A City Girl’s Country Wedding – Part 1

I wanted to call this “Battle Without Honour or Humanity…Part 1″.  I know this badass scene in Kill Bill isn’t exactly the most appropriate sub-title for a post about a wedding; especially one as filled with beauty and grace as Alanah and Robert’s.  But there’s something in it.  I love that it was playing through Lani’s head.  Such a poignant soundtrack to a moment in time that is about power, and strength,and overcoming the odds. 
I’ve been waiting for Lani’s take on her wedding for a long time.  This is about being on the threshold of something great; asks when being married really starts (hint, it’s not on the day); and questions what it is to be a bride.  Lani writes, and writes well, bringing vivid moments and important questions to life.  Perfect for a Tuesday afternoon. 


All photos by the immensely talented Guy Collier.  Over to you, Lani:
When I look back at my wedding, it’s hard to see it as a single day, or think of any one point in isolation. Did it start when I woke up that morning, or the rehearsal the day before? Can I separate the event from the planning, which in itself was a magical whirlwind of tastings, treat and try-ons?
I’ll save my engagement story for another post (suffice to say, there was snow on a beach and pink champagne). But I think for me that’s where the wedding really started – because that’s when I knew I really would marry Robert. 
Robert and I have known each for 10 years, but only became a couple in October 2006, after friends and a flat move brought us closer together. With the introduction of Tilly the terrier in 2008, we became a little family, and both knew that we were going to get married; it was just a question of when.
But I never dreamed that getting married would have such a big impact on our relationship. I guess I was excited about the ‘event’, and we’ve both always felt that marriage is an important part of our shared Christian beliefs, but what I discovered in the year that followed the engagement, up to our wedding and subsequently, is the deep, profound, fundamental change that marriage has had on us – and how much stronger we are for it.
But – back to the big day. So I think for me it really started at about the day before. We’d had the rehearsal and I’d choked out my lines between tears in front of our family and the wedding party, and we were back at home for afternoon tea. The house was rammed- both families, the best man and two grooms’ men (typical Robert), other friends, and the Vicar, the dog, and I was in full hostess mode, until…  people started to leave. And I realised that this was it, I needed to go upstairs, pack my bags and leave too… and the next time I saw Robert would be at the altar.
I went upstairs to pack up my bag, and despite the weeks of planning, and lists, and piles of clothes, I absolutely floundered. I grabbed an old bag, threw my toothbrush in it, and then just sat on my bed staring at it. I thought about every list I’d written, and how it wasn’t enough, because they were only the physical trimmings, and I had no list that prepared me for being married. The only time I remember feeling that same mixture of fear and excitement was when I started to pack for uni – and, as had happened then, I was rescued by my mum.
My mum was, frankly, awesome. She gave me just enough time and sympathy to let me whimper, before helping me pack, and reassuring me that everything would be ok, and yes, I could buy hair pins on the way to the hotel, and to pack all four pairs of wedding shoes in and just decide which I wanted on the day.

So with bags packed and goodbyes said (to the dog, to the best men, and to the Groom who made me laugh and cry), we set off to the hotel. Hurrah! When I finally closed the door to my room, and had my parents, my sister and no-one else, I began to relax. We ordered junk food, drank GTs and watched bad TV, until the need for beauty sleep kicked in.
Although – who actually sleeps the night before the wedding? I remember having a bath, and then a shower, and then spending an hour with my mum re-pressing the bridesmaid dress, and then watching a bit of cricket with my sister… I must have eventually fallen asleep around .
One thing I do distinctly remember – I missed Robert. There was I, going through one of the most exciting nights, and all I could think was that he was the one person I wanted to share it with, and he wasn’t there! It was like I was missing a part of me, it didn’t feel right not having him there. And like that, I knew it was right. And Robert was there in a way too – he’d arranged for three magnificent arrangements of the wedding flowers to be left in our rooms, for my mum, sister. Having that connection to him even though he wasn’t there, and the fact that he’d arranged this surprise not just for me but my mum and sister too… it all added to the magic.


The Day Dawned. I was up waiting to meet it.
I lay in bed next to my sister, like we were children together, play fighting and tickling each other. I imagine a psychologist would easily see through this regressive behaviour, but it felt so comforting – like things weren’t really going to change at all.
I showered again, and then the routine started. It’s pretty difficult trying to time getting ready so that I could be in a suitable state of undress to be decent for the photographer, but not so dressed that I was sat waiting around for hours.
After several attempts at hair trials, make up trials and fake tans, I decided the best thing to do was to just do it myself, – or rather, get me my mum and Ash to do it with me. So the process of hair curling and make-up began. Of course, in order for them to help, they both had to be semi-ready to go too, or else risk being photographed in their underwear and then have no time for their own make-up at the end. Cue asking the photographer to pop in and out of the room as we went from robes to dresses, calling him back in when the coast is clear. Didn’t stop a few pics of Ash barely holding up her dress though!


Meanwhile, at the boy’s house… After a night in the pub, they were indulging in a mega fry-up, and were getting ready when they ushers arrived. Of course, I’d left full instructions for them, which were no doubt read aloud whilst mocking my control-freakery.


I knew Robert was going to be wearing his grandfather’s pocket watch, and so my wedding gift to him was a compass fob from the same period – an heirloom to add to the watch, that our children would one day inherit. And from Robert, I had diamond and pearl earrings which he’d bought in his homeland of Northern Ireland, to celebrate the heritage we share. Although we’d exchanged gifts earlier that week, it was only later, in his speech that Robert told me how much it meant – that I was his compass, his rock and his guide, leading him through life. So even now I blush thinking of it, and tears well in my eyes.   


The boys wandered across to the church, carrying trays for serving mulled wine after the wedding. Once there, Robert decided to start his speech in-between greeting the arriving guests. Thankfully our wonderful vicar Jane, who lives in our village and had shown Robert and I so much love and support as we prepared for our wedding, was there to welcome guest too and help keep Robert calm.



So, back to me, mum and Ash in a hotel room. The flowers arrived, as did the flowergirl, we saw the car pulling up the long drive, and we were set. By this point the photographer had left, but there was a moment, in my room, where the three of us were ready and just waiting for my Dad to come to collect us – when we looked perfect. Absolutely beautiful, radiant, perfect, and ready. I can still feel that feeling in my stomach, like the sudden stillness when you realise you’re at the centre of a whirlwind. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as pretty, and I couldn’t have been more proud of my family. When my Dad saw us, and we saw his reaction, it was all I could do not to cry the make up off!


Have you see Kill Bill? There’s a famous scene, when Lucy Liu is walking down the corridor, to the instrumental track “ Battle without honour or humanity”. Well, that’s exactly what was playing through my head as my family and I walked through endless corridors to meet the wedding cars!

It was freezing – the only weekend in November when it didn’t snow, but instead had bright blue skies and a scent of Christmas on the wind. I had to take my shoes off to get into the car.
I’m sure I’m not the only bride who sat in the car to the church feeling as if it was some kind of out of body experience. I was absolutely detached from events – was this it? Was it actually happening now? Was everything ready? Was I nervous? I guess I felt a bit numb, my mind was totally blank. We were a little early, so the driver pulled over in one of the lanes leading to the church, and my Dad got out for a nerve-calming ciggie. I sat in the car, shut my eyes, and tried to calm my breathing, which had got distinctly quicker than normal.
And with that, we were there. The wedding circus started again. The driver put my shoes back on. I checked my hair. I did a twirl for the waiting village ladies, who follow the tradition of coming out to see the bride. I smiled at late-comers running past to get into church. I met the vicar. I arranged my dress. My father pulled my veil over my face. I held my bouquet. I heard the organist start. I saw my sister and niece walk into the church. I looked up and saw the guests waiting. And I walked into the church.




 

Categories: Wedding Planning, Wedding Reports
7 interesting thoughts on this

6 Comments

  1. Posted December 13, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Oh so glad that this is only part 1. What a way with words you have. Wonderful. Wonderful. Wonderful.
    Yes so true about the wedding starting with engagement. When people asked 'How's married life?' I actually feel the biggest change was 'How does it feel to be engaged?' As that was the key moment.

  2. Posted December 13, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful writing, and beautiful wedding. I love a good ol country wedding. Please don't make us wait too long for Part 2.

    Alanah, you look fabulous, and are so thoughtful, and lovely.

    Andy wore his Grandad's pocket watch too, never thought to buy him a compass fob though.

    xx

  3. amy f
    Posted December 13, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Beautifully written first part! I was engrossed in the words and then noticed the pics and went 'oh, it's the richard curtis wedding' – totally filmic! (is that a word?)

  4. Posted December 13, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    You looked so unbelievably beautiful – stunning! Loved this, and I love the idea of a compass fob present. (Thank you!) I definitely feel we have changed during the last six engaged months and I am loving it.

    I hope married life continues to get better and better and bring on Part 2! xx

  5. Posted December 13, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Has anyone else noticed that the men are eating a fry up at twenty to sodding twelve? At that time I was hyperventilating. Bagsy being the groom in my next life…

  6. Alanah
    Posted December 20, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Thanks so much for all your lovely comments! Really touched by them – Bertie and I sat at home reading through and giggling. We were absolutely going for that Richard Curtis look, so the fact that you've noticed that is awesome – mission fulfilled!

    Alanah (Lani)x

One Trackback

  • By A City Girl’s Country Wedding – Part 2 on February 29, 2012 at 9:30 am

    [...] loved Lani’s evocative write-up of the first part of her beautiful, country wedding.  This is the eagerly-anticipated Part 2…the writing’s still powerful, the lessons [...]

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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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