A City Girl’s Country Wedding – Part 2

Happy Tuesday, readers!  Anna here.

I admit, sometimes I get wedding-overload.  Weddingitis.  And we don’t even write about weddings that often; we tackle every subject from feminism to politics to pretty.  But it’s this kind of post that makes me realise the point.  What a wedding represents.  How you feel during the day, about what happens during that day, and what that says about you. 

You 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 are still there and Lani’s still a die-hard romantic without the schmaltz.  Perfection.  I give you Lani:

I entered the church… and took a step towards my man, his smile and our marriage. I honestly felt as if I was gliding. Everything was perfect – the music, the candle light, the scent of roses, and all the people who matter to us were there, beaming. 

I think the rafters actually lifted when the congregation bellowed out the hymns, and I’m not sure the organ has recovered since. I was so proud to hear our friends before us giving it all they had! But when Robert and I said our vows, it was as though we were in an empty room; no-one else was there, just a shard of winter sunlight piercing through the church window onto us. I remember our perfect first kiss, not like a movie or a teenage snog, but that intimate, confident kiss that only comes with love and respect.

And then we were off! The wedding whirlwind swept into action. The ushers were fantastic, distributing confetti and pouring mulled wine for the guests as they emerged into the glittering, frosty day. As we emerged holding hands into the fresh day, blinking in the bright light – and there waiting for us outside the church with a pretty wedding bow, was my Tilly dog. I’m not sure which of the three of us was most excited by this. I so desperately wanted to give her a big cuddle, was warned by everyone else that muddy paws and a white dress are not a great combination. Still, we posed for a family portrait, and she joined us for a run through the confetti. Still my favourite wedding picture – I love the colours, and the absolute joy you can see on our faces.

I’ve been to lots of weddings where the milling around the church afterwards could last an hour, but within 15mins we were leaving. Robert explained that, as it was so cold, it made sense to encourage people to the warmth of the hotel as soon as possible – but mainly that he just wanted me to himself in the car for a while. And he was so right; we needed a breather, and a chance to reflect as a married couple on the ceremony and the day so far. I loved that time together, looking at each other’s outfits, describing how we’d spent the last 12 hours apart, and reflecting over a bottle on fizz on how wonderful the service had been. As we pulled up to the hotel, a tiny part of me wished we could stay in that car for an hour or so, just quietly, happily, lovingly together.

But of course I was also desperate to get out and see the venue! We arrived at the hotel before the majority of the guests, warm from the car and uber-excited. I’m a real attention to detail person, and a dreamer, and a cynic – which basically means that I have high expectations, which are rarely met because I always see the small faults instead of the bigger picture. But as we walked around I was stunned – my florist had worked absolute magic. All the time spent making menus, and table plans, and table names, and porcelain place cards, and deciding just which scent candles should go where – it had all paid off. The whole venue was almost perfect; and, when I’d asked for the orange gerberas to be removed (really? with my vintage pink roses and berry eucalyptus?) then it WAS perfect! 

We quickly stepped outside, hoping to get the majority of the pictures at the start of the reception, allowing more time for the reportage photography that we both love so much (and that our photographer excelled in). I’m told that our guest stood in the drawing room watching us, and wondering how we could cope outside, in what was now below freezing, and with me risking my dress on the muddy grass. But I honestly didn’t feel the cold; I had my man and a bucket full of adrenaline to keep me going. I was probably more nervous about the photography than any other part of the day, but lovely Bertie my photographer put me utterly at ease. There’s even a few pics that I count as passable!

My sister Ash, the bridesmaid, was amazing, and basically treated this a as a working day. As soon as she arrived at the hotel she was on duty – running to the room to get my weddingtons and shrug, then down again, then taking my other shoes back into the house, then getting a change of shoes for my mum, then in the cloakroom sorting out my veil for me, then re-lacing my dress tighter….I just couldn’t have asked for a better bridesmaid, I was so touched by the love and thought she showed me, and was so proud of her.

Meanwhile, photos were over and the fun could start. I remember a sense of relief that I could now, finally start enjoying the reception and catch up with my friends. It was odd that they’d been at the wedding for a couple of hours, and only now was I able to say hello to my best friends properly. Then, suddenly it was time for dinner, and I was being moved into the line up. I kept wondering if they would like the breakfast room, and wishing I could be in there to see their reactions. I think I wanted to be a guest at the wedding!

Of course, dogs and children will always steal the show, and the highlight was seeing my 7 month year old niece, soundly asleep in her playpen, being lifted into dinner by Robert’s strapping uni friends. I love that picture – it’s those unscripted, unique moments that make every wedding so wonderfully personal and special to the couple.

We were announced twice – an over enthusiastic wedding planner tried to steal the Best Man’s thunder – but we’ll be having none of that, thank you sir! We wove our way to the top table, ressting the temptation to stop and talk, and instead stealing smiles from friends as we went past. The room we ate in looked perfect, like my every wedding fantasy had come true, and even better than it had looked earlier, as now the sun was setting outside and the room flickered in candlelight. 

I tried to look elegant and poised, but really I was just giddy with emotion, with adrenaline, with excitement and anticipation. I kept looking around to see if guests were enjoying the menu and matching drinks that we’d spent time tasting and planning, even if that did include fizz, 2 wines, sticky and port! It all comes together in the end you know – all those little events through the engagement year, like food tasting, or wine tasting, and all those conversations you have about what would be best – suddenly it’s happening right in front of you, being played out better than you could ever have hoped, and even more so because you’re looking at it together from new eyes. And you realise that although this is all wonderful, the irony is that suddenly you’ve found a new perspective and it really doesn’t matter that much, because you’re married, and that fact in itself is the star of the show – not the dessert wine!

And oh, the speeches. It’s the Irish tradition that everyone is invited to make a speech should they wish to, which is a dangerous offer to a room of debaters, teachers, politicians and lawyers. My charming, gentle father was superb, managing to make me feel like a princess without having to blush too much. My husband’s speech made me cry, and also won the biggest cheer of the day (“And so, on behalf of – wait for it – MY WIFE AND I!!!”). The best man made me laugh. And as for the rest, I can only say how amazing it is to hear a dozen or so friends making toasts to us as a couple. Some were witty, some were aimed at making us blush, some were hilarious and others just genuinely heartfelt and utterly moving. If I have a regret, it’s this: not recording the speeches in some way. I wish I had a way of capturing forever the moment when my father-in-law welcomed me to the family. 

The wedding rollercoaster swept us along. After the dinner, it all seems to blur into one. The evening guests were waiting to greet us as we entered the main hall again, and the champagne started flowing yet again. We were straight into the first dance – but Robert was nowhere to be found; suddenly I was there on the dancefloor alone, and the music had started, and I had no husband! He came up behind me, and I felt his strong hands on my waist – we were whole again. Robert and I hadn’t practised a song, hadn’t told people to come in after a verse, hadn’t really thought that much about the first dance to be honest, so it was just us, shuffling around the dance floor together for a whole song (a live band performing the Adele version of “To make you feel my love”, since you ask). Probably awkward to watch, no doubt a little dull for the guest, but my goodness, it was the single most romantic part of my day. Just Robert and I, looking into each other’s eyes, forgetting the rest of the performance and theatre of the day for a few precious moments and loving each other entirely.

There are just so many elements to a wedding! When you plan it, it all looks pretty straight forward on paper, but then there’s the cake to cut, and then the group photo, and so many evening guests still to be greeted. 

I was a little relieved when the set pieces were over and I could get back to having fun! My dress, apparently, also wanted to let go for a while, and I was re-laced a few times for my own safety… Frankly, by 1.30am I was over-excited, over-tired, and, until my dress was tightened, at times a tad over-exposed. I put my arm around Robert; it was game over. I wanted my man and I wanted my bed. But I was so very happy. And for the first time, I didn’t mind leaving the party a bit early.  

So, the best day of my life? One of them, for certain. But as we woke the next day, something else dawned on me. For in starting my new life, as Mrs Donnell, the best is yet to come.

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


  1. Posted December 20, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    I love this wedding. The speeches sound fabulous. Your description of the church service is perfection, and the hotel and flowers are beautiful. Lani and Robert's look so happy. :)

    The comment on asking the Gerberas to be removed, made me giggle, it sounds like something I would do. I describe gerberas as a "happy smiley" flower, and not matched to vintage roses, which I would describe as a "romantic" flower.

    Superb choice of first dance song (same as ours).


  2. Posted December 20, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Ah beautiful! And what a way with words. "I was re-laced a few times for my own safety" made me splutter.

    Any news on that screenplay yet?

  3. Alanah
    Posted December 20, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Thank you ladies! Loved having the opportunity to re-live it through these posts. And your reactions make it all the more worthwhile. Seriously thinking I could do a whole post with just pictures of the dog…

    Alanah (Lani) x

  4. Posted December 20, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    I LOVE this. Your writing is so evocative, I feel like I was there with you. Sounds (and looks) like a wonderful magical day with which to start the rest of your lives.

    K x

  5. amy f
    Posted December 20, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Alanah – yes please to a dog pics post!

  6. amy f
    Posted December 20, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Alanah – yes please to a dog pics post!

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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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