My Wedding - - PLANNING -

One of my clear­est mem­o­ries from my own wed­ding is stand­ing alone in the bri­dal suite, af­ter ev­ery­one else had gone to church, and be­ing hit by an at­tack of nerves. Not be­cause I had any doubts about get­ting mar­ried, or about the man I was mar­ry­ing, but be­cause I had sud­denly re­alised that I was about to be­come the cen­tre of at­ten­tion, with all eyes on me as I walked down the aisle.

We all in­vest so much thought and ef­fort into plan­ning our big day that we don’t stop to think how it will ac­tu­ally feel to be a bride. Cer­tainly, if you’re not used to find­ing your­self in the spot­light, sud­denly be­com­ing the fo­cus of ev­ery­one’s hap­pi­ness, along with your new hus­band, can be a lit­tle over­whelm­ing.

No­body can pre­dict how he or she is go­ing to re­spond emo­tion­ally. My friend Nikki – a tough, no non­sense prison of­fi­cer by trade – was vis­i­bly shak­ing, al­most in tears and cling­ing onto her fa­ther for all she was worth as she made her way to­wards the al­tar, while my friend Caro­line, af­ter ten years of pa­tiently wait­ing for her mo­ment, prac­ti­cally sprinted to­wards her fu­ture hus­band!

And it’s not just you that will be bat­tling with a range of emo­tions. For my own hus­band, who hates be­ing fussed over and hav­ing his photo taken, the day brought its own set of chal­lenges. While at the time I thought his re­fusal to let go of my hand through­out the ser­vice was his way of calm­ing my nerves, I now re­alise it was to also steady his own.

It’s im­por­tant to ac­cept from the start that not ev­ery­thing over the course of the day is go­ing to go ac­cord­ingly to plan. The flower girl might not want to walk ahead of you scat­ter­ing rose petals, the per­son do­ing a read­ing may stum­ble over their words and the or­gan­ist might hit a wrong note or two. How­ever thor­ough your prepa­ra­tions, you sim­ply can­not con­trol ev­ery­thing.

In our case, I didn’t sleep a wink the night be­fore as I was so ex­cited, my hus­band locked him­self out of our flat in the process of get­ting dressed and my hair and make-up artist ar­rived so early that I barely had time to grab two mouth­fuls of break­fast be­fore dash­ing up to my room to get ready!

Equally, some of the things that were en­tirely out of your hands from the start will sur­prise and de­light you. We got mar­ried dur­ing one of the wettest sum­mers on record and, when I opened the cur­tains on the morn­ing of the wed­ding, the sky was dark and brood­ing. As the day pro­gressed though the sun came burst­ing through the clouds and we en­joyed the best weather of that en­tire year. So much so that the pho­tos of the evening do show­case a col­lec­tion of ever red­der faces! I’d also been wor­ried about my Dad’s speech as he has lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence of pub­lic speak­ing and isn’t en­tirely at ease at big so­cial events, but it was ab­so­lutely bril­liant – touch­ing, funny and a great way to wel­come all our guests.

While it’s nat­u­ral to want to play the per­fect host­ess, don’t feel un­der pres­sure to do so at the ex­pense of your own en­joy­ment of the day. It’s some­one else’s job to en­sure peo­ple know where they are go­ing, have am­ple food and drink and make it safely to bed at the end of the evening. That’s what you have ush­ers, a best man, brides­maids and the staff at your venue for. I will con­fess though to in­sist­ing on check­ing the re­cep­tion room be­fore I left for church to en­sure it had been laid out ex­actly how I’d asked it to be, but then, I am the ul­ti­mate per­fec­tion­ist!

Al­though your wed­ding doesn’t come with a script, there will be mo­ments that you have an­tic­i­pated ever since you got en­gaged. It might be what your fa­ther says on see­ing his lit­tle girl dressed as a bride, it might be the look on your fi­ancé’s face as you walk down the aisle or it might be the re­ac­tion of your guests to the line ‘I now pro­nounce you hus­band and wife’. Just re­mem­ber that th­ese might not play out ex­actly how you imag­ined them and that even though some­one might not ar­tic­u­late their emo­tions in the way you’d hoped, it doesn’t mean they aren’t feel­ing them.

A stand­out fea­ture of the day, which ev­ery­one warns you about but you don’t fully ap­pre­ci­ate un­til it’s your own wed­ding, is that it all goes by so fast. We there­fore de­lib­er­ately chose to have an early cer­e­mony so we had as much time af­ter­wards as pos­si­ble to cel­e­brate with our guests. We also stole mo­ments here and there, just the two of us, so we could drink in ev­ery­thing that was hap­pen­ing and share how we were feel­ing.

One item on the sched­ule that can be highly un­pre­dictable is photography. Even though we’d se­lected a pho­tog­ra­pher with a rel­a­tively re­laxed style so we weren’t hav­ing for­mal pho­tos taken for hours on end, the process still took far longer than we thought. I don’t re­gret it, as we have some won­der­ful im­ages, but you do need to al­low for this and to ac­cept that you might be away from your guests for some time, es­pe­cially if bad weather com­pli­cates the sit­u­a­tion.

And, while you might only just have be­come hus­band and wife, don’t be sur­prised if, in and amongst the con­fetti, cake cut­ting and first dance, talk turns to the pit­ter pat­ter of tiny feet. We’d barely made it out of the church be­fore peo­ple were ask­ing us when a baby would be ar­riv­ing, so the pair of you might want to have a few witty re­torts up your sleeve!

Fi­nally, peo­ple say that their wed­ding day was the best day of their lives for a rea­son. You’re com­mit­ting to spend­ing the rest of your life with your soul mate, sur­rounded by the peo­ple you love most in the world – cher­ish ev­ery sin­gle minute!

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