~ One Year of Sparkles ~

After an initial flurry of activity, it has been an age since I last posted here! Work has been absolutely hectic lately, but I see light at the end of the tunnel now (and I don’t think it’s a train).

This Wednesday marked one year of me wearing my sparkley engagement ring from my lovely Mike. We celebrated with a sunny walk on Sola beach, followed by a home-made meal of breaded fish and potato wedges – the same meal we ate on the evening of our engagement (except that time, Mike had actually caught the fish himself)! Mike bought me some gorgeous flowers – stargazer lilies that are currently sweetly scenting our whole apartment – and Mum gifted us some beautiful table decorations to make our meal a little more special.

On the day Mike proposed, I was keeping a journal; we were on holiday in Norway and staying in a little place called Gjermundshavn, on the banks of Hardangerfjorden. This is my entry for 10/09/2014:

Safe to say that today has been the happiest day of my 24 years on this earth. This afternoon, as M and I sat on the palisade of our balcony, watching the herons fishing in the fjord and the water underneath the huge mountains on the far side of the inlet gently rippling in the breeze, M asked me to do the honour of becoming his wife. I said yes, of course! He had picked out an antique ring for me, just like I wanted; a platinum band with a princess-cut diamond in a beautifully classic setting.

We’d started our day with breakfast outside, but when I’d popped in to make some extra toast, I’d heard a commotion from where I’d left M. I ran back out to see my coffee spilled everywhere and M looking sheepish. He’d heard an animal of some description rattling through the undergrowth, making its way toward the cabin. Expecting a mountain lion, a bear or perhaps both, he’d leapt up onto the table (there goes my coffee) just as the tiniest, fluffiest, most unthreatening Pekinese dog you’ve seen in your life emerged from the brambles. How I laughed! Our new friend stayed until we’d finished breakfast and fed him the bacon rind, then made its way home to its owners.

After we’d eaten, we spent a while picking brambles on the waters’ edge. We filled a big ice cream tub, and later in the evening I turned our hard work into a rather delicious crumble. Nam nam! Later, we took a drive into Gjermundshavn for some groceries, then decided to take our wee boat across the fjord to Rosendal. We potentially set the bar a little high for our 6-horsepower-beast… It took 50 minutes and sounded like a hairdryer the whole way! It was a lovely journey, though, and we even spotted a pod of dolphins! When we arrived we had kaffe og kaker in a gorgeous bakery (Pedar Baker) before having a wander round the other 4 shops on the main street and deciding to head back home for a Hansa or two. I drove the boat some of the way home and gave myself a fright by crossing the wake of one of the ‘fast ferries’ that run between islands – it was much bigger than I expected and I hit it at full speed. I screamed and M laughed!

When we got home we sat outside and listened to the radio for a while, before M disappeared inside and came back with my new sparkely diamond ring and the Big Question! We decided the best way to celebrate would be with a can of beer in the sauna, swiftly followed by jumping into the sea from the end of the marina – although only I was brave enough to do that! We had M’s big cod from yesterday for tea, breadcrumbed with mashed potatoes and peas; it was the best ‘fish supper’ I’ve ever tasted!

Going to bed with excited butterflies in my tummy, a new diamond on my finger and a sets of happy parents back home getting stuck into the celebratory wine (they swear they wouldn’t have been opening it anyway)!

10/09/2014

A year on, and we are now happily living in Norway full time. We’re planning our wedding (317 days to go!) and I think all our guests have now received their Save the Date cards. My Dad did a fantastic job of designing them. I asked him to paint us a watercolour, but left him to choose the colours, layout and style… He incorporated a heron for us, as the cabin in which we spent our holiday in Gjermundshavn was populated with hundreds of them. The text was overlaid digitally, and the finished product was printed on thick card and sent out in a pearly golden envelope. The picture here doesn’t do it justice – it’s just an iPhone snap of the one we have stuck to our fridge – they are so beautiful in real life.

Will try to post a few more updates from the last couple of weeks…

K

~ Wedding Diets ~

In the past few weeks (since the countdown to mine and Mike’s big day dropped below the one-year mark – yippee!) I’ve been trying to be a bit healthier than usual in the hope that I can shift a few pounds – 27, to be precise – before next July. My fitness app, on which I track my running and any other activity I do, tells me that this is a sensible goal. I’ll be within my “healthy” BMI range for my height and the loss rate would be approximately half a pound a week, which is apparently very achievable. I am very lucky in my body shape in that I don’t actually carry weight in a specific area… When I gain a few pounds, it all goes on quite evenly. I have a flat tummy and my bum is quite a normal size. I’m just a bit larger all over than I would ideally like.

Thing is, most wedding magazines, website or articles have pictures like this in them:

Thin Bride

That girl is a total stunner, but I do rather wish that you saw a little more of this:

Plus Size Bride2

… Which also depicts a gorgeous girl in a pretty dress. The problem comes when we see so much of the former, that we think we can’t POSSIBLY get happily married until we’ve dieted ourselves away to something resembling the first picture.

When I bought my dress, from Perfect Bridal in Aberdeen, the lady in the shop was significantly larger than me. She still casually hinted (while helping me into my dress, in the world’s smallest changing room, me wearing nothing but a pair of knickers… Trying wedding dresses on isn’t half as romantic and exciting as I thought it would be) that I might like to lose some weight for my wedding. “Make sure you don’t lose more than two dress sizes, though”, she huffed, tugging me almost off my feet as she fasted up the back, “any more than that and it becomes very difficult to retain the style of the dress. You might have to buy a new one”.

I nodded and smiled – I had been planning to lose a little weight anyway – but now I think about it again, that was very insensitive.  The dress I ended up buying was a size 10, and fit like a glove. A close friend that just got married had a similar experience. She lost a whopping 4 stone (25.5 kilos) in under two years for her big day and in one of her later dress fittings, commented to her seamstress that she still wanted to smooth down her “jelly belly” a bit (I did tell her that she was very hard on herself throughout – she is like me and sometimes is a little over-focused on her flaws). Instead of a supportive comment, perhaps a note on how lovely she already looked, the seamstress just eyed her critically and queried “Have you tried exercising?”

I don’t know why it’s OK for people to ask how “the wedding diet” is going, even though you haven’t told them you are on one. I don’t know why it is just expected that you will spend the year before your wedding (when you are in a whirlwind of planning, phone calls, questions about bunting and other irrelevant-at-any-other-time items, seating-plans, family politics and a-million-and-one other attention-seeking details) starving yourself for one day. I don’t know why more people don’t say: “well, he must have loved you exactly how you are to propose to you, so maybe there are more important things to worry about”.

I totally understand how many women want to be the best version of themselves for that one day. To be a princess for the day, to put on that dress and feel like a trillion dollars, to look make their husband-to-be’s mouth fall open as they walk up the aisle. I understand that most people hope to have photographs taken that they will look at again and again, perhaps display in their house, and pass onto their children. Even I want to lose weight for my wedding – I just want other people to stop assuming I do!

No-one at your wedding would ever look at you on your big day and think, “she’d look lovely if only she’d lost a few pounds”. And if they do? Well, they probably don’t deserve to share that special day with you.

I’m going to continue running my 5Ks, not because I enjoy it but because it makes me feel healthy. I will continue to try and avoid too many sweet treats. But the next person that asks me, “Should you be eating that? You’ve got a wedding dress to fit into!” will get the sharp end of a fork in their eye.

I’m 5′ 8″. At the moment I weigh 167 lb. I’ll maybe do a monthly update here of how I’m getting on. My goal of 140 lb is still a long way away yet. I might stop before I get there (remembering the shop assistant’s warning); I might go further than that if I want to. But I will not let it be the be-all and end-all. I’m getting to marry the man of my dreams in 339 days! I get to spend the rest of my life with the guy that makes me belly-laugh, teaches me new things every day, has expanded my wardrobe to include walking boots, waterproof trousers and a sensible rucksack, and made me the happiest girl in the world when he asked me to be his wife.

K

~ Ceilidh Bands and Caterers ~

Spinning at the Music Hall in Aberdeen last year!

Spinning at the Music Hall in Aberdeen!

The wedding planning has begun in earnest this week. After a old colleague of mine became engaged last weekend (pause for an excited squeal!) I realised I really had to get on with planning mine and Mike’s big day.

My first port of call was the butcher who provided a hog roast for my friend Anna’s wedding back in May. It was easily the best hog roast I’d ever eaten, and the pig itself was outdoor-reared which is something that matters to me. That was an easy one to book – although I did baulk at the weight: your average pig weighs 55kg and we only have 50 guests! I am assured that the weight relates to the whole animal rather than the weight of the edible meat – we won’t have to get through a kilo of pork each!

Next stop was the Finzean Farm Shop, a really sweet restaurant close to our venue. I have asked them whether they can provide some scrummy side dishes to go with our pig – salads, breads and maybe a quiche or two for anyone who isn’t keen on the idea of pork. Hopefully they get back to me soon; they look like a great option, as they serve really good quality, local produce.

Finally on the food front, I’ve been thinking of cake plans. My Mum is a fantastic cake-baker and icer, and she has kindly offered to make ours. Her and Dad’s cake was made by my Grandma, so I’m happy to carry on the tradition! On top of that, Dad is an artist (a really good one – click here to see!) and has agreed to hand-paint our cake with food paint. I’m hoping to use some sort of flower design, which we can also add some real, fresh flowers to. I thought the idea was quite unique, but it turns out that it’s really not! There are loads of lovely designs floating about on the internet…

The next thing to organise is music for the night. If we needed any confirmation at all that planning a wedding needs to be started early, this was it. Our first choice was Clachan Yell, a ceilidh band that Mike and I have seen several times. Their music is great and their frontman is fantastic. Sadly, weekends in July fill up fast (even 12 months in advance!) and we were the 2nd couple to enquire about our date. The first enquirers seem to have gone a bit quiet, apparently, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that they’ve found another band, or moved their wedding date.

I opened it up to my Facebook friends to recommend ceilidh bands, and we got three more to try – the first of which was also booked. Eeek! Luckily there are plenty of bands to choose from in the Aberdeenshire area, most of which have YouTube videos up so you can hear their style. I’ve got queries out with Iron Broo, Hip Flask and Big Shoogle just now.

For those unsure, a ceilidh is a traditional Scottish dance event – usually saved for weddings and other special occasions – with organised dances that most Scottish kids learn in school. The dances are really energetic and can get a bit wild: they are so much fun! It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the moves, because a good ceilidh band will usually have a ‘caller’, someone who shouts out what you should be doing next. I just can’t wait to ceilidh in my wedding dress… It’ll be such a challenge!

That’s all for the planning this week I think. Our next job is to organise a bar and serving staff… And after that, we’ll be onto the invites. There seems to be an awful lot to do! If any of you are organising your own wedding just now, leave me a comment and let me know how you’re getting on!

K

~ Wedding Hairstyles ~

A quick post this morning about hair. I have super thick, frizzy hair that needs a lot of work. This means that I’m quite specific about the kind of hairstyle I want for my big day, and am probably giving it more priority than most brides! I need an updo as there’s going to be a lot of dancing at our wedding and if I leave my hair down, I’ll look like Monica in that episode of Friends when they go to the Caribbean…!

I’ve been pinning on Pinterest and a few designs have caught my eye. My requirements are:

  • I want it to look loose and natural, but it mustn’t come down (even with lots of Scottish dancing!)
  • It must be fully off my face at the front: the hair most likely to frizz up and leave me with a halo of out-of-control flicky bits is all around my forehead!
  • The bun at the back must be central, like in the last picture. I had a side-bun for Anna’s wedding last month and after enduring a day of one hellishly tickly ear (due to heavy hairspraying and more than 35 bobby pins), I have decided I don’t want to put up with that on my wedding day!
  • The bun must also be quite high off my neck – the back of my dress is very detailed and I want to make the most of it.
  • I would like loads of wildflowers woven in.

Most of the images I’ve posted above fill my requirements, but I especially love the second picture – if the hairdresser can do that (while adding lots of flowers), I’ll be a happy lady!

With just less than a year to go until the big day, I think I’ll only be able to keep my fringe for one more haircut before I start growing it out. It’s a shame as I do really like it (even if that’s only because I think it looks a bit like Zooey Deschanel’s when it’s styled) but I always think braids work best without lots of different lengths at the front.

I’ve got a wedding to go to at the end of August so I’ll have my fringe trimmed once more for that, then start the delightful job of growing it past that awkward stage where it just looks bizarre. Butterfly clips. Lots of butterfly clips.

K

~ One Year Today… ~

… I’ll be getting ready to walk down the aisle to marry Mike… Eeeek! I’m so excited, I thought I’d do a post about our wedding plans so far.

The Venue: I have a really compact family: my mum and dad, one aunt and myself. By contrast, Mike seems to be related to half of Aberdeen. Still, we’ve decided to have quite a small wedding – around 50 people. We will marry in Scotland – despite loving living in Norway, Mike’s more elderly relatives simply won’t be able to come over here: some of them don’t even have passports!

Inside the hall - imagine it without the chairs and with lots of fairylights!

Inside the hall – imagine it with lots of fairylights, candles and a traditional Scottish band on the stage! 

Neither of us wanted to get married in a hotel, but a lot of the alternatives (barns, marquees) are quite big: no use for us. A friend mentioned looking at village halls so I started to research halls in Aberdeenshire and Moray, and the last time Mike and I were back in Aberdeen we took a tour round eight of the best.

Perhaps a little formal for us - I plan on filling all available surfaces with wildflowers!

Perhaps a little formal for us – I plan on filling all available surfaces with wildflowers.   (Check out those lovely tartan curtains!)

The first one we saw we actually liked a lot – that was Victory Hall in Aboyne. The only downside for me was that there was limited outdoor space, as I’m crossing my fingers for good weather so we can have the ceremony outside! The next five were fairly awful – a bit smelly, scruffy and with that hideous strip lighting you get in community sports halls. By this point we were starting to get a bit disillusioned! Then we saw the seventh venue – Glenlivet Village Hall. I totally fell in love. The downside was the distance from Aberdeen, where most of our guests will be travelling from. Still, we were convinced we could work round it, and we nearly cancelled our viewing of the eighth venue! Luckily we didn’t, because it was absolutely perfect.

The surrounding countryside of the Finzean Estate.

The surrounding countryside of the Finzean Estate. Finzean is Gaelic (pronounced “Fing-an”) and means The Fair Place. Photo courtesy of Jane Cragie.

 

Finzean Hall, a pine-lined, tartan-curtained, very Scottish village hall close to Aberdeen and surrounded by fields. Exactly what I’d been dreaming of! It wasn’t expensive to book, and any money we pay will go back into the community. The pictures I’ve added to this post just don’t do it justice, it is so pretty.

The Rest: Think country wedding. Informal wildflowers everywhere. A touch of tartan (Mike will be wearing a kilt of course), a ceilidh band and dancing into the night. Fairy lights, candles, lace and champagne. Lots of laughing, singing and fun. An outside ceremony on the grass if we can, gazebos set up to drink bubbles in the shade. My three best friends as my bridesmaids – Anna, Anna and Heather – and Mike’s best man sharing a hip flask of whiskey with Grandpa. Photos in the surrounding fields, a relaxed atmosphere and a day with our loved ones that we’ll remember forever.

My dress? Well, that’s a secret until the big day.

K