20th September: The Big Day...

(First of all, many thanks to everyone who followed the instructions on their invitations.  We both hope you had a fantastic day, as all we really wanted was for everyone to share the day and have a good time, something they could remember for a while to come.  So, if that’s what happened, job done and that’s all the gift we wanted.

On the other hand, many thanks also to all those naughty people who bought us something, or contributed to the honeymoon spending money fund.  All your gifts were thoughtful and appropriate to us, and most gratefully accepted.  We can’t promise exactly which meal or beer or attraction anyone’s euros were spent on specifically, but we can promise you we had a fantastic time.  Of which, more later…)

On my way back into Chelmsford to pick up my flowers, I am irritated by someone behind beeping the traffic lights...  then intrigued by someone who can shout louder than the Rolling Stones cd on my car stereo… and look back to find out it’s Ruth and Steve, on their way to the venue.  Now it feels like the day has really started!

I’m so glad I ordered sandwiches to be sent to the room instead of sitting down to a full lunch, as I’d never have got everything done.  Ruth and I pop the first of my miniature bottles of bubbly and settle down for a natter and a sandwich, before heading back to our respective rooms and showers.  I’m just sitting back down in a very warm room wrapped in a huge thick robe (phew!), with half a glass of champagne and a bag full of make-up, when Garry and Jack turn up with the cameras.  It becomes a lot easier to ignore the camera when, just as I finish with my make-up, Claire arrives to do hers and get changed.  So far, all according to plan! – I feel like I can start to (try to) relax.

April arrives, then Veg with his twelve string acoustic guitar.  We have time for a very quick rehearsal – which, thankfully, April manages better than me (since she’s first up the aisle).  Then it’s time to try and fix the veil and tiara into my hair somehow. (Having seen the photos I think it actually looked rather effective.  Pity I couldn’t see it from the back on the day.)  A quick look back at Garry, who just manages to lift the camera in time to snap a shot (turns out that’s my favourite) and then it’s off to confirm that I’m still the bride who came in to register her intent to marry this hairy guy.   A quick pep talk from the registrars and we get this show on the road.

As we enter the venue, I have a momentary regret for giving in to vanity and not wearing my glasses, as with a veil in front of my myopic peepers, I now find it difficult to even make out shapes of people – and then I decide that, since that will help with the nerves, it’s probably a good decision after all.  Walking up the aisle I grin maniacally at various people who I don’t recognise and who seem vaguely to be grinning back in my direction.  I just hope I didn’t try to greet a wooden beam. 

The main things I remember about the service itself are: being thankful that I remembered to speak my responses loudly and clearly; that Stevie did the same, albeit that he decided to pronounce both t’s at the end of all the names; that I couldn’t at first get the ring onto Stevie’s finger; that everyone played and read perfectly; that we reached the end and I thought ‘oh! It’s the end already!’

As soon as it’s all over, I start to dash off to collect my speech notes, forgetting that the next agenda item is the obligatory photos.  And so many people with so many cameras!  I find the time to worry that my shoes were ruined already because they’re sinking into the grass  (I’m sure I could have endured more than 5½ hours in 4” heels, if only I hadn’t spent most of those hours on my feet, and at least a half hour trying to balance on the grass on the balls of my feet).  The speech was always going to be the most nerve-wracking event of the day for me.  The ceremony itself was a doddle (if also a blur) because, once you’ve stood up in a pub full of your friends and actually proposed to someone – it would probably be bad form to allow the natural conclusion of that act to get the better of you.  I am quite proud of myself for getting through it with barely a blub.

Most of the rest of the day, between the formalities of the ceremony, speeches, photographs, eating (wasn’t that cake a masterpiece?!), etc, pass in a blur of loud music and trying to speak to everyone.  I do remember drinking a lot but not being much affected by it, and everyone tells me how much they’ve enjoyed the day and certain aspects of it.

It is lovely to get back to our room and see that the rose petal fairy has visited, leaving the bed and floor strewn with petals.  She’s also tidied up (I know when we left it did look as though a small hurricane had passed through) and left one of the balloon bouquets on the bed.  Stevie is anxious about the cleaners next day having to hoover and while he had a point – I did really appreciate the thought.  Rather that, frankly, than have either of our cars decorated!

Despite our exhaustion, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know that we do manage to make sure the marriage is fully legal with no remaining impediments…