Gosh, I don’t even know where to start my last wedding post… As you read this, my future husband and I have parted ways as he has gone to Gay Paree (for a week-long intensive French course – bless! – followed by his stag do). I’m heading to France on Saturday but I don’t know where the last six weeks have disappeared!
Right about now I feel elated, excited, anxious, and everything in between….. Part of me can’t believe it’s really happening: we started planning such a long time ago that it just felt like a story I repeatedly told people, never expecting it to actually happen (does that sound crazy?). Recently I’ve started pinching myself to double-check that, yes, it really IS happening.
The second part of me doesn’t want it to come too quickly, because it only happens once….
But then, my third (and final) part just can’t ruddy wait. After all, we have been planning for 18 months and now I just want all our favourite people to arrive for the weekend-long knees-up!
On a more practical level, the past six weeks have been the busiest weeks in my entire life (no joke) as I have run around London / the flat like a flailing headless chicken. I think Tom has *genuinely* considered running away and frankly I’m not sure I’d have noticed because I’ve been that busy with work and wedding (I’m a caring bride)….! I really wish someone had warned me about the last six weeks going crazy.
Ok, enough ranting. Let’s start at the beginning and on happier topics…
The best girls in the whole wide world
..The Hen Party! My wonderful bridesmaids whisked me off to Bath over the Diamond Jubilee weekend (clearly a popular Real Bride destination!). They started planning over a year ago and had kept everything a secret (including the list of ladies who would be attending, which led to a lot of squealing every time a new person arrived!).
Saturday was the activities (& slightly naughty) day, starting out with a rather fancy French champagne breakfast…
…followed by a life drawing lesson at the YMCA (our masterpieces will be displayed at the Sunday lunch post-wedding of course!), with our lovely model Gareth, and then a very fancy afternoon tea at the Pump Room:
In the evening, I was getting ready for our as-yet-unknown evening celebrations when I noticed whisperings and giggling… and suddenly the girls unveiled my ‘outfit’– Moulin Rouge dancer! My costume even had a bridal train! I did panic for a milli-second that I would be the only one dressed up, now that would have been a *tad* embarrassing…
Sunday was of course recovery day and it’s good thing that Bath is home to a rather luxurious spa where we spent a good three hours doing absolutely nothing. Bliss!
We all went out for a lovely meal in the evening and finished with an obligatory viewing of Bridesmaids and cake. Perfect.
After a Jubilee-themed breakfast (and one obligatory bride-to-be sash!), we drove back to London on Monday… but there was still one last surprise for Monday evening…. my mum! The bridesmaids had secretly invited her for dinner. It was such a lovely surprise for me and I know my mother really enjoyed being part of the weekend too (not sure she would have enjoyed the Moulin Rouge part quite as much…).
Well, what more could a girl ask for?! To all my amazing friends who attended, thank you for the perfect weekend. I had the best time in the entire world and am so lucky to have you all in my lives.
And to all of you brides-to-be, have you been part of your hen preparations at all? What have you gotten up to?
Speaking of going away, I have yet to tell you about our honeymoon plans, otherwise known as ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’ in our household! Whenever Tom and I have felt overwhelmed, we’ve turned to pictures of our upcoming honeymoon.
We started looking at honeymoons last August (early I know) and eventually opted for Zanzibar and a safari in Kenya, booked through Turquoise Holidays. Both of us wanted to go somewhere completely new with a mix of beach and activities, and I insisted on two weeks (which surprised Tom at first as it is rare in America!). We didn’t take a big holiday in 2011 so we could splurge a bit more in 2012 and, boy, is it going to be nice!
We’re flying out to Nairobi on Monday morning, where we stay one night before flying to Zanzibar for eight nights of pure bliss at The Residence in Zanzibar. We then head back to Kenya for four nights in the Masai Mara at the Ol Seki Mara Camp.
So, this is what I look at when I’m in need of a pick-me-up:
This will be the first time we travel with a travel agent too. I’m sure it won’t be particularly different to any other holiday but I’m looking forward to having someone meet us at the airport and drive us to our destination every time!
We are now fully prepared to face Eastern Africa with proper backpacks (rolly-suitcases probably aren’t suited to Masai Mara roads), hiking shoes, the all-important zip-off trousers (sexy) and a lot of insect repellent. Oh and a brand-new bikini of course.
And everything else…
I haven’t focused too much on actual wedding to-do’s (though I’d count bikini shopping as an obligatory wedding to-do personally!)… There’s been plenty – my mother and I are on two phone calls a day at the moment! Really, it’s just nice to talk about something that is wedding-related but not yet another to-do that needs my attention…. which is silly since I’m actually quite excited about everything we’ve decided on!
So here’s a whistlestop tour of everything that has been done:
First off, our favours are made! I’m very proud of (and impressed with!) my mum and dad, who worked relentlessly to make 140 pots of strawberry jam. The Plougastel strawberry is local to Brittany, hence the homemade jam. Actually, it turns out that Plougastel strawberries are quite expensive so my mum ended up mixing them with cheaper strawberries…. Shhhhh! My dad is very proud that he can now make jam, something he never thought he would learn!
Melissa (who designed our invites) has worked hard on designing the rest of our paper goodies, namely the order of service, the table plan, the menus and the place names. That’s a lot of items! In the end, I’ve had to ditch my homemade place names (my big DIY item!) in favour of a much prettier idea (confirming once and for all that I am not meant to become a graphic designer!). Here are a couple of peaks:
Melissa’s done an amazing job keeping having both languages side-by-side (which is important to me as that’s my heritage). I’m particularly excited about our order of service which will be a double-sided book, i.e. you flip the booklet round to get to the right language. It sounds a little complicated (I had to use props to understand it when she first explained it!) but I think it’ll be a neat way of keeping the languages ‘together’ whilst still being easy to read and stylish.
I’ve also been working on a little flyer for all our guests, which I plan on placing in their bedrooms for their arrival. It has lots on information on the festivities as well as excursion ideas and local restaurant / bar tips. David, my IT guru at work, has worked wonders to make them look proper professional!
And finally, the dress is ready and is home! This was actually the first time I tried on a dress that wasn’t ten inches too long and, up until that point, I was a little worried about how I’d be able walk in such a burdensome outfit. It turns out it’s quite a bit easier when it’s the right length!
Two of my bridesmaids also came along to learn how to put the dress on. I highly recommend doing this as it definitely took them a couple of tries to tie up the various loose ends… I’m thinking it might take a while to put it on on the day!!
As we speak, The Dress is now patiently waiting in its new home hanging from the lounge’s ceiling light (it’s too long for my wardrobe!).
So what’s left to do then?
Well, lots actually (my mother and I are currently working out how to make our own cheese tower for post-dinner treats, which has involved mum going to the cheesemongers and measuring up his different cheeses – the French have never seen cheese towers!!).
But really, it’s time to take a break, breathe it all in and just enjoy the present. The past month has been very stressful but I am determined to enjoy the last pre-wedding week with the family.
It’s not going to be perfect (let’s be honest, it’s going to pour it down isn’t it? So glad I spent so much time choosing the outdoor floral arrangements with our florist), but heck, who cares??? All that really matters is that in eight days, everyone will be here to witness Tom and I say our vows to each other (eek!). They won’t really care about our floral arrangements, the post-dinner treats or our dodgy first dance (hopefully), they’ll be here for us. And that’s what I’m focusing on this coming week.
There’s nothing left to say other than a MASSIVE thank you to all of you lovely ladies for reading and commenting on every post. And a particularly huge thank you to the Real Brides group who have shared their words of wisdom throughout and given me encouragement and support when I needed it most.
And finally, a BIG thank you to Tom, who has (usually) listened patiently, supported me, slowed me down when I needed it and generally just been there for me for the past four years….. I love you!
See you on the other side ladies!