With only four weeks left until the wedding, it’s time for the hen and stag parties! The Boy’s surprise trip is next weekend (I’ll be taking the opportunity to make centrepieces, assemble cake stands and catch up on Bridezillas), but this weekend was my turn!
My sister, Kates, had planned the entire thing, and kept it all as a surprise. Which was lovely, but did leave me at a bit of a loss when it came to what to wear, which shoes to put on, and so on. After a minor freak out yesterday morning, I was ready when she arrived, along with my mum and one of my bridesmaids, at 11am.
They then proceeded to pile on the traditional bridal accessories – bright pink sash, shot glass necklace, veil with tiara, flashing diamond ring and – of course – a giant, inflatable penis. Nothing wrong with any of these things, but they’re not quite me, so I smiled sweetly and wondered if I could accidentally leave ‘Richard Johnson’ somewhere.
We all piled into Kates’ car, where they told me we’d be driving to Cambridge train station. While I was removing the tiara, on the understanding it was ‘hitting the roof of the car’, everyone asked me where I thought we were going, and I racked my brains trying to think of all the places trains from Cambridge go to that St.Neots doesn’t, and kept drawing a blank.
But, as it turned out, we were actually off to The Royal Cambridge Hotel. (I know this now, at the time, I had no idea, as I’d been told to close my eyes for the last 10 minutes of the journey.) As we pulled into the car park, Kates told me I could take off the accessories, and I nearly kissed her.
After a short wait, I was guided into a room, where most of my very best friends in the whole wide world were waiting for me. And they were all wearing 1940s/1950s dresses! It was a very special moment, and I had to fight very hard not to cry. Especially when I spotted one of my lovely friends who’d travelled all the way down from Edinburgh (she’s a keeper), another who’d travelled from Kent, and three more from darkest Hertfordshire.
There was a fair amount of squealing on my part, then we got down to the fun of the day. First up, I got a very cool, vintagey looking sash, which went rather well with my exploding TARDIS dress (from Pigtails & Pirates, if you want a matching one):
photo by Lara Blake Photography
Then, we headed to a jive lesson, which was so much fun (for most of us anyway – one of the hens had an unfortunate incident involving someone else’s high heels, and limped off to the bar for an icy compress and a medicinal glass of wine). I had so much fun, and think I laughed the whole time.
We learned how to do some strolls, then some partner work, and this photo pretty much sums up the 90 minutes (photo by Lara Blake Photography).
Once we were had all shaked, rattled and rolled ourselves out, we headed back to our main room for makeovers and a good, old-fashioned game of pass the parcel. Each layer had a forfeit, and they were fun! No embarrassing streaking, underwear collecting or navel shots here. Although, my friends did have to hear me sing, so…every silver lining has a cloud.
Here are a few shots of some of us mid-makeover (and some of us post makeover too).
Afternoon tea was served (the scones were divine, and yes, we did have the debate on whether the Devonian or Cornish way is best. It was hotly contested) and I passed the time reading this gem of a book aloud to the group.
At first, I thought it was a spoof book, but I believe it was genuine advice given to homemakers in the 1950s. I hope The Boy never gets hold of a copy, or he will have incredibly unrealistic expectations of married life.
Then it was time to have some photos taken by the incredibly talented Lara Blake Photography (and I’m not just saying that because she loved my dress). More photos to come, but here are a couple of me and my lovely Mum.
But that’s not all! While everyone was having their photos taken, in the main room we were also making…HAIR FLOWERS! For those of you not in the know, I really, really, really love hair flowers, so learning how to make them was pretty darn exciting (and, now I know how to do it, once The Boy trusts me enough with a glue gun, there will be no stopping me). Everyone went for something different, but they were all amazing. Some went for classy, elegant designs, which were simple and stunning. Me? Well, I chucked a tonne of flowers on a leaf and hoped for the best. But I’m pretty pleased with the outcome!
Once everyone had finished their fascinators and having their photos taken, it was time to go home. The day was run by Hope and Glorious Vintage, and the photography was by Lara Blake Photography, and I can’t recommend them enough. Lovely ladies, and a really rather lovely day.
While a few people had to shoot off to get trains and the like, most of the hens decided to go for a quick drink back in St.Neots before going home, which was a really nice way to round off the day. Everyone began to drift off at around 7pm, eventually leaving me, my mum, and Kates. We had a chat about a family dinner planned to coincide with The Boy’s stag party (a family tradition on my mum’s side, the girls all go out for dinner when someone’s getting married), decided to go back to mine and get some food, but then Kates remembered an errand she needed to run.
“Oh,” said Kates, “I need to go and drop the deposit off for next week’s dinner. Do you mind if we do it now, as we’re in town?”
Except she didn’t need to go and drop off the deposit. As we got to the restaurant, I discovered that my lovely family was already there, which was a lovely surprise. Along with all my friends. Who hadn’t, in fact, headed home, but had walked around the corner and hidden in the restaurant. Luckily, my reaction wasn’t filmed, as I fear there may have been some swears, but as you can see from these photos, I was very pleased to see them.
As one last surprise, at the end of the evening, Kates presented me with this beautiful book, which all my hens had signed throughout the day (turns out I’m not as observant as I’ve always prided myself on being. One of my cousins said, “Didn’t you wonder why we all kept going off to the loo?!”). I haven’t read all the messages yet as I think they’re going to make me cry, but it was a truly lovely end to the day.
I had the best day ever, and special thanks go to Kates, who had a word with the weather fairies and even arranged for snow to finish off the evening. Here she is with a very well-deserved G&T in hand, and a rather lovely looking hair flower.
I’m getting my thanks in now, as she’s offered to come and help me assemble centrepieces next week, so she might not be speaking to me by the time my next blog rolls around…