Monday, 20 September 2010

Our Rings, something old, something new

My engagement ring was my Grandma Doris'.  She was 19 when my Grandpa proposed, three diamond in platinum setting and shoulders, with gold ring, as was popular in those days.  I inherited at 16, but knowing how clumsy I was, my Mum did not let me have it until I was 21.  I have worn it and treasured it everyday since.
I had always known that I wanted a contemporary wedding band, and that the cut of grandma's ring would not sit well with such a style.  I had long hoped that should I ever get engaged, I be able to use Grandma's ring for the engagement, and get something different for my wedding band.

Rob was very happy with this arrangement, he also wanted to incorporate a family heirloom into the wedding.  Rob's Mum's wedding ring, although to small, is very good quality good, and very heavy.  Our friend's sister is a jeweller and she was able to insert a piece so that it would fit on Rob's huge finger, and Rhodium plate it.

We found my ring at Green & Benz.  It is made of palladium and is the perfect balance of sturdy, industrial looking, with a hint of delicate elegance with the inlaid tiny eternity style diamonds set around the ring.
Palladium is of the Platinum family and as of Jan 2010 is a registered precious metal which must be hallmarked.  At the time of purchase the palladium was approx 1/3 of the cost of platinum, which was a bonus as we saved money by chosing my favourite design, that was not actually available in platinum!  It is a super alternative if you prefer silver coloured jewellery.  It is stronger than silver and will not require coating, unlike white gold, as this is the natural colour of the metal, which can be brushed or polished as other metals.
I love my rings, and it was so wonderful to include Grandma and Christine in the wedding even though they could not be there with us.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Shoes - be prepared for all weathers, it's the Girl Scout in me!

When you spend not a great deal on a pair of shoes, surely you can buy several pairs?
I chose my wellington boots before my bridal shoes.  I knew I wanted a pair of Hunters, I have done since I was a girl, but couldn't justify the price tag for mucking about on the farm or general mess.  Now I had an excuse 'they are bridal wellies!'

I had seen a pair of Iris coloured boots on a bride in a magazine and her picture was pasted into my scrapbook.  I looked for online suppliers, have a fabulous range at competitive prices and the delivery was very prompt. 

The next pair I found were my bridal shoes.  Think LouBou satin pump meets David Bowie et voila! You have my ridiculous, comical bridal shoes.  Ivory satin peep toe with a gold glitter encrusted five inch heel and platform.  Practical they are not, tasteful, certainly not, but they made me smile.  They made me laugh out loud in the shop, the Office outlet shop might I add.  Yes these puppies were slashed to a bargain £30!  I knew I would only be able to wear them for the first 10 minutes of the day, if that, so after a call to my good friend and style guru Kate, I bought them.

Now expecting rain, I was covered with the wellies, but what if we were do get sunshine, what would my immaculate pedicured feet want to wear, if anything?  What do I normally wear when I can’t decide to venture barefoot or not? Flip Flops!

My friend Danny owns a clothing store SoleFood, and they stock Ipanema footwear, he brought a selection for me to try.  I bought the Ivory and Gold pair (pictured) which complimented my theme perfectly, and he gave me a black pair, and a white and navy pair as a resent for the honeymoon, thanks Danny!

So I had a shoe for every eventuality.  I somehow managed to make it up the field in the bridal shoes, greatly assisted by my Daddy’s steadying arm, my Maids of Honours carrying my train, and a whole heap of adrenaline.  By the time I made it to Rob’s side, my knees buckled as my whole body shook with joy, fear and everything else that goes with it on the day, so he took over the job of holding me upright.  As we said our vows the heavens opened and Kate whipped off my shoes and helped me into the wellies for the walk down to the shelter of the bar in the barns.

After an hour the rain ceased and did not make an appearance for the rest of the day, so out came to third and last pair of shoes for the day, my gorgeous flip flops.  Let it never be said that I am not prepared, and never let a girl be restricted to one pair of shoes!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010


I am off sick so my creative juices are not flowing freely, I drafted up the written content of this blog but my brain is not making too much sense, so until I can get it just right i'll set this as a preview!

Here are the decorations as they are being created, the day before the big day.  A variety of established potted herbs, trees and shrubs, flags, chinese lanterns, fairy lights and several miles of bunting, homemade and hung by various members of my family.

Here are a few snaps of the bouquets taken by my friend Sarah on the day of the wedding.  These are Hydrangea, cow parsley and lemon thyme, handpicked from my parent's garden and hand-tied by my Mum's friend Margaret and my super hero Aunty Mary.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Hair comes the bride

For those who have not got a wedding planner the endless planning and labouring at the venue, whilst thoroughly enjoyable in itself, can leave a bride a little detached from the whole princess experience.

As a do it yourself bride, I myself had been feeling ‘un-bridelike’ and with three weeks to go I was worrying a little that perhaps I should be getting more excited, after all I had dreamt of being a bride since I was six.  I had imagined that I would spend months growing my hair and hammering the gym, spend weeks of pampering, moisturising my skin, getting early nights, avoiding any opportunity where I might risk breaking a fingernail or breaking a limb.  Yet here was I still labouring  on the farm moving stone every weekend, earning a new cut, bruise or lump with every job.

I entered the hair salon (Havana, Marple Bridge, Stockport, UK) with no expectations whatsoever, I have had no former experience of ‘hair up’ and I had not visited the salon since I had moved out of town four years previously.  The salon was still frequented by my Mum and youngest sister Sophie, so I new I should be in rather good hands, and I really had no other option but to use these ladies.  Five weeks previous I had been stood up by my friend, hair and make up stylist, on the evening I was due to have my bridal trial.  She subsequently vanished under a veil of scandal and I have not heard from her since.  

Havana are based in the village local to my parent’s farm (the wedding venue) and through divine intervention, had received a cancellation for the date of our wedding, it was surely fate!  

My stylist was Mandy, I had a whole album of hair designs that I had downloaded to my iphone, she patiently let me flick through all the styles pointing out which part of which style I liked and why.  I explained the theme of the wedding was festival meets country fayre and Mandy asked to see my wedding dress.  With this information, and a notion from me that I was happy to try anything and everything to discover the perfect style, Mandy starting weaving her magic into my dull locks.

As I sat in the chair, coffee in hand and Mandy styling away I suddenly feel a wave of emotion take hold, the realisation that I was going to be a bride!  With each curl that was created, I felt more beautiful and each pin that was placed, more elegant.  I was going to be special, I would be walking up to meet my groom.

There must have been roughly 12 styles, loosely based around four main themes, up twisted, half up half down, side sweeps and braids.  The style I chose was a variation on two of the previous styles, a side sweep, braided at the back with a cascade of curls down one side of the face.

I have pictured some of my favourite styles.

What I would recommend for any bride considering her hair is the following:

  1. Most importantly – book practice sessions.  If you are not happy with the stylist, or the styles, communicate the issues and if needs be try another stylist.
  2. Do plenty of research – leaf through all the wedding magazine, fashion magazines, celebrity gossip papers, take lots of clippings, or screen grabs from websites to show your stylist.
  3. Along with the clippings, take your scrapbook of ideas/ design boards to your consultation/ trial.  This will show your stylist the dress design and general theme of your wedding, they can incorporate these themes within your hair style.
  4. Don’t limit yourself to one style or one specific design – the more variety, the more likely you are to find the perfect style when you try it out.  Remember, not every style will suit every face, body, dress.
  5. Take plenty of photos of the style, from different angles, while you are at the salon, most places will be happy to snap away for you.  You can then view the photos at leisure to ensure you are happy with your decision.
  6. Take advice from the friends and family that you trust.  If you are happy with their style advice on a night out, and can take honest constructive criticism, they will be the best people to help you chose your style, should you be torn between designs.
  7. Wear your hair for you, not how you feel you are expected to wear it.  Chose a style that reflects your personality and style, do not try to be too removed from who you are.  You may not want to wear a starched French upsweep if you always wear your hair laissez faire.  You may be unrecognisable to your Groom, or even yourself when you look back at the photos.
  8. If possible, when scheduling your appointment for the day of the wedding, allow time to rectify any styling emergencies, but not so much time that your style may droop before the ceremony or photos.
  9. If at all possible, should you be able to afford it, ask your stylist if they can be on stand by for touch ups later in the day.  Many styles may not require this, but unexpected weather extremes can upset the most secure of styles.

The best laid plans often go awry, I was very fortunate that my stylist was available at such short notice.  
I hope these tips will be of use to you, I can only offer this advice as a recent bride based on my own experience.   I did get rained on, despite the huge umbrellas, I got hugged and pulled, my curls drooped, my pins and fascinator were dragged out when my hair got stuck on buttons of enthusiastic wellwishers, so many of the photos do not do Mandy’s work justice.  However, despite all the wear and tear, the style held up very well, and still looked a darn sight prettier than anything I could have done myself.  In terms of up do’s I am completely sold, I shall certainly be booking Mandy’s creative talents for any future parties.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

The saga of a bride

We did it, we are Mr & Mrs Hallam! – The story in segments….

After 6 and a half years together we have finally tied the knot.  I have neglected my little blog for quite sometime due to the work that was involved in getting the whole show going. 

Much has happened since the last update so I’ll do this in stages.  This entry will be brief, about the dresses.

The new dresses were ordered for the flower girls, with an anticipated delivery within 4 days or ordering.  After a week I made a call to customer services advising me the order was cancelled due to lack of stock.  There was to be no replenishment until autumn, in autumnal colours!  I was most disappointed, they had not attempted to contact me with this news, nor, at this point, had I received a refund!  Long story short, money was refunded, bridesmaid shopping date was set with the girls and I developed a grumpy resentment towards Debenhams.

Now, not only did I have the flower girls to shop for, one of the bridesmaids was not to keen on the colour of her dress.  Both dresses were too large and my seamstress was unreachable, so it was back to the drawing board there also.  Some of my usherettes were also asking if they ‘really had to wear white or green?’  By this point the shine was really rubbing off the whole bridal party lark.   Actually it was beyond dull and into tarnished, and a few tears were becoming more frequent.

I was beginning to feel like a monster, I was becoming irate at things that really shouldn’t bother an independent 32 year old woman.  Brand new underwear not fitting despite being professionally fitted (Debenhams again I am afraid to say), resulting in the need for a return.  This would have been less frustrating, had the size issue not become apparent at my penultimate dress fitting.  As a result, not only did I have to make a trip back to the store for a refund, but I also had to book a return 80 mile round trip to the bridal shop for an extra fitting of my dress.

Other things that were upsetting me were the endless trips down the motorway to move stones, in the rain, or to visit people who couldn’t come to visit me through no fault of their own, but when you feel down, you feel like the world is against you!  Social events and university became an unnecessary drain on my time.  I am usually so enthused and involved in my studies, but I did the bare minimum that I could to scrape a pass, in fact I am not sure I even did that, as the results are not yet in!  Gym classes, weight watcher meetings and school governor meetings were also just another day or evening that would consume my dwindling timeframe.

Every minute outside of work was dedicated to ‘The wedding’.  And the clock was ticking.  The yard still needed clearing, the kitchen, showers and toilets still needed fitting, this was before the bar could be built, the marquees could be erected, the big clean could begin, and the decorating could commence.  So each time I had to lose a three hour window to drive to a shop and back, I was driven closer to distraction.

I had reached the point where I was reconsidering the whole thing.  Rob and I could just go to the registry office as soon as they could fit us in.  Just do it in peace with the pressure off, nothing else mattered, it really didn’t!

There were a few moments like that, the Sunday morning three weeks before the wedding, crying in the rain, sat on a tractor asking myself ‘what sort of bride does this??!!’. 

There was the day that my girlfriends from home were due to visit to do wedding planning.  It was the only date that we had all been available to meet.  The first time ever that they would all come and visit me, I was too sick for visitors. 

The countless times that Rob joked that it was ‘nothing to do with me, I have no say in it’ before I had to ask him to stop winding me up.

The hair and make up artist, and supposed friend who stood me up on my trial who subsequently disappeared off the face of the earth leaving me to find available wedding stylists at 5 weeks notice, who does that? 

The weather reports for the 7th August that were looking bleaker with every update. 

With each hurdle, the kind I would normally leap over screaming ‘yahoooo’, I got a little worn down, less able to sleep and I completely lost my sense of humour. 

Each of these occasions however reminded me of what truly mattered.  Rob and I wanted to marry each other.  We want to spend the rest of our lives together.  We will be a family. 

If people turn up, great!  The more the merrier.  Let them wear what they want, they will be happier for it.  If we have a completed barn, we will party in there, if not we will decorate what we do have.  If it rains, so what, we have already advised people to bring umbrellas and wellington boots.  If we run out of booze, there is a pub within walking distance and a supermarket a taxi ride away and should we run out of food, we can order takeaway.

Circumstances did improve from that point on, and the niggles that arose were met with a more positive outlook.  Bollocks, it was met with apathy, but either way the crap no longer upset me. 

My good friend Claire is also my beautician, she offered to step in to do my bridal make up, my local hairdresser does not do hair up but my Mum and sister still use my old hairdressers Havana in Marple Bridge, they just so happened to have a cancellation for the date of the wedding.  Someone in heaven, or a whole team of them, were looking out for me. 

The bridesmaid shopping trip was a success, the flower girls dresses from Monsoon cost a lot more than I had budgeted for but they were stunning.  Ivory silk pleated skirt with scalloped vest and gold beading.  Debenhams redeemed themselves with two contenders, and floral fifties poodle dress, and the winner, a jade green dress with single shoulder detail.  Again, these dresses were way over budget, and lets not forget I had already bought four dresses that I could no longer return, but the bridesmaids were happy therefore the bride was too!

I said this would be brief, I got carried away, sorry.  Next instalment will be all about my fabulous hens, with almost no moaning J  At least not about Debenhams or hens anyway!!