Hoopfulbride's Blog

Planning a wedding in a place called The Hope

Ha Ha… The Wedding Reunion! 8 October 2009

I regard it as somewhat of a triumph that a mere week and a half after the nuptials our mateys and family have organised themselves enough to hold a wedding reunion!

Ok. I exaggerate: the primary instigation for the Wedding Reunion (it’s like Survivor… hilarious!) is one of The Things That Went Wrong: oysters.

Rooster and I had organised our canape menu with the more than able assistance of our beautiful friends The Cookies (#1 and #2). Due to their involvement in the industry (in fact, we met Cookie #1 when she did the subliminal catering for Rooster’s sister’s wedding), they had all manner of hot tips for fancy food we could get on the cheap… including oysters! Now, we knew that an oyster stand would impress the socks off our guests, and Wild Peacock would sell them to us for R4,50 an oyster (less than US.60c)… so we duly ordered 300 of the shuckers (sic). Except, to ensure maximum freshness, they would be shucked and ready for us on the Saturday for our trustyandtremendous driver to fetch from CT and bring through to De Hoop when he drove through for the nuptials on Saturday morning.

That’s where things went awry:

[Please bear in mind that there is no cellphone signal at De Hoop. There was also only generator power in the house I stayed in and no electricity in the house Rooster stayed in (the rest of the houses are fully powered, but they’re on the other side of a lake).]

Rooster forgot to give directions for the oyster pick-up to Trusty Driver before we arrived at De Hoop.

The only directions we therefore had at De Hoop were on my ancient laptop.

The only place where Trusty Driver’s details were stored was Rooster’s (powerless) cell phone.

Late Friday night (after the pub quiz.. AWESOME!), it fell on me to plug in ancient computer, charge Rooster’s cellphone, and send directions to Trusty Driver… All went according to plan: cellphone fired up, computer booted up, I located e-mail with directions, waited for cellphone to charge a little more when: WWIRRRRRRrrrrr: The generator switched off! The laptop switched off (crap battery)! The cellphone died! 

The end result was  that there were no oysters at our wedding. Wild Peacock, because my phone had no signal and went through to voicemail, thought the wedding had been cancelled (!!!), and froze the oysters…

So, this evening we are getting together with all the friends and mateys for an evening of oysters and bubbles and memories of the wedding: in other words, our wedding reunion! Our photographer mateys (who did an awesome job) have worked their arses off to get the pics ready and we will be projecting them for all to enjoy and appreciate. It will be grand!

But seriously, there were many things that went wrong at that wedding (besides not having our schmancy oyster stand):

  • the hot water didn’t work in the Bride’s house. So, after having a mini-facial in the morning, I washed my hair by sitting in about 7cm of lukewarm water in the only bath in the house that had warm running water and filling a cup to rinse the soap and conditioner out of my hair. My darling scissor, best friend and longlost friend followed suite…
  • it rained hard right after the ceremony such that we couldn’t take the amazing photos that should have been taken in De Hoop… That place is a photographers wet dream… except, of course, when it’s wet. Then the photographer can’t take very many pics at all…
  • because of the rain we had to move the canape time indoors to an area where there wasn’t very satisfactory acoustics. We’d hired a BRILLIANT and beautiful musician to play some Afro-Brazilian tunes, but these were lost on about half of the guests. At least there are some great pics of him!
  • the house we’d allocated for the babysitters was vetoed at the last minute by Rooster’s scissor who’d just had a baby (she wanted it only for her children and their cousins). Such that all the OTHER parents streamed into the main manor house where we were trying to have a couple of pics with family and wedding party… not highly successful and a bit stressful!
  • I had spent a good two days the week before preparing baby beetroot to serve as an additional salad on our buffet. The De Hoop chef forgot to put it on the buffet table. We might be eating beetroot for months to come…
  • the seating plan was a mess – we didn’t know the table configuration until it was all set up late afternoon before the wedding (the joys of being the first wedding in a venue)… subsequently we had some amazing wedding faeries busting their arses on the morning of the wedding to get everyone seated while I was preened (and Rooster ran around madly doing other chores). In the end, most people were seated, but i think some guests just sat where they wanted when they couldn’t find their names!

There was probably loads of other stuff that wasn’t right too, but I didn’t care a jot! We loved the chaotic, crazy, happy celebration that emerged despite the mini-disasters… If I would give some advice, I’d suggest having a wedding co-ordinator so that those kind of hiccoughs don’t happen. But really, they didn’t matter in the end.

Rooster and I were married and we celebrated with the most beautiful, colourful, fabulous souls, who cares about anything else?

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And on to the important stuff: booze 22 July 2009

Filed under: being thrifty,De Hoop,foodndrink,fynbos,Things I love,Uncategorized — hoopfulbride @ 2:25 pm

I love a good wine… As a result of our road-trippin, Rooster and I can now proudly boast that we have selected our wines and beer to serve at the nuptial celebrations. And since I hadn’t told you about the  (already selected) bubbles, I may as well fill you in on that too.

SAfrica is jammed packed with all manner of delicious wines, so the prospect of choosing wedding wines can be a little over-whelming. to make it easier on ourselves, we decided to keep it in the area and (as far as possible) source the wines from close to De Hoop (the Overberg).

Our bubbles come from Weltevrede farm: the Philip Jonker Brut Entheos. It is delicious and reminds me of pears everytime i drink it, although the experts describe it as “a lively mousse, creamy biscuit on the palate and long aftertaste. A vibrant Cap Classique to celebrate every day.”

Even better for me is the description given by the winemaker : “Entheos. I chose the word Entheos as it expresses exactly what this wine is about. Enthusiasm. Joy. Life within. The energy of spontaneous laughter. Freedom.”

I love it! And, they have offered to sell it to us at wholesale prices, i.e. for R48 (+/- $5,65) a bottle!

More on Weltevrede wines and their delicious cap classiques here.

Rooster and I quaffed a great many white wines to narrow down our final selection (oh, life’s tough, but somebody’s got to quaff delicious white wine…). We decided that it would probably be best to chose two whites (a sauvigon blanc that is so typical of the region – and a chardonnay type wine) to satisfy all tastes (and with 200 people, there really are ALL kinds of tastes…

The 2006 Zoetendal Sauvingon Blanc was the winner: light, a touch of asparagus and litchi and a mineral aftertaste that is really typical of Elim (where the wine is from)

Zoet_SauvBlnc_08_1

Our Not-SavBlanc is the 2008 First Sighting Chardonnay Semillon Viognier (i.e. NOT a Sav Blanc, but pretty much a whole lot of other stuff!). the official tasting comments describe it as: “Fresh citrus and crisp apple flavours that surprise with peach and floral undertones combined with indigenous Elim fynbos aromas. Light and fruity with a clean minerality on the aftertaste” – pretty fabulously described, m’thinks.

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The beauty about both of our chosen whites is that they are flavoursome enough for the wine-snobs (whom I love), but friendly enough for the crowds AND they come with a very wedding-friendly price tag: R40 a bottle each (i.e. about $4.70).

The red is a tad trickier: We LOVE the 2007 Jean Daneel Initial Red (described here), a blend of Merlot, Cab Sav, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc AND Shiraz. It is a fabulous, blend that is medium-bodied and full of berry and woody flavours, BUT there are two MAJOR problems…

1. There may not be enough of the wine to actually serve our guesty-poos. It’s a really small boutique winery and this wine is seriously delicious, so we may have a problem getting enough on our tables… AND

2. We have not negotiate the price… which may end up being too exorbitant… Now, this is a great value-for-money wine, but we really need to get as much as a discount as is possible and this may not be possible give the extremely low stocks of the wine. Sigh. Hold thumbs, Internet!

Lastly, we have narrowed the beer down to the Birkenhead Lager or Pilsner: tasting consultations are currently in progress with my father and Rooster’s brother-in-law: our two most passionate beer-drinkers! We will get some kegs and serve it on tap… because we’re fun like that… and it’s cheaper… and we’re cheap like that!

Of course, with all that “tasting”, we got a little tipsy and took some silly shots:

 

and they’re off!!! 13 July 2009

Filed under: being thrifty,fynbos,Invites — hoopfulbride @ 11:51 am

Those invitations. Despite the last-minute breaking of the round corner punch and despite Rooster nearly loosing the invoice so we nearly couldn’t get a replacement and the resultant abundance of vented emotion as i was running late to catch my plane to Jozi on Friday afternoon, we finally got those invites in their envelopes and they’re hitting the post office today!

Werewith, the story of our invites:

Step One: Rooster and I took a whole lot of close up pics of fynbos flowers at every opportunity we had. Some we took on weekends away, some on evening traipses on table mountian, some in our garden, some (even) of cut flowers in our home. All in all, we ended up using 56 of our favourite shots. These formed the front side of the postcards that made up the invite, as seen below en masse

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Step two: We thought up some savvy copy for our invites: we wanted something quite casual and we also wanted to remind our guests that we have different activities happening on each day. We enlisted the assitance of our beautiful graphic designer friend to help us make the invites look a little more like postcards. We think she was brilliant! And please note the cockerel stamp – in line with Rooster and my agreement that my family emblem would become our family emblem!

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The main invite: please excuse the scrappy gold blanking (I’m not sure how effective it was in any event!).

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The invite for the braai competition (complete with South Africanisms – apologies to foreign readers).

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The invite for Friday Activity Day.

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And the invite (to closest friends and family) for the traditional post wedding prawn braai!

At this point I should note that we have purposely misspelt “prauwne” – the story goes back to a trip to Mozambique a few years ago where they pronounce the shrimp-like crustacean just like it’s spelt above. To my delight, I once spotted a sign from a street vendor with that spelling and have not been able to call them prawn since!

There was one typo mistake: on our “admin postcard” (not pictured) we did not include the full number for De Hoop (for the purposes of booking accommodation)… We didn’t think it was too much of a train-smash as we also included glossy brochures for the reserve (to give people a taste of where we’re headed) in the invite and all the relevant info is on our wedding website!

Step three: Practical stuff. We got the cardboard (recycled card) printed at rooster’s dad’s company for free (Yay!), cut into postcard size for free from the paper shop where we purchased the card, we cut the millions of rounded corners with our old and our new round corner punches (see how cool it looks!) and secured the bunch of random photos with a funky paper clip.

Step 4: I hand addressed the invites and envelopes in gold pen. Our envelopes are black and long enough to accommodate the glossy De Hoop brochure and in a flash of inspiration (gleaned from the brilliant brides in internetland) we had stickers printed with a mosaic of our pics so that the colour would *pop* on the black!

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The envelope waiting to be stuffed and addressed (and a bit over-exposed)!

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All our little babies waiting to visit the post office and beyond! (If you look closely you will see the little white bird-like corners lying around after much corner punching.) The great new is that the SA Post Office has recently issued fynbos stamps: bloody perfect…

We are thrilled and can’t wait for feedback from our mateys once people start receiving them! Our invites are exactly as we hoped they would be: beautiful, simple, bright, relaxed and memorable. Yay…

 

Suppressing the (sometimesnotsoinner) control freak 8 July 2009

Filed under: being thrifty,De Hoop,fynbos,honeymoon,weekend away wedding (WAW) — hoopfulbride @ 2:52 pm

Two things have happened recently in my personal wedding land that require the Type A in Saartjie to take a forced breather

Firstly, Rooster has been discussing changing our honeymoon plans along the lines of having a mini-moon in the week after our nuptials (to a surprise, African location) and then taking a bit of a longer break at the end of the year and exploring somewhere a little further afield: India, China, Argentina, Ethiopia (some examples)…

Now while I am not averse to changing my plans, once I’ve made a plan I generally like to stick to it. Rooster, on the other hand, likes to chop and change quite a lot. He is a Libra and I am reliably informed that this is a typical Libran quality – although I am generally disinclined to throw my lot in with astronomy, I think the characteristic fits like a glove in this case! So reassessing the whole honeymoon vibe does come as a bit of a major readjustment for me as that box had been ticked. I am convinced, however, that the most marvellous thing about a partnership (as I constantly learn from mine) is that our perspective is continually challenged. So, while he helps me to see new angles when I think a decision has been all tied up, I help him committ to the best possible outcome (all things considered, of course).

I’m beginning to like the idea of mini-moon plus extended december/january holiday more and more! I like the idea of planning a trip together and of exploring a new place together. I like that we take less time off work in September/October (while we both work for ourselves, it is a bit bad from a PR p.o.v. to be absent for too long in the middle of the year). I like that we get to have two fantastic holidays.

Letting go of the control freak…

On the other hand, The Second Issue is not so easy for me to suppress my anal retentive tendencies: The florist is driving me nuts.

To put this in perspective, De Hoop is pretty far from any major metropolis and therefor pretty far from quality vendors. The person we will most probably use to decorate our venue is RIDICULOUSLY reasonable and local and, um, not too “country” (as in unsophisticated, but unsophisticated is too strong a word…). Also, because our venue is in the back-o-beyond, it’s not so easy to pop down to the flower market: blossoms must be ordered well in advance. I have not yet met the actual florist, but i have had several dealings with her daughter-in-law (the person tasked with “communication”) and she seems like a really lovely person in person.

But (m-therf-cker) it may just be the MOST difficult challenge I have ever encountered trying to communicate our vision and enlist their help in bringing it to fruition. This is not for lack of trying: I am a lawyer, I use words accurately for a living and I am used to being able to communicate effectively (if not well). Not with our florists. It has got to the point where the sight of an e-mail from them in my inbox raises my temperature a few degrees as it is certain to contain

EITHER

a quote for something I have never asked for or will never (ever) want (gel candles – I do not want a gel candle within a 50km radius of my reception. No matter how many times I politely stress my dislike of gel candles, they somehow wind back on the following quote);

OR

a quote for something which we are supplying ourselves (eg. old silver, bronze and copper vessels for flowers; recycled jars for candles (they want to rent these for R15 each!));

OR

omit something important which we really would like a quote for for comparative reasons… followed by a LONG (up to a month) break in communication regarding this item while they “compile a quote”… in which time they forget. Again;

OR

An utter miscommunication: we have asked them to quote on flowers and some minor decor items. De Hoop has asked them to quote on setting up the entire reception hall (which is an old barn) with tables, chairs, lighting, cutlery, crockery, etc. We continually are quoted items for De Hoop’s account (despite pointing this out to them) and then they insist they cannot remove the item until they have clearance from De Hoop. Never-mind-we-never-asked-for-the-bloody-item-in-the-first-bloody-place!!!!!!!

Jeepers Creepers.

It’s got to the point where I am ready to walk into their offices and construct my own quote so I do not have to deal with one more ridiculous exchange!

Also, I think I’m arriving at an important, control-freak, kind of decision: they can drop off the flowers and I will find some blessed souls amongst my friends or family to help me pop the stems into the awaiting vases: that way i can rest assured that i do not have to struggle to make myself understood to a person who clearly does not want to understand!

sigh

Disclaimer: we are travelling up to the region next weekend and we will meet with the actual lady responsible for the arranging. If I get a good feeling from her, I will desist with my plan to take over. Otherwise, I’m taking matters into my own hands!

 

oh! PS on the Frock 2 July 2009

Filed under: being thrifty,frock — hoopfulbride @ 2:50 pm

I do feel a tad uneasy about spending loads on a frock (no matter how seriously gorgeous) that I will only wear once (my dress costs R9800 – the equivalent of about US$1255). HOWEVER I have two (clearly very clever) solutions to quell my  unease:

Class of 2009 Party

I’m friends with a bevvy of beautiful brides (gotta love an alliteration) who have married (or are getting married) in 2009. It is the time of our lives when we all seem to succumb to the marriage thing. At first I was a little put out about being part of a trend (a position i have seldom, if ever, found myself in), but then I embraced it.

We call ourselves Bridal Class of 2009 and after wedding planning is over, my next project (a joint one) will be to plan a big Bridal Class of 2009 Party in December where we will all get to dress up in our frocks again (more than one wear… I like it) and there will be a party with many brides and many grooms: Hilarious! Also, in the spirit of “one bride’s trash is another bride’s treasure”, we will play “secret santa” with our worst/most quirky gift. I can’t wait… No doubt I will keep you in the loop about Class of 2009 preparations once I am married.

Dress = piece of art

Don’t be ridiculous, I have NO intention of displaying my dress around my home other than in a couple of tasteful photos from the day… uggh. I always get an uneasy feeling about obviously displayed wedding memorabilia – it’s a tad desperate in a Miss Haversham kind of way.

BUT my frock does incorporate a very large and beautiful print of a hand-painted blushing bride protea. I plan to have the panel with the print removed and framed so that the print CAN be hung up on our walls and nobody will ever know its significance other than Rooster and me (and those who attended the wedding, obviously). Clever, huh? The obvious flaw in this plan is that I have to avoid spilling red wine on the panel with the print. And knowing me, the odds are pretty high that I may not avoid this pitfall.

Anyways, because the dress has masses of panels of the most beautiful raw silk, I can still have a full skirt from the remaining panels. I intend dying the resultant dress some beautiful colour for repeat wearing.

Tra-la-la!!!

 

On chosing how to spend money for the biggest party of our lives… 30 June 2009

Yes eastsidebride! Yes Meg! Yes Accordions and Lace!  How clever and articulate you ladies are. I have been mulling over your posts on wedding budget and this is my take on how we’re spending money:

Rooster and I consider ourselves extremely lucky to have a decent budget to play around with for our wedding because, simply put, we love to throw a party… and we are, for 200 people! All things considered, we probably have exactly the right amount. If we have more, we’d probably bank the cash (and buy a new car  or travel or a little holiday nest in the mountains or something) and if we’d had less, we’d just be a little less hospitable (as explained below).

We’ve approached our spending with a tight-fisted “spiral” philosophy: the smaller or closer it is to us or our wedding venue, the happier we are to spend money one it. The further away or bigger, the more we try to avoid it. In other words, we have tried our darndest to spend small and close with those in our immediate community. For example:

  • What we or our families can make or collect ourselves (without inflicint any kind of pain), we have: invites and other paperwork, “favours” (welcome pack on arrival with note and little bottle of liqueur and rusks to take home to enjoy with coffee in the morning), vases (all old silver and bronze from our family and friends), candle holders (recycled jars) and pickled beetroot as salad.
  • We have used and will use friends and family (or friends of friends) for our cake, beauty, hair, make-up, ceremony music, rings, dog collar for cowboy, photographer and videographer.
  • Our wines, florist, hire of equipment (most of it) and food (including fish and lamb for the braai/bbq which is the main mean) are from businesses or farms or fishermen in the area around De Hoop.
  • Where we have not been able to find a personal contact or someone near De Hoop, we’ve tried to support South African micro-businesses or crafts people in cape town: bridesmaids dresses are from a local SA designer, as is my dress (although she has imported the silk from London to ensure it is made under fair conditions), flower girl dresses will be made by an INCREDIBLY talented refugee woman (from Somalia) who makes her living by sewing, bridal party shoes are from a Pakistani street vendor who brings in leather and beaded shoes made in his village (ok, not southafrican, but still micro), the bulk of our guest registry will be with small bespoke stores we adore in ct (only some stuff from the online giants for guests from further away), dj (a young guy starting out) and cocktail hour musician (an Angolan singer-guitarist who plays beautiful afro-brazilian music), south african recycled paper to print invites from our local paper store etc…
  • Only for VERY few items have we resorted to splashing out or buying in bulk from big stores (sorry chinese children…). I have insisted we pay a slightly ridiculous amount on hiring chrystal candle holders because i am in love with them SO much. We will also probably buy stuff like candles, etc, en masse because I’m cheap like that. Rooster is buying his suit from a local boutique that imports suits from Italy (although the guy is himself going to source a suit that fits him perfectly!) – tad more expensive than local, but not ridiculous and the suit is BEAUTIFUL.

As a result of this philosophy, a few very awesome things have happened: friends have offered to do things for free or have offered us amazing discounts. Locally sourced products and vendors (already cheaper) have offered to let us use their products at a discounted rate. And for the bulk-buys, we’ve been able to hunt for bargains (because I love a bargain…). So, we’ve saved LOADS of cash compared to the same wedding if our philosophy was any different. Yay…

For the most fleeting of moments, we thought about holding onto the cash: perhaps even being “responsible” and investing, but it occurred to us that we could share the love a little more! So we subsidised accommodation at De Hoop for all our guests. We’re paying for accommodation for our close family, the wedding party and their partners! We’re also paying for the accommodation for the wedding fairies who are helping us for free! And my aunt (my dad’s only sister) and uncle who were recently laid off and have both had to settle major medical bills recently: we can pay for their accommodation too!

We’re still trying our hardest in these times to scrimp and save wherever possible and we do have moments of unease where we worry about how much cash we’re spending on just one party (at least it’s a WAW so it’s a whole 4-day vibe…). But actually, what good does it help to splurge on the silly things at our wedding, then pass the cost of travelling and accommodation onto our guests?  Times are tight for everybody and it is a real privilege to be able to treat our guests, even if only a little bit.

 

invites: i love it when a plan comes together 25 June 2009

Filed under: being thrifty,cowboy the dog,fynbos,Invites,Things I love — hoopfulbride @ 5:14 pm

Hurrah! We got our test print back for the invites and they will be just grand! Rooster and my aforementioned love for fynbos was always going to feature prominently in the wedding planning and one of our first ideas was how to work that into our invites: close-up macro photos of fynbos flowers and pretty leaves from our walks.

Since our engagement we have taken hundreds of close-up pics of pretty flowers and leaves on our walks around the peninsula and beyond. We walk on the mountain quite a lot because we need to exercise ourselves and, importantly, our pup-o-love (as I call him).  Here is our dog Cowboy (he is a boy and he looks like a cow) who needs a lots of walking otherwise he gets pretty energetic (like, too energetic):

(As a COMPLETE aside (and don’t tell anybody): we have got special permission for Cowboy to be allowed to be at our wedding – he may or not be the ring bearer (but Rooster and Scissor think that’s REALLY dorky, and I’m coming round to their p.o.v.), but the most awesome thing is that he will be there. We thought he wouldn’t allowed to be because De Hoop is a nature reserve with loads of real live animals, but the wedding area is fairly cordoned off so we are allowed to bring him! Our fantastic leather-artist friend will make him a fancy collar. Bless…)

Back to invites:

So we have decided to use the pics of proteas (etc) that we have taken and use them as our invites… and our welcome notes, and our order of service and our name cards and our thank-you notes! While each card will only have two close-up pics (front and back), by the time people arrive at the Reserve (or at the ceremony or at the reception – depending on how savvy they are!) they will discover that all the pics form a kind of giant tapestry of our walks together! We think we’re very clever 🙂 

We are also lucky enough to have access to a high-quality printer (Rooster’s family business prints catalogues), so our already thrifty invites (no designers or letterpress or fancy paper – only locally recycled) have become a million times cheaper! 

Today we received the first two test sheets with our flowers printed on recycled card paper with a white border. Our consensus is to make a folded card (with a flower pic on the outside of either sheet of the card), make the corners rounded (for a retro feel) and have the text printed in grey inside.

Interlude: I frikkin love the round-corner punch. LOVE. I think i may never tire of punching round corners on our invites. Good Luck to Rooster if he wants a turn punching rounded corners… okenoughofthat!

While the invites will be about postcard size, we need longer envelopes as we are sending our guests glossy brochures about De Hoop (so they too can start to get excited). We’re thinking black or grey envelopes around which we will wrap a paper band of fynbos flowers (they will really stand out on the black) and we will write the addresses in gold ink (I love a gold pen). I really couldn’t be bothered about calligraphy. My experience is that people tear open the envelope and never give it a second glance…

With a “destination wedding” (I really feel uneasy using that term. How about a “weekend away wedding”?), we obviously have a lot of admin that our guests will need to know. Therefore, we have set up a Most Useful Wedding Website with all kinds of useful hints and tips (like,  the plan for the three-day wedding (not all are invited to the post-wedding prawn braai) how to book accommodation and, importantly, how to get there). Our invite will refer our guests to our online tome.

In order to diminsh the overall environmental footstep of this wedding, and to keep costs and (really important) admin down, we’re asking people to RSVP via e-mail or phone. We also sent our save-the-dates by e-mail and we have set up a dedicated gmail account for all wedding admin. In all my nearly 30 years (and a good 5 of them attending weddings at least semi-regularly) I have never really got round to posting a reply to an invite (even if postage is included and even if i really liked the idea at the time). Really – all the bride needs to know is who’s going to be there: does she really need a whole piece of (postage paid) paper telling her that?!?

For now, I’m afraid you will have to make do with my verbal description… I promise to post pictures when they are less in a “test” phase and more in a “sending” phase. Promise.