This was it. The big day.
All was in hand. The dress fit like a dream, the shoes had arrived in time and unscathed, and I was ready to walk down the aisle polished and mentally prepared for the barrage of extended family that would inevitably follow post-ceremony.
It’s a hard life being a wedding guest.
On Saturday, my mother-in-law tied the knot with her partner of six years, George. A joyous occasion which brought together friends and family from all around, including my mother and my auntie, Lilian.
I woke up bleary-eyed on the Saturday morning knowing not what to expect either way. For the first time in 11 years (almost five married), I was about to meet most of Alex’s extended family in one fell swoop. It wasn’t just important to make a good impression; it was important to remember that the ‘f’ word was going to have to take a break from my vocabulary for at least 12 hours.
A challenge in and of itself.
In standard fashion, I’d cut it extra fine when getting ready, mostly because I’m now so keen to get my face on properly that it takes me 30 minutes just to moisturise, prime, lay down foundation and ‘bake’. Something I couldn’t give two shits about six months ago.
Bidding farewell to the children (the cats), and dressed in our finery, we made our way to Abergele, North Wales. We’d been reliably informed that not only was Chester Races on the same day, but that there was a celebration of sorts happening at the castle on the way to Bridget’s house, so the concern for making it on time was real.
Not only that, but part way through the journey I’d spotted an unruly eyebrow hair that was in desperate need of tweezing, so I was now going to have to dig said tweezers out of the boot of the car whilst Alex changed into his best shoes, with the eyes of Bridget’s neighbours upon us. Brilliant.
The house was eerily quiet as we arrived with none of the usual fanfare that surrounds an occasion such as this, but then we were talking about two people who’d found each other later in life, so it was much lower key than your average wedding these days.
As is tradition with any kind of gathering at someone’s home, we convened in the kitchen (Alex, his brother, his brother’s girlfriend and I) whilst the bride had the finishing touches added to her look.
One of the highlights for me was meeting Alex’s brother’s girlfriend, Julia; a charming, intelligent ER doctor with an enviable French-Canadian accent who’d met her now boyfriend at a festival in Belgium the year before and was joining us all the way from her home of Quebec.
I couldn’t help but think that ‘From Quebec to Abergele’ would make a decent title for a memoir, should she ever make the decision to re-locate, as we stood idly in the kitchen watching the clock.
We (Julia, Bridget’s hairdresser and I) piled into the car on the short journey to the church, leaving Alex and his brother to carry out honorary ‘father of the bride’ duties and join their mum in her car.
I’ll admit to being apprehensive at the thought of a church wedding for a few reasons.
- I’m an atheist, so being in a church generally makes me uneasy, knowing that I hold none of the beliefs on which the place was founded.
- I’ve always been of the opinion that the addition of ‘God’ and ‘Jesus’ to any ceremony only serves to detract from the importance of the couple on their day. It’s much more miraculous in my eyes that they’ve managed to find one person they’re happy to tolerate day in, day out for the rest of their lives and have made it through the stress and emotional upheaval that’s often involved when planning such an event.
- Being surrounded by gravestones post ceremony leaves you feeling like you’ve wandered onto the set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and all you’re missing is your stake and a hilarious, timely retort.
Nevertheless as we walked into the church, we were greeted with a warm welcome by the presiding vicar, and some rather bewildered ushers who left me questioning whether I was saying my name correctly as they showed Julia and I to our seats in the front row.
Once Bridget and her boys arrived via a swift walk down the aisle, the ceremony could begin, and although religious rhetoric, prayers and hymns were rife, it was difficult not to be enamoured by the love and happiness in the room as they said their vows. There’s really nothing like a wedding to give you faith in humanity – with or without the Holy Spirit in tow.
Wedding photos have got to be one of the trickiest elements of any wedding, and Saturday was no exception as the sun shone and wind blew, leaving us with squinty eyes and tousled mops in equal measure. As we gathered in the churchyard, I made the acquaintance of Alex’s extended family, including aunts, uncles and cousins, who unsurprisingly already knew most of what they needed to about me.
I work in PR and travel a lot.
I also got to extend our collective thanks to one aunt and uncle who’ve been sending us a Christmas card for at least 10 years, but who up until Saturday I’d never seen or spoken to.
With the photos over, we made our way to the golf club in readiness for the buffet and the alcohol to come. The speeches were touching and concise enough not to bore you to tears, leaving you with a warm fuzzy feeling – although that may have been the Prosecco as I had rather predictably necked my glass within five minutes, leaving it empty for the ensuing toasts.
With buffet under our belts, and the first drinks of the day polished off, we retired to our hotel room for an hour before joining a smaller group of friends and family for an evening meal, by which point I’d relaxed enough to polish off a full bottle of red wine and complain about the lack of gravy on the main course.
Despite all my initial apprehensive bullshit, it was a thoroughly enjoyable day with love, cake, and some entertaining moments, including mum and Lilian belting it down the churchyard as their names were called for pictures.
Families aren’t always perfect, but as weddings go it was a pretty perfect day.
One more wedding to go before the season’s over and I can get back to slobbing about in my Tesco pyjamas.