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

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A Look Back: Our Marriage Vows

Three years ago tomorrow, Ben and I said ‘I do’ in an incredibly simple garden ceremony half as long as the average ceremony I have been composing for couples over the past two and half years. I know I would compose a completely different ceremony for us if I could do it all again. But how different would our wedding vows be? And more importantly have we been living up to those vows? These are the promises we made to each other:

I promise to keep myself open to you,
To let you see through the window of my world,
Into my innermost fears and feelings, secrets and dreams.
I promise to trust you and honour you.
To laugh with you and cry with you.
I will love you faithfully,
Through the best and worst,
Through the difficult and the easy,
Completely and forever.
Come what may I promise I will always be there.
As I give you my hand to hold,
So I give you my life to keep.

Not long after we returned from our Honeymoon, we found and moved into a cottage in a village which opened up to us the lifestyle we enjoy today. That home and that village came to define our first year as husband and wife. It felt like our shared life started there. It was there that we really found who we were as a couple, and discovered our shared dream for our future. In our jubilation and to help us to cherish each other and our lives there we agreed further promises to live by day to day.

We pledge to have bubbles and bubbles at least once every two weeks and give thanks for our blessings
To explore on foot the village and surrounding countryside once a week – on Sundays if possible
To meet for a drink in the pub every Friday
To buy our meat from the local farm and to try the local oil
To go swimming in (nearby town) once a week
To have people over at least twice a month
To attempt to grow veg in the garden
To improve the lawn and garden
To go to (nearby towns) for shopping
To holiday close to home
To watch village cricket on Saturdays
To share the cooking and washing up
To always smile and greet fellow locals

When we wrote our wedding vows we were still getting to know one another having only met 18 months earlier. What shines through our wedding ceremony and wedding day in general is our relief and elation that we had finally found one another, that we were more than soul mates, we were perfect for each other, and that we really wanted to marry each other and be together, in each other’s pockets, for the rest of our lives. Click to read the rest of the story

English country garden wedding: stationary

One of my favourite and a very popular wedding theme: English country garden party/summer fete. This theme usually has an air of nostalgia. Key features include bunting, Pimms, informality, afternoon tea, hay bales, homemade favours.

I *tried* to make my own wedding invitations, but they looked rubbish. I ended up using a design from Tickled Pink and asked them to change various colours and font sizes to suit our wedding (and my perfectionism) perfectly. This was a bit of an extravagance, but they are gorgeous and I’m still so pleased with them. I really wanted to set the scene with our stationary, and I think we succeeded in letting our guests know the type of wedding we were planning and what they could expect. Here they are!

A year has passed so I’m wondering which stationary would I pick out if I was planning my wedding now?

I still love Tickled Pink. Their designs are crisp and impressive enough for special wedding stationary yet so down to earth and unpretentious. That’s a pretty hard balance to strike, but they get it right. Check out these super pretty designs which would all be great for an English garden theme:

Vintage Hearts

English Rose

Lace and Roses

Winter Wreath

Heart Invites has a new stationary collection called County Fayre. It combines lovely pink and green bunting with a fine green polka dot background. I’m not overly keen on the font which is a bit too modern in a wild wild west way for my tastes.

Country Fayre Range

I’ve also found this beautiful hand-painted stationary available from Pip Pip Designs. Their range is small but gorgeously and quintessentially English. This is my favourite design of theirs:

Bunting Wedding Stationary

Victoria Whincup offers these delightful personalised invitations, hand-drawn and hand-painted through her Etsy shop. I particularly like this design, which feels organic, floaty and gives a great sense of relaxed informality. Do browse her adorable designs. Her style reminds me of Rob Ryan’s papercutwork which I love.

Pink Flowers

Giftwrappedandgorgeous bring you Kate Lewis Design Wedding Stationary. Her cake and bunting design is hand-finished with sequins and crystals but remains rustic with a bubbly, fun feel.

Applique Cake

For a more homemade look how about this from Tailored Wedding Plans.

Bunting Style Wedding Invitation

Vintage Brown Card Floral

Tailored Wedding Plans do great table plans too. This vintage glam look would have been great for my think pink wedding 🙂

Crystals, Pearls and Vintage Style Lace

Another fabulously pink invitation is available from Beautiful Day through Not On The High Street.com

This design might be my most favourite of all! It combines bunting, cake, roses, and a bit of glam. Love it! This just shows how researching outside of ‘wedding’ suppliers and websites can yield the very best results!

Shabby Chic Bunting Party Invitation

I search for things like this one of two ways. Type your search terms into Google Images and click into the websites belonging to the images you like best. Chances are if a company does a bunting design, they will do other designs that fit with the English country garden theme too. Or search for local companies who specialise in bespoke or hand-painted stationary. You can link through to great Stationers through the websites of other wedding suppliers who share the same type of ethos or niche focus.

Happy hunting stationary lovers!

Wedding cakes with a twist

Wedding Cake Traditions and Traditional Wedding Cake

Wedding cakes make fantastic centre pieces, and are chosen as much for their visual appeal as for how they taste! The classic multi-tiered affair became popular I believe in Victorian society after a cake designer took inspiration from St Bride’s Church in London. I wonder if the steeple itself took inspiration from the cute older tradition of piling cakes as high as possible to challenge the Bride and Groom to kiss over the top of the cakes? What a fun game! As with most wedding traditions, the couple could expect prosperity and fertility should they succeed in kissing over the cake tower! Nowadays the ritual associated with the special cake is the joint cutting of it and feeding it to one another by the newlyweds. These important first joint acts and exchanges as husband and wife symbolise the bodily and spiritual nourishment the couple have pledged to provide each other throughout their marriage.

http://www.1weddingsource.com/history.php

The luck imbued in the cake was treasured by couple and guests alike after the Wedding too. Ladies! If you sleep with a slice under your pillow you will dream of your future husband! While the convention of saving the top-tier of cake for the Christening of your first-born child has recently given way to saving the top-tier for your first Anniversary. But with fewer people opting for fruit cake and fewer cakes having tiers, the saving of cake to be eaten at the next big event looks set to become a thing of the past.

One delightful cake tradition that has sadly fallen out of fashion is to bake different charms into the cake, (“cake pulls”) so that when ribbons are pulled, your Bridesmaids receive different blessings depending on the charm revealed. A Heart: for love. A Clover: for luck. An Engagement Ring: you’ll be the next to wed.  An Anchor: adventure will come your way. A Flower: love is going to bloom. A Horseshoe: you are lucky in life. If you like the idea of the nostalgic bridal luck charms I discuss here, why not make this sweet tradition part of your wedding too?

http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?um=1&hl=en&safe=off&client=firefox-a&sa=N&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&biw=1280&bih=681&tbm=isch&tbnid=TH4MraMreDuawM:&imgrefurl=http://jewelrybyrhonda.com/webpages/cakecharmpics2.html&docid=_1fZyL9LYPf4IM&imgurl=http://jewelrybyrhonda.com/images/cakecharms/cakepullneworleans.jpg&w=541&h=343&ei=ayViT6__E8ab8QPl3sXmBw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=965&vpy=130&dur=515&hovh=149&hovw=201&tx=155&ty=90&sig=104008391997752555404&page=4&tbnh=149&tbnw=201&start=60&ndsp=20&ved=1t:429,r:14,s:60

Reinventing the Wedding ‘Cake

I like to deconstruct every element of the wedding so that it can be reimagined in a fresh, fun way which suits the couple and the wedding they dare to dream of. A wedding cake generally serves the following purposes:

  • It is a stunning centrepiece to the reception room
  • It is a tasty treat for guests to look forward to
  • It has to feed all your guests
  • If you want to cut it, it needs to be cuttable
  • It has to not spoil or melt as it stands on show for at least a few hours

Given this ‘cake’ criteria it is apparent that the cake need not be made of make at all. There are many reasons why you may not want a cake cake. If you are servings lots of cakes as part of an afternoon tea spread; if you dislike cake; if you want your food budget to go further; if you particularly like the look of towers or croquembouche; or particularly like another type of sweet treat.

Cheese

Myself and my husband went for a cheese tower draped with tomatoes, figs, and grapes instead of a cake cake. A) I love cheese, and it just seemed so fitting B) we didn’t have a traditional wedding breakfast but afternoon tea, so we needed savoury not more sweet! C) the cheese tower still had the shape of a wedding cake, and the three tiers could still be cut by us.

Pie

Pork, chicken, vegetable… theoretically you could make a tower of pies, with any firm filling. A fruit pie would soon turn to messy mush, but savoury pies provide an easy to slice, tasty and substantial alternative. A practical option with the oooooooo! factor.

Chocolatehttp://www.choccywoccydoodah.com/product/0363/Three+Tier+Vortex

If money had been no object? Choccywoccydoodah, and not just because they have a funky name. These chocolate sensations do look quite tricky to cut and are ‘only’ chocolate coated. But what a coating. These cake cakes are all about the chocolate and the sculpture created. If you were going to choose a cake cake, this company offers the most delectable choice of sponges as opposed to the usual vanilla, chocolate, lemon or carrot.

Don’t Tell The Bride does have its moments. A creative Groom designed his own chocolate box wedding cake which instead of a cake and fruit filled chocolate box tower cake you can order from Patisserie Valerie or Druckers (YUM!) he went further and revealed to his Bride a chocolate made chocolate box with individual chocolates inside it! Marvellous! I wonder if Thorntons do these.

Towers

Pile fudge, l, or profiteroles high to make a wedding cake shaped tower. There are no tiers and it might be impossible to slice but who cares when you can dive in and start scoffing these morish morsels!? Cupcake towers have become uber popular lately. It’s cake already individually portioned so saves all that cutting and holding the crumbley slice over a napkin while you eat it, but it’s still cake. Bitesized confectionary or patisserie somehow seems more decadent. I also love that while the individual pieces of yum are easily plucked one by one, they can be laced together with streamers of chocolate, so that the ‘cake’ is one.

Twistshttp://www.marthastewartweddings.com/226890/gateaux-de-mariage-croquembouche

I think what makes tiered cakes so pretty is the diagonal dressing with flowers or other decoration, so that the tower takes on a twisted effect appearance. Towers can easily be given a twist by stacking slightly asymmetrically. My advice with every aspect of your wedding is to think about what suits YOUR wedding best. So if you are having an early wedding and want to serve brunch, how about a sweet breakfast pastry tower – almond and chocolate croissants, Danish pastries, cinnamon swirls. For an evening do how about an after dinner coffee and mint theme or cocktail theme? For weddings in the tropics, baked Alaska; and for winter weddings serve your cake hot, flambe and carve the sponge and serve with custard?

For a metaphorical twist, there are cakes with a super surprise inside. Yes this could be a full-blown person, but think along the lines of the bridal good luck charms, and perhaps you could hide sweets, chocolate money, lottery tickets, easter eggs, kinder eggs! inside a regular looking sponge cake.

Fountains

If you don’t care about the cake being sliceable, but want maximum tower centrepiece effect, why not consider (guilty pleasures of mine) chocolate and/or champagne fountains? I adore the concept of these edible fountains. They really encapsulate the spirit of sharing and diving in I associate with the wedding cake. An added bonus is that unlike the other options, as they are devoured, they do not lose their shape or illusion of plenty. Who wants to choose between chocolate and champagne? If I could plan my wedding over again, I’d have one of each.

~

Our cake 🙂

Cutting our mini cheese tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben getting a mouthful

A cracking cracker

 

 

Lucky in Love

I’m not sure whether bridal charm of choice depends more on where you grow up, or family tradition. All I know is that I was adamant that on my wedding day I REALLY wanted a horseshoe. I don’t think I hinted to anyone that I was expecting/hoping for at least one trinket to dangle off my wrist, but boy did my family come through!

I hadn’t even considered how much I wanted wooden spoons until I was handed two. One had been lovingly handpainted by my sister and the other was fit for a Princess, white and glittery. From my Dad came the biggest, tackiest silver plastic horseshoe he could find. Good old Dad. From my Mom a much more restrained, gorgeous tiny gold horseshoe, and from my Uncle and Aunt a larger gold horseshoe embossed with hearts. Cousins on my new husband’s side gave me more modern interpretations of these good luck charms – wooden hearts on rope and letters on wire.

These good luck charms meant the world to me. I’m an old fashioned gal, and I know being adorned with a variety of clashing, clunking wrist furniture would not please every bride. For me though, the humblest wooden spoon filled me with an overwhelming sense of being loved. These offerings conveyed the sincerest of wishes for our marriage. They will be on show in my house always, as I will treasure them always.

Most of us know the rhyme ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’ but did you know there’s more? ‘A silver sixpence in your shoe’ is apparently part of the same ryhme. Traditionally, the Father of the Bride provides the sixpence for his daughter to wear in her shoe as she walks down the aisle. How lovely, I wish we had known that.

Horseshoes are said to be lucky for a number of superstitious reasons. As well as being said to ward off witches, and the devil himself, the metal iron is said to be lucky as is the very shape of the shoe, representing a crescent moon.

Wooden love spoons were made by men in Wales while courting. The spoons would be carved intricately to show the depth of feeling the hopeful gent held for the lady.

The four leaf clover doesn’t seem particularly associated with wedding luck, but is considered lucky because of its rarity. They carry lovely symbolism, with their leaves meaning in turn: faith, hope, love and luck. Very apt for a wedding then.

We wish newlyweds luck with our words and gifts without really believing that any amount of luck can really make for a successful marriage. Still, it is a caring sentiment to wish the happy couple the smoothest transition into their new lives together; to wish them no untoward misfortune as they make their way together as husband and wife; to wish them patience and resolve in times of difficulty. We wish Brides and Grooms luck in marriage, not luck in love, because they have already had that in finding in each other.

Marriage: a name-changing event?

One of the things you’ll want to decide in the run up to your wedding day is what to do with your names.You don’t need to decide so that you can tell the Registrar what name to enter on your marriage certificate, because no married surname will be entered on the mariage certificate. A marriage certificate changes your legal marital status only and not your name at all. Your legal names will remain as they were before the ceremony, on your marriage certificate. You will want to decide on your names however, so that your Wedding Celebrant knows what to announce you as at the end of the ceremony. Your guests will want to write your new married surname on cards and cheques. It’s a really nice idea to let them know your intended surname on the wedding invitations.

It’s no longer just the Bride who must decide to keep or lose her maiden name. You both have several options, but what are they?

No change. If you love your surname, and don’t mind it differing from your partner’s, you can opt to keep your names as they are. I wanted our children to have the same name as both of us so we didn’t go down this route even though I love my maiden name.

You both take the Groom’s name. If the Bride isn’t that attached to her surname, and the couple want to go with the most traditional name option, the Groom can keep his name, and the Bride can take his.

You both take the Bride’s surname. If like us, one of you has a relatively common or boring name and the other has a name that means alot to the family, you can both take the Bride’s surname. A good alternative to the traditional option if you want to share your surname.

Double-barrelling. If your names are equally important to you or you want to emphasise the joining of two families and you two as individuals, consider double-barrelling. The order is up to you and you can hyphenate or not bother. We went with the order that rolled off the tongue best and had the nicest ring to it. I also got to keep the familiar transition from first names to surname instead of it being interupted by the other surname. Win for me! We went with the double-barrelling option despite it resulting in quite a long name. One compromise is that we will run out of space for our names on certain forms and we now have to be more considerate when naming our children, but it’s worth it for the other reasons.

Meshing. A way around a really long double-barrelled name for those couples who dare to break the mould is meshing the two surnames together in an order that works. Half the surnames and butt them together and see what works. For us it would have meant CATLEY + RICHARDSON … Catardson? Richardley? Catlerdson? Richley? You can see why we double-barrelled!

What’s the deal with Deed Poll (UK)?

Deed Poll is the only way to legally change your name, whatever you choose to call yourselves. In theory you could refer to yourselves socially as your new married surname without changing your name with your bank, without changing your passports, without notifying companies you use, of the name change. The important thing to remember is that your passport must match the name you are travelling under. Your passport does not need altering just because you have married. Only if your name has been changed must you change your passport. What this means for us is that if we travel abroad our trip will have to be booked in our unmarried names until we change the passports. Banks will generally change your name if you present your marriage certificate, contrary to what the Deed Poll website tells you. If you want everything to match your bank account name, then your passport will need changing at some stage. This can be done without Deed Poll too, although the cost of a new passport could put you off by itself. The DVLA will accept just your marriage certificate to change your name providing that a clear link can be seen between the names on your certificate and what you are trying to change your name to. If you are meshing your names, you might have more trouble than if you are double-barrelling. As far as I can tell, you can name your children after your chosen married surname on their birth certificate without ever having legally changed your own surnames to the surname you give your children. And finally, because children (even babies!) now need their own passports, having a different surname to yours will not complicate your passport situation.

Ms. or Mrs.

Ladies, it’s up to you. While Mrs is the traditional title for married women, Ms might be more appealing to you and still set your status apart from the pre-marriage Miss.

Monograms

The nice thing is, no matter what you decide to call yourselves after your wedding, you can use all of the initials from your names in a monogram which can be used throughout your wedding. Your wedding day is that unique cross over moment of past, present and future. You are at once celebrating your former singles lives, and so your former single surnames; and your new lives together and your new married surnames. Monograms elegantly combine one or more initial into a coherent symbol. So you could try combining the initials of your first names or your old surnames, or choose to use the initials from your new shared surname combined with your first name initials. If you like the idea of a monogram, there are lots of monogram generators online. Do use them, instead of giving up (like I did) when my freehand efforts failed to impress my own exacting standards. Monograms can feature on all your wedding stationary, favours, your cake, and even in your flowers and are a lovely symbolic expression of the meaning of marriage.

With this ring I thee wed

Your engagement ring will probably be the first wedding-related purchase you make as a couple, whether you or your partner choose and buy it or you do it together. The ring can be a first chance to prove how well you know each other, if you’ve particular tastes or expectations. Or it can be a haribo jelly ring, hula hoop, or ring-fashioned tin foil to fulfil the role of ‘ring’ and be all you need. The engagement ring can set the tone for the wedding to follow. Much like the invitations, your ring will give your guests an idea of what to expect from the wedding. Is it contemporary? Antique? Traditional? Restrained? Elaborate? They will be looking for clues!

The choice of engagement ring will probably have most bearing on your choice of wedding bands. Do you intend to keep wearing your engagement ring after the marriage? Will you keep it on the same finger or move it to the other hand? Will you want to wear it alongside your wedding ring on special occasions or keep it in a box to hand down to the next generation? If your partner will only wear silver coloured metals or only yellow coloured metals does this mean your wedding rings will now not match? Do you need to consider a multi coloured gold band to tie the three rings together?

Jewellery is pretty. We love the decadence of it. It is never needed. This makes it all the more desirable. Getting married gives you a great excuse to buy not one but two rings plus jewellery to wear on the day! But spare a thought for your other half. The Groom will generally get a nice new pair of cufflinks out of it – if he’s lucky. After our engagement I decided to buy my fiance a watch. Not just a functional watch, but one that was special. One that was a bit over the top., a bit ornate. One that really spoke to him and spoke to me of him. He adores it to this day and wears it every chance he gets (whenever not at work). It’s a ‘for best’ piece, and because it was frivilous, because I told him to choose whichever one he wanted, instead of weighing up pros and cons or thinking of the watch as a practical purchase, it’s basically his most prized possession. A true gift, a treat, not a concession.

When we were shopping for his wedding cufflinks we were so bored by the masses of jokey modern Groom offerings. We eventually came across a pair of cheeky vintage links. My top tip: don’t search under the Groom or Wedding category for cufflinks. Think about the kind of design or look that would work with your theme. While we’re talking about thinking outside the box, there’s no rule that you have to have wedding rings. If you’re not really a ring person why not go for something more you – jewellery or otherwise? The purpose of rings in the marriage ceremony is firstly to symbolise your first gifts to each other, so you could opt to exchange pretty much anything instead, eg. roses, garlands, tokens, coins. Secondly, rings symbolise infinity. This could mean to you your unending love, your unending support for one another through live, or your unending bond together in marriage. Rings symbolise these things because they are circles so have no end. You could replace rings with any other circular object, for example, a bracelet.

With my own wedding jewellery, I thought about what I’d like to wear every day after my wedding around my neck to remind me of the promises we had made. I had been coveting a chunky heart pendant for ages but not being able to afford a gold one, I fell in love with a Murano glass range and ordered some bespoke earrings to match. This way for very little money, I got a necklace and earrings I had designed myself, having chosen exactly the perfect beads and fittings to go with my dress and my wedding theme. I ordered brooches for the Moms and pendants for the Bridesmaids from the same jewellery maker so that everything was in Murano, but as individual as the girls I was buying for. I ended up wearing my other Nan’s pearl necklace on my wedding day instead of the pendant, but I wear my Murano wedding jewellery all the time. It was really nice to have things to keep wearing on the honeymoon that reminded me of the wedding. It was one of those things you don’t plan but then just really appreciate at the time.

As for my rings, well I wanted an old ring that resembled one I had admired on my late Nan’s finger. When she died, I inhereited the ring but discovered it was damaged and not worth repairing. We scoured Oxford for something similar or reminiscent, and finally found ‘the one’ in Birmingham’s jewellery quarter, which meant a great deal to me, having a long line of ancestors from the city. Ben was very easy to please with a plain yellow gold band, but I wanted a design that symbolised our union and set about getting quotes for a bespoke ring with entwined threads of rose and yellow gold. Rose to symbolise me and the yellow to symbolise Ben. Our budget just didn’t stretch that far so I found a half diamond crossover design that would represent our differences and our joining well enough although I’d still love to get the ring of my dreams made some day. We had our rings engraved with words that meant the most to us. Ben’s ring says ‘Whole’ because he feels that our relationship has made him a whole man, ready for the rest of his life as his true self. It’s really nice that our words make sense when they are put together too. My ring says ‘Life’ because that is what I feel Ben gives me. The real start of my life, as a wife, we are a new family, setting out on a new adventure. By giving my heart and soul peace at finding him and knowing that he will always love me, Ben gives me the grounding to fully live and enjoy my life.

Jewellery and especially rings can be far more than just pretty. When it comes to your wedding, it’s up to you to take the opportunity to inject meaning into everything if you want to. There’s no reason why everything you choose to be a part of your day should not hold a special (and secret if you want) meaning to you and your beloved. How often do we get this chance? The world is your oyster. Happy shopping, and remember: the only limit to possibility is your imagination.

 

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!

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.