Image: One Love Photo


I have expanded this blog into a website that deals with similar themes (Balance, Beauty, Balls!), but addresses life beyond wedding planning. Click HERE to check it out. See you soon!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Becca & Tim's Wonderful Welly Wedding

I'm baaaack! I just wanted to check in and feature another fabulous and fun wedding for those who are in need of a little inspiration. What I love about the couple featured in today's interview is that while they are serious about their values (as evident in their wedding-related choices), they don't take themselves too seriously. (The bridal party wore wellies. 'Nuff said.) Introducing Becca and Tim's creative and fun Welly Wedding...

I got married to my amazing husband Tim on the 14th August. We got married in Cirencester, which in Gloustershire in the UK. The venue is an organic farm, so about 95% of everything we ate drank, sat on or looked at was sourced entirely ethically, organically and mostly right there on the farm! (

Tim and I met on a free Christian dating site, ( and, after our first date lasted 3 days and despite living almost four hours apart, we got engaged four months later! Tim described himself on his profile as a 'tea drinking hippie' so when we started thinking about weddings I imagined him feeling most content in a field with a cup of tea in his hand, and laughing, a lot.

We did NOT want a traditional wedding- we tried to avoid as many boring and unnecessary parts as we could. For a start, I bought some vintage style wallpaper and handmade as much as possible. The invitations were this amazing paper in a triangle sewed with blue raffia that opened into a square with the details on. The place cards and napkins matched, and I handmade all the bouquets in the same paper. The other flowers on the tables were picked that morning on the farm. We decorated the room the day before the wedding with swags of white organza, fairy lights and masses of ivy, all of which I bought second hand on ebay.

We did away with a wedding cake altogether, and instead asked for a big tower of organic apples that everyone could take away with them! We took my laptop and made our own playlist for the evening, and some of our friends kindly bought their lights and instruments to play for us as well. During the food, we played music from our favourite sci fi films and tv programmes in the background which provided some interesting conversations! We also put some brain teaser questions into each wine glass to keep the conversation moving. No cars, favours or anything else either, and we even asked guests to bring their invitations with them and made a clothes line so they could write their messages and then peg them up!! 

Although we kept the dress code simple- we hired no suits and my two bridesmaids chose their own, unmatching dresses, one thing I did NOT go second hand on was my outfit. My dress was from Dolly Couture, and my shoes from Irregular Choice, and my head wear from a shop on ebay!

Our day was full to the brim of laughter. Despite being 28 and 29, we are not serious people. Our 50 guests laughed all day. We added many surprises to the day, including welcoming the guests with tea and cakes, then taking them up to the stone circle ceremony site on the back of a tractor on a hay wagon. The cermony was amazing because it was written entirely by me!

Something we DID do was get married legally the previous day, so on the day we could use any words and get married BY whoever we wanted. (We had to do this because in the UK you are not allowed to get married outside at all, and you cannot have any religious content unless in a church). As it was, we included some lovely christian content, and some very 'us' extras, like honouring the wind by releasing balloons, fire by lighting candles with both our dads etc. AND best of all, one of my bestest and oldest friends performed the ceremony for us. OH, and everyone wore wellies, it was so fun!!

As Neil, the person leading, said 'you may now kiss the bride' the heavens opened and a long and loud thunder storm ensued!! We all were directed by the farmer to run to a small shed and our lovely photographer, Kay, ( (who was a tad bemused by us all day I think), took some funny and candid shots! By the time the tractor was able to rumble us back down to the farm, we were ready for more dry photo's, including some using a frame which was soo effective, and then a lovely buffet, speeches, and dancing, then off we all went in our car we didn't hire to live happily ever after.

Oh, and our budget was £5,000. And none of our friends will ever forget it I bet!! 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What do you call your in-laws?


Today I'm really hoping to hear your stories and opinions on the issue of what to call your mother-in-law and father-in-law. (Mom & Dad? John & Jane? Mr. & Mrs. XYZ?)

After four years of calling mine by their first names (at their request), it's difficult to imagine myself calling them Mom and Dad now that I am married to their son. I mean, I already have a Mom & Dad. And maybe it's just because I've only been married for about 4 months now, but the difference between my biological, life-long caretakers vs. those of my husband is still a rather significant one. Brian's parents feel like in-laws; they don't feel like my parents. And I say that with the utmost respect; they are incredible parents to Brian and have always felt like a "good fit" for me in terms of family.

But the thing is, I *want to want* to refer to my in-laws as Mom & Dad, if that makes sense. Because that's how it's done in my family and in my culture. Plus, I really like the idea of fully embracing Brian's parents as a new addition to my own, so why not do it in a symbolic way, such as via their names?  Now, is calling your in-laws Mom & Dad the only way to "be family" with them? Not necessarily. But because of the reasons listed above, I *want* to feel comfortable enough to call them by such affectionate and intimate names.

I've asked Brian's parents what they'd like for me to call them. His mom, as expected, said it's up to me. His Dad (half jokingly?) said I could call him "Abba" which I found to be problematic because:

1. When I think of "Abba" the 1976 disco hit "Dancing Queen" plays in my head.
2. God is often referred to as "Abba" in the Bible and in Christian music I've heard throughout my life. And although Brian's dad is a Methodist minister with a rather large presence (both physically and in terms of personality), he ain't my Abba.

Needless to say, I'm still undecided.

I'm also beginning to think I've got this all backwards. I can't expect for my marriage with Brian to instantly make me feel differently about his family (even though I instantly felt differently about Brian and his family once we got engaged). And I can't expect a name change to facilitate a deeper emotional connection with his parents, either. Perhaps a name should reflect how I'm feeling now instead of how I want to feel (and probably will feel, eventually) in the future.

So maybe all of this just takes time. Maybe I don't have to make a decision this very second. Maybe I can grow into loving them even more than I do now, the same way that they will inevitably grow into becoming more parental to me as the years go by. Maybe after more Thanksgivings at Brian's aunt's house, and summer vacations with his parents, and weekends with his cousins, all of this will get easier. Maybe there's a way for this dilemma of mine to organically resolve on its own.

Then again, there is something to be said about the deliberate use of the terms Mom & Dad as an intention - the intention to be their new daughter, the intention to care for them in old age as I will my biological parents. I really dig this perspective, too.

Ack! I'm going in circles. Thoughts, anyone?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Ugly Bridesmaid Dress Phenomenon

So Oprah is looking for guests to be featured on a future episode called "The Ugliest Bridesmaid Dress Hall of Fame". (You can submit an application and photo here, if you are so bold.) And it got me thinking: 

Why are there so many ugly bridesmaid dresses in the world? What is it about weddings that moves brides to clothe their sisters, cousins, and best friends in such frightening frocks? Obviously, part of it is that all outfits look embarrassingly dated after a while. But there's more to it than that, otherwise bridesmaids dresses wouldn't have such a bad reputation.

I'm guessing that instead of viewing a bridesmaid dress as a piece of clothing, it is, by some brides, viewed as a piece of fabric whose primary purpose is to make a bunch of very different looking women match the tablecloths and boutonnieres. Not every bride is like this, of course - most of us want our favorite females on the planet to feel comfortable, confident, and attractive at our weddings.

And yet, the Ugly Bridesmaid Dress Phenomenon still persists. Why? Because we try to accomplish too much with the dress of choice. It must (1) look good on various body types and skin tones; (2) match our decor; and (3) look visually stunning in group photos. (Because uniforms are the only way to accomplish this, or so we've been told.) And as a result of asking so much from a single dress design, we fail to reach the simple goal of helping our bridesmaids to look pretty by their own standards.

This is why I'm personally a fan of having bridesmaids choose different styles, but with a common denominator of the bride's choice, like color, pattern, fabric, or accessories. Like this:


What I love about this image is that the look of the bridesmaids is so "effortlessly" pretty (or at least as "effortless" as a crew of models, a wardrobe team, and hair/ make-up people can be). A uniform is not needed to make these women look like they share a special bond -- their locked arms, big smiles, and loosely related outfits pretty much say it all. And that's all you really need for a fabulous bridal party photo.

So how about thinking outside of the box when selecting the dress? Skip the bridal salons and shop at stores whose clothes you (and your bridesmaids) generally like!

For example, I really like Mod Cloth. Below are some dresses from this online clothing store that I would have chosen for my bridesmaid had she not fallen for a little J.Crew number.

My Favorites:

Universally Flattering:

Casual & Charming:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Brooke & Grant's Young Love Wedding (And Brave Bride's poster child of the month!)

As promised in my last post, today's wedding is one that I'm featuring simply because I'm a fan of the bride and her blog, Playing Grown Up. (Fun fact: I stumbled upon her site back when I Googled "Grown Up Blog". At the time, I knew I was going to call my personal blog "How To Be A Grown-Up", and I wanted to see if anyone else had a similarly titled spot in the blogosphere. That's when I stumbled upon today's bride Brooke, her adorably sweet, fun, and wise little blog, as well as her darling etsy shop, which has some great homemade wedding goodies.)

Because the wedding world feels awfully judgmental at times, today's wedding is my poster child for the following message: A wedding is not about making a statement. (Um...even though I'm making a statement by posting this type of wedding today. Ahem.) ANYWAYZ...a wedding is about celebrating a major transition, a big love, and the start of an incredible journey. It's a party, people. And it's about keeping your opinions about style, the age of the marrying couple (today's couple were criticized for this issue), budget, and etiquette to yourself...because your only role in someone's wedding is to witness the incredible miracle happening in the lives of two good people. So in the name of non-judgment, I hope you'll join me in giving today's wedding a round of applause, simply because they are a great couple who deserves happiness. Mmm, k? :)

When Grant and I told people we were engaged we got one of two reactions. If people knew us well, they were so happy for us and not at all surprised - we had been dating since we were 15 and 16. On the other hand, people we didn't know that well always had the same reaction: "You're not old enough to get married!"

 We got engaged during my freshmen year of college and were married the summer after my first year and Grant's second year of college. So, in those critical people's defense, we were very, very young! Grant and I had been dating for four years when we got engaged, so with us, there were no doubts. However, we soon noticed that other people (usually older people we didn't even know) had such cynical, negative views of marriage. It really was very disheartening. Even the man at the post office when we went to mail out out invitations said, "Don't do it. You're too young." Whoa! Can you believe how cynical? Poor guy.

But that's part of being a brave bride. Doing what you know is right and perfect for you and your love no matter what others might say. We just tried to encourage those people who obviously had some negative views of marriage for some reason. And now that we're married, we can show how great marriage can be by real live example!

Now that we've been married for five years, we always encourage other young couples, but we also try to present them with all the practical stuff as well (health insurance, budgeting, families, etc.) We want other couples to have all the blessing and happiness we've had since we've been married!

Getting married that young, I had no choice but to be a brave bride! I think because none of my friends had gotten married yet, I had no preconceived notions about how anything at my wedding was supposed to be. So, I tried to plan and do everything with as much fun in mind as possible. We just wanted our wedding to be a big fun party with all our friends and family. (I even had my bachelorette party at one of those places where you can jump on all those blow-up slides. So fun!) From the big ole' polka dotted cake to the fun jazz band, we didn't worry about what anybody would think - we just knew everyone would have fun!

I really have no regrets about the wedding, but my advice to brides is always to have fun and don't take the day too seriously. I don't mean that in the way it sounds - I mean, it really is the most important decision of your life and should be taken very seriously. But what I mean is - if the flowers are out of whack, or the ribbons clash, or even if the cake slides off layer by layer onto the floor (God forbid!) you will get to go home being the new wife of your love - and that's what all this bride hullabaloo is all about!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Own Private Rebellion

I'm feeling rebellious. Toward everything- even my own blog.

What I'm specifically feeling rebellious about these days is what I call the graduate school approach to weddings and planning, which can sometimes create a cold and exhausting climate within many fellow progressive wedding blogs. I'm tired of all of the analysis. I have no energy to read other people's examination of weddings through a feminist lens. I have no desire to roll my eyes at those who want to feel like a pretty princess on their wedding day. I could care less if someone chose to spend $20k on her dream Vera gown.

I'll admit it: I want to fly away from the nest I've made here in the progressive wedding blog world. Because, you know, sometimes you're just tired of being home.

Also, I've found that it's quite tiring to have a thoughtful opinion about the wedding choices of anyone but myself.

(Is this crazy? Is there such a thing as feeling too tired to have a personal point of view? Does a renunciation of thoughtful opinions sound totally dumb?)

Okay, here's the thing: I want to experience people's weddings (whether in real life or when surfing the net) as they are intended to be experienced-- as a celebration, NOT as a subject of analysis for my grad school thesis. Not that American wedding culture isn't a fabulous topic for one's thesis. But as enlightening and liberating as this approach to weddings may be, it's burned me out.

What's happening inside of me is a marked shift-- the dissipation of my need to prove a point through the use of another person's wedding as “exhibit A” in my argument. I am in no mood to be smart. I'm in the mood to be joyful. And although these qualities are not necessarily mutually exclusive, sometimes they are - especially when I'm so busy being conscious and conscientious that I fail to be present.

For the next few weeks I plan to bask in the glow of other people's wedding bliss, but I'll do so because I know that what the couple is about to enter into is a big deal, NOT because the bride did her own hair and make-up, the groom is a feminist, or because there was a taco truck present. I mean, those are great and all, and obviously, I'm a fan. But those kinds of weddings are not anymore special than the fancy affairs that traditional couples host. (I guess you could say that I'm tired of all of the judgment that comes from both ends of the spectrum.)

So. For Thursday's post I'm going to be featuring a wedding that makes me happy simply because I happen to like the woman who got married. I like her blog. I'm happy for her. End of story.

One day soon I'll find myself getting tired of rebelling against the mission statement of my own blog, at which point I'll return to my original game plan of supporting independent-thinking brides. But for now, I need a break! So you'll find that the content of Brave Bride over the next few weeks will be rather light. Mmm, k?

(Note: If you are a smart wedding blogger who has written about your own planning experience, and/ or has spared a few moments to read about mine, trust me, this post was NOT directed toward you! You're still awesome in my book.)

photo credit 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Amy & Marcus' Fun Canadian BBQ Wedding

A few years ago I thought about moving to Canada. And maybe I should have. Because perhaps I would have met today's couple, Amy and Marcus, and scored a spot on their wedding guest list. Yup, that's how badly I wanted to attend this fun, festive, and joyful wedding! I mean, the bride wore yellow sunglasses and served pulled pork sandwiches- what more could you want? Check out this wedding to experience all the fun for yourself, while also getting some budget-friendly ideas to make your day memorable yet simple, and focused on LOVE. Take it away, Amy...

I grew up on a farm in a small town in Nova Scotia, Canada, and over the course of my life, my home and the land on which it stood held many valuable experiences and memories. For that reason, and its evident natural beauty, on top of our hill seemed like the most obvious place to hold our celebration.

And that’s exactly what we wanted from our wedding – a celebration that truly reflected who we are and our love for each other. We wanted the day to echo our happiness, and we wanted our guests to have fun and enjoy the moment with us.

We figured out what was important to us and that’s where we spent the majority of our budget; for us, that was location, people and food. Since we wanted to have the wedding at my parent’s property, we were going to have to get a tent. There are definitely some benefits and challenges to going this route. There’s a lot of flexibility – different tent styles, sizes and lay outs. However, we also needed things to put inside the tent – chairs, tables, linens, dishes, glasses and cutlery, dance floor, lights – these things all cost extra. It’s easy to rack up the cost when it comes to filling the tent. So, we looked at what we thought were extra frills we could do without. We opted out of the chair covers, our caterer supplied the cutlery, and we used plastic cups.

We are very laid back and fun loving people, so that was the kind of environment we wanted to create. What goes better with a backyard wedding than a backyard BBQ! We found Blazin’ Barlow, who shows up with his ‘BBQ truck of wonders’ early that morning to prepare the feast. Throughout the evening people could go up to the trailer and get potato salad, baked beans, garlic cheese bread, slow roasted pulled pork sandwiches, gourmet hamburgers and hotdogs with a WIDE variety of toppings. Everyone still talks about those pulled pork sandwiches – amazing. The menu and atmosphere made it easy to pull off paper plates and plastic utensils.

We often joked that our wedding was more like a circus. We had a canoe full of ice and beer, popcorn machine, and candy bar (as our favors). To save time cutting the cake, we went with cute and delicious cupcakes, which offered us the option of multiple flavors. Our center pieces were decorated tin buckets holding a bottle of Yellow Tail bubbly, and laminated copies of an article written about our farm in Canadian Geographic. In what some may call a bold move, we had our twoonie bar (all drinks were $2) open as soon as guests started to arrive, so that they could have a drink and mingle before the event got underway. When we were ready people lined up outside the chalk drawn aisle, gathered on the veranda, and felt free to move around and take pictures of the ceremony.

One thing I love – surprises! Most brides would probably say surprises on your wedding day are not really something you want. I went to a highly recommended local florist and told him how many bouquets and things we needed, and that I wanted them in yellow. After telling him some details of what we wanted our wedding to be like, I left the rest up to him. And on the day of the wedding, when a friend brought the flowers to my house, I really enjoyed the excitement of seeing them for the first time!

The guest list was definitely our biggest challenge. We decided early on that this was going to be our only wedding, and it was going to be a big one. But as our guest list climbed to 250, I began to wonder if we were out of control. In the end, we agreed, we wanted who we wanted there. And I accepted the fact that there will always be people you should have invited, or wish you could have.

Both Marcus and I are only children, and so friends mean a lot to us – which is probably why we had a decent size wedding party of ten. I wanted to buy the dresses for my bridesmaids, something they could wear again – a little black dress! J.Crew has a great wedding selection, and I got an amazing deal on their sales page for all of the girls’ dresses.

I can’t recommend online wedding shopping enough! My entire wedding attire was purchased online. I tried on a bunch of dresses around here, and all of them were beautiful – everyone looks stunning in a long fancy wedding gown. But none of them really felt like me. I had always loved Audrey Hepburn’s wedding dress in “Funny Face” and thought it would be the perfect style to wear to my backyard wedding. One of my bridesmaids is an online shopping Queen, and knowing that I was in the market for something different, sent me the link to the website Dolly Couture. I had a wedding dress, designed just for me, to my exact measurements, and delivered to my door in two months, for $700 – AND I avoided all those fittings! A lot of people thought I was crazy, ordering a wedding dress online without trying it on– but like they say, I just knew! Oddly enough, I always vowed never to get a strapless wedding dress, but I thought the tea length and yellow petticoat set it apart enough that I felt ok to go with the popular (and flattering!) strapless style.

Really what I love is shoes, so I needed a dress that would really rock a pair of yellow peep toe wedges! (P.S. Wedges are key for a wedding on grassy terrain.) I still love to wear those shoes!

Marcus is a high school phys. Ed teacher and coach. One of the best things we did was hire a few girls from his basketball team of the previous year. They were so helpful: running to the house to get more ice and mix for the bartenders, managing the popcorn machine, moving the gifts inside, making sure there was always toilet paper in the port-a-potties! We figured we weren’t paying for this big party and
then be too busy to enjoy it! We also hired a local cab company to shuttle guests home after the festivities shut down for the night – well worth it to know our loved ones were safe.

At 4:30am, after the band had left and people had slowly began to make their way home, my new husband and I turned off the lights in the tent, and headed back to our family’s cabin in the woods to spend our wedding night. The night really did go by in a flash, but I embraced every second of the amazing experience, shared with friends and family. The best word I can use to describe my wedding is FUN – pure enjoyment. 

My parents told me later that they often just shook their head when I told them about some of my ideas, but they were amazed at how it all came together. The biggest piece of advice I can give to all the brides out there – make the day a celebration of your love. Don’t get caught up in what other people want, or what other people think. If you’re true to yourself and stay focused on what’s important – your marariage – everything else is just details. A lot of people commented on how calm and laid back I was, and I think that having my wedding at my home made everything feel so comfortable. It was the personal touches that meant the most; the wooden sign my dad painted “Happily Ever After” – like the ones we used to make that said “Christmas Trees For Sale”; riding off in the little John Deer Gator dragging pots and pans behind it; and getting our wedding pictures taken in front of the barn I used to play in as a kid. It was simple but classy, large but intimate, and one hell of a good time!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I'm over at How To Be A Grown Up today (and every Wednesday). See you there!
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