Bonfire Night is the quintessentially British bridge between Halloween and Christmas. The ideal night for sparklers, fireworks and snuggling up in bobble hats and scarves, takes root in what could have become quite a violent historic event. On November 5th 1605, Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested beneath the House of Lords, guarding a pile of explosives intended to blow up King James I. Londoners lit bonfires in celebration of the foiled plot and ultimate survival of their king, leading to a yearly and national tradition.
One word: pressure. Imagine the pressure of only being a planner or only being a bride and add them together. Oddly enough, the pressure didn’t come from other people necessarily, but from myself. My goal was to do the absolute best that I could and throughout my near two years of planning, I’d routinely have to swap my planner hat and bride hat, ensuring that I was giving the appropriate response and reactions to the tasks ahead. I was fortunate enough to have an on-site planner for both of my wedding celebrations, especially as they were in Spain and France respectively. So while I was still doing a huge quantity of work, especially in the styling and aesthetics of the big day, I had people to coordinate the logistics. I also had to remember that on my wedding day, I didn’t want to be working: I wanted to marry my soulmate and have fun. To other planners out there and non-planners who want to organise their own ceremony: let go of the reigns a little, find someone you can work with and who will take some of the pressure off, especially regarding all the minute problems that crop up on the day. Trust me, you don’t want to be dealing with a prosecco shortage when you should be dancing the night away.
The biggest thing for me was finding people that I could trust, that understood and respected my vision and who were able to advise on the best tools and suppliers to obtain it. Luckily, I found them and despite my involvement, I wouldn’t have had my two beautiful and different weddings without their hard work.
Being a planner, I have a special appreciation of their skill and I was able to understand their thought process. I was also well placed to question things, in a way that other clients might not be, such as more technical AV questions or practical things, from experiences that I have gained with my own clients.
I find that planning is an often underestimated career, but done properly, it’s lengthy, intense and rewarding. What I took from my experiences, more than just advising to hire a planner, is to not be afraid to ask for help. You can’t do things all by yourself and maintain your sanity (or if you do, you’re superhuman). People are there to assist you in the best way that they can and when it comes to your wedding day, you need to remember to have fun. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.
Animals have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. More than just a pet, they’ve always been integral members of the family: my sister and I even used to call the dogs our brothers when we were very small. As I got older, I bought my own puppy (Coco, a Frenchie who has been by my side for over 9 years) and spent as much time around horses as I could. As well as dogs and horses, over the years we have had Guinea pigs, rabbits, cows, donkeys and goldfish: quite the menagerie.
The day Antonio proposed to me, I was overjoyed and immediately started thinking about who I would want to celebrate our wedding with us. My family, best friends and my longstanding rock: Coco. I know it can seem silly to some to attribute so much importance to a pet, but she has been there for me through everything: breakups, illness, living abroad and all the happy times I’ve had with my loved ones. So why wouldn’t I include her on one of the most important days of my life?
My fiancé was reticent when I announced my plan to have Coco be our ring-bearer with a custom floral collar, but I kept pushing and we eventually came to a compromise: Coco would join us during the wedding cocktail with her floral collar and we would take some family photos, just the three of us, after which she would go back home for a well-deserved nap. So was it worth it?
Undoubtedly, yes. I’m under no illusions that Coco will no longer be here one day, and I would forever have regretted not having her with us on our wedding. To have those images and memories with her, panting excitedly and wanting to run around and greet everyone, even if it was just for half an hour, brought a little bit of her unconditional love and magic to the day. I even recently spoke on BBC Radio Three on why pet owners/animal lovers should include their four-legged friends in their celebrations: it’s a piece of who we are and why should we let convention dictate who we can and cannot have around us on our big day (I’m referring to both animals and humans)?
My tips for having your pets by your side are quite simple really. Firstly, take into account the kind of animal you have and how this animal would be comfortable: dealing with a pet snake and a pet dog are very different here. Think of climate and temperature, you don’t want your pet to be struggling in a hot summer wedding or shivering in the snow. Secondly, bear in mind that some of your guests might be afraid/allergic of animals: I’m not suggesting confining your animals to a small space, but think of leads and large enclosures as options, also for safety. You don’t want anyone faceplanting because they tripped over your cat. Thirdly, decide if you would like to dress your pets. I tend to be partial to floral collars, which are comfortable, lightweight and read well both in photos and reality. Think of your pet’s happiness above all: you don’t want them struggling in a doggy tuxedo. And last but not least, consider your pet’s age and character.
You may adore your new puppy but if he or she isn’t house trained or very obedient yet, it might be more trouble than it’s worth: consider having them come for a limited amount of time for photos. Also bear in mind the animal’s character: can they become aggressive in crowds? Do they get scared easily? I can’t stress how important it is to put their happiness and comfort beyond yours.
Your wedding is a day of love, so go forth and incorporate those that truly love you unconditionally: your pets. Oh and your family and friends too.