Jennie & Andy: The Wedding

Hello Uttersons. Long time no see! Ahem…

I’m actually horrifIed at how long it has been since I last posted. Nearly a whole year. A YEAR!!! The shame. But let’s not dwell on that negativity. Change is a’coming. Good, exciting, positive change that is going to see things looking a little different around here. Behind the scenes, Utterly Wow has been undergoing a bit of a face lift and in a couple of weeks the new website will go live, with a new-look, integrated Utter Blog. I can’t promise weekly posts, but I will be blogging monthly. I’m not going to lie, I am SO looking forward to reconnecting again!

But for now, I left you all in the lurch regarding the beautiful Jennie’s wedding to Andy which took place last summer and was an absolute CORKER. Those who were following her wedding planning adventures will know how hard she worked and I can only apologise for making you wait this long to see the fruits of her labour.

From here on in, the words are by Jennie herself, and huge thank you to Rebecca Wedding Photography for letting me share her glorious images.



“The last few weeks before our wedding were packed with a seemingly endless list of crafts, tasks and booze runs. I’d love to say I got it all finished, but come the 6th August a significant amount of things on that list hadn’t been crossed off. I can honestly say that I didn’t miss a single one of those unfinished details on the day, even if they annoy me now!

I woke up on the morning of our wedding feeling astonishingly calm. The night before had been a frantic rush to finish getting everything ready. We had our rehearsal at the church arranged for 6pm, so we’d set half 5 as our cut off point where everything had to be done. We’d booked out the beer garden of the local pub, the plan being to eat, drink with the bridesmaids and say a romantic sunset goodbye to each other with Andy heading off to the bnb he’d be spending the night. Of course come 5.30 the flowers weren’t finished, we didn’t have a play list for the dance floor or exit music from the church, and Andy hadn’t even started to pack. The romantic, restful evening went out of the window, and we spent most of our last night as single people frantically trying to burn CDs, and dashing around the garden in the pitch black arranging tubs of flowers. Andy lost his phone, then his bnb keys (which didn’t resurface until one of our guests discovered them in the marquee the next day!), and it was nearly midnight when my Mum finally kicked him out the house.

ja_wedding_0019-2To wake up calm then, was a real surprise. Harriet our hair stylist arrived with her assistant Harriet (not confusing at all!) just after 6 and started getting to work on my maids. My maids did a very good job of not complaining all about the stupidly early start and seeing the girls have their hair braided, plaited and curled felt like the first real sign that the day was actually happening. While the first girls were having their hair done I finished off the wedding cake. Huge bridesmaids points go to Nikki who on the morning was armed with a hacksaw cutting up doweling rods to go in the cake. I think I was quite glad to have quite a few bits left to do, I think I’d have got nervous sitting around, but hanging signs on the gate, and fishing out knives for the cheeseboard kept me occupied until it was time to crack open the champagne.


I’d made bags up for my bridesmaids filled with mini bottles of prosecco or vodka, chocolates, slippers, and silky Chinese dressing gowns from the market near our flat in Hong Kong. They wore these to get ready, and I love the pictures of us all sipping champagne in them. Oscar the cat also made a big appearance, much to the delight of Rebecca our photographer.

My dress (my beautiful, beautiful dress!) was Kristene by Claire Pettibone, in blush. I fell in love with the scooped back, the heart shaped lace train, and all the little tassels that danced around as I moved. It was the only dress I tried that made me both feel like me and feel amazing. I wore pearl studs given to me by my Dad in my ears for my something old, and my Grandma’s engagement ring as my something borrowed. My mum surprised me that morning with the most beautiful delicate white gold bracelet for my something new. I’d known from day one of getting engaged that I’d be wearing a flower crown on my wedding day. Bex, our florist, had made me a rose bud flower crown to wear and I absolutely loved it. My Mum hung it up in her conservatory after the wedding day and fingers crossed it seems to have dried perfectly so I can keep it.

What came as a surprise to me, and then Andy on the day itself was that I also wore a veil. I’d been determined that I wasn’t having a veil, but when I tried on the Kristene veil that matched the lace perfectly on my dress I was utterly smitten and ended up getting married in a ridiculously long veil. The unexpected veil turned out to be one of the things I’m most glad I did. Although I ended up carrying it (or getting Andy to carry it!) for most of the time it was on my head, it made me feel very bridal, and I love the shots of it billowing out around me.



ja_wedding_0246After quite a relaxed morning, it seemed the time to leave came all in a rush. We sent off my Mum, then the bridesmaids, and then finally it was just me and my brother waiting to go. My uncle drove us to the church in a duck egg blue camper van, trimmed with some of my Mum’s handmade bunting. The camper, called Belinda, was a original with all its vintage quirks – a particularly special one being the sticky main door, which jammed with me and my brother inside as we pulled up outside the church and I almost ended up having to climb my way out through the front window! It was a surreal moment turning up to the village church where I’d gone to countless times with Primary school, in a wedding dress.

One of my favourite moments of the day was walking down the aisle. My Dad passed away a few years ago, so my big brother David stepped in and did the job of walking me down the aisle. After months of not being able to decide what we wanted for my entrance music, we finally picked The Wedding Processional from The Sound of Music.

Despite the rehearsal only the night before, me and David completely forgot how long we were supposed to wait after the last bridesmaids had gone to start our walk, and an attempted peep around the church door left us none the wiser. After a brief debate we decided we’d just have to go for it and hope we weren’t too early! I loved walking down the aisle, catching sight of so many faces on the way down, and then seeing Andy waiting at the end. He looked stupidly handsome in the pale grey three-piece suit he’d had made at a tailors in Hong Kong. He’d always sworn he’d get married in his converse, and he surprised me by wearing what are probably the first pair of proper shoes I’ve ever seen him in!




ja_wedding_0396The service itself was exactly what I’d hoped for. My strongest memory is just of complete happiness, beaming at Andy as we said our vows. We had three readings; My Mum did the religious reading, then our friend Ed read ‘Us Two’ by A.A.Milne, one of Andy’s favourite childhood poems. For our final reading we’d asked our very talented friend Hannah to surprise us with a reading. She wrote the most beautiful, personal piece all about friendship (and red wine!). It was the only thing that actually made me cry in the service!

Our rings were rings we’d made each other at The Quarter Workshop in Birmingham. As we disappeared off to sign the registers Andy’s friend Tom sung Bryan Adam’s I’ll Always Be Right There, then another song he’d written for us. We came out of the church to Elbow’s One Day Like This. Outside the church we were showered with dried petal confetti – a labour of love resulting from over a year of diligent petal drying by my Mum!


Another of my favourite parts of the day was the walk back to the house from the church. We surprised everyone with Street Three, a 3 piece jazz band, leading everyone back through the village. It was great fun to have people winding down car windows to congratulate us! The band played another set during the drinks reception, where we served ice creams along with Pimms, bubbles and “Horona”, Andy’s Dad’s very well received homebrew! We’d filled with front garden with hay bales, barrels, and a few garden games. We were whisked off down the lane for photos with Rebecca, and got back just in time to grab the last few of the canapés that we’d served instead of starters.



Not long after our return we headed around into the marquee. Our MC, Darren, took a unique take on the entrance of the bride and groom, and got everyone going with an Icelandic chant before we came in! Coming into a tent packed full of everyone you love clapping and cheering for you must be one of the best feelings in the world.

We’d decorated the marquee with dozens of paper pom poms, meters of my Mum’s home bunting, and fairy lights. The furniture was all hired from Virginia’s Vintage hire company. We’d laid up the tables with vintage china collected by our Mum’s over the year, and our family friend Gilli had filled dozens of jam jars with flowers for us. For favours we made jumble berry jam for the ladies, and red onion chutney for the gents. Mum also (amazingly!) hand stitched personalised napkins for everyone. On the day we had Sama there to over see everything and keep the day running along. I’m so glad we had her there, I honestly didn’t worry about timings or keeping everyone fed and watered all day.


Our caterers, Crumble Catering, served up a barbecue. Honestly the meal part of the day is a bit of a blur for me. I never thought I’d be one of those brides that doesn’t eat much on her wedding day, but I don’t remember eating much other than bread and butter! We knew from the start of planning that a top table wasn’t for us, and we love the feel of tressle tables. We’d sat ourselves in amongst a group of friends, with our families on tables close by. This turned out to be perfect for us, and was an amazing spot to laugh and cry our way through the speeches.


For desert we had a Great Wedding Bake Off, with the most amazing array of cakes and puddings baked up by family and friends. We were blown away by just how much cake was brought along, and were very happy to work our way through the left overs the next day! We had everything from sacher torte, fraiser cake, banana loaf, champagne strawberry and white chocolate cake to home made gin from friends that don’t bake. Andy’s Granny even came out of baking retirement with her famous flapjack, the left overs of which came with us on honeymoon! Later in the evening we presented the winners with bottles of prosecco and wedding bake off wooden spoons!


In the evening we served pizzas from The Tinderbox, the cutest little pizza van you ever did see, along with a big cheese board and a mountain of pork pies from the local butcher. We’d hired a photo booth from The Vintage Photobooth Company. It didn’t take long for the costume collection to be heavily poached from the dressing up area, and we have some hilarious photos of tigers, dinosaurs and the Mario brothers on the dance floor. The party spread out across the garden, with lots of our guests sat toasting marshmallows around the fire pit. My brother had spent months turning his workshop into a whisky bar for us. It became the perfect cosy retreat as the evening got chilly. We called it Derek’s Whisky Bar, after my Whisky loving Dad.


ja_wedding_1379ja_wedding_1374ja_wedding_1381ja_wedding_1337We finished the night jumping around to Mr Brightside, then swaying our way through Champagne Supernova in an emotional circle on the dance floor. If I could have changed anything about the day I would have loved to have had a band to keep the dance floor full. Our last minute spotify playlist was not our finest musical hour and, despite several reassurances that the night didn’t need it, a part of me feels like the party never really got going without a packed dance floor. Other than that though, there’s very little I’d have changed about the day. We completely ran out of time to make any table names, the fruit I’d bought to decorate the wedding cake with rotted because we couldn’t fit it into the fridge leaving the naked cake considerably more naked than I’d ever intended, and the marquee was rather darker than intended because the generator proved too loud to switch on… but those are just the details. I love that we were able to get married in my little village, and having the reception at home was just perfect (even with the massive clean up operation the next day!). The feel of the day was everything I’d hoped for and more – So relaxed, so full of love and packed full of laughter. Three months on I’m still looking at the wedding photos on an almost daily basis!”

Jennie xx


Jennie & Andy: 50 Days


A couple of weeks ago we passed the 50 day mark, and now the days seem to be rushing by at a rate of knots. Just 4 weeks until the big day. That’s it 4 short weeks. Only 4 weeks of planning. 4 weeks until I’m a Mrs….

It really feels like we’re getting into serious wedding planning now. We’re not talking about dreams and wishes; we’re into the concrete facts. The timings we’re working out now with our caterer and photographer will be the timings of our day. The menu we’ve settled on will be what we’re serving our guests. It’s incredibly exciting, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t just a little bit scary, too. How is it possibly 20 months since we got engaged!? Seriously, where have all those months gone?! The days ticking by at an increasing pace have started to create a panic that certain things we thought we didn’t need, or could happily live without, or hadn’t even considered ever wanting, are now ABSOLUTLY VITAL to the day. If we haven’t got a videographer to capture the day in all its glory, is it really worth all the effort? How can anyone get married without a confetti cannon? Will our guests be disappointed if we don’t offer them a 1000 pound donut wall? Doesn’t every bride these days have a dry ice ice-cream stand!? You get the idea.

We’ve thought more about the service itself, trying to settle for the final time on music, readings and hymns. I’ve gone backwards and forwards over what music I want for my entrance, and I still can’t quite decide. We’ve found out the church will be getting a new vicar just 2 days before our wedding, so the church will be fully decorated with flowers, and we don’t have to pay a penny – hurrah! On the downside, we’ve discovered that because we’re living in Hong Kong we’ve got to get a Common Licence to allow our marriage to take place. This unexpected legal complication has been one of the most stressful elements of planning so far, and it’s still not yet sorted.

Another downside of planning from abroad is that planning over the past few months seemed to have mostly consisted of emailing. Emailing the church with details of the service, emailing the caterer to try and work out a final menu. Emailing friends who are making cakes for us. Emailing the marquee to work out when they’re actually planning to set up for us. Emailing the evening caterers to make sure they haven’t forgotten us in the year since we booked them…. The first thing I did when I wake up is to check for wedding emails, the last thing I did at night is to reply to them. Emails, emails, so many emails!

wedding planning

Last week we arrived back in England, and after being so far away for so long it feels so good to be back in the UK and ticking things off the list. It’s great to meet suppliers in person again. We’ve met with our caterer and finalised arrangements, and tasted wines and ordered them from Majestic. My Mum’s house has become wedding HQ. Half the rooms are now taken over by piles of collected wedding items. The conservatory is filled up with furniture my brother has salvaged, the sitting room is home to the (still growing!) jam jar collection.

I had my first dress fitting at the weekend, and it was such a good feeling to be standing there in my dress, the actual dress I’ll be getting married in. I’m pleased to say it fits almost perfectly, and I’m still completely in love with it. We had a venue visit and mini shoot with our lovely photographer, Rebecca, earlier this week. She came in the evening, and we were blessed with the most beautiful light. She had us dancing in the country lanes, posing in fields, and sneaking into cornfields. From my perspective the shoot was great fun. After initial nerves, Rebecca’s manner really put us at ease, and it wasn’t long before I was having fun in front of the camera. I’m not sure Andy would say he enjoyed it as such, but he found the shoot really useful. I feel much more confident that we’ll be able to do the right thing on the day, and get some pictures of us looking relaxed and happy, rather than stiff and awkward. Rebecca has already sent a sneak peek of some of the images, and I absolutly love them. I can’t wait to see the rest of the photographs from this week, and I’m even more excited to see what Rebecca captures on our wedding day.


The next big thing on the wedding count down is my hen do. I’m being whisked off today (edit: Saturday just gone), but I have no idea where we’re headed!

So brides and brides-to-be, how did you feel at 50 days to your wedding? What have I got to expect over the last few weeks?

Jennie xxx



Paris & Joe: It’s All In The Detail

I cannot believe that it has been three months since I last blogged, the time seems to have flown by!

The past three months have been packed full of busy, exciting things. One of the biggest things is that we sent our invites out and have now received our RSVPs back (with some gentle reminders to those guests who didn’t clock the “Kindly respond by 3rd May” part of the invite). I was completely over the moon with the finished result. In the end I found a warm teal green and textured ribbon which I glue gunned into a makeshift belly band and tied twine around with a little tag to hold the various cards together. My favourite part has to be the RSVP card, which is double sided and designed from scratch by me, Joe and Helen (the graphic designer). I loved having a song choice and wine choice – because how many times have you been at a wedding and seen the unwanted bottle of red lingering on the tables until you’re drunk enough to give it a go?




We have 92 guests coming plus ourselves and 4 suppliers which brings us neatly under the 100 we were hoping to cater for. Thankfully the entire world didn’t opt for lobster as a main course, the worry of which had caused many a sleepless night, so I am pleased to say that we haven’t had to remortgage just to feed our families and friends on the big day. Phew.

The second biggest thing is that I have had my hen do! And it was just spectacular. Nine of my pals from school and I jetted off to Iceland for two nights of pure shenanigans. With an average 3 hours sleep per night we spent most of the weekend in delirious, sleep-deprived laughter. It never got fully dark while we were there so leaving a bar at 4am and putting on your sunglasses was pretty bizarre! The Blue Lagoon was a welcome break from sitting at a desk and the constant flow of cocktails, prosecco, double macchiatos and fab food helped to ease all of the stress from the last 18 months. It’s amazing what a weekend laughing with your friends can do for your stress levels!


My girls.

Having booked all the big essential wedding things very early on (venue, photographer etc), I think I had become a bit complacent about all the other bits and bobs. It always felt too early to start crafting or I thought I would have too much time to change my mind if I started to buy decorations. So when we hit the 4 month mark it was inevitable really that there would be a panic.

I have mentioned before that a couple of my friends are engaged at the moment and planning their own weddings. I was visiting one of them at the time and she is getting married in mid-November. She started showing me her veil, bridesmaid head pieces, dresses, flower girl dress, centre pieces… the list goes on. And every item I thought, “oh yeah, I need to do that soon”, until a knot of dread started to form in my stomach. As big and full as my Pinterest wedding boards are (yes, boards plural), I hadn’t purchased a single decorative thing. Or bridesmaid thing. Or groom thing.

It’s not that I hadn’t looked. Many an evening has been spent researching, showing Joe things on the internet and essentially agreeing on all the things we would like. But it is always followed by, “Oh, but we don’t need to buy those now”. Well actually, we do!

So now I am going to bore you with pictures of some of the bits and pieces that I panic bought at 6:30am one Saturday morning while Joe scuttled off to gym, sensing that this was not something he wanted to witness…

There was no rhyme or reason to the purchases as it was all very impulsive but once they started to arrive in the post I felt back on top of the wedmin and all was right again. I am particularly fond of the mint green chevron straws and they are the first thing I show people when they visit – nobody seems quite as enthused about them as I am.

The best thing though is the faux-coral cake topper. I love it more than anything and cannot wait to have it in our bathroom after the wedding as a lovely reminder of our cake! While on the subject of cake, the cake is being made by Joe’s cousins (one of which is his best man) and the inspiration is below, provided by Pinterest of course. They are going to jazz it up with some meringue kisses and he sent me a picture of the practice run for these recently which is beyond exciting. Joe is most opinionated on the cake and declared that we will have a passionfruit and mango layer, white chocolate and raspberry layer and a coconut and lime layer. I don’t mind as long as I get to be chief cake tester.


Bridesmaid dresses from No 1 Jenny Packham at Debenhams- unfortunately no longer available!

I have also bought bridesmaid dresses. By which I mean, my mum found them, ordered them and begged me to get my bridesmaids’ opinions before I made her take them back. The bridesmaids loved them and now they are staying. I had originally bought pleated cream skirts and was looking for a structured, embellished cream top to go with them to which my mum told me I might as well give them frilly socks and have a Grease themed wedding… Cheers mum! All in all, I weighed up the free dresses, which my bridesmaids and my mum love, against saying no out of principle and decided it just wasn’t worth the hassle. And annoyingly, I have since grown to love them.

So that is my 3 month round up! Have or did any of you leave it late to sort out the finer details? Surely I can’t be the only one…!

Paris x

Jennie & Andy: Making Our Invites!


One of the most exciting parts of wedding planning for me so far (probably only short of buying the dress!) has been making the invitations. Suddenly now the physical invites are in existence, the day feels so much more real.

Our invites were our first major wedding project. Spending an entire day tediously cutting invitations out with a Stanley knife is a test for any relationship, and I’m pleased to say we survived unscathed!

We’d always had an idea we’d make our own invitations. A few months ago I had a bit of a wobble about going down the hand-made route, and suddenly the whole thing didn’t seem like such a good idea. While I love the idea of a DIY wedding, I lost faith in my fairly basic craft skills. I didn’t want the whole thing to look like a badly executed Blue Peter project (something that I worry about our whole wedding in more anxious moments). I started looking into designers, but I didn’t fall in love with any of the designs available. I quite fancied getting a set of letter press invitations designed and made, but I couldn’t quite convince Andy that the (fairly substantial!) extra cost involved was really worth it.

So, we came full circle, and back to making our own.

As long as what I wanted to do was in budget, Andy left the design of the invites mostly up to me. I really wanted to have an invitation pack. You can place the blame fully with Pinterest for this, with all those pictures of gorgeous invites bundled up; I loved the idea of lots of little bits tied up with twine. Midway through making it all I did rather wish we’d gone for a wedding website instead, and saved ourselves the work, but in the end I think it was worth it.

The design for the main invite came from a printable template on Etsy. I then used the graphics to create the additional parts. Fair warning for any brides-to-be wanting to do this, it was a fiddly, time-consuming job. I wanted to throw the computer across the room several times when the darn graphics just wouldn’t go where I wanted them to go, or the computer deleted whole pages I’d taken hours to complete. But eventually we had all the pages in our pack- the main invitation, a details page, an RSVP, an invite to brunch the next day, and an announcement about the Great Wedding Bake Off.



What would probably have been the sensible move at this point would have been to send the whole lot off to a printer, and have everything professionally printed and cut for us. Of course, that’s not the route we went down! Instead we spent a whole day with the printer, trying to figure out a way to get the printer to print on the lovely textured paper I’d fought to have delivered to Hong Kong, without smudging everything on the way. We cut out the finished invitations, and tied them together with lovely gold and white baker’s twine, and hand written nametags.

The final task was addressing the envelopes. Another task we didn’t make easy for ourselves!

A few months ago I went to a modern calligraphy class at Kalo Make Art. I surprised myself with how much I really enjoyed it. There’s something incredibly therapeutic about swirling ink around on a page. Writing the envelopes themselves, however, was not quite as simple. The rustic brown paper envelopes we got were not the right paper for ink. Here’s another warning to crafty brides – any sort of recycled or textured paper just won’t work for calligraphy! Choose your envelopes with care!

Cue The Great Hong Kong Envelope Hunt of 2016!

I now know the location of possibly every good paper, craft and art shop on Hong Kong Island. Sadly none of which stock any heavy weight envelopes. Luckily, eventually the problem was solved with a thicker white ink. I’m actually quite glad the original black ink didn’t work, I love the look of the white ink against the brown. It must have been fate!

Despite the dramas with paper and envelopes, I’m really glad we went down the homemade route in the end. I actually really enjoyed making our invites, spending time with Andy working together on a project. I’m so happy with the way they turned out, and I’m pretty proud of us for making them all ourselves.

Calligraphy workshop

Invites and envelopes

Lessons in calligraphy, and the finished invites all ready to go.

Now the RSVPs have started coming back in, which is incredibly exciting! The RSVPs are going back to my Mum in England so I haven’t seen them yet. I get an excited whatsapp every couple of days with a list of names of people who have confirmed they’re coming. We’ve put a song request box on the RSPV slip and I can’t wait to see what’s been requeste – no excuses for an empty dance floor!

Now just the menus, orders of service, seating plans, place cards, signs, and tables numbers to make. That shouldn’t take too long, should it?!

Jennie xx

Jennie & Andy: May Musings


Whenever I tell people we’re planning a wedding from abroad they all get the same confused, concerned look about them. Inevitably they ask us why we would be doing that to ourselves? Then they ask if we have a wedding planner doing everything for us, and the look of horror deepens when I tell them no, actually we’re doing it all ourselves. People from Hong Kong want to know why we’re not just getting married in Thailand, the way a lot of expat couples here do. Granted, this option has seemed rather tempting of late: a small wedding on a beach, no preparation, less money and the added bonus of a holiday in the sun while we’re at it. The next time someone smugly tells me how much money they saved by eloping I might just scream!

I’ve also been asked dozens of times why I’m not ordering my dress from China. True, dresses cost a fraction of the price, but you can never really be sure what you’re getting and, frankly, some of the incredibly blingy, excessively poufy creations that I’ve seen coming out of China terrify me! I was reassured that sorting my dress out in the UK was the right thing to do, as recently a fellow Hong Kong girl (who is also getting married in the summer) ordered a dress from China, and when the eagerly awaited package arrived it turned out to be bright orange – I somehow think that won’t be the dress she wears for her big day!

The truth is though it’s not actually too bad planning a very English Country Garden wedding from Asia. With most things being done by email anyway, nothing is too different from how we were talking to suppliers before we left the UK. I get occasionally frustrated when I want to get stuck into wedding crafts, but I know I have to wait until we’re back in England. Turns out 80 odd hand decorated jam jars won’t fit in your standard economy luggage allowance. It begs the question why airlines have a special allowance for winter sports equipment, but not for over keen brides-to-be?! British Airways, take note. I may also have had a minor meltdown when we started to make our invitations (more on that next time!), and we couldn’t get the right paper over here for love nor money. Sometimes I’m amazed at Andy’s never ending supply of patience! Those things aside though, long distance wedding planning has all been relatively smooth and pain free so far.

There are a few things, though, which really can only be done in person. In February, the Chinese New Year holiday gave me a week to whizz back to England to get some of them ticked off. Andy wasn’t able to get the week off to come back with me, so it became a very girly week. As well as getting lots of ‘wedmin’ done, my Mum and two of my bridesmaids escaped for a night at a spa hotel. We had such a nice time that I’m now trying to work out if we’ll have time and money to squeeze in a little spa trip in the week before the wedding!

sipping cocktails from teacups at the spa

Sipping cocktails from tea cups at the spa.

One of the first things I planned as soon as I booked my ticket back was my hair and make-up trial. I mentioned when I talked about booking my make-up that I was worried about not getting a trial in, so I was really happy to have the chance to. Harriet, my hair and make up artist, was lovely, and I really liked what she did. She listened to my probably-annoyingly-vague-and-indecisive description of what I wanted, and somehow managed to achieve it. We chatted hair extensions and hair colour, and she gave me some tips for getting my skin looking its best for August. Ladies, turns out cleansing wipes aren’t actually that great for skin – who knew!?

I took the chance to see our florist again, and left so excited to see what she is going to do. Bex is one of those lovely warm people, who is genuinely excited to hear your plans. She showed me mood boards of how she had developed our ideas, and I was able to see more of her recent work.

The final very important achievement, accomplished far more quickly than anticipated, was the purchase of my Mum’s all-important Mother Of The Bride outfit. After months of scouring magazines, and dozens of conversations about what might look good, in the end all it took was a girl’s day up in London. We went prepared; going up on a week day for quieter changing rooms, and book-ending what we thought would be a stressful shopping experience with a fancy breakfast, and an afternoon tea at Sketch. Once we hit Oxford Street, our first port of call was Coast. They had some lovely things, but nothing quite right. We started to get a little down hearted when both House of Fraser and John Lewis didn’t have anything like what Mum was after. Luckily Debenhams came to the rescue and an hour and dozens of trips to the changing room later, Mum emerged with not one, but three wedding outfits! We toasted our shopping success with a glass of bubbles over quite possibly the best afternoon tea I’ve ever had. Next on her list is the thing I think she is most excited about – the hat!

Mother of The Bride shopping day fuel

Mother of the Bride shopping day fuel!

The only downside of the trip was I didn’t manage to touch base with our caterer. We had arranged to meet so he could see the house, and make sure the kitchen was suitable, but his car broke down and there wasn’t another day to reschedule. We won’t meet again until July so if anything’s not right it’ll be too late to change it. I’m trying not to let it worry me….!

Next time I’m back home will be when we fly back for the summer – just 10 weeks to go!

Jennie xx


Jennie & Andy: Diets and Brows!

jennie&andy‘We’re getting married THIS year!’, is probably the most over-used phrase in our house at the moment. Since the moment the clock struck 12 on New Year’s Eve I have said it to Andy more times that I can count. Now we’re into April, it seems like we’ve suddenly gone from having a wedding ‘next summer’, to having a wedding only a few short months away. The six months to go mark seems to have sailed way past, and now we’ve got less than 150 days until the big day! I’m ridiculously excited, but slightly terrified too!

This turning of the year has got me back into the wedding frame of mind. I slipped out of planning mode for a bit at the end of last year; the big things were booked, it was too soon for the little details, everything seemed so far off. Suddenly though, I’m gripped with a new sense of urgency. There’s lots to do, and lots to do now! I’m back pinteresting like crazy, hunting down the perfect way to decorate a jam jar, attempting to draft wedding invites, and trying to learn how on earth paper pom-poms are made. I’ve started a wedding ‘to do’ list, to try and make sure everything gets done before the big day. It’s a very long list….!

The first thing on my list was tackle the Dreaded Wedding Diet. I know Paris got onto this months ago, so I’m a bit behind, but now we’re well into 2016 is here, it’s time to get wedding dress ready!

The wedding diet had been a bit of a joke, usually only referred to as I was tucking to a massive curry (with all the added extras) or a slice of cake. Now though it seems time to actually do something. I don’t have a particular weight in mind, I’m just hoping for a few less lumps and bumps under my wedding dress.

The first thing I did was tackle a Whole30. The idea is for 30 days you eat ‘clean’. No grains, no dairy, no alcohol, no sugar, no additives. It sounds absolutely horrendous when you see it on paper like that, but in reality it’s not that bad. I did a couple of Whole30s two years ago and lost about a stone and half and felt really good. Weight loss aside, it left me with more energy and better skin. No bad thing in the wedding run up.

The thing I like best about Whole30 is that encourages you to eat. As long as you follow the rules you can eat as much as you like. Hurrah! I’m not good with restrictive diets. I get hungry quickly (Andy’s taken to carrying emergency snacks around with him), and I’m not a nice person when I’m hungry! I would be horrendous to live with on something like the 5:2 diet. Similarly I’m not very good at the ‘a little bit of what you fancy’ rule. When I fancy pizza, I usually fancy the entire pizza.

courgette noodles and cauliflower fried rice

The lack of pizza was a bit of a challenge, but otherwise I quite enjoyed the food, and I’m trying to keep the rules up as much as possible now I’ve finished my 30 days. My freezer is chock full of individual portions of soup, vegetable curries and stews cooked up in big batches. I’m eating lots of courgette noodles and cauliflower rice (see above). They’re surprisingly satisfying so I’m not feeling deprived. The hardest bit I found was breakfast; my usual porridge or cereal was swapped for eggs, eggs and even more eggs. I got so sick of them some days I could easily have just skipped breakfast entirely. All those eggs were worth it though, and I finished the plan a stone lighter. Part of that could be due to the be due to the food poisoning we both picked up on our Christmas holiday in India though, so I guess I can’t take all the credit!

christmas in india

Photo-bombed in India.

Three weeks ago I finally bite the bullet and joined a gym. I’d been putting it off for so long because gyms in Hong Kong are veeeery pricey. The cheaper ones, like one I used to go to, are full of aggressive sales staff, pushing you to sign up to personal training by attacking you with comments about how fat you are, and how you’re doing everything wrong. I struggle to motivate myself to exercise at the best of times, so knowing that I’d have to face that every time would usually be enough of an incentive for me to stay at home. I decided this time it was worth paying a little bit more for somewhere I’d actually enjoy going to, and so far its paying off. My planks and squats might be rather pathetic, but I can feel myself getting stronger already.

The next thing on the list ended up there a little by accident. A few weeks I popped into Benefit for an eyebrow wax. I usually just tackle my brows myself with tweezers, but I had a discount coupon so thought I’d treat myself. I mentioned to the brow technician that I was trying to tidy my eyebrows up a bit because I was getting married in the summer. She let out a gasp. There was panic in her eyes. When in the summer she asked? June? July? When I told her August she actually sighed with relief. That’s fine, she said, that gives me time to sort this out!

Now, I know my eyebrows are a little bit scruffy, but I never realised my eyebrows were that bad. I went through the standard faze of terrible over plucking in my teens (I’d share a picture, but its just too embarrassing!). At one time they were so short and pointing my brother took to calling me ‘Spock’. Another time I started plucking between my eyebrows and went a bit far one way. Tried to even it out but went to far. Tried to even out the other side and so… you get the idea, until I had a less than attractive two-inch gap between my eyebrows. Thankfully those days are long gone and these days I don’t do too much more than a little bit of tweezing. Even this, apparently, is too much. My eyebrows are a point of horror for brow technicians. I left the shop under strict instructions not to touch my brows in any way, and to go back to benefit every month to let the stylist fix me.

So that’s that, the next few months will see my To Do list ticked off with hopefully a slightly slimmer, slightly fuller browed me!

Jennie x

The Mummytime Pop-Up Event

Mummytime creche

A few weeks ago, I was very lucky to be invited along to the first ever Mummytime pop-up event that took place at the Carnegie Hall Library in Herne Hill, south London. The brainchild of first time parents, Lucy and Galina, Mummytime was created very much with new  mums in mind, giving them a couple of hours to focus on themselves- whether that be with a back massage or manicure in the pop-up spa, joining in with a discussion group, or, (my nectar) tea and cake- all whilst their little ones are cared for in the on-site creche.


So off Frank and I trotted one dismal Tuesday morning. Horrendous south-circular traffic aside, we arrived only 20 minutes late, and once I’d got rid of my sodden coat (drenched from the 30 second walk from car to venue), stuffed all my various parenting paraphernalia in to the Babyjogger, sorted Frank out, retrieved my camera and parked up in the buggy park, I was able to take a deep breath and let the me-time begin.

I’d been booked in for a pamper package at 12.30pm, so had a good hour and a half to wander round and see all that was on offer. First stop was the Bundle of Joy stand, which we’d been made aware of prior to the event. A local initiative to the Herne Hill community,  Bundle of Joy is designed to redistribute outgrown children’s clothing to support families in the local area, and although this didn’t apply to me, I was more than happy to help so had come armed with a small bag of good quality clothes that Frank had outgrown.

Land G


Relieved of the extra weight (I had a camera on one shoulder and a 16lb heffalump on the other), Frank and I wandered from stall to stall, chatting to the local artisans who had been invited along by Lucy and Galina to show off their wares. From vintage homeware items and antique jewellery, to posh soaps, textiles sourced from Ethiopia, a garden designer and a cake maker who was raffling off a ‘cupcake bouquet’ later that day, I thought the stalls were unique, interesting and relevant to the local community… if a little out of my pathetic statutory maternity pay affordings. A thoroughly enjoyable half hour was spent none-the-less.


After all that nattering (and posing of a grumpy Frank in the baby photobooth area), it was time for us both to eat. AYA Cafe had come along to provide an impressive array of sandwiches, cakes, fresh juices and hot drinks, and my chicken, cheese and chutney grilled sandwich on homemade sourdough bread was fantastic, if a little sloppy to eat with Frank on my lap. Step in a fellow mummy called Jo who was sat close by and offered to hold him whilst we compared parenting notes and I very inelegantly stuffed the delicious and dripping concoction down my throat. Thank you Jo. And apologies you had to watch me cover myself in hot chutney.


Finally it was time for the main event, the part I had most definitely been waiting for… my Chilled Out Chica pamper package. For a £50 ticket there were a selection of pamper packages available (singular treatments were £30) and included entry to the event, use of the on-site creche, and access to the expert talks on nutrition and personal fitness that were taking place throughout the morning- although I didn’t get a chance to partake in these. The Chilled Out Chica consisted of a 25 minute back and shouder massage, and a 25 minute reflexology session- all whilst Frank was having fun (for the best part) courtesy of Harmony at Home who were running the pop-up creche in the room next door.

Now, with the whole event taking place in a library, I wasn’t expecting lush spa surroundings, but the team from Return to Glory had done a pretty good job sectioning off a large and unremarkable library room in to calm and private treatment areas. My therapist, Jacquie, was lovely, and the back massage in particular was brilliant. I got a little distracted through the reflexology session as the wails of my child from the next room gently (and then not so gently) drifted in. He was well overdue a nap, so I found myself thinking things like “I hope they’ve found his dummy in the bag I left with them”, and “I should have told them he likes to be rocked”, as opposed to, “Oh my goodness, what are you doing to my little toe? That feels DIVINE.” Anyway, 10 minutes before the end the wails stopped, and I emerged, bleary-eyed and dodgy-haired, to a quiet Frank conked out in the arms of an (exhausted) creche lady. A success, I’d say!



It was a very lovely way to spend a morning, and although the location wasn’t brilliant for me personally being based in Kent (the south circular is one of my most hated things in the world), I absolutely love the whole idea behind Mummytime. It is an enormous and exhausting job being the full time parent, and though it seems awfully decadent to spend a morning being pampered, it is something all mums deserve once in a while. And whilst £50 is a lot of money on meagre maternity wages, I think that for two treatments and good quality childcare, it’s actually incredibly good value. Something I’d certainly ‘encourage’ Paul to treat me to anyway…

As the very first event, there are a couple of teeny tiny things I think could be improved to make this excellent venture even better. Perhaps the stalls could be a little more relevant to mothers and babies- a clothes and toys swap for instance? A local sling library? And although Carnegie Hall was beautiful and tranquil (and is unfortunately due to close this month, hence why Lucy and Galina wanted to support it by holding the event there), the toilets/baby changing facilities weren’t ideal with it being an older building.

A calm and relaxing morning with a community feel; I’m pretty sure the ladies of Herne Hill will be looking forward to the next event should it take place in that area again, and I hope that Mummytime is something that will start rolling out across London (and eventually the country!) soon. Having spoken to Lucy and Galina, I know that ticket prices may vary depending on venue/location, but you can sign up here to be the first to hear about the next pop-up event, and if you visit them on their Facebook page, they’re currently running a competition to give away a free ticket to the next event if you tell them where it should take place and share their page!

What do you think? Is this something you’d like to do as a new mum?

Til’ next time you lovely lot…

Sama xx

(On a side note, I know it has been AN AGE since I’ve checked in properly. I’m actually off to Canada tomorrow to introduce Frank to my Mum’s side of the family, but when I’m back I promise a big Frank/life update. Can you believe he’s SIX MONTHS this week?? I can’t. I actually can’t.)






Paris & Joe: Photos, Food & Invites


My oh my it has been a busy few months in our household. From engagement photos, food tastings, invite designing, calligraphy classes, Hen Do bombshells and being a bridesmaid it has felt like I have had hardly any time to sit down and write. So I call this my January to March roundup…

From the moment that we got engaged and started taking horrendous selfies to capture our newly-engaged happiness, I knew that I wanted to do an engagement shoot. Generally it takes me a good 10 shots before I look like a normal sane human being in a selfie, and sometimes even then it does not happen (apologies to Joe for the 11 consecutive selfies taken outside the Colloseum in Rome, zero of which feature me with both eyes open, looking at the camera and not appearing to be on the verge of some kind of seizure). I wanted something that looked a bit more natural where we could just do our coupley thang.

So in January we headed over to Ramsgate beach with our lovely photographer Rebecca Douglas. We spent a good hour and a half walking and chatting and doing a few natural poses. It was absolutely painless and we ended up with some really fab pictures – although I am laughing like an idiot in 99.9% of them. Still, an upgrade on the Colloseum shots, eh?

Paris & Joe Engagement Shoot 0130Paris & Joe Engagement Shoot 0143

Beautiful images by Rebecca Douglas Photography

At the end of January we went to a tasting at the Lobster Shack, which was great fun. We were served mini portions of all the starters, mains and desserts, as well as helping ourselves from big bowls of the salads and pastas that come as part of the BBQ, hog roast and buffet options. They had laid out how all the dishes would be presented on the day and served a heap of yummy canapés. My personal low point was pretending not to have already tried the duck and mango filo pastries, twice, in order to have another portion.

The food was completely delicious, particularly the seafood options. Crisp, fluffy batter, homemade mayonnaises, fresh local fish. The highlight of my night was Joe trying a Bloody Mary oyster shot – his first ever oyster and immediately chased down with a good glug of beer. His expression kept me amused all evening.

Prior to the tasting we had pretty much decided on an old school boxed option of fish, lobster, sausage or stuffed pepper ‘n’ chips. Possibly a starter, possibly not. And a HUGE dessert table filled with cakes and donuts. Basically, a mountain of comfort food.  With only 7 months to go until the wedding, there is no longer room for big movement in the budget. Which is where the food dilemma begins. We started to ask ourselves: can we have a BBQ? Will Grandma really want to queue up for a burger? Could we have the boxed option and starters? Do we really like the starters? Could we serve plated fish and chips and not have the lobster as an option? Should we not have canapés? I feel like we came away with more questions than answers!

Eventually we decided on a two course plated option with oyster canapés. The cake and donut dessert table would just have to wait until the evening to make its appearance. My mum was disappointed enough with our lack of starter option that she offered to pay for the upgrade, and we weren’t going to turn down an offer like that! So three courses and oyster canapés it is.

The final week of January brought a Brighton Hen Do for my lovely friend and bridesmaid, Sophie, in which we were taught the Beyonce Single Ladies routine and I discovered my inner Sascha Fierce, strutting around with serious sass… at least in my head. Her wedding two weeks later was just brilliant, featuring ten bridesmaids in floor length black gowns and some seriously chic décor. Did I mention she planned it all in four months?

And finally, for the past three months we have been designing our invites, which have now been sent off to print! Yay! I am so grateful that we were introduced to Sophie’s sister who is a graphic designer and has managed to turn our stationery dreams into reality for a fraction of the prices we had previously been quoted. Unlike our bold and bright save the dates, I have gone for much more neutral colours for the invites, and of course they feature a fitting seaside stripe and our lobster logo. The only thing to do now is decide on the perfect shade of green for the twine or ribbon to tie them together. Having already spent more than an acceptable amount of lunch breaks in the local haberdashery, it may not be as easy as it looks. Teal, turquoise, emerald… too many greens!

In usual Drew-Wooldridge time keeping, I had hoped and failed to get the invites sent out on the 6 month count down. The new mental deadline is the 3rd April but I am not holding my breath. AND YES, WE HAVE PASSED THE 6 MONTH COUNT DOWN! Where has eighteen months of engagement gone?! I hope the last 6 months do not go quite as quickly as I am starting to worry that I could run out of time… does anyone else feel this disorganised??

Paris x

The Frank Diaries: His Bright & Bold Bedroom

What feels like many, many moons ago, when Frank was just a plum in my tum, I started dreaming about his nursery having found out we were having a boy. Having pinned like a demon, I deduced that my ideal baby boy’s room was not very babyish at all. Instead I wanted a room that he could grow in to; a stylish, fun, eclectic space full of colour and pattern. I planned to share the various stages of progress with you, but here we are nearly six months later and I’m skipping straight to the finished product. Meh- who likes the middle stages anyway?

Shall we have a quick reminder of the room when it was essentially just a bland, beige dumping ground?


But now… Ta-da!








Now, I’m no interior designer and I’m sure I’ll be adding and tweaking as time goes on, but both Paul and I are thrilled with our (mainly my) efforts. Frank’s pretty indifferent but that’s to be expected.

The first big decision after painting the room white was the triangle feature wall. I knew I wanted a feature wall of some kind, and had considered stars, polka dots and just a simple block of colour, but it was triangles that seemed to fit my brief the most. They’re fun, modern, stylish and just a little bit masculine. And being stickers they’ll peel off easily when Frank decides he wants to cover his walls with Arsenal and car posters instead. Sigh.

I ordered the stickers from Etsy, and Paul and I spent an August afternoon applying them. Paul was just going to ‘supervise’ seeing as this bizarre triangle wall was all my idea, but ended up masterminding the insanely complicated pattern, and doing the majority of the labour seeing as I was 8 months pregnant and had a good excuse. The stickers were easy to put on (and take off when we went completely wrong with the pattern), and we probably had the wall done in about 3 hours.

On the opposite side of the room is the changing corner. I went for the ever-popular Hemnes chest of drawers from Ikea, and this houses all of Frank’s clothes. Next to it is a simple and not so attractive Argos storage unit containing his ‘toiletries’: nappies, wipes, creams, cotton wool etc. And yes, that is a portable cd player you see on top. I’ve gone old school.

The multi-coloured string lights are from Cable & Cotton, and are probably my best purchase of the whole room. Frank can’t get enough of them and we’d often take him up to the changing table when he was going through a particularly miserable phase, just to stop the crying. You can’t see it so well but there’s also a black and white mobile hanging  in front of the mirror. It was a gift from a friend and the spirals and stripes also have Frank squealing with delight. Never has having your bottom wiped been so much fun!

The final ‘zone’ is the reading wall. Once again, the picture shelves are an Ikea favourite (now discontinued), and the bear print is Not On The High Street. The white bench was part of an Ikea dining set and we keep it for when we have more guests than chairs, so to make a bit of a feature of it I sourced some colourful storage boxes for underneath which are currently full of toys, books and, erm, more baby wipes.

What else? I agonised over what rug to go for and ended up with two; a grey sheepskin rug for under the changing table and a pale blue one (featuring more triangles) for the middle of the floor. (I can’t remember for the life of me where it’s from, apologies.) And in terms of artwork I tracked down the Be Happy My Baby print having seen it on a Pinterest image, and both the Lion print and the Amazing Things Will Happen print were gifts from lovely friends.

It is genuinely a really happy, fun room to be in, and no matter how miserable I am when I’m having to change or feed Frank in the middle of the night, I always feel calm and content sitting in there with nothing but the fairy lights on. I am slightly nervous about him being overstimulated when he starts sleeping in there as there is lots to look at… but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

You like??

Sama x




Jennie & Andy: Let There Be Light!


It’s been a surprisingly productive week in terms of wedmin. After the worrying, dithering and indecision of my last post I seem to have acquired a sudden decisiveness that’s most unlike me. On Tuesday I fell in love with some shoes for my bridesmaids, realized they were in the sale and about to go out of stock, and by Wednesday, after a mad dash around London by my bridesmaid Chantal to find the few remaining pairs, 6 sparkly pairs of heels were purchased. After months of going back and forth over where we’d spend our wedding night, we had a new idea, and had it booked and sorted within the week.

Back home my Mum’s cracking on with the decorations team. She had her group of ‘Stitch and Bitch’ friends over for a bunting sewing day, resulting in an enormous pile of over 500 bunting triangles! The jam jar pile is steadily growing, and we’re almost there with the vintage china collection.



The next job on my wedding to-do list is sort out lighting, and gosh there’s a lot of choice out there. I feel like lighting really is one of the big things that maybe we should have thought more about already. Firstly, for practical reasons, we’re going to be outside. The garden gets dark, and we’ve got a marquee with guy ropes. If we don’t get this one right we’ll have guests groping their way to the loos in the dark. We don’t want any disasters. Blood and wedding dresses don’t seem like a great combination… Secondly, for the more exciting reason, I love lighting. When I first started scrolling through Pinterest for wedding inspiration, some of the images I was drawn to straight away were off beautiful lighting displays, bare bulbs hanging in clusters over tables, tea light jam jars hung from trees, walls of fairy lighting twinkling into the night. I love the warmth and the atmosphere the right lighting creates.

As much as my decisions will be driven by what’s pretty, I’m trying very hard to keep in mind that whatever lighting we string up around the garden is going to have to be connected to a power source. That means we need to hire generators. I, like I’m guessing the majority of brides in my situation, don’t have the first clue about hiring generators!  Apparently you can also wire up strings of fairy lights to much more discrete car batteries, so I think planning that is a job that’s getting handed straight over to Andy or to my brother. Both far more technically minded than me! Any tips, hints or general ideas on this one are very much welcome!

Our marquee comes with a standard lighting package, which means simple up or down lighters from the main poles. Other than that we don’t have anything so far. Everything else we’ll have to add in, so now we come to the fun part – lighting inspiration! This is what I’ve thought of so far.

wedding lighting collage 2

Fairy Lights

First up, the classic – fairy lights. If I had my way, there would be fairy lights all over the house, all year round. As it is, Andy won’t allow much more than a string around the headboard of the bed. I’m thinking fairy lights are a must for around the poles of the marquee. They’d also be pretty wrapped around some of the trees in the garden to make everything glow once it gets dark.

Festoon Lighting

Ah festoon lighting, my newest love. There’s something really quite romantic about festoon lighting. I’ve seen pictures of the tent we’re having covered in festoon lighting and it looks absolutely stunning. I think there’s going to have to be some kind of lighting feature wall made out of either fairy lights or festoon lighting.


I’m a little bit in love with lanterns (can you guess a theme to this post!? ). Here in Hong Kong, we’ve just celebrated Mid-Autumn festival, which is a festival of lanterns. On mid-autumn night, children take their lanterns out onto the beach or into the park to gaze at the moon. It’s a hopelessly romantic festival, with the only light coming from hundreds of coloured paper lanterns. I would love to bring some lanterns into the day. I’m thinking of unlit ones perhaps hanging in the roof of the marquee, and maybe some lit with candles deeper into the garden.

lighting collage 1


A Pinterest obsession of mine at the moment is candles; Candles in jam jars hung from trees, candles in paper bags lining pathways; Tall white pillar candles on tables; the list goes on!

Disco Lighting

As we’re (probably) not having a DJ or a band, this is another area that won’t just sort itself out. Do we want any sort of disco lighting? I’m not really sure. On the one hand, strings of festoon lighting are much prettier than swirling techno colours all over the ceiling, but then on the other hand, is it really a party without them? If we do decide we want them, then where on earth do we go to hire them? It’s not the sort of thing stocked in the pretty vintage hire companies we’ve used so far!

Fire Pits

I’m not sure this really falls under the category of lighting exactly, but I would love a fire pit. I’ve got visions of cozy blankets for the evening, a roaring fire and plenty of toasted marshmallows.

So that’s it, lighting ideas so far. It’s all so pretty I have absolutely no idea how to choose. Would it be over kill to just have it all!?

Jennie x