Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Dress - part 2

It took me about a month to recover from the first dress shopping day. I then had to start thinking clearly. I booked my friend for another dress day, and found two more places to try. One was on the North Shore and was hopeless. The next was in Newmarket and was recommended by a friend - Jenny's Bridal, who don't charge to try on on weekdays.

Jenny's had some gorgeous dresses, and the same pattern followed as before. I actually tried some strapless dresses, and was very relieved when they didn't suit me! The dresses that looked best were more detailed than I'd originally planned, but also they weren't ivory. Blush, antique gold and rich creams all looked much better - although that wasn't really a surprise to me.

My plan was to narrow things down before my parents came out to NZ. I could never buy a dress without my mum being there, and she was only here for 3 weeks. Due to everything we had planned, we had one day to find The Dress - so I needed to be organised!

Colour and cut were pretty much sorted, but I still didn't feel like I'd found the perfect dress. There was something not right, and it took me a while to identify it. What I was struggling with was this:
Images not credited as I feel that's unfair (each to their own remember), hence the odd cropping.

Nearly every wedding has as many pictures of the bride carrying her train as they do arty shots of the train spread out. Many of my friends have also had issues with the bustles on their dresses - meaning that they had to dance the night away with their dress over their arm. I did a quick opinion poll - it seems everyone loves a train. Except me.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Dress - part 1

I've been delaying writing this post because I don't really know what to write! But, as the walrus said, the time has come...

I started the dress hunt wanting an elegant, simple dress with a halter neck in ivory. I wanted some detail on it, but wasn't quite sure what. The important things for me were the back of the dress - I had visions of a backless dress - and straps. It had to have straps - I've seen too many strapless dresses and really wanted something 'different.'

I didn't actually see many halter necks that I liked, but there were several strapped dresses that ticked all the other boxes. Like these from Benjamin Roberts and Ella by Essence:

So I started looking for dresses to try on. If I was in the UK I would probably have started with high street dresses, but that's not an option here. I started with a sample sale at a dressmaker's, and it was very weird looking at myself in the mirror. Some looked nice, but none were perfect. Then I found a dress shop in town that didn't charge a try-on fee, so I went there.

Felicity's Bridal were really nice. They stocked the Ella dresses, with my favourite being the one in the bottom right picture. They suggested how I could move the detail higher on the dress (which looked much better), and let us spend nearly two hours trying on about 15 dresses!

Then my awesome friend suggested over lunch that we needed to look somewhere else too. Jessica Bridal in Kingsland had an opening for that afternoon, only charged $40 for unlimited visits and had a sale on. That was where things got both interesting and confusing.

I tried some dresses similar to the Ella ones, but they also had some more unusual designs (they design some of the dresses themselves). The first dress I put on was 'just to look at the neckline' - but it turned out to be amazing. It was blush coloured, fitted perfectly (except in length) and had a lot of beading and sparkle details. It had a very vintage feel about it, and was totally not what I wanted - but it was by far the best dress I'd tried.
I tried a few more including two halter necks - they didn't look right at all. Then my friend did it again. I thought we'd finished when she picked out a dress and asked me to put it on. It was lacy - and it looked fantastic.

Having found two dresses with the 'wow' factor, we realised that none of the other dresses had had it. We had to go and find a bar after that so I could recover from the shock...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Modern day issues for decades of tradition

Today on love my dress, Annabel wrote this post about restrictions on photography in church. (It was actually yesterday, but the time zone thing is too confusing.) Whilst it isn't unique to churches (one of the photographers we contacted has had issues with registrars too) and I can completely see where it's come from, it is such a shame if a couple can't get the photographs they want. 

We're lucky - firstly, we were warned by our photographer that there was a risk of restrictions being imposed, and secondly our vicar has said anything is fine as long as they "don't get in the way." This sounds perfect to me. I don't want to be looking at or thinking about the camera in church, I want to be thinking about becoming husband and wife. But I want to see pictures of that moment afterwards. 

For me guests are a bigger issue than the professionals. Our photographer knows how a church service runs, and will have checked out the best places to stand, lighting etc before hand. She also knows how to use a camera - and that includes turning the flash off! I have lost count of the number of places we have been where flash photography is banned - there is always at least one idiot who can't manage this. At the Singapore Zoo night safari, they asked everyone to turn their flash off in seven (yes, 7) languages, told us twice that someone wouldn't - and several people still hadn't. This had led to other places banning photography entirely (such as the Blue Penguin colony in Oamaru, NZ) as it is a danger to the subjects (often nocturnal animals). 

The same is true of mobile phones/cell phones. There's always one going off somewhere, despite signs or announcements to turn them off. They are invariably loud and playing ridiculous tunes (I love a ridiculous ring tone - mine plays the theme tune to Fraggle Rock - but not at a wedding). If a phone rings during my wedding ceremony, its owner may find themselves going home hungry! A cautionary note to my guests - if you don't know how to work your technology, leave it in the car!!

This was quoted by one of the commenters on love my dress, and appears to originally be from Offbeat Bride. I think it's perfect:

We want you to be able to really enjoy our wedding day, feeling truly present and in the moment with us. We've hired an amazing wedding photographer who will capture how the wedding looks - and we invite all of you to sit back, relax, and just enjoy how the wedding feels. We respectfully ask that everyone leave all cameras and cell phones off during the ceremony. We ask you to refrain so we can see your faces, and you can see ours, both now & forever in the photos that our photographer will capture. Of course we will be happy to share our photographs with you afterward!

Gadget, however, will think it's cheesy, so I've found him this alternative:

Ladies and gentlemen, prior to wedding take-off, all seat backs and tray tables must be in their upright and locked positions, all bags properly stowed, and all portable electronic devices turned off and stowed. This includes cell phones and cameras.

I think I might add the first to our wedsite and Order or Service sheets, and ask Father Nick to announce something similar to the latter before I arrive. There are some signs on OBB that you can use too, but I think Gadget might object if I label our wedding "unplugged!"

Sunday, June 17, 2012

How's the wedding plans coming along?

This seems to be the question I currently get asked the most. Not really surprising, and nice that family, friends and co-workers are interested (or are at least trying to seem interested!). But I've now reached the point where I'm having a hard time answering it - because it's kind of done.

Don't get me wrong, my to-do list still runs to several pages. What I mean is that there are very few things left on that list that are essential. We have to actually send the invites and meet with the vicar - and that's it. If nothing else gets done or decided on, we can manage. We've done enough to ensure we can be legally wed and have a party afterwards. Which is, surely, the whole point?

I'm determined to remember this every time I start thinking about the details. Avoid "Going Bridal," don't become Bridezilla and have fun. If the detail in question isn't fun, is too expensive or too stressful, then get rid of it.

I think I might make a deadline about a week before the wedding, when everything that isn't done gets deleted from the to-do list. All I'll be left with then is enjoying the run up to the big day - which sounds much better than "finalising centrepieces!"

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The meeting of the in-laws

I remember very clearly how nervous I was when I met Gadget's parents for the first time. I didn't need to be, as they're lovely, but I was. I'm not sure if the nerves will be the same for the next meeting - my parents are arranging to meet them.

I think I'll still be the most nervous person, but it would be interesting to know how our parents view this meeting. Especially as they're planning to do it whilst we're in NZ, so we won't even get to moderate it. The date is provisionally set for next Sunday, with location still to be decided. They were going to play golf, but it seems this has been postponed for now.

I'm sure they'll get on just fine, but I guess it's quite important that they do. Hopefully they will meet again on many future occasions, and they may even spend Christmas together at some point. It must be slightly strange for them, as they are being asked to spend time with people that they didn't choose to be friends with. I know you can't choose your family (including your in-laws), but at least Gadget and I got to meet our future in-laws before we decided to give them that official role. The parents are now stuck with being "co-in-laws" whether they like each other or not! Wish me (and them) luck!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A tale of two rings

Do not be fooled by the title. This is not a tale of me getting another engagement ring, but rather how we came to end up with only two rings in the wedding process, rather than the usual three.

Yes, the custom currently is for three rings - engagement and wedding for the bride, and wedding for the groom. I've blogged about my engagement ring already, so I won't keep you hanging. The "missing" ring is the groom's.

Whilst it is not and never will be present, we don't actually consider it "missing." Other people do, and we've already had a few comments about it. As most people don't even know yet, I suspect we'll get a few more, including (unfortunately) some on the day itself.

Gadget does not want to wear a ring. The only jewellery he wears is a watch, and he considers this a gadget rather than jewellery! Quite early in our relationship, this somehow came up in conversation. I told him it was his decision, and if he didn't want one I was ok with it. Fast forward to the current day, and he is sticking with his decision - as am I. No ring for him, no problem for me.

It is, at most, a symbol of our relationship. He does't need to wear a ring to demonstrate his commitment to me. Plenty of men do not have rings (including Gadget's Dad, I think), and many of my colleagues from different cultural and religious backgrounds don't share this fourth-finger-left-hand tradition. If it wasn't for the comments, it would be a non-issue. I'm not sure I can ban it as a topic of conversation on the day though!

I have my wedding ring; we ordered it at the same time as my engagement ring. As that's the only thing it has to match, it seemed the sensible thing to do. I hear rumours that it's bad luck, but never mind. It's a plain platinum flat band - the whole 'no stones at work' issue again. (Note: I changed jobs today and it looks like I will actually be able to wear my ring in my job for the next six months! How exciting!)

The Church of England ceremony, from what I can tell, allows us to say "I give you this ring" and "I receive this ring." That suggests to me that the custom of both parties wearing a ring is not that old. Plus, if the church is ok with it, I think everyone else can manage!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Warmth over beauty

I am the kind of person who chooses being warm and comfortable over looking good. Luckily for me it runs in the family - J is exactly the same. So having an April wedding means we are going to need a way of keeping warm.

Originally I was planning to get pashminas - you can get cheap ones from the market in a whole range of colours. Then I saw these faux-fur numbers:
and read a post (which I now can't find) where the bride got purple faux fur stoles from Asos for £22. Cue google search for faux fur stoles (unsuccessful - maybe it's the wrong season?). 

Then I saw these: 

Images courtesy of the always inspiring lovemydress and rockmywedding.

Who doesn't love a woolly cardi? It would be warmer than a stole, but could still be worn indoors (unlike a jacket or coat) and wouldn't fall off your shoulders like a pashmina. Perfect! The hunt was on - and quickly won. River Island via Asos with a combination effort - a woolly cape/poncho - on sale at £12.50, bright blue with pompoms and a hood! Pictures soon...

EDIT: I probably should have said I bought two of these, so my MOH and I will match. No cold for us!

Friday, June 8, 2012

A way to avoid corkage charges?

Today's wedding task was to email the venue with our wine requests. Having drunk tasted our way round New Zealand, we would love to have NZ wine at the wedding. Our venue does not stock any NZ wine.

I should say at this point that Kiwis are pretty serious about their wine (in as much as they are serious about anything other than rugby). You can't go into a bar and order a 'glass of house red,' you have to at least specify the grape variety (Pinot Noir yummmmmm). They usually have at least a dozen wines served by the glass, and all of them will be better than the standard UK options. For the same price. I love going out for drinks here!

When my parents went to view the Lodge, they spoke to the coordinator Tracey about supplying our own drinks. Obviously there is a corkage charge, which we understand. Tracey said that was fine, but suggested an alternative option which would be cheaper. They would source NZ wine for us through their wine merchant, and then we would buy it from them and just pay a single standard mark up rather than corkage.

As I've only just sent the email, I don't know exactly how much this is going to cost, but Tracey thinks it will be about £20 per person for all the drinks. (Their cheapest drink package is £16 pp, the next is £21.) I'm pretty hopeful that we'll get to have some really good wine for a reasonable price.

We've sent a list of everything we like, and are waiting to see what the merchant can suggest/source. I can recommend Lindauer sparkling wine (available at Majestic currently £8.99) - we drink that a surprising amount here! It may all go horribly wrong and we'll end up with Spanish Cava and Australian Merlot, but there are worse things that could happen!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sneaky flight charges and the wonderful Expedia

I can't give advice on booking package holidays, as it's not something I do much of. When it comes to booking flights (and hotels/rental cars/trains etc), however, I have quite a bit of experience. We currently have thirteen flights booked - maybe I should book one more to avoid the unlucky number?!

None of these are for our honeymoon, but some of the places we're going (Fiji, San Francisco) would be great honeymoon destinations. Some are with multinational airline alliances (BA/Qantas/One World), and some are with budget airlines. I'll fly with almost anyone, as long as the price and the time is right. The exception to this (apologies to those of you in the US) is some of the American airlines. We're flying BA as the alternative was United, who have consistently failed to deliver. Having said that, I was also unimpressed with Emirates, and they tend to get good reviews. On the flip side, I've yet to have a really bad experience on a budget airline - obviously you get what you pay for, but what do you really need on a 2 hour flight?

Budget airlines get notoriously bad press, either for being late (tight schedules) or for sneaky charges. Whilst the charges are annoying, just play the game and they can be minimised (check in online, take only carry-on luggage and pay by debit card). NZ's budget airline JetStar does much better than EasyJet or Ryan Air for the latter - you can pay by internet banking which is fee-free. It works really well for flights originating in NZ, but I've just discovered that it doesn't work for flights originating elsewhere as you have to pay in the currency local to where your journey begins.

Enter Expedia. I often read reviews of new flight comparison websites, but none of them seem to work as well as Expedia. I've used them since 2002, and although I shop around every time I book a flight, over 50% are booked through Expedia. They don't charge fees, have consistently good prices, good customer service and an easy to navigate site. This time they have even managed to trump budget airline JetStar on their own prices!

They're also great for hotels, and link in to Trip Advisor's rating system. I've used, (you can spend and receive nectar points here) and, and can highly recommend them. And before anyone asks, they haven't paid me to say this!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Whose budget is it anyway?

I have just added up Gadget's Ebay spending on the wedding. Bear in mind we are over 10 months from the big day, and there are still a lot of things to buy. Whilst I appreciate his involvement, I wish I had a bit more idea of what he's been spending - he's way over budget already.

As I've mentioned before, I'm a conservative spender. Gadget is not. He is a product of our capitalist society and consumer driven economy; he wants the best of everything and he wants it now. He doesn't want to wait and see what we already have that might work.

In the grand scheme of things he hasn't spent that much, and at least he's getting into the planning. My worry is where this will lead, and how I tell him that he probably can't have everything he wants. Whilst this sounds very negative, we both understand our financial roles - his is to spend and mine is to hold him back! This is the case for our relationship in general, and is clearly going to be true for the wedding.

It's not that he's deliberately wasting money; it's more that he can't function within a budget. Keeping track of his spending and stopping at a set limit are slightly alien concepts to him - which will make lots of sense when I tell you that his job title is "Commercial and FINANCIAL manager!"

Note: I feel the need to add that I had to check the spelling/grammar of this post title before I wrote it. Yes, I have OCD. Deal!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Lego creep

Apparently I was too busy holiday planning to write anything yesterday! Also, did anyone notice the not-so-deliberate mistake on the engagement photos? I didn't until I printed them out - it's now been corrected!

Our lego cake topper has arrived! I'm waiting for dad to take a picture, so for now you'll have to make do with this. My dad is quite excited at the whole lego idea I think!
Official Lego product bought via ebay
How cute? It now appears that we might be having lego elsewhere in the wedding. Gadget has found lego cufflinks which are pretty awesome - they definitely fit with our fun, brightly coloured day. We also found some pictures of buttonholes with lego men in them, so we're thinking about that too. Then he wondered if we should have lego bricks on the tables - I'm leaving that one to him! The lego creep has definitely begun....
Image from Offbeat bride

Image from, product available from bits and badges on etsy

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Honouring my ladies

I'm not having 'pretty maids all in a row'. This is not because I don't have people who I could ask to be my bridesmaids - there are several ladies in my life who merit the title of bridesmaid. These girls are important to me, and I would love to take this opportunity to show them that. (Of course they already know, but that's not the point.) But the WIC has kicked in again, and turned being a bridesmaid into a job that costs you money. That's not what I want at all, and is why I've opted out of it.

My MOH will have only two jobs - keep me and my mum laughing, and keep the little attendants from hurting themselves. Believe me when I say the first job will be harder than the last, as the last is something she does everyday and is very good at!

Back to my friends, and the question of how to let them know how much their friendship means to me. I've asked two of them (Team Warwards, the fabulous Ms D and Mrs F) to arrange my hen night. I may ask others to be involved in the day - either helping with make-up, doing a reading, or giving out order of service sheets for the church. Whilst I realise that this is 'an honour' (I was thrilled to do a reading at one of their weddings), it is also slightly nerve-wracking and is almost asking for a favour. So it doesn't quite satisfy the brief.

I'm hatching a plan that involves champagne, some awesome phrases of thanks, much laughing and some photographs, but you'll have to wait and see how that comes together!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

To evite, or to invite?

Whilst I wasn't the little girl dreaming about her wedding, there were a few things I was fairly certain about. The church, the dress colour, and the invitations. Only two of these have gone according to plan.

My family make their own greetings cards, and always have done. When aunt J got married, she made her wedding invitations (although it's a standing joke that I never actually got one!). I knew I was going to make our wedding invitations.

Well, I suppose I have, but not in the way I'd imagined. I had plans for a gatefold card tied with ribbon with a vellum insert. I even ordered card samples (luckily these were free). Then I realised the invitations need to go out in January to give everyone time to book rooms (if not booked a month before the wedding the rooms are released). We arrive back in the UK on January 19th. That means I either have to make the invitations in a bit of a rush, or I have to have them ready before then.

I didn't bring my craft stuff to NZ, as it didn't make sense. I'm not buying a whole load of new stuff, and I'm not posting all the invites from here. So that leaves me with buying them, or being "tacky" and sending evites.

I have no idea why evites are tacky, but plenty of people seem to think they are. Apparently a 'formal invite sets the tone for the day.' What if the tone of the day isn't formal? One bridal forum commenter said 'it's never tacky saving trees, and saving money is just a bonus,' which I definitely agree with.

Other commenters seem to think an email is likely to be ignored, whilst an invite will be kept forever. I think these are people reluctant to live in the digital age - it's much easier to find an email than a card, and keeping cards creates clutter.

Another odd comment is that the invite contains all the information people need. How much information can you fit onto an A5 card?! It's obvious from these same wedding forums that guests want more information than a bride can possibly fit on an invite, so even if we send invites it is for prettiness only. The info would still need to be on the wedsite, and the only people that can't look at that (grandparents) already know the info and are being driven around by my dad and my uncle.

So, after a bit of internal wrestling, I have made my peace with evites. It's not like we're sending a mass email - there will be a photoshop designed invite attached to a cleverly worded email, which will contain a link to the wedsite. Then if anyone 'loses' their invite, we can just send them another one!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fancy dress outfit for my MOH

My MOH has bought a dress! Actually, she's been very efficient and has bought almost the whole outfit in one week. More things off the to-do list, yey!

Thanks to the wonder that is outlet shopping, she got a gorgeous dress and bargain shoes at the same time. I'm sure those if you that live near York, Cheshire Oaks, Bicester etc will agree that outlets rock!

The dress is Antonia by Phase Eight, and the shoes are high and sparkly (which they weren't going to be, but look how pretty they are!).

This is actually my MOH, and the photo was sent to me by her hubby. He titled the email 'fancy dress outfit' - hence the title of this post.

She also bought a hair comb (I can't get a decent picture on here), so now we just need some bling and we're done!