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 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."

becoming a bride redux - part 1

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about 'becoming a bride'. A quick, note to explain that finally, after being engaged for almost two years, I had started to embrace the wedding and found myself feeling excited in a way that I could only describe as 'bridal'.

A couple of days later, a tweet from the lovely Siobhan asked me for advice. How could she feel the same? She didn't feel like a bride, and she felt she should. Lisa-Marie helped me answer her, and the conversation was a good one. It was a conversation I wished I'd had when I was newly engaged. Something happened to almost everyone I knew at that point, when they was assumed I had changed overnight, releasing my inner bride and preparing to witter on about nothing but white dresses until the wedding. Then I got another email from Dee, out of the blue, talking about the post too. Seems I inadvertently hit on a hot topic.

So, I asked the ladies to crystallise their thoughts in a couple of blog posts - a first for C&B! As you may have guessed, I don't really do the whole sponsored posts thing (apologies to the sweet PR girl who has been asking me to blog about Royal Wedding commemorative pizza) but guest blogs - why the hell not, eh?

The two posts will follow over the next day or so and hopefully at some point I'll conclude it.

I'll open with this note, from Dee at Adventures of a Dizzy Girl - and hope that all of you reading this would feel free to offer your thoughts on the subject, if you have them, in the comments below as the day(s) go(es) on. But be nice!

Here's Dizzy Girl Dee to kick off:

"I don’t fully understand what it means to feel like a bride. I’m starting to think that I feel like one, but I think it’s actually just that I’m starting to get more attention. Not that I want it, but people are treating me like a bride, which makes me feel more like one.

"But I’m never going to be a demure, classic or calm bride. Nor will I be crazy and mean. I really do think that being a bride is as simple as being the focus of a lot of people’s attention."

Next up: Lisa Marie...