loveyoueverything

I read over some old posts this morning. It was lovely to re-live some of the wedding planning adventures I’ve had so far. Goodness me, I moaned about the bridesmaid dresses a lot! So glad they’ve been found now and I have a colour!

So, I posted about the venue issues we had here and we were faced with a decision whether to change the venue with just 6 months to go. I had a number of Twitter conversations and my thanks go out to all of those in Twitterland who helped me by making suggestions, referring me to venues and just listening and saying lovely, calming things to me. I really, really appreciate your advice.

We started to look around at different venues online. There are so many beautiful venues out there – even more than I’d found when we started looking for venues two years ago! I almost think it would be worth new brides-to-be joining Twitter for a few months before beginning their planning as all of the information and contacts you need can be found on there!!

So, what I have always known but I didn’t fully appreciate was just how expensive venues can be. To an extent, the expense is justified. It’s a crucial part of the day – testament to this is the fact that once it was booked, we hardly had to think about anything in relation to the day and how it will run. You know where people are going, where they’ll park, where they’ll stay, eat and drink. You have a wedding planner to help organise suppliers (although this isn’t always obvious), guests, timings for cake cutting, speeches – all the extra bits that you don’t want to have think about on the day but that you want to run seamlessly. But, for all this, you pay a hire charge most of the time and also a per-head charge that is likely to be more than you would ever pay for yourself to go for a meal. Still, this is a special day, hopefully a one-off and so you justify it.

I felt cheated with the issues we had because we are paying a hire charge and then a more than substantial price per head for the meal, bubbles for first drink and toasts and also wine for the table together with various extras that we get on the day. We had squared all of this in our budget and, whilst it was the biggest shock of all to add up the total cost for 150 guests, we’ve saved and it’s all good. When all of this with the venue happened, I started to look around and places wanted five thousand pounds and upwards for a hire charge. I know it’s for exclusivity and there are lovely benefits with it etc etc etc but finding an extra five thousand pounds when the price per-head is still high and you still have many thousands to find on top of that is just too much. Too much for some pockets though I guess. I mean, some people arrange their wedding with a budget of just five thousand!

Some weddings are totally worth it. They’re what dreams are made of but you have to consider how much you are willing and able to spend on just one day. At least, that’s what we looked at. Now, our wedding isn’t going to be cheap by any stretch of the imagination. When we look at the total spend for our wedding, we cannot believe that we have been able to pull together such a lot of money – with sacrifice sure – but we managed it. Still, though, it’s infuriating that it’s not enough when you start looking around at other venues. We’re ok with this. We have decided that we are not going to spend even more on the wedding than we’re spending as what we already have planned is just perfect for us. We have plenty that we would like to spend that money on in our marriage and we don’t want to get into debt.

What I found most shocking is that by not finding an extra £5,000 for a venue, I began to feel like I had been a bit cheap and I had almost ‘got what I deserved’ with the venue. You know, pay peanuts and get monkeys? But that’s not the case. The venue is beautiful, the reputation for the food is amazing, so far (apart from the obvious major glitch) the service has been lovely. The rooms are great, the grounds are great. We are paying more per head than we would ever pay for ourselves and that’s great because it’s our wedding day and we want to show the people we love a great time.

So we’ve decided to stay with our original venue. The most important thing is that we get married to each other and in front of friends and family we love. We don’t have the time or the energy to look elsewhere or to consider getting an empty venue and decorating/bringing in caterers ourselves. Most of all we have decided that any further money to be spent will be spent on starting our lives together as a married couple and not just to hire a venue for the day.

We will try to fill the new 30 rooms with our guests so that the exclusivity aspect is sorted. We made our own mistake by not seeing the potential for the contract with the venue to go wrong. Silly really, when I’m a lawyer. But when you’re newly engaged and excitedly falling in love with venues when planning your big day, you can’t always see the possibilities. I mean, I asked about going into administration/cancellation policies/insurance if the place burnt down but I didn’t ask about plans for extension! Tut!

The venue is important. It is. There’s no arguing with that. But if you have a budget, stick with it and don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re not doing or spending enough on your wedding. It’s easy to get carried away. Try not to. If whatever you are doing is right for you and your betrothed, stick with it and ignore outside pressures. At the end of the day, it’s about the two of you and as long as you get married, that’s all that counts. Everything else is just decoration.

Bx

Those who have seen my earlier post know that we received a letter from our reception venue in January letting us know that they were ‘enhancing’ the hotel. They were adding 30 new rooms and redesigning the lobby and other parts of the hotel. We should rest assured that the building work would be completed before our big day in August and that our wedding would not be affected.

We went to see the hotel today and I have pretty much wanted to cry ever since. I am hugely disappointed. I know things could be worse. After the fright we had on Tuesday, having changes made to our wedding venue pales in comparison to what could have been. We have our health and we are getting married. Retaining perspective is essential but it doesn’t stop it making me feel really sad!

We decided on the venue when we stood to the side of the hotel and looked over the lovely big lawns and woodland in the distance. We loved the hotel. It had traditional features but was decorated with a modern finish. With just 17 bedrooms, it was perfectly intimate. Our biggest love though was the outdoor space and the feeling that it would be only us there. Being off the beaten track a bit, no one would just walk past or anything like that so it would just be our guests. The outdoor space was our favourite feature, standing on the lawns and feeling like there was nothing around us. We even made a feature of it on our Save the Date website – our main picture is of the lawns with the hotel in the background. Just what we wanted.

Now the new building which houses the 30 new bedrooms runs alongside the lawns where we first stood and made our decision. The traditional lobby area will be replaced by a large, all glass entrance and the back of the hotel no longer looks as beautiful as there will be a curved glass fronted restaurant area which looks out onto the lawns. To retain privacy for the wedding party, they have planted conifers down the centre of the lawn, halving the amount of space we have. When you look out of the marquee, instead of there being a lovely, open, wide view of the lawns, there is now a new pathway, trees, and other shrubs and bushes all over the lawns where they’ve made it look more manicured. There’s also a big circle ready for some kind of fountain/statue straight outside the marquee. Everything feels cluttered and overlooked by the new bedrooms.

No more lawn games, no more exclusivity, no more photos with a beautiful old house in the background.

After explaining how disappointed we were that they would wait until now to tell us about these changes (and subtly dropping into the conversation that I am a lawyer!) we were told that we still had a choice. We do not have to make the next payment, which is 50%, to give us more time to consider things. If we feel that the venue is no longer for us, we will have the deposit refunded and they would even try to help us find an alternative venue. They apologised for the way they handled things.

Credit where credit is due, they handled the meeting today well. We have the freedom to make a choice without losing our deposit. However, with 6 months to go, are we really going to be able to find an alternative venue?

We don’t  know what to do at the moment but I know we will make the best of whatever happens. I think I am going to look for alternative venues just in case something wonderful turns up. Otherwise, we’ll have to stay with this venue. I’m going to try to be positive about it but it’s just heartbreaking that they’ve changed the very things we fell in love with. Damn them.

Bx

So, Monday night we head to bed shortly after 10pm. Around 11.30pm I’m awoken by a loud bang which makes my heart race. I sit up and notice G isn’t beside me so I call out to him but get no answer.

Immediately thinking he’s fallen down the stairs, I jump out of bed and switch on all of the lights, calling him as I do. No answer.

I then hear movement from the bathroom and head back to bed thinking how silly and dramatic I am when he’s obviously just on the loo and probably knocked something over in the bathroom, causing the big bang.

I wait a little while for him to come out and wonder why he sits on the side of the bed instead of getting back under the duvet. He then says “I don’t want to worry you but I don’t feel well”. I put the light on and he’s sat there white as a sheet, sweating and shaking and cold to the touch. Trying hard not to panic and make him worse, I put on my calmest voice and get him to sit back on the pillows and have some water. Gradually, things calm down but he is still cold but clammy and complaining of a headache. He tells me he woke up with excruciating pain in his abdomen, got up to go to the bathroom but then doesn’t remember anything until he woke up on the bathroom floor.

Good old NHS Direct didn’t call us until 6.50am the next morning, 7 hours after I put the request in. Instead of calling them back, we headed to the GP for the earliest emergency appointment we could get only to be referred immediately to Accident & Emergency to see a neurologist.

A few hours and an ECG, blood test and urine test later, we are sent away with medication for a water infection! All that drama for a water infection! All I can say is THANK GOD!

I don’t even want to put into words what went through my mind over the 16 hours I was with him not knowing what had happened. I stayed awake whilst he slept to make sure he was ok after the fright we had both had and prayed that he would be ok. I think working with bereavement, as I do, gives you a real fear of mortality and having lost very special people in my life, I did fear the worst, however silly that was.

So, as dramatic as it sounds, I had the best Valentine’s Day present ever – knowing my man was ok.

Happy Valentine’s Day for yesterday. Hope your day was significantly less dramatic than mine!

Bx

I have had a wonderful day today. I arrived in Lichfield for 9am for my measurements to be taken for my dress. The temperature was -5 degrees and my cold still hadn’t fully left me but I warmed up as soon as I stepped into the shop. The welcome from the ladies was wonderful, it’s like we’ve been friends for years. An immediate catch up was had over a cuppa before we got down to the all important measuring (who knew you needed ‘point to point’ measurements taken!).

I didn’t realise that I had the opportunity to put on The Dress whilst I was there but they’d put aside an hour for me in case I had wanted to. I jumped at the chance, of course! Having lost 12lbs I was delighted to put the dress on and to feel more comfortable around the waist in it. I felt gorgeous. I swished and swooshed around whilst the ladies brought the veil I was considering and various headpieces for me to try on. The owner of the shop had offered me 50% off my choice of veil and I pretty much decided whilst there which veil I wanted. I can’t begin to explain the feeling of putting a veil on. You feel gorgeous in your wedding dress but adding the veil is something else. Saying you feel ‘like a bride’ is too obvious and too silly but it’s true. There’s something about it that takes you back to when you were a little girl and you ran around with a pillow case on your head pretending you were getting married.

I wasn’t ready to make a decision about the headpiece today because, although I have an idea of how I want my hair, it’s a little too early to decide so I’m going to wait a little longer. The one headpiece was absolutely stunning but it was £250! I know my dress is expensive but I just don’t feel I can justify that amount of money on a headband! Another was less expensive and just as stunning and would actually suit earrings I already own so could be a winner.

My mom came with me today and after fun with The Dress, we went for coffee and nattered for ages. We talked about plans for the wedding that other people don’t really ask about. It was all about the church and I told her about a book that I read whilst at University and there is a passage in there about love that I have always adored and I want as a reading at the wedding. I also read her a poem I have found which I’m going to ask someone to read from me to G. When I looked up from reading the poem to her, she had tears in her eyes! It was a lovely moment.

We then went hat shopping and my mom tried on all different types of hats and enjoyed being treated as the very special mother of the bride that she is.

We have our differences and our insecurities mean that we often misinterpret some things that we say to each other but today was a fabulous day. We shared our thoughts and feelings, hopes and dreams about the wedding and my future with G and it was just perfect.

Nothing like a girlie day, is there?

Bx

So last night I cried. Lots. It’s mainly because I’m poorly and when I’m poorly, I turn into a big baby. It’s also because the whole hen-do thing is stressing me out.

I have an enormous family. I love them dearly but I’m closer to some than others and the sheer number of aunts, uncles and cousins has led to most issues around guest list/cost/who is involved in what. So, when it came to the hen-do, I didn’t know what to do. If I was honest with myself, I’d have a small hen do with a few immediate girlfriends, my mom and my mother in law to be. However, I couldn’t invite my mom and mother in law without inviting everyone else – such is the situation with family and floodgates. So, my mom reasonably stepped aside and offered to organise a family hen-do, leaving me to have a friends only hen-do, organised by my bridesmaids.

I said to my bridesmaids that I didn’t want a big, expensive hen-do. The wedding will cost enough for guests and I don’t want them resenting spending money on what I see to be a fairly non-essential weekend which most people feel obligated to attend, whether they can afford it or not.

My conditions were:

1. No ‘L’ Plates or other tacky paraphernalia
2. No strippers
3. No silly games where I have to approach anyone outside of my hen party to ask for their pants/number/a dance or anything else which will embarrass me.
4. Nothing that costs too much money – the wedding costs enough already for guests. Low key is the key!

I’m pretty certain some people think I’m being really boring but I can’t bear the thought of being made to wear willy earrings and smear oil over a naked man/woman/dwarf.

The bridesmaids assure me that it will be a classy and relaxed event. I hear that the Save The Date has gone out suggesting it is the Friday and Saturday evening but I may suggest it is kept to just Saturday. People’s time is precious and taking up two days is a lot and will only add to the expense. I contemplated cancelling the whole thing but one of my bridesmaids had a stern word with me about that and it appears to still be on.

My issue is with G’s sisters, who are bridesmaids, and assuring them that they do not need to attend both hen-dos. The family hen-do is for about 35 women. 35! I am not good in big groups. We held a party at our house for my 30th and about 70 people came and I hated it – I know that sounds awful but with the feisty family I have, I was pulled pillar to post ‘you should be doing this’ ‘you should be doing that’ ‘I’ve hardly seen you all night’ ‘where is the Tupperware?’ you get the picture.

My mom is struggling with the organising as there are so many opinions flying about and she is never going to please 35 women. She’s trying to keep me as the focus and her view is that the family can afford to spoil me and if people can’t afford to come, they really aren’t obliged to and so she wants to do something she thinks I’ll love. However, people are arguing about cost, which is reasonable but I’m not sure the tone of the emails to her is quite what my mother wants and she’s getting annoyed. I’ve emailed G’s sisters to suggest they may want to just come to the family hen do and not the friend one, to save costs but I’ve had no reply yet.

So, will my mom end up yelling at people? Have I offended G’s sisters by saying they shouldn’t come to the friends’ hen-do? Should I just cancel the whole thing and just not bother? I’m not sure I really want a hen-do after all.

What to do?

Bx

I’ve just had beans on toast with a little topping of grated cheese (the best quick meal, ever!) and now I’m chilling out a bit before heading to my yoga class. I signed up for a 12 week course of yoga and I am in week 4 and loving it. I’m a very lazy person and I have hated exercise since I was a child. I think it was for a number of reasons – laziness mostly – but also because I hated getting changed in front of people. I have horrible skin on my legs and so the idea of showing them off in tiny shorts and a netball skirt was horrifying to me. Add that to the nastiness of some little girls and I definitely didn’t want to get my legs out! One girl once exclaimed loudly “urgh, look at your legs! If I had legs like that, I wouldn’t be seen DEAD in shorts!”. Nice. Anyway, I am blessed not to have bad skin on my face and neck and so the way I see it is, I don’t have to show my legs ever so I’m luckier than a lot of people!

Anyway, I digress. I’m loving yoga as it is self-disciplined. I can push myself as hard as I want to and if I fail in a posture, I only fail myself, no one else. It’s not competitive and it’s so difficult that you are actually forced to think of nothing other than your breathing and the ridiculous position you have twisted your body into! So I find it really does help me to relax and I notice a difference in my muscle tone which is always a plus especially when you want to be drop dead gorgeous on your wedding day!

Crazily, I’m signing up for a 8.5 mile run in June too. I’ll be running it with my Father-in-Law to be. We ran the half marathon together in October – he ran, I walked most of it – and I promised him that I’d be able to run the whole 8 miles. For my training for the half marathon, I managed to train to about 4.5 miles and on the day, I probably ran 6 of the 13 miles without stopping and then fell into an entertaining and quite painful walk-run-run-walk system. Ouch. So, I really should get out there and start training again……perhaps when the weather improves!

So, all this exercise is going to mean I’m going to be super fit by my wedding day, right?? Unlikely but it’s something to motivate me!

Bx

Now there’s a title I didn’t think I’d be able to use!

So, this weekend has been the weekend that I was finally able to get all four bridesmaids together. It’s been lovely and an experience getting my two friends together with G’s two sisters and seeing how they get on. Thankfully, all went well and they were patient and supportive and excited about all of the plans. Just what you need from bridesmaids. It’s been difficult to get that feeling with them all being away, very busy and unable to reply to emails so it was a relief when I had them here and they seemed to enjoy themselves!

So, I got excited last week when I saw the Rock n Roll Bride post about Girls of Elegance bridesmaid dresses here. So, I jumped onto the Girls of Elegance website and spotted these dresses. I got really excited. Not only were they really pretty, they were affordable, fun and a little different to the norm. I thought perhaps that the yellow, 50s style dress would look really quirky and cute for the wedding and G agreed. So I impulsively ordered four of them – mainly because they had a great returns policy so it didn’t feel too risky – and I ordered the yellow!

It’s so cute, I really do love it…

Image from Girls of Elegance Website

And it just looks like a dress that would make you smile whilst you were wearing it….

Image from Girls of Elegance Website

When the dresses arrived before the bridesmaids did, I tried on one of the dresses and loved it! Such a fun dress, the petticoat makes you feel so girly and I swooshed around the place until G got home. He loved it too but both of us wondered if it was just a bit too bright for the wedding. When the bridesmaids arrived and saw the dresses they all had lots of fun getting into the dresses and swooshing about. Sadly, having four ladies in the same bright colour was just too much! It was such a block of bright colour that I decided that it wasn’t going to work. So I’ll be sending all of the dresses back (I had begun convincing G that I should keep one for myself but it may not work out) and will be so sad to do so. I would recommend the dresses highly – they were a bargain yet were really good quality, a lovely fit and the petticoats were gorgeous. If you’re thinking of buying one of these dresses for yourself, don’t hesitate – buy one, and get swooshing!

So, all of the yellow dress fun happened on Friday night and on Saturday, we went to our appointment at 11am at a Bridal Shop nearby. It was recommended to me but by someone who promotes businesses in the area as opposed to a bride who had used the shop. They had a great collection of bridesmaid dresses, at least 150 different dresses in loads of different colours but they all seemed to be £150 upwards and many were £200 plus. When we got there, we weren’t welcomed particularly enthusiastically and were sent upstairs where we could start looking at the dresses. Another bridal party were up there and I felt a bit rude muscling in with my four ladies. We waited for around 10 minutes just mooching at dresses and sadly realising that  a Dessy dress I’d had my eye on was out of budget before someone came over with a ‘can I help you?’. Errrr yes please, I have an appointment!

I said I was easy on style and colour and we were told to just pick lots of dresses and start trying on. The lady helping asked me where I got my dress from before asking what it was like and when I showed her a picture, she just said it was very elegant. Obviously a nice comment but I had thought she would then help me decide what sort of dress would suit my dress but she just stood by whilst I said yes or no to the various dresses. At the end, the only dress I liked for all four girls was £170 so way out of budget. She just wrote the details on the card and gave it to me and we left. Whilst leaving, we had to all walk past this poor bride who was trying on dresses and we had to squeeze past her to get to the door. When I went to shop for my dress, I was the only person in the shop. The second time I went, there was another bride with the seamstress but they asked my permission before she walked through to leave!!! The difference in treatment is amazing and I really would advise any bride to get recommendations as you should be made to feel special, not just another bride.

Anyway, we then went to Selfridges and descended on the Coast concession. We were looking for this dress as we knew the skirt would suit all four ladies after the fitting that morning:

But in the end, I fell in love with this colour and they all looked stunning in it:

Image from Coast website

The lady from Coast was wonderful. It was a busy Saturday afternoon and they had a queue but there was no grumbling over us taking up four changing rooms or taking our time or anything! She really helped us.

So, the only issue is it’s £45 over budget. Now, whilst that’s ok with one bridesmaid, it works out as £180 over budget before we’ve even though about shoes etc. So, G and I are back to the wedding budget spreadsheet to consider the figures. I’m going to look around online today for a similar colour/style dress with maybe a little less cost. Any ideas?

So, my colour looks like it’s sage green? The colour is actually softer and paler than the picture shows – more of a pastel green. So pleased I can start planning the details now!

Bx

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