Category Archives: Wedding

We did it!

I stole that title from my friend Allison Kirk’s blog, because it is so beautifully apt for how we feel: after months (OK, just 3, but still) of planning, buying, crafting, searching, managing, travelling, laughing (crying) and general mayhem, we pulled off our perfect day (definition: ‘we’ = me, Wes and assorted friends and family). So, the Brits want to know about the day, warts ‘n’ all. And while I do have a post about the craziness that got us to the perfect day (including forgetting the catering, abandoning the groom with no buddies with him the night before and having no way to get the bride to the actual wedding – yes, all those fun and games), but it took away from a description of what was, as I keep writing, our perfect day (yes, I have the Lou Reed song going round and around in my head too, and no, it is not an apt soundtrack).

I arrived and stood in the house, with the ring bearer, bridesmaids, maid of honour. I looked out of the window, and the garden where the ceremony would be held just looked stunning. Wes’ Mum’s chairs were perfect, the arch was simple but eye catching and the lake added a serene feel. I could see Wes standing patiently at the front, the minister grinning happily, and Aaron dutifully handing out rose petals, also with a big smile on his face. It was a beautiful, and somewhat sobering scene but the happiness and joy was palpable, even from inside the house. My Dad asked me how I felt, and I simply felt very excited. So we went downstairs and I got to hear Nate’s gorgeous playing, a simple, delicate sweet song that was perfect for the occasion. After a brief dilemma about where the ring bearer went in the procession, which was solved by 10-year old Sasha, bridesmaid extrodinare (the answer if the at the front, but the way) – off we all trundled down the aisle. And trundle we did, until I suddenly giggled and suggested we all slowed down. My quiet giggle turned into a ranging ear-to-ear-grin when I saw my best buddy Kim, who had made it all the way from Boston. I suddenly realized how many dear friends and loved ones had come out and it made me ecstatic (hence the grin) and this was how I made it to my fiancé at the front:

Given the million degree heat (well, spot on 100 as I exited the car), we decided not to be American, but to be all British, and let people the wedding party sit for the duration of the ceremony. Scott was a wonderful, wonderful minister. He wrote beautiful, Godly words, and involved us so that they felt very personal and meaningful. He talked about the marriage, and what we were to each other, and what we would be, as man and wife in a partnership together. Kirk read an extract from C.S. Lewis’ ‘The Four Loves’ with feeling and heartfelt passion. Wes and I wrote our own vows (coming soon to a blog post near you – see there were some very-American-and-alien-to-Brits touches), and we said these to each other, before also saying the more more common ones (coming soon as well).

Before I knew it, it was time to ‘kiss the bride’. Which Wesley did. And did again. And tried to do again, until I whispered ‘Oi’ and pulled away 🙂

After being presented as man and wife, we receded down the aisle to Nate’s acoustic version of ‘Here Comes The Sun’ and people threw rose petals.

Then a brief photo session, during which Josh Vasa played beautiful music and all we had to do was party. And party we did! It was very nice not to be sitting at a table separate from our guests – it allowed us the freedom to go about chatting to everyone (which Wes was 100% better at than me, who missed a good few of her friends, although I think I did manage to speak to / introduce myself to all of Wes’ side). I changed into a simple dress, and did what I do best: ate, drank, danced and paddled in the lake. It reminded me of a big house party, and I am very grateful to so many people for chipping in and helping out.

Time flew, and soon it was time to cut the cake, listen to Papa’s speech

and have the first dance. We left at 11.15, but the party carried on until 5 am. In fact, I am not sure it had even stopped to restart when we returned at 12 the next day.

At the end of it all, people often ask us: did you have fun? And here, a few pictures really are worth more than a 1,000 words.

My favourite pics from the wedding can be found here:

Budget Candy Table – red and white

Ahhh… the dollar store. How I love thee. Each of these glass containers was $1. The twizzlers were $1. The rest of the candy was $40 on the internet (do a little searching) and scoops for the adorably named for about $1.25 each. We just need to add one bowl of my fellow blogger and handy office mate’s very awesome red ‘n’ white M&Ms with our names printed on them. Snacks for the dancin’, and one less thing on the ‘To Do’ list.

Cnady Buffet, a Southern Classic

Thank you notes

So, I am lucky enough to already have a lot to thank people for – my bachelorette was perfect (and the topic of an upcoming post) and I got wonderful, wonderful gifts. So, now I got an excuse to trial out the ‘thank you’ notes I will be making. Given that I may need to make quite a lot, I wanted to keep them simple. Using my new stamp (which I could not resist as it was on sale in Michael’s for $2.99):

Wedding stamp

and black card (pre folded), hand made red paper, white card and two stamps I already owned (Butterflies… of course… they are inked on me… they are all over my study…. I wear them in my hair… Love the freedom they make me think about…)

Old stamps on white card, ready for cutting out

I just stuck them all together:

I liked the outcome in the end. So, this was for my two girls who went above and beyond with my bachelorette. But I also had lots of letters to write to say thank you for my gifts, so here is the paper I knocked up from some plain cream paper:

Thank you paper

Mmmmm…. excuses to be crafty 🙂

Favours boxes

OK, so nothing is going to be a surprise about my (first) wedding anymore, but I am too excited not to share everything 🙂 A little bit of bargain hunting and self assembly / creative putting together of cheap components,  gets you what I think are frankly awesome favours boxes for 15 cents a piece:

Good for butterfly / garden themes and great for putting personalized beans in.

Married in June… remarried in September. Cheek.

So, I was a little heart broken that there would not be a proper wedding in England. It had to be legally done in the US, to make visa issues a whole lot easier, but Wes and I’s initial plan was to do the paperwork here, and almost forget about it. Go to England, have a whole big wedding, and only consider ourselves married then. Wes was really supportive of this plan, but my Ma:

really wanted to be in the US when I signed the paperwork. So did my best friend Clio:

So, then I began to prepare how I would look after them, and it became a ‘thing’ and I even more than that, realised there were a lot of people in the US that I wanted to celebrate this life-change moment with. Because I met Wes here, most of the people who have been through the highs and lows (yes, the lows) of the relationship have been here. And, making the commitment was very difficult for me, and my friend David was someone I spoke to a lot, and helped me prepare to do so… it really seemed wrong not to have him there at the union. So, it became a party and a celebration… then if people were here for that they could have a ceremony, and suddenly I was getting married in the US. Which was fine, but there are so many people in the UK who can’t make it out and I wanted a wedding with them.

Again, God has provided (I don’t know why I am always surprised). I went to church today and came out to wonderful, and very exciting news: the beautiful church opposite my parents’ house in Esher is free (in September at such short notice!) and the vicar there has agreed to do a full ceremony without costing us the Earth, and without knowing us beforehand. Afterwards, we will have a reception with speeches and a cake and everything at my parents house. And amazingly, my dearest Ma is co-ordinating this entire thing (I am not sure I have the energy to do it twice), and so like the spoilt princess I am – I get two weddings. Although we will live together and will obviously make changes after the US wedding, God will be brought into the union, and His blessing into it, in England. I fully accept it is only with God’s will that I will maintain a happy, lifelong commitment, and I won’t consider myself fully married until He is standing with us in England.

All my friends in Britain, please come and be part of my (extended) wedding 🙂 I am a very lucky, and very bean.


Made our centrepieces for a grand cost of  $2.50 each + some spray paint (about $3). 🙂 Just spray a terracotta pot white


And glue-gun some ribbon around the rim:

I also stenciled the wedding date on the back (no pic).

Keeping with the ‘garden’ theme, we’re looking forward to filling them a couple of weeks before with live dark red and white flowers – currently we are thinking white impatiens with red celosias. And it makes a nice keepsake.

Favors :)

Have finally designed our favors table. We are not having a sit down meal – just a buffet people can stand up with (like at a party) or eat on their laps, though there are a few tables inside if people need them. So I wanted some weddingy decorations in the house to set up (LOVE crafts and designing stuff like this!) that don’t break the bank. A favors table will hopefully add prettiness and to the atmosphere.

The table will have a white tablecloth with red rose petals on. To the left, we will offer a stack of CDs of Josh Vasa’s music, since (1) he is awesome, and it will make a memento of the day and (2)  he is basically playing for the price of the gas to get to us, as a kindness, so we would like to help him promote his work. Hopefully we will stamp the front of the CD insert with our personalized stamp, which I ordered yesterday for just $28 from Etsy:



Being a craft queen, and having stamped all my life, I am sort of in love with this stamp, and slightly at risk of over branding everything. But moving on… In the middle will be our version of a ‘guest book’. Given the informality of the event, and the outdoor nature of the wedding, and myself, and the fact that Wes and I first bonded over plant talk (he was doing a botany degree) we have a rough ‘garden theme’. So using an idea from Brides, but also mentioned by my friend Holly, we will fill a vase with branches, sprayed white and deep red, and leave a stack of white cards (stamped with the above) for people to hang messages on. We can then mount all the cards in a book, or keep them in a box later.

To the right will be our favors. I fell in love with (and Wes was semi-into but couldn’t deny me in the face of much excitement) these personalised beans:

They are a little kooky, sure, but at least they are unique – beans with our names on, that people can grow! We will put out little terracotta pots to go with them. I also wanted some signs to let people know what to do… we need a few signs about the place, including one with the ‘order of the day’ in place of having program printed. The programs would have cost alot alot alot relative to what they are, and the fact they probably mostly get chucked away, so for $20 we are just making signs like this:

Go to a charity or discount store and get a frame:

Spray the outside white and the inside with chalkboard paint:

Decorate as you like (we have lots of red and white [LIVERPOOL] and butterflies or bows instead of flowers as I am not very keen on flower decorations) and write on messages:

It’s a little different, and I might need to work on my handwriting, but hopefully it will be cute, and reflect Wes and I as a couple 🙂

Productive evening

At conference, on time, and registered.

First sprint workout completed – 30 mins of sprinting until heart rate is at 190, and walking until it is back down to 139. Did about 10 cycles. Felt like dying.

Blog updated.

Paper reviewed (2 more to go… boo…).

And wedding dress ordered. No, it is not this one:

Although I would like to see everyone’s face if it was.

Venues and music and cakes and shawls and oh my!

So, we went venue hunting on Thursday. To set the scene, finding a good venue was pretty critical – and we were away that weekend. I mean, a lot hinged on having a venue – everything else could be figured out / bought last minute; even the dress if needs be. You know my attitude: if I don’t fit into the dress on the day – I’ll go get a new one… If the catering doesn’t turn up – it becomes a fancy pizza party… No alcohol? No problem; that is what Sam’s Club is for. But we do actually need somewhere to hold the darn thing and need it stat seeing as:

1)   Many things are ‘on hold’ until you have a concrete date and address “please turn up June the something somewhere in Alabama” doesn’t go down very well;

2)   It is the main part of our budget. We were aiming for $1,500 max, but if it HAD to be $3,000 then it had to be – we’d adjust elsewhere;

3)   People in England really needed to get to booking their flights;

So Wes and I are in the car, desperately optimistic, driving through Jasper – aware that it is not the most er… picturesque of Alabama locales, but is the closest ‘major’ town to the proposed venue. We turn off the interstate, and start wending our merry way through the back roads, and start to get untidy and unkempt and downright neglected and dangerous and they get worse and worse… paved roads give way to dirt tracks which give way to rubble. Dead animals line the sides of the road, and tranches of woodland have been forested leaving exposed sand and a few bare stumps / branches. I plaster a smile on my face. We turn left onto the road (aptly named ‘Dismal Road’… not even joking) and see a dilapidated house next to some murky water. Determined not to be a bridezilla I say nothing. Wes looks at me and says with faux brightness ‘So… baby, if you don’t like this, you must just say, because we can totally find another place’. ‘It’s awful!’ I burst out, and Wes nods grimly in agreement. In steely determination we continue down the road…. Things aren’t getting better and we spy a gorgeous chalet style home with huge garden gently sloping to the lake. Concerned about sorting this out and a little blue, Wes said “if only that were the place”.

It was! Somehow this haven of grace and beauty in the midst of devastation and neglect was the place to rent. Yaaaaaaay! It is a gorgeous 5 BR lakehouse with a huge garden to have the ceremony in. 2 large reception (party) rooms, and nice side rooms for people to relax or have a quiet moment. Also a huge deck all the way around the front. Could not be more perfect. And under our budget. Phew (which is good as we managed to forget to budget for a minister… somewhat of a necessary expense).

Then… more good news. I had some trauma with a wedding band – the ring from Wes was so darn nice that anything less than largish colourless diamonds looked rubbish (but were hideously expensive), and a plain white gold band even worse. It was the last day of a JC Penney 40% sale, with an extra 20% off if you took a card out. Miraculously I was approved… so we got the perfect band of ½ carat colourless diamonds that are eye clean for inclusions (and not bad under 10 X magnification). J C Penney also have a good rep for their cuts, which are done well. So we saved lots and lots on something pretty:

Then, my Ma agreed to make the cake!! I was so excited, we had picked someone to make them (who does make amazing cakes) but Wes and I’s dream forthe wedding was to have it as personal as possible, and as memorable, which means involving our friends as much as possible. Then after some cajoling, Ma (somewhat reluctantly) also agreed to try to go for the full 3 tiers. Woo-hoo! She is worried it will go wrong – Wes and I are utterly prepared for this. Cake stands at T J Maxx + 3 publix cakes (carrot, sponge and chocolate) = an amusing anecdote and memory 🙂

Finally, I was slightly worried about getting BBQ sauce / ketchup on my dress. My friend Emily wandered into my office and said ‘are you thinking of doing the whole tiara / wrap thing… coz if you are, I would love to make your wrap’. Awesome, awesome, awesome. Her husband, Nate, is also playing my entrance music and Wes and my exit music (forget what they call it – precessional and recessional or exitsessional or sessional something-or-other). And Wes’ Mum is making bows for the chairs for the aisle seats.

And so, with the advent of a venue, I could actually ask people to save the date. I have to make all the invites, programs, decoration etc, so I wasn’t sure I wanted to make Save the Date Cards… nor spend lots of $$$ on buying some. So everyone got a save the date email:

So… we’re getting exactly what we want, at a price we can afford, and I feel very blessed. And I promise to write some non wedding / Atkins posts soon. Maybe 🙂

Fat-kins here I come

OK, had a mini meltdown when I saw some photos of me in a bikini. By “mini” I do of course mean refusing to let anyone see them, running out of the room and crying about it the next day. Sad as it is, I don’t want to be a ‘chunky bride’. There, I said it and admitted it. But it is OK, Wes has talked some sense into me – he has pointed out that I have very little body fat, but I do have an awful lot of muscle. If you are doing 120 squats & deadlifts and bench pressing 100, you are going to bulk up. Which I like. But the problem is, when you throw a little bit of junk food on top of that the muscle tone sort of smoothes out, and you just look ‘chunky’. He pointed out that I look like what I am – a female body builder in the ‘off season’. It’s not a bad thing, but it doesn’t feel like ‘me’. And my proportions are slightly ridiculous. So after a wee bit of crying, I need – no, WANT – to shed some bulk (fat) and not build my muscles for a little while. I guess it would be a sort of ‘cutting’ regime. The best way that I know for *me* to do this, without going crazy low calories / getting too obsessive / falling into to the yo-yo dieting trap is to do Atkins. And drop the heavy lifting (just do light strength training twice a week + plyos) in favour of more (ergh) cardio. Not excessive – just more jogging / longer bike rides. My goal is to lose ~6/7 lbs before June 4th, and not lose too much muscle. I will drop some, sure, but I want to build up my type IIb fibres for some more tone to it, and less bulk.


The plan is:

-Induction Atkins for 12 days; then I will probably move up the ‘rungs’ quite quickly

-1-2 weeks of no strength training – 3 jogs (~3.4 miles) per week, 2 dance classes, one kickboxing class (can’t do my classes this week as I have a conference – boo).

-Then to add in strength training, but go lower weight, higher rep and do full body workouts rather than killing one muscle group per week. By the time I add this in, I should be adding in some carbs to my diet, as I will be moving up the rungs, so I shouldn’t get too tired.


In the meantime I am trying to keep my nails and suchlike looking nice, so I don’t focus on feeling like a heifer.

So, here it goes. Of course, I will have to blog my progress and meal plans – that what makes it fun for me 🙂