Real Brides, Real Answers

I always find it really valuable hearing real life stories and experiences from real brides.  I like hearing how different people did their weddings, and how different ideas worked for different people, so as my wedding is fast approaches, I wanted to compile a Q&A from my nearest and dearest ‘real brides’. 

First up, my sister, Rachel.  She had a charming August wedding at a Scottish country house.  I was her maid of honour, so I feel like I lived through most of her wedding with her!  See my write up of her wedding here

Next, Lisa; Rachel’s sister in law (and my adopted sister in law!).  Lisa had a lovely December city wedding in Glasgow, at a church and then a private members club for her reception – very chic. 

Last, my close friend Fiona, who, like Rachel, lives and works in London, but decided to get married at home in Scotland.  She had a venue not dissimilar to Rachel’s, but her day was completely different as it was winter wedding in November.  (Stay tuned for a write up of her wedding soon.) 

So whilst they were all Scottish weddings, they were all definitely very different.  I hope you find some of the below answers as helpful (and comforting) as I did! 

1.     What was your best tool or help when you were wedding planning? 

R – Wedding magazines are a great starting point for any bride to be, but I think the tool I found most useful was Pinterest.  It’s a fantastic visual aid for collating ideas and inspirational images, whether it be for your dress, accessories, theme, colour scheme, cake – the list is endless.  However, my husband would probably say our RSVP spreadsheet was invaluable for keeping track of things!

L – I bought magazines and they were useful and gave me lots of ideas which I then Googled.  So I would say Google was my key help to source what I wanted/needed. 

F – Pinterest was brilliant for ideas but I was also pretty clear on my vision for the day beforehand so I probably used it more for showing suppliers what I wanted.  One of my bridesmaids sent me the excel tracker she used when she was planning her wedding and I found it so helpful for keeping a note of all of our suppliers, their contact details, what we needed to pay and when we needed to pay it. It was so organised, I loved it!  My husband used the table plan app ‘Top Table’ to work out our seating for the day, and after that it was plain sailing! 

2.     Did you and your husband argue or bicker over anything about planning your wedding?

R – No, to be honest we’re both quite laid back, and we had very similar ideas about what we wanted our wedding to be, so there was no need for arguments. 

L – No, we didn’t really.  My hubby left me to it.  My stress levels varied from time to time so me being a tad edgy was more the reason for any bickering! 

F – We bickered over millions of little things leading up to the wedding but that was mainly because I’m OCD and he’s so laid back he’s horizontal.  I wanted everything to be organised and planned, but he was quite happy to let it all play out at its own pace.  If I’m honest we didn’t argue anywhere near as much as people said we would, but I did have a few meltdowns!

3.     Did you stick to your budget? 

R – Yes, we’re both quite creative, so I think we saved a bit of money by doing some things ourselves – we designed our own stationery, made our own fruit flavoured vodka for the favours and also made quite a lot of our decorations ourselves.  It’s easy to get carried away with wedding spending, but I think there are lots of ways to be creative with your planning/spending, to create an amazing wedding on any budget.  It’s the personal touches that make a wedding special, not necessarily the amount of money you spend.

L – Absolutely not!  Our wedding grew arms and legs and the budget went right out the window!  With so many pretty things and ideas, it was hard to resist! 

F – No.  We set ourselves realistic targets.  We knew what our minimum spend would be and we knew what our top limit should be, but no matter how hard you try there are some things you just did not see coming!  I’d say a good rule of thumb is if you have a budget, expect to go over by roughly 10%… Then add a little bit for safe measure!

4.     How many dresses did you try on before you found ‘the one’? 

R – Probably about 10, I hadn’t really seen anything I truly loved in any magazines, but I thought it was important to try on a few different styles.  So often things you think you like on the hanger, doesn’t work so well on your body (& vice versa).  In the end, I couldn’t quite find exactly what I had in mind, so I was lucky enough to be in a position that I was able to design and make my dress myself.  I would always recommend any bride try on a few styles that you may not normally go for – you might surprise yourself!

L – Probably about 15 dresses before I decided on the one.

F – I got my dress in the first shop I went to, and it was the fourth dress I tried. I went in with a picture of the styles I liked, a budget and with absolutely zero intention of buying a dress that day!  I had a picture of a big, princess style dress with pockets and a belt. The first one I tried was the complete opposite – mermaid style, lace – I expected to hate it but actually it made me realise the bigger skirt was not for me.  The next two I tried was just to rule out the shape.  The fourth was ‘the one’.  The designer, Stewart Parvin, was in the shop that day and suggested the veil. As soon as I stood in front of the mirror, I burst into tears and I knew that I’d found my dress… And my veil!

5.     What were you most nervous about? 

R – I think I was most nervous about the walk down the aisle.  I’m not a fan of the limelight, so having all eyes on me was pretty nerve-wracking.

L – I was most nervous about sweating on the day.  That is a personal thing as I sweat a lot and very easily.  I was totally fine on the day though, until I was exerting myself on the dance floor, and by then I didn’t mind! 

F – I was most nervous about all the moving parts coming together well and at the right time.  Looking back, we gave ourselves a lot of extra work with the venue we chose and the way we approached the day because we had to arrange everything – right down to hiring in the actual kitchen!  The way we did it, we had about five different suppliers involved who all had to come together at the right time, including a separate bar, kitchen and waiting staff!  It worked a treat though and I’m so glad we did it that way. 

6.     What was your favourite part of your wedding day? 

R – It’s so hard to choose a favourite part, the whole day was so exciting but I think perhaps when we were pronounced as husband and wife and everyone cheered!  It was a lovely feeling to be surrounded by all our family and friends witnessing our special day.

L – I also have many!  Seeing my hubby-to-be waiting on me at the bottom of the aisle; walking out of the church as Mr & Mrs; our wedding meal; then the evening of the wedding as all the formalities were over and we just relaxed and enjoyed ourselves.

F – So many parts! I loved the food, the band, the flowers, the fireworks, everything!  I really loved the morning of the wedding getting ready with my four best friends and my mum. We had a really relaxed, lovely morning and I just felt so lucky.  The speeches were my bit favourite though. My dad read out all these notes that I’d written him as a child – he’s kept every one!  We were both pretty emotional, but it was very cute – he absolutely nailed it!  I would have happily married my husband anywhere, but having all our favourite people in one incredible room to celebrate with us is hands down one of the best experiences of my life!

7.     What part do you remember most vividly? 

R – I think the part I remember most vividly was when I (eventually) met David at the “alter” – it was such a long walk up the lawn from the house, it was a massive relief to get there and see his smiling face.

L – Again, many!  The choir singing in the church; our first dance; photographs in Royal Exchange Square (and random people coming to congratulate us); drinking shots at the bar with friends; and getting a rickshaw home at the end of the night!

F – I expected to be an emotional wreck on the day but I woke up with a weird sense of calm.  I got a bit teary when I first saw my husband, but there was a weird sort of time warp moment during our ceremony when I felt like it was just me and him in the room, and I loved that – I’d say that part, although my husband was probably oblivious to it!

8.     Was there anything that made you cry? 

R – I had a wee cry when I first came out in my dress. 

L – I had a tear in my eye when my dad did his speech, as I thought it was great.  Also for my husband’s speech, as I was so proud of his lovely words.

F – When I first saw my husband, but I knew that would happen, and my dad’s speech.  My sister-in-law actually made me cry when I saw her.  She’s been with my brother for nearly 20 years so I’ve grown up with her, and when we looked at each other we had a big emotional moment – it was happy tears!

9.  What was your first dance? 

R – We chose ‘You & Me Song’, by The Wannadies; we wanted something fun and not too slushy.

L – Ray Lamontagne and Damien Rice, ‘To Love Somebody’ (also sang by the Bee Gees).

F – Our first dance was Alabama Shakes, ‘I Found You’.  It was fun and upbeat and the words rang true for us.  Plus, the band features in the ‘how we got together’ story!

10.  Were you drunk at your wedding? 

R – No!  Surprisingly, I couldn’t get drunk at all, I was too hyper – but I was so excited and happy it didn’t matter, plus it was nice not to have a hangover the next day!!!

L – Yes and totally loved it!  We had worked hard and saved hard for the day, so we just relaxed and just totally enjoyed it. 

F – Everybody said to me you just cannot get drunk at your own wedding… I managed it.  At one point during the meal I realised I was completely hammered!

11.  What do you wish you’d spent less money on?

R – I don’t think I would have spent less money on anything, we got quite a few bargains along the way by negotiating with suppliers and finding deals on other things like booze, so I don’t feel like we really overspent on anything.

L – My wedding cake; I wanted something different and realised afterwards it was not a big deal, and wish I had not spent as much.  The full bottom layer was traditional wedding cake, which someone convinced me to get, but it ended up going to waste. (The other layers were lemon drizzle, chocolate and strawberry and vanilla sponge.)

F – I would say I wish I’d spent less on my dress because it was so over budget, but then I loved my dress and I can’t think what I’d have had in place of it!

12.  Is there anything you would change if you did it all over again?
R – Hmmm, it would have been nice to have had the energy to stay up a little later and enjoy the after party!  Our parents ended up staying up later than us!  If money were no object, it would have been lovely to have a free bar too! 

L – I would have lost weight!  Also on the lead up to the wedding, perhaps I shouldn’t have had as many days out with bridesmaids and family spending too much money!  Perhaps maybe also go on a more exotic honeymoon .  We ended up having a mini moon in London (which I totally loved), but looking back I wish I had just braved a flight and went somewhere exotic (I’m not a great flyer). 

F – Honestly?  I wouldn’t change a single thing! I had the best day of my entire life and I’m still on a total high from it!  Maybe we should have had a videographer, but then it was an expense that we hadn’t factored in and I don’t know if it would have captured the feeling of the day.  I definitely don’t regret it, but I was afraid I would.

I really enjoyed reading and writing these, and hope you did too!  It has made things feel a bit more real for me….! 

I also have quite a few ‘real weddings’ lined up, but I just haven’t got round to editing them!  I have a few underway, but just need to get my own wedding out the way first so I can do them justice.  Stay tuned!!