Friday, 11 December 2009

Winter Blues

I feel as though I have had a tissue attached to my swollen red nose since the clocks went back. I really dislike winter – I love the idea of frosty clear days, snuggling by a fire and cute cashmere socks but the reality of damp toes and darkness and layers and layers of scratchy wool make me cranky. I’m no good at being ill either and I’ve gone from having strep throat to full on cold and just when I have finally recovered Christmas party season starts and I’ve caught “wine” flu. Whinge whinge whinge!

But little bits of progress on the wedding front are cheering me up (although trying to imagine June is almost beyond me). Deposits are down on some important things, one of which is the venue for the aperitivo (reception) just after our service. It’s a medieval fort in the middle of the village which has a nice restaurant and rooms where some of our guests and most importantly, Nick’s family, will be staying. They also make their own wine and beside the old cellars they have a lovely big lawn that looks out over the vineyards and across the beautiful valley to our house, where the evening’s festivities will be taking place.

My ever stoic parents have just returned from there where they were getting the house and garden all winter ready and frost proofed but found time to also negotiate a great deal. We slightly get the feeling that the people that run the venue are better at wine tastings than hotel bookings so it took longer and more effort than it should have done but done it is.

Mama did make me laugh though – Nick sent her a list of his immediate family members so she could choose and reserve the nicest rooms for them and he forgot to include himself on the list … this was her response:

Dear Nick and Bella, I have rung Joe about the nicest rooms, but here is what I think *(I am going to be very bossy and strict here, forgive me):
There is a reason for the tradition why a bridegroom must not see his bride on the wedding day before he sees her coming down the aisle towards him, in fact at midnight you two must go different ways - I hope for the last time in your whole long blessed life together!!!! No way are you going to get dressed together with curling tongues lying around and wedding dress hanging from a hook...
So you, Nick, have to join your family for just that last night and Bella will come to us if that's ok.
Saturday night I suppose there will not be much sleeping at all but Bella's room at home will definitely then be Mr. and Mrs. T’s rooms and on sunday you have to decide if you go off on your honeymoon or spent one more night in the vicinity before you go away. that is totally up to you and you can even keep it a total secret from anyone.....(also a tradition for a reason..)
Is that ok??
OK – maybe you need to know my mother to know how endearing this is. We’re definitely all of the opinion that you can pick and choose whichever traditions you want and leave the rest but this one clearly means a lot to my Mama!

Our home in Italy last Christmas - seriously!
Illustration via Print Society

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Present Prospects

Less than a month Christmas and December has really snuck up on me. I bearly know what I'll be doing for the festivies let alone what I am getting anyone, especially Nick (ahh – boys are so hard to buy for!) and the crowds on Oxford Street are already making me hyperventilate with fear. And I’ve got all the prospective in-laws to buy for too as well as my own over-large family. Humph!

I usually do a massive round of baking and making during advent with the premise that home-made edible goods are more loving and much more valuable than the usual Christmas tat (and a bit cheaper!) However this year work is so overwhelmingly busy that I get home at nearly 10pm and have just about enough energy to drag myself to bed and it doesn't look like it will let up until it's too late. Actually, it’s not so much the baking I don’t have time for but the buying of ingredients – I just can’t face the shops. Maybe I’ll order a delivery from the supermarket and put my pinny on during a Strictly and X-Factor marathon.

Of course the thought of presents for friends and family naturally leads my mind, selfishly, to their presents to me (I mean us – sorry) in the coming year. Yup it’s the dreaded Wedding List (cue horrified scream here!)

Do we, don’t we? What’s reasonable, what’s achievable? Do we even need anything? Can we fit any more stuff in our little flat? How do we know what we’ll need in the future? And if we do go ahead with one, where is the best place to go? I know which one is the most obvious choice but I sort of feel everything from John Lewis looks like, well, that it’s from John Lewis.

As for what to put on this list, if we have one, I already have more kitchen gadgets than our house can handle and have inherited crockery and bowls and things so the usuals are covered (although I do yearn for a Kitchenaid!)

ooh - blue to match my pots and pans!

I think what we'd like most on our wedding list is good bed linen - Peacock Feathers was recently blogging about Dorma, one of the nation's oldest bedlinen brands, which made me think what a good present that would be. It’s quite symbolic - the marriage bed and all that - and definitely for both of us together. (I’d be lying if I said Nick would appreciate a Kitchenaid as much as I would.) Plus is there anything more delicious getting into a freshly made high thread count sheeted bed?

image via Dorma - I usually prefer plain white sheets but Darcey is slso so sweet!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Winter Wonderland

So this wedding on Style me Pretty is pretty much as different from the wedding we have planned as it is possible to be but it's somehow given me brand new hankering for a snowy winter wedding. Impossible - we'd either have to be married next month or wait another year (nooo!), where could we have guaranteed snow? plus I hate the cold and don't want to be so formal but ..

for a day dream wedding ... ahhhhh, so romantic!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Save the Dates - a sneaky peak

Our Save the Dates should be going in the post this weekend.

Big step!

We weren't really sure how best to go about doing these - it's not as if we have received many in the past, not really being normal practise in this country to send them. But since we're expecting our guests to fly out for our wedding we needed to give them more of a heads up than the traditional eight to six weeks of an invitation, as well as information on where to fly to and where to stay etc.
Littlest Sister had promised some artwork for us but she has been frantically busy so instead offered us a painting she had done a while ago. It's a lovely Tuscan scene but not of our house or our church so, unless we clearly explained that Sister had painted it, not very personal.

What to do, what to do?

Then we had a brilliant idea™ ...

On a trip to Berlin a few years ago Nick and I came across a restored 1950s photobooth that took proper old fashioned film strips with four different pictures. We've had that little strip of us mucking about in the booth on our wall ever since and it occurred to us that something like this would make a great "Save the Date". We could hold cards with the words on and it would be personal without being cheesy. Yeay!

Everyone remembers these booths from their childhood (or Amalie!) but they have disappeared from streets and stations. Now they’re all digital and often just duplicate the picture four times – not fun. I googled “old fashioned photobooth London” but all I could find were other people looking for them and references to that one in Rosa Luxemburg Platz Berlin. Then suddenly at the tail end of a photography chat site I saw a message left this summer from the very Germans who’d restored that booth saying they were planning to come to London for a few months – were they still here? I clicked on the link and emailed them. A reply came minutes later – yes, the booth was still set up in Cargo’s beer garden. What luck! Two days later we made the trek east with ‘SAVE’ ‘THE’ ‘DATE’ ‘26.6.2010’ written on cards (in four different fonts as we couldn’t decide on our favourite) and even changes of outfits (don’t laugh.)

Disaster – a big “out of order” sign on the booth! Oh no! Now I know east London isn’t as far as east Germany but it was still some effort and we were devastated. But that email ... it had a phone number on it! I called. Alex answered. 10 minutes later he was there. Another 10 minutes and the machine was fixed. Several hours (and beers) later we had tons of strips and everyone in Cargo from the bouncers to the bands were laughing at what we were doing. We’re so happy with the results.

Once our guests have received them I’ll show you the final result but in the mean time here’s a little sneak peak

A big thank you to Alex from Photoautomat (look, that's him below fixing the machine for us!) and the dudes at Cargo who kept us supplied with pound coins and beer.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Remember Remember the 9th November

Twenty years ago my uncle was woken up by a phone call

"they're pulling it down - the wall is coming down!" said the voice of a good friend "let's go!"

So on the 9th November 1989 my mother found out that her brother had spent the night celebrating with all the population of a city that they never dreamed would be unified in their lifetimes.

As I child I can't remember really wondering why that wall was there or what the world was like before it existed but I do remember it. And luckily I was old enough, on the night it came down, to remember that happening very clearly and how astounding and emotional it was for my mother.

So not about the wedding - but a bit about the people who will be there and about a wonderful city I love very much.

[ a terrible picture but it was taken almost exactly five years ago, when I introduced my boy to Berlin, and he fell in love too]

Monday, 26 October 2009

The dress that wasn't and the me that isn't

I was so sure I would never be one of the those who fell in love with a dress. I mean, it's just a dress and no piece of clothing has ever made me feel it was "the one" before so why should something long and white do it now?* I thought I'll go somewhere ethical and cheap, pick something that looks OK and that'll be it. On to the more important things.

Oh that long white piece of clothing, there's so much bloody hype about it. It seems to define us brides in a way the rest of the wedding paraphernalia doesn't. I'm pretty sure this isn't as it should be. But whether we choose to go whole hog traditional or not we can't help it making a statement about ourselves - white; not white; short; long; veil; no veil; vintage; new; home-made; bought for a fortune; bikini; jeans & tshirt; statement; no statement; whether or not we make these choices consciously, they end up saying something about us and also about how we feel about the whole wedding thing.
I know, I know, I'm totally over thinking this. I can't help it I'm afraid, it's a serious flaw of mine. That and subclauses.**

I tried to put all this to the back of my mind and off I went to my first ever wedding shop which happened to be an Oxfam Bridal and tried on a heaps and heaps of dresses. And nothing felt right but I didn't know why - I mean, they were all wedding dresses, what more did I want?
So on Mum's advice I went to some posh shops to have some fun with it and to get an idea of what I thought suited me. And I saw tons of stuff I liked and decided what cut and what fabric I preferred and preened and pranced in front of my bridesmaids and it was all very golly. But I couldn't put my finger on what was bothering me. Somehow these dresses came with baggage - it was as if they were wearing me. I did feel like a bride and that's what I was, right? "A" bride? What the hell was the problem?

So this is the dress that answered that - not because it was "the one" ... but because it wasn't.

My sister persuaded me to put it on. It's tea length, big skirted, 1950s style. I put it on and just loved it - it was the kind of dress you knew you would have a good time in. And it was so flattering - it gave my cucumber shaped body curves and showed off my legs. It swung about in the most fabulous way. Ooh I loved it.

Look - look how pretty. Click on this link and see how it swooshes and swings.

But but but. I knew this dress wasn't me - it's for someone pouty and dainty with short neat hair - Amelie or Coco, not gangly northern European Bella. My sisters could pull it off - they ride cute bicycles, do arty things and wear creative jewelery. My hair is always a mess, I have bad spacial awareness and I can't do neat eye makeup. In the past I've longed to be a girl who could wear that dress but I have now come to terms with the fact that I've got my own thing going on. I realised that what is most important is not that I look as pretty as a picture but that my friends and family, and most importantly Nick, recognise me on my wedding day.

So much as I find it absurd that one piece of clothing should have such over-hyped significance, I think I'd rather define than be defined.

And as though to prove my point Style me Pretty featured that dress in a photoshoot - soo cute but me in white gloves and oversized pearls - it just ain't me baby!

Then, after all that 'right-on-sister', personal affirmation stuff, I have promptly gone and got myself a serious crush*** on a stupidly expensive dress. Oops.

*I'm being a bit disingenuous because I do in fact search high and low for the perfect jeans and when I find them, after an inevitably lengthy struggle, love them more than inanimate denim deserves to be loved. But, hey, I practically live in them so that that's different.

**Please note that I am not making any judgements or assumptions here either - I not saying
what a dress says about the bride - just commenting on how it somehow says something at all!

*** Note "crush" not "love". I'm still trying to be a bit rational.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

An Arbitrary Grading ....

The number of things on our to do list that are "in progress" has increased significantly over the last few weeks I am relieved to say although nothing but booking the church is as yet marked as "completed".

One little tick though goes next to the guest list.

I think.
Oh my days it's a tricky one. Via the wonder of Google Docs we set up a shared spreadsheet upon which we added absolutely everyone we could possibly wish to have at our wedding. So did our parents. Unsurprisingly we ended up with a list of several hundred people. So a couple of weekends ago Nick and I crept home to Ma and Pa's with more than a little trepidation, to refine the list. Trepidation because we'd heard so many horror stories about the fearsome family feuds that erupt during this process. Well maybe you could put it down to a good Sunday roast, or maybe there is no-one in our ken contentious enough to argue about, or maybe my folks just rock, but Montague and Capulet it was not.

However, as we aimed to get it down to about 100 and the ‘A’ list was well over that, we all became steadily more hard-hearted. Ma and Pa were pretty ruthless but in the most gentle and humorous way, as they dozed by the fire with the cats on their laps ...

"Well, yes they are our best friends but their children are younger so maybe they can come to a little sisters' wedding."

"Oh, they'll still be our friends if they don't come."

"we'll invite them for a holiday instead"

but mostly it was "B list" "B list" "B list"

"have we made it to the 'A' list ??"
It felt quite ridiculous doing this sometimes – as though we were putting some kind of arbitrary grading on friendships and relationships - as though it was some kind of ghastly VIP list - aren't we being a bit pooterish? Maybe no one would want to come anyway? Maybe they'd rather all be at Glastonbury that weekend???

Finally we got down to the very barest bones of our friends and family circle. And yet it still wasn't under a hundred. We settled it at 120. Half a dozen or so of those were either over 90 or living so far away we could confidently expect them not to come and maybe a few others wouldn't be able to make it. Not that I would wish even half a little finger of those people away.

Convention says invitations should go out a maximum of 2 months before the wedding but since everyone will have to buy plane tickets and book hotels etc we’re going the “Save the Date” thing too – we are aiming to get these out within the next week or so, mostly by email to save money and the planet. Ideally we’ll have a very simple (not at all cheesy in any way) website URL included. I know I know – websites are often horribly naff but it will contain maps and hotel info and hopefully guest can arrange car shares through it, things like that - useful stuff.
I just wonder though, can you ask people to RSVP to Save the Dates? It would help so much if we knew if anyone definitely couldn't come...
picture via

Monday, 12 October 2009

and a bit more blog loving ...

Like many a bridal blogger I love browsing sites like Style me Pretty and Snippet and Ink, mostly just checking out the lovely pictures for inspiration. The recommendations however, are rarely much help because they are all America based. And I wondered why there was nothing similar for us Brit Brides. Surely we too want something more than the pathetic little that is on offer - that isn't raming products down our throats or isn't painfully cheesy (you know, bright pink, comic sans script and has little info beyond lists of soft rock songs to play at the wedding disco).

Well earlier this summer our prays were answered by a little lady who didn't just wonder - but did. Little Miss Wedding. In her own words ...

the only UK wedding site to offer brides inspiration and ideas that are a little bit different – glamorous, fun, creative and good value. That is what we are all about. Having fun, celebrating the love and enjoying these special times with friends and family.

Hooray! We love her blog a lot.

And bless her cottons, she named my blog as one she likes too - wowsers!

Ok, so she's a friend of mine. Her site does rock though as does she. Thanks Little Miss Wedding and good luck on the next adventure!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Random Things ...

Gaynor, a fellow Bride to Be and writer of a lovely blog called Our Day by Design has tagged me with a very sweet award and a neme where I have to relate 10 random things about myself and then pass it on. I'm trying not to think about this too hard and just go with it....

1) I'm the eldest of three girls. We are each born exactly three years and two weeks apart each (an organised German mother!)

2) I have weekend newspaper obsession. I get a bit antsy if I fail to get at least The Saturday Guardian and The Sunday Times. We take all week to read them cover to cover and always recycle.

3) I'm a Newcastle United supporter. (yes, really! can't you tell?)
4) I'm dyslexic (you may have noticed).

5) I hoard books. I just can't throw anything I have read away so I drag shelves and shelves of dog eared paperbacks from one home to the next. I should really have a cull - it's getting out of hand.

6) My shelves also contain several large files full of recipes cut out of magazines. These recipes are recorded in a very geeky and complicated cross-referencing card-file system. It makes me seem totally crazy OCD.

7) We collect vintage film posters. My favourites are Polish or Cuban silk screen prints but the best one we own is a rare Japanese poster for Bullit.
8) I knew N was the man I'd marry within a few weeks of meeting him. I was quite surprised by how obvious it was to me - until then I didn't really think I was the marrying kind.

9) I'm a totally undiscerning music lover. My i-phone plays it all - from 90s rock to Northern Soul; funk; folk; house; hip hop; chart pop; samba; blues; electronic; classical and much to my DJing hubby-to-be's despair - country.
This is just really my preamble to admitting that most of all I love love love Dolly Parton. Oh I so do.
10) I'm a Godmother! My beautiful perfect little godson was born last month to my lovely bestest friends and I am so looking forward to watching him grow-up.

And now I'm tagging a few lovely blogs I found recently:

Gaia from Alice's Advenures in Wonderland
Laura from Cider & Sass
Lana Kenney from lanalou
Mo from
Pink Argyle
and Artimis from tales of a jUnkaholic


I've been a bad blogger I know. I don't know how people do it - write lucid, amusing regular blog posts and have a full time job and social life. If anyone out there has the secret, please do divulge.

In my defence I'm exhausted and pretty brain dead at the moment. Much as I'd love to share all I've been doing and seeing I simply haven't the time and energy to metaphorically lift pen to paper. N and I have been communicating largely through laconic text messages or monosyllabic grunts and my evenings are spent desperately not trying to fall asleep in front of the telly. Yup, this is the current state of our West London dinky life. Sad, I know.

I have a new job you see. Not that my old job didn't keep me busy but I had been at it for five years and as a result most of what I did was fairly instinctive and the challenges therein had lost their novelty. In short, I felt stuck in a rut. So an opportunity came up and it took me just a second to realise the terror I felt at doing something new and unknown was actually very exciting. You have to scare yourself sometimes otherwise you stagnate, right? And I am loving it. I'm feeling challenged and appreciated and fired up - but, phew-eee, I barley have time to breath! And on top of that, through a baptism of fire I am learning new technologies and pretty much a completely new language. So my head is spinning and thoughts of the wedding are scarcely registering.

But nine months - only nine little months to go! 303 days! 7272 hours! 436,320 minutes!

Can it be true? It some ways it seems like just yesterday that N asked me to marry him. And yet I've also grown rather used to being engaged and sometimes forget that it is not an end in itself but leading up to something else - something bigger and more special.

So before too many more of those minutes, hours and months flit past, N and I are going to have to stop and use a few of those moments to chill out, think about what we're doing and enjoy each other's undivided attention. We just need to cross paths long enough to try and decide where and when!

Monday, 7 September 2009

Leave it to the master ...

Just read the wisest words From A Practical Wedding

I might just print this off poster size and hang it on the wall - or just keep it folded up in my wallet in case of emergencies!

Meg - you rock. Yeah you do!
I love your wonderful blog and your uncanny ability to put into lucid words exactly what's been on my mind.

Also today a certain someone reminded me what I'm getting myself into. Yipeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

I don't know - it's how I feel right now. Via Work is not a Job

Thursday, 3 September 2009

What comes after? (a bit of a ramble)

My parents have been happily married for thirty-four years. (N’s have too). They have a great partnership that was unquestionably solid as a rock for us girls as we grew up despite my father often having to be in far-away and dangerous places. I don’t think I ever really heard an argument between them, not ever. They have their little niggles and irritations (usually based around Papa getting deaf and Mama getting blind!) but they don’t shout at each other or bitch about each other. Really not ever.

Yet, although they couldn’t have set a better example to me, I don’t hold them as a blueprint for my own relationship with N. They are them and we are us. Likewise for N; he’s proud of how in-love his parents still are but he doesn’t want to be them. Every relationship is as unique as its individual parts. What is right for them might not make sense to us, with our own particular upbringing, baggage and, let’s not forget, era.

One thing I do think N and I have, for which we certainly have our parents to thank, is a lack of cynicism regarding the institution of marriage. Relationships can last forever; they need hard work, a solid base, support and room to breath but they do work – we have the proof! I feel this belief, especially in this day and age, is a great lesson and a precious gift. I know there are a million different reasons why a couple split up and often it may be for the best, but I also think sometimes it’s the easy route. No that’s wrong, sorry. Not the easy route, but that we’re taught it is the next step when things get hard rather than being taught that true life-long-love is worth fighting for and working hard for.

These ponderings have been prompted by a link posted by one of A Cup of Jo’s guest bloggers in her "Secrets to a Happy Marriage" series. I was so moved by the author’s strength and honesty. It’s easy to look at long and happy marriages with rose tinted glasses but I’m sure every success story has a lot of hard work, individually and as a team, behind it. It’s not sexy and it’s not conventionally romantic but the rewards are so great and that’s what I want to model our marriage on.

No source for these pics as I've had them saved for ages. And yes the last one may be a bit gratuitous but Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were known as having the longest marriage in Hollywood. Bogard and Bacall is just such a romantic story although I don't doubt they had to work very hard. And as for Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn - well they may never have married but they're my favourites; they just radiate love, respect and fun.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Twinkle Twinkle

[via Style me Pretty]

I just love little twinkling lights and pretty lanterns - if I had my way we'd have them all over the flat. N points out that they have a tendency to look a bit student bed-sit so - fortunately - he has curbed my over-enthusiasm (for now...)

[via snippet and ink]

However, since I've started saving pictures for wedding inspiration, the ones we both sigh over and give two thumbs up to are the ones featuring strings of lights and lanterns. There is something so happy, festive, magical about them. So we're in agreement that these will feature heavily at our wedding party - strings of fairy lights over the dinner tables and around the dance floor, lanterns hung in the trees and on the ground to light steps and paths.

[via snippet and ink]

N has started making prototype lanterns - so far they appear to be incredibly complicated feats of engineering. I have faith though ...

[wish I could remember where I got these - sorry!]

Now I can hear the drums and whistles echoing over west London - it's time for reggae beats, jerk chicken and probably a stinking hangover and sore limbs tomorrow - it's Carnival time - woo woo!

[a friend took this - can't remember who but it was definitely Nottinghill Carnival 2006]

Thursday, 27 August 2009

T minus ten months

According to Brides Magazine, these are all the things I should have done by now ....

1) Meet priest and book church date and time
ok - done that. Good start

2) Book the reception venue
Nope. They still haven't sent their quote - grrr

3) Book caterer

4) Book DJ and/or band
Umm - sort of. We've mentioned it to our musical friends ....

5) Decide guest list

6) Decide on budget
err, mumble mumble

7) Book your photographer and videographer
Not even started

8) Make sure the church or wedding venue allows photography
What!?! Might they not? Ekkk!

9) Choose your attendants, best man and ushers
Yes! phew. Oh, has N asked his ushers yet???

10) Decide on your dress
You have to be kidding

11) Choose and order your attendants' outfits

12) Order your wedding cake
well, we're making it - does ordering from myself count?

13) Start looking at honeymoon options
just looking? yes looking we're doing a lot of ....

Should I be panicking? Sometimes I am. I call Mama and tell her I'm feeling a bit fussed and she says "ach, Bellchin, don't be fussed. It'll all be fine." So I believe her. Silly wedding mags - what do they know?!

Monday, 24 August 2009

A little elopement fantasy ....

Another beautiful sunny weekend - oh, if only they could last forever!
Our very good and very musical friends (see last post) have a little cabin in a little meadow on a little island in the Thames. To celebrate musical friend's wife's birthday they invited a group of us to camp in this little meadow and join them in barbecuing, guitar playing, bonfire singing, marshmallow toasting, occasional rowing and brave swimming and general countryside fun and laughter. It was a bit of a Brazil reunion since most of us had been at musical friends' wedding. I made this cake, with cardamon instead of rosemary and lots and lots of compote. It was good! It really really was. It took a little effort to work out the American measuring system (how can it be that we do it so differently?!) but it was worth it. I wish I had taken pictures of my handiwork but it was eaten too quickly so here is one from Sunday Suppers - oh how I love that blog!

While we were lazing about on blankets in the sun one of the girls complimented my dress, a loose tunic-y thing with coloured smocking around the collar. I'd pinned up my hair with some little white flower clips (£2.99 from H&M - bargain!) and we were making daisy chains. She suddenly said "you could get married right here, looking like that and in this beautiful place". I pictured it for a moment; a little elopement, barefoot and in a pretty summer dress with just a few good friends. It sounds so romantic, so special and serene.

And it is.

But a moment later I realised - it isn't us.

People often ask if we're having a big wedding and I usually say "oh no!" partly because I don't yet know who or how many people we'll invite and partly because I think 'big wedding' implies vast expense, showing off, relatives taking over and hundreds of guests you don't know let alone love.
In other words; big wedding implies wack.
Well, obviously I don't want any of that but really celebrating and making the most of the occasion is important us. One of the things I fell in love with is N's ability to make everyone feel special and at ease - he's a people person through and through. He loves to party, loves seeing people he loves have a good time. His friends and family mean the world to him, he's outgoing, he's fun to be around and totally genuine. I'm maybe not as affable as my man but I'm outgoing and love a shindig and, I'll admit, I do love hosting. Family and occasion mean something very important to me and luckily they mean the same to him.
So a big hoopla of a wedding, with traditions and food and music and aunties and uncles and lots of friends, ceremonial in parts and raucous in others, I think that is more our style. Still special and romantic in it's own way.

[photo by a friend. Yup, that's us - bang goes the anonymity!]

(and unfortunately I don't think I'll ever be described as serene ...!)

Monday, 17 August 2009

Lazy Summer Weekend

What exactly happens on a weekend doing nothing much? Here's what I did...

Stayed in on the Friday night we had planned to go out dancing because N got home from work late, I wanted to cook risotto and read blogs and N wanted to play with his records in his geek room. And I was so happy!

Completed a certain artistic project I have been involved with for the last few weeks - I'm going to stay stum on this one for now; suffice to say it's a gift for my folks and the artistic skills are not my own.

Baked a really pretty yummy spiced apple cake with apples from folk's garden (I might post the recipe shortly because it turned out so well)

Had supper with our very good and very musical friends on their roof - it was at their wedding where N asked me to marry him* - We ate much of afor mentioned cake and danced in the warm sunny evening.

Nursed a hangover (left over cake helps a lot with hangovers!)

Tidied the garden; tending to the sweet peas and harvesting tomatoes and throwing away rather dead herbs. I'm ridiculously proud of the produce coming from the pots in my little patch of urban space.

Read lots and lots of weekend papers as well as the September issue of Vogue - almost as yummy as the cake.

Also read a lot of blogs - I mean I really really read them. I clicked on every link and comment. Now I'm feeling I'm a little over whelmed but I found some absolute stars. For example, couple of fellow Brit Brides Seven Weddings
and Our Day by Design and a couple just gorgeous reads Naturally Nina and Create.

*just realised I haven't yet told our engagement story properly. Hmmm ....

Friday, 14 August 2009

Alan, Alan, Alan, Al, Al, Alan

I've watched this about 20 times and it is still making me laugh

Clearly, I'm a girl of simple tastes when it comes to laughter.

Oh, look Will Farrell is on Sky Movies .....

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Tres élégant...

My current obsession with stripes continues unchecked by having just seen beautiful Audrey Tautou in Coco Avant Chanel with little sis. We came out both quite determined to pout more from now on.

But back to the beautiful dresses that seem to be all I can think about at the moment (mild exaggeration, but just mild). I have totally fallen in love again! The superlative Style me Pretty offered up this beauty today and my knees really did go weak for a moment:

This isn't an actual real wedding but a photo shoot and the dress is supplied by a shop in Atlanta Georgia. Booo! Too far away and since video conferencing has been invented I have no excuse to go there. (more pouting!)

I did a little bit of detective work an
d I think it's this dress, Antibes from Cymbeline...

Although I think it looks nicer in the photo shoot. (I almost said 'in real life' there - tsk, dreaming again!)
But what have we here - another, if possible, more stunning dress from the same designer!! Too much heart fluttering for one day - I blame Coco for this fit of sartorial gluttony.

all pictures from Cymbeline website except the last one which is from Brides

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Monday, 10 August 2009

A good week's round up

I can't believe it has been over a week since my last post - and I meant to be so much better. I get too distracted at reading everyone's lovely blogs though and never quite get round to writing anything myself.

So what has happened in the last week - first we went to this festival

Space theme so sparkles and stars all over everything. And to give you an idea of quite how lovely this boutique festival is; I lost my camera - lots of tears from me at all the pictures lost as well as curses at the alleged thief - only to have it handed into lost property the next day, without even any rude photos added!
My very very pregnant best friend came too - she should have come as the moon she is so perfectly spherical. Can't wait to meet whoever is inside that belly of hers!
Then during the week, we feasted with friends under the stars in our wee back garden and I went on my first proper wedding-dress trying on session.
Oooh, that was fun! We went to Pronovias on Bond street - my littlest sister and maid of honour and I. It was so interesting; what I turned out liking and what suited me. Lots of the dress pictures I have saved so far are of rather sweet and pretty dresses but that style actually looked totally wrong on me; as though I was dressing up as a little girl. (I am 30 after all!) And the more fitted fishtail designs, which I always thought too grown-up and dressy for our countryside wedding, looked, well really lovely. (!!) We only went to get ideas though; I'm hoping to get something cheaper and more sustainable than designer and although my head was turned by a lovely lacy vintage style number I'm still determined to keep the price tag realistic.
We ended the week westwards, sunning ourselves with Sunday papers in Somerset with my Mother and Sister-in-law-to-be, so blissful!
So here are a few of the lovely dresses I won't be wearing due to my being about eight years too old - goodbye pretty dresses ... one last oogle!

Top row l > r: Luisa Baccaria; via Brides; via Bridesmagazine; Stephanie Allin; Lisa Warninger; Luisa Baccaria
Bottom row l>r: Bridesmagazine; David Fielden; Kitty Chen; Seraphine via Brides; Jasper Conran; Jasper Conran

Friday, 31 July 2009

Thank Frock is Friday

Off to party in a field with friends old and new this afternoon - the car is full, not just with tents and wellies but also almost our entire bedroom. N and I don't really do capsule packing - we'd rather sleep in style and comfort so duvets, pillows, inflatable mattress, Turkish floor rugs, lanterns and camping chairs all get brought along. Now we just need to pray it doesn't rain .. too much - but we'll party on regardless of course.

Next week I'm going for my first proper wedding dress trying on session. I have collected a lot (I mean A LOT) of pictures of pretty dresses but really have no idea what I'll end up going for.

This is one I found on Sugar Love Weddings - love it's beautiful vintagy floatiness; delicate without being prissy. The dress is by Hanna Kossowska and the bride in the photo shoot couldn't look more gorgeous, no?

Right - hitting the road to festival fun - see you next week! x

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Tuesday, 28 July 2009

More Awesome Advice

OK, not so much advice as just a really cool thing my boy said to me that made me feel better about a lot of things.

I've bit feeling a bit, sort of, I don't know, weird about wedding planning. For some reason I'm resisting getting excited - as though I don't want the day to be an anticlimax or I don't want to be bored of it before it even happens. Also, there is a little bit of me that isn't sure I deserve a big fuss and so don't want to seem as if I'm making a fuss - does that make sense?
I don't know where these paranoid thoughts are coming from ... it could be slightly to do with the length of our engagement, maybe it's the intolerable Bridezilla label that gets thrown around, or possibly it's someone giving me the exact opposite of good advice who's put these thoughts in my head (I'm not going to dwell on that.) Possibly it's because I'm not really feeling real about it yet - or maybe, the most likely scenario if I'm honest, I'm just over thinking it. (A common failure I'm afraid)

So I let slip some of these thoughts to N and also might have mentioned that I had been "advised" not get overexcited about a one day event because it'll make married life seem disappointing afterwards and it'll drive a wedge between us (yup - still not dwelling...)

N was of course irate - not just on my behalf but also at me for even considering this as a valid opinion. His words, after a bit of swearing were - "do get excited - get as excited as you bloody well want - this is an exciting thing, and it'll only happen once and it's really really exciting!"

Thanks hon!

He also said that if we do get gloomy afterwards, or overwrought before, we'll deal with that when the time comes - and not by imaging it before.

And those are sound words and ones I intend to pay heed to.

Friday, 24 July 2009


A good few precious pearls of wisdom have come my way over the last six months of engagement (often from the wonderful world of blogs) but recently they have been coming thick and fast from people around me.

I am determined to keep these in mind over the next eleven months (and beyond) so onto the blog they go..

The first is from a colleague who was married at the end of last year. (In fact, I hardly know her - I'm not even sure of her name although we always bump into each other in the kitchen and she's very friendly - I've reached the point where I feel I can't ask anymore!) Anyway, she spotted my ring and after the usual congratulations and when? where? and have you found a dress? questions she said what so many recently marrieds say and which never fails to annoy me - she told me how stressful the few weeks before her wedding were.

Why do almost strangers have to tell you this?

I have felt as though they want to knock my down a peg;
"don't be too excited, don't be too happy"
or they are asking for sympathy for a traumatic event.

My annoyance must have shown on my face because she then said this:

"don't worry, it's good stress - you're organising something so wonderful and anything worth doing is worth getting a bit stressed over. I wouldn't swap those stressful weeks for anything."

How fabulous is that?! Stress gets bad press but she's so right - really it just means you give a damn.

Her name is Jenny - she's worth me making the effort of finding out!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Hard at work

(originally written 21st June)

This is definitely a holiday and not a wedding recce but obviously we are trying to get a bit of planning done especially since we've got la Mama and her Italian skills here.

We've pencilled the Rocca after a pretty successful meeting with one of the managers and N is now priming himself for negotiating prices. It shouldn't be too hard to knock them down a bit as most tourist based businesses here are seriously struggling at the moment. The local town, a Mecca for Chiantishire, was eerily quiet on this, the first weekend of the high season. It may sound a bit crass to be making the most of other's misfortune but until now a lot of them have been charging silly money and getting away with it (a newly opened but distinctly average build to let villa we considered renting for our guests quoted us 5,000euro a week - it sleeps 8! - err, no thanks!). Negotiating money makes me feel a bit queasy but luckily N's pretty good at it. We all have out strengths...

What is proving more complicated is the actual marriage part of the wedding - who do we speak to book the church? And exactly what paperwork do we need to marry in a Catholic church? We keep making little steps forward but not really getting to our intended destination which is locking down the date. So far a woman from the local council has promised to fax me something and we've got the phone number of someone who runs the church diary but who is currently on holiday.

Right, that's enough hard work - back to the real purpose of our being here...

Friday, 17 July 2009

Molti Fiori

[originally written 25th June 2009]

So one of the tasks we've set ourselves on our trip out to Italy is to make a note of which plants and flowers are out and at their best at this time of year. As I mentioned in a previous post I've been pretty keen on using wild, seasonal and indigenous flowers for our wedding. Well of course at this time of year, before the burning heat of July and August, we're spoilt for choice.

It seems however we are not going to have a choice in the colour scheme. To my surprise it's not cornflower blue or Tuscan oranges and yellows that dominate but ... pink.
Soft, pretty blousy pink. I'm not against the colour - I quite like the paler shade's shabby vintage qualities. But I wrote it off for our wedding as way too girly and cute and not N's cup of tea at all. (Plus the brighter shades really do not suit my colouring at all.) But really, we honestly don't have a choice - it's everywhere! Climbing roses, hydrangeas, geraniums, oleander, and wild sweet peas by every road side. If you can't beat it ...