A slight disclaimer: it has taken me a long time (over a month) to write these posts. My wedding day was the most perfect day of my life, and putting that down in words is – especially for someone like me, who can be a bit of a perfectionist – extremely difficult. I’m still not sure I’ve done it justice, but nevertheless, I want to post something to capture the day in my own words. So let’s go back in time.
- 25.09.15 -
- 8 a m -
The days leading up to my wedding are a stressy, hazy-happy blur. We spent the night before at a local pub with our friends and family; Ian forgot to order me any dinner (great start!) and I felt so excited and overwhelmed that I couldn’t even drink wine, which is extremely unlike me!
I woke up around 8am on my wedding day. I slept appallingly badly, waking up every five minutes and feeling like my skin was burning (I was completely convinced I was going to get meningitis and would spend my big day in a hospital bed – completely rational and normal, as ever!) so it was actually a relief to get up in the morning, although I was still shattered.
I got ready at home – I had always imagined getting ready for my wedding day in my bedroom. I was so glad it worked out that way because it was lovely.
I ran downstairs to see my parents shouting ‘It’s my wedding day!’ My mum had made me a little heart shaped sign for my door, which was the first thing I saw in the morning, and bought me a special hanger for my dress.
I wish I could put into words how unfailingly amazing my beautiful, selfless, unconditionally loving mother has been throughout this experience. She has gone out of her way at every turn to make the wedding perfect for me, even though I’m a snappy, stressed-out, hypochondriac, ungrateful daughter and I don’t deserve it at all. (I’m crying a little bit writing this!) All I can say is that I couldn’t have done the wedding without her and that all the little touches – the sixpence for my shoe, the garter, the box of flowers and herbs she made, the little decorations for the barn – the way she kept telling me it was her little treat – made the day a hundred times more special than it would otherwise have been. And she looked so beautiful on the day. I was so proud of her.
- 9 a m -
My parents had put on a spread of food in the kitchen for my (many) bridesmaids and I ran about the house excitedly, not doing very much of anything and eventually wasting enough time to get into the shower. I’d forgotten to bring any decent shampoo and conditioner home, so washed my hair with whatever was in there – Herbal Essences, I think! – and then dried it while my phone buzzed endlessly with lovely happy messages of good luck and congratulations.
My make up artist, the absolutely gorgeous Vicky, arrived, and my six bridesmaids started to trickle in, and soon the house was full of happy chatter and laughter and the fizz of Prosecco in glasses. I’d bought the girls robes and necklaces as little gifts and we all put them on to get ready in. My mum set up our dining room as make up central, and my dad wandered about in the background, offering people croissants and Prosecco. I ate a croissant and a scone and then immediately regretted it – I felt so sick!
A big glass of water helped as I sat for my make up, but I still didn’t expect to feel quite so overwhelmed. I can’t really describe the feeling – the most excited and nervous and just everything that I have ever been. I thought it would just be like being at someone else’s wedding, but it really isn’t – nothing can prepare you for it. I just couldn’t quite get my head around the fact that it was my wedding day!
- 11 a m -
Once I was made up and my hair was done (which I loved so much that seeing it actually made me cry – I’d been so worried about my hair, and I adored it on the day) we had a little bit of time so the photographer took some photos of us in the back garden. We were so lucky with the weather – it was September but it was the most beautiful summer’s day. I had so much fun messing about with my friends, sipping Prosecco nervously.
And then my Dad came out in his suit and he looked so sweet and so much just like my Dad – my lovely, kind, wise Daddy – that I burst into tears. And that made my sister cry. We were all emotional wrecks, basically.
- 1 2 p m -
When the crying stopped, I went upstairs to get changed into my wedding dress. This was probably the hardest bit of the day, because I was so nervous and shaky and my Mum and sister corseted me in, and it just felt so tight that I really thought I was going to faint or be sick. I was so stressed out at that point that I just wasn’t thinking rationally – all I could think was ‘I can’t wear this all day!’
So thank god the beautician had loads of experiences with dresses and let it out for me. I was so sure I was going to be sick, though!
The bridesmaids and my Mum left, and I just had time to make a few final adjustments to my hair and go to the loo –my first experience of doing so in the dress, which was fun, haha! The car had arrived – we had a Rolls Royce Phantom with an open top, one of only two in the world, and I just couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. We ummed and aahed over the necessity of getting a classic car, but in the end my dreams of being a princess for the day won out, and we went for it. I couldn’t be more glad we did. I couldn’t be more glad of anything about my wedding, really.
We went out and down the drive, my Dad helping me hold my dress, and some of the neighbours had come out to wish me well. One of them told me I look beautiful – I’ll always remember that. I said tearily ‘Do I? Are you sure?’ And she said yes, and that made me feel better!
- 1 2 . 4 0 p m -
I don’t remember what I said to my Dad on that drive to the church. Only that the sun was shining so brightly and everyone was looking at the car and that I felt so happy I thought that my heart might burst with it. I kept trying to tell myself ‘hold onto this, Catherine. Hold onto it because you’ll only ever do it once.’
- 1 2 . 5 0 p m -
I got married at St Mary’s, my absolutely beautiful local church, in Ware, where I’ve lived my whole life. We pulled up at the church – the driver was a bit eccentric and completely ignored my instructions to drive round the side, instead flying up the driveway –for a hideous moment I thought he was going to crash through the church doors! This fully alarmed the church warden, who went mad – apparently we’ve been the talk of the church ever since – oh dear. One of my friends brought her baby girl out and she handed me a horseshoe for good luck, which made me cry AGAIN because it was all just so lovely and perfect.
My sister lifted my dress up and we went round to the side where I would walk in. The bridesmaids quickly shoved me out of the way so no one could see me!
I remember them walking down and standing in this patch of sunlight with my Dad and just very briefly glancing behind me, at this town, this place I have lived – loved, and loathed, and left, and missed, and returned and left again. Where I made my first friends and my first enemies, fell in love and out of it, where I got drunk and stumbled home, where I’ve worked and sulked and studied and cried on benches and eaten chips in the park, birthdays and Christmas days, happy days and sad days and now, my wedding day. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else in the world.
‘Go slowly,’ my dad said, ‘And enjoy it – you only get to do this once.’
- 1 p m -
And with that, we went into the church.