I’m back and I’m married.
It may have only been a week and a half since I last put pen to paper, or rather type to screen, for this blog but to me it feels like a lifetime. So much has happened in that short space of time, so many emotions have been gone through, so many moments have occurred that are waiting to be shared. So much so, that I just don’t know where to begin.
There are a million little moments that I’m desperately trying to cling on to and not forget, a long list of stories and words and emotions that I feel compelled to write down before they disappear and an endless amount of visual images in my head that are crying out to be regurgitated into words and retold a hundred times over. But as I sit here, back in the same little messy London flat we left behind on the 17th November so full of nerves and excitement and anticipation, back at my familiar desk, typing on the same knackered old laptop and staring at vases full of our wedding flowers that I’m willing not to die – not yet – I realise that everything has changed… and yet nothing at all has changed.
That notion is probably what has been causing me to feel a little lost ever since we got back to London at the end of last week, not quite sure what to tackle first, where to begin or what I’m supposed to be doing. We’re in a state of limbo now – with the wedding past and the countdown to the honeymoon on, it’s as if real life, and married life, almost can’t begin properly until we’ve had that incredible honeymoon and entered a new year. For the last thirteen months everything has been building up to 21st November, that date was the final date in our internal calendar and we didn’t allow ourselves to think beyond that. In truth we’d almost forgotten that December would even exist and so now that time has, as it always does, played tricks on us and raced forward so quickly to the final month of the year, we find ourselves not sure how to approach it.
So I shall approach it in the only way I know how – with a blog post. With so many words swirling around in my head desperate to be shared, today’s post might be a bit of a jumble and I hope you’ll allow me to use this space as a chance to sort through some of the many thoughts and emotions that are currently consuming me.
I shall start with a thank you – thank you for being so patient and allowing me some time away to enjoy our wedding and mini moon celebrations. Instagram, of course, was never going to be abandoned for any length of time, but relieving myself of the pressure of blogging for over a week to soak everything up was absolutely the right decision and means that now we have SO much to catch up on!
So first things first. WE DID IT!!! We bloody did it! We only went and got married!! We pulled of the wedding we’d been dreaming of, we had a day that was better than we could have ever imagined, and we are… husband and wife!
I used to think it terribly cliche when people concluded their wedding days with words like ‘It was a perfect day’ or ‘The best day of our lives’ – how could this be true for every single couple who ever got married? Surely not every day for every couple could be perfect? Surely sometimes things must go wrong, things must not go to plan or be as you wanted them to be? But (in another cliche phrase) now I understand. As the day after my own wedding I posted a picture to Instagram with those same words; ‘21.11.15 – BEST DAY EVER!’ and there was nothing cliche about it anymore – the joy and happiness and relief that I felt on that day, after so much worry and stress and anxiety, made everything 100% worth it. I smiled and laughed and loved all day long and I truly have never felt anything like it before. No, not everything goes right for everyone. No, things aren’t always as you expected or imagined, and no, not everyone gets the day they dreamed of, but… what I came to understand is that none of it matters. Truly none of it. The things that go wrong become your funny stories, the hiccups your best memories, and the imperfections are what makes it all so perfect.
I told myself time and time again throughout the last year not to strive for perfection as I’d only be disappointed, but as any fellow perfectionists will sympathise, telling yourself often isn’t enough. I couldn’t help but aim for that image I had in my head and the last few months before the wedding were a strain in every sense of the word as I struggled to get the reality of everything we’d planned and created and envisioned to match up to my picture perfect vision.
I said in my speech at the wedding (yes I did a speech!) that the week leading up to the wedding had been one of the most challenging of my life and I stand by that. I’ve always been a worrier, a stresser and someone who tries to take on too much but if I could go back in time now, knowing how well everything worked out I’d scream at myself until I listened. I’d tell myself to eat something, get some sleep, go slower, take a deep breath and enjoy. Of course hindsight is a wonderful thing and the beauty of life is that we can’t go back, we can’t tell ourselves what we now know, we just have to live through it and come out the other side.
In that final week of wedding prep, it honestly felt as if everything was going wrong – everything.
In frustration about the state of my skin, I stupidly panic bought a strong acne cream from the Chemist and used it three days before my wedding, only to see my sensitive skin have an allergic reaction to it and my entire face come out in hives.
The evening we finished work and had to pack up an entire years worth of wedding props, furniture and decorations into a small transit van ready for our trip to Scotland, was the evening that a storm hit London and we traipsed up and down from our second floor flat with heavy belongings in pouring rain, gale force winds and hailstones. With all of our friends and family meeting us at the Scottish location, there was no one to help and we both knackered our backs carrying heavy bags full of vases and milk churns.
We began our journey that night, heading to GB’s Mum’s in Telford for a pit stop before the trip to Scotland and a journey that normally takes two to three hours took us five as the wind threatened to tip us over at every traffic light, and the darkness made the roads even more treacherous. A fallen lamp post on the motorway caused at least two hours of complete standstill as we waited for roads to be re-opened and we turned up at GB’s Mum’s at midnight – weary, stressed and me with a face that resembled chicken pox.
The next day’s early start and 6 hour journey fared slightly better but the weather did not. Rain thrashed at the windows for the entire journey, winds were fierce enough to cause my new eyelashes to quite literally go down the drain every time we stopped at services, and Storm Abigail set about warning us just what we could be in for on our wedding day.
In and out of signal as we drove the winding roads through Scotland, allowed for just a few frantic phone calls from the flower wholesalers we’d ordered all of our venue flowers from, to tell us that the majority of our order had not arrived and that which had arrived had reached us in lemon yellow instead of the pinks, oranges and berry shades we’d set our colour scheme on. Amidst the torrential rain, my aching skin and the fact that we were already late for our meeting with the registry office, I didn’t even have the energy to be annoyed. I told them to send whatever they could and tried to forget about it.
We finally arrived at our destination and had a frankly depressing visit to the registry office to pick up our marriage licence where we came in from the gale force winds and rain to meet with a women who asked us ‘what were we thinking?‘ when she saw the outdoor wedding location, remarked ‘Why November?’ at our choice of date, and summarised with ‘I’ll have the tippex at the ready’ when she explained we’d have to come back on Monday to have the licence changed should we have to move the ceremony indoors.
We took our weary, hungry and overworked souls to our wedding location and the cottages we were staying in for the week, where we met my parents and hugged in the dark, pouring rain, before settling in to our cottage and attempting to unpack a little.
And then days of anxiety inducing challenges, days without a proper meal, over-tiredness and stress led to me trying to do just one thing too many, and while carrying an empty box down the stairs, I tripped, fell and landed my whole weight on one bent ankle.
It was agony. It was the final straw. A years worth of stress and worry released itself in one very loud swear word and as my Mum and Dad came to my rescue and carried me to the sofa, elevating my leg and strapping a bag of ice to my already swollen ankle – the tears that had been bubbling for two weeks came, and just wouldn’t stop. I cried a good chunk of my new eyelashes off, I cried through the ankle pain and the realisation that I might not be able to walk down the aisle, and definitely not in the 4 inch heels I had planned, and I cried about every little thing that had gone wrong that week, every little thing that was getting in the way of my set vision, everything that seemed to be preventing us from having ‘the perfect day’.
And then after about fifteen minutes of crying, I had a cup of tea, finally ate some carbs and let it all go. I just let it go.
In some ways falling down the stairs was maybe the best thing that could have happened as it forced me to stop. It forced me to slow down, accept help from all of the people around us who were desperate to help and not worry about anything other than getting my ankle better before Saturday. Suddenly the colour of our flowers seemed inconsequential, the horrendous weather merely a minor set back, the fact that we couldn’t get a break in the rain long enough to string up the festoon lights we’d wanted so badly a mild disappointment, and the state of my red and puffy skin not worth worrying about. All I wanted was to be able to walk towards GB on that Saturday morning without having to be carried and that was the only thing my brain was able to comprehend.
By the next day I was already hobbling. My Best Women and more friends and family began to arrive, each bringing with them support, hugs, reassurance and excitement. The enjoyment we’d been longing for, the joy of having all of our closest people in one place at one time began to creep in, and despite the fact that the rain and wind was relentless we began to realise that we didn’t care – we were getting married no matter what and it was going to be our day, an amazing day, whatever the universe threw at us. I stepped away from the madness for a relaxing morning at the nail salon, where all I had to do was put my feet up and be looked after and we kicked back with a drink once everyone had arrived and tried to soak up the magnitude of why everyone was there – for us, for our wedding.
On Friday came our set up day at our party venue – a blank canvas barn which we needed to decorate from top to toe. I was walking with a limp but not yet at ceilidh-ing stage but for now that was good enough. For me Friday brought with it a renewed sense of motivation, I had forgotten about the picture perfect image and simply couldn’t wait to see the venue transform into something magical, whatever the end result may be. We had an incredible team of family and friends which we named #teamwedding and we couldn’t have done any of it without them. It was a long and tiring day, but for the most part I loved every second of it. I often find it’s the anticipation of events that make me most nervous, the thought of how things will be done and how they will pan out, so after so much worry in the lead up it felt amazing to actually be doing something, to be getting on with it all and making it happen.
By the time we closed the door of the barn for a final time that evening and headed back to our cottages for a big meal with all of our friends and family, I already felt amazing. To know that there was no more to be done, no more worry to be had, no more stress to overcome was such a huge relief. All that was left to do was have our wedding day and with my walking getting better all the time, I simply could. not. wait.
The storm hadn’t shown any signs of letting up all day and the rain continued to come down heavy, so that evening we made the decision to have the ceremony indoors instead of our original idea of outdoors in the woods. I had thought that making this call would see me disappointed but it didn’t. By this point all I wanted to do was marry GB, and I honestly could not have cared about anything else. I knew that my dress would look better in the woodland setting we’d planned, I knew that not all of our guests would fit comfortably into the room that was our back up plan and I knew that it wasn’t exactly what we’d hoped for, but we both agreed that it didn’t matter. What would be would be. We said goodnight as we headed to our seperate cottages with excitement and the good type of nerves, not an ounce of disappointment.
I settled in for my final night as a single lady with my four Best Women by my side and excitedly told myself that wedding photos in the rain might be just as memorable.
Then, on the 21st November 2015, our wedding day arrived and with it came a series of mini miracles…
I got up that morning at the crack of dawn, having hardly slept a wink. My stomach was doing somersaults and my emotions were all over the place. But having elevated my foot again that night and worn a bandage all day the day before I found myself walking without a limp, and better yet I found myself able to put on the beautiful 4 inch wedding shoes I’d dreamed of wearing for the last year.
After leaving my skin make up free and able to breathe for the few days previous, and perhaps with the stress finally leaving me, my skin looked better that day than it had done any day of this year. It was soft, smooth and the spots had gone leaving only a touch of redness which could easily be covered.
With it still being dark out we excitedly started getting ready without even looking out of the window or opening the curtains. It wasn’t until GB’s brother came over to tell us they had begun setting up the ceremony… and they’d begun setting it up outdoors, that I felt my stomach do a flip and rushed to look out the window.
In the night, the storm had given way to cold which had allowed snow to fall. The gorgeous hills which surrounded our venue were all topped with a sprinkling of white and the ground was covered in a crisp hard frost. The cold had driven away the rain, the wind had completely dissipated and what remained was the still and the calm. The ground was hard, the air was crisp and the whole place looked magical. It was the perfect Winter day. It was unfathomable, yet wonderful.
The people who owned the cottages told us that they hadn’t seen snow in that location for over fifteen years and everyone who lived in the area said the rain hadn’t stopped for the last three weeks so there was simply no explanation for the weekend of winter sunshine and snowy sprinkles that occurred out of the blue.
We have our own explanation though – someone we knew would be there who showed us he was, bringing us the weather we needed to prove that women at the registry office wrong and have the day we’d longed for.
Nothing was perfect, nothing was as I’d imagined, there are many many things I wish we’d done differently, many hiccups and hurdles that came throughout the day… but in that moment that I stood opposite my best friend – in the beautiful woodland setting we’d planned, on the rug we’d found on Gumtree and under the arch we’d asked our florist to create, with the frost beneath my feet and the sun lighting up the trees – and said the words that made us husband and wife… truly nothing else mattered.
The imperfect became perfect (no cliche needed).