Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Thank You List

So after all the planning, preparation, worry, hiccups and threat of our wedding turning into a big cowmuck sale, it was an absolutely perfect day, filled with fun love and happiness. (And stupid dancing.)

But none of it would have been possible without the help and support of so many people. So I want to dedicate this post to thanking them all. The whole day made me realised how very lucky we are to have such wonderful friends and family. (and neighbours it turned out!)

So brace yourself - it's a very long list. I fear this may turn into a Gwyneth Paltrow style Oscar acceptance speech.

First and foremost, my wonderful husband Paul for a) turning up on the day (haha!) and b) for being so very patient with my relentless planning and list-making during the build up. But mostly I have to thank him for, as always, being completely on my wavelength and sharing my dream of a wedding that was very 'us'. (And p.s - it's only been a month but I love being your wife.)

Mom and Rob for the use of their home, allowing us to trash the garden and generally disrupting their lives for several months before and also for a good while after.

Mom was a legend throughout, never once complaining when endless boxes of wedding gubbins arrived at her house and she didn't bat an eyelid when I asked her to help me bake a zillion cupcakes. And even now, over a month on, I am still cluttering her house with left over wedding paraphernalia. Soz Mom!

Rob deserves a special solo mention for generally being ace - he grew plants especially, ordered bales of hay, sorted out a Rolls Royce and drove to manchester and back to collect a load of fairy lights. Bless him.

My Mother-in-Law, Pauline, for her hairdressing skills, her conscientious practice sessions with bags of rollers, her support, her lovely reading and all her help in the days before. She didn't stop - and she must have spent hours cleaning the windows of the marquee, amongst other things!

Pauline's partner Lloyd. Our technical assistant and roadie. He supplied the sound systems that allowed DJ Dr Feelbad to blast out very loud cheesy pop music. His electrician skills also ensured that we didn't overload sockets and blow up Mom's house. Phew.

Aunty Dy and Uncle Michael for supplying many strings of fairy lights and making a mad dash up to IKEA the day before for some uplighters. Also thanks to them both for putting up with the 'dead animal' even though they are veggies.
Auntie Dy gets a solo mention for her brilliant reading in church, and for instigating the rousing rendition of the missing hymn back at the marquee.

Best Girls Jenny, Emma and Claire for all their love and support, not only during the wedding but for all the years I have known them. Claire came shopping with me to help me choose my dress. Jen secretly filmed the entire day and made a wonderful video for us to keep. And Emma made the bunting and took the most amazing photos - far better than any professional in my opinion. And of course they all gave me not just a hen do, but a hen extravaganza. I am truly blessed to have such fantastic mates.

Emma's partner Jonathan, and Sandra and Richard for helping the Best Girls put up the aforementioned bunting on the friday night, the moment they arrived in Muckley.

Best Men John and Chris for general best men-ness and a very emotional speech.

Josh for being a fantastic usher, for making everyone feel so very welcome and for his amazing rendition of 500 Miles.

My sister Helen and her fiance Paul for helping set up the marquee in the days before and for clearing up in the days after (while I just waltzed off to my wedding night and then my honeymoon).

Ross Pannell for his assistant chauffeuring of the Best Girls.

Ross 'Dr Feelbad' Teperek for being a brilliant (and patient) DJ.

Bernard over the road for his lending of his 'car park'.
The Kennedy Family for allowing us to use their church, providing some lovely lighting and crafting the amazing wedding gift that Mom and Rob gave us.
Bridget for ringing bells and fetching tippex.
All the other neighbours for getting the party going.

Rob's mate George for closing down his garden centre for most of the day so that he could chauffeur me about in his Rolls Royce.

Reverend Deakin for stepping in after our original vicar became ill. (even though his nerves got the better of him!)

And absolutely every single one of our guests for t heir kindness, generosity, love and support.

Also, a big thank you to all the suppliers:

Shropshire Marquees and The Whole Hog. A fantastic venue and delicious food. Doug was a legend.

Tipples Mobile Bar . Brilliant blokes, excellent service and a very pub-like bar!

Vintage teacups from Tea and Roses

Flowers by Ebenezers

And finally, thank you to everyone who read my blog and followed by journey. I hope I inspired you or at least provided a bit of a giggle.

All that remains is for me to think of a way to somehow string this blog out...I've loved having somewhere to witter and ramble and offload. I will miss it! But hey, who says this is the end? After all, I've just got married and a new chapter in my life has started.

So maybe this isn't the end. Maybe it's just the beginning...

Watch this space!
Lots of love, the new Mrs Shipley x

Monday, 13 June 2011

Our Wedding Day. Part 3 - the celebrations

Mr and Mrs Shipley. Wow that feels weird. (In a nice way!)

With confetti in our hair and big fat grins all over our faces, we were chauffeured down the lane to the marquee and all our guests. As we stepped out of the car, we stopped for a minute to just breathe, take it all in and pick dried petals out of my cleavage. Then hand in hand, we walked into the marquee.

The first thing I saw was the pig – the hog roast looked amazing. And then our friends and family, who were sipping champagne and pimms, all cheered when they saw us. And thankfully, the barman was straight over to us with champers (I think he knew how much I needed one. The way I'd flung him my final list of things to do just before I put my dress on might have given him a clue.)

Sorry vegetarians - but it was amazing!

After a bit of mingling/knocking back fizz, the hog was ready to be carved, so everyone took their seats. But before we all got stuck in, the inimitable Aunty Dy stood up to say grace, announce that she was a vegetarian and hoped we all enjoyed eating the pig, (I felt so guilty that the only veggies were also pretty much our only relatives. But I did make her a veggie curry to make up for the presence of a 'dead animal' as she put it.) Then quite brilliantly, she started a rousing chorus of All Things Bright and Beautiful - the hymn that was missed off at the end of the service. For the first time that day, the tent roof was raised. I suspect they heard us in Telford.

The vegetarian's missed out in my opinion, the hog was delicious. After months of calorie counting I was thrilled to get stuck into two great big, hot porky baps, in the most unladylike manner possible.

Next up came the speeches, which left the whole marquee awash with salty floods. Mom amazed me by standing up to say a few words – bless her she’d given me away so was being both mother and father of the bride. And it was such a lovely speech, I was so proud of her. She then presented us with a lucky horseshoe which was very sweet.

(Top tip for everyone, Lancome Waterproof Mascara holds up very well indeed.)

Then my husband (squeal!) stood up and reduced me to tears again with some lovely words. I was wringing out my napkin at this point. Then, not one to keep quiet, I stood up to say a few words/be over emotional/weepy in front of everyone in the marquee. And finally the Best Man did his bit.

And this was priceless. We all knew the speeches would be a tearful, emotional moment and there really wasn't a dry eye in the house. But no-one expected the best man himself to crack - he must have been very nervous because as he reached his last sentence, he filled up and cried. I was later told this completely threw the whole ‘who will cry first sweepstake’ into complete disarray.

My husband reduces me to tears for the first time in our marriage. In a good way. (ps doesn't the bunting look nice! well done Emma!)

An emotional mother daughter moment

The speeches descend into a group blubfest as Mom presents us with a lucky horseshoe

All a bit soggy. Thank heavens for Lancome

Just before he wept, the best man wheeled out some very embarrassing childhood pictures of the groom.

A view of all our guests while they were all still behaving themselves

Another one of my Blue Peter moments, I made this guest book for everyone to sign, and people wrote some beautiful messages. But my favourite entry was car-park Bernard, who literally just wrote 'Bernard Dale'. A man of few words. Brilliant.

After the food and the speeches and the weeping and the toasts, the party rapidly went into full swing. And for once, it wasn’t just my mates who were in party animal mode.

We’d invited Mom’s neighbours, partly out of politeness because we had plonked a very loud party tent in the middle of their quiet hamlet, but mainly to thank many of them for their help. Bernard’s car park, Bridget’s bell-ringing (and unexpected tippex dash) and of course the Kennedy’s family church had all been vital parts of the day.

What we hadn’t expected or anticipated was just how much they were all up for a party. But then I guess it’s all very quiet in the country. The last bit of excitement they had was when a shire horse fell over and couldn’t get back up.

As they all started arrived, it took me a minute or two to recognise them – I only ever see them in their countryside outfits of bodywarmers and wellies. Chris next door looked completely different – when ever we see her she is usually either straddling a horse or is up to her armpits in it’s faeces. And here she was, looking rather glam and dancing to Lady GaGa.

Bernard had made an effort and was wearing a suit – he’d even dusted off the wood shavings and left his forklift at home. He normally goes to bed at 8 o'clock and he stayed up well past 10. Possibly because he was transfixed by some of the ladies dancing. Or my mate Kirsty randomly doing press ups. Or Bridget the bell ringer giving it some wellie to a Kylie track. Not sure which.

Then there was a bloke who I have only ever seen once before and lives in a nearby cottage - he was flinging himself around to Queen, trying to force pregnant Best Girl Claire to jump up and down with him while loudly demanding the DJ played ABBA.

But the real wild cards were Sally and Bryan from the farm over the road. Sally danced solidly all night. She literally didn’t stop. She was like a cross between an excited 18 year old at her first festival and an over-enthusiastic aerobics teacher. And she was determined to get everyone dancing – I kept spotting her wrenching people’s arms out of their sockets as she dragged them to the dance floor. To be fair most people were up and dancing, but there were a few stragglers who were quite happy to sit with their drinks and watch everyone else behave like loons, including the Best Man’s dad. When she asked him up for the third time, he had to tell her he couldn’t because he had a wooden leg.

Meanwhile, her husband, Bryan-who-keeps-kestrals-hawks-and-owls, and taken on the characteristics of the birds of prey that he keeps, and had a watchful eye on the pork pie cake. Suddenly and without warning, he pounced on the pie and proceeded to work his way through it, giving daggers to anyone who came near it. It was his pie now.

Elsewhere in the tent, our friends were making their own entertainment. Knowing how much my mates love fancy dress, I had brought a selection of comedy masks and fake moustaches for people to mess about with after they’d had a few. I thought they’d make funny photos. And I was right.

I looked around the room and Alan Sugar was having a dance, Simon Cowell was behind the bar, (then later showed off his Russian dancing skills) and Prince William was doing something unspeakable to Kate Middleton. Everyone else looked like a drunk chuckle brother. Cue hen-do flashbacks.

Just take a look at some of the pictures. Brace yourself though:

Ah look at my lovely sophisticated friends, quietly sipping tea. Ah no my mistake, the teacups are full of wine...

cutting the cake pie

I'd been desperate to eat those cakes since I made them!

The Best Girls show off their corsages

Our first dance was Fly me to the Moon by Frank. Followed by that song from the film Team America (the one that's got really rude lyrics - luckily everyone thought it was some sort of Neil Diamond ballad) and Better Together, Jack Johnson

And now, I must apologise because the photos go a bit downhill from now on. I blame the jaegermeister shots. And the tequila.

Simon Cowell makes himself useful behind the bar. Kirsty considers a shave.

Bell-ringer and tippex runner Bridget with party animal neighbour Sally (watch out world!)

Rob gets stuck in to his evening fish and chips

Guests start attaching fake'taches

Ross the DJ, stagename Dr Feelbad, feels up my husband

It was always inevitable that I would hitch my skirt up for some dancing and high kicks, here I am tucking it in my knickers

Remember on the hen do we all learned the moves to hit me baby one more time? well this was our moment to show off our new skills. Badly.

A modern day Pans People no? Note the straws behind ears for microphones

Cowell again

Weird Dame Edna

The groom spots an opportunity when Bryan's not looking and gets stuck into the pie

Simon Cowell my husband shows off his russion dancing skills

Josh performs 500 miles (with a little help)

Will and Kate

A slightly less royal Will and Kate

Barman 1 - "what the crikey are they all doing?"
Barman 2 - "I have no idea, just keep smiling and dishing out the tequila"

Remember how this table looked when I set it up? Look at it now. Like a racoons teaparty, why did I bother?!?

At around 1am, after a rousing chorus of Carly Simon’s Nobody Does it Better from the remaining drunken strugglers, we reluctantly pulled the plug on the Dr Feelbad’s laptop. The barmen were packing up, the bride and groom were exhausted and the drunks looked like they needed to get to bed.

My husband had booked us a lovely mews suite at a hotel pub in Much Wenlock called The Gaskell, and that’s where we sloped off to. I felt terrible though, the marquee was trashed, and I’d left a trail of mess through Mom and Rob’s house. Every room had a pile of my wedding paraphernalia scattered through it. But bless Mom, she didn’t bat an eyelid, just chauffered us to our wedding night telling us she’d sort it all out.

So off we stumbled - tired but deliriously happy. My dress looked like an old dish rag, the flowers had fallen from my hair and the groom had a hole in the bum of his trousers.

It was safe to say that our wedding day had been a roaring success.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Our Wedding Day. Part 2 - the service

St Mary's Church, very early in the morning on our wedding day

Isn't it gorgeous?

I loved the archway flowers

All too soon it was time to head up to the church. I was slightly late, but hey, that's a good thing isn't it? Isn't it the Bride's prerogative to make her man wait?

In the Rolls Royce that Mom and my Step-dad had so kindly organised, I started feeling very, very nervous. It was a kind of nervous I'd never felt before, a mixture of nice butterflies and excitement with a bit of "I hope I don't trip up" and "oh my word Im actually getting married" nerves thrown in for good measure. George the driver told me an inappropriate joke, cos he could see I was probably about to have a meltdown on his back seat, but it didn't help. (Thanks anyway though George.)

I was shaking like a leaf as Mom walked me up the path to the church, and just as we reached the doorway the biggest bumble bee on the planet decided to bury himself in my bouquet. There followed 30 seconds of me frantically batting my posy around like Tim Henman on the brink of a matchpoint, which took my mind off things. The next thing I knew, Cecil the organist was blasting out 'Here Comes The Bride.' This was it.

In hindsight, I think Rev Deakin was more nervous than me. Look at his face, poor bloke.

Just as I thought I'd got a grip, Mom whispered something lovely in my ear, and when I saw all our wonderful friends and loved ones filling the church, the walk down the aisle became a full on battle between me and my tear ducts. It was all I could do not to launch into a full-blown blubber and blow a massive snot bubble.

And the first look at my hubby-to-be was just a perfect moment – he looked so handsome and I could tell he was as nervous as I was. When I stood next to him he told me I looked beautiful, and I melted a tiny bit.Sniffle.

I love this picture. Doesn't he look handsome with his smiley, crinkly eyes?

And of course, as was completely expected, and to follow the sitcom-esque theme of this very blog, there were a few hitches. I knew our Reverend was nervous, but actually it turned out he was very, very nervous.

He started well with a lovely sermon about listening to each other and being there for each other, which bizarrely segued into a story about a murderer asking God to listen and she ended up dead. We all mentally moved swiftly on.

Then my MILTB did a lovely reading, followed by the uber-confident, Aunty Dy, who marched to the front and very loudly announced who she was before launching into her reading, which quite brilliantly broke the air of nerves and tension.

Here's Aunty Dy with the multi-coloured hair. She's hilarious, and certainly not backwards in coming forwards, as they say.

Then it came to the vows. And as the best man placed the rings on the Reverend’s open bible, we all watched in horror as, in slow motion, one of them completely slid off the book and rolled onto the floor.

“Ah.” Said the Reverend.

Luckily, there was no grating, or holes in the floor, but I did have to lift my skirts to find it. Thank goodness I shaved my legs.

There it goes. I honestly thought it was going to be a "has anyone got a spare ring?" moment.

Ring retrieved, we continued, and before we knew it, the Reverend was pronouncing us husband and wife. Cue more tears.

But the funniest moment came with the signing of the registers. With it being a tiny church there was no vestry or room to sneak off into to do the signing, so we went to the back of the church – in clear view of the guests – to put pen to paper.

The Reverend pointed where we were to sign and with moist eyes, we signed our names, on three different pieces of paper.

“Ah.” Said the Rev.

Alarm bells rang. He’d only got us to sign in the wrong place.

“I wonder if anyone has any tippex?” mumbled the Rev.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I attend a wedding I always make sure my handbag contains lippy, compact, tissues and some correction fluid.

The church warden and bell ringer, Bridget, came over to see what was going on, and the Reverend told her what he’d done, and in a flash, she was gone. I have never seen a bell ringer move so quickly. She returned, 10 minutes later, looking somewhat flushed and out of breath, brandishing the tippex. Bless her, she’d run to the Kennedy family's big house, just around the corner, where thankfully there was a small supply of tippex, and back again. I think she had a minor asthma attack on the way.

The ill-fated signing of our names. Good grief.

After this small kerfuffle and re-signing, we were relieved to put the pen down and return to the service. But the Rev said “Ah. No time for the last hymn let's walk you down the aisle and leave it there.”

I think he just wanted to get the heck out of there before he made any more major errors. So Cecil launched into the wedding march and off we went!

The weather had been a mix of sunshine and showers all day, and as we came out of the church, the rain came down. So we had to wait for the shower to pass - but apparently it's lucky for a bride to be rained on. Not so lucky, however, if the bride has wispy hair that turns into an affro at the merest hint of moisture. A best man did dash over with a brolly - but it was a child's one, in the shape of a goldfish. Fins and a tail and everything. Actually, it might well have been Nemo. I thought it might clash with my dress so I politely declined. (I had bought some very pretty matching brollies in case it rained. But where were they? Goodness knows. So much for my efficient list making.)

A quick kiss behind my bouquet while waiting for the rain to stop.

But one minute later, the sun broke through and we all dashed outside so that Best Girl Emma could get busy with her camera. This resulted in a rather lovely light – dark skies and bright sunshine are the perfect lighting for wedding photos it turned out.

Oh my goodness we are Mr and Mrs Shipley!

Oh bless.

I look like I'm storming off here! Think I was keen to get some pictures taken before the heavens opened.

So happy!

By this point we were both completely dazed about the fact we were now married, bewildered by the attention and photos, and we were in desperate need of a glass of champers.

But above all, we were both incredibly happy and excited. Despite the blips and a Reverend who made Rowan Atkinson in the film Four Weddings look slick, it was all lovely. And somehow so very us.

Apparently, as the Reverend made a rather hasty exit (possibly cos he was scared I'd get all bridezilla and smack him around the head with my bouquet) he said to a guest, "I really fluffed that didn’t I?”. Poor bloke. I bet he's had sleepless nights ever since. I know he has another wedding to do in July, he must be worried sick.

And now, enough of my witterings for a moment, I'm going to indulge myself in plastering this post with lots of gratuitous wedding shots. Note how windswept I look - there was quite a breeze in between the sunshine and showers.

Doesn't my Mom look lovely!

My lot - from left, brother and Usher Josh, my husband and I (squeal!), Mom and Rob, my sister Helen and her fiance Paul.

My husband's lot - from left, Uncle Michael, cousin's hubby Matt with little Thomas, my husband and I (squeal!), the fabulous Aunty Dy, cousin Madelaine and little Eilidh, my Mother in Law (and hairdresser!) Pauline and her partner Lloyd. I think Aunty Dy instructed everyone to shout SEX as this photo was taken. Like I say, not backward in coming forward.

The boys - Best Man John, my hubby, Bets Man Chris and Usher and brother Josh. I don't know why they are kissing. Josh is an affectionate lad though.

Me and my wonderful Best Girls.

Ahhh I'm filling up looking at these again!

So, with all the photos done, we were really looking forward to relaxing a little into the celebrations.

“Is the bar open?” Uncle Michael hollered. He’d read my mind.

Just look at that view!