Jennie & Andy: Save The Dates, Garden Prowess… And Another Move!

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A few days ago we passed the one year mark! It feels like the countdown is definitely on now. Thinking this time next year we’ll be married is a very exciting, but very strange thought.

Since my last post I’ve been busy moving house, shifting myself and a couple of really heavy suitcases half way around the world to live in Hong Kong. We decided a year was just too long to do long distance so now here I am, back in Asia. I arrived on the 6th August, our wedding date next year (yay!), and we celebrated one year to go. So now we’re experiencing the other sort of long distance wedding planning; we’re in the same place, but on the other side of the world from where we plan to get married! We’ll be back in England at the start of July next year, so we’ll have a good six weeks of solid wedding prep time, as well as doing as much as we can from over here over the next 11 months. I just hope its enough!

Before I left England I got stuck into a few of the wedding projects that will take a little bit longer to complete. Serious wedding gardening has begun in our venue – my Mum’s garden. The most exciting aspect of this is deciding what plants and flowers we want to have growing this time next summer. I’m hoping for a really colourful garden, with blooms and bursts of colour everywhere. We’re planning to decorate the tables in the marquee with flowers grown from the garden too, so we’re hunting for just the right plants to grow. We’re planning quite a relaxed look for the tables; think jam jars and mis-matched vases filled with wild flowers like cornflowers, sweet peas, daisies, and scabiosa, sprays of foliage, and big heads of hydrangeas. Mum and I have started making the metres and metres of bunting that will decorate the garden too.

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Our inspiration…

The less glamorous part of the process has seen us pulling yards and yards of brambles out of hedges (which, as the scars on my legs will tell you, is not a fun task), and attempting to lift some very dry, very unhelpful turf. It turns out that the lawn needs to be levelled before we can put the marquee up. Prices to get a landscape gardener in to do the job were astronomical, so we decided we’d do it ourselves. Lets just say this one is still a work in progress….

Andy came back to England for a couple of weeks at the start of July, and while he was back made our save the dates. As we’re inviting quite a few friends from Hong Kong, and Andy’s family will all be travelling down to Surrey from Yorkshire, we wanted to give everyone as much notice as possible. The inspiration came from a very simple save the date, where the couple were turned into very basic line drawing cartoons. Since both of us are hopeless at drawing, we utilised the talents of Nikki, my brother’s girlfriend and one of my bridesmaid’s, and she did an absolutely fantastic job.

Making our save the dates

Once she’d designed the pictures of Andy and I, I sent the images to the English Stamp Company who turned the pictures into stamps. If you’re looking for personalisted stamps I’d really recommend the English Stamp Company. The stamps are all set into wood and print really well. The service is great too, they helped me resize the files so they were exactly how they needed them, and the stamps arrived within 3 days of ordering. I used the design tool on their website to make a stamp with the wording for the front and back of the cards, playing around with fonts, sizes and styles until we hit on the design we liked.

The brown craft paper postcards proved surprisingly tricky to track down. To start with I couldn’t find ones in the right shade of brown, or the right weight of paper. I found some cards I really loved with rounded corners, but they were from Thailand, and the postage alone was about half the money we’d set aside for the entire cards. We hit on a much cheaper option buying square edged cards online along with a nifty little corner cutter. Poor Andy painstakingly cut off all the corners giving every card lovely rounded edges! Sorry Andy….!

It took us an evening and a couple of bottles of red wine to make all the cards. We made a production line of stamping, and Nikki hand finished the flower crown on each card with a little bit of metallic gold paint. A few little red hearts, and a bit of sparkly gold tape later, and we had a stack of save the dates ready for the post.

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The finished article!

So there we are, venue starting to look the part, and guests with the date in their diaries! If any of the green fingered amongst you have any flower ideas, or tips for getting the garden looking its wedding best, I’d love to hear them!

Jennie x

Jennie & Andy: Six Months In

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If I tell you a secret, you’ve got to promise not to laugh, ok? The other night I had my first wedding nightmare…. Over a year to go until the big day, and yet here I am, waking up in the middle of the night, completely traumatised by the ridiculous worries in my head.

I dreamt the bridesmaids and myself were over two hours late to the service. I hate being late at the best of times. Being late on my wedding day, and not just bride’s prerogative ‘late’ had me in a pure panic. Then, just as we were leaving the house, one of my bridesmaids flatly refused to wear her dress. She waited until the very last minute, then as we were about to leave the house, just stood there in her own dress, refusing to come to the church unless she could wear it. Finally we got lost on the way to the church. That’s the church that’s a 5-minute walk away from the house I grew up in by the way. All completely ridiculous, all completely silly, but all so stressful!

Please tell me this is normal?!

It recently struck me after this rather sleepless night, that we’ve been planning this little wedding of ours for six months now. I can’t believe some couples manage to plan entire weddings in that time – It seems to have gone so fast! Sometimes I get my years all mixed up. It feels like something we talk about so much and spend so much time on must be happening soon. Sometimes I feel like I wish we were getting married this August. I’m so excited I want it all to hurry up. Other times I’m completely terrified how fast the time is going, and I have no idea how we’ll get everything done in time.

All the magazines.

All the magazines.

So, six months into wedding planning, what have I learnt?

  1. I love weddings. I didn’t realise just how much fun this whole wedding planning thing would be, or how much I’d love flicking through wedding magazines, or reading wedding blogs. I love getting lost in the details, and reading why couples plan their days the way they do.
  2. The excitement of having a shiny ring on your finger takes a really long time to wear off. I still catch myself sneaking a little look at my hand, wiggling it around to catch the sun.
  3. When people tell you wedding things get booked up quickly, they aren’t kidding. When we set out on this little planning adventure with a good 18 months to go, I thought we’d have our pick of suppliers. Sadly not true. I’ve had to talk myself into accepting we just won’t have our dream wedding transport (if anyone out there has a Tuk Tuk we can hire I will love you forever and shower you in wedding cake!!), and saying goodbye to the cutest little ice cream van you ever did see was a real wrench.
  4. Similarly to above, so many of the really unique wedding suppliers are location specific. Always, always check the location and area of operation before getting excited about independent suppliers. Vintage food trucks, for example, may have wheels, but it turns out they can’t travel far. If you live in the South West and a retro fish and chip van is your dream you’ll be ok. Similarly if you want a funky fusion California inspired food truck serving Asian cuisine you’d best live somewhere inside the M25.
  5. I should really take ‘proficient in Excel’ off my CV. The wedding budget spreadsheet has taught me that all those things I used to know about Excel disappeared about the same time as my high school boyfriend. I sit and add the figures up on my calculator and then type them into the relevant places in Excel. I get the impression that’s not quite the way you’re supposed to do it….
  6. You can’t have it all. Pinterest is (once again) completely to blame for this one. So many different ideas, so many incredible things. If we were to throw together everything that’s caught my eye though, our wedding would end up looking like a badly planned school fete. Narrowing it down and deciding on priorities is important. I’m still working on this one, holding on to a few more ideas than we’ll realistically be able to use, and planning far more DIY projects than I’ll ever realistically have time to complete, but its just so hard to choose when there’s just so much beautiful inspiration out there.
  7. A wedding at home isn’t necessarily a cheaper option. You’re not paying for a venue as such, but you are paying separately for a whole lot of other things that would be otherwise thrown in with the venue cost. I’m looking at you, porta-loos and generators!
  8. It’s ok if every detail of a wedding is not completely ‘unique’. I know I’m not the first person to have a cake table, or use mismatched china. So what if I want to buy into the ever so slightly overdone trend for paper pom poms. Hundreds or thousands of people will probably pick the same first dance as us, but it doesn’t matter. Its taken me most of these 6 months to realise it, but its not having never-seen-before details, but all of the things put together that will make our wedding different from every other wedding, make it special, make it our day.
  9. Finishing on a mushy one from me, but wedding planning has reminded me how well Andy and I work together. I guess this doesn’t really count as something I’ve learnt, as I probably won’t have agreed to marry him if this wasn’t already true, but making decisions and planning and organising together has really made me realise we’re a pretty darn good team, and that is a very nice feeling indeed.
  10. Finally, one from the groom’s perspective. Andy says the thing he’s learnt about wedding planning is that it just isn’t going to be possible to please everyone, so he’s learnt to take a step back and not try to. To not worry that not everyone will love our choice of food, or that whatever venue we’d have picked some guests would still have had to travel further than others. Try as we might we won’t be able to stock the bar with everyone’s first choice of drink, and not everyone will get our taste in music. He’s realised that really, that doesn’t matter, the most important thing to try and create the day we want. It’s our wedding day after all!

Bye bye Tuk Tuk. Bye bye pretty ice cream van...

Bye bye Tuk Tuk. Bye bye pretty ice cream van…

So brides-to-be, newly-weds and long term marrieds, that’s what I’ve learnt over the past six months of wedding planning. What can I expect from the next year?!

Jennie x

Paris & Joe: To Videographer or Not To Videographer?

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The past month has been seriously productive and we have now booked videographers and a band! We had many a deliberation on whether or not to have a videographer. The cons were the cost and that Joe thought our wedding would end up having more “paparazzi” than guests. (Not one to be dramatic, clearly.) I loved the idea of being able to re-live the day in movement rather than just through stills, and I also loved the thought of having some guest messages captured a few beers in when the party was in full swing. Many a friend told us that not having a videographer was their biggest regret but we still sat on the fence. It was so hard to find wedding videos that didn’t make me cringe – be it the music or the cheesy couple shots – so we actually only found two that we loved. We eventually bit the bullet and met with Ignite Films at a Café Nero and immediately hit it off, chatting about our jobs, relationship and wedding plans. Just like the photographer, we left the meeting without a doubt in our minds that these were the chaps for us. And I say chaps because there are two of them! Which is great because I will get a peek at Joe’s pre-wedding prep, which I already imagine will consist of booze, booze and more booze. God help the registrar.

We booked the band through Alive Network which I would completely recommend doing. Not only do you know instantly which bands are available on your date, you also get a handy quote based on your date and location so a quick search allows you to find something perfect for your budget. Plus, most of the bands do a video introducing themselves and the music that they play which lets you get a feel for who they are. After a week on Alive Network I think I have heard enough renditions of Mr Brightside to last a lifetime! But we finally whittled it down to Teenage Kicks – a three piece from Brighton who couldn’t have designed a better playlist for us if they tried. They provide a free DJ service between sets and learn your choice of first dance song so I am pretty pleased with our choice.

In general wedding planning news, I am realllllllllly struggling to choose a colour scheme. The mezzanine level where we will actually get married is simple and I have decided to have all white/cream with possibly a hint of gold. I’m picturing paper lanterns, festoon lighting and a beautiful floral arch built from all kinds of white and cream flowers – I recently found out that my front running flower, the anemone, wont be in season which I was super gutted about. But downstairs where all the good stuff happens I want a frenzy of colour with a proper party feel. It really boils down to two schemes – reds, oranges and pinks, or turquoises, purples and blues. I am feeling slightly more swayed toward the former because the flowers in those colours are just amazing, but I am sure this battle will rumble on for a good few months. I am already planning cream bridesmaid dresses so that I don’t have to commit to a colour scheme until the last minute – some good forward thinking if you ask me!

The perfect arch, and a gratuitous shot of our awesome venue.

The perfect arch, and a gratuitous shot of our awesome venue.

Spicy vs tropical brights?!

Spicy vs tropical brights?!

So there you have it, a few more things crossed off the list and I am starting to see what our wedding day will look like. Let me know if any of you also deliberated over a videographer and what decision you eventually came to. And any opinions on the colour scheme would be great too!

Paris x

His Room: The Inspiration

It’s been a little while since you had a post from me, and I imagine there are one or two of you who are wondering if we did ever find out the gender of The Bump…

Well the clue is in the title, folks- we did and we’re having a boy. Yee-ha! Ker-splat! Boom! Poohead! (Just practicing the boy lingo. Have I got it down??)

Even on the way to our scan we were undecided, Paul very much voting against finding out but saying it was my choice. A little more digging and he revealed he wanted a boy so much he was just a bit nervous he may feel some disappointment or even resentment if we found out it was a girl at this stage. I decided that if the sonographer had a clear view and was 100% sure we would ask the big question, but if the little tinker was playing up or crossing it’s legs we’d put it down to fate and wait til the big day.

Turns out the little tinker was playing up which meant a walk/dance around the hospital corridors for 20 minutes so that the sonographer could check and measure all the bits she needed to. But then curiosity got the better of me anyway (it was inevitable really), and I asked if she knew what it was, and she said she did, and we held our breath, and she revealed it was a boy, and Paul “Yessss-ed” like a small child who had just been told he could have McDonalds for tea.

In the immediate 24 hours that followed I was unsure whether I’d made the right call to find out. It felt surreal and amazing and I was very pleased with the outcome, but I also felt a bit like I’d let myself down somehow, like it was a diet I’d given up on after 2 days, or a secret I’d blabbed to someone when I really shouldn’t have. But now, with only three months to go and shopping underway I’m very, very pleased we know. And totally, utterly thrilled that we’re having a small male person.

So now thoughts turn to his room! I’ve been looking forward to this part massively, I have to say. Any excuse to partake in two of my favourite hobbies- interiors and shopping.

So here’s the room in its current dumping ground/empty space state.

IMG_1228 IMG_1229 IMG_1232 IMG_1233 You’ll see I’ve made some pretty important/random purchases so far… Paul was completely freaked out when I came home with the pack of nappies this weekend, but I’ve heard good things about Asda’s own brand and as I happened to be in one and we don’t usually shop there, I thought I may as well. (And at £4.50 for a pack of 70, why wouldn’t I?!) I would also like to point out that the huge piles/bags of clothes are a hand-me-down from a friend. I’m in the  process of going through what I want to keep as there’s enough newborn stuff for twenty babies there, let alone one, but it’s lovely to have that first month of clothes ticked off the list.

Anyway, enough justifying of the contents of the room and let’s look at the space instead. It’s a great sized room right next to ours, with magnolia walls and an oak laminate floor, as per the whole house when we bought it last year. I don’t really need to do anything to it… but then that wouldn’t be any fun, would it?

When I found out I was pregnant I started dreaming of a colourful, stylish, eclectic and ever-so-slightly boho nursery that would somehow work for either sex. A bland white/grey/beige unisex room featuring bunnies and/or Winnie the Pooh was never going to float my boat and I was keen to stay as far away from the typical ‘baby’ look as much as I could. I kept coming back to these two images from Pinterest, both featuring a darker, more masculine feature wall and then lots of softer accents.

Pinterest sources here and here

Pinterest sources here and here

Whilst I still absolutely adore both rooms, it’s only now with a tiny penis growing inside me that I realise they are probably more female-orientated, so I’ve taken myself back to the drawing board. For our boy I still want something colourful, stylish and eclectic, but I’m thinking I need to swap the ever-so-slightly boho feel for something with a more robust edge. The words strong, bold, happy, fun, modern keep popping up, and it’s probably also worth pointing out that I’m thinking more ‘little boy’s room’ than ‘baby boy’s room’. He’ll only be a baby for a short while after all… Here’s a little of what I’m thinking:

Collage2 nursery4Collage1Collage3 Collage4

Whilst on the surface they all appear to be pretty different, there is a definite coherency running through all of these awesome rooms; namely white or light walls, lots of quirky, typographic artwork, garlands and/or spots, and a kaleidoscope of pattern and bold colour. I’m ridiculously excited at the prospect of getting started and utterly bamboozled with where to begin (painting the walls is probably the first step), but looking forward to sharing the progress with you.

I’m sure I’ll be sharing sneak peeks of purchases and progress via my Instagram, so make sure you’re following me there if you don’t already. Otherwise, look out for a first reveal in approximately three months time when Stage One will be complete in readiness for a certain little dude’s arrival. I’m thinking there will almost certainly have to be a Stage Two and even Stage Three reveal once the room is in use and starts naturally evolving, but let’s get it baby ready at least.

To be continued… as they say.

Sama xx

Jennie & Andy: Finding The Perfect Photographer

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Today I want to introduce you to our very lovely wedding photographer – Rebecca!

Finding a photographer has been one of the trickier aspects of wedding planning so far. You see, the trouble is, Andy is not a man who likes having his photo taken, and he is not a man who does well with being told what to do. Even after over 6 years of me regularly forcing him to pose, I still sometimes have to resort to some serious rib tickling to get a smile out of him when the camera comes out. Having someone point a camera at him and try to tell him how to look or how to act brings out the old grumpy bugger in him!

I, however, am determined to get some nice pictures of us together on our wedding day! Nearly all photos of us are taken selfie-style, camera held out at arms length. Often they’re on the back of a motorbike, or we’re looking rather sweaty/dirty/sleep deprived. Not that I don’t love these pictures and the memories they represent, but just for once it would be nice to have a few proper pictures of us looking half way decent! Finding someone who we, but most importantly, Andy, got on with was the hardest part of finding a photographer.

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Images by Rebecca Wedding Photography

We were looking for someone who would take natural, happy, beautiful, wedding pictures. Someone not too formal, who would capture the atmosphere of the day. We’re not too interested in lots of heavily orchestrated group shots, so we wanted someone who would work a little more naturally. We started meeting with photographers on Skype and in person. I happily flicked my way through album after album of beautiful pictures, while Andy grilled them on the details. How long would they take to process the pictures? How do they make guests feel comfortable having their photo taken? Do they have a back up plan if they fell ill at the last minute? I wouldn’t have liked to be on the other side of his questioning!

We clicked with Rebecca as soon as we met her. She’s so friendly and easy to talk to. She had a huge array of beautiful albums and prints to show us, and you could tell as she talked through her work with us just how much enthusiasm she has for weddings and wedding photography. On top of this, she was the most organised of all the photographers we met, having her terms and conditions to talk through with us, ticking off all of Andy’s boxes. She even offers a mini pre wedding shoot as a standard part of her packages to get used to being with her and her camera.

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Images by Rebecca Wedding Photography

As you can see from all her stunning pictures, all her brides look radiant, not an awkward smile amongst them. Even more importantly, her grooms look relaxed and comfortable too! She’s got such an eye for the little details, and the happy moments. I love her soft lighting, vintage colours and dreamy shots. Her pictures tell a story, they bring out the feel of each wedding, and her pictures ooze love and happiness. Her shots capture the exact feel I’m hoping to create on our wedding day. Does that make sense?

I think what I like most about Rebecca though, is just how excited she is about weddings. Every time I opened an email from her I get even more excited about our wedding, and I can’t wait to see the images she captures from the day.

Jennie x

Paris & Joe: Sweating For The Wedding

Morning campers! Paris is back, and with a little post about what she’s doing to get fit for the wedding.  It sounds like she’s doing ruddy marvellously, I have to say. Long-term readers may remember my brief foray with the 5:2 diet during my wedding planning. (I say ‘brief’, I think I managed a whopping week and a half, or rather, 7 days of completely normal eating, 2.5 days of ‘fasting’ before I said ‘sod that’ and opened a bag of Maltesers.) I also heroically joined the gym about a year before the wedding date in a bid to shift that stubborn half a stone. Went, on average, 0.8 times a week and lost approximately nothing aside from a couple of hundred Great British Pounds. What I do have to say about weddings and weight loss- and I say this to brides at the boutique quite a lot- is that you do miraculously lose your appetite in the week running up to the wedding day. I don’t remember feeling particularly anxious or stressed, but I was busy, and when I’m busy I just naturally eat less. As such my tummy pouch was distinctly smaller come wedding day and I felt great.  HOWEVER, we all know that exercise is amazing for us regardless of weight loss and with the pounds falling of Paris too, I am a little bit in awe of her determination. But I’ll let Paris explain from here…

Paris&Joe

When I first met Joe I was a teeny tiny size 6 at 7stone 10lb and 5ft 4. Admittedly, I was also 18. Eight years of loved up bliss entailed many a McDonalds drive-thru and movie marathons fuelled by pizza and I unwittingly gained 3 stone. Following some pretty unflattering holiday photos I knew it was time to get a bit trimmer and managed to lose 10lb and was quite comfortable with my figure.

But ever since the first dress shopping experience I have been wondering about whether I should lose some weight for the wedding. I never really wanted to be that bride who was “sweating for the wedding”, not for any other reason than I think that healthy eating and exercise should be a long term lifestyle choice. Unfortunately, cheese, chocolate and cream (the clotted variety mostly!) often get in the way of that for me and it has been on my mind that maybe I should drop a few pounds to look my best on the big day. That, and the fact that every blimming wedding magazine includes “start fitness regime” in the countdown checklist. Talk about a hint.

So in a bid to encourage myself to do better I handed in my membership card to my local leisure centre and upgraded myself to a fancy pants Bannatynes membership. I hate to say it but sweating never felt so glamorous. And because my local Bannatynes is also one of their spa centres I am sure that all the “spa” signs I see on the way to the dreaded treadmill subliminally make me feel like I am actually heading for a massage. Whatever works eh?

I have also taken part in a week long 6am bootcamp in a further bid to tone the wobble. Such torturous exercises included running on shingle, squatting tyres and copious amounts of burpees. Never have I heard “arse to grass” shouted so much. Spending an hour in the morning getting suitably muddy and burning some serious calories actually made me feel great for the rest of the day and the weightloss was an added bonus.

In terms of food, I am now a proud member of Slimming World. If I am honest, I don’t mind a bit of exercise and it has always been food that I struggle with so I knew that some kind of slimming group would be necessary to stop my post gym Subway binges. So far, 5 weeks in, I love Slimming World and have never eaten so much pasta (or protein pancakes) in my life! Surely this cannot be a diet? 10lb down I am very much looking forward to continuing the wedding dress hunt as a slightly smaller bride to be!

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Ryan gets me through.

If any of you have any healthy eating tips or recipes please please post them – I need another 18 months worth of inspiration!

Paris x

Jennie & Andy: Food Glorious Food

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Wedding planning is cracking on at full pace at the moment, things are really starting to come together, and everything feels very exciting. The wedding spread sheet has more and more columns filled with deposits paid, and the big things are getting ticked off. We’ve sorted the marquee, furniture and toilets. We’ve settled on a colour scheme, and started chatting to florists. We’ve booked our photographer, and started trawling charity shops for crockery.

Currently standing right at the top of the wedding to do list is catering. How and what to feed people, who to get in to feed them, and just how much to pay for the whole shebang!  Whatever way we look at it, catering is going to take a massive chunk out of the budget, and the food and drink have always been high on our priority list, so we really want to get it right.

Things we want from our catering:

  • Really good food. We both love food and love to eat!
  • Lots of food. I hate people being hungry. If I’ve got friends around for dinner I’ll always massively over cook. We’re always working through the left overs for days, but I’d much rather we lived off left over pasta salad for weeks than anyone go hungry!
  • Something relaxed, a menu that will get people talking and sharing food. Think family style eating, sharing platters and nibbles.
  • Someone willing to cater their menus and packages.
  • Someone who will let us take control of some aspects of the menu, we’re still planning on getting friends and family to help with the puddings and cakes.

Things we don’t want:

  • Boring food. No yawns when guests see the menu.
  • Tiny portions (see above)
  • Formal dining, nothing that causes guests to break out in a cold sweat over which fork they should be using.
  • A really hefty bill…

Andy’s had his eyes on a hog roast from the very start. The thing is though, much as we want informal relaxed dining, I still want it to feel like a wedding. I still want to decorate tables, and standing around a gently turning pig and eating a pork sandwich- while normally right up there with my idea of heaven- doesn’t quite fit with the idea of ‘wedding’ in my head. We’re looking for a compromise. Something that will give us the feel and flavour of a hog roast, but that is a bit more suited to a sit down meal.

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So where are we at the moment? Well we think we’re about there…..! With Andy off in Hong Kong we went for a dual attack approach. I searched for what seemed like hours on Google bringing up every catering company in the South East. We’ve looked at everything from companies that will supply a pig and an oven, to companies that will do everything from canapés to after dinner truffles, and throw in a little silver service just to round off the day. From the very reasonable priced, to quotes coming in at a knee-trembling £100 a head (and that’s before you even think about evening food!!). From there over countless emails back and forth I narrowed it down to just a few options that could tailor their menu and their services. As ever, trying to find that delicate balance between what we want, and what we can afford! Last week I went out to Hong Kong to visit Andy (yay!), and talked through all the options over numerous bottles of wine, both coming to the same conclusion about the food and the catering company that felt right.

Wedding food ideas collage

We’re still finalising the menu, but we’ve found a company that seem very warm and friendly. They’re local, they’re flexible, and their sample menus sound like they might be exactly what we’re looking for. Watch this space!

Jennie x