Thursday, May 31, 2012

A mother's favourite phrase: you're not everyone else!

As mentioned previously, everyone and their dog is likely to have an opinion on your wedding. Mainly your answer should be a noncommittal nod, and to ignore them completely. Some people will be harder to ignore than others, and some people may actually have valid points. But how do you sort through the crap  without going mad?

I have found two good thoughts in the book I'm reading (How I planned your wedding).
  • If your mother (or other similar wedding elf) does not go gentle into that good night, be sensitive. Your wedding is a big, emotional day for her too.
  • Put gratitude before attitude. 
What I take this to mean is that whilst it might be your day, it is an important day for a few other people too. If Great Aunt Mildred doesn't like your DJ, that doesn't matter. If your mother doesn't like your food, that might matter. If your bridesmaid doesn't like the dress you're asking her to wear, that does matter. You do not get to be a controlling bitch just because you are the bride. 

On the flip side, because you are the bride, you get the final say. 

Which leads me to my point. It's not a new point; wedding blogs and forums are full of comments about this. There will be plenty of people (either industry professionals or your nearest and dearest, and maybe even random acquaintances) who will tell you what you need to do, how you need to look and what is important. They are (almost all) wrong. YOUR MOTHER WAS RIGHT (it may pay to remind her of this!). You are not everyone else, and you don't have to do what everyone else is doing if you don't want to.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Details ahead of legalities - reverse that please!

A few conversations I've had recently, and a flick through Cosmo Bride, has led me to realise that most of us have more idea about the details of a wedding than the practical/legal side of it. This feels a bit scary to me, but I think I see how it happens.

A friend of a friend is getting married in the UK in July. Like us, she lives in NZ. She booked her wedding before she realised that UK law requires you to be in the country almost a month before your wedding. Luckily she's managed to sort that out and is flying back early, but why didn't her venue tell her that? (I see what they didn't tell her before she paid a deposit, but why didn't they tell her after?)

A couple we are friends with also had no idea that this was the case, and mentioned that it means losing out on your honeymoon time if you wanted to get married back home. France has similar rules, but Cosmo Bride completely fails to mention it when discussing an American couple's french Chateaux wedding. They do, of course, mention the love letter and lace details that ran through the day.

The other side to this was when I told some Kiwi friends that you can't get married outdoors in England (turns out you can in Scotland). This is the backbone of the NZ wedding industry, and my friends were horrified. It seems that England has some of the strictest, most old fashioned rules when it comes to weddings. Even the USA (which hasn't managed to legalise same-sex marriage in many places) is more relaxed - if you want the priest to marry you in the park that seems to be ok. Not in England - not only can you not have the park, if you want the priest to marry you you're stuck with a church, and if you're outside a church your ceremony can't be in any way religious.

In Spain, the first step in the wedding planning seems to be an appointment with the registrar to sort out the licence. In the UK, you can't start this until (I think) 3 months before the wedding, and you can't even speak to the Registrar's office until a year before your wedding. So if you want a summer wedding, you have to book the venue first.

In other words, the system is actually set up so that you have to decide on details before arranging the legal side. How crazy is that?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The common sense fairy

Another fab thought from 'How I planned your wedding' today. Susan (the mum) recommends staying in touch with your common sense fairy. This fairy is your inner antidote to the WIC; the voice in your head who has stopped you doing crazy things all your life.

You will need her now like you've never needed her before. She'll make you realise that giant centrepieces are not the point of the day, and that guests are not going to notice (much less remember) the tablecloths. They are going to notice a lack of food, or remember if they had a great time dancing.

So we've got neatly back to my favourite topic of priorities. Work out what you remember enjoying from other weddings, look at your guests and what they will enjoy, and work out what is important to you. Then take everything else and either get rid of it completely, or just go with the easy/cheap option. Because your common sense fairy is telling you that a wedding is a wedding, regardless of these things, and she's right - it's just that she's commonly ignored when it comes to weddings.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Registering for...what, exactly?

Like many newly-weds today, we will have been living together for a while before we become husband and wife. Whilst my slightly religious, slightly traditional mind is telling me that the wedding is the start of our family, it is not the start of our lives together. It's just a step along the way. A pretty big step, but just a step.

We have chosen to celebrate that step with friends and family. We are asking almost all of them to travel across the country and stay in a hotel. We have guests coming from London, Wales and even Paris. The fact that they will put time and effort into being at our wedding is enough of a gift. We don't want people to feel that they have to bring an actual gift as well. No one will get cut from the christmas card list if they arrive empty handed (I have heard this said!).

Having said that, we recognise that people may want to give us a gift, just as we would/have at their weddings. Enter the wedding registry.

Traditionally wedding gifts were used to set up a house. Somehow that ethos persists in todays gift registries. It is still common to ask for plates, or towels, or serving ware. I have no idea why, and we certainly won't be asking for that (slight moment to mourn the loss of more le creuset dishes). We combined two houses worth of stuff, then promptly packed it all into my future-in-laws giant chalet-shed and left the country. We won't have time to sort through it all before the wedding, but the chances are we have too much stuff.

A new trend which I quite like, but my mother hates, is asking for contributions towards the honeymoon. I think maybe if we did it quite specifically Mum would be less opposed to it - I have friends who have registered for a day scuba diving, a candlelit dinner on the beach and his 'n' hers massages. Each of their wedding guests knows exactly what they have given the happy couple, rather than the money/vouchers just going towards the overall cost.

We chose not to disagree with my mum on this, because there is something else we don't have that we would really, really like. Something that sounds perfect for a wedding gift - it will be the centre of our family life, will last a long time and is too expensive for us to justify buying it ourselves. We want a solid oak table and chairs. Something like this:
Unless we come up with something quite specific between now and the wedding, that is all we'll be registering for. Any contributions will be gratefully received, and properly acknowledged. Manners are an area where tradition definitely wins!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Suited and (kind of) booted!

Gadget really is on a roll - after last weeks decisions, he then suggested we should go and look at suits last weekend. Suits, like many things, are expensive in NZ with a limited range. The plan was just to try some and see what cut, colour and size he wanted. Then we discovered that made-to-measure suits here are actually about the same price as in the UK.

This whole process was started by this blog post. I emailed it to Gadget, and he actually read the whole thing. Then he read this one, and then he actually started looking at made-to-measure suits. Turns out that they're not that much more than a decent ready-made suit (Gadget liked the Ted Baker 'slick rick' which are £390).

Made-to-measure is about half way between off-the-peg and bespoke tailoring. There is a more limited selection of options, and you only have one fitting, not six. But if you are half way between two standard sizes, they make it in exactly your size. Guess who's halfway between?

Gadget doesn't make decisions on a whim, he likes to have all the information available. By Friday he had enough information to suggest that we needed to go shopping on Saturday. The decision process was sped up by the discovery that Rembrandt, one of the made-to-measure options, were offering a free second pair of trousers until the end of May.

We spent a quite a long time in Rembrandt in Sylvia Park on Saturday - but we've ordered a suit! Charcoal grey merino wool (very NZ) with faint pinstripes, slim fit with a ticket pocket. There were a lot more options than that, and I was impressed he managed to get through them all. It will be ready in about six weeks, and cost NZ$945 (about £470).

Other accessories are a work in progress, and he's not wearing boots but a very nice pair of shoes - which he already owns.

This do list is shrinking rapidly!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The purpose of insurance

Two topics in one today, because most people need two lots of insurance for wedding-time - actual wedding insurance, and then travel insurance for the honeymoon. We currently only have one of these, but I've bought a fair amount of travel insurance over the years so I think I can talk about that too!

Insurance, as Gadget is fond of saying, is there to cover you in case you can't afford to sort it out yourself. Whilst it's great if you can claim for your stolen iPod, it's not essential. If you have a scooter accident in Thailand, your insurance company may have to fly you home for treatment. As this costs more than the average wedding, it's not something most people can afford to pay for. If you don't have insurance, your alternative is taking your chances with the Thai hospitals. I know what I'd prefer...

Yet thousands of people go on holiday every year without travel insurance. For Brits travelling within the EU this is less risky, but I still wouldn't recommend it. (Make sure you have an EHIC card when travelling within the EU - apply via the Post Office.) Outside the EU not having insurance is crazy - particularly when you can get annual insurance for about £50, and two weeks for about £30. If you travel twice or more in one year, get an annual policy.

I'm now going to sound like a boring geek and say please check the small print and make sure you know what you're covered for and how to claim. Take your policy documents with you, plus a copy, and leave a copy with a trusted friend or relative. It sounds like a hassle - but better than having trouble the day you have a problem.

Wedding insurance works on a similar basis. Yes, it probably covers damage to your mum's hat, but that's not why you buy it. You get it in case the venue burns down and everything has to be moved or postponed. Judging by the price of insurance (ours was £34.99) this does not happen very often - big sigh of relief! As it is so cheap to get insured though, you'd be crazy not to. Ideally buy it before you start signing contracts and paying deposits, although some will cover deposits that are already paid.

We got ours from Wedding Plan Insurance, I think we got the second level of cover (up to £10,000). This may not be the best for everyone, but some policies excluded us because we currently live overseas, and others would not pay out if we got injured skiing. Our other choice was Debenhams, but it's the same company underwriting as with Wedding Plan, and Wedding Plan were cheaper.

Friday, May 25, 2012

That old rhyme

One of the traditions I'm keen to keep is the well-known Victorian rhyme. Like many brides, I will be leaving out the "silver sixpence in her shoe" part, but the rest of it is sorted.
  • Something old - a symbol of continuity within the bride's family - I will be carrying my great-grandmother Nain's engagement ring down the aisle sewn on to my bouquet. The bonus of this is that I will also be carrying a piece of my Welsh heritage, which I am quite proud of (have you seen them play rugby recently?!).
  • Something new - good luck and hope for the future - the dress of course.
  • Something borrowed - represents the support of family and friends, and should come from a happily married woman to bring some of that happiness into the new marriage - I will be wearing my Grandma's earrings. She and my Grandad have been married for almost 67 years (they even have a telegram from the Queen!).
  • Something blue - faithfulness, purity and loyalty - I have blue rhinestone "I do" stickers for my shoes, but will also be sporting blue toenail varnish (in honour of my other Grandad who passed away when I was 17).
Although the underside of my shoes is black, not pink. A bargain piece of 'tradition' at just £3 - which means I can throw the whole garter idea out the window! (I am sure it will just annoy me, and I don't see the point.)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The cause of the WIC?

According to Susan Wiggs (How I planned your wedding), we have the British Royal Family to blame for the WIC. Pre-1981, weddings were normal. By that I mean they were not big events that took 18 months of stressful planning and a house deposit to fund. Then Prince Charles married Lady Di, half the world watched, and the fairytale wedding was born.

Eventjubilee says Charles and Diana's wedding "defined a generation and changed the wedding industry indefinitely." The feminist bride mentions that the royal family are to blame even further back than this. Queen Victoria was the first bride to wear white, and the impracticality of it made it a symbol of wealth, and so everyone wanted one.

I'm not sure how many of today's WIC brides are actually aware of this - that they are literally dreaming of a princess wedding, and one specific princess in particular. No one that I've spoken to was.

I'm leaving the point of this post to Christie O. She rightly points out that not everyone is a princess, and that dreaming of a wedding that full of pomp and circumstance is not appropriate for us mere mortals and could well end up looking slightly ridiculous. Stick with your true selves, people - or try and get Prince Harry to propose to you!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Colour Me bold, bright and beautiful please

I've just realised I've forgotten to do a post on the colours we've picked for our wedding. The reminder was prompted by a big Etsy search for fabulous coloured ties (what else is a girl to do when she's at work and there's no work to do?), and then seeing Rogue Bride's brightly coloured home-made card box.

I am a big fan of colour. I don't own a little black dress, I own a red one and a purple one. I always knew I was going to have coloured stones in my engagement ring. Pastels and neutrals just don't do it for me - unless you're painting a house, then they're ok. As long as there's colour elsewhere in the room...

So you've probably gathered by now that bright, bold colours will be the order of the day. Gadget would never go for a rainbow effect, so we had to stick to two colours. Initially he thought even two might be too much, and was leaning towards having only one colour. That would mean ending up with shades of one colour, which wouldn't give the contrast I was imagining. I found a load of pictures, and persuaded him that two colours would work.

So we're having his favourite colour - blue, and mine - purple. In deep, rich shades - think Dairy Milk purple wrapping and vivid Royal blue. Something like this:
We'll include colour in all the usual places, plus a few more for good measure!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Shut up and drive?

Wedding day transport was not on our priority list. I view cars as a means to get from A to B, although Gadget is a bit more of a petrol head. I told him the transport decision was all his, and he said he thought wedding cars were a waste of money.

Once I'd got over my surprise, I quickly agreed. It was sounding like we would drive ourselves from the church to the reception. Then I spoke to my mum, and she pointed out a few practical issues. You can't park outside the church, as it's on a sharp corner on a narrow village lane with double yellow lines and is right next to the road. So Gadget would have to leave me standing outside the church whilst he walked wound the corner to the car park (which is actually a field) and retrieved the car. Maybe not...

We considered asking someone else to drive us, or even just to bring the car up to the church. Then we considered a slightly-posher than normal taxi. I quite fancied a black cab, but the only black cabs in York would have taken drunken teens home the night before - a bit risky. I posted on a wedding forum, and people suggested some awesome things - segways or rickshaws anyone? - that just wouldn't work for the distance down a winding country road we have to go. They also suggested exactly what I said I didn't want - classic cars that were expensive. Someone actually said that £395 was 'reasonable'! For a half hour journey that would normally be about £50? No it isn't! Then my parents went to a wedding fair (to see a photographer) and came back with information about VW campers. Game over - Gadget was sold.

A bit of google searching and emailing later, and we have our wedding car. Although it's a cost I didn't factor into the original budget, we've managed to get a pretty good deal. Whilst it wasn't on our priority list, it fits in with what we're trying to achieve - it's fun, light-hearted, and very us (NZ is camper van country). And she's called Sunshine, so I'm hoping she'll bring that with her!

NOTE: Great excitement as the blog has just reached 1000 page views! Wow!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Bridesmaid/MOH dress

J has ordered a dress, but unfortunately it is not the dress. It is too big for her (she is skinny; always has been, but now she has two small boys that eat all her food and never sit still) and not in a way that can be altered, but I thought I'd show you a picture anyway as it's gorgeous. More gorgeous dresses can be found on my Pinterest board.
Hobbs, on sale at £79

So Mum and J are planning a shopping trip to London. Whilst this sounds fancy, it's what we do given the slightest opportunity (graduations, 21st birthdays etc) and my parents have a flat in London so with cheap train tickets it's not a big expense. It also means they don't have to take the boys with them, so they get a relaxing girly shopping day!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Rocking our weddings

Each day I read Rock my wedding I'm getting more impressed with it. Their motto is 'your day, your way,' but on first glance it looks like a pretty blog. I'm discovering it's so much more than that. 
I've just read founder Charlotte's account of her own wedding day, which was gorgeous and detail rich, but has this summary:
As you will know from my original blog not everything goes without a hitch and there are little things that will make you go “ Darn it if only I’d done such and such” – because that is just human nature I’m afraid.
But in the grand scheme of things nothing really matters apart from you making your day to be exactly how you and your future husband want it.
No Rules. No Restrictions. No listening to those who want to give anything other than positive advice.
How awesome is that?
And how relevant. I am already fed up of people telling me what I can and can't do. From the dress shop assistants (you have to have a formal dress for a church and manor house), to well meaning friends and family (surely all your dad has to do is turn up at the hire place and be measured?), it starts to really grate after a while. I dread to think how annoyed I'll be in April! Judging by Rogue Bride's most recent post, the answer is somewhere off the scale.
This is OUR wedding. We will do WHAT WE WANT. If other people don't like it, they have two choices. Shut up or leave!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Hold the front page - Gadget has made some decisions!

I mentioned yesterday that we've decided on the wedding cake. We need to find a few things (like a lego cake topper), but the choice is made. That's actually the second decision Gadget has made this week, and he almost managed a third (but that was too much for one week!).

He has decided to wear fun, coloured socks for the wedding instead of boring black ones. He doesn't own any coloured socks, so at least this will be something different for him. Hopefully we'll get some funny photos - have a look at the top left and bottom right photos.
Images from rockmywedding's recent fab groomswear article.

He also started looking into photo sharing sites. We LOVE photos, and are of the view that the more you have, the better the chances are of some of them being good. We want to add our guests photos to those of our photographer, which means getting digital files from everyone. We use Picassa for showing photos to friends and family, but apparently this may not be the best method for the wedding photos. Before anyone suggests Facebook, I'm going to tell you that we hardly ever put photos on there as they compress and downgrade the image to the point where it's unusable. 

It appears that there is currently no perfect answer. Flickr is good for uploading but not downloading, dropbox is good for both but has limited storage capacity unless you pay for it, etc. He tells me there are couple of new things around, such as Google Drive, so he's waiting to see how they pan out. In his own words, he's "decided not to decide yet!"

Friday, May 18, 2012

This Pinterest lark - and cake!

So I have finally got myself on Pinterest, and hopefully there is a nice little follow button now on the blog. Problem is I have no idea how to share my boards with anyone, either on here or via email to my mum. I've invited my mum to join Pinterest, but as she doesn't have Facebook or twitter that might not happen.

So if you want to see my cake ideas, look at my Pinterest board. Cake is a fairly easy decision for me - my mum makes wedding cakes (as well as seriously awesome birthday cakes, we were spoilt as kids!) and so not only do I get a (pretty much) free cake, I can have whatever I want. Within reason, mum, I know!

Gadget has been winding her up about having a 38 layer cake with pavlova as the bottom layer. Mum has actually been in tears several times laughing at him. When I managed to find a moment of seriousness in the midst of the ridicule, we have decided on a four tier cake (three for us and one for my dad who is gluten free). Fruit cake base (WARNING: do not drive after eating my mum's fruit cake), then GF fruit cake (dad's choice) then chocolate then lemon. Something for everyone there I hope.

Decoration was a harder decision, although we've finally got there. I want the tiers stacked directly (no pillars or stands), and have an idea about blue ribbon and purple flowers. It's traditional/common in the UK for the cake flowers to match the bride's bouquet, but that's not going to work for us (see flower post). So we have free reign to create a thing of colour and beauty...

When I showed gadget the original pins, he was definitely underwhelmed. As I've mentioned, we're not big on flowers. So we set about finding an alternative, and have decided on a compromise. I'm not revealing all the details until the big day, but we are going to have a lego cake topper!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bloomin' easy

I like flowers, but not in any kind of detail. They look nice in a vase, and I'm always happy to be bought flowers (usually I buy them myself from Tesco). But I don't really know one flower from another, and certainly don't have a 'favourite.' It was a short hop from this to deciding that flowers would not be a big part of our wedding - we are not having floral arrangements at the reception, so we just need what I call the 'people flowers.'

I do have a favourite florist though; Fiona Hogg is based in my parent's village, and we always order special occasion flowers form her. She does beautiful arrangements, without us needing to know anything about flowers! She also comes with a royal stamp of approval - they did the flowers for the Queen when Ascot was raced at York in 2005.

I crossed my fingers that she would be within our budget and checked her website for prices. I can't find her price list online now (grrr), although the ordinary bouquet prices are there. She was quoting £65 for a tied posy, £20 for flower girl pomanders, and buttonholes range from £5.50 to £11. Perfect.

I sent Mum on another reconnaissance mission - would Fiona do our wedding flowers, and could they be purple tied with blue ribbon? Answer: Yep. Easy peasy. Lots of purple flowers will be in season at that time, she doesn't even want a deposit until January as she will be able to do another wedding on the same day and won't have even have to deliver our flowers (the florist is next to the hairdressers). I just have to pop into the shop in January to confirm how many buttonholes we need, and it's all sorted.

And the best bit? All of that took about an hour. I feel no guilt for not comparing prices, as I'm supporting a local business whose work I love and who is within our budget. Definitely the easiest vendor so far!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Deconstructing a wedding

Our priorities include a fun, lighthearted day, and doing things the way we want, not simply because that's how it's done. It turns out this is harder than we initially thought.

Some things are easy. I didn't want to wear "wedding shoes." So I didn't buy any; instead I bought vintage suede ones. But not everything has been that straightforward.

The most recent head-meets-brick-wall moment was about the speeches. We'd talked briefly about doing them before the meal, during the meal or after the meal. All have problems. Then I wondered why we were attaching the speeches to the meal? They can be done at any time after the ceremony - maybe as an introduction, or maybe with the cake cutting, or in the evening?

I also thought about our entrance, and realised I didn't want to make one. I don't want a receiving line, I just want them to say "dinner's ready," and we all wander in to eat.

I was excited. I brought it up with Gadget. He was fine with not making an entrance, as long as they announce us as Mr and Mrs for the first dance. But the speeches... he was too busy worrying about the logistics (what if everyone can't sit down?) to actually think about what he wants. It took quite a while for me to explain that yes, we have to sort out the logistics - second. After you decide what you want, as doing what you want is the most important thing.

I'm still not sure he's got it. He's a visual person; it may be that he won't be able to work this out until we actually see the venue in January. I'm ok with that, and I'm ok with the speeches being after the meal - as long as that's what we actually want rather than what is routine.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sharing the round the world love!

Today's post on rock my wedding is about a couple who spent two years living in Australia, returning to the UK only 6 months before their wedding. Sounds familiar...

They went through a planning process very similar to ours - organising the big things from down under, and leaving the smaller things until they got back. The bride had slightly more event planning experience (i.e. the BAFTAs) than me though!

Her parents viewed the venue for her (although it sounds like they'd all been to events there before), and they contacted the vicar by email. This has been by far the weirdest and funniest part of our planning so far - my dad spoke to Father Nick after sunday service one week, and came away with a provisional yes and his contact details. I had two choices for discussing our wedding with the man who was hopefully going to marry us - email or Skype!

I couldn't do it - everyone wanted me to Skype the vicar but I opted for email instead! Even this was odd (I had no idea how to address the email) but it was much less scary than Skype (with a 13 hour time difference)! We did have a small world moment when Father Nick revealed that his sister currently lives near us in Auckland, and actually does a similar job to me!

Nick has been really great, answering all my random email questions and forgiving me when I forgot to return the form with our details on. I'm looking forward to meeting him properly, and I'm excited that he's going to be the one to marry us - but I'm still planning to avoid Skyping him!

Monday, May 14, 2012

A logical attack on the honeymoon

Having read my previous honeymoon post, my dad suggested I should get a map of the world and cross out everything I'd mentioned - literally. Sometimes looking at things really helps.

Blue - countries we've been to.
Grey - countries that are too big/have too much to see in two weeks.
Red - countries listed by the FCO as unsafe.
Yellow - too honeymoon-ey, or too many other people have been.
White - includes places I'm not really interested in visiting (such as Albania), and places that won't work for our honeymoon (such as Bhutan, where you have to do an organised trip, and the pacific islands, which we'll have just left).

Green - the exciting bit - possibilities! Dad was right - I came up with some new thoughts by doing this. Anyone know anything about Guyana or Sao Tome and Principe?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Time or money?

I have very mixed feelings about this article which was recently published on a wedding blog (I'm not going to name it, and I've changed the text slightly to try and anonymise it - remembering that it's each to their own and you should do what you want). 

We saw our wedding as an opportunity to throw the biggest party of our lives and to share it with all our loved ones. So with each decision it was a matter of doing whatever we really wanted (we were only going to do it once so do it in style). Groom wanted a rolls Royce as the wedding car, I wanted Louboutins as my wedding shoes so we got them – we didn’t go in with a set budget in mind but rather the budget would be whatever it cost to have the perfect day for us and we both feel we really achieved it. 
I was pretty particular in how I wanted everything to look and had spent months searching through bridal magazines and trawling the internet for ideas and inspiration.

Even though our wedding had 180 guests we wanted it be very personal and intimate. Living on the other side of the world is so hard so we wanted to make the most of the opportunity to be with them all at once. What was most special to us both was having all these people that we both love in the one place at the one time. There was such a beautiful atmosphere on the day and the gorgeous weather certainly helped! I remember arriving at the venue after the ceremony and all of our guests had already arrived and were on the lawn mingling as we pulled up in the car it was such a happy moment.
The bride says that the most special thing was having all their people there together. I think this is a key aspect to many weddings. They live on the other side of the world too, and so it will have been even more important to them. On our wedding day we may have friends and family there that we haven't seen for 2 years. But I don't see how you can have 180 guests and still be personal and intimate. We're having 50, and I'm worried about how much time we'll get to spend with each person. 

She talks about the beautiful atmosphere and how arriving to meet her guests was a happy moment. Again this sounds good to me; I would love to take this memory away from our wedding. 

Then she says (with no actual numbers of course!!) that the budget would be "whatever it cost." Aaargh! There is such an obvious assumption here that the only way to have everything perfect is to spend lots of money on it. And she wanted it perfect - but the only thing she mentions researching is how it would look. They seem to have made every detail decision into a priority, and presumably paid the price accordingly. There are a lot more details mentioned in the article, but they are almost all aesthetics. 

I was hoping I could take some inspiration from a fellow bride around the world, but this wedding is so opposite to our priorities that I'm not sure I can. Very disappointing. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The quest for beauty

I just read this awesome sentence on Sara's blogMy beauty radiated out of me; it was not applied to me. She's talking about the ideal things to think when you look at your wedding photographs.

From the beginning, I didn't see the point of having my make up done professionally. It's not something I would ever consider for any other occasion, so why now? The thought of it makes me feel quite uncomfortable. My mum initially seemed to think it was a good idea, but she has quickly (and entirely on her own) changed her mind. So we'll be doing our own.

I want to look like me at my best. Generally I think I look fairly ok on a friday night out with just a bit of make up on, so my plan is to perfect that look.

I'm no make up expert, so I'll be searching the internet for tips, going to make up counters and studying you tube videos. So far I have decided I need to buy two products - a primer to keep my foundation on all day, and waterproof eyeliner (I love eyeliner but my current ones are bound to end up on my cheeks). I was going to get a new lippy, but I think I'm just going to use my favourite Ruby & Millie one.

I will be going to the hairdresser though, and taking my mum and J with me. I love having my hair done, and as it generally has it's own idea of what its meant to look like, I need a pro to make it behave. J can have whatever she likes done to her hair - we're going together to have a fun, girly experience, not to look like clones. We might take some champers with us. My mum lives in a small village and uses the local hairdresser, and I used to go to there as a teenager. So that's where we're going.

If you keep the decisions simple they're way less stressful!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Born to be a bride? Not me!

I'm currently reading a book called, "How I planned your wedding." It's authors are a mother and daughter, who featured on Wedding Podcast Network's "here come the mom's" some time ago. I wanted to read the book because I've already had one falling out with my mum over the wedding, and I'd like not to have another. But that's not what this post is about.

Elizabeth (the daughter) says she was, "Born to be a bride." She's been dreaming of her big day forever, and had a lot of decisions made by the time she got engaged.

I find this interesting for two reasons. First, she's been dreaming of her day, not their day. Second, making  decisions together is a big part of a marriage, and it starts with the wedding.

I only started dreaming about our (not my) wedding when I could see that there might be one - after Gadget and I moved in together. But when we started planning I had obviously thought about things a lot more than he had.

Elizabeth goes on to say that she included all of her groom's ideas into the day (although he didn't request much), and that they sat down and prioritised their budget together. She says sometimes the conversation got uncomfortable, but that it "laid the groundwork for future financial decisions."

Hopefully we can achieve this too, because for me that's what's at the heart of a wedding - the groundwork for the future.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Honeymoon drugs

I am not talking about anything illegal, or even anything hippy/herbal. I'm talking about essential drugs for awesome destinations.

Depending on where you go, drugs may be easily available (Europe), available but expensive (USA), available but dodgy if you don't know what you're doing (most of Asia), or not available at all (Pacific Islands). Before you set off on your honeymoon you need to know this.

Start your health planning at least six weeks before you depart. Some vaccines need more than one dose, or time to be fully effective. See your healthcare professional (GP), but you can get some idea of what you might need before then.

The NHS website fit for travel is great. It covers all the bases, tells you about precautions, vaccines and recommendations. I think it lacks information about one key area, and that's what I'm going to talk about. Malaria prophylaxis.

As a travel junkie and healthcare professional, my friends often ask for my advice about this. Prophylaxis means prevention, and that's definitely the key. It's all out there, and it's not rocket science; try to get bitten less. Cover up at dusk, wear mozzie repellent, use nets and coils in the room at night if needed, if you have a 'proper' room keep the door shut when the light's on. If you're like me, you'll still get bitten, so drugs also have a role.

There are a variety of drugs, and not all will be effective where you're going. For Vanuatu (where we're going in August) the NHS advise Atovaquone/proguanil OR doxycycline OR mefloquine. This is the question I get asked - how do you decide which to take?

Doxycycline is cheap, but it's an antibiotic. If you're on the pill, it's not the right choice. It can also irritate your stomach and make your skin more sun sensitive. Having said that, it's what we'll be taking and we've used it twice before. Mefloquine (Lariam) can rarely cause serious side effects such as hallucinations; if you've never taken it your honeymoon may not be the time to try it! Malarone (atovaquone/proguanil) has the least side effects, but is expensive (prices are comparative based on the UK). That's my 'key facts' summary - the decision is yours!

Your GP will give you a private prescription (not an NHS one), so don't just go to your nearest chemist, shop around and get quotes from a few places. In my experience independent chemists or Chemist Direct are a lot cheaper than Boots.

The hard part is remembering to take them, especially after you come home (continuing for a month after leaving the country is common). I suggest putting them with your toothbrush!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Etiquette police!

More nonsense from the WIC, this time Brides magazine. I'd just like to point out that these all come from old issues, as I don't buy wedding magazines, I borrow them from the library. (Wow, that makes me sound like a real budget bride!)

Q: My wedding planner says hats are a no-no after five, and our wedding's at six. I really wanted to wear a fabulous hat like those at the royal wedding. Can I?
A: A wide brimmed hat will be out of place at an evening wedding, wear a fascinator.
Truth: You're the bride. If you want a hat, wear one. But maybe tell your guests what the plan is.

Q: Is it okay to give favours only to the ladies?
A: They're a thank you gesture to all your guests, so no, find something that works for everyone.
Truth: Nothing works for everyone, as discussed previously. If you want to give something to just the ladies, do so. A true thank you is more than just a gesture, so if you really want to thank people you need to tell them.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

W-day fitness kick started!

I appear to have unwittingly signed up for my own version of Bridal Bootcamp. I've joined the gym on a two week trial (I have no intention of joining properly, but the trial only costs NZ$14 which is £7).

This is not just any gym. It is, quite possibly, the king of gyms. I've joined Les Mills in their home city of Auckland.

For those of you that don't know, Les Mills create all those "body" classes (BodyCombat, BodyPump, BodyAttack etc). They think 30 people in a class is small, they prefer 100. I am slightly in awe - I've never seen a gym like it, and now I understand why Gadget wanted to join (he's been a member for a year).

There are rows and rows of machines, which have iPod docks so you can listen to/watch your fave podcast and also record your workout. The studio is like a disco, with coloured lights and pumping music - but it's carpeted. The changing rooms are enormous, and have more hairdryers and GHDs than my hairdressers. They also have a coffee bar (this is NZ people!) and apple macs for members to use.

So I am determined to get the most out of the next two weeks. So far I've done BodyCombat (recommended for brides, great fitness with serious arm workout/toning), cross training (to the latest Hindsight Bride podcast) and yoga. I don't normally like yoga, as I leave feeling like I haven't exerted myself, but after this class I hurt - everywhere. Plans for the week include BodyBalance, a yoga-pilates combo, and core conditioning (which may kill me as I have no core strength). I might even weigh myself at the end...

Monday, May 7, 2012

If you're not Bridezilla, you might not be believed!

I am trying to remain calm about all things wedding, and so far I think I'm succeeding. This means I'm not stressing about details that don't really matter, and am leaving a lot of decisions to other people. (I'm a long way away, if I want to see everything it's going to be a bit tricky!)

These other people do not seem to completely believe me. I wonder if they think I might turn into Bridezilla in January and make them change everything, or if it's just too weird that I don't mind. Gadget thinks it is probably that they need limits within which they can make their choices, and maybe I haven't made them clear enough.

Gadget is one of the people who didn't believe me. I said he should wear whatever (suit) he feels comfortable in, and if he doesn't match the other men that's fine. He was very sceptical, but then we found this photo and he understood what I meant.

Image: Stephanie James blog

My MOH and my mum went dress shopping at the weekend (dress news to follow). The dress was ok - knee length and dairy milk purple were specific enough limits. Then J found a hair comb she liked - but didn't want to buy until I decide what we're doing hair wise! (FYI, I have fine hair in a bob, and she has long thick hair.) I've told my mum to buy it - I will not be deciding on J's hair, she will, so if she likes that comb, it's job done!

The bonus of the disbelief is that I get to be involved in the process, which is really nice, and the comb is fab!
Apologies for the poor quality, the Debenhams website won't let you lift their pictures. See the real thing here.
In summary - if you're going to be a laid back bride, ENJOY IT and accept that you may make a few people uneasy!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Flower girl dresses - so cute!

Okay, okay, I know. I can't buy dresses a year in advance because they won't fit them. But it doesn't stop me looking! And as I can't window shop (annoying limited NZ high street again), I have to do it online. The girls will look gorgeous whatever they wear, so their dresses are something I'll be enjoying, not stressing over.

I've looked in the obvious places -  Debenhams,  MonsoonBHS. They're all cute, and I know I'll be able to find something for a good price. For the record, my mum has fallen in love with the BHS dresses with flower petals in the skirts. She's even offered her sewing skills if the ones they stock aren't the right colour.

Then I read a blog where the flower girls dresses came from Zara. Interesting - din't know they did kids stuff.

Frilly dress with bow £17.99 
Dress with embroidered straps £25.99

How awesome are these? With the addition of some coloured ribbon they would be super cute.
Then I looked at Tesco. Don't know why, but I'm very glad I did as they seem to have a new bridesmaids range. 
Sequin detail bridesmaids dress £18
 This image seems to have gone a bit blurry, but check it out for yourself  and you'll see that any little princess (which my flower girls definitely are!) would love to wear it.

The question is - how many dresses can you ask a two year old to try on before they become really annoyed with you?!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Why has the start become the end?

A wedding is the start of a marriage, but for many brides it has become an ending. It ends the engagement period, where they eat, sleep and breathe weddings. All conversations and thoughts are related to the wedding, and hours of their lives are devoted to it.

And then it's gone. All over, in a day. Sure, there's a honeymoon to relax on, and then the photos to look at and thank you's to send. But what then?

That's when the "wedding blues" or "postnuptial depression" can kick in. According to this article, it's a combination of realising marriage isn't perfect, and not knowing what to do with all the spare time that isn't now devoted to the wedding. Basically, it's reality not living up to fantasy - and you're not exempt if you already live together.

Judging by this post, you're also not exempt if your post-wedding reality happens to look like many people's fantasy. This bride went on a round the world trip/honeymoon - and still found herself "lost."

Professional counsellors suggest preventative measures - scheduling events for after the honeymoon, and being prepared to become "we." We are hoping to buy a house shortly after the wedding, which will occupy some/most of the spare time, but we're also trying to prepare for our life together. So far all the 'living together' we've done has been fairly temporary (that's what happens when you run off to the other side of the world) - and I think we could be in for a shock when it becomes permanent. But forewarned is forearmed, right?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Budget details

So this is how my budget breaks down. Some of these costs are fairly certain (photography, brides outfit) and some are guestimates (everyone else's outfits). I'm not including our honeymoon in this, as we'd have gone on holiday anyway. I'm also not including much for Gadget's suit. I think he's going to buy one, and as he'll need to do that anyway I have justified excluding it from the wedding budget.

Instead of showing you actual numbers (e.g. how much my dress costs), I thought it would be interesting to look at categories as a percentage of the total.

Points of info: Reception includes food (canap├ęs, meal, buffet), drinks (champagne, wine, soft drinks) and DJ, they provide all staff and equipment including a venue coordinator. Mens clothes includes groom, best man, fathers and two page boys. Hair and make-up is for three people, Gifts are for the children, accommodation is just for us.

For our wedding the reception cost is almost half of the total, but it covers a lot of things, and includes most of our priorities.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Stuff I don't need

In a tribute to Rogue Bride, who sent me a great email as she describes in this post, I've written my own list of things I don't need at the wedding.

  1. Favours. Previously discussed, 'nuff said.
  2. Chair covers. In the US they don't seem to have these, their equivalent is Chiavari chairs to rent. I don't understand either. Chairs are things to sit on. 
  3. Multi-piece invitations. You won't be getting directions with your invite, or an RSVP card. It's on the wedsite, work it out.
  4. Ring pillow. It's the best man's job to carry the ring. He has pockets.
  5. Receiving line. Yes, you need to talk to all your guests. But not as they shuffle past you on their way in to the reception room.
  6. Exact colour coordination. Is anyone going to notice if my dad's tie doesn't exactly match the bridesmaids dress or the invites?
  7. A handbag. It's not like I'm going to carry it, so I may as well just give my lippy to my mum.
  8. Perfection. Nothing is perfect. Our relationship isn't, and our wedding won't be. It's the imperfections that make us who we are, and our wedding will be the same.

Definite progress!

Well I've had no reply to the budget of that wedding, but they have published this post. The author reveals her own wedding budget, and discusses what she would change if she did it again. She would prioritise her budget - maybe I'm doing something right! There are then loads of comments from readers almost all of whom are being open about their budget. The budgets range from £3000 to £17000, and there's some interesting details on what that money is going on.

The fact that these are comments left on a "pretty blog" suggests to me that more people would like to know how much these gorgeous weddings cost. Come on WIC, show us the money!

UPDATE: The bride has left a comment on the blog, and it truly was budget wedding at £6000 for 80 guests. Now I'm inspired!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bonny budget wedding?

I am absolutely mad having just read this post. I have left a comment on the blog, so we'll see if it gets a response. This (very pretty) wedding was published under a 'budget' heading - with no price tags on anything. You could probably guess the price of the dress - the bride got it for a quarter of the original price, a similar Charlotte Balbier retails for £1200 without alterations. But that's it. We have no idea how much they spent, and on what, and it ends with the question, "have any other budget brides been inspired by this?"

I thought I'd missed it. I scrolled up and down the page, and clicked on all the links. It's not there. What exactly am I supposed to be inspired by?

How to cut your guest list

It's actually really easy. Ready? Don't write a long list to start with.

Sounds partly too simple, and partly to have missed the point, right? Well, it is neither, I promise. When we wrote our guest list (having realised we need an idea of numbers to do the venue search), we just wrote a list of the really important people. Immediate family, close friends, people who've been there for us throughout our lives. The total was (roughly) 50. Job done.

Yes, there will be separate evening guests (not too many though), and there are possibly a couple of people who may get added. But that is all. We won't be inviting colleagues (because we may be unemployed at the time), or cousins who we haven't spoken to in years, or friendships that are limited to Facebook. We're really happy with the list, and (amazingly) so are both sets of parents.

There is a caveat. We have chosen not to invite our guests' children. This is because of our original priorities (number 4 on the no way list was a party overrun with kids), and the fact that there are so many of them. We are just having the four children in our immediate family. We have sent an explanatory note with our save the dates, so hopefully everyone will be able to find childcare and use our wedding as an excuse for a weekend away, and no one will be upset with us.

Note: the details of the budget are coming soon, but blogger has eaten my awesome chart and I have worked 6 days out of the last seven - when work is a 12 hour shift plus travel - so I haven't had time to redo it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Honeymoon headache

Given that the title of this blog is bride around the world, and my "about me" piece says I'm a travel junkie, you're probably wondering why there's no travel posts on my blog. There is only one reason - I've managed to get enough wedding stuff sorted to blog about it, whilst the honeymoon planning has barely got off the ground.

An amazing honeymoon is on our priority list. For us it is one of the most important parts of the wedding. The problem is we can't work out what exactly makes it a honeymoon.

I know this might sound silly - a honeymoon is the holiday you take after the wedding. Whilst this is basically true, it also fulfils another purpose. It should allow you to relax and enjoy the start of your married life, and it should also be a trip to remember. That's where we got stuck.

We travel a lot - last year we had 2 one week holidays, a two week one, a three week one and several long weekends. We are also active relaxers - we're not good at doing nothing, if there's something to see or do we're there. We don't like staying in one place, we'd rather see the country and really experience it.  So what can we do to make this trip stand out from all the others?

We tried the big picture approach that we used for the wedding. It was much more difficult, as we approached it from opposite angles. We agreed that we didn't want to move about as much as we do normally (it's unusual for us to spend 3 nights in the same place), and we didn't want a tightly packed itinerary. I think we also agreed on "somewhere that would be warm and dry in May." That's where the agreement ended.

Gadget was trying to work out what activity we would enjoy, and then find the best place in the world to do it (e.g. we could scuba dive, where is the best dive site?). I wanted to find an amazing country that was small enough to see in two weeks, so that it became a 'once in a lifetime' visit, not somewhere we would go back to. I also wanted to avoid traditional honeymoon destinations; I don't want to spend our honeymoon with other honeymooners, or in the same place all my friends went. I don't really know why, but I don't.

Ruling out all the usual suspects, places we've already been, anywhere that has monsoons/cyclones in May plus countries too big to see in two weeks doesn't leave much. Hence the headache.