Twelve years ago I went travelling around Australia & New Zealand. Before I went, I met a guy at work, but I’d made it perfectly clear that I didn’t want a relationship as I was going travelling and not planning to come back. However, he embraced technology and bought a mobile phone, so he could keep in touch with me on my travels. I had the best time of my life and the freedom was a breath of fresh air and I honestly didn’t think I would be coming home.
I had a couple of dalliances on my way round, like you do, I'm only human after all. When I went over to New Zealand, Nick was still there in the background, but I kept saying 'no' to him, that I didn’t want a relationship. Then I thought maybe I did, so we were boyfriend and girlfriend from 11,000 miles away, then I really thought I was staying in New Zealand, so I ended things. My sister broke the news to me that my mobile phone bill was £1,000, that’s how much Nick and I talked on my travels. A few weeks into travelling around New Zealand I decided that I had to come home, as I’d wracked up quite a bit of debt on my travels, wanting to try everything from swimming with seals to jumping out of planes.
When I went over to Thailand it rained constantly (in fact it rained most of the time I was travelling), and one day when I was stuck in my villa I had a knock on the door, it was the concierge with a bottle of wine and he was apologising profusely for the weather. The following day it was tipping it down again and there was the familiar knock at the door and I was already for my bottle of 'rain' wine. When I opened the door three concierge were standing there and started singing Happy Birthday to me. I tried to tell them it wasn’t my birthday, but they weren’t listening. They thrust a card in my hand and a bunch of flowers.
I like this hotel, I thought. I looked at the card, it was yellow with a cartoon bear on it saying Happy Birthday. I looked at the flowers and they were red roses. I opened the card and in scrawled writing it said, “Happy Valentine’s Day, love from Nick”. I hadn’t even clocked the date, but it was Valentines Day. I sat and stared at those roses and thought to myself, any man who sends a dozen red roses to a girls’ hotel when she’s 6,000 miles away, is either a stalker or deserves a second chance, I decided to go for the latter. I got home on the 17th February 2006 and on the 20th February 2006 Nick and I got together officially and have now been together for twelve years. Second chances are always worth it.
When I got married, it was easily the best day of my life (and I hope my husband’s too!!). The other night my husband and I were talking about weddings (an occupational hazard) and it got me thinking about what things I wasn't happy with on our wedding day and how would I change them should I be so lucky to renew our vows. What I would change during the wedding planning stage is a whole other blog!
The first lesson I learned, I would never ask a friend to be my wedding photographer again. Having been let down by my friend at the last minute, I had to find a new photographer. Although my friend was fully qualified, and his work is amazing (the reason I wanted him to photograph the wedding), I found out he didn’t have the right insurance, so he wouldn’t have been allowed to do the job in the first place. That aside, with only two weeks to go I had to find a photographer and grow fingernails after I’d bitten off the current ones.
There weren’t as many around as there are now, and that was only eight years ago. Back then most of my friends used the local photographer on the High Street, but he wasn’t available. Eventually, I did manage to find a very nice photographer, he went through the shot list with me and I thought we had it covered on the day.
Unfortunately, we didn’t. My sisters weren’t my bridesmaids, and although they both had roles in our wedding I didn’t get any photographs of the three of us and to this day it still irks me. I was disappointed with the group shot. Even though it was taken from above, the photographer didn’t organise people by height, and all I could see were the tops of my sister’s heads.
Our other issue was the photographer monopolising our time. We were doing some shots outside and he had us walking up and down the side of a tennis court. I remember Nick and I were saying to each other, "Why is he making us do this?" "Are we going to even buy these photos?" "What we're doing seems weird" It also meant that we missed the canapes and we were both so hungry. We specifically picked canapes that we really wanted and we didn't get to try any of them. We should have said to the photographer that we wanted to stop, but we both thought that we would seem rude even though it was OUR day.
I can’t stress this point enough, make finding a wedding photographer high up on your to do list. Good photographers will be in demand so as soon as your wedding is booked, start looking for your photographer. Book a consultation with them so you can get to know them and how they work. Many will offer a free engagement shoot. This is a great idea as it means that you can get used to being photographed and the photographer will get to know how you are in front of the camera and how to make you feel relaxed on the day rather doing the ‘Chandler Grimace’.
I was really looking forward to wedding dress shopping, I found my perfect dress in a magazine, but no one in the UK stocked it (typical!), so I started to look for something similar. I went wedding dress shopping with my mum up in Norfolk, where she lives. I tried on a dress that was perfect, I cried, she cried…I want to say the sales assistant cried, but that would be taking it a bit too far, however, it was a beautiful moment. I didn’t want to take the dress off. I didn’t go with that dress because I thought it would be too much stress travelling up to Norfolk for fittings and alterations.
I also wanted to support local suppliers, so I chose a wedding dress shop in my town. The staff were brilliant, but I didn’t enjoy the experience at all. I had to share the room with a sleek, tall, beautiful, blond bride-to-be and everyone was gushing over her in the dresses she tried on and I felt like a short, fat, gawkish, bland bride-to-be by comparison. I wish I’d been able to book an exclusive appointment, so I would have had the room, the mirror, and the attention to myself. I settled for second best with the dress.
They had a very similar dress to the one I really wanted, but the price tag was just a bit too high. I remember my sister offering to pay the difference, so I could have my dream dress, but I said no, I couldn’t let her do that. I’m kicking myself now, because that’s the dress I wanted. I loved the colour of my dress and that’s where it ended. It’s up in the loft and I’ve not seen it since I put it up there, it’s probably playing host to a family of mice. I didn’t even take it to the dry cleaners. The second lesson learned here, don’t settle for second best. Go with your gut.
With my hair and makeup, thus came the third lesson learned. My regular hairdresser at the time was due to have a baby around the time of my wedding so she couldn’t do my wedding hair. I was absolutely gutted, she hadn’t done a lot of wedding hair back then, but she still knew her tradecraft, and she’s now an award-winning wedding hair stylist.
I had to find another hair dresser and I went with a recommendation. She was lovely, and she did a great job during the trials and on the day. My hair did drop during the day, but it wasn’t an issue for me. She recommended a makeup artist for me who was local. All I could think about was the local element. She was a qualified make up artist but only just. At the makeup trial, I didn’t really know what look I wanted but I knew I wanted something that would stand out and stay on.
With little experience of wedding makeup back then, I liked what I had in the trial. On the wedding day it was a very different story and I felt like a fat Katie Price. I’d never worn so much foundation or eye make up and it felt uncomfortable. I felt self-conscious because it felt like my make up walked into a room ten minutes before I did. My false lashes didn’t even make it to the reception, they fell off in the car on the way from the church. I forgot to take the lipstick with me, so as soon as that came off after the first glass of champagne I had nothing to moisturise my lips with.
Do you research when it comes to your hair and makeup. You really want to feel comfortable on the most important day of your life, it’s overwhelming enough without walking aroud with spiders hanging off your face.
Although it was the best day of my life, those three fundamental elements still come back to haunt me. We don’t have any wedding photos out on display, I don’t miss my dress and I wish I’d done my own makeup. However, none of this ruined our day, but when I look back at my wedding day, I didn’t expect to be saying “If only”.
Hopefully you’ll only ever get married once if your life, but even it is once, twice or three times, it should be your dream wedding every time. Your wedding is not the time to compromise it’s your time to shine.
Fred Foster, Yours Occasionally, 2018
"Love recognises no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope."