When you're planning a wedding - whether it be the most traditional, big-white-gown-and-stately-home event or, as Thomas and I have taken to describing ours, an anarcho-punk/feminist leifdesfeestje* - you quickly learn that other people have A Lot Of Thoughts And Opinions about weddings.
And this despite that fact that we've been incredibly lucky that our families, who are thrilled that we're making this commitment (albeit non-legal) to each other, genuinely couldn't be less interested in dictating to us exactly how we should go about it. Our friends, too, have been very accepting of and excited about the direction in which we've chosen to take our wedding: namely, a ceremony officiated by a good friend of ours, with all the readings and speeches and vows one would associate with a wedding but without the legal bit, followed by a three course vegan meal and piss-up in our favourite pub.
But still the questions come...
Are you having a theme? Err, aside from love and commitment? No.
A seating plan? No.
Best man and bridesmaids? Well, my little nieces aside (who I couldn't in good conscience deny the chance to put on a pretty dress and call themselves bridesmaids), no.
Hen and stag dos? Probably not, although Thomas has expressed a preference to go on a "nature walk" for his stag do. I kid you not.
Changing your name? Erm, have you even met me? Hell no!
As our friends and family have quickly realised, the answer to pretty much any question about the wedding is, "No, we're not bothering with that."
And then, the why.
I'm crafty, creative, details oriented and a micro-manager: all the ingredients for a bridezilla, a wife-to-be hand-stitching favours for a year before the ceremony and obsessing over every element. So it's as strange and surprising to me as it is to those who know me well that, when it comes to our wedding, I honestly couldn't care less.
What is important to me is this: that some of my family from overseas are able to be there; that Thomas's friends from the Netherlands come; that our UK-based friends and family are in full attendance; and that we have an occasion full of fun, laughter and love, while lacking in the patriarchal traditions that are so intrinsically entwined with wedding ceremonies. Oh, and I'd like a pretty twirly dress that doesn't cost ££££ (this last has at least already been achieved, with a £16 bargain dress of my dreams).
So there aren't going to be most of the usual trappings of a wedding. Instead we're crafting something that is completely, totally us. Our ceremony is explicitly political, from the readings we've chosen to the promises and vows we will make. It might seem a strange choice but politics - especially feminist and anarchist politics - are intrinsic to our relationship. They are what we first bonded over and are what we both value so much in each other. We have, in our four years together, both politicised the other: me pushing Thomas towards a queer, intersectional, trans-inclusive feminism and introducing him to fat activism; he, coming from an anarchist punk scene in the Netherlands that is extremely active in pro-refugee activism, pushing me to be more radical in my politics and less tolerant of middle-way liberalism. We could no more separate politics from our wedding day than we could from our lives.
And so, an anarcho-punk/feminist liefdesfeestje it is. On 31st July 2017 I will wear my pretty, twirly, £16 dress and Thomas - fresh from his nature walk (insert eye roll emoji) - will be suited and booted, and we'll make our vows in the most beautiful building in Leicester, in front of the people we love most. We'll listen to the music that's special to us**, drink Prosecco and cider, eat heaps of vegan food***, and be merry. I really cannot wait.
*Dutch for love party, which we avoid because in English it sounds like we're hosting an orgy.
** Generously, I have offered Thomas a 35 minute slot on the playlist for his terrible 80s MOR, while I get to choose the rest of the music.
*** See, we both have priorities: mine is music, so I get to pick; his is food, so he gets to make it all vegan.