I didn’t expect it to go well. The whole thing had been a disaster from day one. From choosing a venue, to organising guests and bridesmaids, to finding a make-up artist; nothing about that wedding came easy.
Standing outside the church, with the painted faces of the Lollipop Guild staring wildly at me (OK, it was the bridesmaids and my family, who all looked sensational, but at that moment in time I wasn’t looking at them favourably) I was about ready to explode. My dad was stepping on the side of my dress, I was tripping over the front of my dress, the flower girls had pulled my veil off whilst holding the back of the damn dress and rather than help me everyone was just stood there with insane smiles on their faces expecting me to be ready to walk down the aisle. As my poor mum desperately tried to get the veil to clip back in, I was about ready to scream.
Thankfully, it all got better from there…
There are some moments I will never forget: hearing our wedding song playing in the church, after over a year of listening to it on YouTube whilst hanging out of the window with a cigarette pissed up on a Friday night; looking up at my soon-to-be husband, his face pink from crying, overcome with emotion; catching glimpses of my friends smiles out the corner of my eye as I walked down the aisle; my father-in-laws face, he looked like he might burst with pride; the horrendous organist as she murdered ‘this little light of mine’; my mum. The rest is a sea of faces, words and posing for photographs in my memory, but every now and then when I’m lying in bed, the whole thing plays in my mind like a movie and I try desperately to grab every detail as the camera rolls.
Could my reception have been any more perfect? To me, no. It was party I had always wanted. I felt like Sarah from the Labrynth walking around the Masquerade Ball; smiling faces swirled around me as old friends mixed with their new acquaintances, the hum of conversation and laughter drifted in and out of my awareness as I swished and swayed my way amongst the perfectly chosen guest list, at my perfect garden party.
I don’t think I remember a time when I belonged anywhere. My whole life I’ve felt like a disposable extra in group situations. I’ve never quite fit in. Never been geeky or cool enough for either party. You can guarantee I’m the one who will drink too much and make a fool of herself, or get emotional, usually both. I’ve spent most of my 32 years looking for a place where I ‘fit’, trying to find the entrance to a glass bowl I could see everyone else swimming in. But on my wedding day the bowl was mine. I felt like the most beautiful woman in Wales. The buzz around me was mine to play in, bask in, belong in. I was surrounded by people who made me feel accepted and safe. The empath in me took a day off, there was no negativity to absorb; I was free for a day. The indoor gathering extended to a garden setting, all the people who matter most to me flitting among nature; the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party meets Jane Austin. Swishing about in my dress like a fairytale princess I was painting my own pretty picture instead of being rubbed out of someone else’s.
It was a day for celebrating family. Re-connected family. Extended family. Friends who have become family. Marvelling at perfectly behaved children. It was a time for us both to be thankful for our inspiring parents who stuck by us both through all the dramas and traumas of our existence so far. If Dave talked about me during his speech then I don’t remember it, all I remember is his outpouring of love to his parents and mine. The day wasn’t just about a celebration of our marriage, it was a celebration of all the people who were around us on our way to getting there, a toast to the other passengers on the journey.
I will never forget the look of happiness on my mums face at the end of the night as I danced with my friends. It was a moment where time stopped for a second to allow me to appreciate the wonderful gift I have. My dad making his way to the dance floor like an excited teenager, my mum stopping for a moment as she was clearing tables to take in the scene. Just for a second, the world stopped spinning to allow perspective.
As we sat in the garden at the end of the night, the last ones standing, I had never been more sure that I had made the right decision. It had been the most perfect day, our day. I was swollen with pride for this amazing man sat beside me and all the demons he had buried to get to this moment. As he looked sleepily at me, silently hoping it was time for bed, I begged for one more dance under the moonlight, if I didn’t sleep the day would never have to end.
Side note: You know the scene in Knocked Up where she interviews 50 gaenys and then the one she chose wasn’t available when she gave birth anyway? That’s kinda what it’s like planning a wedding. You can agonize over every minute detail but in the end you just gotta go with it; you can’t plan memories.
Thanks for reading – Penny Lane