Once again, I must apologise for the length of time since my last post- I will try to excuse it by distracting you with pictures of my wedding! Look! Look at the shiny things!
But actually this is a rotten excuse for my lack of blogging, for we did in fact have our celebration all the way back in May. I don't know why I've been reluctant to blog about it; I haven't really been too busy, there's just definitely a part of me that's been hesitant to share it. I guess it's something to do with the fact that we had such a tiny, intimate affair; it feels very personal. But then that's another reason I DO want to write something and post some pictures to share with people who couldn't be there.
We only had 18 guests, just our very closest friends; we tried to only invite friends who knew both of us really well. This is the beautiful chateau we found on AirBnB. £250 a night. For the whole thing. Bloody love AirBnB. It's run by lovely people- book it now, but take note, the family who own it stay there in the Summer months, so plan something for Spring or Autumn instead. They sent us over some lovely background information about the house- it was built by one of the King Louis for his favourite mistress!
The weather was perfect; warm enough to swim during the day, but still chilly enough for an open fire in their big old-fashioned fireplace in the evenings.
I think another reason I've been reluctant to write about it is that it's been a year of such ridiculous hoo-ha over certain weddings- Kim and Kanye tied the knot just before or after us, I can't remember which, and I remember thinking at the time, I don't even want to blog about what we did, that's how much I want to distance myself from the kind of affair they had. Based on what the media claimed the West/Kardashian wedding cost, we spent roughly 0.1% of their budget, and I can't really imagine how it could have been any nicer. When we came back to the UK I picked up a copy of Red magazine which had a feature about a journalist bride trying to do her wedding 'on a budget'. The budget she'd given herself? 18K. Which is apparently the UK national average. Now I'm all for having a special day, but I find myself being really cynical of people who feel the need to turn their wedding into some sort of status symbol. So I think I was wary about writing a post that in any way resembled their 'LOOK AT ME' style approach to the whole thing.
Beautiful old staircase in the chateau
The house was full of wonderful oddities, like this 'font' sort of thing in the dining room? There were lots of candles already there, we just decorated with flowers (probably weeds..) from the local hedgerows.
My husband-to-be getting ready!
We were lucky of course, because we actually chose to have our own commitment ceremony rather than an actual wedding, so we didn't have to worry about finding a venue that fitted any legal requirements, or hiring someone to conduct the ceremony or any of that sort of thing. And I think this is the final reason I didn't feel like writing about our celebration until now; we have a number of reasons why we decided not to legally marry, but it gets very tiring explaining them to everyone and feeling like we have to justify our decision. For now all I'll say is that Ib and I have been together 12 years; we've already stayed together through sickness and health and for better or worse, so a wedding felt like something we'd already outgrown, in a way. We said our own personal vows we wrote ourselves, and had readings from our sisters and a friend. My sister in law Sara is a writer so she wrote a beautiful poem for us, our friend Meg recited Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda and my sister Phi read an exert from The Velveteen Rabbit. Ib and I both cried bucketloads.
We had very romantic music to begin the ceremony ( Yann Tiersen's Comptine D'un Autre ete ) and err... a slightly less conventional piece to end it ( Terminator 2 main theme.)
Our ingenious guests made confetti out of daisy heads!
Our talented friend Roland took these pictures- it was, in fact, his wedding last year that inspired us to have a celebration of some kind, it was so wonderful. His wife Jasmine also happens to be the connection that meant Ib and I originally met, at Glastonbury, when I was 18.
I know I'm supposed to be a writer and everything, but I honestly can't put into words how special the day was. Just listen to that piece of Yiann Tiersen music and if it makes you feel tearful and nostalgic and hopeful all at the same time, you'll have some idea.
It's impossible to over emphasise how little planning went into the whole thing. We got everyone to throw some money in a pot- unorthodox I know, but we covered all the accommodation ourselves which probably evens it out to what you'd expect at a normal wedding where you get your meal for free but have to pay for a room- and then bought a gutload of wonderful French food, and lived off bread, cheese and booze for most of the weekend. We're lucky enough to have lots of friends who are excellent chefs, so they knocked up a wonderful curry for after the ceremony. We hadn't sorted anything like a cake, but again, our friends stepped in and got some gorgeous stuff from a local French patisserie (within walking distance from the house, which meant morning strolls for croissants were possible), including two little meringue hedgehogs who acted as a sort of bride-and-groom-on-a-wedding-cake substitute. Here I am in the picture above being force-fed Mr Hedgehog by my new husband.
I should say something about my dress I suppose. I had an exact idea of what I wanted in my head- which is always a bad start- and started researching floaty, Picnic-at-Hanging-Rock/Room-with-a-View style dresses. I know I actually suit structured, Vivienne Westwood type frocks much better, but I neither had the money for that sort of thing, nor did I want to spend any of the day struggling to breathe or sit down. I wanted something I could roll around on the grass in if I felt like it.
But unfortunately all original Edwardian dresses have high necks, which is incredibly unflattering on the bigger-bossomed lady. I'd already bought something on ebay, resold it because it didn't suit me, then panic-purchased a Grecian, red dress from Mango just because it was getting so close to the day. But then, just a few days before we were due to leave for France, Kate Moss's new collection for Topshop came out. I'm not a huge KM fan, not even a huge Topshop fan, but they had made the perfect dress for me. At least, it looked perfect online, but the collection wasn't being released until the evening before we took the ferry to France. So like some starstruck, teenage loser, off I trekked to Topshop the night before we left to see the collection unveiled. As I approached Topshop there were just horrific queues, half of Oxford Circus was shut down, and my initial response was, 'Sod this' so I turned around and started walking home. But after about ten minutes I talked myself into turning back, and it turned out, by then, most of the queues had died down; people had really only been there to try and spot celebrities. The queue to actually get in to the shop and buy pieces from the collection was relatively small- I was inside within 10 minutes. It fitted perfectly and was just as nice in real life as it had looked online. I particularly like that the cream slip it has on the inside can be removed and replaced with a slip of any other colour- so it can definitely be recycled in the future for non-wedding wear!
I wore some old Grecian sandals I had- and yes, the boy wore trainers.
Here's a picture of me and my sister Phi. In it you can just see the wedding gift Ib gave me on the day- a beautiful art deco, diamond necklace. I'll take a better picture of it one day.
Some of our guests- as this post is feeling decidedly bride-and-groom heavy! I do also have a collection of polaroids one of my friends took over the whole weekend- or rather, I'm waiting to collect them from her- so I'll share those in another post.
From left to right- Meg, me, Phi, Ib, Jack and Sara
We had one absolute scorcher of a day where we just lounged by the pool all day, which was bliss.
On the Sunday we popped to the local village market, which was the Frenchest place I have ever been. Look at the French children! Look at them!
Because we spent a whole 5 days not-getting-married in the south of France, it didn't really feel like we needed a honeymoon as such. But by the end of the summer we'd convinced ourselves it was a necessity- so we popped off to Lake Como for the bank holiday weekend in August. We stayed at the
Relais Villa Vittoria on Lake Como, but I'm not sure I'd really recommend it. Don't get me wrong, we had a wonderful time- the lake is out of this world. But with my travel-writer hat on, I'd definitely say the hotel was a mixed bag. Next visit I think we may opt for something like the San Giorgio B&B- we came across it hidden down an alley off the main street that our hotel was on- bit gutted I hadn't managed to find it online before the trip actually. Same brilliant location as ours ( in Laglio, the village George Clooney famously owns much of) but a fraction of the price. Definitely more rustic than luxury, but if you can still pop to one of the other hotels or restaurants for a fancy dinner every now and again, I think you'd be perfectly happy.
Ib has spent many years convincing me that there's no such thing as a sale; that the stuff on offer is never anything I'd normally buy. But this year I've proved him wrong! Behold, my new favourite dress, from Collectif Clothing who did a brilliant 24 hour 50% sale on all their online stock. It's still available here, but full price now.
And yet further proof that I've turned 30- (It was actually both Ib and my birthdays the same week we went to France) here I am wearing a Boden dress. BODEN. Like my Mum. Also in the sale, some sizes and colours still available here I think. Gladiator sandals from Clarks, but off Ebay, so probably an old collection.
Thanks for reading! I have loads more pictures from the not-a-wedding but honestly not sure how interested people are - I may do another post when I have the polaroids. I hope this maybe helps anyone who might also be planning to do something less conventional to celebrate their relationship. Best advice I can give? Anyone who really loves you will be happy whatever you decide to do.