The Bridezilla Diaries – Lessons Learned

It’s currently T-minus twelve weeks until I become a married woman. That is terrifying. In one way it feels like I’ve been planning this wedding for my whole life (probably because it’s aged me about fifteen years within ten months), but in other ways it’s flown over. With hindsight, like most things, I look back over it now and there are definitely things I could have done differently to make it easier for myself, and things that I wish I’d known before starting the process. So, like the generous person I am, I thought now is about the right time to pass on the wisdom from one bridezilla to the next cohort of bridezillas. It’s too late for me, but with the following suggestions it’s not too late to save yourselves!

People will be interested in your wedding. 
It sounds obvious, but I definitely underestimated this. The only thing I find more boring than going to other people’s weddings is hearing about other people’s weddings (well, that and maybe Star Wars films). I have no interest in how much someone spent on a cake, what flowers they’ve chosen, or the difference between ivory and off-white (spoiler alert: they’re the same damn colour); because I am a normal person. Sadly, not everyone on this planet is normal, and some people feel a need to ask you about your wedding plans every time they see you. So, if you see a lot of people in a given day, that’s a lot of small talk. The best way to handle this is to not answer honestly. I made the mistake of providing an honest answer to “how much does your cake cost?” in the break room at work and got an uncomfortably long lecture about what else I could have bought with that money. My advice is to rehearse a set “yeah it’s ticking over nicely, it still doesn’t feel real though and I’m sure there’s something I’ve forgotten”, because you will be saying it approximately ten times a day for at least a year.

Give an early RSVP deadline.
Again, I am a normal person; so when someone invites me to an event which is a significant time away, I immediately provide confirmation as to whether I can or cannot attend, and write the date down. However, other people are not normal. Other people think that it is perfectly acceptable to spend ten months providing vague excuses about possibly going on holiday or possibly not having a babysitter; or confirm they are coming and then decide they have a better offer, and even decline but are then unable to find anything better to do and so backtrack and decide they are coming. I know, it’s stressful – there is a reason my hair started to fall out during this process. So, do not make the mistake of assuming that your extended family and friends are competent adults. I made the fatal error of giving people a nice long time to RSVP, which just allowed for people to change their minds and/or drag out the clearly very difficult task of ticking “yes” or “no” and putting a stamp on a piece of paper. I know, it’s a challenging task which clearly takes months. Make an early cut-off date and stick to it.

Enjoy the lull in the middle.
The start of planning your wedding is so fun. Bridal magazines, Pintrest boards, wedding fayres; just spending time soaking up ideas and enjoying having a ring on your finger is great. Also great is the last couple of months when everything falls into place and your venue show you how everything will run like a well-oiled machine on the day, so you can finally picture it all coming together. There is however a quiet interval between those two time periods, which I found incredibly unsettling. Going from constant shopping and reading endless reviews of various suppliers to having nothing to do but wait for RSVP’s (see above, that can take a long time if your family are inept), is unnerving if you’re a stress head like me. I had a constant fear that I should be doing something, and a paranoia that my wedding had been forgotten about – why was my planner not emailing me? Why were suppliers not checking in? Answer – because they have other things to do. Like the brief minutes of relief between contractions during labour, the down time is important to recharge for the challenge ahead. Do not make the mistake of wasting it by endless worrying about the wedding like I did – find a hobby or just take a long nap.

Look after yourself.
Easily the most important thing to remember, and the main thing that I wish someone had told me. I have never had so many colds in such a short space of time until I started planning my wedding. Stress makes my immune system crash and prevents me from being able to get a decent amount of sleep, so Olbas Oil and Vitamin C have been my friends for the last few months. Mental health is an important thing to keep an eye on too; this is something which has unfortunately always been a bit of a struggle for me, but the process of planning what has to become the happiest day of my life (no pressure) was so overwhelmingly stressful that I had to speak to a doctor about getting extra help to alleviate it and make it bearable. I thought I was bordering on insane, and that there was something wrong with me for not enjoying every second of planning the blissful union which other people would kill to have, but according to Google it’s not uncommon; and I wish someone had told me about that so I didn’t spend months crying silently in the bath so nobody would notice. Look after yourself, however that is best achieved for you: take breaks; delegate tasks to other people; have set times where all wedding talk is banned; do what you need to do to get through.

Don’t become too reliant on advice from others.
This is an easy mistake to make when planning your first wedding. Surely other people who have been married or have helped plan weddings in the past are the best people to assist you? To an extent, yes, but experience planning weddings is not an adequate substitute for knowing your own taste and comfort zone. There is definitely such a thing as too many cooks spoiling the broth, and everyone has strong opinions on weddings. At the end of the day, you and the person you are marrying know best what you like and what kind of celebration you are both comfortable having; and whether something is popular, quirky, expensive or “just what you have to do” should not come into it at all. Stick to your guns and have the day that you both want, even if people take the huff because, trust me, they soon snap out of it once you make it clear you’re having it your way.


Worst Bride Ever

Cynicism is part of who I am. I’m fairly sure I came out of the womb mid-eye roll. My sense of humour has earned me the prestigious title at work of  “worst bride ever” due to my general pessimism towards my wedding day and utter lack of patience with the whole organisation process. Most of the time, it’s met with a (usually jovial) “at least you’re getting married” or “at least you’re not single” over the water cooler. Let me be clear on that one for a minute; I feel incredibly lucky to be getting married in the way I am. I am fortunate enough to be in a relationship which is healthy, stable and (for the most part), happy. I am fortunate enough to be legally allowed to marry the person I want to, doing so without any stigma attached to it, and I am so lucky to be financially stable enough to have the wedding that myself and my fiance want. This does not however, come with a God-given duty to be exponentially happy about it for every second of every day.

There’s a growing trend on social media amongst parents, particularly mums, in which they’re supporting each other and sharing the times when they don’t quite get it right or the moments when they panic and think they’re the worst parent in the world. Now, I’m not a parent, so I don’t profess to understand anything about being an “un-mumsy mum”, or why anyone would care whether your baby gets its milk from a boob or a bottle, but from what I’ve seen – surely it isn’t a bad thing to be honest about how you’re feeling. Giovanna Fletcher, an author I love, is a really big advocate of this and is always raising the point that just because she may have moments of struggle or self-doubt, it doesn’t nullify her feeling of being lucky to be a parent. Again, I’m not a parent and I don’t believe for a second that planning a big lavish party for yourself and your spouse is in any way as difficult or emotionally challenging as keeping an actual human being alive, but I do know it’s really effing stressful; and not something I should have to endure in silence because I “should be glad I’ve got the ring”.

The idea for this post came to me ages ago and I’ve gone back and forth over whether to write it, for fear of looking ungrateful about the fact that I’m planning this seemingly perfect wedding and marrying my school sweetheart. But, somewhere around one a.m. yesterday when I was fighting back tears and trying to slow my breathing down so I could get some sleep ahead of my busy day at work, and trying to switch off the video of the empty ceremony room which was playing on a loop in my head; it occurred to me that other people might feel like this, and might also be telling themselves “I have no right to feel overwhelmed by this because it’s what I’ve always dreamed of”. I realise that sounds completely dramatic, but unfortunately that’s where I was at that night, and not for the first time.

People judge weddings, that’s accepted as a fact. We all do it, women probably more so, and I’ve made the catastrophic error of following my photographer and venue on Instagram. So, every time there’s a new wedding of course I’m zooming in on every picture, critiquing every angle of the dress, how the flowers are arranged, the place settings, everything. I know, I need to get a life, and much like Googling your unusual symptoms, it’s a dangerous game which I realised the hard way last week when I fell completely in love with a particular bride. I’m not going to name her and come across as a weird stalker, but she was absolutely unreal. Her wedding was at my venue and, if I’m honest, I don’t think mine is going to top that; plus, after midnight on a school night, my rational faculties of “but everyone’s wedding is unique to that couple, all brides are beautiful” were off the clock. So what did I do? I did what any irrational, tired woman would do, and I stalked her Instagram. I made it as far back as her engagement party when the heart palpitations started. She looked unbelievably happy and sickeningly in love in every shot – not a hair out of place, glowing at her hen party, posting about how much she was enjoying the wedding planning with her beautiful, supportive friends and family, and here I was crying in the middle of the night about how my wedding is going to be a failure which upsets loads of people in the process and that I probably can’t actually afford, for the umpteenth time.

Instagram is a dangerous place and, when I’ve had enough sleep, I know that the vast majority of posts don’t show the whole truth. This bride almost certainly will have cried over her wedding. She will have had vicious rows with her own and her fiance’s families over the guest list, of course she will have worried about money and definitely will have experienced the lingering guilt in the pit of her stomach over not being able to include her great aunt’s cousin once removed, who her parents tell her is very upset and hurt at not getting an invite. I have enjoyed planning my wedding and I am extremely excited for the day itself, but it is absolutely peppered with guilt about spending my own money, asking other people to spend money, worry about who will talk to who and whether people will be comfortable, and total fear and blind panic about what people are going to think about it on the day and what’s being said behind my back. Hopefully other people feel like this too and this doesn’t turn into a viral post in which I’m labelled a ‘bridezilla’ like the woman who asked guests to pay an entry fee to come to the wedding (honestly, once you tot up the final bill – not a terrible idea). As I said at the start, this does not take away from my ability to enjoy other elements of the process, but a friendly word of advice to anyone who finds themselves in the presence of a bride or groom who is struggling with it, the helpful thing to do is to sympathise and/or offer to help; and absolutely does not include saying any of the following*:

“You’re spending HOW much? That’s obscene!”
“You should just elope”
“Divorce is even more expensive, you know.”
“I eloped, it was so much easier”
“I LOVED planning my wedding it was amazing from the second we got engaged”
“Well I don’t feel like I need a ring to justify my relationship but some people need the validation I suppose”
“It’s just an expensive piece of paper”
“Your family sound like a nightmare, I’m so glad mine aren’t like that”
“It’s just so hetero-normative getting married like that”
“I would never take my husband’s name, it’s so pointless, outdated and sexist”
“Do you know how many holidays that could pay for?”
“Couldn’t you do it later in the day? I’ll be so rushed getting ready for that time”
“I know I RSVP’d back in November, but something else has come up…”
*Returning an RSVP with additional names added who were not on the original invite*
“I’m just waiting for my invite in the post hahahaha!”
“I know it’s your day but can’t I just -”
“But you have to do it that way it’s tradition”
“You’re NOT getting married in a Church?”
*Not RSVP-ing at all*
“I don’t know why you’re bothering with chair covers, that’s a pointless expense”
“But I don’t like that song, you have to have music everyone likes”


*a non-exhaustive list of things which have been said, directly to my face.

The ‘M’ Word

I always feel like I need to start my blog posts with some sort of justification as to why I’m talking about this particular topic ‘now’. I think it just provides a bit of context for the reader, but for this one I really have no reason as to why I felt like writing about it now – this is something that is in my head all the time. It has become a bit more prominent since I started planning my wedding, but really it’s something that’s always just ‘there’.

I lost my mam six years ago, when I was eighteen. I’d only turned eighteen a few weeks before actually, I had just finished my A Levels and had no idea where my life was going. And yes, it was horrendous. Or so I’m told it was, if I’m totally honest I think I’ve blocked most of it out without realising. People tell me things that I did or said around that time which I genuinely have no recollection of, it’s like I was under anesthetic and forgot it all as soon as I woke up. I still have no idea what happened in the 2012 Olympics which was going on at the time, even though I watched most of it.

“It will get easier” was very much the tag line of Summer 2012 for me, I heard it from everyone, and in hindsight I think it probably did. One memory I do have from that time was when I was at work, stood at the till waiting for a customer to need serving and looking out the window absent-mindedly, and I saw a family of presumably mum, dad, brother and the sister in her graduation outfit having coffee in the Costa opposite. I just became totally overcome with complete jealousy and anger. Although I was over the ‘worst’ of it – the funeral was done, we had got rid of most of her things that we didn’t need or want to keep, her bank accounts were closed and divided up and life was starting to settle in to a new ‘normal’, but the realisation that, whatever my graduation would turn out to be, it would never be that, absolutely broke me. In the end, I never attended my graduation for a lot of reasons, but the obvious mam-shaped hole that would be in every photograph was definitely a big factor.

I do sometimes regret not going to my graduation, and I always knew that if I got married I would be faced with the same dilemma. Initially, I never wanted to do the whole wedding gown, reception, photos and sit down meal palaver for the same reason, but ultimately reached the decision that even though my wedding and all the events leading up to it will never be what I wanted them to be, it’s stupid to spite myself of it altogether. But this is the thing that nobody ever warned me about. The initial shock of the immediate loss and my whole world changing is something that I was somewhat prepared for, but losing someone close to you is a life sentence. It’s a lifetime of frustration over something not being there when you wish it was, but also paradoxically of there being a big, fat elephant in the room that will not leave you alone. I never quite knew how to explain it to other people until I read Mara Wilson’s autobiography (yes, that girl from Matilda – it’s actually a great read I would strongly recommend it to anyone) and she hit the nail on the head:

“No one knows what to say to a child when a parent dies. In a best-case scenario, the child will know it’s okay for them to feel whatever they feel. But no one mentions how it will affect the rest of his or her life. No one told me I’d spend the rest of my life living with a ghost.”

That last sentence was, for me, like that moment when you finally understand a difficult maths problem in school. Suddenly, it all made sense. Sometimes it really feels like I have to live the rest of my life with my mam’s ghost stood next to me – people stare at it and you can see them wondering about it and wanting to ask, but never quite knowing how to phrase it. I’ve had multiple encounters of “and what’s your mam going to wear?”or “will your mam be getting her hair and make up done with you?” from totally innocent, well-meaning people throughout my wedding planning and I much prefer these interactions because then it gives me the window to explain. But when I went wedding dress and accessory shopping with my friends, a friend’s mam and one of my mam’s friends, I could tell people were wondering where my mam was in all of this. It happens every Christmas too, when the inevitable ‘and what are you doing on the day?’ questions start. Having to say ‘I’m cooking for me, my partner, my in-laws and my dad’ triggers a look of such bewilderment. It’s like having food stuck in your teeth after eating a really herby pasta – you’re not quite sure if the other person has noticed it, and the other person isn’t sure whether they want to make it uncomfortable by bringing it up.

Sadly, I don’t think there is ever going to be a resolution to this. Unless resurrection becomes possible, but even still I would then have to explain why she mysteriously disappeared for years, I’m going to have to spend my life being followed around by a shell of my mam and having to answer the awkward question of why I never seem to spend time with a mother. Hopefully, when I reach the age at which other people’s parents start to die off, there’ll be fewer questions. I think the main issue is me being twenty four and clearly not having a mother-daughter relationship of any kind which invites the curiosity. In summary, losing a parent too soon is absolutely awful, but the one thing I wish someone had prepared me for was the lifetime of awkward, sympathetic head tilts and confusion over why I appear to have a father but no mother. Whenever the topic does arise, it always seems to end up with me comforting the other person through their painful embarrassment at having triggered a conversation about death, an unpleasantness which Brits just don’t ever discuss. So if anyone knows of a polite way to say ‘no, my mother didn’t abandon me, she’s not in prison or on drugs she’s dead from a disease and not some dramatic suicide, and no don’t worry I’m not now going to break down in tears and make you feel uncomfortable’, then please let me know.

Bridezilla Part Two – The Dreaded Dress Difficulty

Since a date has now been set for my wedding after the world’s quickest betrothal (hey, he made me wait nine years for the ring, I’m locking this down before he changes his mind), the to-do list has been made, the menus have been chosen, and so began the dreaded ordeal that is wedding dress shopping.

I am very excited to get married, I’m just going to make that disclaimer now, but I absolutely hate wedding dresses. I don’t know why, but I always have. Every time I see a bride or a white dress I immediately think ‘that would look absolutely ridiculous on me’, and even after weeks of looking at every gown on the whole entire internet, I still went to this appointment absolutely convinced I was going to end up getting married looking like I had a sheet over my head like a low budget ghost Halloween costume with cut out eye holes. As someone who hates satin, lace, the colour white, that nasty netting material veils are made of, trains, poofy skirts and dresses in general, this was never going to be an easy or a pleasant task. Also, I can’t stand shop sales people, I know they have a job to do, but I hate going into shops to browse and having someone come up to me to look my body up and down, judge it, and tell me what would or wouldn’t look good. In summary, a bridal shop is my smear test – painful and uncomfortable with me in a vulnerable position while someone reassures me that this is a necessary evil.

Bridal shops are a bit odd, if you’ve never been to one -which I hadn’t before yesterday- it takes a while to get used to not being able to pull clothes off the racks to have a look and having someone telling you what to choose, who will then watch you undress. I have a personal bubble of steel – I don’t even like being hugged, so this was going to be a challenge. Having said that, even though I went in with a ‘why is this woman who does not know me telling me what to wear, who does she think she is?’ attitude, it has to be said that bridal shop staff (or at least just the ones I experienced) have an absolute superpower. I now want this lady to come with me when I buy everything. Next time I’m in Sainsbury’s wondering what to have for dinner I am going to get her to come and work her magic, because she knew what I wanted before I did.

We started off by choosing about three or four dresses between us (myself and my bridesmaids) and it seemed to be going okay, I wasn’t really gushing over anything but the lady who helped me get changed worked her magic fingers on each dress and clipped it in at all the right places. Who knew I had a juicy bum and hourglass waist? Certainly not me! I want her to come and put pegs on the back of all my clothes – let’s just say the two pains au chocolat I had for breakfast were nowhere to be seen. She could have clipped me into a bin bag and I would have felt fantastic. Then, after a couple of okay-but-not-quite-the-one attempts, she put me in an a-line poofy disaster. I had said from the second I walked into the shop that I didn’t want a-line, it just doesn’t fit my body very well, so why this lady insisted I try one was totally beyond me, but I was intimidated by her, and all the expensive dresses in the pristine room, so I went along with it. I hated it as politely as I could, dishing out my best ‘umm, I’m not too sure’ and trying to neutralise my expression of pure revulsion (I’m fairly sure this is how they train politicians to downplay things that are obviously going to be a disaster *cough* bedroom tax *cough* Brexit), but once I freed myself from the poofy nightmare and got back into the style I actually liked, suddenly said style started to look bloody amazing. I see what you did there, dress lady. I’m definitely going to start doing this when I cook a meal I’m not too sure about – feed my other half some pure coriander (devil’s herb) before dishing out a delicious microwave meal (hey, I’m a busy girl I work full time), because then that pile of reheated, processed chemicals will become pure nectar. No offence, a-line dress, but you were an absolutely huge meringue. Cue ‘Scarlett, you’re blind…’ and the rest.

So in summary, bridal shop lady is some sort of warlock, who managed to locate a dress that has no icky satin, icky lace, icky netting or blinding whiteness to it, so there won’t be a meringue in sight on my big day. And my figure is going to look totally amazing, for the first time ever without the help of Spanx – always a win. Honestly, if you’re ever feeling like you need a confidence boost I strongly advise rounding up your closest friends, slapping on a fake engagement ring and going into a bridal shop because it is like a tidal wave of compliments and ego massage – even for a loyal follower of the leggings and big t -shirt brigade like me. It’s safe to say I now fully understand that line in Bridesmaids – “this is awesome, just makes me want to go out and find another dude to marry”, because I would now happily spend every Saturday morning buying a wedding dress – it was so amazing that it actually eradicated the burning stress of having to whittle down Jack’s endless list of relatives, well, at least for about three hours.

bridal shop



The Dawn of the Bridezilla

Wow this has been a tiring week, after a very long drive to Northumberland and back (thank you, A1 traffic jams) last Saturday and a wild Sunday celebrating the dog’s birthday at the Doggy Diner, I’ve been collapsing into bed at nine o’clock most evenings. Oh, and I also suppose I’m a bit exhausted from carrying around this HUGE engagement ring (Phoebe Buffay, 2004). I may have left university over two years ago, but the ability to reference in the Harvard style will sadly remain burned into my brain until I die. But yes, on a far lighter note – I’m engaged!

I’m not one to air dirty laundry on a public forum (I save that for my group chats and coffee breaks at work while the kettle boils, I’m not a monster), but after almost nine years together this did come as somewhat of a relief. One of my best friends described it as ‘feeling a sense of peace ripple around the world’, so if you opened your curtains earlier this week and saw The Westboro Baptist Church skipping down the street, arm in arm with the cast of Queer Eye, don’t be alarmed – they’re all just so happy I’m finally engaged. So peaceful and relieved I was last Saturday, with an ice cold glass of M&S champagne and a hot bubble bath and a bridal magazine; feeling smug that it was finally my moment and that my wedding would be the least stressful, most fun and yet somehow chilled out day anyone has ever had and – wow, that was a nice twelve hours.

By Sunday evening, I was ready to throw my phone into the sea Carrie Bradshaw style and ask Jack if he had still had the receipt for the ring. I was just so completely baffled that one, albeit gorgeous, small piece of jewelry was capable of inviting so many unwanted opinions. Do diamonds emit some kind of hologram, invisible to their wearer, which says ‘please, tell me more about what you think a wedding should be’? Because I think mine might! While I’m not naive enough to have thought planning a wedding with someone who has a huge family would be an entirely zen experience from start to finish, I really did think that old classic – ‘it’ll be different when it’s ours’ would apply at least partially. Snowballing from that – I’m also now less certain that if I have children they definitely won’t cry unless there’s a legitimate reason, they absolutely won’t need dummies and that I’ll teach them to sleep through the night by their first birthday.

After a full week of hearing everyone’s opinions about what kind of wedding I should have and more than several variations of ‘shall we just book a registry office and get this over with?’ with my other half; I’ve drawn the early conclusion that yes, planning a wedding can be stress free; but only if you’re prepared to be brutal. I would never go as far as saying I ‘respect’ Theresa May (there’s little to no chance of me saying that about any Tory ever), but I have come to the realisation that pleasing everyone is a really, really difficult job; so in some cases it’s better to just do what you think is best and sod everyone else. At least the biggest decision I have to manage at the moment is whether to bother with a wedding breakfast or just go straight into canapes, though at times I do think it would be easier to negotiate a hard or soft Brexit. Theresa, if you want to swap, you can find my email address on the ‘contact’ page.