No more wedding planning

Well folks. That’s it. My wedding planning days are behind me. Jeffrey and I got married on 20th August this year. That’s an amazing 11 days ago. Crikey. I can’t believe it was quite so long ago, yet strangely it also seems ages ago.

Jeffrey and I traveled up to East Yorkshire in Jeffrey’s Mum’s car on the Sunday, me having taken a week off for the run up to the wedding. And it’s a good job too, the amount of stuff we had to take up with us and the amount left to do.

Here’s a run down of our week:

Monday 

We had hoped we could take a ride out to the coast  to enjoy some good August sunshine, but alas my shawl wasn’t yet complete, the weather wasn’t great, Jeffrey wasn’t feeling it and there was still so much to do, so a day at home knitting and writing was necessary. This was broken up with a trip to choose the marquee carpet – second hand I might add to save money (we went for honey beige) – and a visit to the Registrar to deliver our certificate for marriage so that all could go ahead on Saturday. A lovely trip to the local with friends Lizzi, Dave, Nat and Katie followed this and was a great distraction from wedding stuff, apart from for Jeff and Dave who were caught talking wedding more than the rest of us.

Tuesday

A major day – the marquee arrival and assembly. It was a snug fit and we started to realise just how big it was. Finally everything was starting to feel a little bit more real. But, we couldn’t sit and watch it go up, nor make tea for the workmen all day, we had to pay a visit to Hull City Hall where we were having our ceremony to deliver the music  for my entrance and our exit and make sure that everything was in order. Jeffrey and I realised that not having a church wedding can leave you feeling a little unprepared. No rehearsal for us. We simply received a transcript of the ceremony from the Registrar a few weeks before the wedding and had to rock up on the day to go through the wedding once and once only. Luckily this trip to Hull City Hall allowed me a lonely trial walk down the aisle (no Father on the arm this time) and clarification that the number of chairs in the room was greater than the number we were expecting – much to my relief.

We followed this up with a visit to everyone’s favourite Hobbycraft for last minute wedding supplies and to deliberate over what colour card and glue to go for. Oh weddings do force you in to some tough decisions.

Wednesday

Hair trial and another try of my dress one last time to finally be happy with it. You’ll probably know I was swaying back and forth on whether I liked my dress or not for some weeks before the wedding at one point even half expected to want to buy a new one when I got to Hull. But while my Mum, Lizzi and I were deciding that my dress was right, the boys (that’s my Dad, Jeffrey and nextdoor neighbour Brian) were becoming carpet fitters extraordinaire – fitting our honey beige carpet and vacuuming and sweeping like professionals. Watching all this activity brought on a migraine for me, so I quietly took a tablet and very steadily continued with my (still unfinished) shawl while the whole horde (Mum included) went off to the Danish Church to pick up (just a large van full of) essentials – tables, chairs, table cloths, cutlery and crockery, without which the reception wouldn’t have happened, or would have but at a cost of thousands (see here for a moan on wedding costs).

Thursday

Thursday brought the task of marquee decorating – hanging stuff, positioning all the stuff we’d made (more on that in another post), moving tables and realising how much extra space we had than originally expected, setting up  the sound system, deciding on the seating plan and table setting – for which my very good friend and previous partner in waitressing crime Lizzi came to help with. Then my Aunt from Denmark arrived, we ate Chinese and it was back out to the marquee for me and Jeff where I folded napkins, put out place cards and made sure the marquee was watertight – and worried only slightly about the weather ahead of us – as the August rain lashed down.

Friday

Then came Friday, the day before the wedding, and more arrivals – first my Uncle and Aunt from Denmark who arrived into Hull from Rotterdam at 7am, then Jeff’s Mum and two aunties (who were swiftly collected from Hull Paragon Station and delivered to Village Hotel), followed by Lisa and Leo who had landed only the day before after 3 weeks in the US, Jeffrey’s cousin Nana and her family, his sister Marcia and BK and OKBK, and finally the Simpe-Asante horde.

My friends Lizzi and Hannah came around for some cutting and sticking and cutlery and glass polishing to make sure the marquee was ship shape, while my Mum was busy baking in the kitchen. The day was rounded off with a pedicure courtesy of Lizzi and then a family meal at Crofters restaurant in Anlaby with the Danes.  My plans for an early night in my big lonely bed (Jeff was staying all alone in the Holiday Inn Express in Hull) were quashed when Jeff rang at 10.30 reminding me of the Ghanaian Nkate Cake that had made it’s way up from London with Marcia. His 11.15 delivery meant a later night than needed, but hey ho.

Saturday

Then it was Saturday. The big day. And boy, had Jeffrey made the right decision going to a hotel?! We still had lots to do – a final sweeping, flowers for the marquee, getting our hair done, stocking the bar, making sure everything necessary was done, and finally getting dressed before making our way to Hull City Hall.

But more on the actual wedding day can come in another post. In the meantime here are a few marquee prep photos for you to enjoy.

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Wedding learning and butterflies

Well, it’s been quite some time since I last blogged. Over a month, to be precise. So I must apologise for my tardiness in getting a new blog post out to you, before I write a brief update of where we’re at in wedding planning and how I’m feeling about the big day that is fast approaching.

Because we’re now in to single figure countdown. That’s nine days, people. NINE. One week and two days. Or less than 216 hours if that’s how you like to look at things. This makes me feel somewhat apprehensive, slightly nervous and very excited.

Now I’ve learnt a fair bit about weddings over our 8-month engagement, so I thought it apt to share my learning so far – my three point analysis of wedding planning, preparing for marriage, etc.

  1. Weddings take up far too much head space. As much as you can try to keep the wedding small, and try not to think about it too often, it’s inevitable that you can very easily end up feeling like all you’re doing is wedding. We’ve been living wedding for the past few weeks now, and it’s getting incredibly tiring. And even more boring – for me, and I’m almost certain those around me.
  2. Keeping the engagement short is best. I’ve never really understood long engagements where couples get engaged just to be engaged. That seems to feel like a half-hearted commitment to marry to me. So when Jeffrey and I got engaged we didn’t even consider not starting to plan our wedding straight away. Maybe it would have been nice just to enjoy being engaged, but it felt like once we’d taken the plunge, deciding to get married, it was right to get on with it.  And am I glad?! 8 months of wedding planning has been quite enough, thank you. Had we had the 15 months we’d originally anticipated it would have been filled with pointless wedding crap and we’d no doubt have ended up spending more than we wanted.
  3. The wedding doesn’t really matter. It’s about the commitment. About coming together to start married life. It’s about the marriage. Not the dress, the colour of napkins or the ribbons on the chairs. And, while we’re planning the wedding and I may have got somewhat caught up in it, my reasoning for number 3 is this. Whatever happens, and unless someone doesn’t show up or someone declares an impediment, the outcome is the same. You end up married, which was the goal in the first place. My evidence? The very popular BBC3 programme Don’t Tell The Bride. Besides the key shared experiences of all couples taking part in the programme – where the bride does nothing while the groom experiences fun and stress with his Best Man as they try to organise the wedding of the bride’s dreams and end up inevitably messing up along the way – there’s one other common thread. Whatever wedding the Groom pulls together, even if he ends up choosing the wrong venue, the wrong style dress and doesn’t book the all important make-up artist, the bride loves it all. You know why? Because at the end of the 2 weeks of stress and anguish for both, the couple get  hitched. And who can’t be happy at that?

Point 3 is my most recent discovery. Ok, so I have known this all along, but as I said earlier it’s incredibly easy to get caught up in wedding planning and making sure everything’s just right. But with just nine (eeeeeek) days left till our wedding I’m starting to realise this more and more. Some ideas I had of decorations and things to make went out of the window weeks ago. As the weather is in it’s hit and miss stage, I’m semi-laughing at the face that if it rains and I get wet my dress may well turn incredibly see-through. And if it’s chucking it down? Well, I’m just going to insist people go and buy colourful umbrellas for photos – no black please folks.

So what’s making me slightly nervous and apprehensive? It’s two things mainly. And these feeling first reared their head 3 weeks ago at our friends Ben and Karen’s wedding in Market Bosworth, Leicestershire. Waiting in the church for Karen to arrive, my senses were on high-alert. I was incredibly nervous, a feeling I’ve never experienced at a wedding before. When they said their vows I was pretty emotional (ok, I admit I am often an emotional wreck at lovey dovey stuff, but this felt different).

But I don’t feel nervous about getting married, more having to do it in front of 57 people. I know many women look forward to their wedding day, the day when they can be a princess and the centre of attention. But this I’m dreading. The idea of 114 eyes on me trying to hold myself together on the biggest day of my life is giving me butterflies.

The second thing making me slightly apprehensive is the name change. I’ve commented on my decision to double-barrell my name with Jeffrey’s for reasons you can read here. But today, when I said goodbye to a colleague before I’m off on leave, she asked what my new name will be. And all I’ll say is that I felt so glad to not be letting go of my name completely. Adding Jeffrey’s surname on to the end of mine feels strange enough (though I am glad to be doing so), without me having to abandon mine completely.

The wedding of Simon and Kaleigh (above) on Don’t Tell The Bride almost never happened as Simon chose to hold the wedding in Las Vegas and failed to fly out some of Kaleigh’s closest family. After many tears and promises from Kaleigh that the wedding was off, they ended up marring and Kaleigh loved the day.

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Wedding Traditions – Denmark

Back in January I wrote a post about Ghanaian/Ashanti wedding traditions. I talked about how Jeffrey’s family are Ghanaian and how this element must in some way play a part in our (/the dreaded) ‘theme’. Now we’ve only really managed to get a couple of Ghanaian aspects planned because, as I mentioned before, much of the Ghanaian traditions centre around the bride’s family and we can’t really see how we’d tie it in.

But not only are we thinking about Ghanaian elements, but also aspects of Danish wedding traditions due to my Mother being Danish.

So here I give a run down of some of the Danish wedding traditions I know of, and which we may well try and tie some of in to the wedding in some way.

The typical Danish wedding is very similar to the English in that it starts with the bride and groom sleeping separate the night before the wedding (to make a distinction between the wedding day and every other day), a trip to the church or town hall for the ceremony, followed by the wedding reception.

But the Danish wedding reception feels quite different to the English. There are a few customs that tend to take place at Danish wedding receptions that don’t feature in the typical English reception:

  1. Before the wedding, an arch of pine branches is built around the doorway of the bride’s family home. This is called the Gate of Honor. Another is built when the couple celebrates their silver anniversary.
  2. At some point during the ceremony, if the bride leaves the room all the female guests have to run over to kiss the groom, and if the groom leaves the room all the male guests kiss the bride.
  3. When guests bang their cutlery on their plates or glasses the bride and groom have to climb onto their chairs and kiss. When guests stamp their feet the pair have to kiss under the table.
  4. The bride and groom dance the wedding waltz before midnight. Guests stand in a big circle, clap and slowly move closer so that the circle gets smaller until the couple are surrounded by their loved ones.
  5. The male guests pick up the groom to remove his shoes and cut the toes of his socks off. There are a couple of suggested reasons for this: 1) to allow the bride to prove she can sew, and 2) to symbolise that the groom should no longer walk in the footsteps of other women.
  6. Family members often write songs instead of giving speeches. The song lyrics are written to popular melodies and the words are passed around so that everyone can join in.
  7. The traditional Danish wedding cake is made of marzipan rings stacked on top of each other. This cake (Kransekage – below) is decorated with icing and flags and is cut by the bride and groom together to avoid bad luck.
And that’s all the traditions I can think of. A fair few to choose from! So now we just need to work out which we take part in. But we know for definite that we are having the Danish wedding cake. It’s far nicer than fruit cake.

And here’s the Danish Crown Prince Frederik’s Wedding Waltz with his new wife, Mary, for you to pore over:

 

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The Hen Do

So I got an email today from Emerald Street, Stylist magazine’s  “illustrated daily email that will bring not only up-to-the-minute style news but also thoughtful pieces on art, culture, careers and books direct to your inbox five days a week”, that was quite befitting of the stage in our wedding prep I’m at – the hen do.

Let me summarise its argument for you.

“The email that gaily pings into your inbox headed HEN PARTY” is apparently dreaded. Hen parties are said to make women go pale at the thought of tasteless chocolate, ‘Hot Chicks on Tour’ t-shirts, and leaning out of limo windows naked. So, they provide a run down of  five ways to deal with such hellish hen parties:

  1. Organise it yourself – quash those ideas of expensive trips abroad and craft workshops and organise a dinner and breathe a sigh of relief;
  2. Lie to get out of it – a rock solid excuse is a necessity;
  3. Take a zero tolerance approach to L-plates and antennae headbands;
  4. Talk about cash and not being able to afford it; and
  5. Grin and bear it and throw yourself in.

 

Now, I agree with a lot of these points, but having been in the process of organising mine, with much of the input and hassle being shouldered by my sister, I found some of it also annoyed me.

I too go pale at the thought of t-shirts with special slogans and especially at limousines – I HATE limousines.

I understand that times are tight, and there’s only so much you can afford to do when you also have the wedding to attend.

I don’t agree with being expected to go on expensive hen trips abroad; spending hundreds of pounds on a weekend in Paris or a week on a beach in Ibiza just isn’t going to work for me and I wouldn’t expect it of my friends. Jeffrey and I encountered this recently when his friend’s stag do was being organised. It involved three nights in Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia. Jeffrey turned it down after paying £110 for flights, due to us scheduling our wedding for this year. He didn’t take this decision lightly and took much stick from the stag and friends. It turns out one of the stags spent a whopping £700 on the affair. Quite ridiculous if you ask me.

I too don’t want to start doing loads of organised fun activities which can mount up in to huge sums. One ex-colleague was organising her friend’s hen do last year which, whilst in London, was quite a huge deal – a get together the night before, a fancy naked butler serving brunch, hula hooping lessons in the church hall with champagne, some other activity which has escaped my memory, rounded off with a meal in a pricey burlesque dinner/dance place. I remember at the time thinking how excessive this seemed.

And I definitely hate the super tacky willy straws, L-plates, fake wedding dresses with condoms attached, veils, willy antennae headbands and the like. And I’m not one for fancy dress thank you very much, especially on my hen do.

But when it’s what my friends might want to do for their hen parties I’m generally in consensus with option 5. I grin and bear it, within reason of course. OK, so I couldn’t commit to going abroad on a friend’s hen do, or even maybe going away for a few night in the UK (seriously, why has going away become so popular for hen and stag parties?). But I’ll go along with pretty much anything else the hen fancies doing. I’ve made veils, badges and sashes, blown up balloons, had drunken nights out in other UK cities and eaten and drunk wherever the bride has wanted to go. And you know why? Because she’s my friend, she invited me to her hen do, and I think it’s nice to do whatever it is she wants to do on her symbolic last night out as a single girl.

But I would rather avoid some of these thanks:

My hen do? It’s a low key affair – brunch at my flat (minus the naked butler), the dreaded craft workshop (screen printing at the Make Lounge), followed by a low key meal at the reasonably priced Gallipolli on Upper Street (hens breathe a sigh of relief).

And if you want to read the whole Emerald Street article, you can do so here.

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Oh yes, a second wedding related infographic

I gave you a treat with the last infographic on the cost of weddings and other related stats. Well, here’s another.

The Royal Wedding cost the British tax payer a huge £52.5million, while the average UK wedding costs a staggering 17,880 quid. I guess then, according to the below infographic, if we spent the money from the average wedding on things to directly benefit others instead of one big day, 2503 people could benefit.  That’s some food for thought…

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A wedding infographic

I love a good infographic. Sadly, I haven’t come across many wedding related infographics with a British focus, but tonight I have.

First, here’s a little run down of the facts that surprise me somewhat, and how they differ to our experience:

  • 61% of brides choose their own engagement ring. Jeffrey chose mine and I always had absolute faith in him that he’d know what to go for. If he doesn’t know me enough to know what I’d like in an engagement ring does he know me enough to marry me?
  • the average spent on invitations is £500. Outrageous. Our invitations must have cost all of £40 tops.
  • the average cost of wedding flowers is £750. We’re buying my bouquet, my bridesmaid’s bouquet and three button holes (though I did originally consider making them myself). But otherwise my parents are growing the flowers for the tables. This won’t cost more than £200 all in.
  • the average spend on bridemaids’ dresses is £1,000. We bought my sister’s Monsoon dress on Ebay for £30 (<1/3 of the original price).
  • the average wedding dress costs £1,500. I’ll let you into a secret – mine cost <1/5 of that and is just as beautiful…in my opinion.
  • 88% of brides will take their husband’s surname upon marriage – see my previous post for my thoughts on this.
  • the average length of an engagement is 18 months. Ours? Eight.
  • 7% of couples won’t be living together when they get married. This I find bizarre.
  • the average age for a bride is 29. I’m not surprised by this. Today I was telling colleagues (and the girl who I go to to get waxed) that I, all of a sudden, feel too young to be getting married. Now in the grand scheme of things I’m not far off the average (I’m 27). But my Scottish colleague and I agreed that feeling young is to do with living in London. Up north people seem to get married younger than in London.
  • the 10 most expensive weddings ever start at approx £1.5m and top at approx £63m. Get real.

Infographic by Policy Expert (policyexpert.co.uk)

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What’s in a name?

In the office today we had some wedding related chat prompted by an invitation from HR to get our business cards replenished. They order 1000 business cards per person at a time. I swear no one ever gets through that many before they either leave, change job titles, or get married.

Needless to say, I got nowhere near distributing my 1000 before my job title changed over a year ago. I didn’t bother to order more and I’m still no closer to getting rid of the huge pile of cards cluttering up my drawer. And now my name’s about to change. At least, I think it’s about to change.

The wedding’s just over 8 weeks away now and we’re en route to having a very happy ceremony where we will become… What? This is the tricky part.

I believe I should be saying we’ll become Mr and Mrs Boakye. Since way back when women became their husband’s property they would change their surname to their husband’s surname. This is what we humans like to call ‘tradition’.

Apparently, according to weddingguideuk.com, this is the “simplest option”, but I’m not quite sure how that can be the case. It’s also the “preferred option of today’s brides”, or so we’re told. And apparently “life is made considerably easier and less confusing  to others when making joint financial, legal and social arrangements”. OK. So I guess that makes sense if you’re living in the 1950s where cohabitation was an anomaly. But Jeffrey and I already have our mortgage, joint account, credit cards, utilities, et al in our separate names. This leads me to believe that for us what would actually be simplest is for me to keep Hostick. Who cares what’s easiest for the financial and legal institutions we deal with? They make my life hard enough and I wouldn’t mind something that’s easiest for me for a change thanks.

Now I understand why any wife-to-be would like to take her husband-to-be’s surname. But I admit I am a little surprised that it’s the majority. I know a fair few people who have got/are getting married this year or next – 8 or so – and of those, that I know of, only one has decided not to take her husband’s surname. The rest have given up their surname to take on their husband’s. The reason many of them give? “It’s tradition” or “[insert fiance’s name here] wants me to”. And when it’s the latter it feels slightly more like it’s the man’s call – with the woman succumbing to the ingrained tradition of paternalism, discrimination and the female as property.

I haven’t got a problem with people making this choice. But I just don’t think it’s for me. I can see how it might be symbolic, and how it can immediately create a sense of family. But I’ve been Sophie Hostick for 27 years. I’m not about to become Jeffrey’s property. We don’t need a name to make Jeffrey and me feel like a family. I’m my own person. I have an identity. It’s suited me for 27 years and it’ll suit me for the rest of my life ta.

I don’t need tradition to tell me to become Sophie Boakye, or lose my identity completely and be formally addressed as Mrs Jeffrey Boakye of Mr and Mrs Jeffrey Boakye. (Apparently, again according to weddingguideuk.com, I could find myself commonly addressed Mrs Sophie Boakye which, we are told, is incorrect and is in fact how a divorced woman would address herself. Heaven forbid I should make that error).

But then, to me Mr Boakye and Mrs Hostick sounds weird. I guess this is where I’d become Ms Hostick. But the title Ms just doesn’t appeal either.

So I floated the idea of Jeffrey taking my surname – if it’s symbolic and creates a greater sense of family than having separate surnames, surely that could be an option? Jeffrey could become Mr Jeffrey Hostick. But, as it goes, while a woman has two automatic legal options (continue to use her maiden name or change her surname to her husband’s) a man has no legal right to change his name and has to go over more hurdles to change his name than a woman might. But this aside, it seems I have found Mr Boakye, not Mr Right. Jeffrey told me in no uncertain terms that he will not be changing his name to Hostick.

So what’s the option? Well, I think there are a few:

  • combine our names – Hostick meets Boakye. Our marvelous choice of surnames include – Bostick (yeah yeah. I know. Like the glue. I never heard that in school), Hoakye, Tickbo, Hosbo. But surely creating a completely new name hugely eradicates a sense of self. If I don’t want to lose my identity I can’t expect Jeffrey does either, and Tickbo just means nothing to us or to anyone else.
  • use my surname as a middle name – Sophie Hostick Boakye – meaning I can use my full name or the common married name at my leisure. Also leaving others to just drop Hostick as they please.
  • hyphenate/double barrel – stick Jeffrey’s name at the end of mine with a hyphen in the middle, forcing Hostick to remain a part of my name.
My choice? I’ve decided on the latter. I would like to take Jeffrey’s name. I really want to marry him and be a unit. I like the symbolism. But I want to keep my identity and thus hyphenating our names feels right. But Jeffrey will be keeping Boakye. So we’ll be Mr Jeffrey Boakye and Mrs Sophie Hostick-Boakye. And it works reasonably well I think. Despite the fact that instead of just having one surname to spell I’ll now have two.

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