So this is my last blog post as Miss Helena Michael Hickey. This time next week I will be Mrs Helena Michael Hunter Wood! I have absolutely loved writing for So You’re Getting Married and am so disappointed that my time is drawing to a close.
Now, I am very weary of the fact that searching Instagram and Pinterest for wedding inspiration can be slightly misleading and very disheartening. It can suggest totally unattainable wedding goals! Decor goals! Dress goals! Diamond goals! There is this completely false facade of blissful periods of planning, harmonious decision making and a bottomless pit of money, which is in all honesty completely unrealistic. Or at least it was for Callum and I.
I want everyone to see that I may have kept my blog posts lighthearted (and hopefully humorous at times) and have definitely spammed you all with countless wedding related photographs on Insta… BUT the planning was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. So in the interest of keeping it real, I am going to tell you what it is really like planning a wedding and what happens when things go wrong… which they inevitably will and probably as the most inconvenient time.
Let’s start back at the beginning with the engagement. When Callum and I got engaged on June 20th 2015, I was unbelievably happy. I was also absolutely terrified to tell my family. When we were at uni, Callum and I broke up each summer due to the distance between our homes but come September, it was inevitable that we always got back together. After that, Mum was very protective of me and weary of Callum- she even made him write her a letter detailing his intentions towards her daughter! Hopefully that will make an appearance at the wedding…
As well as this, I haven’t spoken to my Dad in almost 10 years. He lives in the States, meaning that we have not crossed paths during that time which made it easier to deal with. However, now that I was getting married, I was scared to tell my sisters (one of whom lives in the states) because that would mean him also finding out. I struggled with how I felt about the whole situation and put off telling my sisters about the engagement as a result. Looking back at the whole thing now, it seems ridiculous that I would do such a thing! But at the time, I was constantly on edge and couldn’t fully enjoy the first couple of weeks of our engagement. Please please please do not make this mistake! Take it from me, it is much easier to face things up front so that you can move past them quickly.
In order to save money, we opted not to send out save the dates. Then our invitations took about 6 months to design, meaning that we constantly had guests asking about the date and venue before we had even finalised anything! There were also a few people who booked hotel rooms before receiving invites.. This was probably the cause of my very first display of ‘Bridezilla’!
When we eventually got the invites in hand, it took me forever to write all the addresses out!! Not that I would have ever admitted it at the time, but I was putting it off whilst I decided what I wanted to do in terms of inviting my dad’s side of the family. I never thought that me putting this tedious task off would make Callum worry that I didn’t want to get married (Which it did!!!) After that, I felt awful and realised I had to make my decision. Callum helped me to sort through my feelings, gave me the courage to extend an olive branch and send out those difficult invites. Unfortunately, I did not receive the response I was anticipating or hoping for but I feel at peace with the way I handled the situation. It also makes me value those that are attending even more.
Choosing where to get married caused us all sorts of problems logistically. My family are up in Lancashire, Leicestershire and Dublin with young babies and grannies who for obvious reasons aren’t the best at travelling. Callum’s grandparents, aunts and uncles are all in the Home Counties. Unavoidably, there are a lot of people who won’t be in attendance due to this, which makes us really sad but at the end of the day, you can’t guarantee everyone will be there regardless of location!
As well as the wedding, there is the hen and stag do. My mum and sisters as well as some of my girlfriends were unable to attend which is always tough and to be honest, can make you feel a little self conscious about the amount of friends you have!
When it then came to picking a date, we thought we had gotten it just right. We avoided a Saturday due to sporting commitments (not my decision!) and went for a bank holiday Sunday so most people were off work on the Monday. We avoided August bank holiday as it always rains! And went for the end of May which we hope will bring us good weather. We didn’t not however anticipate that this would cause problems for my younger sister in the states where it is Memorial Day weekend! She really struggled to get the weekend off as everyone wants that weekend off out there! To be honest, it was hit and miss if she could come for a while.. but luckily she and my Nephew William will both be there to celebrate with us on our big day!
One of the first vendors Callum and I knew we wanted to work with were our family friends at Mrs Florist in Tunbridge Wells. Due to the fact that we were getting married in Norfolk, we soon realised that this was not viable and then just didn’t bother looking for another florist. This was a HUGE mistake because florists get booked up for weddings so far in advance! I definitely recommend booking your florist asap even if you leave the selecting of flowers and design until much further down the line.
Then we have hair and make up who I secured early on and then lost. All I can say on this is get in touch with as many people as you can find. Look at their previous work, have trials and be decisive as the good ones book up a year in advance.. I got lucky!
I actually didn’t mention this in my previous posts.. possibly because it was the most stressful thing we dealt with but six months before the wedding, our Caterer said they were unable to do food. How on earth do you find someone to do food for 120 people, in the middle of a Norfolk garden at short notice? But do you know what, we found lots of alternative options. People rallied round and made it happen. We even spoke about ordering in load of pizzas at one point!
In order to help fund the wedding, you may remember me talking about how we sold our first house together and upsized, releasing some of the equity in the process? Unfortunately we did not foresee our sale dragging out until 9 months before the wedding, meaning we had to rely on gentleman’s agreements (and no deposits to secure the date) with most of our vendors! Very risky and extremely stressful. I felt like I was threatening our estate agent on a daily basis and told them on more than one occasion that our wedding was hanging in the balance during this whole process!
I then went through redundancy a year before the wedding which threw our plans into complete disarray. At times I thought we would have to cancel the wedding or even pick between our new house or getting married! The level of stress that it put us under both financially and emotionally was like nothing I had ever gone through before. Thankfully, Callum and I learnt that we are quite resilient people and you essentially just have to carry on through all of the hard stuff. You have to have confidence knowing that you will make the best possible decisions at that particular time based on all the information you have.
Weddings are one of the happiest days of your life and I was under the impression that planning it would be almost as enjoyable as the day itself. The reality is that you have a lot of difficult decisions to make. Speaking to the other SYGM brides, I know we all have our own personal challenges or fears for the day so please do not feel like you are alone. OR the only one going through a situation you would rather not be! On the surface things may seem perfect. They may even BE perfect but you can bet that it wasn’t always that way and a lot of time and effort has gone in to ensuring that it is the best day that it can possibly be!
This time next week, I will have been Mrs Hunter Wood for 6 and a half hours already!
Can’t wait to share all the details from my big days (Saturday & Sunday) with you all when we return from our Honeymoon in June.
Thank you for all the support whilst I have been writing this blog, I have truly loved every minute x