Apologies in advance for what is inevitably going to be a rather lengthy blog post… I guess that is what you get when you combine a very chatty bride with a wedding weekend as opposed to just a wedding day!
In the interest of keeping it real (again) I wanted to share with you what went on behind the scenes as well as the wedding itself and the aftermath! So here goes..
On Thursday evening, after a very rushed pit stop at T.M. Lewins (due to the brother of the groom forgetting to buy a dress shirt..) I travelled by train up to Peppers. It was so surreal thinking that this time I was actually going up to Norfolk to get married!!!! Callum met me on the platform with the biggest smile on his face and when he gave me a huge hug, I couldn’t help but shout ‘We’re getting married!!!!’ Luckily the other commuters just smiled and giggled at us both. We popped into a nearby pub where my Auntie and Uncle were having a drink so that we could say hello (for the first time in forever as they live in Ireland) as well as rope them into helping us set up on Friday! They kindly obliged and little did we know at the time, but they would become our foliage decoration experts.
The rest of my evening was spent writing out 120 names onto ice lolly sticks for our table plan and eating pizza… Everyone told me that I would lose at least half a stone the week before the wedding due to stress. Unfortunately for me, I’m quite calm under pressure. I also ate pizza every single night (NO exaggeration!) so I think that may have contributed to the fact that I didn’t lose a single pound. Not that I cared by that point! I was just excited that the day was finally here!
On Friday morning I woke up super early as it was an absolutely gorgeous day! The sun was out and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Tilly and I went off to get our nails done at a beautiful country house which I thought would be a lovely relaxing activity before adding the final decorating touches to our marquee that afternoon. I did not however anticipate my youngest sister missing her connecting flight and getting stranded in Brussels! Now, it sounds like it would be quite a simple fix, airline was at fault and therefore should put her on the next flight. However, all flights out of Brussels to anywhere in the UK were fully booked all day (it was a bank holiday!) AND it didn’t help that my sister was 20 odd weeks pregnant with a very tired, hungry and upset 2 year old. I literally spent my whole appointment with phone in one hand trying to calm my hysterical sister whilst Anna tried to carefully paint the other (despite my wriggling around.) Luckily it got sorted and they were put on an evening flight to Manchester where my mum had been waiting since 5am.. NOT ideal. They arrived at the cottage just after midnight so I made sure to take a few of their favourite things round to make the situation slightly better.. what can a cup of tea and hot toast dripping with Lurpak not fix!???
Due to the fact that the whole family spent all morning trying to get my sister to my wedding, there were a lot of errands that still needed to be done. This is how Tilly and I got roped into the most unglamorous jobs that a bride and bridesmaid would not expect to be doing following a pre wedding day pamper… We went to the Big Tesco to buy a toilet brush, soap, hand towels and non alcoholic beverages for the wedding. You see Annie and Ash have a guest toilet in the garden that needed stocking for our big day! I mean someone had to do it! When we returned to Peppers, it was straight into the marquee to complete the mammoth task of decorating.. We had to do the following in a matter of hours, it was rather stressful and there was a lot of wine involved;
- Fold 120 napkins
- Wrap our monogrammed ribbon around all 120 napkins
- Write the place names and tie to the cookie favours
- Set up the centerpieces (excluding the flowers)
- Hang the bunting
- Write all the chalkboard signs
- Hang the paper lanterns
- Finish the table plan display
- Assemble and hang all the foliage!
Friday evening all of our wedding party arrived and we organised pizza and drinks in the local pub so everyone could catch up before the big day. It was absolutely wonderful and broke the ice for those who hadn’t met all the wedding party yet. I was very restrained and went back to the cottage fairly early for face masks and beauty sleep.
Saturday morning I risked doing my own make up.. I know I know.. why would I possibly even comprehend this on the most pressurised day of my life?? My maids of honour and I got a blow dry at the local salon with juice boxes and cookies and then arrived at Peppers ready to go. That was the first time I saw any of my family and it was the best feeling in the world! I don’t see my Lancashire family as much as I would like and my sister and nephew from the states, I hadn’t seen in nearly 2 years! After a little bit of teasing and insisting that because I was the bride, he had to do whatever I asked, I finally got a cuddle off William my nephew.
Callum’s parents surprised us with a vintage red double decker bus to take us to the castle in Norwich which was brilliant because it took away all the stress of people arriving late or getting lost etc! Onne thing that was slightly stressful was arriving at the venue to my Mum saying, ‘oh am I doing my reading today? I thought it was tomorrow so didnt bring it.’ Cue the best man running around and sweet talking reception to print a copy out for us! Meanwhile, Callum and I left the guests and went in to do the formal bits. Unfortunately, the tears were flowing before we even got anywhere near the romantic ceremony and vows! You see they always ask your father’s name and occupation for the marriage certificate and that blindsided me. I just wasn’t expecting it because I was so happy and in the moment. I literally couldn’t get my words out even though I had come to terms with the fact that he wouldn’t be there. Luckily my maids of honour were on hand to fix my make up and my mum walked me down the aisle. Note: make sure you take something other than translucent power with you if you are prone to a few tears..
During the ceremony, my adorable nephews got slightly restless.. William played ‘tag’ whilst Asher cried and cried. Despite calls from the odd guest to take the children out, Callum and I stopped the ceremony to ensure that they not only stayed put but were also suitably entertained! Luckily, my Mum saved the day and entertained both babies single handedly. William ran round her ankles in a tight spiral whilst she held Asher.. who took quite a liking to the door handles and light switches. Part way through our vows, the lights started flickering.. not because of the raging thunderstorm outside, but because Asher has discovered you could flick light switches on and off!
Callum and I burst into fits of giggles and I feel it completely made our ceremony (even though my sister burst into tears thinking her child had ruined our day..) I genuinely would not have had it any other way and cannot wait to tell my nephews the story when they are old enough to understand!
Both of our Mother’s did readings from our favourite childhood books during the ceremony. Annie read Winnie the Pooh and my Mum read Dr Seuss, Oh the places you will go (which was a mouthful to say the least… look it up!)
The other thing that happened during our vows was something that I thought only happened in movies. Either the Bride or Groom forgetting their Vows. OBVIOUSLY this was Callum and not myself! You know that really important part, ‘I promise to love, honour and respect you’??? So Callum’s version went like this..
‘Helena, I promise to love, honour and what was the last thing???’
Cue cackles from our friends and family! Luckily for Callum I saw the funny side and besides, he would get another chance to get it right the next day at our marquee wedding!
We walked out to an amazing cover of Coldplay’s sky full of stars by The Piano Guys (played on an iPhone as we forgot the CD!) and as we exited the castle the sun came out to shine again. We had the confetti photo I had my heart set on thanks to Magali for dashing into the nearest shop to bulk buy it! Yes we forgot our personalised, handmade bags of rose petal confetti too… Luckily Callum’s parents had the foresight to bring a huge cooler chest of champagne so everyone enjoyed that on the way back to Peppers.
As soon as we got back, Annie was on a mission to prepare the wedding breakfast food for 45 people! We all enjoyed some drinks in the orchard where Callum and I spent time introducing our family members to each other. It was so lovely for everyone to finally meet my sisters, step brother, parents and aunties and uncles! They all really hit it off which was an incredible feeling.
Annie served 6x casserole dishes of macaroni cheese, 3x huge hams, tons of coleslaw and about 20x homemade garlic breads which were all inhaled within a matter of minutes. We also had a beautiful vanilla cake with pink ombre layers adorned with real flowers which looked like something straight off Instagram! I even had real roses in my ice cubes!! Impeccable attention to detail Mrs Wood.
When we eventually stopped eating and had consumed a little more fizz, someone decided it would be a great idea to go and play rounders in the field next to Peppers.. Team Bride triumphed over Team Groom (obviously) however we did suffer some injuries along the way.. Surprisingly it wasn’t me- even though I did play in my wedding dress! Unfortunately my stepbrother Aron broke his toes (quite badly) and ended up barefoot for the rest of the weekend as he couldn’t get his foot into any shoes..
All in all our Saturday wedding was beyond incredible! We were very grateful to have a second day to look forward to as it does go too quickly. We also promised each other that we would try to right all the wrongs we made (forgetting vows, not enough photos, not savouring the moment, forgetting ALOT!) Our wedding rings were then confiscated by the best man Ryder and Callum and I kissed each other goodnight looking first to what Sunday would hold!