2 Years and counting…

I can’t believe we’ve been married for 2 years.

2 years.

And now I’m on bridesmaid duties for my little sister!

Where does the time go? If you’d asked me 2 years ago where I thought we’d be now… it probably wouldn’t have been living in a mobile home in my parent’s garden with a sassy pomeranian. That’s just it though- we can plan all we want but it might not work out as we expect it to, and our wedding pretty much went that way too.

About 10 weeks before our wedding date my lovely Granda was diagnosed with a brain tumour – the third time in his life that he’d had cancer, and although he’d beaten it before, deep down we all knew what it meant. So the wedding was off, then it was on, then it was off, then it was on…off, on, off, on, off… and finally we sat down with Nanny and asked what we should do, because literally no-one could give us an answer. She told us Granda wouldn’t have wanted us to postpone the wedding and to go ahead, twelve short days after he passed away in the wonderful Southern Area Hospice.

The next morning was weird. All of a sudden there were no more hospital visits, no more days in the hospice, no more visitors trailing constantly through the door and we had to get into wedding mode. We had to get excited, or at least try. My plan all along had been to make a lot of things by hand myself and whilst I’d been futtering (footering? How do we spell that one?) at what I could, there was still a lot to do and it was a bit of a scramble to get to all together.

We wanted a wedding that was sparky and festive but, as per usual,  we didn’t want it to break the bank, and somehow we achieved it, despite it all. It was strange day without Granda, but we managed to enjoy it and find ways to honour his memory, including a collection for the hospice that looked after him so carefully.

My dress was a sample dress- originally a £1400 strapless fishtail that I had altered to a fit and flare with a boatneck top and sheer sleeves, and the bridesmaid dresses came from eBay, collectively costing about half the original price of my dress. I didn’t go looking for a sample sale, but I was chuffed at finding my dress that way.

The week before the wedding saw many 2am bedtimes (so much for ‘beauty sleep’ before the big day) as I sat making the crocheted flower hairpieces and assembling the bouquets for bridesmaids and flower girls from the bags of white crochet flowers my aunt had been helping me with. I wanted something unique for my bouquet so made it entirely from roses that I crocheted myself, with lace, pearls and angelina fibres woven through it- and I still love it.

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Paddy and I had gone down to our church the day before and decorated it with holly and ivy around the front steps, tea lights in jam jars decorated with silver bells on the window sills and baby’s breath sprayed with sparkling, silver glitter held on the end of each pew by a floaty white organza bow.

Our reception was held at The Mill at Ballydugan, a beautifully renovated old 18th century mill, with rustic stone walls and low wooden beams. We had little to do to get the look we wanted as they had already decorated with Christmas trees and garlands, but we made our mark with DIY centre pieces (glittery baby’s breath in a jar of diamonte and glitter water, sitting on a log slice surrounded by tea lights),  our seating plan was a 4ft tree (featuring Santa and his reindeer) and our favours were little personalised wooden decorations.

The biggest hand-made hurdle of all was the cake; with the help of a talented friend, it too was homemade. We spent 13 and a half pain-staking hours, baking, icing and decorating our wedding cake. If you take nothing else from this post, remember this: never, ever make your own wedding cake. It might seem like a good idea at the time, but nothing is worth that level of stress. And then you realise you have to transport the thing.

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Our wedding wasn’t exactly cheap as chips, but it wasn’t the £20,000-£50,000 extravaganza that weddings can be, and we still have lots of the little bits and pieces we made for the wedding floating about the house (well… mobile… you get the drift). How many brides can say they still have their wedding bouquet sitting in their living room? It was lots of hard work, stress, tears and a couple of tantrums but it was so completely worth it to say we made our day ourselves.  Strangely enough, we’re just as married, and just as happy as everyone who spent 5 times the amount we did, and we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

It was a weird, exciting, sad, happy, joy-filled, tear-filled, LOVE-filled day that we’ll always cherish.

Gillian x

P.S. If you make a charitable donation at Christmas, please consider a local hospice – they help the families through difficult times as much as they do patients.

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The Budget Wedding Guest

Weddings are expensive. No matter what part you play in it, they still cost. I’m always honoured to be invited to anyone’s wedding, but there’s always an expectation there. It may not even be from the bride and groom, but when we are invited to a wedding, we as guests spend money on a new dress, new shoes, a new clutch, new jewellery, a fascinator or hairpiece, an up-do, a tan, a professional makeup job, nails… it goes on.  Simply because we feel we have to. It almost seems rude not to make the effort for the couple on their Big Day. As much as I would love to spend money on all of that, I simply can’t. I can’t justify using what would be on a whole months savings on looking good for one day.

I was invited to my very good friend’s wedding on the 24th of August. I’ve known her since I started secondary school and couldn’t have been more excited to be there to celebrate with her. It was a beautiful wedding, and I’ve never seen a groom with more admiration for his new wife. Tissues were required.

Obviously I wanted to keep up with the crowd and look my best, but I had to keep it within a savings-friendly budget. Here’s how I put myself together for the big day:

Dress

I was going to wear something I already had and decided to pick something from either my own wardrobe or my two sisters’ wardrobes closer to the time, but we ended up finding a little floral shift dress in the Marks and Spencer sale for a very extravagant £11. I’m a solid 10 and at a (generous) size 8 it was a bit of a squeeze, but I couldn’t resist buying something new for the sake of a tenner. If it zips, it fits.

Fascinator

Ebay. I reaaaaally struggled to find a fascinator that was the right colour, and, to be frank, didn’t look like something had landed on my head and died. Why is it you can never find something when you’re looking for it? I ended up googling it, which has lead me to some great bargains in the past. I tentatively ordered one from a UK based seller for £16.99, hoping it would arrive looking like the picture. To my surprise, it actually did, and came with both a headband and a clip to accommodate the hairstyle I hadn’t yet thought of.

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Shoes

Pink, satin, peep-toe stilettos, bought in the Karen Millan shop sale in Kildare outlet village about 4 years ago for about 40 euros. I’m pretty sure a light shone on those shoes the moment I walked into the shop. I didn’t need them then, but I wanted them. I can’t lie, they hurt so bad after about 2 hours, but they’re perfect for an event where there’s lots of sitting and where it’s later acceptable to remove them.

I’d show you a close-up, but they’re a little scuffed. 😬

Hair, Nails and Makeup

DIY. As I’ve said before, I’m no ‘MUA’ but I can put my face on fairly well, especially when I’m taking my time with it. I tried my first cut crease using pink and plum tones – nothing like trying something new 2 hours before a wedding- and it wasn’t awful.  My hair had been in benders the night before to curl it so was a little bit out-of-control by the time I got them out, but after a minor meltdown and the help of my sister it submitted into a soft, half-up style with a bit of a vintage vibe to it. Jenny also did my nails with gel polish in fuchsia pink to match my shoes and fascinator – who needs a salon when you have sisters?!

And there you have it – total cost: £27.99 and favours owed. And without wanting to sound narcissistic, I think I looked as well as everyone else.

Gillian x