The Wedding Planning begins in earnest,

So, now it’s time for some actual wedding planning, as opposed to vaguely musing about weddings. In November, on the 5th anniversary of our first meeting, my Intended and I visited the country hotel that I had fixated upon for a Valentine’s Day wedding. For some reason, it was of great significance to me to end my 30s with a bang a wedding, and wake up on my 40th birthday a married woman. I might have mentioned this once or twice, but my Intended wasn’t keen on the idea and so we were sort of haphazardly thinking about a June wedding (to call it’ planning’ would be stretching things a bit), until I splurged my feelings about it all onto these pages.

‘Let’s go and have a look at the hotel then,’ he said. I called to book a meal at the hotel, and told them we were thinking of having our wedding there. I rang back later with the afterthought that we could stay the night there, too.

‘We only have the Bridal Suite available, at ¬£400.’

I told them we couldn’t afford that, and after a muffled conversation the receptionist told me that they had managed to squeeze us in somewhere. On arrival, we were told that we had in fact been upgraded to the Bridal Suite ‘free of charge’.

‘So much to do, and only an hour before dinner!’ I mourned, sinking my toes into the deep pile carpet as I surveyed the massive apartment with wood-burning stove, whirlpool bath, HUGE TV in front of the four poster bed, private garden…’We should have got here earlier!’

It was decided. We would have a small, intimate wedding here, on Valentine’s Day, with a civil ceremony in the ‘Orangery’ with its view out on to the frost-covered hills, and spend the evening by the enormous log fire upstairs. I am swept away by the romance of this: the log fires, the hills, the escape to a country retreat – but most of all, the date. I never expected my Intended to change his mind and move the wedding forward, and the fact that he cares about my happiness – enough to indulge this whim, so silly but so important to me – feels like the most romantic thing of all

So, now we have 8 weeks to plan our romantic wedding. The invitations arrived today. I have 3 mail-order wedding dresses under my bed ready to try on when I get a private moment. Venue – check. Guests – check. Dress – we’ll see. Anything that isn’t done, won’t matter soon….

To the uninvited

We’ve known each other since we were 11 years old; you are like my sisters. The saying ‘Friends are like stars. You can’t always see them but you know they are there,’ was made for us. Although we can’t always see each other (and I think we’d all agree that that’s a good thing), we like to know that everyone is still there, sparkling away in their rightful place in the firmament.

Gone are the days when we drank cider in the park, giggling, rolling down hills, crying, hugging, pouring our hearts out, hamming it up just a little bit, as we sat in the park under the whispering trees, sharing secrets and cigarettes (‘My parents don’t love me any more’, ‘If you inhale with your head upside down it makes you go dizzy, go on try it’). Half way between childhood and adulthood, we were hungry to live, love and learn, and that is what we thought we were doing as we drunkenly lay in the fallen leaves, forming our sisterhood. We talked about our weddings then, do you remember that? We were going to walk down the aisle in Doc Martens, with each other as bridesmaids; we would wear red and give our children exotic names, and one day we’d sit around a coffee table drinking coffee, while they ran around together.

Those weddings in Doc Martens never happened, nor the multiple bridesmaids, but we did end up sitting around a table while all our kids ran around together – the oldest 16, the youngest 3 years old. It wasn’t a coffee table, though. And we weren’t drinking coffee. That metamorphosis into responsible sober adults still hasn’t happened – at least, not when we are together. We regress to those days when we never really had to get up in the morning, although we still have a curfew as the kids remind us once they start to get tired.

After years of falling out and making up, or just growing apart, losing each other, we are all back in touch and it feels like coming home to family. Like family, we hate each other get on each others nerves, 50% of the time, but we are part of each other’s universe. My twinkly friends, you are the landmarks by which I can set my compass, and it is a dark night when you are not shining.

Like stars, you are so polarised and so bright that getting you together in the same room is difficult. You sparkle from different corners, sometimes shooting sparks at one another, sometimes just sending them up into the sky like fireworks.

That’s why I can’t invite you all to my wedding. This is the occasion for a different kind of family reunion; a quiet celebration.

You’ll love the wedding party I’ve got planned for our return…

The Dress Again

After my disastrous attempt at finding a wedding dress in a chain-store, I have made an appointment in a small boutique just around the corner from where I live. I think this is going to be much more enjoyable than the last visit, mainly because I will be accompanied by two friends as well as my Mum and daughter, and they are going to ply us with canapes and champagne. Now, that’s more like it. I have walked past this shop on an almost daily basis for the two years I have lived here with my husband–to-be. Sometimes I allowed myself to look in the window as I walked past, but usually I averted my eyes. You don’t get to thirty-something without having experienced some bitter disappointments, and cynicism is now a deeply ingrained habit for me. I will not allow myself to hope, dream or even think about something until I am 100% sure that it is really happening. But now, today, it really is happening. I am going to choose The Dress. The dress I will wear to marry the man I love.