28 Jan 2018

Wedding Chat (#1) | Let's Do This

Planning a wedding

Not going to lie, so far, planning a wedding has been heaps of fun.

Mainly because every meeting we’ve had about it, has taken place in a pub. Fair to say, dry January has not been a thing in our household *insert shrug emoji*.

Given we already had a pretty solid idea of what we wanted from our wedding, and knew roughly when we wanted to have it (mainly based on the desire to have a 3-week honeymoon), G and I thought we may as well crack on with the planning and booking. A few people have told me that we’re being super organised but we’ve already encountered people and places booked up 18 months in advance so not sure what the deal is tbh.

Anyway, you may or may not be interested in our plans so far; if not, feel free to close the tab and go browse asos or summin’. But I very much want to capture them for memory sake so here’s what we’ve planned for all things wedding over the past month.

Grab a cuppa, this is going to be a long one!

Location 

It will surprise no one that we wanted the day to be in St Albans. We also decided to try and keep all aspects as local as possible so I’m hoping that all our suppliers (for things like the cake etc) will also be St Albans, or at least Hertfordshire, based. We’ve stuck to this so far!


Ring 

Shopping for my engagement ring has, by far, been the easiest task yet. A lot of people gave us advice on buying the ring, including where to go, but in keeping with our keep-it-local idea, we thought we’d start with a local independent jeweller approximately 50 yards from our flat. A friend said to me that I probably wouldn’t come out with what I thought I wanted, and she was right. I thought I wanted something simple; I came out with a ring with seven diamonds in it so, er, yeah. I did a lot of online window shopping and that was where I first saw the ring I ended up choosing – just by accident on the shop’s website – and then I couldn’t stop thinking about it for the next couple of days. When we actually went into the shop, I tried on several of the styles I thought I wanted but it was that one that I kept coming back to. It was part of their antique range and was labelled a ‘vintage diamond cluster’ (it’s so damn sparkly). Both G and the woman in the shop noted that it was clearly the one I wanted so after about half an hour, we just went for it. I had to wait a week to get it because it had to be downsized a fair bit (I have surprisingly skinny fingers apparently) but otherwise, we were in and out the shop within an hour; after being fully prepared to spend the entire day shopping.


Date 

Like I said above, we know we want our honeymoon to be about 3 weeks long (and have already scheduled a lot of annual leave this year). We know we’re inviting friends who live abroad, some as far as New Zealand, who we want to give plenty of warning. And we know that we like to plan ahead and know the score. For all those reasons, we’ve picked a date for approx. 18 months’ time. We wanted it to be spring/summer time but other than that, we just kinda plucked the exact date from thin air and rolled with it.


Reception venue 

We were both in firm agreement that we wanted our reception to be in our favourite pub. We go there regularly; for dinner, for Sunday roasts and for many booze-soaked nights. G and I love pubs and have spent a lot of our relationship in them, plus a pub fits with the chilled vibe we’re after. We knew it was available to hire for weddings so we enquired behind the bar, got the landlord’s email, and had a meeting set up for a few days later. We liked him instantly; he bought us drinks, said we could have whatever food we wanted at the wedding and swore a lot.  My kinda person. Originally, we were thinking to just have the evening bit of the day at the pub, and food/speeches at an old converted barn nearby, but by the end of our first meeting with him, we decided to have everything there (apart from the ceremony obvs…although that would be cool).


Ceremony 

We did a full circle re where we wanted to have a ceremony. We originally thought the registry office but the main room is limited to 60 people. We currently have 130 guests (!) on our list and we weren’t sure if we could be bothered to pick and choose between people. So we spent a week or so enquiring at other places (two hotels and a converted barn) but for one reason or another, they didn't work for us. So we decided the faff wasn't worth it and booked the registry office. As long as we can decide who we want at the ceremony, it'll be grand.


Band 

After booking the ceremony, we had another meeting with the pub landlord where we brainstormed ideas and paid a deposit to secure the booking (and drank and ate pub food obvs). He recommended a local band that play at his pub regularly. We discovered they were playing at a different pub nearby the next day so went to check them out (we went out on a Sunday night and felt wild). I honestly loved them instantly; they put on such a good gig, playing a mixture of their own stuff and amazing covers. They instantly made me want to get up and dance, which is important for a wedding right? I bought their album off them before leaving and have been playing it the last few days. Needless to say, we’ve requested to book them.


Photographer 

I was always going to be particular about the wedding photographer, as photos are so important to me (let’s just say anyone with cheesy photos of couples doing piggy back rides did not make the list). However, when we first found out the cost, I genuinely had to sit down and take a few deep breaths. G was horrified (understandably) but it was probably the one thing I was actually willing to pay wedding-industry-prices for (and deal with the nausea that comes with it). After a fair amount of research, I discovered Hannah, a St Albans-based photographer whose pictures I really liked. We met her in the pub for a drink and immediately really liked her; she was a laugh, had some great stories and I knew I’d be comfortable having her around on the day. So we booked her!


As you can see, we’ve been pretty darn busy (congrats if you’ve made it to the end of this mammoth post), although it hasn’t been remotely stressful – just a lot of fun. Now that all the key stuff is booked, we plan on putting it aside for a while, but let’s hope the level of ease continues...

26 Jan 2018

Little Gems: 31

Life lately and happy things

Thank fuck it’s Friday, s’all I’m saying.

Well, okay no, that’s not all I’m saying because, as we all know, I have the ability to say quite a lot.

I’m currently perched on a stool in a café, munching my way through a toastie and already thinking about the nachos and padron peppers I plan on whipping up for dinner later. Do I think about food too much oooorrrr…

Work has been v hectic and I-think-my-mind-is-going-to-implode yet again this week. Why so many deadlines in January huh huh? I don’t know where January has gone between mad work weeks and wedding planning and family weekends.

It hit me this morning that I have two weeks left before Singapore and I had a mild freak out over plug adapters for crying out loud. Do I need em, WHAT KIND DO I NEED. Lol, think I’m over-tired.

Wedding planning. In an efficient and organised fashion (not the usual state of affairs in my life, I assure you), we have booked our wedding. Not all the details obviously, I’m not freakin’ superwoman, but we have a date, we have a ceremony and we have a venue; it's v exciting. I’m going to do a bigger post on all this soon (sorry if wedding planning makes you want to pull out your own hair but this is where I record my memories sooooo).

Travel planning. Potentially even more fun (although not sure I’m technically supposed to say that) has been planning our adventures for the year ahead. G and I have now plotted our route for when we drive the North Coast 500 in July, including all our accommodation. Researching 8 different places to stay is a bit like planning 8 different trips and, needless to say, it is so much fun. 

Booking Singapore. Gotta love a bit of extra annual leave, spontaneity and BA January sales all coming together.

Hoover. Yup, that's right, my hoover is a highlight. For Christmas, my mum and step-dad bought me a cordless hoover and, well, IT’S A GAME CHANGER GUYS. Not sure when I became this person but I’m rolling with it.

Being voted vice-chair on the board of trustees I sit on for a charity. Still not entirely sure how that happened tbh…

The Rosie Project – I’m late to the party I know, but this was just the loveliest book. Would absolutely recommend (here).

A mid-week hangover. I mean, I didn’t necessarily enjoy this but I did enjoy the evening in the pub with good people the night before.

Finding my engagement ring. IT’S SO SPARKLY.

Have a lovely weekend all x

18 Jan 2018

Initial thoughts on the cost of a wedding

Initial thoughts on the cost of a wedding

Whilst I’ve always known I wanted to get married and have a wedding, I’ve never been particularly fussed about many of the traditions associated with a wedding day. Whilst I have nothing against them, the thought of having things like seating plans and white tablecloths and walking down an aisle on my dad’s arm either engulf me in boredom or make me want to vom a lil bit in my mouth.

Not that there’s anything wrong with these thing – I happen to bloody LOVE a wedding in all its glory – it’s just that a lot of the traditions don’t feel very me.

So, it’s fair to say, when G and I got engaged at the beginning of the month, I already had a pretty solid idea of the kind of wedding I wanted. And because of the chilled, simple vibe I had in my head, I oh-so-bloody-naively thought this meant that our wedding day could be done on a decent budget and not cost an obscene amount of money.

HA FUCKING HA.

Oh sweet, innocent Kate of New Year’s Day, you’ve been on a steep learning curve the past few weeks eh?!

Every day, there’s been the discovery that something else costs at least double what we’d envisioned and we’ve been faced with the slap-in-the-face-reality that our simple, chilled wedding could quite easily cost us fifteen grand.

Okay maybe not exactly that much but definitely in that ballpark, and it wouldn’t be remotely hard to spend more.

AND THAT’S CONSIDERED CHEAP FOR THE WEDDING INDUSTRY.

The result of this is potentially being placed in the rather uncomfortable position of going against one’s own morals.

It’s entirely each to their own, but I’ve always shuddered at the thought of spending house-deposit kind of money on just one day. That money could be spent on, well, a house deposit. Or several holidays. Or one FUCK OFF EPIC holiday. Or a million and three chocolate oranges (let’s just all pause for a mo to enjoy that mental image).

We could avoid it all by just popping over to the registry office, do the thing and then head out for a meal with the rents and done. Easy peasy. Simple. Perfectly nice. Cheap.

But I don’t want to do that.

I don’t want hotels or top tables or fancy cars but, heck, I do want a party. I do want all my favourite people in one room eating good food and drinking a lot of prosecco and dancing to good tunes.

And that, whether I like it or not, costs.

And it costs even more then I could have possibly predicted because attach the word ‘wedding’ to anything and people double the price just for shits and giggles.

(And it’s kinda hard to lie. Like, yeah, I just want to hire this venue for a party… I’ll be wearing a fancy dress and we’ll say a few vows beforehand but, er, yeah it’s just a party for Sharon’s birthday for sure…)

There’s no way around it. Either we do what we want, cutting costs on what we can (good job I’m marrying a man who works with spreadsheets for a living eh?) and accept large sums of cash are going to be spent or we don’t do it at all.

The whole thing is ridiculous. Yet… we all know I’m going to do it. Because I’m privileged enough to be able to and selfish enough to want to.

But if you EVER hear me mention I’m feeling stressed about planning a wedding, punch me in the face. If I’m lucky enough to be able to spend that kind of money on one day’s celebration, I have no right to chuffing moan about it.

15 Jan 2018

A Very Damp Stay In Brighton

Staying in Brighton

Whilst now somewhat overshadowed by the whole we-got-engaged shenanigans, I still wanted to have a chat about our trip to Brighton.

G and I decided a few months back to spend New Year’s Eve in Brighton. I wanted to go back and visit Brighton soon, to see the side of it that’s not arcade games and aquarium. To see why people rave about it and anyone whose ‘cool’ wants to go live there.

That and I'd discovered this cute boutique hotel online and REALLY wanted to stay in it.

Staying in Brighton

Staying in Brighton

Staying in Brighton

Staying in Brighton

Tbh by the time new year came around, G had the mother of all colds and was genuinely the most ill I’ve ever seen him, so we weren’t particularly feeling getting on a train. But we’d paid for the hotel and hoped the sea air would clear away the cobwebs. I had visions of beach walks in the crisp sea air, with clear blue skies.

That, my friends, did not happen.

It was, as the weather man would say, fucking pissing it down with a gale force wind thrown in for good measure.

As soon as we got off the train, we headed immediately for a bakery I’d found in my pre-trip research only to find it rammed with no seats. So we dove into another café nearby, not really caring what it was; just wanting to escape the downpour.

It was selling raw cacao balls and avocado & chocolate cake and we sat next to a table who were the perfect image of a stereotypical ‘hippy’ family. They were talking about how their daughter’s star sign was probably why she experiences mood dips and suggesting their son ‘eased off the ketamine’.

I wondered if Brighton was the kind of place G and I would really fit into.

Still the food was good. We had toasted sandwiches, chocolate tart (for G), banana loaf (for me) and a fancy hot chocolate (also for me) meaning we could brave the outside with fuller stomachs. The rain had eased slightly so we could actually look around us at the quirky mix of colourful walls and independent shops and market stalls. It was pretty easy to see why people were attracted to Brighton, but I wasn’t wholly convinced it was a place I would want to live.

Staying in Brighton

Staying in Brighton


Staying in Brighton
The rain didn’t stay eased off for long so we headed to the hotel in the hope that we could check in early and wring out our clothes a bit.

The Artist’s Residence was a key factor in my booking of the trip. This highly-instagrammable townhouse is tucked up in Regency Square overlooking the sea, although the new British Airways i360 somewhat obstructs this view which is a real shame.

(On a side note, the i360 is one hell of an ugly creature. I’m all for a good view from high up but sticking an enormous concreate pole right on the seafront is a bloody awful idea. Just sayin’.)

Exposed brick, distressed wood, walls painted in bold colours, chairs with jazzy print upholstery, neon lights; you will want to photograph every inch of the Artist’s Residence. I did anyway. Each room is uniquely decorated and named after the artist who did so.

We stayed in the Jo Peel, a small double tucked away in the eaves. I would have loved to have gone for one of the bigger, luxury rooms, mainly because hello roll top bath but they were well beyond our price range. So I picked this little fella because I liked the look of the art work.

It was by far the most unusual and pretty hotel room I’ve stayed in and definitely warranted many a photographs. It came with a comfy bed (obvs), full stocked mini fridge and the toilet and shower were hidden away by a set of little wooden doors. Free of charge, there was a full range of local teas (including peppermint), a bottle of water each and a caramel wafer. No standard hotel biscuits here my friends.

The radio was on for us when we first entered the room, which I thought was a nice touch.

Staying in Brighton

Staying in Brighton


Staying in Brighton

Staying in Brighton

We relaxed, dried out and then decided to head to the pavilion. It had momentarily stopped raining when we stepped back outside so we immediately got ourselves onto the beach and enjoyed a bracing hour or so walking a long and taking in the view of the churning sea and strangely-mesmerising old pier.

And then the rain came again so we walked to the pavilion as quickly as we could. If you don’t know, Brighton’s Royal Pavilion is an exotic palace built as a seaside pleasure palace for King George IV. Whilst I can sometimes find these kind of attractions rather dull, the inside and outside designs include visual styles of China and India so it’s an unusual building to look around, and there’s a lot to keep the eye busy. There was also a mini Jane Austen exhibition going on at the time as well, so I generally very much enjoyed the visit. Would recommend on a rainy day for sure.

Staying in Brighton

Staying in Brighton

When we emerged again, darkness had descended so we headed back to our colourful room to shower and chill before dinner.

(It was during this time that we got engaged but I’m just gonna skip over that one cos don’t wanna become that person that’s like WE GOT ENGAGED DID I MENTION so yeah, you can read more here if ya want. Otherwise, carry on.)

We enjoyed a complementary glass of prosecco in the bar downstairs before going to Food for Friends, Brighton’s ‘original vegetarian restaurant’, where I’d booked us a table based on blogs and good reviews. If I’m perfectly honest, I was somewhat adrenaline-fuelled at this point so wasn’t really aware of what I was eating. I ordered a mushroom pasta and I famously do not like mushrooms so that just shows you where my head was (tbf the truffle flavour was actually very tasty and I even braved a few of the actual mushrooms – GROWTH).

From what I remember though, in general, the food was very nice. We enjoyed a bottle of prosecco and a couple of cocktails for good measure before walking back along the seafront (I can confirm it was a) freezing and b) full of a lot of drunk people).

Staying in Brighton

Staying in Brighton

Staying in Brighton

Staying in Brighton
Back in the hotel room, we were both very happy to get tucked up in bed, watch the London fireworks on TV and watch some real fireworks outside the bedroom window before quickly going to sleep.

Breakfast is included in every stay at the Artist Residence and can be enjoyed in the café on the ground floor which is suitably shabby-chic and an ideal hipsterish brunch spot. I was very happy to have the pancake stack with Greek yoghurt and berry compote as my first meal of 2018.

I managed to get my New Year’s Day walk along the beach, although it was far more stormy than I imagined, but I very much enjoyed watched the big waves come crashing down. We decided we probably couldn’t leave without a walk along the pier so we delayed our train home by an hour to go gaze at the rides, the sea beneath our feet and a few cocky seagulls strutting about. And, just as we decided it was time to go, the sun peaked through the clouds… !

My last taste of Brighton was from Bagelman at the station. I’d read about this being a must (on a blog of course) so grabbed a ‘Mighty Aphrodite’ bagel to eat on the train. It was packed with feta, tomatoes, olives and basil and was bloody tasty. Brighton wasn't quite the vision I had in mind but it will always be a rather special place for G and I now. And I’d go back for that bagel alone, not gonna lie.

Staying in Brighton

Staying in Brighton

Staying in Brighton

Staying in Brighton


8 Jan 2018

My Plans For 2018

Plans for 2018

The past week has been a bit of a whirlwind. A happy whirlwind but a whirlwind all the same. I’ve had a lot of excited conversations with loved ones about getting engaged, booked a rather last-minute trip half way round the world, been engagement ring shopping and seemed to have finally succumbed to G’s horrible cold.

So, yeah, sitting down to think about ideas, goals and plans for the year ahead is only just happening.

But here’s a few things I’ve got lined up for 2018…

Travel 

The big one for 2018. Travel travel travel. 2019 will now involve getting married and buying a house (because I AM A GROWN UP) and before those hefty, EXPENSIVE, life milestones take place, there’s places I want to go; the wanderlust is real you guys. 

I tried to give G as much warning as possible that 2018 would be THE YEAR OF THE TRAVEL and I don’t think I’ve freaked him out too much. 

Booked 

Singapore – I know! I’d sort of decided Singapore was not a place to visit in the near future. I’d thrown it in with visiting Australia/New Zealand and knew I couldn’t squeeze that in just yet. But then, well, I chatted to people and read some blogs and began to think well, why the heck not? So, last week, my friend and I bit the bullet and booked flights… for February. Just a casual five weeks away. No biggie. We’ll be there for just over a week, the jet lag will probably be heinous and I am slightly alarmed at the thought of spending 12 hours on a plane but MUCH EXCITE.  

North Coast 500 – Scotland’s answer to Route 66. Very excited to finally be putting our Scottish road trip into action! We’ll be driving the North Coast 500 for 9 days in total, in July. We booked our flights to Inverness and car hire right after Christmas, whilst things were still cheap, but we still need to plan our route and accommodation!  

Croatia – We’ve booked flights to Split for September and a lovely little flat via air bnb. I can’t wait to explore national parks, see those waterfalls and dip my toes in the sea! 

That is more than enough to get on with but whilst we’re here… 

Dreaming of… 

Ireland – Whilst it’s on the bucket list, I had no plans to do Ireland this year but then a friend popped a lil’ save the date for her wedding in my calendar yesterday and guess where it is… 

Copenhagen – When exactly I plan on fitting in a weekend here, I have no idea. But I may be getting a pay rise later on in the year so you never know… 


Write a novel 

I already suspect that this is far too ambitious but why not set myself a big goal and see how I get on eh? I have plotlines, characters and random bits written here and there but I’m setting myself the challenge of having the first draft of my novel by the end of the year. Yeah... wish me luck… 

Make the most of St Albans 

Because, if all goes to plan, next year is the year we’re moving and I want to make the absolute most of this lovely city before we leave. 

Eat well, live well 

I hope to get back into running again, do more yoga and get out of a weekday-meal-rut by trying at least one new recipe a week; hopefully more plant-based ones. 

Plan a wedding 

Although I’ve spent most of the last week doing just this, I’m still bemused that this seems to be actually happening. G and I already have a pretty solid idea of what we want so we’re gunning ahead with getting the date finalised and venues booked. I’d quite like to get the key stuff done so I can relax a bit; I don’t want my life for the next 18 months to be about one day cos, as you can see, I’ve got a few other things planned this year. I’m also hoping to avoid most of the crap the wedding industry throws at you and actually enjoy the experience of planning but we’ll see how that goes… 

Do good for others 

It’s important to remember your luck in life and that there are always people less fortune than yourself. I want to get my arse into gear in 2018 and start donating blood, giving to the homeless, donating to important causes and reducing my impact on the planet where possible (thanks to Blue Planet II, I’m now as fond of plastic as I am Lord Voldemort). 

Here's to being healthy and happy, and absolutely nailing 2018. 

4 Jan 2018

We're engaged!


I did not think this would be my first post of 2018 either but hey look what happened.

When I said 'if my absolute favourite moment happens in the next 24 hours, I’ll let ya know' in this post, I didn’t quite realise I was foreshadowing a significant life milestone.

G asked if I wanted to get married whilst we were in Brighton, I made a few weird noises (which he took as a yes) and here we are.

We spent Christmas doing all things festive and then spent several days tucked up in the flat. We briefly stepped outside to have a mosey at the Fat Face sale but mostly spent our time living in a world of sofa, cheese and chocolate. G had a stonking cold-borderline-flu for most of it but we still decided to go ahead with our New Year’s Eve trip to Brighton mainly cos we’d paid a hefty amount of cash for a room in a boutique hotel.

The conversation started because we were talking about the best moments of 2017 and what we were looking forward to in 2018, as well as our plan to buy a house in 2019 (we like to plan okay). And then G oh-so-casually asked, if we wanted to get married before buying a house, did we need to set a wedding date? I didn’t entirely take him seriously but then he looked at me and asked “shall we then?”.

I was lying on the bed but suddenly sat up properly.  “Wait what? Are you saying we should get married?”

“Well, engaged for now.”

“Are you proposing to me?!”

He told me later that he’d had thoughts of asking me on the beach but the weather was a sexy combination of gale force winds, pissing rain and freezing cold so he thought better of it. No one likes a proposal story that involves hypothermia.

So I got engaged in the hotel room whilst wearing a pair of joggers. It was very chilled and very us.

I’ve known for a long time that G was the fella I wanted to keep around for the foreseeable (I know; I put it in such a romantic way). We’ve talked quite openly about the fact that we wanted to get married in St Albans, before we buy a house and move away, so I always thought I’d probably suspect when the shall-we-get-married moment was about to happen.

But turns out, nope, I was clueless. Which G is pleased about because his main aim was to take me by surprise.

And yes, I cried.

I got ready in a bit of a daze, drank champagne in the hotel bar far too quickly and barely remember what I ate at dinner; just that we drank a bottle of prosecco and planned our wedding, and that I was a little bit shaky and full of adrenaline the entire time.

And then we went back to the hotel to watch a combination of the fireworks outside the window and the London fireworks on the telly.

Also, I told a lot of my friends five minutes before midnight when nearly everyone was preparing for the countdown and were rather drunk, and I would 100% recommend doing this. There was a lot of screaming, drunken facetime calls and WhatsApp messages ALL IN CAPITALS, and it was very entertaining.

What else to say? I have a ring that G refers to as a token/jokey/cracker ring (IT HAS A CAT ON) but we’re going ‘proper’ engagement ring shopping this weekend; I know as much about diamonds as I do about mechanics so I’ll probs just pick the first one I see and then go eat cake.

We have a good idea of the kind of wedding we want, a potential date in mind and have already inquired at a potential reception venue. We so organised.

We’ve made a guest list and there’s already 120 people on it and, like, that’s a lot of people to feed. Acceptable to just order a load of pizzas on the day or nah?

The past few days have been a bit of a whirlwind (my phone keeps going off with messages of congratulations from loved ones and it’s LOVELY) and I have seriously struggled to concentrate at work cos oooo let’s just google wedding dresses…

2018, I think you’re gonna be a good’un…