Merriscourt, Oxfordshire

Dipping my Toe into Wedding Planning

Guides for Brides Wedding Fair, Heythrop Park - 21st January 2018

I’ve been thinking about writing this for a while and I was going to write it, get it scheduled and forget about it. This was back when I was feeling a bit disheartened though, so in a way I guess I’m glad I waited.

How We Started Planning

We’ve been engaged since November but we decided we wanted to enjoy being engaged for a bit before starting to plan. We did however know that we didn’t want a long engagement and that it would be full-steam ahead once we did start planning. So once January got here, that’s how it was. We had appointments booked in before Christmas for every weekend apart from one this month, making sure we saw a range of places and getting our head around the fact that with 130 guests (hopefully not actually that many) it’s going to be £££.

I was in charge of the calendar and booking the venue viewings but there could probably have been a better way to organise ourselves rather than cramming in as many as possible and skipping precious Saturday lie-ins. The latter was probably a contributing factor to the dread and stress I felt after our first weekend.

Please don’t be a rip-off…

Calendar cramming aside, the main contributing factor to wedding stress for me was easily the prices. It’s not the fact that weddings are expensive that causes the stress, it’s the general feeling that you’re basically being ripped off around every corner. Hardly a romantic feeling for the ‘most special day of your life’. I know it’s just as easy to pop down to the registry office etc, but we’ve been together 12 years and I want the chance to celebrate in style and that kind of wedding isn’t what I want to do.

With that being said, I am also not up for paying close to £100 a head for food that comes with the promise of being the best but probably won’t be. I don’t think, in fact I know, I’ve never spent close to that for any meals out I’ve had at some of the best places I’ve eaten (even in Iceland) and I don’t see why I should be expected to compromise on that ‘just because it’s my wedding day’.

I’ve found that it’s very easy to get swept up in this weird mentality but it’s also pretty important to snap out of that and put some elements of your wedding back into the real world. I think it’s especially important to pay no mind to the nutters who think it’s cool for you to pay £11,000 for your day food (true life and ‘no nasty surprises’ 🙄) or £1000 for a cake…

I guess what I’m trying to say is, my wedding day is most definitely not going to be as special as it could be if I feel ripped off, whether that’s on the food or on something else.

Everywhere is nice… but that doesn’t mean it’s for you

As I said, we looked at a range of different places, from actual barns with gaps in the doors to fancy barns with huge windows, and then there were the mid-range barns decorated in fairy lights and filled with history… Ok, we looked at a lot of barns, but they were all different. They all had things about them that on paper and even when we went to see them in real life, we could take things we liked from and think about things that might not work so well for us.

After the first weekend, we had looked at five and while I felt like I was all venue’d out, I also knew we hadn’t found what we were looking for. Well, we had found one but that’s the one that came with the £11k food bill and after sleeping on it, something that’s also pretty important to do, it was back to square one. Which put me on a downer for the rest of the week – that we should elope, that we should just give up, that maybe we should just settle for the registry office wedding that we didn’t want…

The best advice we’ve received so far is that it’s important to take a day off from it. All this planning takes work, so naturally you need to take a step back. Doing this the day before the viewings we had last weekend was a great idea and it meant we were looking at everything again with fresh eyes. We knew the ones we’d seen the previous weekend weren’t for us so it was basically time to start again.

Well, as I said, it was good, because we’ve now found a venue, and we’ve booked it, and we’ve booked our registrar and we’re bloody actually getting married next year!

A lot can happen in a week, this time last week I was moping about what we were going to do and now, I’m ready to do the fun stuff, and I can’t tell you how pumped I am for crafting!

Öxarárfoss, Þingvellir National Park, Iceland

We Got Engaged!

Engaged, betrothed, future husband! 💍

Back in November, in front of a frozen waterfall in Iceland, at sunset, my boyfriend of 11 years, 4 months and 25 days, asked me to be his wife. So now we’re engaged and that’s pretty cool.

It seems silly because of the age we live in but we wanted to make sure everyone important found out face-to-face so we kept it quiet on Social Media for the longest time. Then, our usual New Year’s Eve with our pals happened and now the cat’s out of the bag! 🐱

Iceland is a country that we’d planned to visit for a long time and we really went all out for it. It was one of the best trips we’ve been on and getting engaged just topped it off! Despite it being our ‘dream holiday’, Moon has always done things his own way so us getting engaged was kind of at the back of my mind. Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of romantic moments and places and I have wanted to get married for a while (11 years together is long enough…) but I never wanted him to ask me because I told him to or because I’d been ‘subtly dropping hints’, so I guess I had to wait.

A lot of people have asked me whether I knew. I mean, despite the lack of ‘pressure’, I didn’t exactly make it a secret that Iceland would be a nice place to get engaged… but I honestly knew nothing! There were a few weird things that happened beforehand over the course of the trip but I just kind of brushed them off. If I’ve ever been taught anything, it’s not to assume.

Getting Engaged in Iceland

Don’t go in the backpack!

The first strange part was sending me up to our room at the Travelodge we stayed in the night before we left. We had just finished our ‘holiday mode’ drinks at the bar and were ready for bed before our early start the next day. Rather than coming up to the room with me, he said he needed to call his dad and wouldn’t be able to in the room (he would have). It was at this point that he told his dad his plans for the holiday, I guess because he wanted to tell someone. He had actually already asked my mum’s permission earlier that day (quite the traditionalist 💓).

Moon had the ring on him nearly the entire time, not wanting to put it in the hotel safe for fear of me finding it or it potentially getting pick-pocketed by the cleaners (there was almost zero chance of that happening, our hotel was so nice). Sometimes it was in his backpack, sometimes it was in the front pocket of his coat – the former meant that if I wanted to quickly grab some water, he’d snatch the bag back from me. I’m not sure why I didn’t think much of it, I guess because he likes to do things for me a lot of the time so I thought it was just a slightly more aggressive form of that rather than him hiding anything from me.

Getting Engaged in Iceland
Getting Engaged in Iceland

Bright Blue Winter Skies

After a late drive back in a snowstorm the night before (Iceland does not do weather by halves) set us back for a few other things we had wanted to do that day, we decided renting the car for an extra day would be the best idea to make the most of our trip. The office wasn’t open until 8am but Moon was up from 6:30 ready to go (still no idea at this point).

This actually ended up being one of the best days of the trip. Weather-wise, we (Moon) didn’t have to contend with any blizzards and we had glorious sunshine all day – that bright, light, winter weather that I love 💕 ❄️. It was still our coldest day, -6°C at some points. We started the day with a visit to The Secret Lagoon and it was that cold that our hair froze if our heads were out of the water for too long.

Getting Engaged in Iceland
Getting Engaged in Iceland

After the Secret Lagoon – I actually can’t get over how incredible Icelandic hot springs made my skin feel btw – we went to Friðheimar tomato farm for lunch before heading back to Þingvellir National Park to finish up the day. We has already visited Þingvellir on the Golden Circle tour we had included in our trip but felt like we got barely any time there. The tour was great but everyone got out of the bus, took a picture and got back on, so even when we had over an hour, we were always last back on the bus! Little did I know the return-trip was a slightly elaborate back-up plan…

Getting Engaged in Iceland
Getting Engaged in Iceland

“No way! You’re so stupid!*”

*an actual quote from me

Due to the rushing with the tour, Öxarárfoss was kind of off-limits and as we were back at the park, it seemed like the perfect chance to see it and tick it off our ‘must-sees’.

It was only around 4pm but the sun was already setting and it was -5°C. I had taken plenty of photos and appreciated the waterfall so as far as I was concerned, it was definitely time to go back to the car. Moon had other ideas… After jumping about on the rocks (in the frozen river beneath the frozen waterfall), pacing up and down the viewing boardwalk and talking a selfie (on his own), he invited me to take one last look.

Getting Engaged in Iceland Getting Engaged in Iceland
Getting Engaged in Iceland

What he was trying to do, while I was whining about going back to the car, was buy time to try and make sure we were on our own, and he succeeded! And suddenly, his annoyance at the couple who were taking photos using a timer, the pacing, and the insistence that we ‘wait’, all made sense.

Getting Engaged in Iceland

Now we’re engaged… and it comes with spreadsheets! 💒

He chose the ring and it is perfect, everything I could have wanted. It changes in the light and looks different every other time I look at it. Ideal for someone who often can’t stick to the same nail varnish in the same day.

We wanted to tell as many as people in-person as possible so once we got home, we staggered our announcements for around six weeks. It was actually a really fun way to do it in the end, aside from keeping my left hand out of photos for that amount of time ✌️. All the reactions we’ve had have been so, so lovely but announcing it out of the blue never got any easier (how do you casually bring it up in conversation?!).

We aren’t planning on a long engagement so most of this month so far has been spent looking at venues and we’re very much in the full throws of planning. So far, it’s been both fun and stressful in equal measures. I have promised myself to try and be as laid back as possible but only time will tell. Even with the wedding-stressing, being engaged to my best friend (lol 💕) mainly has me really excited and happy!