It dawned on me the other day that so much about planning a wedding is trying to anticipate how you will feel, after the event, if you do - or don't - do things a certain way. Hence the emphasis on perfection, on spending money to do things 'right' so that you don't feel retrospectively disappointed a decade on from now.
What's brought this revelation on? The meeting with the Humanist. The bit that I thought was a formality has turned out to be actually a trigger to think about how exactly we want to do the 'i do' bit of the wedding, with an essential disagreement between BF and myself.
We know that we both want the same things: a nice ceremony, out in the open, up on the farm. Something personal and different. We'll have already done the legal bit in the register office that morning but we wanted something more meaningful to go alongside that.
So we met the Humanist, and she was lovely. I was convinced: BF remains un-so. The nub of our disagreement runs thus:
Me: the Humanist will do a proper job; run a beautiful ceremony and properly declare us married. A proper ceremony is important.
BF: the Humanist doesn't know us from Adam, and in the eyes of the law, she isn't really marrying us at all. We could get a friend to run us a ceremony up on the hill; he would do a sterling job and it wouldn't cost 500 quid for half an hour (Humanist weddings cost £400 this year, plus travelling expenses, and the cost will probably rise next year.) This would be more meaningful.
And this is pretty much where we still stand. I don't doubt that said friend would do an amazing job. He would completely. But I can't shake this sense of 'doing it properly'; worrying that in 10 years' time, I'll feel that something was missing. But at the same time, I recognise the essential truth in BF's feelings: in the eyes of the law, we're not more married by a Humanist than we are in the register office, and the Humanist ceremony is expensive.
I agree entirely with the Humanist principles and think they are a noble and lovely organisation. But when we're trying to keep things on a budget, £500 is a considerable cost. But is it a cost that's worth it?
So that leaves me, trying to second guess my future feelings on the issue and not making much progress right now.
So today, we're going to meet a humanist called who might well be the one to marry us next year. She's a retired schoolteacher who likes gardening.
At the moment bf is sort of neutral on the whole humanist ceremony bit so hopefully he'll feel a bit more decided either way after we've met her (because if it's a definite 'no' we need to get our thinking caps on again.)
I feel a few things need straightening out after the blog posts and responses of the past few days. I fear I am inadvertently starting to offend people and the thought that I have is upsetting.
First thing: nothing I say on here is any sort of judgement on anyone else. Different things matter to different people. I like blue (love it) and I like co-ordinated flowers and table themes and I like nice hotels. We just wanted to get married on a farm (the boy wanted a hog roast and ale, which = farm) and I'm not so fussed about co-ordinating colours (too indecisive to be honest). I'm not trying to offend anyone else when I say these things. I'm just saying them, as I'd tell a friend. And you know, it's early days - I'm just trying to figure out things for myself too.
When family members got married and these things were present, the weddings were beautiful. All weddings are beautiful. And all weddings are different. And nothing anyone likes or does not like is a judgement on anyone else.
I'm a firm believer that there is no 'right' way to do this. It's just nice that it (ie marriage) happens at all, in any which way. Which is why I like reading wedding blogs, because I feel that those sentiments are generally accepted in this world.
However you want to get wed is your choice. And expressing a preference or aversion to something or other is of course no judgement on anyone else. We don't all have to love or understand everything. We're only human. You might thing getting married on a farm is a bit grubby. You're probably right, but it doesn't put me off.
We don't live in a perfect world where everyone agrees. My mum and partner want me to wear a white (or white-ish) dress (when I thought I'd like a blue one like this) and I thought I might keep my name, but I've decided otherwise on both counts because it matters to people important to me and I can square it with myself (posts for another day, perhaps). But if some bird on a blog suggests she might do things one way, it's no judgement on those of you that want to do them another. In the same way, if you have an expensive wedding, you don't look down on the cheap ones. Cheap wedding people don't get to feel superior to the people who choose to splurge. Your money, your wedding, your choice.
But you pick your battles, and sometimes things other people say have an impact though I hope mine are never hurtful. But on blogs, where we share our thoughts, surely nothing is right or wrong? Apart from being mean and I hope I'm never that.
(This is in response to the lovely Glasgow Bride's post here. This was originally a comment until I realised it was ludicrously long...)
It's funny - until I actually got proposed to, I had honestly never devoted more than a nanosecond's thought to the issue of what my wedding woud be like, if I ever had one. All I knew was what it wouldn't be like (ie. the family ones I'd been to in the past: church, reception in a golf club/hotel and all the trappings that comes with it).
As soon as I realised I would be in fact, having a wedding, I bought four wedding magazines (which mostly made me feel the same as the family weddings - ie - not for me, and then got a pad of paper. I wrote down some of the following regarding the reception (we already knew that we wouldn't get married in a church but that's another story):
outdoors farm? near water? fun - bunting nice food lots of good booze
and then under a separate column, wrote a 'no' list, containing things like: wedding/conference venue/birdie song/people having to do stuff they don't like and diamante.
BF agreed, adding that he wanted a hog roast and proper beer (ale) and that was it. That's all we decided we wanted. This meant the list of things that became superfluous/optional then became a lot bigger: bridesmaids, colour schemes, flowergirls, big dresses etc etc.
I'm pretty sure I'm sticking to that. If all else fails, that's all I give a damn about. Though I don't think there's much water at the venue, there is a pond. But that bit I could let go. That and a nice ceremony - which is something we're almost decided on...
Genuinely gobsmacked and flattered. Thank you missus.
So I understand I have to pass this on to seven people and tell you seven things about myself. I'm not so keen on the 'about myself bit' - I feel a bit nervous giving away too much here other than what's already up (I'm sure more will emerge as this blog continues) - but I'll happily give those recommendations...
(Can I just say that MST has recommended many of the people I would love to recommend as well as introducing me to plenty of new people - so Anna, Katie, Glasgow Bride - you would be in my list too, though I'm going to play the game and suggest seven new people here)
1. A Los Angeles Love. This is a lady with her head screwed fully on. Practical, honest, often entertainingly ranty and just altogether excellent. Whenever I feel like I don't get all this stuff, I go here.
2. A Practical Wedding. Sure you all know this one, but it's another straight-talking, funny and honest place. Sometimes they deal with hard stuff and that's important too.
4. This Little Journey. I'm not sure I can organise one wedding half as apparently calmly, let alone two. I also have Miss C to thank for the gypsophila post, as I'm now pretty sure that's the answer for me - lots of flowers, minimal cost. Perfect.
5. Cupcake Wedding. Good in so many ways - honest about the planning process and a lovely mix of inspiration and advice, and this post on booze is just excellent.
6. Peonies and Polaroids. Photographer lady. I'm just getting to know this blog but it is full of beautiful things and lovely writing.
7. Wellies and Vogue. Countryside designer, getting married in half a year. Also a blog of lovely things, and the pictures of the countryside are very lovely and soothing to my fume-addled city brain.
I don't think this one is going to go down very well. I think some of you might hate me for saying it.
The current thing that I really can't get my head around in Wedding World is...
The Engagement Shoot
This is something I had never come across before entering WW (see also: gocco, cakes made of cheese (yum), humanist ceremonies) and try as I might, I still don't get it.
I'm not judging anyone who has an engagement photo shoot, but just saying I can't see for the life of me why I would. Please don't take any of the following personally - and if you've had an engagement shoot and loved it I would love to hear from you.
Having an 'e-shoot' shoot seem to be rather an American thing, but something that is making its way over here. As far as I can gather from seeing dozens, if not hundreds of them on blogs, the emphasis is on having some nice, natural photos of you and your other half for some purpose. However - these nice 'natural' shots are starting to look rather clichéd.
If you want to put the pics on invitations, or give them to your parents as a gift - fine. But they will have your wedding pics soon and I'm sure they will take precedence.
The number of shoots that makes it onto blogs is alarming: as if that's the sole purpose of having these photos taken (I'm not saying it is): to look immaculate and model-like for the day, showing the world how perfect your relationship is.
With a few goodexceptions, these shoots all look pretty similar. Pick a setting: urban or rural (a city park will also suffice for rural). Wear a pretty dress or a massive coat to make you look waif-like, and make sure there are shots of you looking lovingly into each others eyes; jumping; holding hands in the grass/against gritty urban backdrop.
Old cameras, or filters that make it look like you're in the 1970s are good. You will also need to pick an object (an apple or a box brownie camera are good) and fondle it between you, as if it symbolises something. Try to pick a sunny day and get a bit of camera glare or overexposure going.
Perhaps I have just seen too many already, but these pics seem to represent everything that makes me uncomfortable about weddings: staged happiness; massive expense; self indulgence; putting on a show. And even though they are meant to be alternative and 'indie'; they are looking increasingly the same.
If you're a modern couple that has been together for any length of time, there will be hundreds of natural photos of you already: digital cameras have made that so and Facebook means that everyone has seen them.
EDIT: I forgot the crucial last step: send them off to be featured on a blog. I think this is the bit that gets my goat the most.
So there are no pics in the post, because I'm not picking on anyone. And I fully expect some people not to like this post at all...