James and Rox got engaged in January 2010. He’s a 6ft 3in Brummie, and she’s a Yorkshire lass who tops out at 5ft 2in on a good day. They were together for seven whole years before James proposed, so either Rox has the patience of a saint, or he was well worth the wait. Sadly, it’s the former. James will be representing the boys every week up until the big day in August.

Rox and I took a break from wedding planning this weekend. We keep being advised not to get too consumed by it all in the final weeks or it’ll take all the fun out of it. So we decided to down tools and head to Leeds for a double celebration: Rox’s Dad’s 60th and her sister’s 30th birthday. Frankly, I thought it rather inconsiderate to schedule their birthdays so close to my wedding, but whatever!

Actually, it was nice to take a bit of a breather from it all. Every evening during the week had been spent doing last minute bits and pieces, such as trawling eBay for a wireless mic for the speeches, editing the orders of service, deciding on the room plan for the reception and choosing the music that’ll be played in between the band’s sets.

Rox and I are into uncharted territory. There are no manuals or idiot’s guides that can help us. All the big decisions have been made; now it’s all about the details that are specific to our wedding. But for every item that we tick off our to-do list, we add three more. It’s like a virus – nobody can stop the to-do list from spreading! On the surface they all seem like innocuous additions, but each one can take a couple of hours to deal with. You only need half a dozen extra tasks and that’s your evenings sorted for the next week.

The biggest time-consumer for us last week was the guest book. I’ll put my hands up and confess that this one was all my fault. Rox was quite happy with the standard guest book scenario – we buy a nice book and hand it round for our guests to sign on the day. Simple? Yes, but I’m not convinced this idea actually works that well in practice. Unless you coerce your ushers and bridesmaids into acting like the guest book Gestapo, it’s unlikely that you’ll get everyone to write a few words.

So I tasked myself with finding an original and credible alternative. In other words, I Googled it. The amount of alternatives is frankly mind-boggling. There is such a thing as too much choice, and by day three of my search I was bitterly regretting having had an opinion in the first place.

The breakthrough came on the fourth day when I actually found two alternatives to the classic guest book that we both really liked. Narrowly edged into second place was the idea of bringing a meaningful item (such as your favourite outdoor bench, or a surfboard if you’re both keen surfers) to the wedding and asking your guests to sign it. Sadly Rox and I own nothing of value, sentimental or otherwise, so this was no good for us.

However, the one that we eventually chose was a natty little idea that I found on eBay, the source of all things wedding. We buy a handmade 12-page mini booklet for each table and ask our guests to write a few words during the meal. We then ask one of the staff, sorry I mean ushers, to take a photo of each table that we’ll subsequently develop and stick in the booklet. There are also a couple of spare pages for a personal note to each table from Rox and me.

It sounds like a lot of work, and that’s because frankly it is. But it’s an unusual idea, and the personal message in each booklet should make our guests feel really welcome. Now all I need to do is figure out how to cure my crippling addiction to eBay and we’re home free.

W Day: 18 days and counting

Catch up on James’ 38th week of wedding planning (and links to earlier weeks) here

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