It was 2am and I was sitting in the kitchen with my mother, panicking. It wasn’t about the act itself; I wasn’t getting cold feet. What was causing me sheer terror was the fact that I would have to make that walk – I would have to walk down the aisle. I could see my legs turning to melted pools of jelly. Frankly, I was afraid I would actually throw up with nerves. Oh, look! Isn’t she lovely! Oh look – oh – what – oh dear. The idea was sickening… I was nervous about being nervous.
(For those who only get what I call ‘head nerves’ this seems bizarre. For those of us with ‘body nerves’ – turbulent tummies, racing hearts and the resulting nausea, it makes perfect sense. It doesn’t matter how calm I am in my mind. My treacherous heart and stomach take over.)
“I can’t do it!!” I squeaked to my sympathetic mother.
Couldn’t I just teleport to the front of the church and be done with it?!
She prayed for me, and I went back to bed. Eventually, I slept.
At the dawning of the day, it was raining. Three out of my four bridesmaids – Kaye, Sarah and sister Debbie, and I huddled under the arch outside the hairdressers waiting for it to open. (The fourth, my sister Louise, has short, cropped, shiny black hair so opted to stay behind at the house.) My hair is very, very thick. Both in quality and in quantity. The sort of hair that people ooh and ahh over, until they try and get it to behave. My hairdresser was bright red in the face and visibly struggling to remain calm as she attempted to tame the stuff into coils at the back of my head (I counted the grips later – there were about 50 of them in my hair that day). She did a wonderful job.
We scuttled back to my sister Debbie’s car, somewhat self conscious with fancy hairdos and wearing jeans… Arriving back at the house (after clutching at my brother for a moment of reassurance) we discovered the bouquets had arrived. They were far more lovely than I had imagined. They included my theme flower, blue love-in-a-mist (nigella), with thistles, creamy roses, pink ranunculus and grasses. The corsages were cream rose buds and Andy’s had a thistle.
Now, I had to get dressed, after which I put in my contact lenses. I had to wait as long as possible before I did because I can only wear them for limited periods – I have a prism in my glasses and my eyes simply tire out without it. Thankfully, I managed it successfully and didn’t mess up my makeup.
Bridesmaids and my mum helped with necklace, tiara and veil…and I was all dressed and ready. I had two ‘special ladies’ or ‘best women’ in addition to the bridesmaids – Laura was involved in the music and the other, Rachel, stayed behind at the house after my mum and the bridesmaids had left, and the car came back for me and my dad. She had the delightful duty of lowering me (in my dress) onto the toilet just before I left the house!
There is a picture of me standing at the door with my dad and I am holding his hand – if you look closely you can see I am squeezing so tight my knuckles are white! I kept gripping his hand all the way to the church – using the other to wave at the interested pedestrians as we passed.
I am smiling somewhat manically in the video of my arrival – the smile is genuine but my eyes are wide with nerves. I remember standing at the bottom of the bell tower waiting to go in, making (half) jokes about throwing up over everybody, with my dear friend and bridesmaid Sarah roaring with laughter behind me. It was very therapeutic. Humour gets you through a lot of scary moments, in my opinion.
As it turned out, I had to concentrate so hard on my dress that my nerves receded into the background – unknown to me at the time, my inner petticoat had got a little rucked up in the car and needed pulling down a little. My feet kept catching the front of my dress and I had to keep slowing down so I wouldn’t trip over. My nerves completely evaporated once I had reached the front of the church.
Everyone seemed to enjoy the service. Family members who never went to church made very positive comments about it. The Marriage went beautifully, and the rest of the service was uplifting. It felt so…joyful. The then Principal of our college (where I had graduated a year ago – Andy had graduated just two weeks before the wedding!) did the address. We very much appreciated the effort he and others had made to be there. I remember him talking about the need for forgiveness, and not keeping a record of wrongs. We have the service recorded on CD – I must get it out and listen to him some time.
I wrote a poem for the occasion, which Rachel then read out:
I promise not to leave
when thorns grow up around you;
instead I will make a sword
and come and tear them down.
I promise not to laugh
at the dreams you’ve held so tightly –
because they are sensitive to light.
I promise to dance with you
even when the music has faded
and I cannot remember the words.
I will do my best not to be irritable
even when I am tired and the day has all gone wrong
but when we make mistakes,
let us forgive and move on
and wipe them away at the end of the day
for love keeps no record of wrongs
I cannot promise to heal all your scars,
nor that life will be perfect,
nor that I won’t ever feel like giving up.
But I will walk with you in the strength I have
and leave the rest to God.
Love bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
Above all else, I promise to love you.
(c) Lucy Mills
When we came out of the church, we stepped into the sun. Our conversational chauffeur informed us that it had been continuing to rain, but had stopped just before we came out. The weather was sunny, but not unbearably hot, for the rest of the day. I smiled so much for photographs my cheeks ached! We had our reception at a hotel near my parents, looking over the beach.
The whole day was filled with the warmth of genuine enjoyment. Many of the guests commented on how good a day it had been, and that added to our own contentment. It was lovely, too, how so many people from different paths of our lives got on so well together.
It was a wonderful day. I could tell you many other things about it (such as the wedding speeches) but this entry would simply be too long. I will simply say that Andy’s speech was absolutely lovely. And my Dad accidentally compared Louise’s head to a football (!) to much amusement. His speech was lovely, too – there was a moment when his voice caught ever so slightly and I had to duck my head because the tears sprang to my eyes. I don’t think many others noticed. But I did.
Above all, I am glad and so blessed to have married Andy.