Thursday 30 May 2013

Wedding Day - Part 1 (from the Bride)

For me, our wedding day starts at 5.30am. I wake up, am instantly wide awake and although I'm tired, I know that I won't get back to sleep properly. Next to me, Alan is still fast asleep - I have to resist bouncing out of bed and running across the soft carpet of the bridal suite to check the weather.

I snooze,on and off, until 6.15am when, finally, Alan wakes up. I throw open the curtains to reveal a softly sunlit May morning. Even though it won't stay so sunny, that early-morning scene is imprinted on my memory.

We have tea and biscuits in bed, eager for the rest of the world to wake up. Finally, we can justify creeping downstairs to look at our reception room being set up. We run into my dad, habitually an early riser, and go off to enjoy a leisurely breakfast. Nerves begin to kick in as my bridesmaids appear for breakfast.

I take my leave and go off to make the bridal suite ready for the Charlie and Sarah, our makeup and hair artists. They arrive, as do my bridesmaids a moment later. The next couple of hours pass in a haze of blowdrying, waving, powder and mascara, and a lot of jokes and laughter. Three of my bridemaids are my cousins, so it's a good time to catch up properly on all the family news.

Ross and Lauren, our photographers, arrive and are as chilled as ever. They photograph my dress, shoes and flowers, as well as some shots of us having our makeup done. Then they go off to find Alan and his ushers, who apparently are already dressed and about to leave.

I feel calmer and yet more excited as it all starts to come together. The girls are dressed and look gorgeous; the car has arrived and I can, after what has seemed like both the longest and the shortest morning, start getting dressed. The photographers are back and are snapping away. We're ready to go.

Wait! I turn round and suddenly spy my veil lying on the back of a chair. We've all completely forgotten about it and I need the makeup artist to put it in for me; I have my dress on and the bridesmaid dresses are way too long to run with. We all look at each other - but by this time Lauren, Ross's assistant is already shooting out of the door in pursuit. What. A. Star.

She returns, Charlie in tow, and the veil crisis is averted. A few more photos, a quick debate on the merits of bag/ no bag/ wraps/ no wraps and we're really ready to go. Quick time-check as I think we're running late. It's 13h05. The ceremony is at 13h30. It takes 10-15 minutes to drive to the church, but we need to get downstairs, and the traffic could be bad. Are we early or late? I can no longer decide, so tell everyone firmly: "Let's go".


We meet my dad coming upstairs. My dad is not a 'conventional' father of the bride, and there's no way I would ever want him to be, but I don't think I've ever seen him look prouder (a theme which, judging by the photos, is set to continue for the rest of the day).

The driver is ready for us downstairs, and remarks how calm we all seem. I realise, with a jolt, that we seem calm because we are calm. I feel astonishingly laid-back. Let's go and get married.


Friday 17 May 2013

What We Did At The Weekend: Our Wedding

Today we realised it's Friday. Which means that this time last week, we were at Fanhams Hall preparing to get married. People were beginning to arrive at the hotel; we started to run into some of our guests every time we left the room. It was exciting. We had managed to wangle the bridal suite for the Friday night as well, and were enjoying settling in to a rather luxurious room.

I was tired, nervous and my head was thumping. I hadn't slept well for the last few nights, and was worried about the meal we had organised for our parents, siblings and bridal party and partners. Would everyone find the place? Would people talk to each other? What if someone couldn't find anything they wanted to eat?

I ended up going to hang out in our room for a bit before we went to eat. I didn't sleep, but an hour of peace to finish a few last minute jobs and read my book was really valuable.

I needn't have worried about the meal, although my head didn't stop aching and my stomach was all nervous. In hindsight, I should have realised that everyone is adult enough to get themselves to a pub and have dinner! Everyone was talking and getting to know those they didn't know already; food and drink was had and enjoyed; I'm sure I even heard somebody laughing at some point ;-) We're very grateful to the Vine in Ware for hosting us (all 22 of us) - we know such a large party can't have been easy. They even helped us celebrate a rather important birthday:

Happy Birthday Euan! - photo by Maxine von Eye

Although Alan and I gave up and went up to our room for an early night and a final details check, it was so nice to hear that everyone else seemed to end up in the bar talking to each other until the small hours:

Photo by Maxine von Eye

Memories from the evening:
  • Forgetting the cheese and Alan going back to get it;
  • Our usher Euan, giving up his birthday to spend the evening with us;
  • Honeycomb and mint ice cream - who knew?
  • My father making it from the Alsace and finally meeting Alan's parents - the last details clicking into place;
  • Our last night as an unmarried couple - nervous but calm.

Tuesday 7 May 2013

Soundtrack of a Journey into Marriage: Warble


Over the last few weeks, spring has sprung with a vengence. The trees - including our lovely pear tree - are covered in leaves and blossom, there are more daisies on the lawn every day (wow, they grow quickly) and the sun has shown itself more in the last fortnight than I remember for the whole of last summer. The warm air carries with it the sounds of birdsong of all sorts, reminding us that now is the time for new life, new beginnings and to revel in the sheer beauty of nature.

The sound of melodious birdsong in itself is not really wedding related. However, it is a clear signal that winter is well and truly over, and spring is beginning to turn its head towards the hazy days of summer. And this year, early summer means, for us, our wedding and the beginning of our marriage. As I write this, there are but 4 days to go. And really, everything for this weekend starts on Friday as we pack up the car (probably several times - perks of a venue which is just 15 minutes away) and some of our guests arrive at the hotel.

I am looking forward to this coming weekend so much, even if the thought of being the centre of attention still makes my stomach churn every so often. Every stomach churn is followed by a little skip of anticipatory excitement at seeing everybody together, at finally getting to marry the man with whom I dream of being that elderly couple walking hand in hand in the park picking up conkers.

But the birdsong reminds me of the promise of summer and the start of our life beyond the wedding. I'm as excited for our post-wedding plans for this year as I am for the wedding; in some ways more so - selling this house and buying our forever house, career plans, afternoon teas, walks in the park, our honeymoon and our planned Autumn trip to New Zealand, weekends with friends...the list is endless, and that's the best thing about it.

So, Mr Blackbird, please keep on singing as much as you like. It reminds me of what comes next - and I think I'm ready for it.