A Look Back: Our Marriage Vows (Part 2)

Our first year of marriage promises reveal more about our personalities and our lives than our vows do, which is why I would love to write vows more similar to these for any future renewal. Our lives moved quickly and before long our focus was again turning, this time to how we wanted to raise our children. Having together broken down and rebuilt parts of each other’s souls before and after our wedding day, by asking the most profound and heart-wrenching questions, we emerged certain of our shared principles and priorities. What we wrote was a manifesto that summed up what it was to be a Catley-Richardson, the new family we had created by joining our names.

This is your life
Do what you love, and do it often
If you don’t like something change it
Question everything
Some opportunities only come once, seize them
Life is not a rehearsal
Enjoy the little things in life – one day you’ll look back and realise they were the big things
When you eat, appreciate every last bite
Travel often –getting lost will help you find yourself
Open your mind, arms and heart to new things and new people
Do not lose faith in humanity
We are united in our differences
All emotions are beautiful
You are part of a family that loves you very much
Life is a precious thing so don’t burn it up start living it day by day
Live your dream and share your passion
Don’t make do, make happen
Strive, don’t settle
Live for love

The manifesto was inspired by Holstee, but I’ve always been keen to have words on the walls of my home, because the written word to me is one of if not the most beautiful, precious human art forms. I incorporated some of my favourite quotations, borrowed from various sources of inspiration in my life, and we came up with a few key statements of our own that were the lessons of our first years of marriage. The manifesto serves to remind us and our children of what we consider the most important truths to keep in mind every day as you live your life. Less than three years on, the manifesto needs updating and improving to better reflect our reality now, so it is a living document.

How far our relationship has come in those short three years. Bubbles and bubbles – referring to prosecco in the bath – has become even more of an us thing, in the bath that we chose in the house we own together, it’s the centrepiece of Jam Jar Spa day gifts from him, and the at least weekly debrief and destress tete-a-tetes. We have embraced the Cotswold country lifestyle and Ben plays cricket when he can. We are absolutely convinced of staycations and local holidaying. We try to live our lives to the full, squeezing as much in as we can at the weekends, keeping in touch with good friends, travelling to see them and family, improving our home and garden, being involved in the community, individually doing the things we love and both striving little by little to realise all of our hopes and ambitions. We love each other completely, without any part of ourselves reserved, unconditionally, for exactly who the other is, openly and freely. When I gave Ben my hand, I gave him my life to keep. And keep my life he does.

Part 1 of the story is here

Alternative Bouquet

I’ve written before about having fun choosing the perfect flowers for your wedding but what if you don’t want a traditional flower bouquet?

When I was planning my wedding, I didn’t want to do anything just because it’s the done thing. I decided against carrying a bouquet despite warnings from florists that I’d miss it (I didn’t) because I found the idea of handing it over to my sister when I reached the front clumsy and silly. I didn’t want the bouquet to end up as a table decoration. The tradition itself held no importance for me.

I knew I wanted flowers on me somehow though, so I experimented with real flowers in my hair, but ended up finding the perfect vintage silk flower to wear instead. My Mom made me a wrist corsage to wear so I could have flowers on me all day, even when kissing, hugging, and dancing. It worked out just right for me. Still, I wish I had researched my options more thoroughly because I’ve come across some really exciting alternatives to the traditional bouquet. I’m sneakily making a mental note of my new faves for a Renewal of Vows I might get to have in… 49 years 😉

source: newherbgarden.info

The tradition of carrying a bunch of flowers down the aisle comes from the belief that herbs could ward off evil spirits. Before bouquets became the ‘in’ thing, Brides wore herbs in their hair for this purpose. If you want to retain this tradition you could ask your Flower Girls or Bridesmaids to scatter herbs in your path so that you release their aromas as you walk over them. I’m a big fan of herbs, and if you love cooking, why not use herbs in place or alongside flowers to reflect your tastes? Herbs look great and smell great so it’s a win, win. If you want to wear flowers instead of holding them, you can wear a wrist corsage or pin flowers onto your dress. You can wear a garland around your neck or present each other with garlands or flowers as part of the ceremony.

Another reason for carrying a bouquet down the aisle is so that you have something to toss over your shoulder to over-excited female wedding guests hoping to be given a sign that they’re next to wed! However, the original significance of the tradition is that the Bride’s clothing and by extension items belonging to her were considered good luck. Therefore Brides, feel free to choose an alternative to the bouquet as your lucky offering.

http://whatireadandwatched.blogspot.com/2011/06/muriels-wedding.html

Finally, you might be struggling to think of an alternative to the bouquet to keep your hands from fidgeting as you make your big entrance. Maybe you’ll feel less self-conscious with something to hide behind. Maybe people have told you Brides look silly without bouquets in their hands. Here I can help!

So what are the alternatives?

If you want a bouquet shape without the flowers, replace the offending flowers with:

  • Buttonshttp://www.iheartbuttons.co.uk/#
  • Silk butterflies
  • Lolly pops
  • Sea shells
  • Feathers
  • Christmas baubles
  • Beads
  • Crystals
  • Macaroons
  • Bonbons

If you just want something to hold onto:

  • Umbrella

    My dear Dad escorting me down the aisle

  • Parasol
  • Dog lead
  • Dog/Cat
  • Balloon string
  • Magic Wand
  • Fairy Wand
  • Purse
  • Fan
  • Lantern
  • (my personal favourite) The arm or hand of the person giving you away

Hen Night Hangover

I recently rewatched the movie the Hangover. I turned to my husband and said something like “…but that is THE destination though isn’t it. If you lived anywhere near there, you just would, wouldn’t you? It’s pretty hard to beat!…”

I was of course talking of Las Vegas. Sin City. The adult’s play ground. It’s like a much, much more glamourous and much, much more serious Fun House for adults many of us early 80s kids have wished someone would invent! More than anything I think Las Vegas is super cool. You can really fancy yourself in Las Vegas, you can take yourself seriously as a grown up, but have an absolute blast. You can be pampered, you can indulge, you can completely lose track of time. You can act like a big kid or you can go all classy and demure. Anything goes.

image from ioffer.com

But let’s face it, most British hen and stag dos cant stretch to that airfare + hotel tarifs + spending money! So where else could you go on your bachelor/bachelorette party as the Americans call them? It got me thinking of other super cool destinations for your party of a lifetime…

The first and largest hotel made of ice can be found in Swedish Lapland. A trip to Ice Hotel offers amazing experiences like taking in the stunning Northern Lights, snowmobiling and skiing, but it’s only open December – April. The mindboggling thought of sleeping in an ice bed in an ice room in an ice hotel actually sounds lovely! You get togged up in your sleeping bags and sleep on reindeer skins. They bring you a hot drink in bed in the morning. Then you warm through in the sauna and showers before breakfast.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/northernlights

Closer to home, Ice Bar London is a fabulous venue, with the bar itself and various lounges available for private hire. The bar is made entirely of ice, and is open year round. Dine here before sipping cocktails out of glasses made of ice! How fun! The Ice Hotel project is a must for art and architecture lovers. These party venues are art installations in themselves.

Staying with London – think big! If you have the budget, you can hire any number of places to hold your party including museums, performing arts venues, and royal palaces! If you’re hiring a venue like this for your wedding, it’s a nice excuse to try it out with just the girls (or boys)! Whatever you do, DO NOT search for “hen/stag party venue” and click on one of the many event management sites that hire venues as part of a hen/stag package. It might be easy but you pay for the ease of a package. If you go down the private hire route you’ll get a better deal, and your event will be tailor made to your requirements. How about chocolate tasting in a private capsule for 20 of your closest friends, on the London Eye?

http://www.virginballoonflights.co.uk/blog/when-is-an-envelope-not-an-envelope/

Now think bigger than London. Is a hot air balloon ride something you’ve always wanted to do? A basket can hold 16 guests! Choose to fly over the place you got engaged, your old school and stomping ground, magnificent castles or beautiful countryside. Now think boat party. River boats are cool, but how about a yacht on the Solent? Or off the Devonshire coastline? Onboard jacuzzi and sunbathing, a dip in the sea, dolphin spotting, BBQ, and of course oodles of champagne. What more could we want?

Your hen or stag do can be anything you want it to be. As with weddings, they should not be generic and impersonal but reflect who you are and what you love. Get creative and go all out. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend some high class, quality time with the girls/boys and to make lifelong memories. You probably wont be organising your own shindig but that doesn’t mean you can’t drop big hints. Just send your Best Men and Ladies over to my blog, or email them a few links to check out. 😉