Groom-to-be Diary: Stag Do Planning

Illustrator Alistair is in the midst of planning his civil partnership to business partner and fiancé Jonny at Cardiff City Hall in September. Last month he talked about planning a civil partnership, this month he’s enlightening us on his stag do. Be prepared to meet the most dapper grooms you ever did see…

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Alistair designed a print inspired by his ‘stag do’ – isn’t it gorgeous?

Like any other couple, Jonny and I have found the planning of our nuptials an eventful voyage of discovery, peppered with tough decisions. Where our experience may differ from the ‘norm’ is that, as a gay couple, we have no established traditions to follow. For example, who walks down the aisle first? Do both grooms make a speech? Do we take each other’s surname? So on and so forth. Whilst this has befuddled some, ourselves included, it was a definite advantage when it came to planning our stag parties.

For Jonny this was a no-brainer; he would, without question, have a bawdy weekend away with his male chums… in Brighton no less. The event has yet to take place but I imagine that booze, fast food and obligatory humiliation/torture will feature heavily. I, on the other hand, am no such creature (La-Di-Dah).

Firstly, I have a distinct lack of close male friends and as much as I love the ones I do have, their idea of an enjoyable stag weekend differs from mine quite markedly. Not to say that I don’t appreciate a good knees up, but public nudity and drinking to the point of gastro-intestinal pyrotechnics is not my cup of tea. Call me boring if you will.

Actually, before I go any further I must point out that, from its inception, my Stag do was affectionately referred to as my ‘Hag’ do. Pithy, no? This primarily acted as the perfect stag-hen hybrid but, incidentally, it also made reference to the six ladies who would be accompanying me; my Fag Hags. Granted, I don’t normally regard them as such, but for the purpose of comedic effect, it was ideal.

So… What to do? Where to go? The answer was obvious: Marrakesh! Enough said.

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Now, as some of you may be aware, homosexuality is illegal in Morocco and I was, therefore, slightly apprehensive about how I would be received… for approximately five minutes. There was no way I was going to miss out on the trip of a lifetime because of an archaic, outdated law (as if there are no gays in Marrakesh. Please!). That being said, I did consult Trip Advisor, discovering that the easiest way to avoid incarceration was to refrain from overtly molesting men in the street. I made a solemn vow to try my best.

Months of mounting excitement ensued, not to mention some spectacular organisation by my Chief Hag, and by the day of our journey we were travelling under the freshly assumed collective alias of “The House of Hag” (said in a Germanic accent, with a protracted ‘a’… I have no idea why). Anyway, after a hysterical 4 hour flight, and a 30 degree rise in temperature, we touched down in Morocco where two dilapidated taxis conveyed us from the airport to Riad Chi Chi, our home for the next 3 days. To call it palatial would be a slight exaggeration but it was certainly an opulent oasis amidst the dusty labyrinth of side streets and dubious plumbing of Old Marrakesh.

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The next three days can be summed up in five words: tagines, haggling, camels, budget-glamour (does that count as one word?!) and laughter. I was spoiled! And therein lies the difference between my Hag do and Jonny’s forthcoming Stag; I was indulged, he will be manhandled! The closest I came to feeling uncomfortable was being made to wear a cobalt feathered turban at the dinner table… In the privacy of our own Riad, I hasten to add.

There were many highlights but my personal favourite was drinking the night away in Churchills 1930s inspired jazz bar, followed by a perilous cab ride home, during which a Hag (who will not be named) bombarded our driver with GCSE conversational French, resulting in a minor road traffic collision. Note to self: always wear a seatbelt in Marrakesh.

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Any fears I may have had about homophobia were put to rest quite quickly. If anything, from my observations, the local men were far more comfortable holding one another’s hands in public than I would be holding my own fiancé’s hand in this country . Also, on more than one occasion while passing through the souks, we were met with envious cries of “One man, six women!How is this possible?!” In fact, for a whole weekend I wore the persona of harem-toting playboy and I loved it! If only they knew the truth.

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Alistair insists that this photo is tongue in cheek, but we’re not sure we believe him… ;)

Having said all that, in terms of prejudice towards gay couples in hotels and riads, I recommend more in depth research before visiting.

Our weekend flew by in a whirl of vivid colours, smells and sounds, and it felt like we were back in the hands of Easy Jet faster then we could say “cous cous”. Half way through the flight home an insanely camp Lithuanian steward named Gabor (as in ZsaZsa) announced over the tannoy, in a Baltic soprano: “Ladies and gentleman, we have a hen party on our flight this evening…” My face dropped. Fortunately it was for a group of girls in the front row so I could relax. Almost immediately, however, a fellow passenger turned to my Hags and asked “have you girls also been on a hen do?” to which they perplexedly replied “Yeah, sort of”. I suppose that was the most appropriate response and a very fitting end to our adventure; although my stag/hen weekend was not the most conventional or easily qualified, it was Morockin’, nevertheless!

We’d love to hear what our readers are planning for their hen & stag dos – let us know in the comments! :)

Groom-To-Be Diary: Planning A Civil Partnership

Illustrator Alistair is in the midst of planning his civil partnership to business partner and fiancé Jonny at Cardiff City Hall in September. Be prepared to meet the most dapper grooms you ever did see…

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The Beginning Of It All

I pretty much knew that Jonny was a keeper when he turned down my offer of popcorn at the cinema, exclaiming “No! It gives me gas!” (or words to that effect). When a potential lover informs you of their propensity to popcorn-induced flatulence on the first date, you can’t help but be slightly enamoured… or is that just me?

Of course it wasn’t just this quirk that drew me to him. Oh no! There was also the allure of his dancing, which I had witnessed the previous evening at Pulse nightclub in Cardiff. Resistance was futile once I had clapped eyes on his hypnotically rhythmic elbow movements and I simply said to myself: “that’s my kinda freak.” Sidling over to him, I whispered sweet nothings in his ear; actually I was far too coy for that, instead using his unwitting friend as a vessel for my attraction.

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Me: “Tell your friend I think he’s cute”

Friend obliges. Nice friend.

Jonny: “Tell him I think he’s cute too” (bless)

Friend obliges. Good friend.

And the rest is history. I’m skimming over the part where he spilt his drink all over me, but why ruin such a romantic picture? Too late!

The Proposal

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Quickly moving on, we are now five years down the line and living in sin… but not for much longer. 18 months ago I got trussed up in a tuxedo, filled the flat to the brim with flowers and candles, and waited anxiously for my beloved to return home from work. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that he was working late and was discovered rocking back and forth in a sweaty state after 3 hours of listening to Adele on a loop. I digress. The question was popped, he answered with a teary “yes” (phew!) and within ten minutes it was business as usual as we devoured pasta straight from the pan in our PJs.

The Planning

Since then, if truth be told, I have done very little of the organisation. This will not shock my friends and acquaintances. Yes, I have been heavily involved in the decision-making and, yes, I have been unyielding in my aesthetic demands, but Jonny has done the majority of the planning. This is partially due to the fact that I am a lazy so-and-so and partially due to the fact that he is a self confessed control freak. The man has a “Wedding box” which only he has access to… and everyone thought I would be Groomzilla!

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I have, however, taken control of the fun, and some may say easy, stuff. Pour example, I secured the fabulously talented Siren Sisters as our entertainment, liaised with The Cakehouse girls regarding our confections and scored a deal with the printers for our invitations. Incidentally, and this is going to be a SHAMELESS plug, Jonny and I run an illustration business called Slightly Wobbly Designs so the wedding stationery has very much been a joint creative effort.

To say we had a theme would be going too far but “autumnal”, “rich” and “vintage” are words I would use to describe the intended feel. Not being fans of “matchy-matchy”, the wedding party (including ourselves) will be wearing different outfits, intended to compliment rather than match. Luckily our best men and women have oodles of panache so we’re confident the pictures will look great.

The ceremony is being held at Cardiff City Hall in front of 90 people * gulp! *. I’m hoping the exquisite woodwork and gilding of the council chambers will distract from the anxiety of saying those vows in front of so many people. Not being one for PDAs (that’s a public display of affection to anyone not in the know!) this could be tricky, but at the same time I can’t wait to say them. Love has a lot to answer for!

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After the serious part we’re heading to Dyffryn Springs in the Vale of Glamorgan for drinks, food, speeches, dancing and more drinks. A hog roast is being provided by The Hogfather (what a cool name) and, as we are incapable of selecting one wedding cake, there will be a dedicated ‘Cake Table’ laden with many a homemade sponge. The decorations remain a slight quandary, logistically speaking, but that’s nothing that a bit of Sticky Back Plastic won’t solve! All will be revealed…

Thus far, the preparations have been relatively stress free but there’s still time for one or both of us to develop alopecia and possibly a peptic ulcer! Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen. Watch this space for another update on the planning of our rapidly approaching nuptials.

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How wonderful are these bespoke wedding illustrations? :) We love them!

Thanks, Alistair! We can’t wait to hear more about your plans! If you liked the illustrations in today’s post then do check our the boys’ website – they really are fab :)