“Holy Shitballs we’re about to get married”

That, ladies and gentlemen, was what was written in big letters on our fridge at the beginning of October. That was the point we were at. We had reached the ‘holy shitballs’ level of panic.

The problem with wedding planning is that for 90% of the time, the only thing you need to do is to respond to the question: “So how’s the wedding planning going?”  with: “Yeah, really well thanks” and then you have about ten minutes to do ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD OF WEDDINGS.

The seating plan for example, caused a massive amount of stress. We had days worth of conversations like this:

“Why don’t we put Guest A and Guest B on the table with Guest Y and Guest Z?”

“But then what about Guest L? They can’t be without Guest A and Guest B because otherwise they won’t know anyone.”

“Oh yeah. Bollocks”

“Ooh, I’ve got this. If we move Guests N, O and P, we can put Guests Y and Z with Guests C, D and E and then Guests N, O and P can sit with Guests A and B?”

“By Jove, I think you’ve cracked it… hold on”

*stares intently at table plan which is by now a dog eared piece of paper covered in crossings out and expletives*

“We forgot Guests J and K. They are now sitting at a table on their own”

“Holy mother of God. Why is this so difficult?”

*splashes Tippex all over the table plan dramatically*

“That’s it. I’ve had enough. Can’t we get some long trestle tables and just plonk everyone in a line?”

“They could just all stand up?”

“To eat soup?”

*exasperated sigh*

By the time we reached Wedding Eve (like Christmas Eve but with fewer reindeer jumpers) we had this attitude:

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“Ahhh..We don’t seem to have enough napkins.” “Oops, I’ve spelt this dude’s name wrong on the seating plan.” “Oh man, the ink in the fancy pants pen has run out.” “Erm…I appear to have broken a glass.”

I DON’T CARE.

GIVE ME WINE.

***

And then the wedding happened.

6 October 2016 flew past in an awesome blur of joy, relief, delight, pride, happiness and…ahem… Prosecco.

You will all be pleased to hear that Brad eventually got himself a suit and did not have to say his vows starkers. The lovely staff at Next managed to remain incredibly professional when we went in, scarily near to the wedding date, to pick Brad’s outfit. One lady in particular put on a twinkly customer service smile and told me about the time that a best man came into the store on the day of the wedding to buy his suit. Unfortunately, Brad took this to mean that he was some sort of hero because he’d nailed his suit purchase a whole two weeks earlier than the lastminute.com best man.

Brad’s usual outfit of choice would be some sort of sportswear, and I mean comfortable tracksuit type sportswear, he’s not one for physical exertion if he can possibly help it. So I confess that seeing him all smartly dressed was really very special for me.

Men however, respond differently it would seem.  Upon seeing me in my wedding finery, my Dad, who is not known for grand displays of affection said “Alright? Have I got the right time? Do you want me now?”…. pause (where he seems to suddenly realise that I’m in a fancy frock about to be wed)…”You look nice, Jo”. Mind you, that is pretty dramatic sentiment for my old man.

I cried my way through my vows. To clarify, I was overcome with happy emotions not forcibly entered into an arranged marriage.

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Uh-oh, she’s going to cry…

The problem with crying of course is that it is highly contagious, particularly amongst the female of the species. If there is a wobbly lip or anything resembling a sob, however joyful the reason, you can guarantee an epidemic of tears, Mexican wave stylee; a Mexican weep if you will.

Once the formalities were over and everyone who needed to had double checked that their mascara was as waterproof as it claimed to be, it was time to eat, drink, be photographed 746 times before being merry and it’s fair to say that we had a ball.

My Nan, who is over ninety, took quite a shine to my new father-in-law. Flirting is a timeless skill it would seem, the minx. Not sure that her flirting technique of telling him how old she is “I’m ninety two you know” and getting it wrong; she’s ninety three, is going to catch on, but got to give her credit for trying.

My seven year old niece and flower girl extraordinaire caught the bouquet, much to the horror of both her Dad and my twenty eight* year old bridesmaid who was about fifteen seconds away from rugby tackling the poor girl and snatching the bouquet out of her tiny hands

*she wishes

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Bouquet throwing action shot

Wedding vows aside, we smiled all day long. Our faces hurt from grinning at each other, our amazing families and our fabulous friends and if we’re being really honest, also from knowing that we never have to write another sodding seating plan ever again.

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Wedstress

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Last night I dreamt that it was the day before our wedding and Brad’s Mum was decorating the venue. In my dream the room in which we were getting married looked like my old school hall and even had the long black felt curtains that hung either side of the stage. Brad’s Mum had tried to pull the ancient, moth-holey curtains together but they didn’t quite meet in the middle so she’d creatively placed a Christmas tree in the gap. When I walked into the room and spotted the unseasonal offering, Brad’s Mum, noticing the horrified expression on my face, exclaimed brightly “I’ve decorated it in your wedding colours” as if that was going to make up for the bloody great festive monstrosity taking pride of place at a wedding in October.

This is my current life; panicked dreams about the wedding venue, Facebook posts about finding a florist (yeah, the florist is in the same camp as the wedding invites; they’re sitting together chilling out around the fire, toasting marshmallows and wondering when Brad and I are going to show up), conversations about confetti and suits and rings and what the bloody hell kind of music we should play when we sign the register (the most recent song I had to veto was “I’m too sexy” by Right Said Fred. See what I have to work with?).

Yesterday, instead of watching an episode from our current boxset whispering sweet nothings into each other’s ears as only a soon-to-be-married couple should be, we were talking about our top table.

This is no mean feat for us because we have a shit load of parents. Honestly, we take parent numbers to a whole new level, you won’t be able to move at the wedding for people whose answer to the question “How do you know the Bride and Groom?” will be “I am/I live with one of their parents.”

Both of our sets of parents are divorced and all of them are remarried or have new partners. We love them all but you just can’t fit 8 parents, 2 best men and a bride and groom on a top table without the table having to snake around the room like some sort of abstract human dado rail.

We gave up the conversation after about 20 minutes and went back to the box set sweet nothings. Well, we’ve got seven weeks to worry about the seating arrangements, it’ll be fine…

***

Table plan: “Is anyone sitting here?”
Wedding invites: “Nah, buddy you’re fine. Grab a beer, Florist has just gone to get some more marshmallows.”

Write here, write now

Instead of writing wedding invitations, I thought a better use of my time would be to enter a writing competition…because giving myself something else to do at this busy time isn’t foolish at all (read: It is utterly foolish. I am a knob).

I got a prompt, in my case the prompt was ‘Pets’, and I had 48 hours in which to write a personal essay for the Yeah Write Super Challenge. How hard can that be? Flash Gordon only had 14 hours to save the earth and he managed it.

This is a three stage competition and I’m very excited to report that I’m successfully through to the second stage!

Part of my reason for entering the competition was because I was procrastinating, those damn wedding invitations won’t write themselves because the judges provide feedback that I can use to help to make me a better writer.

The judges give feedback on what they like about the piece of writing and where there is room for improvement. Regarding my work, the judges liked the “compelling and humorous ending scene” but felt that “the essay could have used another round of proofreading for commas and dangling participles”.

A dangling participle does sound like a painful affliction but I can assure you that it is a grammatical term meaning ‘a participle intended to modify a noun which is not actually present in the text’ (I totally googled that and still can’t work out where the dangling participles are in my essay. Feel free to let me know when you spot them!).

***

I ALWAYS THOUGHT THAT I WAS A DOG PERSON

I always thought that I was a dog person, until I got a cat. Now I KNOW that I am a dog person.

Nine years ago I decided that I wanted a cat. Not just any old cat, I was very particular about the make, model and colour that my heart desired: Short haired; Kitten; Most definitely ginger. The colour was not negotiable.

We found a local breeder who had two kittens left from a large litter; one ginger, one tortoiseshell. When we arrived the little ginger madam was nowhere to be seen so whilst the breeder played hide and seek with a baby cat, I innocently picked up tortoiseshell to give her a cuddle.

It transpires that tortoiseshell was cunning. She had been turned down by other families and she realised that she needed to up her game and close the deal. She had a pretty little face with a white patch of fur above one eye that made her look permanently surprised and baby pink pads on the bottom of her feet. She looked up at me affectionately with her big blue eyes and snuggled into me, then she let out a tiny little sigh, closed her eyes and started purring contentedly.

Of course, I fell for it. Ginger who? I took tortoiseshell home with me that very day.

And that was the most affection I’ve ever had from her. Turns out, tortoiseshell is actually quite a bitch. It was a ruse, I was swindled by a twelve week old kitten. The wily minx.

Tortoiseshell’s hobbies include the popular ‘This will make her death look like an accident’ where she sneaks herself directly in front of me when I’m walking in the hope that I will trip and break my neck. The classic ‘This will probably get her fired’ where unbeknown to me she sits on my work laptop keyboard typing random letters in the middle of an important document that I only ever spot after I’ve sent it to my boss, and finally the unusual ‘I’m crazy obsessed with potatoes and don’t care who knows about it’ where if you so much as open a bag of crisps within 5 miles of her she’ll hurl herself at your head trying to reach the bag. God forbid you peel a potato in her presence, she propels herself full speed into the kitchen and up to the kitchen sink, trying to rub her face against the half naked potato. So desperate her desire for potato skins that she will plunge her paws into a water filled sink just to reach one.

She does not understand that her tail belongs her. Every time I have a bath she sits on the edge, her tail absent-mindedly trailing in the bubbles. When she jumps down from the bath I see her scowl, absolutely enraged because her tail is wet. She glares at me as if I were responsible, then starts waving it about madly from left to right, drenching half the bathroom before chasing it round in circles and finally licking it dry in disgust.

She loves all food and certainly does not discriminate between ‘cat’ food and ‘people’ food. If she is not eating she considers that there is something wrong with the world. A few years ago she became unwell, she kept being sick, lost a lot of weight and looked awful. As she really likes her food, I was worried. Eventually I took her to the vets.

The vet was concerned because she was dehydrated, they admitted her to the clinic, put her on a drip and started running tests. After she’d been in the clinic for 36 hours I had a phone call from my vet. “We’ve managed to examine tortoiseshell, her belly was pretty large.”

‘Oh gosh, this is it, she’s got a tumour or something awful’ I thought to myself. I held my breath, anxiously waiting to see what the vet would say next.

“Whilst we were examining her, she emitted a large amount of foul smelling gas.”

“Okay….”

“And now she seems absolutely fine”

£430 that cost me. £430 for the vet to make my cat fart.

My next cat will be a dog.

This is tortoiseshell, also known as Tabitha

Don’t trust this cute face, I’m a furry assassin.

The one where the wedding is only three months away and at this rate there’ll be no guests and my groom will be naked

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Almost two months have passed since I last wrote. Wedding plans are coming along nicely… Except that they are not and that last statement was a big fat porky pie. We’re in exactly the same position as we were back in May, apart from the fact that we’ve started to have conversations that end with “Yeah, we really should do something about that…” before we start watching the next episode of *insert generic box set title*.

Our next challenge is to get invitations sent out. This is taxing because it involves concentrated and continuous use of a pen, and a fancy pen at that. We’re not talking bog standard Bic, we’ve got the big guns out; italic nib, swanky case, ritzy ink. The Prince of pens.

Considering we live in a technological age, I don’t think I’ve properly used a pen since the millennium. God forbid someone even asks me to sign my name these days; I stare at them distastefully “Can’t I just press a button or something?”. Sadly, it turns out that Facebook event wedding invites are just not the done thing, so we’re going to have to start practicing our penmanship post haste.

In this mammoth game of ‘wedding planning’ that we are playing right now (less fun than Trivial Pursuit, I’ll be honest), Brad has one job. His job is to pick a suit, so that we can order more suits for the rest of the men in the wedding party. I tricked him into Marks and Spencer recently with the promise of Percy Pigs and encouraged him to look around at the suits whilst he was there. I received a similar response to the time I’d asked him to unblock the kitchen sink because it wasn’t draining and it smelled like a sweaty, farty gym. In fact I think he’d take smelly sink unblocking over suit shopping any day of the week.

In other news, my weight loss is continuing which has brought me both great joy and immense sadness.

On the plus side I can buy smaller clothes and fit into some of the clothes from my “Hmmm, it doesn’t strictly fit me now (circa 1997) but I’m sure I will lose weight soon so it would be wrong to return it to the store in exchange for replacement money” clothes drawer. So if you see me wandering around looking like some sort of ancient spice girl, you’ll understand why.

Weight loss negatives are that I have suffered a catastrophic bereavement; RIP boobs. You were so loved and gave so much joy to so many. Who knew that you were actually 50% cake?

I am also discovering how much more uncomfortable the world is without a bouncy layer of fat to protect you. There is a lump in my car seat, it’s always been there, I’ve never paid it much attention, suddenly it’s started impertinently digging into my arse. The fat soldier is no longer on duty to protect me from such rascals.

And now for my most significant achievement since my last post. It is one that I hardly dared dream about. It just goes to show that wishes can come true…. I am delighted to announce that I have gone down another setting on my Fitbit wrist band.

Screw the wedding, weight loss: Nailed it.

The wanderer returns…

Ah, beloved reader. Have you missed me? I am sorry for my tardiness, life has been rather hectic since my last post.

I’ve turned from regular Josiejolene: cake eater, 9 to 5 worker, closet ‘Eastenders’ viewer, occasional blogger to Josiejolene 2.0 (The Bride-to-be edition): cake avoider, work out every damn day-er , closet ‘Don’t tell the bride’ viewer, never blogger.

Yes indeed, eight months ago Brad presented me with a sparkly ring, on a beautiful roof terrace in Gran Canaria. It was romantic and meaningful and made me weep in that girly way that creates involuntary and dramatic fluttering of at least one hand in front of the eyes.

He made me happy cry; where one looks radiant and filled with emotion, rather than that ugly, hiccup filled, crying that makes you sound like a set of bagpipes and causes rivers of snot to flow down your face.

So the boy did it, he changed the course of our lives; not least by creating such excitement that we drank most of the resort dry of alcohol resulting in the worst hangover known to man.

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Hangover inducing drinks

Day one of engaged life involved the two of us fighting for control of a Spanish hotel toilet in which to repeatedly be sick into. They don’t show you that in the movies.

We had a very slow recovery from quite probable alcohol poisoning. We spent the day lying in bed with a do not disturb sign on the hotel room door (and not in a good way), curtains pulled tightly closed to protect us from the bright sunshine which would surely burn painfully into our hungover heads whilst trying to keep down tiny sips of full fat Coke and watching Spanish telly, very quietly. I knew Brad was starting to feel better when he expressed considerable disappointment that ‘La Sexta’ (which is the name of a Spanish television channel meaning ‘The Sixth’) was “not what it sounds like”.

And so, once we were able to keep down more than just lukewarm cola flavoured beverages, we returned to Blighty and the wedding planning began in earnest. Of course by that I mean I started talking about wedding venues and colour schemes and Brad tried to work out if it was too late to suggest a quick trip to Gretna Green because talk of best men, bouquets and bridesmaids made his ears bleed.

We have managed to reach a compromise, I can talk to him about wedding plans in return for his full attention if I confiscate his mobile phone, lock him in the car and take him out for food.

I have fallen into the typical bride-to-be trap of wanting to lose at least 50lb before the big day so I’ll be talking to him about wedding plans and nibbling on a tiny child sized salad whilst he devours a massive steak and orders another beer. I have started to wonder if having secret thoughts of tipping beer over the head of your betrothed and poking him in the eye with one of your dull, tasteless salad carrots is usual in the circumstances.

The weight loss plan is going well, I am in constant pain and exceedingly grumpy from exercising every day and I have started to dream obsessively about cake so I have clearly achieved greatness.

I am also really, really sweaty. You know that saying “women glow, men perspire and horses sweat”? Well you can just go ahead and call me Red Rum.

The sweating has additional side effects, I’m currently trying to work out if looking like I’ve stolen my face from an acne riddled adolescent is better than having too big a bottom and don’t even get me started on trying to take off a sports bra when sweaty. Those bad boys stick to you like superglue and require almost industrial assistance to remove. I can’t tell you how many times Brad has been faced with me, panicked and red faced yelling at him to help me because the bra won’t budge any further and I’ve got one boob hanging out and one arm trapped over my head preventing me from completing the seemingly simple task of undressing myself.

I have lost weight. I’m not at the 50lb mark yet, but it’s all going in the right direction. Only a few weeks ago I had to adjust the wrist strap on my FitBit. Because that’s the dream for any bride-to-be. Skinny fucking wrists. My life has been plagued with the struggle of trying to buy plus size watches and elasticated bangles, so it’s marvellous that this hell is over.

Seriously? My wrists are getting smaller? I have enough bum for two people and I’ve done more burpees and squats in the past five months than quite possibly I’ve done in the entire 37 other years that I’ve been alive, and I’m rewarded with going down a wristband strap hole. I could have been eating cake!

So, in summary: Blogging hiatus caused by man with carrot related eye injury proposing to spotty girl with particularly tiny wrists.

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The scene of the crime

I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but…

47423Wedding season is upon us and with it comes the wedding gift debate. Do you have a wedding gift list? Do you wing it and hope not to receive three toasters and an egg poacher. How do you sensitively ask for money instead? What about gift vouchers?

Once upon a time, the wedding gift debate was mine, and in my case certainly the question was how do you convince your new husband that spending your Marks and Spencer wedding gift vouchers on a dress rather than some saucepans is a perfectly reasonable request?

Help on this front came in the form of two of our wedding guests. These were two people that I hardly knew. My husband-to-be had been to the pub one night, probably drunk until he couldn’t remember his own name or who on earth he was marrying and promptly invited a bunch of people to our wedding claiming that they were his ‘friends’. To put this into perspective, this is the man who got in a temper and nearly missed his own wedding rehearsal for absolutely no reason. I now know him to have been suffering from a chronic condition known as ‘beingatosseritis’. Honestly, I can’t think why the marriage didn’t last. Anyway, I digress. The wedding went without a hitch. We were on a budget so it was a relatively low key affair with about 60 guests, but the sun shone and I managed to justly avoid the personae non gratae.

No-one gets married in order to receive wedding presents. Based on the average price of a wedding these days, £18,244 according to the Telegraph; you can skip the wedding, buy yourself a rotary toaster and employ an egg poaching breakfast chef for the eleven and a half years that the average British marriage lasts. However, there is a certain etiquette regarding wedding presents. If the bride and groom have a wedding list, buy something from it. If there is nothing on the wedding list that you want to buy, you can’t go wrong with a gift voucher from Marks and Spencer so the bride can buy a new dress a sensible grown up home store like Ikea or Debenhams and worst case scenario, if you are having a personal financial crisis, don’t buy a gift, just send a card with lovely words or buy something small and thoughtful.

Two of the pub guests obviously were unaware of this wedding present protocol, although, this was not clear at first. At the wedding, they presented us with a beautifully wrapped box. ‘How wonderful’, I thought, berating myself for giving my new husband a hard time. They were his friends, he wanted them there, they’d obviously been out and bought us something special to celebrate our big day and I was touched by this.

When we opened our wedding presents the day after the wedding, the pub guest present was one of the last gifts to be opened. We shook the box. It rattled. Bemused, we wondered what was inside. We ripped open the wrapping paper to reveal…

…A 500g box of Shredded Wheat.

And that’s the story of how I ended up with a very nice Marks and Spencer dress to wear on my honeymoon.