If I could plan my wedding all over again

My wedding day felt truly magical. It was powerfully romantic and emotional, and reflected our tastes and styles to a tee. But there are still things I would’ve done a little differently if I could do it all over again. I hope Brides and Husbands to Be will find these reflections useful but my final word on wedding planning is that whatever your choices for the day, perfection is to be found in your lovely new spouse, the occaision itself, and the love and happiness you will feel coming off everybody that special day. So don’t be hung up on perfection in the details, quite often the things that go wrong are what we remember most fondly.I’ll pretend I’m granted three wishes like Wedding SOS in reverse.

Change number 1: I know I have a tendency to run late. I should have planned better so that we had less to do the morning of the wedding. I ended up not paying any attention to my fingernails whatsoever! No nail varnish, certainly no manicure :S although it was lovely that my sister painted them for me before the evening meal, mmmm pampered! I had no breakfast to speak of even though I took pastries to the hairdressers with me. I tend not to eat when I’m in business mode. We (mom, bridesmaids, etc.) had to rush exchanging our little gifts to each other at the hotel, so I wish we’d done that the night before too. The rush of the night before was really enjoyable though. Highlights included the best pizza ever (because we were knackered and starving), touching gifts from my mom, and hilarity in the bath involving fake tan and hair bleach. As I prepared to go to bed, in our lovely hotel room, set out my jewellery, perfume, and card from H2B to opened as soon as I woke up, I felt like a princess already.

Change number 2: You can’t control the weather 🙂 but there were things I could’ve controlled that day which I didn’t. I didn’t think I’d have to maker certain things clear but it turns out you can’t be too clear setting out your expectations. We hired a wonderful vintage car, imagining a slow drive down country lanes from the hotel to the village hall. I was running late, but the driver had already decided he’d take the dual carriageway (it felt like it took forever) instead of the country lanes. He was concerened about traffic. As we raced up the A38 with the rain sheeting down, my heart sank. This was not what I wanted 😦 So, make sure you tell your driver the route you want to take! We did have a laugh about the vintage window that wouldn’t close. My sister bless her held the wind up handle all the way to prevent too much rain coming in onto my dress.

Change number 3: Think twice before using a friend or family member as one of your suppliers. Not least because you might really miss them being part of the day as a guest, and feel bad that they are working so hard instead of having a lovely time. I will treasure the few photos other guests took that have our photographer in them! With the photographer you might think you’ve been crystal clear with what you want and don’t want, but again, you can’t be too explicit. Think about which things might appear in the background of your pics unless they’re taken at a certain angle. Our wedding was at a village hall, it was great, but still a village hall. It’s hard to cover up things like strip lights, bins, and exit signs so it’s in your photographer’s hands to make them ‘vanish’ from your photo album 😉

I was relieved that my ideas for an eclectic vintage/country garden/English rose wedding came together so well. A final tip for all you wedding dreamers out there would be choose something quite specific for your theme. My idea of the theme kept evolving. I understood what I wanted but I was about the only one. It was really difficult to describe to the guests what they should wear to fit in with the theme. I stressed about the dress, make up and hair coming together properly and about the colours, oh the colours. I wanted dusky pink, we couldn’t get dusky pink roses so we ended up with slightly peachy roses. I wanted sage green, but what’s the difference between sage and olive green? And then the patterns. Would the lace on my dress match OK with the damask on my mom’s dress and the groom’s Liberty print hankerchief? Breathe. If you’re unsure, keep things simple. If you’re game, go for it. The details make up the overall image of your wedding in your guests eyes. They won’t be judging things item by item. Just have fun. Happy planning!

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Weddings as they used to be

Going vintage is all the rage, but we’re not just going vintage because it’s pretty or because it’s cool. The wedding industry is vast. There are certain gate keepers and venues in particular love to tell brides what we must have, what we can’t have, what’s possible, and how much it will all cost us to do it their way. Most brides faced with the authority of the industry go with it, wanting to put on the perfect wedding for themselves and their guests. People expect certain things of weddings – a certain kind of dress, certain drinks, certain music, certain transport, certain grandeur and formality, certain entertainment, certain food, certain favours, certain dancing, certain schedule for the day. Planning a wedding is no mean feat.

But not all brides want the conventional wedding, which has become rather more about the after party than the ceremony itself. To me that reflects the pressure on the couple to make sure their guests have a great time, that everyone is pleased. What about the couple though, are they building in moments during the day to be alone together, to soak it up, to reflect, to spend that precious day on things that really mean the most to them as individuals and as a couple? OK for some brides and grooms the most important thing is pleasing their guests; is having a good drunken dance; they might be happy just to get through the day without any stress. That’s not good enough for me, your wedding day should be magical and memorable in those ways significant to you both, and to your family and friends.

So brides and bridegrooms to be, what do you want?! Think about what your ideal wedding would look like if you could remove all the conventional boundaries, rules, and obstacles. Think about what a wedding is really about, traditionally, culturally, at its essence. That should be your starting point. Build your wedding around those dreams. If that means looking for an unusual venue, having your dress made from scratch, reducing your guest list to only 20, serving cheese instead of cake, arriving on a bicycle, ending the wedding at 5pm, then do it. If that’s what you want, don’t let the expectations or narrow-mindedness of others stop you, no matter how much you love them. This day is about you. Dare to dream!

If you’re thinking of a vintage wedding consider holding the ceremony in a family back garden, at a village hall, in a tea room, on a farm, exchanging vows in a hot air balloon, on a narrow boat. As long as the venue is safe and dignified the choice is all yours, with humanist ceremonies.

Souless Soulmates

When I was putting together my own wedding ceremony script, I wanted to convey to our guests how we felt about coming together as man and wife. Ben in particular felt strongly that you should not enter into marriage being warned that it was hard work, or that you had to take it seriously lest it fail. We both disagreed with the sentiment we often heard at weddings of our peers that marriage should be a time to remember that we are individuals and that entering wedlock should not affect our independence from each other.

Ben and I struggled through our adolescence feeling utterly alone and at odds with the world. When we found each other we found relief that we were not the only ones in the world searching for the other half of our soul. When we found each other we found validation for believing there was one perfect other for us out there, somewhere.

The belief in soulmates is ancient as can be seen in Aristophanes tale of four legged, four armed, two faced human beings being physically cleft in two by Zeus. The story resonates as we ARE our most powerful, our most content when we are joined by our partners, and we DO feel bereft when we are without them.

So how do I square my belief in soul mates with my lack of belief in a soul? Whatever we mean when we talk about the soul is undoubtedly the part of us, the essence of us, the humanity of us that aches for ‘the one’. In both cases we are referring to the complex, as yet ungraspable totality of our physical and emotional existence. We are not really suggesting there is a floating cloudlike soul that lives within us. We do not really believe in ghosts. When we die, sadly, I think we really do cease to exist in any conscious way. Where and how I am buried won’t matter to me once I am dead, but I would like to be buried nonetheless. I would like to buried next to my beloved nonetheless. I would like to be buried as close to him as possible nonetheless.