Any Other Man – Penny

It’s no secret that Aisling, Clare and I are fans of Bad Penny. She writes brilliantly (oh, do we have some more Penny for you coming up soon), has more cool in her little finger than in all three of us put together, and is a loyal, witty and wise AOW-er.  My conversation with Penny for this post went something like this:
“AOW don’t do cookie-cutter wedding reports”
“You aren’t cookie cutter, either”
“Write us something completely different to any wedding report you’ve ever seen.  Like, grip-the-desk good.  Please”
“Ok, then”

I do love a girl who delivers.  And then when I got the text, I actually stood up out of my seat.  And then I asked for  just a couple of photos of the ceremony…and…well.  Just look at them.  
I give you Penny:

Walking down the aisle is like walking on a tightrope.

All those faces, like an audience watching you. Eyes wide, necks craned to see. Every organ in your body is tied up in a knot with all that looking they’re all doing. The looking At You-ness of it. If you turn your head to smile at them, you will lose your balance and fall off. You just know it.

You have to keep looking forward. 

The song you chose months ago, the song you’ve listened to a hundred times, suddenly sounds loud and strange. The verse trips over the chorus, the noise rushes through your ears, makes your heart rattle in your chest. And everything looks brighter, everything moves faster, it’s nearly too much. This is not fear, but it’s something like it. You put one foot in front of the other.

You have to keep looking forward.

Because there is somebody at the end, looking back at you, who keeps you steady. The man who has helped you keep your balance for years, when everybody knows you have that tendency to…shall we say, drop off the edge of things. That man is looking at you now, he is shifting foot to foot with excitement, his smile is bursting at the corners. 
And it’s too long now, this tiny registry office aisle, it’s TOO LONG. If you keep walking like this, you will simply never get to him -

- but before you can speed up your pace, he has broken ranks, bounded down the aisle to rescue you, scooped you up, squeezed you and covered you in happy, tearful kisses.

The tension is broken, and relief washes in. Everyone around you is laughing and clapping – he couldn’t even wait for her to get to the top – but you don’t hear or care. You are with him now, you are with your person, and the panic floats away.  
All day long, whenever you feel sick with anxiety (which is more often than the wedding magazines tell you it will be) you go and find him. And it all melts away.

You let go.
You keep your balance.

(photos are a mixture of friends’ snaps and the genius of Kevin McGonnall at BlackEyeSpecialist)

Categories: Life Experience, Wedding Planning, Wedding Reports
18 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Mahj
    Posted September 5, 2011 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Oh my Good God. If I had to sum up my experience of walking down the aisle, this would be it. Word for word. Save for the part about the groom bounding up the aisle to meet the bride, which upon reading, I let out a big squeee. In the middle of my busy office. DOH!

    Oh and Penny, those shoes are the shizzle! Pray tell where did you get such beauties??


  2. Esme
    Posted September 5, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Wonderful. x

  3. Posted September 5, 2011 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    I love your style of writing Penny, just heart melting. I love how your man looks at you too. Arrrh, too cute.

    I also love your whole wedding outfit, I mean, the dress is fabulous, but with the accessories it is awesome. I don't think I'd ever noticed pouffy veils before, and wow, your veil is magnificent. I would never use the word magnificent for a simple one layer veil.


  4. Fee
    Posted September 5, 2011 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Before reading this, I was dreading walking up the aisle – but you have made it sound scary yet fabulous and I now feel positively chipper!

    Your honesty is a breath of fresh air – unlike a certain bridal shop lady who told me that I would feel like an angel floating on a sea of love. What a mental image.

    To echo Mahj, the shoes are Awesome with a capital A- and your dress is AWESOME all capitals! Gorgeous!

  5. Posted September 5, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Penny, you write beautifully. "The man who has helped you keep your balance for years, when everybody knows you have that tendency to…shall we say, drop off the edge of things." Oh how I can relate to that and the rest of the post. Not easy to sum up that feeling of walking down the aisle but you've totally done it justice!

    Amazing dress, veil and shoes btw. You look totally gorgeous together and your husband's expression says it all :) . This is definitely not cookie cutter and I for one, would LOVE to see more photos! Cx

  6. Posted September 5, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Wow Mrs Penny has quite a way with words. I got all tingly butterflies in my tummy just thinking about it.

    Beautiful xxx

  7. Posted September 5, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    I am with you every step of the way Penny – I was nervous with you, tense for you, and then the tension broke and I couldn't help smiling and giggling to myself as the wave of relief washed over. Your writing is extraordinary and evocative and…well, just, more please! Xx

  8. Posted September 5, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Yay, I love it!
    Love the dress, and am more than a wee bit jealous about your pins!

    I am beyond nervous about the aisle, and reading your account I actually felt a bit sick also just going through the motions! But when you said he came to meet you I started smiling and just forgot all about the previous dilemma!

    Fantastic and please please let there be more!!!! xx

  9. Posted September 5, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Oh you lot have made my day. If I wasn't so sure Sam would mind, (and by these photos it looks like he MIGHT), I think we would kidnap Penny, keep her in the peach and grey AOW Towers and make her write our memoirs.

    @Cathy B – There's more Penny coming where we'll obviously bribe her for more photos…but once she's back from her honeymoon she'll started to post more on her (brilliant) blog:

  10. Posted September 5, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Thanks everyone, you are all completely awesome! Relieved I didn't put the fear of God into anybody about to take those big old steps up the aisle. Best piece of advice I ever heard was to just focus on your man… it really works! I do sometimes wonder if I hadn't kept that in my head if I would have run straight back down, probably screaming.

    Just a pit stop as rushing round packing madly for honeymoon, shoes are from River Island, £75, nice one!


  11. Posted September 5, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    "This is not fear, but it's something like it."



  12. Posted September 5, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Oh P-face. Penni-kins. PennyIhateyourgutsbecauseyoureofftoNYrightnow….

    This is BEAUTIFUL. You are stunning, your veil is stupendous, your husband is adorable… and your writing (as well as those shoes) rock my socks.

    Have an ammeeeeezzzzzing honeymoon, lady. See you sooooooon!


  13. Posted September 5, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    I heart penny. hooray.

  14. Posted September 6, 2011 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    Amazeballs, of course. I would expect nothing less. Have a fabulous honeymoon – we'll miss you at AOP! xx

  15. Reddo
    Posted September 6, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    How have I only found this blog 25 days (yep, 25, count 'em (or is that just me?) – eek!) before my wedding?! Planning on spending the next 24 days reading previous posts. It's not like I've got anything better to do…

    (Not so) secretly papping myself about walking down the aisle… even more so after Penny's post! Thanks for that!

3 Trackbacks

  • By Katie and Andy ~ A Wedding on February 29, 2012 at 12:21 am

    [...] talked before about how we don’t do cookie-cutter wedding reports. This blog isn’t about ‘THAT dress’ and ‘THESE shoes’, it’s [...]

  • By Mahj’s Wedding on February 29, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    [...] we only wanted to do them if they would really matter to you, our readers; if they would knock you sideways, if their honesty and candour would catch you off guard. Mahj’s wedding report [...]

  • By When Penny Married Sam on February 25, 2013 at 7:01 am

    [...] I don’t think any of us will ever see photographs like this again.  And of course,  no-one captures a moment like Penny.  Get some tea, sit back, take your time, and [...]

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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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