May 2000 – 15th July, 1pm at St Nicolas Church, Strood
My best man slept in the lounge on the sofa bed (snoring like you wouldn’t believe). I gave one usher (Stuart) my bed and the other usher (my brother Adam) slept in my step-daughter’s room. The phone rang at 8.15am – the alarm call from my mother-in-law to be.
I ‘ve never been nervous in my life, but from the minute I woke, I was so nervous it was unreal! I was just so worried about something going wrong.
One by one, the four of us started to get ready. Once we were sorted, I loaded the car up with various things. I’d put my cravat on the table in the lounge, but it took me 20 minutes to find it! After that panic, we left.
I listened to the traffic reports on the radio. ‘The A249 suffering two miles of traffic’…’The M2 has tailbacks for four miles because of roadworks. My heart stopped and I was sweating! They were the two roads I had to travel down and it sounded like the 45-minute drive would become a three-hour drive. I passed the A249…phew, the traffic jam was further on. While driving down the M2 Stuart asked whether I was OK. Stuart and I are rarely friendly like that, we have too much banter, but this was the one occasion where he could see I was worrying in a big way. I simply answered, ‘No’.
There wasn’t a sound inside the car. The other three didn’t know what to say to ease me and I wasn’t in the mood for chat. We had an hour left and the radio said there was miles of traffic on this road – it sounded like this would add two hours or so onto the journey. But, fortunatly the jame on the M2 was further on and we got to the church in plenty of time!
Panic struck again when Stuart’s mobile rang! My family was traveling down from London on a coach. They’d got to Kent without a problem, but were lost!!! More sweat, my heart thumped.
It turned out they were five minutes away and I told my mother on the phone the way to the parking area for the coach. Great, they are five minutes away and we have 45 minutes left. 10 minutes pass, then 15, then 20. I tried calling my mother to find out where everyone was… No answer! I called my aunt’s mobile…No answer. My dad?…No answer!!! There was now 15 minutes left and Donna’s guests were here, but my lot weren’t.
The shakes, a cold sweat, the feeling that I swallowed a tank happened all at once. I must have cleared a pack of cigarettes within an hour! Ten minutes left and Stuart’s phone rang. Everyone was on their way down the road…..THEY HAD GONE FOR A QUICK DRINK IN THE PUB!! I was too relieved to moan.
Everyone walked up the steps towards the church all dressed smart and smiling. Five minutes to go.
The ushers started showing the guests to their seats in the church. It was windy and cloudy and I was praying that the sun would come out, as Donna and her mother had been so worried that it would rain. The sun did come out and shone bright. Beautiful! 1pm!! 1.15pm!? 1.30pm?? Where was she?
Everyone was waiting, the best man giving me jibes, the ushers taking the mick and I was stressing. ‘Do you know she has five minutes left before the church cancels the wedding!?’ was Stuart’s remark. My face drained of all colour, before he smiled and told me he was joking! I could have killed him!
Donna finally turned up (late due to traffic) and she looked stunning! I was so happy and she was glowing with beauty.
The service was going great until I tried to put her ring on and it didn’t fit. I struggled as everyone started to laugh, I pushed and turned, but nothing. Everyone was laughing. Except me. Then it finally went on!
I mimed the hymns (I just cannot sing), but then Amazing Grace came up – I heard Elvis do it, I’ll sing it like him. So there we were, singing Amazing Grace, but Donna couldn’t stop laughing as I sang the whole hymn like Elvis Presley, including, ‘Uh-huh. Thank you very much’ at the end.
The wedding went great. The pictures outside the church became a mission as the wind made its presence felt. But all went OK. Then we got into the car and went to the reception.
We waited for my family. My best man was coming with Stuart in my car. Everyone turned up at the reception…Except Stuart and my best man. We waited for them for ages, they had directions so what happened? We found out when they finally arrived. They were using my car to get to the reception. They left the church and saw the coach with my family and just followed it…. But the coach and therefore my car, along with my best man and Stuart…were heading towards Sheerness (where I live). THEY WERE FOLLOWING THE WRONG COACH!!!
Everything from the start of the meal to the end on the party went great. The speeches were great, the best man went easy on me and my father-in-law made a lovely speech. I couldn’t help but cry when my new wife sang ‘Because you love me’ by Celine Dion in the evening.
We went to bed about 1am and sat up reading all the cards and arranging our gifts. The whole day was fantastic. The lead-up to the morning and the amount off stress that came along passed so slowly, but from the minute she arrived at the church to the next morning, a second seemed to have passed rather than day.
It was such a wonderful day that I would do it all over again…but without the panic!
A wedding is the best thing in the world! And to think this all escalated from me chatting on the internet!