The Bad Bride Diaries: Venue Hunting

We’re in the looking for a venue stage of wedding planning, and it’s one of the most bizarre experiences of my life.

Wedding venues

Turns out, there approximately 8million sorts of venue to get married in, and they all come with all sorts of decisions. Am I the sort of person who gets married in a converted barn, a fancy hotel, or a quirkier venue like a museum or a cool restaurant? It all seems nice, as you look at pictures of pretty wedding days on the venue listing sites, and then you suddenly realise there are practical decisions to make.

Will my guests fit? Are we going to rattle around in there? Where will people stay nearby? Is there enough parking? Can we have the ceremony and the reception in the same place? Is there somewhere for people to put their coats? What time does the bar close?

I now spend what feels like most of my life looking at the websites of venues, and getting increasingly annoyed by how amazingly crap some of them are. Top tip, wedding venues. If your website is not optimised for mobile, if your brochure is buried somewhere obscure, if you call yourself ‘affordable’ but have no prices anywhere, if the only pictures are close-ups of people’s centre pieces, I’m probably going to hit the back button and go back to Googling for other venues. All of these issues are surprisingly common, and super annoying.

We’ve managed to shortlist a few places, and we’ve been to see a couple of places in person, which is an experience in itself. We’ve been lucky, and only dealt with very nice people, but we’ve also been given 12000 bits of paper which are slowly taking over our flat, lots of information we often largely don’t understand, a warning against ‘the menfolk’ doing too long speeches, a guide which informed me I must make sure Dave attends his suit fitting (silly old grooms can’t manage such things alone, poor dears), and a general sense of total confusion. I never know what to ask, despite the many, many lists out there of questions to ask your venue. I find myself holding conversations about corkage, and whether cake knives are included, and vaguely wondering who I have become. Luckily, I still don’t understand chair covers, so I’ve not been sucked into Bride World fully yet.

The emailing back and forth is currently my least favourite thing, and like the websites, I’ve found many small annoyances which immediately make me scratch a venue off the list. Offences include: advertising on your site that I can email for wedding options and menus but then reply with hire costs and an instruction to telephone the tearoom to discuss menus (hello, are you not the same place? How is it a thing that you cannot provide a standard wedding menu from your own venue?), refusing to give any price information until I come in person or provide an exact date for a wedding I want in two years time and being astonishingly slow to respond.

I think this is the first phase of Bridezilla. Save me from myself.

As yet, we’re still looking, and I’ll share our chosen spot when we finally pick it (help me, how do you choose???) but for now, think of me, stroppily emailing and Googling and swearing at download a brochure links that don’t work.

Why Not Coffee, Bearwood

You should know by now that I am obsessed with all things caffeine. I love coffee, and coffee shops, and I’m always on the look out for a new coffee spot to get my fix. Luckily for me, a few minutes work from my house a new coffee shop has opened, aiming to bring some New York cool to Bearwood. Why Not Coffee opened a short while ago, bringing a very different sort of cafe to the area.

Why Not Coffee

Why Not Coffee Bearwood

Dave and I popped along for some pre-food-shopping fuelling, and grabbed lunch and some drinks. Inside, the cafe is all hipster cool, with wooden tables, funky light fittings and exposed brickwork. It was busy, which is great to see, but we managed to find a table near the back.

I was delighted to see that there a lots of power sockets, good, free Wifi, and plenty of small tables for solo visitors to set up shop with a laptop. Bearwood’s cafes, I find, tend to lean more towards the mum-with-pushchair crowd, which is fine, and obviously very needed, but when you’re not a Mum-with-a-pushchair and are in fact a freelancer, or a blogger looking for somewhere to escape the house for an hour and get a bit of work done, it can be slim pickings. Why Not looks like it will be a great spot for this though.

Coffee

Chai Latte

We both chose a Chai Latte (£2.50) which arrived promptly in pretty green cups. The regular size was the perfect amount, and I think, a really good price. The latte was creamy and delicious, with a good sprinkling of cinnamon across the top. The chai is soothing, and gently spiced, just how I like it.

Avocado Salad

Sandwich

I ordered the Avocado Salad (£4.90) which is a nice mix of leaves, avocado, mint, pistachios and sun-dried tomatoes, with a choice of hummus, tuna or goat’s cheese. I went for the goats cheese, and was very impressed the huge pile of salad that arrived. Too many places skimp on the pricier (but tastier) parts of a salad like this, but this packed full of avocado, cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. It was delicious, and very satisfying.

Dave went for a Pesto, Tomato and Mozzarella Sandwich (£3.90). Again, no skimping on the pesto, and the bread was crisp and very tasty. Why Not get their bread from the lovely Jam Vs Custard, so it’s sure to be excellent quality.

We were very pleased by our visit. The menu is small, but well executed, supported by good coffee, and friendly staff. The selection of cakes looked very tempting too, and we’ll be back for a sugar fix, for sure.

We paid in full. They didn’t know I was a blogger. All words, opinions and images are my own. 

The Bad Bride Diaries: The Fear

Planning a marriage is a funny old thing. It’s a pretty huge life decision to make, and it’s pretty normal to be a little nervous. Unfortunately for me, my fears are a little more out of my control than standard pre-wedding jitters. And I’m willing to bet I’m not alone in being frightened of being treated and viewed differently after I’m married.

While anecdotal, the tweet above is a pretty typical example of how women are discriminated against in the workplace. It’s a real fear of mine, that by choosing to get married, I could also be tanking some of my own career prospects in the process. As the practise is illegal, it’s very hard to find actual numbers on this, but it is sometimes the case that young women, especially those recently married, are passed over for promotion, or are rejected at interview, because managers don’t want to take the hit of maternity leave, or have an employee who takes days off to care for a sick child, and wants to *gasp* leave on time in order to care for their offspring. All this before you’ve even thought about getting pregnant! I do wonder what happens to women who get married, but can’t or (like myself) don’t want to have children. As nobody can seem to think this is an option, we take the hit anyway, and the sheer fact of owning a womb and having a husband make you less employable.

It’s not just job prospects that worry me. I’ve always been an independent sort, and while my fiancé and I are very much a team, I’m also still keen on maintaining a seperate identity. Even before we were engaged, I had a real hatred of people referring to us as ‘George-and-David’ (George and David is fine, but there’s a way of mashing our names together that enrages me), in a manner that suggests we are one entity sharing a brain and must think and feel the exact same about everything. Getting engaged only made that worse; in fact, some people stopped using my name at all and began to refer to me, always with a knowing smile or a nudge, as ‘the future Mrs Whitney’. I’m staggeringly excited about being Dave’s wife, but I’d like to have my own first name, please.

Actually, I’d like my own surname too, which is a whole other kettle of fish. Luckily, my friends and family seem pretty okay with that decision (my Dad is very pro this choice, actually, which is great). I’ve had the odd person worried I think they’re anti-feminist for choosing to take their husband’s name, but otherwise it’s been pretty chill. For the record, I couldn’t care less what other women choose to do with their names. What has been odd is the reaction to the idea of going double-barrelled. Dave’s preference would be for us both to go double-barrelled, so we would both be Elsmere-Whitney. I actually love this idea; we’d have the same surname, indicating our new team status, but also allows us both to maintain our own, original names, while also symbolically joining the others family. When I’m asked if I’m changing my name, and I answer that actually, we think we’ll both go double-barrelled, the person asking looks a bit sick for a moment, before arranging their face into strained politeness and replying, “Oh! How…modern!” A study last year by the University of Nevada Las Vegas looked into how people tend to view men whose wife’s keep their name after marriage. The study found that when participants described the sort of men who marry women who keep their maiden names, they described them as less powerful, or rated them in more emotional terms, rather than proactive, useful ones. Some respondents were nice enough to call these men ‘understanding’, whereas others went with the blunter, ‘timid’. One respondee went as far as saying, “The man is weak, and the woman is strong.”

It bothers me that people will make assumptions about the sort of man Dave is, due to my decision to keep Elsmere, and I can only imagine what a man who not only ‘allows’ his wife to keep her name, but takes that name for himself as well, will be viewed us being.

A lot of the traditions of marriage are inherently anti-female too. The women is literally ‘given away’ as property, by her father to her new husband. There is a line in the woman’s vows (now usually left out) where she must promise to ‘honour and obey’. The white dress was originally intended to represent the virginity of the bride. Traditionally, at the reception, the groom, the best man and the father of the bride speak, while the bride and other women remain silent. All this too, views marriage in a very heteronormative way. Who speaks at the wedding of two women? Who is ‘given away’ at the wedding of two men?

Not to suggest that any of this is putting me off, of course. Despite all this fuss, I am content and happy, and actually enjoying wedding planning. For me, marriage will not be an old-fashioned exercise in ownership, but confirmation of the fact we’re a team. Please tell me I’m not the only bad bride out there who gets the shudders the idea of ‘honouring and obeying’, or planning on being a terrible shrew of a wife insisting he takes my name?