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7th Time Lucky

My partner Matt proposed to me on 9th December 2018 on a surprise trip to Berlin. He had organised for both sets of our parents to be there for the weekend and on our last day, he got down on one knee in front of a MASSIVE Christmas tree and asked me to be his wife. I was obviously elated, we had been together for 6 years and being a wedding planner myself, I was super excited to get going with the organisation (as if I hadn’t been planning it from the moment we met).

Matt went to school in Spain as a child, and I had always wanted a destination wedding, so we quickly decided on Malaga, packed our bags, and headed to Spain in search of our venue. It didn’t take us long to choose a gorgeous boutique hotel in the outskirts of a small town called Nerja. It was in the hills overlooking avocado plantations and filled with beautiful citrus fruit and orange blossom. It was everything we wanted and more, so we excitedly booked our date for 2020 and I got to work planning our dream Spanish fiesta.

Now clearly, the title gives things away a bit here and everything did not go as we originally planned. Over the course of 18 months, we moved our wedding across seven different dates and two different countries, changing our guest list from 120 to only 11. My mum was sadly diagnosed with cancer and 7 months later passed away, COVID-19 hit us, and then when we’d changed all of our plans and embraced an intimate UK wedding, lockdown 2.0 came into action. I’m a very positive person, but it really did feel like the universe was trying to tell us something and ultimately, we had to make a decision – carry on trying or give up.

We were hit with a bit of good news when weddings were permitted to go ahead again in December, and our local registry office contacted us with a last-minute cancellation. We decided to go for it, scaled back, and on the 19th December, we were officially married. We are planning a big garden party to celebrate in 2021, but for now, we wanted to finish this rubbish year with a bit of happiness.

There was some big ups and downs in our planning journey, and seeing it from the perspective of a bride has ultimately shaped the way I now plan weddings for others. So, I thought I would share with you all, a few of the lessons I learned from planning, postponing, and cancelling our wedding seven times.

1. Your fairy-tale is whatever you want it to be.

We were dealt some pretty hard blows, and at times I felt like I’d lost sight of why we were doing this in the first place. It is easy to get sucked into the small details, especially the superficial ones. The most important thing to understand, is how do you want to feel on your wedding day?

Our dream was 100s of our family and friends, dancing the night away in the sun-soaked hills of Spain. The reality we were facing was a cold and dark day in December, at the local registry office with 11 guests. Looking at the two side by side, it’s easy to see how we’d be disappointed, however, we wanted our guests to feel happy and we wanted to feel loved and in either scenario those two things would happen. In Malaga or Norwich, we would be surrounded by people who love and care for us, and what could be more magical than that?

It can be really difficult to shift your mindset to a smaller wedding, for some couples they won’t want to and that’s absolutely fine – it is after all, your day. Just be sure that whatever you do, you’re comfortable with the decisions you’re making and don’t feel pressured into anything.

2. Trust and respect your gut

This must be one of the most common pieces of advice given out to anybody, but that is why it has earned a spot here. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t, so you absolutely must speak up. Whether that means to your wedding planner, florist, or family, everybody involved in your wedding wants you to be happy so it is important that when you’re not, you say so.

We made the decision to postpone our wedding from July 2020 to the following year when we hoped that COVID-19 would be a distant memory. I ignored that niggling feeling in the bottom of my stomach and went full steam ahead with our new plans. It was not until all the arrangements were made, and we had some time to reflect that we started to let the doubts in. At this point, the decision to cancel Spain altogether seemed overwhelming and very difficult to unpick. If we had had listened to our gut instincts and given ourselves some time to process those feelings, we would have saved time, money and a lot of stress.

3. Do not let expectations overtake your day

One of the first things I do with couples is get them to write down all their expectations for their day. It allows me to see immediately where I need to focus more energy, and what elements will have more impact for the couple. However, there is always one expectation that requires a shift in attitude and that is ‘I want it to be perfect’.

That doesn’t mean you won’t have a perfect day, far from it, it’s about understanding what ‘perfect’ means to you. Our wedding day expectations changed every time our plans changed, and that was totally fine - Emotions are different, plans shift and aligning your expectations to these is crucial to enjoying your day. There were some things we were prepared to compromise on, like having a band or DJ and others that we weren’t, like having a free bar for our guests. Once you establish what your non-negotiables are, you can align your expectations to them.

4. If you’re feeling stressed, ask for help

I firmly believe wedding planning should be fun, and that’s the cornerstone of my business so I should have been having the best time of my life planning my own wedding, right? Well, that’s not exactly how I felt. I was in my element the first couple of times, I had the vision clear in my head and knew exactly what I wanted – the colours, the textures, even the fragrances. However, moving from a Spanish summer wedding to an English winter wedding totally threw me.

I love designing wedding plans, and I’ve done winter weddings before but I just couldn’t get my inspiration right. I was struggling with colours and couldn’t pick florals that were in keeping with my style or time of year. So I asked for help. I spoke to my wonderful stylist and florist and asked them to send me some ideas. Before you know it I had moodboards and inspiration coming out of my ears and not only did I fall in love with our new wedding plans, but I no longer felt overwhelmed by the prospect of planning it.

Our day was so special to us, we had a selection of important people there to enjoy the day with us and we felt overwhelmed with love all day long. What more could we have asked for?

Just remember, however your day happens, it will be amazing. Lo x

Published in Modern Love Weddings - January 2021


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