Suits have been cut, dresses ordered and wines have been tasted. The venues are booked, we’ve got the RSVP cards back and today we are sorting out the seating plan.
This wedding is flipping happening.
There are now less than three weeks to go before – unless Biscuit does something surprising* or The Theatre Producer runs away to join the Navy** – I win the bet.
How we got here
We started over three years ago, with a contest to see who could get married first that was sort of a foolish jape, but it has got a bit out of hand.
If you look at the first page of posts you can see we only had a vague idea of the rules and neither of us was really in a very strong position to actually get married. We’d both had a string of disastrous relationships up till that point.
It was a silly idea, but it was also quite a good way of tricking ourselves into leaving that man-child space and growing up a bit. I suppose that’s the lesson I’m taking from all this.
To quote the immortal Mary Poppins, ‘In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun, find the fun and *snap* the jobs a game.’
Just don’t tell TP I referred to getting married to her as a ‘job that must be done.’ She might get a bit stabby.
*This wouldn’t be entirely out of character for him.
**Less likely because TP hates running.
There are lots of things I really love about living with Jen:
- She brings home surprise booze and chocolate on a Friday night.
- She humours my increasingly obsessive behaviour with feeding and housing the birds in the garden (and hushed exclamations of “LOOK!!!” every couple of minutes when a tit lands on the window feeder).
- Lazy weekend lie-ins ’til mid-day.
- Doing decorating together (basically giant Lego).
- She organised a surprise Rock Band birthday party for me in the garden under a gazebo, like playing to a really tiny festival and plastic instruments.
- Having my Partner in Crime on hand every day for adventures, My Little Pony and serious high-fives.
However, as the tides ebb and flow and the moon waxes and wanes, so there is also a darker side to living with my girlfriend.
This particular darker side is that she is convinced our house is trying to kill her. Girls are mad.
This manifests itself in a number of ways. Initially it was the belief that the house is maliciously costing her money; the electric shower breaking; the leaking boiler; the doorframe falling apart, the mouse in the kitchen.
It then progressed to an insistence that the house is actively trying to kill her off;
- Trying to freeze her during the snowy weather by euthanising the heating
- Poisoning her by setting the drill battery on fire whilst charging.
- Tripping her up on the gate so she skinned her shin AND cut her face.
- Crushing her toes by moving the landing ladder in the night and making her fall over it.
- Gouging a chunk out of her leg with the stationary Workmate that is propped up against the wall.
The last of these happened earlier today and the first I knew was a banshee cry of “I FUCKING HATE THIS , FUCKING HOUSE!” and a teary Jen looking at a bloody hole in her jeans. To be fair it was a nasty gouge and I would be pretty upset too. Once Dr. Biscuit had cleaned and plastered the wound we had to have a little chat about how the house isn’t really trying to make her life hell, it’s just an unfortunate series of unrelated events.
Once she had calmed down we decided to make banana bread.
10 minutes later the garden hose exploded in her hands, all over the kitchen.
The talk last night went very well, and not just because we had bongos. There was a stellar line-up including brilliant original stuff from MyLoveLifeInYourHands, Joel Golby, Nell Frizzell and Craig Taylor. There was a lot of laughter and quite bit of pity, especially the latter for the stuff Biscuit and I performed.
If you missed the show you can catch up on what we performed here:
- Biscuit told this excellent story involving dwarf porn, lego and accidental winky texts
- I stuttered through the tragic story of a lovely lady I met at a film party, how I messed things up, and then made them even worse.
The bongos worked pretty well, although our bongoist Phil (who is a professional drummer that we met in the bar) got a bit distracted and didn’t quite bong as much as we would have liked. Still the rareness of the bongs made them all the more precious.
I also learned that when you own a set of bongos you can guarantee that you are the worst person on any form of public transport, FACT.
Someone having a loud conversation on a phone? BONGO Not any more. Smelling the carriage up with stinky food? BONGO They’ll get off an the next stop. I even had some scary looking dude cross the road to avoid me as I bongo my way home from the bus. RESULT.
I’ve had to hide the bongos from myself so I don’t get drunk on bongo power, it’s a constant danger.
Previously I had thought I was super easy going and didn’t care about anything about you, know, winning the bet. *ahem* I mean marrying my darling fiancée, but it turns out I’m quite picky.
We’ve looked at a lot of wedding venues now. Whole weekends have been spent stomping around country homes, museums and even slightly rubbish castles while a salesperson talks to you about seat cover options or maximum capacity numbers. That bit isn’t fun, but it’s over now because we’ve got a venue booked in and a date.
Here is what I have learned
- It is expensive, I’ve had to force myself to not think of the wedding in terms of motorcycles we could have bought because it breaks my heart.
- Things I don’t want: A bland function room, feeling like I’m in someone else’s house, a tiny dance floor.
- Things TP doesn’t want: A tent, seat covers, me to dress as a spider.
- There is a fun bit later on where you have an evening of ‘testing food’ for the ceremony. I can’t wait for that.
- Putting a deposit down on a venue makes this feel even more real than buying a ring. It’s really happening.
- Some people book their weddings three years in advance. THREE YEARS! We could be ruled by robots by then.
- Or sharks.
- You can hire ice-cream bikes, jugglers and even choirs but even if you’re thinking of using a military museum for your wedding they won’t let you play on the tanks or hold a musket.
- Don’t even bother asking about having an axe fight on the day.
- It’s very hard to resist doing a stupid theme, not that stupid themes are out it’s just there about three dozen we want to try.
- Choosing who to invite is hard, especially with couples because that instantly doubles the number.
- Also while working on the list you get strange urges to invite people just because they gave you extra chips or let your cross at the traffic lights. At the current rate we are likely to have a table just of people who have served me nice coffee.
- Deciding that you’re not going to invite members of your extended family because they are awful is lovely. I can’t recommend it enough.
- All brides have spreadsheets of information on venues and they trade them.
- Apparently the system is you get a rough list together, then venue hunt and then choose a date. Then you do nothing for a while until it gets closer to the time.
- We’re sort of at that bit now.
So I’m engaged now. I went to Paris and I proposed the SHIT OUT OF The Theatre Producer.
Here is what happened.
We were staying in a ridiculous hotel in Paris. Think a stately home plonked in the middle of the 16th (The posh bit of Paris).
TP had booked the room so that in included a ‘free upgrade’ which resulted in us having a ‘junior suite’ that was larger than our flat. I’ve not stayed in that many rooms with conservatories before but I am now a fan.
We dropped off our bags and went on a walking tour of Paris. It was a beautiful day, really sunny and we set off along the streets doing a long lap of the sights. I was a little quiet during this period because I was thinking about stuff.
Not regrets or anything just considering the enormity of what I was about to do. This would be the point when what started as a silly bet crossed into being an incredibly serious thing with legal implications. It’s a lot to take in. I was glad I had time to process it a bit rather than being on the end of a question.
The set up
When we got back to the hotel room we were both really tired (we’d walked miles) BUT I had a plan. So I suggested we have a quick drink in the gardens before retiring for a nap. Well demanded it.
TP wasn’t exactly pro this idea, okay lets be honest, she thought I’d gone insane and demanded to know why I was being so cruel to her by forcing her to put on a nice dress and some lipstick.
We went down stairs to the garden (with a bit of grumbling from TP about how tired she was) and I asked TP to pick a nice spot for a photo.
She wanted to just sit down but I was insistent that we had a seat with ‘good framing’. Again she’d thought I’d gone mad which wasn’t helped by the fact I had my bag with me for no real reason (real reason: holding a ring).
Once we were sat down I went off to buy some wine. I ordered two glasses of champagne and explained in pigeon-French how I was about to propose and how I’d like the waiter to take lots of photos.
The teenage waiter was so surprised when I started mentioning le proposal pour la marriage that he made the champagne he was opening explode everywhere and had to clean it up.
While he was cleaning that up I had time to quickly phone TP’s dad to ask permission. I got through to him and was so excited by me calling that he just wanted to have a lovely chat about PPI and India. I had to fight to speak and get the request in. He approved and I dashed back to the bar to pick up the waiter.
We sat down and clinked our glasses for the camera but it didn’t work.
TP said ‘Oh never mind we can do it some other time, to which I replied, ‘NO WE MUST HAVE PHOTOS’.
She thought I’d properly gone mad now. She fixed the camera and dutifully posed for the photos. The waiter carried on taking pictures and TP only got a little suspicious.
Then I started the talk. I had been toying with the idea of doing a silly proposal but a friend had said that was a bad idea. So I instead I said how happy TP makes me and how much I like her, stuff like that. She looked at me very strangely and thought I’d caught too much sun.
Then I popped on one knee and pulled out the ring. POW. Only then did she realise what was going on.
She said ‘yes, of course’ and did a little cry, sort of ignoring the ring I had held out until I prompted her to open the box.
Then we drank more champagne and she looked at the ring a lot. We also texted a picture to Biscuit of the ring and called him a loser.
She then said,’Well now we’ve got to plan a wedding’
And I said, ‘Oh blimes, I hadn’t thought of that’.
Proposal success rating 100%
Forethought of what this means (apart from a life together being happy): 0%.
Well we’re off to Paris tomorrow. I still didn’t have a ring, but it felt like a waste of a trip to a stupidly nice hotel in Paris (accommodation upgraded by an unexpected tax rebate) to not propose then.
So I contacted the art dealer for other suggestions and we concocted the plan of a ‘place holder ring’.
This is a ring that you buy so there is something to put on the finger when the question is popped and then you can have the ‘delight’ of picking the actual engagement ring together.
This has pros and cons
- Since it’s only a stand-in ring you don’t have to fret about it as much.
- It doesn’t have to be stupidly expensive (in theory)
- It means I can ask the question this weekend
- I’m not buying one ring, I’m buying two now. Diamonds are not cheap.
- It means during the proposal I have to explain what this ring is about ‘It’s a stand-in’ isn’t very romantic. I need to come up with a better name.
So with this in mind I tramped across town (again) to near the diamond district to look at rings. This time with someone else who the art dealer said would be more in the price range of people who don’t own countries or haven’t invented Facebook.
The invitation only studio was super cool. It had a swing in it (yeah an actual swing) and leather backed chairs and cool art. I would have liked to have hung around for a bit longer but I was a man with a mission. Actually would have liked to live there.
Hot ring chat
I sat down and talked about the pre-ring ring to the lady. She completely understood it and apparently it’s actually quite common these days. It’s nice to know there are other chaps out there fretting over if they have the right sort of gem/setting/metal.
We looked at the sort of rings my chum recommended and there was one that I could just about afford (Who needs food really) so I got that.
It’s very pretty in silver with a small diamond in it. Not too shabby really. It came with a pouch but luckily the sales lady had one of those black boxes that rings go in (just a slightly over large one) so now I’m set. You can’t propose from a pouch, you’ve got to have a box. Everyone knows that.
We get the train to Paris super early in the morning tomorrow. I’ve got the ring. I’m set.
I just need to work out what I’m going to say.
Marriage percentage: 100%
My old chum the art dealer is on Operation Lock That Shit Down (I still need a better name for it). She knows rings and stuff and has been a friend for years. Ideal for being an adviser. She was going to help with the picking and help me get ‘a deal’ but she’s off to Ireland for two months.
No help for me.
But she just happened to bump into a diamond dealer she knows in the street (yes that really happens). She mentioned my name and he’s going to do me a deal, apparently. He’s now in my phone as ‘dealer’ which may backfire as a plan (It does make me feel cool and edgy) but now I’ve got a contact.
We’ve just spoken. I’m going to go and see him on Monday and talk about rings. This does mean that I have to find out more about various types of cuts and what TP likes without arousing her suspicion.
He also said if I take a photo of her hand he can probably size it from that. GET IN.
Also now I’ve told a real person about the proposal, it feels a little bit more real. That’s quite scary. Still no turning back, this is definitely the right thing to do.
This post was written as it happened but not posted until after the event.
I’m terrible at haggling. Actually terrible doesn’t quite cover it. I’m the sort of person that can enter into a negotiation, maybe start a bit strong. Great eh?
But then I’ll be so racked with guilt that I pay more than the buying price and offer use of my house as a weekend away break for the person I’m buying off.
This is an issue with ring buying. Apparently if you visit ‘the workshops’ you get a much better price but it will also involve the dreaded haggling.
If I get ripped off that blasted ring would haunt me for the rest of my life. No longer a symbol of love and affection but a reminder that when it comes to business, I’m better at drawing pictures of horses and skipping through fields.
Get in help
I’m going to see if I can get a friend to act as a haggling consultant. Obviously this will have to be a friend who is discrete AND has good taste, as well as being a super-star haggler.
As with the previous post these are being written in real time and then posted later, and now back to the fun.
In ring news I have a colour. A friend recently bought a rock for his lady and this allowed me to bring up the subject of best colours while we were crossing the Thames on a bridge.
She answered sapphire*, but was slightly suspicious. I suppose this is the danger of dating someone who is extremely clever, or at least not a moron.
To cover up the rock chat I then changed the subject to best motorcycles of all time and why robots are so cool. I think I got away with it.
Also I asked a female chum some ring related questions and she is going help with picking out the item. Plus she has jewellery contacts so I can buy more rock for my money. Result.
I’m still not entirely sure how I’m going to pay for it though, it’s all very well saying ‘One Month’s Pay’ but how do you eat for that month?
*I wrote down emerald in my notes for some reason. Maybe just to throw her off the scent. Or perhaps because I’m a moron.