Oct 13

Wedding nightmares

There’s just ten days to go until the wedding – and I’d be lying to you if I said I was feeling calm and relaxed about the fastly-approaching big day. In fact, getting married still seems like a bit of an abstract idea and although I’m definitely working through my ‘things to do’ list efficiently and ticking things off on a daily basis, I still can’t get my head around the fact that I’ll be walking down the aisle in a little over a week.

My subconscious doesn’t seem to need reminding, though! For months now I’ve been suffering from a serious case of bride-to-be nightmares, and my awful dreams have only got worse – and more frequent – the nearer to the wedding we’ve got. Last night, I jolted awake in a panic having had my most recurring nightmare yet again.

Apparently these wedding nightmares are very common. Still disturbing, though...

Apparently these wedding nightmares are very common. Still disturbing, though…

Picture the scene: it’s my wedding day, my excited guests are all in their seats and Sean’s waiting for me at the altar – and I’m just waking up, oblivious to the fact I’m about to get married. My mum coaxes me into my wedding dress but it doesn’t fit properly, I don’t have makeup on because I slept through my appointment with the makeup artist, ditto the hairdresser, and I forgot to fake tan the night before.

There are variations on the theme. Sometimes I wake up, it’s my wedding day, and I’m not even in the country and can’t get home in time. Other times I wake up and nobody has remembered to collect my dress from the boutique in Oxford. But they’re always so vivid. Like exam dreams, but worse!

This one made me laugh

This one made me laugh

This isn’t the only affliction I’m facing. Absolutely everything is making me cry. I can’t get through the readings we’ve chosen for the ceremony without my face crumpling into a teary mess, I can’t practice our first dance because it makes me cry… I was watching an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians the other day and Kim saying her vows to Kris Humphries set off the waterworks. And we all know that marriage only lasted 72 days!

What’s wrong with me?! Let’s just hope that everything that could potentially go wrong only goes wrong in my dreams – and thank God my makeup artist is amazing, and has promised that my entire face will be waterproof. I think it’s going to need to be…

May 13

Florist to the rescue

A few weeks ago I was having a panic about my bridesmaids’ dresses. In fact, that’s an understatement. I’d totally gone off them. I still loved the style, the length, the neckline… all of that. But the colour? Nope. I’d made a terrible mistake.

I don’t know whether it was because they were bought on the hop – before I’d even really had chance to think about what colour I wanted – but I’d convinced myself they just weren’t going to work with the overall colour scheme of the wedding. In fact, they’d changed the overall colour scheme of the wedding to something I really, really didn’t want.

Uh oh.

Flowers, flowers, more flowers...

Flowers, flowers, more flowers…

I’d worked myself up into a right tizz, putting in calls to my sister and inundating her with Facebook messages full of different dresses in different colours. Poor Verity. “Don’t worry, we can get new ones – it’s not too late!” she reassured me.

Sean, knowing I’d already spent our allocated bridesmaids’ budget on them, wasn’t so impressed with my change of heart, I have to say.

All this was the week before I had my first appointment with our florist Chris – a lady who lives in the same village as my grandma, who I’d asked to take charge of sorting out all our flowers. (On a side note, fellow brides-to-be – delegation is key! My grandma was more than happy to take on this job for me, I love her being included – and it was a weight off my mind. I live a couple of hundred miles away from our venue and trips back and forth are costly and time consuming.)

The Flower Lounge in Neston are doing all our flowers - and I'd highly recommend them to anyone else getting married in the area

The Flower Lounge in Neston are doing all our flowers – and I’d highly recommend them to anyone else getting married in the area

I took one of the dresses along to the appointment, which I went to with my mum and, of course, grandma. Needless to say, Sean was sitting this one out. I doubt any groom is ever going to be particularly fussed about the flowers…

I’d done no research into the names of the flowers I wanted – all I knew was the colours and overall ‘look’. But my florist, Chris, was brilliant. She was immediately on the same page as me, suggesting different sorts of flowers I’d never heard of, pulling out samples of foliage, reassuring me that it would all work and look gorgeous. I was impressed. She even offered to post me two of the main flowers we’d settled on so that I could take them with me when we go to choose Sean’s suit, to makes sure it all ties together nicely. Great service! Grandma had really played a blinder on this one.

Speaking of flowers... now that spring has finally sprung, London was looking gorgeous this May bank holiday. I snapped these daffodils in Greenwich Park and it made me think how pretty they'd be at a wedding around this time of year

Speaking of flowers… now that spring has finally sprung, London was looking gorgeous this May bank holiday. I snapped these daffodils in Greenwich Park and it made me think how pretty they’d be at a wedding around this time of year

After we’d sorted out a rough plan of how many table decorations, pedestal arrangements, corsages and buttonholes we’d need, and discussed what I want for my bouquet (shower bouquet or hand tied?) and my bridesmaids’ bouquets – plus baskets and wands for the little ones – I glumly pulled out the dress.

“It’s not going to work with this though, is it?” I asked, telling her the colour I thought might be better. She was horrified. “That would look terrible!” she exclaimed. “The dress you have is perfect. It’s going to be really unusual, and really striking.”


Well, if the professional says it works, then that’s good enough for me.

Apr 13

The wedding cake

I’m feeling pretty chilled about our wedding cake, knowing it’s in the very safe hands of my bridesmaid Charlotte. She has three cook books being published this summer and, having been one of her taste testers (lucky me!) when we lived together and she was developing her cake recipes, I know it’s going to be amazing. She is so talented and an absolute kitchen genius. I could not be happier or more grateful to have her on board, and I love the personal touch of having one of my best friends make our cake.

But – like all things to do with weddings, I’m learning – there are still lots of decisions to be made by me and Sean.

Recently, Charlotte and I spent a weekend skiing in Meribel – which you can read about here and here – and took the opportunity to make some important decisions on the cake front.

Here we are on our cake-planning ski break in Meribel!

Here we are on our cake-planning ski break in Meribel!

Prior to our in-depth discussions, all I knew was that I wanted the cake to reflect my autumnal colour scheme and I was keen to avoid paying some of the price tags I’ve seen. You can spend upwards of a grand on a wedding cake, it turns out!

There are a few cakes I’ve seen that I love, as below…

I love the idea of having a plainly-iced cake decorated with flowers that tie in with our theme...

I love the idea of having a plainly-iced cake decorated with flowers that tie in with our theme…

I love this one too... very elegant

I love this one too… very elegant

…but there are still some important questions to consider, according to Charlotte.

1) Size (per portion per guest and according to how high we want the cake to sit off the table). Charlotte provided me with a nifty little graph to illustrate this, fact fans:

This is the sort of detail that makes me VERY glad that Charlotte is taking charge...

This is the sort of detail that makes me VERY glad that Charlotte is taking charge…

2) How many tiers?
3) Round or square?
4) How will the tiers be separated? Will they be sat on top of each other or on separate stands?
5) Flavours. Do we want each tier to be the same flavour? According to tradition, the top tier should be fruit cake which is then frozen and eaten at your first child’s christening. Is this something we want?
6) Icing and decorations.

Who knew there was so much to think about? And this doesn’t even cover the more logistical aspects of actually getting the cake to the wedding venue. How will it be transported? Where will it be stored? Will our venue provide the cake stand and the knife? Do we need to hire them?

Sean’s eyes glaze over when I try to talk about certain aspects of the wedding and this is definitely one of them, so I’ve taken charge myself. At this preliminary stage I think Charlotte and I have settled on a five-tier round cake decorated with flowers.

I’m sure Sean will be keen to get more involved when he realizes we need to taste test and choose our flavours!

Feb 13

Bridesmaids and bridesmen

Picking my bridesmaids was probably the easiest thing I’ve had to do wedding-wise. I’m having my sister Verity and four of my best friends, my gorgeous goddaughter Lizzie, who’s eight (and lives in New York… tricky in terms of dressing her!), and our niece Matilda, who will be two when we get married.

But, since going to the National Wedding Show this weekend, I’m wishing I’d waited a bit longer to ask them all. On one of the stalls I saw these lovely balloons that had ‘Will you be my bridesmaid?’ printed on them. Such a lovely touch. I wish I’d thought of something like that sooner.

All my bridesmaids said yes, so I’m pleased to report the balloon isn’t a deal breaker. But even so, if I could rewind and do it again, complete with giant, floating helium messages, I totally would!

for the blog

My mum, my sister and I were at the National Wedding Show when we found these bridesmaid ideas. We also had fun trying out the photo booths… I think we definitely need one at the wedding!

Turns out there are loads of lovely ways to pop the all-important bridesmaid question. Cards, baked goods, personalised champagne flutes. It’s left me feeling very inadequate. Am I the only bride-to-be who doesn’t know about all this stuff? I feel like I’ve somehow cheated my bridal party out of something that would have been really special!

So – who are the adult bridesmaids? Five very, very special people – not one of whom I could imagine not being by my side when I walk down the aisle.

There’s Charlotte, who I met when we were both living in Madrid. We bonded over tinto de veranos, a penchant for Daddy Yankee and a mad flat with mirrors for walls and rooms with no windows. Char is a food writer and the most amazing cook I know. I am also very honoured that she’s taking on an extra wedding duty – making our wedding cake. (More about that at a later date.)

Will you be my bridesmaid?

Then there’s Hol. We met at school when we were 11 and both wearing black padded hair bands with our names printed on them in glitter. So 90s! We grew up together loving Take That, ‘Grease 2 and garlic parties’ and making up dance routines to Motown songs, and I cried buckets when we both went off to separate universities. When she tied the knot last summer I was SO proud to be her bridesmaid, too.

I was Hol's bridesmaid in May last year

I was Hol’s bridesmaid in May last year

Next up, James. Yes – I’m breaking with tradition and having a bridesman. (What will he wear…?! I’m thinking a suit with maybe a cravat or tie to match the colour of the bridesmaids’ dresses?) Whether we’re going to Ancient Egyptian monuments dressed as members of a famous girl band (don’t ask) or hunting out non-existent techno parties in Paris, he has always, always been there for me and I know he always will be.

Then there’s Sarah, my partner in crime from university. Sarah and I have been in so many scrapes over the years – usually getting locked in foreign banks, skiing in dresses, or taking inflatable parrots on holiday. Sarah got engaged herself a fortnight ago and has asked me to be her bridesmaid, too. (And she wasn’t onto the balloon idea, either… not just me, then!) I am so excited that we’ll both be planning our weddings together. It’s almost as though our respective fiancés planned it! (They didn’t.)

And last but not least, Verity. My little sister, so obviously first in line for bridesmaid duties. She’s gorgeous and has great taste, so I’ll be needing her help choosing flowers, decorations and accessories, and more importantly to tell me how I should wear my hair. (She is much better at these things than I am.) It was Vez who masterminded the initial idea for my hen do – a long weekend in Marbella – and Vez who chose the bridesmaids’ dresses. Already worth her weight in gold!

In fact, the bridesmaids’ dresses were actually one of the first things we bought for the wedding. I was shopping in the sales after boxing day when it suddenly struck me that if I wanted dresses in autumnal colours, and dresses from the high street, I’d have to buy them sharpish – as the next time they’ll be in the shops will be late August this year. That would be cutting it way too fine.

A few days later Vez went and found the perfect ones while on a shopping trip with my mum. She said they were lovely – and they are. We bought an extra one too to make sashes for Lizzie and Matilda’s dresses, and a cravat/ tie for James, so now we just need to decide on hair, shoes and accessories…


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