I have now been married for precisely twenty three days and it feels fantastic. Well, if I’m really honest it doesn’t really feel any different to when we weren’t married apart from that I no longer have wedding planning to stress about and I’m not having dreams where we’re getting married in a massive gospel church in America’s Deep South and all Barry’s family turn up late. But I would count both those things as big improvements!
We had an absolutely amazing day on the big day itself. All my stress and planning paid off and everything went exactly how I had hoped it would. From arriving at the hotel on the Friday afternoon and handing over 8 boxes of jars filled with mini-eggs, 90 cupcakes, a table plan, a handmade personalised post box and various bits of decoration and bunting that I spent the last 6 months making to portioning up leftover cheese for our friends and family on Sunday morning there really wasn’t anything I would have done differently.
We had a lovely meal in the real ale pub attached to the hotel on Friday night with the rest of the wedding party and then after a quick introduction to Barry’s relatives (who, apart from his mum and dad I had never met before) I kissed my fiancé goodnight and headed off the to twin room I was sharing with my bridesmaid Claire to try and get some sleep. I think I probably managed about 5 hours over the night and after lying awake for an hour we decided at 7am to head down to breakfast (in our pyjamas) as Barry was under strict instructions not to leave his room until he had the all clear.
The hours from 7:30am to the wedding at 2:30pm were some of the longest and most nerve-wracking I have ever experienced. I’m not a girl who takes hours to get ready so even on my wedding day I wasn’t going to need 7 hours! So we watched a bit of TV, I read a bit of my book, at some point my mum appeared and I did her make up. We managed to go and sneak a look at the reception room and I got a chance to make a few last minute tweaks then finally at about half past twelve the ‘bridal suite’ was ready – we moved all our things and it was time to get ready. Having short hair meant I didn’t really need my hair ‘done’ and we did our own make up. I don’t wear make up very often although I do enjoy putting it on for a night out and I was a bit worried I would look over done if I got someone else to do it. I’d spent the last month or so (and quite a lot of money!) trying to make my skin look the best it could and despite a scare caused by a nasty allergic reaction to some Clinque stuff two weeks before I was really pleased with what I’d achieved and how it turned out on the day.
After the make up it was into the wedding underwear – stockings and suspenders no less (Well, when else was I going to get a chance to wear them) and it was finally time for The Dress. I knew very early on that I didn’t want a traditional, strapless, the same as a hundred other brides wedding dress, and this was confirmed when I first went to try on dresses with my mum and Claire in Blackpool last June. Going into a run of the mill bridal shop and asking for something that isn’t strapless is like asking for a vegetarian option in McDonalds. I think I managed to find two dresses that I sort of liked but I knew they still weren’t really what I was looking for. As my wedding plans were taking shape I knew we were heading for a more ‘vintage’ feel to the day than a sort of formal, matchy matchy kind of wedding. So my dress search lead me to Google where I discovered Dragonfly Dress Design in Glasgow.
The wonderful, friendly, helpful and just all-round awesome Lisa makes bespoke wedding dresses but also supplies (and alters vintage dresses). So in July last year Claire and I headed to the Hidden Lane off Glasgow’s Argyle Street and found the tiny studio Lisa was working from. As an added bonus we also found the Hidden Lane Tea Room and had some lovely cakes too! Anyway, I must have tried on 15 or so dresses. Some weren’t over my head long enough for me to catch a glimpse in the mirror before Lisa had whipped them back off assuring me that I really didn’t want to see what a dress that wasn’t right for me looked like. And then we got to the last dress of the day. It was just what I was after – 1950s, full length, beautiful broderie anglais detailing but nothing sparkly, not strapless. There was only one slight problem – I am not the shape of someone from the 1950s, especially in the boob area, and the detail on the top wasn’t quite the right shape. “Not to worry” said Lisa, “we can just take the top half off, make a new one that fits and gives you more support, use the material from the original to put the detail back and add a coloured sash!”. Perfect. And that’s exactly what she did. I bought the dress in July and didn’t see it again until February. When I went back to see Lisa in March there was no dress, just a skirt and a half made top. But with a few more fittings I ended up with a perfect dress. And a dress that had its own history, but had also never been worn before. It was like having a bespoke dress made but at half the price. I loved it. It had a pale pink sash with a bow at the back and I wore it with a full length veil that I found for £15 in a coffee shop where I live that also sells a bit of vintage clothing on the side. Apart from Lisa and Claire no-one had seen the dress until the big day, but seeing me in it made my mum and dad both cry and most importantly my husband thought I looked beautiful. I had lots of compliments through out the day. I felt fantastic, and mostly comfortable. The only slight issue I had is that dresses from the ‘50s use a lot of man-made fibres and after some energetic dancing (more of that later) I was just a teensy bit hot and sweaty.
I don’t wear high heels very often and I had a very specific style in mind. Something with a low heel, round toes and a buckle. Preferably in pink to match the sash on my dress. After quite a bit of trawling the internet I couldn’t find anything even close when I was reading the Love My Dress blog (which I looked at several times a day throughout the planning process for inspiration and ideas) and I came across Shoes of Prey. Shoes of Prey are based in Australia but they will ship any where in the world. You use their online tool to design your shoes choosing every detail yourself. I will admit my shoes were a bit pricey but they are comfortable, they’re stylish and they look great with jeans so I’ll definitely be wearing them again!
Once we were all dressed – Claire had a sort of raspberry pink knee-length dress, the best thing about which was that it had pockets. How awesome (and useful) is that? – there was just time for a few more photos before the ceremony. All the photos of the day were taken by my brilliant sister-in-law Becca who is a photographer by trade but not usually the wedding variety, ably assisted by my brother Mark. The ceremony was for me (as it should be) the best, and most nerve-wracking bit of the day. I wasn’t nervous about the actual getting married but more that, unlike with a church service, you don’t get a rehearsal with a civil ceremony so I didn’t really know exactly how it was going to go. In the end I needn’t have worried because the ceremony was just how we wanted it to be. I think it reflected our personalities, it was honest and romantic without being overly serious and we got to say what we wanted to say, in front of all our family and friends. I walked down the aisle with my dad to Nina Simone singing ‘Feelin’ good’ and I couldn’t stop grinning the whole time. My brother did a brilliant job of reading ‘I like you’ by Sandol Stoddard Warburg, we made our promises to each other, did the legal bit and exchanged rings, Barry’s school friend Matthew did another reading then we signed the register while the ukulele version of ‘Over the Rainbow’ and ‘What a Wonderful World’ by Israel Kamakawiwo’oleplayed. We did a proper Hollywood ‘kiss the bride’ moment too and then finally danced our way back down the aisle to ‘All I Want Is You’ by Barry Louis Polisar – from the Juno soundtrack.
After the ceremony we headed outside for some photographs. Although the weather wasn’t great it was dry and warm enough for a few outside photos, just about. After the photos were done we headed back inside for a bit of mingling before taking our seats for the wedding breakfast. I know it’s called that because it’s the first meal you have as a married couple but it still sounds weird to me. Anyway, the food was lovely and the waiting staff very polite and professional. The hotel staff were great throughout the whole thing actually – especially on the day checking on the details and making sure everything was how we wanted.
After we had cut a cupcake – we were meant to cut the top cake but the cake stand was really wobbly and we daren’t actually put any pressure on it – it was time for the speeches. My dad was very sweet and managed to be just the right balance of entertaining and embarrassing. Then it was Barry’s turn who despite being pretty nervous managed to get plenty of laughs and while still being very lovely about me. After that, I had my say. I’m too much of a show off to let an opportunity to make 70 people listen to what I have to say pass me by. I didn’t say too much though – I just didn’t think it was right that I didn’t get to say my thank yous too. Although, I did forget to mention Barry at all – oops! After me it was the Best Man Ben’s turn and thankfully his speech passed without incident or embarrassing revelation.
Ater the (delicious) meal and (funny and heart warming) speeches were over, Barry and I escaped for 15 minutes up to our room where, despite spending a small fortune on my shoes, I changed into my custom designed red Converse hi-tops, which have the date of the wedding embroidered on the side, and Barry changed into his brand new shiny white Adidas shell-toes. And we were ready for the dancing!
We had hired a three piece Harlem Swing band called 52 Skidoo to entertain us and our guests and they were awesome. Not that we are particular fans of Harlem Swing but we really wanted live music, but not a typical covers band. 52 Skidoo (Henry on piano, Howard on drums and clarinet and Tommy on vocals and guitar) play songs from the 20s and 30s – prohibition jazz and speakeasy classics. Not many songs you’ve heard before but absolutely brilliant to dance to. We did our first dance to ‘It had to be you’ which has been recorded by hundreds of times but I love the version from the ‘When Harry Met Sally’ soundtrack. The 52 Skidoo boys did a great job and hopefully we managed to avoid the ‘awkward slow shuffle round the dance floor’ first dance.
People were on the dance floor all night and there were a few star turns – most notably from my Iranian step-grandad Houshi (I know, don’t ask) who, with his wig and yellow tinted aviators, became the legend of the evening! There was a mid-evening rest stop for sausage butties, cheese and cupcakes and then the dancing just carried on until it was time to call it a night. We had a last drink in the hotel bar with a few stragglers – and we were pretty proud to be the last ones to go to bed, we wanted to enjoy every possible last second of our day.