Table Week

Last Sunday, with six weeks to go, Helen decided the best plan of action was to pick one aspect of our wedding and finish it. This week we chose tables!

So, in the space of a single, working week we have:
Chosen a theme for our table names – places in Dorset – and bought vintage postcards for all but one table!
Made everyone’s place card – which involved cutting and folding each one, drawing on bunting, colouring it in and writing all the names on.
Ticked off lots of things we’d already sorted – tablecloths, borrowing glasses, jam jars for flowers, etc.
Counted ramekins
Sent my lovely mum to Ikea for a dozen glass jugs (a bargain at £2 each)
Buying plastic plates and cups for all the children who are coming.
Finding something to put all the lovely postcards on, which ended up being mini easels from The Works for 99p each.

We are finishing table week by making our table plan. As I write this Helen is attaching photo corners to individual carnival tickets which are laid out in the shape of the tables on a giant canvas. It’s all looking very jolly and colourful so far…

Next week is ‘Logistics Week’ I believe, which is slightly less exciting but necessary.

Seven weeks to go…

So, in exactly seven weeks time Helen and I will be wives. Quite a lot has happened in the last few weeks and I thought a little catch up might be in order. We have:

Given notice (which involves a surprising number of questions)

Booked a mini spa honeymoon

Spent lots of nectar points on fizzy pop, little beers and cake ingredients

Organised borrowing glasses from Waitrose (for free!)

Received nearly all our RSVPs

Made a table plan

Finished sewing all the bunting!

The list of things left to do seems to be shrinking, with only a few worries left – like how to make quite a lot of fizzy wine cold with only a small fridge. On Friday we’re off to Vivien of Holloway to choose a dress for Helen (mine’s on its way in the post) and at some point I need to find a wedding ring…

It’s starting to get very exciting.

Long time, no blog

It’s been a rather embarrassingly long time since I last got around to writing a blog. With both Helen and I working in retail, Christmas is a rather busy time and it just seems to have flown by! The wedding plans got somewhat abandoned for a while, but we’ve been cracking on since the new year culminating in a planning trip to Dorset!

So since the last post we’ve bought quite a lot of ale, wine and fizzy pop. We’ve been saving up our Nectar points (and taking advantage of all the bonus points we can find) to spend on cake ingredients and ginger beer nearer the big day. Helen went a little tiny bit mad in the lovely Harborne charity shops and bought all these board games…20130201-100803.jpg
…plus some fete-esque games that we’d already purchased on eBay. Along with the fact that we’ve now invited everyone and started receiving RSVPs it really feels like it’s all starting to come together.

Today, I’d like to tell you a story about our Great Big Dorset Planning Weekend (with capital letters, so it’s clearly exciting). A couple of weeks ago – in fact the first weekend that it snowed – we went home to Dorset for the weekend to do some planning. It was a JAMPACKED trip, with a registrar appointment on Friday, a meeting with the lady making our sandwiches, a trip to the village hall and meeting my mum’s friend who is going to come and take photos. Not to mention the many discussions about decorations and flowers, and the metres of bunting sewn.20130201-102038.jpg

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Now, Helen played in a civil partnership in Warwickshire not too long ago and came home rather upset by the clinical language used to describe proceedings, so we were both rather anxious about meeting the registrar and finding out what would be going on in the ceremony. We were very pleasantly surprised to discover that not only was the registrar we met lovely and very friendly, but that she was also more than happy to be flexible and really tailor the ceremony to how we wanted it to go. Plus, we got to read a script of roughly what the celebrant will say on the day and the words are brilliant, and very ‘weddingy’. We asked why the words were different, and it turns out that different county councils have done their own wordings for civil partnership ceremonies – Dorset have worked hard to make theirs lovely!

On Saturday we got up bright and early and all headed off to the village hall to measure and count things. The lady who looks after the hall was very nice and really happy for us to do pretty much whatever we like with it, which is excellent. I was very pleased to discover that, whilst the exterior may look slightly dated, the hall is very well looked after and has obviously been recently modernised and redecorated. The walls are all a nice creamy colour and the kitchen and toilets in particular are much better than you’d expect from a small local hall! We spent a fun hour sorting out logistics, and working out where to put flowers, games and bunting. The most exciting discovery though, was blue and white willow pattern china for 100 people lurking in the cupboard which means we now have only the children’s place settings to sort out.

All in all we had a thoroughly productive weekend and came back to our cottage with lots of things ticked off the questions list: how many chairs and tables are there, how can we set out the tables to fit everyone in, is there a fridge, where shall we put the sandwiches and other thrilling queries. The next task is to make a very detailed plan of exactly what needs doing over the wedding weekend, followed by a list of what’s left to do in the run-up. Then we’re on to things like dresses, rings and finishing touches – with the tiny bit of the budget that’s left!

Choosing a venue

So in my weddingy explorations so far, it seems that people seem to ‘just know’ they’ve chosen the right venue, in the same way they know they’ve found the right dress. Not so for us. We have gone round in circles about where to get married and what we want our day to be like. The basic idea has stayed relatively constant since we first got engaged, but the time of year, the geographical location, the ‘type’ of day to have and therefore the budget have varied quite a lot, before finally fixing the wedding we’re planning now.

There were a few things we knew we wanted:
• The ability to do things the way we wanted to.
• Somewhere to put some fete-style games.
• A venue that wasn’t too ‘weddingy’.
• Somwhere that we could afford.
I started researching venues pretty much straight away, only to struggle to find anywhere that was sufficiently un-weddingy. Helen plays in a string quartet at a lot of weddings in the midlands, and already knew that The Fleece Inn at Bretforton was a strong contender. The Fleece is a beautiful, medieval National Trust pub with an orchard and a barn licensed for civil ceremonies. In fact, I was taken on a Sunday afternoon date to the Fleece not long after we got together and was told by Helen that it’s where she always hoped to get married. I loved it, plus the food is delicious and they do lots of yummy ales and ciders. It’s also pretty much as un-weddingy as you can get! So, “why aren’t we getting married there?” I hear you cry. Well, there are quite a few reasons. One is that we wrote down our guest list and very quickly leapt over the 50 people capacity for ceremonies – even whilst trying to be relatively frugal! We didn’t really want to give ourselves massive dilemmas about who to invite, or who not to. The other main reason is budget-related. As we’re paying for most of the wedding ourselves we’ve said all along that we don’t want to spend too much money, especially as I’m still studying part-time and we might like to try and buy a house one day! The Fleece’s guide prices were very reasonable, but would have still meant us spending years saving up. We both also realised that whilst we would have had a lovely day, there are other things (like a house deposit) that such amounts of money could be better spent on.

So we started again (although always keeping The Fleece in the back of our minds). I started looking into ways we could do more of the wedding ourselves, so investigated village halls, giant holiday cottages and even a field! We even went and had a look at the field, only to discover it would cost as much to hire it (with not even a toilet to its name) as it would to hire an actual building. We still struggled to find anywhere that we liked, that wouldn’t end up costing just as much as getting a nice lady to do it. After various debates, Helen’s parents suggested we use their garden for part of the day. We started looking into places we could get married near Weymouth, with enough space for all the people we wanted to invite, that we liked and could afford. Oh, and that we could have a wedding in on a bank holiday Sunday, having worked out that that would be a day that the majority of our guests would be likely to be free. The Sunday-factor ruled out pretty much all the local registry offices. Helen was adamant she didn’t want to get married outside (she’s been made to play at too many inclement outdoor weddings I think) so that ruled out a couple more local venues. Finally, I remembered Kingston Maurward – a big country house that is now an agricultural college, animal farm and wedding venue. There’s a room, over-looking the lake, that’s big enough for everyone we want to come plus we could afford it, especially if our reception venue wasn’t too expensive. We contacted them to see if the date we wanted was free, only to discover someone else had already booked a reception on that date. As we knew we only wanted to hold our ceremony there, Helen was very cheeky and asked if there was any chance of fitting us in earlier in the day. To our amazement the answer was yes, if we had our ceremony at 12 noon. We (very quickly) weighed up the relative pros and cons of holding our wedding on a different date, having what feels like a fairly early ceremony, or finding somewhere else – and the early ceremony won.

Now we just needed to settle on where to have the party afterwards. Until relatively recently we planned to pop to Helen’s parents’ garden for a few hours in the afternoon so we were looking for somewhere walking distance away to have a hog roast and an evening party. There were a few possibilities and I entrusted Helen with the relevant research over the summer. In the end she chose her local village hall, which holds fond childhood memories for her of rehearsing for Preston Panto Kids. It’s not too picturesque but has got plenty of space, tables and chairs, a kitchen, a stage and is very definitely within budget. Add in the homely emotional attachment for Helen, and plenty of bunting and it seemed like we were on to a winner. She also had another look at the garden and decided it probably wouldn’t fit everyone in, and would make us very stressed, so we started making plans to have all the celebrations at the village hall.

Once we’d booked these everything else just seems to have fallen into place – we found a hog roast (very important), booked our friend’s band to come and play, my mum volunteered flowers and Helen’s parents offered to arrange someone to cater the afternoon tea. What has actually happened is that we have been able to find our own ways to plan the day how we want it, albeit not in the place we thought we wanted it. Obviously we haven’t actually had the wedding yet (and I might be telling a very different story in a few months time), but at the moment it all feels relatively under control and we’re both rather excited!

Invitations

In the last couple of weeks we have printed and started writing and sending out our invitations. Very exciting. Although some may say possibly a little early, given that the wedding isn’t until the end of May next year. We had a think about this and whether to do save the dates, or just tell people, or send our invitations out early and decided that it would be nice for people to have as much information as possible early on (plus two rounds of postage seemed a bit excessive when we’d already fixed most of the day). This is mainly because our friends are now dotted all over the country (mostly in various parts of the Midlands) and our wedding is in a seaside town in Dorset, on a bank holiday weekend! We thought it would be nice for everyone to know as much as possible so they could organise time off and somewhere to stay. Quite a lot of Helen’s friends play in string quartets at other people’s weddings and (very selfishly) we also wanted to make sure that they didn’t go and do that on the day of our wedding.

I’d always decided to make the invitations myself, but originally planned some kind of cut-and-stick, fete-y card type affair – possibly a bit like this one featured here http://howaboutorange.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/mini-bunting-birthday-card.html.

I had a go at making some of my own, using scraps of fabric from the actual wedding bunting, and sadly they ended up looking a bit twee (nowhere NEAR as cool as the one above) so I started again. Helen and I both wanted to make sure that our invitations looked more like party invitations than a ‘traditional’ wedding invitation – so no formal language and shiny sparkles – and gave people a good idea of the kind of day we’re planning. What we ended up with is a little A5 flyer style invitation, with a hand-drawn front and loads of information on the back. We also had a few debates over what wording to use. As we’re pretty much organising and hosting the day ourselves, with help from our families, and we’re technically both the ‘bride’ it seemed odd to go for the traditional ‘parents invite so-and-so to the wedding of’ words. Neither of us really like calling it a civil partnership (as you might have guessed) and on one of the early designs I wrote Please come to our ‘wedding’ as a hypothetical gap-filling solution. Helen liked it so much that the actual invitation wording ending up being almost exactly that… and hopefully no-one will think we are being inappropriately jovial.

So quite a lot have gone in the post, and now comes the wait for replies…and yet more planning.

The story so far

Hello again internet. It’s a lovely sunny Saturday in the countryside, and time for a proper post. I’m not really sure where to start so I think I shall go for the very beginning, as it is a very good place to start, after all. Helen and I met whilst I was studying at Birmingham University, and she was the lady in charge of the orchestras. I play the double bass so we spent rather a lot of time in vans together, driving around Birmingham to concerts and lugging around various gigantic instruments (ahhh romance). Last September, about a year and a half after we first got together, she proposed to me for my birthday, I said yes and we started the very exciting task of planning our ‘wedding’! I had a little look around the internet for all kinds of weddingy inspiration and discovered the lovely world of wedding blogs. I thought it would be nice to have my very own little lesbian-wedding blog – a year later I’ve finally got round to starting it…

As we’ve now been engaged for just over a year and the date is set for 8 months time (eek!), we’ve done a fair bit of the booking-related basic planning already. We knew approximately what we wanted pretty much straight away, but working out where and how to do it in a way that we loved (and could afford) took a bit longer. We eventually decided to head home to Dorset, where coincidentally we both grew up, for an English-countrysidey affair. The plan so far is a 12 noon ceremony in a lovely country house (that’s now also an agricultural college) followed by afternoon tea and a fete, then hog roast and dancing at Helen’s local childhood village hall.

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Hopefully it will just be like a lovely big party, with plenty of things to do so nobody gets bored. The venues and registrar are booked, the hog roast is sorted and my lovely mum has agreed to do the flowers. I’ve started making some decorations and a (rather long) list of potential afternoon tea cakes. Helen has got very excited about making a giant, complicated spreadsheet for the budget and choosing what games we can have at the fete. We also had a very amusing ‘research-trip’ to a cash and carry. There are still plenty of things to sort out, including the many, many things we’ve decided to do ourselves…

For now though, I’ll be off and leave you with a picture of my bunting basket. Happy sunny Saturday everyone!

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A very brief hello

Well.  My very first post.  How exciting.

This little blog is to tell you all about the plans for our lovely civil partnership (or as we like to call it, ‘wedding’) next year.

There will be crafts and flowers and baking, and probably quite a lot of talk about ale and pork pies and fete games.  I expect it will get rather colourful, and a little bit olden-days-y.  I probably won’t talk much about dresses or shoes.

Hopefully it will be vaguely interesting (especially if you like bunting or cake).

Next time I’ll bring some pictures to have a look at.