Monday, October 29, 2012

The virtual mommy moment

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Saying "YAY" to the dress

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Wedding wine

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wedding planning phase 2 is almost complete!

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 8, 2012

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The budget: from estimated to actual

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Learning to count to a hundred

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 1, 2012

More stuff I don't need

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