The Bad Bride Diaries: Highbury Hall Wedding Fayre

A few weekends back, we continued our wedding planning adventures with a visit to Highbury Hall for their wedding fayre. Highbury is a stunning building, dating back to 1878. The fair showcased lots of local wedding vendors, covering everything from wedding dresses to a hypnotist to combat wedding day nerves.

Highbury Hall

We grabbed a glass of fizz and went for a stroll. We’re a way off our wedding, obviously, but I was hoping to get some ideas.

The Dressing Rooms

Tea length wedding dress

Wedding Dress

Dancers suit

The clothing

We looked at wedding dresses from TDR Bridal Outlet, suits from Peter Posh and Dancers, and Mother of the Bride outfits from Liliann Occasion Wear

Turns out Mum and I are super fussy, as neither of us saw anything we’d actually wear, but the ladies from TDR were lovely, and as they stock ex-samples of House of Mooshki, I’ll definitely be going in for an appointment. I’m not at all precious about wearing an ex-sample dress, and the heavy discounts are definitely attractive!

We had more luck with suits, coming away with both loving a few cuts, and basically anything in blue. We definitely have some ideas now, and again, found the chaps from Dancers super friendly.

Wedding Cake

Vintage Bottles


Table Setting

The Details

Surprise, surprise, I loved a lot of the little vintage details. Pretty glassware, vintage florals, gimme all the retro detailing. I also really loved the beautiful cakes from Daisy & Fred. I already know my cake will be coming from my friend Imogen’s company, Paisley Immy Cakes, but I still enjoyed Daisy & Fred‘s bright, colourful designs. Incredible work.

We had a fun day and did come away with a few ideas, and some vendors we’ll be checking out for sure. If nothing else, we know we need to go back and view Highbury Hall…

Highbury Hall Wedding Fayre was free to attend. Nobody we spoke to knew I was a blogger. All words, images and opinions are my own. 

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.

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?