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