I wasn’t nervous three weeks before our wedding. On the contrary, I didn’t feel much of anything at all. I was so focused on finishing my essays I *almost* forgot about the wedding. Almost. It was like my brain decided it could only stress about one thing at a time and the essays were taking up more than enough headspace. But at the niggly back of my mind I was aware that the wedding was looming. Then three weeks dwindled to two weeks, then single digits. I couldn’t really be getting married in a week could I? People kept asked me how I was feeling. ‘I’m fine, a bit nervous.’ I’d reply because that’s what your meant to say but I didn’t feel anything at all. I kept waiting for the emotion to kick in and boy did it! The plan was to take five days off before the our wedding to finalise some last-minute wedding projects and relax (insert maniacal laughter here).
I felt it in my body first the gradual tightening in my chest until each breath felt constricted. Now, as HWSNBN would tell you if there were gold medals for sleeping I would win. I can sleep anywhere and at anytime, it’s a true skill. But the week before the wedding I started waking earlier and earlier, literally shaking with terror. In my mind I felt OK but my body had other ideas and it was expressing it the only way it knew how. Pure unadulterated terror. My counselling tutor is fond of saving the difference between fear and excitement is a deep breath. But the week before the wedding I felt starved of oxygen.
Tuesday – six days
I was still numb the night we finished work and packed up the car my little car to the brim and set off to Farnham. I ‘d felt glimmers of uncertainty as we left our little flat knowing this was the last time as an unmarried couple. I picked up my wedding dress and hugged my mum and tried not to cry when I realised I wouldn’t see my parents until Sunday, the day before the wedding. We drove to HWSNBN’s mum and dad’s house and by the time we arrived HWSNBN’s mother was asleep with his father was waiting up for us with parcels. I bought up a storm on ebay not only for the wedding but for our minimoon. It felt like Christmas as we opened parcels containing bikinis, chalkboard signs, and my personal highlight: our wedding rings. Not only that but HWSNBN’s father started showing us the card box he created from scratch. I couldn’t believe how wonderful everything looked. Finally after only existing in my fevered imaginings I could see everything together. And it looked wonderful. A little after 1am we crept to bed to see that my future mother in law had decked out the bed in ribbons like some pagan fertility ritual. As I’m called Rowan I nervous I might wake inside a Wicker Man 🙂
Wednesday – five days
The next day I left HWSNBN and his father checking over the final table plans as I saw one of my best friends and her baby. For me, that summed up what our marriage would mean. The fact that HWSNBN looked at me: pale, stressed and just plain knacked; and said just go, I’ve got this. And that I, paranoid editor type, in turn trusted him to do it. I really needed a break with somebody who loved me so I could just be and talk about anything other than weddings. It was utter magic. Babytime heals all wounds, don’t you know?
When I got back to the house HWSNBN and his father had done so much work and everything looked amazing. (Seriously if there is one lesson I learnt from wedding planning it’s when to let go.) Yes, I had the best fiancé in the world and no, you can’t have him.
That evening I went over to (another) best friends house to get my make up and hair done. Seriously, Debs is amazing, get her to do your make up. And hair. And plan your life. Also, I look good in curlers no?
This is when the obsessive checking of BBC weather started. I told myself not to do it. One of the many things you cannot control is if it rains, so don’t worry about it. But I couldn’t help checking daily as the weather turned from hot, to overcast, to torrential downpour. Fuuuuuck.
Thursday – four days
We went out for lunch for HWSNBN’s mother’s birthday and picked up the suits. Saying goodbye to his aunts and uncle was when I started to realise that this was the last time I would see people before the wedding. Eeek. That afternoon with HWSNBN’s sisters invaluable help we poured sweets into jars (it was when we were dusting the sweets with icing sugar so they didn’t stick together that I started to worry we had Gone Too Far. And then I thought, nah.) and organised boxes full of stuff ready to transport to the venue. It was finally starting to feel real. And the stress was kicking in, as I had to remember where everything should go and with what.
Then that evening the sky fell in.
Friday – three days
We drove over to the Elvetham to drop off our wedding stuff and meet the venue staff. Even given that our wedding was DIY free, we had accumulated boxes of wedding crap. It felt like such a relief to have Andrew and the team takeover and let go of the burden of worrying about where everything had to go. In my mind this is one of the huge benefits to a hotel wedding, they do most of the heavy lifting and you don’t have to worry about it. You can let it go. I was so relieved we didn’t have to spend the day before setting up the venue and we had the weekend to ‘relax’. Hah.
That evening I went for a mini hen do with my close friends. We wore creepy peel off face mask. We ate pizza. Did a little magic. And watched this film.
Yes, I have the best friends in the world and no, I’m not sharing them.
Saturday – two days
Otherwise known as the day I went off the reservation. While HWSNBN went off to pick up the cakes with his mother (translation: to escape the bridezilla I had become). That morning I woke certain I needed a fingerprint tree. To his credit my father-in-law did not laugh at me, he did not point out that due to people dropping out at the last-minute he had redone the seating plan four times. Instead within an hour he had drawn up a fingerprint tree and had it printed. Yes, I have the best parent’s in law in the world and no, I’m not sharing them.
That afternoon I got shellac done the first and last of my beauty treatments. We were broke but I wanted vampy red nails, goddamit! Fuck french polish, I’m not changing my style just because its my wedding day.
That evening I was finalising the playlist. It was 10.30pm at night and I realised we hadn’t practised our wedding dance. ‘HWSNBN we had to practice our first dance.’ I called out at which point he hid in a cupboard. I didn’t even bother looking because why would my future husband be hiding in a cupboard. Instead I ran upstairs and cried a lot. I’m not proud of this but there was other stuff going on, I wasn’t sleeping, I had worked to finish wedding shit all week and I had officially Had Enough. HWSNBN came upstairs and said sorry about the cupboard hiding. I said sorry about turning into a crazy person.
Sunday – the day before our wedding
I woke at 7am shaking with terror as HWSNBN held me.
Everything was done, all we could do was count down the hours and survive the limbo until we could check in to the hotel at 4pm. So off we drove HWSNBN and I in one car, his mum, sister and her husband in the other. It was the oddest feeling as soon as I arrived at the Elvetham the night before, the tension started to seep from my bones. It wasn’t so much that wedding zen came over me, more than I got intensely excited. It would all be OK. I knew it the way you know your name and the feel of the ground beneath my feet. Paradoxically, it was now that HWSNBN, who had been calm all week, began to freak out. It was like we had a deal. Only one of us could be nervous at one time and it was FINALLY his turn to be It. As I said goodbye to HWSNBN we both had to fight the urge to cry. We wouldn’t see each other again until I walked down the aisle.
When my parents moved to Brighton mixed in with the happiness/trepidation at them being closer was sadness. We moved to the Farnham house when I was ten so it was never my childhood home. But I lived there longer than anywhere else. Falling asleep in my corner bedroom to the trees creaking I’d dream I was on a ship. When HWSNBN and I started dating I was living there, chafing at being back home after the freedom of University.
In my head when I imagined the morning of our wedding I always saw myself waking up in my old bed staring up at the plastic luminescent stars on the ceiling and knowing that today was the day I was getting married. That did not happen and it was for the best. If I had got ready at home I would have been stressed out trying to find everything. Cramming hair stylists and make up artists in amongst the clutter would have wound me up. I would arrived at the venue hours early worrying that something would happen to delay us en route. For my psychological well-being there was something about the emptiness of a hotel room that I craved, free from any ties to the past.
When I checked in the guy at reception asked me if I wanted to stay in the bridal suite the night before the wedding, for free. ‘Some brides don’t want to stay in the bridal suite without their husband.’ Reader, I was not one of those brides. The bridal suite was the most luxurious room I had ever stayed in with beautiful views over the grounds and space for us all to get ready in. I felt like a princess in my tower room gazing out over my kingdom. I unpacked laying out my jewellery and toiletries for the next day.
My family took me out for a picnic at Waverley Abbey where HWSNBN proposed, where I played growing up and my favourite place in the world. The weather was worsening, it had been raining torrentially all day but as we sat among the ruins and drank champagne it felt blissful to just spend time with my family. Dodging the rain we went out for dinner and back to the Elvetham for a bit of Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. Yes, I have the best family in the world and no, you can’t have them. (Pictured below minus Daddy January who was taking the photo.)
I couldn’t sleep so I sat in that big bed all by myself and surfed the internet. I could hear the music from the other wedding beneath us and the adrenaline was pumping through my system. I called HWSNBN. He couldn’t sleep either and had been taken out by his cousins to the pub. Halfway through our conversation I noticed it was past midnight. ‘We’re getting married today.’ We kept whispering to each other like a promise. It was finally here.
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