Category Archives: Hair

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]








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


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


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


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


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.

Hair Again

I’ve already mentioned my hair plan, but of course, nothing goes quite according to plan. And less than two weeks before the wedding, Hilary, who was going to help with my hair, had to drop out.

Only a week or so before, after several years in a nursing home, Hilary’s mother died. Whilst it was not unexpected, it was still a shock, and after some days of grieving my mum had a chat with her, and Hilary admitted that she wasn’t up to the wedding.

She sent me a bottle of bubbly and a lovely card via my mum and was really quite upset – she had been looking forward to it. And after the wedding, when I sent her a thank you for her help and the presents, I also included a photo of the day, as a little consolation for not being there.

And as for hair, my mum and I were left to our own devices.

And no, neither of us are very good with hair!

As a child, my mum always put my hair up in exactly the same way. She would take a strand from the front on each side and attach them together at the back with a bobble. Basically like this, but not with plaits:

I used to think she was just obsessed with this hairstyle, but I also remember learning to plait from friends at school, before finding out that my mum could plait and getting her to show me how on my rocking horse’s tail. So my mum doesn’t do hair.

Luckily, we had one trick under our belts: the hat my mother had bought for me on a whim whilst we were in Debenhams trying to find wedding shoes, look at dress shapes, or do some other wedding-related shopping that we were avoiding.

The great thing about hats, you see, is that they cover hair. I actually spent a lot of the day wearing it, and I’m glad, as I much prefer the hat pictures of me to the non-hat pictures. My hair ended up curly, as I had wanted, but completely rock encrusted, because I showed my mum how to use hairspray and she went a bit mental. I’m not sure she understood how it worked. I actually had to take it away from her.

Half done hair

And it wasn’t as though the real thing was out of the blue – with my PhD involving collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University, I had visited my mum a few times, and we’d had a few tries. But nothing quite beats the nerves on the day (or rivals the effects of a large glass of fizzy wine with Cassis).

How glad I was to have planned to have a relaxing bath together over bubbly and our evening picnic – my hair needed a good, long soak!

Hair from the back

Starting to fall out, and the lace in my hair.

The Warm Up

Later reading on websites and forums told me I should have launched enthusiastically into the planning right away – but I did not. Why was that?

…I suppose the chief reason was that I had not expected the proposal – and I certainly hadn’t been waiting for it. Marriage, let alone weddings, couldn’t’ve been further from my mind. So the first thing we had to do once we were engaged was get used to the idea: get used to the exciting, tumultuous feeling of knowing we were going to marry each other, knowing we would become husband and wife and spend the rest of our lives in each others’ arms… Incredible!

Of course, other people asked about the wedding. There would have to be a wedding, of course: that was how people got married, and it never occurred to either of us not to get married surrounded by our loved ones. Very well, there would be a wedding. When?

Now, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge may have been able to pull off a wedding in 5 months (or even Guy’s parents, 30 years ago), but we didn’t have the resources, and I still had a degree to finish. So we decided to wait until the spring/summer after next (the year 2012), and settled on May, the month of the honeymoon of our relationship, the month of punting, Pimms and revision on Somerville quad – the month where the Oxford year ended and the celebrations of freedom and progress were underway. Besides, the last two Mays had had beautiful weather, gloriously hot and sunny.

So we had 18 months to go before the wedding, and that left plenty of time to enjoy ourselves. We didn’t need to start planning the wedding until a year before, I decided; even the guidelines in various wedding-related media didn’t think so. So we happily put the wedding aside and got on with affianced life for a while.

It started slowly. Around March 2011 the degree was winding down, and I had started my thesis writing. My mind began to wonder to my next project – the wedding. My preliminary thoughts were not about the big things, the date or the venue or what I would be wearing, but about the niggling concerns I had about not really being bride material. I bite my nails, climb and cook and lab my hands to shreds and, quite frankly, knew nothing about hair and makeup. And yet I was supposed to be beautiful, bridal and the centre of attention. Heavens!

I tried to curl my hair using some heated curlers my grandma gave me, only for the curls to fall out as I went along. Undeterred I read tips and watched demonstrations, only to have them fall out again. I bought soft rollers and did this:

But I was clearly in need of hair help… My mum’s friend Hilary had a go twisting bits of hair and clipping it, and did this:

And my mum’s hairdresser had a go with straighteners and did this:

And then my mum had a go:

I also started trying to stop biting my nails and bought a metal nail file. It was clearly having some effect because a couple of months later, visiting my mum, she noticed, and told me how she had been going to “have a chat with me about that”!

Food was also on my mind. I decided I wanted to have a blackcurrant sorbet as a palette cleanser between courses: or even better, a cassis sorbet! Blackcurrant sorbet had been a speciality of Somerville’s, as well as many blackcurrant desserts, and I wanted to recreate Formal Hall. Cake came to mind too, and I trawled the internet for interesting cake recipes, ran trials, and did my best to make Guy fat. I finally emailed the St Hugh’s chef to ask for his delicious recipe for a cheese pate I’d had at formal there three years ago.

Around this time, a friend of Guy’s who had married last summer linked me to ‘the forum’ – she had gone there for inspiration only, but I joined, and soon began to use it for chatting, socialising and planning. I set up a planning thread and started this blog on wordpress.

The planning had begun.


I went up to see my mum, and whilst I was there popped into our local hair salon where she was having hers cut; we asked them to squeeze me in, and I have been totally de-split-ended, at a bargain price. I chatted to her about my “wedding hair” and she decided to have a play with straighteners. My mum had a look at what she was doing and we had a go at replicating it ourselves the next day. Here are the results!

Because I’m Still Obsessed with Eyebrows

Here is an article on eyebrows. It’s only brief. I’m sure there are better out there.

Personally I like Brooke Sheilds’ brows. If they’re scary, I like scary.


No. They’re wrong. The latter is definitely the scary one!

The Lion Synthesis

My hair really hates being curled. It fights back.

My mum had a go with some straighteners recently, but since then she updated to “better” straighteners which no longer curl my hair. After our friend Hilary had a go with several kinds of curlers and straighteners, she decided the best way to proceed was to coat my lucious locks in shitloads of holding mousse and hairspray, and twist them into tiny little knots.

After half an hour, the curls which came out were trying to drop (but we’ll do them the night before the on the wedding day), but I looked like a lion, RAR!

So now we have a plan.