Next on our agenda was who the bridal and groomsmen party was going to consist of, and our guest numbers. This all suddenly became about diplomatic relations. Wow it was intense, all sorts of anxieties and insecurities which I hadn’t ever considered were going through my mind. Would these friends want to be my bridesmaids? Would they all get on? Would my parents be ok, as they hadn’t seen each other since they divorced 15 years previously? My father has remarried and now has my two little brothers (casual 30 year age gap), how would they feel about meeting my mum? How would my mum feel about meeting them? My fiancé has a Step Daughter, from his previous marriage, how would she feel about another woman being in his life? Modern families are wonderful in so many ways, and challenge us to make for new wedding traditions which are unique to us and our family, but you also need to be ready to take on the role of a UN Ambassador. With Mrs T Weddings, this is something I feel strongly about, being an independent sounding board, who will be able to give advice, and take the stress away from what can be a tough decision-making process.
Speaking of traditions, it was something that really played on my mind, when is it acceptable to forego a tradition and when wouldn’t it be? There are so many schools of thought, and it took a lot of courage for us to define what we wanted as ‘our’ traditions, and not what our relatives or friends dictated. This in itself is a whole other subject for another day.
As soon as I had chosen my bridesmaids I started working on how to ask them. As a naturally creative person who likes ‘the nicer things in life’, I don’t always want to buy the obvious objects, there has to be an experiential element to the process. I started a huge amount of Insta and Pinterest research, and at this point didn’t really consider a wedding budget, as the wedding was 16 months away – loads of time to find the money – hmmm.
I had six bridesmaids, all of which are very stylish, most run their own businesses in a creative capacity, and I was the last one to get married, I felt they had seen it all before – how would I be authentic to me? I moved away from my romantic self and turned on my business mind, of how to make this unique and memorable… and maybe a little Instagrammable (very embarrassing to admit).
I ended up putting together the most adorable little gift boxes, with what I assumed would be my theme colour at the time, pale pink. There was cashmere nail varnish, a DVD of Bridesmaids – not as easy to get hold of as I thought – who even watches DVDs now?! A rose which I had dried from the bouquet my fiancé gave me the day we became engaged, and a small bottle of Prosecco with a sticker on asking them to be my bridesmaid – as well as a sentimental handwritten note explaining why I wanted them by my side on my wedding day. There was also a lot of confetti and sparkle – well it is for a wedding!
Off I went to the post office with, by this point, pretty heavy boxes and put them on the weighing scales, the lady behind the counter asked what was in each box, with the whole post office queue listening. I rattled off the list, to which the staff behind the counter and queue were thoroughly impressed, I puffed up my chest and smiled with pride. They then told me the nail varnish immediately made it a high risk explosive box! I couldn’t quite get my head around that, but soldiered on with the process, I had committed to doing this. I was then told how much it is to send each box – similar to the amount one would usually budget for a BIG weekly shop. With a pang of ‘oh shit’ guilt, I paid and tried to hide the receipt from my fiancé. I returned home to a million stickers asking to be my bridesmaid – you can’t order 6 stickers – I couldn’t quite face throwing the stickers away, but I can say with complete confidence they are totally redundant. It was at this point I realised getting married wasn’t about getting everything you want, and that a budget really was going to be essential. Eye roll back to thinking of our wedding as a business, and not getting caught up in the total romanticism of this being an amazing experiential event. All the advice I have given others over the years had apparently poofed away the minute I became engaged.
As my bridesmaids received their boxes one-by-one they squealed with delight, loved the sentiment and of course they would be my bridesmaid. Suddenly the ridiculous extravagance of their gift boxes all seemed worthwhile. Three of my bridesmaids’ daughters were also invited to be flower girls, some had a better idea of what that meant than others (due to age), but in essence they all agreed to be princesses for the day for ‘Aunty Constance’ (please note I only have two little brothers, so absolutely impossible that I am their actual Aunt. However, I do think of all my bridesmaids as sisters, and their kids are as important to me as I would imagine my own would be.) This was the most wonderful news that all my girls would be with me, grown up and growing up on
my our big day – and this is where the never ending issue of ‘our’ vs ‘my’ started!
My little brothers, aged two and four, at the time were instructed they would be page boys, they had absolutely no idea what that meant, but if it meant they could help their big sister have a great day, and they could eat sweets and dance, then they were game. The two year old took it all in his stride and didn’t think too much about what this wedding malarkey was all about. The four year old took it all a lot more seriously, he spoke with his teacher about what the role involved, he came home and checked with his parents, then requested a FaceTime call with me to make sure he really understood what was required of him in the role. He wasn’t going to over promise and under deliver – I could certainly see how we were related with his thorough approach to weddings. He took on the very big task of being a ring bearer on the day. I couldn’t have felt more warmth in my heart knowing these little guys would be there with all my girls to celebrate me marrying the man of my dreams.
In traditional male style my fiancé decided to just give all his groomsmen a quick call to confirm their role on the day, and then use the remaining 90% of that call to discuss the pros and cons of Spur’s new signing. Immediately it was apparent we had a different approach to the wedding planning, and I was going to be running the show – as a strong female (#girlboss) this suited me down to the ground ( ‘Whatever makes you happy dear’ became his standard response during most of our wedding planning).
Both my husband and I are very social, so top of the agenda before anything else was to properly celebrate our engagement. However, being sociable meant finding a date when everyone was available and this became a nightmare, so we ended up having a series of mini-celebrations. These ranged from a soiree where all of my fiancé’s family came to our house and I emptied the M&S Deli Food aisle to form the most extravagant grazing table, (he still to this day doesn’t know how much I spent on that party), to drinks at the pub with close friends, to large Sunday lunches in the country, to brunch at Shoreditch House.
Do I regret not having a huge engagement party? A little. With my parents abroad it meant they wouldn’t have been able to come, which would really make a difference, so keeping things separate with each group of friends and family in our circumstances worked really well. However, having had the wedding day, I wish I would be able to do that every year, and an engagement party would have been the start of an annual Mr & Mrs T summer party with all our loved ones.
We had now drunk all the fizz you could imagine and wedding planning was officially ON!