Short Notice Wedding Diary (Part 1)
The back story.
I met Steve online in the summer of 2002, I was looking for cheap car insurance and I found a husband. (He's not an insurance salesman we happened to own the same make of car and I found him in an online owners forum.). He proposed on Valentine's Day 2003 (awwww!) and that summer we decided to get married. Thing is we decided on June 21st to get married on August 16th giving us 8 whole weeks to organise everything.
I kept a diary of events and thought it would be fun to share.
Things were never going to be conventional.
I'm Not Pregnant!
“She’s not pregnant” – I’d wanted to add that line to the bottom of all our wedding invitations, but my gorgeous and everso patient husband to be wasn’t so sure. The problem was I’d fainted at my soon to be brother-in-law’s wedding just 3 weeks earlier and now here we were announcing our own wedding in just 8 weeks time on 16th August. It really didn’t look good.
I suppose there were several reasons we decided to get married at such short notice, but the main reason was that my brother (a Methodist minister) was going to marry us and he only had 1 date available that summer and we didn’t want to wait until the next one. Asking your brother to marry you isn’t something every girl gets the chance to do and dropping the line “….of course my brother married me” can still cause most people to choke on a canapé – especially at the sort of posh parties that serve canapés.
Steve, my hubby to be, is a tall (6ft 4ins) dark, good looking bloke, with a bit of a dishevelled Harry Potter look about him. He is a quiet, reserved character and generally can’t be rushed into anything (buying a new TV can take upwards of 6 months). I’m not entirely sure how I persuaded him that going from zero to a full white wedding in 8 weeks was a good idea, but I’m pretty sure alcohol was involved.
I've got a little list.
So, time to make a list (or 2)
Local Minister & Church – obvious really
Reception Venue – only a small wedding so shouldn’t be too tricky
Registry Office – to pin a small piece of paper on a wall just in case anyone passing has any objections to the union
Dress – the wedding dress shops seem to be full of them
Flowers – it’s summer - there’ll be flowers everywhere
Suits – his problem
Cars – bloke thing
Cake – anything large and white will do, surely.....?
Invites – best mention this to people quite soon
Gift list – Aha – now we’re talking
Then we had to make some more lists:
Dress – shoes, make up, hair, jewellery, veil or no veil? Tiara?
Flowers – Bride, church, button holes, mothers, reception.....
Reception – venue, entertainment, food, decoration, photographs....
It was meant to be!
Saturday 21st June
The easy part was the local minister – he and the church were both available – we took this as a good omen! (Even though my brother would be marrying us he was registered 200 miles away so we still needed the local minister present in his capacity as the legal registrar for our town.)
Next up, the reception venue. We’d thought that only planning a small wedding would make this part easy. Wrong! Most venues we found on the internet had a minimum requirement of around 50 guests (we only wanted 30), and most of the places that would accommodate 30 guests didn’t have websites...
Feeling rather pleased with the morning’s work we headed to the nearest likely town to sort out the rest – Marlow. It seemed to be the wedding capital of the Southeast and it was right on our doorstep.
We’d (OK – I’d) decided on a daisy theme for the wedding, which at least gave us something to work from. The perfect invites turned up in the 4th shop we tried – blank cards with daisies on the front which we could make our own insides for, there were definitely some benefits to keeping it small.
We window shopped a few jewellers for rings, but decided to put that one off for now. It was deemed a smaller detail that could be sorted over the coming weeks – after all we still had a whole 7 Saturdays to go till the big day!!
The dress – not a small detail – needed to be sorted straightaway. There are 2 main wedding dress places in this one small town so I thought I’d try my luck. 16 weeks minimum ordering time I was told – disaster! I could try the sale rail but even then they couldn’t alter it in time so I would have to find one that fit me. Major disappointment – they had hundreds of dresses in the shop, but I wasn’t allowed near them. It was here that I started to get used to the rolling of the eyes and the “well you’ve left it a bit late, haven’t you?” attitude.
“It’s not like I’ve done this before” I wanted to scream at them – you get married once – in theory – so how would I know it takes 16 weeks to sort out a dress? (Maybe that’s why people divorce so often – so they can get the plans right the second time around!)
Disillusioned we headed for Gerrards Cross – a very small town/ overgrown village even closer to where we lived – and wandered into its one small wedding dress shop. Again they initially quoted 12-16 weeks, but they let me explain things and then could not have been more helpful. I could have any dress in the shop and they’d alter it for me. Of course I’d have to take the one off the rail rather than have it ordered specially for me – but I thought that’s how these things worked anyway! I considered ditching potential hubby and marrying the woman in the shop out of gratitude but felt that may be a step too far.
I began hunting and, after a couple of false starts with massive meringues that would have done Scarlett O’Hara proud, I found my dream dress – almost identical to a picture of a dress I’d fallen in love with when we got engaged 4 months earlier. It was perfect in every way, needed only very minor alterations and they knocked £200 off for buying it off the rail – bargain! Of course, the only tiara I was happy with was the most expensive one they had – but with only 7 Saturdays to go to the big day, I couldn’t afford to be too choosey now could I?
Sunday 22nd July
Lying in bed that morning the realisation began to dawn – can we really do this in 8 weeks? We’d seen most of the family the previous evening at a family BBQ and broken the news to them. The mothers were the most concerned “We need to find an outfit in only 8 weeks”. “You need to find an outfit in only 8 weeks I thought – we need to.......” Hmmmm, time for another list but this time with a timescale. We broke everything we could think of into 3 sections “Today”, “This Week” and “After That”. “Today” covered things like addresses for the invites, designing the invites, begging sisters to make daisy themed cakes and doing some serious research on the topic of “wedding lists”.
Under the heading “this week” we covered hairdressers, florists, cars, suits, calling the registry office and sending out the invites. Maybe if we skipped sending out the invites the rest of it would become a whole lot easier! Most important was the call to the person every girl needs when planning her wedding – the best friend. I needed a voice of reason in the midst of the wedding psychosis that was rapidly gaining momentum in both families. Lucy is perhaps my closest friend and had the added benefit of having got married the previous year. Throughout the process she became affectionately known as “Mrs Fronk” and if you’ve ever seen Steve Martin’s version of Father of the Bride you’ll understand why.
The “after that” category was more of the tiny details – rings, service plan, reception logistics etc., etc., etc.
Monday 23rd June
Can’t really get a lot done during the week due to the massive inconvenience of having to go to work! How is a girl supposed to organise the biggest day of her life with all of these mundane trivial trivialities getting in the way? Still – could turn out to be a useful source of essential stationery items...
I called the potential reception venue to arrange a viewing and spoke to a rather rude man who claimed to be the “Banqueting Manager”. He said he was terribly busy all week with a local event but that we could meet to discuss my function in a week’s time. “My Function”?! My wedding wasn’t simply another function for him to slot into his busy calendar!
Frustrated and close to tears I hit the internet with a vengeance. Within about 10 minutes I’d found an 18th Century coaching inn (The Hit or Miss) that we’d visited a few times for a swift half after Sunday afternoon strolls. I picked up the phone and was soon speaking to Mary – a lovely Irish lady who was only too happy to look after me and make me feel special. I’ve never known an Irish person who didn’t know how to celebrate so I felt very safe in her hands. A quick visit that evening and everything was sorted.
The rest of Monday evening was set aside to send out the invites. We scoured a couple of wedding magazines to pick the right wording and set up a mini production line. I printed, he chopped and stuck the inserts into the cards, I wrote the addresses and he stuck the stamps. What teamwork – after this the next 50 years would be a doddle!
We walked hand in hand to the post box to send them off and were halfway home before it finally sunk in that there really was no going back now. The post office take a dim view of people caught with their arm wedged halfway into a post box. It wouldn’t have impressed my new in-laws much either. The "Point of No Return" had well and truly been reached.
In the next installment...
Read Part 2 and see what happens when I get to grips with wedding lists, wedding rings, flowers and hairdressers...