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Our Tuscany Wedding - May 29th 2019

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Bridezilla

I did briefly start a thread a while back but I don't really like it and hadn't really got our ideas or planning out of the ground so it's a lot of waffle essentially, so here we go again...  We are less than a year to go now and more in the swing of things! I'll give a brief recap...

How We Met

We met initially when I worked as a Saturday admin girl at the estate agency my lovely fiance, G, used to manage. So yep, he was my (much older and married) boss at the time. We always got along fine but there was never anything more to it. Fast forward a few years, I was working full time there after deciding to leave Uni, he'd got divorced and had bought a flat in London and we seemed to see each other socially more and more. There was an age gap between us of 15 years so I think it stopped both of us from thinking it could be anything more than this weird little 'friends with occasional benefits' scenario!! (*cringe*). I'd decided to become an air hostess which meant moving to the Middle East - he'd left our company and I just thought I'd enjoy his company occasionally and then had every intention of moving away and forgetting all about him..... well that didn't quite happen!

I missed him heaps when I moved and found ourselves emailing back and forth nearly every day. I managed to fly home for a couple of days to surprise my family and friends after three months and he picked me up from the airport. I knew I had feelings for him but just couldn't work my own head out! He asked if we could go out for a drink the following night and to my shame now, I stood him up! We laugh now about him pacing the hall waiting for me to let him know when I could meet, but I think deep down I knew seeing each other would confuse me so much more. I'd just started a new life on another continent after all, this really wasn't a good idea! We had a tearful phone call at the airport (well, I was tearful!), and weirdly as soon as I landed, I had roster changes which were taking me back to London for just 18 hours the very next night. I text him to let him know I'd be at Heathrow at a certain time and then had to switch my phone off for work. I had no idea if he was even talking to me after standing him up, let alone wanted to drive to Heathrow to see me for a few hours but when I got to the hotel he was waiting in the lobby with a bottle of wine and my belly did all the flips!! That night he told me he wanted to be with me.... I asked to sleep on it (poor guy!) and in the morning decided I had nothing to lose! 

Two and a half years of long distance had its challenges but we had the best time - he'd meet me on my layover destinations in Europe or fly out to see me, we made the most of my cheap flights and everything felt like one long extended exciting holiday romance! I was terrified when I moved home that things might not work "in real life" but they have gone from strength to strength! We'll celebrate seven years together next March and at the end of May we'll become husband and wife!

Bridezilla

Our proposal

I did wonder at points whether it would ever happen! An incredibly holiday to South Africa came and went, as did various little mini breaks. Our 5th Anniversary came and went again with no sign that a proposal was imminent. I'd struggled with it at points because so many other people put pressure on you by asking when you're getting engaged! I'd put it out of my mind for a while as I was concentrating on a new job and we moved twice in six months, eventually in to a new build which my fiance was overseeing and which was giving us enough of a headache, a ring couldn't have been further from my mind!


We booked to go to Vietnam in April last year and had had a really stressful, hectic day the day we flew. We got to the airport around 8pm tired and stressed. The line for security was taking ages and then G's bag gets taken aside for searching. He told me to go and get a drink at the bar whilst he was waiting but I said we'd end up not being able to find each other so I'd just wait. Poor guy (again!), had the ring in his hand luggage and was looking around thinking he'd have to propose in the middle of security at Heathrow! I thought he was being a right moody little thing and remember thinking what a great start to the holiday it was with him huffing and puffing about having his bag searched!! I thought I'd best run to pick up something I needed in duty free otherwise he'd be even moodier if I made him come with me. I got back just as he finally got his case closed up and off we went.

We arranged to have dinner on the beach one evening with a private chef. We'd both seen it was something you could do at the hotel and remarked it might be nice. We've done things like that before so booking it didn't really give me any hints about what was to happen! Getting ready he threw on a really casual pair of cargo shorts (the only ones with big enough pockets for the ring box!) and I was like oh... I thought we might dress up a bit smarter and he was all "well it's only dinner on the beach"... so I threw on a super casual dress which in hindsight I'm a bit disappointed about in the photos but oh well!! We had the most gorgeous tasting menu and then the chef said we should take a walk between courses. So we did. It all gets a bit blurry from here really. I remember him saying some lovely things about how much he loved me which I thought was cute but still no clue! There were some lanterns on the sand further down the beach and as we got closer, he said he'd take my photo by them. He motioned for me to stand closer to them and as I did, I realised that between the lanterns something had been written in the sand with stones. It took a good few seconds to process the words "Will you marry me" and then register that they were meant for me! I turned around and he was down on one knee saying some more lovely things that I can't quite remember! There were a lot of tears that evening. 

He had spoken to both my Mum and Dad (divorced) which meant the world to me. I facetimed both of them from the beach and then spent the rest of the holiday giddy and delirious with happiness and excitement! I surprised the rest of my family and best friends in person when we got home. That was April last year and at first when we said we'd marry in 2019 it felt SO far away but I can't believe where the past year has gone, so I'm even more aware how fast the next year will go!!

 

Bridezilla

The Planning begins!

We started thinking about dates and destinations and it was pretty clear early on that an overseas wedding was what we wanted. We love to travel and I just never really felt drawn to the big white wedding here in the UK. In all honesty, he's so laid back (too laid back at times!), that if I'd said I wanted to get married on the moon, there's a fair chance he would have gone along with it....

We had two main requiremenets - we wanted our wedding to be legally recognised, and it couldn't be too far away because my grandparents wouldn't want to fly long haul. So that was Bali and South Africa out!! I'd always pictured Italy as being beautiful and romantic so we started our research there. It quickly became clear that our initial visions of the Amalfi Coast or Lake Como were going to be crazy money and prohibitively expensive for a lot of our guests, so then we came across Tuscany. 

We contacted a few wedding planners and really clicked with one in particular. They're two ladies - both English although once lives in Tuscany and has done for so long she's pretty much a native! They've been great, and I genuinely feel like if I said nothing more and just turned up on the day next year, they'd pull off something pretty close to perfect for us. I have surprised myself with how laid back I am about a lot of elements of the wedding - and surprised friends and family too. I just want to marry him really, and it be a great party! The one thing that we love about going abroad is that this has become a three day wedding! We're hosting a prosecco and pizza party the night before, followed by a BBQ/pool party the following day. A lot of our friends are already saying they'll make a longer trip of it too which is super exciting.

Bridezilla

The Venue

We initially thought we wanted something rustic - a castle or grand old villa. Two venue scouting trips later and maybe 12 different venues seen, we were feeling a bit deflated. We fell in love with an open air abbey in the middle of the countryside which we could have our ceremony in but the closest options for the reception were just a bit *too* basic / rustic for us. We found our venue completely by accident - it was nothing really like what we'd said we wanted so there was no wonder our planners hadn't shortlisted it for us. We saw one around the corner and our lovely Danielle mentioned this place and that we might be able to pop in on the off chance. We arrived and the lovely owner of the place was happy to show us around - they were in the middle of setting up for a wedding in fact. I got butterflies! I really hadn't felt them anywhere else and every other word out of my mouth was "oh wow" or "Oh my God I love it!". It has the loveliest grounds, stunning views, and is pretty much weather proof as there's glass roof over the ceremony terrace and then a lovely indoor option for the wedding breakfast should we need to use it, although hopefully we can eat in the courtyard. We saw a couple more places on that trip but kept coming back to it as nowhere compared. Although we really had wanted to find somewhere to make the open air abbey work, this place felt so much more "us" than anywhere we'd seen. We emailed our wedding planners the next day! 

My MOH and best friend is a school teacher. My fiance has two children, one of whom will be in his first year of secondary school, and a couple of other relatives who are teachers so we thought aiming for a half term date was probably best. The Monday is the bank holiday so we went for the Wednesday as it meant people could miss the peak bank holiday flights. So there we had it.... our wedding was booked for 29th May 2019!

 

 

Bridezilla

The Bridal Party

I can only write about half of this because my fiance, the laid back creature he is, still hasn't decided on who he is having as a Best Man!

I have a small group of best friends. We're more like a tiny army really. I couldn't imagine only having my MOH and there was no way I'd choose between any of them, so that was five. My fiance's daughter will be 20 so I'm also having her as a bridesmaid. I don't have heaps of friends really, so most of the friends on my side will actually be my bridal party but I'm not too worried about that! I gave them all "bridesmaid proposal boxes" with some little bits and bobs in. They're actually planning my hen do for this August - as MOH is a teacher and we wanted a weekend away somewhere warm, it made more sense than trying to find the time/money/suitable destination in April next year right on top of the wedding. At least I know I'll be recovered!! 

My fiance's son will be twelve and he'll be a mini groomsman and also hand over the rings during the ceremony. He is toying with the idea of having him as a best man but there's no way he'll want to do a speech, so then fiance would need to decide on which other groomsman to ask... and that's essentially the same debate as who to have as a best man, anyway! I think he'll go for two close friends (which is my secret hope as I like them most!), and have another three ushers plus his son, so there'll be six on each side in total. Dressing them will be cheap(!!).

Bridezilla

 

We popped to Brighton on Saturday and came home with a wedding ring for G! We'd gone to look and get some ideas (I thought!) but he was happy to decide there and then. We both kept having our eyes drawn to the same sort of style in several shops and we found a lovely ring at a great price so ordered it! 

I suggested that we buy eachother's rings rather than them coming out of the joint wedding account - I think there's something almost romantic about it - which he agreed to and was happy about until we priced up the kind of ring I want and it's probably double his, oops! Raw end of the deal but hopefully marrying me will make up for it! I hope! :-)

He's gone for a lovely brushed palladium ring with a polished bevel.  A bit like the below image but nicer in real life! We'll go and see the jeweller who made my ring for mine as I'd like it to match the band on my engagement ring but there's no rush on that front, although it's quite nice to have his ring ticked off and on order! 

We're going out to Italy this week to have a look at accommodation options, revisit our venue and do some general scouting around the area we're going to base ourselves and suggest our guests also stay, which is a town called San Casciano. It's about 40 mins from our venue but we'll provide transport to and from. There's much more to do there for people who are making an extended trip of it (which a lot seem to be saying they will), whereas there's really not much around our venue. Lots of people are already asking about where to stay, dates etc, so once we're back we'll get on with setting up our website and looking at invites so that people can get booking if they want to!

We'll go out again in October to look at caterers and florists! I think I'm more excited about the food and drink than anything! Especially as our venue has just agreed to let us use a particular caterer our planners are loving at the moment - their package looks great, they have heaps of decor options and they're really reasonable. 

I haven't made any dress appointments yet - I've been trying to lose a bit of weight which is slow but I've lost almost a stone now so feel better about myself, another 1.5-2 to come off before the wedding though hopefully. I've got literally NO idea what I want, other than not strapless - so I feel quite daunted by the whole idea of having to find a dress. Everyone keeps on at me to start though so I've said as soon as we're back from this trip I'll make some appointments!

Bridezilla

Yay new planning thread! Your venue looks so beautiful. And poor guy with the bag being searched... my OH had a similar thing. He proposed in Cuba and thought he was through Gatwick clean and dry, little did either of us know that they scan your bags back in to Havana airport! 

Bridezilla

GinAndBling wrote (see post):

Yay new planning thread! Your venue looks so beautiful. And poor guy with the bag being searched... my OH had a similar thing. He proposed in Cuba and thought he was through Gatwick clean and dry, little did either of us know that they scan your bags back in to Havana airport! 

Oh gosh, poor them hey! I just remember thinking "if he doesn't stop looking so moody and stressed I in a minute am going to ask to change seats!". 

Bridezilla

Ahahha honestly, my memories of H2B before he proposed are not good- he was being skittish and obsessive about what I thought was his phone. Turned out he'd put these super tight chinos on and was worried the ring was going to fall out his pocket in this bar we were sat in. 

But all's well that ends well! 

Bridezilla

So we got back from our little fact finding trip (aka drinking lots of Aperol Spritz in the sun whilst chatting about the wedding...oops!)... I'm even more excited than before, if that's possible!

The main purpose of the trip was to look at accommodation we'll be recommending for our guests. Our venue is in a fairly remote area and the closest town isn't that great - fairly industrial, no lovely views like so many other places. So we're aiming to have most of our guests staying in a town that's around 35-40 minutes away and will put transport on from this town to the venue and back. It's not ideal but hoping that on the way, everyone will be chatting and excited and on the way home they'll be rather tipsy, so the distance won't be too terrible! 

We stayed in three different places and visited some other options and I think we've narrowed it down to three good options in the town and then will give other options on our website for people who want to stay elsewhere, self cater, stay in villas etc. I think this is the one thing that was giving me more anxiety than anything especially as we're having a fairly big wedding (100 people ish), and a lot of them were already asking about where to stay, what to book, and generally just overwhelming me with questions I couldn't answer. Need to get a move on with our website this week so that we can direct anyone who asks us to that, and then decide what kind of stationery we want and get our invites in motion.I'd quite like a style that I can use to do some DIY bits myself (signage etc), so nothing too intricate! 

We also saw our venue again - it's even better than I remember! We saw it in December so seeing it with the gardens in full bloom was great. There are flowers everywhere which is great as we might be able to save a bit on the floral budget as a result as I think we'll only need bouquets/buttonholes, table decs and then small garlands for the pillars behind our spot for the ceremony. We also had a lovely coffee date with the British half of our wedding planners who is out there for this year's weddings which was fab - I love her, she's just so calm and collected and is totally going to enable me to be a 'mellow bride' which is something I really hope to be!!

Bridezilla

Ooh and I've been itching to buy some bits and bobs as I've literally bought nothing so far!

I bought some little cellophane tissue packets which I'll put one or two small pocket tissues in and then seal with some personalised stickers I got from Etsy which say "For your happy tears" with our initials and date. Planning on doing three baskets at the entrance to our ceremony - one with these tissues, one with orders of the day which will be little concertina fans, and then packets of confetti. We can only use rose petals (need to clarify if it has to be actual rose petals or they just mean any biodegradable real petals).

Also saw on some other threads on here that Home Bargains had some Wedding Day candles on offer so I've bought two boxes of those, they work out at 60p each which is fab! I'm planning to do little welcome bags in each of the rooms of our guests so thought they might be a nice little thing to include. The idea so far is to include

- welcome letter and agenda of events (pizza party the night before, wedding day and a BBQ the day after)
- map of Tuscany (usually can pick these up for free)
- a blank postcard (thinking of also using postcards in lieu of a guestbook somehow!)
- a mini bottle of Aperol spritz and/or a local beer
- bag of our favourite Italian crisps
- a little bag of heart shaped pasta
- "wedding day" scented candle
- some biscotti or similar
- a do not disturb door hanger for the day after the wedding (G is less keen on this idea)

I'm hoping to pick up the bits and bobs fairly cheaply over ebay and in supermarkets over there - luckily our wedding planner can help source bits and I'll be there a week or so before the day to make them all up and deliver to the right accommodations although logistically that might prove a bit of a pain.Not sure if we need to include anything else and if so, what, or whether that's enough! Was thinking mini suncreams/toiletries but the hotels all have them and I'm quite particular about suncream so not sure if it's a bit of a waste.

Bridezilla

I think I want to elope.......!!

So lots of people have been asking about where to stay. I want to spend a bit longer getting our wedding website done so decided to write a long email detailing all of the different places we've seen to appease the people who are asking! Our wedding venue is out on its own really so we're recommending people stay in a lovely nearby town. There's not one big hotel that will fit everybody so we've decided to name the three biggest hotels in the town we're recommending people stay in.,.. and tell people there will be transport provided to and from the wedding from there. It's a 40 min drive but the closest place with enough amenities for a group our size so hopefully people will be fine with this. We've also listed half a dozen other options to cater for people who want to self cater or stay somewhere quieter.

I've told my grandparents, my great aunt and uncle (my Nan's brother and his wife) and my Mum and Aunt first as I want them sorted. Well I sent what I thought was a pretty straightforward email but it's caused a ginormous headache already. My Aunt wants to stay with my grandparents but doesn't want to stay in the place that I think is best for them.... none of my family will drive abroad so I thought my grandparents would be better off in a hotel where they can walk in to the village. My Aunt has persuaded my Nan to stay in one of the others. Fine. Just don't moan when you hate the food and can't walk in to town for cake! My great aunt and uncle are now telling me "we can only come for four days because it's SO expensive".....but are refusing to consider staying in the cheaper hotel. So now they're moaning it's expensive AND they won't be able to walk in to the village.... but "don't like the look of" the place which solves both of those issues. Based on absolutely what, I have no idea. My Mum is saying she doesn't want to stay with any of them because they'll do her head in the whole week (I feel her!) and my Nan is upset because "what's the point if we're not all staying together" - errr....the point is to see me get married, thanks Nan! I feel like SCREAMING! This is with my tiny family, let alone the rest of the guests!

I've already told them not all of the flights have been released for our wedding yet including Easyjet etc so to just get an idea of where they want to be, I'll reserve the rooms and then we can wait and confirm dates once the flights come out. But no of course everyone has been meddling and I've had frantic emails about the fact that the hotels are showing as unavailable...... YES that's because I've told you they're not taking bookings for next year from the general public yet and to go through me.... which was all clearly explained in the email you've been chasing me to send.

 

GAHHHHHHHHHHH! PASS ME A WINE and sign me up for an elopement already!!!

Bridezilla

On a slightly more positive note, I thought I'd talk about our colour scheme and a few other bits....

Colour Schemes

I'd always thought I'd go for a pinky/nude/blush kind of colour but I was a bridesmaid for one of my best friend's last year (we're a group of 6 and all of us were her bridesmaid and now they're all mine), and we were a dusky pink so I decided early on to scrap that.
I really liked navy too and have seen so many lovely bridesmaid options but feel it's too dark for a summer wedding.

We've settled on a really pale dusky blue/grey colour. I've seen a few bits in shops this year in the sort of colour I mean so I'm hoping I see some more bridesmaid dress options as the year goes on if it's a bit more on trend at the moment. 

The groomsmen will be in navy - unsure yet whether we'll bother going for full suits for them given the likelihood of hot weather. We may do just trousers and waistcoats or a suit but with braces so they stand out from other guests once they take their jackets off post-ceremony. I'd love H2B to wear something like David Beckham wore to the Royal Wedding.... he's also keen on something along those lines and it means the pale blue ish colour of the bridesmaids will go fairly well.

Flowers
Our venue has tonnes of flowers in their gardens - lots of white but also lots of brightly coloured roses etc. I'm no gardening expert so haven't got a clue what else they have but it's gorgeous. I've always wanted all white flowers and I think it'll work well to not try and bring too much extra colour in to things. So I'm thinking a fairly loose / wild shaped bouquet with minimal greenery and the bridesmaids having smaller versions of mine with a little more greenery to them. I'm hoping because the gardens are so gorgeous, we'll be able to minimise spend on the decorations and keep the flowers to bouquets, buttonholes and centrepieces. There are two pillars either side of where we hold our ceremony which might need padding out with a bit more foliage and some white flowers too though but hopefully those could then be utilised on a table. 

I'd really like long tables instead of round ones as I love the idea of having lots of foliage running down the middle with candles and vases and white flowers amongst it between maybe two candelabras at each end. I also quite like the option of smaller rectangular tables instead of circular which would mean we could still have that kind of decor. My Mum is quite anti long tables and my H2B isn't keen but I think it could work really well and is much more typically Italian. We won't meet our florist or make any decisions on that front until we go out again in October so plenty of time to gather more ideas on that front, although I'm fairly relaxed about the decor as long as it's generally the kind of vibe I picture, I'm not too fussed which flowers are used etc. Luckily one of our wedding planner's was a florist in a previous life and has a great eye for it judging by lots of photos I'm seeing on their social media so feel like I'm in very safe hands there.

Bridesmaid inspiration -

The kind of bouquet I'd like -

Bridezilla

Ha Ashley your family sound like mine 🤦🏽‍♀️ They’ll sort themselves out, I’m sure. 

Love the bridesmaids colour, looks so fresh and will to go lovely with your venue and white flowers. 

Bridezilla

I've finally chilled out a bit about my family and am working on getting our website sorted and looking at invite designs. I did our Save The Dates myself using Canva and had them printed for about £20 by Vistaprint, all very easy. I used a monochrome shot of Tuscany and kept them quite simple as I didn't want to tie ourselves too much to a theme. I'd really like quite simple invites as most of the information is going to be on our website and we'd rather people used that than have loads of bits of paper to keep track of. I'm thinking watercolour backgrounds with a little foil press detail. I've seen some I really liked on Minted but once you add in the extra cards and bands, they're coming in at nearly $450 plus shipping which is just a lot given they'll largely end up in the bin at some point or another. I've had a look on Vista Print as they look as though they'll be a lot cheaper but I'm not sure if they do foil pressing. I've sent over a rough design and used their design service so I'm waiting to see what they can come up with and price it up.

H2B is a gem and keeps saying "but in the grand scheme of things it's not that much money" which is nice I suppose, but I'm being the sensible one and saying let's not waste money on things that we don't need to. 

Our budget is already a lot more than we initially hoped - the events before/after are adding quite a lot to it, but I feel like they'll make it so much more memorable for us and our guests that I'd rather be able to spend a bit more on those and cut back elsewhere on things like stationery for example. I'm hoping we can find a style that I can sort of replicate similarly myself to create little signs to put out everywhere so simple is definitely the way forward. Hoping Vista Print solve all my problems as I'd like to get invites out in the next couple of weeks if we can. So many people are asking for information already so it seems silly to hold off longer and we're less than 11 months away now (scary!).

Bridezilla

Oh and two other updates

I've finally made some dress appointments! The first isn't until the end of July as it was the first date my MOH and Mum can both do, and I've made another for mid August when another one of my BMs who lives near Colchester can come with us to a shop I fancy looking in there. I'll try and take my Mum and Nan to my appointments with me and then a friend or two. I've six bridesmaids all in so not sure it's feasible to do dress appointments with all of them but hopefully they can come to fittings etc in the future if they want to. I live in Central London so a lot of the options close to me are really expensive so I've made some appointments in Kent and Essex (I work round the corner from Browns Brides and swoon as I walk past regularly!). I don't want to spend more than about £1200-1500 ideally and have no idea what sort of thing I want other than I like buttons not corsets and don't want strapless. I was dreading it but now I've made the appointments I'm actually quite looking forward to trying some on. I hope that lasts!

We've also made some music decisions. We decided a while back that once we're Mr and Mrs (eek!), we'll walk back down the aisle to "This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)" by Natalie Cole. I've been trying to find a song I love to walk down the aisle to and finally stumbled across one I've never heard before, it's called "I Get to Love You" by Ruelle and I think it's perfect. H2B loves it too and it made one of my BMs cry so I think I've made my mind up, unless of course I hear something better in the meantime. I've also promised H2B if he can find a nice acoustic version of "This is the one" by the Stone Roses he can have it whilst we sign the register!

We do have quite a few songs that mean something to us and we'll have them played at some point during the day but we can't quite decide on one for our first dance. "All of Me" by John Legend is our main song I suppose but I'm not sure if I feel like it's a bit boring/overdone for a first dance. Ideally I want something that's over with quickly, we'll be "stand and sway" kind of people I think, owing to the fact that H2B only really dances when he's reallllly drunk and I hope he won't be by that point in the evening! 

Bridezilla

Photography

We knew early on this was one of the things that carried most importance to us. Early research though proved that we had expensive tastes! Everyone we looked at in Tuscany and loved was coming back at (what is to us) crazy money.... £3k plus! Flying out photographers we loved from the UK wasn't working out much better either with travel and accom. for two people and they weren't so flexible on price because obviously they then can't work the day before/after. As much as we want amazing photos, I'm also acutely aware that there will be maybe half a dozen on display and the rest will go in an album so it took hours of trawling instagram and wedding blogs, emailing photographers etc to come up with a shortlist that we liked and could just about justify the prices of! It was a very short shortlist! Our wedding planners suggested a few but ultimately this was one area they felt should be a totally personal decision. 

I came across Paolo Ceritano online and got a really good feel about his work. We want really natural photos on the whole - a few slightly arty/creative couples shots perhaps and a few standard posed ones to keep the family happy but other than that someone who would blend in and really capture the emotion of the day. I love some of the couples photos he does, so romantic without being too mushy or posed and his use of light is great which is important to us as we get a beautiful view of the sunset from our venue so hoping we get some fab photos of that. I sent an email and he responded quickly which I loved, and was super helpful, informative and responsive. I felt like nothing would be too much trouble. He usually works alone but will find an assistant to complement him for the day as we really felt we wanted two photographers so that we can both have getting ready shots, someone can be taking photos of our guests at the aperitivo whilst we go off for our photos etc. So that was him booked - a big tick off the list!