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…