Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Wedding Photos: Trash the Dress

We decided to do the 'Trash the dress' photos after the wedding. Here are the results.

One of those pictures actually got photobombed. I posted it to Reddit and somebody removed the culprit. Here is the original:

Bonus fact: My shirt may look a little tight... this is because we forgot to pack my actual shirt, but luckily the photographer was wearing a plain white shirt. Unluckily, the photographer was a petite female.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The Wedding: My Memoirs

On the 26th of April 2012 I got married. I always thought I'd get married when I was 23 or 24, but that plan was long abandoned, only for it to happen anyway.
The wedding was amazing, surrounded by two weeks in Mexico with my friends and family. We have finally gotten the pictures back, so I thought it was about time to write about it.

During the holiday I wasn't too nervous about the wedding until a couple of days before. I was fairly laid back about it, and just thought that if anything went wrong, it would still be good because it's a wedding (unless she didn't turn up.. that would suck). 

On the day of the wedding we woke up together (I wasn't about to waste a night we could have spent together, just for tradition). The wedding was at 4pm, so I had to find something to do with my time during the day. Thankfully my friends were there, and we played table tennis, basketball, and watched UFC to pass the time.

As it approached 2:30 I was getting more nervous. I wasn't so nervous about the ceremony, but more so trying to give a speech after. Neil seemed pretty nervous about giving his too, and spent a lot of the time on the balcony, reading and looking over his speech.

A wedding photographer came to our room, and one to Brandi's room. I had to have photo wearing the vest on the wedding (top picture). While I was getting ready, Calvin (Brandi's brother, and one of my groomsmen) came over with a letter and present from Brandi. The letter was really nice (I won't say what it said...) and the gift was a pair of socks, with a label she had made that said "for if you get cold feet". I was touched, but made sure to stay looking manly in front of my friends!

In our room, Leigh (another of my groomsmen) ironed my shirt (I'm terrible at ironing), and he was also nice enough to lend me his belt - I didn't even think to wear one. With that we set out.

It felt like I was standing under the gazebo for hours. It was really, really hot, and I could feel myself start to sweat. The minister was asking me a few questions, and I couldn't figure out if they were for official purposes or out of conversation, so I didn't want to get them wrong. At one point he asked how long we had been together, to which my answer was something like "erm... erm... a few months, 2 months, no, 6, no... a year... I dunno".  I was close enough.

Then the music started. He told me to turn and look at him, so I couldn't see Brandi until the last second. It was torture. One by one I saw the bridesmaids stand at the front. He asked if I had seen her that day, I panicked, thinking he might void the wedding, and said "no". Eventually he said I could turn around.

She looked beautiful. I loved her dress. It is exactly what I would have picked if I was a bride. The troll minster then started his trolling. He said "Andy... are you not going to tell her how you think she looks?". I told her how beautiful she looked. "Andy... are you not going to thank her father?". I quickly said thanks. "Andy... are you not going to shake her father hand?". This was my first time getting married... a heads up before would have been better!

The minister said some nice words. I eagerly listened as well as I could, mainly so I could make sure I understood what he was saying, for when I had to repeat after him. I thought I did, until he said "repeat after me". I was already nervous, but the next moment was pretty cringe-worthy. I don't remember the exact wording, but it was along these lines...

Minister: I Andrew, take Brandi to be my P!"£*&
Me: ... Pardon?
Minister:  I Andrew, take Brandi to be my P!"*£*&
Me: ... Sorry, what?
Minister:  I Andrew, take Brandi to be my P!"£*&
Me: .... .... ....

It was horribly awkward. Everybody was looking at me, and I had no idea what he was saying. In a normal situation I would just smile, give a light amused laugh which covers most things, and turn around. I had hit the three repeat barrier, and even that is painful to reach, but I was about to have to do the ungodly fourth, or have to run away from the wedding. I thought intensely, and decided I was in too deep, and was thinking of a socially acceptable way to ask again. But just at that moment, Brandi, proving why I should marry her, stepped in and said "Partner...". Suddenly everything was clear. To be my partner.

I'd like to say everything went smoothly from then on, but that wouldn't be strictly true. Troll Minister handed me the microphone and said "Do you have any words for your bride?". In front of friends and family, at a time that I'm hardly able to think straight anyway, since not falling over is taking most of my effort, he expects me to freestyle a nice message.

I tried my best to muster some words. More sweat. I thought I did quite well, though I literally had no idea what I was saying and still don't. All I remember is Brandi saying "like? not love?". I got revenge though, because she had to right after, but I think hers was nice.

And then we kissed and it was done. Success! I breathed a sigh of relief, but Neil brought me back to reality by telling me to cover my shirt, which was covered in sweat by this point.

While standing around Neil laughed about how the vows "were like a minefield" for me. I cannot say "R's" very well, and had to say "Brandi", "bride", and "ring" all in one sentence. I managed 2 out of 3. At one point, I fully said "wing", worse than I ever would normally. I wanted to go back and correct it, but I thought it could confuse the minister, who I was scared might take any chance to void the wedding.

Since Neil laughed at my inability to say "R's", I will share an amusing anecdote. As we walked down the aisle, the bridesmaids and groomsmen were to walk behind, linked arms. Neil and Michelle (Brandi's bridesmaid and cousin) got a bit confused in the situation, and the linked arms got lower and lower, until they walked off holding hands. They were very embarrassed about it afterwards.

And then the photos started! Many, many photos, but I am really pleased with how they all turned out. With the above photo, the photographers asked everybody to pull a funny face. Leigh really pushed the boat out, and maintained almost his entirely same pose, with the exception of slightly sticking his tongue out. I assumed a Vestman pose.

The area where we had the photo's was beautiful. The almost cloudless blue sky, clear sea and white sand made it seem like paradise.

After the photos of friends and family were done we went off to take a few of just us. I was feeling quite self-conscious, and thought I looked a mess. My hair was all over the place with the ones by the sea, and it was hard not to squint in the sunlight. I was still on top of the world though, Brandi looked beautiful.

As we walked to different areas for photos, Brandi had many looks. Young girls loved her, because of her big dress. Lots of parents quickly called them to come and look at her. It was cute. We also had a lot of really nice people give their congratulations and say how nice she looked.

I was quite thankful by the end of the photos. I don't like properly posing for photos anymore, and get bad flashbacks to the photo shoot days and get self-conscious. We went to our designated meeting point which would take us to the reception area for the meal.

When we got there nobody was there. It turns out that the shuttle left early, without the bride and groom. We found this out after already waiting too long, so we were late for the reception. We had the choice of either trying to book another, or get the hotel bus that was right there. So yes, we ended up taking the bus to the reception.  

The area was decorated really nicely. Brandi made a lot of the smaller features herself. We had a 'thumb tree' as a guest book, where people would leave a thumb print on a picture of a leafless tree I made. Brandi made everybody name cards which said what table they were on, and they were hung up by pegs she made, on a washing line.

By this point me and Neil were extremely nervous. We couldn't even enjoy the meal (which I cry when I think about now... lobster tail and fillet Mignon, with an amazing half-baked brownie as dessert. The moment had finally came for the speeches.

Brandi's mom and dad, and best friend all gave really, really nice, touching speeches. When I finally got up to do mine I had already decided I didn't really like the one I wrote, and partly free-styled. I think its difficult to write before the event, as you don't know what the vibe will be. I think it all went well though, and I even tried to speak clearly.

Neil's speech was amazing. It was so funny. I was nervous for him during it, and ended up drinking 3 cocktails really quickly. I moved onto a glass of wine that was the only thing in arms reach, but thankfully it was just water. Everybody said how good his speech was.

And with that, the night was started. We left all guests maracas, which went down really, really well, especially with Craig who always had one in each hand. I ordered round of shots to my friends table, to get revenge on Craig for the amount of tequila he ordered a few nights before.

After that shots went around everybody. There was so much tequila, with a Mariachi band playing away as we danced. We started doing a limbo, and at one point Liam lifted Mike high above his head in a dirty-dancing style pose.  

We had our first dance, and everything was perfect. It is right when they say that getting married is the happiest day of your life. Brandi looked stunning, and at that point it is clear to see how lucky I am to spend the rest of my life with her.

Throughout the night I found opportunities to tell my friends how much it meant that they were there, and their friendship throughout the years. It may sound gay, but I think it is important to show every so often.

We cut the cake, and I managed to cake-face-slam her... and the dancing continued into the night, and then on to Jaguars!

Anyone who is a regular reader may wonder "what about the birth whisky?"... well, since getting married we haven't been able to be together, so the real life change will be when she arrives in England on Saturday. That is when the whisky will come out.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Yes Man... Again

Many years ago I read two books that have influenced me more than anything. I don't even think they were meant to be influential books. They were "Join Me", and "Yes Man", by Danny Wallace.

Danny Wallace is somebody who I would want as a friend. There aren't many people like him. He's always up for a laugh, and does fun things for the sake of doing things. In "Yes Man" he had realised that he wasn't doing much, going out much, and just drifting from day to day. Because of this realisation he decided he would stop saying no to everything, and see where it gets him. There were ups and downs, but he did enough to be able to write a book out of it.

Years ago, probably around my third year of University, I decided to take this idea on myself. This has lead to many things that I otherwise wouldn't have done.

There had been lots of times that through shyness I would much rather have said no, but convinced myself otherwise. One big example... modelling. Since doing these things I've always constantly pushed myself out of my comfort zone, such as with boxing. It had made me make the 100 Things To Do list, and put difficult things on there, and actively try and cross them off. It has made me act more spontaneously, chasing adventures and things that could end up being fun.

Basically, it has made my life a lot more interesting than it would otherwise have been.

"Join Me" is slightly different, but along the same lines. He fairly unintentionally started a massive group, but had no direction. He eventually found direction by getting people to do nice things for other people. They were doing things that they might otherwise not have done (as it can be embarrassing to go and help someone, especially being British), but since they have a reason to it becomes easier.

Anyway, the reason I am writing this post is because I have noticed in the last month that my "yes man" attitude has dropped a lot, and instead I've been bailing out of plans, and not doing anything, in favour of sitting alone at home. I've told myself it is only because I am waiting for Brandi, and then everything will be back in order, but I think I need to make a point of getting that attitude back.

So as of today, I am going to stop saying no to so many things (or saying yes but not turning up). I don't have as much money has I had when I was working and living at home with no responsibilities, but I will just have to try and work around that.

Update: This post was scheduled, so it's not really an update. After writing this I was asked to a poker night at Tom's new house (the guy I used to live with). Sticking to my plan, I enthusiastically agreed. I won £35!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Riviera Maya, Mexico: My Memoirs

On the 19th April 2012 I went to Mexico to get married. I didn't expect many would be able to come along, but I was really happy when my usual holiday friends, Craig (and his girlfriend Charlotte), Liam (and his girlfriend Laura), Mike, Ash and Craig said they would come, joined by my long time good friends Leigh and Neil. Brandi also had a couple of groups of friends coming. Including our families, there were about 36 at the huge, all inclusive resort with us.

Free food, free alcohol, and great people. This lead to the greatest holiday possible! Here are my memoirs:

- The longest flight of my life. Made shorter by being told I could move to lay across 3 empty seats. But made longer by knowing I was only a few hours from seeing Brandi.

- Getting into the hotel and meeting my friends on the first night. The awesome realisation that I could order whatever drinks that I wanted. Even though they tasted the same, I tried to order the most expensive, so I felt sophisticated.

- Going to Tulum and Coba with my friends. The ruins were pretty awesome to see, but most of the day was spent laughing at a German girl, whose male-relation-that-we-couldn’t-determine kept taking photos of her while she did the funniest model poses everywhere. Coba was really awesome to climb though, and look across all of the forest.

- Going shopping in Playa Del Carmen. We bartered with the Mexicans who said Ash's sunglasses were Mr Plastic Fantastic. After getting them down from $70 USD to $7, Mike's sunglasses came apart about 200m from the shop.

- Playing Drinking Poker to get pre-drunk before we went out. It all seemed like a good idea until we found out a mexican ‘shot’ is so much bigger than ours.

- Going to Coco Bongos! Probably the greatest 'club' I've been to. We had VIP tickets, which meant we had our own area, and a waiter to bring drinks all night. So many tequilas! The show was amazing, but it was better to watch how annoyed Liam looked when it started with Phantom of the Opera and Chicago, but how his smile gradually got bigger as they had Beetlejuice and others. One highlight being Craig taking off his top, one of us hiding it, and him nearly getting thrown out for violating the dress code.

- Taking advantage of free room service after the night club. I forgot it would mean I'd have to stay up an extra 30 mins for them to make the food.

- Going to the beautiful water park Xel-Ha. We went down the slowest river on tubes, and had a Royal Rumble on a floating platform. We went into a cenote, and I held a parrot and a toucan. I also did a double somersault dive from a 7 metre jump. Walking around was extremely painful with how hot the ground but. I ended the day by falling asleep in a hammock with Brandi.

- The many nights in Cougar Bar, aka Shaguars, aka Jaguars. The phone call at 3am from Ash, who got epically cock-blocked by three security guards threatening to arrest him for trespassing.

- The really nice French restaurant, having French Onion Soup, Filet Mignon and Creme Brulee. The awesome Brazilian restaurant with the 7 types of meat. So much steak!

- Going to my first lesbian wedding! I nearly got teary. For the starters I enthusiastically ate all of my strange "mushrooms on pastry", and even started to eat Brandi's, which she hadn't touched. Half way through hers, she said "I wouldn't have thought you'd eat snails...". I was nearly sick.

- The Wedding!

- Going to Cozumel with the ferry rocking on the waves. Taking part in the Amazing Cozumel Race. Me and Brandi were on different teams, and her team cheated us out of 3rd place. We’d win if we were together ;).

- Playing Water Polo. Two fat American guys, and two Mexican’s joined us that worked for the hotel. When we finished, the one really good Mexican player got out, swapped into tight white cowboy trousers and hat, and started dancing next to the pool, becoming the most flamboyant gay in Mexico. Afterwards, we played in the pool and took awesome pictures.

- Swimming in the cenote in full suit for the Trash The Dress photos. Brandi forgot to pack my shirt, so I had to wear the photographer’s (woman) tight white shirt. I also got to recreate Jack walking out of the sea in Lost.

- The hilarious jokes about the ‘school of fish’, ‘karaoke opera’, and ‘salt Peter, pepperoni’.

- Playing 10 man Battlehsots!


- Our night on the beach, dressing as the Vestman Army, playing ‘I Have Never’, and grappling with Laura. Leigh getting ‘door-knobbed’ and chased around the beach.

- Going to the Japanese restaurant where they put on a bit of a show while cooking. We sat next to a nice Canadian couple and watched the chef flip things into his hat and set things on fire. It was all going well until I went to the bathroom, and Brandi awkwardly told them about how we met online, got engaged fast, and married a year later.

- Going skinny dipping with Brandi after one of the clubs. We must have been swept along the sea a bit, because it took us ages to find our clothes, and a group of people, and a man sweeping sand saw us.

- The nice wildlife around the hotel. The really nice iguanas, and the weird light-up flies (that didn’t seem like normal fireflies).

- Going to the club and deciding I like opera-style music, when performed by 3 Mexicans.

- Neil never being seen without a Pina Colada in hand.

- Getting a couple’s massage, and having a Mexican woman whisper in my ear while rubbing my bottom.

- Playing different games around the hotel, like flooded mini golf, table tennis, basketball, water basketball, and giant chess.

- Mike finally climbing to the top of a palm tree on our last night