5 things the magazines don’t tell you about wedding dress shopping

This weekend was so amazing. I bought my wedding dress!

It’s true what people say. When you see ‘the dress’ you will know it’s the one for your big day. However, I found the whole experience a little different than I expected…

1. Book well in advance.
I know that most stores ‘recommend’ appointments, but holy potatoes, I really struggled to get any appointments at all.
One particular store had an 8 week waiting list to try on dresses. Seriously. Eight actual weeks!
As bridal stores are generally not open on Sundays and very rarely available on evenings, if you work full-time like I do, take the earliest Saturday you can get! Out of the 3 shops I managed to get into, they all told me it takes about 6 months for the dresses to arrive. I did not know this. As I’m getting married in just over 8 months, I was suddenly on a major deadline. I imagine they normally come in earlier than this, but it wasn’t something I was prepared to risk. I’m a stress head enough as it is. And breathe…

2. Don’t expect to like all the dresses…if any of them!
The first shop I visited, I didn’t see one single dress I liked. I felt really disheartened by the whole experience, Drama Queen that I am – “Woe is me. I’ve been to one whole shop and didn’t find my dress” – I worry about my mental health sometimes. The thing is, you expect to like something. I felt that most wedding dresses made me feel frumpy and really old. I found the experience took a bit of getting used to.

3. Prepare to be stuffed like a chicken.
In one shop, nearly all the dresses in the store were a size 16. I am a size 8/10. I may be naive here but I thought there would have been more sizes available. Instead, I now know that if a dress is too large, they tighten it as much as they can, and then either pin you, or stuff you. Yes that’s right, I was stuffed with sponges to ‘get a feel for the dress’. Personally, I don’t care how nice a dress is – if it’s not even remotely close to your size, it’s going to look awful. I found the other shops much more effective who had a larger range of sizes. It might be worth asking the bridal shops what sizes they stock before making an appointment.

4. Don’t think about taking pictures.
I am on a Facebook group for brides and I’ve been on all the major forums like Confetti, Wedding Bee, You and Your Wedding etc. Every day, I see women asking for opinions regarding their dress choices. But I’m not sure how they got so many pictures!
One shop I visited forbid any form of photography. The next had no problem with it whatsoever. The third said we could only take a picture once we bought the dress.
I understand that bridal shops don’t want anyone stealing designs and such, but they should at least have their own digital camera on the premises. At the place I wasn’t allowed to take pictures, by the end of the session, I’d forgotten what any of the dresses looked like. If they had their own, you could still flick through whilst not taking them home. Take a camera just in case, but don’t be sad when they say no to pictures. You have been warned.

5. Wear a strapless bra.
Over and over again I have read that bridal shops have spare strapless bras or cups for dress trying on. I didn’t find this was the case. I didn’t wear a strapless bra to my first shop and I wish I had. The woman kept slipping off my straps and stuffing it in the dress. I found it all very uncomfortable. Just go in a strapless bra in the first place. If you’re self conscious wear leggings and a longline strapless bra.

I know it sounds like i didn’t enjoy the whole experience very much from this but I actually loved it. I got to spend time with my mum and sister and go shopping – something i never ever treat myself to.

This is just a heads up for future brides who might expect flowing champagne and to automatically know what you want. 🙂

I can’t wait to see my dress again! And since Joe is so nosy and wants to see it now, if he asks, this is what I’ll look like on our wedding day….
Karen x

Stealth shed spying

Two weeks ago (yes, I’m slow at blogging stuff these days) Joe and I had a lovely weekend with family. I don’t get to see my mum and step-dad that often since they moved away, but we wanted to get together and discuss wedding stuff so it was a great excuse to see each other.

However, it was also pretty handy because the shed that Joe and his dad were prepping the garden for the weekend before, needed 3 men to put it up because it’s so large and heavy.

With my step-dad up for the job, he, Joe and Joe’s dad, Peter, cracked on with putting it together. Me, my mum and my sister talked weddings indoors. Doing wonders for the gender stereotype…

According to Joe (because I know nothing of sheds) wood panels outside need a special coat to avoid rotting, and then we can fill it up with outdoorsy stuff. I think Joe wants to show off his wonderful job to his friends, so here are the pictures I sneakily took while they were working away.

BUM!A very proud Joe. Although from his expression, you’d think he was in a huff! I think he was just tired. Good job Joey. 🙂

Karen x

I’m just going to go for a shower….because i CAN!

Last month we had the bathroom finished.

I have been a bit pants at blogging because we’ve just been busy with wedding things and trying to get our heads around venues and budgets and all that stuff.

But, I’ve finally taken some pictures of the finished result.

First, a reminder of how it looked when we moved in with special appearances from the rotting cast iron bath, grab rails, and pink damp walls…
Previously it was a separate ‘ye olde Victorian’ loo, but that wasn’t with us for long. Joe enjoyed ripping down the wall too. Now, we are the proud owners of a modern fully functioning bathroom!

I tried to use a 360 app thingy for a better picture…
It’s so much bigger now that the two rooms have been combined. And the shower is a monster. I can do the Can Can in there if i want to. Not that I’d want to…

I hope you’ll agree that it’s looking a lot better than it did this time last year!

There are a few more jobs to crack on with, such as :

  • PVC window
  • Buy bathmat
  • Add a cupboard somwhere
  • Buy a mirror
  • Paint the door

…but these will come with time.

We were so excited when the work was finished that we had a ‘Grand Opening’ of the bathroom with Joe’s parents and sister. We even put a ribbon on the door to mark the occasion. Oh yes. We went there!

Thanks so much to absolutely everyone who pitched in over the months to get it finished. You’re all superstars and you’re welcome to use our facilities whenever you like 😉

Karen x

Nine months to go…

No, I’m not pregnant. Have I put on weight or something? Everyone keeps asking me this!

Joe and I are getting married in April 2013.

We’ve been engaged three months now and will be married in nine. AHHHHHHHH!!!

I know that originally we were going to set the date for 2014 to allow for more savings, but it turns out, things change.

Joe and I took three days off work last week to visit seven potential venues that we had narrowed down from the hundreds online.

It was so much fun. We got to stay overnight in Chester, go to the zoo and generally indulge ourselves into wedding fever and be away from home tasks. We were given cupcakes, free champagne and personalised treats – they really know how to flatter you to get your business.

By the Wednesday, after visiting all seven, we weighed up what we liked, cost and availability, and narrowed it down to two venues.

One of them was Rookery Hall Hotel & Spa in Nantwich.

We absolutely loved it immediately but since it was the first venue we visited, we found ourselves comparing the others to this one.

However, Rookery was almost completely booked up for the next two years apart from Fridays and Sundays here and there so we tried to keep this in mind when looking at other venues. These Friday and Saturdays though, were being offered at discount prices to fill up their diary.

As you may have guessed, this is exactly what we went for.

The fact is, the other venue that we loved was so quirky, different and were more flexible with dates, but the rooms were too large for our guest list, and quite frankly, we were sold on day one to Rookery Hall.

When we made our decision to have the wedding next year, we took my mum and dad to see what they thought, and we got their approval.

So we’re all booked and it’s official.

Getting giddy, later that day I did a Google Image search for the venue, to get some photography ideas and just to feel smug at our good decision. I found loads of pictures of The Beckhams. It turns out, that’s where they announced their engagement. Aren’t we posh!

Here is the venue. I’m so excited to let everyone know the date and get our invites sorted over the next month.

We aren’t doing Save The Dates any more (which I never liked anyway because they are shortened down to STD – ew) because it’s so soon that we might as well just send the invites.

When we were all booked up, we popped along to see Joe’s parents and had some bubbly to celebrate. This next few weeks I’ll be diving into wedding invitations – yes, I’m making them myself – and trying on my first wedding dress. Here it goes!
Karen x

A sunny sheddy Saturday

Joe is adament that one day we will have the most spectular garden of all time. Unfortunately, a British summer usually means rain and more rain, so he’s hardly had chance to do garden work since we moved in. However, he’s now accumulated enough tools to require a shed. We went shopping for sheds at the beginning of the ‘summer’ but, we’re easily distracted and Joe ended up locking me in a children’s tree house before we went home for ice cream.

Needless to say, the shed plan failed.

But, Joe’s parents have come to our rescue once more. Carol, Joe’s mum, works at a college and they were getting rid of a really massive shed. So, we’re taking it off their hands.

I came home from work on Friday to see it at the side of our house. Just look at that glorious summer weather…
We were really lucky that on Saturday it didn’t rain, considering it was supposed to be a month’s worth in one day. So, Joe and his dad, Peter, cracked on preparing the back of the garden, which is a big job. As Joe said:
“It’s like Jumanji back here!”
They found a fence we didn’t even know was there and it looks like our garden is actually a bit longer than we thought! Good news considering now it won’t take any space from our garden.
After the bushes were cleared and trees were trimmed, Joe and his dad used some of the turf from the back to try and repair some patches we’ve got on the lawn. Most of this is self-inflicted through numerous bonfires. Oops.

The rest went into a big pile that we’ll have to take to the skip at some point.
They’ve done a smashing job and now we have a space ready for the shed!
And, the only thing we liked in the garden was in that corner. A lovely huge bush that blooms with bright blue and purple flowers. Don’t ask me what it is, I’ve no idea!
So, Peter kindly trimmed it and moved it to the front garden instead. It’s looking a little sorry for itself lately since we’ve had no sun, but I’m sure by next year, it’ll look top banana.

I wish I could say I had more input to the project but I’m just pants at garden things. I spent most of the day doing laundry and wedding stuff. But, I did catch a frog. Does that count?
The next job for the boys is putting down some sort of base for the shed and then waiting for another dry day to get it put together again.

Karen x

I need more knock knock jokes in my life

Last Christmas we were very generously given a set of loft ladders from Joe’s parents, after Joe and his dad started opening up the loft hatch so we could use the space for storage (read about that here).
However, we’ve finally learned that it’s just not going to be possible to have a drop down loft ladder because of where the joists are in the ceiling. So, off they went to get an exchange, and Joe came back with a door for our bathroom.

This is the door that was originally in there.
Pretty tasty eh?

I think it’s easy to see why it needed replacing…

We’re really lucky that we have Joe’s uncle Alan, who is a pro at this kind of stuff and if I’m right, I think he once did this for a living. He spent all of today trimming down our new door to fit in the bathroom frame.
And, whilst he had his tools out, he trimmed two other doors for us as well, for the two rooms we have carpet in: the lounge and our bedroom. The low doors were damaging the floor.
Here is the bathroom door, with a lock and everything! For months we were using a bucket of grout as a doorstop to stop people coming in. This really is a luxury.
Yes the lighting is poor (sorry!) and we are eventually going to paint it white, but I’ll include that later, whenever I get round to doing my finished bathroom post. It is coming I promise! 🙂

Thanks so much Alan for all of your help!

And since doors are mostly an incredibly boring topic, I’ll end on a door/bathroom related joke. Enjoy…
Knock, knock.
Who’s there?

Philip who?
Philip the tub so I can take a bath.

Karen x

An obsession with Next begins.

I’m not normally fussed on brand names so much. I like finding a bargain, no matter what the label might say. But this past month, I’ve bought two things from Next for the house. Yup. Two whole things.

I know this is not breaking news or particularly that interesting for most of my readers, but if you know me, you’ll know that I’m very difficult to part money with, especially on non-essential items. Gosh, how boring do I sound? I’m a cheapskate.

But, this payday I got us a moutache art piece for the bedroom which was actualy in one of my Wishlist Wednesday posts. I actually made one come true!

We also bought an oversized dice for the lounge. Joe and I are terrible decision makers. Our daily dinner conversation goes something along these lines:

Karen: What do you want for tea?
Joe: I’m not sure. Anything really.
Karen: I’m easy going.
Joe: Yeah me too.
Karen: Fancy pasta?
Joe: I dunno. Do you fancy pasta?

Argh! We are just pants! I don’t know how we are going to plan a wedding. So, to try and get out of this painful pattern, we’re hoping the dice will help us make some decisions. If it’s higher than a 3, we’re having chicken. Or something to that effect. Plus, it looks mega cute and is the size of my face.
I’d best not to into Next again for a while before it turns into a shopping spree…

Karen x