What I have learned about Weddings: 5 years on

This Saturday is Pete and I’s fifth wedding anniversary. How did that even happen? As it’s somewhat of a milestone and I don’t talk about weddings on here very often, I thought it would be a nice time to do a little series on wedding reflections with that 5 year perspective. I also know that many of you know me via my wedding blogging background and shared the journey with me, getting married around the same time and in the couple of years after my wedding, so I’m sure you must have something to say on the subjects I’m going to cover too – I’ll be looking forward to reading your thoughts! I’m also away this week (at a wedding!) so it will be a ‘weddings only’ special week with reduced posts.

Firstly, I thought I would write a post about my perspective on the wedding now. It goes without saying that my tastes have changed and of course, I would probably change everything looking back if we were to get in to the detail. I guess some people would say that they wouldn’t change a thing and I get the sentimental aspect of that, but I tend to be the kind of person who changes as life changes, plus I don’t feel attached to my wedding ‘day’, but the resulting marriage.

The last couple of years has also seen some of our best friends get married and so I’ve been heavily involved in weddings all over again, after a break from wedding blogging. Having that outside/inside perspective and the benefit of hindsight is interesting and has made me think about the stress and money involved, so I thought I’d share my thoughts.


Image Via SMP

1. Less formality.
You know how Carrie and Big’s guest list in the SATC movie suddenly jumps to 200 and when she tries to explain it to Big she compares the wedding to a poker match, saying ‘The dress upped the ante.’ Well that kind of happened with our wedding. My dress was probably one of the first things I found, (totally wrong order,) and ended up commanding a grander venue when an informal garden wedding was something I had always wanted. Of course there were loads of other factors that dictated the wedding, like Pete’s specification that it be held in a church, our lack of venue to hold a ‘garden wedding’ and my fears about the weather. In actual fact we had the hottest day of the year and everyone I know who has planned outdoor parts of their wedding since has been lucky and the weather held up. We have always said since the day we got married that we should have done it at our rehearsal dinner – a garden BBQ we had the night before with just our immediate family and bridal party.

2. Less people
We had a guest list of 88 and I think around that number give or take a few attended. I remember overwhelmingly feeling that there were people there that we didn’t need there and afterwards realising there were still people we hadn’t managed to speak to.

3. Less nik knacks and stress
Don’t get me wrong, I still love a creative wedding and I really admire people who put masses of effort into their day, but it totally stressed me out and with the benefit of hindsight, it wasn’t necessary. People don’t notice (other than fleetingly,) and I’d concentrate on a great venue with good bones and overdose on the flowers, forgetting much else if I did it again. All of the extra details just contributed to stress and observing other peoples weddings has reinforced the fact that the more detail there is, the more stress there is for everyone involved.


Image via SMP

4. A comfortable dress!
It’s easy to say, having worn a princess dress once already, but I would choose something much softer and less intrusive on everyone else if I did it again. My dress wasn’t heavy (light as a feather) and it wasn’t uncomfortably tight, but it got in the way of just being around people and hugging and dancing with Pete and it’s not really me to wear something that restricts me doing everything I want to.

5. Party!
Lastly, I would make the wedding much more of a party and less of a sequence of events. (drinks reception, dinner, speeches, dancing.) Casual, relaxed, FUN!

I suppose I should temper this with things I wouldn’t change or am glad that we did do as this sounds negative and I’m certainly not sat here worrying about it 5 years later!


Image credit: Lawson Photography

1. Photography
I’m so glad we spent money on Photography. Admittedly it seemed like a huge chunk of our budget then, (it was probably about 10% relatively speaking) and decent photography is even more expensive now, but I don’t think it could ever be something you regret.

2. Fake cake
Our cake was made by a friend at the time who was a pro-cake maker. It was a gift and saved us a fortune, but looking back, I certainly wouldn’t spend money on one again in the future. Ours was four tiers and would have been so much bigger than required so the top three tiers were ‘fake’ polystyrene but you never would have known.


Image credit: Lawson Photography

3. The Ceremony
I wouldn’t change a single thing about our ceremony – every bit of effort that I put into it was worthwhile and the whole thing was perfect – it remains my best memory of the day, as it should be!

4. The feast
After having quite a few bad generic wedding chicken dinners, I am so glad we spent money on the food, (we held our wedding at a restaurant and as a result the food was incredible – a four course italian menu with antipasti, a pasta course, a fish/meat course and tiramisu for dessert!) People still say how great it was now and given how much I like my food it was a worthwhile expense! We also scheduled a longer than usual (even given the fact that we had photos close to the venue and weren’t away from the guests for long,) drinks reception – it’s often my favourite bit of the day at a wedding and over before it has begun.

5. Having it close to OUR home.
Looking back, I’m so glad we had our wedding in Manchester. It meant all of our suppliers were local to where we lived, which reduced the planning stress, and the majority of our guests didn’t have to fork out for accommodation or travel. The few that did had access to the whole range of accommodation options to suit their budget and the venue was walkable from the church.


Image Via

6. Time with family
The other precious moments that I cherish the most from our wedding are spending it with the people I loved the most – I don’t mean our extended guest list when I say that, but the rehearsal dinner the night before and the morning I spent getting ready with my mum and bridesmaids. That was such a relaxed and fun time and felt really special.

7. Flowers
I love flowers and still do, so although we spent a huge amount on flowers I would do it again in a heart beat. In fact I’d have even more!

8. Get a planner
I also asked Pete what he would change and we were pretty much on the same page; ‘Smaller, more casual and less formal,’ were his words and he also reminded me that we always said if we were to do it again we would get a planner. I think wedding planners are so under rated and always considered a luxury. Whilst it’s certainly not cheap, an affordable cost is to get an ‘on the day’ planner, or someone to support you around the last week of build up and expense wise, I’d say they are worth their weight in gold.

So readers, with the benefit of married hindsight, what would you do differently looking back on your wedding, and what are you glad you spent the time, money and effort on?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS Later in the week I’ll be talking marriage and sharing some pics of my own wedding 🙂 I hope you enjoy reminiscing over it all!

Friday Frock O’clock

Right now, ASOS has 25% off dresses. When they’re already well priced, that means super bargains are there for the taking. Instead of outdated wintery styles as you so often get in mid-season sales, there are some dresses perfect for stocking up on for summer holidays and events, so I thought I’d pick 4 favourites today.


Embroidered cutwork dress // Origami heavy satin dress // Open back dress // Graphic floral maxi dress

Happy Friday readers,

Love,
Rebecca
xo

How to shop for your wedding dress.

I don’t often delve into weddings on Florence Finds but it’s not an era of my life that is completely over yet, particularly as I’m going to be a bridesmaid for Jess next year. I’ve written about wedding dress shopping in the past but it’s interesting how your perspective changes as you get older – it’s easy to say that’s as a result of having ‘had’ one type of wedding whereas I think it actually stems from a certain degree of maturity, because I notice similar theories from Jess. I also think that the older you get, the more in-tune with your personal style you are and therefore less likely to be sucked into the ‘you only get to do it once,’ advice.

The way Jess and I have been looking for her dress has been such a lovely stress-free experience (so far!) that I thought I would share my tips and how we have gone about it. I would love it if those of you who are married would chip in with any advice you have on finding the perfect dress too.

1. Pinterest is your friend.
The temptation on getting engaged is to rush straight out dress shopping, (it’s what I did,) but I think it’s a much smoother process when you have a look around at what’s available first and try to narrow down what you’re looking for. Make a Pinboard (see some of my favourites here) or a paper scrapbook of everything that you like and narrow down the shapes and styles that you see emerging as a trend.

2. Identify the designers you like.
You might find that the dresses that you like all come from a certain designer which makes this bit easy, but looking at individual designers is also very useful for expanding your search. Designers tend to have a trademark style and so chances are if you find a dress you like they may have several similar ones that you would also like.

3. Find the Bridal stores that stock the designers you want to try.
I’m pretty sure most people do what I did and head off to a local bridal store hoping to try on a selection of dresses and find ‘the one’. I know that I then found it very off putting to arrive at said bridal shop and look around seeing nothing but the opposite of what I thought I was looking for. It’s a waste of time and leaves you feeling deflated. Whereas if you go to a store that you know stocks dresses that you think will suit you and you like, you’re already onto a winner.

4. Use your wild card.
It’s always worth scheduling an appointment at that local bridal shop that has pretty dresses in the window to try some dresses that are the opposite of what you want. You never know, you might find that the opposite of what you imagined is actually the dress you feel sensational in. I think it helps you have confidence in your eventual choice to know that you have ruled something out with full knowledge of what it is rather than ruling out an ‘idea’.

5. Stay Strong.
Remember, it’s your wedding. So much ‘advice’ is thrown at you from every direction when you’re planning and spending money on anything wedding related that is essentially a sales pitch, it’s easy to lose sight of what you know is right for you and your fiancé. Whether thats keeping a tight rein on the finances, not letting things get too formal, or just staying true to your vision of the day, you have to hold onto it. Trying to conform to what you or anyone else thinks you should have is the quickest way to regrets post-wedding.

Please do share your wedding dress shopping tips and perhaps any thoughts you have as a married looking back… would you change your choice of dress if you did it again?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

*All images taken by me in Morgan Davies Bridal – our first port of call and an absolutely wonderful experience – I’d highly recommend them. 🙂

The Marriage of Mahj and Martin, Part 1

This afternoon I have a very special post to share with you and something slightly unusual for Florence Finds, a wedding. It’s not just any wedding though, it’s the wedding of Mahj and Martin, Mahj being one of the Rock My Wedding Real Brides. The Real Brides over at RMW were one of my favourite parts of it and one of the things I was most proud of. Getting to know them and helping them out where I could was fun, but the best part was seeing the final result. Completing the cycle with the final wedding posts was one of the things that I missed the most when my time there came to an end. Mahj became a good friend of mine during her time writing for RMW and her unwavering support of me and of Florence Finds has been phenomenal. I’m incredibly grateful for her loyalty and that she wanted to see her wedding report finished by me, and shared on Florence Finds.

Thank you so much Mahj and Martin, I hope I’ve done you both justice…:)

As I sit here to write this, I keep drifting off. Smiling slightly (and at times a little crazily) when remembering parts of the day. As I write this, I have been married for 6 months and 2 days. But in the words of Bo Selecta (!) maybe we need a little rewind?!

I was never just having a wedding day. Oh no. Not for Mr and Mrs Ansari’s youngest daughter. I had what affectionately came to be known as ‘Wedding Week’. Yeah, a whole week of celebrations. But in my defence, Mrs A was behind a lot of it and I wasn’t about to mess with her. Not on this.

My family started to arrive around a week before the wedding from all corners of the globe. It was really bloody lovely as I hadn’t seen some of them for years. I was so touched that they had made the effort to travel so far.

The Mehndi
Wednesday 20th July saw the dawn of my Mehndi (henna party). The day started early for my bridesmaids and I, as my henna artist, an unbelievably talented lady called Sabha, had me having henna put on at 9am. 9am people. And it took 5 hours in total to do my hands and feet. My lesson learnt is to not drink tea whilst having said henna put on as that could lead to awkwardness when needing to pee later on…oh gosh, have I just said pee on Florence Finds?!

My Mehndi was as I expected it to be as I hadn’t had a hand in it. Complete bedlam, disorganised and everyone yelling and bossing each other around. Sigh. Welcome to an Asian Wedding. But all that drama-rama aside, this was probably the point when everything started to feel very very real.

I’ve been to plenty of other bride-to-be’s Mehndis and enjoyed them. But to be having my own was 2 parts surreal,1 part nerve-wracking! I knew this day would come but was not prepared for everyone looking at me and asking lots of questions and being so genuinely interested and curious in how it all unfolds.

Really the hardest thing was walking into the room. I could feel everyone’s eyes on me and my face got hot and my skin started prickling and all I could think was “Jesus Mahj, there will be more people at the wedding!”

So at the Mehndi, everyone gets to together to wish the bride well for her married life. They tied flowers around my wrists and fed me sweets and dabbed henna onto my palms. You know, the usual!

Mine was a pretty informal do. After all the Mahj-blessing there was some time to have some photos taken and catch up with everyone. Then there was food and lots of it (seriously, my parents fed people for weeks on the leftovers!) and there may have been some dancing. Ok, there definitely was some dancing. I was supposed to be having a professional dancer coming but unfortunately got let down at the last minute.

Luckily I have some very hyperactive aunts who jammed their Bhangra CD’s in and away we went. Most surprisingly, I loved it! Jigging away to fast-paced Bhangra music isn’t normally how I get down (haha, i can’t believe I just said “how I get down”) but I really enjoyed myself!

Wedding
And so it dawned. I had managed to sleep the night before, though I’m guessing the few glasses of champagne had helped with that. I felt good. Excited, rested, nervous, giddy and a little sick that the day had finally arrived. And I was calm. Or so I’d thought. I’d done all I could in terms of planning and so now had come the time to enjoy the fruits of my labour…except I still tried to continue controlling the day later on and got the stern face from our wedding co-ordinator and my new husband and was told to relax and leave the staff to it. Oops.

My sharpest memories of the day come from the morning. The getting-ready-with-my-ladies part. It was a pretty relaxed affair (probably because Mrs A hadn’t turned up yet!) and it was whilst I was jumping up and down on the bed (as you do) that the hair and make-up dream team arrived, Michelle and Hayley. Shortly followed by our completely fantastic, we-love-him-so-much-we-could-squish-him photographer Andy Wardle.

I am so grateful for the time I got to spend with my bridesmaids that morning. As soon as I hit that aisle I barely saw them for the rest of the day.

I think I remember putting on my outfit quite early, like around 12pm (we were getting married at 2pm), Mrs A was dead against this but I ignored her. I was determined to spend as much time as humanly possible in that outfit. By this point my hair and make-up were done and I’d stopped panicking about my eyes “being too smokey” and me having too much make up on as Michelle had patiently explained to me that I would need it to last the day and also so I didn’t look washed out on the photos. She was right of course.

And sweet Jesus, dressed in my outfit, hair and make-up done, I felt beautiful. Like really really gorgeous. Knock your socks off schmoking. And so excited. I couldn’t wait for Martin to see me and for me to see him.

And I’ll bet you guys can’t wait to see her walking down the aisle either!

Come back tomorrow to see the second part in all its detailed glory – the paper pretty, the florals, the magnificent cake, but most of all the joy.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

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