Jul 11

Madrid hen

When you’re a hen, the world seems to revolve around you. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like being the centre of attention, you probably won’t like it.

It’s sort of hard to fade into the background when you’re wearing a veil and tiara combo and a silver sash with the words ‘bride-to-be’ emblazoned on them.

Not that I’m complaining mind you – I loved every single minute.

I am beyond impressed with my friend Emma, who planned the whole thing – the attention to detail was amazing.

She’d stocked up on my favourite drinks – Martini blanco and Pacharan – for the down time when we had to get ready at her flat. And even invested in a CD of 100 Eighties hits for us to listen to.

There were even little Union Jack flags on my sash – just in case there was any doubt as to what nationality we all were.

Thankfully there were no phallus-shaped accessories, L Plates or strippers. It all felt very classy – even when we were fully on the rampage out in town at four in the morning.

We even managed to stumble across a group of French stags in the same club. As I chatted away to the groom you could see the look of confusion on some people’s faces – one passer by stopped to ask me why on earth I would have my hen party in the same place as my future husband was having his bachelor party!

I’ve never had so many nice chats and comments from total strangers. Even people singing wedding marches and shouting “viva la novia” was kind of nice.

Some people didn’t get it at all though. “Are you celebrating something?” One guy asked.

“No, I dress like this all the time,” I told him, to which he answered: “Oh, right, OK,” before wandering off.

It wasn’t all rampaging around town, though. On Saturday day, after a lovely picnic at the picturesque Templo de Debod, the biggest surprise of the weekend was a session of laughter therapy.

It was absolutely brilliant. If you’ve never played el gato tonto or been a tree while all your friends are butterflies, you haven’t lived. At one point we’d attracted an audience of about 20 Japanese tourists and two police cars – we must have looked like a right bunch of weirdos.

I can’t imagine having more fun in one weekend – surely being a hen must be a taster of what’s to come on the big day?

As the weekend was drawing to a close the girls gave me the most wonderful present – a book filled with pictures of us all together and the most lovely messages.

Me – being me – I couldn’t help shed a tear.

I am so lucky to be surrounded by so many amazing people in my life – I don’t know what I would do without my gorgeous friends.

So thanks so much to all my Madrid hens – you made it the most special weekend ever.

Jul 11

What’s in a name?

I remember being a teenager, going through that feminist stage that most young girls do.

And I found out – and what a revelation this was – that it wasn’t ‘The Law’ that you had to take your husband’s surname once you got hitched.

Amazing. In that case, I was totally going to keep mine.

“There’s absolutely no way I would change my name if I got married,” I told my friends in the sixth form, who probably nodded in agreement.

We’d never lose our identities because of some man. Humph to that.

But as I got older I kind of changed my mind. Not that I didn’t like my surname. (Oh it never got boring being serenaded with Mrs Robinson by boys that thought it would impress you.)

It’s just it seemed like a nice thing to do – the perfect symbol of starting a new chapter of your life.

Not that I was going to become one of those girls that starts practicing her new signature (inserting her new boyfriend’s surname in place of her own). Oh no, not me – not in this life, anyway.

I was all prepared to give up my surname. So imagine my disappointment when I learned that Spanish brides all, without exception, keep their own names.

J tried to explain it to me. I would still be a Mrs – ie Señora whatever, but I would still be Katherine Robinson. Our children – like all Spanish children, would have two surnames – His first, followed by mine.

A perfect blend of Spanish and British – just like our future kids would be.

OK, but I felt cheated. True, on the plus side – I wouldn’t have to change my passport, or my work email or my Facebook name or anything, but it was the principal of the matter.

The choice had been taken away from me. It would look weird if I did take his name, because the only other women who had it in his family would be his sisters.

And it’s such a fun surname to have – Borrachero, which basically means drunkard. Mrs Drunkard – it’s just brilliant.

Actually, I should clarify that the origins of the name don’t really come from the verb emborrachar (i.e. to get drunk). People who’ve traced it think it could have come from Portugal, where a ‘boracha’ is a typical container for olive oil and wine.

Or it could be something to do with the Borrachero plant, which grows in Mexico. Perhaps in days of old, the people who farmed or picked these plants, which have medicinal uses, adopted the surname.

There are very few people in Spain who have it as a surname. People do a double take – and sometimes laugh (how rude!) – whenever J has to tell people – whether to book a table at a restaurant or whatever.

When he was paying in a shop once, one guy even borrowed his ID to show it to his friends ‘cos he couldn’t believe it.

The icing on the cake is that J’s father’s full last name is Borrachero Tirado (you could interpret this as ‘fallen down drunkard’, with the literal translation) And he doesn’t even drink!

Anyway, I’m getting off the point. What I really wanted to say is that I love my future husband’s unique surname, and I’m sad I won’t be taking it.

But really I don’t need a new name to prove to myself I’m married, or starting a new chapter.

In many ways I feel like I’ve already turned the page.

Jun 11

Where are my RSVPs?

It seems like an age ago I made the trip to the stationary shop with Linda so sort out the invitations. Actually it was April.

When they finally arrived, complete with their beautifully hand-written addressed envelopes – I couldn’t wait to send them out.

Like a total sad case I sat up till one in the morning putting them all into the correct envelopes (Spanish ones for the Spanish speakers, and English ones for the Brits – naturally).

Then the next day I rushed off to the post office and spent 30 Euros on stamps. I couldn’t get the darn things into the post box fast enough.

That was it – It felt real. The invites were out. So I sat down and just waited for the RSVPs to come rushing in… But it just hasn’t happened.

To date I’ve had about 5 RSVPs – totaling about ten guests. The atmosphere might be a bit flat in our 100-person dining room with that number.

And most of those are from our lovely invitees who are super keen and super excited, and have been telling me from the start they’d be there with bells and whistles on.

Granted, it’s only been a couple of weeks since they started dropping through people’s letterboxes – so maybe I need to be a bit more patient.

In fact I need to be a lot more patient. After turning to my friend the internet (as I often do with wedding doubts and questions) it seems that this is a common problem. One poor girl was even saying that with two weeks to go before her wedding she only had about 30 of her 200 guests accounted for. Shouldn’t she have been phoning them?

I’ll admit it, I’m starting to get a bit of wedding paranoia. What if no-one comes? What if I have to bring my dog and invite my favourite bus driver just to stop it looking sad and lonely?

I know that a lot of our invitees just assume we know they’ll definitely be there, so they don’t need to RSVP.

But there are some who’ve said they’re not sure if they can make it – and I bet it’s those ones who remain all quiet on the reply front.

I totally understand that times are tough and weddings are expensive – and people might be waiting to see if they can scrape together enough cash. But one way or another I really need to know.

The big problem for us is that that we’ve provisionally booked hotel rooms for guests coming from abroad (which are a sizeable amount). So we need to firm up who won’t be needing them, or start inviting people on the b list to take their place.

But I how do I get people to commit or politely decline?

We tried to make it as easy as possible for people to RSVP – I put my email and phone number on the invites so people don’t have to bother posting a reply card. Hopefully that will help. Fingers crossed anyway.

I’ve heard people say that waiting for the RSVPs is one of the most stressful parts of planning a wedding – I think they might be right.

I look back at all the times I’ve been a bad guest – leaving it really late in replying. In one case I think I didn’t even reply at all, and just thought ‘Oh they’ll just assume I’m not coming’.

Oh how I would like to go back in time and give myself a good Chinese burn for being so rude.

I vow, from this day forward to be a prompt RSVP-er – I had no idea just how much grief it can cause!

May 11

The serious stuff

“You do know what it means to get married in the Catholic Church, don’t you?”

The priest fixed stern eyes on us both as he said these words.

“It is forever. There is NO divorce here.”

I tried to sneak a look a J, but he was staring straight ahead. Poker face. I had a sudden and terrible urge to laugh.

I didn’t expect it to be like this – the filing of our wedding paper work.

It was the second time we’d tried to do it, at the parish office which was handily five minutes walk from our house.

The first time had been comical. We’d turned up with the priest who was going to marry us, and he’d presented us to the priest in charge of the office.

“These two people are in love, and they want to get married,” he said, sweeping his arm towards us grandly.

“So?” asked the office priest.

“They want to file their paper work,” said our clergyman, looking a little puzzled.


“Well, and nothing, that’s it.”

The office priest looked at us like we were all idiots.

“But they need two witnesses!” he said.

Turns out we were idiots.

Well we were back with our two testigos. Sarah – one of my best friends in Madrid – and Chucho – J’s fishing partner. And there was also baby Nikko – their cute little seven month old son. He cheered up the office priest no end.

So while Nikko munched through several rice cakes, unceremoniously spilling crumbs on the floor, we handed over our birth and baptism certificates and told him the info he needed to fill in the form.

Which was pretty slow going – but we got there – a good 40 minutes later.

Then came the moment when he sent Sarah and Chucho out of the room, telling them that he needed to see if we would “pass the exam”

I started to panic. What was this? Was he going to test us on the stations of the cross? The names of the disciples? Or ask me my favourite bits from the bible? This was going to end badly.

But no. He was just going to give us a good talking to on the seriousness of the lifelong vow we were going to make.

We happily told him that, yes – we understood perfectly. We were ready, we were legally able to marry and we came freely – no one was obligating us to get married.

Then it hit me – this man was the only person who had given us a talking to about the lifelong commitment that is marriage – a warning, if you like.

Probably he would be the only person who did so.

Is that because we’ve been together for a long time (well, six years at least, known each other for nine) or because we’re a bit older? Or is it because we’re so made for each other that no-one thinks we need a warning – it was obvious we would get married and live happily ever after?

I like the last option, myself.

In any case, we passed the test, so the priest called our witnesses in one by one to talk to them. I started to get nervous again.

They weren’t married. Would he care about that? Would he find out Sarah was divorced and call the whole thing off?

I needn’t have worried. He didn’t ask Sarah if she’d been married in the past, so she didn’t tell him. In fact, the priest assumed she was married to Chucho, on account of baby Nikko (That tends to happen a lot in Spain, she says.)

Not missing a beat, she informed him they weren’t married, and added: “but don’t worry, we can fix that in the future.” What a pro.

Before I knew it, everything was signed off, and we were one step closer to being married.

And J didn’t run for the hills after the priest’s stern words. Not even a tiny wobble. Well not on the outside, anyway.

May 11

Crying shame

One of the first weddings I ever went to was the joining in holy matrimony of my two favourite teachers, Miss Grehan and Mr Bradley.

It was brilliant – I played the drums in the orchestra and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It felt like a big occasion, like me and my friends had been let into the world of grown ups for a while.


But then it came to the big moment for them to exchange vows, and Miss Grehan couldn’t get her words out. She was choked up with emotion, and, well – she could hardly stop crying.

How strange, I thought at the time. Why would you cry like that at the crucial point on the happiest day of your life? What a strange thing love is.

Fast forward 15 years or so, and of course I understand.

I have become Miss Grehan – I am WORSE than Miss Grehan. I don’t know when I became such a soppy git, but it happened along the way somehow.

Not only do I cry at nature programmes (it’s so sad when the poor baby elephant follows his mother’s tracks the wrong way through the dust storm) and films (which are not even real life, for god’s sake), but I cry when watching the wedding videos of strangers on the internet.

What am I going to do with myself? I can’t blub my way through my wedding day!

I refuse to be a red-faced, red-eyed monster with make-up all over my face in all the photos, smearing mascara over anyone that gives me a hug.

I’ve looked online for advice. But nothing I found was very helpful. Lists on ‘how to stop yourself crying’ have suggested the following:

Cross your eyes (Oh this will look great in the photos)

Laugh (this will make me look like a total nutter)

Look up to the sky (ditto)

Eat ice cream (don’t think they let you say your vows while eating a Magnum?)

Yawn (might seem a bit rude)

Do mathematical problems in your head (this might make me cry more)

Go somewhere alone and let it all out or just jump on a trampoline (the first option might work if I could run off to the toilets for a sneaky cry, but the second?????)

Go outside and lie down on the grass and look at the clouds (what, and get stains on my dress?)

Further investigation – from real life people on message boards – did bring up some more helpful advice.

One person advised just putting the biggest cheesiest grin possible on your face. If you really stretch your cheeks and eye muscles, the redness and puffyness just goes away, they said.

Another person said they “just yell at myself in my head – ‘shut up, stupid!’ – that kind of thing.” That could possibly work.

A wedding planner had even posted her advice. She told all her brides to keep their tongue pressed against the roof of their mouth. If it worked for them I should deffo give it a try.

But then I read the following entry: “I learned this the hard way: if the tears come, and you just blink them back furiously, they have to go somewhere,” it began.

“That ‘somewhere’, in my case, was down into my nasal passage and out my nose.

“I discovered this when walking down the aisle at my wedding. I hadn’t expected to get so emotional. So I had a big trickle coming out of my nose.

“I’m just hoping it was dark enough in the church so that people couldn’t really see it, or else they have been polite enough not to mention it.”

Oh dear, a leaking nose is a much worse prospect than leaking eyes.

Maybe I should just have a good cry after all?

Apr 11

Jess and Mike’s wedding

It’s a totally different experience going to a wedding when you’ve got one of your own to plan. It all seems that little bit more exciting.

You really pay attention to even the smallest details, right down to the beading on the bridesmaids’ dresses, the place cards and the order of the speeches.

blog-jess.jpgOr is that just me? Did it finally happen – did I turn into Bridezilla?

Anyway, not only are you on the rob for ideas you can incorporate into your own special day, but when the bride walks down the aisle to take her place next to the man she’s ready to spend the rest of her life with it hits you – I’m next.

That’s how I felt at Jess and Mike’s wedding, which took place at the picturesque Hampton Court House on a beautifully sunny day this month.

The bride looked absolutely stunning, even though she confessed she’d only slept for about three hours.

“This is the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever done in my life,” she told me. Wow, quite a contrast from J’s brother, who had a siesta before his wedding (Spanish weddings generally take place in the late afternoon and go on till silly o’clock the next morning.)

Anyway, Jess needn’t have worried. The whole day was perfect. I couldn’t fault it (not that I was trying!)


More than anything I felt a real sense of empathy. In the last three years I must have been to about ten weddings. And that’s no exaggeration. What is that all about? You approach 30 then all of a sudden it’s like a wedding domino effect.

In not one of those weddings did I really stop to think about all the work, the planning that goes into absolutely everything.

But in Jess and Mike’s wedding I did. And I felt like applauding them at the end of the day.

There were some really nice touches – like bringing out Spanish jamon and cold meats and cheese towards the end of the night, when everyone was flagging.

And after my experience with the caterer I could appreciate just how good their food was – the waiters were excellent and it was a plated service. In other words they brought out full meals in courses served complete on plates rather than bringing out trays of food and having you serve yourself. I certainly wouldn’t have noticed something like that five months ago.

And the entrées were amazing too. At one point I thought I was in danger of filling myself up on these delicious teriyaki-flavoured sausages that were being passed around.

Jess is half Spanish, so it was really useful for me to see how they handled the language split, especially when it came to the speeches.

In a Spanish wedding there are none – so it must be a bit of a strange thing for Spaniards to get their heads round.



In fact J asked the Spanish contingent of his eight best men if they would be into the idea of saying a few words and they all flatly refused.

Anyway, in our wedding there will be speeches (you can’t have one without in my opinion!) so the problem is, how do you cope with the language thing?

The way Jess did it was to address some groups of people in Spanish, and some in English. So she spoke to her Spanish father and her friends from Malaga in their own language, and her British mother and London friends in English. Made much more sense than trying to translate the whole thing into both languages. Think I’m going to follow her lead.

One thing I learned is that the ones who really party, full steam ahead, are the parents who’re out without their kids for the night. So I’d better watch out – there’s going to be a few of those at our wedding!

The other is that I definitely need to get a pair of flats for later in the night. After a full day in what I thought were my comfortable heels I was absolutely crippled, doing ‘The Living Dead’ shuffle up the lane to the hotel at the end of the night.

All in all, it was a beautiful day, and I feel lucky I was able to celebrate it with them.

So wishing you all the best Jess and Mike – if my wedding is even half as special as yours I’ll be over the moon.

***PS – That’s me, directly to the right of the bride in the picture above, in case you’re wondering! 

Apr 11

An invitation to rain

It’s going to rain on my wedding.

That’s what I’ve been told anyway. Not by a weather expert, not even by a spiteful ex (though I’m sure I don’t have any.) No, I was given this lovely prediction by the lady who’s making my wedding invitations.

Honestly, you should have seen my jaw hit the floor.

rain-blog-story.jpgIt was the second time I’d visited the cosy little stationary shop with Linda. After looking through countless folders of invitations which more or less looked the same to me, we had decided on a lovely card with hand-written calligraphy in dark green.

We’d rejected having a border though, as the effect reminded Linda of the sort of cards that people used to send round in Spain informing of a death in the family. I certainly don’t want anyone to be thinking of funerals when they get the invitation.

So we’d got onto the part of instructing the shop owner what we wanted written on the cards – half of which are being done in English, the other half in Spanish.

When it came to telling her the wedding date – September 17, she started to tut.

“Oh dear, there’ll be bad weather that weekend,” she said peering sternly over the rim of her glasses.

“Oh really?” I asked in disbelief.

“Yes,” she informed us. “the first two weeks of September are always good. Then the weather gets bad. It’ll probably rain.”

I just sat there with my mouth flapping like a frog trying to catch flies. Linda, however, didn’t miss a beat.

“Well, we can’t change it now,” she answered back. “We shall just have to get ourselves some beautiful white umbrellas. Problem solved.”

I didn’t know whether to be amused or annoyed. You’re not supposed to say things like to brides, are you? I thought you should tell them everything will be perfect and that it’s going to be the most gorgeous and perfect day ever, with brilliant sunshine and birds singing and flowers in full bloom and stuff like that?

But rain? And this lady works in the wedding industry for Pete’s sake. Surely she should be thinking about what’s good for business before opening her mouth. If I’d been a sensitive-type-tantrum-throwing bride I could have stormed out of the shop saying I would take my business elsewhere. That would have showed her.

“Take no notice of her,” said Linda after we left. “That’s the kind of thing my mother-in-law probably would have said to me. She’s just blunt, that’s all.

“The main thing is she does her job well – she’ll make you some lovely invitations.”

And she was right, but the whole thing got me thinking. What if it does actually rain. Sure, I live in Spain, but that doesn’t 100 per cent guarantee me beautiful sunshine. In my mind’s eye I see myself skipping down the (sunshine-lit) road with J, hand in hand from the church to the reception venue. But what if I have to dodge puddles on the way?

Maybe we should order some of those beautiful white umbrellas. Just to be on the safe side.

Mar 11

Food vs football

Last year J and I attended a wedding back in England where the food was pretty good. When I complemented the bride on the tasty fish and nice dessert she’d expertly chosen, she started to laugh.

“Oh we just left it up to the caterers,” she said. “Luckily they did a good job – it wasn’t bad, was it?”

I had to laugh too – it was typical of this girl’s laid-back nature that she didn’t get stressed about things going horribly wrong. I don’t think I could have done the same.

blog-food-story.jpgWhich is just as well really, because with our wedding food, there’ll be no leaving it up to the caterers. Unbelievably we have about three different tasting sessions, and about 40 different dishes to choose from.

In our original meeting with the caterer – a formidable man named Fernando who recounted tales of organising food for a wedding party of 400 – I could see J’s mind wandering.

His ears perked up though when Fernando told him he could get any type of alcoholic beverage J wanted to serve.

But when it came to actually coming to the tastings, J had dithered over whether he would leave it all to Linda and me. In the end, the promise of a free dinner was too good to resist.

So along we went to the first taste session together, once we’d finally set a date for it. The problem was that football matches kept getting in the way. And it wasn’t just my husband-to-be who was kicking up a fuss; Fernando didn’t want to miss a Spain match or a Champion’s League showdown featuring his beloved Real Madrid.

When we did make it out to the finca where Fernando held the session, it was like going to a fancy restaurant on a night out.

We drove for about half an hour to get there – down two toll roads – and through a massive pair of sliding electric doors.

The place was amazing – all red brick and immaculate gardens. And there was something that looked like a windmill in front of the finca.

Fernando met us at the door, and ushered us inside, where there were about 14 couples already seated, tucking into the mini versions of the courses we could choose on the big day.

The food was amazing. I won’t list them all but the highlights were the merluza asada con cama de cebolla (roast haddock on a bed of onions) and the mint cream shot with melon and jamon. The lobster salad looked great, though it was just like eating a large prawn in reality…

So the jury’s still out on our wedding menu. But I’m glad we’ve got these tastings lined up, as everyone keeps telling me I won’t eat much on the big day. I’ll be too nervous and I’ll have too many people to talk to. Is that really true?

Anyway, it’ll be a while until the next session – April is a good month for football, after all.

Mar 11

Six months to go

In exactly six months to this day, I will be getting married. How did that happen?

Fast forward to the big day, and by this point I will be approximately 30 minutes from making my entrance at the church. I will be probably having some sort of deep and meaningful with my bridesmaids/my dad/Linda/my mum, or all of the above.


six-months-blog-s.jpgI’m sure I’ll have already made a mess of my eye makeup (deffo need to invest in some waterproof mascara).

Hopefully I will be calm and collected and looking radiant. That’s the way I see it in my head, anyway.

Six months away from W-day is the perfect stage to be at, I reckon. It’s close enough so that you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s far enough away to give you that “I’ve got plenty of time to sort that out” feeling.

Not that I’m procrastinating, of course. Oh no, heaven forbid.

I would never do that. I’m sure that J would tell you that I am a total cabezota (stubborn head) when it comes to getting things done. If I get something in my head I won’t stop until I’ve got it done, no matter how much I annoy everyone.

Because now – and I can hardly believe this – I’m at the stage where I can write lists of things that are left to do, and not feel overwhelmed.

When I think back to when I started out on the long road of wedding planning, and how daunting it all seemed, I’m amazed at how far I’ve come.

I spent days looking at wedding venues on the internet and just thought “this is going to be hell”.

But it really hasn’t been so far. Sure, there have been some stressful bits along the way, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself through it all. Now we’re at the half way mark, and I’m really starting to believe we’re going to pull this off. More than that, we’re going to create something pretty darn special.

And a lot of that has been down to my wedding planning secret weapon, my mother-in-law Linda – who takes no crap when people are being rubbish, has impeccable taste, always offers good advice, and has so many good contacts from the three other weddings she’s planned already. I really am so lucky to have her.

In the past few weeks we’ve managed to sort out some musicians for the ceremony, meet with our priest (who assures me that my paperwork won’t be a problem, wow) and figure out what we want in terms of the invitations. It’s all rolling along nicely.

So while I’m feeling all smug and organised, I thought it would be a good idea to do a ten tips I can offer brides-to-be, based on my experiences so far. So here goes:

wedding-blog-s.jpg1) Just do it
The first step is always the hardest, but you’ve got to take it. Buy a wedding magazine, start browsing venues, or book an appointment at a wedding dress shop. Once you’ve got the ball rolling, you’ll feel better.

2) Find your own Linda
Unless your sister or best friend has got hitched, you probably have limited experience of planning a wedding. So the best thing you can do is draft in someone who’s been there, done that, worn the dress. Mothers and mothers-in-law may or may not be a good choice, depending on the relationship you have with them. So, if need be look further afield – aunties, cousins, friends. And if you’re completely alone (and if your budget allows for it) you might want to consider hiring a wedding planner

3) Start early, and give yourself plenty of time
The main times I’ve been stressed have been when I’ve struggled to get the people I want for the job because I’ve left it to late. Look at the photographer saga - I thought seven months was more than enough time to find the snapper I wanted, I was so wrong. So the best thing you can do to make things stress free is start looking at venues, for a dress, the caterer and the photographer as soon as possible, and overestimate the time you’ll need. The early bird catches the wedding worm. Prioritise – there are some things that can wait till later in the process, like picking your wedding disco music, choosing the rings, sorting out the readings for the service, etc.

4) Lists are your friends
You’ve got a million ideas buzzing round in your head, so get them down onto paper. It’ll clear your mind and help you prioritise. Don’t get overwhelmed though, deal with things one at a time, and set yourself deadlines if you know you need and extra push.

5) Make a wedding scrapbook
If you see something in a magazine or on the internet that you really like – whether it be a dress, hairstyle or bouquet – cut it out and stick it in a folder or book. Then you’ve got it all in one place. Otherwise you’ll find yourself in the situation later where you know you’ve seen a pair of shoes you really love, but you can’t remember where.

6) Don’t expect your other half to be as obsessed as you are
Why doesn’t he care about the flowers or which photographer you choose? Because he’s a man, that’s why. Maybe you’ll find yourself with one of those rare ‘Groomzilla’ types who want personal control of the seating plan, but chances are, he won’t give a monkey’s. So take charge of the fiddly stuff and give him jobs he’ll be interested in – like researching the honeymoon or sorting out the DJ.

7) Keep an open mind
Don’t rule anything out on the premise that ‘It’s just not me’. Try every dress on in the shop and go see as many venues as you can. You’ve never done this before, remember? How do you know what you’re going to like?

8) Remember, it’s your wedding – nobody else’s
Don’t be worried about what your friends will think of your dress, or the song you choose for your first dance. It’s your special day, so pick something YOU like. Don’t totally disregard advice, though. If someone close to you is telling you a fuchsia pink dress is not a good idea, it’s only because they have your best interests at heart.

9) Compromise
You want a quiet wedding and your mum – who’s forking out for the big day – has in mind a guest list of 400. Or you want an Eighties disco while your other half wants heavy metal classics. Weddings are epic argument territory, so you have to compromise and talk through things properly. And apparently that’s the secret to a successful marriage too, so think of it as good practice. Nine times out of ten you’ll find a half way point, a solution that keeps all parties happy. But if you don’t, don’t resort to emotional blackmail. Nobody deserves that.

10) Enjoy it
If things all go to plan (and why wouldn’t they?) This is the only wedding you will ever plan. In your whole life, ever. It’s a once in a lifetime experience and you should try and treasure every moment. Even the stressful parts. It seems like a nightmare now that every venue you look at is over priced and looks like a Butlin’s ballroom. But trust me, you’ll look back and laugh about it all once you’ve found your fairytale location

Mar 11

Bridesmaids? No meringues please

What to do with my bridesmaids? That was the little thing niggling at me right from the start.

Choosing them was easy, no problem there. Four special girls:

Nina, who I met during my clubbing days in Manchester back in 2000, and has been in my life ever since. Fun, loyal, always up for a laugh and my most frequent visitor, whether I was living in London, Ibiza, Barcelona, or now Madrid.

bridesmaids-story.jpgEmma – a constant friend for the past 13 years or so, ever since we ended up going on holiday together as part of a big group, though we’d never met. (A mutual friend brought her and her boyfriend Ed along, saying how lovely they were – the friend was so right) Over the years we’ve shared so much – I just know we’ll be in touch forever.

Amy – A kindred spirit in every way. She moved into my flat in Ibiza because she couldn’t stand sharing with her flatmates’ pet duck. (Typical Ibizan randomness.) It turned out to be one of the best summers of my life. There’s no-one like her and I feel like I’ve known her always.

And Phoebe – my maid of honour. I almost don’t have words to describe how special she is to me. I feel like we did our growing up together over the last 12 years. And she was there on the night I met J. She was the first to cheer me up when we split for the first time, and she was there the night we got back together. She’s a big part of our story – the night I met J we were out celebrating her 21st birthday.

So choosing them was obvious. and four felt practically minimal compared to J’s EIGHT best men. But what to put them in? I thought it would come to me after I found my dress. But I was none the wiser.

Usually, looking at pictures of bridesmaids makes me cringe. I don’t know what it is, but seeing them all in matching dresses in brash colours just looks so tacky. And what about the colours? I’m really more a monochrome sort of girl… grey at a stretch. I don’t really do bright colours.

“What do you think about having the bridesmaids in black?” I asked Linda during one of our many chats about the wedding.

“Noooooooooooo!” she half screamed. Then more calmly: “Personally I think there are two colours you should never wear at a wedding: black and white.”

I googled “black bridesmaids dresses” and kind of went off the idea. Even with silver shoes and some sort of coloured accessory it was still going to look a bit gothic for our countryside wedding.

Then there was the problem of me being on the other side of the channel (and a bit further) from my girls – who span the country – Glasgow, Bristol, and London, as well as one being temporarily in France. Chances of getting them together in one room for a fitting? Zero.

In the end my mum came to the rescue. After checking out some bridesmaids dress shops in England, she found most of them to be quite pricey and full of designs that were to flouncy or fussy.

She suggested I have a look online at some of the websites of chains and department stores like Monsoon, Oasis and Debenhams to see if there was anything there I liked.

And there in the ‘Occasions’ section of the Debenhams website I found something perfect – a deep purple taffeta prom dress. Immediately my ideas about putting each of the girls in a different dress went out the window – this would be great for all of them.

I would need to get Phoebe’s delivered to France, but for the others, I could get them delivered to the closest store to each of my girls and they could try it on, and if need be, request another size.

The dresses are now ordered. I’m just crossing my fingers, and toes, and everything else that they don’t run out of stock before my order is dispatched, and that each of my bridesmaids find a size that fits and they feel gorgeous wearing them on the big day. And comfortable – that’s why I’m leaving it up to them what they wear on their feet.

Phoebe is going to help me look for some accessories, but we can sort that out closer to the day.

So for now at least, that’s one less thing to worry about.

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