“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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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.

Ode to the hen

mQiMNHoTomorrow is my gorgeous friend Louise’s hen night and I’m very excited. I’ve ordered the blow up willy and the L plates and worked out how to stash mini bottles of vodka in my handbag.

I have to confess that I’m really pleased that I’m a girl when it comes to nuptials. When the happy couple announced in a pub a while back that they had set a wedding date, talk soon turned to the stag and hen nights.

The girls’ conversation went a little like this: “Oh my goodness Lou, this is so exciting. What shall we do? We could have a spa day and drink champagne or we could go away somewhere? Ooh, what about a girly city break? We can shop and have lunch and then drink cocktails. It will be great fun.” The boys, on the other hand said to the groom-to-be (and I quote): “We are going to fuck you over.” The stag night has since happened and I have received reports that the main man is still alive and well. He did not wake up on a truckers boat to Germany or chained to a lamppost and both eyebrows remain intact, although I haven’t had visual confirmation of this, I’m still secretly hoping that he had to spend the last three weeks drawing them on with a biro.

I came across a fellow blogger’s list of 10 good things about marriage so in the spirit of all things henny (with maybe some stag thrown in for good measure), here are my views on such matters.

1. Someone to Come Home to Every Night

The blog talks about how lovely it is to have someone to come home to every night and a loving spouse at home looking forward to the moment you walk in the door. Isn’t that a lovely image? The hen angel on one shoulder is thinking about the romantic sentiment behind this. Isn’t it great to be supported and cherished by someone who just can’t wait for your arrival. The stag devil on the other shoulder is thinking ‘the moment I walk in the door, I want to put my bag down, take my shoes off and analyse whether it’s too early for wine. I don’t need a dog shaped husband wagging his tail and blocking my route to the corkscrew.’

2. Someone to Build a Life With

Nice, nice. Although it does feel sound like awfully hard work. Can we replace ‘build’ with one of the following replacement words: ‘sit’, ‘lay’, ‘recline’, ‘lounge’. There is no place for strenuous manual labour in Jo’s life. I’ll take Someone to ‘think about building but changes his mind and makes a nice cup of tea and opens a packet of biscuits instead’ a life with.

3. Someone to Always Be Your Best Friend

Yes, yes, yes. You have your husband ‘best friend’ and then you have your girls to whom you tell all those things that you don’t tell you husband; how much your shoes actually cost, how many times you really cried watching Titanic, what you truly think of his mother, how brand spanking new your ‘this old thing’ dress is and how much he annoyed you when he did <<insert husbandy misdemeanor>>.

4. Someone to Catch You When You Fall

Note to self: Eat less cake to be prepared for this eventuality.

5. Someone to Tell You the Truth

Dear Jo, You’ve eaten too much cake. If I catch you when you fall, I might give myself a hernia. There is a chance that you will not be caught. Love Brad.

6. Someone to Hug You When You Have a Bad Day

I can’t argue with this one. A good hug is like a cloud/marshmallow/duvet sandwich. Bliss.

7. Someone to Make You a Better Person

In a laboratory? Frankenstein style? I don’t want a person to be made for me even if it is a better one. We all know what happened to poor old Eddie in the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I think I’ll politely decline this offer.

8. Someone to Know Everything About You

All well and good but I don’t think everything needs to be known about me and I certainly do not need to know everything about Brad. If there is an upset stomach situation for example, that’s all that needs to be said. No further details are necessary. It’s good to share but it’s better to keep an element of mystery as well. No-one needs to witness me sitting in the bathroom trying to prevent hair dye dripping into my eyes. I mean, obviously I don’t need to dye my hair because I’m not going grey. I’m fine. A natural brunette with absolutely no help whatsoever.

9. Someone that Shares Your Point of View

Arsenal is the greatest football team in the world. Owing as many shoes as possible is a good thing. A Chinese takeaway is better than an Indian takeaway. We need a bigger telly. Drum and Base is acceptable listening material. Strictly Come Dancing is a great TV show. Showers are better than baths. These are just a small selection of statements highlighting different points of view that Brad and I currently hold.

10. Someone to Love You Just the Way You Are

Well, Billy Joel, Barry White and Bruno Mars can’t all be wrong.

Happy hen night, Lou!