Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas wedding-ness: 2. The dress

O yay this was fun. Fun fun fun.

The dress hunt started back in October when I was back in the UK for a friend's wedding. My sister and I went to a couple of dress shops and I tried on maybe 30 dresses. The very first one I tried on was the best by far from the whole day. Lovely. And the shop I tried it on in was selling the sample: reduced from £2K+ to £650. So the business-minded part of me thought I should go ahead and buy it. So I did. Eek. Worst case I find a better one and can sell it second hand. Best case I've got my dress for a bargainous price.

So back in the UK last week I did two full days dress shopping. First was a day in London with a friend (a brutally honest friend, it turns out!) I guess I am lucky; I am 5ft 11 and reasonably slim, so I fit the samples and most dresses look good. The best one with her was a lovely Alan Hannah number (the picture doesn't do it justice), but it was a pretty standard white meringue (although with a cool diamante embellishment on the hip):

There was also a slinky David Feilding thing, which was AMAZING, but I guess the front just didn't look special enough (and I can't find a picture of it).

Then I did a full day with my Mum in the North. First up was a shop that stocks the dress I've already bought. So tried it on for her. I still love it (phew!) but I'm not sure it does wonders for my bum. Link to the picture is here (I'm posting as a link in case T peeks). It's ever so fitted down over my hips, and I think I end up looking a bit big from the side. But I love the neckline, love the skirt... and could always spend the day doing that funny hunched over pose the models do....

Then we went and tried on a buch of Jenny Packhams. WOW. But Mum wasn't sure: What would Granny say? What would the vicar say? I can see your belly button. I can see you nipples (for the record, you couldn't!)

I loved them.... especially Tamsin:

The third favourite of the day, which we both agreed on, was a lacy thing from Pronovias. Very different and makes me look Spanish:

But I almost felt a bit too grown up in it. More beautiful and sophisticated than fun.

So I'm happy with what I've got (I think). But need to somehow reduce the size of my hips. Although I do have ages to go, so maybe this won't be a problem. The sample I've bought is a UK 14, and I'm more of a UK 10-12... but Mum seems to think it will be easy to take in. Over a size? Will that be OK?

Around 90% of all the dresses in the shops were strapless. I am the only British Bride with an ugly podgy chest? Only straps for me.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas wedding-ness: 1. The venue

I'm back in Delhi after a week long trip back to the UK for Christmas. So much of wedding chat. Trying to pack into a few days anything that might need planning before this time next year.

First off.... venues. T and I both went North to my parents' place when we arrived in the UK and spent a day driving round looking at venues. Granny's garden still wins. And Granny appears to be coming round to the idea. So we had a marquee man come visit, who drove up in a batmobile. He quoted extortionate amounts of money for a marquee (and the car fund, clearly) and left us disappointed. Luckily Mum came good with a cheaper local alternative. It may not look quite as classy, but I cannot believe that a straight (rather than pleated) lining, some funky spotlights and a bar are worth £4K extra. No sir.

I haven't actually got his final quote yet, but it's expected in the inbox any day. I want my marquee to look like this...

Not sure that's compatible with using the budget local company, but it would be beautiful!

The bad points about hosting at Granny's are that there are really any nice really local hotels (wedding night in the Travel Lodge anyone?!) so we'll have to drive maybe half an hour at the end of the night. Is that too much?

Second place on the venue shortlist goes to a National Trust property about 45 minutes drive away, which I think is just a bit too far from the church. Hmmmm.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Enough with the attitude

So it turns out I can fly back to the UK for Christmas on Friday, not Saturday. Which means Saturday becomes a Shopping Day. Yay!

I thought I'd call a couple of dress shops and see if I could try on some big white numbers. (I actually already have a dress, but that's another story for another day - I am still looking!) I just called my first shop. Conversation went something like this:

Me – I know it’s a long shot, but do you have any appointments free to try on dresses this Saturday?

Them – when is your wedding?

Me – May 2010

Them – well it’s too early for you to have an appointment

Me – but I don’t live in the UK, so I am back for Christmas and then not again until late 2009

Them – well by then it will be too late to order a dress for May 2010

Me – I know. Which is why I was hoping to get an appointment this Saturday; I have a free day in London I didn’t know I was going to have… and so I was hoping to try some dresses

Them – do you really expect to be able to pick a dress in one day?

Me – erm, maybe

Them – that would be very unusual.

Me – So do you have any appointments?

Them – no.

Erm, hello... I would like to come and try on dresses in your shop and potentially spend thousands of pounds. If you are too busy, could you at least be polite when you tell me that. I mean, seriously!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More evening dresses

A friend in Delhi suggested I look at a designer friend of her's in the UK for an evening dress after the big white affair gets too hot and too tight. And O my goodness, they're beautiful.

Gowns by Sarah Arnett

Unfortunately she is based in Brighton, and I'm guessing costs WAY more than I would want to pay for a second dress. But - WOW.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Project Cake (part 2)

So the Christmas (practice wedding, but don't tell T) cake is ready. The things that worked well:
- Fruit cakes are easy to bake.
- They are also surprisingly easy to stack. You just put them on boards, push dowelling through the cake and balace them on top. Simple.
- Ribbon looks nice tied round a white cake.
- I actually made a couple of 'individual size' cakes as well and these look really really good. Maybe I could do a bunch of stacked mini cakes on a cake stand with bigger ones on top. Could be an easier way of doing it....

Things that didn't go so well:
- Both marzipan and fondant icing are not easy to make from scratch. This actually isn't so important, and the wedding will be in England, so I can buy it easily.
- It's really hard to get a totally flat and even top to the cake. I'm not sure how they manage it. Maybe it would be help if I cut the top off the cake before icing it. Mine is kind of bumpy and this makes it look really amateur. In fact, this is the one things that would make a huge difference.
- Paper roses do not look classy. I don't know why I thought they would when I made them out of coffee filters (!) These have now been abandoned.

So all in all I'm quite pleased with myself. I can make a pretty looking cake, and a total cost of less than £50. Yay!

Updated with photos:

So here's the big one... a 9 inch and an 8 inch cake with a very bumpy top (but we now know how to fix that thanks Eliandme!) and a Christmas star on the top to keep up the pretence to T that I am not obsessing about the wedding with 18 months still to go...

And these are the small ones I might actually stack into a cool pile of mini cakes....
Ta da!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Double trouble

I think I want two dresses. Is that obscene? I want a big puffy princess dress for walking down the aisle, then I want to dance without tripping over my train and overheating (I have a tendency to adopt the sweaty, hair-stuck-to-face look when I go dancing)... so I want a floaty tea-length thing for the evening.

I saw these (from Unique Vintage) and think a shortened version of one could be perfect for the evening, but I'm not sure about ordering over the net.

I have to go to LA for work in January, and Google maps informs me that their store is not far. I wonder if I could fit a trip in....

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Project cake (Part 1b)

Things I have learnt this afternoon:

1. Delia does not always get it right.
2. When faced with a bowl of wallpaper paste, when you were promised marzipan, adding more icing sugar does not rescue the situation.
3. Ground almonds ground in a food processor do not make excellent marzipan.
4. Regular tasting of wallpaper paste whilst trying to make it into marzipan makes me feel ill.
5. An afternoon of marzipan tasting prior to cocktails with the girls might make me actually ill.

Can't wait for tomorrow's update then.

Project Cake (part 1)

As I mentioned, we have having a stacked Christmas cake this year, solely so I can practice baking and icing and stacking. I like the idea of making our own wedding cake...
- It will be fun making it together
- I can't imagine any cake tastes good enough to be worth £1000. I mean, seriously.
- If it's rubbish, I can through it in the dustbin and buy one from M&S. This is why it's important that I make it and not my sister (who has offered) or another relative or friend.

So back to the practice (disguised from T, who thinks I am mad thinking about the wedding already, as just an over-elaborate Christmas cake)... Baking went fine (although I lost interest after two tiers. But I figure if I can do two I can certainly do three) and the cakes have been sitting in the kitchen for a couple of weeks now while I pour brandy in every couple of days, just like Delia tells you to.

I don't really like marzipan, but T loves it and it makes the icing look nice. Unfortunately, it is proving impossible to buy in India, so I decided to make my own. It turns out the motor in the blender is not powerful enough to grind almonds. So now we need a new blender. Great.

That is today's mission: buy blender, grind almonds, make marzipan, cover cakes. Here I go...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Here we go

So I was going to start a blog about wedding planning. I love it... I love the excitement of planning the day when I get to marry T. I love the pretty things, the quirky ideas, all of it. But I wasn't sure anyone else would want to read all about it, so I reconsidered. I have never blogged before... my diary as a child was a big secret, with a lock on it. And now anyone gets to read.

Then I remembered I need somewhere to keep all my thoughts. Much of 2009 is going to be spent without a fixed base or computer, and May 2010 will be the wedding. So wedding porn may well be limited to internet cafes, if anything. So when I do find a time to look, I will need somewhere to store my ideas... and this seems as good as any.

So here we go. Wedding thoughts Take One.

Decisions we have made so far:
1. We are aiming for May 29th, 2010. This is the last bank holiday weekend, so will allow guests from out of town to make a long weekend of it. Excellent, we thought. Making it easy for everyone. Unfortunately, other couples appear to have had the same idea. One photographer I contacted a couple of weeks ago had already had three enquiries for that day. THREE. For a Saturday in May 2010. Mmmm.

2. The wedding will be in England. We live in India, and much as I would love a Bollywood extravaganza a la Liz Hurley, it's important to us both that our friends and family are there, and I'm pretty sure we wouldn't get everyone to India. We are planning on finishing up here in March 2009, taking 6 months off work, then starting back in London in October 2009, which will then leave us 7 months to plan for real. I know this is not long.

3. Venue of choice is my Granny's garden. She has a tennis lawn that we can put a marquee on and it is walkable from the church. Unfortunately, Granny hasn't quite bought into this yet.

Things I have discovered so far:
1. Weddings are expensive. Really expensive. I know there are many beautiful and special weddings in which costs have been kept super low, but if you want a church ceremony, in a big white dress, followed by bubbles and canapes, a sit-down wedding breakfast and a band for dancing, it's really expensive.

2. I like thinking about the wedding about 50 times more than T does. He thinks it's a big fuss and I'm mad for starting to plan something that is over 18 months away. He would like something small and casual.

3. T's preferences do not exactly match mine.

4. I like the idea of DIY-ing and I am enjoying practicing. We are having a three tier Christmas cake this year. Pieces of paper that are left lying around tend to become roses (well, they're supposed to be roses).

5. I get bored of the same DIY project if it's not quick enough. Six paper roses are my limit. I was thinking about doing our own invitations, but not sure I have the patience.