Category Archives: Clothes

A Pinch of Salt – Advice

So I thought I’d do an advice section. …And my first piece of advice is DON’T TAKE ADVICE. Everybody is different, and everybody needs to do things differently, so read or listen to advice and take it with a pinch of salt – as a personal experience. Not only is everybody different, but some weddings are nothing like others and generic advice can be counter-rpoductive.

But, just for the record, here is my pinch of salt!

1. The day doesn’t go fast – it’s full, it’s busy, but it goes slowly, and at the end of it, it feels like it has been more than a day. This is how it felt to me. I was so worked up with expectations from repeated advice that the day would go fast and I would have to rush around that it took me until the end of the reception to actually relax and go “off-duty”. Don’t let expectations shape your day (but yes, do make time to talk to everybody: we circulated the tables between courses and it was great!).

2. Don’t do the “done” thing. We stayed in the room together the night before, and it was completely expected that we would. And it was lovely to go to bed together and get up together, and I really needed Guy. Following the “traditional” route would just have made us miserable.

3. Wear blue. Wear black. Wear lime green and indigo if you want to. You will still look like a bride, people will still recognise you as a bride, and you will have a dress you can wear again, alter to wear again, or just look your best in.

4. Something will always go wrong. Your guests will be chaotic. Don’t get upset. Rise above it. It makes good storytelling later, and people are much more interested in the cake collapsing than what my dress looked like.

5. If you can have ceremony pictures HAVE THEM. Our ceremony shots are some of my favourites: they look so much more natural than the posed shots, they’re well spaced and we look at our best.

6. Have ushers. They are like gods. I have no idea how we could have done it without them.

7. Make things. People do notice the small details, and they get very excited about the little things you have made and personalised. Making things is fulfilling, exciting and saves you money – and if it doesn’t get noticed, you won’t mind anyway!

8. If it’s a “must-have” you don’t need it. We didn’t have a videographer or chair covers and we are glad that we didn’t have them. You don’t automatically have to have everything on your wedding day, and don’t let yourself get pressured into having things for fear of regrets. Decide whether it’s actually important to you and whether you would have thought of it by yourself. Make your wedding about you, not other brides.

9. Don’t put your soul into the wedding – focus on the marriage. Make sure you have new projects lined up for after the wedding and honeymoon and kick the post wedding blues in the teeth. I didn’t get this, and I’m pretty sure it’s because my life did not peak at my wedding day. It was a great day. One of many. And I have so many all-consuming projects anyway that the wedding just meant I put them on hold: now I am back to enjoying them!

10. Stick by your guns. Make sure that your guests are warm, confortable, well fed and supplied with alcohol. After that, your decisions are up to you, not them!

Things I’m glad I had or did:

1. Wore a hat. This is not usual, but it worked on me and I prefered it to a bare head. A veil was never an option, but the white detail worked the “bridal” look.

2. Travelled by rickshaw. Not only was this great fun, but it was a bit different. The guests loved them!

3. Had a getaway car. This was expensive for what it was and we would have been fine with a taxi. But we wanted the send off and everyone loved the car. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me and we’re both glad we decided on this treat!

4. Learnt salsa and performed our first dance. A lot of people don’t like the idea of practised dances (although salsa is a kind of improvised dance), but I thought it was very entertaining and was something we enjoyed doing together and keeping a secret up until the wedding day. It’s also important to spend time together during the lead up to the wedding.

5. Had the evening to ourselves so that we could unwind and spend some time being close on our wedding day. A rave up would have left us with quite a different feel.

6. Had a drinks reception in Somerville. Going back to Somerville was important to us and whilst we were busy socialising and having photos, I feel it made our wedding ours and was an important tribute.

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The Wedding Evening

It was a quiet evening – a time to relax, snack on our M&S picnic in the amazing corner bath – and generally chat about the day, letting ourselves straighten out to normal and get used to the idea of being married!

The Victorian Suite at Fyfield Manor was beautiful. The carpets were soft and white, and we were given slippers to wear indoors! It was also immaculate, but by the time we left little flakes of confetti had managed to get all over the place – oops! At least it was real petal…

After dinner and the bath, I made myself a cup of tea and we sprawled on the bed going through our cards and the guest book. This was really touching, and completely made the day. Some of the messages were funny, others were sweet, and one of them made me cry (only a tiny bit!) for the first time that day! The book got a bit battered over the honeymoon, but it was still worth it for the experience on our wedding night and a wonderful finish to our wedding day!


The Wedding Day

And so the day of the wedding arrived.

I’ve already said a lot about our plans, but here are some extra details the day itself. Often unplanned details…

We had ordered breakfast to our room the night before, so that we could have a delicious feast and soon-to-be husband and wife in our dressing gowns, rather than dressing, dining with others, then returning to our room to change! …Perhaps it works for afternoon weddings, but for a morning wedding, it just seems silly! We had toast and jams, poached eggs, fruit, and a small pile of pastries which we devoured. It was an impressive breakfast!

Then we started getting ready. I had washed my hair the night before after swimming, but Guy showered and used Vanilla Vanilla body wash (as he doesn’t wear scent. I wore my usual scent, CK’s ‘Eternity Moment’, because I thought it was important to wear my signiature smell on my wedding day!).

He also made sure to give himself a good, close shave. This was something he had put a lot of thought into, because he wanted his face to be perfectly smooth. He’d picked up some tips for following the grain of the hairs on Groom Power (which also warned him not to leave any polish on his shoes before he danced with a woman in a white dress!). So, a few pratices, a nice new razor, and a little bit of advice from – stranegly enough – Neil Gaiman‘s blog, worked the trick (for those of you who are curious, I suggest you hunt out the reference yourself!).

First, Karina, our photographer, turned up, and took some artistic pictures of our wedding outfits before we put them on.

And soon after my mum turned up – with bubbly and cassis – and began attacking my hair whilst I was still doing my makeup.

Then my uncle turned up – and started photographing us!

And then Caz turned up for Guy! She whisked him away for his steadying pint, and he went outside before putting on his jacket and waistcoat so that I wouldn’t see him all prettied up. By this point, I was still in my dressing gown.

Finally James turned up. My mum whisked off back to her room, and he had to zip me up! And then he left with our case to join the taxi group up to the Town Hall and I went back to lure out my mother.

Walking through the hotel, an elderly couple crossed our path and realised that I was a bride, despite the blue dress. They wished us the best of luck (then said we shouldn’t need it) and we continued on our way, weaving crazily through a very complicated hotel layout until we found ourselves in the foyer. Our rickshaw was early and already waiting!

We arrived at the Town Hall in good time and picked up our flowers. Actually my mum got given Guy’s buttonhole, and my granddad didn’t get one so they swapped halfway through the reception! The ushers were a bit rushed off their feet – but you wouldn’t know it seeing the ceremony room!

Guy was, of course, in the ceremony room by then, and I had to go to see the registrars. Several people saw me on the way in and gave me the nod – as if it were a bit cheeky for them to notice the bride before the ceremony. Brian was striding backwards and forwards across the stairwell rehearsing his reading.

I went in to see the registrars with my mum and best man, but both quickly vanished to other tasks. I think my mum had a mini meltdown, but she was back to escort me down the aisle in no time. The chat with the registrars was very straightforward and quick, so mostly I just sat there waiting. They asked me to confirm some basic details and then asked what I was going to write when I signed my name. I was a bit confused and tried to describe my signiature…! It turned out they just wanted to check that I knew to sign my maiden name.

I’ve already covered the ceremony, so I’ll skip to after it finished.

Guy and I stood outside (me shaking) hugging people and shaking hands as they all filed out. It was great to talk to everyone and be able to look them in the eye without freaking out this time! Somewhere about now, I was told that my necklace catch had slipped round to the front (I adjusted it) and that the lemon layer of the cake was collapsing (I asked them to remove the top layers and leavethe rest out for us to cut – you’re supposed to cut the bottom layer anyway!). So much for big disasters!

Everyone assembled on the steps and we came out and got bombarded with confetti. A lot of the boys were really keen to mob Guy!

Then we took the rickshaws over to Somerville for photographs and drinks! We got cheered by a group on the way there and another on the return, not to mention the people standing staring at the town hall. It felt bizarre, like we were on stage or something – and the smart clothes we were wearing seemed out of place in the middle of a busy city filled with ordinarily clad strangers!

The drinks reception steadied me a bit. And we also got a nice surprise – a flypast! It was a lucky coincidence, as we were only outside for a couple of hours, but it came directly overhead and people took photographs!

‘Our’ flypast:

Before we left Somerville, Guy and I shared our first moment alone together as husband and wife! But if you think it was a romantic one, you will be amused… We were due to get the last rickshaw out, so we lingered in the quad as everyone was going. Then we had an idea – we would be busy at the reception and may not get chance to pop to the loo! So we scurried into the Somerville toilets whilst we had the chance, meeting again between the men’s and ladies and then wandering out through the college together (luckily my dress did not require assistance: I only buy clothes I could climb a tree in). Yes, that was our first time alone together as marrieds!

Back at the reception, James announced us in his loud teacher voice, and we all happily tucked into our starters before the speeches (by then it was about 2.30, not that I was wearing my watch). My granddad did a nice speech, welcoming everybody to the event and then beginning, “I first met Rowena when she was 1 day old…” and including a story about me as a baby getting very excited about a gang of rough-looking hairy bikers. He managed to knock over some wine and call Guy ‘Clive’ once, but nobody minded!

Caz did a great best woman’s speech. She didn’t actually tell any embarrassing stories about Guy, but kept hinting that she was going to! Afterwards, she was definitely relieved that the speechmaking was over and she could enjoy her food.

Guy’s speech was a mishmash of parts of the proposal and relationship stories, with a few references in it just for me. He spent the entire speech bending over his chair and squeezing the back of it with his hands – I think he was nervous!

Then I said a couple of words and Guy and I did the thank yous together.

We actually called the caterers out to thank them, which apparently was appreciated and few people do – although they did point out to us that we hadn’t eaten most ofthe food yet, so our thank yous were a little bit premature!

Here are Guy’s parents’ faces after he revealed that I had named them the “sanest people” helping us with the wedding!

James didn’t make an official speech, but introduced them and recorded them on a little dictaphone I gave him. However, at the end of the reception, he decided to make an impromptu speech about how proud he was and how difficult he thought I would be to match, yet how perfect Guy was for me…

The reception food was amazing. I made sure to ‘share’ some of my vegetarian with Guy, but I was still massive when we finished. The caterers asked me if I would like a bit of all four layers of cake – yes please! – and the same for my “new husband” – so dessert wasn’t exactly dainty either. And a large slab of the rum cake went into our bag for the honeymoon along with the bag of cards the ushers brought us, the guest book and Cathy’s cork.

The Jaguar Royale was a little late, but it was worth it to see it sweep up and turn around in the road (cue more staring from strangers!). I put on my going away jacket and we jumped in (my mum was so enthusiastic about hugging us that she nearly came too!).

Then we waved our goodbyes and drove out of Oxford with the evening air rushing past us. We didn’t notice that we’d never had seat belts on until hours later!


Old, New, Borrowed, Blue

Throughout the wedding, Guy and I were picking and choosing our traditions – holding onto sweet ones and throwing out ones we disagreed with or just thought were too much trouble and effort. But one tradition we did like was the old good luck rhyme,

Something Old,
Something New,
Something Borrowed,
Something Blue

We thought it would be fun to both (because, hey, why should it be just the bride?) make sure we had something old, new, borrowed and blue about our persons on our wedding day. Just as a little challenge.

With our colour theme, new and blue were not going to be problems. My dress was blue, his tie and waistcoat and pocket square, our flowers. New, too, was pretty much everything we were wearing, and whilst we had a few older things, we wanted old to mean really old.

So I decided I was going to wear my great grandmother’s engagement ring, which had been passed down from her to my aunt to me. It was gold and thus didn’t go with any of my other jewellery, but I wasn’t wearing it because it matched!

Guy’s something old wasn’t quite so old – but they were still pretty old: the cufflinks he wore were his christening cufflinks.

Borrowed was a bit trickier. Guy got a bit of a hands up on this, because his best woman, Caz, gave him a hip flask for the day containing Cuban Havana rum (the rum did not get returned to her!). I ended up borrowing hair pins and clips from my mum, which she used to secure the lace to my hair and I used to “bustle” my dress during the dancing (i.e. pin up the hem). When I tried to give them back, she said I could keep them – but I refused, on the grounds that they had to be borrowed!

We didn’t ask for photographs of any of our “something old/borrowed” things, so spotting them in pictures is a bit of a guessing game. With that in mind, I’ve put together some pictures – can you spot the “something” things in the below images?

[Answers follow]

1. https://i2.wp.com/i1226.photobucket.com/albums/ee408/RowenaFW/Cufflink.jpg

2. https://i1.wp.com/i1226.photobucket.com/albums/ee408/RowenaFW/Ring.jpg

3. https://i2.wp.com/i1226.photobucket.com/albums/ee408/RowenaFW/Hairslides.jpg

4. https://i2.wp.com/i1226.photobucket.com/albums/ee408/RowenaFW/Hairclips.jpg

5. https://i0.wp.com/i1226.photobucket.com/albums/ee408/RowenaFW/Flask.jpg

ANSWERS

1. https://i2.wp.com/i1226.photobucket.com/albums/ee408/RowenaFW/Cufflink_shown.jpg

You can just see Guy’s cufflinks (well, one of) in this picture.

2. https://i2.wp.com/i1226.photobucket.com/albums/ee408/RowenaFW/Ring_shown.jpg

I wore my great grandmother’s ring on my right hand ring finger. It fits perfectly.

3. https://i2.wp.com/i1226.photobucket.com/albums/ee408/RowenaFW/Hairslides_shown.jpg

In this picture you can see the hair pins holding in the lace – and you can also see the ring again.

4. https://i2.wp.com/i1226.photobucket.com/albums/ee408/RowenaFW/Hairclips_shown.jpg

This picture shows the hair clips “bustling” my dress as we dance. You can’t quite see the hair pins or cufflinks!

5. https://i0.wp.com/i1226.photobucket.com/albums/ee408/RowenaFW/Flask_shown.jpg

In this picture you can’t actually see anything! However, a sort-of lump in Guy’s breast pocket marks the place where the hip flask rested. It didn’t actually come out during the wedding because we were busy enough with the drinks we had ordered.


Shoes and Handbag Headaches

So, I mentioned that I hate shopping? Well, this all centres around my very specific hatred of shoe shopping. Shopping, shoes, and shoe shopping are a great love of many women, women who do not feel inhibited if they can’t climb trees, who can make a pair of shoes last longer than a year and who are prepared to wear something that causes them pain. I am not one of these women. Even so, my relationship with shoes would have been greatly simplified if I were able, as I am with clothes, to walk into a shop, pick something in my size, try it on to decide it suits me and walk out the shop again carrying it (after paying, of course). Or even order something online – what a fantasy that would be! But no. I have wide feet. Buy boys’ shoes in my size, and they fit. Buy girls’ shoes in my size, and they won’t – or almost always won’t. And so I have many many childhood memories of my mother dragging me relentlessly round shops to try on more and more shoes which hurt my feet in the hopes of being able to go home at the end of the day with something that fitted me. I hated it – any child would hate it! It wasn’t as though I ever got much of a choice in style, colour, et cetera, because there would probably be only one pair of shoes in the shop that were okay.

I browsed wedding shoes online. I looked at blue. I tried one expensive pair on in a shop. Then my mum said she wanted me to have ivory. Ivory?!? Okay. Fine. Ivory shoes.

White wedding dresses were banned, but white shoes weren’t out of the question, and they might be easier to find than royal blue. If my mum felt I would be appropriately bridal with ivory shoes, I would get ivory. I normally wear 3 inch heels, so I set the range at 2.5 to 4 inches – something I could walk in and which would work with the length of the dress. I also didn’t want something slip on. It needed straps of some description to keep it on my foot when I was dancing, and for me to feel confident that it would stay on. So ivory, 2.5-4 inch heeled strapped shoes that fit me.

It took MONTHS.

It actually isn’t as hard to find formal shoes to fit me as it is other shoes – boots, for example, because they’re so open at the top, which allows more flexibility. Also, whilst I wear size 6, a 6 is a bit big for me and allows the extra breadth, so in heels I can wear my foot only as far as it slides into the toe.

It still took months.

I went shopping with my mum. I went round Oxford and Sheffield high street shoe shops, designer shops and department stores. I looked up places online. My aunt sent my details of wedding warehouses. I wished we’d kept to black and blue! And this wasn’t something Guy had to share with me (even though he is quite easy to shoe) – he already had his shiny black formal shoes, and all he had to do was polish and shine them!

I began to feel that I would never get the shoes sorted, and by this time I had a shoe headache. I had seen hundreds of shoes and pictures of shoes. To give you an idea what this feels like, here is what happens when I type “ivory satin strappy heels” into google. Now, I want you to analyse every shoe, decide whether it is appropriate for my requirements (ivory, 2.5-4 inch heeled strapped shoes in a wide size 6) and rate it compared with all the other shoes, by preference.

I will leave off after 7 pages, as I don’t wish to be too cruel, and this is only a taster. But I hope you get the message now.

The good news is that I did eventually get shoes. I went round all the wedding shops in Sheffield with a guy friend of mine (men are great to take shopping – they hate it too and will do anything to get you out of the shop faster – just what I need!) and ended up in Pronuptia, where I tried on all the dresses. They took us upstairs to their shoe rack, which included several sale items. I grabbed all the size 6s on the sale line and put them on my feet. One pair had a buckle across the top and I needed one hole more width to fit – I could do that, surely? Then I found another pair that fitted. The strap was round the ankle, which I thought might make dancing a bit tricky (as your ankle gets fatter when you bend it), but I could wear them in.

I was shopping with a bloke, so no umming and ahhing. I bought the second pair of shoes.

I had shoes! HURRAH!

In the end, I wore them in so much that they weren’t especially clean and shiny and perfect on the day (experimenting with the strap was vital, trying them on with the dress was important, and wearing them to dancing for the last few weeks before the wedding (not on the street, changing when I got there) a sound plan). I was quite happy with this, and as you can see from the photo it wasn’t that obvious, even to someone who wanted to point a lens at my feet.

But now I would have to move on to handbags.

I’m aware some brides don’t do handbags, but there were things I wanted to keep hold of for the reception, whether it was bits of makeup, speech notes or my watch (I feel bereft without my watch, but I also felt it wasn’t my responsibility to schedule and I should put it aside and let go for a few hours). So I needed a handbag. But only a tiny one, as all my packing is minimalist.

After browsing handbags for a while, I quickly realised that HANDBAGS ARE UNREASONABLY EXPENSIVE. I wanted something ivory I could pay a fiver or so for. I did not want a luxury version of the baby-bearing handbag from the Importance of Being Earnest, nor was a strapless clutch bag I’d have to have in my paws all the time appropriate. Charity shops didn’t do much in the way of ivory and handbags are UGLY. I was not doing well, and I was developing a handbag headache, which is much, much worse than a shoe headache and much more easily brought about. On a few occasions I had to lie down.

One thing I did like, but which was £17 and thus seemed unreasonable, was this handbag.

I don’t like pearl beads, but other than that it’s lovely. It has shape.

And so, in desperation of a repeat of the shoe fiasco and sick of handbag headaches, I decided to make my own handbag, with this as the model. I bought some ivory satin material to make it and cover our guest book, and then moosed about for something to give it a hard inner structure – something like cardboard perhaps. I opened our wrapping paper/gift bag drawer and had a rummage. I turned out several of those folded paper bags, including a very small H Samuel one. We’d only been there twice – to get my engagement ring and necklace. So this bag was a little bit special.

In a few hours I transformed it into a mini handbag, covering the burgundy bag with white paper, then satin. I made some pretty bits on the outside (which dropped off on the table at the wedding breakfast, got stuck back on and dropped off again in our honeymoon bag) with organza flowers, beads, blue ribbon and satin, and used some of our thick blue ribbon to make a strap. The strap ended up being quite lovely, because the bag just rested on my arm at the elbow and seemed to have no weight to it at all!

Excellent! Sorted! And now I was free to return to planning the things I was really interested in…


Photographs

We always knew who our photographer would be. Not long after we’d got together, Guy had been to his first wedding, that of a couple of friends. And their photographer had been very known to him – none other than his “wifey”.

Karina is a semi-professional photographer; recently she completed a 365 day challenge, to take, edit and upload an interesting picture every day for a year. I really like her style because the art is in the picture that has been taken, the way it’s framed and the moment she has captured: not in extreme lighting conditions, set-up poses or discolourations – I suppose I see these kinds of photography art as “dishonest”. I want our pictures to show, to their best, the things that were actually there as they naturally were. I don’t want a faux personality represented by twee little cutesy poses, or a semantic field of import introduced through fading at the edges of the picture or that bloody vintage summer garden theme photography style, where everything is slightly faded and yellowish, as though I am squinting at the picture through a cloud of mustard gas.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I do like some experimentation. And to prove it, here are a bunch of “experimental” photographs which I do like.

Colour selectivity. I unashamedly love this, but of course, with things in colour scheme, it works really well to pick out the details. This picture is printed pretty big in our album.

Sepia. Turns out I don’t like black and white, but sepia is lovely, and Guy agrees. For me, black and white makes the freckles seem darker and thus me look blotchy, but sepia has a softer effect (and Karina knows this from trial images she sent us). Guy also got us a lovely sepia picture of our cat to hang above her dinner bowl. This picture is also big in the album, but mostly because it’s so funny, not because of the sepia. The very silly gentleman pictured above is Guy’s father, and the amused comrade Guy’s mother.

A photograph within a photograph. This is one of several Karina took of the kind, but this one is the best. We really like the idea, but only want to include one in the album because too much is too much.

This is obviously posed – but when we had trial pictures with Karina we explored potential poses and decided as a rule, we didn’t like, but there were a couple of poses we did want because they were “us” – this being one of them.

My uncle took lots of pictures of this kind too. It’s the figurehead on the car, if you’re unsure. Of course, I want lots of photographs of details, but it would never have occurred to me to take photographs of details on a car when you’re not at a car museum or showhouse. However, I like it for the picture’s own sake, and we’re having one in the album.

Again, posed, and probably not going in the album, but it’s not like the headless images I have seen and disliked – because of the bag. A close up of my bag or of Guy’s hands would probably have worked better for me, but I see this picture as putting together the two elements. There are, of course, plenty of close ups of part of my dress.

As a rule, I don’t like “that picture where everyone sticks their shoe in”. I don’t get it. I don’t even like shoes and I don’t know why you’d want pictures of people’s feet rather than, say, their hands or something. I mean hands say something about you; feet say something about your shopping. But I do like this one shoe picture that Karina took at our wedding (though not enough to put it in our album) – for a very particular reason.

When we had planned to have Karina doing the photographs, Guy and I looked through all the pictures she took at the last wedding – several times. At the wedding, the bride did like shoes, and wanted “that shoe picture” with her preparation photos, which obviously ended up as a few images. So I turned throuh a few sets of gracefully poised shoe pictures and rather commended her choice. So I remembered them.

Well, guess what shoes she wore to our wedding?

And I’m so pleased, not only that she found a place to wear them again, but that I noticed!

Of course, if you’re asking a friend to take the snaps, there’s a lot more to consider than simply whether you like their style, as I’ve discussed previously in my blog. However, the mark of a good photographer is someone who discusses this with you in the first place. Karina discussed our venues with us, and the lighting conditions. Luckily, my obsession with optimising natural lighting conditions in the Town Hall was exactly what she was hoping for.

In order to get an idea what photos we wanted, she encouraged us to look through her website and then gave us a photo trial at Somerville. She experimented with some different styles and then put up the pictures so that we could give her feedback. I think this was really helpful for confidence on the day.

To make everything as straightforward as possible, Guy emailed Karina a ‘Who’s Who’ with pictures of members of our family and the wedding party. I recommend doing this as it makes things so much easier for them, and I have heard horror stories about albums being received from very professional photographers filled with pictures of +1s with key family members missing entirely. We also gave her the list of groups we’d provided the ushers with, although we made it clear that that was just a guideline, or ideas, not a regimented programme!

We had a look at the kind of photography out there and decided that we didn’t want “getting ready” pictures, or pictures of shoes or anything, though we did have pictures of the dress and suit hanging in the bed frame. However, in the end, my uncle turned up with his camera whilst I was getting ready and took those pictures anyway! But, because we didn’t have them officially done, I didn’t feel obliged to like them (I look pretty freakish with half my makeup on and half not) and was quite happy choosing one as a “representative” of that time to put in the album.

Kevin actually took about as many photographs as Karina, in all, and I felt they complemented each other well, catching moments from different angles or different moments (for example, my uncle didn’t take photographs during the ceremony, but he took the morning pictures and lots of the rickshaws). I also really liked his version of the picture of my hat in the morning.

This is my uncle, with my aunt, Gill.


Structure and Timings

Circumstances thus prevailed that in the last summer of Oxford, the opportunity arose for the best kind of wedding research – another wedding! We were quite excited to go along, especially since we’d each only been to one wedding before, and I made sure to note all the little details and especially the pattern of the day, since Guy and I had really very little idea of the structure of a wedding.

It was a great day. One thing we did note, however, was the importance of organisation. The ushers need to know exactly what they’re doing and how the day will pan out so that they can provide support to you and your guests throughout it. What is more, buying matching ties/buttonholes/other items for the ushers is very important because it allows guests to identify them to ask questions.

I am a very organised person, and I was determined that our wedding day would live up to my high expectations. So we decided to tackle the issue with military organisation.

In their wedding album, Guy’s parents have a copy of the Op Order his dad wrote for his ushers and best man team (all friends from the army). We had absolutely loved this, and so decided to have some fun too. Each of the ushers and our best man and woman were given an instructions pack, indicating their roles and responsibilities chronologically throughout the day as gauged in mock-military tone. The pack included

– Step by step instructions for the day with initials/job roles to indicate who did what
– A contacts sheet, which contained the numbers for each other (with their names and roles) and of important contacts on the day: the florist, the Town Hall, Somerville, the rickshaws, the car hire company and the caterers.
– A list of the formal photographs we wanted with the groups arranged in a sensible order (Guy thought stripping people away would be easier than adding them in) for people to be gathered (do note to define terms though: we used “wedding party” to mean something similar to “bridal party” (i.e. all the ushers and best people) and some thought we meant everybody – every single guest. Oops).
– A quick guide to setting up the cake stand for Cecily (pretty simple, but you never know).

The pack contents were printed nicely on our wedding paper and handed out in plastic wallets (in case it rained) with the owner’s name on it (to avoid fights).

Not everything was done military style though! We produced non-military Orders of Celebration (neither of us liked the term ‘Order of Day’ – I thought it sounded German and Guy thought it sounded military) outlining the breakdown of the ceremony and then the various other components of the day so that the guests would have a clue what was happening and when. We printed enough for just over one between two and I think they were mostly snaffled as keepsakes.

And now I come to the other important thing we had learnt about weddings – don’t abandon your guests!

A lot of people are not familiar with the wedding location, so unless you have a church literally across the road from your reception venue, they will often need a bit of help. We did provide a map in the invitations, but felt it was important to go that bit further. If the venues had been far apart and parking was available, we might have organised car pooling, but as it was, Somerville is only a 15 minute walk from the Town Hall – in a dead straight line. So instead we arranged for ushers to guide the walkers and provided transport for a few people, with priority to ourselves, people we needed and elderly relatives.

And really, it’s a bit silly to hire pretty vintage cars for a 15 minute walk – they can get very expensive!

So we hired rickshaws.

The parasol you see here only got put up for the rickshaw rides, but I’m so glad I bought it (even hunting high and low for the off-white my mum insisted upon to match my dress and hat – which are different off whites from each other anyway). As we moved through town I had this big white orb around me and people recognised that we were a wedding party and cheered! It was lovely!

Some of the best rickshaw pictures were taken by my uncle Kevin, for our photographer was needed at Somerville to start taking the formal shots and spent much of the time we spent in a rickshaw in one herself. Kevin seems to have been very excited about the rickshaws and I have chains of second by second shots of them on their way.

We also used a rickshaw to transport my mum and me to the ceremony in the morning. I get carsick and hated the idea of getting into a taxi with a roof when I was nervous, so this was an extremely fun alternative!

The rickshaws were supplied by oxoncarts. Initially we had a lot of trouble getting hold of them (the only way to get an intial response is to leave an answer machine message – something neither of us like to do!), so I was very nervous about them being unprofessional and not turning up on time, especially for the morning journey. However, they were absolutely fine and in very good time on both occasions; we ended up leaving for the Town Hall a bit early because he was there waiting and I had to manoeuvre my mother away from another coffee (which would have got left or made us late)!