It’s coming up to our seventh wedding anniversary and nothing’s itchy yet. Which is good, because the wedding itself was the one gleaming cherry on top of a whole load of stress – stress fantastically dissipated by a team of stalwart mates to whom we owe our sanity and our thanks. We were reviewing it at the pub last night.
The groom-to-be had his jobs – mainly shouting ‘HOW MUCH??’ at every opportunity.
The guest list was a doozy. ‘But I don’t know half of these people’ he complained. ‘Yes, and I don’t know the other half, it’s how weddings work’ I shot back.
So, much of the planning and all of the budget was handled like a covert operation from then on. Friends were so generous with their time. Even, of all things, my bank stepped up to the plate. Two days before the wedding someone defrauded my debit card and the bank cancelled the card. I had to collect the dress I’d had made and they wouldn’t take a cheque. I sat in my office and, I’m ashamed to say, burst into tears on the phone to Barclays. I’d only taken two days off to get married and had loads of stuff to pay for on that, now cancelled, card. They arranged for me to collect ‘a bag of cash’ from a nearby branch, and sent a bouquet – who’d of thought it.
The usual other stuff whirled on around us. Himself choosing not to wear a tie – I was happy for him to wear whatever, his mum was horrified. Coming back from ‘hair’ on the day, with a good friend, the groom rang to ask us to collect 20 bags of ice cubes from Iceland. My friend just said firmly – ‘tell him you’re being the bride’. I did. Bless him he said ‘quite right’ and buzzed off to collect. I suspect she just didn’t want 20 bags of ice in the boot of her Polo though (nor did either of us want to hump bags with hair and nails immaculate).
Sitting having my make up done in the conservatory, I started to calm down. I felt in control. I’d stashed M&S sandwiches in the fridge and a couple of bottles of Bollinger. This was for the immediate wedding party – and amazing helpers – to fortify themselves before the service. However, tons of other lovely people turned up at the house first. This meant that my makeup man and I had a glass of Bollinger each, visitors tucked into the sandwiches and a pre-toast glass of fizz to the happy couple and the groom, who had insisted he was not going to sleep anywhere but with me the night before, had nothing, nor could he get into the bathroom which was occupied permanently by a series of glamorous women. He did eventually manage a shower, but that was it. He had to be bought a Ginsters pasty by the best man – from the pub over the road – while he hovered at church the door. Bless him, he didn’t give a rat’s ass, wasn’t a bit nervous and managed to present himself relatively crumb-free at the altar.
Because we’re not particularly formal, this was all just fine. Plus it had been lovely to see everyone at the house prior. Even when the pal with my wedding car forgot to come back for me, it was ok. Yep, after hasty negotiation the bride arrived in the passenger seat of the makeup artist’s Mini which, for some reason, had been reclined. I arrived lying down with a bouquet clutched to my chest – a bit like one of the brides of Dracula.
So it was surprising when the new husband murmured to me late on into the reception – ‘I think I know where we’re spending the wedding night.’ He went on excitedly – ‘We’re going by helicopter to a country house hotel.’
Johnny France (bridegroom, hero – ‘made’ the bar in the marquee when the tent men’s kept falling over)
Gordon Orr (best man, groom’s Ginsters bitch)
Jack and Mary France (John’s mum and dad thanks for the contribution to the HOW MUCH??? fund)
Steve Grimes (gave away bride, nearly married Gordon due to confusion at the altar)
Hannah Rankin (junior bridesmaid)
Diane Cook (stalwart Godsend: most amazing Spanish food served by the nicest staff & perfect taste in cutlery & glassware)
Jackie Rankin (stalwart Godsend: numerous)
Nikki Chee (stalwart Godsend: numerous)
Carol Cundiff (stalwart Godsend and maker of the most incredible wedding cake, despite being on crutches)
Kathie Grimes (jeweller/florist and wife of my cousin Steve who generously did the most incredible flowers for church, marquee, junior bridesmaid and me – and made our wedding rings)
Nigel Ratcliff (stalwart Godsend)
Richard Neary (rescued the mini bus John’s mum and dad’s party of friends had arrived in from a ditch on the side of our track, we suspect driver had been texting his girlfriend!)
Armand Beasley (without whom I wouldn’t have got to the wedding – and with eyelashes that stayed on all day)
Jean Mullen (my mum, made the bunting)
Howard and Adam (helped with flower pot relocation)
All the sleepover team who helped cook breakfast and do a bit of dismantling with us the next day, and everyone who came along.