January, 2013

Jan 13

The legal bit

When we first began to plan our wedding, the thing I found most daunting was definitely the legal part. Where do you even begin? It’s like when you leave home and suddenly have to start paying water and electricity bills, and register for council tax. You’ve never done it before, so you have no clue what to do.

Obviously, I turned to Google. And after a few quick searches I found out that Sean and I both have to turn up, in person to declare our intent to marry at the town hall. So far, so simple.

Woolwich Town Hall

This is our local town hall. Rather snazzy!

But, because we’re tying the knot in a borough we don’t live in (in fact, a good few hundred miles away), it’s a bit trickier. Basically, we had to call the borough where we’re getting married and book a registrar for a set time slot on our wedding date. They then provisionally reserve that booking for a month while they wait to hear confirmation from our local borough that we’ve been there in person to say we want to get married, and that there are no problems with the wedding going ahead. Ok……

“But make sure you go in to see your local borough tomorrow,” the lovely lady in our wedding borough told me, when I’d finally got my head around all this and called her to book a registrar to marry us. (We chose the 2pm slot, as it happens. A good time to get married, I think!) “We only hold the booking for a month and they need to post the notice in public for 15 days before we can do anything, so be quick.”

No problem. I am an organised bride! I got on the phone to our local borough straight away. But when I announced that we’d like to come in the following day, the woman laughed at me. (Not in a horrible way, I must add. She was very helpful.) She informed me that actually, we live in one of the busiest boroughs in the country for weddings, and that the next appointment wasn’t for six whole weeks.

Six whole weeks! But our wedding borough would only hold our spot for one month! And we couldn’t lose that slot. We’d already paid a hefty deposit on the venue!

Luckily, after another phone call back to the wedding borough, they agreed they’d hold it for a bit longer as it was a ‘London waiting time’, as they called it, and that was that.

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 22.31.48

Tip: always make time for fizz when declaring your intent to marry…

Those six weeks went alarmingly quickly. (Actually, I suspect that maybe time goes in fast-forward when you’re engaged.) When the day rolled around, we were so excited. We’d both taken an afternoon off work and met in a bar for a quick celebratory bucks fizz before heading to the town hall.

Once there, it was all pretty straightforward – mainly showing them our passports and our proofs of address. And apart from the fact that Sean had a moment of panic and forgot my birthday when he was interviewed about me (and this was after I’d made him revise it beforehand!), it all went smoothly. We signed and dated the documents, and that was that. All official. We are definitely, definitely getting married, and all the legal requirements will be met.

Well. Unless someone posts an objection while our notice is public. Does this ever happen, I wonder? We can pick up our “blues” (the official documents we then need to hand to our wedding borough are nicknamed this, and from what I can gather it’s because they’re printed on blue paper) next week, so I will report back. Fingers crossed…!

Jan 13

Guest list woes

It’s taken us a whole two months. But I think – I think! – we have finalised our guest list.

Phew. I had absolutely no idea how tricky drawing up a guest list is until it seemed like all our discussions about it were turning into heated debates. When we first scribbled down a list of names to invite to our big day (on the flight on the way home from Iceland), it totalled about 150 people. But due to budget constraints we had to slash that to 80 people. And half that number will be made up of just my family!

At first it seemed like a nightmare task. But in reality, it’s turned out to be a really good thing. When we sat down and looked at it, we’d added a lot of people we felt like we had to invite to the list. But do we really want them there…?

Here's a sneaky peek at our save the date cards...

Here’s a sneaky peek at our save the date cards…

It’s our big day. And the more we spoke about it the more we realised that when we’re exchanging our vows, we want to look around the room and see all the people in the world that mean the most to us. I certainly don’t want to glance behind me and think: ‘Oh! Who’s that…?’ about half the people there. Which is what would happen if we invited everyone’s plus ones.

Yes, that’s where we’ve had to slash our numbers. After a chat with a few friends who had done the same thing we came up with a strict rule that if we don’t both know a plus one, then they aren’t invited.

What it really boiled down to was the fact that if we do invite people’s other halves when neither of us (or just one of us) know them, then that person is taking up a space at our wedding that a really, really close friend is missing out on.


Ticking off the guest list

Ticking off the guest list


Then there’s the issue of children. Aside from immediate family (our gorgeous little niece Matilda, who will be a bridesmaid, and her little brother or sister who will be born in March), we’re not having any babies or children whatsoever. It would be different if we both had families full of little ones, but we don’t. Hopefully our friends will love the opportunity to get a babysitter in and let their hair down at our wedding – and not be offended that their offspring can’t come.

Now I understand why so many people decide to elope!

So – now it’s time to start inviting people. We bought some great value save the date cards on a stationery website I found before Christmas – zazzle.co.uk – and I feel like they’ve been sitting in a cupboard forever. Now that we know who we’re sending them to, we can finally getting cracking on writing them this week. And then I can turn my attentions to more exciting matters – like finding a dress…

Jan 13

Venue and date – tick!

“This is the one,” I whispered to Sean, as my eyes welled up with tears. Happy tears, may I add. We were standing in the room we were going to get married in, and it was perfect.

We were on our all-important venue hunt, a couple of weeks before Christmas. In all honesty, though, our day out barely constituted a hunt. Our dream venue was only the third we’d seen, and we’d done it all in the space of four hours!

Our wedding venue!

Once the initial “Oh my God! We’re engaged!” phase had become normality, we both wanted to set a date quickly. I don’t like things up in the air so all the uncertainty of not knowing exactly when we were getting married, while simultaneously discussing our big day nonstop, was really starting to stress me out. And I know couples who have deliberated for weeks, if not months, over the venue. So we thought we’d best get cracking.

I have to say, I was expecting it to be far more difficult than it turned out to be. I suppose it was easy (ish!) for us, as we knew exactly where we wanted to get married from the outset. Because I want all my grandparents to be at our big day, and they may not fancy long plane journeys and the hassle of travel, we immediately dismissed the possibility of getting married on a beach somewhere exotic. Not to mention how frizzy my hair would look in the photos. Anyone who knows me will vouch for the fact that the combo of my hair and tropical climes doesn’t bear thinking about…

We also knew we were looking for a venue where we could not only hold the reception, but also tie the knot. I’m catholic but Sean isn’t religious, so as a compromise (the key to a successful marriage, I hear!) we decided to have a civil ceremony somewhere that looked chapel-ish.

A ‘chapel-ish’ room to tie the knot in…

Not only that, but I’ve always wanted to get married near to where I grew up, in the Wirral. The tradition of getting married where the bride is from isn’t so strong these days, but it’s something that certainly means a lot to me.

So with all that in mind and my mum and grandma on board doing plenty of research, we set about drawing up a shortlist of venues to look round – three, in the end – got in touch with them to arrange viewings, and promptly booked a train up to Chester.

I cannot wait to have our wedding breakfast in this room!

We went on our venue-viewing tour with my parents. And we were all in agreement – we loved the first place and really didn’t like the second (I actually think it was haunted – I came away with a terrible, uneasy feeling that I couldn’t shake off, and I had a nightmare about it that night!).

But as soon as we got out of the car at the third, Thornton Manor, we knew we loved it. It was absolutely everything we wanted from a venue. Grand yet homely, with friendly staff, gorgeous gardens that will look lovely in the Autumn – when we want to get married – an absolutely breathtaking room for the wedding breakfast, rooms for our guests to stay in overnight, and the most important element – a chapel-ish room to get married in.

Beautiful gardens for photos

It’s just so beautiful. And as we stood there in that room, my eyes prickling with tears and smiles plastered across our faces, we could all absolutely picture how incredible our wedding day is going to be.

We didn’t even need any time to mull over the decision. I’ve never been a big thinker when it comes to buying and booking things anyway – once my mind’s made up, that’s it. We got the diaries out immediately and set a date. So now we know that on October 21st this year, we will be getting married! And it will be in our absolute, dream venue.

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