Category Archives: Jewellery

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.


After long, frustrated, fruitless attempts to find earrings that matched my ring and were dangly, I bought a pair of studs and had them converted into dangly earrings. We were in Birmingham. We could walk to the jewellery quarter, and I found Gavin Mack through (where our budget calculator and guest list were located), met him and thought he was great.

The necklace to go with the earrings was bought early on from H Samuels, where my engagement ring came from originally. I spent most of the ceremony with the catch slid round to the front!

We also talked to Gavin about our wedding rings. We had decided to get 9ct white gold plain bands – Guy wasn’t used to jewellery and didn’t want anything fussy – as simple as possible was his requirement; I had always imagined wedding bands to be completely plain, and already had a pretty sparkly engagement ring that I wanted to set off well, so this suited me. It also seemed important to us to get similar bands, just to add to their symbolism of unity. Of course, this is a very personal thing, but we both felt the same about it, so it was a sealed deal.

At the same time as wanting something plain, we wanted something a bit different. This sounds contrary, but it isn’t when plains means “without adornment”: afterall, you can have different shaped plain rings, even plain rings shaped around an engagement band! And you can have a plain ring with a small mark on it, perhaps secretly on the inside where it rests against your finger…

A couple of “different” ideas we flirted with included coastline rings (very expensive, though, and we didn’t have a ‘special’ coastline, so the novelty was valueless)

and fingerprint rings.

I’ve also found out about heartbeat rings, but still like the other two better.

We also toyed with the idea of an engraving, though many of those we looked at seemed brief and impersonal; somehow, I didn’t want a date on our love.

Rupert the cat used to wear a name tag before he started getting his collar stuck on things, and my mum had had it hand engraved “Rupert” on one side and our telephone number on the other; she still kept the tag. And that had been special partly because it was our cat, and partly because it was something we had had made locally and by hand for him. So we thought about hand engraving on the inside. And Gavin Mack worked with the only hand engraver in Birmingham! …But what message could be truly personal?

Of course, it came to us in a flash – it wasn’t the message that need be unique and personal, it could be the script.

I sneakily mentioned Epidict earlier in the story, the language which I created and taught Guy a little of. It also has it’s own alphabet, grammar and, most importantly, characters. Nobody else can read it, but we can translate into it.

So our rings were engraved in Epidict.

We were as impressed with the engraving as the earrings: the script was so fluidly engraved that we could hardly believe the engraver was not fully cognizant of the language and understood the message perfectly – all the stresses were in the right place! Each ring had the same message with the initial of other other at the end (well, more or less: Epidict does not have a G!).

Here they are

The ring box was a bargain. We picked it up on a whim for £3 at what Guy calls “the woo-woo shop”, a little treasure trove of crystals and dream catchers and other fairytale frivolities. The inside I did myself: a cut off of blue satin from my dress, some of our white satin and an organza flower. I took the sponge base out of another jewellery box, cut it to size and made the slits to slide the blue satin into – and thus the rings were mounted.

The silvery bands themselves were also acquired out of the blue: when visiting my mum in Sheffield we walked past a closing down jewellery shop (HPJ), popped in, and came out with two wedding bands for £85! Guy’s had to be substantially resized, but the beauty was the ease and good fortune… the one way the recession has helped us.

Guy putting my ring on my finger

As you can see, I kept my engagement ring on. I had no intention of taking it off, and yes, I’m wearing them backwards – I played around a bit after the wedding, but decided I definitely liked it this way (and the slightly big engagement ring is safely held in place).

And me putting Guy’s ring on his finger

These are the words we exchanged with our rings:

The giver: I give you this ring as a tangible and lasting reminder of my love. With time, it will age and change, but only subtly, and throughout our lives it will remain as strong as when it was forged.

The receiver: I accept this ring, and will wear it not by habit, but by choice. Let it reaffirm my love for, trust in and commitment to you, for as long as the sun and the moon shall endure.

The Ring

Of course, I had no ring, since Guy hadn’t planned to propose – so we went shopping together. I hasten to add that I lack the shopping gene, just like my mum and my grandma, and going shopping for something as expensive and important as an engagement ring was a massive deal – I was terrified! When we paid for the one we chose, I nearly swooned.

A pair of my friends had got engaged before we did, and I had seen his engagement ring. Strangely, despite this, and despite my views on equality, it never occurred to us to get Guy a ring – why? Probably because he was never fond of jewellery, but he wanted to get me a ring – as an honour to his promise – and I was to preoccupied reeling from the shock of the proposal…

Initially I hadn’t been sure about diamonds, but that was what we kept seeing, and eventually their sparkliness captured me. We looked at several single-stone rings, but they looked so very different on my finger, and seemed to protrude hugely! I’m a practical woman, and it was clear I would need a more practical ring.

We found my ring in H Samuels – end of the line and 5 sizes too big for me. It is 9ct white gold, and I loved the three diamonds in it: it was different, but not too different, and I’ve always preferred interesting settings and finer detail.

This is the closest commercial image I could find:

And this is the real thing (this picture was taken after our marriage, obviously, as you have a sneak preview of our wedding rings – but there more is yet to tell):

It took a while for me to actually get my ring, because of it being resized, but as soon as I got it, I did what any geeky solid state chemist would do – went down to Single Crystal and mounted it on a diffractometer.

And so I actually have “evidence” that the diamond in my ring is really diamond!

A Fayre Deal

So on Sunday I went to a wedding fayre at the Crowne Plaza hotel, Birmingham. This was my second wedding fayre – the first being at the Cotswold Lodge, Oxford, and very early on in our planning. This time we’re close to the end, so we told suppliers we were there for the finishing touches, which may be stretching the truth a little. We didn’t really have any intention of buying anything, but we decided to look, just in case, and cheifly we were there for an outing, a glass of champagne, and the general excitement of being an engaged couple out doing an engaged couple thing (it never occured to me that it would be worth going to a wedding fayre with anybody other than the Fiance, then again, he remembers someone at his old work whining about having to drive her sister to wedding fayres every weekend, so maybe nobody would want to go!). Then again, we went to the Cotswold Lodge wedding fayre with no intention of buying anything, and that’s where we found out about the rickshaws.

When IS the best time to go to a wedding fayre? When you’re at the venue stage? Or when you’re looking for photographers? Or jewellery? Surely things like jewellery are going to get sorted much much later than photographers? So perhaps there isn’t a right time or a wrong time (well, there is a wrong time: there’s before you’re engaged or when you’re already married)…

The Crowne Plaza Hotel stands in the middle of Birmingham, elevated from the street on top of a massive concrete car park. This wasn’t a very good start, and I wasn’t that impressed with the inside of the hotel either, though the bar was okay. On the other hand, I was very impressed with the management – the hotel representatives at the fayre were friendly and interested, very hospitable and welcoming. The kind of people who made me think: Yes! I’d love to leave organising something important in their hands: I’d feel completely relaxed and assured they’d do a reliable job, probably better than I would. And I am very, very highly stung. Or so I am told…

We also got two glasses of champagne each instead of one, and the second one was massive because they “might as well finish off the bottle”.

There were several interesting stalls at the wedding fayre, and we went round and chatted to all of them, but in a quick summary – there were some very nice but not especially exciting floristry, table decor and cake stands (we did get to try a cake, and I did admit we wanted to make ours and she gave me some advice), a singer, a guitar and flute playing pair, a rather fun DJ twosome who sounded veyr together about providing cover for emergencies and stressed that you could GET HOLD OF THEM, which is apparently a problem with DJs. There was a wishing well hire place, with a wishing well in our colours, a caracaturist who couldn’t spell “stationery” and a Sikh family business who put pictures onto glass (except it wasn’t real glass, but it looked like glass). There was also someone who made bridal jewellery, and although I said I didn’t like pearls, was very keen for feedback because it was her first wedding fayre. There was a woman called Karla Saunders who ran an exercise course for getting fit in the run up to the wedding and a few stationers I had a sniff around for final ideas for orders and table plans. Also, a couple of photographers.

There was also a rather interesting stall which caught my eye covered with fascinators priced from £5.99 and hair pieces et cetera. They will actually come to your house and let you try on all sorts of bits in a group of girls. They were called Fascination. They didn’t have a website on their card, though, just a telephone number. I loved the mini top hats.

Now, one of the photographers deserves a few extra words. This is Jon Keeling Photography – and whilst we’re not even considering them, I’m going to big them up. Why? Because when we told them we had a friend doing our photography they gave us something.


You may need to open the image location in a new tab and zoom to read it – but the gist is, a helpful list of things to check through with your photographer to make sure the contract’s in order, you’re covered for eventualities and they have everything they need to do their job well – from the expertise to information about the venue. It is VERY comprehensive, and whilst we have gone through all this stuff already, it’s definitely worth checking off their list too.

I think it’s a great thing to do. In the end, if we make sure our photographer is good, we’re reassured because of the help we’ve been given, and will recommend them (um… like I’m doing now?), and if we’d found a fault in our photographer and decided we weren’t happy, we’d have someone we find trustworthy on hand (would’ve been a bit last minute for our wedding, but you get the idea). So anyway, I just wanted to say Thank You for this to Jon Keele Photography.

Making Things Hairy

I think tiaras are silly. No, you are not a princess. Even for a day. Get a grip! Headbands/side tiaras, however, I can understand, although they are Not My Thing.

And since I am DIY-obsessed, I thought I’d share the idea of making your own. This is actually something I considered, but I couldn’t tell whether it would work out not without outlaying capital, and I am more frugal than I am creative – or at least I hope so. I also didn’t have a distinct idea what I wanted, despite a collection of “idea” photographs. I quite like little pins, and hair combs (which would not have worked with my hair plan) or hair vines.

Like these.




(Images are linked to sources)

You might have guessed that I am not a planning board kind of person. I like my ideas in lists with compison of prices and appearance pictures, rather than selecting one photo of each thing which is conveniently in my colours.

Perhaps I might’ve had a go at making my own hair accessories had I any idea that I wasn’t a lone madwoman in this enterprise, and that you didn’t have to be a professional jeweller to do this kind of thing. Well, I supposed you didn’t, but I’ve only ever made earrings before, which is not remotely similar.

I recently found this post on the forum I frequent. And I went:

Because this kind of advice from NEBride was just what I wanted. So in case anybody else needs it – buy your tiara/headband/hair comb/hair vine DIY kit at and read the poster’s advice about shiny bits which work. I especially liked these tips –

[W]ire (0.4mm for wrapping pearls/crystals around the band, or creating sprays/twisted branch type things). Some wire cutters would be handy so you don’t wreck scissors.

Glass pearls are far more affordable than real ones. Swarovski crystals/pearls are the most popular as they are great quality and the crystals very sparkly, but Preciosa crystals are a slightly cheaper alternative, and cheaper glass crystals can be really nice too. Diamante can be more difficult to work with than crystals.

And to finish on a high note:

Good luck with it, I can’t wait to wear something I’ve made myself for my wedding and I’m sure you’ll feel the same!

Guides For Brides

I have just been on Guides for Brides to leave a review for Gavin Mack and realised this is where we originally found Wrightons caterers as well! I knew we’d found them on this kind of site, but I didn’t know it was this one. Somewhere along the line… maybe that wedding fayre we stuck our noses into… or one of the many venues we contacted and sent us leaflets through the post… or the Town Hall, perhaps? …somewhere along the line, anyway – we picked up a Guides for Brides magazine, and I chopped it up and stuck some of it into a scrap book of our progress in wedding planning (no, not an inspiration board: I really don’t go for that kind of thing: I am a list maker). But their website we clearly found useful.

I was pleased to see both are on the first page of the Oxfordshire section too, and since these two suppliers are so very very recommended by me, I can only recommend Guides for Brides by default. So I thought I’d mention it. Just in case.