My florist arrived with the flowers and my bouquet was beautiful ‐ tightly‐bunched green‐tinged, white roses interspersed with rosemary and elegant grass looped over the top. I’d wanted something traditional with a twist to complement my dress, which was silver with a scarlet red underskirt. When I walked downstairs in my dress ‐ it’s a cliche ‐ but I really did feel like a princess. Savour this moment, brides and take lots of photos ‐ it’s unlikely to happen again!
Everyone had told me that things would go wrong and to ignore them when they did, but so far so good. I hadn’t tripped down the stairs, smudged my mascara or lost my lipstick. The clouds had disappeared and the sun was shining. The journey to Milton Abbey was going to take around 40 minutes, so we’d chilled a bottle of Veuve Cliquot drink en route. We’d chosen a limo so that it could fit me, my dad and bridesmaids all in one vehicle and we all chatted excitedly until we arrived at the gates of Milton Abbey when suddenly my butterflies multiplied and I went quiet. The car park was full, marines were rushing around ushering late‐comers into the abbey and the photographer was snapping away… at me! This was it.
The organist began playing the Queen of Sheba and the congregation stood. I took my father’s arm and began walking slowly down the aisle, filled with fear. But as soon as I saw the smiling faces of my friends and family ‐ and Jamie at the altar looking decidely nervous ‐ I felt the happiest I’d ever been and just couldn’t stop grinning. Jamie squeezed my hand and I smiled at him and my cousin, the priest who was conducting the service. I slipped up on one of my lines, but it hardly noticed.
Everyone smiled and cheered as we kissed and exited the abbey ‐ Jamie’s marine friends were even lined up to salute us. Champagne appeared immediately and everyone rushed to hug and congratulate us. For an hour‐and‐a half it was kisses, photos, Champagne, canopes and non‐stop chitter chatter.
The clouds had disappeared, not a drop of rain, just a few tears of happiness shed by some relatives. I’d chosen Milton Abbey as it has a Great Hall as well as an Abbey so we didn’t have to change venues and drive somewhere else to enjoy the wedding breakfast. The meal went perfectly ‐ I had a choice of two dishes for every course and the only people who didn’t enjoy it was my dad and Jamie who could hardly eat as they weso nervous about their speeches.
I’d decided I’d say a few words myself at the end of the speeches if the mood took me, but I didn’t want to put any pressure on myself and ruin such a perfect day ‐ even though a couple of my best girlfriends had threated to kill me if I didn’t! When it came to the crunch I just had to get up and say a few words. Half‐way through my speeach about Jamie, emotion got the better of me but when I looked up everyone was crying with me. “That’s the most I’ve cried since I watched Watership Down” said one marine laughing with tears in his eyes. I’m so glad I did say something, but the most important thing is to do what you want. It’s your day ‐ everyone is there for you. Treasure every moment ‐ the day goes so quickly, but at least your memories will be with you forever.
I was wide awake at 6am. The ground was sodden with rain, dark clouds hung over the house and I’d started my period. But none of this did anything to affect my good mood. After all, this was my wedding day ‐ the day I’d dreamt of ever since Jamie had proposed to me a year‐and‐a‐half ago in Formentera.
I was staying with my eldest sister Vanessa and her husband Pat, at their cottage in Poole, about 40 minutes from Milton Abbey, the wedding venue. What time could I wake them, I pondered? After a long shower, I glared at the ominous clouds, made three cups of tea and jumped into bed with Pat and Vanessa. “That’s the only guy you’ll be in bed with on your wedding day” my sister giggled.
Jamie and I had chosen to stay in the same hotel as our guests that night, so we could carry on the celebrations until the early hours of the morning. We’d have plenty of time on honeymoon for romantic nights alone and we wanted to spend as long as possible with our guests, some of whom had travelled from overseas.
We finished our tea, surveying the timetable that I’d drawn up the day before. It detailed every little thing I needed to do before walking up the aisle ‐ well, ok, almost every little thing. It said the time I should get up, go to the hairdresser, do my make up and put my dress on ‐ with military precision it even set aside time for a few glasses of Champagne with friends and family before the limo arrived.
Waking at 6am instead of 7 meant I was already ahead of schedule, I thought, carefully applying my make up (earlier rather than later when my hand was likely to start shaking). At 8am we drove to the hairdressers, where we met my other sister and bridesmaid, Jo. I’d had a practice run at the hairdressers, so I wasn’t worried about the outcome. Within an hour we were back at Vanessa’s, with perfectly‐styled hair, tucking into a delicious salmon and dill omelette cooked by Pat. As my mother has told me many times in life, it really is important to eat breakfast and it’s a good job I listened to her on this day ‐ I didn’t eat anything again until 5pm!
My parents arrived at 11am, along with some of my friends. We popped some bubbly and chatted in the garden ‐ the clouds had begun to clear. With my hair and makeup complete, I was surprisingly calm but in need of a drink. The limo wasn’t due until 1pm so I had plenty of time to enjoy a glass or two. At twelve, the bridesmaids began putting on their dresses ‐ I knew it would take about 20 minutes to lace me in but didn’t want to put my dress on too early in case I tipped Champagne over myself or needed the loo.