Confessions of an Imperfect Bride

So many of you know and love Katie. She of Simplified Science and World’s Most Beautiful Smile fame. I loved Katie anyway, she’s pretty awesome. And then I read this. A wedding report with a whole paragraph on bum-clenching.

A wedding report that says, ‘hey, it’s ok’. Everything is ok.’ A wedding report written with such candour and joy that you’ll believe, you’ll know, that everything really IS ok.

I wanted to write this for two reasons. First, who doesn’t want to relive one of the happiest days of their lives? Second, I think there’s a lot of expectation out there not just about how you will feel about the run-up to your wedding but also about how you will feel on your wedding day, and I know I felt, still feel in fact, like I was a singularly rubbish bride by the standard expectations. Even in the run-up to our wedding, I knew I wasn’t always worrying about the ‘right things’. Someone asked me if I was worried that my Mum’s dress clashed horribly with the bridesmaid’s dresses, and I laughed. Our venue florist asked me if I had considered napkins in an accent colour and I looked so blank I think she was vaguely concerned for my mental health. I didn’t think about what to wear on my wedding morning until I packed my bag two days before, and even then I just picked the cleanest pyjamas with no holes in. And I don’t say this because I think my way is better, or worse. I just think it’s different to what is quite often portrayed by wedding blogs and magazines, a lot of what I read when I was engaged made me feel like I could never be a Proper Bride. A normal bride. And maybe, by those standards, I wasn’t, but I still loved my day. I had the time of my life, even though it was messy and silly and hilarious at times. So, here is my story. If nothing else, it will be honest, and if just one person reads this and feels a little bit more normal by the end, I’ll count that as a win. Actually if anyone even bothers reading to the end, I’ll count THAT as a win.

It started two days before the wedding. We‘d had our rehearsal the night before, and I’d rushed there from the lab where I was doing my masters, possibly smelling vaguely of E.coli, to stand in the church and feel… weird. Weird, and unreal. That night I went to bed worrying that my wedding day would feel disjointed and disconnected and weird.  Then I woke up and plunged into chaos. I spent the morning in my pyjamas trying to edit together a vaguely coherent and logical playlist from the mishmash of genres and styles of music our guests wanted to dance to. I’d set aside approximately 1 hour for this job, because I’d forgotten that even after I’d decided on an order, I would need to trim the beginning and ends of each song to make sure they faded into the next song in a vaguely intentional sounding manner. It took me 4 hours. Intermittently I was phoning my future husband, who was out shopping for the children’s activity table which we had forgotten that we planned to have until that morning, to ask questions like “It totally make sense to segue from Ghostbusters into Don’t Stop Me Now, right? Because you DON’T want to stop the Ghostbusters now, or ever really, because they’re awesome, and anyway everyone will be drunk by this point, right?” or to issue inane reminders like “buy colouring books with FUN pictures, PLEASE!”


Later the same day, I went to have a massage to relax me out of the masters stress and into a relaxed and Zen-like wedding state of mind. Retrospectively, it would have taken a STRONG sedative to chill me out at that point. It’s not even that I was anxious, I was just manic with nerves and excitement and the need to jump up and down, and this is what happened…

Massage therapist: [in soothing tones] You’re really not relaxing, come on  now, just breathe, your bum muscles are so tense, don’t stress, there’s nothing to worry about, nothing will go wrong, it’s all going to be okay

Me: I’m not worried about it going wrong, I’m just excited about it going right

MT: That’s lovely, let’s just relax it out now, we’ll get you nice and relaxed and all ready for the big day

Me: Yes. It just is very exciting though.

MT: It is yes… but you need to stop clenching your buttocks now

Me: Sorry, I didn’t realise I was, maybe excitement just takes me that way

The day before our wedding, having evidently managed to stop bum clenching long enough to sleep, I woke up to the sound of two of my bridesmaids singing ”you’re getting married in the morning, except technically it’ll be in the afternoon” (time-accurate AND they managed to get it to scan correctly). We then packed up our overnight bags for the night before the wedding AND our the wedding night bags, AND our honeymoon suitcase. One of the things I would REALLY recommend brides-to-be do is not pack when you’re this hyped up and excited and stressed and anxious and you can’t stop singing about getting married. Take some time to write a packing list at a calmer moment, because the list of things I forgot to take on honeymoon include: my GHDs (like leaving my baby behind), any warm jumpers whatsoever (we went on honeymoon to Cornwall, where it rained 75% of the time, I was chilly), and my shampoo and conditioner (which resulted in Gareth having to request 10 bottles of conditioner from reception on the first night of our honeymoon so that I could brush the hair-sprayed backcombing out of my stupidly long hair).

Having failed to pack, we spent that morning getting our nails done, and Very Carefully transporting the cake my Mum, sister and cousin had created to the venue. Then, we decorated. The sight of the marquee when we were done was just amazing. During the 6 months leading up to our wedding, Gareth was doing a job that kept him away from home for the majority of the time, and even when it did allow him to sleep at home, still required 12+ hour days, so that he arrived home exhausted and stressed. At the same time, I was stuck into the busiest part of my research masters, spending upwards of 10 hours a day in the lab, wrangling with proteins. Between us, we did not have much time to organise a wedding.  Largely because I was the person actually at home, I did most of the organising. By the time we actually got married, I had completely lost track of what was going on, I couldn’t really remember what I’d told the florist, I’d booked a jazz pianist with no idea of what I’d asked her to play. My amazing bridesmaids had helped me make way too many pompoms, and my wonderful Mum and cousin had cut and sewed me way too many yards of bunting. I’d knocked together a table plan and table name cards in between running experiments in the lab. I had honestly no idea how it would all come together, I’d totally lost track of what I was doing, and I’d stopped even caring, but actually it looked incredible. Just like I’d pictured in my head. I honestly nearly cried, some part of my brain, throughout all the chaos and business and stress must have hung on tight to the mental image of what I thought our day would look like, and somehow held it together. Personally, I was astounded, a bit impressed by my own ability to make things happen, but mostly overwhelmingly grateful for the help of friends and family who had interpreted my vague floaty mutterings about garden parties and pompoms into a beautiful reality.

Leaving the marquee behind, we joined our friends and family for dinner, before I headed off home to wash my hair and get an early night…

Categories: Becoming A Wife, Wedding Reports
29 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Carly
    Posted May 20, 2013 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Is there a second part?! Pleeeease let there be a second part!!

    This is so brilliant Katie and I love the bum clenching!! Although, I like to pretend that I’m going to be the Graceful Bride on our day I know that more than likely, I won’t. I’ll trip over things and spill food down my dress, just like most other days!


  2. Posted May 20, 2013 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    I still fail to believe we are not actually twins KL! Can you email me part 2?
    Checking out now until we get back.
    Love you all!!!!

    • Posted May 20, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      Have the most AMAZING time on honeymoon!! Parts II and III do exist but are unfinished. An I definitey did not leave enough time to get ready either.

      K xx

      • Posted May 20, 2013 at 8:57 am | Permalink

        There’s three parts! THREE PARTS! The best news I’ve read all morning!

  3. Posted May 20, 2013 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Oh and just quickly to say I spent most of Saturday morning in my onesie with dirty hair wandering around the house aimlessly trying to pretend that I couldn’t see the river running down the road through the village from all the torrential rain. When Emma arrived I was in my jeans, wellies and raincoat in the marquee and just started screaming ‘oh my god I should be ready by now’.

  4. Posted May 20, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Katie you are awesome. You run at life at 1000 miles an hour, convinced you’re going to end up going arse over tit, only you never do because you always have it more together than you think you do. And the “waaah!” bit is the bit that makes you hilarious and brilliant and makes me want to squeeze. you. to. bits.

    love this! part two part two!


    PS glad it’s not just me that didn’t do wedding morning….I literally got up, had a shower, put my dress on, necked half a bottle of cava and went to the registry office.

    • Posted May 20, 2013 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      I love you, P. Without your wisdom, I may very well never have got as far as my wedding day without falling arse over tit.

      K x

    • Becca
      Posted May 20, 2013 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      I want to do Penny’s version of wedding morning. Including on mornings which are not wedding mornings.

      • Zan
        Posted May 20, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink

        I think that’s a pretty good rule of thumb for most days!

  5. Posted May 20, 2013 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    OMG this is awesome, this is how I feel at the moment. Please put part 2 up this week, I would love to read it before I get married. Xox

  6. Posted May 20, 2013 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Yup…. “manic with nerves and excitement and the need to jump up and down,” is just how it felt until it happened. I remember frantically doing stuff until the last possible minute (and getting my toenails done with my little sister, supposedly to relax, while it rained and rained and rained so I had to wear socks and shoes instead of flip-flops as recommended), but by then friends and family were there and they helped so much, and it was just amazing how it all came together. And the joy…

  7. Posted May 20, 2013 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Also, Katie I love your cake and all those pretty decorations! It’s beautiful… chinese lanterns and garden parties is what I dreamt of too.

  8. Chirsty
    Posted May 20, 2013 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    This is totally ace! I never knew how you brides keep it together in the run up to ‘I do’: I love that fact that you don’t really seem to know how you do either!
    I can only think that if I ever got married it would need to be at, like 8pm, to allow max time for onsie-wearing, wellies-on-pedicure, weather panicking headless-chickeness. Uour day sound just fab imho.
    Part the second!

  9. Fee
    Posted May 20, 2013 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Katie, how I love you! This is awesome because, as you point it, the ‘perfect bride’ thing lurks around blogs etc making the whole thing rather pressured (that’s an understatement!). I’m always glad to hear that there are other people who, say, accidentally get drunk the night before their wedding, smudge their manicure whilst walking out of the nail bar and forget to throw their bouquet. Those things happened to a friend of mine. Well, I say a friend but I mean me.

    I already knew you’re my kind of gal so this just confirms it. Mucho love xxxx

    • Carly
      Posted May 20, 2013 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      ‘ I say a friend but I mean me.’

      Ha, love it!


    • Gemma N
      Posted May 20, 2013 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      Ha ha!

      I smudged my manicure (the only one I’ve ever had in my life) as I had to go emergency bra shopping – I realised the night before that the lovely (and expensive) bra I’d spent ages choosing from the selections in London’s department stores didn’t sit right under my dress (the straps were constantly on show!), so ended up with a £15 standard from Debenhams.
      Impossible to fasten bras with newly painted nails without smudging!

  10. Posted May 20, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    And NOW I understand the bum-clenching bride jokes from this weekend. I was very confused!

    Fabulous KL – can’t wait for II and III


  11. Zan
    Posted May 20, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Oh Katie – this is fabulous – as are you! And I love any opportunity to look at your gorgeous wedding pics :)

    Someone told me the other day that I didn’t seem ‘stressed enough’ for a bride to be. Really? How stressed should I be??

  12. Posted May 20, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    I love this – it’s an amazing feeling to see everything coming together on the day/ day before when up until then you’ve no idea whether it will work or not.

    As long as what you’re doing works for you, that makes you the bride you should be, and anything else wouldn’t be real. We spent the last week twiddling our thumbs in nervous excitement because we’d run out of things to do. I spent Thursday evening watching tv and painting my nails with my MOH and my mother, and had to redo half of them on the morning of because it turns out I favour eating popcorn to waiting for polish to dry. Whatever works for you.

    Can’t wait for parts 2 and 3!

  13. Posted May 20, 2013 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    I love this. I had to rush back to my hotel to start getting ready as my hairdresser and photographer were there already so I took my t-shirt off bunged a dressing gown on for modesty and then sat down for the long task of getting my hair set before running around the room singing power ballads as it was just. so. exciting.

    And I totally agree with the packing when you are feeling more sensible. We went to Edinburgh after the wedding and it rained every day. We had no coats or jumpers so had to make an emergency stop in Debenhams to get kitted out in warm stuff!

    Can’t wait for parts 2 AND 3! Excellent! :)

  14. Sharon
    Posted May 20, 2013 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    This is brilliant, can’t wait for parts 2 and 3. I’d echo the packing advice – we had a couple of days between the wedding and going away, and thought we could do it all then but packing with a hangover is not fun at all, particularly when you realsie you then need to go shopping as there are things you need. That was not fun!! xxx

  15. Steff
    Posted May 20, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Taking a brief moment to read this without a baby in my arms and so glad I did!! Katie you are nothing short of awesome. Gorgeous words, stunning pictures and a fabulously sunshiney story to brighten up an incredibly dull day.

    I was a full 45 minutes late for our wedding… And I was only 5 minutes up the road so couldn’t even blame traffic. As is customary in our family the morning of was complete pandemonium. You get use to it.

    Please finish parts 2&3 soon!! Xx

  16. Gemma N
    Posted May 20, 2013 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Loving this. Is there any such thing as a perfect bride, really?! In fact, surely every bride is the perfect bride, as they have the wedding that is perfect for them.

    Wedding magazines have a lot to answer for. I never usually buy magazines, they are just full of the same old stuff month after month, and I’m sure are intended to make women feel inadequate. And wedding magazines are exactly the same but for some reason I became addicted to them when I got engaged, I must have spent a fortune.

  17. Amanda M
    Posted May 20, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    I did enjoy reading this. The bum clenching must be good for muscle tone, no? I have this thing where I draw my shoulders up when stressed: this is not a good look. A masseuse once told me that I had the tightest shoulder muscles she’d ever come across – I felt quite proud for a moment until I realised what she meant!

    And I’m shocked – SHOCKED – that you hadn’t considered an accent colour for your napkins ;-)

  18. Posted May 20, 2013 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    Thank you all for the amazing comments. This morning I woke up thinking “shit, why did I write about my buttocks, they’re all going to think I’m a LOON”….

    I should have remembered that we’re all imperfect loons here. This is what I want all brides to know.

    K x

  19. Rach M
    Posted May 21, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    “and if just one person reads this and feels a little bit more normal by the end, I’ll count that as a win”

    It’s a big win. I already don’t think I’d have got THIS close to my wedding day without you and your excellent advice. Fangirl swoon at your brilliance. Belly laughed at buttock-gate. Please say it’s not too long until we’ll meet. You are awesome. XX

    • Posted May 21, 2013 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

      If the weird excited bum-clenching hasn’t put you off, then I will meet you the second you land back in this country!

      K xxx

      • Rach M
        Posted May 22, 2013 at 4:56 am | Permalink

        Ye-hooo!!!!!!! Xxx

  20. Posted May 21, 2013 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Love it!! Can’t wait for the next parts.

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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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