Wedding Planning: Dress Shopping #1

The main bonus of a long engagement? Dragging out the dress shopping as long as possible!

 photo Wedding Dress Shopping_zpsdha3d656.pngAt least, that’s what I was thinking at the start of this year. Getting engaged just before Christmas and wanted to try on dresses almost immediately was a very frustrating combination; a lot of boutiques were closed until New Year, and then a lot were only open for their sample sale rather than relaxed appointments. As someone who loves a bargain, I wanted to avoid a sample sale for my first few visits so I wouldn’t be influenced by low prices. I’m in no way saying I wouldn’t buy a ‘sale-rack’ wedding dress, but I wanted to find my dress rather than a close contender that just happened to be reduced.

In the end I decided on my dress pretty quickly. I visited two boutiques, one designer and I put a deposit down at the end of May. Yep, five months after getting engaged and (eager readers may note) several months before setting a date and a massive 2.5 years before the wedding. Oops.

When thinking about my actual wedding, when I knew W was going to propose sometime the dress didn’t really feature too much, and it certainly wasn’t one of the first things I thought about. That said, it was (and still is!) really important to me. I adored how much my mum’s dress suited her and I knew I wanted to find the perfect one for me. Ever since I was little I’d always imagined different dresses. I remember when I was 9 or 10 I was deadset on getting married in a huge princess style dress, complete with glitter. Around the time of the royal wedding I adore Kate’s understated glamorous dress (who didn’t?!). I also knew I wouldn’t have a clue what to go for! I was definitely nervous ahead of my first appointment…

 photo Silver Sixpence Bridal 10_zpsw8jvxnzg.png photo Silver Sixpence Bridal 12_zps7u5wynxq.png photo Silver Sixpence Bridal 2_zpsoraxgbay.png photo Silver Sixpence Bridal 7_zpsedjyqmiv.pngThe first place I visited was Silver Sixpence Bridal near Weedon, Northamptonshire; not too far from my parents home, in a gorgeous little shopping village. We managed to enjoy tea and cake and then had a wonderfully relaxed appointment. We were asked to pick out any number of dresses I fancied trying on – so we went wild. As this was my first time I wanted to try on pretty much every type of dress. Big and princess, tight and slinky. Satin, shiny, sequined, lacy, flowery. Gold, white, ivory and even blush pink. I let both my mum and sister pick out a few bits for me to try on, however there were two dresses that caught my eye from the moment I walked in.

I’ll be honest here – one of them tempted me so, so much. I very nearly said “yes to the dress” there and then. I actually had a few months before my next appointment, so I spent hours searching for a second-hand version as I couldn’t justify the price. Funnily enough, my actual dress is costing £100 more so clearly it wasn’t the one. Charlotte Balbier, you nearly had me though!

 photo Silver Sixpence Bridal 4_zpslsar1hk3.png photo Silver Sixpence Bridal 5_zpsuct9bhfs.pngThe other was gorgeous, though I knew it wasn’t my dress. That dress has, however, led me to my dress and for that I couldn’t be more grateful to Silver Sixpence. Michelle was the perfect assistant, pulling out dresses she thought would suit me, but also respecting my opinions when I really didn’t want to try something. I felt comfortable with her getting me in and out of the dresses (SO much more intimate than I expected!) and she was just the most lovely person to spend a few hours with. Coupled with her absolutely gorgeous styling (all photos in this post are of the boutique, taken from her website with permission) it really was the perfect start to wedding dress shopping. I highly recommend a visit if you can. Oh, and Michelle made a damn good cup of tea too!

Put it this way, I’m definitely booking myself in for an appointment to try on the accessories stocked…

 photo Silver Sixpence Bridal 1_zps1rlbpm1x.png photo Silver Sixpence Bridal 11_zpsejcz4yef.png photo Silver Sixpence Bridal 9_zpsrscrvwm5.pngAnd that was it, my first dress shopping experience. It was terrifying, yet so exciting at the same time. I have to admit I’m a little gutted I’ve found my dress so I can’t go and try more on! I found that I actually suited quite a few of the dress shapes, so it was pretty much up to me to decide what shape to go for – a little scary as I’m not great at making decisions. Obviously you’ll have to wait until 2018 to find out more about my dress, but I’ll be chatting more about wedding dress shopping soon!

Did you ever fantasize about your wedding dress as a child? If you’ve picked yours already, how did your wedding dress shopping go?

Wedding Planning: An Update

It’s been quite a while since I posted anything wedding-y. Unfortunately exams got in the way, I don’t think either of us had room in our brains for churches-and-white-dresses alongside toaster projects and engineering drawings (W) and mortality, mean variance portfolio theory and financial derivatives (me). Then university was over and the planning could start!

 photo Wedding Planning Update 1_zpsyh8qdn2g.jpgIt kicked off with me ordering my dress. Yep, the first thing we did was order the wedding dress, despite having not set a date (other than in our heads), despite not having a church, not having a venue, not having a clue what kind of day we were really having. Ooops. I’m obviously not saying too much about the dress, mainly to keep it from W, but also because I want it to be a surprise to virtually everyone. In fact, only my mum will be coming to fittings from now on, so my lips are sealed! I will be doing a few ‘Dress Shopping’ posts though, so there may well be a few sneaky details slip out there…

Then we had a serious week of wed-min (that’s wedding admin, according to the numerous bridal Facebook groups I’m part of). We picked a week where both sets of parents were away, not because we don’t want to include them, but because we wanted to make sure the big decisions were made just by us. And then we got on with it. We booked up a busy week; three venues and a meeting with the vicar.

It was all surprisingly easy!

 photo Wedding Planning Update 4_zpsyhna7gzm.jpgWe have a strong connection to the church we wanted to get married in through W, so it really was just a case of chatting with the vicar briefly, picking our date, popping it in the diary and filing in a quick form. The most difficult part was me signing it – as a left-hander a fountain pen is pretty alien to me! Apparently that’s something I have to practice before the big day…

I’ll be talking more about the venues we visited in a few weeks, as essentially we visited three very different venues, at very different price-points. I was originally worried that we wouldn’t be able to choose between the three, but there was one which was clearly our favourite. The venue we picked is stunning, but perhaps even more importantly the service we received was fabulous. From quick email replies to genuine interest in ourselves as a couple, we were completely sold.

So, now we have a dress, a church ceremony and a reception venue. And a date of course! The next step will be to look at caterers and photographers (any Midlands-based recommendations would be hugely appreciated!), but with over 25 months to go, we’re lucky we don’t have to rush into any decision making. I’m making the most of all the excitement! We celebrated with an engagement party at the beginning of the month where we announced our date – so the countdown is on until 6 October 2018 – eek!

 photo Wedding Planning Update 3_zpsogx41eb3.jpgOh, and our countdown sign? It makes me cry everytime I look at it – for some reason seeing it in “real life” makes it all the more real. We’re actually getting married!

Do you have anything exciting to look forward to? Any recommendations for wedding planning? 

Weddings: The Day He Proposed

Whilst the last wedding post was a bit ranty, today’s is a bit of light-hearted fun. I was originally going to talk about dress shopping, as I’d been planning a day of trying-on yesterday for months. In the end I’d decided I would be wedding-dress-ed out so scheduled up this one instead. Guess you’ll have to wait for any sneaky dress details…

 photo Proposal Story 6_zpsnr82oxsf.jpgI mentioned in my post all about W’s proposal that I had a strong suspicious it was happening that weekend. For one, he had turned very protective about his phone. He’d taken a phone call shut away in a room months before (five minutes after he proposed, I had it confirmed it was the jewellers!). My mum was hardly speaking to me, and had slightly teared up when she dropped me off at the train station a few weeks earlier. I was trying (and failing) not to get my hopes up…but the whole day was still very tense!

11:00 Assessed lecture time! My last lecture of term was the finale of a simulation where groups of us ran a business producing and selling agricultural machines. It certainly took my mind of the weekend. And the fact that I had to cram a lot of stuff into suitcases…

11:45 Mid-lecture I make the decision to cancel my Shellac nail appointment. I didn’t want it too look too obvious I’d guessed what was going on. And it would be a waste of money if he didn’t propose!

13:00 It’s Christmassss. I raced out of my lecture and headed to GBK with Libby. I ended up having to send my first burger back (sob) due to tomato contamination, but eventually ended up stuffing my face with all the food. I built my own burger with a combination of smoked applewood cheddar, bacon and a crispy onion ring, with mustard added at the table. So, so good.

15:30 We roll back home, I try to pack but end up having to take a lie-down.

16:30 I squeeze all my bits into two suitcases. I’ve been instructed to pack a small weekend bag (including sensible shoes, warm things, and a nice ‘going out with heels’ dress). I also need to get a load of folders home to do some studying during my four week holiday. Let’s just say I must have looked amusing trying to lug all my stuff around!

17:00 I sit and paint my nails. I decide to go for shiny and clear. That way it doesn’t look too obvious and if he does propose any chips won’t show in ring photos.

 photo 2016-03-24 07.10.01_zpsdl8quzds.jpg18:00 My housemates take me to the station. Halfway there K comes out with “what if the first thing he does when he sees you is get down on one knee?” I respond confidently; I was pretty sure he’d wait until we got where we were going (I’d guessed that place right too).

18:10 I struggle to the platform with what feels like half my worldly belongings in the cases.

18:15 A quick chat to my mum. I mention K’s prediction. My family dinner suddenly has to come out of the oven immediately, and the phonecall is cut short. I’m oblivious. And cold.

18:25 On my way into London! I sink into a good book, trying not to feel too excited. It had also been one of the longer fortnight gaps between visits for us, so I was looking forward to a good hug!

19:20 Arrive in London. Struggle off the train (though at least someone asked if I needed any help this end!). Lug everything over to Left Luggage and get the big full-of-study-stuff one checked in.

19:25 Text W. Ask if I can meet him slightly earlier than instructed. Request declined, I sit and try to concentrate on my book. And fill in a survey for St Pancras.

19:55 I’m too impatient, I announce to W I’m leaving now, not at 8pm, and wander up to Granary Square. (Image Credit: We Believe in Beauty)

19:58 I remember thinking how Christmas the area looked with all the lights. And I’m still absolutely freezing.

19:59 I spy W sitting on the steps by the canal. He waves, I wave back. But he’s not looking at me. I realise he’s mistaken some other girl with a suitcase for me…

 photo 2016-01-03 16.29.51_zpsmsrbw4rb.jpg20:00 A long-awaited hug. Apparently he’s only half-leaning in to stop me noticing the great big box in his pocket. Again, I’m completely oblivious. He suggests we sit down, I’m a little reluctant. The steps are concrete, I’m wearing a skirt. And it’s cold.

20:05 We catch up about our last few days (busy with deadlines, we’d hardly spoken). He asked me if I want my surprise yet. I say no. He tells me I’m having it anyway. I now direct you to my proposal story to hear a little more about that as I’m tearing up typing (four months on, slightly pathetic?!)

20:35 We head to our hotel, it suddenly hits me (I’m engaged!) and I laugh manically in a woman’s face. She looks terrified, bless her.

20:45 I “find out” we are going to Edinburgh. I am far too pleased that I guessed that part of the surprise!

21:00 Having cracked open champagne and transferred it to mugs, we start ringing round family. I cry down the phone to my mum, the dog howls down the house phone when I speak to my dad.

22:30 I decide I want a McDonalds. Bad decision. I spend the majority of the early hours feeling rather ill in the bathroom…
 photo Proposal Story 5_zpsrwdef4zl.jpg

So there’s a glimpse into one of the best days of my life. What is your happiest memory?

Wedding Planning: Losing Weight for your Wedding

Warning, a little bit of a ranty post ahead!

One thing I noticed at the National Wedding Show a few weeks back was the quite intense pressure on brides to lose weight. And this really annoyed me. I’m all for ladies being healthy and happy with their bodies, don’t get me wrong I’m determined to ‘look my best’ on my (still undetermined!) wedding day. But why should I be pressured into believing that ‘my best’ is me minus five pounds?

To me, ‘best’ is glowing skin, glowing with the happiness that I’m marrying my soulmate, signing up to spend the rest of my life with my best friend. It’s a wedding dress that suits my body, curves and imperfections included. It’s about trying (and most likely failing) to keep my hair tidy. It’s about making the most about my best features, but not about changing myself.

It’s one day. And I want to look like myself on that one day.

I can see that people who are perhaps unhappy about their weight prior to getting engaged use their wedding as motivation (if I hadn’t have lost so much weight last year it would definitely work for me). I completely understand that for some women, looking their best on their big day does involve losing some weight. And that’s fine.

 photo The National Wedding Show 6_zpsz9cb0lnu.jpgWhat I don’t agree with is the pressure from the wedding industry. My goodie bag haul from the day consisted of 3 types of diet cereal bar, an instant 97 calories Spaghetti Bolognese (which, according to my housemates, was inedibly vile), vouchers for other ‘low fat ready meals’ and a handful of meal replacement shakes. I overheard a lot of brides being told they were ‘too big’ to try on dress samples. Whilst I am small (and actually had the opposite experience – the one time I’ve tried on dresses they had to be clipped onto me), hearing something like that totally put me off even browsing the dress stalls.

Having seen what I look like in wedding dresses, I know that I don’t want to lose any more weight – turns out I’m more petite than I thought! I do want to tone up, something I’ve said for a while, but am I going to turn down a burger lunch for the sake of a wedding dress? Hell no!

 photo The National Wedding Show 7_zpsajkjhsp5.jpgMaybe, having always been sensitive about my weight and perhaps a little obsessive over weight loss, I’ve been over emotional about this. I’ve never seen any bride look ‘fat’ – the focus is always on how gorgeously happy they look. I do believe that, in industries including weddings, too much pressure is put on women to be thinner…and I’m not a fan of it.

Do you think there’s too much pressure in society for ‘weight loss’ and perfect bodies?

Wedding “Planning”: The National Wedding Show

I mentioned a few weeks back that me and W were tentatively attending the Wedding Show in Birmingham. We were nervous, scared and apprehensive – we had no idea what it would involve, few ideas about what we wanted for our big day. We essentially felt like children role-playing a wedding day!

 photo The National Wedding Show 2_zpsdecksrvf.jpgWe were invited to attend the day as VIPs with Debenhams – so kicked off in style with glasses of bubbles. I flicked through bridal magazines (my new obsession) and he planned out route around the various stands. I half expected to have to drag W along with me, but actually he was probably more enthusiastic than me about the whole thing!

 photo The National Wedding Show 22_zpsdeigedb7.jpg photo The National Wedding Show 18_zpslljj4xff.jpg photo The National Wedding Show 16_zps8o9q9uik.jpg photo The National Wedding Show 12_zpscz1h5fgg.jpgHeading to the (very pretty) Debenhams stand first I was hugely excited by the discovery that Jacques Vert now do bridal gowns – and one in particular is really rather nice! I used to work for JV in a Debenhams so I’m pretty familiar with all the wedding things they have to offer, but it was nice to root around some of the more exclusive brands. I’m definitely in love with some Jenny Packham bridesmaid dresses, and W was rather taken with some of the suits they had on offer.

Unsatisifed with an extremely expensive and decidedly lukewarm-on-the-verge-of-cold jacket potato, we made our way round W’s planned route…

In all honesty, we discovered it’s probably a bit early for us to go to things like this. We aren’t actively planning, our ‘in our heads’ set date is well over two years away – but it was nice to get some ideas of what we want. And what we don’t want (looking at you, wedding abroad stands!).

 photo The National Wedding Show 7_zpsajkjhsp5.jpg photo The National Wedding Show 6_zpsz9cb0lnu.jpg photo The National Wedding Show 5_zpsdzmrmlhy.jpgNow, I didn’t really look at any dresses. One, W was there with me and let’s just say I suck at poker. He wants a complete surprise and the last thing I wanted to do was give it away. However I did have a cheeky run through some of the bridal stands and… I wasn’t impressed. None of the dresses came even close to me wanting to try them on, and actually the thought of parading around for everyone to see gave me palpitations…

We did, though, find the most lovely photographer who is very definitely on a ‘maybe’ list. We got some great decoration and guestbook ideas. And we found the confetti I’m pretty sure I want (I have a horrid aversion to the papery stuff, it makes me feel a little ill!), along with an adorable company providing favours.

 photo The National Wedding Show 1_zpsrzyolu0g.jpgAll in all, a fun day out, it was a lovely way to spend an afternoon with W. We’ll definitely be heading back when we’re a bit further into the planning!

Any tips for wedding novices?

Wedding “Planning”: Planning the Planning

Or, how many times can we repeat a single word in a blog post title…

 photo Planning the Planning 1_zpsjplm0eat.jpgWhilst I really want to talk and chat about all things wedding on here, I’m a little reluctant for one or two reasons. Firstly, it’s our special day, and do I really want all the details splashed over the internet? Probably not! Secondly, we’re planning an Autumnal wedding in 2018. I’m not sure even I could stretch out wedding content to cover 2.5 years of blog posts!

What I have decided to do, however, is blog occasionally about weddings. I’ve got a few ideas for some rather more ‘tongue-in-cheek’ posts – things like “what they don’t tell you about getting engaged” and even some guest posts from my other half! The first is a brief chat on what we’ve made a start on whilst ‘planning our wedding planning.’

The Cake

Both of us being keen bakers, this was obviously the first thing we thought about. In an ideal world we really want to bake our own wedding cake. In reality we’re not too sure if we fancy the stress of doing that! We’re definitely thinking of staying traditional with the look (no cupcakes for us, thank you very much!), but steering away from traditional with the flavours. Does anyone actually enjoy the usual fruit wedding cake?!

(EDIT: Will objected most strongly here – saying he actually does like fruit cake…)
 photo Planning the Planning 2_zpsumlvssmy.jpg

The Filofax

Of course planning such a big thing requires it’s very own organiser, and what better to choose than a nude Filofax?! I’ve been after this one for a good while now (I even have the matching satchel – priorities right?!) so getting engaged gave me the perfect excuse. It’s now getting full of magazine rip-outs, but I plan to give it a good proper sort-out soon. I’m planning on filling my wedding planner with receipts, budgets, inspiration – anything and everything!

The ‘Maybe’ Guest List

In all seriousness, one of the first things we were advised to do was write a rough guest list. This meant we were able to quickly rule out venues that were too small or (more often for us) too big. We now know roughly how many people we are likely to be inviting so, as long as neither of us suddenly gets popular, we can go ahead and start visiting some shortlisted venues once university is done and dusted!
 photo Planning the Planning 4_zpsmvydxnjk.jpg

The Dress

Ah, the most important outfit of my life. I’ll be writing more about trying on dresses in a few weeks, so I won’t say too much here…but… I was torn between wanting to try alllll the dresses after getting engaged, and waiting a bit longer. I did go and try on some (5 or 6 I believe, one drizzly January afternoon) and in reality I’m still on the fence about it. I’m glad I got to experience it, it actually really improved my body confidence (I actually looked damn good in some of them), I know what I’m looking for now. But equally I’m worried I did it too soon, especially as I’m really quite taken with a dress that’s likely to be discontinued this year…

The Wedding Fairs

So, apparently these are a thing?! I obviously knew about more local ones, where venues get in a ton of ‘preferred suppliers’ but a national wedding show was something I did now know about, and in all honesty the thought terrifies me. Even so this weekend that’s exactly where me and W will be – wandering around the NEC courtesy of Debenhams to discover all things wedding. Here’s where we come back with everything booked and ready to go…

 photo Planning the Planning 7_zps4ejkjnej.jpgSo, that’s how our planning is going. We’ve got bookmarks of places we want to visit, we’ve got a rough guest list, I have a Pinterest board of approximately 2000 dresses. And we’re off to experience the slightly scary-sounding world of wedding fairs. Wish us luck!

Do you have any advice for planning a wedding? What should we be doing?!