Tuesday, 29 November 2011

rule number one

I broke one of the only rules I ever set for myself the other day. At a party, someone said something nice about my appearance.

What did I do?

Absolutely categorically said no, no, I wasn't pretty, I was big and heavy and lumbering. Look at all these thin people - I feel like a monster next to them. Or in similar words, with a slightly tipsy bent.

What the hell was I doing? The one rule - the main rule of being a woman. One I realised around age 13, when after many years of really bad bullying (which little did I realise, wasn't quite over) said I would never give anyone any ammunition with which to judge me again.

Why not: "Why thank you. That's very sweet of you to say"? or "Haha - thank you. Not sure I agree, but thank you anyway"? Why instead: "No, you are wrong - I am a troll."

Not only did I humiliate myself a little by doing this, but I also basically told the person I was speaking to that she was wrong and her opinion invalid. Whether or not she honestly believed it, she felt moved enough to say it (apropos of nothing, by the way - it was not fished for).

How can I stop doing this? I don't know. Perhaps it's good to do it occasionally, to realise what a thoroughly twattish thing it is to do.

And that's not breaking the rule, incidentally. Sometimes I am a twat, but I hope that it's a temporary state. Unlike, say, the shape of my body (which though changing, will never be waif-like).

Ladies - learn from my mistake! Let's stop doing this to ourselves and recognise when we do it. It is WRONG. Good on you if you don't need this reminder. I think every woman I know does. Maybe you are all paragons of not doing yourself down. In which case - write to me and tell me how you do it.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

do i need a new blog?

A genuine question, and one I can't quite make my mind up about. I do have another blog (indeed, a whole other online life) and that's why I blog here anonymously. I do love having this place, where I can write about things that have nothing to do with work, things that matter personally.

But I can't escape from the fact that this blog began as something about the wedding. The name of it limits it slightly in that. There is now so much else I want to write about, but 'cakes and bunting' doesn't really cover it. But then I've built up a whole community of friends with this blog. Do I need to change it? It would seem natural to cover the wedding and then move onto a new place. But is this necessary, helpful?


Wednesday, 9 November 2011


So I didn't blog about the wedding at the time, because I'd promised not to. Because, as you might remember, I won my dress. And so the kind and lovely people that gave me the dress really do have first dibs on pictures and things.

But it's really just dawned on me that this doesn't mean that I can't talk about other parts of the wedding - that don't just yet involve the big shiny pictures or the video.

And so I will. I'll tell you all about the eventful journey down, where Jon's mum and dad forgot the gallons of confetti and had to go back and get it, adding an unexpected three hours to their journey (they were a mere hour from London). I do love them but boy, they drive slowly.

The same journey where we realised that a major component of our ceremony - the seating - was missing, and where in the interests of not being perceived as a mad bridezilla I gave the phone to J and let him sort it . And thus, what in a girl would be 'mad bridezilla' in a boy became 'assertive and no-nonsense'. Gender bias, eh? God that car ride was fraught.

And the cake. The wonderful delicious cake that arrived the day before... well, it wouldn't be putting too fine a point on it to say "totally smashed". Yes. The cake that we weren't going to have, that we eventually decided to spend £250 on, and ended up spending £500 on, arrived largely destroyed. No one's fault - just a freak accident in the heat. And in the end, how it turned out fine.

I'm going to do all this and post the pics I can, but will try to make the posts useful, rather than just recaps. Things I learned, things that came in handy and things that we honestly could not have given a shit about on the day. Because then perhaps they will come in useful for you too.

I do feel a little sad that I haven't done this sooner but what with anticipating the photos going online for some time now, and holding off, and then having life hijacked by the move to Glasgow, my lovely 'wallowing in the wedding' time has been curtailed.

Realistically, I'll be making the next post from Glasgow. Eek.

Monday, 17 October 2011

the bloset

Or - the 'blogging closet'. In other words, the thing I'm going to need to emerge from this week. I think it's fair to say (without giving too much away) that this is the week that I wave bye bye to blogging anonymity. I know that most of you that read this know who I am now, in some capacity at least.

But I've been justifiably careful for a few reasons. One is my job. I work in the sort of line of work where people stumble across blogs. It wouldn't have taken a rocket scientist to work out that Claire of cakes and bunting was that Claire they knew, who was also getting married on a farm in Somerset. Secondly, J works in the line of work where it wouldn't do to have your fiance/wife wittering on about you (and I've been very careful not to). And thirdly - and really, tying in to the first two - is that I've laid myself rather bare on here. I've said what I think, said what I'm worried about, and written in a way that I could not have done if I'd been aware that friends would read it. Even J has promised he never will read it, though I may ask him to write something soon.

Blogging was good preparation, in a way, for the wedding. Helping me to understand how to behave and react and how to process things. It gave me the confidence to create a day in which we took away all the things we thought were irrelevant for us and just left the meaningful parts - and the most fun parts.

And the fact is that these things, and our wedding, were different to the norm. Maybe not the bloggy norm, where getting married in a golf club is waay retro trad (I'm awaiting the first ironic hipster '1991 themed wedding'). We had some of the things that are beyond traditional in blogland. Miles of bunting. Miles of it. Top quality, mum-produced stuff. A hogroast. But it was still different to any wedding I'd ever been to and I know it was the same for most of our guests.

In doing it differently, we laid ourselves open to criticism - you take the protective layer off the top and it's easy for someone to rub salt in. We were incredibly lucky that this didn't happen and that everyone there embraced it, enjoyed it for what it was.

And it's been the same with the blog. I removed a layer of cynicism and censorship and wrote, with some careful omissions for privacy's sake, what I wanted. Anonymity has allowed me to be much more open than I could have been otherwise.

And in doing this, I've found a support network that has helped me through difficult decisions and stupid ones. I've had help developing a great sense of perspective and a healthy wedding BS filter. I've also (groan) genuinely grown as a person through the wedding experience, and blogging has been an integral part of this. And I've even made friends. Actual real friends through the internet. God bless you, Tim Berners-Lee.

So I think this might be my last anonymous post. One day soon, you'll get to read a blog post broken up by pictures, rather than just my usual long ranty streams of text. I'll maybe finally tell you what I made, how I made things (if you care) and all sorts of stuff that I'd decided previously made me too identifiable. Ultimately, I had a blast and it was (whisper it) - kinda easy, mostly. Because we only did the important stuff. Plus a bit of bunting.

But first, there will probably be some pictures. Brace yourselves.

Friday, 14 October 2011

dear wedding bloggers: carry on, nothing to see here

If you read wedding blogs, or you're on Twitter, then you'll probably have seen this over the past couple of days.

It's a post by an anonymous photographer about how, in a nutshell, wedding blogs and their detail-orientation bias are stressing out brides and making them feel inferior. It's a plea for more of a focus on 'normal' weddings. And by that, they mean ones that are plainer.

I don't know if anyone has noticed this (the photographer perhaps hasn't) but actually, there are already blogs that feature weddings from the entire spectrum - from four people in a register office (or for our American friends, the courthouse) with no moustaches on sticks to ginormous traditional weddings with 500 people. From plain to elaborate. From handmade to out-of-the-box. And yes, some of them have had mason jars and bunting. Trends come, trends go. People like trends because they are exposed to them.

Of course, some blogs only feature thin, model-like brides. C'est la vie. Or rather, c'est la media in general. But if that's all you can find then you're not looking hard enough. I've seen weddings featuring people of all religions and no religion. Of all shapes, sizes and colours. In this wonderful world of acceptance, I've read about Pagan weddings, elopements, weddings that happened on the spur of the moment, second weddings, weddings abroad, weddings on farms, weddings in back gardens. Every single one of these has been celebrated.

Look at A Practical Wedding, Offbeat Bride, Any Other Wedding, Love My Dress and so many more (and people are setting them up as we speak) - and if you check out the comments on these blogs, you will find they link to personal blogs from thousands of brides (and some grooms too) who run their own corner of the internet, mulling these issues daily.

They curate their own idea of what's important, and if they care to do so, they can define what they find attractive. They can control the pretty, redefine it and call bullshit.

Blogs - in all their guises, whether they focus on the pretty, the dress, the groom, whatever - are what has given the confident voices to all of these women (and men). Blogs and the blogging world reinforces the idea that they can make up their own rules, and they can do whatever the hell they like for their wedding. Remember - just a few short years ago, all weddings largely looked one way. That they now very much do not all look one way - despite the fashion for mason jars and dressing up boxes, these sort of weddings are still a minority - is because of the popularity of the blog and the confidence it has given people.

(If you want to see how things have changed in three short years, its worth reading a little about Rock n Roll Bride's own wedding, as she explains how different the options available were in 2008.)

People who get stressed out because their wedding is "too plain" would find something to get stressed out about if there were no blogs. Because some people are just like that.

In short. Bloggers: as you were. Keep up the good work, team.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

the anticipation

In my bag is a CD of images from our wedding. The official wedding photos. I haven't looked at them, immense restraint that not doing so required. We will look at them together tonight.

But today, over lunch, I had a look at a few wedding blogs. Only the non-insane ones, I hasten to add. But I devoured them in the way that I have done so many times. Scrolling, scrolling, inhaling it all. All that effort, reflected in those few pictures.

The details, the banners, the bunting, the dresses. The dancing, the thin-ness, the bridesmaids, the flowers. The getting ready pics. The dress hanging by the window. This is how I digested every wedding I ever looked at on the internet. This is how I got a 'feeling' of their day, and interpreted it in the light of our own. Every one changed the view of our wedding, in a tiny way.

Now tonight, I will look at some more wedding photos. And I know that they will be amazing, because that's our photographer. She is amazing. But the content of the images will be our own, and that bride in that one dress, with her groom and her flowers, will be me. How will I feel? How will I judge it?

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


(Picture from here)

On Sunday, some friends came for tea. Afterwards, I found myself giving driving directions to a friend heading back to south-east London. "Oh," I said nonchalantly, "you'll want to get to Hammersmith and drop down through Earls Court and cross the river at Vauxhall. Definitely quickest at this time on a Sunday."

Well, I thought, shocked: my Dad would be proud to know that I inherited this trait from him - of having a map in your head, and reeling off routes. Do all Dads do this? I think maybe they do.

But what I thought too, was - my god. I finally know this city, with its coloured lines under your feet, its hidden rivers and stinkpipes. I know its arteries and veins. I know how to get to somewhere, and how to get from somewhere, and that sometimes, depending on the time or the weather, these will be two different routes.

When I see a bus with a destination on the front, I know roughly where it's headed. I know that if I sat on that bus, I could get home. Routes light up in my head like a landing strip, a dotted line leading to where I need to be. The a40, the a4, the a406.

When someone tells me something about Acton, or Peckham, or Dulwich, or Park Royal, I know what they mean. I know where I shouldn't walk alone at night and where the tube map cheats tourists who pay £4 to ride 500 yards. I can stand in Soho and just know which way to turn, even though it all looks the same. I can reassure my parents repeatedly that Soho isn't full of prostitutes in windows, but after six years, they'll still worry.

I know precisely where to go for not just any curry, but the best. Ditto Thai, Japanese, Iranian, Ethiopian, Lebanese, Polish and god, even British food. I know where to take parents, friends, people new to town.

I know the brilliance of driving through London at a quiet time. Between Christmas and New Year, joining the dots in the dark between the Houses of Parliament and Piccadilly Circus and gazing up afresh at the big flashing sign. Turning a corner and seeing a landmark, any of them. I still feel a humpback bridge whoosh of excitement when crossing the river. I've never bought anything from Harrods. But that doesn't stop me, sometimes, on a winter's night, getting off the Tube at Knightsbridge, bundled up in my scarf, just to look at the lights.

I've sat in baking, baking traffic to reach a large patch of green, where I've jumped into my bathers and leapt into an icy pond. I've had an engagement picnic on the Heath. I still get lost, on occasion. I can hail a cab like I've done it all my life and no one would guess I'm a girl from the Midlands. I know places where you'll never get a cab for a million pounds, but I know which street to cross to find a thousand of them.

I know where my local underground river flows. I know what was there before that block of flats. I know the little secrets of my parts of town.

And today, I bought an old map of our area from a local antique bookshop, to hang on our new wall. A present for J, who loves maps and was looking at it longingly the other day. And as I paid, a book flashed at me from a stack on the till. It had a cover criss-crossed with red and white stripes, tartan. It was called 'The Clans of Scotland'.

It really struck me that I'll be living in another country, rather imminently now. I have no idea what a clan is. Maybe no one gives a toss. Maybe it's something you're just meant to know. Or maybe any Scots reading this think I'm a dick for talking about clans. Who knows. I'll soon find out.

Right now, there's just a gap where Glasgow should be. I've never even seen it. So very soon, I'll have to know nothing and start again.

I won't know what topics of national discussion cause seething resentment until I've put my foot in it, probably a few times.

I won't know what it means when someone tells me they are from Lumloch or Glenboig, or how I should get back if I accidentally found myself in Nerston.

I am lucky that through this blog, I seem to have found a disproportionately high number of wonderful people in the vicinity. I hope they can tell us where to get a curry and find a fish and chip shop that sells mushy peas.

We'll start again with the street we end up living in. We'll find our feet in the flat, then venture out to find the local, and then realise, perhaps a year later, that there's a much nicer pub two minutes round the corner, if only we'd known to look.

We'll slowly learn which newsagent sells out of the good papers by 11am. We'll work out a route to the airport to collect friends and family, but even with the help of two satnavs and a map, it may well involve traffic and/or bickering.

We'll find a supermarket. This will be very much like any other Asda, Sainsburys or Tesco in the country - except there will be some crucial differences which mean I won't be able to find the noodles.

Just as I've got my head around the sociological implications of the North/South divide, and where exactly the East Midlands sits in that binary system (it's North, incidentally) no one is likely to note or care that I still said bus, rather than bahs, or grass, rather than grahse.

I've allowed myself to feel what I've been ignoring, and London is starting to feel alien. The masses, masses of people. The skyline. When my parents last visited, as we crossed the a40 above Edgeware Road, my mum looked up and said: "the sky is just so... full... you can only see buildings..." and for a second, I saw it too.

When we drove back in the dark, past the floating illuminated mass of Westfield, I felt like I was seeing it for the first time. How did you possibly reach that? How does one get into that big green iceberg? How does it make sense? Like landing in a foreign country and trying to work out the nuances of catching a train.

When I stepped off the bus yesterday, I looked at up at the people who got off with me, rather than just ploughing on and ignoring them (the London way). How could all these people be getting onto one tube train? There were thousands of them.

London, you've been great fun. I should think I'll always remember what you taught me. Hopefully if I can cope with the Northern line in 30 degree heat (ok, I didn't cope, it made me cry the first three times, but THEN I coped) then, Glasgow, I can deal with your subway and buses. I might get used to it, even. I might find I'm home. Maybe we'll be back one day. Hopefully the good takeaways won't have changed.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011


Sometimes there are things that come along like a smack in the face and make you understand a lot more about life in one fell swoop.

Sometimes, those things make you embarrassed about your previous thoughts and behaviour.

This is one of those things. This blog, written by an engaged lady with terminal cancer.


Please go and visit.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011


So the wedding was amazing. Incredible. So full of love, just...amazing.

But then I had to do something that made me sad. Even as I was doing it, it made me sad. And it made J sad, which made me sadder.

I looked at the first photos of the wedding, just a couple of days later. My first thought was: "wow, those flowers are great." My second thought, almost concurrent with the first was: "I'm not thin enough". I hated myself for thinking it. But I couldn't stop. I'd wanted to look thin, willowy. I'd wanted to look like someone J could pick up and spin around. I'd wanted to look like this:

(picture of the Sarah Seven dress I originally fell in love with, from here)

It's not like I didn't know what size I was before the wedding. But I'd just thought: "There's nothing I can do about this. Push it out of your mind." And I did.

I said this to J and he was upset. He said I was the most beautiful woman in the world, and that day, he thought I looked just incredible. And he said to stop saying otherwise, because it was upsetting for him to hear it.

But it's like a scab. A horrible suppurating scab that you can't stop picking at.

Last night, I went to slimming club. I got weighed, and I hadn't gained too much on honeymoon. But I did a recap of how much I'd lost before the wedding.

In the past year, from my current weight with honeymoon gain, I've lost 6lbs. This year, after gaining 7lbs at Christmas, I lost a stone (half of it the 7lbs from Christmas) before I had to start maintaining in June. I lose slowly because I go out and see friends. I've always known why I lose slowly. But I tell myself - trying a bit harder, turning down a few drinks. I could have been half a stone lighter or more.

I was disappointed with myself. My BMI when we got married was 'obese'. I hated myself for not trying harder, for still having that appalling label attached to me, which upsets me so much. Four lbs lower and I'd have been merely 'overweight'.

I wanted the way I looked on my wedding day to be something I could own and feel proud of. To be something like the way I might look for the rest of my life. I still want that, if I can just stop thinking like this. You don't need to tell me that there are more important things in life than half a stone on your wedding day. I know. I get it. But I still felt like I'd let myself down.

J tells me that no one cares about my weight, I looked gorgeous and that's what people see. A happy, beautiful girl. He said I looked thin.

I hate myself for picking this scab and upsetting myself and J.

I wish I could say 'I looked amazing, I looked like me'. J says I looked like me. I say: "I don't know what I look like, or what I'm meant to look like. So how can I know?"

Has anyone ever said they felt truly gorgeous? Why can't I just own it? I hate myself for making us both sad over this when the wedding was pure happiness.

Monday, 26 September 2011


Well, dear reader, it's been more than a month since my last post. In that time, I've got married, traveled to the furthest reaches of the British Isles for a honeymoon in the Outer Hebrides, and today, returned to work with an extra ring on my finger and a desperate desire to check Facebook for new photographs of the wedding every five minutes.

There will be recaps, I'm sure of it. But it's quite hard to digest everything now, or to know where to start. I just received the 'taster tape' from the videographers (oh yes, we had them in the end - an interesting story) and it made me feel nervous and gave me butterflies in a way that I never felt on the day.

So what do I tell you in this post, while I collect my thoughts? I think I can tell you that the wedding was better than I ever thought it could be. People seemed to have an amazing time. Everything went well - and the one thing that didn't initially look like going too well (a rather destroyed wedding cake) eventually turned out fine. And I wouldn't have cared either way.

Everyone arrived safe, had a ball, and got home safely. The details were ultimately, quite important - but they weren't flippantly decorative - everything had a meaning to us. Our friends were amazing, our families were amazing. The venue, the suppliers - everyone - was amazing. I'm sorry if this makes boring reading, but this is a topline view. The details are interesting, I promise.

But in order to tell you about some of the details, I'm going to have to come out of the blogging closet, as it were. The bloset. I don't see that I can do this without posting pictures of myself up here, or pictures that would identify the wedding and ourselves. So I'll be doing that. But understandably, because there are some things written about here that aren't yet fully public, I can't do it just yet. So there might be some posts about 'feelings' before there are posts about pretties. I hope you can forgive me.

Oh and an interesting one. Before the wedding, those of you who follow me on Twitter might have seen an attempt at being amusing with the hashtag #atw - or 'after the wedding', where I talked about the daft things I would no longer be doing in the days following the wedding. What I did not anticipate doing two days after the wedding, was sitting on a desolate beach on Skye, bawling my eyes out with the most intense sadness for the wedding that was over. I'd heard about the post-wedding blue. I never thought I'd get them. But in the end, the wedding got me good and proper. I've never been as in love with a day as I was then.

Friday, 19 August 2011

the makers

People talk a lot about 'handmade' weddings. Rustic, vintagey things that have, in the year and a half that J and I have been engaged, almost become a wedding cliche in themselves. That's what our wedding will look like. Lots of things will be handmade. I think it's lovely. The invitations were handmade, and I am so very very lucky that the dress will be too.

I'm also very lucky in that handmade is just the normal way of things for many people in my life. It's the way things were when I grew up, and for J too. The major 'makers' in our life are our parents.

So this post is for the makers of things that will make the wedding. They won't read it, but it's a thank you to them, for every time I've made an enquiry, asking 'i was just wondering...how easy would it be to do x y z?' they have just gone away, done it before we even knew it, or just surprised us with things and been totally amazing.

I didn't think this would be the case at all. I didn't think I knew enough crafty people. What a fool not to think that our parents are the original crafters. They are amazing.

My mum

My mum and dad make things. They just can, and do, and always have. When I asked mum if she could make some bunting (I can do it, but she has the sewing machine), within a week she had sent over seven samples for various bunting designs that she had just dashed off. Now, we have 70+metres of bunting in two sizes (for two locations) which has been sitting in an airtight bag, fully pressed for four months.

I suggested we fill some activity bags for children. I found the bags online, discussed it with her. She declared the bags for sale online rubbish and proceeded to procure age-appropriate fabrics for all children in attendance (including some Paddington Bear fabric, found in a charity shop as a former pair of curtains) and make and fill all the bags. She'd done two before she even told me. I also asked if she (and J's mum, see below) would help me make jam and chutney for favours. She is an avid jam and chutney maker anyway. She has produced 35 jars. I fully anticipated about 10 from her and making about 50 myself. This is now totally unnecessary.

My dad

My dad is a rare breed indeed. He has always been able to make and fix anything, and I mean really make, really fix. He fits kitchens, mends cars, turns wood, does everything. So I asked him if he could knock together a quick box. I was thinking four sides, a base, that's it. Just for the guest book postcards on the night, something to drop them into. I know he could do that in half an hour.

He has produced an oak chest, with beautiful vintage style hinges (which he made HIMSELF - my tiny mind boggles at this) and an engraved plaque on the front, with both our names, the date of the wedding and the name of the farm. Wow. Just...wow. I should add that he made it in about three days in the evenings after work. It is incredible.

I also asked him if he could cut some little blocks of wood with slits in, just to hold table numbers. Instead, he sent me a photo of some bent-wire heart-shaped table number holders that he'd just 'knocked together'. He'd seen the wire heart we're using to hold the table plan and just copied it in table number holder form. He asked if I liked the photo of one he'd made and texted over and by the end of the day, he'd made 12 and sprayed them cream to match the table plan heart thing (which I just stumbled across in a gift shop). I need to do one of those 'surprised smiley' face things here. WOW.

J's mum

Just after we got engaged, J's mum asked us: "What colours do you like in the bedroom?"

Erm... OK. We thought she was maybe upholstering us a chair (her big hobby, restoring antique chairs). We said blue and cream. She asked for specifics. OK: St Pancras Blue. She wouldn't divulge any more.

At a pre-wedding lunch she threw for us (really, for all the oldies that can't make the wedding itself), we were presented with a large, tissue-wrapped parcel. Inside, was the most incredible blue and white quilt, onto which she had sewn all of our favourite things. There were swimmers (for we are avid swimmers, famous in J's family for our love of wild swimming) and buttons and blue and cream and embroidered words: bake, film, swim, and hillariously, 'his car'. (J loves is knackered, 16-year-old VW Polo) and more.

And on the back is embroidered a large heart, with our names, initials and the date of the wedding. And in the corner, on the back, a screenprint of our invitation.

Of course, the quilt won't be there on the day. But it will be with us forever.

J's mum has also made about 50 jars or assorted jams and chutneys using the glut of produce from her allotment (again, she does this every year - averaging around 200 jars by autumn). And when I told her that we had to buy natural petals for confetti, she looked thoughtful. The next time we visited, she showed me a carrier bag of petals that she had assiduously saved and dried. Now she has enlisted the help of the flower grower on the next allotment, her own garden and bunches of flowers in the house and is onto her third carrier bag.

Friends have also been makers. One friend and best lady arrived at the hen do with the most divine decorations - string balls on a garland, mini bunting, pom poms. Where had she got these amazing things? Oh, she said, I just made them. She has been teaching me how to make giant pom poms. She is the queen of the pom.

And there have been other makers too - ones we have paid. My earrings are handmade by this wonderful lady, Angela Evans, who has also made the presents for both mums. Some best ladies' presents are vintage necklaces. Other are from independent designers like Joanna Rutter. But there will be a fuller run down of all of these things after the event.

I never dreamed that we would be so inundated with wonderful things. People have created heirlooms for us. I think team C&J's parents could be hired out for weddings.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

where we're at

So, we leave to get married two weeks tomorrow. I thought you might like an update on where we are at.

The moolah

Is almost gone. It's a shocker, to look at how much we've spent, even though we did it with full knowledge and awareness. We were both getting a little tense about it last night. We have gone over our budget by some, but not much (and that includes honeymoon and rings).

It's been shocking to see that much money leave our account, but the big realisation last night was that this was why we had the money in the first place. Some was ours, some was so kindly gifted from parents. The money would not have existed without the wedding. They didn't give it us to look at. We just need to do them proud with it.

We haven't wasted money anywhere, of that I am sure. OK, well, maybe I've wasted £20 on an excess of tissue paper. But that's it. We wanted (well, needed) a budget wedding, and we have one .

The people remaining to pay are simply the venue, the florist and the minibuses. Absolutely everything else is paid for. It's a nice feeling. Not the skintness, but the almost-done-ness.

The attire

The dress is yet to arrive. It's a little late, but not unduly (6-8 weeks was the given timeframe - we're now at 8.5 and it'll be 9.5 when it arrives). Let's hope it fits! A dressmaker is on standby...

I have shoes, but no pants. No necklace either - until the dress arrives.

J's suit is purchased. In fact, he has two of them. He was between sizes, so bought the larger, then decided to lose a few lbs (he is by no means overweight) and then bought the second. Now we just need to take the larger one back

The weight

Is relatively stable at around 3.5 stones lost. I am now a size 14-16 - down from a 22-24. I'm quite tall at 5 foot 8/9 so I hope I wear it well.

This maintaining thing is going OK. However, the lack of exercise is apparent - I tried on dress #1 (for the register office) and it was rather tight over that all important stomach and arse section. So it's true what they say about inches and pounds. Sometimes the inches go (or come back) and the pounds stay the same. So I'm dropping about another 4lbs, which should do it, and going running and (urgh) spinning.

The printing

Holy heck. The amount of printing that is required is quite astonishing. And because we don't have a printer, this involves us coming into my office and, ahem, making use of the facilities (with my boss's blessing) to print out music quizzes, programmes for the day, signs, ceremonies, postcards, poems, blah, blah.

How hard is it to print out a double sided folding thing with all the text in the right place and some sense of design? Very hard, that's how. I am thinking that after this is all done, I will happily share these files with anyone else to amend and use if it saves even one person the hell of trying to move text boxes outwards in a symmetrical fashion so that you don't print it out and realise it looks ugly as sin.

The ceremony

Is written, in a version we can embrace. The vows are as yet unwritten, but we will do them this weekend. I'm thinking a 150 word limit each will be good. We're going to write them separately and then come together and discuss them. No surprises on the day.

The decoration

Some pom poms are made. But there aren't enough layers in some so I need to make some more. My mum has made miles of bunting and I have a glue gun and lots of buttons for glueing on things (oh, yes, the invitations had buttons glued on them. Post-wedding, I shall show you all these things, when my anonymity has gone out of the window anyway!) It's a theme I've decided we'll continue. Not least because I still have about 300 vintage buttons leftover which I'm not sure I'll find another use for any time soon. We've got a heart shaped box we can stick some onto, and they're going to go onto all the 'programmes' (sounds stupid but not sure what else to call them) too.

Readings and poems

Hard as hell to settle on. We've decided on two for the ceremony, two in the 'programme' and then loads pinned up on a line with photos of all our friends (J's idea). DO NOT start looking for new poems at this stage.

What else do i have to to tell you? What else do I need to do? What might I have forgotten?

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

two and a half weeks before the wedding...

...is no time to discover wedding inspiration. And yes, J, though you never read this blog, I am talking to you.

I sent J a photo: hey, look, these people are doing something similar to us (pegging photos up on a line, guestbook postcards) - doesn't it look cool? And he says (and this is a direct quote):

"Hey – wonder if we could go to a car boot sale and buy a stack of ancient postcards for people to write on and peg up...?"


To which I answered: this is exactly the sort of thing I tried to talk to you about six months ago, when we would have time to visit the 20-40 different car boot sales we would have needed to find exactly that. Not two and a half weeks before.

Someone buy that man a copy of Cosmo Bride, pronto.

Friday, 12 August 2011

t minus three weeks

Some element of calm has descended over the past 48 hours. Slowly, very slowly, things are falling into place. About two weeks ago, the amount of admin that needed doing, coupled with the logistics of a move to Glasgow in three months’ time (with one of those months almost entirely spent away on honeymoon) made me feel actually sick on a very regular basis.

But as of now, things are being ticked off. Every night we sit down and look at the list and JFDI, as much as we can, before we collapse into bed. I can envisage a time when we’ve actually turned the entire to-do list green (the green highlighter pen function = a very visible DONE). I am still sans dress, but hope that will be here too next week. Then once I have a necklace, my attire is DONE. Most people are paid (apart from the band, the flower lady and, uh, the venue) and the bank account is close to blissful peace once again.

My plan of having August to relax has not worked thus far, but we might get a week to relax before the wedding and that would be OK. As long as work doesn’t get in the way – and I’m determined not to spend the week before the wedding on 14 hour days. It’s not healthy.

There are things I have to blog about that are less boring than this (because really, this is a pretty boring time – I’m ticking things off a list for christssake. No more time for beautiful pictures as our decisions are MADE.)

For example: I have to tell you about the wedding quilt my mother-in-law spent a year and a half making for us, covered with all of our favourite things. I have to tell you about bridesmaid gifts and the politics of it. I have to tell you about the gifts for the mums which I bloody love, and the logistics of trying to work out how to manicure and make up eight people in four hours and how we got around it.

I have to tell you about writing a ceremony and vows and about how much booze you need for one of these things (a fuck-lot, really. LOADS.) I have to tell you about the wooden chest my dad has made by hand, along with all the table number holders which are incredible, really. About the four carrier bags of petals my mother in law, off her own back, decided she would dry to make confetti – and her jam making prowess. About the 80m of bunting and 50 jars of jam/chutney perfectly fashioned by my mum, and about how I became the type of bride who goes from ‘we won’t have a cake’ to spending £500 on a cake and feeling excited about it.

But for now, you’ll have to imagine all of the above, for I have a to-do list to tick.

Friday, 22 July 2011

on bailing out #2

Sometimes, however, bailing out is for the best.

I received a letter this week - a card in a pink envelope with handwriting I recognised as that of my oldest friend, L.

I knew what was coming, but still held out hope that she’d just written me a nice letter (we do that for each other, sometimes).

Inside was an explanation of why her depression meant she could not come to the wedding. She had been unsure a while ago, because of costs. Her job is insecure. She’s just bought a house. But then she worked it out and decided to come.

But then the big D struck – worse than it ever has before. When getting out of bed and going to work in the morning seems like an impossible task, then getting in the car, driving three hours to a wedding and standing around, eating and drinking with lots of strangers, is unfeasible. Coupled with the money worries which hadn’t gone away, the idea was terrifying her.

The letter was very teary, asking me if I could ever forgive her. Clearly it had been a huge trial even to pick up the pen.

So when I called her and said that of course this was OK and reassured her that I wasn’t going to shout at her for ruining the wedding or demand she attend (seriously, would anyone do that?) she just said it had been a huge relief to make the decision. I impressed upon her that retiring from life was not a good idea but supported her need to do whatever required to recover. I just want her to be OK.

The invitation is open for another week before we have to give figures, so she’s got a chance to change her mind, though by her own admission, she may just turn up on the day, not eat anything and drive back if she wants to come. She’s impulsive when she wants to be.

But really, all I feel is relieved on her behalf. A tactical bailout that I hope will pay off for her.

on bailing out #1

Two bail outs in the past two weeks. Coupled with the bail out from the friend doing the photography a few months ago (which happily, ended brilliantly), this makes three.

The first of the most recent bailings you might know about if you follow me on Twitter. The hair and make-up lady that I had booked, following much research almost a year ago, suddenly decided that I wasn’t worth her time. Luckily (for her) I don’t believe that it’s right to name and shame. But after what happened, I was sorely tempted.

I wish I could put it a better way, but after much thought, it really did seem to be that I wasn’t paying enough –she clearly had a better offer from someone with deep pockets.

When I booked, it took me a couple of weeks to make a decision on whether to go ahead because of the small matter of a budget. I mentioned this – and she said we could make it work. She also emailed me a couple of times every week to ask how I was getting on; was there anything she could do to help? She assured me I was doing the right thing.

In the end, I was won over. She seemed amazing. The total cost (because I really wish someone had talked costs with me earlier on) was going to be £50 for a trial, and £180 for hair and make-up on the day. So £230. Plus travel costs – about £40. Not the cheapest – but she seemed so good, and I decided that this would be a real treat – for a girl who barely wears make up and never does anything with her hair (ie. me). But it was RIGHT AT THE TOP of what I could afford. I was shocked at the price, but assumed it was the going rate.

Until last Friday, it was all going well. We were planning a trial and sorting out a date. Then she said she was concerned. Was it just me having my make up and hair done? Well, yes, I said: it was. I’d said it might be from the start. I’d even filled in a form in January that listed just me, no one else. With each bridesmaid an extra £55 for make up ONLY and five best ladies, it was just a huge stretch.

Well, she said, she’d DEFINITELY told me that she didn’t come out just to do the bride. And she had a £400 minimum booking fee.

Woah. That was a punch to the gut. And seven weeks before the wedding. Not nice.

Hmm. How to resolve this? This is not a conversation I remember having. She certainly asked if there was anyone else in the party and I said I’d check. She never said I’d lose the booking if there wasn’t, or I’d have never booked. Red flags would have popped up all over the place. I’m no dumb bride. And then I'd filled in the form with no one else - and no queries.

Also, I’d suggest that something so vital to the process should not be in an ‘I’m sure I told you this phone call’ but WRITTEN DOWN from the very beginning so that everyone is clear. But no – there’s no mention of it. No T&Cs, nothing on the website. Nothing at all, in fact.

Luckily, I get my deposit back (perhaps recognition on her part that this could have been HER screw up, rather than mine). And it’s worked out for the best. It seems that my gut instinct was right all along. She was rather pricey. And I have now several people who can do a great job, for a little fairer price. And best of all, I feel that maybe I can rely on them, this time...

Thursday, 14 July 2011

my best ladies

First of all, I wasn’t having bridesmaids. Then, I realised that I would have no one to get ready with, no one to drink champagne with, have a little cry with beforehand. Or no one official at least. And I have some great friends.

But at the same time – I really didn’t want to impose on them, to make them feel like they had to do things that might bore them, stress out over dresses or fulfil some list of duties**. But I might want to ask them the odd favour. They’d have helped out, official recognition or not – I have no doubt. But it’s nice to recognise people who go out of their way to help you. (**NOT that I’m saying that’s what all bridesmaids feel. I’m sure it’ s not. But the term was still too formal for us.)

So what I have is ‘best ladies’. I asked six friends, and one declined – she has confidence issues and depression, but is the most wonderful friend, but the thought of performing any sort of role made her anxious. So – five. Picked because they are wonderful, honest, loyal, kind, helpful, creative and have a great eye for detail. One of them, for my birthday just after we got engaged, bought me a packet of floral pegs which she gave to me with such excitement, certain that they would be perfect for the wedding. And she was right. I’ve never been as happy with a packet of pegs.

These ladies can wear what they like, but somehow realised that most of them already owned a green dress, and that they might wear them together. One is still searching for one, so that might happen. But I truly don’t care if it doesn’t. They all have the offer of a corsage or a flower for their hair and have accepted with glee.

They threw me the most amazing hen weekend (which now I think perhaps I will blog about after all) and one lady revealed a hitherto unsuspected ability for making pom poms and other papercraft. Now I have a bag full of tissue paper to take to her house tomorrow for some hours making poms and drinking, and perhaps barbecuing in the rain.

One BL is taking the cake the venue – three hours out of London, and she’s pretty scared that she might either drop or eat it. But it’ll be fine, I know it. Then on the morning, we’ll be fluffing up some poms, stringing bunting and possibly already drinking something fizzy. They will go to the ceremony location ahead of time and cover the trees with decorations and lay out order of services. Then they will carry on being some of the finest ladies on the planet, getting drunk and dancing their backsides off. And I will thank them from the bottom of their beautiful hearts.

some details, or the start of them

So I wonder how much I’ve actually said about the wedding on here. All the way through, I’ve been fiercely protective of my privacy for various reasons, and so have shunned anything that might have identified me to any potential-reader-that-also-knew-me-in-real-life types.

But you know what. Seven weeks to go, I’m less worried. I’m still anonymous on here, but as I meet more people who have emailed me to say hi, and read more blogs from friends, I am less worried about someone ‘finding me out’. It’s not like I say anything appalling, ever – or I seriously try not to.

I still won’t be giving the location of the ceremony on here but other details – well, they might be interesting to you, if you’re interested in non-traditional weddings. Though I think I’ve ticked every ‘bloggy cliche’ box going, becoming ‘traditional’ in another way – yeah, I am making pom poms this weekend with a best lady. I love pom poms. We all sit in one box or another.

So I’m going to start blogging some of the things that are occupying my mind in the run up, maybe things we’ve done differently. Starting with the best ladies. NOT bridesmaids. Best ladies. Coming up...

doing it is easy

Yep, you heard me. Doing this wedding shit is easy. Need some place name tags? Bish bash bosh. Bought ‘em. Need to book a train to take us to our honeymoon. One phonecall. Five minutes. Easy.

But you know what’s hard? THINKING about it. And I do this, hmm, perhaps for something between two and 10 hours on an average day.

“Oh my god. Where am I going to get name tags? Shit, these name tags on Etsy cost a freaking fortune. Oh god. Oh look, here are some cheap ones. Buy them, quick. Name tags arrive. Stare at them. Realise they are cheap and ugly. Think about name tags. Think about name tags. Think about name tags. Realise John Lewis sell name tags following a tip from a friend. Ask J about name tags. Then order the sodding name tags. Name tags don’t arrive. Where are name tags? Should I email John Lewis? Oh look, name tags arrived. Of course they did. Are they good enough? Should I stick buttons on them (oh, FYI, our invitations had buttons glue-gunned onto them by my fair hand).”

Let’s just think about this for a minute. We still have half a honeymoon to do. We have only a rudimentary budget. We have still to pay most of our suppliers. My dress is due to arrive in three or four weeks. One best lady is still dress-less and is about to go to Canada for almost a month. The wedding is seven weeks tomorrow.

So, let’s think about this for a minute. Or...let’s not...

Friday, 1 July 2011

the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow

...or a piece of string. That is to say: I need a formula for the unformulatable.

Given a warm-ish (please, weather gods) day and the unrestricted supply of alcohol, plus the distraction of some outdoor games and the occasional break for a photograph how much wine and beer can approximately 80 adults consume over a period of two hours?

I could think of this as:

D/12 (2 hours being one twelfth of a day, natch) + A – (G x px) x 80

I mean. I could think of it like that. It was fun to write it down. But it's not going to help me when I'm staring at crates of Peroni in Majestic. Can anyone help?

double yoo tee eff

Why is it that as the wedding gets closer there is an direct correlation with the busyness in other areas of life. Namely: WORK.

The longer the to-do list for the wedding, the later you stay at work, the more meetings are in the diary. Then over the summer, it seems that there's always someone off in the office, on their hols, which impacts on everyone else's work. Just one of those things of course, but I'm really feeling it this year.

This has happened to of my recently wed friends too. One of whom was bashing through 8pm meetings the week before she left to get married. I don't think I'm far off.

My job has got insane, insane, insane, and just at the point where the wedding to do list is starting to make me panic. I had a friend working until 11.30pm in the weeks before her wedding. I can see that happening to me too. It's great for the company but means that when you're at work, you're flat out, and then when you're at home, you're flat out too

We saw a friend last night who asked us how the wedding planning was going. And I drunkenly poured out some ridiculous list of everything we have to do. And he said 'sounds like you're getting through it'. And i replied: no. We are not. If we were getting through it, i wouldn't be panicking to you right now. We'd be talking about something more interesting.

And so that's why the I need to get through it. For my friends' sake. I don't want to be become that bride to be who bores the shit out of everyone wittering about the cost of flowers.

a dizzy wedding

I tried to do this a few days ago, but Blogger was broken. I tried to do it again yesterday, and Blogger was broken again. SIGH.

So this is my belated HAPPY WEDDING to the wonderful Dizzy Girl Dee, who has just celebrated her nuptials to IB (or Irish Boy, as it took me several months to work out).

Dee - I hope it was amazing! The sneaky peek photos (oh yes, I had my spies) looked amazing. You had that sort of Ready Brek glow going on and the most enormous grin.

Congrats beautiful!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

the to do list

Well, here's a rum thing. No matter how much time you have to organise a wedding, you simply cannot do some things further than a few weeks away. For some things, you simply need to know who is coming, when they are coming, and where they will stay. And of course, at this point, a deadline focuses the mind and you remember all the things you said you would do over the past few months - but forgot to.

And that is how, having been engaged for 15 months and with a wedding in 11 weeks (Holy. Crap.) I find that we have a to-do list that we've had to put onto Google Docs, break down into weekly targets and start ticking the hell off.

Every single day I remember something else we need to do. I then make a note on my phone and transfer it into the magic computing cloud as often as I can. Recent additions include:

  • Cushions for small children??? Will they reach the table?
  • Buy Port? Somerset Pomona? Does venue have the little glasses?
  • Blister plaster for slightly deformed toe (yeah, just the one toe is weird)
  • take IRON
  • Sparklers?????
  • Can J's brother connect amp outdoors using car batteries? Test his theory!
  • Find out the name of M's baby (J's friend) - boy or girl? Age in months? (* my mum is frantically making gift bags for all the children - she texts me daily on the progress and to request info like this. She needs this project after making 90+ metres of fully hemmed bunting, almost completing a handmade shawl for me and brewing 48 jars of jam/chutney. I should say, I merely asked if she could help with some bunting and some help with chutney. She has really run with it...)
  • List of songs for DJ to avoid in disco
  • shoes for dress number one - BUY

This is just SOME additions. There is a whole list which is untouched, into which these items must slot, which I am not even going into on here. Things like finding out the location of every single person who is staying at a hotel in order that we can inform the minibus company. And working out how we will transport family to the register office in the morning. Information sheets. Order of services (servii?). Table plans. Place cards. Buy confetti (first confirming the precise confetti requirements of the venue which are strict as it's an organic farm - very understandable, you can't toss the usual stuff where the sheep might eat it). The usual.

It's OK. I'm still calm. But there is a sense of having been lulled into a slight sense of security with the long engagement which means that actually having to do shit, and with a non-negotiable and now shockingly short time frame, comes as something of a surprise.

i need an old blue thing

This whole 'something old...' thing has got me flummoxed. My mum mentioned it the other day, and I realised that while I might have a new dress, I don't yet have the rest of the boxes ticked. I need something old, something borrowed and something blue.

Ideally, someone I know would have an old blue thing i could borrow. But while there was, for a while, talk of my mum digging out her blue garter, it's been lost.

Do people still do this? It seems like a nice fun tradition to follow, and it will please my mum. To which I always say, if it will please your mum or any significant person you love and it's easy/painless, then you should just do it. Life's too short to antagonise.

Hmm. Maybe I should start asking my grandmas nicely...

becoming a bride redux - part 5

Wow - no sooner had I posted what I thought would be the concluding part of our 'becoming a bride' mini-series, I had a message on Twitter from Brizzle Bride. Could she, perhaps, contribute? Of bloody course she could! This idea seems to have taken off - which i find rather pleasing. Perhaps for those of us blogging about our weddings and relationships, this idea is rather central to what we're doing by blogging in the first place. Or maybe that's just me. But well, whatever the reason - I'm pleased to have struck a chord somehow.

The Brizzle Bride lives in...well... Bristol, I assume, and is marrying her chap this summer. She's also making some lovely origami boats. Loads of them. She talks here about other people's stereotypes and expectations of tradition, and feeling bridal while breaking the 'rules'.

Take it away, BB...

It’s hard to put my finger on what that ‘bridal’ feeling is. However, the reaction I have had from other people would suggest that whatever it is, I’m not feeling it in the way that is expected of me.

For example, not being fazed by a ten month engagement raised a few eyebrows. Buying the first dress I saw and not taking anyone with me when I tried it on caused outrage!

Some people appear to see my ‘non-bridal’ attitude as not caring about the wedding. I like to think that my bridal feelings have just been focused in other directions, towards areas that are more important to me. For example...

  • I love the fact that our wedding has brought people together already. My sister and my closest friends, who didn’t know each other so well (one of them being the other side of the world), have become a little gang! We send each other silly things on Facebook like: ‘Who can find the ugliest male stripper’, bunting updates and pictures of ourselves in hideous bridesmaids dresses.

  • My creative side, after a couple of years of being stifled by academia, has suddenly resurfaced. And it’s been great! I’ve remembered how much I enjoy painting, crafting and sewing. And I know, on the day, we will feel really proud of all the little touches that we made ourselves.

  • That this is a real team effort between L and I. Yes, this has meant disagreements at times but it’s also meant compromises. The result being that I feel really happy that what we have planned is what we both want.

  • When we have been challenged on things we backed each other all the way. So apologies to all the parents but I’m afraid that yes, I will be wearing a short dress and Lee will still have a beard (ha!)

So there you go. A few examples of what I consider to be bridal behaviour, maybe just a little different from the norm.

What saddens me slightly is that I feel like I can’t talk about these aspects of my planning and excitement. There is a part of me that thinks other people only want to hear certain things, like moaning about how the budget has crept over twenty grand, that I tried on a hundred dresses before I found ‘the one’, or berating my other half for taking no interest. Perhaps if I did talk about this other side more it might challenge some people’s beliefs about what it is to be a

blogger fail

Apologies to everyone who has tried to post a comment on my blog over the past few days. Blogger still seems to be on the blink and I know that a few of you have tried and been frustrated. All I can suggest is that if you possibly can, drop me a line via email or Twitter (details for both are on the right hand side) if you try to post and can't, just so I've got something to take to Blogger as evidence!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

becoming a bride redux - part 4

And so: what did I mean when I said I felt like a bride?

I think what I meant was that I could finally envisage myself being the one in the dress, surrounded by those I love, marrying the man I adore.

For me, it’s as simple as that.

I could imagine the day, with us in it, and felt excited by it. There’s suddenly a picture in my head and it’s no longer a composite of wedding magazine and blog-worthy pictures. It’s ours.

When I first felt it, things had come together. A proto-ceremony existed, as did a drawing of the dress. We had almost all our RSVPs back, so I could see who would be there. I can imagine myself in a beautiful dress which I am excited about wearing. My figure won’t now change substantially in the next fortnight, even if I miraculously lose the 6lbs I’m aiming for (I get measured and have to maintain my weight after Saturday...so...probably not) so I can sort of see how the dress might actually work.

I can imagine it, and enjoy the imagining. That’s it. That doesn’t mean I’m going around boring people shitless talking about the minutiae. I got my shoes last week (Rachel Simpson, Flo – thank Christ these people exist, that is all I’m going to say. Possibly more than 95 per cent of wedding shoes are FUGLY or an unwearable 9 inch stiletto. WHY? Rachel Simpson, I love you), and was surprised my colleagues wanted to see them. I hadn’t even opened the box in the three hours since its arrival.

Stuff is ticking away. And side from a very minor rant about the loss of a glue gun, which J felt the brunt of last week (HOW did we LOSE a glue gun? HOW?) things are largely done quietly. I want people to be surprised, not to know every detail right now.

I was really pleased to have the wisdom of the three ladies on the blog last week. Siobhan’s post made me realise how much I dislike the separation of ‘bride’ from ‘groom’. I intensely dislike the idea that the wedding is all about the petulance and whims of the bride – and the selfish implications that carries. Early on, a friend asked me if I was ‘in the white zone’. No one, I would venture, has ever asked that of J. They might ask him if I AM obsessing over table decorations (for the record, no – I’m easily pleased) but would never assume that he was. They assume he is at a distance, watching me with bemusement and maybe buying a suit and organising the band. Kind of sad, really.

And Lisa-Marie and Dee’s posts were important reminders of the ludicrousness of the concept that our every waking hour should be spent thinking about an identity that we will occupy for merely one day. You are a bride for a day. You are a wife for ever.
And so concludes (for now) our mini series on ‘becoming a bride’. Sincere thanks to Siobhan, Lisa Marie and Dee for their fantastic posts.

And to any of you reading this, thinking ‘well, I have something to say on the matter’ – please email me (the address is on the right) with your thoughts and we’ll make this an ongoing thing. Our experience of what it means to deal with the expectations of others are rich and varied, and to nosy folk like me at least, very interesting.

Monday, 6 June 2011

becoming a bride redux - part 3

The third part of our series on what it means to 'become a bride' is from Siobhán. Siobhán recently got engaged, and it was her initial tweet asking how she could feel 'more bridal' in line with the expectations of those around her that prompted the discussion that triggered these posts.

Siobhán explains that for her, a sense of being 'bridal' is not something that can happen in isolation - there is no bride without a groom, and it's impossible for her to feel bridal without her other half.

Take it away, Siobhán...

"A few weeks ago I got engaged to the handsome, gorgeous kind and wonderful M. Since before anything happened I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him and I am looking forward to that so much.

"I love being engaged to him and I really look forward to being married to him. In between those things we have a wedding, and I am going to be a bride.

"I never dreamt of weddings growing up, I did not think about getting married much and was pretty uninterested in babies as well to be honest. I thought getting to my twenties and living in an apartment and having my own phone would be grown up enough for me, so the whole 'bridal' thing has always passed me by.

"Last year one of my closest friends got married and she seemed... different. On the day it did seem like something had changed, she seemed somehow more adult, more finished and more content than I have ever seen her. It was incredible to see and brought me to tears, but was something I could not picture myself feeling or being.

"Today I went dress shopping for 'the dress' with my mother and sister. I went with pretty low expectations but when I tried on one dress, I felt something. I felt special, grown up, happy and wanted M there to share that feeling with. I think that might be the beginnings of feeling like a bride.

"I have now been told that this is not enough. I need to try on more dresses, more 'bridal' dresses and see if I get the feeling more. It completely took the feeling away from me. Whatever feeling bridal, or like a bride is, I know it will be incomplete without M: I can't feel like a bride without my groom.

"I'm sure things could change as time goes on, we have a year until the wedding day - maybe one of the millions of dresses I now have to try on will make me feel more like a bride? Or maybe the one today was the one, and I will only feel fully 'bridal' when I am with the person who wants me to be his bride, and wants me to be his wife."

becoming a bride redux - part 2

And so to the second of our three posts on 'becoming a bride', or whatever that might mean. (If you need a little background, here's part one to explain what we're up to).

Lisa Marie blogs over at This Girl Is...
and if my Sherlock-style deduction skills haven't failed me, is partial to tea and baking delicious cake. She married her husband Dave in August 2008. Take it away, Lisa-Marie...

"When the subject of 'feeling bridal' arose during a Twitter conversation, I immediately got annoyed. Lots of brides seem to feel the pressure from magazines, the bridal industry, and from friends to immediately feel 'bridal'.

"I have been married for almost three years now and I love it. I am still as sentimental as it is possible to be. I enjoyed and was excited about planning my wedding for the most part. But despite all of that, I can still count on one hand the times I felt bridal (or my idea of 'bridal', and they boil down to: When I first tried on my wedding dress with family present, when my bridesmaids and I tried on our dresses together, when we decorated the venue the evening before, and on my wedding day.

"I don't think this is because I am missing some innate bridal element, or because there is something wrong with me, as people seem to imply. Dave and I are pretty traditional in our values, but our marriage would be considered modern. Fifty years ago, most brides wouldn't have lived with their partners, would never have has a sexual relationship with anyone before marriage, and would very much consider the wedding as the start of their adult life. When people use the word 'bridal' that's what I think of. The excitement, nervousness and hopefulness of a new life.

"When we got married, I'd been living with Dave for two years, we'd been sharing everything - good and bad - for all of that time. Our adult life was well and truly started. I was very excited to get married, and on the day I was nervous, but I was nervous about being looked at about Dave being OK during his speech. A friend of our ours summed up the situation beforehand. Someone asked if we were nervous about being married, and the friend replied 'They already are married'. He saw it as we did - we had everything but the same names and the legal document already.

"I think a large part of people expectation to feel 'bridal' is based on pressure from the Wedding Industry. Shows, forums, magazines, shops, diet planners, all looking to make as much money as they can from your 'BIG DAY'**. I fortunately didn't have much to do with this. Dave and I were both students at the time, so we were trying to make what we had to spend go as far as possible, and fitting wedding stuff into very busy lives. My dress was from eBay, we got married on a Thursday because it was cheaper, I did my own hair and make-up, family helped me decorate the venue, and the music was provided by various musician friends of ours.

"We had virtually no WI input at all (wedding magazines went out the window as soon as I found they expected me to be engaged for two years before being married), which meant I felt little pressure to be anything other than myself.

"I'm sure every bride feels different things at different points. I just think people should allow themselves to feel things as and when they feel them, not according to a timetable made by other people. I became 'a bride' in the short time before, and on the day I was married, and it worked for me.

** 'your BIG DAY' - I have to say, this phrase, along with 'the best day of your life', really bothers me. I got married at 25, and while it was amazing and perfect for us, I really hope my life didn't peak then."