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A heart-filled planning thread

I wasn't sure whether to create a planning thread here as I've been writing about my planning at my blog... but then I realised I don't really need an excuse to talk about weddings! So, here we go.


On New Year’s Eve 2009 I didn’t have any plans. My friends were mostly spending the night with their boyfriends, but I’d been single for nearly two years and that wasn’t an option for me. So I stayed in with my family, ate some nice food and watched a DVD.

I quite clearly remember thinking that evening that I’d be single forever. I didn’t think that in a depressing way, because I really liked being single – I had great friends and a good social life, and I generally found men to be more drama than they were worth. I thought I’d be single forever because I just couldn’t imagine falling for someone, or wanting to actually be in a relationship. Being in a relationship sounded like the worst thing ever.

The night we met

Two nights later, it was the first Saturday night in a brand new year, and as usual I was out with my friends. One of the girls wanted to meet up with a guy she liked, so we all ended up in a tiny pub with this boy and his friends. I had known all but one of them for years (we live in a small place; everyone knows everyone)… and the one I didn’t know was J.

I recognised his face from a temp job I’d had a few months before, but we’d never talked. So when I ended up next to him at the bar, I started a conversation. We chatted for ages and we had so much in common that, as we finished our conversation, I turned to my friend and said “I think that guy’s my soulmate!” – as a joke, obviously. But I found out later that he knew I was ‘The One’ on that very first night, and he told his friends straight away that I’d be his girlfriend. You’ve got to love his confidence!

With that said, it wasn’t really love at first sight – he seemed very nice, but I wasn’t looking for a boyfriend so I thought we’d just be friends. But I added him on Facebook, and over the next few weeks we talked near enough every day. For hours. And hours…



  • Our first date came a few weeks later, on January 19th 2010. I was supposed to be going to the pub with a friend to watch the United game but he cancelled, so J offered to take me instead. He bought me a steak, we watched the football and it was fun. I still thought we’d end up being ‘just friends’ and was in a bit of denial over whether it was really a date (I was so commitment phobic!) but we went out a few more times and I soon found I was falling for him…

    By Easter we had been on our first holiday to Fuerteventura, where we said the I-love-yous. He moved into my parents’ house with me that summer (not really as a conscious decision, but he started staying over and then never left…) and the following year we bought our own house. And a puppy! Everything was wonderful.

    The proposal

    So on Christmas Eve 2011, we had been together for just less than two years. It was going to be the first Christmas in our own home, and I was feeling rather festive and excited. I do love Christmas.

    We spent the afternoon at his nephew’s first birthday party, followed by a drink in the pub with his family, and then drove to my parents’ house for the evening. We sat down for food with my family (my parents, my brother and his girlfriend, and my three grandparents) while J was still knocking back a few whiskeys. I obviously didn’t realise this was dutch courage; I thought he was just being festive and taking advantage of the fact I was designated driver.

    As we finished eating, he said he’d like to give a “Christmas speech” and everyone gathered in the living room. I thought he must be drunk, so I was barely even paying attention at first – I was sat on the floor playing with the puppy. I won’t give all the details (I’m not sure I even remember all the details!) but he said that we’d all had a wonderful year, how he felt that he was part of the family now and how important this was to him, and then I suddenly realised what was happening. A ring appeared from nowhere, and the rest is a crazy, happy blur.

    It’s so typical of him to do it in front of everyone (he loves to cause a scene!) and I love the fact he did it on Christmas Eve rather than the next morning; it made the evening even more special… although I didn’t sleep at all that night for all the excitement.

    Best Christmas ever… and then the planning began!

  • My early definition of 'planning' basically consisted of subscribing to every wedding blog I could find and staring at my ring. But I was a bit overwhelmed by everything that needed to be done, and I'm quite stressy by nature, so I knew I needed to get organised as early as possible. Particularly as we knew straight away we didn't want a really long engagement.

    Setting a date

    If I could have avoided getting married in 2013, I probably would have… I’m not superstitious at all, but it’s not exactly one of my favourite numbers. Just looks ugly, doesn’t it? Thirteen. 13. I wasn’t going to leave it a whole extra year though, so I’m embracing the ugliness.

    J’s job meant that we needed a date in the school holidays, so we just went for the first Saturday of the summer break: 27th July. It doesn't have any deep or heartfelt meaning, it was just for the convenience of fitting a honeymoon in - but he recently changed jobs, so the summer date isn't even necessary anymore! By that point we'd booked too much to change it, though, so we're sticking with our date.


    There wasn’t much question about where our actual service would take place – my grandparents are very involved in their church, and pretty much all the churchy family events in my memory (christenings, wedding blessings, funerals, etc.) have happened there. My parents were married there too. I can’t imagine not getting married in church, and choosing any other would have just felt wrong. Plus the minister already knows us fairly well, which is useful.

    The church is not in the most inspiring of locations (on a high street, opposite some shops) but the interior is lovely. It’s quite modern in its styling – plastered, painted walls rather than traditional brickwork; padded chairs rather than wooden pews – and I love the fact it feels more ‘relaxed’ than older churches.

    Finding somewhere for the reception proved more difficult. Everywhere within a reasonable distance seemed to be either too expensive, didn’t look very nice, or didn’t hold enough people. I also don’t like the idea of a “package” wedding, as offered by so many hotels – I want to make the day as personal as possible, so having things like flowers, centrepieces, table numbers and the seating plan all provided as part of a set cost wasn’t appealing in the slightest. I was tempted by the idea of a marquee, but groom-to-be said no as he doesn’t trust the weather. I suppose he has a point.

    We eventually found a golf club that seemed to tick all the boxes. We get the whole place to ourselves on the day; the costs are extremely reasonable and we have the freedom to do whatever we like with decoration. There are two rooms: a smaller room with gorgeous views over the golf course and beyond for the initial drinks reception, and then a larger room for the meal and dancing. The main room has lovely chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and a door that opens onto a little garden terrace for people to stand outside. I love it.

  • Colours

    Coming from a design background and being a bit creative, I love colour. I actually own a book that is nothing more than hundreds of possible colour schemes, and I have a similar app on my phone. (Geek.) So I genuinely believe that, had the decision for our wedding colours been left to my devices, I would have taken forever to make up my mind… we’re probably talking about a last minute scenario. I can just imagine people panicking a month before the wedding that I still hadn’t made a firm choice on colours for the day.

    Luckily for the sanity of all involved, J made the decision for us. And since he’s so laid back when it comes to planning this wedding (“you choose; I trust you”) I wasn’t going to argue with his one definitive opinion. So the colour is red – J’s favourite, and a little nod to our mutual love of Manchester United.


    Ah, my one big decision: the theme. I love themed weddings, and have come across so many amazing examples that perfectly reflect the interests or style of the couple. Favourite movies, books or music; the places they’ve travelled; their favourite vintage eras… endless possibilities.

    With that said, it became apparent fairly quickly that we probably wouldn’t have an obvious theme. We’re not an ‘opposites attract’ couple as such; I just couldn’t think of anything that would reflect both of us and still look great on the day. I like books, florals and cups of tea; he likes maps, sports, a bit of 1920s styling… we’re not totally different, but there are no obvious themes that are unquestionably “us”. The only thing that we’re equally passionate about is football, but that would not work for a sophisticated wedding. There’s a time and a place for a meat and potato pie, and my wedding day is not it.

    So rather than a specific theme, I thought we could just choose a motif to appear throughout the day and tie everything together. After playing around with a few different ideas, I’ve settled on a little red heart – not exactly the most groundbreaking of ideas, but it works with our red colour scheme and reflects our love. Aww.

    So I made a Pinterest board dedicated to this theme, and collected as many ideas as possible. I won’t be using all of them, obviously – something like this needs to be done well or it could end up looking like a tacky Valentine’s display, so I’ll make sure it’s all very subtle and classy.


  • The more I got into the planning, the more I start thinking about what kind of 'style' suits us (contemporary or vintage?  Fun or sophisticated?) and we’ve decided we’re going for a ‘glam’ sort of look with sparkly silvers and jewels, as a highlight to the red. Here’s a quick inspiration board to sum up my vision (ha)


  • I love the little red hearts! image

  • Thank you thirdthing!


    Initially I thought I'd just stick to family for my bridesmaids - my two female cousins (we're extremely close) and J's sister - because I have a lot of good friends, and so 'just family' would be easier than picking some friends over others or feeling obligated to have everyone. But a few weeks into my planning I realised I really needed one of my oldest friends; she's the sort of person that will stop me stressing in the run-up to the wedding day, and help me with all the decisions I can't make! So I asked her too, and I now have four grown-up bridesmaids and no children (there aren't any young girls in either of our families at the moment).

    Straight away I knew I wasn't going to buy proper 'bridesmaid dresses'. I really wanted them to have red maxi dresses, and I was hoping to save some money by getting them on the highstreet rather than a dedicated wedding shop or bridesmaid label. In my head I was thinking a quick trip into Topshop or similar and it’d be sorted, but after hours and hours (literally) of searching online, it turned out there were extremely few red dresses around this summer. Annoying. Why did I have to pick the summer of pastels to plan my red wedding?

    Eventually, after we still couldn’t find any maxi dresses that were a reasonable price and available in all the sizes we needed, I finally decided to open up my search to dresses of different lengths. So, with broader criteria in mind (err, just ‘something red’) I continued my trawl of the internet, and stumbled across this dress from Forever 21. I liked it. And then I realised it was only £18.75, so I loved it. That’s four bridesmaid dresses for just £75 – amazing!

    There were only four dresses left in stock on the website, which could almost have been considered fate until I realised that they weren’t in the right combination of sizes that I needed. But I still couldn’t pass up the super cheap price tag, so I decided to go ahead and buy them anyway. A couple of them need to be altered slightly, but J's auntie has kindly offered to do that, and the girls look gorgeous in them. Very pleased!

  • Photographer

    I started looking at photographers really early on, but found the decision incredibly overwhelming… there were a few that made it onto a ‘shortlist’ of sorts, but nobody that I felt 100% happy with.

    I want lots of documentary style images, a few nice poses and group shots, and a gorgeous album at the end of it. I was focusing on local photographers to avoid extra travel costs, but I was still a bit hesitant about even the “best” person on our list – he was an extremely skilled documentary photographer, but openly admits that he’s not a fan of group shots… and I do want a couple of nice family pictures, even if they’re not fashionable anymore!

    Thankfully I found Hannah Mia ( whose photographs sum up exactly what I want and I know she’ll be a great person to have around on the day. She’ll have to travel a bit of a distance, but I’m confident that our album will be beautiful. Exciting!

    Here is some of her work:

  • Videographer

    I always knew I wanted a videographer, but J took a little more convincing. He didn’t really understand the difference between hiring a professional and inviting a guest with a camcorder, so I’ve been trying to explain why it’s worth the money (and why my Dad wouldn’t be simultaneously filming and walking me down the aisle.)

    After finally talking him round, I began researching and found one particularly incredible videographer in exactly the style I had imagined… but he was already booked on our wedding date. He helpfully suggested someone similar, but he was already booked too. So I sent an enquiry to another company, and they were also booked. Yikes.

    I knew our date would be popular but I hadn’t realised that we’d struggle quite so much with availability that far in advance (we still had well over a year to go at this point) and I began to hate myself for not getting organised sooner.

    Luckily, one of the booked videographers gave me a call with another recommendation. He suggested someone new to the business, but assured me that this guy is “fantastic” and one of only two videographers that he will actually recommend. New Guy doesn’t have much of a portfolio yet as he’s just starting out (which also means he costs around half as much as most of the others I’d looked at) but I was firmly instructed not to hold this against him. So we got in touch, and have since decided to book him – perhaps a leap of faith without an extensive portfolio, but I’m trusting the recommendation and at least I know we’ll get our DVD.

  • Favours

    I want to give favours that people will actually appreciate, so we thought about what our family and friends would enjoy… and we’re going with alcohol. Miniature bottles of raspberry Absolut vodka (because the bottle is red – matchy matchy) and some heart-shaped chocolates for the kids. I’m going to make tags to tie around the neck of the bottles with each guest’s name, so they double up as place cards, and I will probably put the chocolates in a box of some kind…

  • ClarkieClarkie Posts: 586

    Loving this thread-The red heart thing is so cute!

    However as much as I love all the wedding pics my fave is definitely Pup! We are desperate for a Jack Russell and waste many an evening watching youtube vids of Jack Russell puppies! Sadly we live in a flat so can't get one at the mo but it is first on our list when we can afford a house.

    Can't wait to read more x

  • Aww, thanks Clarkie2be. I'm such a crazy dog lady these days! Elmo is actually half Jack Russell, half Miniature Dachshund so he's a bit smaller. He's wild, though - craziest dog ever! Here are a few more recent photos for you (he's 1 now)...

  • Oh my gosh your doggy is gorgeous image how much are the vodka favours I thought of getting these but worried they were pricey?
  • The Absolut miniatures are £1.99 each which is quite expensive, but I think I'd rather pay that and know they'll all be used than pay less for something that will be left behind. You can get other brands of miniatures for cheaper prices (Smirnoff is £1.59 a bottle) - I've been looking at but I'm sure there are other websites out there too.

  • I wanted minatures but because of licensing laws we arent allowed them in our venue image

    i think that is a scottish thing though so dont worry! I love the little red love heart idea! Also your dog is adorable!!!


  • Ooh, I hadn't even thought about whether they were allowed or not! Better check with the venue before I buy - thanks for that Jennytay08! Hopefully it's not a problem.

  • Music

    We had discussed the option of a band for our evening entertainment, but after a few hours of searching I was put off by the prices. I’m still trying to keep the overall cost for the day down, and while a band would have been fun, I know that our friends and family will be dancing regardless of where the music is coming from. I was also concerned that a band performing our first dance song wouldn’t have the same impact as the original, so we decided to stick to a DJ.

    I wanted someone professional and I came across a local DJ that specialises in weddings. He's a bit more expensive than your general party disco but the package includes amazing lighting (including mood lighting / uplighters during the meal), music throughout the whole reception (meal included) and a microphone for the speeches.

    First dance

    Our first dance song was actually decided well before we were even engaged. We had taken J’s little brother to the zoo, and as we were all piling back into the car after a tiring day, ‘One Day Like This‘ by Elbow was playing on the radio. I had heard it a couple of times without really knowing what it was, but from nowhere J said, “This is going to be the first dance at our wedding.” It surprised me considering we weren’t actually planning a wedding at the time, but I loved the lyrics, and it’s been decided ever since. I can’t wait to hear that lovely intro as we step onto the dancefloor.

    I was a bit concerned by how long it was (I hadn't even noticed until someone mentioned it on a thread here!) but our DJ said he can either shorten it, or we can pick a point to invite others onto the dance floor. I'm not a brilliant dancer so I don't think a whole 6 minutes would be a good idea...

  • Gospel choir

    Confession: I have a total weakness for gospel choirs. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve watched ‘Sister Act 2′ and wished I was in their music class, and the surprise song in the ‘Love Actually’ wedding melts my heart every time.

    Hiring a gospel choir to perform at the church was an idea we discussed as soon as we were engaged, but I haven’t been able to find any that wouldn’t need to travel for hundreds of miles to get to us. I am slightly amazed, actually – I thought there would be loads of vocal groups available for weddings, but my extensive Google searches were getting nowhere.

    Feeling at a loose end, I sent out a plea on Facebook and was immediately pointed in the direction of Vocal Works. And they are perfect. I don’t know how I hadn’t come across them sooner, but now I’m even more excited for the big day. Listen to their sound clips; they’re incredible. We're having a group of six singers, and they will be performing six songs during the ceremony at the church. I can't wait. We have to pick the songs ASAP, but their repetoire is so good I don't know how we'll choose.

  • SadSack83SadSack83 Posts: 1,700

    I love the little red hearts. So visually striking, C

  • ClarkieClarkie Posts: 586

    Aaahhh what an absolute cutie!! I want one!!

    I also love that scene from Love Actually lol. My future brother in law (who is very musical) joked that he was gonna arrange something like that with some of my BMs (who are also very musical) as our venue has a balcony haha.

    Elbow-excellent choice! Have a feeling I'm gonna love this thread image x

  • Loving the hearts too! Lovely to read plans of a fellow 27th July bride! Tell me about people being booked up though, we experienced this too, I was told by one photographer that trying to book for July 2013 in April 2012 (when we got engaged) is short notice! Crazy wedding world!
  • I'm so glad everyone is liking the red hearts! I think it'll look really good as long as I don't go overboard, haha.

    Clarkie2be wrote (see)

    I also love that scene from Love Actually lol. My future brother in law (who is very musical) joked that he was gonna arrange something like that with some of my BMs (who are also very musical) as our venue has a balcony haha.


    That would be amazing! I'd cry though, definitely.

    glitter2707 wrote (see)
    Loving the hearts too! Lovely to read plans of a fellow 27th July bride! Tell me about people being booked up though, we experienced this too, I was told by one photographer that trying to book for July 2013 in April 2012 (when we got engaged) is short notice! Crazy wedding world!


    I know - my friends kept saying how early I was organising everything (mainly because only one of our group is married so far, and she did all her planning within six months so my 19-month engagement probably seems like forever!) but I keep thinking "if it's so early, WHY IS EVERYTHING BOOKED?"

  • amy-lou-22amy-lou-22 Posts: 1,259

    loving your ideas! Date twins too!

  • Centrepieces

    I love flowers but they can get really expensive, so in the interests of keeping costs down I thought I'd come up with some non-floral centrepieces. The number of different ideas I’ve had probably stands at around 500, so I won’t bore you with every detail of my indecision and just take you through my final idea.

    It started off with this dodgy sketch...

    ... which is supposed to be spray-painted sticks in a vase with hanging hearts, in case you can’t decipher my incredible drawing skills.

    I didn’t really know what to make the hearts from, so I considered a few options (fabric? Card? Felt?) but nothing seemed quite right. I had looked at lots of pictures of crystal trees, and loved the sparkles, but couldn’t work out how to incorporate the hearts.

    Some of the images that inspired me:

    But then (this is going to sound weird, but go with it) the idea sort of came to me in a dream. I woke up one morning thinking “I wonder if I could get some heart-shaped beads to add to the ends of crystal droplets?” – I don’t know why that was my first waking thought, but I woke up with a really clear image in my head. A quick eBay search later, and a bag of little Swarovski hearts were on their way to me. Perfect.

    So I ordered seven packs of white Mitsumata branches from Discount Floral Sundries, and they arrived so quickly! They're a bit tall so they'll need to be trimmed down, but they're fab and I can't wait to start crafting. Originally I thought I could just collect some sticks while I was out walking the dog and spray paint them… but after looking into it I realised you do really need a specific type of branches for this to look good. The fact these were already off-white (they're not pure white; more of a cream really) was just a bonus as it saves me one step in the DIY process! So now I just need pots or vases to stand them in, and clear crystal beads to make the rest of the droplets. Exiting.

  • Cars

    Wedding cars weren’t really top of my priority list – I knew we needed them, but I’m not really into cars and didn’t have a clue what I wanted. I did have a quick look to see if there were any red wedding cars available locally (see, I told you I don’t know anything about cars – “What do you want?” “A red one…”) but that was about the extent of my research.

    Then I got talking to very nice local car company at a wedding fayre, and booked them on the spot. I’m not usually that impulsive, but the cars looked gorgeous and they were offering a discount, so it’s another thing to tick off the list!

    We’re having two matching cars – one being a larger version than the first, to fit in all the bridesmaids – and I don’t know what they’re called but I know that they’re pretty. We get a bottle of champagne as we leave the church, and we can take the roof down if we get nice weather. For my hair’s sake, let’s hope it’s not windy…

  • The Dress

    Ah, the dress - I finally ordered it! Major breakthrough as it's taken me months to decide.

    I've been a bit of a nightmare with dress shopping. I put it off for ages as I felt really nervous and overwhelmed, but then I finally found a picture of a dress online that I loved and thought I'd better get a move on. I never wanted a very traditional wedding dress, and this dress was quirky but still absolutely stunning. I tried it on, and I loved it even more... it was literally my Dress of Dreams. But it was really expensive, and I didn't want to commit to anything in the first shop!

    I then visited a number of other shops and totally confused myself. I started trying on different styles and I started to fall in love with the fishtail / mermaid style shape... and I started to really like the idea of having a train, which the Dress of Dreams didn't have.

    So, despite how much I’d loved it, I started to question my original Dress of Dreams. It’s beautiful, but it’s the sort of dress that a celeb could wear on the red carpet and nobody would slate her for turning up in a wedding gown. I’d always wanted something a bit quirky, but I was suddenly swept up in thoughts of “looking like a bride”… and I decided that meant the Dress of Dreams wasn’t right!

    So I found another, much more traditional dress, that I thought was my favourite - the Benjamin Roberts 2315.


    My Mum loved that one, it was her favourite, and I did really like it on... the picture doesn't do it any justice at all. And I even tried it one on for a second time. But something wasn't clicking... I really liked loads of dresses but each time there was something stopping from saying "yes, I want this one."

    So, after trying on about 40 dresses and feeling utterly confused, I finally realised that the only dress that I've felt totally comfortable and happy in... was the first one, the Dress of Dreams. (Also the most expensive and in a shop furthest away - typical!) But I went back yesterday to try it on again... and (finally) I just knew. So it's ordered! Hurrah!

    I'm a bit weird and don't want to reveal my dress before the big day, but here is another one that I loved but didn't buy!



    (I picked something totally different!)

  • We have booked Hannah too! I left the OH in charge of looking at photographers and she was his first choice image

    I totally get what you mean about not having a 'theme' that ties you together as a couple too - this was a bit of an issue for me when I first started planning as people kept banging on about having a wedding based on things that "define" you image

  • Mrs BoundsMrs Bounds Posts: 1,311

    oooh, I really want to see your dress!! haha! 

  • Ah how can you keep it from us image can't wait to see the dress of dreams

  • Aww, sorry girls! I just don't want any guests seeing it if they were to come across anything I've written, so it's the one thing I decided to hold back on my blog / forums! Something to look forward to in the wedding report...image

  • Great thread hun. I love the heart detailling.

    Cant wait for more!

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