I’ve had a busy old life so far: packing quiches in a refrigerated factory, painting theatres at the Edinburgh Festival, photocopying tenancy agreements for Charlie Brooks (Janine from Eastenders), selling books to customers who insist 1984 was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and, for the last seven years, working in publishing.

Then I got a three-book deal because in the publishing world I KNOW WHERE THE BODIES ARE BURIED and it was the only way to keep me quiet.

I hope you enjoy them. (The books, not the bodies.)

It's Nice That

Rock My Wedding

The Bloggess

100 Layer Cake

Offbeat Bride

The Flick

Martha Stewart Weddings

The Vagenda

Weddings on Pinterest

Brides up North

Jacket up

Blimey, it’s cold today. My mother (currently staying with us) took our eldest to school this morning (Me: Probably best if you just go, and I stay here inside in the warmth, yeah?) and came back saying how mild it was outside. Oh, she’s good. She’s really good. Turns out it’s absolutely arctic and, without my usual jumper, my hands were like tiny (not tiny at all) wooden blocks by the time I’d got to my office, the other side of London. 

If you choose to get married at this time of year, firstly, high five. I love the late-autumn, early-winter period, and think you can have the finest times with decorations and flowers/foliage: instead of the usual bunting and peonies, you can go for furs, ivy and mulled wine. Jesus, just let me know the details and I’ll be there. Secondly, if you’re ever heading outdoors during the day, you might need a little cover-up. And not one of those absurd feather-collarbone-warmers that everyone in Weddings seems to think are a no-brainer. A proper cover-up. With sleeves. 

So here are my high street selections of potential wedding warmers. 

Two Liza Minelli/Ginger Rogers-esque jackets to go over a simple dress.

(L: Bridesmaid’s favourite Monsoon, R: French Connection)

Two more formal options: a foil print cardigan from Reiss, and a classic tux jacket from Monsoon.  

Personally, I’m more drawn to numbers like these cosy and comfortable cardigans for a winter wedding. If you’ve got something like this, think it doesn’t ruin whatever you’re wearing underneath, and you can get away without your mum calling you a slob on your wedding day, I’d recommend it. If you haven’t got something like this, they’re (L-R) Topshop and a cashmere boyfriend cardi from Jigsaw. Yum, etc. 

Finally, this French Connection kimono jacket would add some much-needed colour to most weddings, and something that will be infinitely wearable afterwards. My favourite. Keep warm, everyone. 

An apology, an excuse, and a query

Hey gang! I’m so very sorry for not having posted here for so long - my tiny excuse is that I’ve been finishing The Baby Diaries and battling the stomach bug that’s been sweeping the nation like Pattinson Fever [dated reference no. 1]. Some people have had the 48-hour version - like my kids, thank Christ - others get the month-long, weakening, sickening version. Guess which one I had! Hurray! Anyway, now that I’m able to crawl towards my keyboard for something other than book-writing, here we are. 

I was talking to one of my excellent sisters-in-law at a wedding recently, as we examined the bunting around the room, the floral birdcage decorations on each table, and the fabric letters spelling out messages on each wall. We were discussing when wedding trends will make any major shifts, and whether they’ll ever swing round to minimalism - I argued that the industry’s hold is now so strong, that there’s little chance of Bridal Monthly (oh god I hope that’s not a real mag or I’m in trouble) ever advocating just hiring a hall and filling it with booze and decks. Later, with other friends, we marvelled at how normally sane people suddenly feel this all this wedding jazz is something they HAVE to do - a toast-master, canapes, etc. 

I got to thinking [hahahaha dated reference no. 2] about brides taking their husband’s name. Besides a few people saying that they changed it for SEO purposes or to escape their own family name which they hated for horrible childhood reasons, I’ve yet to hear a convincing argument about it. It’s something I feel so strongly about (unlike most things in the world) and have never been able to fathom why strong, educated, independent, creative women would want to take a man’s name, just because it’s traditional. And my hackles are slightly raised when the explanation is ‘I love my husband and want to show him how committed I am’; I meanwhile, keeping my own name, am obviously just a bit meh about my marriage, always nominally keeping one foot out the door. 

Of course, the real point is that I don’t need to be convinced. I’m not sitting here with a rubber stamp while nervous new brides file past me, desperate for my approval for their new names. I don’t imagine anyone who’s changed their name gives a shit about my inability to comprehend their decision. And she shouldn’t have to (yay feminism, etc.), but I would genuinely like someone to be able to educate me into understanding why so many women make this choice. Plus, who am I to talk - I’m just fighting to cling onto my great-great-great-great grandfather’s name (paternal side). 

Either way, the sooner brides stop being encouraged to buy vintage birdcages and yes I know I’m one to talk, the better off we’ll all be.   

Q: When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?

A: Yes, I think about J. K. Rowling’s enormous diamond and unicorn-horn house.

Satire. And if you fancy reading more, there’s plenty of it over at Novelicious. There’s my top literary weddings, my writing room (sofa) and a Q&A. So I’m basically James Patterson now. 

Also, if you’d like to have a mental image of exactly which desk I’m talking about always wanting, it’s this one

Yeah, I know.

I know. 

Things like this make me want to ban marriage. 

Things like this make me want to ban marriage. 

Is this some kind of *game* to you?

(left to right, my sister and me, moments before commencement of the most violent Hat Game ever seen) 

Generally, weddings can be pretty boring occasions. There’s always loads of standing around sipping champagne (which, FYI, is pretty gross actually YES I’M BLOWING YOUR MIND) and, if you’ve come as someone’s plus-one, it’s unlikely you’ll feel safe talking about anything other than how you know the bride or groom (“I don’t.” There. Done).

But do you know what makes weddings a good time? GAMES. I’ve banged on about this a little bit at the back of The Wedding Diaries, so my apologies if you already feel yourself an old hand at the Hat Game, but not everyone has been so lucky. And disclaimer: no one should ever be forced to play any of these games. It’s one thing to jovially chivvy someone out of their millimetre-thin resistance, it’s another to cry your eyes and wail that “YOU’LL RUIN IT IF YOU DON’T PLAY.” So live and let sit there enjoying their cocktails undisturbed.


The Hat Game

This is, to be v simple about it, musical chairs with hats.

The group stands in a circle, everyone having chosen a hat. When the music starts, the circle starts tramping around slowly, clockwise (or whatever), and the Clipboard Owner (who runs these games - you don’t think this is all just some crazy, hippie free-for-all, do you?) will snatch a few hats off heads around the circle. The people who find themselves hatless must then snatch the hat from the head in front, who will then hat-snatch from the head in front of them. When the music stops, if you are without a hat, you’re out. Easy, yes? WRONG. As the game warms up and the circle is inexorably drawn to moving faster and faster, the hat-grabs will become more violent, feet will slip, hair may be lost and long-cherished friendships destroyed. Although the rules are that you can only have one hat on at a time, and you can’t hold it on, the Clipboard Owner cannot be looking everywhere at once. And when the music stops, you will be expelled from the circle if you are hatless. I’m sorry, I don’t make the rules.

When it’s down to the final two, the ruthless competitors are seated in two chairs, back to back, and must pass a hat between them until the music stops. Although they can’t get up from the seat, they may dodge their rival’s hands as best they can.

I would recommend a prize for this, as all contestants will have worked so hard they will NEED to see a trophy at the end.


The Humming Game

You’ll need three or four teams for this. You can either get everyone to write a few songs on slips of paper when they come in, or prepare these in advance so you don’t get some hipster fucker suggesting the best track of all time is ‘North’ by Dark Star or something.

When each team’s turn comes up to play, they are handed by the Clipboard Owner the name of the song they will be humming. The team has five seconds to recall the song from their brain, and decide where to start (hahahaha, but without actually saying anything out loud) before they must then hum it at the other teams. If any of the other teams get it, the humming team and the guessing team both get one point. If no one gets it, then just move on. It’s bad enough that they can’t even hum a tune, you don’t need to give them a forfeit or anything.

What’s pleasing is how quickly the teams do one of two things: 1) become a terrifying musical machine, starting at the exact right point and nailing that melody, or 2) break down completely and start crying with laughter, unable to get a single note out. Both are pretty entertaining.

Give the winners a big jug of booze.


The Champagne Game

Really doesn’t need to be champagne - it’s just that there always seems to be a glut of those things at this kind of bash (see above).

This is sport for two folk per team. Draw a line on the ground, and see how far you can place the champagne bottle over the line, by leaning over with your teammate acting as counterbalance to your flailing limbs. Then, when you’ve got it as far as you possibly can, you have to swap over and your teammate has to pick it up and bring it home, while you counterbalance them. Obviously, this game is a hell of a lot better slightly later on in the day. #fallingoverfun

That’s it. Games rule. I married into the world’s most competitive family, and I have to say: I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid. I am alllllll about games now.


[EDIT: Discussing the super violent games others have enjoyed, I was just reminded of a wedding in France I went to years ago, one of the first times my now-husband had really hung out with the rest of my family. With his own familial all-games-all-the-time atttude, while the rest of the guests were eating foie gras and horse meat, he convinced us to form a human pyramid, in the process kicking my sister in the face so hard she got a black eye. Reader, I married him.]

Wedding outfits - Net a Porter style

For my register office wedding, I wore a full, white, knee-length skirt my mother had made, plus Diane von Furstenberg white broderie anglaise top and green-and-white print jacket. I got the top and the jacket from Net a Porter (another gift from my mum) so I’ve always a) loved that site and b) associated it with weddings. 

They’ve now got a whole wedding section, which has some truly gorgeous dresses as well as, in their regular sections, some delici-separates with great wedding potential. 

First up, the dresses: 

Clockwise from top left: Alessandra Rich crepe de chine dress; Chloé silk chiffon-trimmed crepe dress; J. Crew Victoria feather-skirt linen dress; J. Crew Sararose gown.

They’re all so beautiful, not insanely expensive and can definitely *hem hem* be worn again (although if you have regular events at which you can wear the J. Crew Sararosa then why are you even reading this? Shouldn’t you be on a boat somewhere with Cary Grant?). 

Next up, separates. My picks: 

From left to right: Zoe Karssen bat cotton t-shirt and A.L.C. waffle-weave pencil skirt; Kain embroidered silk-chiffon top and Just Cavalli metallic-twill pencil skirt; Miu Miu silk chiffon-trimmed cotton t-shirt and See by Chloé matte-satin maxi skirt.

I love this lot. I think separates – particularly at a city or modern wedding – with a chunky birdcage veil, are a hell of a lot more chic than a floor-length dress or a 50s prom-style frock. But them’s just my onions. And I’m completely obsessed with that bat t-shirt. Is it too early to be hinting about Christmas presents? Any size is fine, I can always switch it. 

Finally, a jacket. The beautiful Diana v Furst jacket I was bought has served me well over the years, and makes me happy everytime I wear it, reminding me as it does of that fine old wedding day. I think this Milly one is a keeper – classic enough to stay wearable for years, special enough to sport on a wedding day.

There we go. Plenty of fashionable items for a wedding day, with no meringues or strapless numbers in sight. And coming soon: wedding outfits IN COLOUR ZOMFG!!!!! 

Fabulous weddings

Oh hello. The Wedding Diaries was reviewed in Fabulous magazine this weekend, and I only went a did a Ten Commandments for Wedding Organisation, didn’t I? You can read that here, and enter their competition to win a copy of the book here.

BONUS GIFT: a photo of me on that website, looking like a crafty goose.

More beautiful wedding shoes, this time from high street wizards and Queens of Europe, Zara. Four to choose from here: a fairly traditional but glossy and FILTHY HIGH soft cream-pink peep-toe; a purple spike-heeled platform that’s faintly Jessica Rabbit-ish; a gorgeous studded slipper perfect for any bride who doesn’t fancy any extra height on her wedding day, but does want a bit of glamour; and (my favourite of these favourites) a studded “cowboy” boot that’s actually far more elegant that the name would suggest. Oh god, I want it. And that boot would look absolutely perfect with wedding separates - more on those to follow. 

There you go, kids, four delicious shoes perfect for a wedding day. Now let’s go dancing. 

Time for some more rings, magpie-fans! Here’s one of my sisters, Fiona, and a teeny weeny and v precious ring. 

"This ring features the initials of my eldest son, given to me by my very dear friend who got me to the hospital just in the nick of time (13 minutes before the baby was born, to be exact). He calls her Auntie Batman [not because of her crime-fighting skills - it’s actually her name, although NO ONE EVER BELIEVES ME]. Made from delicate rose gold, by Bittersweets NY, it is literally the most fragile thing I own; it’s been snapped once, but was repaired in Hong Kong.”

Measurements: 1.7mm at the widest point, and 1mm around the band. Band is 0.3mm thick. It really is a beautiful object, and perfect for those with v delicate fingers, or who like to pile up their rings.

Lovely weddings I’ve attended

A new entry for the Lovely Weddings group. Liz and Henry are two of the funniest people I know, so despite the fact that I was STONE COLD SOBER at their wedding (due to being super-preg), it was still one of the greatest I’ve been to. Not least when Liz, then Henry, then the registrar and the rest of the guests started weeping with laughter at the invitation to “take Henry’s ring”. Come on, who would not enjoy that at a wedding? Let’s all make that a thing now, please. 

So tell us about it.

The wedding was in Richmond Park, at Pembroke Lodge, on 23rd December 2007. All in one venue so not not to waste time between church and drinks. (See? This is why it was a good wedding.) It was an evening wedding, just as it got dark - although it was the only foggy day of the year and you could only just see your hand in front of your face! We chose a winter wedding as I get VERY ratty when hot, and did not want to overheat on our wedding day.

What was your favourite bit?

Walking into the room with my mum and seeing everyone that means anything to you, smiling and genuinely happy for you. It’s pretty much the only day in your life that all your friends and family are in the same room, there for you. And of course, seeing Henry at the end of the aisle.

Was there anything you’d have done differently?

Since our wedding we’ve been to about fifty more… and the only thing I would change is that we would have liked a band. But our venue wasn’t big enough.

Any advice for a bride?  

The only thing I think my people end up remembering about a wedding is the food, the music (and dancing) and whether there was enough booze. It’s nice to spend time and money on the little stuff, but generally people want a good drink, so I’d spend more money on beer and wine, and less on flowers and favours.