Thursday, 30 April 2015

The Buyer's Archive: April

Oh man, I thought I was doing so well this month. I began April with a decent amount of money - £120 - in my account from selling some clothes and shoes on eBay, and a list of things I wanted for summer: a new school bag, replacement skinny jeans (as my current New Look ones are literally coming apart at the seams), a pair of tan sandals, and some more t-shirts. I'd found everything I needed (how often does that happen), I'd spent most of my eBay cash, and I was being really controlled about not buying any more. But then I got close to payday with money still to burn and things went to pot: a sale bargain skirt, a splurge in Bravissimo and a fab bicycle print dress become a precursor to buying an actual new bike by mistake. Oops. Add in a splurge on Sugar & Vice necklaces and both Sufjan Stevens & Father Jon Misty tickets going on sale, and my bank account is looking fairly unhealthy right now.

So first, the stuff I was meant to buy...


M&S bag via charity shop, £5.95
Having put aside money to buy a new school bag, imagine my delight when I found the perfect candidate in a British Heart Foundation shop in Thirsk. Bargain!

If I had a hammer I'd smash patriarchy t-shirt, Cafe Press £14.40 with discount code
I freaking love this tee, it makes me feel like such a bad ass feminist warrior.

3 x t-shirts, Zara £7.99 each
I wore my Zara Organics striped tee to death last summer - it's now a rather sorry mess of sunscreen stains and what I suspect is tattoo ink on the sleeve. So I went a bit over the top when I saw the same t-shirt back in stock in my local store and bought every one in my size. This is such a great tee for tucking into skirts, with the perfect depth of neckline and great sleeve length, so I know I'll be wearing them for years to come.

White t-shirt, H&M £3.99 (not pictured)
Not much to say here: it's a white t-shirt.

Leigh jeans, Topshop £34.20 with T's 10% student discount
My New Look supersoft skinny jeans were one of the great loves of my life; when they changed the 'recipe' I was distraught. Luckily, Topshop's Leigh skinnies seem to have filled the hole in my heart. I love the wash of this mid-denim pair.

Tan sandals, Clarks via Debenhams £40.10 with discount code
A pair of sandals that are basically brogues with loads of holes? Sign me up. I walk a lot, and in summer I walk even more, so having shoes and sandals that look cute but are comfortable enough to pound the pavement in is the holy grail. Clarks are good at cute and comfortable.

And now the fun stuff...

Cloud necklace and Bitch necklace, Sugar & Vice £14 & £11
I had a £12.50 voucher to spend on Sugar & Vice after I supported their Indiegogo campaign in January, so I decided to treat myself to not one but two necklaces (using the logic that if I'm paying P&P, I may as well get the value from it).

Summer skirt, Cath Kidston £23 in sale
I've worn this to work a couple of times and as cute as it is, I'm still not 100% convinced. I have a feeling it might make its way onto eBay pretty soon.

Polka dot cardigan, H&M £12.99 (doesn't seem to be online)
I bought this when I was in town in only a t-shirt and feeling a bit cold; that'll teach me to think you can leave your jacket at home in April.

Bicycle-print dress, H! by Henry Holland for Debenhams £21.40 with discount code
How utterly brilliant is this dress? Blue, with a collar and printed with little bicycles and flowers, it couldn't be more me if it actually had my name on it. I snapped it up with 25% off plus an extra 10% discount code.

Hand knitted scarf, Daisy Gray Knits on Etsy £14.99
It's no doubt mad to buy a scarf at the start of summer, but this had been on my Etsy favourites list for ages, so when it came down in price I pounced. It's a great shade of mustard and so cosy: perfect for next winter.

Aqua polka dot bra, Bravissimo £29
How could I resist the cuteness of this turquoise polka dot bra? I also picked up a staple white Alana bra for £26, but paid for them both with a gift voucher I got for Christmas so have left them off my total monthly spend.

And so my total is (ouch) £223.79, of which £103.79 was 'overspend' from what I sold on eBay. Oh dear. But I've got some wardrobe essentials there - t-shirts, jeans, new bras, shoes - plus some really fun pieces that I know I'll get a lot of wear out of. And hopefully May will be a better month (I say that every month, don't I?)

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

April reads: Part 2

1. The Queen Of Whale Cay is the biography of Joe Carstairs, an eccentric and wealthy speedboat racer in the 1940s who retired to live out her days on her private island, Whale Cay. A quick read and interesting enough, but I never felt entirely engaged.

2. The Year Of Reading Dangerously recounts the year when author Andy Miller undertook to read the Great Unread: books such as Middlemarch and Moby Dick, as well as classics by Austen, Bukowski, Bulgakov and others. I'm a great lover of reading about reading, so I thoroughly enjoyed this.

3. My Salinger Year recounts poet and author Joanne Rakoff's year working, as an assistant fresh out of college, for an unnamed literary agency in New York, where the bulk of her workload consists of dealing with fanmail for J.D.Salinger (not to mention encounters with the man himself). Rakoff evokes the sense of a company on the cusp of the digital age - beginning work in 1996, she finds herself typing letters and contracts on an ancient typewriter, and there is much debate in the office about whether to invest in a single office computer - and although nothing much happens, it does so in an elegantly written way. Much like Salinger's work, in fact.

4. & 5. I just loved these two books. A bit of YA melodrama is never a bad thing, and I devoured them one after another while sitting in the garden on my day off (getting a bit sunburnt in the process). In If I Stay, we hear the story of Mia - her beloved family, her relationship with boyfriend Adam, her passion for playing the cello - as she lies in Intensive Care after a devastating car accident. Where She Went catches up with Mia and Adam three years later, and this time we hear Adam's point of view as he struggles with rock stardom. I don't want to say too much else as anything I do say would be a spoiler. Suffice it to say that I loved both books and think they'd be well worth a read if you, like me, are a big soppy romantic at heart.

6. Never Always Sometimes* was a light, quick read. High school seniors Julia and Dave are best friends who, 4 years previously, had written a 'Nevers' list to avoid becoming teenage cliches. With only months until graduation, they decide to try out everything on the list just once and high jinks ensue. I appreciated the lack of - appropriately enough - YA fiction cliche in the novel, and if some of it seemed a little far-fetched, then so what.

7. The Secret Place is the most recent in Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series, which I've recommended here before. French writes crime novels that are a cut above the rest of the genre. With a keen eye for characterisation and dialogue that is whip-smart, the teenage girls in The Secret Place leap off the page, all hormones, lip gloss, and friendships that feel like the centre of the universe.

8. Ready Player One was recommended to me by a friend, who insisted I'd love it. In a dystopian future in which the oil is rapidly running out and the only escape from the drudgery and danger of everyday life is the Virtual Reality universe, OASIS, orphaned teenager Wade begins a quest to uncover the Easter Egg hidden in the OASIS by it's creator. A discovery which, if successful, will net him untold billions in wealth. Although some of the 80s, geek and gamer references were way above my - 90s child who only ever played Sonic The Hedgehog - head, I still really enjoyed it.

* This book was kindly provided for review by the publishers via Netgalley,  but all opinions are entirely my own.
Note: The links given here are not affiliate links

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Photo an hour: Sunday 19th April

This month, Louisa and Jane decided to run Photo An Hour on a Sunday for a change. This is my third month in a row of taking part (after forgetting for about six months) and I'm quite enjoying the challenge of trying to think up new shots each time around - because my weekend routines really don't vary that much! So what did I get up to on Sunday?

8.30am: Awake far earlier than I usually manage on a Sunday, I began the day snuggling under the quilt and reading.
9.30am: Lured out of bed by the idea of breakfast, I listened to BBC 6Music as I waited for the kettle to boil and the toaster to pop.

10.30am: Getting dressed: again, far earlier than I usually manage. It's not unheard of for me to still be in my pyjamas midday on a Sunday.
11.45am: The car park at Bradgate Country Park in Leicestershire (I was driving at 11.30 so a little late with this photo). Becky and I met at Bradgate Park back in January for a trudge up some hills, and she put forward the idea of turning it into a quarterly, seasonal event. Today was our Spring meet-up.

12.30pm: We found a huge tree with a hollow to hide in and holes in the trunk, so obviously we had to start snapping away.
1.30pm: The ruins of Bradgate House, the childhood home of Lady Jane Grey (pretender to the throne after the death of Edward VI).

2.40pm: Again, just a little late due to driving. I popped into Tesco on my way home and picked up this awesome cushion to bring a little sunshine to our living room.
3.30pm: After overcast skies and rain while we were out walking, as soon as I got home the sun came out. So out I went into the back yard to do a spot of gardening.

4.30pm: Most of us have childhood photographs of ourselves. Thomas has paintings. His dad is a very talented artist - and retired art teacher - who for years used his children as his models and muses. He very kindly let us have some paintings recently, so I'm measuring them up for framing. The expression in the painting on the right slays me: Thomas still does this exact face when he's contemplating (he looks quite deep and meaningful until you realise he's usually contemplating food).
5.30pm: If you follow me on Twitter, you may have picked up on the fact that I'm having some work problems at the moment. I sat down to write a fairly strongly worded letter to my management team.

6.30pm: For the past few months, Thomas and I have been making a note of any wedding ideas on phones or, worse, relying on our terrible memories. Well, no more! I have a proper wedding planning notebook now, and I'm not afraid to use it. (Well, actually I am a bit. It seems very serious, actually writing stuff down!)
7.30pm: Cooking dinner and taking the chance to rearrange my kitchen shelves while the spaghetti cooks.

8.30pm: Our frankly rather tragic Sunday evening tradition is a glass of wine (or two) while we watch Midsomer Murders.
9.30pm: Ending the day as it began: with a book. Thomas, having spent all day at a football tournament, was by now yawning loudly, so it'll be an early night for us both.

Monday, 20 April 2015

A week of making

Having a week of making some time in spring seems to have become a bit of a tradition for me: you can read about 2013's week here and 2014's here. This year, I decided to make it a bit easier for myself and have the week during the school holidays, so my second week of the Easter break was spent beavering away on a variety of projects...

I'm really into making these cute mini-zines at the moment, after seeing the idea on Design Sponge (although I think it was Laura who originally provided the link). I've already made a couple of Thomas, and this one - as you can see - is for a good friend. I'm a pretty terrible artist so the pages of my zines tend to be text-heavy, but they're really fun and quick to make and greatly appreciated by the recipients.

I wish I'd taken a 'before' photograph of our extremely shabby and sad patio furniture, but a quick trip to Wilkos for some outdoor paint and a few hours in the sunshine gave them a whole new look.  So perhaps not strictly a make, but certainly a makeover, and I am thrilled with how lovely the table and chairs now look (just don't look too closely at the white primer showing through on the feet).

I finally finished sewing seemingly endless bunting shapes onto my quilt-in-progress. I have a feeling this piece will feature a lot this week!

My friend Charlotte hosted a crafternoon - four of us, all working in schools and hence on holiday, gathered at her house for tea, homemade biscuits, and a spot of making. I'd been nominated to provide the craft, so took along some embroidery hoops, thread and scraps of fabric to teach them the slip-stitch technique of slogan embroidery (which I blogged about here). We all wrote our words/phrases out freehand, and as a total perfectionist I'm not entirely happy with my result, but as a teaching tool it worked really well and by the end of the afternoon we had four completed hoops.

Another makeover, but I reckon they still count. One black maxi skirt from the charity shop, one checked midi skirt from a vintage store, and half an hour on the sewing machine makes two summer skirts that are now the perfect length for short-arse me.

A nice easy make before heading into town to go to the cinema. Two sample pots of paint, three wooden beads and one leather thong = a funky necklace to jazz up my spring uniform of skinny jeans and t-shirt.

After yesterday's afternoon cinema date turned into a long pub session, I was feeling rather tender of head today. Not up to anything more taxing than cutting the backing fabric and batting for the quilt, then tacking it together on the machine ready for bias binding. I'm dreading binding it: it's not something I excel at at the best of times, so with a monumental hangover it definitely wasn't going to be a task I tackled today.

I love how having a semi-regular Week of Making gives me a kick up the bum to get crafting. Lots of these are projects I'd had in mind for ages but just never got round to. It's also a good reminder of how little time crafting can take: both the mini zine and the necklace were 30 minute makes, so there's really no excuse not to get crafting more regularly.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

What I wore: A madeover midi skirt

You know when you look in the mirror and think, "Yep, looking good," and then see a photograph and cringe? Yeah, I have that with this outfit. The photo shoot involved a good amount of swearing and tears (mostly on on Thomas's part) and, after about 100 shots, I'm still not happy with how any of them look. But I wanted to use them regardless because I was outside! Wearing summer clothes! This is very very exciting to someone who has been pining for the sun since about January 3rd.

This outfit features my bargain midi skirt (£3 from a charity shop), which is evidence of my long-held belief that you need to ignore size labels, especially when vintage or thrift shopping. The skirt is a Primark size 12, a store in which I usually need a 16 or 18, but I'm pretty well able to size things up by looking at them and I guessed it would just fit. A couple of snips to the elastic waistband when I got home, a quick cut and hem to shorten it, and I have a very cheap and well-fitting midi skirt.

This is also the first glance at my extended tattoo: I had more flowers added so that the whole piece now stretches from my elbow to my shoulder. So pretty!

And because I'm such a brilliant fashion blogger, I only realised when I saw the shots just how badly the sleeve of my t-shirt is stained with suncream from covering up my tattoo last summer. Oops. Off I trot to Zara to stock up on some more...

* Striped tee: Zara * Midi skirt (originally a maxi skirt): Primark via charity shop * 
* Sandals: Dune (old) * Tote bag: Ella Masters Studio * Belt: Peacocks (old) *
* Name necklace: Gift * Turquoise ring: Gift *

Thomas has just told me a really terrible joke, hence my look of pain here.

Monday, 13 April 2015

April reads: Part 1

When it became clear that I was speeding through books, I decided to split my April reads across two posts: one now, and one at the end of the month. So yes, as of 13th April I've already read 11 books. Feel free to hate me. But I've been on holiday for a fortnight and even when - like this Easter - I'm kept busy with outings, time with family and friends, and DIY, I'm still usually able to read just short of a book a day.

1. Douglas is a biochemist and the kind of man who was born middle-aged. Now literally middle-aged too, he embarks on a Grand Tour of Europe with his wife, Connie (who has disclosed her desire to leave him) and their teenage son Albie, with whom he has a fractious relationship. Over the course of the novel, Nicholls takes the reader back to when Doug and Connie first met and through the years of their marriage, while we also hear about their amusingly disastrous summer holiday and are slowly able to work out just where things went wrong for the family. I loved Us: as a narrator, Douglas has a great deal in common with Don Tillman of The Rosie Project, not least an almost complete absence of social skills and problems empathising with others. This leads to some very funny set pieces in the great cities of Europe (an encounter with a sex worker in Amsterdam being a particular favourite), while also meaning that I was able to sympathise with Albie and Connie, rather than seeing them simply as the 'bad guys' with whom Douglas is in opposition for much of the book.

2. I didn't love Vivian Versus America quite as much as the first book (Vivian Versus The Apocalypse, which I reviewed here). It suffers somewhat from the same issues that blighted the final Hunger Games and Harry Potter books: namely, that reading about rebels in hiding just isn't terribly interesting (the Hunger Games comparisons were also not helped by several plot points - as well as the name of the male romantic lead - being very similar). But I'm always on board for a strong, explicitly feminist heroine, and Vivian Apple is a very winning one. Here, she (together with best friend Harp Janda) finds herself Public Enemy Number One in an America almost completely in the thrall of the sinister Church of America.

3. Why Shoot A Butler? was fine for what it was, a Golden Age of Crime-era novel about a posh guy solving murders. But despite trying a few of her books, I just can't seem to get into Heyer's style of writing: give me Agatha Christie any day.

4. Bodies Of Light tells the story of the Moberley family in Victorian Manchester: artist Alfred, his wife, social campaigner and religious zealot Elizabeth, and their daughters Ally and May. Focusing mostly on Ally as she grows up under her mother's strict and loveless rule, the book follows her as she becomes one of the first female medical students in the country. The period detail of mid-Victorian Britain is fantastically vivid, and Moss packs the books with feminist proselyting (usually from the mouth of Elizabeth but also from Ally on occasion) and I found it fascinating yet also horrific to read, in brutal detail, about the depredations visited upon working class women at the time. Ally's sister, May, featured heavily in Moss's earlier novel Night Waking, which is also excellent (I reviewed it here).

5. I didn't realise, when I picked it up in a charity shop, that Love Hurts isn't a collection of short stories, but instead comprises mostly of extracts of YA novels, together with a small number of stand-alone short stories. At first I was disappointed by this, but it turned out to be a great introduction to books I probably wouldn't have bothered with otherwise and became a handy way to expand my library reservations list. The few 'whole' short stories were also excellent: I particularly loved Tumbling, an oh-so-cute tale of fandom, Sherlock Holmes and a first date, and the story of transgender teen Danni's summer of transition.

6. You know you read too much crime fiction when you begin to be able to guess even the most devious of plot twists, and in The Skeleton Road the twist really was excellent (even if I did work it out!). When a skeleton is found on the roof of an abandoned building in Edinburgh, DC Karen Pirie of the Cold Cases Unit is tasked with discovering who ended up with a bullet in their head in such an inaccessible location, and why. Taking in war crimes, genocide and the conflict in the former Yugoslavia in the early 90s, this is by no means a comfortable or relaxing read, but with the typical McDermid talent for characterisation and setting it's well worth a look.

7. I Was Told There'd Be Cake is a fabulous collection of essays by New York-based writer Sloane Crossley. Witty, perfectly written, entirely sympathetic, Crossley riffs on topics as diverse as making a misadvised cookie for her terrible first boss (and subsequently handing in her notice on September 11th 2001), the perils of acting as maid of honour, and being a Jewish kid at Christian summer camp.

8. I always enjoy India Knight's writing: she manages, even when being quite horribly dictatorial and, in some cases, offensive, to still be exceedingly funny. I'm a little young for the target audience of In Your Prime, a book thoughts and practical advice on ageing, so the chapters about, for example, caring for elderly parents (or, in my blessedly childless state, on raising teenagers) were not terribly useful. However, her writing was reliably witty and enjoyable and I enjoyed it nevertheless.

9. I'm fascinated by the story of the Occupy movement, and The Occupiers* is a very readable account of how Occupy Wall Street and its subsequent off-shoots came about, with firsthand accounts from activists and written by an author who was on the ground throughout the autumn of 2011. Gould-Wartofsky does a good job of setting the protests within the global context of protest and activism that marked the beginning of this decade.

10. The Worrier's Guide To Life is packed with Gemma Correll's trademark wit and fun illustrations. It'd make the perfect book to give as a gift.

11. Style Me Vintage: Home makes a perfect reference book for anyone wanting to update their home using vintage looks. The lists of what to look out for will come in handy when thrifting, and the author kept a thankfully judgement-free attitude to those who mix vintage pieces with modern reproductions. I particularly liked the chapters on 1940s and 1950s home style and took away lots of ideas to use in my own house.

* These books were kindly provided for review by the publishers via Netgalley,  but all opinions are entirely my own.
Note: I do not use affiliate links in these posts, I just like to provide a non-Amazon source.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

The 5 things I swore I'd never do

Janet at 19: in need of a supportive bra, but at least my lipstick game was on point

Sarah wrote an ace piece recently about the things she swore she'd never do... and then somehow ended up doing. So much of what she said chimed with my own experiences, so (with permission, of course) I thought I'd come up with my own list of the things I told myself I'd never let happen in my life.

1. Stand at the back of a gig
"God, what's the point of even going to a gig if you're just gonna stand at the back, clutching a pint?" went our oft-repeated teenage refrain. To us, the only place to be was in the heart of the mosh pit or clinging to the barrier, gazing adoringly at the indie stars as they crooned to us. Now? Unless a gig has the option of sitting down, I seriously think twice about even booking a ticket. At a recent Ryan Adams show I felt so smug, sitting up in my comfy seat on the balcony while down below, people jostled for position in the main arena. Sixteen-year-old me would be aghast.

2. Wear a coat
In 1994, when I was 16, I decided that it wasn't cool to wear a coat. Instead, I had a ratty grey wool men's cardigan, which I'd picked up in a charity shop and fancied to be rather like the one Kurt Cobain wore during Nirvana's MTV Unplugged performance. That cardigan saw me through several freezing cold Yorkshire winters: I once walked the seven miles home from Bradford, in the middle of a snowstorm, wearing nothing but a dress, the cardigan and my trusty Docs. And while I did end up buying a coat some time in the late 90s, it took me an embarrassingly long time (like, until I was about 33) to realise that wet or cold weather is really so much more pleasant when you're properly dressed and shod in sensible shoes.

3. Sell out
As a teen and young adult, if I was determined about one thing it was this: I would never sell out. Which is to say, I'd never have to stop making art and writing. I'd certainly never get a 'proper' job or a mortgage. I'd never stop partying and protesting. I'd never stop dying my hair lurid colours, nor take out the myriad facial piercings I'd accumulated. I'd be a free spirit, tied down to nothing. It's embarrassing, now, to look back at what a cliche 'rebel' I really was. Over time, I was able to think more carefully about which bits of my rebellion were truly important: having pink hair and partying every weekend? Not that important (and also damn near impossible now I'm old and prefer to be in my pyjamas by 9pm on a Saturday night). Writing, activism, travelling? All pretty important. Having a well-paid and therefore 'proper' job to enable the aforementioned writing, activism and travelling? Fairly essential.

4. Become a teacher
The idea of teaching as a future career was first suggested to me by my sixth form English teacher, Mrs Pugh, after I'd dominated the discussion on Henry V Part 1 for the nth time. It was not a suggestion met with delight. I might not have known exactly what I did want to do but I knew what I didn't, and that was teaching. The conversation repeated itself in university careers interviews; in the pub with friends, when the subject of my inability to hold down a job came up; from my mum in despair, as I told her of the newest career change: "What about teaching?" "Not a chance."

I can't quite put my finger on the moment when my response changed from, "Not a chance," to, "Hmmm, maybe," but by the time I was 25 I'd enrolled on a PGCE, with the notion that I'd teach for a couple of years and then pack it all in to go travelling again. Well, ten years later and I'm still teaching. I discovered to my surprise (and, I suspect, the surprise of those who know me well) that I'm actually a pretty good teacher. Turns out Mrs Pugh was right all along.

5. Become one half of those couples
You know the kind: those couples off whom happiness just radiates as they grin at each other, holding hands and leaning on each other's shoulders. The couples who are really just going about their business but who, when you're single and feeling vulnerable and lonely, seem like a smack in the face. After ten years on my own I'd made all sorts of promises to myself that I'd never be so touchy-feely and so obviously loved-up in public. That I'd consider my single brethren when I had a partner. Yeah, that didn't go to plan...

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Art, vegan food and stormy skies in Glasgow

I arrived home yesterday after a week away: three days in Glasgow before a cross-country train journey to my mum's in Yorkshire for the Easter weekend.

Glasgow is Thomas's home town, so I have an excellent tour guide on hand. We had two lovely evenings with his family and spent our days visiting galleries, eating all of the vegan food, and dodging rain and snow storms (it seems strange to think now, when I've spent all morning out in the garden, but it was bloody freezing last week!).

Glasgow is pretty hard to beat when it comes to vegan food: I missed the amazing burgers at The 13th Note on this trip, but we made sure to eat at Mono, The 78, and Stereo, all part of the same chain of vegan bar/restaurants (with Mono and Stereo also doubling up as gig venues). I was particularly taken with The 78, a few minutes walk from the Victorian splendour of Kelvingrove Museum, which has the feel of a country pub in the middle of the city.
The weather meant that we did rather less wandering around and rather more hiding in art galleries. The Hunterian Gallery at Glasgow University currently has an excellent exhibition about history of printing, including examples of many very early printed books - called Incunables - from around Europe. We also enjoyed the Alisdair Gray exhibition at GOMA (where this great neon installation can also be found) while Thomas took advantage of the kids art room to sketch a not-so-flattering picture of yours truly!

Glasgow is also home to Elise, who I met for tea and cake (and being a very poor blogger, completely failing to take photographs of the amazing interior at Cup).

On my final morning it brightened up a bit so we were able to take a relaxed walk through the city centre, snapping away at the huge murals that grace the sides of buildings in the Merchant City area. I love Glasgow, and would heartily recommend a visit to anyone looking for their next weekend break destination. Just make sure you wrap up warm!

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Help me plan our 'wedding'

People keep asking me, "So how are the wedding plans going?" and I have to admit that they're not really going at all. We are somewhat in limbo at the moment: until Thomas finishes his PhD, we have no idea whether he or both of us will need to relocate. It's hard to plan a wedding when you don't even know where you'll be living in two years time; whether our savings will be needed to pay the mortgage as he searches for a job or whether we'll have some spare for the wedding.

Beyond reading a lot of Rock & Roll Bride, I also have no clue where to even start with planning a wedding like ours. That is, one as cheap and with as few of the usual trappings of a wedding as possible. A non-wedding wedding, if you like. So, I thought, why not ask?

Anyway, what I want to know is this:

If you've been married, what - if anything - would you do differently? What wouldn't you change or miss out for the world? What was worth the money and what did you feel was less important?

And if you've been a wedding guest, what elements do you enjoy the most? And what makes you roll your eyes?

Hit me up in the comments: you guys always give the best advice!