My sister Celia and I woke up at 5am at Eastwell Manor because we couldn’t sleep – we were much too excited! We sat up and chatted until 8am and at that time it looked like it was going to be a sunny day. Celia and I went for a swim in the swimming pool – and it was empty – no one else around which was great!
We went for breakfast and then it was time for my head bridesmaid to arrive as we were all going to get our hair done at 10am. Alan’s sisters (bridesmaids) turned up at 11.30am and my aunty who was having her hair done too, so it became very busy. I grabbed my other cousins and headed off to check out the room where we were having the wedding breakfast to make sure that was going OK. It’s a good thing I did because they didn’t have everything!
By this time my hair was done and I was walking around with my tiara on but wearing normal clothes looking wierd, but it was great because whatever I said everybody listened to me! It was my day and I did look like the bride!
The make up lady turned up at 12.30pm, but by this time it had started to rain, and my hopes for an outdoor wedding were slipping away on the wet floor!! My hopes dwindled further as a thunderstorm started at about 1.30pm and I phoned Alan to say that I thought it would be inside. He wasn’t a bit amused to say the least, particularly as he wanted to drive the Austin Healy with the roof down to the venue, but it was not to be.
By 2pm, the wedding organiser at the venue had said that it had to be inside because all the chairs were wet and the ground in the garden slippery and unsafe. So I resigned myself to an inside wedding – and kept telling myself that it was Alan that I was getting married to and the vows and the ceremony were what mattered and the fact that everyone was going to be there for us.
So I got my dress on, and I felt like a princess. It was great – it was a wonderful feeling, and I would do it again (get dressed up and marry Alan that is). The other photographer was there by that point, and the registrar came in.
The florist came in then and handed out the bouquets, followed by my dad who was, I have to say, completely astounded.
We walked out of the room and down the staircase to the room where everyone (including Alan, thank goodness) was waiting.
So we waited at the door, and the music started, and four of the bridesmaids walked up ahead of me to the front of the room, and I followed with my father, with my chief bridesmaid holding my train.
I got to the front in what seemed like a millisecond and stood beside Alan and he was sweating buckets. I have to say in his defence that it was very hot in the room.
The registrar kindly said that we could hold hands (I think he knew that the weather had dampened our spirits a little bit and we needed the extra reassurance) and from that moment on, the weather, everything else – it really didn’t matter. Alan’s dad did a reading about a walled garden – which was really appropriate – particularly as we wanted to get married in a walled garden, and was all about drawing strength from one another – which we have been called upon to do quite a lot recently (stranded in Canada for four days at the end of honeymoon after the hijackings in the US).
Then we said our vows – my voice was really wobbly!! My little cousin, Daniel (seven years old) said a Pam Ayres poem – Yes I’ll Marry You – obviously very appropriate at that stage in the proceedings, and the way he did it was brilliant! He also brought in references to our two cats, Sooty and Sweep. He got lots of laughs and that really helped the mood of the whole thing, I think.
We signed the register and the photographers took their pictures. Then the registrar said, ‘Would anyone else like to take a picture?’ and you should have seen the rush!! I have personally never seen anything like it. At the end of the ceremony the registrar did a little speech and we were handed two certificates, the marriage certificate, and one from Kentish Weddings. I have to say that the registrar was brilliant and that Kent is a brilliant place to get married (I’m from Nottingham).
So then came the photos. We did manage to get outside for a few…but not many!! We even got a couple by the Austin Healy…
The receiving line and the wedding breakfast followed. The food was great, and the time was ticking away nicely, and then came the speeches. My dad was brilliant…he even managed to elaborate on what he had originally written, mentioning things that had happened during the day. Alan’s speech was a good solid speech, and he got a few laughs there, and the best man’s speech was the suprise of the lot, particularly as I hadn’t read it. It was perfectly timed (comically) and got lots of laughs. I was particuarly suprised as I really didn’t expect that from him, and neither did Alan. We are really pleased that we videoed the ceremony and the speeches, so that we can watch them again as they really made the day.
The disco was good too, and we did the first dance to ‘Truly Madly Deeply’ by Savage Garden. We were particularly touched because so many couples got up to join us (including both sets of parents). The thing that still brings a tear to my eye is towards the end of the evening, Alan took my hand and lead me over to one of two chairs. At this point about six blokes (including my dad) came over and lifted my chair up and other guys lifted Alan’s chair up and the DJ played ‘Dancing in the moonlight’ which I had requested earlier, and they danced round the room with us on their shoulders. We then had to lean over and holding a white napkin, kiss each other (Al and I). I do hope someone got a picture of that, because I don’t think that we have (unless someone caught it on one of the disposables).
Just as a conclusion to this story, I have to say that this was the best day of my life (to date!). It cost a lot of money and took over a year to organise, but it was great fun and also very significant and symbolic at the same time. Our thanks go out to all who helped in the preparation and to all our family and friends that have helped us along the way and who attended our wedding.