Ten months – well actually less than ten months to go now until our big day! Our featured brides aren’t lying when they say the run up to the wedding flies by, and in a twist of roles, it is these knowledgeable now-married ladies that I’ve found myself turning to for guidance along this tricky planning path. For despite being immersed in weddings day in day out, and constantly absorbing the expert advice passed on by the amazing suppliers that we work with, I’ve come to realise that nothing quite prepares you for planning your own – and those armed with the most solid advice are the couples that have been there, done that, and bear the wedding bands to prove it.
I therefore really enjoyed putting together this recent post, which lists top tips from our real brides over the past few months, and I’m now trying to put their wise words into practise – “enjoy the organising”, “don’t stress”, “split the workload”, “be decisive”, “break things down into bite-size chunks”. And so, I found myself scheduling a ‘wedding meeting’ with groom-to-be Andy. Sounds rather bridezilla-esque I know, but as we both lead busy lifestyles (or more to the point, our evenings are currently taken up with Love Island #teamdanijack) I felt like it was necessary to ensure we gave the plans some quality time and got a few things ticked off the ever-growing to do list.
It started out all angelic with a notebook and glass of Buck’s Fizz in our sunny garden, though ended with us sat at a computer screen indoors with our heads in our hands. But I’m pleased to report that progress was made!
The invites are almost ready to hit ‘print’ on thanks to my super talented best friend Nic – a graphic designer/art director with a fabulous eye for detail and styling. Another top tip often mentioned by our featured brides is to call on the skills of family and friends, and I couldn’t agree more. As well as potentially saving you a little money, it’s also a lovely way to involve someone you care about in your plans and to bounce ideas off too. I can’t wait to reveal the final result, but if you want to check out some of Nic’s gorgeous wedding stationery designs in the meantime, take a look at her lovely little business, Paper Dates.
In-line with the sorting the invite designs we’ve also firmed up our guest list, which is no mean feat, as despite family politics, we’ve remained determined to invite those closest to us, rather than who’s ‘expected’ to be attending. At my brother’s recent wedding (where Andy and I are pictured in the opening image to today’s post), he and his partner Ben invited just 40 people to their ceremony and evening reception – the vast majority of these being friends – and then opened up the invite to around 100 guests the following evening for a larger-scale party. The result was a really special and intimate atmosphere for the main part of the wedding that we’d love to replicate on our big day, though our numbers are slightly higher due to the style of wedding. Evening guests have been kept to a minimum not to disrupt the flow of the proceedings, and as we’re having a Thursday wedding we appreciate the logistics of people travelling on a work night could be tricky.
So what else? Just the small matter of finding my wedding dress! It fills me with both excitement and nerves to say that after just two bridal boutique appointments, I’ve found the one! I’m not nervous about my choice, just that it makes it all seem so real and we have plenty of planning left to do.
When initially thinking about my dress search I loved the idea of going to around four or five boutiques, trying on lots of gorgeous dresses while enjoying glasses of fizz before making my mind up – but that wasn’t quite the case as it all happened rather quickly, and on reflection I’m rather glad it did. You see, I’m notoriously indecisive so in the back of my mind I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find the perfect dress and as the search would continue I’d become more disheartened and lose my focus.
For anyone fearing the same, my advice to help you in your search would be:
1 Initially look in magazines and blogs to find styles of dresses that you think you would like.
2 Next, try to find designers that have those styles in their collections, the price range of such dresses and the boutiques that stock them.
3 If you come across a certain dress by a designer that you are really drawn to, enquire with the boutique if they stock that particular design and, if not, are they able to call it in from the designer for you to try on at your appointment or do they have a designer event coming up where they will have the full collection in store for a limited time?
4 Take two, three people maximum to your appointment with you to avoid too many differing opinions. I took my mum and best friend Nic as these are the people I tend to shop with and they know my style and personality best. Most importantly I knew they would be 100% honest with me.
5 Try on a variety of styles. Even if you couldn’t think of anything worse than an A-line princess gown it’s good to try a variety of style to get an idea of what you do want – and while you might not like the overall style on you, there may be an element, such as the neckline, that you love and can look for in another design.
6 Go to a professional boutique rather than shopping on the high street or at warehouse style stores. The service that I received at both boutiques was second to none, as experienced stylists they listened to my plans and style and suggested dresses accordingly, and even made further suggestions on how the design could be altered. Those that have an in-house seamstress in particular are great at giving you alternatives, such as differing necklines, adding straps, sleeves or building in bra cups (the ab-so-lute dream for us small-busted girls keen not to look like a 13-year-old on their wedding day).
7 Move. Don’t just walk around the changing room and boutique rigid, you will need to be able to eat, drink, sit (and possibly kneel if in church), hug and dance in that dress so you have to feel comfortable and at ease.
8 Finally, when you find a dress you like ask yourself – can you see yourself getting married in that dress and will it work with the venue? Don’t worry about the styling, as these are details that will follow and that you can alter to work in-line with the dress. The most important thing is that you are comfortable, feel confident and above all, you love it!
During my appointments my mum and Nic compared me to Princess Diana and Shirley Bassey in some of the dresses so their speechless reactions and teary eyes spoke volumes when I emerged in what will be my dress for the big day. Thankfully there were no comparisons and the overriding opinion was that the dress was totally me!
And so, my journey continues, and I imagine there will need to be a fair few more ‘wedding meetings’ scheduled with Andy up to May, not to mention a ‘hen do brief’ with my #bridesquad as I try to decide where to have my final hurrah as Miss Parry – and make clear that no phallic straws or inflatables will be required!*
*Editor’s note: Just try and stop us Rach!