Sunday, 31 August 2008

Vintage Crockery


Returned from our trip to see the wedding venue and catching up with old friends with a local wedding magazine. I had picked it up earlier in the weekend with a thought that it might provide some useful local contacts and I am glad that I did, for in it I found these beautiful vintage crockery photographs and the company, The English Tea Party, which hires them.

A quick peek at the website and the idea is settling in my mind: vintage country crockery to be mixed in with the more modern classic crockery we were thinking of hiring. The prices are similar. Or, I could spend the next year collecting vintage crockery at fairs, fetes, charity shops and eBay and do it myself. Sorry, that should be the next 9 months - time is running by at an alarming speed.

Don't the patterns just look so pretty together? A real mish-mash of colours and styles but somehow so gorgeous. I will obviously have to check with my boy though: he likes our Tiffany blue vintage crockery that we use everyday but he might not be so keen on vintage floral on the day. I do so hope he likes the idea though.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Up or Down?

{Image from Stylemepretty}

Hair up or hair down? Not something I have given a huge amount of thought but at the weekend I met another bride-to-be, and as one does, got chatting. We were joined by my sister-in-law-to-be (what a mouthful) who has long blonde hair. "I love your hair" said the bride-to-be to her, "I wish mine could be that long for my wedding" and they proceeded to discuss hairstyles as her with the long blonde hair had got married only a few months prior. And then they both turned to me.

"How are you wearing yours?" they asked? "Well, I hadn't given it much thought" I replied. And then I was told that I simply must "wear it up, you look so elegant with it up. You have to". So that's me told...

Perhaps a simple bun (image above) or perhaps a pleat (below) but it will depend I think on what sort of veil I wear - birdcage ideas progressing but rather slowly, that net is a little tricky to bunch into a shape which doesn't make one's head look like it is caught in a shrimping net - and whether I choose to keep the veil on for the reception as well.

{Image from Stylemepretty}

The one thing I think I am clear on though is that I shall be doing my hair on the morning. I might go to the hairdressers before the wedding for a cut and colour but in general I do not find hairdressers relaxing or peaceful and I usually avoid them unless absolutely necessary. The fact that they also charge an eye-watering amount of money doesn't help, nor did my run in with one before a ball last year (I booked one thing, they offered something subtly different on the day, to which I agreed and then tried to charge me twice as much. I refused - their comment "we don't know what the customer has booked when she sits in the chair". My response - "good job I wasn't expecting it to be coloured then"). So the chosen style must be simple enough for me to do myself. I don't think either of the above styles will prove too much of a challenge although curls might just tip me over the edge into hair style insanity.


Began filling in the Archbishop's Licence form last night which reminded me of countless job application forms: you are so paranoid about putting the wrong response in the essay box that you forget how to spell your own name. Thankfully filling in almost 100 applications has left me in good stead that Rachel is spelt with only one 'a'. I have yet to write the essay which will convince Dr Williams why M and I should marry in our university chapel but once I have done that it has to be sent to the Chaplain who must also write his own essay, including providing evidence that he is happy that both our families consent to the marriage. Then we must part with £145 (I wonder which fund this benefits: are marriage licences paying for the roof of Westminster Abbey?) and then a further £5 for the swearing of an affidavit if good old Dr Williams is convinced by our arguments. Still, I suppose we shall marry in the explicit knowledge that the Archbishop of Canterbury personally thinks our marriage is a decent prospect...


Off to visit the proposed venue on Sunday. We last saw it in glorious sunshine on possibly the best day of the year so I suppose it would be best if it was 'issing' (word taken from a mother's account of her daughter's wedding 2 weeks ago) with rain so we can see what to expect should the weather be inclement on our 'big day'. Mentioned to our proposed caterer that we were planning the trip and would pay him his deposit once the venue deposit had been paid - no good having a caterer but no venue - and he wondered if we would like to meet him at the same time. Was very impressed by his service and it will be good to meet him before we agree to the catering and he can double check the venue is suitable for him. Obviously a visit to the venue means a return to our university town for the weekend and a chance to party nostalgically at my favourite night club with a few friends who never made it home from the place which I moved to 8 years ago this coming month. How time flies.


Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Inspiration Returns?

No sooner had I posted my insecure ramblings about my feeling squashed by wedding planning than my RSS feed popped up to say that Cara from Peonies & Polaroids had finally published something since she got married 2 weeks ago! I mean, even in a cafe with wifi access when checking the weather forecast I dropped onto her blog to see if she'd had a good day. So I was sad to read that something had happened to spoil or at least mean her day was less than perfect. But like all good blog writers she doesn't elaborate and we shall have to return over and over again to see what it was... Still, I wish her many congratulations and hope that it wasn't too traumatic and also to thank her for posting a link to some other blogs to lift my inspirations.


Back Home...

...after a lovely week off the coast of Southern Brittany with Mum, Dad and my youngest sister. Was slightly strange thought that it would be my last family holiday as a 'single' woman. M did not join us so it really was a family trip except for the fact that my other sister currently lives in Australia and did not join us. We spent a lovely week pottering around the harbours, marinas, islands and beaches in the Bay of Quiberon, sunbathing, sailing, reading, reminiscing. Dad kept remembering occasions when I had done something funny aged 2 or 3 and he kept regaling them to shrieks of laughter and pleaded requests not to use them in his speech next summer. At each one he merely smiled and remarked "I think it will go down rather well, actually".

So I flew back to England last Sunday and despite a gorgeous sunny flight over the solent and the south of England with a patchwork of fields ready for harvest, the sun has not showed its warmth or light since. It has been hard to muster the energy to get involved with wedding planning again, I have to say. We received an engagement present and despite opening it 3 days ago the nearest I have come to writing the thank you card is to dig out the box of notelets.

I feel rather bogged down in all the details. On Sunday we are visiting the venue again and shall take the photographs to show to Mum & Dad to enable us all to decide on which lawn we should place the marquee. The licence application form has arrived from the Archbishops Office which must be completed and then forwarded to the Chaplain for him to add his pleadings. Quite why the Archbishop of Canterbury should care why we wish to hold our wedding in a chapel and then have some kind of ability to prevent this is beyond my grasp but as it is a 'non parish church' it is permission we must have. That and part with £145 for his blessing. I mean, the chapel holds services every Sunday in term time - it's not as if we want to get married in a fire station.

Final decisions need to be made on the guest list so we can send the save the date cards. Save the date cards have not yet been made. Bookings will have to be finalised before the cards can be made as I am not re-writing 120 cards. I can so see why people have wedding planners...

Back presently with something more interesting and inspirational soon I hope.


Friday, 15 August 2008

BirdCage Veil Ideas

Still experimenting with ideas for a diy birdcage veil. I think the shape of this is nice but too bulky and needs more than a pin to hold the edges together and disguise the netting a little bit. I hope to use feathers and flowers together on mine. But we shall see...


I think the netting needs to come down a little further over the face as it is essentially a hairpiece not a veil but doesn't the white netting look fab against her dark hair.

All images from (I cannot work out who took them)

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Marriage Service

Received an e-mail from the Rev'd who is conducting our service with definite confirmation of the time and date and location of the service. I started reading the marriage service on the Church of England website and felt myself becoming slightly emotional. It all seems a bit more real now and I am looking forward to it so much. I cannot wait for our forever to start officially.

We now have to choose hymns and readings and prayers and organ music. We have asked a very good friend of ours from university to play her 'cello during the signing of the register and co-incidentally she e-mailed me about an hour after the chaplain to suggest a piece that she could play.

I rather like this reading from Song of Solomon 2.10-13; 8.6,7:-

"My beloved speaks and says to me: 'Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtle dove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs,and the vines are in blossom;they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

'Set me as a seal upon your heart,as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire,a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love,neither can floods drown it. If one offered for love all the wealth of one's house, it would be utterly scorned."

but I have no idea whether M likes it or not. We are also allowed to have a non-biblical reading I believe. I very much like this passage from Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway:-

"At night, there was the feeling that we had come home, feeling no longer alone, waking in the night to find the other one there, and not gone away; all other things were unreal. We slept when we were tired and if we woke the other one woke too so one was not alone. Often a man wishes to be alone and a woman wishes to be alone too and if they love each other they are jealous of that in each other, but I can truly say we never felt that. We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others. We were never lonely and never afraid when we were together."

But there is plenty more time to fall in love with some other readings...


Back Soon

It has not been a good week. I think I have caught a virus from a client; I have been shivery and tired and unable to make any decisions. I hope that the two week break in communication from our wedding vendors is not going to be a problem. But I just can't face trying to work out how many chairs we shall need. Hopefully once I return from my hols at the end of August I shall feel rejuvenated.

In other news, my usual round of facebook wedding stalking did not offer up things for the don't list. Except, well, price. Some of the weddings I viewed this week were a little out of my price range. £30,000 minimum spend on venue hire is a little more than I hope to pay for the entire wedding...


Wednesday, 13 August 2008

10 Months

In 10 months it will be our wedding day. Eeeekk... And what a lot there is left to do...

1 month today is my 'save the date' deadline. i.e. I would like to have paid all my deposits and be able to send out cards to people.

2 months today is my 'hen party planning meeting' deadline. Quite how we are proposing to organise a hen party for 15-20 girls when it has taken 2 months already and we still cannot find a date when 3 of us can meet for a planning discussion.

4 months today is my 'details decided' deadline. By Christmas I would like to have a good idea of what people are wearing and who is doing what, when.

7-8 months today is when I would like all bridesmaids dresses to be ready. I would very much appreciate not to have to be finishing them the week before the wedding.

8 months today is my diy deadline. I do not want to be faffing trying to finish off diy projects. I am hoping the countdown to the wedding will be filled with relaxing drinks gatherings and pedicures, not stressing over bunting and napkin ribbons.

But for now, I am not worrying or thinking about the wedding. I am off on a sailing trip. Which given the current weather doesn't sound as fun as it should. Back at the end of August when I look forward to seeing Peonies wedding photos and hope that she has better luck with the weather up in Scotland and manages her dream of an outside wedding.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Wedding Lists Update

How ironic: it was Liberty where we were hoping to have our wedding list. I had been trying to make an appointment with Jason, our personal consultant, for several weeks but to no avail. Finally, I looked up the wedding lists page on the website instead and discovered that the website had disappeared. Hhmm. That seemed odd. Alarm bells started ringing so I dug out the business card he sent me along with the information and rang him. No answer. Finally, after about 5 tries throughout the afternoon he deigned to answer the telephone.

And guess what? Liberty's wedding gift list was managed by Wrapit. Who are in administration. So no more Liberty gift lists. I enquired as to why (a) he had been ignoring my e-mails and (b) they had not thought to tell their customers. He could not provide an answer and rudely terminated the call. I was really disappointed.

Not because we cannot have Liberty presents, because that was not the idea of the list. Also, all my close friends know that Liberty is my favourite shop. It is because Liberty is my favourite shop that I was so disappointed. I didn't expect to be treated in such fashion by any of their staff. Now, I read the small print to the gift list brochure and I was still under the impression that the list was managed by Liberty. I was very surprised they had outsourced the list to such an unstable company. One of the reasons we thought Liberty might be a good bet was precisely because we thought they were such a heavy weight shop problems like this might be avoided...

In other news, on Peonies recommendation I went to MacCulloch and Wallis to get some netting to try out different veil ideas. I almost ordered the material online until I discovered that the actual shop was just down the road from my work, and they are open til 7pm on Thursdays, so I popped down last night and bought 2 different sorts of veil material, some clear combs, some lace ribbon and some emu feathers to experiment with some sort of birdcage veil. When I've managed to make it into something worth photographing I may even post a photo or two here.


Thursday, 7 August 2008

Wedding Lists

Melanie Reid writes in today's Times about wedding lists, calling them a "vulgar impertinence". What appears to have upset her is twofold: first of all the idea that people should 'ask' for presents and secondly some brides attitude to the demise of Wrapit (an online wedding list company who has recently gone into administration leaving a long line of brides sans presents and an even longer line of guests a the back of the queue of unsecured creditors).

I am not sure where people stand on wedding lists. One invitation I received had the wedding list information contained inside it, which as we were close friends I ignored it and bought 'off list'. I think we shall get round the problem by having some kind of wedding information website with all these kind of details there: we shall have a wedding list merely as a guide to people if they did wish to buy us a present and they weren't sure what we would like or need. Oh, and it won't be at John Lewis.

Not because, as Reid claims, "the joy of giving is finally extinguished, in my experience, by trawling the stuffy John Lewis website vainly trying to find an item on the list that fits one's budget and that stirs one's imagination in any way. One cannot see the gift; nor touch it; nor invest any emotion in it; one makes a choice based solely on financial value. You are merely a facilitator of a box that can now be ticked off". Because we would like some more unique things to add to our house and we feel the place that we have chosen for our gift list reflects us better. But in many ways we would rather that the guests, if they wish to give us a present, pick something of their choosing. The list is there for inspiration, ideas and as a back up.

And as for the bride "who tossed her hair like an angry pony and bemoaned the loss of £7,500 of goodies that had been pledged to her" or those who "seemed totally oblivious, these complacent young women, of the moral ambiguity of seeking gifts on such terms", I think it is rather harsh to speak of young women, newly married young women, in such a fashion. Yes, perhaps it is rather ungainly to fight for their right to have their presents, but in many ways they were only being realistic. People give presents at weddings; instead of remembering the guest every time you trip over something they bought you but weren't sure about, how nice for the guest to think that they bought something for the bride & groom that they actually wanted or needed. Even if they don't think of you personally every time they use it. Does Reid really think of each person who has ever bought her a present every time she uses it?

Image from


Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Budget Worries

Although I am hoping to cut quite a few of the costs of the wedding by doing things myself, I am starting to worry about the spiralling costs of a one day celebration. We thought we had found the perfect budget-friendly option for the reception: hiring the back garden of a pub. Only when it came to it, it wouldn't have worked. So we have plumped for another venue but with this come extra costs: hiring the lawn, hiring the marquee to put on the lawn, the catering, the generator to power everything, the accommodation. Someone has to pay for all of this. The extra few hundred pounds everywhere are starting to add up. Although on the plus side the new venue is FAB.

I experimented with invitations earlier tonight. Although they do look good handwritten with 100ish guests to invite that is a lot of writing for me. I am investigating printing or having them printed in black ink and then using my blue ink and a nib dipped into it to personalise them myself. They won't all be identical but I guess no-one would know.

I also plan to make the bunting to decorate the marquee and the cake decorations. I will probably make my veil in whichever shape I decide to go for. My dress was from Oxfam and my shoes in the sale, still the projected budget seems to be over £10,000 which seems obscene for one day. I wonder what else we can cut out and do ourselves instead?


Monday, 4 August 2008

The Dress

So, my outfit is in theory nearly sorted. Starting from the feet up, which is often the way that I get dressed, at least mentally. Shoes first. So, shoes first: I went to Selfridges and bought the most gorgeous blue Rupert Sanderson peep toe shoes. I knew then that I needed a dress which was a little shorter at the front, dropping back into a train, so that the shoes would be visible. No point spending that much money on those peacock blue metallic babies if no-one would be able to see them.

My first thought was a vintage dress. I've no doubt said this before, but it is important to me: the dress is not what is important about the day, it is the getting married that is. Speaking personally, and personally only as I know different things are important to different people, to me it is unthinkable to spend so much money on a dress to be worn once. So vintage, I thought, would be perfect. I rang a couple of vintage shops, who to be frank even if they had said they had anything in my size, I wouldn't have felt comfortable buying it from them, as they were so rude over the telephone. I then went to Shikasuki, my favourite Vintage Shop and purveyor of several of my favoured dresses and thought I had found my dress. But something didn't sit quite right in my head. The layers looked a little too seventies, a little too dated, a little too loo roll holder. So I didn't buy the dress.

Then came the fortunately, unfortunately saga and an unexpected trip to the bridal shop at Oxfam in Southampton. It was there which I found a dress which fitted my criteria: white/ivory, strapless, plain, elegant, hung well, showed off the shoes but with a train at the back. It is slightly too big but this is easily altered if I have not put on any weight by next June. As my Mummy said, easier to take out fabric than it is to try and add some back in.

I tried on a traditional veil at the bridal shop but it was the wrong colour although the style was pretty good: edged tulle reaching to my elbows. I tried on a few jackets but they were all wrong: too many shoulder pads, embroidery, sequins, too formal. I know that I want to have my shoulders 'covered' in the church. But Mummy to the rescue, who found the most beautiful embroidered cape/jacket and it is perfect. Elegant, some detail in an otherwise plain outfit.

The only question that it leaves now though is what kind of veil to have and how to have my hair. Should I stick with the traditional veil or should I go for a more modern and elegant birdcage style headpiece? Should I stick with the feather idea? Or perhaps I will wait until nearer to the time and start concentrating on the bridesmaids dresses instead...


Sunday, 3 August 2008

Confessions of a Fiancee (Part Three)

The wedding season continues, as does the ability to look through photos of other people's weddings. Sadly however the Don't List grows ever longer and now includes:-

  • Despite my love of shoes and the fact that I never wear boring ones, it is my personal belief that the groom should wear simple well fitting dress shoes with his suit. Not flip flops, converse (however clean and new) or bowling shoes.
  • Wellies are acceptable only if there is a country walk from the church to the reception and it is actually peeing with rain.
  • Balloons, whilst appropriate table centrepieces at some parties (and I have used them myself before), look odd at a wedding reception. Especially when the theme is pale pink and white and both bride and bridesmaids are a little, ahem, balloon shaped themselves...
  • It is important to think of the aesthetics of the table after the plates have been cleared but during the evening reception. In addition to my vases of lavender and other wild flowers I also plan to have little jars with tea lights in them. Simple and beautiful but cost effective too. I think this looks better than enormous bows of iridescent purple plastic ribbon.