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?

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…
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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?

Lifestyle: The Proposal Story

This post was surprisingly difficult to write, stopping to grin manically at my fiancé one minute, then weeping into a handful of tissues the next. The proposal was relatively low-key compared to some I’ve read about (a school friend recently proposed to his girlfriend whilst swimming with dolphins in Florida – romantic but far too public for me!). It was also absolutely perfect. And what better day to share it with you than my fiancé’s birthday?!

 photo Proposal Story 6_zpsnr82oxsf.jpgI’d imagined how Will would propose for a few months. I’d overheard a phone call back in September that roused my suspicions that something was happening, though of course I’d know for a while that I would be marrying him, and we’d discussed it on and off for a while. I already knew I’d be spending the rest of my life with him, it was just a question of him, well, popping the question! In the end the proposal was nothing like how I’d imagined, I always thought I would be able to guess in the minutes beforehand but he was so calm (outwardly – he’d gone to dinner in Nando’s an hour or so previously and could only managed one side due to nerves!). So, how he asked…

 photo Proposal Story 8_zpskm1swx1b.jpgFor several months he had been arranging a ‘surprise weekend’ for my birthday, starting on Friday 18 December (end of university term for me!). I’d tried in vain to get him to divulge details, with the most information I received being – “bring heels, a dressy-dress, something warm, something waterproof, sensible footwear.”

Sidenote: I’d obviously tried to guess, with my top choice being a trip to Edinburgh, travelling on the Caldonian Sleeper train. Edinburgh is quite special to use as a couple so I was alternating between excitement and trying not to get my hopes up…

A few weeks before I was given instructions for meeting him in London, in the form of a riddle.
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All together now – *awhhhhh!*

Luckily I knew pretty immediately where I was due to meet him, so just before 8pm I trundled over to Granary Square with my weekend bag. By this point I was nervous as to what the weekend would hold, and also pretty tense with anticipation – on the drive to the station a few hours earlier my housemate had asked whether I thought he would drop down on one knee upon meeting me! Whilst I was hoping for a proposal over the weekend I was adamant it wouldn’t be that night.

 photo Proposal Story 12_zpsa73mcjwo.jpgThe walk up to Granary Square is probably the clearest memory I have of that night. It was quite quiet, and utterly beautiful as it was dark, with the festive lights lining the path. As I approached the area overlooking a canal I spied Will waving (turns out he was waving to another girl with a suitcase who he mistook for me!) so I headed over for a hug – I hadn’t seen him for a few weeks, I’d had a pretty hellish week of exams and assessments, and I’d just missed him. We sat down facing the canal, in the light of the Christmas tree, and he asked whether I’d like to know what my surprise was – and with answer being a resounding “no, not yet”!

I was told in no uncertain terms that I would be having it there and then, and to close my eyes (and put my hands over them to prevent peeking). At this point I was still expected to be handed some tickets, perhaps a hotel reservation, as I was being wished “Happy Birthday, and a Happy Christmas too.”

Then I felt Will move away from me and started to realise what could possibly be happening. I won’t repeat exactly what he said; for one I’m not sure either of us remember exactly, and obviously that is a moment both of wish to cherish privately. When I opened my eyes to find him down on one knee, saying the words “will you marry me?” I will openly admit I cried. I almost didn’t notice the ring, I was fixated on his face. I did, however, managed to give an affirmative answer amidst the tears and the ring was slid on to my very shaky fingers. Many hugs followed until I was steady enough to stand, before we fled the incoming rain.

 photo Proposal Story 1_zpsvpmqp7xa.jpg photo 2016-01-03 16.32.24_zpsztymolg7.jpgAt this point I felt I couldn’t be any happier, but the surprises kept coming. I was led to our hotel for the night, and instructed to hunt the room for a clue whilst he poured some bubbles (into mugs, the only thing we had!). I eventually stumbled across Nessie – and found out we were off to Edinburgh for the weekend. And returning to London overnight on Monday on the Sleeper… (turns out I’m quite good at guessing surprises!). We toasted our engagement, made many phone calls.

I’d like to stay it was a totally romantic night, but that wouldn’t be totally true. Take it from me that a late-night McDonald’s and Champagne don’t really mix…

 photo Proposal Story 2_zpsvxnetxcv.jpg photo Proposal Story 5_zpsrwdef4zl.jpg photo Proposal Story 3_zps9a2n9rqa.jpg photo Proposal Story 4_zpsmzkptkdk.jpg photo Proposal Story 9_zpsq9ixamwp.jpgThe surprises didn’t end there, but kept coming throughout the weekend. A table at Michelin-starred ‘The Kitchin’ for a meal which was utterly perfect, a stunning hotel, rose petals on the bed, my favourite breakfast dish delivered to our room, a trip out to North Berwick for a picnic on the beach. But most importantly it was a weekend to focus on each other, to spend quality time together alone, and it was utterly perfect. Not because of the things we did, not from a ‘he treated me like a princess’ perspective (although I felt like he did!), but because everything he had planned involved something special to us.

 photo Announcement_zpsouyknw0a.pngI really couldn’t have asked for a more perfect few days. He took me completely by surprise on the Friday, and everything was far more than I could have asked for.

Do you have a proposal to share? If not, what would be your dream proposal?

Lifestyle: 2015 Favourites

I can tell you something, it’s been a pretty whirlwind end to 2015! I feel like I’ve barely sat down in the past month or so, what with a hectic end to my university term, a rather big shock, then the buzz of Christmas. Despite this (and even because of this) 2015 has definitely been the best year yet. There’s been ups and downs of course, but over the last few weeks I’ve been reminded just how lucky I am.

 photo 2015 Favourites_zps5wfasgse.jpgThere’s no better way to reflect on such a fabulous year than by putting together a post remembering just some of my favourite bits – if I talked about them all we’d be here all day! There’s been so many highlights it’s impossible to include everything that’s made me smile over the past year. All I can say is a massive “love and thanks” to all those who have been there, family and friends, blogging pals and colleagues – you’re all the best! And now to the favourites…
 photo 2015-02-01 14.14.43_zpssjvntjdh.jpg photo 2015-02-01 15.56.39_zpsmujqiktb.jpg photo Devon 2015 26_zps8knklwoj.jpg photo Castel SantAngelo 11_zps0mnc2bsp.jpg photo Colesseum 15_zpsbcxci9yt.jpg photo Wandering in Venice 19_zpsvpyzgtb3.jpg

Holidays

I’m not the biggest traveler, there’s always something else I’d sooner spend my (few!) pennies on, but this year I’ve managed to  squeeze in a decent amount. I love taking weekends to explore the UK rather than venturing into Europe as there’s so much to see right here, and I kicked off 2015 with a very chilly break in Oxford. I’ve also squeezed in trips to the seaside in Devon, a surprise trip to Edinburgh, and of course my trip to Italy. I absolutely fell in love with Venice, utterly breathtaking and beautiful it’s one of my favourite spots.

Losing Weight

One of my biggest achievements this year has been getting close to being happy with my body – driven partly by weightloss. Whilst I’m in no way saying thin = happy, for a long time I’d been feeling quite hateful towards myself. My gastro consultant gave me the kick-up-the-ass I needed to sort out my diet/exercise and I ended up losing a good few dress sizes rather quickly and easily. My diet still isn’t perfect and I’ve got a long way until I’m completely happy with it, but for the first time since I can remember I’m entering the new year feeling positive about myself.

 photo 473b3d3f-0082-424e-9010-f55e49776ed0_zpsjljrt0or.jpg photo 2015-12-13 11.30.28_zps95rkrqzq.jpg photo 2015-12-25 14.59.02_zps29scjbwh.jpg

December

My favourite month of all, and this year it was extra-special. It kicks off with my birthday right at the beginning of the month – which was a lovely relaxed few days spent with my closest family and friends. Of course, Christmas is always a favourite time and despite feeling exhausted this year it was still rather magical. I always enjoy it more after a stressful end to the university term, and with a lovely two exams and three assessments scheduled in the last week it was definitely full of stress!

Final Year

I’m now in my final year of an Actuarial Science degree, and I’m still loving it just as much as when I first started. Sure, final year is tough and there are times that I’m in tears, times where I’m cursing my decision, but overall I love the things I study, the assignments I do and I’m super-excited to head into the world of work. I was lucky enough to experience a thirteen-month placement over the last academic year, I worked with a great team, got an amazing amount of experience – so even though I don’t want to leave university behind I’m itching to get into the “real” world in 2016. Exciting stuff!
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Countryside Walks & Seaside Strolls

As I mentioned above, I’m a huge fan of making the most of the UK, and being a country-girl at heart I love getting out and about in the fresh air. I don’t get as much chance as I’d like to do this, but when I do I definitely make the most of it. Living so close to Whitstable whilst at university has meant being able to take sunset strolls along the beach too – whilst we only managed it once last term I’m determined to go a bit more often before I graduate! I’m a little gutted that the last few days have been so dull as I’d have loved to have taken Tee-J for a good run – here’s hoping to some bright winter days soon!

Blogging

2015 has been a massive year for my blog, more so than I could have ever hoped for. I started going to events, met some other lovely bloggers, collaborated with some of my favourite brands and pushed myself to achieve as much as possible. I’ve loved it!
 photo 2015-12-21 16.05.17_zps0neszzym.jpg photo Announcement_zpsbkp7rzw0.png

Getting Engaged (!) & An Engagement Weekend

I already announced this over on Instagram last week (thank you for all your congratulations on there and Twitter!) as I just couldn’t keep it to myself any longer, but W proposed right at the start of my Christmas holidays. Eeek! I’m not going to say a great deal about it as I do want to do more of a dedicated proposal post, but it was completely and utterly perfect, entirely ‘us’, romantic but not cliche and he honestly thought of everything – including whisking me away for the weekend immediately afterwards. We spent the next few days alternating between laughing hysterically and crying (me) and eating vast amounts of food (both of us!). I’m typing this still in disbelief that it all happened really…though the sparkles from my left hand are rather distracting!

So, a very exciting end for 2015 for me. I can’t quite believe it! How was your year? What were your 2015 highlights?