To start the weekend and really get that Friday feeling, we have one of our wonderful WWW real brides here – Holly. Those of you about to embark on a wedding planning weekend may find Holly’s words comforting and useful today. With awesome DIY save the dates (plus a top tip) and her guest list woes. We’d love to hear from you too about how you are choosing your wedding guests :-) XOXO Lou
After a wonderful Christmas, which included our annual Boxing Day walk up the Clent Hills, it’s now 2015 and that means I can officially say ‘We’re getting married this year!’ I can’t quite believe it. Time definitely flies when you’re having fun. With just over three months left, the realisation has set in that we’ve still got a mountain of things to do and not a great deal of time to do it in. Whoops. But we have got all the big things sorted and it’s about time I let you know about them.
Let me introduce: Hatton Village Hall. Our wedding venue. Understandably, it was the first thing we ticked off the list. Very early on we knew we wanted to do as much of our wedding ourselves as we could – including the décor and catering, so we needed a venue that would allow us to do this. A village hall was the perfect shout, although we didn’t think we’d find one as beautiful as this. The main part of the building was purpose built in 1924 but the second part of the building used to be the old school house – the school coat hooks are still there and are a lovely welcoming feature!
We’re holding both our ceremony and our reception at Hatton Village Hall but we made the decision to restructure our wedding day a little differently to the norm – mainly because it enabled us to save quite a lot of money! In order to cut out what I considered to be an extortionate fee to have an official registrant come to Hatton to conduct our ceremony, we’ve decided to ‘do the legal bit’ in the morning. Nothing fancy, just us two, our parents and two witnesses in our jeans and t-shirts at a local registry office. We won’t be saying our proper vows or exchanging rings – we’ll literally say the legal minimum required, sign the certificate and skedaddle back to my parents’ house afterwards for a nice big family breakfast before getting ourselves dolled up for the main event. Even though we’re still having a wedding ceremony at Hatton (albeit not a legal one), they amazingly still said they would only charge us as if we were holding a reception. Bargain!
The other main component of our day is our lovely photographer: Louise Holgate. As soon as we met her, we knew she was the one for us! We just had to look at each other to know we’d made up our mind. Not only are her photos breathtakingly beautiful, but she’s just lovely. She’s been a real source of wedding wisdom and support throughout our engagement so far and I know we’ll feel 100% relaxed around her on the day.
As Hatton Village Hall doesn’t have much outdoor space, we decided to have some photographs taken at a local National Trust property before our Hatton ceremony. Baddesley Clinton is only ten minutes away and is where Jim spends much of his weekends as a marketing volunteer so it’s a special place for us too. I was a bit nervous that they wouldn’t allow us to have photos taken there – I’m not sure it’s something they do on a regular basis – but luckily, they said yes!
Strangely, we went with the first venue we saw and the first photographer we met. Sometimes I look back and wonder if we should have explored other options a bit more before making bookings but I’m convinced it was due to excellent research rather than rashly made decisions! I think other brides will probably agree with me when I say: you just know when you know.
I had a lot of fun creating our Save the Dates. We used a photo we took in front of a cute decorated blackboard at a wedding fair to print as polaroids and just wrote the date at the bottom and stuck some magnetic strip on the back to turn it into a magnet. Simple and cheap. Eager to try out something I’d seen done in a workshop at the same wedding fair, I wanted to line the envelopes to make them look a bit ‘posher’… which took longer than making the Save the Dates themselves and probably went unnoticed by most people. In fact, I’m pretty sure the only people who did notice were the ones who opened their envelopes in front of me so that I could point it out! I have wondered since why I bothered (and why I subjected poor Jim and my bridesmaid Katie to an evening of cutting and sticking torment) but I still maintain that it was worthwhile.
Here’s a tip for all future brides and grooms… if you’re sending out invitations or save the dates – do it all in one go. We DIY’d our Save the Dates and addressing the envelopes was taking longer than I expected. I was too eager to send them out and so I sent a first batch out in the post whilst there were still many more waiting to be finished at home on the lounge floor. Definitely not a good idea if you don’t want your Grandma to phone your Dad in a panic thinking she’d not been invited to the wedding. Lesson learned: our invites will be sent out all in one go (when, you know… we get around to making them). We decided to only send Save the Dates to those we were inviting to the whole wedding, excluding evening guests.
I could write a whole blog post on putting together the guestlist but I’m sure if you’re already planning your wedding, you’ve already given it a lot of thought and have heard hundreds of stories about the trials and tribulations of the task from other couples. It’s tough. I think it’s safe to say there are several stages of thought:
1. This is our wedding. We’ll invite who we like and those that don’t like it can learn to deal with it.
2. Oh, wow. Numbers sure do add up quickly. My family is much bigger than I thought.
3. We’ve hit venue capacity and there isn’t room for our friends. We might need to re-prioritise.
4. If I invite one cousin, do I have to invite all my cousins?
5. We definitely want children at the wedding.
6. We’re going to have to set an age limit. We can’t invite everyone’s children. Maybe we say children under the age of (insert arbitrary age limit here).
7. This is our wedding. We’ll invite who we like and those that don’t like it can learn to deal with it.
8. Now I feel bad. Maybe we could invite them just to the evening?
9. We should have just eloped.
10. We could still elope…
11. No. This is our wedding. We’ll invite who we like and those that don’t like it can learn to deal with it.
12. Oh wait… But I really should invite…
I imagine (or I hope!) this is the same for most couples. I’m refusing to think about the seating plan drama we have yet to come ahead. Or the fact Jim hasn’t got anything to wear yet. Or that we haven’t sourced flowers. Or food. Or written our ceremony. Deep breaths. This is going to be a very busy few months!