Once upon a time there was a young, adventurous and slightly stubborn girl who decided very early on that children, mortgages and marriage were not for her. Instead she packed a back pack trotted off into the sunset for a few years until she landed in Spain and unpacked (a few things).
When she hit 30 however something changed. Firstly she decided it was cheaper to buy than rent. So she did. Secondly, and much to her surprise, her body clock began to tick. A child arrived followed by a second a couple of years later. The man she shared her children with proved to be a ‘bad sort’ and the girl became a single hard working mum. Finally she realised it was time to unpack the rest of her things and settle down.
When a new man entered her life, marriage was still not on the agenda. To her it was a bit of paper. Something legal that would basically then need un-legalising if and when things went wrong. This ‘positive’ train of thought continued for a few years despite the proposal, until one day something changed. If she had done all the other things she’d said she would never do, and lived to tell the tale, why not do this one too?
So from that eureka moment and a “oh alright then, let’s get married” announcement in October 2013 the initial plan for a very low key affair with a few friends evolved after eight months of organising and planning into what has been described by many who attended as “quite possibly the best wedding party EVER”.
Not sure how that happened but the idea behind her thinking was to quite simply ‘have a bloody good party’. The date was set for August 2014 and the location was their home town in Coin, Spain. Beyond that there was no real plan but bit by bit the ‘event’ (as she preferred to call it as ‘wedding’ caused a twitch and a nervous rash), grew almost of its own accord whilst the number of guests multiplied like Gremlins in a bath tub.
First stop was to hire a venue. After a couple of let downs finally a third venue turned up unexpectedly in January and turned out to be utterly perfect. It housed her entire family from the UK for a combined holiday and had a huge garden space and a pool for the ‘event’.
With caterers brought in and the venue sorted the rest almost fell into place. Organising a wedding suddenly became the most fun thing she had ever done. Putting aside the odd stressful moment, the bride-to-be enjoyed every second especially finding the dress (which came from a very talented up-cycling seamstress in Poland) to the cake topper (from America) to a head dress (from China) to her barefoot sandals (from Greece). Etsy.com became her new best friend, shares in Amazon soared whilst new local discoveries were also made.
There were of course the odd nail biting moments. The dress arrived just one week before the ceremony leaving it a little late to source a back-up, whilst the caterer announced he was leaving the company but (thankfully) would do this job as his last event, whilst early on the couple almost, very, very nearly lost over a €1,500 in a phishing scam on a holiday accommodation site whilst trying to book the venue.
On the plus side there was immense help and input from friends who stood up and were not only counted, but ensured the whole event completely viable financially. The band was made up of the groom whilst former members travelled from various corners of the globe to reform for a one off gig, the DJ offered his services for free, the cake maker was a very good friend and offered her excellent talents as her gift, the photographer was a diamond guy who did some super photos for practically nothing, flowers were wild and organised as a favour whilst the handfasting ceremony was performed by a very dear old friend perfect for the job and it was colourful and bright and funny although some soppy lot cried, apparently.
There was no colour scheme, no seating plans, no top table, no bridesmaids, no dress code and no gift list. There was however free beer and wine or guests could bring their own tipple. There was a huge hog roast and salads, a swimming pool, flamenco music and a disco into the early morning. There were blankets on the grass or tables and chairs. There were 80 to 90 adults (there was no strict head count some extra arrived and some didn’t show) and 30 odd kids running around like half naked feral lunatics throughout the day and evening.
Friends all helped along the way from setting up lighting in the garden to playing lifeguard to dishing out wine bottles for the adults and UV bracelets for the kids (or was that the other way round?), doing Poi as darkness fell and clearing tables as people left.
As for most brides and grooms the day passed in an adrenalin surged blur of hugs and kisses and raucous laughter. For someone who feared the organisational hell and being centre of attention this particular and once reluctant bride surprisingly found the whole procedure – from sourcing plastic cups, to her first dance, to cutting the cake to removing bodies from the sofa the next day – quite possibly the best thing she had ever done.
Her advice, for what it’s worth is – based on the old adage ‘you only do it once’ is enjoy it, all of it. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Location, location, location is the key. Good venue, good food, good music and good guests. The rest will all fall into place.