And now, it was time to leave the party. I tossed my bouquet, which was caught by Paul’s sister, Barbara (she’s getting married herself in 2007, so it must work!). Then we did one final dance to say goodbye to all the guests, and then headed out across the street to the hotel.
We were so relieved to get some time to ourselves at last. We had a lovely, four‐poster bedroom, which looked out across the street below. The cool evening air wafted in from the window, and we stood in the twilight and hugged each other. We were married. We’d made it. And we’d had a perfect day.
I won’t tell you what happened after that ;‐) but we were soon fast asleep, in each others arms, and dreaming of the fabulous memories we had of our special day.
Now, I’m off to be a married woman! I’ve learned so much from the experience of planning our wedding. There will be times for you when things get busy, and frantic, and stressful, but as long as you remember that you’re doing it all for each other, you can get through anything.
And as for the day itself? It’s the best day of your entire life. We made sure we took time to see each other, and we also took a step back every now and then, to soak up the atmosphere. The day speeds by so quickly ‐ you have to make sure you have lots of special moments locked away in your memory, and in your heart.
Every trial, every little hiccup in your wedding‐planning diary is worth it. Each moment is so special it makes you feel like you’re the luckiest couple in the whole world. Paul and I are thrilled now that we’re man and wife. I get a total kick every time I say ‘My husband…’ or ‘Mrs…’ We’ve never been so satisfied with life.
I’ll leave you with some pictures. They show some of our favourite moments of the wedding, and I hope you enjoy them too. Good luck with all your planning, and for the big day itself, I send my best, best vibes. I’m sure you’ll all be the happiest people on earth!
The night before the wedding was supposed to be relaxed and celebratory, but in the end it was totally mental I washed my hair (Ha! Are you proud of my advanced planning here!?), and then Paul and I went down to the pub, and met up with all the friends and family that were in Bewdley at that point. All the bridesmaids were down there, and it was the first time we’d all been together for years! Paul’s family were there too, along with a few of my relatives, and it was fantastic to see so many familiar faces!
After a good couple of hours drinking, Paul and I decided we should call it a night… so after a big long hug, and half a dozen kisses, we finally said goodbye. It was a weird feeling ‐ this was our last unmarried moment together!
He went off to his hotel, and I went back to mum and dad’s with Anj. Now, you’d think the night before my wedding, I should have been chilling out, painting my nails and soaking up my last few hours as an unmarried woman…
However, in our house, it was a different story! We still had bits of finishing to do on the bridesmaids’ dresses (all six of them!) and even a bit of hand‐sewing on my dress! ARGH! Never mind ‐ all that sewing meant we could have a good chat and a few cups of tea to keep us going. Mum and I didn’t get to bed until 2.30am in the end, and it felt as if we’d never get to tomorrow!
I slept like a log until about 6am, when the alarm woke me up with a jolt. It was really early, and I could hear the birds singing in the garden outside. I opened the curtains, not to see a beautiful, clear sunrise, as I’d hoped, but a pearly, grey dawn. It was one of those mornings that could either turn into a total scorcher once the mist burned off, or it could be drizzly all day! I felt really weird ‐ not at all like a bride to be ‐ just apprehensive about everything, and worried that all our careful planning would all go wrong! What if it rained? What if my veil fell off? What if Paul got stuck in traffic and had to walk from the town and arrived half an hour late…?
But soon I thought of Paul again, and all these worries totally subsided. Surely, as long as we got married, nothing mattered. The church could crumble around us and the river could flood, but as long as the service was over, we’d be happy. Paul would probably still be tucked up right now, safe in his hotel bed!
Men are so lucky ‐ they don’t have to spend hours on their hair and make‐up!
Well, being the bride, I definitely had first dibs on the bathroom, so up I went. My hair is a completely unknown problem on days like this. Either it behaves, and curls perfectly into shape as it dries, or it frizzes and bends out of control, doing absolutely everything I don’t want it to do!
However, thanks to the advance planning last night (See? Told you it was a good idea!), and thanks to the fabulous intensive conditioner I used, my hair was just unbelievably well‐behaved! I just stood there in front of the mirror laughing, as I remembered I’d got up three hours early just in case… I needn’t have worried!
Never mind. I wasn’t tired anyway (even though I’d only had about three hours’ sleep!), so I ran a bath with my special perfumed bubble‐bath, and soaked in that for ages, until the rest of the family started to get up.
While I lay there, immersed in luxurious, aromatic, bubbles, I thought about the day ahead. I thought about all the people I’d see, and about all my favourite mates and fabulous relatives, and how we were all going to PAR‐TAY! What would it feel like to be married? I just couldn’t imagine!
Then, in that moment, the sun came out, and shone in through the window. I wanted to cry with happiness! It was going to be a sunny day, the groom was the best man in the whole world, and I was the Bride!
After my bath, I spent the first part of the morning in my dressing gown. All the family were really excited, and they kept hugging me and talking about the day ahead. My mum and dad had gone down to the Institute (our reception venue) to make some final preparations, and to pick up the flowers. But it took them longer than expected, and I was starting to get a little anxious.
Anj helped me with my make‐up, and I got all my undies on ready, but my mum still had to iron my dress before I put it on ‐ and it was only 45 minutes until the carriage was coming!
I’d promised myself I wouldn’t panic on the morning of the wedding, but I was beginning to lose it! Everyone was starting to arrive at the house and I couldn’t go down to see them because I was standing in my bedroom in suspenders! At 10.30am, with half an hour to go, my parents got back. My mum just about ironed my dress in time for me to throw it on, while she went to put on her outfit. In the end, we managed to kit‐up in about 15 minutes flat! Talk about super‐human! You should have seen the speed that Anj did up my buttons!
My mum came down the stairs, and we looked at each other with massive smiles on our faces. She handed me the bouquet that our florist had made for me, and my eyes filled up. It was a hand‐tied bouquet, with an array of beautiful white flowers and greenery, and intertwined were a few of my dad’s best roses, which we’d clipped from the rosebush in the garden last night. It was just what I’d envisaged, and I was so grateful to the florist for getting it so very right!
Then, mum and I went outside to where the others were waiting.
The whole road had come out to see us off. Our next‐door neighbour was there, and the couple opposite, and some old school friends. They all waved and wished me luck. When I saw the horse and carriage, I nearly bust into tears again ‐ it was like a dream, and this wasn’t meant for me at all ‐ it was surely meant for the queen or someone. It was painted blue, with white ribbons on all the lanterns. The horses were silky black, and so big! They waited patiently, and their feathered feet clopped every now and then on the road. The driver opened the door for us to climb in, so my dad went first and then helped me in.
We drove through town, waving at everyone like royals! It was great! As we pulled into the avenue of chestnut trees that leads up to St Leonard’s Church, I gasped. It was now the most beautiful, sunny morning, and the light breeze was rustling in the green leaves above us. Sunlight shone through and dappled the ground, and there was a wonderful smell of flowers and honeysuckle in the air. This was going to be one perfect wedding!
Sammy Southall, our photographer, was waiting for us at the end of the drive. He was fabulous ‐ so cheerful, and really great fun. He shouted “Morning! You’re looking stunning today!”
I said “How’s Paul?”
Sam laughed and said “He’s fine ‐ he’s doing very well!”
We came around the corner just in time to see all our friends and relatives disappearing into the church. My bridesmaids all waited, buzzing with excitement. There they all were, smiling at me; Nicky, Barbara, Beth, Charlotte, Heather, and Anj. I felt so happy I could feel my eyes welling up! But I took a deep breath, and calmed myself down. I had to get to Paul!
At the doorway of the church, David, our vicar, came to greet us. He was beaming from ear to ear, and he winked at us. “Ready?”
The door opened, the organ sounded, and I walked forward with my dad. Everyone turned to look at us as we passed, and all of them our favourite friends and relatives. I smiled at them as I walked by, and then looked ahead, to where Paul waited by the alter. He looked so handsome in his highland dress. He smiled at me and I felt all my love and happiness bubble up inside me. When I got to the front, my dad placed my hand in Paul’s, and grinned at us both. Then, giving me a wink, Paul squeezed my hand, and we turned to face David.
The ceremony went by so quickly. It was just like a lovely dream; and yet I remember it all so vividly. I was nearly passing out when we sang “Lord of all hopefulness”, and I was grinning from ear to ear. When we were pronounced ‘man and wife’, we almost laughed out loud! We had done it!!
As we left the alter, and made our way back up the aisle, Stan, the verger, rang the bells for us. One of them is the oldest bell in Worcestershire, and it was fantastic to hear it ringing today. How many weddings had it rung out for before ours? I didn’t dare to count…
We posed for a couple of pictures, and then walked towards the doorway, and out into the sunshine.
To my total amazement, the Brownies were waiting for me! My mum and I help out at a local Brownie group, and they had come to the church to give us a guard of honour!
Next came a lot of kissing and chatting, and giggling, and ‐ of course ‐ the photos. It was now that I realised we had chosen our photographer very well. Sam was great fun, and organised the guests carefully, while still making sure he didn’t spoil the atmosphere. Everyone felt like Hollywood stars, and he caught some of the best moments of the day.
Paul and I got ‘confettied’ at the churchyard gates, and everyone waved as we drove off in our carriage. It was a fairytale!
But of course, only half the day was over ‐ now we had the aftermath!
The horses were stars. They never faltered, and did us proud. They drew up outside Jubilee Park at around 1 o’clock, and we climbed down and said our sad goodbyes to them and the drivers. We were rather sorry to see them go, but they had another wedding to get to, so we let them get on their way.
The Limousine was also leaving us, and it was a shame that I didn’t get to thank him in person for his efforts. My mum said her and the girls all had such a fabulous time, and they’ll never forget it!
In the park, it was time for more photos! Paul and I felt like we were posing for Hello magazine! It was brilliant! Sammy snapped away at us as we walked around, or posed, or kissed each other, and he got some fabulous shots of us, and of the wedding party.
It was so hot, that we were all boiling inside our wedding outfits, but he made sure we all kept in the shade, so we didn’t melt.
When we had finished, we popped through the back entrance to Bewdley Museum (which got some interesting gazes from the tourists!) and round the corner to our reception venue.
The Institute looked absolutely beautiful. The hop bines still looked fresh, and the drapes and swags of material drifted in the breeze. There were balloons and fairy lights everywhere, and it was as if the whole room was saying to us ‘Welcome to your wedding!’
Our caterer, Peter Dykes of Quality Buffets, was a total star! He had set all the tablecloths and cutlery out just as we wanted them, and all the place cards were arranged carefully. He’d put out all the table decorations we’d left for him, and it all looked utterly perfect. Everything was ready for the big celebration!
Sam took a few last pictures, before heading off, and we were really sorry to say goodbye. He and his assistant had been absolute pros, and we couldn’t have asked him for a better job.
But we didn’t have much time to wave him off, as it was soon time to take our places at the top table…
We did the speeches first, as we reckoned everyone would like to get them out of the way and then get nice and sozzelled! My dad’s speech was fantastic. It was so sentimental at times, that everyone was crying… and then he made one of the rudest jokes ever (far too rude to repeat on this website!), and everyone was crying with laughter! I was really proud of my dad when he’d finished though. He knew exactly what to say, and how to say it, and I couldn’t believe I wasn’t ‘his little girl’ any more.
Next, Paul gave his speech, which was really funny, and he made me proud of him too. He thanked everyone for coming, and told me how much he loved me, and I started crying again! When he’d finished, he proposed a lovely toast, and we all drank a good swig of bubbly.
Then I stood up to say a few words of thanks to my mum (who ‐ let’s face it ‐ had masterminded this wedding, not to mention the fact that she’d made my dress!), and I toasted to her. She was quite chuffed, I think, as she didn’t expect to get such a salute!
Finally, it was time for Greg’s speech. Paul knew he was in for a treat when he asked his brother to be best man. Greg came out with all kinds of excellent stories about their childhood, and then read a wonderful poem called ‘Celebrate Life.’ When he’d finished, he raised his glasses and toasted “May we always do just that!”
That was when we truly realised why we’d done all this. It wasn’t to impress anyone, or to show‐off how much we could do to demonstrate our commitment to one another. This wedding was to celebrate life ‐ or rather, two lives that had now entwined and become one.
The food was lovely. Peter had done a fantastic job ‐ and my vegetarian meal was great. Everyone looked stuffed… until we announced that the dessert was strawberries and cream! They all sat up very quickly.
Once the main meal was over, we had a few hours of ‘chill‐out time’, when we took the presents over to the hotel we were staying in, and cooled off a bit (it was now thirty degrees outside!). Paul chose this moment to give me my present… it was a Steiff teddy bear! I’d wanted a Steiff teddy all my life, and now I had my very own! It was perfect, and I just hugged him and chuckled.
Later on, when everyone had changed for the evening (but not me ‐ I was going to wear my dress to the bitter end, even if I cooked in it!), we met up with them back at the Institute. The landlady, Geraldine, was there, and she seemed to be enjoying everything as much as we were.
We had booked Fiddlesticks, a local Ceilidh band, and I have to say they were excellent! As soon as they struck up a tune, everyone was up dancing ‐ despite the ridiculous heat! We did all our favourite dances, and paused for brief intervals while I sung ‘Who Knows Where the Time Goes’ for Paul, and my dad performed a sterling rendition of the folk song, ‘I Wish I was Single Again’, which got a few laughs!
By the end of the evening, Paul and I were utterly exhausted. We’d danced, and drunk beer, and laughed, and kissed, and we’d even managed to get to speak to every single guest ‐ which I never thought we’d have a chance to do. Everyone seemed to have a great time, and we were so grateful to all our friends and families for their help in making the day perfect. I can’t name them all, as it would take about five days to write them all down, but we’ve made sure they all know how special they are.