Quite recently my mum went from being Ms Ray to Mrs McPake, something we have all been waiting for, for what seems like forever.
When the planning all started my mum was adamant she was having a small country wedding. The key was keeping it minimal simple and above all affordable.
That went out the window when she and her intended fell at the first hurdle.
Here are the problems we faced when planning the simple country wedding that turned out to become the wedding of the year.
The Venue – not as accessible as we first thought.
Simple were the dreams of my mum and her intended. A quick outdoor ceremony on their local mountainside in a remote village of North Wales. This was to be followed by a knees up at their local pub.
Shot down by the guy who owns the land mum was distraught. Her idea of a simple outdoor rustic country wedding was beginning to fade.
Fear not the stunning village church was a mere stone’s throw away from her home and that would play a grander scale 2nd fiddle to the glorious mountain side she had first intended.
It’s here where it gets a tad complicated. Would they have enough people to fill this echoing church? Turns out YES (see next section).
The Bain of all of our lives the entrance and exit music. Choices for which were taking place well in advance of the big day. My mum and hubbie-to-be having drastically different ideas of what was appropriate.
Eventually it was settled on.The Gift of The Thistle from Braveheart, perfect for genius granddaughter to toddle down the aisle and hand over a bunch of beautifully blue thistles to granddad, followed by me, mum and lil sis. #TotesAdorbs.
Guest entrance music was a mix-up of Life on Mars and GoT, much to the amusement of many of my friends.
Exiting to a tune that was very upbeat and for which I can only ever remember the very strange video for.
Great choices and a superb ceremony perfect for the venue and their relationship.
The Ever Growing Guest list – would it ever end.
So together my mum and hubbie-to-be sat and wrote out their idea of must attend guests. This consisted of both their close family members, ours being fairly small anyway and hubbies residing all over the world the first draft was tiny.
Perfect, or so they thought…
They then added on the plus ones, and how could they leave out their closest friends, colleagues and all of mine and the sisters friends and their plus ones!
Turns out unless you are ruthlessly sticking to family, you cannot rule out those in your daily life unless you plan to keep your wedding a secret.
The Wedding Party – as far from traditional as possible
When your mother has passed away and you never knew your father planning your wedding party can prove a challenge. No worries though when you have two crazy daughters and an incredibly intelligent granddaughter.
We decided that there wouldn’t be any bridesmaids and throwing tradition out of the window me and my sister would be giving away my mum to her new hubbie.
We really didn’t care what people thought of this as we were the ones who were lovingly entrusting the care of my mum’s future happiness to this man.
She was all ours for such a long time despite the fact that there were a few men who came and went in her life, me and lil sis deemed none of them acceptable for life long partners.
Luckily hubbie to be came along and we were both certain this would be the man my mum could and would grow old with.
So we were giving mum away and hubbies best man was his son, what about the maid of honour. Mum decided it would be best to include her close friend in the ceremony and she also served as a way to get genius granddaughter down the aisle.
Small but perfectly formed was mums wedding party but aside from aisle width issues (we struggled to link mum as planned and had to walk behind her) the wedding party did its job and the ceremony was a success.
Stunning Ensembles – What are Wedding boutiques thinking?
When any woman decides to get married one of the most exciting aspects of the lead up is finding and trying on dresses. That is of course unless you are slightly larger than your average runway model stick figure size zero woman.
A day that started as fun and champagne ended in disappointment and a fair amount of personal body shame.
Me and my sister made a full on day of the dress hunt, making appointments and lunch reservations. We even made and sent out a time planned itinerary with the hope of breaking up each dress try on with a glass or two of champers.
Turns out none of the boutiques were equipped to fit my mum despite my giving her sizes and measurements upon booking the appointments. My mum is not a huge lady, probably around a 16 with some 14’s fitting her and some 16’s being too big. Imagine our shock when every dress she tried on would not even come close to fastening around her curvy frame.
At the end of the final fitting both myself and my mum had been squeezed into various styles of dress, none of which were fastenable and all of which made us feel like whales.
We knew all along that we weren’t going to be buying from a dress boutique and merely wanted an idea of styles. We also loved excuse to get together and drink fizzy. But imagine if you were a first time bride enjoying the traditional girly day out of trying on various dresses, your friends oohing and aaahing as you came out of the dressing room. Then you turn around and your whole back half is spilling out of the dream dress.
We definitely felt that we had either visited some shoddy bridal boutiques or that the way wedding dresses are fitted needs to be changed.
In the end we chose all of our looks from high street legends Monsoon. Both mine and my sisters looks were identical, MOH chose an exact colour match but a slightly more classic style and mummy dearest shone in a 20’s beaded gown that fit her like a glove and enhanced the best bits of her figure.
What about our hair? – this DIY craziness may have to stop now
So when it came to weeks before the big day my sister and the MOH were a tad fussy about their hair. Me and mum are rocking short pixie cuts so wouldn’t need much to make them look acceptable. My sister on the other hand has more hair that slash and has a similar style too. MOH is a classy bird who rocks the glam look on a day to day basis. We packed those two off to a local salon early doors and they both cane back looking adequately blown, curled and teased.
Mummy dearest had her usual gorgeous spikey pixie look and this just left little old me. Well far from a pixie cut I have been sporting a Miley Cyrus shaved sides and long top for ages now, due to the girly nature of the dresses we had chosen I opted not to shave the sides and try and grow the top out a tad. Eventually deciding that a curly top with a small braid in front would do the trick I arranged for a practice with my hairdresser buddy. We cracked it, looking elegant yet edgy at the same time, me too a tee.
Uh oh! On the morning of the wedding my buddy was not in attendance arriving later at the church with other friends. I cannot braid to save my life, enter my better half. Mr Christian to the rescue. Luckily my man and father to our daughter is as dexterous with braiding as my buddy, learning from his older sister in his youth. He created the perfect braid that stayed in all day and I simply curled my own hair, sustaining a nasty finger burn along the way.
Makeup – My chance to show off a newly acquired talent, or so I thought.
Next came the make-up, mum being so simple said “I’ll just do my own” little sister in agreement, MOH easy going with the flow had not input. Voila, here comes my own newest passion, make-up. I had planned all along to do mum’s make up as a surprise, my own too of course then I though why not do the whole party.
Starting with minimal make up little sister, I applied a perfect face if make up. Pink and gold shimmer eyes with a subtle plummy smoky ness, a masterpiece if I did say so myself. Followed on by MOH, same colour palette just jess smoke. Mid way through MOH, little sis is rubbing and wiping next to me “WTF?!?” I politely exclaim, “oh it’s just too much” everyone stops this atrocity by telling assuring her she looks fabulous.
Next minute I’m facing protests from MOH. “My eyebrows are too dark”, I mention that she didn’t actually have a visible eyebrow and with the makeup she needed something to stand out against the plum. Again after much reassurance she too backed down with only minimal rubbing.
Finally, onto mum, me and mum have the same shape face and I had been practising various styles for weeks trying to make sure that it was as natural as possible without being invisible. I whipped out my Pinterest profile and showed her the board I’d created with her make-up in mind. Shocker she only goes and chooses a Smokey look that I’d totally shelved as being too dramatic. Just like mum to surprise me.
So after a little thinking and some palette alterations I was off. Mum has great albeit fairly tanned skin so that was the first hurdle as I am very pale. When I had the perfect base in place mum was pulling the face off “this is too much” but I didn’t let her look until I was done. Her eye makeup was gold in the Pinterest image so I adapted it to suit her dress changing the gold for silver. I have never been so pleased with a styling project in my life. Once we were all done I took a shot and…
The Reception for Crones and Colitis – heart of gold our mum.
The local pub landlords where we were holding the reception were so helpful. They have been on friendly terms with mum and hubbie ever since mum moved to the village. A day doesn’t go by when they aren’t in there for at least one and sometime maybe a little more.
In honor of a few friends of mum and they lady of the pub, mum decided to have old country fair games, the proceeds of which would all go to The Crones and Colitis charity.
My handmade, hook and duck, ping pong in the jar, test your strength, boules and a tin knocking over thingy. All of it colour coded to match the charities colours and set in charming little hay bale stands.
There was a huge turnout at the reception and fabulously they raised £ from the wedding. A great impact for a great cause.
All in all, a great country wedding, with a few amazing surprises thrown in. All of it skilfully captured by my own or my better halves photographic eye. If I ever do get married, you can bet your bottom dollar it won’t be as crazy as mums “Simple” wedding opting instead for that strict family only affair in a beach in Ibiza.