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August 2018 - Enchantment Under The Sea

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New bride

HI ladies! I'm a long time reader of this forum but only very recently started posting, and I thought it's about time I finally made a planning thread (given that I'm rapidly running out of time to do so before the wedding!)

How We  Met - we met in the pub after work with mutual friends. We both work for the same large organisation, but because of our jobs never really come into contact at work (thankfully! We had one meeting we were both in at work once, and the only person who didn't know we were a couple was chairing the meeting, and tried to introduce us to each other... awkward!).

The first time I properly spoke to him, his dad was at the pub as well and I probably spent more time talking to his dad than him haha. I was definitely not looking for a relationship at that point, having just come out of a long term relationship and needing some time to recover. But we became friends and as we started spending more time together I guess you could say romance blossomed!

Three months into our relationship his dad fell very seriously ill and was in hospital for about 6 months. It was probably the kind of situation that would make or break a new relationship, and I think it did contribute to us getting serious very quickly. We practically moved in together at that point, which objectively sounded too soon, but it always felt right to me. It took a long time but his dad has now made a really good recovery. 

 

New bride

The Proposal - I still can't believe I got such a great proposal! H2B is the first really romantic guy I've been out with. We went to Rome on our second anniversary and I did wonder if he might propose then but it didn't happen. I wasn't worried - we'd talked about getting married so I knew it was on the cards at some point. 

Then at Christmas 2016 he got me tickets to Christmas At Kew, which is an event after dark at Kew Gardens in London where it's full of light installations. It was absolutely beautiful, we had a magical time running around the gardens drinking mulled wine and toasting marshmallows. Towards the end there was a really cool licht installation over the lake, which was set to music, and it pretty much blew my tiny mind, I loved it. H2B kept suggesting we move on to a quieter bit of the gardens and I kept happily telling him no, I wanted to watch the lights on the lake a bit longer... completely oblivious! 

Eventually he did manage to persuade me to start walking around the lake to where it was quieter, we snuggled up a bit and he started saying all these lovely things about wanting to be together forever. And I still didn't twig, because he says lovely things like that to me all the time! It was only when he got down on one knee and pulled out a ring that I realised. At which point I took a step backwards in surprise and burst into tears. H2B said at first he thought he had got it terribly wrong when he saw my reaction, I had to keep telling him they were happy tears! Also I feel like taking a step back can't be that unusual... right? Any other ladies accidentally back away from their partners when being proposed to?

The ring is beautiful and very sentimental as it used to be his mother's engagement ring, as she passed away before we met. It's an unusual shape and quite vintage looking... I'll see if I can post a picture. 

After the proposal we called our families and bought a celebratory bottle of Kew Botanicals Gin (highly recommended!) Then went out for celebration drinks at a local bar and pub. Our mega classy engagement day secret is that when it was time to go home we got peckish... so our first meal together as fiance and fiancee was McDonald's chicken nuggets!

Bridezilla

Hey CloudAtlas! Very excited to read your plans as I’m a fellow August 18 bride! What a lovely proposal ❤️  I also thought my H2B would propose in Rome but I’m actually so glad he did it when I wasn’t expecting it! 

How sweet that he used his mum‘s engagement ring! X

New bride

What a lovely proposal, would love the see the ring soon!

New bride

Been away this weekend at my amazing hen do (which is a post for another time!). Anyway, back to our planning story…

The Wedding Date:

We got engaged just after Christmas 2016. Ironically we had spent Christmas at my family home that year, and my sister had commented to H2B about how cheesy it was that everyone proposed at Christmas, which must have got him worried - I’m so glad he went ahead anyway! I think I have seen a few other ladies on here commenting that it’s crazy how soon family start asking about dates for the wedding – we phoned my mum and dad about half an hour after H2B proposed and my dad asked straightaway when the happy day was going to be (!).

To rewind a little, just before Christmas we’d had an offer accepted on a house. We had gone to the viewing just for a bit of fun really, as we were planning to seriously look for houses after Christmas. But the place was so perfect for what we wanted that we decided to put in an offer the next day. Originally the owners had said that everything had to be done by the end of February, because they had a mortgage offer that was going to expire by mid-March – a previous buyer for the house had fallen through (lucky us) so they’d already had the offer extended once. So we decided that we needed to focus on buying the house, and we’d hold off on looking at any wedding stuff until after the house was sorted.

We worked our socks off to be ready for the deadline… only to find out that our sellers had then discovered a planning issue with the house they were buying. So we didn’t actually get to exchange until early May, much later than planned.

When it became clear the timescales were slipping, we started looking at dates and venues. A lot of H2B’s closest family live in Japan and it was really important to us that they would be able to attend, so we asked them for a list of dates they would all be able to do in 2018. They don’t get much annual leave and obviously the travel is really expensive as well, so we knew we needed to give them plenty of warning. Plus, having spent our savings on buying a house we then needed to give ourselves enough time to save up for a wedding! I had been keen for a spring wedding to keep costs down (and so we didn’t have to wait too long!), but it didn’t work with the dates that H2B’s family could easily make, so we were looking at a summer/early autumn weekend.

The Wedding Venue:

We really liked the idea of a venue by the sea, which also fit with our ideas for themes (more on that later). We fell in love with The Gallivant (https://thegallivant.co.uk) in East Sussex, but once we started looking into it, it was way out of our price range for a summer weekend, and I was a bit put off by how slow they were to respond to emails as well. So we started looking a bit closer to home. One of my key irritations with hunting for venues was just how difficult it is to compare prices across venues, because every venue seems to set their prices on a completely different basis and there’s often sneaky extras you have to account for as well. I made a spreadsheet and tried to do the calculations to get a price comparison across about ten different venues that looked good to us from their websites and brochures, so we could rule out anything that was too expensive.

The first place we went to view was The Old Hall in Ely (http://theoldhallely.co.ukaaaand… it was also the last place we went to see! We really fell in love with it. It has the feel of a lovely country house but isn’t too too formal on the inside, the rooms are gorgeous, if the weather is good they have a beautiful pavilion so you can get married outside, and they have a marquee with amazing views and a separate attached marquee with a dancefloor. It really ticked all the boxes for us – when we left, we said we’d go see other places before making a decision. But we kept finding it difficult to arrange viewings at the other places that were high on our list (some places are so bad at responding!) so after a couple of weeks we decided to just go for it while the Old Hall still had a few of our dates left. So just like with our house, we ended up going with the first place we went to see… I guess we’re just a decisive couple? 

New bride

Finally think I've worked out how to post photos! Here is the lovely pavilion at the Old Hall which we'll be married in if the weather holds out! :)

And the Old Hall building itself:

Originally when looking at venues I was really keen on the idea of hiring a barn or something and doing everything ourselves – my friend had a lovely wedding in 2016 in a barn which was just stunning. But the more we thought about it and the more I chatted to H2B, the more I realised that actually that probably wasn’t the best idea. On the one hand we could definitely save a bit of money but that would probably be offset by the amount of additional stress! We both work full-time, I have quite a full-on job at times and I also co-run a company in my spare time. When we really thought about it, the level of saving wasn’t worth the amount of stress it would cause. So a venue like the Old Hall, which has its own catering and some rooms on-site, and where you can have both the ceremony and the reception in the same place, was the right choice for us. Plus when I did the price comparison on my spreadsheet, if we booked for a Sunday it was cheaper than we had expected. I did find it really strange how some venues give a big discount for a Friday but still charge a lot for a Sunday, and how other venues do the complete reverse.

 

 

New bride

Next thing to think about was our theme and colour scheme!

 Theme:

We both liked the idea of a beach-themed wedding but H2B was a bit in two minds about it for a while, I think because it feels like more of a ‘me’ theme than a ‘him’ theme, because… I run a company in my spare time as a professional mermaid (don’t believe me? We’re www.realmermaids.co.uk and you can find me on facebook as https://www.facebook.com/MermaidOndine/ lol!). So I could totally understand why he was on the fence initially, as I’m sure he’s a bit sick to death of everything mermaid! 

We talked about it – I really liked the idea of having a theme because I think it brings everything together, but I don’t feel like every little detail has to follow the theme religiously, and I don’t want a full-on mermaid themed wedding any more than he does. Eventually I think we both felt happy with a general sort of beach/travel/underwater theme for the wedding. We both love travelling and we’ve tried to think of ways to make sure the wedding and the theme reflects both of us rather than just one (for instance, at the moment we’re thinking of naming the tables after beaches either that we’ve been to together, or that have a particular significance to one of us as places we’ve lived/travelled/have family there). I knew he had decided he was happy with the theme when he showed me his design for the save the dates… But more on that later.

Colour Scheme

Picking the colour scheme felt easy really, we sat down and did some swatches until we got a mix of colours we liked. I really wanted mint green to be in the colour scheme because when I was a bridesmaid for a friend’s wedding we discovered that pale mint green seems to be a magical colour that suits all skin tones, hair colours etc… so I knew having that would make bridesmaid dress shopping easier (and it did!). Then blues were an obvious choice, and we added gold and grey to have a bit of a wider palette to play with. In practice I think we’ve gone even wider than that – we’re not being super precious about exact colours but I think it’s nice to have a general theme that helps everything hang together.

Pinterest Addiction:

Next up, obviously, was the development of an extreme Pinterest addiction! I think partly because the wedding felt a long way away and we had to focus on house stuff, I just spent a lot of time pinning my favourite pictures for inspiration. The added benefit was that it really helped me kick my previous phone addiction (Farm Heroes)...

We did start work early on some bits and bobs for decorations, particularly making origami cranes which we wanted to have instead of bunting (as he has a lot of family from Japan we thought it would be fun). It took a while to find origami paper in the right colours, so the first compromAdmittedly we did really great on making loads of origami for the first few weeks but I haven’t made a single one in about two months now lol, we probably need to pick up the pace again! We’ve got a bag full of them in the cupboard…

New bride

GinAndBling - that's so reassuring haha! I was sure I couldn't be the only one ;) Yes I need to get some nice pictures of the ring... keep meaning to do my nails so I can take a nice pic and then forgetting!

New bride

I don’t know what to write about next, I left it so late to make this thread that there’s loads that’s already been done (…and loads still to do, gulp). I can’t fit it all in one lunchtime!

I think I’ll talk about save the dates and invitations because they link in nicely with the theme - although by doing that bit next, I make it seem like we were super organised, whereas in fact our actual save the dates only went out not long before Christmas, so almost a year after we’d gotten engaged.

Save the Dates:

We always knew we wanted to make our own Save The Dates (I can’t use the acronym, it makes me think of other things lol!) and invitations. We knew we could save money on them because H2B has a degree in graphic design – although he doesn’t work in design at the moment we knew he had the skills to do a great job designing everything.

For Save the Dates, I shamelessly copied an idea that my friend did for her wedding, which I loved – fridge magnets! It just seems such a good idea, it makes it easy to remember even if you get the date so far in advance that you don’t have a calendar to write it on yet. Ironically we don’t actually have a magnetic fridge, so our Save The Date is in fact on the metal bit of the extractor fan in the kitchen (along with the rest of our magnet collection). It’s also been really fun that when I’ve visited friends houses I’ve often spotted our Save the Date in their kitchens.

We used Vistaprint, which I know a lot of ladies on here have used, and they were great. A good tip though if you’re looking at doing magnets is to buy their “magnetic business cards” NOT their “magnetic save the dates”. The price difference is quite significant – if you buy the business cards, it’s £7.19 for 25, but if you buy the save the dates it’s the same cost for just 10! So if you have 50 guests it’s  more than a £20 difference in price, just because it’s a wedding.

For the design, H2B was inspired by the posters for the “enchantment under the sea” themed dance in Back To The Future! He borrowed some elements from the design of the posters in the movie – and the name of the dance itself. I did very little – I helped with picking a photo of us that we both liked (from our trip to Tokyo to visit his family two years ago), and then I did a bit of photoshopping of the picture as originally there were a lot of people in the background of the photo, so I edited them out to make it less distracting. Everything else was H2B.

I love love love the results:

 

New bride

Invitations – Again we went with Vistaprint for the invitations as it’s such a great cheap option. Although we were supposed to get envelopes with the print outs, which never arrived – bit annoying. We sent them out quite a bit later than intended as they took a while to design, then the Vistaprint website was down the first time we tried to order them, then we had issues with actually getting hold of them because they ended up at our local Post Office depot which does not have sensible opening hours at all. But we got there eventually, so they were sent out with just less than 4 months to go until the wedding.

H2B was the mastermind – I think my only contribution was checking the wordy bits for spelling. I think they’re so beautiful, and he even designed a little logo for the two of us, which I’ve now got printed on some stickers so we can make sure it’s on other things on the day. This picture is a little dark, they look much brighter in real life, but you get the idea:

It’s been so fun having the RSVPs coming through the door. I feel like posties must be able to tell when people at a house are getting married, as the amount of post we receive has increased massively the past few weeks! Although I’ve been starting to do the table planning as they’ve been arriving, which has opened my eyes to just how much of a headache that’s going to be… why don’t friends and family just come in convenient groups of 8 – 10? J  

We also set up a wedding website through gettingmarried.co.uk which has been really good actually – I’ve taken the lead on that as H2B was doing the invitations themselves. It’s nice to be able to give guests a lot more information than would really be possible through paper invites, and I love that it allows guests to RSVP online – most have chosen to RSVP by post so far, but I think when we start chasing stragglers (which will be tomorrow as today was our due date for RSVPs!) it will really come into its own. Plus I’m going to put more information on there as we know more details about the day and timings etc. as well.

New bride

Had a very wedding-y weekend (including hitting the three-months-to-go mark which is pretty exciting!) but I’m trying to keep things vaguely in the right order so instead of talking about this weekend I’ll talk about… dress shopping!

Dress Shopping -  I don’t know how the rest of you guys feel, but for me I think this was the point where it really felt real. I went dress shopping last July, we booked it well in advance as my sister’s calendar always fills up insanely far ahead over the summer months. It was me, my mum, my sister and my auntie (my mum’s sister) which I felt was a really good group for dress shopping. Because there was a few of them, they could keep each other entertained while I took ages to get in and out of complicated dresses, and it also meant I got a good range of opinions from people I trust!

We started at a second-hand wedding dress boutique (which has since sadly shut down). I wanted to look at second-hand dresses because I knew they would be better value for money and I’ve no objection to a second-hand dress! Before the appointment I had been pinteresting like mad, and I felt like I had a really good idea of what I wanted, but I also knew it was a good idea to try on loads of different things. The owner of the shop picked out a few things that were my size or close enough to be altered – they had a really wide range of dresses. My sister also found one in a style I loved which the owner had discounted as being too small, but my sister (who works in fashion as a merchandiser and has worked in bridalwear, so definitely knows her stuff) insisted she thought it would fit, so I tried it on. 

The first dress was pretty hideous but it was fun just to be trying them on! The second dress was the one my sister picked and I loved it. It was a Suzanne Neville from a couple of years ago and as it was second hand, it was…. still out of my price range, lol. It fitted really well before alterations, but in particular I really liked the fact that it had a built-in corset but a button-up back – so you get the look of the beautiful button-up backs but the support and structure of a corset. I tend to have awful posture so I really wanted a built-in corset in order to force me to stand up straight in the photos!

I also fell in love with this dress:

 It was nothing that I wanted (and on paper I should have hated it) but actually when it was on I kind of loved it! It was the most Hollywood, over-the-top awesome blingy dress ever and only needed a bit of taking in to be a great fit.  Those were definitely my two stand-outs from that shop.

We went out for lunch and ate burgers/sausage rolls (not a very bridal lunch, but who cares). Then the next stop was The Tailor’s Cat in Cambridge. I thought this shop absolutely got it right when it comes to trying on wedding dresses. They have so many dresses, everyone gets their own private little booth including a curtained-off changing space and a sofa for your friends/family, and the whole experience is very fun and luxurious. Firstly you go around the shop putting tags on dresses you like the look of, then the assistant collects them up for you and also suggests further dresses for you to try. They had such a huge range – everything from 1950’s style tea-length dresses, to lacy dresses, mermaid dresses, ballgown dresses and simpler styles as well. I wanted to try on the widest range possible basically. My mum, sister and auntie had a cup of tea while I changed in and out (one thing I noticed with dress shopping is that they always offer the bride a cup of tea but you never have a chance to drink it!).

New bride

Stand-out dress for me in this shop was this beautiful sequinned dress which made me think of an Alphonse Mucha painting:

 

It was stunning and totally different from what I would have expected to like. Drawbacks though were that it was very heavy so probably rather hot for an August wedding, and I know H2B prefers more fitted styles so I didn’t think it would be his favourite. I loved having the chance to try it on though.

I also found I got totally converted to veils! Originally I had thought I probably wouldn’t go for a veil, but I was easily persuaded to try one on to see how it would look, and I totally loved it. It just made it all feel more bridal. Originally I was worried I think that a veil would just feel like it was getting in the way and not practical - for similar reasons, I didn't want a dress with a huge train or hooped petticoat - but I guess the difference is that it's much easier to take a veil off if you get fed up of it.

I didn't decide on the day, I went home and slept on it for a few days, but in the end I went with the Suzanne Neville dress that I tried on in the first shop. It's hanging in our spare bedroom right now and I regularly have to sneak in there and have a look at it haha. 

New bride

Bridesmaids - I knew who I wanted to pick as my bridesmaids, although it was slightly tricky as none of them really knew each other! I went for four - my sister, best friend from university, my business partner and one of my oldest friends from home. They're all from different friendship groups/parts of my life so I did worry a bit that it might be a bit tricky for them not knowing one another much. 

I wanted to do like a proper bridesmaid proposal, so I thought I would draw and paint up a suitably mermaid-y design and get it made into a card to send to each of them to ask if they would be my bridesmaids. The only thing is that is took me so long to actually draw and paint the darn thing that I'd already asked three out of four of them by the time I finished it lol. I did enjoy the process of making them, it was fun to have an art project but I'm always slow at actually finishing things. 

This is the card - I got them printed by an online firm and they worked really well, I just scanned the design in but the colours came out so well. 

 

We're also having some flowergirls who are my H2B's cousins' children. They live in Japan so we're having to wait to go dress shopping for them until much closer to the wedding date.

Bridezilla

loving your thread and details! xxx

http://www.youandyourwedding.co.uk/forum/your-planning-threads/intimate-villa-cyprus-wedding---october-2018/432750.html

https://uk.pinterest.com/ruththomas1979/here-comes-the-bride/

New bride

I'm really enjoying reading your thread - as a fan of the Back to the Future films, I highly approve of your theme, and your save the date cards are so innovative and fun!

Looking forward to reading more.

New bride

Aw thanks guys! :) I'm enjoying writing this thread actually, it's kind of fun to think over all the different bits and bobs that have gone into the planning. Anyway, an update is well overdue and I've fiiiiinally got a picture of my lovely engagement ring! 

Wedding Ring - My engagement ring is such a beautiful ring, but the shape is a little unusual - so I knew it would be a little bit tricky finding a wedding ring to fit. I was quite excited to go wedding ring shopping but it felt like a bit of a cursed process at first - we kept earmarking days to go and look at rings, and then we'd be knackered or one of us would be ill or whatever and we'd decide not to go. Eventually we did actually make it out to the shops, and went to the big jewellers in our town - I knew the rings would probably be out of our price range but it was more just to get a feel for it and to get to try on some different rings etc. 

Well, we went into the shop and I started browsing a cabinet. It was quite quiet but there was a woman at the counter being served. Suddenly H2B grabbed my arm and whispered we had to leave asap. It turned out that the shop assistant was a girl he had known not long before we got together, who had been quite interested in him at the time. Long story short: he wasn't interested in her but was interested in someone else, she was extremely jealous and ended up actually attacking the person he was interested in. So we basically ran out of the shop lol! 

That day was a write off, we went in one other jewellers but they mainly did second hand stuff and it wasn't great, there weren't really any other shops locally. So we finally got it in the diary to go to Norwich on a bank holiday, as they have tonnes of jewellers and we thought we could make it a fun day out. We got there, stopped for a lovely lunch, headed into the street where all the lovely old fashioned jewellers are... and they were literally all shut. It was at that point we started to wonder whether our wedding ring shopping curse was a bit of a bad omen...

We went to the normal high street jewellery shops instead and actually were very successful. I got a white gold v-shaped ring from H Samuel - it was really reasonable, only about £120, because it's a very plain, slim ring - but I think anything larger just looks a bit odd next to the engagement ring. I also really like the combo of the white gold with the yellow gold of my engagement ring. H2B suggested getting it in a different colour gold and I actually think it looks way better.

H2B picked a nice ring from a shop whose name I've forgotten, so we got them both ordered that day. However when we went to pick up H2B's ring, the wedding ring curse continued, as they had ordered it about a hundred sizes too big - it was even ludicrously large when he put it on his thumb! So we had to get it re-ordered. Then they ordered it in the right size - but it turned out that with the shape of that particular ring design, he really needed a size down. Fortunately the third time was a charm :) 

Anyway, after all that I'm super glad that the rings are sat in their boxes upstairs (and that we left ourselves plenty of time to get them sorted!)

New bride

Okay next up is....

The Cake - Wedding cake was one of those areas where I was a bit ambivalent about the whole thing at first. I did vaguely look at alternatives (brownie towers, doughnut walls, macaron mountaintops...) but for the most part it just seemed like they weren't as much cheaper than a cake as I would have expected, and none of them really excited me that much. Obviously you don't have to have a cake, but I felt like people would think it was odd if we didn't, and in fairness having a cake cutting midway between the wedding breakfast and the evening buffet at least means there's food available if people do get peckish I guess.

So we started looking at cakes. I found lots of fancy cake shops that seemed awesome until you looked at their prices (£700 for the most simple cake available!) and some more traditional wedding cake makers that were more reasonable but none of their designs etc. excited me... I really don't like the traditional big white royal icing covered cake with a few flowers, I knew I wanted something with a fun design at the very least. It was also probably a bit disheartening because one of my really good friends is a professional cake maker who does occasion cakes and some amazing designs... but she lives in Florida... and my auntie is a very good cake maker but she's already making a cake for my cousin's wedding this summer and I just thought it would be unfair pressure to ask her. 

Then H2B was diagnosed as gluten intolerant and that threw another spanner in the cake works so really looking at cake was on hold for ages until one evening I decided to start doodling some cake designs:

I had been browsing Pinterest a lot and I had more or less worked out things I liked in a cake. I knew I wanted it to include our wedding colours. I looove gold drip icing, so a lot of designs include that. I liked cherry blossom design cakes, so some incorporated that as it also felt like a nice shout out to the Japanese side of the family, but also other cakes were more around our beach/holiday/underwater theme. Conversely, I knew I didn't want a mermaid and sailor cake topper - because it was just too obvious and what people would be expecting haha. I saw some very cute cake toppers of Totoro characters from the film My Neighbour Totoro, which I love, so most of the designs incorporate those. 

I chatted to H2B and showed him my designs and tried to get an idea of what he did/didn't like in a cake. He really liked the idea of a coral reef sort of cake and we found some pictures of cool coral reef cakes with clever ways of making the coral out of moulded and piped icing. Eventually we ended up with this as the final design:

I feel that by keeping the background white as well it does still have a wedding-y sort of feel to it! 

We were then recommended a local bakery by H2B's brother and his wife and they were suuuuch a great recommendation. They're called The Isle Bakery. And they have been awesome so far! Very accommodating of the need for a gluten-free layer and even tried out a new gluten-free recipe for us (pistachio and almond, mmm - H2B loves pistachio so it seemed like a great option). Plus they hand delivered the tasting cakes to our door in a very cute box! The taster cakes were delicious and very good portions - we had a tasting evening with me, H2B and his dad and there was more than enough to go around. From the company Facebook page they are great with icing and creative decoration so I'm confident they'll do a fab job on the final cake. I'm excited to see it!