How to plan a shotgun wedding...
1. Venue - the traditional wedding venues get booked up years in advance and you're likely to only have a few months, so be creative - your favourite restaurant where you know the guests will love the food, local park for a reception picnic or the pub for drinks and nibbles. The Jam Factory (www.thejamfactoryoxford.com) in Oxford (restaurant and gallery) suited us perfectly. They had held weddings before so had a wedding menu for us to select from and personalise. They had a separate gallery that we hired for canapés, speeches and cake cutting, which was great as half the restaurant was still open to the public so we were able to do those important bits without onlookers and noise. As it is an art gallery we didn't have to decorate it too much. I made bunting, which perfectly suited the spring theme and brightness of the venue. Get in touch if you would like bespoke decorations that work with your venue.
2. The dress - this will very much depend on how many months pregnant you are! Get married in the first four months and you'll probably be able to stick to your dream style, beyond that you'll have to adapt your dream to suit the bump. Tiffany Rose (www.tiffanyrose.com) do some lovely and very affordable dresses for baby bumps.
My tips are:
If you do want to wear something fitted, have a second more comfortable outfit for when you've had enough. I wore a dress from M&S (see below) that wasn't a maternity dress but had a good stretch!
Don't feel like you should hide your bump, but equally if you want the day to be about you and not your bump, then something cut like my wedding dress (see below) hides it well! Joanna (www.joannarobertsbridal.com) expertly altered a size 18 dress to fit my growing bump and 4"11" size 8 frame. She really was a miracle worker as my bump had a very unexpected growth a week before the wedding.
3. Do not compromise - the mistakes I made were not having any dancing or a proper hen do . I felt like money should be saved and made excuses that I couldn't drink, so why bother, but in hindsight I regret this now. Our day was amazing but it finished too soon. I would have loved a first dance, especially as I met my husband at a music festival. My wonderful friends did a lovely surprise little hen, but since having my son, nights out together are few and far between so I should have taken the opportunity to have some quality girls time when I had the chance.
4. Hair and make up - if you're unlucky like me, that pregnancy glow is a myth. Instead I got the pregnancy acne. It was therefore essential that I got a great hair and make up artist. I am lucky that my parents live near to Jo Penford (www.jopenford.co.uk) - Mary Berry's make up artist and total superstar. She covered all my horrible redness and it lasted all day. Her advice with clip in hair extensions also made me feel totally glam and confident at a time when I wanted a bag over my head most days.
5. Photographer - I was really keen to have a documentary wedding photographer who would be unobtrusive. Pregnancy had made me more self conscious so I want to keep posed photos to a minimum. Sara (www.saralyndweddings.co.uk) was such a hit with my family. Her laid back but professional nature put everyone at ease. I look back at my wedding photos and see so many happy smiles and magical moments.
6. Make an exit - being pregnant automatically made me the designated driver. Secretly, my mum and sisters' boyfriends decorated my old banger using chalk pens on the windows, balloons, confetti and the traditional tin cans. Everyone headed outside to wave us off (stopping 5ft later to remove the cans!) This was hilarious for our guests and only mildly embarrassing for me, as I hit the curb under the pressure.