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Dan The Man… Part 1

I am very proud indeed to announce a Rock My Wedding first!!

This afternoon we feature a wedding report written by The Groom. And He has a LOT to say! So just before I hand you over to Dan I should just mention that additional testosterone has been thrown into the mix courtesy of Mister Phill with his manly (and genius) camera work…

Dan and Rommalee were married at Vejer de la Frontera earlier this year.

Hi, I’m Dan. I guess you’re probably more accustomed to reading reports from the brides but I enjoy telling stories and I helped out a fair bit with the preparations for the day so Rommalee thought I’d probably be equally well qualified for the job.

The Proposal

I proposed to Rommalee back in 2009 and to begin with, we didn’t really know what we wanted from our wedding day. Although I was keen to get married and liked the idea of a party, I was quite indifferent towards the details of the event at that stage and didn’t give it much thought. We originally booked a beautiful venue overlooking Corfe Castle in Dorset but began having second thoughts when the costs started escalating, the guest list got out of hand and something that was supposed to be a celebration started turning into a big headache. That was when we decided to scrap everything we’d planned so far and relocate the wedding 1000 miles away in Vejer de la Frontera, the small hilltop town in Southern Spain where I had proposed to Rommalee a couple of years previously. We thought that by having a hotel as the venue for our wedding, we could forget about everything and let them take care of all the details whilst we put our feet up and cleverly avoided all the stress.

Putting On A Good Show

We were fools! Not because the staff at the hotel didn’t pull their weight, in actual fact they were amazing, but because we hadn’t anticipated getting so completely sucked into the whole experience. At some point we realised that if we were going to ask our family and friends (many of whom had young children) to trek all that way to be with us on our wedding day, we had better put on a good show for them. We wanted the occasion to be informal and to represent our personalities but we were also keen to make sure that the day felt like a proper wedding, despite the relaxed surroundings. This was going to be especially challenging after we were informed that a legally binding ceremony was out of the question (due to endless amounts of red tape) and that we would have to concoct our own service! So that was when Rommalee started pouring over the wedding blogs and I started to quiver under the weight of the ever growing to-do list. I’d heard friends talk about how stressful and all-consuming wedding planning can be but I didn’t really understand what they were talking about until it was too late.

Hand Made Decorations

A few busy months later and we were starting to make some progress. Dress sorted, rings chosen, photos printed, order of service written and moustaches cooked. It all began to take shape. We still wanted to keep the cost down so where possible, we hunted for DIY solutions to all of our wedding puzzles. A graphic designer by day (yes another one!), I was given the task of designing the invites and accompanying stationery for the day. The decorations were all hand-made and the majority of the initial preparation was done at home, mostly by Rommalee who spent many an evening sat in front of the telly folding tissue paper, cutting twine and bending wires. It seemed to take every spare minute of our time in the weeks leading up to the wedding but eventually came the day when we packed all of the props into a couple of boxes and posted them off to the hotel in Spain. We were finally able to relax. Sort of.

On Location

We flew over to Spain a week before the wedding so that we’d have time to acclimatise to the 30ºC heat and take care of all the preparation that couldn’t be done from home. To our dismay, the boxes hadn’t arrived and it was another four nail-biting days before they turned up and we could enlist the help of some unsuspecting friends and family to help fluff up the tissue paper flowers and string out the cardboard birds. Because the restaurant and rooftop terrace were well used areas within a small but busy hotel, we weren’t able to get in to decorate until the morning of the wedding so all that was left to do the night before the wedding was for me to finish off my speech and for Rommalee to keep me topped up with Brandy to aid the creative process. I don’t drink brandy and in retrospect, that wasn’t the best time to start experimenting with it.

Down To Business

We woke up at 7am on the morning of our wedding to the sound of Molly (our 18 month old daughter) playing in her cot and to a view that is difficult to put into words. Thankfully we had our brilliant photographer on hand so you can see for yourself. I felt terrible but there was heaps of stuff to be done so after we’d demolished some coffee and pastries in the hotel restaurant, it was straight down to business. The grandparents took charge of Molly and we, together with the help of our generous (and extremely tolerant) guests, started stringing up the decorations at lightening speed. It was 11am before we were done and that left Rommalee only a couple of hours to take care of her own decorating. I’m guessing that’s not very long by most bride’s standards but then most bride’s aren’t used to going about their daily routine with a squirming toddler in one arm. Rommalee had the luxury of both arms (and a talented sister) for this exercise and breezed through it with time to spare.

Best Hombres

To summarise in words; Mat and Jim (the best men or best hombres as they were known for the day) led the guests, in the scorching midday sun, from the fountain outside our hotel up to the spot we had chosen for our DIY ceremony. We followed 10 minutes behind and then the ‘service’ commenced with Mat reading the lion’s share of the words and Jim stepping in to deliver the readings. We smooched, everybody cheered and then we sauntered back to the hotel for drinks on the terrace. We took pity on Rommalee’s dad and the best hombres and decided to get the speeches out of the way before the meal so that they could sit back and enjoy the amazing grub. A traditional roll-up-smoking Spanish guitarist was joined by some flamboyant flamenco dancers to serenade the guests as the wine flowed and the food disappeared. The cake was cut and the party drifted up a couple of flights of stairs to the terrace bar where a gentle breeze provided relief for the sun-baked guests and the stunning view provided the perfect backdrop for our lazy evenings entertainment. Myself and Rommalee were petrified before our ambitious first dance but to our surprise and delight, we pulled it off without a hitch. Only to find out that Mister Phill was downstairs utilising the servicios at the time and that we had to do it all again. The second performance signalled the end of our official duties for the day and the start of our night. We drank (enthusiastically), we danced (badly) and we partied (carelessly) with our family and friends until the bar ran out of wierd coloured drinks and our legs could stand no more. I think there’s a certain kind of intense relief and happiness that’s reserved for couples who’ve reached the end of their wedding day without any major hiccups or catastrophes. And we were definitely feeling it that night as we almost literally fell into a deep sleep with big grins fixed our faces.

Perched On A Hilltop

Hotel La Casa del Califa is in a town called Vejer de la Frontera in southern Spain. Vejer town is perched on a hilltop with spectacular views of the Andalucian countryside and is made up almost entirely of white painted buildings lining steep cobbled streets. La Casa del Califa is a mish mash of eight separate (wonky) buildings, some dating back to the 10th century, with colourful Moroccan inspired decor, extremely helpful staff, and a restaurant that serves some of the tastiest food we’ve ever come across. Having visited both the hotel and the town over and over again during our eight year relationship, the area had a certain magical feel to it and seemed like the obvious setting for a romantic wedding. We realised that the long distance planning might raise some issues of it’s own but we were happy to make a few compromises in order to secure such a unique venue.

Fit For A Princess

In keeping with our non-traditional approach to the wedding and because she wanted to contrast (and not be camouflaged against) the all white back drop of Vejer, Rommalee wanted to wear something with a bit of colour. She tried the whole dress shopping experience with her mum and sisters but didn’t find anything that fit the bill and eventually fell in love with a dress she found online. It was actually a bridesmaids dress and wasn’t quite as grand as some of the other options she’d considered but it was her favourite colour and it seemed to suit the location perfectly. Unfortunately it wasn’t current season and proved extremely problematic to track down but Rommalee knew what she wanted and it was going to take more than a few dead end links and an entire atlantic ocean to stop her getting her hands on it. She finally tracked down a store in Orlando that still stocked the dress and that was that; a few alterations from a local dress maker later and it was fit for a princess.

Brighton Rock

Rommalee wore a white gold chain with a pearl from John Lewis (a gift I gave her after having Molly) and a pretty old ankle chain donated by her friends for the ‘something borrowed’. The flower in her hair was an Organza Clip from Acessorize and her wedding ring was custom ordered from Baroque Jewellers in Brighton where we’d bought her engagement ring a few months earlier.

Gnarly Cobbled Streets

The brides shoes were Gold loop sandals from Next . We knew that our wedding day would involve marching up and down some gnarly cobbled streets so Rommalee chose something flat as well as a little bit dressy.

Spring Time Beauty Queen

Rommalee wanted to avoid the chic traditional up-do (FYI – I have no idea what that is) but really wanted to try something different for the day. With the expert help of her sister Hadley, she styled her hair into a messy side-bun for the ever-so-slightly more formal ceremony and restaurant parts of the day and then let it all down for the evening. Rommalee doesn’t wear much make-up and knowing how hot it was going to be, she wanted something light and natural. She based her look on the Spring Time beauty queen article in the ‘how to’ make up section on RMW (you know the web address!) and did it herself.

Blooms, Brollies And Brooches

This was one of the few areas where we knew we were going to have to compromise. Communication with the florist was restricted to emails through the wedding contact at the hotel so we decided to keep it minimal, just a bouquet for the bride and mini posies for two of the flower girls. Rommalee found some nice ideas and emailed a picture of what she wanted but somehow ended up with an entirely different looking set of flowers! They weren’t what we asked for but they were still nice and we certainly weren’t going to get hung up on such a small detail. I doodled some button hole designs for myself (the ‘gringo groom’), the best hombres and the fathers (padres) and these were turned into hand-made brooches (and miniature works of art) by the very talented Zoe at Love from Hetty & Dave. Knowing how intense the sun could be at that time of year and not wanting the mothers to feel left out, we gave them ornate paper parasols from Brollies Galore to provide some shade for the day and to add another splash of colour to the proceedings. We contacted all the other female guests and put together an additional order on their behalf so that nobody was overlooked. Apart from the gents who just had to man-up and deal with it!

Destination – Vejer de la Frontera

Photography – Mister Phill

Stationery – Dan (the groom)

Boutique – Solutions Bridal

Ring – Baroque Jewellers

Hand made brooches – Love from Hetty & Dave

Parasols – Brollies Galore

I hope you have enjoyed the alternative perspective provided by Dan, because there is still plenty more of it to come.

My favourite things so far…

1. A man talking about weddings (at last I’m not alone)

2. A groom/Graphic Designer man (yeah, like me!)

3. A Mister Phill camera man (just a bloody genius)

There have never been so many manfolk on the blog at once. It just leaves me to say that everyone must come back for part 2 mañana (does that count as another man?)

Take care folks,

Adam. (Man)