none of them have been eaten by cyber-space or junk mail filters!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Scheduling a busy day

The last thing I have to do before leaving the country (apart from sending out the invites, but that's a whole separate post) is arrange meetings with all our w-day vendors. I thought I should start with the main ones, so I've arranged to see the vicar on Monday morning, and the venue on Monday afternoon. We'll have only been in the country for 2 days, but there's so much to do before I start my new job (in a new city 5 hours away from where we're getting married) that it feels like I need to get on with things!

Next on the list is the photographer - I'm not sure whether to meet her at the venue, or separately. I'm also not sure if we get a pre-wedding shoot included - if so I have no idea when that's going to happen! Maybe on the same day as my hair trial...except that I don't know when that will be either!

Then I need to see the florist (should only be a 10 minute job), the hairdresser (need to know my work roster first) and my flower girls (to check their dresses fit).

So basically I'm hoping to have one day focused on the wedding, and then it will all be pretty much sorted. Some might say that's optimistic - but I find I get more done when I have more to do. Gadget will just have to manage for one day!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wedding-y hymns?

One of the slightly random tasks that we've done in the last two weeks has been to choose the hymns for our ceremony. We reverted to our usually planning style - I wrote a short list (with the help of my dad) and then Gadget picked them. So we're having "I vow to thee my country" and "One more step along the world I go."

Whilst these both have some significance to us, we've mainly picked them because we like them. Your church wedding has an area where you can listen to the most popular wedding hymns - our second hymn is actually on the list, but our first is not. This isn't an area where I feel the need to be "different." I quite like singing hymns, so I've picked ones I like singing. Once again, an easy decision. As long as the vicar approves!

Monday, December 3, 2012

It's all happening! (both real life AND the wedding)

I have a job! Hooray! This is one big thing off the list of things I have to sort out/worry about. It means we can look for somewhere to live, a car and a job for Gadget - without a base that was all proving very difficult!

This weekend was also the anniversary of our engagement. We celebrated by going back to the Bay of Islands, and the kiwi sunshine came out to join the party. Yep, we've been engaged for 12 whole months, and the wedding is now less than 5 months away. The invites (evites) will be going out next week - I've already sent my parents some jpg files to print and post (for our less technical guests). It's all starting to seem very real - and very soon!

That means the wedding website had to be completely finished. I thought it was finished a few weeks ago, then my dad checked it for me - on his iPad. It was completely scrambled. Luckily it was relatively easy to fix, although our funny RSVP forms are not iPhone compatible, so they've had to be deleted from the mobile site. I'm planning to add a note to the email suggesting that people should visit the site on a real computer!

Although I have heard that people won't check the website and will just send me emails full of questions. Here's hoping that doesn't happen to all our guests...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Putting planning on hold for real life

The reasons for the lack of posting this week are simple - I've been busy. Not with anything directly related to the wedding, but with two things that have to happen before the wedding.

Firstly, we've packed all our things into boxes to ship back to the UK. That was a painful task - literally (my poor back) and metaphorically (our flat doesn't look the same anymore). It needed to be done though, as it's quite a long way from New Zealand (there's an understatement!) it takes 3 months for the boxes to make the journey - hopefully they're now on their way.

Secondly, I've been applying for jobs. My ideal job was advertised the same day the shipping boxes arrived. I managed to submit the application in plenty of time, so now it's fingers crossed. It'll be hard to afford a honeymoon if I don't have a job!

One thing has been crossed off the planning list this week, but I had very little to do with it. My page boys now have fab grey suits with lilac shirts and purple ties. Apparently they love their suits, and want to know why the wedding isn't earlier so they can wear them! They were also under budget, so my Mum and MOH did an excellent job.

When I've checked with my MOH, I'll post a picture of them posing for photos. For now you'll have to take my word for it that they look adorable!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Personalising your ceremony

There's lots of advice out there about how to make your ceremony more personal. There's blog posts about everything from writing your vows to creating an entire ceremony from scratch - and how important it is to do this. They tell you to start early, as nothing is worse than writing your vows the night before. They tell you it's more important than any of your other DIY tasks, although almost certainly harder. Your vows should sound like you and be meaningful to your partner whilst not making your guests feel uncomfortable. There is clearly a fine balance to be had. You can write them together, or not hear each others until you get to the altar. Or you could do it our way - repeat after the vicar.

I'm sure some people love hearing the vows their partner has written for them, and put true love and courage into writing their own. But I honestly can't think of anything worse. What I feel about Gadget is hard enough to put into words in the privacy of our own home after a few glasses of wine. There is no way I want to stand in front of all our family and friends and describe it. I also don't want to make promises - we're not soppy people, so I couldn't promise anything romantic. I have no intention of drawing attention to my flaws on my big day by promising to try and better them. Which would leave us with only one option - jokes. Doesn't really seem the time for jokes though does it?

Luckily for me, Gadget agrees (he would actually hate it even more than I would). As we're getting married in church, we can choose to say the traditional words and no one will question it. I can't wait to say those famous phrases - "for better, for worse, in sickness and in health" and so on. Those words have worked for couples for decades, and I see no reason to cast them aside now.

Apart from one line. The joker/child in me laughs every time I hear "with my body I honour you." I may have to ask the vicar if we can remove that line. I know, I know, I should be better than that. But it's a long standing issue with that line, which has always struck me as being slightly odd (in addition to the more obvious issue).

We will be choosing our hymns, and our readings (one of these is already chosen). I'm not sure Gadget cares much about the hymns, so I might be choosing them with my Dad. Which will be an easy task, as the list of suggestions he sent me contained all my favourite choices. I don't know whether our guests' rendition of "Guide me o thou great redeemer" will match up to my Dad's childhood memories of hearing it at Cardiff Arms Park though!*

One more thing - I won't be promising to obey. My mother didn't, the future Queen of England didn't, and neither will I. I guess Gadget can, though, if he likes?!

* For those of you reading this stateside, Cardiff Arms Park used to be the home of Welsh Rugby (it's now been replaced by Millennium Stadium). That particular hymn is known to Welsh rugby fans (my dad and I included) as "Bread of heaven," and is often sung at games. Usually loudly and out of tune, but not always - the welsh are known for their singing as well as their rugby!

Monday, October 29, 2012

The virtual mommy moment

When I went dress shopping with my mum, there was never a moment where we felt like we'd found The Dress. There were no tears, no dancing and no hugging. This morning I showed my parents my dress on skype, and my mum had a moment.

I don't think there were tears, and clearly you can't hug over skype, but she did say it is definitely The Dress. She actually said she'd expected to have that moment when we were shopping, as she had it with my MOH J (her little sister) when they shopped for J's wedding dress. Now she knows why she didn't have it with me - because we hadn't found The Dress.

I'm glad we all had the clarity to realise that back in April, and the vision to create the right dress. I had my moment the first time I tried the dress on (despite it being in several pieces), and my mum had hers today - even though I couldn't do the dress up on my own and had to hold it together at the back! As long as Gadget approves in April, we'll be all sorted!

Note: title adapted from "One Perfect Day" by Rebecca Mead

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Saying "YAY" to the dress

My wedding dress is now in our spare room wardrobe. I think this should feel more momentous than it does, but it actually feels a bit surreal. The dress is gorgeous, everything I wanted, and fits perfectly - but I went to collect it on my own and then put it in the boot and went to the supermarket!

I'm going to Skype my parents in a few days (when Gadget is at work) so that they can see it, and I'm hoping that's when the emotion will arrive. But there is a chance it might not. The wedding is still 6 months away, so most people haven't even had a fitting at this stage. Actually having the dress at home feels a bit premature.

I also have to remember the instructions on where all the fastenings are myself - normally the dressmaker would give them to the bride's mum or MOH (i.e. the person who'll be doing up the dress on the day), but clearly that wasn't an option for me. I'm sure my mum will manage to find the hidden eye for the hook and figure out the button loops - she is a sewer herself after all!

I don't really know what else to say in this post. I'm not having dress doubts (in fact I'm 100% confident that I made the right decisions) but I'm not dancing or crying either. But I think I'm ok with that.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Wedding wine

Last night we had our wine tasting evening. Two of our friends came round, and we managed to drink the three bottles that were possible wedding wines - plus two more bottles as well! It was a great night, although everyone except Gadget got a shock when we realised it was 2am!

To help with the decision making I made canapés to resemble our wedding menu. Smoked salmon blinis, tomato bruschettas and mini lamb burgers (with eggplant for the veggies). It worked really well, as the Riesling tasted better on its own, but the Pinot Gris was better with the salmon. The Syrah was good on its own and also good with the burgers.

Our 'tasting' wines
So our wedding wines will be Lindauer Sparkling (probably Special Reserve Blanc de blancs), Mud House Pinot Gris and Babich Gimlett Gravels Syrah. Two are from the east coast of the North Island, where we spent Easter (Gisborne for the fizz and Hawke's Bay for the red), with the other coming from  NZ's renowned Marlborough region where we'll be spending Christmas. My plan is to put this information onto luggage labels and attach them to the bottles, so everyone can appreciate our careful wine selection.

Now I just have to work out how many bottles we need. I think 12 red and 12 white should be fine - our guest list is currently 54 adults, but two don't drink wine and a few may be driving, so we should have around half a bottle per person. Then if we add the same amount of sparkling wine for arrival drinks and toasts, everyone should have a good time!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wedding planning phase 2 is almost complete!

Because of the logistics of our wedding planning (i.e. living on the other side of the world), there has always been several distinct phases in the planning process. Phase one was picking a date and location and booking the big things (like the photographer), phase two was the remainder of the NZ planning and phase three is the UK part. Today I've realised we're about to finish phase two - although that should have been pretty obvious!

In 2 months we will have moved out of our Auckland apartment and will be on the road in NZ's South Island. So it's a good job phase two is almost complete, because there's not much time left. All the things that are left to do fit into two groups - either arranging to meet people when we get back to the UK (vicar, venue, florist, photographer etc.) or Really Exciting Things!

The Really Exciting Things are choosing the wine (hopefully we're having a wine tasting evening this weekend), picking up my dress, learning some moves for our first dance and sending out the invitations. I've done the less exciting part of the invitations already (writing everyone's names on them) so hopefully sending them out will be an amazing moment rather than a stressful one!

Some of you may have realised that we might struggle to learn moves for our first dance until we've chosen one - by some miracle we both chose the same song from our shortlisted four, so that was another decision made. According to the internet, the song is best suited to a foxtrot - but this might be a bit serious for us so we'll see how it goes!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Crossing things off the list - and adding more things to it!

This week we have crossed a few biggish things off the to-do list. The guest list is finished, including (almost) everyone's contact details. The invites are done, and my brother's artwork looks fab (and I've bought his thank you gift). The wedsite is also essentially sorted - I'm just going to ask a friend to proof read it before we send the invites out. I managed to get Gadget interested enough to choose a reading for the ceremony (although he has no idea who we should ask to read it). And having said I'm going to stop looking for flower girl dresses, I've now bought them! Frilly sparkly Jenny Packham ones from the Debenhams online sale that look perfect for the fairy princesses.

It feels great to check things off the list - even though I've sneaked a couple of new things onto it! Luckily the new things are small, so it still feels like I've made progress.

I wasn't sure what I was going to do about decorating the church - until I saw this post on Rock My Wedding last week. Our church is a beautiful old stone village church, and doesn't need much decor. There will be some flowers, but I'm planning to ask the church's regular flower ladies to make sure the flowers are white/purple/pink (rather than red/yellow/orange) in exchange for a donation, rather than anything too dramatic. I think the stone arches add plenty of character on their own:
Inside our church (photo from genuki.org.uk)
Then I saw these fantastic bright paper pew ends, and decided I wanted them! In royal blue and cadbury purple, maybe with some map paper too? Simple, bright and stunning - sounds like the perfect church decor to me.
Shoot Lifestyle photography via Rock My Wedding
The only catch is that they're heart shaped - which is something I've been trying to avoid. Partly because hearts for a wedding seems too obvious, but mainly because they're a bit sentimental/soppy and so not really us. My current thinking is that it's ok if these are the only hearts we have, but I'll be keeping my eye out for kiwi or airplane alternatives!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The budget: from estimated to actual

I started with an estimated (some might say idealistic or even naive) budget of £8500. My dad convinced me this was optimistic at best, but I couldn't work out where to allocate extra money. I ended up with a working budget of £10,000; £8500 allocated and £1500 contingency.

Now we have most of the numbers, we can turn this estimated budget into a real life costing. Our venue has finalised their prices for next year, we have a fairly good idea of guest numbers and all the other big items have been confirmed. As my dad predicted, we are going to go over my initial number, but it looks like we will stay within budget overall.

There are a few costs that remain unknown. We may have to pay extra to heat the church (I find this quite funny, but that's beside the point), and I don't know how much the hairdressers will be. There is still some slack in the budget, but not a huge amount. This, I imagine, is the point where couples lose sight of costs and end up going over budget.

I think it is the myriad of small things that push the budget boundaries, rather than the more obvious big costs. I am trying hard to enter every single cost onto the spreadsheet to ensure this doesn't happen. This includes items like socks (£3) and craft templates (£5). However, not everyone (for that read no one!) shares my precision, and I keep having to remind my mum to keep track of what she's spending. I think she's having too much fun to think about budgeting - probably a common theme with weddings!

The bulk of our money is going towards the items we prioritised early on in the process. The food and wine total is just over half of the total cost, and comes wrapped in a venue full of character. The photography, ceremony and disco make up 20%. The fun elements haven't cost very much, and have probably allowed us to save money, so the bulk of the remaining money has gone on what everyone is wearing (17%).

The realities of the costs leave me in two minds. I feel pleased that we will be spending less than half the national average on our wedding, but annoyed that one day costs so much money. Still, eloping was never an option and if we can have an awesome day for all our friends and family, it will be worth every penny. Hopefully!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Learning to count to a hundred

I had a fab Skype chat with one of my old uni friends yesterday. She's recently had a baby, and it was great to see both of them looking so well. Inevitably, the talk turned to the wedding, and she confirmed the stories that abound on the bridal forums. People will not RSVP, and they will ask you never ending questions - even though you've already provided the answers. They will morph into people who can't book a hotel or arrange their own transport, and they'll expect you to help them.

This means I'm going to have to learn to answer the (possibly stupid) questions without getting sarcastic and annoyed. Anyone who knows me knows that this is not one of my strengths! I've managed to train myself to do it at work (in my job I get asked a lot of stupid questions by people who should know better), but even then if you're the person that asks the fifteenth stupid question of the day, you may not get a very polite response.

So now I'm going to have to transfer this skill into my daily (wedding planning) life. I'm not sure that taking a deep breath or counting to 10 will be enough - so at the suggestion of my friend I'm going to try 100! If I make it to 20 and can answer calmly, then fine - if not I'll just keep counting and letting them talk until I can.

This is just one of the many great pieces of advice I've received from my married friends. I sent them all an email asking them to share their pearls of wisdom - the key pieces of advice were to go all out on the photography, and to do what makes you happy. One friend confirmed that the details don't matter - she didn't notice that her chair covers weren't there until days after the wedding. Several people said that the most important part of the day was having your friends and family around you, but one friend said she was glad to go home the next day and relax because she was exhausted!

So I'm happy we've focused on the big things, and glad we've invited all the people who are really important to us. I am thinking of increasing the photography coverage, and I'm seriously considering the plans for the sunday. In between these thoughts I'll be practising my counting - 1,2,3...

Monday, October 1, 2012

More stuff I don't need

As we continue to look at each part of the wedding and work out how it fits in our day, I keep coming across more things I don't need (or even want!).
  1. Champagne. I reckon I can count on one hand the number of wedding guests who might be able to tell the difference between Champagne and sparkling wine - and of those that can, most prefer sparkling wine anyway! I think we have a bad habit of referring to most fizzy wine as champagne (I used to work in a supermarket and had customer ask me if we had any champagne that wasn't from France!); to be fair it does sound better. Personally, I don't mind where my fizz comes from - but I'd rather it wasn't too fizzy! 
  2. A garter. I really don't understand this "tradition." Nobody wears garters at any other time, and I imagine that having an elastic band round one leg would be quite irritating. The whole garter removal/tossing isn't something I've ever seen at a wedding, and strikes me as plain embarrassing.  
  3. That group shot out of the window. I realise taking a photo of 100 people is not easy, but unless it looks balanced and you can actually see everyone I'm not sure what the point is. I'm undecided on whether to even have a photo of everyone, but if we do it will not be taken from a height looking down at a mass of heads!
  4. Wedding day perfume. I always wear the same perfume, and Gadget wears the same after shave. If I changed for the wedding that would be weird. I wear a perfume that you could take a photo of (if you really wanted to), but I'm not sure perfume is important enough for it's picture to make it into the album.
  5. A going-away/night before outfit. I won't be going anywhere after the wedding (except to bed), so this clearly isn't needed. Maybe it was more relevant in years gone by, but has no place in most of today's weddings. As the UK doesn't follow the USA with the rehearsal dinner tradition, I will be spending the night before on my parents sofa - so jeans and a hoody will do fine!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

It sounds like you don't care about your wedding!

This is what my mum said to me during yesterday's Skype call. Before anyone gets all uppity that she would even think such a thing, she was right. It did sound like I don't care - for a very good reason.

The conversation was about dresses for my flower girls. Having said the other day that I need to stop looking for them, I've now found four possible options. Clearly I haven't managed to stop looking - but that's not the point of this post. I called my mum because it's hard to know from a website image what colour the dresses actually are, and she very kindly agreed to go and look at them for me. One of the options was an ivory dress, and one was pale gold. Both colours could work - but equally both could look a bit odd next to my dress (which is cream/champagne coloured). The other two dresses were cream, but were made of material that might snag too easily.

So I gave my mum full authority to make a decision - if one of the dresses looks good, buy it. If they don't, then we'll keep looking. Then I said something along the lines of I don't really mind, do whatever you think will work, but it's not March so we're not desperate. That was when my mum made her comment - whilst laughing.

So I agreed with her. I care a bit - the girls want sparkly princess dresses and I want a peaceful day, so they'll be getting sparkly princess dresses. I don't want their dresses to look awkward next to mine. But that's it - past that point I don't care. Flower girl dresses are not on the priority list, so they don't get over-thought and no stress is allowed. As long as we have two dresses at the end of April that are in budget and that the girls are happy to wear, that is all I require. (Alright, maybe they need shoes and cardigans too, but you get the point!)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Making decisions together

Following our minor revelation that we only seem to argue about little things, I've been thinking about how planning a wedding prepares you for marriage.

The planning process involves some big decisions, and some smaller ones. (True to form, we've only disagreed about the smaller ones - such as the men's ties.) When it came to the where and when, that was easy. In fact, it didn't really feel like a decision. Clearly it was, but it was an obvious one.

The dictionary defines decision as:

  1. A conclusion or resolution reached after consideration.
  2. The action or process of deciding something or of resolving a question

We tend towards definition 1 when it comes to the big stuff, and for me definition 2 is what makes things feel like decisions. The process of consideration can be gradual, and maybe even subconscious. Whilst we did sit down with a spreadsheet about the short listed venue options, we already knew which venue we wanted. The spreadsheets were just to make sure that Gadget had enough information to feel comfortable (he likes to know about all available options).

We're currently making similar decisions in real life too. We 'decided' to leave New Zealand and go back to the UK. We 'decided' that we didn't want to return to the town we previously called home,  and that initially we would need to rent an apartment. There was no direct action or decision-making process that led to these choices, it was just a gradual realisation. We both wanted the same things, so we just needed to confirm that with a quick chat. There was no difference of opinion to solve, and no compromise to make.

Clearly, this won't always be the case, but I think it's a good sign. Whilst we might not see eye to eye about tie colours (or wall colours in the future), we will hopefully be ok with the house we want to buy.  Even if we're not, that's what marriage is about - an equal partnership where both contributors get their ideas and feelings listened to and valued.

I worry that some brides plan their w-day with their mums rather than their man, but I think today's grooms actually want to be involved in the planning process. This creates lots of opportunities to practice your negotiation and compromising techniques - or a lot of opportunities to fight. Wedding blogs are full of brides despairing that they've spent their engagement arguing - and more than they ever have before. But then you've never had to make this many decisions before, so that's probably not a surprise.

I'm trying hard to use these small disagreements as conflict resolution training, rather than simply conflict. And I used 'I' deliberately there - I am the fighter in our relationship. It's what I've grown up with, and it's hard to break old habits. Gadget has grown up with almost the opposite pattern - no arguing, but also very little sharing or discussion. So when we disagree, we approach it from entirely opposite angles. We're both having to learn to change our behaviour - clearly my loud, aggressive approach isn't helpful, but neither is his head-in-sand won't say what I think/feel.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Our guest book dilemma

I've been to weddings with guest books - but have I been to weddings without them? I have no idea - because writing in them is clearly not the highlight of my day. In fact (depending how well you know the couple) it can actually become a chore. What on earth do you write?

I always feel pressure to come up with something funny/meaningful, but often fail to achieve this. In the USA, it seems to be traditional to assign someone to the guest book, to ensure everyone signs it. In the UK, it is more commonly passed around the tables after dinner and people make their own choice whether to sign or not. I certainly feel compelled to sign when I am passed a book - even if it is with the uninspiring "best wishes."

Also, what do you do with them afterwards? (Seriously, anyone who is married reading this please tell me!) I have a yearbook from school and one from university - mainly they sit in a cupboard and get ignored. What is the point of a wedding guest book if this is where it ends up?

As with all wedding traditions that aren't important or immediately obvious to us, we set about questioning the guest book concept. What is the point of one? Where did it come from? Do we want one, or is it wasting money?

The WIC naturally has plenty to say on the need for a guestbook, and ideas for how you can spend more money on one. During my research, though, it was yahoo answers rather than the WIC that cracked me up - one person had commented that a guest book was a must as people "sign in" then add their address so you know where to send the thank you note. I wasn't aware attendance at weddings was monitored like attendance at school - and if you didn't have their address how exactly did you manage to invite them?!

On a more serious note though, it appears that this may have been the original purpose of guest books. Presumably there was a time when the couple did not get to choose their wedding guests, and the invites were actually sent out by the bride's parents. In that case, having everyone's names and addresses would be pretty useful. But does anyone actually do this now?

The there are the people who think a guestbook helps you remember who was there to share your big day. Excuse me for being cynical, but if you can't remember who was there I think you may have invited too many people who aren't important to you.

Of course, there are lots of options for personalised guest books and guest book alternatives. There are works of art your guests can help you create, or you can use a Photo Booth or video camera for a more visual 'book' (for simplicity, I'm going to refer to all ideas as 'books' for now). These sound like neat ideas, but still doesn't really answer the question of what couples hope to achieve. What do you want that book to do or mean?

For us, anything that will end up in a cupboard is pointless (we're not big on sentimental clutter). So it needs to be visually attractive in order to be displayed. Gadget thought it should look like a big card signed by lots of people - such as a work leaving card. This appealed to me too - those that know us well enough to write relevant/funny messages could do so, those that can't think of anything can wish us their best without worrying about filling an entire page. It would look relaxed and fun, not be overly sentimental, and not take up too much space. We decided that if we can achieve this, we will have a 'book' at our wedding.

We had a look at the thumb print trees, but Gadget felt they were a bit flamboyant for us. He also didn't like the idea of having letters signed like this (shame, I quite liked this):
repin from Pinterest, source currently unclear
So we went back to the drawing board, and also started thinking laterally. Gadget's first idea was to incorporate the guest book into the wedding scrapbook (USA folks will know what I mean, for those in the UK who don't it is a photo album and journal brought together with creative crafting). I love scrapbooking, and will certainly be making a wedding one (unless my mum beats me to it), so this could work well for us. I imagine it will look something like this, but with a photo in the middle of the page.
Then Gadget threw in an idea that came slightly out of left field, but could really work for us. He suggested we got the single artwork from our first dance song printed to 12x12" and have guests sign that. This could either go into the scrapbook (I scrap in 12x12" albums) or be framed to match the LPs we already have on the wall in the UK. Having looked at the artwork for the songs on the short list, only two of them would work. Etsy could rescue us though, with something like this:
no9 images on etsy
That isn't one of our song choices, but you get the idea. I imagine giving people blue and purple pens and getting them to write round the edges. My other contribution was that we might be able to use the artwork from our ceremony reading. Without wanting to give too much away, if you had "The House at Pooh Corner" as a reading, you could use this image for your guests to sign:
image from vcstar.com
The risk with getting guests to sign an image is that they get "carried away" - and Piglet ends up with a moustache. We haven't worked out the answer to that one yet!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Planning for the future - at the expense of the present?

I have a confession to make today - I like planning. Planning the wedding is unlikely to make me stressed (it will be decisions, other people and money that achieve that), because if I don't have something to plan I feel a bit lost. My planning skills are slightly legendary in our family - I have been known to plan trips like a military operation!

I'm not sure if I'm a natural-born planner, or if it's a skill I learnt as a teenager. I suffered with unpredictable migraines so had to plan everything, allow contingency time and get everything done as early as possible. If I left things until the day before, you could guarantee I wouldn't be well enough to do anything that day. So I planned.

As an adult, prior to planning the wedding, I spent most of my time planning holidays and trips. I've done this so often now that's it's a well oiled routine - and generally doesn't take that long. Having said that, I still occasionally get caught out - for our upcoming trip to Tasmania it took me ages to work out the route.

The problem with enjoying planning is that you can get carried away with it. I discussed yesterday's post (about how much there is do to in the next 7 months) with my dad, who was slightly blasé about it;  he seems to have complete confidence in my ability to plan and organise five different things at once. He thought there was no reason do try and do things before January (except the invites, clearly) because it will all work out.

Which, to give him his due, it probably will. Once I get back to the UK it will be straight into full on planning mode, and the giant to-do list I mentioned will get slashed in half pretty quickly. So why am I wasting time now on things that aren't priorities and will be much easier to do in January?

I'm not really sure of the answer to that, but I think it has to do with wanting to finish everything before the deadline (as I've trained myself to do). Leaving tasks until they have to be done makes me nervous. I also feel slightly like everything is on hold - not just the wedding planning, but my career plans, the plan for our future home etc. There is so much to plan, yet nothing to plan now. Which means I should stop wasting time trawling the internet for flower girl dresses, and decided where to go for our date night this week.

In summary, I should stop planning and start living. Even if it is only temporarily, and is clearly easier said than done.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

That's ok, there's plenty of time

People keep telling me this. Granted, our wedding is 7 months away, and I have reached the point in the planning where there isn't much that needs to be done now, but I still don't buy it. There is nowhere near enough time.

Here's why. 7 months from now to the wedding - of which we are travelling for 1.5 months. So only 5.5 left where anything can be done. Of these 5.5 months, 2.5 will be in NZ and 3 in the UK. During the NZ time, we have to clear out our apartment (including packing, shipping and selling stuff) and fine tune the logistics of leaving. Not too much, but we both work full time and are actually here to have fun and see the country (which means all free weekends are spent seeing places and doing cool things). Plus, there's a whole load of wedding stuff that either can't be done here (meeting the vicar and the venue coordinator) or doesn't make sense to do here (buying dresses for my flower girls - NZ has awful shopping!).

So then we have our 3 months of UK time. Along with the massive list of wedding things that need to happen, we need to buy a car, find a place to live (which will hopefully be in a city we don't know that is a four hour drive from where we're getting married), get jobs and see our friends (who we haven't seen for almost two years). And just to confirm that the list of wedding things really is massive, we have (obviously) done nothing that requires us to be present. This means no ceremony planning, no menu chosen, no decor arranged, almost no wedding party outfits, no flowers chosen and no honeymoon booked. Whilst some of these things are not priorities (and so just need to happen), some of them - like the menu - are. This means that with 3 months to go, key areas of our wedding will not be sorted.

Still think we have plenty of time?!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Planning a marriage

Shockingly, the wedding is only one day. The marriage is meant to last quite a lot longer. So why do we put far more time and effort into the wedding than the marriage?

Now that all the big wedding decisions are made, we're trying to focus on our relationship/marriage. We're not going for actual premarital counselling (although might still consider it), but we are having dinner twice a month where we talk about an area of our relationship and how we can improve it. We had a fairly successful discussion about money, and a slightly less successful chat about communicating better. This is definitely the area we need to work on the most, but I think that's probably true for most couples! We did have a minor breakthrough the other day, when Gadget pointed out that we only disagree about the small stuff, and we communicate pretty well about important things. It shocked me when I realised he was right - why is that?

I got a Relate book from the library which has relationship 'exercises' in. Some of them sound silly, but they may give us something useful to work on. We're both fairly aware of our own flaws, but this doesn't mean we shouldn't discuss them and try and work on them.

Unfortunately the book is quite hard to read, and there's a lot of words to get through before the exercises make sense. I might look for a different book, or just look for exercises online. I think the "I feel blank" exercise might work for me, as I often get frustrated not knowing what's in his head, but I'm not sure if it will help him too. Anyone else tried counselling or relationship exercises? I'd love to hear what worked and what didn't!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The first bump in the road?

When I came up with the title of this post, it very much reflected how I was feeling. Now I'm reading it, it clearly isn't true. Very early on in the planning I had two 'disagreements' with my mum (resolved when we realised we were both misunderstanding the other person); since then it has been pretty smooth sailing. So much so that when this problem became apparent, my dad said it was about time!

We wrote our guest list (provisionally) ages ago, as regular readers will know, and it was very easy. Now the time has come to finalise this list - and we're struggling with it.

Unsurprisingly, it's down to the numbers. Our venue said 56 people was the 'optimum' number of guests because it allowed more freedom with the seating arrangements. We had 54 people on the list with another few possibilities in the wings. We um-ed and ah-ed for ages (far too long, in hindsight) and then contacted the venue to ask about the seating arrangement options. Turns out the seating option that has a maximum of 56 people is the one option we don't want!

Our reception room (like most of the venue) is long and fairly thin. To me, this means the tables also need to be long and thin (i.e. rectangular), otherwise they fight the ambiance of the room rather than complimenting it. Even though we haven't actually seen the venue yet, we have seen pictures of the room set up for different events - one with rectangular tables and one with round tables. I think the round tables look awkward. The seating plan for 56 guests is made up of round tables. Guess what shaped tables we won't be having?!

Having established that we could increase the numbers, that made things much easier and meant we could sort out a few issues within the guest list. So if my friend and his partner get back together I no longer have to un-invite my old housemate, and my future-in-laws can invite some of their closest friends to share the day. I have to confess to having had a brief period of insanity about the second part of this (I don't know them!) then the laid-back, mature bride that I actually am kicked in and said that's your own fault for moving half way round the world! Gadget knows them well, and says they enjoy a good party, and cost is no excuse as previously discussed here. So I'm taking this as motivation to get to know them, and plan to ask my future-in-laws to arrange drinks when we get back.

When we add in the other possible invitees, it means our overall number will go up to nearer 60, but I think we will still keep our small, fun, low-key vibe. Which, as I've said many times, is all that matters.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bridal bookshelf

I'm currently reading my way through most of the wedding books in our library (and it's a pretty big library). I started with all the planning ones, but I'm not sure I could recommend any of them. Go with the blogs when it comes to ideas and how-to's, they're much more modern and realistic.

Now I'm reading 'perspective' books - i.e. how to keep your wedding planning in perspective. Just after we got engaged Gadget got me a book, without any prompting from me, called "Emotionally Engaged: A girl's guide to surviving the happiest time of her life." I think he got it as a joke, but it was actually really helpful. It gives ideas on how to cope when your engagement and wedding planning isn't what you'd previously dreamed it would be.

Ours definitely isn't. Not that it isn't good - I love planning things - but it was hard to accept breaking the news by Facebook, a limited number of cards, and having my mum on the opposite side of the world during the early decisions.

I then read "Going Bridal," which was hard to read at times but has given me a new terminology - wedding P&O (planning and organising). I've also read "One Perfect Day - the selling of the American wedding." This I absolutely recommend - and I kind of wish I'd read it earlier in the planning process. Not that I would change our plans, but it definitely helped put those "must have" items into perspective. Including the dress.

I've just finished "Offbeat Bride," the book that led to the blog. This was also a great book to read - how to change the status quo without upsetting your family and friends. In short, how to keep your wedding yours. Sensible advice interspersed with off-the-wall ideas and amusing anecdotes made this not only easy to read but also inspirational. I mentioned before that I haven't got very far into the Offbeat bride blog (you have to apply to join their forums), but every time I want to search for something outside the mainstream bridal media Google turns up something useful from OBB.  Like Lego button holes...

I'd love to say that everyone should read Offbeat Bride and One Perfect Day before being allowed to spend any money on their wedding - but even I realise that would never work. Some people genuinely want the mainstream, fairytale day, and even many of those that don't probably need to start mainstream before becoming disillusioned and moving sideways.

My reluctance to involve myself with the WIC was present from the start - partly from a budget perspective and partly because I've been to several weddings that were very similar. I was determined not to spend a fortune on one day, and to have a wedding that looked like us. But I still started my journey in the traditional place - with bridal magazines and their infamous checklists. Then I looked at The Knot (actually their Look Book was worth a glance - I wouldn't buy it though), Brides.com, and 'pretty' blogs (snippet and ink and green wedding shoes are my poison of choice!). It wasn't until later that I found 2000dollarwedding and had this epiphany.

So my advice to the newly engaged? Do what you want - just be aware there are choices outside the mainstream. And seriously consider reading Offbeat Bride and One Perfect Day!

Sunday, September 16, 2012


What is it called if your DIY involves a MacBook Air rather than paper and glue? I have no idea, but it doesn't feel like real DIY to me. It'll have to do for now though, as I'm on the other side of the planet with none of my usual craft supplies. I don't even have superglue here (when my headphones broke I repaired them at work with skin glue!). By the time I get access to my scissors and stamps again, the wedding will be less than three months away. So anything that can be done-by-mac (i.e. done now) will be time saved in February.

This week I've been busy with my track-pad and Photoshop Elements. I've done the first drafts of both the menu cards and the table plan cards (my dad is - hopefully - working on the background that the cards will be attached to). I'd also done an icebreaker card, but after an exhausting conversation with Gadget we're not sure it will work for our small wedding, so we've scrapped it.

Sticking with our non-themes of travel and New Zealand, I've hopefully managed to add a little fun and personality to the stationary. The menus look quite good, although I'm sure there will be several more drafts before they're finished. Even if we change nothing else, our custom artwork (whilst making excellent progress) is far from finished, and it's hard to judge the balance of a page when there's a key piece missing. I also firmly believe that you should view things as you intend them to be seen; if you're going to view it on a screen then you can approve it on a screen, but if the end result will be printed then you need to print it. For wedding purposes, that means I have to print everything, as some people will need to receive an actual invite (rather than an evite). So glad I have colour printing at work...

I've also done the umpteenth draft of the invites. I've mentioned the invites before, but finally I think we're getting somewhere with them. Having thrown out the original plans and used Gadget's new idea, the invites look completely different. They also feel different - they are modern, uncluttered, bold and have a couple of secret ingredients on too! Today's changes include a slight wording alteration that allows us to write our guests' names on the actual invite - as we don't have envelopes and are limiting the numbers I think this is quite important. Gadget is uncertain of the new layout though, so I may have to seek a third party opinion. Thoughts please Dad!

I've also started the postcards that will make up the reverse side of our table names. This was actually really easy - I just created a postcard template in Photoshop, added the stamp from our save-the-dates and then adjusted the text until it looked right. Now I just need to select the photos for the front, and maybe add a frame. And as these don't contain any secret ingredients, I can put them up here for all to see and comment on!
The name card for the top table
Not sure there will be a frame on the real thing, had to add it for ease of on screen viewing 
Next on the list is the Order of Service and signposting for the car park. The thank you cards are already in progress, as are the place cards. It looks like the place cards will be the most labour-intensive stationary item - but also the most handmade. We may need to stamp and emboss the names onto each card individually; at the very least they'll need to be handwritten. Add this to the fact that the cards themselves are going to have to be hand-cut (we can't find a punch or die-cut big enough) and you'll understand why I'm doing everything else so early!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Honeymoon wardrobe

I've been considering this post for a while, and rock my wedding's packing post yesterday has spurred me into action.

I am a pack-light-and-wash-your-clothes type of packer. I'm also a plan-it-as-far-in-advance-as-possible packer - Gadget, unsurprisingly, is a do-it-all-the-night-before type. There are always lists - actually there is a master list on the computer which I print out and adapt to each trip. I based it on this list which you can download (it's actually from the University of Sheffield, and whilst not perfect is one of the best I've found). Itchy feet (an outdoor retailer in the UK) also do lists for specific trips which are worth looking at through their website.

So I start with the list, then I lay everything out on the bed. Then comes the key part - I work out what NOT to take. The temptation to add things at this point is huge - I promise you don't need them. We've just been to the pacific with 24 kg of luggage between us - 8kg checked each and 4kg hand luggage. This included four bottles of sunscreen, 2 snorkels and masks, an iPad and a DSLR camera - and we still had too much stuff.

Now for the part I think is the trickiest - working out what clothes to take that serve many purposes, go with everything, are light-weight and quick drying and don't make you look like a tramp/gap year student. Particularly important for your honeymoon, when you actually want photos of you looking nice. Rohan do some good items for those of you in the UK - they look like regular clothes but are high tech so are lightweight and crease resistant. (I've got my eye on their cardigans at the moment, but I'm not sure purple is the right colour to get.) I usually have to settle for half-way decent with holiday pics, but I'm working up to 'nice'!

This recently discovered post should help. I tried putting this into practice on our pacific trip, and I think  it worked. I took neutral bottoms (skirt, shorts and trousers - one of each) and brightly coloured tops, plus one dress. I left my dressy flip-flops in the UK though, so had to just use my comfy casual ones - they were fine for the no-dress code pacific (much as they are in NZ).

I also took a very minimal amount of make-up - lip gloss, mascara, coloured kohl eyeliner and a mini mousse foundation that works as a concealer too. That added almost no weight, took up very little space but was enough to make me feel dressed up. Because I felt more confident, I smiled more, and that's reflected in the pictures.

This post (provided by a RMW commenter) has some good ideas on packing toiletries and electronics. I think even I would struggle to pare down my toiletries as far as she has, but you definitely do not need the whole bathroom cabinet. 200mls of shampoo will last two people 3-4 weeks, 50g of toothpaste not quite as long. This stuff is heavy, and there's very few places you go where you can't replace it.

If you like to read, I have to recommend you go electronic. Get a kindle or sony e-reader - then you can take six books (or sixty books!) without any extra weight. I'm not going to talk about packing electronics, because I live and travel with a gadget freak and we take way too much. I'm working on it!

Finally, do not scrimp on the essentials. Make sure your passport is valid, check visa and entry requirements (do you really want to be fined £200 because you didn't know you can't bring food into NZ?) and get yourself insured. Then you can sit back, relax, and hopefully enjoy your honeymoon upgrade!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sacrificing curls for champagne

That's what my MOH happily volunteered to do when I spoke to her on Sunday. In the calm after the storm (when her hubby had removed the boys into the kitchen) we had a brief chat about the wedding. It's looking like there will be no curls.

Allow me to explain. J went to have her hair curled/put up at their local salon for her wedding anniversary. It took three hours. She assures me that when she has it done in Liverpool it only takes one, so we have no idea what they did differently this time. We don't really have three hours on w-day - okay we do but it would leave no time for make-up, never mind champagne. So as champagne is clearly the most important part of the day, we're going to find a hairstyle for her that doesn't involve so many curls!

We quite like the look of this:
Image from Sam Gibson via Rock my Wedding
with the braid going round the head, but don't really know how the back works or how to describe it to the hairdresser! Anyway, as J doesn't have to match anyone else, she can have whatever she likes. As long as it leaves plenty of time for champagne!

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Dress Trilogy - part 4

So the nerves I talked about in part 3 have gone, to be replaced with something else that makes my stomach churn - excitement! I've been for the first try on of The Dress today - and it was everything I'd hoped it would be. All the details that my friend and I spent weeks analysing, and my mum and I spent hours choosing are starting to come together.

It's still in several pieces, but it already looks good. The colour suits me, the lace looks perfectly balanced, the shape is right and it goes really well with my shoes. It feels like my dress. I can finally start to imagine what I'll look like walking down the aisle to my hubby-to-be - and it makes me want to jump up and down!

Now I just have to work out how to send the photos to my mum whilst hiding them from Gadget!

I'm going back again in two weeks for the second fitting, when it will be in one piece - a whole dress just for me! I'm pretty confident the whole will be greater than the sum of it's parts, but watch this space!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

How to make wedding planning fun

Today we've done two things on the wedding to-do list - and we enjoyed doing both of them. Whoever said wedding planning was stressful clearly isn't doing it our way!

This morning we drove out to Kumeu in West Auckland to go wine tasting. The wine merchant our venue works with has suggested three wines from Babich - and as their office is only 20 minutes from our apartment, it would be rude not to give them a go! We tried two of the suggested wines (the merlot cabernet was ok, and the chardonnay we're not sure about) and bought a bottle of the Gimlett Gravels syrah for $10. They didn't have any open to try, but we tried their other syrah and really liked it. The plan is to try the Gimlett Gravels with dinner one night this week, and we think that might be the red wine we choose for the wedding.
Us with what is hopefully our wedding Syrah at Babich Winery

Whilst we were in Kumeu we stopped in at Soljan's vineyard for wine tasting and lunch - they had a really interesting sparkling muscat (no, mum, we can't bring you a bottle back!) - and then went to Cooper's Creek for more tastings. All in all it was a good day, despite the heavy rain that stopped us carrying on to the hot springs as we'd planned.

This evening we've been narrowing down the choices for our first dance song. After extensive research we had a long list of 19, and reading the lyrics carefully ruled three of those out. I recommend reading lyrics - one of the songs I quite liked sounded like it was about self harm, and many well-used first dance songs are actually about breaking up.

Then I got technical (it's the only way to go with Gadget around). We didn't have all the songs on the list, so I went onto Spotify and created a playlist with them all in. After dinner we listened to each song briefly, and ruled a couple out for being too soppy. The last few songs on the list were clearly not as good as the early songs, so they went as well.

This left us with nine songs, five of which we had in iTunes. We bought the other four, as we figured we must like them a lot for them to make it into the top 10! Then came the fun part - we tried dancing round the living room to all nine songs. Unfortunately The Wannadies "you and me song" is very hard to dance too, so that was off the list along with four others.

So we have a short list of four songs, which are now in an iTunes playlist for us to listen to on the way to work and attempt to make a decision. They're fairly diverse - there's one from 2006 and one from 2007, with the other two being from 1959 and 1977! They range from big band to ballad, and from soft rock to mainstream pop. It could be a tricky choice, but I'll happily dance to any of them. And no, I'm not saying what they are - not yet at least!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Cyber-space support

Some time ago I made a breakthrough in staying sane during wedding planning. I found a link on frugal wed and proceeded to link-hop from there.

I ended up on A Los Angeles Love reading thisthis and this. Then I went onto Offbeat BrideBroke-Ass Bride and offbeat bride again. All sensible, rational posts about why wedding planning is crazy and how to say no to the craziness.

The problem with planning a wedding is that's it's essential to have some support, ideally someone who's going through the same thing who understands what you're feeling. Otherwise the craziness becomes overwhelming, and I suspect you have to give in to it. Unless you happen to have a like-minded engaged friend, this support may not be easy to find. I have three engaged friends; one is planning a chic Cape Town wedding, one is not planning anything because she can't work out what country to have the wedding in, and the third is, like me, planning a UK wedding from NZ but is earlier in the process.

This is where blogs are really helpful. I haven't joined the ranks of Offbeat Bride - I'm having a church wedding and a sit-down meal reception, it doesn't sound very Offbeat - although Ariel says that maybe she should have named it Authentic Bride, because you shouldn't be offbeat just for the sake of it. I also haven't read much of Broke-Ass Bride, as I'm still struggling with the idea that my wedding is a budget wedding. I have found lots of independent bloggers who comment on posts and offer advice - and this is awesome.

I've also been contacted by someone I went to university with. We lost touch after graduation but she saw my blog link on Facebook and has been reading it regularly. Her wedding is in the same area as mine, but a couple of months later. She's sent me a few messages with questions and details of her day, and I'm hoping we can help each other through the process!

I think I expected my support network to be mainly my closest friends - but they're not in the same place right now and I'm wary of boring them with details. I'm glad that I've found people who want to talk weddings, although I may need to search for some new blogs as they're all getting married before me!

Note: the blog has reached 4000 hits today! Very exciting!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


This week has been about the not-so-fun, not-so-pretty side of wedding planning. I've been busy with lists, spreadsheets and website building - it's all about the wedmin.

Those of you planning a wedding or recently married will know exactly what I mean. Those of you who've just stumbled across this, or are slightly further removed from the planning process may well be wondering what I'm talking about.

Brides up north describes it as "the admin side of wedding planning that no one warned you about." It includes things like proof reading stationery, making sure you have all your guests addresses, filing important receipts and chasing RSVPs.

I spent almost an entire day last week creating our wedsite - that's wedding website, obviously. There is so much information people need relating to your big day, and it makes sense to display this information in a format that most of your guests are used to. You could choose the fancy option of including inserts with your invites - but by the time you've added hotel details, maps, RSVP cards, gift list information and taxi numbers you've cut down a forest and trebled the price. And that's before you consider postage...

As we're sending evites, I could just create a document with this information on and attach it to the email. But it wouldn't look anywhere near as good - the wedsite allows me to be creative and continue the "fun" vibe of the day.

Following a comment on a rock my wedding post, I've decided to go with moonfruit.com for our wedsite. It has more flexibility than many of the arranged wedding websites, allowing me to ignore the "our story" and "lift sharing" pages, and focus on more interesting things - like our unique RSVP page. We haven't finalised the wording for this yet, but there's going to be more than two options and we're hoping to make our guests laugh! I've also created google maps for the ceremony and reception venues, added a mini-slideshow of photos and instructions on how to book a hotel room at our venue. It's almost finished - and I'm going to come right out and say it looks AWESOME!

I've also had both sets of parents involved with the guest list - again not quite finished but almost there. I'm still missing a couple of addresses - and Gadget's evening guests - but the bulk of the work is done.

The guest list forms part of our giant shared google spreadsheet, and includes names, emails, and addresses, with additional columns for RSVPs, menus and table numbers. I also use the spreadsheet to keep track of wedding costs - everything that gets spent is entered into it, with a note of who paid (us or my parents) and any further payments due. It's also the to-do list, and boxes turn red if a task is overdue.

We have a separate system for receipts, which get scanned into dropbox (very useful for all kinds of things) before being filed. Hopefully this means we won't loose them when we change countries!

I'm very aware that nothing will get organised between mid December and mid January when we're travelling (very slowly) back to the UK, and that lots of things have to be done quite soon after we get back. I'm trying to remember this as I plough through the boring wedmin tasks - although I have to say the website building was fun once I got to grips with it! I may have got a bit carried away...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It's all coming together!

Whilst I was busy (not) working last night, I was chatting to my friend about the wedding planning. I showed her the draft of our new invitation, and (unprompted) she said she really liked the wording. She said it was casual and friendly rather than stuffy - phew! One less thing to think about.

I also showed her a picture of the cake that we're basing our cake design on - she loved that too. Then she said something really interesting.

"The invite, and the cake, and the dress - it all fits together. It totally works with what you're trying to do; creates the right mood."

Wow. I was hoping that when we had everything together (i.e. in april), we would manage to create the fun atmosphere we're hoping for. To be told that we're already achieving it is awesome. It makes me glad that we started with the big picture, and have really concentrated on that. We refer to it whenever we need to make a decision - is this us? is it fun? If the answer to those is yes, and it's within budget, the decision is made. It actually makes the decision-making process really easy - we don't worry about the overall 'look,' just the feeling. Although this was number six on the list, it's definitely the top priority.

I hope my friend is right and our process is working. My biggest wish for the day is that us and our guests have a really great time and laugh lots. My other wish is for lots of awesome photos, but this will be made easier if everyone's having fun!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Actually letting go of control

I keep saying that I am trying to be relaxed about details that are not on our priority list. I genuinely mean it, and mainly I think I am achieving it. Or I thought I was.

We've just got back to Auckland after two weeks in the South Pacific. I wasn't planning to do anything wedding related whilst we were there, but the last few days we had wifi and not much else to do. You can guess what happened. I started by catching up on my blog reading, and ended up doing etsy and google image searches. Then I pestered Gadget with my findings.

He was surprisingly agreeable to this. In fact, he found a great idea for an invitation and decided on table names. The table names are still provisional as we don't know how many tables we're having, but they'll be easy to adapt.

The invitation is a more concrete decision. There isn't a finished design, because we've decided to go down the route of having custom artwork on our invites. Given that we're sending evites and there is very little money budgeted for stationary, this would have been a problem if I didn't have a talented brother.

My little brother (who is very tall and not little at all) is an amazing artist and has very kindly agreed to do the artwork for us. I think he'd rather have been asked months ago when he wasn't working and was still in the UK with his graphics tablet, but never mind!

This means that I no longer have control of the invites. I don't have the design to tinker with whenever I want, and I don't get to determine when they'll be ready. I've told my brother the deadline is December, and now I will have to leave him to it until he has something to show me. And that's actually quite hard.

This is the first decision I've made that has meant handing over control. Obviously I'll still approve the final design and text work, but the process is now in the control of someone else. And that feels very odd.

I'm surprised by these feelings, as I haven't had them with other things. My MOH bought shoes for my page boys last week - and I'm very happy with them. I have no need to be present for every purchase or consulted for every decision. If it's not on the priority list, then it just needs to happen.

The invites (and stationary in general) are not on the priority list. Having said that, they are one of the few parts of my wedding that I have thought about over the years. I'm happy with the plan for the invites, and I'm happy that my brother knows what we want. I guess I'll just have to come to terms with feeling a bit out of control!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Feeling a bit bitty

I've been trying to write a post for a few days, but between a bad week at work and trying to get ready to go away (we're going to Fiji today!) it's been hard to find the time. Then when I do find a few minutes, I stare at a blank screen and can't work out what to write!

We haven't achieved much wedding wise recently. My parents found some ties and pocket squares for the guys which sound like they were a bargain, so that's one thing done. My mum has also bought a dress (for her), but it might not be the right dress (watch this space, it hinges on the accessories)!

I'm racking my brains to see what else we've done. I think these last few weeks have been mainly about groundwork. We've done lots of googling and pinning and making short lists. This includes the song for our first dance (trying to find something that we like, that isn't soppy and is ok to dance to = quite hard), ideas for honeymoon destinations and invites.

The invites are not going to be finished any time soon. I've discovered it's not just the wording that's wrong but the design too. The problem is that I started from the designs I would have used if I'd made them by hand and translated that into photoshop. It doesn't translate well. Gadget also rightly mentioned that most people will be viewing our invite on a screen, so it needs to be designed to look good on a screen. That means landscape is better than portrait, and probably a purple background with white writing will be better than a white invite with purple writing. So it's back to the drawing board (aka the pinterest board), and start again when we're back from holiday.

I intend to do nothing wedding related in the next two weeks, so hopefully I'll be full of inspiration and motivation when I return!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

When to honeymoon?

(Alternative post title - honeymoon vs mini-moon)

The obvious answer to the first question is after the wedding. But how soon after the wedding? I suspect many brides (and a fair few grooms) get a bit stressed in the run up to the wedding. Following a period of stress, it's not unusual to become unwell when you finally stop for a rest.

Gadget is quite good at doing this on normal holidays - he often gets a bad cold (or sometimes man flu!)  three days into our trip. This makes him feel tired and not want to do anything, and really changes the mood of the holiday. He's currently got man flu, so I'm hoping he'll have recovered by the end of next week when we go away!

So the question is how to avoid becoming unwell on honeymoon? My preferred answer is not to get stressed before the wedding, but I can't guarantee this (more on this in the next post). When I combine this question with the fact that we don't know what jobs we'll be doing next year and so can't request any holiday/leave until february (at the earliest), I reach an alternative answer - have a mini-moon.

Go somewhere luxurious but not too far away for a few days, and hopefully you won't become ill until you get back. Then, at a slightly later date, go on your "real" honeymoon. This has some obvious advantages around organising and funding the trip, but runs the risk of the honeymoon feeling like "just a holiday."

I'm thinking that honeymooning may be a state of mind rather than a luxury hotel/location though - any thoughts?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Why is underwear overkill?

I realise that wedding day underwear has to be fairly specific - neutral and line free under the Dress, and comfy enough so you don't fiddle with it. (All eyes will be on you, remember.) But some people seem to have some really odd ideas about what is appropriate or normal attire under your wedding dress.

One of the books I read repeatedly referred to being naked before you put your dress on. Is there seriously a group of brides out there who go underwear-less on the big day?! I can't think of anything worse! I understand that if you have a well-boned gown with a built-in bra you maybe don't need a separate bra, but surely you still need pants?

Then it seems most "bridal lingerie" sets are a strapless bra and matching thong/g-string. Surely two of the most uncomfortable undergarments known to woman?!

Then there is the corset brigade. One of the dress shops I went to was obsessed with them, and several other people have mentioned them too. I put one dress on and my lovely father told me I needed to do some stomach crunches before I could wear it (!) - the sales answer was a corset. She even offered me one to try on under the dress. So in addition to wearing a boned gown, a train and a veil (none of which seem comfortable) I now have to wear a corset underneath? Not a chance - I want to eat on my wedding day!

Am I the only person who will be wearing the most comfortable thing I can find that goes under the dress? I may end up needing a strapless bra, but I will be wearing shorts rather than a thong. I'll also be wearing tights, because shoes always rub me if I have bare feet. I can only find my size in a few stores, but I like this set from Debenhams. Bring on the bling, even if I'm the only one who'll know it's there!

Note: My dad was right, although I'm still not sure he's allowed to say things like that!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Invitation wording - back to the drawing board?

I thought our invitations were done, but this weekend I've discovered they're not. We did have a great weekend though - we hit the ski slopes for the first time this year (yes Northern Hemisphere peeps, it's winter here!) and two of our friends got engaged! I may have someone to talk weddings with now!

Anyway, back to the invites. When I started designing them, I asked Gadget about the wording. He said he wanted them worded so that my parents were doing the inviting - as per tradition. At this time we thought we were paying for most/all of the wedding ourselves, but I'm unsure whether the wording should reflect who's footing the bill, or how the couple/family live. So when the funding for the wedding changed, the wording of the invites didn't. Since then we've been through several drafts of the invites, including a couple with my parents. We've reworded them to be more casual than formal ("would like to invite" rather than "request the pleasure of your company"), and dropped all the titles.

During the weekend, our friend that we went skiing with was telling us about her sister's wedding that she'd recently attended. Their invites read, "Together with their parents, Bride and Groom" etc. This made Gadget think about our wording, and realise that he hadn't actually thought about it before. He now thinks his parents should be named on the invite, but isn't sure how or where.

So I'm back trawling the internet for alternative options. I've found some funny ones (that mostly are not appropriate), but I do like this:

Mr. and Mrs. (Brides Parents)
Along with Mr. and Mrs. (Groom’s Parents)
Invite you to witness the wedding of their children
(Bride) and (Groom)
She’ll vow to do his laundry
And he’ll promise to come home at night
And at the end of every argument
They agree that she’ll always be right.

and this:

Mr. and Mrs. (Bride’s Parents)
Are delighted to finally give away their daughter, (Bride)
To (Groom), who has no idea what he’s gotten himself into.
Come celebrate at the reception we’ve waited a lifetime to throw!

both found here. I also found some ideas for RSVPs that are much more interesting than yes or no, so I'll be changing that too. 

The problem with both examples above is that they won't actually fit on our invite. We don't have a gate-fold card with 5 sides for me to write on - we have a one sided A5 invite. It's going to be hard to add another set of names without making it look crowded, even if I just keep it basic and add "with Gadget's parents" to the wording I've already got. Anyone got any ideas?

Note: I realise I'm being vague, but I'm trying not to publish the invite on the blog. There's a couple of fun things on it that I don't want people to see yet!

Friday, July 20, 2012


I have a complicated relationship with my hair. Mainly it annoys me; it won't do what I tell it to, it's so fine it can't be longer than my shoulders, it likes to fly off in all directions, it's very dry (so is my scalp) and also a mousy brown boring colour. For years I've gone through cycles with my hair, and whenever I'm in need of cheering up, I tend to have something reasonably dramatic done to my hair.

This has (almost always) worked because I have a great hairdresser. Urban Angels in Selly Oak, Birmingham have been doing my hair for years (throughout two previous salon locations and names). I go in, ask for something a "bit different," they suggest something and it looks fab.

For quite a long time I had an angled, shaped bob with red and blonde streaks. Then I moved to NZ, and discovered hairdressers are expensive and if you don't know them it helps to know what you want! I've currently got a classic bob with subtle blonde highlights - and I am bored. 

It's definitely time for a change, but if I do something that doesn't work how long will it take to sort out before the wedding? I want my hair to look something like this on the day (obviously I'm pinning ideas regularly, but this is the favourite). It may take some work, but it may not - curls sit well in my hair as they add volume and hide frizz! I was going to have a DIY practice before the real trial next year, but it turns out I can't curl my hair with straighteners so currently that's not an option.

Maybe I'll just add the fringe (bangs for those of you reading this Stateside) and some red for the moment? Or maybe this is my last chance to go crazy and still have enough time to fix any problems?!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bridezilla? Try groomzilla!

I love that Gadget is involved with the wedding planning, and genuinely cares about the details of the day. But this week he has taken caring to a whole new level, from which the only sane option was rapid and complete RETREAT!

We don't plan in the same way, and are very aware of this. So whilst we are planning the wedding together, that does not literally mean we sit together researching the same topic. That inevitably leads to me getting annoyed with the length of time it takes him to make a decision (he's as bad with holidays, food etc.) and him then feeling pressured. I do my research (making almost instant 'no' or 'maybe' decisions) and present him with my results. He then goes away and does his research, spends ages thinking, and then comes back to me with his opinion/decision. Then we jointly agree on the decision, and one of us carries it out.

I mentioned earlier that we've been struggling to find blue and purple ties. My parents went shopping this week and found some, so they emailed us photos. The photos don't represent the colours accurately, and Gadget can't cope with this. Add to this that fact that the Thomas Pink website is still on dial-up speed, and his research becomes difficult.

He is very concerned with how the ties will look in photos, and that the outfits mustn't look "cluttered." You'll have to take my word for it when I say there is no chance of that - his idea of cluttered is most people's idea of fairly plain. I suspect he will end up waiting until he can see the ties for himself, which means January at the earliest.

I belong to the "decision made, job done, one less thing to think about" school of planning. There's already too much stuff that has to wait until January. I would have told my Dad to buy four ties, and happily crossed it off the to-do list. Instead I got a headache listening to Gadget's concerns about the size of the pattern and how it wouldn't look right if there was any other shade/colour on the tie.

So choosing ties has come off my to-do list, and onto his. I am having nothing more to do with it (Dad please take note all future emails go to his inbox!) apart from setting the budget. I feel better already!

Monday, July 16, 2012

A little philosophical

Today is four years since Gadget and I met. It's the last time this day is important, as this time next year we'll be married! So I'm feeling a bit philosophical today, and wondering how our relationship will change after the wedding.

I'd like to think it won't, but that feels very naive. It's going to change massively in the next year even without the wedding, as we'll be moving back to the UK and hopefully buying a house. I can sort of imagine how that will change things, but I can't work out how being husband and wife will be different.

Maybe I'll just have to wait and see, and be prepared for whatever happens?

On the thoughts of maybe, I found this online and thought it was fabulous. Can't find out who wrote it though.


Maybe we are supposed to meet the wrong people before we meet the right one so when they finally arrive we are truly grateful for the gift we have been given.
Maybe its true that we don’t know what we have lost until we lose it but it is also true that we don’t know what we’re missing until it arrives.
Maybe the happiest of people don’t have the best of everything, but make the best of everything that comes their way.
Maybe the best kind of love is the kind where you sit on the sofa together, not saying a word, and walk away feeling like it was the best conversation you ever had.
Maybe once in a lifetime you find someone who not only touches your heart but also your soul, someone who loves you for who you are and not what you could be.
Maybe the art of true love is not about finding the perfect person, but about seeing an imperfect person perfectly.