Alternative Wedding Table Plan

I have a fairly unconventional family. When I say unconventional I mean that there are a few people who don’t really like each other, and there are only 5 of us. Then there’s R’s family, a huge extended family who (almost) all get on amazingly well. We didn’t want to draw attention to that so we decided we needed a way to make our table plan strategic in keeping family members separate without it looking obvious. Hence, our alternative wedding table plan.

 

We knew that it would take a few attempts so we used the Busy B table planner and started well ahead of time for a ‘worst case scenario’ of everyone turning up. I know, I know, it’s awful saying ‘worst case scenario’, but seriously, I can’t even write in words how stressful it could have been.

 

Guess what we’ve been up to today?

A post shared by Natalie Streets (@diaryofuem) on

So this table plan has little stickers that you can move around, which was extremely helpful. And move them around we did. A lot. There were conversations like, “ok, so that person needs to be across the room from this person, and they need to be facing so they won’t see each other”. Yeah. That bad.

 

Top Table Etiquette

We ditched the etiquette. Plainly and simply, it was gone, out of the window, long before we even thought about the table plan. Instead of the traditional family top table we have gone with a top table consisting of bridesmaids and groomsmen. We also ditched the boy-girl layout and went with one side men and the other women, because lets face it, we’ll all have much more fun that way.

There are loads of alternative wedding table plan ideas out there with different plans for top tables that you can change up depending on your family dynamic. Some people opt for a sweetheart table, which is just the bride and groom. We could have also opted for a tiny top table with just us and Oliver, but we knew he’d have more fun sitting with his cousins. That’s why we put him on the table directly in front of us.

 

Distributing the family

As my parents separated a long time ago, we have put them on different tables. To make it slightly less obvious we have separated R’s family too. We aimed to go for a ‘sibling per table’ for the first five, but as my brother isn’t coming we’ve got our families spread between the first six tables, including our parents. By spreading out the families in our ‘alternative wedding table plan’ it makes it less obvious to people who don’t know about the family dynamics.

 

 

 

Did you have an alternative wedding table plan? Were you fretting about family dynamics like me?

When Life Revolves Around Kids

Before you’re a parent you absolutely demand that you’re life is never going to revolve around kids. Then you give birth to a tiny human and your world changes. Your opinions change. This week has been a complete testament to how much your life revolves around kids when you become a parent. Oliver is nearly 4 and a lot more ‘self sufficient’ than a tiny baby but life still totally revolves around him. Life really revolves around kids, especially when they’re poorly and we can either fight it, or accept it.

Last week Oliver was a bit (a lot) snotty and feeling rather grotty so he’s been at home instead of at preschool. Well and truly, life revolves around kids and I’ve accepted that. Everything has gone on hold and a lot of what I had planned and wanted to do hasn’t happened because Oliver has been here. He’s also been napping because his body is obviously trying to get better which has meant that he’s been up really late at night and struggled with getting to sleep at bed time. He also only wants Mummy, which has been tough. I’ve downed tools/laptop and just given him all of my attention and cuddles. He’s even napped on me. I haven’t been stuck under a sleepy baby for a long time. But I accepted and just let my life revolve around Oliver.

The To Do List

So this week my to do list has got longer and longer. We have a lot of things to plan for Oliver’s birthday party (in 2 weeks) and loads of things to do for our wedding. Then there’s the obvious day to day stuff. I still haven’t baked my Christmas cake. I really really need to bake my Christmas cake. And then start soaking the fruit for our wedding cake. It’s not even the short term things that I’m focusing on, it’s long term goals that seem to be getting closer closer.

All of the things I’ve needed to do but haven’t yet are

  • Redesign my blog header – you may notice my blog favicon (that little square at the top on the browser tab) is different to the header.
  • Write several blog posts – including a couple about my Raynaud’s
  • Reply to lots of emails
  • Read a book that I’ve been sent
  • Tidy the loft room ready for my brother coming to stay
  • Buy decorations and party bag stuff for Oliver’s party
  • Book a visit to see the hall so that we can plan better
  • Book a meeting with the wedding venue because we finally have our menus and it’s only FOUR MONTHS til we get hitched.
  • Bake the Christmas cake
  • Find bridesmaid dresses
  • Find a time when all of my bridesmaids are available to go shopping/try on different styles and colours of dresses. This is proving to be really difficult because two of them have kids and jobs to juggle.
  • Find a pair of shoes that I’m happy to wear on my wedding day (and some underwear!)
  • Plan Christmas
  • Buy Christmas presents
  • Plan a trip to Lincoln to see family and friends before/around Christmas
  • Plan a weekend trip up North to see friends in the new year
  • Find another weekend to have a hen.
  • Book the DJ
  • Plan our AV set up.
  • Chat to our photographers/videographer.
  • Write a list of questions for our wedding planning meeting
  • Design and send invitations
  • Send Christmas cards
  • Give notice for our wedding
  • Book a planning meeting with the registrar
  • Book hair and make up and plan my hair and eyebrow schedule (I realise that sounds totally pretentious!)

My brain is in overdrive

I feel like I’m getting to the point where I’m concentrating more on how much I have to do rather than getting any of it done. When your life revolves around kids it’s easy to get bogged down and panic at your never ending to do list. It’s easy to lose sleep and just concentrate on how behind you are, but I’m hoping this blog post helps me put my thoughts in order and concentrate on getting it done instead of just complaining about how much there is to do. I’m even planning on writing a to do list for R! Mainly because he keeps forgetting to get in touch with the DJ.

I’m also conscious of my weight at the moment. I did really well at losing a fair bit of weight last year and I can feel it creeping on at the moment. I’m really keen to make sure that doesn’t happen. I have my first seamstress appointment on 9th January and I’m well aware that I really can’t put weight on. My dress is a size 10 and fitted perfectly when I tried it on so I need to make sure it remains a perfect fit. I really want to avoid wearing shapewear underneath it. When I tried it on I didn’t need shapewear, so lets hope it stays that way. It’s the main reason I preferred that dress, it worked with my body shape without spanx. Hopefully you’ll start to see meal planning posts popping up on my blog with some delicious healthy meals on.

when life revolves around kids black text in yellow shape on background of clouds looking pink

Does you life revolve around kids? Do you find that you get bogged down with jobs building up when you have a sick child? Or do you have some tips to help me cope with getting ‘stuff’ done when Oliver’s not feeling well? I’d love to hear any advice you have.

 

 

Introducing: The Bridesmaids

A while ago I wrote about Bridesmaids proposals on the blog as I was thinking of ways to ask my best girls to be there by my side on the big day. Since then I have proposed to all three of my bridesmaids. Two of them are my BFF’s from home and one is my future sister-in-law. Without further ado, here’s an introduction to my bridesmaids

 

Holli

I’ve known Holli for pretty much forever, our brothers were 3 when we were born and would have been in nursery together at that point or soon after. When we were growing up we were often in different classes and had different groups of friends at secondary school but we were always drawn together. Every holidays we would be together almost every day. Our parents knew and trusted each other. There was never any worry if they knew we were together. She was the slightly mental, loud one and I was the sensible, quiet one. A lot has happened, a lot has changed, we have both changed enormously, but we are still together. We are the friends that used to sit on the sofa and say “if we are still single when we’re 40 we’ll just marry each other, right?”. Luckily she found Will and I found R.

Natalie

The unbelievably shy girl that I’ve known since year 7. We shared a name and an unbreakable friendship. Natalie went through her rebellious phase at 14 and was disowned by a lot of the girls in our friendship group, but I knew that she was still the same lovely girl. Secretly I envied her that she’d got the balls to be herself. A lot has happened since then, but I still love her and respect her for who she is. I admire her strength and her passion to be better in everything she does.

 

Megan

What can I say about Megan? She’s just the best future sister-in-law I could have asked for. At 10 years younger it really is like having a little sister. She was 13 when R and I first met. I was so nervous about meeting her because R adores her so much. I’ve seen her grow up and this year she has started university. She lived with us for a short while and seeing her be an amazing aunt to Oliver is just the best. When I asked Megan I gave her this poem over lunch. She cried a little bit and gave me the tightest hug I’ve had in a long time (it actually reminded me of her Grandpa who passed away when Oliver was 5 months old)

introducing-bridesmaids-sister-in-law-bridesmaid-proposal-poem

 

Holli and Natalie are friends and know each other well, but Megan hasn’t met either of them. We’re hoping to go shopping next month when Megan is settled at uni because the city she lives in has some brilliant shopping. I’m definitely starting to feel the pressure of getting the bridesmaids sorted out. I think the not knowing which colour or style dress they will be wearing is starting to get to me.

 

I’m hoping that I might be able to get a nice photo of the 4 of us while we are in Nottingham too. I wouldn’t like to delve in to some of the photos I have of Holli, Natalie and I from our younger days!

 

Only 6 months to go…

 

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Bespoke & Oak Wedding Hangers : Review

The lovely people over at Bespoke & Oak heard that I’m planning my wedding and asked if I’d like to review something from their range.  Obviously I said yes.  When I browsed their site there were so many things I wanted but quite a few were out of our price range.  Having splurged on our venue the rest of the wedding is on a bit of a budget. Eventually we decided on the wedding hangers.

I’ve seen some really lovely wedding photos of all of the dresses hung up while the Bride and her maids get ready.  As I have three bridesmaids I ordered 4 of the hangers which costs £36.  I know that you can get them cheaper in other places but the quality of these hangers is fantastic.  The personalised text is really elegant and is actually laser engraved instead of a sticker like a lot of the others on the market.

wedding hangers laser cut name Bride and date of wedding

Solid Wood

One of the concerns I had was that the wooden hangers might snag dresses, but they are incredibly smooth and I very much doubt there will be any snagging.  Because the hangers are solid wood (1.3cm thick) they are also really strong and will no doubt hold the weight of a wedding dress easily.  They’re also a good size (44.5cm wide) so hopefully there will be no slipping off of the sides either.  They do have the usual indents at the edges to prevent that too.

 

Personalisation

There are children’s hangers available and I did consider getting one for Oliver but in the end I just got one for each of the girls.  For the personalisation you just write the names you’d like on the hangers and you can also include a date if you wish.  I did – at least R can never forget our anniversary if there’s a hanger in our wardrobe with the date written on it!  The personalisation box is also on the sale page so there’s no forgetting to fill in a separate contact form (yes, I have totally done that).

 

Postage

You can get free delivery from Bespoke & Oak, but you are putting your faith in to the Royal Mail standard service, I fully recommend that you splurge on ‘tracked’. By doing so your package will arrive within a week – which is great if you are as disorganised as I can be.  These wedding hangers would be a great last minute purchase to add to those ‘finishing touches’ on your wedding day.

 

Disorganised Bride-to-be

I don’t have my dress yet and neither do the bridesmaids, but I am just so excited to see them all hanging up together on the day.  My two best friends live up North so it’s really nice to be able to send them photos and talk progress.  I have no idea where or when we will be going dress shopping for them, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m also feeling a little nervous because my theme is mismatched brights and we have no idea what we are looking for yet!  The wedding hangers will at least provide some uniformity to the pre-wedding photos!

bespoke and oak laser cut hangers Bride and Bridesmaids names and date of wedding

 

I may be a completely disorganised bride-to-be but at least Bespoke & Oak have helped me get one thing sorted.  It’s always the finer details that get forgotten too.  Being on a budget means that the finishing touches can often be overlooked, but I really love these personalised wedding hangers.  I also love that my bridesmaids are going to have a reminder hanging in their wardrobe forever.  No excuses for not sending a happy anniversary text!

 

I was sent the hangers for the purpose of an open honest review, all words and anniversary expectations are my own

Bridal Fitness Level : Beginner

Everybody talks ‘wedding diet’ when they’re planning their wedding; cutting out the junk and eating well to lose weight. Well, I kinda went through all of that last year when I finally decided enough was enough I was going to shift this baby/breastfeeding/eating my bodyweight in chocolate weight. So now I’ve turned my attention to getting that wedding body that all brides dream of – less wobble more tone!  I’m a complete beginner (I’m one of those people who don’t understand why anyone would do this for fun!) so my bridal fitness journey starts here.

 

I started a yoga class recently, well, a couple of months ago. I’ve been really enjoying that hour and a half a week of ‘me time’, where everyone knows me as Natalie rather than ‘Oliver’s mummy’. I’ve been enjoying feeling like I’m changing my body too.  Feeling the muscles in my core hurt the next day and making me feel like I might actually be gaining some strength and tone.  But of course, 1.5 hours a week is not going to get me the wedding body.

I’ve been trying to think about how else I can improve on my fitness, strength and body tone during Oliver’s school time and nap times and I looked at various DVD’s and downloaded a yoga app that was recommended to me, but I really lacked the motivation.  I haven’t bought my dress yet (or even been shopping), so maybe that’s why the motivation is low!  As if by magic though, HeyWorkout emailed me asking if I would like a free trial in response for a review or workout diary.  I opted for the 3 month workout diary in hope that it could motivate me to change my ways and get fit (something I have pretty much never been).  So today I did my first workout – I chose ‘Easy Yoga’ to break me in; I was feeling so good I then went on to do the Back & Arms Tone class – well that may have been a mistake because my arms  are like jelly but I feel amazing for doing it!

 

Bridal Fitness Current Level : Beginner

 

I can’t wait to share my progress with you.  I’ll have to take some unflattering photos and get some measurements for my first progress report and use those to figure out a target and how I’ll split my time and which areas I will focus on – although it pretty much all needs work, ok, there’s no pretty much about it, I’m lazy and I need a kick up the wobbly bottom to get moving!

Be sure to check back next week to read my detailed plan of how I aim to get the perfect bridal body and get wedding dress ready with my new bridal fitness regime.

bridal fitness level beginner 800px

 

If you’d like to try Hey Workout for a 14 day free trial click here

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Pinterest Worthy Bridesmaid Proposals

Now that we have started to seriously start planning our wedding I have been thinking about who I want to be my bridesmaids (totally acting like I hadn’t chosen them before R even proposed).  Who will be the people I need by my side on that big day doing the important jobs?  Now that I have decided who those lucky ladies are, I thought what with me being a) a blogger and b) Pinterest addicted I should think a little outside of the box and ask my best girls to be my maids in a more outstanding fashion than a text message.  Obviously I asked my fellow bloggers for ideas on Pinterest worthy bridesmaid proposals; here are a few of the ideas I got:

 

pinterest worthy bridesmaid proposals

Charlotte from Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen made these amazing fortune cookies as a fun way to propose, but this would completely work with bridesmaids too.

bridesmaid proposal fortune cookie

 

Remie at Remie’s Luxury Blog proposed to one of her bridesmaids via a blog post.  A whole blog post dedicated to why she wanted her BFF to be her maid – truly wonderful!

Codie of Codiekinz decided that she would make a cute little gift to propose to her bridesmaids.

Cute-and-EasyDIY-Bridesmaid-Proposal-682x1024

 

Meanwhile, Laura at Mummy Lala got her hopes up when her friend sent a wrapped up present with “Will you be…” written on it, hoping for a marriage proposal from her other half, but was actually proposed to by her best friend who wanted her to be a bridesmaid.  Disappointment and excitement all at once!

Alex from Lamb and Bear decided to send her maids some balloons – only when it was blown up did it reveal her special message, “will you be my bridesmaid?”

bridesmaid balloon writing

Laura at Wafflemama gave two of her bridesmaids a card which resulted in lots of squealing.  Her other bridesmaid was her BFF who didn’t require asking, it was an unsaid promise of everlasting friendship – Laura even promised that she could wear black, but if she misbehaved there’d be a large bow on her bottom!  That is the sign of true friendship

Like Laura, Deborah at Super Busy Mum bought some really cute cards from etsy to propose to her bridesmaids.  Etsy is a fab marketplace for finding unique items that you wouldn’t find on the high street. One of the most fabulous items I found while looking for bridesmaid proposals was this balloon pop kit from Petite25

bridesmaid proposal balloon pop kit petite 25 etsy

 

If you fancy a bit of DIY, Ali at According to Ali made her own DIY Bridesmaid Proposal Box

diy bridesmaid proposal box

But what to put in these boxes?  Mode Lily has some fabulous recommendations for what to put in a beauty box for your maids.

Laura at Top Style Advice included some goodies and a personalised card.

bridesmaid proposal box idea inside

 

Alternatively, you could be like Lucy at The Parent Game who just asked over Facebook, or Azaria who just got drunk and asked in a nightclub loo – now that seems like much less effort!

To see more ideas of how to propose to your bridesmaids check out my Pinterest board here.

 

Have you proposed to your bridesmaids?  Did you keep it simple or do something extravagant?  I will be posting how I proposed to my bridesmaids when I’ve actually done it!

Choosing a Hertfordshire Wedding Venue

Now that Christmas is over we have started the process of choosing a Hertfordshire wedding venue.  I really didn’t know what to look for. You go to other people’s weddings and see the good things about their wedding, but it’s such a personal time. You really do have to look deep inside yourself and decide what you really want from your day and if your venue can provide that.

choosing a hertfordshire wedding venue text image

Some of the things that we want are:

  • Something unique. Having both worked in hotels we aren’t a fan of ‘package’ weddings.
  • Family friendly. We now have quite a few friends with children and obviously we have Oliver too as well as nieces and nephews.
  • Somewhere that is licensed to hold a ceremony as well as the reception. We want to spend the whole day together without worrying about transporting people.
  • Somewhere that can be split in to different ‘zones’. We can then have an area for children, a quiet area for elderly relatives as well as all the lively action you’d usually expect.
  • An easy-going feel. We are both pretty relaxed people so I couldn’t deal with a place that felt too uptight or regimented.
  • Raw beauty.  I know that everybody wants a beautiful venue, but I really love seeing the raw beauty of a building, for example the beams in a barn. I really love places that have a bit of rustic charm.
  • Good food that isn’t standard ‘wedding’ food.  A plate of chicken, veg and potatoes just won’t do it.
  • The ability to bring in our own AV requirements. R is quite fussy about sound (it is his job!) and I know a bad sounds system would be irritating him the whole day!

 

I’m not naive though, I know that our list of wants will probably get bigger as we look at more venues, and also find that some of the ‘ideal’ venues are out of our price range. Not to mention finding a venue where you have to let your head rule your heart.  The other thing is compromise.  I completely understand that we are never going to get every single thing that we want from a venue. We have to decide which are the most important aspects and where we can compromise.

 

From the list above we have been searching for wedding venues online and gave ourselves a shortlist.  We live in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire so we are looking at places that are within an hour’s drive from our house to give us a broad range of locations.

The Hertfordshire wedding venue shortlist:

The Grange and Cavendish Country Houses – only one of which is licensed for civil ceremonies in Northwood and Eastcote respectively

Tewin Bury Farm Hotel – The Tythe Barn just outside Welwyn Garden City

Micklefield Hall in Sarratt, near Rickmansworth/Watford.

The Priory in Little Wymondley

Chiltern Open Air Museum in Chalfont St Giles

 

They all have a similar theme – barns or old houses. We really like the look and feel of them, but I’m not sure any of them really have everything that we want when it comes to choosing a wedding venue. However they are all pretty much within our budget.

If budget weren’t so much of an issue we’d include South Farm in Royston too.

 

How did you choose your wedding venue?  Was there anything that you had to have?  What did you compromise on?

 

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The Unexpected Proposal

Everyone that follows me on social media will know that R proposed on holiday!  I recently wrote about why marriage was important to me, at that time I had all but given up any shred of hope that it might one day happen.  I’d been feeling a little down about it for a while and had genuinely started to wonder whether R actually wanted to marry me.  We have a house, a business and a child but for some reason the marriage was the missing link.  Little did I know that while I was writing that post R was actually in London buying an engagement ring and had been planning the proposal for ages.  His parents knew, his BFF knew and his friends from his 3 peaks trip (in July!) knew.  But I honestly had absolutely no idea.

The unexpected proposal

So while we were away we were staying with my Dad – one day while I was in the shower R asked my Dad’s permission to marry me – he had always said he would do it the traditional way – then one evening we took a walk along the harbour wall up to the lighthouse – just R, Oliver and I.  It was a really beautiful view, so R bent down to get his camera out to take a photo of the harbour as the sun was beginning to set – or so I thought.  I watched Oliver splashing in puddles from the torrential rain that we’d had earlier on when I suddenly felt R tug on my dress and say my name.  I turned around to find him on one knee with a beautiful ring!  He said, “will you marry me” and I just said, “you’re joking?!” (yes, really), put my hands over my face and started crying a bit.  R reminded me that he’d like me to say yes so that he could get up.  Obviously I said yes, he put the ring on my finger as I still stood there in utter disbelief.  After that he really did get his camera out and swiftly asked Oliver to take some photos of us.

The unexpected proposal kiss

After I had calmed down we walked back to the sea front and found a bar with the intention  of having a bit of fizz, but they didn’t sell fizz so we had a beer instead (and Oliver celebrated with a chocolate ice cream)!

 

It’s a month since the proposal and sometimes I don’t really believe it’s happening.  Being a parent means it was business as usual straight away – within 2 minutes of the proposal Oliver had pulled my hair as I bent down to help him get something out of his shoe.

 

We are hoping to get married in 2017 and I’m hoping at some point before then that R and I are able to celebrate the most romantic part of our relationship to date.