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Being married: One year

7 Jul

One year ago today, this happened…

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The one thing that everyone asks when you’re a newlywed (I can still say that a year in, right?!) is “does it feel any different?” At first, I’d be quick to reply that it didn’t but actually as the days and months have passed I’ve realised that, actually, it does.

For someone who always tries to write down her feelings and is very rarely short of words, I struggle with the words to describe what being married feels like.

Getting to grips with a new name takes some getting used to. Perhaps I should have gone all teenage girl and practiced my new signature more before the wedding. Training myself to respond when someone refers to me by my new surname is probably the hardest part of all. Especially the Mrs bit. I really don’t get that.

I think I’d always assumed that as soon as I was married, I would transform into a domestic goddess who could cook, bake and clean without so much as breaking a sweat. I’m not a natural in any of these departments and a year after donning a white dress and saying “I will” I am still no better. Before our wedding, D was given a book full of ‘notes for husbands’ and my favourite one is this:

“Don’t judge your wife’s housekeeping by how good your mother is. Your mother has been doing it since before you were born and your wife is just starting.”

So when the pile of ironing is just about to topple over, I’ve burnt the dinner or the cake doesn’t rise (again) I try to remind myself of this. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to swish through a room and feel like I have everything under control. Perhaps.

I’m still not – and wonder if I’ll ever get – used to calling D my husband. Sometimes I hear myself say it in conversation and feel like a kid playing dress up. Although every time I allow myself to believe it, I feel a butterfly or two in my stomach. I do hope that doesn’t go away.

I catch a glimpse of my rings on my finger, especially when they catch the light, and I am transported back to the days I’d slip my Grandma’s jewellery on to see what it would feel like. I do need to learn to put them somewhere safe when I take them off for a shower or to do the dishes, as I have mini heart failure thinking I’ve lost them every time.

D makes me smile all the time. Even when I really want to be mad with him. He tells me I laugh at everything and yes, I am hopeless at keeping a straight face but his ability to do this – even when things get really bad – is one of the main things I love about him.

He teases me about my cheesy taste in music. I fall asleep to his. But somewhere, right in the middle, there’s Les Mis. (I will be in so much trouble for publishing that.)

And really, I guess the main thing is that we’re just better together now. Despite all the little things that wind us up about each other. We spend a lot of time together, but also a lot of time apart. We try and have ‘date nights’ at least once a month, but they often end up being more frequent. D is ashamed by the lack of films I’ve watched and makes me watch random movies with him. I google the plot, lose interest and spend the rest of the film piping up “I knew that was going to happen.” We joke about things that could happen in the future and tease each other about our past. We create completely unrealistic life plans, round-the-world trips and, when we inevitably come crashing down to earth, order pizza.

Coming up to our first anniversary I was told, by someone approaching their 30th, that these first few years are the hardest. You’re still learning how to be together and how to make it all click. Eventually being married will become second nature and it becomes easier. Easier than breathing.

Right now, whatever our future does or doesn’t hold, or whether we’ll ever actually do one of our crazy life plans, I look forward to it. Even the ridiculous films I’ll be forced into watching.

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Our Wedding: The Evening

2 Dec

The room we had at the hotel looked out over the courtyard so we could hear our guests greeting each other and laughing before we could see them!  It was just a short walk to the auditorium where everyone had met around the bar – I wouldn’t have expected anything less from our friends and family!

We really loved our wedding cake and had the topper made especially – making sure to combine D’s love of football and my love of bunting! I always love seeing people’s cakes and when attending evening receptions, you can miss a lot of the traditional bits so we decided to hold the cutting until just before our first dance.

Both of us had been nervous about doing a first dance and had contemplated many times not actually doing one. When that decision was pretty much disregarded by everyone we mentioned it to, we thought we’d bite the bullet and just do it. We danced to ‘Parachutes’ by Train. We knew nobody would know the song and that was fine by us – we sing along to it in the car together and the words are quite special. Now family and friends have downloaded it too and tell us they always smile when it plays. I think Train should pay us some commission!

The first dance felt like it took about 3 hours but finally it was over and the band got started! Our original band had cancelled on us 5 days before the wedding and it took a huge Twitter campaign and help from so many wonderful people who we’d never even met to find another. In the end, and funny how things turn out, it was my old primary school teacher’s husband who came to the rescue with his knowledge of local bands and we just couldn’t thank him enough! Whilst very different to the band we’d originally booked, EK1 were great and kept everyone entertained throughout the night.

I love photos and knew early on that I’d like to use pictures of everyone in the guest book along with their messages. The best and easiest way to do this was to hire a photobooth – it was a massive hit and one of our best wedding spends. The guestbook makes us giggle every time we look through it and the photos will be another fantastic memory.

Everyone who knows me knows my love for sweets – I am never without some pic n mix in my handbag. D has come around to my way of thinking and would sit and eat his way through a bag of chewy sweets in minutes. It wouldn’t be our party if there wasn’t sweets so we filled some jars up with Haribo – which I picked up from the factory shop –, decorated the table with some bunting and we were ready to go. The table was crowded all night, but luckily there were a few jelly babies left over for us the next day!

It always feels like a bit of a cliché to say that my most favourite part of our wedding was just spending it with all of our friends and family. But it really was. There’s not been a single point in our lives, and there probably will never be again, where everyone we love has been in one room. Looking around and seeing it all happen around you and watching different groups of friends getting on so well together is something quite special and I’d never really imagined it to be.

I loved dancing the night away with my girls and I was amazed by the sheer knowledge the lads had of Mcfly and Westlife lyrics! I once read a tweet by Tom from Mcfly which said “Amazing how when you give a bunch of men alcohol they magically know all the words to mcfly songs” – that was our wedding!

In true fairytale style, the clock struck midnight and it was time for us to leave. The rain had held off all day but had decided to throw it down just before we’d left, so dragging my dress back through the courtyard was like my very own trash the dress!

Whilst we went back to our room, drank some leftover champagne and got the dress off (finally, I got breathe normally again!) our friends took it upon themselves to explore Canterbury city centre. The stories we heard the next morning were incredible and should probably never be repeated on my blog…

My tips for future brides? Don’t stress yourself out with the planning and trying to please everybody. For the first couple of months after we got engaged I couldn’t get enough weddings – I was driving even myself crazy debating different ideas. After a while I started to realise that our wedding day would happen regardless of how much money I spent or how stressed I got during the build-up. I wouldn’t change anything about our wedding and that’s exactly what I wanted.

All photos taken by David Whittaker at www.dcwhittaker.com

Our Wedding: The Afternoon

1 Dec

I don’t really remember what Dad and I spoke about in the car on the way to the church, or even if we spoke at all. It’s only a 5 minute journey but I tried really hard to concentrate and just looked out the window watching the village I had grown up in pass by. We drove past some family friends who were walking to the church to watch me arrive with their little girl and I was immediately reminded of the days when I used to do the exact same thing.

We arrived at the church to my smiling bridesmaids. Everyone else was getting more and more giddy around me but I was feeling calm and pretty much just wanted to get going. We were a little early though – about the only time in my life I have been. Even the vicar had said he was willing to bet I’d be late!

I walked up the pathway towards the church gripping my Dad’s hand hard. Everyone else was inside, the vicar told me that D was a nervous wreck which I chose to ignore and that I looked beautiful. And despite the fact I was getting married in a church with so much meaning, I was so pleased that the person marrying us knew me too. I’m sure they tell brides they’re beautiful all the time, but his influence was exactly what I needed.

I remember my friend Phoebe writing in a report of her wedding that for fathers, walking their daughters down the aisle is the most important moment for them after we are born. And I couldn’t get that thought out of my head as I walked through the doorway into the church hearing the music and seeing everybody gathered in front of me. This was a defining moment in my life, but also his and I was so pleased he was there – mainly to hold me up!

Whilst prancing around the dress shop during fittings I was constantly being told to look up and walk slow. I can pretty much guarantee I did neither during my walk up the aisle. I can’t remember much – I remember catching the eye of a friend or two grinning at me and I remember looking down towards D and I remember looking at my shoes (totally against the rules but they were rather lovely!). I deliberately didn’t look at Dad because I knew he’d be in tears and I really didn’t want to set myself off!

The service was beautiful. We’d chosen hymns that we knew and that meant something to us, we’d chosen a reading that adorned the wall in our flat so we were used to seeing it every day and our vicar made everyone feel incredibly relaxed, throwing in a joke or two about D’s football teams. So many people have commented on how our service was actually enjoyable and to be honest, it was down to him making it so accessible for everyone and giving us all the giggles.

So 45 minutes later – I can’t believe it’s so simple – we were married! The walk back up the aisle was pretty similar to going down in that I’m sure I saw more of my shoes than anything else but I couldn’t control the overwhelming urge to just grin the whole way. We’d actually done it.

We decided to make the most of the lovely weather and have some photos taken outside the church with our family and friends. We did our posed photos – for the parents, grandparents and to look back on in 30 years time – now so that when we arrived at the reception venue we could just kick our heels off (literally) and enjoy it all. A confetti shot in the bag (and some in D’s mouth), some family pictures and we were back in the car drinking champagne heading off to the venue 15 minutes away.

We really loved our venue. Situated in the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral, I’d fallen in love with it from the moment I found it on the internet and had loved it even more when we’d been to visit. I’d been here so many times since we made our booking that it never felt our wedding day would actually come. I’d planned everything down to the final degree with the venue coordinator and on the day they did us so proud! Everything was exactly as we’d organised and some bits even better than I’d thought.

We all drank Pimms in the garden overlooking the cathedral. It was a good opportunity to say hello to people and thank people for travelling from all across the country. Our friends’ baby girl stole the show with her winning smile and adorable outfit. My uni girls decided to re-enact photos where they lift me up but perhaps didn’t take into account the weight of my dress (or perhaps the fact I’ve put on a few pounds since uni!) and dropped me onto the floor. I found it hilarious and the photos are so ‘us’.

We’d decided to split the speeches up, with D welcoming everyone before our meal and the best man and my Dad doing theirs after we’d eaten. The food was gorgeous – we’d not had chance to sample the menu so we were very lucky they got it spot on – and the speeches were even better. We’d decided not to get a videographer (and that was the right decision for us) but we’d asked a guest to film the speeches for us on their video camera and I’m so glad we have them to look back on. Although D hates to watch his back!

Leaving our guests settled at their tables with extra bottles of wine, we decided to make the most of our historic venue and ventured out into Canterbury Cathedral to have some photos taken. It was the most perfect place to have a photo shoot – even with the added extra of tourists staring at you in the background.

Before we knew it, it was time for a quick hair and make-up touch up before heading down into the auditorium for the reception to greet our evening guests.

All photos taken by David Whittaker at www.dcwhittaker.com

Our Wedding: The Morning

30 Nov

Whilst in a world of my own the night before I’d set my alarm for a weekday so it hadn’t actually gone off on the Saturday as planned. I woke up to Mum knocking on my door and the cat asleep by my feet – for a moment I felt like I was 15 again and late for school. Feeling a bit groggy, it took me a few minutes to remember that today was going to be a big day. It also turns out that I was the only one who had slept well that night, there’s something good to be said for medication!

My sister was beside herself with excitement as she handed me a cup of tea and told me to get dressed for the hairdressers. Rolling into the hairdressers at 8:30am on a Saturday is not something I’ll be repeating again (with the exception of other people’s weddings if required). As I no longer live in the area I was at a loss of what to do, luckily Mum grabbed the idea and booked us all in to her usual salon – bridesmaids included! It was such a lovely way to start the day with everyone together, laughing and joking. I wanted to let the girls decide how to have their hair and by some random twist of fate, they all chose the same style – impressive! As I sat having my hair twisted and pinned up, I scrolled through the many texts that were coming through to my phone and laughed along with everyone. Even when Hairdresser Sarah wedged my veil hard into the back of my head it still didn’t feel like it was actually my wedding day. Playing dress-up anyone?

It seems wandering through the streets of Canterbury complete with swanky hair and a veil at 10am on Saturday generates rather a lot of attention. From people staring as they walked past and others yelling ‘congratulations’ from the other side of the street, I was already starting to feel my tummy flip at being the centre of attention. I’m not very good at it, preferring to let others take centre stage and just watch from the background.

I’m pretty hopeless with make-up and just don’t make enough time to experiment so I knew there was no chance of me doing it myself. However, one of my sister’s best friends is a make-up artist and saved the day. She made me up so beautifully that it stayed perfect all day – she was also around later on to make sure I touched up my lipstick before the photos!

From this point, I don’t think my feet touched the ground for the rest of the day.

Dad was sent to the supermarket for drinks and snacks – returning with arms full of yummy sandwiches and cakes. He was then sent to my uncle’s to get ready whilst us girls flitted around the house in a haze of (more) hairspray and enough makeup to fill the counter in Boots. The girls wriggled zips and hips getting each other into their dresses, they were a little on the snug side thanks to the ‘pull me in’ waistband and corset top. And the florist arrived with the flowers – and oh, did they arrive!

I had been rather demanding about what the bouquets looked like. I have always loved hydrangeas and wanted white ones for my bouquet and yellow for the bridesmaids – turns out yellow hydrangeas don’t exist (who knew?!) so we compromised and went for something else instead. I still don’t know what they were! My main request was that my bouquet was ‘bigger than my head’ and the florist had promised it would be. When they arrived at the front door, the flowers were just the right size and more beautiful than I had imagined they would be.

There was also a separate delivery of flowers complete with a little note card. It was from D! We had spoken about not buying each other wedding gifts and treating ourselves to something lovely whilst on our honeymoon, but he had arranged for flowers to be sent and the note inside the card was just perfect. It was only really then that I felt truly excited – not so much about the wedding, although that was huge, but about marrying D.  (I know, that’s a bit soppy but this is a wedding – what did you expect?)

After giving bridesmaids and mother of the bride gifts out, it was time to put on my dress. My dress I’d bought over a year earlier. My dress I’d been planning in my head since I was a little girl.  Mum and my sister had had a little practice with the corset and buttons so we knew what to expect and in actual fact they pulled me into that thing quicker than I’d anticipated. Breathing was no longer an option!

Just time for a quick photo session in the garden with Photographer Dave, who had already captured some hilarious photos of the girls squeezing into their dresses. The cat decided she wanted to get in on the wedding dress action and poked a paw affectionately at the train – I don’t think she quite knew what on earth was going on and what I was doing in her patch of garden dressed up to the nines.

We were finally all dressed – getting 6 girls ready for a wedding in a house with one bathroom is no mean feat I tell you! Then Dad walked in. The only thing that gets him choked up is his babies (and perhaps a football game or two) so I knew he’d be emotional. He just said “wow” to me with tears in his eyes and it was all I could do to not really look directly at anyone so that I didn’t cry – it’s not my best face!

The cars arrived. Last minute bits were thrown in the back of Photographer Dave’s car to take to the venue for later. The girls got into their car and held up a double decker bus whilst we got the photos they wanted – “I’m sorry you’ll just have to wait, mate”. Then I climbed in, with Dad and the driver throwing armfuls of dress in after me – and then we were off. 30 minutes to go.

All photos taken by David Whittaker at www.dcwhittaker.com

Our Wedding: The Day Before

28 Nov

The day before the wedding was a total blur. After having a little sleep in, I went for lunch with my parents and sister before heading to the venue to get everything set up and decorated. As we hung bunting and fairy lights around the room, more and more guests started arriving. It seemed that every time I turned around another familiar face appeared with a hug. We were lucky that the weather was on our side and lots of our friends and family took up their spot in beer gardens nearby which was a great start to the weekend!

With the main room decorated and everything ready to go for the morning, we were due to go to the church for rehearsals. Throughout wedding planning I’d been (mostly) relaxed about the whole thing. I had a very good team of helpers in the background keeping me on track and helping me make decisions when I was struggling. However, that evening at the church was when I had my little ‘bridezilla’ moment and got very frustrated. I don’t know if it was nerves or the result of being asked questions all day – probably a combination of the two – but I just felt that I’d had enough! I actually felt better after my little diva strop and I don’t think many people heard my “but it’s my wedding, I don’t care what everyone else wants” meltdown. And if they did, hopefully they’ll understand I didn’t really mean it.

I wasn’t prepared for the rehearsal to be some emotional. The church we’d chosen for our wedding has been an important part of my life and our family forever. I was christened there, my parents were married there and I spent many childhood years pretending to sing Christmas carols in tune there. As a little girl I’d wait outside weddings with my Nan and collect all the confetti that had been left behind into a basket. There was never any doubt that was where I wanted to be married but being there the day before our wedding with my future husband, our families and friends who had travelled so far to be there a wave of ‘wow, this is really happening’ hit me. Our vicar is also incredible. He’s pretty much the opposite to the kind of guy you expect a vicar to be, right down to the football emblem emblazoned on his robes. We knew right away he was the exact right person to marry us as he chatted to D about the upcoming football season and making jokes.

After the rehearsal, D headed back into town with his friends and family for dinner. My girls also took themselves off for a hen party catch-up and I went for dinner in our local pub with my sister and our parents. It was my sister’s birthday and I had specifically requested we have a meal just the four of us – it felt almost symbolic that we spent this night together before I started my own little family. And whilst I know that I will always be their daughter and sister and there will be more dinners with just us four, it was something we were all really keen to do.

In the end, I couldn’t even finish my dinner. I was so tired after the events of the day and my brain was awash with everything. Wondering if everything had been organised properly for the morning and wondering what on earth I was actually feeling. So it was straight home, straight to bed and after taking my medication I found myself passed out fast asleep. Ready for tomorrow.

Becoming a Wife – 1 week to go

30 Jun

At this very moment in exactly 7 days, I will be a Mrs. As I write this I am listening to the playlist we have put together for our wedding breakfast and in exactly 7 days we will be listening to the exact same playlist in a room full of our favourite people in the world. Am I nervous? Not at all. Am I excited? Not really. At this moment in time I don’t think there’s a word to describe how I feel about it all. I’m feeling quite relaxed about it all – relaxed about the plans coming together and, most importantly, relaxed about the ‘forever’ part.

During the Jubilee, I watched a documentary about the Queen and they read a letter she had written on her honeymoon following her wedding to Prince Phillip. One of the lines in it I will never forget;

“There is no strangeness between us and it feels as if we have belonged to each other for years.”

I don’t think there’s anything more you could ask of a marriage in the early days and decades later. I hope that D and I continue to feel like this years into ours.

I’m surrounded by wedding bits and pieces. A big basket full to the brim of things that need to be transported to the venue. A guest list that appears to be growing by the day and the most wonderful dress hung up waiting to be worn. And, right now, it feels that everything is coming together. All the plans and ideas I had at the very beginning are starting to make sense – and some may have fallen by the wayside. And for all the time and effort we’ve put into them, they will be very lovely. But right now, the most important thing is the legal bit, the “I do” bit and the becoming Mrs W bit.

I like that very much.

(Although I can’t blooming wait to wear my dress…)

To the future and “that’s it” – a wedding post

30 Apr

One of my best friends got married this weekend. We have been friends since the first year of secondary school, now 14 years ago. Despite all the excitement in the run up to my own wedding, despite having my own home and a ‘proper’ job I don’t think it ever really occurred to me how grown up we all are until I saw her walk down the aisle and say her vows to her new husband.

Everything had been planned to the last detail. The orders of service adorned beautifully with a photo of the two of them, readings chosen carefully and a marquee set up in her parents garden complete with touches of her favourite colour. There wasn’t a thing that could have been done differently for them, except banishing the incessant rain that fell all day. But in the end even that didn’t matter because we all spent the afternoon chatting and the evening dancing the night away despite being covered in mud and the very real possibility of our cars wheel spinning on the muddy field at the end. They did and we all got a bit stuck for a little while but it just added to the fun spirit of the day.

In the middle of busting out our best dance moves that we have spent 14 years perfecting, I asked my friend whether she’d had a lovely day. To which she replied, “it’s all about all our favourite people being in the same place at the same time enjoying themselves. That’s all I wanted”. And I don’t think that thought ever really occurs to you until you take a step back on your own wedding day and watch it all happening around you. It’s so easy to get caught up in the detail and the stress of the table plans, that suddenly you find yourself wishing it all away and counting down the days until it’s here – not just so you can get married, but so you don’t have to plan it anymore!

I’ll admit that over the last few weeks I’ve wished this time away and wanted it to be over, but as my friend was leaving she hugged me and said, “it’ll be you next and I look forward to it very much”. Whilst in the midst of preparing to say my vows to D and trying not to get bogged down with everyone elses opinions, it did me the world of good to go to her wedding, hear her say those things and see what it is all really about. The marriage, the future and, as my lovely friend drunkenly said at her hen party, “that’s it”.

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