Adventures of a Wedding Belle

We received a submission for a post recently, a beautifully written, sane and sensible post on the dynamics of step-families in a wedding. That’s not what we’re posting today though. Don’t worry, I’m not just being a tease, you’ll get to read it soon! We e-mailed the author, Bella, to say thank-you-we-love-it-you’re-amazing and got to chatting. Bella is getting wed on 8th Spetember 2012, one year from today. In 365 days, she’ll  be getting ready to walk down the aisle and we are abso-fricking-lutely delighted that she’s going to take us along with her on this oh-so exciting journey. AOW community, meet Bella. Bella, welcome!

As I write this, in a beautiful hotel overlooking Croagh Patrick on the West coast of Ireland, we are celebrating one year to go until we get hitched in sunny (?) England, surrounded by 207 (!) family and friends.
The West Coast Cooler (which I have yet to find in England) is flowing and Betrothed is on a work call, giving me the opportunity to mull over the fact that I suggested Westport as a mini-break destination six months ago, with a glimmer of hope we’d be returning home to London with some very happy news and a sparkly ring.  To clarify, I did not expect a proposal, nor was I hankering for one – Betrothed had just been discharged from hospital* and we were planning a few days alone ahead of the hotly anticipated McManus/McPhillips wedding in Sligo. But the romantic in me couldn’t resist a little engineering…
Despite this effort to entirely control the process, on May 29th, my grandmother’s birthday, I became engaged to a man I have loved for almost seven years.
When Aisling asked me to keep a diary of the next year for AOW, after my submission about step families (which I’m sure I’ll share at some point), I was absolutely delighted. I hope to be able to offer some advice, oh-my-gah-dont-do-that-I-made-a-huge-mistake warnings and to learn from the amazing AOW community, and create a record of all the twists and turns of the next year.  If I manage to make you laugh in the process, all the better for it!!
So, for my first piece I should probably explain who I am and the plans we have to tie the knot on 8th September 2012.
I am Bella, an over organiser , who likes Penguin books, vintage glasswear, soda bread, Strictly Come Dancing and Michael Buble. Bethrothed is Fiachra, who likes Leinster rugby,  doing the chicken dance, chicken wings and Liz Hurley – who I look nothing like.
Fiachra and I first met seven years ago, through a mutual friend called Erin and within five minutes of meeting we were holding hands under the table. Our long distance love affair lasted six weeks before we realised we had neither the money or the capacity to fly back and forth between London (me) and Dublin (him) and sustain our first proper relationship via text. So we broke up, feeling like we had ended a six year – rather than six week – relationship. Two and a half years later and we found ourselves back in touch, single and speaking almost every day. I, naturally, made him wait a year before allowing him to call me his girlfriend, but since then we haven’t looked back.
The Proposal:
Like many couples, we had discussed the idea of marriage, but Betrothed did a very good job of making me believe he wasn’t quite ready/didn’t see the need just yet/wanted to be more stable financially etc etc. So on May 29th I put on very dirty jeans, rubbed away the night befores’ make up and joined him for a boat trip from Richmond to Hampton Court as a late anniversary present. As the gorgeous outfit suggests, I didn’t have a clue what was in store for me. I’d spent the week trying to figure out what we were doing that weekend as I hate surprises and had only given up when I was told we were getting on a boat. Great, I thought, I like boats and I like Hampton Court. Lovely.
Arriving in Richmond I was deep in discussion with myself (in retrospect I realised Betrothed was completely and uncharacteristically silent) about some work I had to do that night. I didn’t even stop banging on about it when we sat on a bench overlooking the river and the back garden of our very first flat in London. Not even when Betrothed started talking about wanting to give me the best anniversary day ever did I stop mentally writing emails in my head. When I realised he was being weirdly descriptive of his feelings for me I decided to jokingly pipe up ‘you’re not proposing are you?’ to which I got a very cold stare and a ‘why would i do that?’ reply. Even then I was not prepared for what came next. Betrothed had to back track, start again and finally reached into his pocket and pulled out a small blue box. My heart genuinely stopped. I felt the cold rush of nervousness mixed with excitement in an  I–cannot-breathe-right-now-what-on-earth-is-happening kind of a way. He slid down on one knee and opened the box to reveal the most beautiful ring I have ever seen (if I do say so myself). The ring I planned to buy myself three years previously with a small bequest from my late grandmother, before deciding it was too irresponsible,. It was, quite simply, THE ring, in every single way.
My answer was, sadly, not as classy as the ring that now perches on my finger. ‘Are you sh***ing me?’ was my reply, which I managed to get out amidst the tears and after i’d choked on, and swallowed, my chewing gum. From the bench to the boat, to the surprise hotel where we were too overwhelmed to go out and instead ordered room service and watched X-Men 1, that day both feels like yesterday and years ago in the exact same moment. It wasn’t anything like the proposal daydreams I’d indulged, but it was, for us, utterly perfect.
The Big Day:
We are getting married in the delightfullly named Winkfield, in Berkshire, in a lovely church by a wonderful woman, followed by a 30’s festival (stay with me) in a field. At the time of writing we have booked the church, the field, the photographer (the equally marvellously named Katharine Peachey) the caterer and the save the dates (see piccies for evidence of our hours of ribbon tying and envelope stamping!) have just been sent out. It is undeniably real now!
The past three months have been full of twists, turns, detours, traffic james and the occasional open road, and hopefully in my next post i’ll be able to share with you some more news that will probably complicate the next twelve a little, or just make the whole journey even more exciting! Thank you, in advance, for sharing this amazing time with me.
To all bridelets and wives, some advice from my married for nearly 70 years grandmother: Laugh, say I love you every day and be ready to forgive.
Sounds simple doesn’t it?!
*There will inevitably be more on this in the coming months, as I can’t write my vows or hear ‘for better for worse’ without weeping for five minutes solidly. I’m welling up now – time for more West Coast Cooler!
Categories: Real Bride, Wedding Planning
23 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Kate
    Posted September 8, 2011 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    That's a lovely story, I'm looking forward to hearing more about the wedding – sounds great so far. Katharine is our photographer too!

  2. Posted September 8, 2011 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Aw thank you Kate! Got incredibly nervous this morning that the wonderful AOW-ers wouldn't enjoy it, I think I have been awake for a solid five hours already….

    Great minds on K Peach!!! I hope your wedding goes fabulously xx

  3. Esme
    Posted September 8, 2011 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Welcome Bella. I'm excited to follow your story already!

    Love the term 'bridelets' and your Grandmother's advice – what more do you need?


  4. Posted September 8, 2011 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I have a year until my wedding. Also outdoors (isn't this current September wedding making your heart sing….). Great post and I look forward to hearing more about your journey. x

  5. Fiachra
    Posted September 8, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Congratulations to my beautiful fiancee on her first post. 1 year today she will make me the happiest man in the world.

  6. Posted September 8, 2011 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Bella (and of course Fiachra, by default), welcome, welcome to our peachy pages! I am absolutely thrilled that we get to journey with you through the madness that is preparing to marry. Aisling has been beside herself with excitement ever since she asked you to do this – the girl has good taste!

    Your Grandmother's advice is spot on. Simple, honest, true. And loving your response to "will you marry me" – made ME choke on my coffee, never mind you! x

  7. Lillie P
    Posted September 8, 2011 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Having just looked up 'west coast cooler', I can safely say I need it in my life! Will you be serving it at your wedding Bella? And if so, can I come?

    This is a lovely start to a year of adventure and I'm really looking forward to hearing lots more! I need the excitement-my boy and I are 'pre-engaged' so we're looking at the next century for a wedding! Not quite, but you know what I mean!

    I also have to say that I love that Fiachra commented. How sweet, you've clearly got a good one there!

    Lillie xx

  8. Posted September 8, 2011 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    "Are you sh***ing me?" < - LOVE IT!

    *Waves hello to Bella*

  9. Sarah M
    Posted September 8, 2011 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Hello, Bella! I know I'm going to enjoy reading your writing!

    For a few months before our 'For better for worse' vows I would end up in a hopeless, sobbing mess of snot and tears which, let's be honest, is not a good look for anyone. But, d'you know what? On the day we said it with the merest hint of a wobble because we knew just what that meant. We knew what it felt like for one half to almost disappear forever and we knew that whatever had passed, and most importantly, whatever we will face, we'll do it with love, silliness and an awful lot of cuddles.

    In the words of Mr Jovi, keep the faith. You'll get through that vow, you'll know just what it means, and you'll make it matter throughout the rest of your marriage. I'm not shitting you.

    SJM x

  10. Mahj
    Posted September 8, 2011 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Bella, I think I could get on with both you and your Bethrothed – I like chicken wings and the Buble too!

    This is such a fantastic piece of writing, I cant wait to read more. Esp if your response to wedding-related stuff is going to involve the phrase "are you sh*tting me"! Awesome!


  11. Posted September 8, 2011 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Woo hooo!

    I love Westport. And I've climbed Coragh Padraig twice (although attmepted it four times in total. One time I was The Most Hungover I've Ever Been In My Life, so that explains it. Bloody Ireland with their bloody we-don't-even-THINK-of-going-to-the-pub-before-11pm-attitude). Um, so yes, I read this and got all excited about knowing where you were! Woo hoo!

    Welcome. I expect craic aplenty.

  12. Anonymous
    Posted September 8, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    A fantastic account of a fantastic beginning to what will definitely be a fantastic marriage! Privilege to know you both (and be your bridesmaid) and so glad the AOW community will be blessed with a bit of Bell! More please! L xxxx

  13. Posted September 8, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU so much Bella-I know we keep thanking each other back and forth like stuck records, but I really am so chuffed you agreed to do this for us.

    I'm so looking forward to getting to know you both more! And the save the dates are gorgeous-you could go pro with those!


  14. Posted September 8, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Lovelies – thank you all for making today so special for me!

    I hope to live up to the hype next month…. I should probably set the record straight though: the 'twists and turns' that are currently happening in my life have NOTHING to do with a baby – I am not pregnant*

    *So Jo if you're reading this, this is your answer to your text to Fiachra!

    Have a gorgeous time at the party tomorrow, I wish I could join x

  15. Posted September 8, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Is westcoast cooler the same thing I think it is, namely 'the' drink of the 80's that was the only beverage any self-respecting hostess would serve the girls in the 80's? God I hope so! I can't wait to read your bridelet diary Bella, and wouldn't mind a list of your fav penguin titles too! x

  16. Posted September 8, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    oh, and, we nearly had to take 'the luckiest' by Ben Folds, off our wedding favour cd, because I couldn't hear the opening chords of it without crying, let alone even THINK about the vows! By the time we got down the aisle though, we ended up in uncontrollable laughter because my finger was too fat for my ring. And my husband re-named the song 'the whiniest'

  17. Posted September 9, 2011 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    Oh wow, can't wait to read more! (And Penguin Book penguins on wedding invites is just brill!) x

  18. Posted September 11, 2011 at 3:28 am | Permalink

    Thats so cute Fiachra posted!
    (how would you pronounce his name by the way? Feeakra, Fyashra??) Is it a Gaelic name? Its a lovely, beautiful name.
    But, must be one of those names where new teachers always stumble when saying the class register the first time!

  19. Posted September 14, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    As a fellow Bridelet, your bridesmaid AND you sister I am just over whelmed with pride and love – YOU ROCK LIL SIS!
    I CAN NOT wait to read more – especially as I'll be around when some of the things you write about happen and your perspective on things is always so funny and spot on!

    So glad your talent is finally being recognised!

    Bring on the crazy summer of weddings! huge love xxx

  20. Anni
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    "Are you sh**ting me?" – BEST response I've ever heard. Very nearly spat hot tea all over my laptop!

  21. Posted October 15, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Haha Bella I just read your comment to me. I was getting excited that you might be (but you're too sensible to do that before your big day, right?)

    Anyway your submissions are great, Fiachra is a big softy and I can't wait to see you in a big meringue xx

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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