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
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),, 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 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...