This week, after four and a half years, I left my job. Not, I hasten to add, because I’ve gone full on 1950s and given up work as I’m now married, but because I have a very exciting new job, in a whole new industry, that I start tomorrow. Because why do one big thing in a month, when you can do two?
My colleagues, the helpful and hilarious souls that they are, wanted to make sure I was prepared for this new venture, so among the gorgeous flowers, Harry Potter-themed notebook and exciting afternoon tea-related gifts, I also found an excellent selection of PPE gear. I’m going to miss them all very, very much.
So, as I sit here in my hard hat and high-vis jacket, slightly overwhelmed and a bit emotional (and not just because I’m having to use The Boy’s computer and can’t work out why the keys aren’t in the right sodding place and where on earth the copy/paste shortcut has moved to), I thought I’d recap some of the highlights from the best day of my life. Bold statement, but there it is. Prepare yourself for a lot of photos!
Let’s pick up where we left off – in the car, on the way to the ceremony. While I knew I was late, I didn’t know exactly how late. Which, looking back, was a very good thing indeed for my anxiety levels. (I’m also reliably informed that it was a good thing as it meant latecomers could be seated with the minimum of fuss. Although, that could just be my friends being nice to me, what with it being my wedding day and all).
Half an hour after the ceremony should have started, I turned up at the venue, to be greeted by three very nice registrars (one of them was in training, I think. They definitely told me why, but I had an insistent ‘I’m-really-very-late-let’s-get-this-show-on-the-road’ drumbeat going around in my head, and wasn’t really paying attention). I then turned my attention to four very confused bridesmaids (and one confused maid of honour), wondering as to why they were wearing faux fur in a very nicely heated building.
‘Ohhhhh. Yeah. You can probably take those off. Sorry, I should have said…’
And then it was time for the ceremony to start. A lot of people asked me (read: tried to tell me my way was wrong) why I was going first, and having the bridesmaids follow me, instead of the other way around. While I get what they’re saying, here are a couple of reasons why:
- Traditionally, the bride goes first, and her bridesmaids afterwards. There were lots of non-traditional things about our day, so I wanted to keep one thing. And, most importantly…
- The ceremony room has big double doors that are pushed open before the bride and bridesmaids walk down the aisle. As someone who always wonders if they could have become an actress (for about five minutes, before I remember my crippling stage fright) I wanted my audience…sorry, family and friends…to get a face full of me.
My mum gave me away, and I think she did a ruddy marvellous job of navigating an aisle that was way too small for me, her and The Dress (please note how we’re holding hands. You may think this is sweet, and done for reassurance. It’s actually because there’s way too much tulle for us to get close enough to link arms).
As you’ll see, all the bouquets and buttonholes are paper flowers, chosen because The Boy and I love books (the original plan was to have vintage book pages, although we decided against it in the end), and it means that we’ll have something to keep forever more.
While the bridesmaids all rocked victory rolls, that wouldn’t have looked quite right with the maid of honour’s dress, so she had Veronica Lake-style waves (and yes, I know she’s very pretty, but if one more person who looks at this photo says, ‘Wow, you let her wear that on your wedding day? You’re a very lovely sister’, I will probably punch them quite hard).
I don’t really remember much about the ceremony itself, except that I couldn’t stop looking at The Boy, then smiling, or, indeed, giggling. We changed a few of our vows; one, to include the phrase, ‘Hold hands’, a quote from Doctor Who that we’d included on our invitations and order of service, and the second, ‘It’s dangerous to go alone. Here, take this’, which is a quote from a Legend of Zelda video game. I’ll leave it to you to guess whose idea that one was…
We had two readings, Auden’s Foxtrot from a Play, read beautifully by my brothers, one of whom had broken his shin playing football the week before, and made me feel all warm and fuzzy as he hobbled up the aisle to the front (to be clear, I had offered him the chance to…I want to say step down, but I feel that’s inappropriate…sod it, I can’t think of a better phrase…step down, but he gallantly refused). The second was The Day the Saucers Came, by Neil Gaiman, read with wit, style and panache by one of the ushers. One of my favourite parts of the whole day was his laugh as he got to a particularly tongue-twistery bit and had to start again.
Rings were exchanged, registers signed (interesting note for brides-to-be: you sign your maiden name – the first time I actually signed my married name was when we checked into our hotel room for the night) kisses were had (lucky us, we got to have three, to make sure the photographers got a good shot), and we headed back the way we came, to the sound of ‘Life’s a Happy Song’, from The Muppets. Because if you can’t be yourselves at your wedding…
Then, it was time for mingling. Although we would have loved to talk to everyone before we went to have some photos taken in the grounds, it just wasn’t possible. Weirdly, I didn’t get to talk to any of my parents (I’m now the proud owner of six), or siblings (again, I now have six), until much, much later in the day. But, The Boy and I tried to do as much of our mingling together, so those of you who are planning your own weddings – I know everyone says you won’t see your spouse for most of the day, but it can be done. You just have to try really, really hard!
We also had very few posed photos, having gone with a documentary-style of photography, which gave us a bit more time to catch our breath. One of my favourite parts of that particular part of the day was when The Boy pointed out my honorary bridesmaid wasn’t in our bridal party shots, and shouted at her just as loudly as I did to get in. And when she did, to shuffle her along until she was next to me. We love her a lot, you see, and wanted to make sure she was just as involved as she would have been had her circumstances allowed.
Then, it was time for afternoon tea, and no sooner had I sat down than The Boy passed me present number four (for those of you who missed last week’s post, he was very kindly counting down six presents, to celebrate our sixth anniversary. So far, I had received bath bombs, flowers and a St.Christopher bracelet). Present number four was a beautiful engraved locket, which The Boy explained would contain a photo of us on our wedding day.
We had a lovely chat with one of the waiters, who told us that he’s been doing events at Heatherden Hall for a good few years now, but has never seen afternoon tea for a wedding breakfast; he seemed to be enjoying it.
After a couple of sandwiches and a lot of water (again, people planning their own weddings – you will be talking a LOT, stay hydrated where you can!), I got up to chat to some people. The Boy had thoughtfully provided everyone with a quiz sheet where people had to guess where some of the geekier wedding references were from. Prizes included dinner at ours, lunch at ours, and afternoon tea at ours – we have contacted the winners, so if you haven’t heard from us, I’m afraid you didn’t win on this occasion. But, we still have a lot of cake left, so pop over anyway! Where was I…ah, yes, chatting to people. On some tables, this basically meant ‘giving people answers to the quiz’. While we were tallying up the scores, The Boy couldn’t work out why so many people had put the Olympics as one of the answers, or why I was so adamant he give them the point for it. Guess the cat’s out of the bag now…
Sorry guys, this is taking longer than I thought – 1400 words and we’re not even at the speeches yet! Please, consider this an old-fashioned film intermission. Grab a drink, pop to the loo, just give yourselves a break. Me? I’m going to pop the Sunday roast in the oven.
So, to the speeches! One of the bridesmaids was acting as master of ceremonies, and she did an excellent job – when I did it for one of my friends, I essentially stumbled over my words, and threw the microphone away the first chance I got, but as Christine manoeuvered her way around the room, she made sure she added a few anecdotes to keep people entertained.
First up was my mum, who did a sterling job, especially considering she’d never done a speech before. Her first joke was to say ‘I’ll keep this short’ before unfurling what can only be described as a stack of paper, leaving it to hit the floor. I genuinely hooted with laughter – so much so that everyone started laughing at me. Awkward.
Next up was my dad, who also did a ruddy marvellous job, with lots of the Gavin & Stacey jokes we quote to each other all the time (would you believe I’d never watched any of it, until I went on holiday with him back in 2010? I now know most of the words), which made me laugh a lot.
He handed the microphone back to Christine, who sent it The Boy’s way, and I have to admit to feeling a little bit apprehensive. I hadn’t heard the speech, all I knew was that he was planning on saying something that I might find a bit inappropriate (turns out, it was a mistress of ceremonies joke, which tickled me). He did a beautiful job, and around the time he called me his hero (he’s very lovely like that), I happened to glance at one of my friends, who said, ‘I’ve gone. That’s it.’ I think we can call it a success.
Then, as is tradition, it was the turn of the best men, one of whom is cripplingly shy, and really, really wasn’t keen on a speech. But, up he got, and he absolutely nailed it. He’s a very, very funny man, with impeccable comic timing, and I can’t decide if my favourite part was when he was talking about the ‘bright lights of Waitrose’ – when explaining why he and The Boy left their part-time jobs at the Co-Op, or his conclusion, where he lamented not talking to The Boy 10 years earlier, so, and I quote, ‘I could have enriched his life even more’.
After that was the turn of the other best man, and The Boy’s oldest friend, who also did an amazing job. He reminisced about their younger days, before turning to The Boy’s social media accounts to get some laughs. I’ve never described his culinary ability as that of a cack-handed horse, but now it’s out there…
Once the speeches were over, we had a long break. Some people headed to their hotels to check in or change, others decided to stay, where we’d provided ACTIVITIES! That’s right, we had lots of things to pass the time, and it was such fun!
We had a hot chocolate stand (and, if anyone’s interested in popping over, we have plenty left to go with that cake…), a DIY photobooth complete with cutout dalek (we’ve called him Nigel. I think), Guitar Hero, Mario Kart, and board games, which either led to a particularly vicious or particularly violent game of Ludo between some of my friends, I’m not entirely sure which. Either way, they seemed to enjoy it.
I also picked up an entourage during the break, which made me feel like a famous person. Two of our friends’ children became a bit obsessed with my wedding dress, and I’d turn around to see them straightening my train, or carrying it for me while I was walking around. It was quite possibly one of the cutest things I’ve seen. And I’m not just saying it because they saved me a job.
After a quick go of the sparklers (literal minutes of entertainment), which a surprising number of people seemed to enjoy, despite the drizzly dampness of a February evening, it was time for the evening guests to arrive and the evening shindig to start.
Unfortunately, while I was being re-bustled (or attempting to anyway – it’s a perilous task, undertaken by the maid of honour – brides-to-be, please check how your one works, as mine broke approximately 15 minutes after we first did it), The Boy and I missed our first dance. He came up to me looking slightly panicked, probably terrified I’d cry (he had, after all, seen my overreaction to the lack of real flowers the day before), but I thought it was funny. It all turned out fine – the band played the song again, and the bridesmaids got the memo and brought their partners up to dance after just long enough for people to take photos of us, and we got through it together.
After a bit of cake cutting, and my fifth present of the day (a new charm for my Pandora bracelet; a couple dancing, so I’ll never forget our first dance), it was time to party – oh, how we danced (no, really. One of my friends filmed it).
Weirdly, after complaining that he didn’t want to do a first dance, The Boy then got me up and dancing really quite a lot during the evening, which again meant we got to spend a lot of time together. When I wasn’t singing my heart out to B*Witched or twirling around with my new entourage (at one point, my dress picked up a child’s shoe and transferred it from one side of the dance floor to the other – it’s like all the tulle attracted sparkly things), and he wasn’t jumping around to all the punk rock he’d popped on the playlist, of course.
My highlight of this particular section? I have three. The first was watching my usually impeccably groomed and elegant sister bouncing around with one of our brothers to all the aforementioned punk rock, reminding me that she loved that music just as much as The Boy and his friends did. The second, dancing with all of my very best friends in the whole wide world to B*Witched and the Spice Girls, just like we used to 10, 15 and, for some of us, even 20 years ago. And finally, dancing with all of my work friends to Take That and PJ and Duncan, and discovering that one of my work friend’s boyfriends knows all the words – and the dance – to ‘Let’s Get Ready to Rhumble’.
After a mere 12 hours, which felt more like 12 minutes, it was time for the day to end. My feet hurt, my throat was sore, and one of my stockings was dangling down by my knee, but I still felt like the belle of the ball. If you follow me on social media, you will have seen this photo – taken by our amazing wedding photographers, Lina and Tom – already, but I love it so much that I have to share it again.
We spent the night in The Oakley Court hotel in Windsor (a lovely wedding gift from my dad and step mum), a fantastically quirky place that has little touches like this. Yes, I squealed a bit when I saw it.
Coming up later this week: The Boy’s top wedding moments (he’s done much better than me, and has narrowed it down to 50).