Wednesday, November 10, 2010

moving house

Hey guys,

Thanks for following along our wedding/moving abroad journey. Now that I'm a respectable married woman I think it's time to lay this blog to rest. But if you want to keep up with our adventures you can find us at The Porters' Lodge. Posts will be up soon, including a fantastic honeymoon on the west coast of Canada (complete with BEARS) and a trip to Oliver Cromwell's house.

LeAnna & David

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wedding Day

I woke up at around 6am on my wedding day, first to a feeling of excitement followed by a slight feeling "ye gods" as I realised the sound I was hearing was rain falling through the evergreens outside my window. By the time I left the house at 7 it was still pouring, and I made the decision to move the reception into my parents church. Considering I had spent the past 20 months planning an outdoor picnic style reception, and had spent the last three weeks organising a bunch of details which centered around that theme, I should have been worried. But to be honest I just couldn't, and didn't, care. Rain was beyond my control, and after the decision was made I just concentrated on praying it would stop in time for my photos.

The morning was made up of rushing slowly through the elaborate process of dressing. I admit to having my only bridal freakout when I realised we were going to be late to the ceremony. I wish that I had been more relaxed, but I really do hate being late and knowing that everyone and everything is waiting for my arrival doesn't help! At least it kept me from thinking too seriously on what was about to come, and I trust my friends & family gave me some leeway as my nerves expressed themselves in this way. Then I was at the church, rushing up the stairs, having my veil put on and the music was starting, and I was just praying that the sound would work, and the first lines of The Wedding Song started and other than a vague appreciation for the music my senses started blurring into one predominant emotion--joy.

The whole day is a blur, with bits of events coming into focus. I loved our wedding ceremony—it was so perfectly us, from the blend of music (folk, latin, & hymns) to the long and somewhat controversial homily (which, for the record, we loved). What more can I say? Our ceremony felt very private and personal. To be honest I did not even really notice our guests until communion. I loved that Paul, Tara's husband, went up for a blessing which sparked most of our non-Catholic guests to go as well. I loved teasing the priest under my breath (he gives as good as he gets). Most of all, I loved whispering to David, and loved how I felt like we were alone.

Photos followed the ceremony, and I am so glad we organised this the way we did so that by the end of the photo sessions it was just us alone with our photographer. We didn't say much, but just basked in the glow of pure joy. It gave us both a chance to relax and just enjoy the moment. Meanwhile our hardworking wedding party was able to eat and rest.

I am a bit odd in that I never really wanted a wedding reception. It was more a notion that people coming from far away needed to eat that prompted me to have one. Because we had to move our reception indoors and I had no idea what to expect I was almost dreading going to the church...but our reception was probably the best surprise of our wedding day. Some very dedicated, wonderful people (Gail, Theo, Paul, Jonathan, my dad and probably others I don't even know about) had been working since 8 that morning to transform my parents' church 'hall' into our reception venue. David and I were both speachless at the beautiful job that was done, because with all our plans for an outdoor reception we really didn't leave anyone much to work with! And, considering that until I converted I had always thought I might get married in that church, it was nice to have my reception there. Arrowsmith still feels like a second home, and it was fitting.

So the bride reluctant to have a reception actually enjoyed hers. We did an open-mike for speeches and were both taken away by all the wonderful things people said about us. We had a beautiful woodsy cake decorated by one of my second-moms, and a lovely first dance (to the Princess Bride theme-song) in the same spot my mum always used to yell at me for dancing in. We got to visit with friends we hadn't seen in a long time, and we had so many people participate in our potluck-feast that there was more food than anyone could possibly eat. We both feel that the relaxed familial atmosphere we wanted was present, and in the end it was more like a giant reunion rather than a wedding reception. For me that was perfect. I felt like I was at home.


It's three month's later to the day as I write this up. It was a long road to the ceremony, but looking back that road was only so long because of all the little details we feel are important. In the light of the big day they really didn't matter. I think all the little pieces of planning help more to keep the festive mood alive up to the wedding, because on the day of I hardly noticed anything, and all the thought I had put into little details paled in comparison to the awesomeness of what David and I were doing. This isn't to say that planning isn't important, for those details set the underlaying mood, but I think the levels of stress us brides can push ourselves to are completely unnecessary.

Our wedding was certainly not expensive, nor did we try to create an atmosphere of expense on our limited budget. It was not formal, and it was not planned within an inch of its life. It was what it was—a collection of our family and friends coming together to celebrate and witness the most public declaration of our love & committment that we have ever made.

The End

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rehearsal Day

On Friday morning I was hit with the reality that I was getting married the next day. I was feeling pretty excited, as well as overwhelmed with last minute details. Fortunately Madeleine was taking me for a manicure as a treat, so we went off and spent the morning getting pampered. The rest of the day passed in a blurr of last minute meetings and errand running, while Tara helped my mum with a bunch of cooking at home.

Before I knew it, it was time to get ready for the rehearsal and following rehearsal dinner. We were really lucky because our photographer decided to scope out the church while we had our rehearsal, which meant that we got rehearsal pictures included in our package free of charge. We were also able to snag her assistant to help us with stuff.

I saw David for the first time in three weeks right before the rehearsal. Then it was into the church and an hour or so of waiting for people to show up, or having people leave before we were done with them. I found myself getting more and more uptight throughout the rehearsal—what everyone says is true, and the bride is expected to have all the answers when, at least in my experience, all the bride would like is a stiff drink and someone to remind her why she hadn't chose to elope! By the end of the rehearsal, after I discovered my parents had snuck out (to get back to work) before it was time to practice walking me down the aisle...after my brain felt overloaded with the ten million ceremonial details of a wedding mass...and after trying to keep sweet-tempered with a bunch of people around, it was time for my very obliging ladies to put me in a van and take me home, where with a bit of rest and a tall glass of cider I recovered my perspective and excitement.

Later that evening we headed out to The Water's Edge, a bistro in the harbour where David's parents were throwing us a rehearsal dinner. It was lovely. We had a private room overlooking the water and mountains, and David's mum had decorated it beautifully with a beachy Jamaican theme.

The food was delicious (seafood appies and jambalaya) and it was so good to just sit, eat, and relax with my groom beside me. As these things do, everything took longer than planned so we ended up having friends and family show up for drinks before we were done, but everyone just shrugged it off and slipped in and it was great! I am so glad we decided to tell people to join us for drinks, as it happens that that was the most time I really had for conversing with most of the people there.

Following dinner, the groom's side and guests went off to a pub, whilst I and my ferociious duo set out to finish wedding prep, and solve a last minute problem of the groomsmen arriving in town with no place to stay. Fortunately Tara is a wonder and managed to find them a lawn to camp on.

At around midnight Tara and Madeleine sent me off to bed whilst they stayed up to make the bouquets (which were so beautiful). I was really touched that they were willing to work so late into the night on this. Nothing like knowing two good friends have got your back! They even contrived a way of wrapping the rosaries I'd gotten as bridesmaid's gifts around the flower stems. I didn't even see the bouquets until the ceremony, but it was clear to me that I had left everything in good hands.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hen Party Day

I realise that I am remiss in updating and posting wedding photos. We got our professional pictures and they are all giant, ie between 5-7mb each, so I need to shrink them in order to email or upload. Needless to say that has fallen to the bottom of my priority list. Life in Cambridge is pretty busy, and I spend my days at work on a computer (the joys of working for ecommerce) so...excuses!

I do love my pictures, by the way.

Is it blasphemous to suggest that I now approach the wedding triduum in this segment? Or at least tri-dies.

The Thursday before my wedding dawned bright and clear as Madeleine and I took ourselves into town for confession. We did penance, ran errands, tried to solve the world's problems (actually, we drank starbucks and Madeleine forced me to eat), and then we arrived home to a flurry of cooking and rushing, as in the afternoon we were heading to Nanaimo for my hen party.

As we began our drive to Nanaimo we started a good ol' fashioned hymn-sing in the car. We were in the midst of a rousing chorus of "How Great Thou Art" when the tire on the car in front of us exploded. The seconds after felt like years. I remember feeling an incredible peace in my soul, and crossing myself, and preparing for whatever came next. Fortunately the driver kept his head and managed to pull over, so we parked and checked that he was ok and then were able to keep on driving. After that really startling experience my anxiety fled. Knowing that if things had only been a little different I could have been seriously hurt in a car crash put everything in perspective. Wedding details no longer seemed as important as actually being able to get married on Saturday!

Thus I arrived at my hen-party, held in a beautiful little tea room tucked away on Nanaimo's south side. There were surprise guests (Michaela, over from Vancouver!!!), fun games based on books that I love, delicious food (chicken cheese crepes to die for), huge quantities of tea, and beautiful sexy presents of lingerie. I had such an amazing time, being there with my closest friends and celebrating my upcoming wedding. Tara and Madeleine did such an amazing job and everything was perfectly me. No embarrassing games, no strippers, and nothing to make my stand out *too* much. It was awesome. It was also mucho fun to be opening packages of all kinds of lingerie, although somewhat odd opening it with my mother and mother-in-law in the room!

Following the hen party we made some last minute stops in Nanaimo to get flowers for the bouquets and other bits. Then returned to Port and Tara showed up with two bottles of cider so that we could commence Super Awesome Bridal Getting Stuff Done. We worked hard, we drank a bit, we had The Office playing in the background. At one point in the evening we laughed too hard when my brother had a rather severe hissy-fit because he found a red candy penis candy in my bedroom. We laughed even harder when he had another hissy-fit after discovering I had given the now-damaged candy to my father to eat. It was a good night.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Calm before the Storm

The week before our wedding was very structured, with certain activities for each day and a swiftly ticking countdown. BC Day was my last free day before the wedding, so we spent it out at Taylor Arm, my favorite part of Sproat Lake. It was a lovely day of swimming and hanging out with family and friends.

Then came Tuesday—a flurry of excitement because we were going to pick my best friend, Madeleine, up in Nanaimo. I had not seen her since we said goodbye at the airport in Toronto last August so I was quite excited. We spent a lovely afternoon at Rathtrevor Beach, and then in the evening Maddy, mum & I attempted Dress Try-On One.

Let's just say that mum's knowledge of corsets comes from tv (and watching the dress alterer), so she got me in like a proper Victorian mother would've done to her daughter—much too incredibly tight for modern purposes, however! My body is so disproportianate to my shoulders...I was kind of freaking out, but trying not to, since it took me awhile to realise that the dress was laced too tightly and it wasn't that I'd somehow had a strange body mutation from two weeks previous.

(cannot breathe!)

Following the dress attempt I took Maddy out to Little Bavaria, where we gorged on German food and had a really lovely chat. Then I gave her a tour of Port in the dark and we continued our chat. It was so wonderful to have my best friend around again. Makes me think I should visit Toronto soon.

Wednesday was primarily devoted to cooking. The morning started off well, with mum & I meeting the city caretaker and discussing last minute things for the outdoor venue. But after that we had to run errands, and as the time slowly disappeared we both started feeling anxiuos. So I had a meltdown and then we got home and into the good hands of Madeleine, and soon everything was running smoothly. We did our day's work in about 2.5 hours, and what I loved so much about this day was the singing. I caught Madeleine singing to herself as she chopped onions, and without further ado we had a good old fashioned hymn-sing started up in the kitchen. The Mennonite blood in my veins was throbbing, for when else do I feel like more of a Mennonite than when I'm singing as I cook? I also dubbed Maddy an honourary Mennonite. I'd have made her a real one but I suspect she does not harbour anabaptist sympathies.

We finished our work so quickly that mum, Maddy, & I actually managed to sneak away to Sproat Lake for an afternoon swim. I also accidently dragged Madeleine on a 2km walk, but at least we got to see the petroglyphs for our troubles. Then home to a delicious steak dinner, and out again for a meeting with Gail (aka my mum's super amazing awesome friend who practically ran my wedding).

When I went to bed on Wednesday night I was actually feeling calm and confident. By Thursday morning, I was back to being a basket case...

(my brother got all arty with the photos)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thoughts on being Newly Married

I sat down many times before my wedding to try to write my reflections on my upcoming nuptials. How did I feel, how did I think I'd feel, what was marriage going to change?

We have only been married on paper for 2.5 weeks, but it feels like it has always been this way. And in many ways it has, for our commitment, desire, and knowledge that we would marry has been with us since we started dating. The voice of God told me that David would be my husband and there was never much doubt in my mind that we would make a match of it. That it took us over six years to wed is evidence of my reluctance to rush before other matters had settled rather than any anxiety over whether or not we should be together. It was always a matter of the time being right, instead of the person being right.

Everyone I have spoken to says that I absolutely glowed on my wedding day, and that they have never seen a couple so happy. And based on how I felt, feel, I can only believe them because it fits.

I knew I wasn't going to mince to the altar a blushing, trembling bride. We had been together too long for that, and I tend to find the hyper-romance that surrounds weddings to be a foolish and dangerous thing. I expected to feel confident, brave, and almost defiant as I walked to my beloved, but those feelings which usually cloak my shyness weren't present. Instead, as I met David at the front of the church I simply felt peace and contentment settle on me and that was the feeling we both took away from the day.

If anything, it was one of those rare times where one can know with absolute certainty that the thing done is perfectly in line with the universe. No questions, not even hopes, just a feeling of such absolute peace and rightness that there is no question it is Divine will.

No doubt there are an infinite number of small changes that marriage has brought to our day-to-day lives. Yet the only major change is the sense of peace and security I have now. For the first time in a very, very long time I feel settled. Home is no longer a physical place that I will have to leave before I can feel properly settled. Home is now simply David, wherever we are together.

The Second Week

The second week I was home I began to feel more pressure to get wedding stuff done, as it was really my last free week before a bunch of wonderful, but time consuming, events. What was unknown to everyone in the house but me and my dad was that there were two surprises planned for the weekend, one for mum & one for John, on top of my church bridal shower. As the organiser in the family I was definitely feeling a bit of strain to ensure that the surprises went off without a hitch whilst we worked on wedding stuff.

I am really grateful that I did not go crazy with the idea of planning out every little detail of the wedding. Perhaps that was the reason that we had to be so flexible with our plans, but it also meant that I could retain most of my sanity. There was no way I could be super detail oriented and put everything together in the three weeks I was home. This meant that my only real urgent task for the week (at least at the beginning) was to assemble our favours.

The main part of our wedding favours were dice we'd had custom engraved from This was an idea I had gotten from almost a year before the wedding and I am thrilled with how they turned out. David collects unusual dice, and uses them when he RPGs with his friends, so it was a great way of incorporating one of his hobbies into the wedding.

I knew I wanted to wrap them up with candy, so John and I browsed the bulk candy section at Extra Foods to find options and decided the jelly bellies would work best. In the end I think I used over 2kg of candy! Making the favour bags was simple—Sue gave me a bunch of leftover tulle, which I cut into squares, filled with candy and a die, and tied with bright ribbon. I created my own assembly station and did it in spare moments. My only bit of trouble was in curling ribbon—fortunately this is one of my brother's hidden talents so he was able to show me how. Then when everything was done I just arranged them in one of the wicker baskets we had and made a sign. You can see I was really going with the outdoor picnic idea here. Fortunately it looked just as bright and cheerful indoors!

As the week drew to a close I had to put wedding tasks aside. Saturday afternoon we were having a large surprise party for my mum's 60th birthday, and at night a bunch of my brother's friends were coming on a surprise visit to see his baptism the next day. I was busy trying to ensure mum and John didn't make plans that conflicted with their surprises—like my brother's instance that we spend another day at Tofino, which I had to convince them to change to Rathtrevor as I knew there was no way we could lose a whole day of travel. Saturday came, insanely busy but everything went off well—mum loved her party, my dad treated everyone to dinner so I didn't have to worry about cooking that night, and John was more surprised than he's ever been in his life when 8 of his friends appeared at his bedroom door at midnight.

Sunday was another full day. I went to my parents' church that morning in order to see my brother get baptised, and then in the afternoon I was back at the church for my church bridal shower.

It really meant a lot to me to be able to have a bridal shower at Arrowsmith Baptist. I had grown up in the church and when I converted to Catholicism the hardest thing was thinking that I was placing myself outside of that community. To be able to have a bridal shower at the church really was a childhood wedding dream come true, and it is thanks to the hard & loving work of my wonderful bridesmaid Tara, Gail, and Sue that it came about. I had a really lovely time and felt really blessed by the time spent with the women there.

On that wonderful note I entered into my last week as an unmarried woman.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Week 1, and A Card Box

My first week home felt more like vacation time than wedding planning. Yeah, there was stuff to do, but for the most part I could just let my jetlag ebb as I got used to living at home again. Normally I find the transition into "life at home" fairly nondescript, but this time around everything was definitely different. It certainly wasn't bad, but after 9 months away and the house being really renovated things just weren't the same. I guess that's what they call growing up.

The highlight of that week vacation-wise was a family trip to Tonquin Park Beach in Tofino. My brother and I took our parents out for a family day as their anniversary present. I drove out there, which was quite an adventure as I had not been behind a wheel for almost a year and I had never driven to Tofino before. Fortunately I like highway driving and we made it in one piece.

It was a gray, overcast day but my brother insisted on exploring around the beach anyway. Eventually I lured him over to some large rocks I had found and, using his super science skills, he discovered numerous tide pools with thriving communities of sea aenenomes, starfish, and mussels. We had so much fun exploring the different tide pools and I learned how to feed sea aenenomes. I also learned that my dad's dog, Abby, is a complete chicken who is willing to trample on her masters if it means she can run away from a wave...

My conscience wouldn't let me spend every day at the beach with a wedding to plan, so I tried to devote the rest of my time to either taking care of cooking so mum could bake wedding cake OR working on wedding related crafts. My big task was to find a way of incorporating our baby photos into the reception, as we could not have a slide show since the reception was supposed to be outdoors.

The initial photo plan was that I would scrapbook a guestbook of young-us photos that would enable our guests to see different pictures as they signed it. Because I hadn't received David's photos by the time we left England I hadn't started this project, which was fortunate as we received a beautiful handmade guestbook with a handpainted prairie sunset tile on the front from some of David's family's friends in Calgary. It was such a thoughtful gift that there was no question about whether or not we would use it. I also liked being able to have a little piece of the prairies to remind us both of where David was born and where we lived for two years.

I was all set to scrap the idea of using baby photos but David's dad gave me a dvd with about 60 scans on it. Knowing that his parents had gone to the work of compiling this meant I couldn't just change my mind. So I thought. I thought hard. And I came up with...nothing! At least not at first...

While I was wondering what to do with these photos I was also plotting to make a cardbox beastie monster. As I sat down to resketch the face one evening I realised that I could do a photo collage on the box instead—something that fit with our wedding a little more and something totally unique and just tacky enough to be perfect. Then followed a couple afternoons of an xacto knife, photos, and hot glue. I was quite pleased with the end result, and we're saving the box. Meanwhile mum was frantically trying to get wedding cake baked, and the week melted away with a feeling of getting things done.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Home—Before we say Goodbye

Our whirlwind trip to Canada is now over and we are safely back in the UK. It will take more than a few posts to get caught up on all the wedding prep I did in the weeks before the big day, and to be honest my mind is still processing my wedding day, trying to sort through all the different events and emotions and condense it into an actual memory. I also have almost 800 photos to sort through, and those are just ones from family and friends! David's mum & sisters are all avid photographers so I landed a windfall of photos, which is really great since the day was a blur.

Someone recently asked me, expecting an affirmative answer, if everything for the wedding had gone according to plan. I think I can safely say that almost nothing went according to plan, but we did not let ten million last minute hiccups and changes ruin our lovely day. If anything, the last minute changes really illustrated the amount of support and love people were ready to show us. I was constantly surprised by the different people who stepped forward to help, some revealing talents I didn't know they had!

But that is a tale yet to come. In order not to forget anyone, or anything, the historian in me demands that I walk through the weeks preceding the wedding. The whole time was not one of work, but one of busyness and plenty of play. I know I repeat an earlier post a bit, but deal with it—I had no internet access when I wrote this to double check what I'd written before.

My first Monday back was incredibly busy as mum and I ran over to Victoria for my dress alteration appointment. I don't think I can express how nervous I was about this appointment—I had tried on my dress twice before, and both times it was 3 sizes smaller than the size I had to order, so I was worried that I would not like the actual correct dress. And then the other worry, that the size ordered would not fit! However it required only minor alterations and I was able to pick it up, finished, that afternoon.

First time trying on "The Dress"


Second time with "The Dress", and this time with my veil (before mum whitened it)

While the dress was being altered mum & I drove to David's house to pick him up for wedding errands. This also meant opening our first few gifts (exciting!!!), which were all of the pretty servingware variety. I also got to see the lovely handmade guestbook someone had given us, which we loved so much we used it for our reception. Then mum, David & I left the house and went to go get the marriage license.

The trip to get the license was rather hilarious, mostly because I managed to flash the parking lot at the mall while taking off my sweater before going into the insurance office. David takes it as a sign that I just could not wait to marry him...I take it as a sign that my shirt was too big. Regardless, some lucky people got to see my lovely pink bra, and my mum had a nice little laughing fit in the car. Getting the license was also weird, as they were a lot less anal than I thought they'd be. Having to face immigration & visa officers over this past year makes one really conscious of how correct paperwork needs to be, but after all our fuss they didn't even ID us.

Later that afternoon we got lost, twice, trying to find the store where David's tux was being rented (because we couldn't remember which mall it was at). And then there was an incident involving a lot of Arby's in a food court. And then more visiting at David's, and a drive to Duncan to meet his Great Aunt Joyce, before we said goodbye... thus began our two week separation, or longest two weeks of my life :)

Visiting with Aunt Joyce

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

ain’t it good to be back home again

After over 17hours of travel I've made it back to Canada! The trip was long and exhausting, but I am getting over my jetlag and trying to focus on getting wedding things done each day.

We flew into Vancouver which was great as it meant we got to spend time with my mum's family. Whilst in Vancouver I got the headpiece that my aunt has made for me. It is a beautiful hair vine of swavarski crystles and silver wire which will be pinned into my hair. I also discussed reception details with my uncle, who will be MCing our wedding. AND I got to see my cousin Tara's lovely wedding on the DVD my brother made for her, which made missing it much less bitter.

On Monday mum & I left for Victoria and my dress alteration appointment. To say I was nervous would be an understatment—I had never tried the dress on in its proper size, I had not seen my actual dress until two days before, and I had no idea if the measurements taken just under a year ago would still be good. However once I was laced into the dress I did not want to take it off! With no makeup and my hair pulled back in a ponytail I still looked beautiful. It really is "the dress". Mum and I had lots of fun learning how to deal with the corset and are going to be practicing before the wedding. Carly, the woman who altered my dress, was amazing. My dress needed to be hemmed and have the bustle added and she did that all for us that day...literally 2 hours after we'd come in! She was full of information and we left feeling very confident and happy.

After the dress appointment we went to David's parents' where we found some beautiful wedding gifts awaiting us, including a beautiful handmade guestbook which we will be using for our wedding. Following a bit of a visit it was errand time—marriage license procured, David's tux ordered, and my dress picked up. We then drove to Duncan with David's family where I got to meet his 96 year-old great aunt who won't be able to come to our wedding. Then mum & I continued on to Port.

Every day I am trying to get wedding stuff out of the way. Yesterday we picked up fabric for some of the decorations and left the marriage license at the church. I also figured out how I am going to incorporate our baby photos etc into the wedding without doing a slideshow. I am excited to see how my idea plays out, and hopefully between today and tomorrow I can make it. I spent last night and this morning choosing photos and cropping them. Now they're getting printed and I may even be able to pick them up tonight.

Other than WEDDING, I get a little less jetlagged every day. I am having a hard time sleeping, and have only managed one eight-hour night out of the last week. I think this is a combo of jetlag, sunlight, and excitement.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Less than a month!

With the wedding less than a month away, I find myself in the contradictory position of having so much to say that I am unable to say anything.

This time next week, absit omen, I will be in Vancouver :)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ring Shopping

It took me nearly a week to recover from the ball. Lack of sleep and lack of vegetables left me feeling quite drained. Fortunately when Friday rolled around I was perked up by receiving my first official pay as a permanent staff member at my job! It was higher than I expected, even with them taxing me too much (I will get a refund for the overpaid tax), and it was nice to feel the financial pressure of the past year begin ebb away.

(Riding the train is still novel)

Pay came just in time, because on Saturday David and I went to London to buy our wedding rings! We had a lovely but exhausting day. The journey to London is beginning to become familiar—a 40 minute walk to the station, waiting in line anxiously worrying that I'll buy the wrong tickets, the rush onto the platform to purchase breakfast from the West Cornwall Pasty Co (this time hot Cumberland sausage in a bun), and then a 50 minute ride of beautiful English countryside and small villages.

Do you need another picture of me on the train?

When we arrived in London we went to Hatton Garden, London's jewellery district. The morning was, at least for me, fraught with disappointment. As I expected, most of the stores were way out of our price range (hello £10,000 rings! Seriously). We had wanted to go here because they were supposed to have a 300 store jewellery mall...which turned out to have about 5 stores open (so not 300), the majority of which were run by pushy, somewhat sleazy men hawking their wares.

Creepy statue children on the way to Hatton Gardens

After the jewellery mall failed we continued to browse on the streets. Then I found a beautiful antique ring—a fat round bright yellow gold ring with a bit of engraving around a bright blue sapphire. I fell in love with it...but it was not to be. I was worried about the pressurized setting not keeping the stone in (the ring was from 1911), David was worried about the quality overall, and although I will likely go back and buy it with some grad money one of my uncle's gave me I couldn't sell myself on getting a ring that neither of us felt 100% about, even if I did love it.

Antique ring I fell in love with.

More browsing. More feeling dissatisfied. Finally we went back to The Wedding Ring Shop. It is a cheesy looking shop that has a giant wedding ring serving as the door handles. We had been in there earlier but as they didn't have any prices displayed we figured it would be way out of our limited budget. By this point in the day I was feeling rather low—hungry after hours of fruitless searching, and only becoming increasingly dissatisfied with options. Fortunately I have David.

Within minutes of entering the shop he'd found a ring that he thought looked similar to the one I loved at the antique store. And after finding that I noticed that this store had a number of rings with engraving on them. After much looking, because there were many options, I found a wedding band that was hand engraved with a series of flowers and vines around it. Love, again! The way the light caught the engravings made it look like it was sparkling with gems, but it was still plain enough to not clash with the all the stones in my engagement ring.

Not my ring, but similar

I hardly dared to hope that we could afford it. However this shop is wonderful! All the rings are made to order, which meant that we were able to customise it to fit with our budget. And we also ordered David's ring from there so he got the fun of choosing the style and metal as well. The only downside is that since the rings are all made-to-order we won't be able to pick them up until July 13th, four days before we leave for our wedding. Still, I think it is well worth the wait—not only do we have rings that we love, but we had the fun of going to get them in London.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

May Week--Scheherazade

Much has happened in the last week so it will probably take a post or two to cover it all.

Last Monday David and I went to Clare's May Ball, Scheherazade. It was the most fantastic event that I have ever been to. The thing closest to it is Dry Grad, but that description doesn't even do it justice. It's like comparing a peasant to a queen :)

It was such fun to walk to the college in proper evening dress, as there are just enough tourists around now that you can tell people are wondering where you're going. When we arrived at the college the line to get in stretched for about a block, but we were fortunate enough to spot some friends mid-way up who snuck us in with them.

The first thing we noticed were camels, two of them, wandering on the medieval street that ends in Kings. I braved a picture with them, although was terrified that they would spit on me! Then we finally entered the college grounds (past security that included wristband swiping and photo id). The evening required a program booklet and map. And from then on it was one giant party!


- unlimited champagne, bellinis, beer, wine, cider, and Arabian-nights themed cocktails (with fig or mango liqueur)

- unlimited food including curry on couscous, falafel, hog roast, freshly fried donuts, candy bar, crepes, ice cream, baklawa, a chocolate fountain, pastries, bacon butty, and a deli (with pate, smoked salmon, veggies, cheese, houmous)

- shisha (hookah) with a delightful fruit flavoured thing to smoke

- late night punt rides on the river

- musical performances all night, including big names like Faithless (rock) & Neil Crowley (jazz) and also local groups playing folk, swing, and classical.

- Indian massage, manicures, a casino, and a silent disco

We wandered, we ate, we spoke with friends, we danced...David rode a mechanical camel (like a mechanical bull). We reclined on cushions in a garden, smoking on the shisha and watching fireworks over the river. We took cocktails down to the improvised dock and went for a punt ride on the Cam at 3am. We listened to some amazing local folk, in the style of the Kingston Trio. We met up with most of our friends at one point or other, made some new friends, and managed to stay until 5:30am for the survivors' portrait. We also managed to get the last bottle of champagne.

It is the first time that I have ever stayed out all night without feeling even the slightest bit bored or exhausted. I was so busy I didn't even notice that the sun had set! It was beautiful to see dawn creep up over the gardens after such a romantic and magical night. I felt beautiful, people said I looked beautiful, and I was surrounded by beautiful people.

We left at around 6am, wandering through streets that sported others wending homewards, passing lorry drivers on their way to work. Jesus Green was the emptiest that I've ever seen it, and the streets were still in the bright dawn. Then to bed, waking in a grey afternoon, and feeling as if the previous night was nothing more than a glittering dream.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

May Week—President’s Dinner & Some Bumps

It is most certainly May-week and our whirl of gaiety has begun!

May-week means that the students are finishing their respective defences, exams, and theses and are now let loose on the town to party. But this is Cambridge, what, so these aren't just any parties! I hope to have at least small updates of our activities.

Last night we had the President's Dinner for the MCR formal. It is one of the grandest formal halls of the year. Before dinner we had champagne in the Scholar's Garden, a garden normally only open to Fellows. It was quite lovely to see everyone fluttering around in evening dress, drinking from flutes of champagne.

The dinner itself was quite crowded and we were lucky to get seats together. But once the food started we realised why it was so busy—it is not every day, not even at Cambridge, that one gets a four course dinner. To start, flat mushroom with pesto, spinach, and cheese. This was followed by red mullet in saffron sauce. I'd not had mullet before but can report that it is very delicious—tastes almost like scallops. Of course since my intended is a Latin satirist he could not refrain from making jokes about mullet and adulterers. This course was followed by chicken fillet in cream & mustard sauce, creamed potatoes & chives, and carrots & beans. Then dessert—berry cheesecake, coffee/tea, and petit fours. And of course the wine changed with the courses—white, red, and port. It was magnificent, and the Master of the College, Prof Tony Badger, gave a delightful and wonderful speech that made me so proud to be the almost-wife of a Clare man.

Following dinner we went to the MCR for chocolates and drinks—g&t's for me and whiskey for David. Then at around midnight we headed home, picking up a bit of a greasy snack to soak up the alcohol. David had to be at the boathouse at 9:15 this morning, and I confess my poor boy was rather tired.

He has been participating in the May Bumps ( after his boat unexpectedly placed last week. This means that every morning since Wednesday, David has road far out on the river and then, with a signal from the cannon, he and his crew have rowed full speed ahead in an attempt to smash their boat into the one in front of them / avoid getting smashed by the boat behind them. So far they have been bumped twice, made it safely through yesterday, and are hoping to bump Kings (and thus win for Kings the dishonour of being bumped 4 times). Lucky crews who bump four times (ie: once each day) win an oar, whilst unlucky crews who have been bumped four times win spoons. So excitement is high. And, if I may steal a line from one of my friends, "it's only at Cambridge that you can hear them say that Jesus bumped Christ (referring to the colleges, of course)".

This evening boasts the Boat Club Dinner for David and, hopefully, time spent with friends watching a Mormon version of Pride & Prejudice for me.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ceremony Readings—and thoughts about faith

I had my first real "overwhelmed" moment a couple of days ago. With just under two months to go the what-ifs started piling up in my head. Now that other people are really getting involved in planning their bits of the wedding I kind of have to face it as a reality, instead of just a far off event that I can plan and moon about over.

Between David, Madeleine, and the eventual return of my common sense I am feeling better. I have a tendency to forget that other people are able, and willing, to help me. I also have a tendency to worry and then waste time, rather than doing something productive. But now I am armed with a to-do list that grows every day, but which I am committed to working on every day. This evening, btw, saw some additions to the wedding website go up so if you haven't checked it in awhile, go take a look!

Last night David and I put the spoken part of our ceremony together, at least for the most part, and that got me thinking. In a world where it often seems that having a blatantly non-[mainstream]religious ceremony is a way of standing out and being controversial , my ceremony is putting my personal and religious beliefs to the forefront in a way that is not normal for me.

This really is the first time, at least since my confirmation, that my beliefs are taking centre stage to be witnessed by friends and family, many of whom do not share my beliefs (or at least do not share them in part).

As we picked the readings, prayers, and vows I was struck by what a statement I was making. It may not be obvious to anyone there, but it is to me. In some ways it is a statement of our Catholic beliefs (like the reading from Tobit), and in others it is a statement of our beliefs about marriage (being permanent, and the idea that children are a blessing). The readings we chose emphasize the importance of spiritual life and virtue, rather than highlighting love/passion/desire.

I suppose that they really highlight my desire and prayer for us as a couple—that together we would grow in faith and love, helping each other on this journey of drawing closer to God, and becoming models for each other of Christian virtue and Christ-like love and sacrifice. This is something to strive for.

I am coming to realise now how impossible it is for me to keep separate my true beliefs from the world I inhabit. Although I have kept silent when friends and acquaintances of mine have put articles/comments on Facebook, for example, that I find offensive and inconsiderate of my beliefs (my silence because they have a right to their expression in their own space, and I could absent myself in such a way that I would not have to view it), I can no longer even consider silence in the realm of my own world. Yes, this goes beyond a few readings, but enters the very core of myself and of my marriage.

What I mean, or think I mean, is that my wedding ceremony is providing everyone with a glimpse of my world. I hope that I shall always be considerate of the beliefs of my friends and family, even when I do not agree, but my Catholicism and my beliefs are not an option—they are part of the whole package.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Good things coming!

I am getting married in two months and one day! Wow! I am sooooooooooooo excited! I will also be home in 41 days, which has me majorly excited too.

The last four days have been a good combination of wedding stuff and fun life stuff in general:

- I went over some plans with Madeleine & Tara for a bridal shower and a shower/hen do thingy. My ladies are making me feel so loved and special!

- I bought the last of one of part of my bridesmaids' gifts on Saturday. For obvious reasons I can't post what I got, but I hope they love it as much as I do.

- David and I went shoe shopping today, and we got new dress shoes for both of us. Although I already have my wedding shoes, these ones will work if the others are too high, and they also go with my rehearsal dinner dress. They're cream flats and have an embroidered design + sequins on them, plus little bows on the front. David chose 'em, after I tried on a few pairs. David got new dress shoes since his current black ones have holes in them (and are now being used for rowing, lol), and they look very nice and sophisticated. He'll be wearing them on our wedding day, which got me quite excited while we were shopping.

We've had a very lovely weekend. Saturday was quite hot, so we took our time in heading downtown for groceries and opted for a late brunch at the college. David picked up a bottle of white wine for us to have with our brunch, and because of exams the Clare students have been granted special privilege of being able to picnic in the Clare Fellows Garden so we were able to take our trays of food to the banks of the Cam. It was such a restful and lovely afternoon, drinking wine on the river banks and watching punts and ducks float by. It was nice to have a rest before the whirl of end-of-year gaiety begins:

David, who was rowing in first (stroke) position (ie: setting the pace), and the rest of his boating team placed for the May Bumps. This is quite a big deal, and if all goes well he will be racing until Saturday. Saturday evening he has his Boat Club dinner. The night before, pending tickets, we will be attending the President's Dinner at Clare, which is another formal event (and includes drinks in the Masters Garden, a garden normally forbidden to students).

Sunday there is a BBQ after mass, and then Monday we have the Clare May Ball. I am soooooooooooo excited for the ball! It has an Arabian Nights type theme, and it will go on until dawn. I have the day after off work and we are planning to stay out until it finishes. The tickets were very expensive but we are assured that it is worth it. I will no doubt post tonnes of pictures once it is over. My evening gown is hanging in my closet, I have my new shoes, and last weekend we went to Marks & Spencer and got David a tux.

The following weekend should also be wonderful. We are going to Hatton Gardens in London to buy our wedding rings!!!! And in the afternoon we are meeting our friend Zina and going to see Shakespeare's Henry VIII at The Globe followed by lunch in a pub along the Thames.

Then, if we have any money left, we will be purchasing tickets to the folk festival in Ely which takes place at the beginning of July. And THEN we will be hopping on a plane on a Saturday afternoon and landing in Vancouver and the whirl of pre-wedding activities will begin.

It almost makes me tired just reading it all, but there's so much to look forward to!

David pouring wine by the Cam

Enjoying my heart English breakfast (for lunch)

Clare College--Old Court

David relaxes after a hard month of writing a dissertation chapter

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Two Months-ish to go!

Just over two months out from the wedding—YIKES!

Things are, as my mother keeps reminding me, falling into place. There have been some bumps along the way (the latest being having to find a new hairdresser), but after a few mini panic sessions now and then I am able to regain a calm and cool composure. Or something. My mother is amazing, and each time there's a hiccup she finds a solution. It's nice having a mum I can trust—her decision making abilities certainly make this a lot easier.

The invites are finalised and so far, knock on wood, we are on schedule for posting them! I'm not leaving people much time to RSVP, but I figure since we sent out Save the Dates this is fine—the point of not leaving much time is to encourage people to not forget. We'll see how that goes. I think the invites look lovely, and after they get mailed I'll post a pic—very fairytale/woodsy looking, I think. I feel really blessed that David's dad agreed to design them for us. It's very special.

Our Canadian honeymoon (or honeymoon part I) is booked, although my significant other has requested that the location be kept secret. But it will be lovely, and we're both looking forward to it. I say Honeymoon Part I because we are unable to take a long honeymoon since we have to travel back to the UK and get back to work. Part II will consist of traveling about England & Europe over the next 2 years (or at least until we have a kid. Then the honeymoon is over, lol).

Today I went browsing in one of the malls and found the dress I'll be wearing either to the rehearsal dinner OR as a going away dress. I hope to get it next weekend—I just need David to have a look at it...and provide me with his student card for the sweet, sweet 10% discount.


Life in Cambridge has been quiet of late. David has a writing deadline of Monday this week, followed by a defence mid-June, so our weekends have been fairly quiet. We did spend a lovely Sunday afternoon walking to Fen Ditton with some friends, and we also had a fun late night out with people from my work, but mostly things are just quiet and, at least for me, peaceful. There's currently an English heat-wave (ie: 26-30 outside) and I am pleased to discover that our flat stays nice and cool. The giant fire door on the kitchen is a blessing as well, because it allows me to contain all the cooking heat in one room.

Spring cleaning is off to a good start, and at the rate I'm going I should be done by the start of summer. As we're not entertaining much since everyone is busy with exams, and as we have no guests coming to stay this summer, I feel no need to rush.

Cattle in the Midsummer Common (I think we buy their delicious cow meats from our butcher)


Cattle on the fens (en route to Fen Ditton)


David and I outside of the very medieval church of St Mary the Virgin (or something like that)


View from the lawn of The Plough in Fen Ditton where we stopped for afternoon pints. David rows by here during practice.


Me + Colleague + Colleague's Husband relaxing at the work Rounders Game on Jesus Green