Engaged Life – Wedding Prep


Last Wednesday was 1 year since we got engaged and I became a fiancee. It is seriously crazy how quickly this year has flown in and mad that it’s now only 10 months until we get married and I become a Mrs!

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I thought I’d write this post as an update on our wedding plans and what we have done up to now. When I first got engaged I had no idea at all where to start, I mean I had an idea of what I needed to do, mostly from working with people in the wedding trade, working at a good few wedding fairs and working at least 10 weddings myself. However when it comes to your own it is so different!

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‘DISCLAIMER’

You’ll probably see I jump a lot between we and me/I when it comes to talking about the wedding planning, I don’t think I’m the only bride-to-be who plans the majority of the wedding, men just don’t have a clue, or to be honest an interest. Phil tends to just say “I don’t care what we have or do, I just want to marry you!” So that’s my disclosure I’m not a total bridezilla! I haven’t even managed to drag him along to a wedding fair . . . now that would be an eye opener for him.

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SETTING THE DATE

First off we set our date – Phil couldn’t understand all the fuss of doing this, not realising that you need a date to work off and you can’t just decide everything 6 months before you want to be married. Initially we had thought Autumn as it’s one of my favourite seasons or Spring as a back up as I love cherry blossom so photos under cherry blossom would be amazing.

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RECEPTION VENUE

With an idea of a date/time of year in mind we looked into venues. Neither Phil or I are religious so a church was out. We also didn’t want a hotel venue; we have both been to quite a few hotel weddings and as beautiful as they all were, they just aren’t us or what we wanted. We wanted something a lot more laid back and casual. After looking about I found Field of Dreams, to me that was just what we were after. So we sent an email asking would they be available to host a wedding in October. I then went crazy on Pinterest with all these Autumn wedding ideas and how we could decorate the venue. Bad idea, got an email back apologising saying they didn’t do weddings after September, that they were sorry and good luck on our venue search. I was gutted, but as I mentioned before, Spring was also an option so I emailed back and yes we could do May! YAY we were so happy, now just to settle on a date. In my head I was toying with the idea of the 4th May; my Papa’s anniversary, but with mixed emotions we went for something else, still in May, but a change to make our own special date.

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The venue was available on the date we wanted, next was to go down and see it in person. Straight away I just knew this was the place! Phil was a little more hesitant, more because he isn’t someone who rushes into things, he says I’m the impulsive one. I had so many ideas of what we could do with this blank space; exactly what we wanted, a place to make our own and put our stamp on it.

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Not to jump into something we then decided to look around a couple of other places, although we struggled to find many more places we liked and would suit what we wanted. I’m also one of those people who hates to do the same thing as everyone else; I like to be different and do things my way. There was one other venue we thought of as a possibility; Orange Tree House. We went down to one of their open days for a look around and it was beautiful, just not what we wanted. Field of Dreams was definitely the one, so we went ahead and booked it and put down a deposit.

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CEREMONY

With the venue booked it was on to where to actually get married? Like I said Phil and I aren’t religious and the only ceremony you can have at Field of Dreamsis a religious one, so we went to the Town Hall and the Registry Office. We had a few venue options to choose from, we went for Bangor Castle Walled Garden. This was after a bit of convincing from the registrar basically not to pick here; ‘what if it rains, are you sure you want to? Your idea of rain and mine are very different.’ What will be will be this is where we want to get married and will.

At that time we couldn’t properly book the venue as you need to wait until a year or within the year of your wedding date to complete and input all the paper work. For example if you were getting married 25th October 2019, you can’t put in your paperwork until 25th October 2018, but you can put it in anytime within that year. But last month we got our paperwork in and everything paid for. Now to sort out 2 readings, our music and if we want to the personal vows we’d like to say.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Photographer was an easy one for us, friends of mine are wedding photographers and I have worked for them loads at weddings. I know that Bannon & McCabe will take exactly the photos we want.

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The cake straight away was sorted, one of my best friends said she would make our cake as our wedding present. Her cakes are delicious and I know how much time, effort and cost goes into cakes so we very much appreciate it. I just need to decided what style to go for.

This is the style of cake we’d like; a semi naked cake

MUSIC

Again it’s good to know people, we are having Party Boyz NI for our DJ. We decided we didn’t want a band, a DJ can do all the music we want, ‘ditching the band will save a grand’ as they say and also the venue is small so we would be very crammed with a band,

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FOOD

Food was is a big part of our wedding, actually one of the first things we booked was the dessert! Phil and I were up in the Antrim in December for their ‘Winter Wonderland’ event and I tried a waffle from Born and Raised Waffles. Nearly straight away I asked if they did weddings and the reply was yes, within a few days I had contacted Micheal and paid our deposit!

Even though I’m sure everyone would be happy to simply eat waffles we needed to sort out the meal. We wanted something very casual and straight away a BBQ came to mind. We searched the internet for companies; there aren’t many who do just BBQ so we literally contacted them all. Very few people actually bothered to get back to us, even after the 2nd or 3rd attempt. The first company we met with were Foodie Folk, we thought from their website that they would be perfect, just what we wanted. We emailed them, they replied and set up a meeting. Not sure what to expect from this we kinda just winged it. We talked to the guy about what we were wanting food wise and how many we were thinking of feeding and tried to get a rough idea of a quote. Well that was like getting blood out of a stone, maybe this was his sales tactic I don’t know. We finally got a rough quote of around £4,000 for a bbq for 100 people (this was after me losing my patience with him not saying anything and was like ‘what would it be £2,000, £4,000?what?) . When we asked about a tasting he said that would be £150!!!! we were so shocked, (I understand you need to cover costs but £150!), when I asked how many is that for he said you both, but I suppose you could have up to 10 people. Seriously we were gobsmacked and were thinking omw this is going to be way more expensive than we thought! So we left it that they would go away and sort out a quote and get back to us. To this day we still haven’t heard anything, and actually we are quite glad, the guy seemed to bad mouth a lot of other companies who do weddings and he really was a ridiculous price, we got the vibe he didn’t really want to do the wedding in the first place!

On a lot happier and brighter note, a few weeks after our disaster with those ones above there, our first choice Wolf and Devour, was available and on wedding mode, they had been busy with setting up their new business so we had held off. After our first disaster of a meeting we were a little apprehensive, however Jillian put us at ease right away! She knew her stuff and she wasn’t at all pushy and the price was within our budget. Actually there’s more all about it all in my previous blog post Devour (just click here for a read).

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So, so happy with our choice of Wolf and Devour, I was actually in at the weekend with my bridesmaids tasting the goods and it did not disappoint!

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DRESS

I will be honest I had quite a bit of anxiety when it came to dress shopping, no idea why, but I did; so finding the right shop for me was really important. Again I had no idea where to start, I had seen a few different bridal stalls at the many bridal fairs I had worked at and had talked to a few people, I suppose more last Spring I approached the stalls as I was now a bride to be and got a lot of mixed reviews of when I needed to buy the dress etc. I was also a little put off as the majority of companies bring their size 8 dresses down with them to display, so me, a size 16 looks at them and goes ‘I’d never suit something like that’ or ‘they would never do my size in their shop’, which is lies; the majority of shops go up to a size 28 odd.

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Anyway, my first experience of a proper bridal shop was one my friend and I nipped into ‘Go on’ she said, ‘why not? Just a wee look’; they had an open day or sale or something. However we were about 30 mins too late and we were told we couldn’t have a quick look at the dresses (that were upstairs) but that we could book an 1hr and a half appointment. Well straight away even though the staff were lovely that put me off, thoughts went through my head like; ‘but what if I don’t like any of the dresses’ or ‘what if I can’t find anything and have a horrible time and just waist both mine and their time?’. As we left I asked the girl could I have one of their little brochures which had photos and links for their social media accounts. Right away I knew my gut had been right, the photos of dresses were not what I was after or my taste, yes they were beautiful, but no that slinky, half there or glitzy princess style dress was not what I wanted and I knew I’d have to wear about 10 pairs of Spanx to look anywhere half decent in them! Imagine if I had went ahead and made the appointment, my face would have dropped when I seen them all and I would have struggled to pick at least one when they would ask what I’d like to try on!

Perhaps it was from here my anxiety formed as I didn’t want to feel forced into trying on dresses I didn’t like or have to wear Spanx on my wedding day. My brief has always been I want a dress I can move in, feel good in and be comfortable in; not one that I am constantly pulling and fixing at the control underwear in. With that in mind mum and I were in Lisburn one day and decided to pop into Divinity Bridal, a couple of friends had recommended them to me, I had spoken to them at a couple of wedding fairs before and they were really really lovely, and from day one I had said to mum that I wanted to try them for my dress!

Straight away we were put at ease and of course it was no problem to have a little look around the shop as they were in between appointments. This meant we could browse through the dresses and I could see ones I wanted to try on and say to the girls a few ideas I liked and get some advice from them, and most importantly for me, control underwear and Spanx were not a necessity! After this 10/15 minutes of just looking at the dresses and talking to the girls I knew I was ready to make an appointment with them and I had, no let me rephrase that, mum had actually spotted a dress that when I seen it I had a feeling it could be the one!

*Note some of the photos are not at a very flattering angle, but it gives you an idea

And as you can see, just a couple of weeks later we were back in and I was trying on dresses. I tried on about 5 and I’m not going to show you the dress I picked, but it was indeed the dress my mum had originally spotted! I was able to pick out as many dresses as I liked to try on, then I headed to the dressing room area. Then the girl I had my appointment with (I’m not going to name names as honestly all the girls are fantastic in there and who you get it pre-decided I’m assuming) picked the first one to try on and you go from there.

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First off the aim is to find the shape you want and then that helps to reduce down the number of dresses you have picked, no point in trying 3 dresses in the shape you don’t like. I had also previously been watching The Posh Frock Shop on Channel 4, and I had remembered them saying about you wearing the dress, not the dress wearing you. I didn’t really get what that meant until I started trying wedding dresses on, but that first dress above there wore me; it was just so heavy and I had to keep lifting it and dragging it along with me. I liked the shape, but just knew straight away it didn’t tick the comfort box and that train was a pain in the ass, I kept getting caught in it.

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This one was lovely, but what you can’t see is the sequence all around the bodice, I liked the lace but not the sequins, it was a little too glitzy for what I wanted and also it was so uncomfortable! I must have had this on for about 10 mins max and I actually had cuts/scratches under my arms from the sequence; apparently some brides will ignore this for the perfect look they are after, but not me.

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This dress (terrible angle) would have been the one probably if Philip and I were going for that ‘traditional’ wedding where we would get married in a church and then head on to a hotel or wedding venue, but for our wedding this was just too formal.

My dress has a slightly more boho vibe to it.

FLOWERS

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From the moment I set my eyes on Innocent Chaos I just knew that I wanted Sharon’s amazing pieces of work for my wedding, I absolutely fell in love! So Sharon uses artificial flowers that look so realistic. They aren’t a cheaper alternative to fresh flowers, but it’s more the fact that I can keep them forever.

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At the weekend I went for an appointment with Sharon to her new premises and had the best time, my bridesmaids couldn’t get over the range of flowers and how real they look; seriously the photos do not do them justice!

So what I am after are floral hoops for myself, my bridesmaids and flower girl instead of your traditional bouquets.

And I can’t wait to get my own bespoke floral crown; this is one I tried on last year at Sharon’s stall at the Wedding Journal Show.

DRINKS

Drinks, now this is where we are having a bit of a problem and having to really think about what we want to do. Typical Northern Ireland, things have to be difficult, our reception venue doesn’t have a drinks licence and in NI you can’t get one for a wedding, which means that on the day/night no money is allowed to be passed between people, i.e. paying for the drink. So our options are BYO – Bring Your Own, which I don’t want because you know what it’s like when you are pouring your own drinks, everyone will be off their faces before the meal is served. The other option that we are thinking of is asking our guests for money before the wedding day, buying the drink and hiring a bar company to serve it for us, as us putting on a free bar just isn’t an option, unless we win the lottery that is!

So we met up with the lovely guys from Nightcap Bartending in their bar/club Time Belfast and we are hoping they can help us get things sorted, this is probably the one big thing we have left to sort.

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RINGS

We, I say we, I mean Phil got my engagement ring from Ellison Jewellersand want to get our wedding bands from the same place. I know it’s still pretty early with 10 months still to go, but we wanted to even just price rings. Bonus, Phil even tried on a couple, well more on his baby finger, wow he has fat digits lol a size X, that one above was the only one of the samples he could get to fit! I also tried on a couple, but with their bigger range back in next week we’re going to head back down again, as I didn’t find THE ONE.