Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Our wedding: The hotel night, and the future funny story to look back on!

We had nearly fully booked the hotel out with just our guests and had done so many months before the wedding. There were only a handful of rooms that weren't our friends and family.

Unfortunately the management had changed from when we had booked it all-it seemed that some things hadn't been passed on to the new management!

We had a fair few of us that were late check-ins (for obvious reasons) yet when we arrived shortly after midnight the doors were shut and there was no one there to help us-until the night porter made an appearance-he seemed very unaware of any late check-ins. Great.

There was no bar open until 1am like we were promised-cue a bit of a flat moment. But that was just the start...

Now there were about 5 rooms that we needed keys for, he found ours-hurrah and we were told to go straight up to our lovely room by my Uncle and told us not to worry about it with it being our wedding night! We stayed for 10mins though as felt really awkward.

It was my parents, James' parents, James brother and fiancée (who had only flown over from America the day before and were flying back the next day), and my brother's waiting for rooms. For some reason the night porter couldn't work out which rooms were free and which keys corresponded with the rooms needed. It was horrible, it made the day end on a flat note, everyone was tired after after 15minutes of nothing seemingly happening or getting sorted!

We were made to go to our room, but we couldnt truly relax like we wanted too.

Eventually the right keys were found, everyone got sent to the right places...well that was until my brother's used the key to their room, only to find my Grandad in his undies getting into bed!!

My brother's waited until the manager was called in (I think) and by this time it was nearer to 2am. They still couldn't work out which room was empty! My brother's then each ended up with attic staff quarters, with no toilets, one of them had a filthy space with rubbish and dirty clothes strewn all over the floor!

My parent's didn't get the lie in they deserved as had an early toilet call from the boys!

Now we were completely unaware of all of this, we assumed it would have all been sorted out. We sat in our HUGE, comfy bed and opened all of our cards and presents like kids on Christmas day. The excitement not yet dulling from the wonderful day. I ate for the first time in over 24 hours, probably the wrong thing to do though-rich wedding fruit cake and crisps past midnight=bad stomach ache throughout the night!

We've only ever had one night away from the children, in fact it was when I was pregnant with Sam and we were at our house, so not sure that even counts. So we enjoyed the peace and quite and alone time, but forced ourselves up for breakfast at 9.30 like we had said we would.

There were a couple of sore heads, and many messy hairdo's that had been immaculate the day before! And all seemed well-until it got busy. We already knew they were short staffed as James' Dad in his 'jolly' state the night before had read on the staff clipboard and had mentioned quite a few times in the chaos of sorting out the rooms!

The service was unbelievably slow, we had to ask for everything. The help yourself fruit juices, cereals, and croissants weren't replaced, which left all the guests at the hotel wondering what on earth was going on. At one point James' best man had to ask for a wine glass so he could have an orange juice as none of the glasses had been replenished!

What was supposed to be a nice relaxing morning, catching up with family and friends before we all started heading off, turned into me and James being really embarrassed for organising this hotel (which was recommended by our reception venue).

But hey silver lining, we now have 4 rooms, meals paid for for another night in the hotel for their mix up. Doesn't make things right and I am absolutely gutted that this happened the night of our wedding, as it did promise so much and looks so quirky and beautiful. I guess in years to come it will be a funny story though!

I just hope we can blag our feature room back again it really was beautiful! (just excuse our wedding mess-it looked a lot nicer made up and without all of our belongings)!

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Monday, 27 October 2014

Our Wedding: The reception

After the ceremony and photos we were able to relax and breath once more!

Well sort of, we were running nearly an hour late to our venue due to timings running over a bit!

Unfortunately on the way to our venue, the rain started, it wasn't heavy, but it was heavy enough for our BBQ to not go ahead and be cooked inside, and no one could enjoy the outside of the venue.

It seemed a little busy and frantic when we arrived (probably due to being a bit late-and thirsty guests as our free drinks were running out and James had told the venue not to open the marquee until we arrived-which was where the bar was I was completely unaware of this).

I entered the garden room to discover the sweet bar had been opened, as this photo shows- me saying out of the side of my mouth "who opened the sweet table, it wasn't meant to be open until the evening"!

On reflection though, it was a good thing really as it kept the guests of which 20+ were children busy-I just wish we had stocked up on more sweets as it was empty after dinner and neither James or I got to eat any!

AND I found out the first culprits-my cousins as my Auntie said they could open the jars! She apologised later when she saw the sweet tables signs on the table in the marquee ;) something to laugh about now!

Caught red handed!
We entered the marquee and James loved what I had achieved with the help of some of my family (as he hadn't seen it all finished). In fact there were many compliments on all the final touches I had been making in the months beforehand and the beautiful flower arrangements my Nana had made for the tables.

Small jars, card tags (made to match invites) tied on with twine. Flowers by my Nan.
All the children had a colouring or puzzle book I made. Every guest had a hand stamped, hand cut, hand punched place card made by yours truly! Along with all those butterflies on the table which was also hand punched out!!

All the gorgeous flowers! I'd decorated all the jars and bottles you can see here too!
We said our hello's to everybody again, more kisses, cuddles and well wishes! People could find their seat from the seating plan I had made-yes more hand stamped names! *

It turned out the tables were a bit of a squeeze as the marquee co. had said we could fit 12 around a table when in fact I think 10 would have been best (not going to lie I wasn't too impressed) I think it worked out ok in the end though!

Dinner like I said was a bit of a shame as it wasn't really a BBQ any more like we had really wanted, had I had known the cooking process was completely dependant on weather I probably would have gone for a different menu as the meat didn't look as nice as it would have been. They never said it would depend on whether (I assumed they had some sort of sheltered BBQ area). Having said that I didn't eat a thing as nerves and adrenaline just kept me going, I didn't really even see the food, but heard all the salads were lovely. 

Dinner and pudding all seemed a bit slow service wise, we had tables finishing before tables had got their food, but I guess you get this at a lot of weddings if you aren't at the top end wedding budgets! 

James and I actually snuck off for some photos in the venue whilst everyone ate as James' nerves were building for the speeches! It was nice to take some more time out from the commotion as we were upstairs where no one else was allowed. 

Then it was time for the speeches! Both James and my Dad were very nervous, but Dad composed himself and delivered a lovely speech-embarrassed me a little but not too much, even got a little soppy at points (very unlike my dad) and made a joke about James too-to be honest I don't think James was listening too much I have never seen him so nervous. 

Now James can speak to anyone, for a LONG time and strike conversation out of no where to complete strangers, but I found out in that moment he HATES public speaking which really surprised me, I have never seen or heard him shake and stubble over words before, but he got there-even if I had to remind him of a few thank you's ;)

Then it was time to hand over to his brother (best man) who gave both a funny and lovely speech-I am just surprised there weren't as many embarrassing stories thrown in too!

The toasts were all done, the top table moved, and it was time to get the dancing started-whilst the kiddies took care of the dance floor (now high on the sweets) we did a fake cut the cake shot as our photographer had to leave (he'd already stayed an hour over thankfully)!

Fake cake cutting! Cake made by Mum and I
In the chaos of the weeks before the wedding we hadn't had the chance to see/speak to our DJ properly so some of the music we had lined up from out guest requests didn't happen, but it didn't stop people dancing. 

Our first dance was a little awkward, now me and James are no dancers, I had wanted to do a funny mash up dance-I have since I saw one on YouTube years ago-but due to time we had a lack of enthusiasm from James it didn't happen. Luckily for us one of our favourite artists Ed Sheeran released an album out just before our wedding, and in doing so we finally found 'our'** song, yes it can only be 'thinking out loud'. We just sort of shuffled in a circle and James kept stepping on my dress haha, perhaps we should have practised at least something!

Lots of people had to head of early due to young kids or other little things so in some ways I wish we had invited some evening guests just to fill the marquee up a little bit-especially as we had a lot of food left that we'd paid for!

We had a lovely evening though and everyone seemed happy, we did the real cutting of the cake (albeit a little later than planned (as I was waiting for someone to tell me when to do it!) and the bacon sarnies went down well also-I am sure it helped suck up some of the alcohol too!

*Yes I was sick of purple ink and stamps for a while after the wedding!!
**Which is probably many more people's 'couple' song due to it's popularity since then!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Our Wedding: Our favourite part

The favourite part of the wedding was definitely walking out of that church as man and wife after the most lovely wedding ceremony.

We were in a bubble of excitement and happiness-and very much relief!

The sun was shining, and there were smiles all around.

It took forever to get everyone out to the area we were allowed to throw confetti as everyone was chatting-despite our photographer's best efforts in calling everyone down!

I ended up waiting at the bottom of the path whilst James went awol to try and sort something-which then ended up with everyone walking past and hugging, kissing and congratulating us-eventually everyone was where they needed to be!

I love the confetti shots, I think they are our most natural photos from the whole day, and probably at our most happiest too!

The church and the arched tree were the perfect backdrop to the photos too.

Alex waited so patiently to throw the confetti at us bless him.


Just look at his little face-he really loves his Daddy :)

I love James' family friend and future sister in laws face's in this photo-James really was finding that confetti all day haha. 

I think James got the most of the confetti!

And thankfully I had a bridesmaid ready to help with confetti removal for my hair!

After that it was all a bit of organised chaos-we had planned to have only the immediate family/bridal party photos taken at the church and for everyone else to head to the venue (in hindsight it may have been better if I had put this onto the wedding programme)!

Me and James aren't the best at posed smiles (well not after 100's of snaps!), and our boy's weren't playing ball either as Sam had not had a sleep and I think Alex was for some reason tired at this point too! Nether-the-less we have a few posed family shots like this! 
Our first as a family of all Spencer's.

Once all the obligatory photos were taken James and I had a 20mins or so just to ourselves and our photographer which was lovely, if not a little awkward at times-it's quite hard being natural when you know you are being photographed. 

The photo on the right is my favourite photo of the both of us, definitely think I will be buying that as a large print or canvas.

We then had to dash off to our reception venue as were supposed to be there about 4.30 but ended up being nearer 5.30 due to ceremony and photos taking longer than we were told/thought! So it was very much calm before the storm-almost literally as it started raining in the car!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Our wedding: The Ceremony

I've got to admit our wedding has become a bot of a blur, I vaguely remember chatting away to one of the vicars from the car to the church door, taking my last steps as an Askins in a mix of nerves and excitement.

Mum and my gorgeous boys were waiting by the church door, I gave a nervous hello and smile to Charlie-James' groomsman- and took a deep breath in!

It was only since seeing our wedding video that I realised Alex had walked beside his Auntie (James' sister who was a bridesmaid) and not just before I entered with Mum and a sleepy Sam, I don't think I was taking all that much in at that moment!

Meanwhile in the Church, word had spread of my arrival!

Despite my obvious nerves I loved walking down the isle in the beautiful, old church, a small and cosy isle with a turn towards my man.

I thought I'd hate all eyes on me during this part, but actually I felt the prettiest I've ever felt (and probably ever will be) and quite enjoyed being the centre on attention (yes I really am saying that)!!

Everyone was smiling and everyone was trying to get a glimpse of me and I guess the dress too. I did grab onto my Dad at the start as my shoe slipped off slightly, and I needed him for support through fear of falling-I didn't let go!

James' older brother, his best man was supposed to tell him when to turn around but didn't until I was virtually at his side. You can see me longingly looking at him in the wedding photos mentally shouting "TURN AROUND AND LOOK AT ME!" which is quite funny.

I think my first words to him were something along the lines of 'I made it'! But felt so at ease to be by his side, he really makes me complete.

The service itself is a little bit of a blur I must admit, and unfortunately we weren't allowed video of us taking our vows (which seems silly as to me that's the bit I really wanted to watch back but hey ho I am sure they don't make the rules).

But having said that it was a lovely ceremony. We got married in All Saints Church in Lydiard Millicent, which is the church James' family go to and the one that was linked with his primary school all those years ago! This was really brilliant for us as we know of both vicars (who are husband and wife) and James' Mum in particular is really good friends with the female one-which is why they both took the service for us.

They gave us such a personal and unique service, with a few fun things and stories about us thrown in, involving the younger boys in James' family as well as including our boys in a family prayer at the end. We are so grateful as they gave us so many memories and it must have taken a long time to prepare for us.

Walking in each other's shoes
Walking in each other's shoes
Changing ME to WE
James' youngest brother's didn't even know about this beforehand, it was very Funny when the vicar told them to turn around for a photo and didn't switch around, I guess any relationships have EW moments haha. 

3 Strands are stronger than 1: Husband, wife and God. 

Have a long list of positives not negatives

Keeping it a family affair one of my brother's and James' sister read our readings for us. Louis had only just got back from a boozy holiday with his mates the morning before, and wasn't left with much voice thankfully it just about held out and luckily Francesca had the longer one to read!

I got a bit teary during the vows but managed to hold it in (no one wants panda eyes on their wedding day) I don't think anyone but James and the vicar noticed either. I think it hit me, as the vows are so powerful and we meant every word of it, it just felt so special and real.

Luckily the ring which James' Dad had picked up for us the day before (I know cutting it fine) fit, I was worried it might not have, having not tried it on before (turns out I have small fingers and no where stocks size J, who knew)!

We had a slightly awkward moment with the kiss...we weren't so sure it was the time to kiss, but after the Vicar gave us the eyes after a couple of seconds we realised!

We signed the official documents-and were the last entry in the big book at the church!

We happily walked out of the church as man and wife, and we couldn't wipe the smiles of our faces about it.

Monday, 8 September 2014

First day at school and a back to school competition (Vosene Shampoo & spray, £10 Tesco voucher, rucksack and pencil case)

Well last Wednesday morning was a day that I both dreaded and looked forward to. 

Alex's first day at primary school!

He was excited, and looked huge and so grown up in his school uniform.

Outside the reception door, where all the anxious parent's and children gathered were eagerly waiting, there was a slight glimmer of nerves, he clung to me slightly, holding my hand, but when the time came, he went in fine, with (luckily) a big kiss and hug for me before I left.

He only had 2 1/2 hours there (in fact all his sessions are for the next few weeks!!) but he came out happy, and he seemed to have a great time, and loves his teacher and TA.

I just can't believe where the time has gone, 5 years ago he was still a growing bump that was kicking me in the ribs, now he's a tall, handsome young lad, in age 6-7 clothes!

Now with the new school year I have a great back to school giveaway for my readers.

The prize includes - Ruck sack, pencil case, Shampoo & Spray, £10 Tesco Voucher (total value £30).

It's a bit of a hush, hush topic, but it happens in any school-luckily we've escaped it during the preschool years!-head lice, I know, no one wants to think about it but surprisingly 25% of Mum's admit to believing there is nothing they can do to prevent it, which of course isn't the case!

Vosene Kids have just launched #Nitwatch - an online heat map that tracks head lice outbreaks to help you avoid a the dreaded bugs this Autumn! The site also has some great advice on helping to prevent head lice and you have a chance to win free samples of Vosene Kids 3 in 1 Conditioning Shampoo and Defence Spray. Check it out here.

Got questions about head lice? Vosene Kids is also hosting a Twitter chat tomorrow on Wednesday at 1pm. Tweet your questions to #AskVoseneKids. 

Good luck, and wishing all Mum's out there all the best for the new start, particularly those with reception starters-although I am quiet looking forward to the quiet!!

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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Our wedding: Before the ceremony!

I can't believe that two weeks ago tomorrow I was eagerly waiting to set up our wedding venue. We've since been on a short mini moon, received the official photos, put our house on the market and have gone back down to real life with a thump-I feel a bit lost! We still haven't shown James' parent's the photos but I can't wait any longer, and we are seeing them Saturday anyway!

The wedding eve
The night before the wedding James left me at the venue at 8pm for a meal with his family, I put the boys to bed, wrote a post and sat on my with my own thoughts for the night, the occasional text or message through facebook to tell me to get an early night! 

I tried that early night but it didn't really work, the nerves were already cranking up, I couldn't even get through a piece of toast for dinner that night!

I was pleasantly surprised when James skyped me at midnight, a bit naughty I know, but it calmed us both greatly. 

The wedding day
I woke at 6.45am (not bad really as didn't think I'd sleep at all) and shortly after the boys came bounding in like they normally do. 

Only Alex made me cry happy tears:

"Good morning wedding Mum! You're going to be a Spencer today"

It melted my heart, for today was the day we could finally be a proper family, I could finally write the same surname as my children on school forms, for the first time in nearly 5 years I could really be one of them.

I gave the boys breakfast, and tried to have a  drink myself, I couldn't stomach the food through the nerves, in fact I didn't eat a single thing my whole wedding day! I think that morning I had more rescue remedy than anything else!

I gave the boys a bath and rounded up our things before being picked up by Mum and heading off to theirs. 

My hairdresser (an old friend from school) was already waiting so it was straight into wedding makeover mode!

I had mine done first whilst 2 of the bridesmaid turned up and my brothers got their brekkie in their pjs (classy eh?)!!

I don't think I spoke much, and didn't appreciate the free head space for me to worry-but my bridal party tried their best to calm my nerves and tried and failed to make me eat too!

My hair was perfect, so much better than I ever expected as I felt it looked better than my hair trail a few months previous, the flowers gave it that extra special touch too as I didn't want a veil and I don't really do sparkles/hairpieces!

You can see me nervously biting my lip!
 We actually took the big rose in the middle out after as it kept falling out. 
The bridesmaids and then Mum had their hair done and looked amazing too. 

Beautiful bridesmaids
My lovely Mum
Mum's friend then came around to do my make-up and Mum's, at this point I really felt ill and a bit overcome with emotions. Any time anyone mentioned when we needed to go or asked me anything about the day I would nearly be in tears, of course I didn't-I didn't want to ruin my make-up!

James' sister came just before 2 after having her hair done, and we all got changed shortly after that-it ended up being a bit of a rush that last bit, I think we all could have done with getting ready sooner-mind you the boys we last to change as I didn't want them to ruin their lovely suits!!

Mum's friend dropped out gorgeous bouquets off (which I still feel super guilty about as the peonies really caused a LOT of hassle)!

The cars turned up and then that was it, it was finally happening. 

I was dead quiet in the car, Dad kept trying to talk to me, but I would only answer with yes or no's or as short as I possibly could. Luckily James' Uncle who was driving us had air con on as the nerves were making me so hot! 

We literally got every single red light on the way, my nerves were ok as they could be when travelling but as soon as we stopped at those red lights my heart would race and I felt so sick!

We arrived at the church, the vicars waiting for us, a quick snap from our photographer and I stepped out of the car, had a giggle with everyone about Dad chatting to his friend instead of being by my side! 

And then took my last steps as Danielle Askins.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Scott Cornwall Shine On: review and wedding hair

Aside from the wedding dress on the big day, the hair is the next big thing to worry about.

Every girl wants to look and feel pretty, and sometimes the hair can really make an outfit or tie it all together.

I knew the style I wanted for my big day: a messy updo or curls and flowers in my hair as opposed to a veil or tiara.

So I knew the quality of my hair had to really be good to pull it off.

So when I was contacted to review a professional conditioning hair glaze product from hair expert Scott Cornwall I jumped at the chance.

My hair was feeling a bit sorry for itself, I don't give it the attention I used to, I usually wash and blow dry (if I am lucky) or just stick it up when it's wet. The ends were breaking and splitting, and being a natural blonde I don't dye my hair because I am too chicken to do so.

Before (and after my hair trial)

This product was really easy to use, I made sure to do a tester patch a couple of days before (just in case)!

And then 2 days later I managed to do all the steps in the bathroom without any help from anyone else. Taking no more than 20-30 minutes in total.

The instructions say to blow dry and straighten for best results, and I can say this definitely made a difference. It always seemed much brighter when I'd straighten my hair, this is because it shuts the cuticle and encloses the crystal clear molecules inside the hair.

After using shine on

Now this isn't a treatment that will get a response from other people like when you dye your hair, however it is a product that you notice the difference yourself. And in fairness I did get a couple of comments on my hen night (when I'd straightened my hair) asking if I had dyed my hair as it was looking really blonde.

I felt like my hair just felt much more healthy after using the product which last for approx 24 washes.

I would certainly recommend to any bride to be (or any other lady for that matter) whose hair needs a bit of a 'pick me up'!

I loved my hair on the day, and think that the Shine On product really helped with that too, as my hair really shines in the photos. I was worried the product might make hair look greasy but it really doesn't, it just adds that little shimmer and spark!

Professional Hair Expert, Scott Cornwall says:
"Restore lustre, vitality, and shine to hair before the big day with my Shine On Conditioning Hair Glaze. Shine On is a collagen rich formula which works brilliantly on curly, frizzy or unruly hair, however it's actually suitable for any hair type or texture and won't alter the colour. It contains no ammonia or harsh chemicals so it's very kind and gentle, leaving the hair feeling in great condition"

Shine On is easy to use at home, takes just 20 minutes to apply and develop and lasts for up to 24 washes. It's priced at £12.99 from selected Boots stores nationwide and online at boots.com

I received one box of Shine On original to review all views and opinions are my own.

And to regular readers there will be many wedding posts to follow!