Love conquers all: Planning a destination wedding - the quest for the dress
03 Sep 2018
As bride-to-be Becki Morphus gets back on track, she sends out her wedding invitations, begins her search for the dream dress and receives some fantastic news...
It was July 2018 and with only 11 months to go until mine and Gary’s dream beach wedding in Spain. I was due to fly back to the UK for a month to visit family and friends and to have my first annual review and mammogram, since being diagnosed with Grade 3 breast cancer in July 2017.
I was secretly quite worried about this review, as I was still getting quite a lot of pain in my breast, months after the radiotherapy had finished in February and was also still suffering with ongoing fatigue. I was aware that the impact of chemo and radiotherapy can last up to a year, as it’s deemed a major trauma to the body, but when you’re recovering from something life-threatening like cancer, it is quite easy to become paranoid about every little cough or ache, thinking it could be the cancer returning. So as much as I was regularly reminding myself about the 80% success rate in treating my type of cancer, there was a little niggly voice in my head going ‘but what if...?’ that I had to keep batting down.
In terms of wedding planning, according to the To-do List in the wedding planning tools on Bridemagazine.co.uk, it was also time for me to finalise the guest list, send out the wedding invitations and start looking seriously for my perfect wedding dress. I planned to look initially in the UK, then in Spain when I returned in late August. If I hadn’t found the one by then, I had the opportunity for ‘last chance’ shopping in the UK in October when I returned to work over the winter. I knew I wanted a Grecian style empire line gown, with a cowl back, but it also needed to be made of light material, as, in addition to factoring in the Spanish temperatures in June, the cancer treatment had thrown me into an early menopause. That, in addition to the hormone suppressants I now had to take for five years, had resulted in weight gain and frequent and intense hot flushes, often at the most inconvenient times.
We had a meeting with the wedding planner, Ana (who was attached to our venue Area Sunset) just before I left Spain and had discussed some of our needs and wishes. We wanted an informal rustic beach party style wedding, starting in the early evening, with an aquamarine and white theme and then after the ceremony, dancing to live music on the beach - starting with mine and Gary’s first dance about 9pm - just as the sun was setting. We had also hoped for a barbecue on the outside terrace for the catering, with traditional Spanish paellas and salads. Although they weren’t able to quite meet this request as the venue had no barbecue, Ana was really helpful and suggested they did a buffet of Spanish chargrilled ‘brochettes’ (skewers) with vegetables, meat and fish options, plus the same choices of paella alongside a varied selection of breads and salads. Then to finish, we wanted a chocolate fountain, with an assortment of fresh fruits to dip in - perfect for our informal theme.
My son ,Tyler, who’s a bit of an IT whizz, helped us design rustic beach party style wedding invites, which I chose to send by electronic invitation only. This made it really simple, cost us nothing and reflected the age of modern technology we live in. In addition to the expected 30-35 guests attending the actual ceremony, we had another 40 or so guests who were La Manga homeowners and either residents or regular visitors, who were also joining us for drinks and dancing from 9pm. So we designed two separate invites for the two groups, plus a ‘hints and tips’ leaflet for those who didn’t know La Manga and needed to seek accommodation and flights etc. I sent them all out via social media which also simplified the RSVP system and we received the majority of replies back quite quickly.
Once I was back in the UK, I enjoyed several social events such as celebrating a friend's 50th with a fantastic day out in Cambridge, attending a girls' spa weekend and having my grandson, Gorgeous George, for a weekend to give my daughter, Cara, a break. I also arranged a day wedding dress shopping in Norwich with my sister Kathy and son. Kathy had rung ahead to book appointments in two shops in the city centre: Prima Donna and The Frock Spot. At the last minute, we had to take my niece Robyn along as Kathy’s partner was ill on the day, but she’s so placid and she wasn’t any trouble at all.
I had prepared to find the search for my dress quite difficult and stressful, especially given my recent weight gain, but in actual fact I found my perfect dress in the second shop we visited, The Frock Spot. Due to my desired style and the need for lightweight material, I found all the wedding dresses too heavy, but we found the perfect dress among the bridesmaids' selection. The dress came in pale ivory and could have a cowl back added as I wanted. Plus, the fact it was a bridesmaids' dress meant it was half the cost of most of the wedding gowns - bonus!
I deliberately chose a slightly smaller size, which set me the challenge of losing at least two inches from my weight before the wedding. I had been doing daily aqua-aerobics and swimming laps in Spain since the pools had opened in June and planned to resume this exercise when I returned in August, so I felt that this goal would be achievable.
My next wedding planning mission was to book the legal wedding ceremony in King’s Lynn, search for a wedding singer and to find outfits for my sister and daughter, who are my bridesmaids; my niece, who is a flower girl; and my grandson, who is going to be a pageboy. In addition to this, Gary and Tyler, as groom and best man, needed two outfits each. Gary had decided he wanted himself and Ty to arrive at the wedding on a jet-ski, in true James Bond style.
Then it was time for my annual mammogram and thank god, after an anxious week’s wait between the mammogram and the oncologist consultation, I was given the all clear and we could all breathe a big sigh of relief at last after a traumatic year. Although I wouldn’t be deemed to be fully in remission for five years, this was the first confirmation we’d had that my treatment had fully got rid of the existing cancer cells and the risk levels of it returning reduce each year that I remain cancer-free. So I could fly back to Spain and Gary in late August, reassured that I was cancer free at the one-year point. I could now enjoy a final couple of months in La Manga before I returned to the UK in October to work over the winter, leaving Gary in Spain to continue building the estate agency business.
To be continued: In my next blog, out in October, I will continue outlining the wedding planning process, update on how I get on with my exercise routine to achieve my beach wedding body, and explain how cancer brought an ex work colleague back into my life.