I thought you guys deserved a bonus post this week! The Boy and I were chatting about my last post, and wanted to show what it’s like for a groom in the lead up to a wedding. So, while I was pampering, preening and packing, here’s what The Boy got up to in the few days before our wedding…
52 Hours Before I Get Married
It’s 6am. Carrie-Ann was already up, she had been for a while, fussing over ribbons and cake stands and whether we have enough cars to carry all the things to the venue. I told her that we did, but I actually had no idea.
I didn’t have the day off like Carrie-Ann. I had decided, much to my madness, to hold a conference that morning in London about a piece of research we (as in me and my colleagues) had conducted. So while Carrie-Ann was in pure wedding panic mode, I was actually anxious about something entirely unrelated.
One of my colleagues, Matt, was at my front door at 6:25 in the morning. I was up this early because I had left all the things I had needed for the conference at the office (I do this sort of thing a lot. It’s exhausting being me). And he had kindly offered to drive me to my desk in Hertford, so I could still get into London early enough to give my speech.
I had promised Carrie-Ann that once my speech was over, I’d complete my handover and be home early.
I was not home early.
I decided, as a symbolic act, to leave my work laptop at the office so that I couldn’t possibly do any writing during my wedding or honeymoon.
I got half-way home and remembered my wedding speech was saved on said laptop.
42 Hours Until I Get Married
Carrie-Ann was stressed. But compared to all of the soon-to-be-weds I had seen on Bridezillas and Don’t Tell The Bride, she was actually the picture of tranquility. [Ed: See – making him watch all those programmes did have an effect!] Due to a ‘nail incident’ she had to go to see her specialist, so I bought dinner, picked her up and then commenced wrapping 108 individual Celebrations; it was an elaborate Gavin and Stacey joke that I was pretty sure only a small proportion of attendees to the wedding would get.
I then spent another 20 minutes fiddling with our wedding party playlist. “Nobody will notice if you’ve managed to shave 0.46 split seconds off Survivor by Destiny’s Child,” my fiancee said. She was concerned I may be wasting my valuable time. “I’ll notice,” I said, before increasing it to 0.47 seconds.
With an insurmountable amount of stuff to pack into cars the next morning, we went to bed late. I didn’t sleep much.
28 Hours Until I Get Married
Carrie-Ann’s best friend and bridesmaid was over. They were going to do stuff with hair and pretty things that confused me, before heading to the venue for 3pm.
My job was simple. Get a hair cut and then pack three cars with every piece of crockery we had acquired as part of Operation Tea Cake, along with the photo booth props, TVs, games consoles, peg dolls, suits… oh and us. There were four of us going up in total: myself, my best men Mark and Kieran, and my dear friend Craig.
What Carrie-Ann didn’t know was I had a couple of secret jobs to do that morning. The first was to visit one of the bridesmaids. I had decided, because it was both valentine’s weekend, our wedding and our sixth wedding anniversary, to buy her six presents. Gift No.3 was to be handed to Carrie-Ann by one of the bridesmaids the morning of the wedding. It was a St Christopher bracelet. I chatted with said bridesmaid for too long on how the party music needed to be handled, and then pretty much ran flat-out to get my hair cut.
Now hugely behind schedule, and with both best men impatiently waiting, I rushed around town to find the perfect bunch of flowers to get Carrie-Ann for Gift No.2. And then commenced the impossible task of trying to cram every single box into just three small cars.
After literally ripping out the seats, we just about managed to squeeze everything in. We were not going to make Pinewood for 3pm, but if traffic was kind, we’d still be just marginally late. Hopefully.
21 Hours Until I Get Married
As my car was filled to bursting, I was all alone in the car. There was no room for anyone else. This was a good thing because it gave me the chance to actually prepare my speech. I had written it, of course, and edited it, and re-written it. But I hadn’t really prepared it. So for the 1 hour and 20 minutes I was in my car I tried to recite the speech as best I could, over and over and over.
I reached Pinewood Studios, and after wrestling with the security protocol, made my way to Heatherden Hall, where everything was to go down. My best man Mark took up the mantel of holding the door as we carried all the boxes inside. That was until we replaced him with a box – which did the same job with considerably less fuss.
You would be forgiven for thinking Mark was the one getting married the next day. My best friend isn’t a socialite, he doesn’t publicly speak, in fact – wherever he can – he avoids all forms of public interaction. He’s shy. So to put him in a starring role in a wedding of over 100 people, including a speaking slot, was making the man unbearably anxious. He was more nervous than I was, which, actually, calmed me down quite a bit.
Once we had finished carrying everything inside, Carrie-Ann was laying out the crockery and the quiz sheets and the celebrations and and the book marks and all the bits and bobs we had prepared for the wedding breakfast. The members of the groom’s party in attendance – Craig, Mark and Kieran – stood around awkwardly for a while before beginning to build cake stands. We only had until 5pm to do all of this. By 6.30pm, we left.
Carrie-Ann was a bit worried about flowers. She wanted some real flowers at the venue, so I chose that moment to give her the first two gifts of the weekend. Some bath bombs to relax her the night before the big day, and some flowers to remind her that I would be thinking of her as she got ready. I said she could use the flowers on the day, and she did.
16 Hours Until I Get Married
We stayed in a hotel in Slough. It was a Travelodge, nothing special. Mark, Kieran and I shared a room while Craig had a separate room for the night. The staff at the Travelodge were very nice, although their continual reminder about ‘not leaving any valuables in the vehicles’ reminded me that we were in Slough.
There was a cat in the Travelodge. It was a stray that one of the guests fed once and the cat has since used that as an excuse to sleep in the lobby and hang around the guests. I liked that cat.
We had some food at the neighbouring Toby Carvery, before retiring to bed early. I paced around the bathroom for an hour reciting my speech a further three times. I nailed it each and every time. So feeling confident and prepared, I slept a little more soundly that night.
5 Hours Until I Get Married
“Big day today,” said Mark, breaking the silence.
“I know,” I replied. “Sunderland vs Manchester United.”
“Neither team can afford to drop points,” agreed Mark.
“Not at this stage in the season.”
We went for breakfast at the Toby Carvery. Mark had Yorkshire pudding with his fry up. As you do. There was a sense of unease amongst my best men, who clearly had their minds on their respective speeches. I was actually more excited than anything else. Which seemed to surprise everyone I spoke to.
I went to reception and asked for an iron.
I returned to my room.
“What about an ironing board?” asked Kieran.
I went back to reception.
Upon washing, shaving and doing all the things a man needs to do to look presentable, Tom – one half of the Lina and Tom photography duo – arrived to take pictures of us ‘getting ready’. Which, for men, mostly means us putting shirts on. Not entirely sure it was the most engaging of photoshoots.
The nicest moment of the morning arrived when Kieran handed me a beautiful pocket watch from Carrie-Ann (with the words ‘Hold hands and pretend it’s a plan’ engraved on it… which is a Doctor Who quote) and then all four of us tried desperately to work out how to make it look nice in a waistcoat.
2 Hours Until I Get Married
I drove the team to Pinewood Studios. We were early, really early, and for good reason. Guests were wary of M25 traffic issues, so were leaving home early to get to us, and so I was prepared for an influx of family and friends arriving well before the 12pm start time. Which is what happened.
I organised some stuff, chatted to the venue, put Gift No.4 next to Carrie-Ann’s plate, moved some TVs and briefed the groom’s team. I spoke to the registrar, who talked me through everything, and I really liked her. I then met the legal people, who filled in all my details, and then asked for information about my father.
“… and what is his employment?”
“He’s a stores manager.” I said confidently.
A little while later I saw Mum.
“Mum, what does Dad do for a living?”
“He’s a senior buyer.”
Quickly dashing back to the ceremony room.
“I got my Dad’s job title wrong.”
The legal lady type stared at me. I couldn’t be sure, but I think it may have been a death stare.
She ripped up the form. “Ok, what’s his job title then?”
After a few brief hellos, the ushers ushered people into their seats at about 11:40. We moved people around to ensure the families were all in prime positions. As it ticked over to 12pm, I made a note to get out my pocket watch and look at it disapprovingly. I always wanted to do that.
0.5 Hours After We Were Meant to Get Married
After months of jokes about how I was going to be late for the wedding, Carrie-Ann was late for the wedding. Typical.