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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

wedding: the dress

1. 2. 3.

 The Dress.  Oh, let’s talk about The Dress

I wish I could sit here and relate to you the perfect dress story.  Of how I walked into a bridal boutique and fell in love with the first dress I tried on.  Or even the seventh dress I tried on.  I didn’t expect it to be the 57th dress I tried on.
So where do I start?  
 I've never had an idea in my mind of the wedding dress I wanted, I haven’t sketched pictures since I was a young girl, and I haven’t day dreamed about Disney princess style petticoats, Kate Middleton lace or a slinky Grecian number.  Having been an avid reader of wedding blogs for too long to admit, this may come as a surprise
 But one bride’s account of her wedding dress story stuck with me.  She choose not to look at magazines or blogs to get ideas about dresses before the day came when she had her first appointment.  She didn't want to have a set idea in her mind, which would overrule everything she tried on.  I thought this was quite possibly the best advice I’d ever read.
Now, don’t get me wrong.  I wasn't open to ANYTHING.  There was certain styles and elements I very much knew I didn't want (but I shan't be giving anything away).  In addition to this, I was really nervous.  My whole life, I've loved shopping, I've loved dressing up, and I’ve loved the process of getting ready for a special occasion.  But somehow, I knew my wedding day would be different, I would want something perfect, I wouldn't want to ‘settle’ and I wanted something unique, that was just for me.  Plus a four figure wedding dress isn't quite the same as a £30 LBD off the high street.
I’m lucky in that Cumbria is well covered when it comes to bridal boutiques, so I was spoilt for choice in terms of where to start.  For my first appointment, I selected a boutique which I knew had a large range of designers and styles, I had no expectation that I would find a dress in the first shop, but it seemed a good starting point.  So off I headed with my mum.  What felt like several hundred dresses on a very hot Summer’s day, I went home feeling completely overwhelmed, and could barely remember the last dress I’d tried on, let alone the first.
A couple of weeks later, and arrived appointment number 2.  At a boutique which I’d always been fond of, and convinced that was the place I would find my perfect dress.  With designers such as Jenny Packham and Rosa Clara and on their books, the dresses were intricate, beautiful, and each unique in its own way…but none of them were for me.  The particular angling of one mirror which made my bum look HUGE (I kid you not) did not help the situation.
1. 2. 3.
I left feeling downhearted (and convinced my rear end had tripled in size).  I knew that I’d only had 2 appointments, and so I wasn't at a point of complete despair, but I had been so sure I’d find ‘the dress’ in this shop, that I felt at a bit of a loss as to where to go next.
Fast forward a couple of months, 4 appointments later, and a trip to Scotland, I still hadn't found ‘The One’.  And in between appointments number 2 and 6, I’d made the mistake of turning to the internet and had become completely obsessed with googling the living daylights out of ‘wedding dresses’, and was pinning like my life depended on it.  And of course, I fell in love…with a dress that was only stocked in America. 
During those 6 appointments, I had tried on what felt like every shape and size of wedding dress that existed, short, long, lace, silk, taffeta, satin, sleeved, strapless, beaded, simple...the list goes on (and on and on).  I'd begun to believe the dress for me just didn't exist, in the UK at least.  
In my last two appointments, I'd started to learn what I really liked, and had a clear (ish) vision of the type of dress I wanted.  With one appointment still booked, at a boutique i'd already visited, I'd started to lean towards the idea of having one made, it would certainly be unique, it would be just for me, and it would have all the elements I'd loved on the hundred other dresses I'd tried on. 
But what if all those elements were too much together?
What if it was going to cost 3 times my budget?
And most importantly, what if I didn't like it?
The list of what ifs was endless, but I was running out of options.
1. 2. 3.
On the 11th October, 5 months after my first appointment, I headed back to a boutique i'd already visited.  The shop had had a delivery of 40 new dresses, so I figured I'd give it one last go before giving up on finding a dress that already existed.
I went assuming I was never going to find a dress, and so was pretty much ready to give up before I'd started.  I chose 8 dresses to try, 7 new ones, and one I'd tried before.  I quickly reeled them off, 'no, no, it's ok, definitely no' get the picture.
Then I tried 'The Dress'.  The dress I'd tried a couple of months before, and I'd liked, but not loved.  But I definitely felt a flicker of interest, that I hadn't felt before.  It wasn't perfect, it was far too simple, I couldn't really breathe (it was too sizes too small) and it was not what I'd envisaged!
20 minutes later, I was still wearing 'The Dress' only now i was also sporting a veil and a headpiece, and holding a fake bouquet of flowers.  I'd discussed every possible option available of altering it to suit me.  We'd talked adding bling, adding buttons, adding sleeves, adding a belt, adding lace...anything you could add, I'd considered it.
At this point, I started to feel a little queezy (not unusual when i'm nervous).  After so long looking, I couldn't believe i may have found the one.  The lovely lady in the shop sent me and my mum away to think about it.  Rather than doing the obvious of having a large glass of wine, we sat in the car...wondering.   And at that point, I decided that Yes, that was the dress.  It wasn't my dress yet, but it would be once we'd made a few changes, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
The dress was found.
There was no tears, there was no 'this is the one' and there wasn't even a glass of champagne to celebrate.  And despite all the ups and downs, and what felt like 5 very long months, I loved the whole process.  I loved trying on wedding dresses.  I loved every appointment.  But what I loved most? Is picturing my dress now, and smiling because I know, I've made the right decision.
 And I would advise any bride who is going through similar situations, just to keep going, don't give up and settle because you will regret it.  And, I LOVE to hear 'the dress' stories, so do tell me yours...

Thursday, 13 November 2014

pinterest picks

It would seem this week, my Pinterest picks are scarf orientated.  Well who doesn't love spending Christmas days coveting chunky scarves when the weather turns a little chillier.
1. 2. 3. 4

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

the leather jacket quest

1. All Saints
2. Oasis
3. Whistles
4. Karen Millen

My beloved leather jacket and I have had a good relationship.  This year marks our 5th year together, not bad innings I’d say.  But the time has come, sadly, to say goodbye.  Although it is still ‘wearable’, just, it’s not looking good, and the rather unsightly tear along the elbow makes it a little rougher around the edges than I’d like it to be.  (Read: I always feel a little inappropriate wearing it in any vaguely formal situations)

So the dreaded search has began.  I bought my current one in a moment of feeling sorry for myself, after having a pretty grim wisdom tooth extraction and docs orders to be signed off work for two weeks, I needed some retail therapy.  I’d spotted the jacket in Topshop and lusted after it for weeks, but couldn’t justify the price tag, in hindsight, it wasn‘t actually that bad for a real leather jacket, but I’d been unemployed for a while so it wasn’t exactly a priority.  However, when you’re laid up in bed for two weeks it’s amazing what you can find on the internet (keep it clean!) and  I found the same jacket on ebay for half the price.

Now, yes, perhaps the fact it quite clearly had it’s ‘Topshop’ label snipped out, and it was brand new, possibly meant it had fallen off the back of a van, I wasn't complaining, I was in love.

I fear things are not going to run so smoothly this time around.  I’ve already spent several weeks (edger closer to months) on the search, and have yet to find ‘The One’.  Oasis have some beauties, but I seem to be completely in between, and everyone knows All Saints and Whistles are the place to hit up when looking for a classic leather piece, but the small loan I’d have to take out to buy one of those isn’t going to happen.

So I’m turning to you lovely lot, in the hope that someone out there knows what I’m looking for, simple, stylish and seriously affordable (the seriously was unnecessary there, but you know, I wanted to keep with the alliteration) so if you have seen one, please can you let me know?

Monday, 3 November 2014

wedding: the venue

Bearing in mind I got engaged last December, I think it’s clear to say, I haven’t rushed to blog my way through the planning.

However, I really wanted to, but just never really got round to sitting down and doing it, until today.

I have always loved reading wedding blogs, yes, even before I had the ring on my finger, but that doesn’t mean I was sitting with my scrapbook and my wedding fully planned before the boy proposed.   In fact, I had no ideas at all about what I wanted, I just loved reading about others weddings.  I love looking at the beautiful dresses, the flowers, the colours palettes, even the men’s suits, but rarely actually considered my own.  And then the boy got down on one knee (you can read about that here) and all of a sudden, I was allowed to outwardly profess my reading habits, wedding websites could be added to my favourites, without that being weird!

I started reading Rock My Wedding years ago, and loved all the posts relating to Charlotte’s big day, I really wanted to do the same with mine, thinking it would be a lovely way to diarise my just never happened.  But today, I just decided to sit down and do it.  I’m thoroughly enjoying the planning process, Pinterest’s stats have probably trebled since I got engaged, and I’m fairly sure there isn’t a bridal blog out there I don’t know about.

So where do I start? Luckily, we’ve been fairly relaxed about the whole wedding planning, and so I shouldn’t need to bombard you with an influx of posts just to play catch up, because so far we’ve taken it slowly.  We have just hit the 6 months-to-go mark, so that may will change.

Well let’s go right back to the beginning.  After the proposal, we spent hours (and hours) googling venues.  I knew we’d need to get moving with a venue, because to get married when we wanted (Spring/Summer 14) we’d need to get going to secure a date.

We knew we wanted to get married in Cumbria, we live (and both grew up) in the Lake District so it would be foolish to dismiss such beautiful surroundings. We also knew we didn’t want a ‘wedding package B’, we wanted to be able to customise our day to make it our own.  I didn’t want a Roast Beef dinner, and we didn’t want a corporate hotel room.

Ahh, it would seem, despite Cumbria having hundreds of beautiful venues, there wasn’t an endless list of places we really wanted to see.  In the end we saw only two.  The first, I fell in love with over the internet.  It was a real blank canvas, a barn set in the middle of the countryside, which every couple made their own.  So off we headed, I was super excited and sure I was going to come away, having signed, sealed and deposited (the money, obvs!).  But, 10 minutes in, I was bitten by a dog (yep, really), which wasn’t a great start to planning your perfect day.  Feeling rather flustered we continued to look round, but as the price shot up, so did the list of things we needed to do.  A blank canvas, yes.  But, a whole design job from start to finish I was not expecting, hiring everything from carpet to crockery to caterers was not quite what I was ready for.  Plus, this was all money on top of the initial costs.

So feeling a little disheartened, we headed home.

And hit up google once again.

Then I discovered Askham Hall, a venue that had only been hosting weddings since the previous October (only three months at this point) and so had only had a handful of weddings, which meant there was very little information online to find out more about it (and even fewer photos of other couples big days for me to stalk).  But what we could see, it was certainly ticking the right boxes, a beautiful barn which would give us that perfect slightly rustic and informal feel, a stunning 13th century stately home with impressive gardens, the perfect backdrop for those all-important photos, AND a heated outdoor swimming pool? Ok, so that wasn’t a necessity for our wedding, but it was certainly a nice additional touch.

I rang immediately, and made an appointment to visit.  From the second we arrived, despite it being a gloomy January day, we felt welcomed and totally in awe of the whole venue.  Even on a rainy day, we could tell it was the place for us.  The barn was exactly what we wanted, and we didn’t have to hire any of the basics, HURRAH, chairs and tables and glasses and staff and food, it all came in as part of the cost!


Where do we sign?

Oh, you already have 47 weddings booked in for 2013, and 2014 is starting to fill up.  Sooo, what days do you have available? There was a couple of dates that would work for us, May bank holiday looked even more promising, but my mum and dad really wanted to see it.  A quick phone call later, an exclamation of how much I loved it, meant that yes, we would book that date, and sorry mum, but I’ll bring you back for lunch another day.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t QUITE as smooth as this, we needed to confirm figures and numbers and all the finer details, but we headed home (feeling rather elated) and got out the calculator.. and OUCH, really, weddings ARE expensive.  We then spent a week deliberating, setting up an extensive spreadsheet, sat with heads in our hands, and wondered if really, maybe ‘Wedding Package B’ and ‘Roast Beef Dinner’ wasn’t sooo bad.  But in our hearts, it wasn’t what we wanted, it didn’t make me excited, and it is what is supposed to be our ‘perfect day’.  Knowing we could make cuts elsewhere, and knowing that the venue really is one of the  most important parts of the day, we rang and proclaimed:

‘yes, we would like to confirm 23rd May 2015’

And we booked our wedding day!


P.S. I wasn't expecting this to be such a long post...I think I'm going to enjoy this!
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