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Six Months

26 Mar

It has been almost six months since my last post on Bonfire Night Bride and my, how things have changed. When I decided to put my blog to bed I did so with a view to concentrate on the last minute preparations for our wedding and simply being able to enjoy the month before our big day without having to worry about the blog. I have to be honest, no longer blogging was a huge weight off my shoulders and being able to spend more time with Tom was lovely, just what we needed. After all, you only experience the run up to your wedding day once!

As many of you will already know, our wedding went with huge success and it was featured on the fabulous Brides Up North and So You’re Getting Married blogs. I had lots of support from Julia (Brides Up North) and Phoebe (So You’re Getting Married) throughout my wedding planning which was lovely and so it was an honour to grace their pages of prettiness.

My favourite wedding photo

I won’t write much about the wedding as you can read all about it on Brides Up North but I will say that I surprised myself at how laid back I was about it all. The majority of things went to plan which is amazing and the things that didn’t, didn’t matter in the end. Our favours were eaten by mice in the castle the night before the wedding (fortunately the little buggers left just enough for each lady to have one, the men had to go without!), we forgot the sparklers and our florist was late THEN we couldn’t use most of our flowers, including my bouquet, as our florist omitted to tell us that the eucalyptus leaves would leak bright red dye(!!) but in the grand scheme of things I didn’t care. We were married and that’s all that mattered.

Getting on for five months after our wedding I have to say that being a Mrs is still weird. Hearing Tom refer to me as his wife – weird. Signing a completely different signature – weird and something I still haven’t mastered. I have only managed to change my name with my main bank and my GP purely because changing things is hassle and I’m all about an easy life. I even travelled to Spain earlier this month in my maiden name. Let’s face it, in this day and age who has a spare £77 to change a passport?! Daylight robbery.

The Honeymoon

Now the honeymoon, something I’ve been meaning to blog about since we arrived home, was out of this world. We crossed the Atlantic from Southampton to New York on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, the epitome of luxury. The crossing took a week and it was the perfect excuse to do pretty much nothing for seven days – just what you need after the stress of a wedding. We ate (and must have gained around a stone in weight), drank, slept and treat ourselves to time in the spa – having a massage on a moving ship is a very strange experience! The one thing that I was hoping for throughout the week was to see dolphins, it’s something I mentioned every day and I think Tom got a bit sick of hearing about it. On our last full day however, Tom and I were playing scrabble on the 2nd deck, as you do on your honeymoon, when I saw two little grey fins approach the window that I was sitting next to. DOLPHINS!! I was alone in my joy as Tom had left me, probably to go and bring us some more food, but I was like a five year old at Christmas. It was as if their display of jumps and spins was just for me as they scurried away just before Tom arrived back at our table. I’ll assure you I wasn’t hallucinating! This was magical and made my week. 

Enjoying champagne as we wait to set sail

Sailing into Brooklyn past the Statue of Liberty, a once in lifetime experience for us, was breathtaking. New York City is a favourite place of ours and after spending a year at university it New York State it holds an extra special place in my heart. A home from home. We stayed downtown at the trendy Soho Grand where it’s much quieter and you can escape all of the hustle and bustle of the busier uptown areas of Manhattan. We have done the tourist things previously so we didn’t want to spend too much time on those although we did visit the Top of the Rock as Tom hadn’t done this before. The views were spectacular, like looking over a Lego city below. As we were uptown, after the Rockerfella Building we went for an eyeful of the Tiffany’s holiday windows, it would have been rude not to!  We ate premium steak at Keen’s Steakhouse (divine) and took advantage of breakfast at The Cupping Room, conveniently across the road from our hotel! We also paid a visit to the talented Sarah Schor at Kings Avenue Tattoo for some cheeky honeymoon ink, something that we had been planning for a while to the horror of my mum and we drank cocktails at Soho House, a private members club in an old warehouse in the Meatpacking District. 

Breakfast at The Cupping Room

Taken on an evening walk across The Brooklyn Bridge

Top of the Rock

Tiffany's Holiday Windows

Before returning home we hopped on a train from NYC for a two day stay in Boston, somewhere Tom had always wanted to go. As it was Thanksgiving over in the U.S, Boston was very quiet but that suited us! Staying at the lovely Nine Zero hotel on Boston Common we were in a pretty central location, although Boston isn’t actually that big. We ate (once again), watched The Muppets and went on a Duck Tour which we loved!

A Duck!

Quincy Market

Freedom Trail (excuse the hair!)

Since Returning Home

We returned home from our honeymoon to the run up to Christmas, it was all go with preparations and present shopping and it gave us something to look forward to rather than feeling glum about the end of our wedding celebrations. Although I LOVE Christmas and tend to go ‘all out,’ this Christmas was naturally going to be a little bit overshadowed by the truely spectacular wedding and honeymoon that we had just experienced. What on earth could live up to that?! Well… I will tell you.

I had been feeling a little bit ‘funny’ since our honeymoon. It wasn’t something that I could put my finger on, just a feeling in my stomach that something wasn’t normal. I did have a feeling what it COULD be though and on 14th December my feeling was confirmed. After a Tesco ‘big shop’ (so very glamorous) I took a pregnancy test which was positive! EEEEEEEEEKKKK!

I sauntered through into the living room, as laid back as always, where Tom was watching TV. “Tom,” I said calmly, “I think we’re going to be a mummy and daddy.” This was music to Tom’s ears. We hugged, teary eyed and ecstatic. We were planning on starting a family straight after our wedding but we didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. Going by my dates it seems that I fell pregnant three days into our honeymoon! When the ship’s a rocking…

The next step was – what do I do about telling people? Due to the nature of my job in a mental health hospital I had no choice but to tell my manager which was very hard as I had suffered a miscarriage in 2008 so instinctively there were reservations about telling people before our first scan. Fortunately my manager was great. I was whisked off to an office away from patient contact and we came up with the excuse that “my back was buggered.” Then came the dilemma of telling my parents. At only 6 weeks pregnant we decided that we would tell our parents sooner rather than later. After all, we didn’t think it was fair that my colleagues knew but my parents didn’t and as my mum, Tom and I all work for the same NHS Trust with the same people we would have hated my parents to find out that I was having my first baby via hearsay at work.

So, the arrival of Christmas Eve gave us the green light to spill the beans. We had planned to tell my parents in the morning then travel over to Wakefield to tell Tom’s mum which is exactly what we did.

We wrapped up some bibs for my parents and as Tom’s mum is the driver of a 2 seater sports car we took her an Auto Trader. Obviously our parents twigged straight away when they opened their little gift, much to their delight. Mum cried, dad congratulated us followed by Tom announcing “he shoots, he scores.” Yeah, thanks for that Tom. Tom’s mum took a little bit longer to understand what we were trying to say, looking at her latest issue of Auto Trader with a puzzled face. When we gave her a little nudge by telling her she’s going to need a new car she got it with a gasp and hug! Our amazing news made Christmas a lot more special for everybody than we have ever imagined.

So today, at 19 weeks pregnant I still can’t believe it. I have been trying to get my head around the fact that I’m going to have to go through birth in five months time. I have been sick most days, some days violently (nice). I’ve had quite a lot of time off work and have been suffering from terrible head, back and leg aches. All in all I’ve been having a pretty miserable time but I do not hold anything against the little person growing in my belly. Saying that is as weird as hearing myself being referred to as a “wife.” We are so unbelievably excited however, only having two speeds – slow and stop, I have not yet looked into anything ‘baby’ other than prams.

We have settled on the Joolz Day Expedition which might not look as pretty as the traditional style prams but it does amazing things!

With a Labrador, a baby and a pram there isn’t going to be much room to move in our car so we wanted something small, light and easy to use which this is. Who’d’ve thought I’d be talking about prams six months ago when I posted my last post on Bonfire Night Bride?! I certainly didn’t. The only other baby related thing that we have is the moses basket. We are using the basket that my mum was bought for my eldest brother almost 37 years ago. It was then passed down through the family, used for both of my brothers and myself and then for my gorgeous nephew who is now two. It’s touching to be able to use something so sentimental that can now be called a family heirloom.

We have no idea about names or how we’re going to decorate the nursery, both of these things we haven’t made a start on yet. We don’t have a clue about sterilizers, bottles or what we need to do to prepare for having a baby but we have our next scan on 11th April where hopefully we will see that everything is ok and we will know whether it’s a little boy or girl in there. This will give us a kick up the backside to get cracking with all things baby!

So here we are. The past few months have been a huge turning point in our lives – evolving from newly weds to the prospect of being new parents in the space of a few weeks. But, it has to be said, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Laura x

Winter Honeymoon Dresses

12 Sep

On 10th November, in just over eight weeks, my fiance and I will be setting sail on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2  from Southampton to New York for our long awaited honeymoon. We absolutely adore everything about New York and love nothing better than a romantic stroll around downtown Manhattan, watching the world go by in real American coffee shops and indulging on cheesecake. Before we arrive in New York however, we have our six night cruise which requires plenty of formal wear, possibly the most formal I’ve ever had to go!

New York in the winter can be cold but this is no reason to scrimp on style. Our perfectly dreamy cruise, along with our five nights in New York and two night in Boston have definitely called for stocking up on some perfect winter honeymoon dresses…

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1. ASOS Star Print Dress – £45, 2. Biba Lace Insert jersey dress – £37.50, 3. Next Printed Ruched Waist Dress – £30, 4. Topshop Colour Blocked dress – £45, 5. Red Herring Scallop Edged Dress – £45, 6. Phase Eight Margo Lace Dress – £130, 7. ASOS Button Front Fit & Flare dress – £45, 8. Red Herring Angel Sleeve Tea dress – £38, 9. Biba Frill Sleeve Dress – £62.50

Laura x

A Classic NYC Rooftop Wedding – My Friends Nicola & Guy

24 Aug

Nicola was a friend of mine at university who I met through our mutual London dwelling pal, Jess. On a trip down south for my birthday late last year Tom and I met up with Jess for a drink. “Oh did you know Nicky is getting married in New York?” she asked me. “No but I will need to see that!”

And here we are – Nicola and Guy’s beautifully classic New York City wedding. I have to admit I am just a little bit jealous! An absolutely gorgeous day had by a fab couple!

Venue
Well its a bit long winded this but we chose to get married in New York for a number of reasons, Guy has his own business so if we had married in our hometown of Grimsby we would have had to invite a lot of business people to not offend and it would have become more about business and guests you had to have there rather than want there so abroad it was…. We had been to America 3 times together, so America was the country it just seemed ‘US’ pardon the pun ha. We got engaged in Vegas so we wanted to keep that for that and have somewhere different for the wedding. New York was perfect, it was somewhere we had been together already at Christmas and we both wanted to see it in the summer months, NYC is also somewhere people can go for as long as they like, so it suited my idea of weddings abroad as we really wanted people to make their own holiday out of it rather than just go all that way for a wedding. Venue, Midtown loft & Terrace, 5th Ave, was perfect, everything we had ever imagined, it was really easy as we both saw it, thought WOW and booked it. I’m still a bit obsessed with the website! The date was not a special date, it was pick around A-level exam dates, Nic’s Uncles shift patterns and just inside school hols ending as we had no children attending it didn’t seem fair to make people pay more for flights for no reason! week days are cheaper than weekends so we got married on a Monday, 27th June 2011 🙂

The Dress
Well, roughly two weeks after booking the venue, we discovered we were expecting a baby, and so the dress hunt began earlier than anticipated. I have a really sort attention span, I’m crap at making decisions and I change my mind all the time so this didn’t excite me, I was very worried about picking a dress and getting bored of it. Long story short, I tried loads on, spent alot of time in changing rooms feeling the morning sickness but kept looking for the same dress, the same one I tried on first. It was an Ian Stuart dress, Premiere. I was always going to have a simple dress, I’m not one for bling and busy looking dresses, although I always thought I’d have a short 50’s style. Premiere is classic and simple, so I just had to have it! And no, I didn’t get bored of it, and luckily the post baby diet worked and I got into the size I ordered at 11 weeks pregnant! YAY me.
Bridesmaids
Bridesmaids were three of my old friends. Emma the chief is my best friend, we met at nursery but became close when met again at college. Natalie, who was my friend from secondary school and the third, Abigail, who I know from college. It was lovely that our bridesmaids were able to come such a long way to our wedding, we were very happy that they were there. We did end up with a fourth, Harriet, our daughter. She was 10months old and my mum carried her down the alsie, she looked amazing. The girls wore lemon chiffon dresses by Ebony Rose which we had them shorted to knee length. They wore hand made flowers in their hair bought from Etsy, by percyhandmade. They were stunning, all the way from Australia.
Style
Guy buys me a lot of Jo Malone and without really planning it, that became our style. We had black, white and grey for most things. Our bridesmaids dresses and groomsmen’s ties were lemon, it gave a nice touch of colour. I really wanted a timeless feel to the wedding and we were both really happy with the end result. The groom stood out with a handkerchief and brought a bit of ‘him’ to the wedding day by wearing some batman cuff links Harriet bought him for fathers day. Guy loves Batman!!

Flowers
I knew exactly what I wanted when it came to flowers!! Just a simple bouquet of peonies. The bridesmaids had a different flower but the same colour. They had hydrangeas as they remind me of my mums garden. The groomsmen had an ivory rose. We had hydrangea’s on the tables with yellow orchids which was the florists idea, we were happy with the splash of colour they gave. We also had hydrangeas on the chairs down the aisle. Lots of flowers!! I threw my bouquet to ‘single ladies’ by Beyonce. Abigail one of my bridesmaids caught the it, which maybe means another family wedding as she dates my brother!
Favours
We had UK scratch cards for the men in little wallets which read “for richer, for poorer” and the ladies had a bracelet made from hemp, these were called “a wedding wish” basically when the bracelet breaks your wish comes true. We found the idea on another wedding blog and thought it was really sweet, and easy for us to transport to NYC.
The First Dance
For our first dance we had At My Most Beautiful by REM. Guy picked it, it wasn’t one of “our” songs but we had listened to it together a lot and the words seemed prefect. We toyed with a few different songs but settled with this one. We played the others for cutting of the cake, during the cocktail hour and for our last song of the evening. We danced with Harriet after our first dance to an acoustic version of Everlong by The Foo Fighters then I danced with my dad to I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing by Aerosmith….cheese it may be but who cares!
Honeymoon
Our honeymoon plans were to follow on from NYC somewhere close and family friendly so we three Wakefields hopped on a train up to Boston and a ferry to Cape Cod then we spent our final night back in NYC for July 4th. It was perfection and the weather was beautiful. It was so peaceful, just what you need after a busy 8 nights in a city like New York!
Extra special touches
My dad read out a ‘Will’ that I had written when I was 13 during his speech. I didn’t have much at the time to leave anyone but left the following:
I leave my South Park Badge (Stan), my bank money and my Ellesse jumper to my brother Alex, My Ring and my cat to my Mother Judith, I leave my childhood things and any other 3 things to my Dad Roger, I leave my cat toys bought out of my money to my cat Mouse Codd, I leave my Hifi to my friend Rachael, I leave my Bike to my friend Natalie…. and the list went on…. how embarrassing!
Photography – Brian Friedman

Nicky, being a total sucker for NYC I just adore everything about it and you made the most stunning bride! A HUUUUGE congratulations to you and Guy. I wish you both (and little Harriet of course) all the love and happiness in the world as Family Wakefield.
Laura x

Best Honeymoon Buy So Far…

15 Aug

I have been on the prowl (no pun intended) a lot recently for new clothes for my honeymoon. After all, I’ve never been on a cruise with super formal evening events before so I’m having to kit myself out accordingly! I am however, very proud of today’s purchase – this gorgeous leopard print coat from Biba which will be just perfect for our leisurely strolling around NYC in the November cold. After yesterday’s high street bridal gown post I have to admit, I am a total Biba convert!

Laura x

North Yorkshire Glamping Celebration Anyone?

24 Jun

Being a Yorkshire girl I am just a little bit biased when I say that Yorkshire is my most favourite county. It is charming, beautiful, full of history and the epitome of the well known phrase ‘The Great British Outdoors.’ You only have to look at our wedding venue, Danby Castle, to see that!

It is for this reason that I am VERY excited to present to you the most amazing celebration venue near York, North Yorkshire – Jollydays Luxury Camping. Camping doesn’t have to be a chore anymore; a stunning and fun alternative to camping, Jollydays gives a more glamourous spin on the time-honoured traditional outdoor activity offering all year round ‘four poster beds, chandeliers and sofas by the fire.’

 Dry, warm and clean, with hot water and a gas stove (for quick cooking while the woodburner’s heating), at 75m² (807 sq ft) our private tented luxurys are larger than most hotel suites, they have wooden floors, rugs as well as cosy woodburners and toilets. Out go those nasty nylon sleeping bags, in come wool blankets and cotton sheets on four-poster beds, and sofas by the fire. All this comes guilt-free: our eco chic camp treads lightly on this beautiful North Yorkshire setting, with no permanent structures. The luxury tents are bespoke made in Yorkshire just for Jollydays to ensure a great stay for you. Bedding includes wool blankets to keep you toasty warm on cold nights.

For more about the area click here.

Jollydays is a wonderful and unique place to have a celebration.  Even simple affairs are memorable, just letting the beautiful surroundings speak for itself.   A few lanterns in the trees and the firelight at night creates a magic, or you can let your imagination run riot. 

The nature of the campsite in its secluded location means unless it’s a very small affair you will need to take the whole camp as anything over 20 people means the celebrations impact on other guests and vica versa.  Please note we are not licensed for legally binding weddings.

If flooring, tables and decorations are required then our tent maker hires basic marquees for 100 people.  The sky is the limit with linings chandeliers etc. He is, in our experience, likely to provide the keenest quote, and will project manage and draw together all the elements.  We are flexible if you wish to source your own marquee, for instance at the top end and local to York is Papakata, wonderfully luxurious interconnecting tipi’s. 

We can organise food or you can do it yourself, once again we are flexible.  We can recommend local caterers who are experienced event and wedding caterers.  We ourselves do “informal rustic feasts” for small parties from £35 a head.  This is cooking over the fire and grills.  The local award winning butcher who supplies us also does hog roasts for larger parties of people. You can organise and buy your own booze, which is much less expensive for you and we charge a corkage and fee to cover bar staff, or we can organise the booze for you. 

Other items that may interest you are; garlands, head garlands, decorations, lighting, secret tent in the woods for the celebrating couple, ceremony awning, generator if you want more lighting, music and so on.   

We do charge for general use and organisation for use of the woodland over and above accommodation, marquees, and food. We charge this, much as you would hire a function room because the woodland is a sensitive environment and events do take it’s toll and we need to make good to keep it in a wonderful state for you and everybody else. 

A Jollydays wedding is a relaxed, friendly and informal affair, with all the ingredients for an utterly memorable and unique occasion for you.  Whether you dream of a fairy lit wonderland, mad hatters tea party,  or a midsummer nights dream of an extravaganza you can achieve it at one of the UK’s most unique venues.

To see a collection of photographs from Jade and Rob’s Jollydays wedding on 26th June 2010 click here.

An absolutely amazing unique venue for a celebration of your love for one another. Jollydays would also be perfect for an unusual and nature filled honeymoon. For more information about a Jollydays break click here. If you are interested in a celebration at Jollydays and for prices please contact Christian and Carolyn Van Outersterp at hello@jollydaysluxurycamping.co.uk or  01759 371776.

Laura x

Honeymoon Guru -Travel With Jules

14 Jun

When I was contacted by the lovely Jules at Travel with Jules about honeymoon planning it made me think, a honeymoon is a huge part of your wedding day that can often get sidelined in the run up to your big day. Whether you are planning an exotic honeymoon of your dreams, a ‘minimoon’ or a small post wedding break, why not put your trust in someone who can assist you with the most important holiday of your new married lives? 

Vicky was in a hammock under the palm trees and could feel the warm breeze on her skin as she dozed looking out over the turquoise waters to the coral islands beyond … the only noise was the chatter of tropical birds in the trees on the edge of the beach. Bliss ….. but into her head came voices: “your hairdresser has closed and moved to America”; “The wedding car is not going to be available”; “you need to choose the cake decorations and confirm the place settings”; … oh and Great Aunt Ethel’s helped herself to the wedding supply of Sherry!”…. waking in a cold sweat Vicky realised she was still in Suffolk and with three months to go their dream of that tropical island honeymoon was fast slipping away as they had not yet booked it!  Jake had been tasked with booking the honeymoon but he thought Vicky wanted to do it, so neither had actually done anything – when they got engaged 18 months back the honeymoon did not seem a priority…. Luckily Vicky remembered a friend telling her recently that she had gone used a local bespoke travel consultant from ‘Travel With Jules’  who met them outside office hours and talked through their dreams and then put together the perfect tailor made honeymoon for them. Within a week it was all booked and taken care of, leaving them to concentrate on the details of the wedding day itself, safe in the knowledge that their dream honeymoon was ready and waiting for them at the end of all the stress and planning of the big day!  …. Later that day Vicky called Travel With Jules and poured out her worries and frustration.. Julie worked her magic and took that stress away – three months later Vicky & Jake really were in that hammock under the palms!

 If you don’t want to have to settle for second best at the last minute, start planning your honeymoon now!   Many couples, understandably, when they decide to get married, put priority on booking the wedding venue and then sorting out who to invite, booking cars, catering, hairdressers and florists … there is so much to do for that big day.  Yes, the honeymoon may seem a distant reality, but if you leave things too late you might end up booking a package tour to the med as that could be all you think you can afford or you don’t have time to start ringing round hundreds of tour operators or trip into town to go to the high street travel agents. There might be nothing wrong with your package tour, but you may get there to find that instead of the luxury private villa you thought you had booked, you are surrounded by screaming kids in a concrete high rise!

Shopping on the internet, whilst increasingly popular, can be unreliable and in this current economic climate do you want to leave your honeymoon in the lap of the gods or would you rather speak to a friendly person you can trust to organise it all for you!  If you book flights, hotels, transfers and activities from different companies, apart from the stress levels involved in doing all the research and sending your hard earned money all over the place, you may find your honeymoon is at risk, should an airline or tour operator go bust.

With many years travel experience, I have been booking honeymoons for some time now and know what most people want of their once in a lifetime trip.  While most couples do opt for tropical beach destinations, some prefer more adventure or want to combine activities with a bit of beach downtime.  Why not take the opportunity to incorporate into your honeymoon one of your “must do” travels in your life?  If you’ve always wanted to go to the Grand Canyon, drive across Australia, see the mountain gorillas, dive in the Caribbean or see penguins in Antarctica, why leave it for ‘later in life’ – do it for your honeymoon!  So think about what you really want, don’t think about the costs for now, drop me a line and let me spend the time trawling through the world of tour operators to piece together a tailor made honeymoon to meet your needs. It doesn’t have to be long haul – try Europe for cosy romantic cottages or private villas overlooking fishing bays, food and wine holidays or even the British Isles if you don’t want to fly anywhere, Scotland and Ireland have some gorgeous small country house hotels and everything from lighthouses to boathouses! Unusual and specialist destination honeymoons are out there waiting to be booked.

 Honeymoon gift vouchers are available and these are really popular.  Many couples already live together when they get married so your wedding guests are usually at a loss as to what to buy as a wedding gift.  Contributing money towards your honeymoon will really help you have the honeymoon of your dreams too.  The difference in price between that bargain break to Greece that you would have compromised on and booked and your perfect destination of the Indian Ocean may not be than out of reach after all!  I’ve known of honeymoon couples who have raised about £2000 towards their travels!  And the more wedding guests you have … the more honey money in the pot!

So what are you waiting for?  Once you’ve set the date, give me a call or drop me an email and I’ll arrange to meet with you and start planning the dream ….. before you know it you’ll be in that tropical hammock with a large cocktail in hand wondering what all the fuss was about!

Speaking as a bride to be I wish I’d known about specialist honeymoon planners like Jules before we booked our honeymoon. If you are deliberating where to go and what to do then get in touch with Travel with Jules!

Laura x

Photos courtesy of Jules at Travel with Jules