Monthly Archives: December 2010

Poll: Pick your theme

In my last post I discussed the tricky world of choosing wedding ‘themes’, and looked at colour, ‘of-the-moment’ and novelty themes out there. I’ve chosen a few of these to ask you which of these you would rather choose, if you had to, for your wedding? Answers in the poll below:

 

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The Wedding Theme

Jeffrey yesterday spoke to his cousin, Nana, for the first time since the engagement. Nana got married to her husband Ray a few years ago after just a six-month engagement. Nana had seven bridesmaids and Ray five groomsmen – well, as far as I can tell from the Facebook photos. Guests numbered 300 and the theme looks like it was purple. So Nana knows all about weddings and planning.

When Jeffrey passed the phone over to me, our conversation went something along the lines of:

Nana: What is the theme?

Me: We don’t have a theme.

Nana: But you must have an idea of colour?

Me: Nope.

Nana: And you haven’t started a mood board?

In my previous post I spoke briefly about themes when discussing venue options, as it seems many venues already provide some theme or other,which consequently tends to be step back in time 100 years to sit in a stuffy, fussy room with seat covers and over the top table settings. Jeffrey and I aren’t ones for themes, but if we were then we would probably say we are aiming for our wedding to be a reflection of us.

This got me thinking. What would our ‘us’ theme be? And what themes do other people go for?

According to wedding website Confetti, a wedding theme is:

A certain style choice for your day that you then reflect in your choice of invitations, dress code, decorations, music, you name it! Whether you choose something like a particular subject as a theme, (such as football, butterflies or chocolate), or a colour theme, (like pink, black and white or rainbow colours for example), a wedding theme will create a unique style and mood for your celebrations and the choice of theme is entirely up to you.

Now I’m not going to answer the question about our ‘us’ theme (if you can call that a theme?). That will come with time. But I have had a look at some wedding themes floating about in cyberspace. And my word some of them are themes and a half!

In general I’ve found themes which can be filed into three categories:

  1. colour
  2. of the moment
  3. novelty

Colour theme

The most common theme choice seems to be colour. Be it red, purple, brown, gold, etc. The possibilities are (almost) endless. Here’s a pink and brown theme for you to feast your eyes over. Delightful, no?

It seems that when you opt for a colour theme everything has to adhere to the theme – invitations, orders of service, the bridal party (bridesmaid dresses, parents of the bride outfits/corsages, etc), the groom’s party, flowers, table decorations, favours, cake, chair cover ribbons, etc. The only exception I can see in many themes is the bride’s gown.  But even this doesn’t get off scott free – often the gown will be finished off with a colour coordinated sash. And, of course, the bride will be decked out with colour coordinated bouquet and, often, hairpiece. Luckily, ladies, Wedding magazine advised me today (yes yes, I have succumbed to the wedding magazines) that if you can’t decide on your colour theme but want to get your invitations out you should send opt for “neutral shades of ivory, silver or gold and then you can add splashes of colour later on with the table stationery. That way you can relax knowing that the important invites are posted before deciding on the colours for your big day”. Phew, now we can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Colour theming to this extent certainly isn’t for us.

The ‘of the moment’ theme

Now as far as I can tell, there are a number of themes that appear in vogue at any one time. In recent years eco, homemade, vintage, burlesque and 50s weddings seem to have become popular. Of course, these aren’t mutually exclusive and often go hand-in-hand with a colour theme.  Let’s take a look at eco weddings as an example.

Typically, to be ecological the bride and groom-to-be should be thinking of wearing dresses and suits by designers who use organic, fairtrade or natural materials and dyes. Alternatively the happy couple could choose to have second-hand outfits re-styled or altered to suit, or opt for hired outfits.

Other eco aspects to consider for the wedding day include: using recycled card and vegetable inks for invitations, place cards and orders of service; hiring environmentally-conscious venues; using locally-sourced  free range meat and eggs for the meal and cake; using local and/or fairtrade flowers for bouquets, table decorations and as confetti; or hiring environmentally friendly transport – coach, bicycles, horse and cart, etc. And it certainly looks like there are all sorts of suppliers claiming to meet these requirements.

However, I can’t help but feel that many of the ‘eco’ weddings I have come across for this blog are half-heartedly environmentally friendly, and more style over substance. For example, the wedding of Chad and Christine in California USA, though beautiful, was described as an ‘eco wedding’. The blog on which it features, which happens to have so many beautiful looking weddings, doesn’t delve deeply into the particulars of the environmentally friendly aspects of their day, but this Barefoot and Beautiful wedding seems to be similar to many other ‘eco weddings’ I’m aware of, whereby the inclusion of just one or two semi-eco elements equals a fully fledged ‘eco wedding’. Chad and Christine’s eco elements were apparently homemade invitations and napkins, wooden rings (such as those below) and a barefoot bridal party. They certainly weren’t her beautiful Sue Wong designer beaded dress, the groom party’s suits or the lovely vintage car.


The novelty theme

It appears, rather sadly, that novelty themes are on the increase. I went to a wedding several years ago which had the theme ‘cartoon characters’. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos to share so my short forthcoming explanation will have to suffice. The bride was dressed as Princess Fiona from Shrek (alas not when she’s green and, for reasons I cannot fathom, in a red rather than green dress). The groom was dressed as DangerMouse complete with white body paint, swimming cap, eye patch and ears. The best man was dressed as Penfold, DangerMouse’s sidekick. He was a mess and the whole thing was rather comical.

So what other options are there for those wanting a ‘different’ or ‘memorable’ wedding? Well, it seems that when it comes to novelty themed weddings anything goes. Be it football, Cadbury’s purple (left, which mixes both theme and colour – clever, no?), fairytale, cartoon, 80s, burlesque, James Bond, Star Wars, 1940s, Gothic, rainbow hippytastic, or Parisian punk rock Marie Antoinette, it seems there’s no stopping the novelty theme and it’s popularity.

Now I know it’s each to their own and all that. But I promise you, Jeffrey Boakye and I will not be subjecting ourselves, nor our guests, to some lame excuse of a ‘theme’.

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Finding the venue

So, I’m no wedding planner, and I’ve never had the honour of planning a wedding – my own or someone else’s – but I understand that the first thing to do in planning your wedding is work out a budget and what it is you both, as a couple, would like for your big day – church or registry office, big or small event, traditional or ‘different’.

Ceremony options

So, first things first. Where do we want the nuptials to take place? I know a fair few people for who this would be a non-question. Options would be: Christ Church, St Peter’s Church, St Mary’s Church, and so on. Jeffrey was brought up a Catholic, being sent to Catholic primary and secondary schools, regularly serving mass at Corpus Christi Church in Brixton (above right) and regularly praying. He continues to be spiritual, but doesn’t really practice Catholicism. I, on the other hand, was christened into the Den Danske Folkekirke, the Lutheran (Protestant) Church of Denmark, but have never really managed to buy in to Christianity. While I appreciate the merits of religion – Christianity or otherwise – believing it can provide comfort and support to many people and that Christianity has created a good moral code on which British society is built, I just don’t  believe in God, creationism, the virgin birth of God on earth, etc. It therefore just doesn’t sit right with me to get married in a church, and certainly not in a Catholic church. I can’t stand there and reaffirm a belief in God and promise to bring up my children into Catholicism whilst in the same breath promising to be  loyal to Jeffrey for the rest of my life.

Therefore the options for us involves where to hold a civil ceremony – Registry Office, Town Hall (Islington Town Hall, above left) or another venue registered for civil ceremonies, Hull or London. Luckily there are plenty of options on that front, so this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Alternatively, of course, we could get married abroad, but this doesn’t really appeal to us.

Once the betrothed have decided how they would like to tie the knot I believe it’s time to decide on the…

Guest List

I think this is were the first problems can start.

Jeffrey and I are pretty much funding this day all by ourselves and would like a small (and relatively inexpensive as I’m loathe to spend thousands and thousands of pounds on one day) wedding with those that matter most to us present. This isn’t a problem for us, I guess what we’re worried about is upsetting friends and family if we don’t invite them, or having family members try to insist on certain people being invited. And we have already come across family and friends telling us there may be problems if some people aren’t invited.

Most of my friends and family are in East Yorkshire and Denmark, while most of Jeffrey’s are in London and Ghana. This rules a fair number out – we know Jeff’s two Grandmas, three uncles and one aunt in Ghana won’t be able to make it, nor will my Grandma or an aunt in Denmark. This, rather sadly, reduces the numbers of people we would like there somewhat. However, I can see how easy it is for the guest list to expand beyond the couple’s ideals. If we invite so-and-so then we must invite so-and-so, and so-and-so, and so-and-so. And on it can go. We’re having to be ruthless. If we don’t regularly see or speak to them they don’t need to be there. This is our day and we would like everyone to play a part in it. And if that means some people get offended, then so be it. We have therefore set a provisional limit at 50 guests and are looking for reception venues that accommodate that. Which brings us neatly onto…

Reception Venues

Now this is the part that is starting to annoy me. We’ve a couple of dates in mind and have cleared it with the civil ceremony venue, but are seriously struggling to find a reception venue to coincide. I guess this is where the idea of a ‘theme’ would come in. Neither Jeffrey nor I are ones for themes, as you could maybe tell from our flatChristmas decorations, etc. but I guess if we were to theme our wedding it would be ‘us’. Luckily Jeffrey and I are on the same page with this and would like a small wedding that reflects us, our taste, interests etc. Sadly, this isn’t easy.

We’re planning on having our wedding in London. It doesn’t really make sense to have it in Hull seeing as our lives are in London and there are, you’d think, many more ‘different’ venues to choose from in the capital. If we were having our wedding in the Hull and East Yorkshire area reception venues seem to be very limited, with hotels being the most common option. Examples include Cave Castle, Country Park Inn, and Rowley Manor, which, while nice and rural, just don’t shout Jeffrey and Sophie.

But it seems London isn’t much better. I’ve been scouring the internet for a few weeks since our engagement to find a venue in London that appeals and reflects ‘us’. And it is not easy let me tell you! We identified a few places we like (in brackets below) but have lost hope that a good number of venues exist which either:

  1. don’t charge upwards of £350 per hour just for venue hire (Jerwood Space)
  2. don’t require a minimum of 100 people at £140 per head (Kensington Roof Gardens)
  3. don’t have a minimum spend of  at least £7500 (Empress of India, Victoria Park)

And don’t even get me started on décor. Now, those of you who now us would probably say our taste is quite contemporary, unfussy, home made, with Danish and Ghanaian influences (see here).  The tendency for reception venues to provide fussy wedding receptions, enlisting the happy couple and their guests to step back 100 years to enjoy limited natural light, chandeliers, fabric and ribbon covered chairs, over the top centrepieces, gilt mirrors, fussy table settings, naff paintings, and chintzy carpets and curtains,  is just too much.

 

So, we struggle on. We have a couple of reception venues up our sleeves, but these mean we have to postpone the wedding. One is much cheaper than the other, but we’re looking into full costs and are hoping to be able to get it in our diaries and send out set the date notes to those we would like there. Watch this space for progress.

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The boyfriend becomes the fiancé

Welcome to my new blog. I’m Sophie –  known to some as Sophie Hostick, and others as Sophie Kingo – and my boyfriend of three years is Jeffrey – known to some as Projectbrownman, others as Jeremy Whitechick and most as Jeffrey Boakye. And now, Jeffrey is hoping that I will soon be Sophie Boakye. Yep, that’s right. Projectbrownman and I are now engaged to be married. As of 9th December 2010.

But before we go on, let’s step back three years to November 2007 and one fateful night in East Dulwich. I was visiting my sister, Lisa, for the weekend to take her to see the Arcade Fire at Ally Pally on Monday 19th; I had bought tickets as a treat seeing as she was struggling through her Secondary PGCE. Lisa and Leo (her boyfriend and fellow PGCE-er) had been invited to their PGCE friend Jack’s house/hat party on the Saturday, so naturally we all took the trek to south of the Thames, me in beret, to the party.

And there I met… Jeffrey, my now fiancé. I think this may well be the first photo ever taken of the two of us, below, complete with bored of the DJ faces, and me without a ring on my third finger:

And this wasn’t the only time I saw Jeffrey that weekend. We met up on the Monday and Jeffrey made the trip up to Hull the following weekend. If you want to read more on that you can, here. The rest, they say, is history.

So, fast forward three years and a lot has changed: one 9 month long long-distance relationship (Hull to London); one trip to Berlin; one move down to London from Hull into a shitty houseshare; one trip to the Lake District; one move into rented flat in Finsbury Park together; one trip to Denmark; one trip to Ghana; one flat purchased on mortgage together; and one trip to Barcelona and Valencia later and Jeffrey proposed to me.  But how did he do it?

Well, it was a normal day at work. Jeffrey had Yr 13 parents’ evening (he’s an English teacher, not a parent, nor a Yr 13 student) so wasn’t home till 8.45pm, and I had already eaten the beef stew I’d made, despite attempts from my Mother to wait for Jeffrey to get in and eat together. Then, having finished writing Christmas cards and getting Jeff to sign his name in them all, I settled down to watch Bruce Almighty. Come 11.30pm, and rather annoyed that it was late and I wasn’t yet in bed, I went in the bathroom for the usual getting-ready-for-bed routine. On going back into the bedroom Jeff  called me through into the living room. I opened the door to a rather romantic scene of a single lit candle and Jeffrey next to the Christmas tree. I knew something monumental was pending. And I didn’t just want it to happen because will you marry me? seemed to be the phrase of the moment amongst our peers. But Jeffrey joined the exclusive one knee club and those very words came out of his mouth whilst he was down on one knee clutching a little back velvet Tiffany box with a princess cut solitaire diamond platinum ring (you can see the beauty at the top of the page). My answer was yes, of course, but only “as long as you’re not only asking me because everyone else is getting married”.

Jeffrey had emailed my Mum and Dad to ask their permission the night before, and had planned to wait until Christmas or New Year to ask me. However, with ring burning a hole in his pocket and the question on the tip of his tongue he couldn’t wait till then and we are now betrothed. And here we are, two days ago, on Christmas Eve next to my parents’ Christmas tree:

So, the planning starts. And this is where this blog comes in. I’m going to be posting all that annoys and excites me about planning our wedding day. And, eventually will be sharing what happened on the day. But first, let me just say this. Our wedding day is a means to an end for us. It marks the beginning of the rest of our lives together, rather than what is often, for some, a chance to be centre of attention for a day.

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