Shoes – 2 out of 3 DONE!

Good morning! I am happy this morning as I have 2 out of my 3 pairs of wedding shoes sorted for my big day! Does wanting 3 pairs of shoes for one occasion make me a diva? A girl can never have too many pairs of shoes surely?

Many of us with Hypermobility often suffer with problems with our feet. I do, and it is very painful. Specifically I suffer with Plantar Fasciitis. This means that heels are pretty much out of the question and have been for a few years now. I have a huge draw under the spare bed full of heels that I can’t bare to say goodbye to. I live in trainers, sneakers, flip flops and can sometimes get away with a slight cuban style heel. I can’t stand still without shoes on EVER, especially on a hard floor. So if I am preparing food in the kitchen I have to wear something on my feet. Usually my trusty black Birkenstocks as they have a foot bed which moulds to the shape of my foot. I am always on the look out for fashionable sandals or flip flops with a foot bed style sole that are fashionable but I don’t often find them. If you think you suffer with this condition you may find it hurts more when you go to bed, or sit down to rest. It really is painful and I have so much sympathy for you. The thing that really improved my feet issues were insoles. They are amazing and have transformed my life! The lovely people at Shuropody supplied me with these…..

Insoles

They slip discreetly in my shoes and really improve the way my feet sit in my shoes and the impact my feet have on the floor. I cannot recommend them enough. My nearest store is Watford but you can order them online. I’d suggest making the journey to your local store so you can get your feet examined. They’ll recommend the best for your ailment – they have so many options. They suggest you change them every year at a cost of approximately £35 which is far cheaper then getting Orthotics made especially. They are absolutely worth a try.

Anyway, I’ve digressed….back to the wedding. As I can’t wear heels anymore I was struggling to decide what to wear on my big day. My mum really wanted to see me in heels so I compromised. I have a gorgeous pair of heels for the ceremony. Honestly, I haven’t spent much on them as I don’t expect to wear them for long. If I could I would but I refuse to be in pain on my wedding day so I will wear them for as long as feels comfortable. They were £35 from ASOS and I fell in love with them as soon I saw them. So many wedding shoes look frumpy or impossibly high for me to walk in. I still wanted something fashionable and these are perfectly matched to my dress.

The heel is a decent height for me to not stagger down the aisle and I have the security of them actually being attached to my foot with the strap and zip fastening on the back. I am usually a girl that wears leather shoes, you pay more and you get more comfort – especially with my feet but these are great for an hour or so.

So pair two….I need a pair of shoes suitable for photos at the beach, that are still pretty and girly but gave me the comfort my poorly feet crave. Yesterday I embarked on a shopping trip to Cambridge with my mum. I wasn’t on a mission to find shoes but I was browsing around when I came across the perfect pair in Dune. How did this happen? Things are never this easy for me usually! They are white which is what I thought I might struggle to find as a lot of shoes seem to be tan or black these days. They are pretty and what’s more, they sparkle!! What do you think? In my opinion perfect for £60.

Dune Sandals

So now, I just need pair number 3! I need something comfy, secure and cushiony (yes, not a real word I know) and lovely for my delicate feet which will be dancing and mingling all afternoon and evening. Much to my mums horror I am going for Converse! I want to add some bling with a few sparkles here and there and replace the laces with some pretty shear ribbon. I can then wear my insoles and not be hobbling around the next day. I plan to wear them with some pretty socks like we used to wear when we were kids – remember these?

Socks

Not my usual style but I think they’ll be pretty and more to the point comfortable. I’d love to hear about your wedding shoe style. Are you planning on multiple pairs like me?

 

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Fast forward 12 months….

Yep, it’s now May 2016 and we are full steam ahead with the wedding planning!

The past year has been great and we’ve made steady developments with the planning. My dress has been made which is absolutely amazing! I expected the task of finding my dress to be an absolute nightmare. I’m not girly, I’m overweight and I am rubbish when it comes to buying new clothes these days. Would you believe I tried on 4 dresses in 1 shop and fell in love with the first one! I nearly had a bout of non medical related syncope – to put that in non medical terms I basically nearly fainted in shock (makes a change)! Not only did I choose my dress I also felt flipping amazing trying them all on. I mentioned I was over weight but I keep forgetting I have lost 37lbs! Thanks to Slimming World I have a figure again. Yes I still have weight I want to lose but even I can say I looked amazing in the dresses. The lovely ladies at Estilo Moda in Milton Keynes made the whole experience a breeze. Thank you ladies.

(Would insert picture here but hey, what if Simon looks, bad luck, you’ll all have to wait!)

So, that’s the dress sorted, my next and last fitting is the end of July.

Our invitations went out super early. I don’t know about you but I wanted to give our guests enough time to think about coming as it’s a big commitment for them. They need to take time off work, pay for travel etc. The longer they had to plan the longer they had to save up and also take advantage of great prices by booking as far in advance as possible. We had so many amazing comments about our invitations including ‘it is the best wedding invitation I’ve ever received!’ I made sure I fed back all comments to the lovely Kirsty who made them for us. Now I won’t lie, the idea wasn’t totally mine, Pinterest helped a lot with ideas. We wanted a travel theme so we ended up going with the design used on my blog (see below for a little reminder). The heart on Portugal was actually a tiny red heart gem which was stuck on the Algarve area of the map.

RGB Wedding Image

This was the front cover mounted on Kraft card-stock (natural brown card). It then opened like a cheque book. We had numerous pages that all got slightly smaller. They had the name of the page written vertically down the left side so they could all be seen when the front page was open….

Invitation page:

Invitation

RSVP page (this was perforated so it could be torn out like a cheque):

RSVP

We then had a page about the destination so guests got an insight into their possible holiday destination!

Portugal Page

Then it was information about accommodation:

Accomodation Page

We had a gifts page:

Gifts Page

Our final page was information about the wedding website we have set up so our guests can log in and keep up to date with the progress of the planning (the password has been scrubbed out as it’s only available to our guests, sorry folks!):

Website Page

This beautiful invitation then got sent to everyone in a matching Kraft paper envelope. They all had matching address labels which got stuck on the far left hand edge so the address appears on the front and the undelivered area appears on the back:

lABEL

We sent out a total of 30 invitations. We knew that my Grandad wouldn’t be able to come but we wanted to send him one as a keepsake, we also did the same for Simon’s Grandma. We expected the majority to not be able to make it which we were fine with but unbelievably we had 20 confirmed as YES! So including us there will be 39 of us on our special day and we cannot wait!

 

Portugal Wedding Venue Found!!!

Yep, that’s right! We found it!!! After leaving the last venue meeting of our trip we took a long drive to Villamoura and found a lovely Italian restaurant to have dinner and discuss the last few days. It was unanimous, we were both in absolute agreement that Salsalito was the place we wanted to get married at. YAY!! A couple of cocktails and some yummy food was a fantastic way to celebrate.

SAM_4413.JPG

Although extremely excited, we were also so relieved that we had found somewhere. Don’t get me wrong, we viewed a fair few places, we could have viewed so many more but time wasn’t something we had a lot of on that trip. They were all lovely and all would make perfect venues but it’s like buying a house, you can’t make a snap decision and you want it to be 100% right for both. Everything changed once we arrived at Salsalito and although we always thought we wanted to get married on a beach we obviously didn’t! So my advice to you is add a wild card to your list. Something different to what you think you want. Whether it be a villa, a vineyard, a farm or wherever just add that to your list for an element of surprise. Every venue we viewed had a website, some were better than others but you don’t capture the real place until you see it with your own eyes.

So, after 2 action packed days, 1000km and an unhealthy covering of vasculitis we were ready to head home and tell our friends and family where we will be getting married. Things were really going to happen now and the one question remained…would the bridezilla I always told everyone I wouldn’t be show it’s face?!

 

Portugal Wedding Venue Trip Day 2

As we woke up on another day in the beautiful Algarve we began wondering if the day ahead was going to bring us face-to-face with ‘the one’. So far we had seen some very lovely locations but none took our breath away enough. We were expecting to know straight away when we saw it.

We originally had an appointment at The Sheraton Algarve but unfortunately had to cancel. It really is a beautiful place but, to be honest, it was too formal for what we were looking for and it would have been a stretch financially. We both agreed we would stay there on a return visit as it really is beautiful.

Our first appointment of the day took us (eventually, we got pretty lost on the way) to Julias situated on the beach with a beautiful view of the sea and coastline. It is in the Almancil area of the Algarve which is gorgeous. There are lots of stunning villas nearby and we heard that Ant and Dec often pop in for dinner and drinks as they own properties close by. Sadly for us we didn’t see them. Doh!

SAM_4397

We could really see ourselves getting married here. The situation was perfect and the venue was clean, friendly and stylish. We met with the owner who explained the day and the services they offer and we even managed to enjoy a drink and panini whilst we chatted. It was during this chat that we discovered it isn’t that easy to get married on the beach in Portugal. There are licenses you need to buy and there are rules about music etc. This gave us something to think about as we moved on to our next venue.

Next stop on our whirlwind tour was Duna Beach in Lagos. We didn’t stay here long as although it was a nice location we knew as soon as we arrived that it wasn’t for us. The bar and restaurant I hear are funky venues to spend an afternoon or evening but we didn’t feel it was the right place for us. You might love it and I’ve seen some fab pics of weddings online there.

We were really starting to worry now…..was this going to be an unsuccessful trip? How many quick long weekend breaks would we need to take around the world before we found ‘the place’? Don’t get me wrong, we love to travel, we don’t need an excuse to discover somewhere new but when we’re limited to a certain number of days of annual leave and we want time off for the eventual wedding we had to work smart!

By now the day had become a scorcher and I was starting to feel the strains of the trip. Being hypermobile can be a real pain (yep literally) in extreme temperatures and I was starting to succumb. My neck, chest and face were all bright red and angry looking as were my legs. I had cream on, I was wearing a hat but the vasculitis I suffer from was rearing it’s ugly head. Luckily for me it doesn’t hurt. It can irritate if I catch or scratch it by mistake but more so it just looks AWFUL. I feel that everyone stares at me when I have it and that makes me feel more uncomfortable than I am already feeling. I have only had to deal with this for the past few years, since I was properly diagnosed with hypermobility. The picture below shows it at its worst on my legs. I have to take steroids when it appears which I hate as they really affect my sleep which is already pretty unreliable thanks to being hypermobile.

Vasculitis

Anyway, enough about that for now. Mid afternoon we arrived at our final destination – a beautiful fishing village in Western Algarve called Burgau. We were due to see our final venue but also meet with a caterer we had heard so much about afterwards. We had about 45 minutes to kill before we were due at the venue so we treated ourselves to a burger. I needed food, my energy levels were low and I was feeling pretty rubbish but food and a cold drink really helped.

We arrived at Salsalito just after 3pm. This was our wild card venue. All previous venues had been beach side and this was a 10 minute walk from the beach. It was a villa venue with no view of the sea, I literally came across it online a day or so before we left on our trip. Simon knew very little about it but he trusted my judgement! We were greeted by the owner, a lady called Sally who we immediately knew was a larger than life character. She welcomed us with open arms like we were old friends and led us through her home to the patio.

Now, you know I mentioned earlier that we still hadn’t the ‘take our breath away’ moment? Well let me tell you, we both experienced it together, at the same time as we were led out on to the patio. WOW!!!!! What a beautiful place. A hidden paradise we never expected. Beautiful, tranquil and so amazingly us it was untrue! We remained calm and collected for the meeting and tour and even met the caterer there.

Had we found THE place…..?

Portuguese Wedding Venues

Portuguese wedding venues differ in price and style all along the Algarve and there are so many hard to find venues which may just be your jewel in the crown.

Now, before we embarked on this fact finding mission we thought we knew which venue was going to be our favourite before we’d even seen it in the flesh. It just shows how important it is to see these venues for real as it turned out it wasn’t for us at all. If you’re considering somewhere in Portugal as a wedding venue then you absolutely must get over there and check them out, plus it’s a great excuse for a holiday too!

Right, day one, we’d been in Portugal less than 24 hours and we had a full day of appointments ahead. Our first was Club Nau on the coast in Ferragudo.

SAM_4384

We met with Rebecca and her partner who were absolutely lovely. They ran through everything with us from the ceremony on the beach, to how the venue would be laid out to the food and music options. It had a real laid back beach vibe. We could have beanbags and chill out areas on the sand and listen to the waves crashing. It was a great first appointment and we learnt so much. Unfortunately, although we loved the venue we couldn’t commit. To reach the venue you have to walk down some stone steps, my mother in law to be is disabled so this was sadly out of the question for her. We were so disappointed as everything else seemed perfect. Oh well, on to the next one!

Our second stop was Canico. What can I say. WOW! Never judge a book by its cover. You walk along a few pathways before entering a lift which takes you down and out into the restaurant area. This is a restaurant area like no other as it is set into the side of the cliffs. We arrived a few minutes early so we sat and enjoyed a drink whilst taking in the view out to sea.

Canico

We were drawn to this place as you can have your event set up on the beach. They light up the cliffs at night as you dance with your guests. We were shown around by the manager who was so helpful driving us around his vast property in his jeep. He showed us another area as an option which was around the pool looking out over the sea from the top of the cliffs. This was definitely something to think about so we left with lots of notes and added it to our list of possible options. Either way, we’d absolutely be back for dinner on our next visit to the area.

Next we moved on to NoSoloAgua in Portimao. We didn’t have an appointment but we planned on popping in to get a feel for the place. Unfortunately we just couldn’t find it! We drove around the town so many times and ended up giving up. Maybe on our next trip we will give in and get a SatNav! I have given them a mention though as they were very helpful on email which was great. It turns out that Portimao isn’t really the place for us, too commercialised but that could be what you are looking for.

We ended the day with a drive into the mountains to watch the sunset, we had a lot to talk about and another day of venues the next day.

Next stop Portugal!

As you’ve already read, in January 2015 we decided that we were going to get married in Portugal. And yes, you read it right, we had never been there before! This is what shocks everyone who asks. They thought it was a country which has special meaning for us, but no, we just like to make things easy and fun. Life is an adventure right?

Just in case Portugal wasn’t THE place we didn’t want to spend too much on an exploration trip, nor did we want to use up too much time just in case we needed to travel the world looking for the perfect wedding venue. Luckily for us the lovely helpful people at Broadway Travel arranged a really cheap deal. It cost £305.45 for 3 nights accommodation and return flights for both of us! Amazing!! We arranged car hire with our trusty favourites rentalcars.com which was so cheap. They are a comparison site and we always find great deals with them wherever we travel.

As we hadn’t visited the Algarve we had no idea what to expect, also, we were short on time so we had to run a tight ship. We love travelling and wanted to fit as much into our trip as possible. Surely we could see a load of venues and do some sightseeing too? We scoured the internet before we went, compiling a list of suitable venues. We knew we wanted to get married on the beach so that gave us a head start. Google was our friend, we just searched and searched and any that looked good we contacted for an appointment. If you don’t know where you want to get married make sure you do your research, plan to visit as many places as possible. Every venue we contacted by email always replied and it wasn’t a problem that we could only speak English, they always understood and replied in English.

The day finally came for us to travel and off we went arriving at Faro Airport late evening. We picked up our Vauxhall Corsa from the car hire building opposite the terminal and headed for the open road. We were staying in Albufeira as it was central. We got so lost trying to find our accommodation, we ended up having a cheeky cheeseburger at McDonalds so we could make use of the free WiFi and use google maps to get us to the hotel. We finally arrived at midnight and went straight to bed ready for a day of appointments ahead. Everything so far had been so easy, travelling with hand luggage was key, it meant the flight cost was low, we saved on time not having to wait for our bags and we only needed a small car as everything fit in the boot fine.

Looking back, if I was to plan this trip again, or if I was to give advice to anyone planning a similar trip I would say what you think you want and what you actually end up doing could be two completely different things. If you’re putting your plan together now try to include a wild card, or something a bit different to the rest of your options. You don’t know what you’re going to find when you get there and variety is the spice of life!

My next post will be live soon, it will cover the venues and what we discovered on our break.

 

 

 

 

Why Portugal?

Here it goes….my first blog post. Eeek!

I am due to marry my legend of a fiance Simon in a lovely little fishing called Burgau in Portugal this September.

Simon and I

If we had a pound for every time someone asks us ‘Why Portugal’ we would be super rich I can tell you. So before you ask, I’m going to fill you in. You might want a cup of tea and a biscuit for this one….

The first day we spent together almost 7 years ago was actually the day we told each other we didn’t want a traditional wedding in the UK. Talk about jumping the gun hey? We hadn’t even been on a proper date at that point! We knew from that day we were going to spend the rest of our lives together, it just took him almost 6 years to pop the question!

One rainy day in January 2015 we sat down and decided to look in to where looked nice. We have been extremely lucky to have travelled far and wide but nowhere had hit the spot as a potential wedding location. Plus, if we decided on somewhere new we would have to go and do a reccy right? Any excuse for a holiday! It turns out, if you DO want to get married legally,  on the day in your chosen country it isn’t that easy to find somewhere without lots of hoops to jump through. The Government has a little tool on its website which is a great place to start when planning your location. Click the link and it will take you through a series of questions and will summarise with a (not always entirely accurate) list of info that you will need before you can even invite anyone.

Gov screenshot

To cut a long story short we chose Portugal as it seemed the easiest place on the list to get married, it wasn’t too long a flight from the UK and it would be hot in September. We came across so many rules for other countries who want you to live there for a month before your wedding day. Who can get that much time off work? There were countries where you can only get legally married if you’re Catholic, we’re not so that ruled those ones out. There was even one country (not sure where now) who insisted on blood tests first, this didn’t sit right with us at all.

So, with that decided – and I must say it was Simon who did a lot of the hard work that day – we booked a cheap 3 day package to the Algarve to plan plan plan!