The most expensive meal I never ate
Wedding days are subject to their own peculiar time zone. The morning drags, each minute ticking by ponderously but as soon as you are married time seems to speed up. Before I knew it, the clock had struck midnight and it was time for bed.
Let me take you back (cue wiggly lines) to after the ceremony when you left us dearest reader we had just been declared man and wife.
We did it
After the ceremony we went outside to stare at each other and have a ‘We just did that’ moment. It was very intimate moment just me, HWSNBN and Jamie our photographer, Andrew the day of co-ordinator and our Pimms guy. Yes, there was a guy whose only job was to follow us around with a tray of Pimms. We’d be walking in the middle of this emerald green lawn and out of the corner of my eye I would spy the Pimms guy lurking like a stalker who brings your own alcohol. I loved him. Even now I still get nostalgia that I can’t have a Pimms guys in my everyday life. Meanwhile everybody else was lining up armed with confetti.
Running the confetti gauntlet
Earlier I had bargained with god: if it rained please let it be sunny at 2.30pm so we could do the confetti run. Well the rain held off and the confetti gauntlet was every bit as wonderful as I expected. When I got to the end of the gauntlet I wanted to turn around and do it again. In practically every photo I am grinning with such delight it’s a wonder I didn’t swallow the confetti. For me it was a bit like that scene in Edward Scissorhands where Kim dances in the snow created by Edward’s snow sculpture
HWSNBN on the other hand was experiencing something different. He got pelted in the eye, confetti in his ear, and hated every moment. In all the photos he looks like his internal monologue is more Arnie from Predators ‘Get to the Choppa’
For the rest of the day when I walked little puffs of confetti would waft up from the inside of my dress like brightly coloured clouds.
Group photos and why everybody hates them
The confetti bliss couldn’t last as it was time for the group photos. Here’s the thing: everybody hates group photos. The bride and groom hate them because they get smile fatigue (it’s a thing, google it) and have to be in all the photos forgoing drinking alcohol and peeing. Guests hate them because you have to wait an hour to be photographed for a minute or two. And the photographer hates them because the more people you have in the shot the more chance somebody is a) blinking b) pulling a silly expression c) doing both at the same time.
The hell that is group photos was only increased as I saw the black clouds gathering. Some of HWSNBN cousins wandered off when where doing his side of the family so we had to redo those shots. Which convinced my mum that his family were getting more photos. Cue WWIII as mum started to promise our family that we shoot them again, just as we were trying to get some shots of me and HWSNBN. We managed to get about ten shots before the heavens opened. These unposed shots are still some of my favourites of the day. So even if rains on your wedding day Alanis, it won’t matter.
We went back inside and with Jamie covering for us, snuck upstairs for fifteen minutes alone to let the impact sink in.
Then before we got everybody in our day of coordinator showed me the Library. There were the piles of books I had carefully hand picked for each guests. The penguin book postcard and personalised menu’s marking each seat. The herbs cultivated in my parents garden bursts of green at the centres of each table. And then each table named after some of our favourite books with a cover on one side and a quote on the other. It was the first time I had seen it finished and it looked amazing.
The line up
You try to invite everybody you can to your wedding. And if you try really hard you will maybe talk to them for about a minute maybe two if you are lucky. Then you will spend the next month feeling guilty about all the conversations you did not have. The wedding line up was our way of at least guaranteeing we got to say something to the day guests. It felt a bit egotistical. Even though I knew that little under a hundred people weren’t queuing to hug me while I awkwardly blabber at them but rather are queuing for their food and drink. I felt a weird pressure to make it worth their while. Keep the conversation specific, targeted I told myself but make people feel comfortable. But if awkward conversation was an Olympic sport I would win gold, silver and bronze. Let’s take this not awkward at all exchange with HSWNSBN’S cousin and her new boyfriend. As HWSNBN cousin hugged me I said ‘Nice to finally meet you Steve, I’ve heard so much about you.’ Then I turned to Steve and said ‘Mel. You look stunning.’ like an android bride whose circuits are slowly fried. AWKWARD. In my defence, I was standing next to the sweetie table and I had last eaten four hours ago. And the only sweetie I managed to snaffle was a lonely flying saucer. I needed sugar stat.
Once everybody was seated and then had all gone to the loo and then was seated again. (By this point I was ready to stab somebody for some food.) We were introduced as the new Mr and Ms (yay feminism) double barrelled name and ushered in the Library for the wedding breakfast. A term that always confuses me if there isn’t toast is it still breakfast? I think the reason I am smiling so hard is because I finally get to eat something other than a flying saucer. Yummy but hardly nutritious. I’ve talked before about how I had to get my dress loosened mid meal to make more room but even after that I barely ate or drank a thing. A fact my dad found completely baffling. ‘Are you sure you don’t want a drink?’ ‘Wine, have some wine.’ ‘Go on, have a drink.’ It was like Mrs Doyle out of Father Ted except instead of tea it was alcohol. But I’d made a decision I didn’t want to get drunk. I really wanted to remember every moment of the wedding day. Afterwards I almost regretted it. I should have got trolleyed, I’d think wistfully imagining some other gaily laughing version of me then I remembered that I become a sleepy dormouse when I drink and narcoleptic bride is not a good look. So I got over it. In the end I drank half a glass of Pimms, a glass of champagne, a cup of tea, two red bulls and a shot of tequila. ROCK AND ROLL, not!
Speeches and sekrits
We cut the cake before the speeches. Or rather I tried to cut the cake while HWSNBN tried to take the knife away from me. I am not to be trusted around sharp implements.
My dad’s speech was lovely. Heartfelt, funny and full of random facts so very him. But I was so nervous about my speech I had to keep it together.
Then my mum read from the Prophet which gave me my favourite photo of my parents ever. I just love the way he is holding the mike out to her and she like a queen just accepts it as her due.
Then it was my turn. HSWNBN hates speaking in public so we decided I would do a speech on behalf of me and my new husband. Cue massive cheer from the crowd. I am not a natural public speaker (see Olympics of awkwardness above). So I decided to share the awkwardness and make everybody I thanked stand up to accept their applause and toasts. Awkwardness all round. I held it together until it came time to thank HWSNBN. What I wanted to say was: ‘HWSNBN I can’t possibly express what you mean to me. I promise to spend the rest of my life telling you exactly how much I love you’. What I actually said was: ‘HWSNBN I can’t’ Sob ‘I can’t even’ sobs. ‘I love you’ sobs. It was time to let go of the now soggy microphone and let the best man speak.
All throughout the meal I had been looking at the two suspicious screens placed at the end of the room. I had overheard whisperings of a top sekrit project HWSNBN sister, her husband and Mr Putt had been working on. So when they started playing a slideshow of me and HWSNBN I sat back confident I had guessed the surprise.
I was wrong not only was there an awesome love-themed film mash-up. This was then followed by an Axis of Awesome How to Write a Love Song tribute video.
Sub-titled the video that almost made me pee my pants. It much have taken so much work and it was amazing.
After coffee we snuck outside to take some photos of just me and HWSNBN frolicking and trying not to look embarrassed at the camera. Before we went back in to greet our evening guests and do our first dance.
Then it was time for our first dance or the awkward swaying portion of this evening. I have seen some amazing first dances where people move as if they belong together. Our first dance was not like that. Instead we shuffled around the dancefloor looking like two bears dancing. I think the expression on my face says it all. At this point I was begging people to join us on the dancefloor. They ignored me because they are mean.
Back when HWSNBN and I were still long distance many years ago, I listened to this song on repeat. Loving him was like breathing: I had no choice about it. I still love this song even after hearing it murdered by an Egyptian French singer on a casio on our first night of honeymoon.
I spent the evening trying to talk to as many guests and possible and alternatively dancing like an eejit with my sister. We literally cleared the dancefloor with our mad twirling but I didn’t care. It was my party I was going to dance like an idiot if I wanted to. Our lovely friend Martyn brilliantly kept the tunes coming. Even stopping a mini revolution when my dad started stropping at midnight. By this point in the evening I had started running on empty. I was still moving but all of the adrenaline had left my system. So much so that a friend after hugging me had to tell me to go and put a wrap on. Yes, like a toddler I needed to be told to wear something warm.
Having a quick pee break with my bestie I spied a harvest moon rising. I ran downstairs determined to find my husband. ‘I’m kidnapping you.’ I said pulling him off across the lawn until we stood in the shadow of the old Oak watching the mist rolling in across the fields. And together, bathed in the light of the moon we danced to the hushed music and the sound of our friends and family laughing. It was a perfect moment strung in day full of them.
It was time to bid everybody goodnight. Then say goodnight again as they all forgot because they were so drunk. One of our friends even tried to go to bed in a cupboard and others who shall rename nameless behaved very disreputably indeed.
We stole upstairs to our suite. There waiting for us was a bottle of champagne courtesy of the venue and a plate of cake. I had read in a wedding magazine somewhere that you should ask the venue to send you up some slices of cake. Best idea ever I thought as I scoffed cake as a post midnight snack. ‘I wish I’d done that with the hamburgers’ HWSNBN said mournfully. We took a bath together in the Olympic sized pool bath and then went to bed. I was too hyped to sleep. I would blame it on the day but I think it might have been the red bull. We talked until the wee hours. ‘Didn’t you think it was funny when?’ ‘Did you notice?’ Until finally HWSNBN said ‘Go to sleep wife.’ And then finally I did.
I knew going in to the wedding that I would be filled with such love and gratitude for HWSNBN. But I was blessed by the kindness of our friends and family, more than I could ever repay. Thanks for everybody who helped out with our big day. To all our lovely guests who shared in our happiness. And finally for you dearest reader for staying with me on this journey into matrimony, for reading my blog posts and for all your comments. I have treasured each and every one.