The Jones Wedding Update – August 2020

Man and woman in front of hen do and tag do balloons drinking prosecco and orange juice

I know I say this EVERY time – but I can’t believe how MUCH time has gone by, yet again. Last update, we had accepted that we’d not be able to go ahead with the 23rd May, as COVID-19 had well and truly sunk its claws into 2020 and wasn’t letting go. 

We arranged a new date of 3rd October 2020, not thinking by any stretch of the imagination (possibly naively) that things would still be as bad. Well – haven’t we been mugged off.

The May date passed by, and while we had a lovely day by ourselves, with all of our friends and family supporting us from a distance, it was still so sad knowing that we were supposed to have been married that day. Although, the weather was shit to be honest, so maybe best. 

As we sailed through June and July, we slowly came to the realisation that we just wouldn’t be able to have the day we’d planned in October, especially with the guest limitations.

So, rather than postponing again, William and I have decided to carry on with our wedding ceremony on 3rd October, and push back the big wedding day until next year. This way, we get to have a tiny, intimate ceremony with our parents and siblings –  and still look forward to a celebration with everyone who’s supported us, in 2021. 

Although it’s sad we can’t have the full day in October, we just really want to be married to one another and don’t want to wait for what is essentially a party.

So, here we are – only 39 days out until we’re officially Mr and Mrs Jones – the closest we’ve ever got.

We can’t wait! x

4 Ways to Enjoy Your Wedding Day – Despite The Pandemic

Apple laptop, a white pen and a clipboard with a piece of white paper which says wedding list on it
How are we already in August, guys?

What a real rollercoaster ride this year has been so far, and it’s definitely double the headache if you had or still have wedding plans to organise for 2020. There’s an update to come from me about ours…stay tuned!

Some areas in the UK are slowly easing the lockdown restrictions and along with that, venues are allowing for social gatherings – although they are still limited in number. Importantly it means that you can still go ahead and marry the person of your dreams. COVID or not, you are going to enjoy your day and I wanted to share with you to ensure you can do just that.

Have a wedding run-through

Although most venues and registrars have done this hundreds of times before, it’s likely this is the first time you’ve been married, so it’s not surprising that you’re not sure what to do, where to stand, where to walk. They will probably offer it, or just ask your venue if you can have a little run through with your main wedding party – who stands where and when people come into the room. When I found out my venue offered this, I was over the moon as I was worrying about people getting all mixed up and confused. Ease your mind and have a practice run.

Plan your party ahead of time

After the wedding ceremony is over, it’s time to kick back, enjoy and celebrate with your friends and family. Although numbers are still limited, I’ve seen plenty of wedding entertainment still going ahead – we’ve been offered small jazz bands, for example. Whether you prefer a DJ or you are looking for live music for your wedding, the decision is ultimately a question of personal taste. However, before you make your decision, there are some other things you need to take into consideration. Firstly, consider the size of your venue – is there enough space for the band, DJ and dance floor? How long should the band play, and how loud? What is your music style or your preferred genre? Once these details are all ironed out, and the entertainment is taken care of, then you can place your focus on other areas of your wedding.

After all that organising, share the load!

A great way to make sure you enjoy the day is to share the load. I’ve got a lot of suppliers coming in on the day and I will be so focused on – you know, marrying the love of my life – that I won’t want anyone to bother me. However, I’m the one who organised my wedding day, and I’m the one who knows all the details. My photographer told me a great way to get round this. If you know that you’re a control freak, then before the day arrives, consider making lists beforehand. Have a list of everything that has to be done on the wedding day, as well as a list of the day’s schedule and contact details for each supplier and whether they have been paid or not.

When the day comes, simply hand over your list to someone reliable (or a couple, we’ve chosen people who are less likely to get hammered) who can iron out any last minute details to ensure that your day runs smoothly.

Get rid of your phone

Another way to have a stress-free wedding day is to consider either giving your phone to a bridesmaid or to leave it somewhere out of sight completely, like in your hotel room. Sorry to say, but that phone is going to be ringing off the hook because you’ll be surprised by the amount of guests who will call unable to find the location – like you have any time for that! You’ve hired a photographer for the photos and no one wants to be perusing social media on their wedding day – so leave it behind! Like the lists, hand over last-minute details to someone who you trust to cover them.

I’m so excited that weddings for 2020 are still going ahead and like I say, stay tuned for our update soon. It’s such a lovely light at the end of the tunnel when back in March, we were all faced with our perfectly planned days crumbling in front of our eyes. We’ll all get there in the end!

Lots of love,
Ex

Kiev, Ukraine: 5 Things To Know Before You Go

couple in Kiev, Ukraine carrying small monkeys

I surprised William with a trip to Chernobyl a while back and whilst I’ve made a video about that separately, I never got round to telling you about Kiev, where we stayed. Kiev is the capital of Ukraine and where you’ll likely fly into. It’s about two hours drive from Chernobyl.

We’ve always liked going off the beaten track a little bit, so whilst we haven’t yet visited classic places such as Rome, or Paris for a romantic break, we thought nothing of packing our rucksacks to go and explore lesser-known Ukraine. 

Chernobyl was a whole experience in itself and I will follow up the video with a full overview of THAT experience, but for now, here’s a few things we thought we should pass on if you want to experience Kiev. 

We absolutely loved it and are hoping to go back at some point to explore more; we never seem to have enough time to squeeze the experience out of a place!

1. You Can’t Take Currency With You

The Ukrainian Hryvnia is a closed currency, which basically means that you won’t be able to get any from your local Bureau de Change before you go. We couldn’t, and I was super paranoid because I like carrying at least £50 in local currency wherever we go, just in case. However, when you’re there it’s easy to grab some from the airport ATMs – off the top of my head I don’t think the fee was too much at all. After this, you can find ATMs all around the city, and many places will take debit and credit cards. Depending on where you ask, some places will also take Euros. Another tip: if you’ve got cash spare before you leave, you may as well spend it because you likely won’t be able to change it when you’re back in your country. FYI, as of June 2020, £1 is 33.21 UAH.

2. The Food Is Awesome

I have a rule that when I’m in a different country, I try to eat as much local cuisine as possible. To that end, we sought out little local boutique restaurants for our meals. Sometimes, especially when there are dodgy English translations, it’s hard to know what you’re ordering, but to be honest, it was so cheap that you can order a selection of things to try. The best thing I tried were these little boiled dumplings filled with meat and soaked in butter (Varenyky). The amount of different cheese, pastries and sweets on offer was insane and I wished that I couldn’t get full up so I could carry on. The worst I had was this stew which on top wasn’t bad – it was rich meat and cheese, but underneath was this thick, bland wallpaper paste that I later discovered was cornmeal (Banosh) – vile. We also both tried the local Borscht – a beetroot soup that we both absolutely haaaated but everyone seems to eat so much of it that we must be wrong.

Woman standing in front of 1970 Chernobyl welcome sign

3. Hire A Guide 

We’re arrogant little buggers and prefer to be left on our own when we’re travelling, doing some research beforehand and going to find landmarks and figuring things out ourselves. Whilst this is good in some respects, we sometimes don’t get the most well-rounded experience. This was super true in Kiev. We went to visit Kyiv Pechersk Lavra which was a monastery in some underground caves. It was an incredible experience but we didn’t have a CLUE what we were looking at or what we should be doing. Everything is in the Cyrillic alphabet as Ukraine is not as geared towards tourists as other countries. This is a great thing on one hand as everything feels unsullied and authentic, but on the other, it can be difficult to get around!

Two moments that stick out in my mind are when we entered a church and began to look around, but were told off for walking on the carpet by someone – god knows why! Secondly, women were wrapping up modestly to go into the caves (as you would when you visit a Thai temple for example), but some weren’t. I just looked helplessly at a woman and she wrapped a scarf round my legs (I was wearing jeans and a big coat) and sent me in. I’m sure there’s a good reason, but it didn’t make sense to us – having a guide that day would have been great and if we did it again, we’d get one.

4. People Will Be Surprised You’re There

Lots of people we met, especially people drinking in bars and waiting staff appeared shocked and surprised we were visiting, especially when we told them we’re from London. After watching a band in a bar one night, I asked if they were on Instagram so I could keep up with their journey as they were bloody good. They were so excited that we were going to be FOLLOWERS from LONDON we were a bit taken aback. I’m not sure really why this is, so if someone knows, let me know! We went to Kiev pre-HBO Chernobyl, so with the worldwide interest garnered from that, I’m not sure if this will have changed. 

Another thing we noticed is that people were really interested in asking about the UK and London especially. I think the reason for this is that whilst it’s easy for us to visit the Ukraine, the UK has a  disproportionately strict visa policy towards allowing Ukrainian residents to visit us. 

5. It’s Cold!

After underestimating Berlin in February, I came prepared to Ukraine with thermals. However, getting out of the taxi during a blizzard and trying to find our hotel was a SHOCK. We did go in February though, so with temperatures hitting about -7 to -10 for us, either go later in the year or go prepared!

Couple standing in front of Chernobyl ferris wheel

Finally…is Kiev safe?

People ask this question quite a lot of us, and I’m going to go with yes. I never felt unsafe once whilst out there. For the most part, people are either very friendly or ignore you completely. We did see some police presence (and obviously military in Chernobyl) but nothing worrying. As always when visiting another country, it is best to be courteous, kind – and if you’re not sure – ask with a smile and bang out the old Google Translate.

Have you been to Kiev or do you want to go?

Things That Annoy Me: Not Being Able To Let Things Go

couple holding up a picture frame in the garden

I’ve planned some blog content for the next few months but following a particularly aggressive rant about a lady who tutted at me over the weekend, I’ve added another series: things that annoy me. Trust me, there’s a lot of things.

Some are serious, some are seriously silly – but here’s my space to shout about it and come to terms with those irritating bits of life, without chatting Will’s ear off.

Let’s kick things off with a bang with…not being able to let go of things.

It’s one of the qualities I dislike most about myself because I find it so hard to move past things. Something could have happened years ago: a conversation, an action or incident buried deep in the past and I’ll still muddle over it and consider what could have gone better, what the correct outcome should have been, what I should have said.

Let me give you some context to how far back this goes

We were in primary school (I’m talking year five) and my brother was in year three. There was a massive campaign at the time on road safety for children, and schools brought in reflective teddies for every pupil in the UK to put on their bags. As we lined up to get them, my brother got to the front of the queue and was told by his teacher he couldn’t have one because he had apparently been naughty that day. Oh my god. I’m nearly 30 and I’m still so cross. The INJUSTICE! You’re telling me that EVERY child is entitled to this item that will likely help them be seen and NOT GET RUN OVER, but you want to be petty about it. You, a grown teacher? I think I gave him mine in the end, but I STILL think about how I should have handled it, despite the fact I was a literal child.

More recently, a situation within a close friendship group was mishandled and now, unfortunately is completely out of hand. Other people got involved without knowing the context which made things worse, and now so much time has gone by, it’s unlikely that this rift will ever be fixed. Despite this, yeah you guessed it – I can’t let it go. I move through emotions of anger, frustration and pity before ending up with crippling anxiety on a regular basis.

Why can’t I let things go?

I often ask myself this. Some people seem to breeze through life looking forward and we are often told that we shouldn’t dwell on the past and to stop worrying about things we cannot change.

I read this blog which told me: “Letting go is releasing all doubt, worry, and fear about a situation, person or outcome. It’s releasing anything that disrupts your happiness and no longer serves you on your journey”.

Oh man, I WISH I could. Like literally bye, girl, bye. But they’re still there in my skull, pushed up against all my lovely moments, my future goals and dreams.

I ain’t got room for them all so they need to vacate, sharpish.

I’m hoping that over the coming months, I’ll be able to begin releasing the grip I’ve got on things in my past. I’m starting therapy and am also working with a couple of bangin’ babes on mental wellness. I aim to:

    • Focus on things I can control
    • Differentiate between ruminating and problem-solving (guilty)
    • Create a solid plan to manage my stress
    • Develop healthy techniques and affirmations to manage and control my anxiety

If I’m able to do any ONE of these things, I will be amazed. You know when you’ve lived a certain way for so long you can’t see it changing? I hope I can though. I’m sick of lying awake at night thinking about that one person said to me in 2004, or the way I handled a situation six months ago.

From the blog above: “The present is all we have. We can’t go back and fix the past, and what happens in the future isn’t here yet. We must make an effort everyday to remember that and allow ourselves to open up and enjoy what is unfolding right in front of us: all parts of the journey both easy and hard, good and bad.”

Can you let things go? Let me know how you do it!

The Blog – Eight Years In Review

millennial pink balloons with watermelon

When I started this blog, the Instagram we know today was barely a twinkle in its father’s eye and being an ‘influencer’ wasn’t even a thing. We had celebrities and that was your lot. We kept up with them via red-tops, or if they had a documentary out – I’m looking at you Katie Price.

Ella In The Big City was started on WordPress with an in-built blog theme, of which you could choose from about five and I had great fun with it. I was proud I had my own platform to say what I liked, even if I was talking to nobody – because trust me, no one was reading it. 

Remember, this was back when Twitter had about ten members, one of which was me, all screaming into the void.

Nowadays, whilst I have a lovely audience of my own, my platform is swamped in an oversaturated market. Voices louder, better and more intelligent than my own surpass me and other people with their highly-curated ‘Personal Brand’ and large Instagram followings get book and brand deals.

I am not complaining, dude. It’s just the way of the world. I’m proud that I settled myself in for the ride many moons ago and am not hanging on the coat-tails of those who went before me. I was there before them. 

I hope to still be pissing about with words long into my old age. Did you hear? I’m getting on for 30. 

Although I’m sorry to say, in recent months I have neglected my corner of the internet and have starved it of my own words and thoughts, except for accepting some paid sponsored and contributed content. God, I am such a sell-out! I hate myself for it, I promise I’ll make it up to you.

Saying sorry to your readers or viewers for not posting in a while is something I actually find low-key cringe. Like sis, no one cares that much. No one is scanning your blog and lamenting you, cursing your name to the moon for not posting a shit shopping haul no one asked for.

But I am. Sorry, I mean. 

Life has moved too fast for me over the last few months. My entire psyche and direction I thought I was going in has changed. The headspace of the world slowing down meant that I have been able to grow a seed of self-belief and actually get on with things.

Published freelance journalist? Completed it mate. Joking, it’s a game you can never complete. Pitches are life. I’m in the club now.

I’m making the move to set myself up as a company. I mean, how crazy is that!? A few short years ago I was sitting in one of those sound-proof telephone booths in a co-working space, trying to catch my breath in the midst of a panic attack. Good one Ella, box yourself in whilst you’re feeling boxed-in, that’ll help.

Anyway, the reason I FELT so boxed-in and panicked was because I thought I’d led myself down a certain path and that was IT. I cried every night for about three months solid because that’s just the kind of person I was back then. I didn’t realise holes could be climbed out of.

They can be.

Look, I need to go because I’m tapping away and getting serious Caroline Calloway vibes from what’s coming out of my brain. Am I channeling her? Who knows, maybe. 

I promise I’ll stop being such a sell-out on the blog, write more interesting things; show you some published bits that you can be proud of me for. In return, I ask for nothing but your continued support, your wonderful cheerleading when I’m up and especially when I’m down

I seriously, seriously love my life and that’s not something I ever thought I’d say, especially back then. 

And I love you.

Ex