Category Archives: DIY

1000 Cranes

Ancient Japanese legend holds that folding 1000 origami cranes will bless the craftsman with any wish and that the 1000 cranes, if given as a gift, will bring the recipient good luck. As such, they are traditional wedding gifts and decorative emblems.

So now can you guess what is going to happen?

Yes. I bought 15 x 15 cm sheets of royal blue, sky blue and grey origami paper, and Guy painstakingly cut each sheet into nine 5 x 5cm sheets from which we folded over 1000 origami cranes.

I’ve never been a fan of table crystals. In fact, before I got my engagement ring, I never found myself attracted to the sparkly sparkly, and even now I like it strictly in moderation. But I wanted something to scatter across the tables, and since no confetti was to be thrown inside the venue, I didn’t think they’d be that impressed with it strewn all over the table tops.

The idea of 1000 origami cranes came to me when I was rummaging for “blue things” through my old room. They weren’t blue, they were multi-coloured (but you’re supposed to make your own anyway, aren’t you? And it was on this occasion that I turned up the blue stones for the flower vases) – and had come as packaging round an ebay item a friend had bought many years ago.

I didn’t know how to fold origami cranes, but I did not let that deter me.

I knew people who did.

One of the most beautiful things about having the cranes at our wedding was that they weren’t just made by me, or by us, but by a huge collection of our friends. To James (my best man) and David (one of our readers), who are keen on origami, I sent 200-250 little pieces of paper for crane-folding. Kay (whom I will mention later) kept inviting herself round “to make more cranes” – and bringing friends with her. We folded cranes at our housewarming party; we folded cranes on the train; we even produced a crane assembly line. Iris tried to join in with the cranes, and continued to try to jump in the box full of them, or tear open it’s sides (naughty Iris!).

It was truly a marathon of cranes.

My mum, on the phone, thought I was talking about folding paper cranes.

But no, not quite.


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)!

The Proposal

Marriage had never been something I aimed for or aspired to – I always imaged I’d get engaged sitting on the sofa with my long-term partner and father of my children, after a long, sensible conversation weighing up the pros and cons. Probably when about 40 years old (I’m 23). I had never imagined getting married before having children, and I had certainly never imagined a whirlwind romance.

I was to be surprised.

…And so was he!

Our first date had been a pub lunch at the Gardener’s Arms – and there were many more to follow. Both of us are very fond of good food and drink, and I am an enthusiastic cook: cooking is my way of winding down.

I had already introduced Guy (very stickily) to my homemade chocolate truffles, and now I promised to make him some of my amazing chocolate dipping sauce. We bought some strawberries and profiteroles to dip, and some cheesy crackers (not to dip!); Guy picked up a bottle of Cava; we took a towel – and went for a picnic in the University Parks.

We settled in a quiet spot, hidden by the trees, and lounged upon our towel, full of food and bubbly. It was unreasonably warm and light: a lazy, idyllic day. Guy sat on his knees, and pulled me into his arms. He told me once again that he loved me, tried to express why, how much, how I was every part of his future.

And then he said –

“In fact, will you marry me?”

I sat up. I said,

“Are you serious?”

“Yes,” he said, “I -”

I don’t think either of us remember what he said next: it was babble; he was trying to justify himself and at the same time come to grips with [i]what he had just said[/i], realising that he had meant it.

And a moment later, I knew that I was serious too – I interrupted him: “Yes!” I breathed.

BAM. We are now engaged!

Over the next few days I thought about it a lot, and gradually came to terms with what had happened. I was terrified that I would change my mind, and realise I had moved with the feelings of the moment, but the opposite occurred: the more I thought about it, the more right it felt, the more everything in my life fell into place.

I was going to marry Guy Fletcher-Wood.

Finishing Touches

My last resort at girly bits:

I’ve never worn so much make up before in my life! Although… there are lots of things, but I will only be using a little of each.

I laid them out in order of use, so, from left to right:

1. Primer (in a little lip salve tin)
2. Lightener for round my eyes, nose, lips, et cetera
3. Powder, just to lightly dust my face (I do not want to end up looking like a vampire)
4. Blusher and eyeshadow, with lots of brushes
5. Lipliner and sharpener
6. Lipfinity lasting lip stuff and gloss coating
7. Eyeliners (I have a brown waterproof one and a black liquid one just to add the smallest touch of extra dimension but not darken my eyes too much)
8. Waterproof mascara (I also have a little extra brush, but since I took it from another mascara bottle and had to clean it first, it was drying when this picture was taken)
9. Lip gloss

Some of these will be sneaked into my little bag for touch ups during the day. Mostly lip stuff, I am sure. All that eating and drinking I was planning…


In terms of weddingy bits, the bank holiday helped and my lab-organised trip to Sheffield me out. I now have all our wedding balloons for the balloon trees. Hurray!

You may remember the story from our last attempt to buy balloons – then again, you may not. The gist of it was that the boy in Card Factory was so thick that he couldn’t tell us the shelf life of an uninflated balloon, possibly because he had never himself bought a balloon and then not inflated it immediately, and thus it had never occurred to him that a busy person might want to do this. We did attempt explanation multiple times.

The end result was, we didn’t buy the balloons.

So I went to Card Factory in Sheffield.

I didn’t exactly go to it. I was walking home to see my mum and suddenly went “THIS IS THE SAME SHOP” ran inside and located the balloon rack (mercifully, they are usually close to the door: I dislike going inside card shops almost as much as I dislike going inside fragrant shops like Lush: they all give me a headache). They only had 3 packets of blue balloons (we need 12 of each, and coming in packs of 6, we bought 3 packs of each, just in case one of our ushers has sharp fingernails) – so I felt very smug.

Now they’re all ready to go into the ceremony set up pack and transform into pretty balloon trees. Or so we hope!

Tall Orders

So… here are my pretty orders.

Cat Amongst the Cranes

Yesterday we started sorting out our cranes and putting together table “packs” so make our wonderful caterer‘s life as easy as possible.

Iris wanted to play too.

To wrap up the cranes in safe little containers, we resorted to an old favourite – beer cans. The top cut off, the cans cleaned and dried, we decorated them by wrappin them in blue paper, making cardboard lids secured with ribbon and sellotape, and attaching labels, just because.

These were put into plastic bags with the menus, place names and other table bits.