Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Wedding III

Wedding I
Wedding II


Whilst the rest of the family were eating their cake and drinking their tea and chatting to each other, I gave the bridesmaids their presents.


Somehow they had managed to squash themselves onto a sofa to drink their tea so it seemed the perfect opportunity to hand over their gifts and also to stop the questioning of what they needed for the next day. They all seemed to be pleased with the contents of their bags and, indeed, the bags themselves.

tea party

In fact, if you look carefully, on the arm of the sofa you can see the last minute additions I made to each bag: a bridal party survival kit, containing tissues, mints, safety pins, plasters, paracetamols and a nail file.

So, after about 10 minutes of peace and quiet it was rush rush rush as M and I led a 5 car convey to the chapel for the rehearsal. Previously, our Chaplain had indicated to us that this might be a very emotional run through, that people often cried and so on. We all arrived at the chapel and after some milling around we did a walk through of the service.

And then a walk through of the vows and ring exchange. Much to M's surprise, we added the words "etc, etc, bla bla bla" instead of 2 lines of the vows. Quite obvious when you think about it however, no point having the wedding the next day if you have already done it all the night before!

wedding rehearsal

The rehearsal ended with a prayer for the next day and a round of goodbyes. Our photographer arrived and had a look at the chapel and then we looked round the university for good places to take photographs the next day. This done, we embarked on our last journey together unmarried: delivering champagne to our ushers who by this time had all arrived in Exeter.

Driving around the back lanes of the countryside gave us some time to reflect together on the day ahead and what we were looking forward to, as well as expressing our surprise that the rehearsal had been surprisingly mundane. No tears, no disasters {aside from forgetting the orders of service}. Having been warned we might be very tearful we were both a little flat that it hadn't been like that at all. Privately I started to wonder if I would ever find it emotional, as usually I am a very emotional person. Even the marquee hitch hadn't upset me or bothered me, as it usually might.

By 8.30pm we were back at the wedding reception venue, Fursdon. No long drawn out goodbye here either; a quick kiss and good luck, and with that, M headed back to his parents' cottages for his last family evening and I headed inside to see mine, for lasagne and for an evening of work which ended at 12.30am with Mum, Dad and I making the bouquets.

{All images by Alex, my sister's boyfriend}

Monday, 29 June 2009

Back to Reality

It is hot in London. I walk through the streets of Finsbury Park on my way to the job centre. It is early morning and I still have to stop to buy water. Finsbury Park is the nearest I have felt to Morocco in London: in the early morning the passersby are mainly women; by the time I re-visit the job centre mid afternoon, it is only men around, gathered in groups outside the cafes and shops.

London smells hot and dirty with the occasional high notes of rubbish, hamster bedding and exhaust fumes. The air is close and heavy by mid afternoon and is about as far from the Cornish air we breathed for two weeks as I can imagine. The sound of seagulls mewing and protecting their babies has been replaced by buses, by shouting, by the disconnected voice of the tube station as I pass the entrance.

Real life asserted itself at precisely 9.01am when I arrived at the job centre. I hate the f*ing job centre. No one seems to say the same thing, everyone treats me with the same practiced air of at once disinterest and patronisation, as if I am some kind of moron who may not be able to follow their imprecise instructions. In any other world I am more qualified than them. But today I am the idiot who dared to get married and needs to update her details.

I spend the afternoon alternating between washing, tidying, sorting out wedding presents and compiling lists of people who need to be thanked. In amongst it all, I watch the tennis. Listen to the tennis. And wish that if I can't be at Wimbledon, I could be back on the beach with my new husband, eating freshly caught fish with freshly picked vegetables and handpicked and handmade gooseberry compote, on vintage china in the evening sunshine.

Honeymoon IV

Honeymoon III

Honeymoon II

Honeymoon I

{All images by me}

Wedding II

wedding venue II

We set off from London on the Thursday before the wedding with more things than I thought possible packed into M's Dad's car, including but not limited to boxes and boxes of crockery, wine, a picnic hamper and a barbecue to take on our honeymoon. M and I spent our last night together as single people crammed into the bottom bunk of a tiny bunk bed set at the cottages his parents had rented for the weekend.

And then it was the day before the wedding. We drove together to the wedding reception venue to meet the marquee men who were supposed to be erecting the marquee. Only there was no-one there. The place looked beautiful in the misty rain, but not exactly what we had been hoping for.

wedding venue

As we waited for the boys from the marquee company my flowers arrived. Sadly I did not have a camera to hand so I never got an image of the 100 white peonies all lying together in a box. We decanted them into a large bin of water, where they smelt gorgeous and I opened the first of many cards and presents we were handed that day: a photograph showing me at the first wedding I attended {my aunt and godmother's} and a beautiful calligraphy print featuring some of the words from the reading she would be doing during the service the next day.

Eventually the marquee boys arrived and after some hitches involving problems which would have been solved by carrying out a site visit {eventually we realised that the marquee was never going to look like our quoted plan and so accepted an on-the-spot solution which although didn't ruin the day, wasn't quite what we had in mind} and some more involving vans and mud and then tractors, the marquees went up. Despite these issues and the fact our schedule was now 2 hours out, we managed to keep calm and did what all British people do in times of strife and rain: made cups of tea.


It was then off to the supermarket to purchase all the soft drinks and beer for the reception; a supermarket sweep style race round the nearest Sainsbury's {being on a boycott of Tesco since the hen party fiasco} which we drove back to the reception venue and loaded into the marquee just in time for afternoon tea with all of our combined families, hosted by my grandparents. If it sounds like a mad rush, it really was. We had to be at the chapel for a rehearsal at 5pm and had hoped to get much of the table set up done before the rehearsal.

Yet at 4pm, the marquee had only just finished going up and the tables and chairs were still in stacks on the floor, dirty. Unwilling to forfeit the family get together/tea party we opted to leave the sorting out and we all piled upstairs into the holiday cottages to drink tea and eat 'granny sponge' and, for the grannies and grandpas, meet for the very first time.

{All images by Alex, my sister's boyfriend}

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Wedding I

Before I begin telling the story that was our wedding, my favourite (so far) of the official wedding photos, taken as we were leaving the chapel.

Our Wedding 1

{Image by Katie Thompson Photography}

And my favourite quotes (so far) from our guests: "it was the best wedding I have ever been to; it was just like an enormous house party" and "you know what made it so special, Rachel? It's that its all handmade".

Thursday, 18 June 2009

DIY How-To: Lavender Eye Masks

Lavender Eye Masks How To

{All images by me}

In case anyone fancied making their own version of these eye-masks, here is the how-to.

First of all, choose your fabric. This is a chambray which is easy to sew, is soft and cosy and rather pretty. I started off by making a template (9) and then cutting out the fabric. I then used white thread and my sewing machine to sew round the fabric staying about 5mm from the edge and leaving a gap at one end (6). I then turned the fabric inside out {correct side out} (4) and ironed it flat (7). I then filled the bag with dried lavender {although I have made others using cushion stuffing which is still comfortable just does not have the smell appeal of lavender} using a paper funnel (3). I only filled the bags half full so that the lavender can move about and mold to the face. I sewed up the end so it looked like the one at (2) and then added ribbon of a suitable length to tie behind the head (5). The finished eye masks are at (1).

A relatively easy project but are super comforting.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Bridesmaids Presents

bridesmaids presents

{all images by me}

And so, finally, I can let you in on the presents for the bridesmaids which I have been making and collecting all year but have not been able to show you as I wanted the bridesmaids to be the first to see them!*

Each bridesmaid was given a tote bag with her initial appliqued on the outside (1). The bags are cotton tote bags which my Mum had left over from a Christian Aid fair she was organising and the letter are made from felt which I had already. As with all of the wedding we tried to re-use and recycle wherever possible, so I was pleased that these were made entirely from things I (or my Mum) already owned. Essentially, to make these, I printed out a template from the computer, cut it out of felt and sewed it onto the bag using a sewing machine. Some of the stitching is not absolutely straight but I hope that adds to the homemade feel rather than detracts from the overall effect.

Inside each bag were a collection of items (2), some for the day itself and some things simply as presents. The blue pashminas (5) were in case they got chilly and the purses (6) were to use on the day if they wished, but also as a present as well. These purses were handmade by Etsy seller Claire at The Brit Boutique and matched the clutch bag that I used, save for different linings which I chose to suit each of them individually. Inside each purse was a pair of earrings to wear on the day and a little sparkly brooch which I found at a jewellery stall (3).

I then made each bridesmaid a lavender eye mask (4) to use to relax after the wedding, and to scent the contents of their bag beautifully! The last present each bag contained was a retro perspex photo cube which had a print by Etsy Seller Peonies from Peonies and Polaroids: The Shop on one side, photos from the hen party on some of the other sides and some blank spaces for their own photographs as well.

So, a few practical things, a few pretty things and all of them representative of my favourite things. I hope that they enjoyed them!

*These photos do not show the earrings which were added just beforehand, but they were not finished when I was writing these posts!

Monday, 15 June 2009

Guest Post by A1- The Big Day

The Beautiful Bride Leaving The Chapel The First Dance

Now the big day is over, and what a wonderful big day it was!

As you can see from the pictures, Rachel was an absolutely radiant bride, and M didn't look too bad either! She put huge amounts of work into her outfit, which certainly paid off. As her sister, I may be biased but I have never seen a more beautiful bride - I am sure you will all agree! The peonies perfectly complemented the dresses and colour schemes, and came out exactly the right amount in the car on the way to the chapel.

Contrary to earlier fears, Rachel didn't need her wellies. The weekend started with mist which added a certain atmosphere, and cleared on the wedding morning, progressing to beautiful evening sunshine. The only spots of rain occurred at the chapel but simply aided the process of moving the guests on up to the reception.

The choice of reception venue was perfect. The marquee acted as a beautiful blank canvas onto which R and M created a perfect concoction of decoration which reflected their tastes and ideals exactly. It was set of wonderfully by the backdrop of rolling countryside as far as the eye could see.

Rachel and M were "touched by many people" (as M said in his speech!), and R especially requested that you were all thanked for your many lovely messages, cards, texts, emails and comments. It has been wonderful how many people have shared in this event in one way or another.

Perhaps I shall share some more later, but I would like to make sure that Rachel herself gets to tell you more of the detail once she returns.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

We're Married & On Our Honeymoon

Or we will be by the time that you read this, if all goes according to plan.

We shall be away for 2 weeks in the exotic location of Cornwall... Whilst we away I have scheduled a series of posts about all the things I couldn't tell you about the wedding before it happened, for fear of ruining the surprise.

Look forward to sharing more details on our return, in the meantime my sisters are going to man this blog and perhaps write some guest posts for you.

See you soon!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

See you on the other side

So, this is it. We are off. Travelling down today, setting up tomorrow, wedding on Saturday. My apologies that posting has been sporadic, things have been a little busy here.

Back in a couple of weeks after the honeymoon with some recaps and photos.

Thank you all for your wishes and thoughts.


Monday, 8 June 2009

DIY Details and How-To: Rose Petal Confetti

rose petal confetti

{Image by me}

In the beginning, I was going to buy rose petal confetti, beautiful, fresh scented rose petals to use as confetti. And then I was made redundant and my budget for such things dropped dramatically. So I had another look at the Real Flower Company and saw the dried rose petals which was a more realistic option to make myself at home.

I started by harvesting the pink roses which grow all around our kitchen window and drying them on a tea towel in the kitchen but I quickly realised that they would not be enough. So, each time I have been to the shop, or to the tube station, or lately, the job centre, I have taken a plastic bag and filled it with rose petals which I have deadheaded from all the beautiful rose bushes around my neighbourhood. I never realised quite how many roses grow up and down the streets of N5.

Sadly, this being England and last weekend being perhaps the only sunshine we will see all summer, the petals haven't been drying quite as well as I had hoped. So I had to give them a little helping hand in a low oven this afternoon.

Lastly, in order to hand them out to people at the church, I have made some paper cones which are rather sweet and can be made very quickly on the evening before {as I don't think we can transport them made up}. The petals also look rather beautiful in our vintage teacups but are less practical to hand to people after the service.

and if you wondered how to do it yourself, it couldn't be easier. collect rose petals and separate. put oven on the lowest setting and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. sprinkle petals onto the greaseproof paper and leave in the oven for 5-15 minutes depending on petals, temperature and how engrossed in the tennis you are, remove from oven and cool on a tea-towel.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Good Luck Michelle

The lovely Michelle from Lavender Bakery gets married today in London. Michelle is a blogging friend turned real friend and I lay awake listening to the wind and rain batter against our windows and watched the pressure on the barometer drop dramatically and prayed that they would have sunshine for their outdoor wedding this afternoon.

Well, it isn't the sunniest of days but the downpours of last night seem to have receded somewhat. Yet regardless of the weather I know that they will have a fantastic day.

Good luck Michelle, and see you after the honeymoon. x

One Lovely Blog Award

Rosalie from Tea & Whimsey has given me this award.

The rules are that I now have to choose 15 of my favourite blogs to pass on this award. Actually, they are supposed to be newly discovered blogs, but sadly, I haven't really had time recently to discover many new things at all, so I am going to ignore that part and award:

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Good Luck Krista

Krista from Canadian Bride gets married today. Good luck and hope that you have a fantastic day!

Looking forward to reading all about it when you get back.

T minus 1 week

And so the final countdown begins. Instead of spending the day doing wedding projects, I spent the day selling cakes with the WI and helping small children decorate cupcakes.

The to-do list gets shorter and shorter thankfully:

*Make bridesmaids earrings
*Make labels for the napkins
*Make seating chart and have signed off by my Mother
*Finish cake toppers.
*Make bouquets and buttonholes (this will happen the evening before)
*Ensure logistics for PA system and equipment are in place.
*Purchase beer, soft drinks, water, breadsticks and fruit.

Hopefully the first three will be done tomorrow and the fourth on Monday. The others can't be done until we get there and we leave for there in 5 days time!

Friday, 5 June 2009

On feeling gloomy

After a week of glorious sunshine, the weather broke today. It is cloudy and gloomy and chilly and raining. And matches my rather despondent mood entirely. I went to three interviews. I didn't get any of the jobs. Nothing I could have done better, they all were positive in their feedback but simply went with someone with more experience {who was prepared to take a lower salary}. That's the way of the market at the moment.

We're just 8 days out from the wedding and it goes without saying that I am looking forward to it. But the thought of returning to London, happily married but still jobless fills me with dread.

Cornwall in May
{Image by me}

This is what Cornwall looks like in the gloom of early summer. The light still reflects off the water, the water just looks a different colour. When the sky looks like someone has washed their paintbrush in inky water and swooshed it across the clouds, the water looks all at once flat and deep and moody. Even when it clearly isn't. If even in the poorest of lights there is still beauty in the landscape, I can find hope in what seems like a bleak situation. My reflection might not look as clear as it would in the height of a clear summers day, but it is still there. The light that shines might be slightly distorted, but shine it does.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Hen Party V

hen party 5
{Images by hen party guests}

After the afternoon tea we played party games:
a bride's quiz with prizes
20s style crosswords and quiz
a picture round {famous wives}
names on backs {famous couples}
design the best dress out of recycled newspaper
and a bride-wars style fight afterwards
lots of drinking games {with dancing}
and then supper

all in all, the best hen weekend I could ever have hoped for.

and now, a week to go until we leave for the wedding...

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Hen Party IV

hen party 6

{Images by hen party guests; food, crockery and decorations by Iced}

And after the sun bathing came afternoon tea, 1920s style. We sat by the swimming pool in the late afternoon sunshine and ate a beautiful high tea, courtesy of Hannah at Iced.

Each cake stand was laden with sandwiches {cucumber, beef or turkey}, fruit and plain scones, teisin lap, vanilla cupcakes decorated with blue flowers, pimms jellies, lemon tarts and fruit tarts, chocolate covered strawberries, mini frasier cakes piped in royal icing with 'R's' for Rachel, sandwiched mini meringues and ginger lime tarts, all served on mismatched vintage 1920/30s crockery and accompanied with pots of delicious tea.

All the girls made a huge effort with their outfits which I would have loved to show you, but in the interest of friendship, unless they expressly allow me, I shall keep those photos to myself.

Hannah provided 1920s music which we danced the Charleston to as we drank champagne by the pool before hand and which continued to play through out the tea party. It was wonderful and the food was so delicious I lugged the leftovers all the way back to London to share with M the next evening!

And then came the games...

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Hen Party III

hen party 2

{Images by A2 and another hen party guest}

The bridesmaids dressed me in a neon pink veil,
My finger and toe nails were painted to match.
I was given a {handmade} garter
which was then removed from me before I was thrown in the pool...
We lay around in our bikinis all afternoon
and then changed into our 20s style outfits for the tea party.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Hen Party II

hen party 4

{Image by A2}

...guess which one is me?

Hen Party

hen party 3

Dancing in the waves wearing a neon veil
{Image by A2}

My Hen Party in numbers...

1 hen
Two sisters
3 bridesmaids
16 guests
2 days of hot sunshine
2 afternoons of pool side lounging
8 cake stands with 3 layers of cakes
5 recycled newspaper wedding dresses
endless drinking and laughing and reminiscing