For my big day I knew I wanted a church wedding and the village we live in has a perfectly quaint church, so it left us with decision-making revolving around reception venue. We made a list of the obvious selection within a sensible radius (I don’t think there’s anything worse than a massive journey from church to reception at a wedding) and these included silly fancy ones and small intimate ones. Some well thought of venues disappointed, others were a surprising revelation but to fit what we wanted we were left with two.
A lovely pub just up the lane from the church with a separate building which you can add a marquee onto. I had a vision of a country fayre, bunting decorated, relaxed, small wedding reception. The other was the complete opposite. A large hotel in an 18th century house with golf course and spa, 2 ornate rooms for the day and the whole upstairs of the golf club for the evening do. I loved both but they both provided two very different styles, styling options and vibes, it came down to the question of what kind of wedding we wanted. I think this is an important question to ask yourself when planning your wedding or any other party for that matter, what kind of image and atmosphere do you want to create?
For us the hotel had a special connection from our childhoods. Not only had The Husband stayed there as a child while the new development they were moving into was finished he even had his picture at the entrance about to go off on his first day of school. But I had gone as a child with my parents and aunty and uncle for a fancy meal, I associate the place with my aunty who is no longer with us, and apparently I declared as we left the meal about 20 years ago that; “I would be married there one day.”
I felt torn, small and cosy was the Pinterest in my head but you got a red carpet at the hotel and although it is grand the actual rooms were not conference sized; they were cosy in their own high ceiling kind of way. The large venue won out in the end, the freedom not to have to think too much about restricting the guest list, the experienced support team on site and the value for money. I did worry along the way that we had picked somewhere too big and we’d be lost inside but these doubts were never realised on the day and it was perfect for the size of our party, it felt cosy and homely while looking fabulous with very little effort from us. I guess the lesson is to go with your gut. I love weddings held in tents and tipis in gardens of family and friends and in churches where family members have been christened or wed, I think a personal connection where possible will always win out.
“You know Aunty Sandra, – not your real aunty but you call her aunty cause she’s a family friend or went slimming club or bingo with your mum!” – Peter Kay
Aunty Margaret is that to The Boy, friend’s with the Mother In Law since French language class, and then child minder and close family friend ever since. She baked with him as a child and made things after school and they enjoyed playing out in the fields with Margaret and Uncle Geoff’s dog. She offered to do the flowers for our wedding and she was brilliant. Margaret is an inspirational woman who has recently fought breast cancer so to still be recovering and offer to take on the floristry was amazing.
She didn’t even want to discuss details until a few months before the wedding, so I had time to get ideas together and have something not to think about. I gave her my ideas and some pictures and she threw the bridesmaids bouquets together in a few days and we never changed them, and after a shape change my bouquet was sorted with the same skill. She is a master with silk flowers and apart from The Boy’s button hole we never contemplated that fake flowers wouldn’t do the job because Margaret was doing such a good job. She simply took my ideas away and brought back what I imagined and I got to trawl the wondrous aisles of Country Baskets to pick up more supplies or decide which specific flowers I would prefer (as I am a flower novice). For me in the midst of planning a wedding Margaret was perfect, asked the right questions but didn’t pester, went away with my ideas and came back with a product and we took any changes/ideas from there. I’m sure you’re reading this saying “a florist does the exact same thing” but as a family friend taking on some of the responsibilities of our wedding she was all I could have hoped for. So if you have offered to design the stationary, arrange the flowers or bake the cake of your closest friend, sister or brother well then firstly well done you, you talented people. Secondly, don’t pester, ask the bride and groom what kind of time scale they need your skills by, when the time comes ask them for their input and ideas and then go away until you bring back your work. This may sound cold, but for the sake of the bride and groom act like you’re being paid for the job, because with the best will in the world being friendly and mentioning it all the time or asking questions about it when you’ve nipped round for a cuppa will only do one thing…make them wish they hadn’t have asked and stress them out.
For me once a decision has been made it’s because I’ve put a lot of thought into it and I’m happy with it. While planning the wedding I had people who were being helpful with their opinions and other ideas; these were close friends and family wanting to share in the build up to the big day and they were giving their opinions from a good place. But if a bride-to-be says she’s going with roses what she doesn’t want to hear, if you’re anything like me, is “have you thought about peonies”? The response from me is yeah I probably have considered other flowers because I’ve said I’m going with roses! I got loads of ideas from friends and family but I didn’t like hearing different ideas once I’d made a decision, it allowed doubt to creep in and the process was made longer.
If you want to stay friends with someone who is planning a wedding, then leave them alone, offer advice when asked, throw out some ideas in the early stages and do let them know you are there if they need you. But that’s it, leave it, it’s stressful enough without having to consider everyone’s perspective.
Our only major arguments and family issue during planning our wedding was about children. There were only 3 families invited to our wedding with children, we didn’t have any children ourselves and at that moment in our lives we didn’t surround ourselves with them and The Boy was probably a bit scared of them to be honest. We decided to have a child free wedding. This was not an issue for 2 of the couples. The first were travelling from Belfast and were attending 6 weddings in one year, some would be family and closer to home but they were enjoying the fact that for some they could go child free and let their hair down. The other guest with a young child was my bridesmaid, her Dad was unable to attend the wedding and being on bridesmaid duty mum was happy to have a day off and enjoy herself. The third set of children were my cousin’s kids, a girl of 10 and a boy of 7. Now the great debate of 2013 began…
At post toddler age there would be no crying or tantrums (you’d hope) so would they be a bother, but it wasn’t really fair to say to two sets of close friends that their children couldn’t come but then they sit near some children, double standards surely? If we were saying we would have a child free wedding we should stick to our guns, but they are family doesn’t that make a difference, and so on and so forth. I was more on the side of compromise, The Boy wasn’t having any children at his wedding (and it is his wedding too, easy to forget if you head to bridezilla territory) if they make him feel uncomfortable or wouldn’t interact with them then why have them there. Also, my friends were leaving 18 month old girls at home and looking forward to a day off, why would parents of older children be precious? And let’s be perfectly honest the children themselves won’t give two hoots. We were however looking at this from a very simple child free point of view so I worried about the fall out.
We sent invitations out to just those invited (minus children, I relented eventually coming to terms with the decision and happy in it). We received an RSVP for all the family including the children, what followed were awkward conversations and the decision for them to either come alone or not come at all, they took the latter option. Which meant my other cousin, who had already RSVP’s yes, now wasn’t able to come and then I had my mum on the phone saying I had to change my mind to avoid a family feud. I then spent the rest of the day in tears and then I got annoyed that I would have been the only one crying about my own day.
In the end they all came to the church and left before we went to the reception and everyone has stayed civil and there’s no feud as mum worried about, but it was the worst part of planning our day. I’m glad I stuck to my guns but I never expected all that to happen, I have a small family so thought it would be straightforward. It definitely goes to show that when it comes to weddings it can make people do funny things, I felt like our day wasn’t appreciated as important enough because of the hassle it caused, but maybe we were the bad guys and should have relented? Who out there is having issues with family? Do you have step mothers and fathers or extra family causing issues and have you had an idea for your wedding, like being child free, that is forcing you to be strong while all around people try and pull you down? xx