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The Paper Florist

Choosing flowers was always going to be a problem for me. I love every kind of flower from roses to sunflowers, peonies to bluebells, I adore them all. The colours, textures and gorgeous fragrances are all stunning in their own unique ways. So Is my issue in too many options to pick from? No. I just prefer to see flowers where they belong. Which is growing. In the ground.

I don’t have a problem with the florist industry, I think it serves a fabulous purpose, and many people rejoice and truly appreciate the gift of floral arrangements, whether it be for birthdays, weddings, sympathy or just to brighten up their home. And that is wonderful. So long as they aren’t given to me. Not to say I would shun a gift of flowers, I would admire them greatly every day until they wilted and ended up in the rubbish bin.

To me, cut flowers make me think of waste and death. It wasn’t really until I discussed the issue of picking flowers and a bouquet for the wedding, that I realised why this was. It was actually my aunty who pointed out that this association of something as beautiful as a bouquet with morbid thoughts of death, probably stemmed from one of the most significantly saddest times of my life.

My grandmother passed away when I was 9 years old, only a few years after my grandfather (her husband) had died. Having been incredibly close, I cried consistently for weeks, and to be honest, I’m still mourning the loss of both of them almost twenty years on. (CB and I are getting married on what would have been their 65th wedding anniversary) Before my grandmother’s funeral, my aunty’s house was filled with hundreds of different flower arrangements. I can still remember the stifling smell of so many clashing fragrances, and the sight of a sea of colour in front of my beloved grandmother’s coffin. She was gone. And thats probably why I hate cut flowers.

So you can understand my dilemma when I came to picking bouquets, buttonholes and table arrangements. I actually made it into a few florists for suggestions and quotes, when I came across an idea that appealed to me so much that I began a test straight away.

PAPER ROSES.

They’re cheaper, handmade, can come in any colour your choose and will never wilt or die. Perfect.

photo 2After making a test bouquet, I knew that this was the right decision for me. I ordered 3 different colours of paper (normal printer thickness paper) to match the  colour scheme of the wedding and got to work. I spent almost a month cutting all the petals out by hand with a pair of scissors, and repeatedly wondered whether I was making the right decision. I can’t tell you the amount of times I discussed the idea of buying a die-cutter machine!

photo 3After finishing the cutting process it was time to start glueing the petals together. This was an incredibly fiddly process that literally consumed all my free time and patience for a good few evenings before I almost lost the plot. I had burned my fingers with the glue gun and cut myself repeatedly on the garden wire I used for stems. The stems then needed to be wrapped in green florist tape, which was incredibly sticky and difficult to wrap around something as thin as 2mm wire.

To start, I was determined to make them all by myself. I eventually caved and allowed CB, Nat and Julia to help , and thank goodness I did, or I would still be going today.

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I’ve now made over 180 paper roses in varying sizes and colours for table centrepieces, posies and my bouquet, as well as a buttonhole for every person who will be attending the wedding.

paper roses

It was hard work, but it was worth it. And to be honest, I enjoyed the whole experience so much, I’m planning to start making paper bouquets for brides who would like them!

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The one.. Dress.. Not man… Obviously!

I’ve been in love with a wedding dress that I saw on eBay for far longer than I’ve actually known CB I’m embarrassed to say. While I’d pretty much got my heart set on that particular eBay listing in China, I hadn’t yet managed – shock, horror – to set foot in a bridal shop with my mum and try on any dresses so far. It may well be that the style of my beloved, Chinese, custom-made, beautiful piece of bridal wear simply would not suit me… And at the end of day, when all’s said and done, there really is no harm in acting like a princess for a day and going to a proper bridal boutique.

I have to say that I am in love with the Bridal wear industry. The entire experience us certainly not one to be missed, hundreds of gorgeous dresses in every style imaginable are at your fingertips, and everyone who works in the industry seems to LOVE their job. One day, I WILL own a bridal shop. I am sure of it.

I tried on a variety of styles, with the aid of the extremely helpful bridal assistant (heaven only knows how I will do without someone like her when I get my dress – read on later for a related story). It’s true that everything you understand to suit your body shape goes out of the window when it comes to wedding dresses, and I looked simply dreadful in a dress with a plunging neckline, which is usually my neckline of choice.

Although the shop I visited didn’t have a dress like my beloved eBay find, I tried on some similarly shaped gowns and to my delight, the drop hip a-line looks pretty damn perfect even if I do say so myself!

Needless to say, I bought the eBay dress. It arrived in the tiniest of shipping bags (my mum and I almost had a heart attack as she was opening it on Skype) but it’s absolutely stunning. I won’t say too much in case the future hubby is reading this. But it’s seriously gorgeous!

Trying my wedding dress on for the first time was a bit of a palaver, certainly could have done with that shop assistant. Mum was (rightly) concerned about make up stains and was frantically looking around for something to protect the dress, when I made a joke about a shower cap. The next thing I know, my mum is coming at my face with a shower cap. All these years of telling me to stay away from plastic bags. She did put breathing holes though, in case you were wondering!

Now my dress is here, it’s all starting to feel a bit more real and I’m more motivated to start proper planning now. 🙂

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Location, Location…

Choosing-a-Wedding-VenueAfter much deliberation, we finally decided to go venue hunting upon realising that the function room at work simply wasn’t going to be big enough. We will be having a family dinner at the restaurant the night before though, so at least we get to incorporate it in somewhere.

So while my dream of saving thousands of pounds has been ever so slightly scuppered, all is not lost. And despite the popularity of August weddings, and the fact there was far less than a year until the big day, you’d be surprised at the amount of wedding venues who have availability and will bend over backwards to get your business.

The three most important things I have learned regarding wedding reception venues that I must share with anyone who is looking to get married are:

wedding-discounta) Don’t be fooled into booking the hotel/castle/function room asap for ‘earlybird rates’ or to ‘secure the date’. Unless this is the venue that you have dreamed about since you or hubby-to-be were children, or you feel your day will be utterly ruined if the wedding doesn’t take place there; booking a venue straight away will definitely prevent you from seeing anywhere else…(this has affected us.)The company will more than likely manage to get a booking at any time, and while it’s true that some places offer a slightly reduced rate if you book in advance, there will be a good chance that the rate will be considerably lower closer to the time. Which brings me onto…

b) Shop around. I see daily deals on Groupon (eg. 58% off Nailcote Hall) in wedding magazines and online exclusive rates, not to mention the serious package deal offers that wedding venue co-ordinators make over the phone. One place I called offered my an all singing all dancing wedding package for about half the cost they had advertised.

05-14-hagglec) Bargain! There was a programme on TV a couple of years ago about haggling on the high street, and it’s really true that you can haggle the price down on near enough anything. Sure, you don’t want to spoil the lovely arm feeling of booking your wedding venue, but I’m pretty certain that you’ll be even more miffed when you start married life with a significant chunk of your savings missing. Don’t be afraid to be yourself when you’re speaking to the wedding co-ordinators. If they like you and can identify with you they’re much more likely to negotiate on the price.

Because we’d already decided on having the ceremony in City Hall and had pencilled in the boat from the city centre to the bay, we were quite limited on the places we could choose to retain both of those elements. I honestly believe without the boat, a wedding in this country would have been a big, firm  ‘NO DEAL’ for Christian. And actually, everything so far, touch wood, seems to be working out for the best…

20140101-223306.jpg I rang around a lot of hotels/castles etc. A couple had no availability, which I expected, and my panic grew. And so I just started explaining to everyone I spoke to who did have availability, exactly what our situation was. By the end of the weekend I had 20 highly reduced offers, and one extra special offer that was tailored exactly to what I wanted, while saving us well over £7,000.

Our reception venue is the beautiful St David’s Hotel & Spa, and we simply cannot wait. I’ll tell you more about it once I’ve met the wedding co-ordinator. 🙂

My advice on booking a venue:

Decide what kind of venue you want, a castle, hotel, or maybe a rustic barn? The next step is to set your budget. Ask yourselves: how much do we want to spend? Every good haggler knows you must research the product you want to buy. Whether you are buying a new phone or booking a wedding venue, every product has it’s own unique selling point. Find out how much a similar package is from other sources, on the internet in magazines etc. If you’ve done your research properly, you’ll win the sales person/wedding co-ordinator’s respect. The best deals are always sealed with a handshake and big smiles all round.

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