Meet Mr & Mrs H, the very happy newly-weds, whose lovely wedding we had the pleasure of attending this weekend.
It was a beautiful day in Chichester. The sun was shining, the guests were happy and the champagne was flowing.
The preparations made the day perfect and we were delighted to have witnessed the marriage of a very dear friend ...and doesn't she look gorgeous, smiling up at her Mr Right.
It really was a wonderful day.
But weddings eh!
Such an occasion is a great opportunity for guests to dress up and splash out on a brand new outfit to look the part.
On announcement of impending marriage vows, the "old me" would have been off to the high street at the drop of Cilla Black's hat. I'd shop around for the perfect dress, the matching shoes and handbag, the most stunning jewellery, oh and I mustn't forget the make-up, with the perfect shade of co-ordinating eye-shadow, lipstick and nail polish.
Mr A would have been right behind me hunting down his killer shirt and tie combo, jazzed up with some cuff-links.
Oh yes, the old me and my partner in crime were brilliant at supporting the fashion industry when it came to weddings, with a decent spend of anything up to £350 to look the part (much more than the £54.75 the average person is estimated to spend)...and with that we would bring home the carrier bags, (made from paper if the shop was "posh"), plus the labels, the tissue paper, till receipts and the car parking tickets. There'd also be the refreshment pit-stops, with napkins, straws and any other waste left over from our visits to restaurants\cafes as we surveyed our choices.
And what would happen to all those things after the big day?
Hmm, Mr A has always been good at making the most of his purchases but my new stuff would simply hang about in the wardrobe, jewellery box and make-up bag for a number of years, then end up at the charity-shop, car-boot or bin when the novelty had worn off, the dress had "shrunk" or fashions had changed.
After all, I couldn't possible wear that outfit to the next wedding...where was the fun in that! Everything had to be new, new or new!
But how things have changed and it's a good job too, when you consider that we've been invited to three weddings this year...trust me, that's more to do with coincidence than popularity as there's been a bit of a dry spell on the matrimonial front over the last few years.
But three weddings in one year! Now that would create a lot of unnecessary waste and expense if I was still my old self.
So the challenge was on to reduce unnecessary purchases and reuse what we already had in our wardrobes, without turning up to the wedding looking like a pair of hillbillies.
For Mr A, it was very easy, a work-shirt and tie...pretty much of a doddle I'd say. But for me, there was the exhaustive turnaround of co-ordinating pieces, which could easily match the costume changes for any modern catwalk model...until to my relief, I finally settled on Mr A's suggestion of my little Laura Ashley number, circa 2005.
I can't even remember the occasion for which I bought it now, probably a wedding or Christening. But thankfully, I still had the matching shoes and little bag. Perfect! And even better, in the event of a chilly evening, there was the pashmina, a recent birthday gift from a friend. Although, that did bring on the extra panic of searching the Internet to find out how one should wear such an item without looking like an overdressed sack of spuds.
For once, there were no brand new cosmetics or even jewellery. All these came from my existing collection, including my sparkling vintage necklace.
So here we are, with a rare glimpse of Mr A, joining in the special celebrations without a brand new item in sight!
But what about the kids? Well...er...hmm...that was more tricky! With feet bursting out of their now scruffy shoes, their little tootsies were in need of a smart makeover. So each had a visit to the local shoe shop and proudly carried out their boxes of new footwear (vowing to save the boxes for future school projects). The only other expense was one pre-loved, mint-condition M&S shirt from Cancer Research for just £1.50. Phew, that was lucky and the betting is it will last a few years too!
But that's enough from us. Our outfits might have been a challenge, but it was not our big day....
It's back to the lovely bride and groom...and a toast.
A toast.... for a wonderful life together, bringing happiness and good health......(with the hope they also enjoy the minimal waste impact of a gift voucher and a wrapper-free wedding card).
So ladies and gentlemen....please charge your glasses.
as I give you...the Bride and Groom!