Category Archives: planning a wedding

The wedding that tried very hard to wash away

You can plan and plan and plan a wedding. You can tick every box, tie every bow, micro manage to the last flourish of ink on the 86th label of table favours… You can spend months of your life working on DIY table plans, table names (and did I mention those labels?) agonising over the seating plan and table positioning and which confetti won’t cause a bird to explode and in which order the flower girls should walk down the aisle and at what point in the music… And still, something might happen that throws the whole thing into unprecedented chaos and renders at least half your plans for the day completely superfluous…

Now, this may seem a rather melodramatic description for a little bit of rain.

At this point it really was just a little bit of rain...

And at this point it really was just a little bit of rain…

But things quickly escalated to the point where, following the short minutes it takes to make a man and wife, it became crashingly apparent we were no longer talking about a little bit of rain. We were talking torrential, apocalyptic, hammering rain. The sort of rain which gushes down narrow, picturesquely steep stone steps leading to churches and turns the little Devon lanes between Dartmouth and Bigbury into treacherous rivers of stone and mud which eventually have to be closed off by the police. The kind of rain which comes accompanied by 50mph sucker-punches of wind (no match, as it turns out, for my super-strength false eyelashes) and a thick fog which settled itself obstinately over the beautiful sea and island view at our reception venue and refused to get up until the cake was cut.

Twenty precarious miles later our driver was to confirm that they were the worst conditions he had ever driven in...

Twenty precarious miles later our driver was to confirm that they were the worst conditions he had ever driven in…

You may think there’s not much one can do when faced with that sort of weather at a predominantly outdoorsy wedding. Guests were turned away from the dangerously flooded roads and a few never made it to the reception. Our ushers waded through actual quagmires to shepherd guests from cars to the marquees. The caterers arrived to find their oven sitting in six inches of rainwater. Umbrellas were destroyed, the bridesmaids’ beautifully styled hair took a hefty battering… The romantic tractor ride down to the beach for photos never happened and the hay bales we’d hired never left their stacks… So yes, at the time you might think there’s not much you can do… but there is. You can smile, shrug, have a glass of champagne and get the hell on with having a bloody good time. Because even though it’s really raining and no one can see the view and the groom’s elderly grandmother is stranded somewhere on the flooded Devon lanes* and every trip to the luxury toilet trailers takes three umbrellas, four extra hands and a pair of wellies, it’s still your wedding day. The best goddamn day of your life. And you know what? It bloody was.

It rained. Oh, how it rained... but we loved every minute.

It rained. Oh, how it rained… but we loved every minute.

Despite the weather – and I say that still without quite feeling I’m giving enough emphasis to the word Weathereveryone arrived at the marquee with a smile on their faces. The storm, the bloody irony of six weeks of gorgeous, sunny skies followed by the End of Days, gave everyone something to talk about, something to smile about. As a consequence, the marquee was full of laughter – soggy, commiserating, hysterically-relieved-to-finally-be-under-cover laughter – from start to finish. Luckily we’d splashed (lol) for a larger marquee than we needed, which meant no one felt crammed in, the decorations and fairy lights looked wonderful and everyone being stuck in one place for eight hours meant they had no choice but to bloody well study and appreciate every single sodding grain of DIY wedding prep I’d planned and crafted over the last 18 months… The band were phenomenal, the dance floor was never empty, the food was excellent, the speeches perfect… and after a while the rain stopped and the fog lifted over the dramatic, tumbling waves.

fog-lifted

The fog finally lifted…

It may have been a bit late for sitting out in the sun with a bottle of bubbly, but it certainly provided a beautiful backdrop for the smokers and the toilet-trekkers. And there’s nothing quite like standing on top of a cliff next to your new husband, watching the ocean crash moodily far below you as the wind streams your veil in creamy waves towards a marquee full of all the people you both love the most in the world.

...but in the end, it didn't really matter

…but in the end, it didn’t really matter either way

And, you know, if it hadn’t been raining we would never have been graced with this gem of a photo.

If you haven't been to the toilet in a multi-layered wedding gown, veil, wellies, false eyelashes whilst a torrential storm is threatening to blow the whole trailer off a cliff, you haven't been to the toilet.

If you haven’t been to the toilet in a multi-layered wedding gown, veil, wellies, false eyelashes whilst a torrential storm is threatening to blow the whole trailer off a cliff, you haven’t been to the toilet.

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Why is my bathroom so filthy?

So the blog posts have fallen by the wayside of late, and it’s definitely not because I’ve been cleaning my bathroom. Here is what has been keeping me away from WordPress and the Cif…

  1. The Wedding is officially Less Than A Month away. Somehow we’ve gone from the comfortable safety cushion of  Plenty Of Time to the final countdown, complete with increasingly wild-eyed and short-tempered replies to the simplest of questions (“How’s the wedding planning going?” “Are you all organised?” and “What do you want for lunch?”). Every day has begun to herald new and surprising bills and every intake of breath has a tremulous quiver of panic at the bottom of it. There is just so much to remember, so many lists which have gone missing, so many details that rely on my ability to remember them…

    I even fell a tiny bit out of love with my beloved the other week. No, I’m not talking about Gary. Turns out a lovely, multiple-layer wedding dress, 30C heat and my thighs unfairly resorting to two large legs of ham that’ve been left out in the sun until they take on an unhealthy, perspiring stickiness do not mix well. Let’s just say the dress and I parted ways with a distinct air of resentment between us – I weak-kneed with dehydration, she needing to be “aired out” as the seamstress solicitously put it. But it’s not all been a mad stress; I get to strap on my crafty pants and inflict the (poor) fruits of my AS-Level B-grade art skills on my wedding stationery, and I went on the hen do of my dreams last weekend, complete with laser tag, an Ice Bar, penis straws, games and a LOT of mummy dancing…

    10 points for spotting the penis straw

    10 points for spotting the penis straw

  1. The Move. Let’s move next year, we said. We need more space, we said. But don’t worry, we said, we’ll time it really well so it’s after the wedding. Whatever we do and wherever we go, it MOST CERTAINLY WILL BE AFTER THE WEDDING. So, naturally, our completion date is a slim three weeks before. But, you know, last time we did a House Move it was in the weeks before, during and after the birth of our first child so really if it didn’t happen at a time fraught with ground-breaking life-changes, we probably wouldn’t know how to do it. That’s what I tell people, anyway, when they ask me if we really understand the mountain of stress we’ve put upon ourselves. There’s nothing like a bit of humour to cover up the rising impulse to punch a person in the throat.

    It's happening...

    It’s happening…

  1. I’m officially a full-time WAHM (work at home mum). That’s right, I’m working the most I have done since the days of my waddling commutes back in 2013, and I’ve managed to somehow get an editor’s role behind my name. True, it’s by default due to a close colleague’s illness and I’m not making a big deal of it or presuming for one moment that the position will continue once my contract runs out, but ironically enough my career has never flown higher. And, one of the best things about it is that I get to work from home. I knew writing those novels over my maternity leave would be useful for something – it might not have landed the publishing contract I was looking for, but it’s certainly given me a hard dose of the discipline I need to knuckle down and churn out trade news, features and interviews while everyone else frolics in their paddling pools. And sometimes, on a quiet day, I can take a little break and frolic too. Because perks.

    Perks :)

    Perks 🙂

  1. I’m still a mummy first and foremost. Yes, I’ve had to rely on help with childcare a lot more recently, but that’s ok. Maybe it’s even a good thing. Lara loves spending time with her grandparents, great-grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. She loves going to pre-school two mornings a week during term-time. The days when we can go for a walk and feed the ducks or head to the park are all the more precious. But, schmaltz aside, I do feel guilty for not having her as my sole focus anymore. And I do miss those carefree days when my only responsibility was entertaining my little girl. I know one thing for sure – if and when I have another one I certainly won’t take one moment of my maternity leave for granted.

So there you go – we’re currently living in that limbo between exchange and completion on a house move; those uncomfortable few days where the bathroom is steadily becoming more and more filthy but there’s no point cleaning it until the Big Clean of next week. Wedding prep happens in the scrambled moments when work is quiet and Lara is not paying attention (she loves her some lace and craft paper). Somehow I’m managing to edit the entire editorial contents of a fortnightly trades magazine in between all of the above… And Lara is still alive, thriving (albeit on slightly more screen time than she probably should be) and hasn’t yet climbed out of a window or stuck any of my centre-pieces to her head. But, you know, there’s still time…


The Great Wedding Quagmire

wedding quagmire

Totally not panicking at all in the slightest at all.

In a little under five months I will be getting married. Which means that I am currently neck-deep in the quirky, sticky, confusing and oh-so-expensive quagmire of Planning A Wedding. Or, in perhaps more accurate terms, Planning A Stupidly Complicated And Perilously Open To All Kinds Of Disasters Including Losing Elderly Relatives Off A Cliff Marriage Of Persons. That didn’t fit on the invitations, however, so for continuity’s sake we shall hereby refer to the former labelling.

You see, our wedding is no ordinary affair. For starters it is to take place a sturdy 200 miles away from where 80% of our guests live (including the bride and groom). A ‘destination wedding’ if you will (which makes it sounds a lot more idyllic and palm tree-sy than the cowpatty, sand-in-all-crevices reality). Actually, it’s more like a destinationS wedding, due to our genius decision to locate our reception a good 25 miles or so away from the ceremony – and by ‘good’ I actually mean winding, one-lane, boggy, proper-country-lane miles which will take our guests at least 45 minutes or so to navigate. That is if they don’t go the route with the honest-to-God ford slap bang in the middle of it. (Unfortunately we learned this the hard way on our first venue visit… “It’s not too deep, look it’s just a like really big puddle… Hmm, getting a little deeper now. Is that an entirely normal sound coming from the engine? Oh my GOD there’s a BOAT MOORED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PUDDLE, TURN THE F*CK AROUND!” Gary’s Passat still hasn’t forgiven us.) Unfortunately this is also the route insisted upon by all satellite navigation systems. But, you know, so few wedding receptions these days lack that air of tense, wrangled, last-nerve-twitching air of harassment among their arriving guests…

My point being, this is not the easiest wedding to plan. But I still think we’re doing ok… I mean, when I sit and plan and make lists and talk myself out of having an attack of the vapours over the mother-fudging cost of every mother-fudging detail, everything does seem to be ticking along ok. There’re a few things left to sort out – the coaches, Gary’s suit, the bridesmaid and flower girl dresses, the reading of the banns, those pesky 5lbs I’d quite like to lose… But the big things are sorted. The invites have gone out. The RSVPs are trickling back. People haven’t yet started turning up on our doorsteps with large mallets shouting about how complicated we’ve made everything with our double-destinations and coach ride options and hard-to-access ceremony location necessitating a one mile walk to the coach pick up point… On the contrary, most seem to be genuinely excited about the whole thing, and those who can’t certainly seem disappointed and not at all relieved…

I don’t have any real cause to feel anxious at the moment. So why, when I have no real reason for it, do I still feel that tremulous, insistent bite of panic when people ask how the wedding plans are coming along? Why do I give that nervy, wild-eyed stare and start barking off my check lists in their faces? Why do I always finish in an incrementing crescendo along the lines of: “I think we’re ok… I THINK so… There’s nothing URGENT I need to be figuring out right now… right? RIGHT? WHAT DO YOU THINK, THOUGH, IS THERE SOMETHING I’VE FORGOTTEN?”

That, I think, is the key point. Planning a wedding is just so undeniably important. It’s fun, it’s stressful, you meet wonderful people, you get frequent bubbles of joy when you plan and book a detail that’s going to be SO AMAZING, you have wine-fuelled late nights with your intended other half and plan details and share brilliance and have those moments when you look at each other and know you’re thinking the exact same thoughts… But it’s all still just so undeniably important and undeniably terrifying. And the most terrifying thing of all isn’t the cost or the potential for things to go wrong on the day or the fact it will be all over far too fast… Those are things I can’t control. I know the day won’t be entirely perfect. I’m not expecting or even hoping for perfection – after all, some of the most memorable parts of a wedding day, the incidents which inspire the funniest stories (shout out to Mrs R-C and the malfunctioning Austin Princess bridesmaid car) are the parts which go a bit haywire…

What I am terrified about is messing something up now. I know how easy it would be for me to forget to do something, overlook some little detail which turns into a glaring, blackly obvious hole on the day itself… So please, please, Gods of all Inadvisably Complicated And Unintentionally Hazardous Events, if something is going to go wrong on my wedding day, please let it not be a big deal. Let it be funny – along the lines of a beautiful vintage car full of bridesmaids drifting to an idle stop in the middle of a busy junction as its elderly driver swears loudly… Please just don’t let it be because I forgot to return a phone call or dress a flower girl or invite a distant aunt at some point during this sticky, expensive navigation of the quagmire in which I, like so many before me, find myself currently residing.


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