It’s the final part of my wedding posts, guys. I’m sure you all have mixed emotions about that. So on to the reception…
As I was about to walk down the aisle, I could see my friends – especially Jess (who’d introduced Andrew and I about 11 years previously!) and Ned smiling at me and giving me the thumbs up. It was really calming to see them just before I walked do the aisle.
Then the organist started playing the Bridal Chorus by Wagner, and it was time to start walking down the aisle.
I’ve put this post off, as it feels almost too epic to write. But it’s time, guys. I’ve had to break the days down into smaller sections, because otherwise it’s just too epic. I cannot be concise here. Sorrynotsorry. So here I’ve just talked about the getting ready part of the day. Settle in, we could be here for a while.
Our wedding was on 29th August this year, and we decided to get married in the church in the grounds of my old school and then have the reception at my parents’ house, in a marquee in their garden.
The week running up to the wedding itself did not get off to a good start.
Readers, I married him. Yep, the wedding has been and gone. Now that I’m a Mrs and wedding planning is a thing of the past, I will have lots more time to blog. About, err, the wedding. I’ll try to mix them up so my blog doesn’t become too wedding-tastic, but expect to see more content in general from now on *party popper emoji*.
At the ripe old age of 32, I have been on a lot of hen dos. I’ve learned the can-can, how to make bunting and fascinators, Flashdance. I’ve been rollerskating, abseiling and shooting. And I’ve eaten more afternoon teas than you can shake a stick at.
What I mean to say is that I am fairly well versed in hen dos (and don’ts), and have been lucky enough to attend some fantastic ones. So unfortunately for my long-suffering bridesmaids, I had a fairly narrow vision of what I wanted for my hen dos. There was a massive list, in fact. Here were some of the criteria (I think my bridesmaids may have PTSD now):
There is a lot of rubbish surrounding weddings, and as soon as you mention the word “wedding” people turn into utter maniacs (me included).
The person who was probably the most keen for me to get married was my five-year-old niece, Immy. In fact, a week before I got engaged she told me like a wise owl (with glittery face paint on), “When you and Furry Face get married, I am going to be your bridesmaid.” Continue reading
And after a massive hiatus, I am back. My feet have barely touched the floor recently and all my friends have developed a nasty eye roll every time I mention how busy I am. I’ll say to you lot what I say to them: I am sorry and I’ll try to be better.
What has been taking up my time? Well, weddings. Specifically ours (mine and Andrew’s, not yours and mine – weird). It’s about 130 days until we say “I do” and we have been in the midst of invitation sending and finalising vendors recently.
I am finding it hard to believe that I am getting married this year. People keep saying time is going to fly this year with the planning, and I totally believe them. But also the idea that I will be walking down that aisle, saying those vows, becoming someone’s wife this year – it feels bonkers and amazing at the same time.
I hate keeping secrets of my own. I can keep other people’s secrets fine – the amount of pregnancies I’ve kept secret in 2014 is testament to that. Oh, that sounds wrong. I mean I’ve known friends are pregnant before they’ve ‘announced’ it and have been sworn to secrecy. I digress.
What I mean is I have trouble keeping secrets of my own, as I just want to blurt things out. I always want to tell people about the presents I’ve bought for them right away, because I am so excited to see their reactions. The month of December is torture for me, guys.
So now I have the ultimate secret: my wedding dress. I’ve ordered it. Eek! And my mum (who patiently accompanied me to the shops in my hunt for The Dress) and bridesmaids are the only people I am going to show. And I now have to keep the secret from nine months – and to have to keep it from Andrew is torture, because I normally tell him everything.
Basically, planning a wedding at a venue that doesn’t normally host events is a mammoth task. I know a lot about the following things: marquee linings, generators, luxury mobile toilets and catering kitchens. I didn’t want to know anything about any of these.
There have been fun parts too. Afternoon tea with my bridesmaids and my mum and mum-in-law-to-be, wedding dress shopping and Pinteresting the hell out of everything to name but a few.
I am in desperate need of a holiday – today I almost cried when my alarm went off at 6.30am heralding the allotted hour for my fitness bootcamp class. I am so tired I fear that if I blink for too long I might slip into a deep sleep. I feel like words have dried up on my keyboard and my brain is flatlining – I am spent.
So my mind has turned to dreaming of our honeymoon. Andrew and I have incurable wanderlust. It’s what first bonded us – our first conversation in the pub was all the places we want to travel to (turns out they were all the same countries). We travelled non-stop for eight months when we first got together, but that was eight years ago now. Since then we’ve idly discussed our honeymoon, but now we can start the dreaming in earnest.
And at the moment it is just dreaming. We don’t need to book it just yet – our wedding is almost exactly a year away, so we don’t need to look at prices yet. We can just look at pictures and pretend six-star hotels are part of our every day lives.
So, join me why don’t you? Here’s a list of my top five honeymoon destinations:
I’ve never been to Indonesia, but would absolutely love to go with Bali on the top of my list. Beautiful beaches, temples to explore and excellent surfing are just a few of the reasons I’d love to go. We want an active yet relaxing honeymoon, so this seems perfect.
This hotel in particular just looks amazing. Each of the pool villas has it’s own, err, pool plus a view of the Indian Ocean. They are constructed from natural materials including wood and lava stone (oooh!) and the interiors are sleek and contemporary while also looking cosy.
I know it’s ecologically dubious to go to these overwater bungalows, but man do they scream honeymoon or what? Maldives is a bit of a honeymoon cliché , but for good reason: crystal clear waters, white-sand beaches and blazing hot sunshine.
The diving is also meant to be great in the Maldives, which would tick off our “active” spec. The rest of the time I think I’d be quite happy to laze around the private pool or in the overwater hammock.
Costa Rica is at the very top of my list of places I want to go. Everyone I know who has been there has raved about it with such fervour it’s like they’re paid commission by the tourist board. It has everything: rainforests, beaches, surfing, culture. It’s basically my ideal honeymoon destination. Andrew’s brother is in fact there right now on his honeymoon, so we’re worried about ~copying~, but hey ho!
This resort is apparently the nicest in Costa Rica. It seems a shame to go somewhere like Costa Rica and stay in an American-style resort – it’s not “us” at all, but this place does seem to tick a lot of boxes with the luxury. They also have loads of activities including paddle boarding, zip lining, volcano hiking plus an amazing stargazing experience – we are total stargazers. Maybe we could stay here for a while (a month?!) and then get some more local flavour by going elsewhere as well…?
Slightly closer to home (which is good, as it means shorter travel time and no jet lag) is Positano in Italy. I’ve always loved the sound of the Almafi Coast anyway, but watching The Trip has really brought my desire to go to the fore. It looks incredible – the food, the weather, the scenery! Perfection!
This is meant to be the best hotel in Positano, according to Condé Nast Traveller (and who am I to argue with them?). This soaking tub looks pretty honeymoon perfect to me.
OK, so this is totally over budget. If you’re into this kind of thing (I’m not at all), William and Kate spent their honeymoon here. To say it’s isolated is an understatement. You have to get a private helicopter here. But once you’re there…? WOW. Just, well, just look at these photos. I feel a bit like crying.
The thing that really sung to me though was that this resort is based on a Robinson and Crusoe type scenario. The villas are made from naturally-fallen woods of the takamaka, rosewood and ylang ylang tree. Andrew has always dreamed of living on a deserted island – this would be his dream with plenty of luxury for me. The mile-long island is easy to get around – you’re given mountain bikes and an electric buggy. And the food is meant to be insane! There is a menu, but you can also go off piste. The chef will make whatever you want. And it’s only €1,690 per night to stay. BARGAIN!
I got engaged a month ago today to my amazing best friend-boyfriend hybrid, Andrew. Here’s his tiny little face:
A quick overview: We’ve known each other for 10 years, and have been together for just over nine years now. We met in our home town when we graduated from our respective universities and were left thinking “Now what?” A mutual friend, Jess, introduced us and we quickly became really good friends. Andrew, Jess and I hung out together all summer, almost every day. I have never laughed so much in my life. Then in November Jess moved away with her family and Andrew and I started going out a few months later. About a month after going out we made the mental decision to go travelling together for eight months together. It was a make or break situation for us, and sometimes it was both. Ha! I guess the rest is kind of obvious. Andrew liked it so took eight or so years to put a ring on it. He is not a decisive character.
So now we’re planning a wedding… I have no intentions of turning The Z Factor into a wedding blog, but I will pop up updates as and when I think something is interesting (note: most of wedding planning is really dull).
A month down the line and what have we got locked down? Well, I picked my bridesmaids right away as I’ve known for a good while who I wanted to hold my hand through this process. Here they are:
Amy lived with Andrew when we first moved to London, and we quickly all became excellent friends. We went on an amazing trip to visit friends in Berlin once, which must be one of my favourite trips ever. Amy is very organised and she also helped Andrew organise his proposal.
Jo (here on the left) is Andrew’s little sister. Although it is customary to ask your future sister-in-laws to be bridesmaids, my decision to have Jo wasn’t governed by this. Over the years we’ve spent a lot of time together at family get-togethers, Christmases and even Glastonbury. She’s already been my pseudo sister for years.
Josie and I met when I joined her school in sixth form. We got the train together to and from school every day and had all of our free periods together. Since then we have had many adventures together – and even more nights out. She now lives in Florida with her husband, so will be rocking an amazing tan at the wedding. Pass me the fake tan…
I actually went to secondary school with Phoebe, but she was a couple of years below her so although I knew her we weren’t really friends. However, when I got together with Andrew he was friends with her and I quickly stole her as my own pal too. As with all the bridesmaids, she’s really important to both Andrew and I, and it felt totally like she should be a key part of our day together.
My endlessly entertaining niece, Immy. She’s five at the moment, will be six when we get married. She was one on the most tricky of negotiators who campaigned to Andrew for him to propose, such was her eagerness to be a bridesmaid. Perhaps more excited than me about the wedding, she already has big plans for her dress (big and white, apparently) and is putting in requests for shoes. She’s such a massive character and I know she’ll keep all our guests entertained more than I will on the day!
We’re also having three page boys, my three nephews.
Archie – Head page boy
He’ll be eight when we get married, and is a really lovely, funny and sensible little guy. We’re going to give him some little responsibilities so he feels really involved in the day. Maybe like giving a speech… Haha. Just kidding A Bear!
Henry & Theo
My Californian nephews! Henry will be almost two when we get married, and Theo will be four. They might not have any big responsibilities as they’re still very young but wow will they be cute. I can’t wait for them to spend the day with their cousins as part of our bridal team. I hope they have lots of fun. (Theo at the moment thinks he’s going to be an actual page – a knight in training – as he’s obsessed with knights. He’s going to be disappointed)
So I thought I’d tell you guys a bit of news from my life that doesn’t entail eating burgers the size of my head; I got engaged on Saturday. Yeah, that’s right – someone asked me to be his wife. Shall I tell you the story? Oh alright then.
I thought I was meeting Andrew and our close friend Amy for lunch on Saturday. Andrew was going to the gym so I said I’d meet him there. “How late with you be?” I asked, knowing that he is permanently late. “Not late at all,” he told me.
So I met Amy (pictured below) for lunch. Thirty minutes later Andrew hadn’t appeared. I moaned to Amy.
As soon as I finished my food Amy said, “So Andrew isn’t coming for lunch but he asked me to give you this” and she produced an envelope with his writing on. “Um, what’s going on?” I said to her, feeling panicked and a bit sick. Amy shrugged as she watched me open the envelope. Inside it said…
I looked at Amy who was armed with my first clue: find a dog, preferably a sausage dog and text him a photo of it. I flew out onto Upper Street in the search for a dog. The first dog I saw was this guy:
His baffled owners let me take a photo of him, which I sent to Andrew. The next clue arrived:
This took me to a beauty salon next to the Breakfast Club in Camden Passage. When I got there (Amy dropped me off and waved goodbye) they told me I was there for a manicure. And some bubbles… Andrew had booked it all for me.
The ladies who worked in the salon were VERY excited. “He’s going to propose!” they screamed when I told them the story. “I don’t think so,” I said.
I had my nails done – unfortunately one of my nails broke last week (Andrew was so cross and now I know why!) so it looks crap but the rest are lovely.
I sent this picture to Andrew and then I got another clue:
He was panicking a bit as my nails took longer than he thought (even if they are stubby guys!). I got to Covent Garden and got this message:
I got to the blowdry bar and they were ready for me, and gave me a beautiful blowdry. They also were convinced Andrew was getting me ready for a proposal after I told them the story. “I’m not sure,” I said.
I send Andrew a pic of my blowdry:
And got another clue:
I got home and a dress was laid out for me with this note on it:
When I lifted the dress up there was a present under there. It was this book:
We’ve been listening to the audio book of Wind in the Willows as we fall asleep recently.
I sent him a photo of the book and then the final clue arrived:
This took some working out. Kenneth Brannagh is who reads the book on our audio book, where as the author is called Kenneth Grahame. I googled where he lived between 1901 and 1908 and it was Phillimore Place in Kensington. Andrew’s surname is Phillimore. I hopped on a tube across London…
And trotted through the streets. As I got to the corner of Phillimore Place I saw Andrew, and we smiled at each other but then he ducked down. I rounded the corner and he was down on one knee with a ring in his hand. I immediately started to cry!
He explained he had brought me to Phillimore Place to ask me if I would be a Phillimore and marry him. I said yes, of course!
The ring fit perfectly and was my absolute dream engagement ring – I couldn’t believe he knew me so well. It turned out Amy had gone ring shopping with him back in Easter when I was at a friend’s hen do. Sneaky sneaky!
Andrew had then booked us a meal at Beast in Marylebone, so we jumped in a black cab there. We called our parents and siblings and drank champagne and ate LOADS of food.
Then he had booked us a hotel room, so we got in another cab to Dean Street in Soho where he’d got us the penthouse suite at Soho Hotel.
We had cocktails in the bar and then fell asleep in a massive amazing bed. I want that bed!
In the morning I woke up to this:
We had champagne on the balcony and then he’d booked for us to go to a surprise brunch, which turned out to be at Chiltern Firehouse! The brunch was amazing, but I’ll post that another time.
We then travelled home where Andrew had arranged for some of our friends to come over a celebrate. It was absolutely amazing! I kept telling people “Things like this don’t happen to me!” And I still can’t believe it did – it feels like a wonderful dream.
I can’t wait to marry this amazing man and be Mrs Zoë Phillimore!
This is a terrible photo of us just after he’d proposed! He looks a bit stunned and I look crazed. Haha.
I owe you an apology. Yeah, you. I know you’ve been anxiously refreshing The Z Factor, hoping for a new post. And I’ve let you down. I’ve also let myself down. The run up to Christmas and then Christmas itself was really busy, and I neglected write blog posts in favour of alcohol, cheese and friends. But now I am back to share the spoils of my fun and also to wish you a very happy new year.
Here’s what I got up to while AWOL…
I was Christmas shopping and then wrapping presents. I had to do it mega early this year as I wasn’t seeing my family. They were off to LA and I was off to Andrew’s folks’, so we exchanged presents in early December. These are some of my gifts to my lovely family…
Then my family came to visit. This is my niece trying to get Andrew to concede a game of “Sleeping Lions”. Little does she know that Andrew is very competitive, even against five-year-old little girls.
Mid-December marked the nuptials of some of Andrew and mine’s nearest and dearest friends. It was a brilliant wedding and the perfect way to kick off the festive season.
This is Andrew and a couple of his besties at said wedding.
These are some of life’s good guys, right here.
Then is was Christmas, which meant it was high time…
To make our flat cosy.
Eventually we retreated home.
And saw Andrew’s family. We played board games and ate aforementioned cheese (did I mention the truffle?).
We saw our home friends and ate a huge burger at The Flying Pig.
Went to the soft launch of House of Ho. (OK food, terrible service)
We kicked off the new year with another hangover.
Looking forward to the year ahead very much – hope you guys are too.