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  • Posted: 12 Jul 2013 13:48


    So, at  the ripe old age of 38 years and 51 weeks, Saturday June 22nd saw me  finally become a Mrs !

    Now, after much dallying and a final kick up the rear from the lovely T4yto, I get to write my very own Wedding Report– who’da thunk it ??!!  :0D


    Forgive me if it’s not  a work of literary wonder, and I am known to waffle on endlessly– as I believe I have written shorter Uni assignments, I shan’t be offended if you just whizz through the photos on your coffee break !

     So, where to begin?


    How Did I Get To Be Mrs S?


    Long story, so grab the hob-nobs!


    Wayyyyyy back in May 1999, I had just begun a new job in our local friendly hostelry when a dark haired, smiley faced and smartly dressed guy came and introduced himself to me behind the bar as Mark, the Assistant Manager. Can’t work much, I thought– I’ve been here days and not even heard of him! Nice guy, possibly slightly  *ahem* ‘in touch with his feminine side’, great bum too! We chatted and hit it off well. Good first impression, liked him– perhaps could be a future GBF?


    I told him I was in a relationship (not sure if I admitted at that point what a total tosser my then OH was?), two young children blah blah blah......  Then the surprising bit– he had a FEMALE!!!!! partner and two daughters, the youngest being a fortnight old– he had just returned from paternity leave, explaining the 'not having met before now' thing.


    Needless to say, I tried to stifle my surprise and the conversation continued to flow easily.


    Fast forward several months and my relationship had gone from bad to totally, utterly dire. (Did I mention the ex was a total tosser?!)

    Things finally came to a head one day rather nastily and I was left a nervous wreck.  In stepped Mark– who, unbeknown to me at this point had also gone through a relationship break-up-...my knight in shining armour! He got my head and my trashed house back in order for me and sometime later, we shared our first kiss.


    I think we both knew from that moment that what we had was something special– we fell utterly in love with eachother very quickly and were practically joined at the hip.... He would be the man I was to marry.... Wouldn’t he?


    Then in April 2000, just days after celebrating his 26th birthday together, he broke my heart.


    He left me unexpectedly and I was completely devastated. My world had fallen apart. I was bereft. (Years later he told me he had found it hard spending more time around my children than his own, so had tried, unsuccessfully, to make another go of it with their mother. He regretted the split almost instantly, but his stubborn streak prevented him from asking me to take him back.)


    Time moved on, and we moved with it.


     January 2002 dropped another bombshell on me... Mark served me at the bar , looking healthy and tanned. I complimented him on his ‘glow’ whilst we were all decidedly dull from the wintry weather.... To which his reply was he had just returned from his honeymoon in Cuba !


    BQllQcks !!!!


    He had only gone and married the sour faced crone I used to work with behind the bar !! WTF ??!!!


    Through gritted smiles, I offered my ‘Sincerest Congratulations’ (should have said “ Condolences ” :0/ )  and , I’m ashamed to say, gave in to the advances of my very good male companion, J, to take our relationship to the next level....



    Almost 4 years down the line, I had just split from J –my doing but fairly amicably- and he and his children went to stay at his mother’s whilst I was preparing to move into my new house.  That Friday,  9th December 2005, is a day I shall unfortunately never forget...


    I had just met up with J and the children at another family pub after chatting happily to Mark at the local.  It was all very jolly. Then a text came through to my mobile  ‘From: Mark. Message: My Mum is dead.’


    Tragically, Mark had received the worst call of his life just after I had left the pub... His beautiful, 48 year old Mum had been killed in a road accident on her way to work.


    I made my excuses and left J and the children, claiming illness– in fact, I wanted to scream, throw up, sob and run to Mark...

    But he had a wife....


    Useless does not do my feelings at that point justice.

    Fate can be so cruel.


    Just 2 weeks earlier, Mark had informed me he hadn’t spoken to his Mum or his two sisters in two years, predominantly over his marriage to K, but it was on the rocks, likely to not last much longer and he figured he visit his mum  if / when they broke up. I begged and pleaded with him to make amends quickly as ‘you never know what is around the corner’. He promised faithfully he would get in touch... He had left it too late.


    We talked a little over the following days and my darling mother-in-law was laid to rest two days before Christmas.


    K said some horrendously cruel things, Mark fell into a pit of despair and left her. He ran away. To his mother’s., where his youngest sister was.


    A few days later, he called me. Then he visited. To take his mind off things a little, he helped me move into my new house, did a bit of DIY etc... He seemed to be holding up pretty well, given the circumstances.


    One day, he walked down my stairs after fixing the bathroom radiator and the strangest feeling came over me as I looked at him– I knew then that I NEVER wanted him to leave again.


    We kissed and that was that.


    OK, so he was ‘delicate’, the timing was crap I know.  Was I taking advantage? Did he see me as an emotional crutch? No and no.


    Fate had thrown us back together and that is that.



    Rest in peace, beautiful lady xxx

    Sooooooooo..... 6.5 years into our relationship, a beautiful daughter completing the family unit, and having gone through some really difficult financial and emotional times, we had managed to pull through all the ups and enormous downs and in September 2012, Mark mentioned the ‘M’ word.


    No romantic proposal, no shiny new ring (he gave me a sparkly ’commitment ring’ at Christmas some years ago so that would suffice lol), no seeking permission from my lovely Dad. We sat on the sofa watching TV and he simply said “I think we should get married”. Job done, let’s get planning !!!!!


    The Plans:


    Choosing a Venue :

    So happy that Mark had even mentioned marriage, I took it as the green flag and ploughed headlong in to planning where, when and how our wedding might take place. Suddenly realising if we are always totally brassic, it will take FOREVER to save, perhaps a simple, intimate wedding was looking the most likely outcome– quick registry office ceremony followed by a lovely party and BBQ at my sister’s perhaps? Sounded great to me !


    It’s not like we NEEDED a full on do. I mean, 5 children, Mark being a divorcee, 7 years together... We were practically married anyway, so it was only a matter of getting the piece of paper to make it official.


    So, excitedly, I called my Mum. She was over the moon! And, Mum being Mum and desperate to see one of her rapidly aging daughters get married, she pulled a blinder and gifted us £5k.  This opened up a whole new range of options.... With careful planning and budgeting, I was sure we could have a damn good wedding !


    Laptop fired up, celebratory glass of red in hand, the net got more surfing that night than Hawaii has seen in decades!


    Umpteen downloaded PDFs , menus, brochures, packages galore were bringing the laptop to a virtual standstill and even without visiting the venue, I KNEW where we would tie the knot. The Grand St Leger Hotel, Doncaster– perfect ! Affordable, intimate, beautiful and the complete shebang..... And there was a wedding fair on just the following weekend !!! Oh, I should mention that I did actually discuss this with Mark! So, Big Sis and I toodled along to the fair and fell head over heels with the place. We tried the food– delicioso! We saw the ceremony room set out and listened to Alexandra, the Electric Violinist... And cried like babies! We toured the bedrooms and chose which suite we would opt for. Sorted then yeah? All I needed to do was bring Mark along to get the go ahead, and we could put a deposit down. Cracking !!


    Mum made  trip to Donny from Mid-Wales, so we popped to the hotel for a girlie lunch– she was virtually getting her chequebook out there and then! Still, Mark needed to see it for himself...... And when he did, he loved it too! We could have everyone come from their relevant dwellings across Britain and France, and everyone could stay at the hotel– exclusively ours– for the whole weekend. Ideal! All we needed to do was choose a date and pay the deposit.


    I don’t remember how or when things changed, other than Mark mentioning the Church.....


    Really? You’d have ideally liked to have got married in Church? Oh, you were happy compromising for my sake ! Whaaaattttt???!!!!


    St Lawrence Church has to be one of THE most beautiful parish churches in the country, and just happens to be one of my favourite places in the world.


    So then of course we began finding negatives in the hotel... Has it got limited  parking, there’s no outdoor space– if we want a Summer wedding with children around us, where will they burn off their energy? Where would we have the photos taken?


    Needless to say, we never did pay that deposit....


    Right then, let’s suppose Rev Wilson says it’s okay to marry in his church, given Mark’s prior marriage, the fact that we have been living in sin for years, had 5 children between us OUT OF WEDLOCK !!! and that really, I couldn’t have been a ‘white’ bride without turning back the clock some 20+ years .... Where the chuff would we hold a reception??!!!!


    Moat House? No– that’s where Mark married the troll.

    Green Tree? Hatfields? No– they are pubs with function rooms I dislike and still nowhere for the kids.


    Hmmmmm............. Thinking caps on.


    Cue Mother-To-The-Rescue again !!


    Whilst sitting in a village hall a few miles from our house, waiting to see a local amdram production, Mum had that lightbulb moment....


    Large hall, equipped kitchen, bar room, play park and acres of green space...... “Didn’t you sing at  a wedding here a few years ago Andrea?”   DOH !!!!!! Of course !!!


    So, having had the nod from the vicar, we booked  St Lawrence Church, Hatfield for a 3pm ceremony and Hatfield Woodhouse Village Hall for Saturday 22nd June 2013..... 8 months away.  Ages right? Like pregnancy.... And boy does that drag?!




    And so it all began in earnest... I tackled planning with the frenzied energy and bullishness of a Donny bird at a Primarni sale.


    Mark pretty much left me to it all, happy to know it was making me happy and just giving me the occasional yay or nay on things.



    The Dress :


    Given our budget limitations, and Mother’s skill with the sewing machine, I was looking for dress inspiration online with a view to finding a pattern for her to make up. Oh my ! There were so many amazing dresses to take inspiration from! I did fall in love with Gatsby by Maggie Sottero and Mum was dangerously close to buying a second hand one on ebay– bids even went in !!! 

    Thankfully, sense ruled out and I refused to let Mum increase her bids– I mean, I had seen photos of it on real brides and some looked lovely, others...well......... Besides, how could we risk that much money on a dress I had never even seen in real life, let alone tried on ?! No, we must do this properly...


    I did the grown up thing and booked an appointment at Tickled Pink, our local bridal boutique, just over the road from church. Mum was over from Wales again, so , whilst the wee ones were at school, Mum, Lou (my sis) and I had a girly sesh. I made it very clear to Paula the shop assistant that under no circumstances were we there to even CONSIDER buying a dress– shop prices were completely out of the question and we just needed to see what shape and style may or may not suit me. Paula agreed that that was the best thing to do. Cool. She left us to select a few dresses from the rails whilst she went to google the Gatsby, as Tickled Pink didn’t stock it.


    Ten or so minutes later, having dismissed all but 4 dresses on the hangers, purely on the grounds of dress weight, fabric and aesthetics, Paula had me try on my first dress. Despite me being 5’11 and of not-particularly-dainty proportions, the zip up ivory satin dress fitted me perfectly. Wow! It was lovely and really did look fabulous on– I was sorely tempted to buy it. But it felt like I was dressing like a bride, not dressing like Andrea in a weddingy dress if you know what I mean?


    I knew the shape worked for me, it gave me a nice figure and mum and Lou both agreed it looked ace....


    Seeing the temptation about to get the better of myself and mum, Lou asked me to try on the dress she had picked from the rail. Actually, it was more like a child begging for ‘just one more sweet pleeeeeaaasseee !!!’ OK then.


    White dress, chiffon, bling front and back– that’s right... White! Just one more time.. WHITE !!!  I’m a 38 year old mother of 5 for heaven’s sake !! Why the chuff would I wear white??!!! Oh, well, according to the good folk at Maggie Sottero, it’s not white, it’s ivory. Really? Looks funking white to me !!!


    And so Paula laced me in it. Teracina by MS....


    So there I stood in this WHITE frock, trailing round my flat feet, and looked at my scruffy haired– makeupless reflection.


    SH1T !!! This wasn’t meant to happen !!!


    I had found the one.


    I had boobage !!! I had a waistline !!! I felt comfortable... Yes ! That’s it ! I felt COMFORTABLE ! Like, like, like I could be walking out on stage under a spotlight and belt out a ballad. Yep ! This was definitely ANDREA’s DRESS.


    “Amex? Mastercard? Visa? When can we take it? Wait a minute... Could you tell us how much this is please?”


    “Oh, it’s in the sale is it? Great!” *quick peek at the label– hmmm cheaper than I expected, raised eyebrow, glint in eye* “Sorry, HALF the marked price?!”


    So there we had it.... A little over twenty minutes after setting foot in a bridal shop for the first time in my life, I was now the proud, if somewhat shellshocked owner of a long white frock. With bling. And a long trainy thing at the back.


    “Shall we go for lunch then?”


    Rings and Other Things :


    The thing with hiring a ‘naked’ venue is that literally everything has to be done from scratch. Now, I’m known to like my lists, but even I was going to find this a challenging one to draw up– there are just SO MANY things to consider! What I DID know, was that I wanted a gunmetal silver grey accent running throughout. Easy, yeah? Not particularly, no!


    I don’t even remember where I began, but looking back, my head was awash with ideas, amendments to those ideas, budgeting and questions day and night for 8 whole months. And yet, somehow, whilst being tiring, I didn’t seem to get stressed, upset, disappointed or turn Bridezilla at any point. Lucky, maybe. Or maybe just so flipping excited that I didn’t really give a toss if spanners got thrown in the works– I’d just tackle any issues with the same eagerness and enthusiasm as I had all along. Perhaps, above all else, I was just mighty glad I wasn’t going to die an Old Maid...


    When I first broached the subject of the wedding with my eldest daughter Jenna (19 years old, and at times rather tempestuous of character), her response was “OK, but don’t expect me to be a bridesmaid!”. Fine, I thought. I know she was never happy about me getting back with Mark but at least she was accepting our marriage, if not overly thrilled. So, I asked her to take some photos for us instead. Afterall, I wanted each of our brood to play an integral role in the day. She was cool with that. Phew!


    That left 4yo daughter, 14yo tomboy stepdaughter, 15yo attitude-filled stepdaughter and 17yo grunting son to allocate roles to.


    Easy.... 3 BMs and an Usher. Plus Lou as MOH and her little man Maxim (5) as Page.


    Erm, no.


    14yo Chloe was prepared to don a dress for my sake but finding something she would feel comfortable in was a blummin nightmare. Still, persevere, I thought– she has agreed to wear a frock and however long it takes, we will sort it. Nope. After weeks of dress hunting, Chloe asked what a BM “actually does?” I explained, she had a silent freakout, and decided that having all eyes on her, even for a moment was terrifying. OK no probs, 2 BMs and an 2 Ushers, MOH and Page then yeah?


    Erm, no.


    A couple of months before the wedding, I asked Jenna something minor about the day and she totally flipped out! I mean, tears, shouting, the lot. She said she didn’t want to talk about the stupid wedding and was angry at me. Why? Because I had asked everyone else to be my BM and not her. Oh no, not again.....


    Let me explain... 2.5 years ago, Jenna almost lost her life in a road accident. In a strange series of events, she miraculously survived but despite her brain scans coming back clear at the time, she still suffers with memory issues. She will have total blanks, and unfortunately, this was one heck of a biggie. I explained our initial conversation and she had no recollection of it whatsoever– I was devastated. For months, my poor girl had been brimming with hurt that I didn’t  want her walking down the aisle on my big day, when in fact there was nothing I wanted more. I begged her to become a bridesmaid but her stubbornness and anger made her question my motives and her feelings. I spoke to Lou about it and she said she would stand down as MOH and that I should ask Jenna to stand in Lous place. Thankfully, she agreed.


    OK so 1 FG, 1 BM, 1 MOH, 2 Ushers. Sorted !!!!


    Lou was to make my cake, which we would design together, inspired by my dress design, Marks 2 sisters, Sarah and Becky, would be witnesses, Dad would give me away and FIL would be Best Man.  Coolio.


    Roles sorted, it was time to sort some clobber. We had already bought Summer’s dress in her absence on our one and only trip to the bridal shop– another sale bargain!  K and J’s dresses were from ebay, Chloe got kitted out on our first girly shopping trip together and George got a new suit from Tesco. Ace. Now to the men.....


    Tickled Pink have a great menswear section, so it was a no-brainer that we head there to hire the guys’ suits. Besides, in the highly unlikely event that there should be any issue with any of their suits (particularly Dad as he lives in Cardiff and would be phoning his measurement through), the shop is over the road from church and just 5 minutes away from my house. So Mark, his dad and I paid them a visit. The staff there are so experienced and knowledgeable that the lady selected a suit and it was ideal.  We had assumed that tailcoats would make the stumpy legged shortarses that Mark and his dad are look even diddier. How wrong we were– they looked great! Grey shiny tailcoat morning suits, crinkle ties and pocket squares with silver waistcoat and shiny shoes. Lovely !!!


    Right, cake and clothes sorted. Now rings? After a couple of lone shopping trips whilst Mark was at work, and having tried on dozens of rings in various styles, I came across a ring I adored, in budget and would look lovely against my not-an-engagement-ring. White gold band with lots of little baguette cut diamonds inset. Beautiful! Where? The Argos sale !!!! We toyed with the idea of getting Mark a bespoke ring, but again, he plumped for an Argos ring– white gold plain band. Simple and lovely on his finger. I had it engraved inside with a little Latin– Duo Corda, Unum Vita (two hearts, one life) and he was thrilled.


    I booked a friends band, Liberty Skank, and an old schoolmate DJ to provide entertainment at the reception, plus a bouncy castle and garden games for the children. Food was to be a Hog Roast for the main feed followed by an evening buffet, both provided by Doncaster Hog. Oh sod it, let’s get an ice-cream van too !


    We booked a mobile bar to  keep the booze flowing and bought in bubbly and wines for welcome drinks and toasts.


    Despite wanting to DIY as much as possible, I cheated on the invitations– purely because I came across some that were perfect for what I wanted and cheaper than I could make them for. Guest list drawn up, invitations were sent. 80 for the day do and a further 25 for the evening. Excellent.


    With our wedding fast approaching, we decided it was time to choose music, hymns and readings for the ceremony in readiness for our next meeting with Rev Wilson. Having carefully chosen, we waited for the call from the vicarage. And we waited. And then some more.... Finally, a letter landed on the invisible doormat. Oh, so Rev Wilson is leaving? In a couple of weeks? There’s no replacement vicar? Oh, okay.....


    Well, I’m thrilled to say that we were eventually introduced to the wonderful Eleanor, assistant curate of the neighbouring parish and only recently ordained. She was lovely !!!! Thank goodness! I was dreading ending up with doddering George, the Dick Emery-like old fella of our church. Sweet guy, just past it to the point of cringeworthy.


    Eleanor gave the thumbs up to our choices, the choir and bell ringers were booked and my BIL made a CD of the music we wanted.


    Prelude: a selection of movie themes to include Forrest Gump, The Lakehouse, One Day, Awakenings, The Holiday, Legends of the Fall, The Notebook...... All films I adore with amazing soundtracks.


    Processional: Theme from ‘Somewhere In Time’. This is quite simply one of the most amazing pieces of music ever written. It breaks my heart yet fills it with joy at the same time. The film is incredibly stunning and the music itself a family favourite, guaranteed to make us all blub. Yet choose it, I did !


    Entrance: At Last by Etta James– lush vocals and suitably apt lyrics!


    Recessional: Signed, Sealed, Delivered.... Perfect on so many levels!


    Dad and my step-dad Mike were doing the readings. Both performers, so I knew they would make a good job of it!


     NB: Any old romantics among you readers MUST put Somewhere in Time on your bucket list.... Christopher Reeve and Jayne Seymour in a time-travelling love story..... truly wonderful !!!


    Transport– costs a blummin fortune to hire vintage cars doesn’t it?!  Not always..... We have a lay preacher who lives next door but one to the bridal boutique. He is an avid member of the Classic Car Club– dial Stuart’s number, quick chat, meet up and book. A 1924 Model T Ford and an equally old Austin.  Half the price that it would have been for 1 car anywhere else and I got two !!! Mark’s step-mum would drive their car to take Mark,his dad, George and Chloe to church whilst the BMs and I went in the two old dodderers.


    Photography was to be done by a keen amateur school friend of Jenna’s, Tom and my hair and make-up by Amanda Shaw (Mandy), a good friend who just happens to be a celebrity makeup artist, so if anyone could make me look anywhere near half decent it would be her!


    What else? Oh yeah, that ugly, bare hall............. Remember I mentioned singing at a wedding there? Well, after the original hall was burned down, the Phoenix Centre rose form the ashes and in its early days, an old school pal held her reception there.... Complete with marquee lining. Cue call to AB Marquees and kaboom! Interior beautified!


    Other than that, I had fun on the details...... Being a complete floristry virgin, I decided to create my own flower displays and set about planting bulbs and seeds. OK so only the sweet peas came up in time and Tesco provided the rest, but at least I gave growing a try—and I now have a rather lovely garden !!! So, oasis bought, trip to Tesco done, here are the flowers 3 days before the wedding.... 

    I wanted to keep the children occupied, so made goody bags and activity books for each of them 

    Then it was buying decorative touches, items for the table centrepieces and preparing the table plan.... 

    I then relabelled all the table wines to match the table plan and would let folk choose where at their designated table they sat. 

    Now to the favours.... As I earlier explained, Mark had lost his Mum just before we got together the second time around. I felt her absence terribly throughout the planning stages and was determined to include her in our day. Well, Sue loved poppies– to the point of obsession! It seemed a no brainer that we paid tribute to her through these, particularly as they are the flower of remembrance. I bought boxes and tags, sourced seeded favours and set about writing a poem explaining our choice of favour, which I printed on to mini cards and placed in each box. Each household received the favours, as did all Sue’s grandchildren so they could choose somewhere special to remember Grandma Natterbags that they could return to whenever they choose. We shed tears over it, but all 3 of Sue’s children agreed it was the right thing to do. 

    Dad painted us a thumbprint tree despite never having heard of them before...


    Accommodation and flights booked for those who needed it, Mark’s holidays from work sorted and a post-wedding party at Lou’s was organised for the Sunday.... Then a luxurious night  in a spa suite at Mount Pleasant hotel would follow and we were good to go!


    The Build-Up :


    Neither Mark nor myself were particularly bothered about having pre-wedding get togethers with anyone. We weren’t being boring as such, just not into all that ‘traditional’ stag and hen palaver and really didn’t see the need to celebrate the end of our ‘singledom’. Anyway, Jenna insisted we do SOMETHING, so a group of us girlies booked in at the new(ish) Indian restaurant down the road and figured we could just have a couple of drinks, a nice chat and be done. What fun we had !!! The food and service was extraordinary, the company even better– cheers, ladies !!!  

    A week before the wedding, we also persuaded Mark to have a boys get together– off to the banger racing they went. Mark, George, and a few buddies. Probably in by about 9pm they said. Cool.  Around 10pm, George came home alone. He was hammered! Having worked 2 heavy shifts back to back, not eating much for 24 hours and necking 5 pints in the sunshine had taken its toll. Good mummy to the rescue, the poor tired and inebriated lad was grateful for the offer of a bacon buttie..... When he woke bright and breezy the next morning, his bed looked like a crime scene, covered in ketchup and he had a strange sensation in his head– yep, that would be the rasher of bacon welded to your face, son !!! Surprisingly, Mark came home around midnight relatively sober, and really glad that he HAD had a stag. Nice one :0)


    Having happy, healthy loved ones is always a blessing.


    There were a few of my nearest and dearest who were cause for concern prior to the wedding and, of course, their wellbeing was never far from my mind.  My gorgeous step-brother has been going through some tough times emotionally and had distanced himself from us all for 5 years. We all missed him badly, but knew that when the time felt right for him, he would make contact. He had never seen Summer, had not been in touch during Jenna’s times in hospital with kidney disease or following the car crash and not visited any of us since mums 60th birthday party in 2008. But none of that mattered. He made the difficult move to build bridges some time last year, and communications with Mum and Mike and so I was thrilled to have the chance to invite him to the wedding. And he said YES!!!! Words cannot begin to explain how delighted we were– this was our first chance for years at getting together as a family unit and it meant so much to me to have him there..... Providing nerves didn’t get the better of him and he could make the flight....


    My BIL Andy has spent years on dialysis and has had two failed kidney transplants but he had seemed to be on the up and, just a couple of weeks before the wedding, had looked happier, fitter, slimmer and younger than he had done for ages. Gorgeous !! Nope... 8 days before the wedding, Andy was rushed to intensive care having almost died during his home dialysis session. He was recovering well and fingers crossed he could still make the ceremony at least...


    And then there is my wonderful, brave Uncle John, mum’s brother-in-law. In January of this year, he had been diagnosed with oesophageal cancer but had a positive mental attitude and was responding well to treatment. I was praying he would be well enough to attend at least some part of the day, and it appeared he would be. Finally, the date was set for his rather major operation– 17th June! Being the optimist and general lovely guy that he his, John postponed his op until after the wedding, to ensure he would be there. I felt so humbled.


    On Wednesday, just the day before Mum and Mike were due to arrive from Wales, I received one of those “I don’t want to panic you but...” calls. Mike had developed a nasty, mysterious infection in and on his ear and was in severe discomfort to say the least. Ok, painkillers yeah? Unfortunately not... I.V antibiotics! So a hospital stay? Just before the wedding? Not too much of an issue there surely? Oh yeah, my step brother and step sister each needed collecting from different airports the day before the wedding, just 36 hours from now. Marvellous! Anyway, it transpires that the medical teams in Mid Wales were exceptional and understood the urgency of everything. I.V averted, intensive course of oral meds prescribed and their car was loaded for the trip over– Mum driving, but at least they would get here. Worst case scenario, Bro and Sis could hop on trains to come up North...phew !!!


    Final meetings were held with the caterers, musicians and TOG etc, hair and make-up trials had been done and Lou was working on the cake. Andy wouldn’t be out of hospital on time but Mike’s ear mankiness was rapidly improving. Little else to do, except collect the suits and dresses, have the rehearsal in church, decorate the venue and sort the flowers. Oh, and come up with a Superhero costume for Summer to wear to school on Friday for ‘hero’ day....   

    On Thursday I collected the outfits from Tickled Pink, checked them over (a few marks on my dress– I thought it had been cleaned??!!!*Grab baby wipes and sort it!*) and Mark came home from work looking forward to having over a week off....


    So off to church we go, armed with the Orders of Service, CD and decorative bits. Once everything was in place, we all listened intently as Eleanor briefed us on how the ceremony would progress, took up our places and gave Summer one simple instruction– when you get the tap on the shoulder, walk slowly to the music down the aisle, towards Daddy at the other end.


    Cue music.


    The BMs music started, Summer took her first steps and the tears began to flow. She was incredible! A blubbering mess, I wondered how I would cope with the real thing. And then it dawned on me– it’s OK, I’ll be behind the doors so I won’t even SEE Summer, let alone hear the music! No messy sobbing before my walk...Excellent!


    The rest of the ceremony went smoothly, Mum and Mike were safely ensconced in their hotel room and all the venue decorations were organised carefully into boxes ready for the several hours of work that lay ahead in the morning...



     ( I need to go out now, so I'll leave you thus far and continue when I get in....... xx)

  • Posted: 12 Jul 2013 14:12

    Re: ~~~~ MUM-WANTS-A-HAT GOT MARRIED !!!! ~~~~ Warning: Flash heavy, long report !!!!

    I want more!! Fab report so far. :-D
  • Posted: 12 Jul 2013 14:14

    Re: ~~~~ MUM-WANTS-A-HAT GOT MARRIED !!!! ~~~~ Warning: Flash heavy, long report !!!!

    Amazing report! I've a lump in my throat after reading that.... what an unreal rollercoaster you guys have been on. So much tragedy/difficult times & you've really coped so well. Sorry, I don't mean to be so emotional but that was something else! Loved the bits about the dress & the venue..... And love those amazing activity packs! Love the superhero costume as well! We know who to go to now for our halloween costumes! Your song choices were amazing, got a bit of a giggle when I saw the Etta James one - very apt indeed!

    More please! Big Smile

  • Posted: 12 Jul 2013 15:29

    Re: ~~~~ MUM-WANTS-A-HAT GOT MARRIED !!!! ~~~~ Warning: Flash heavy, long report !!!!

    wow! what a bumpy road you've both been on! glad you two re-found each other. cant wait for the rest :)

  • Posted: 12 Jul 2013 15:55

    Re: ~~~~ MUM-WANTS-A-HAT GOT MARRIED !!!! ~~~~ Warning: Flash heavy, long report !!!!

    Awe shucks - was just getting into this fab report and you disappear....... hurry back pretty please!!

    So far it is amazing!

  • Posted: 12 Jul 2013 16:00

    Re: ~~~~ MUM-WANTS-A-HAT GOT MARRIED !!!! ~~~~ Warning: Flash heavy, long report !!!!

    More please.......I love your writing style!

  • Posted: 12 Jul 2013 16:03

    Re: ~~~~ MUM-WANTS-A-HAT GOT MARRIED !!!! ~~~~ Warning: Flash heavy, long report !!!!

    Oh come on!!,  How can you leave us hanging like that?


    I love the dress-buying bit - hilarious!


    And I never realised what a bumpy history you had.  Fate, eh?

    Posted: 12 Jul 2013 16:41

    Re: ~~~~ MUM-WANTS-A-HAT GOT MARRIED !!!! ~~~~ Warning: Flash heavy, long report !!!!

    GET ON WITH IT!!!!

    ... and big up the homemade fingerprint trees!

  • Posted: 12 Jul 2013 16:43

    Re: ~~~~ MUM-WANTS-A-HAT GOT MARRIED !!!! ~~~~ Warning: Flash heavy, long report !!!!

    Amazing read! There's definitely fate in your story! Can't wait for the next instalment!

  • Posted: 12 Jul 2013 17:13

    Re: ~~~~ MUM-WANTS-A-HAT GOT MARRIED !!!! ~~~~ Warning: Flash heavy, long report !!!!



    The Wedding Eve :

    Mike had headed off early to collect G&D from the airports and dropped Mum off at our house on the way. Would Gareth have braved it and got on the plane? We would just have to wait and see. Summer was excited to have Daddy AND Nanna accompany her to school, and was ready in her costume in good time to set off. Once we had dropped her off, we loaded the car and set off to the venue, where Andy and Paula would already be setting up the marquee lining. Joanne from the caterers would meet us there to cover the chairs, and later, Phil would come to set up the mobile bar.


    We arrived, had a quick smoke outside and walked inside... Wow!!!! The hall was looking as beautiful as I had envisioned– more, even !

    Mum and Mark were astonished at the transformation that was taking place before their eyes and we began to set out tables and chairs, put the bubbly and wines in the fridges, hang bunting and pompoms in the bar room and decorate the tables.  

    A quick nip back to school in time to watch Littlelegs and her classmates do their Superhero Parade, and we returned to the hall, leaving Mum to watch Summer.


    By the time we got back to the venue, Joanne was racing through the chair covering but there was still no sign of Phil with the booze......


    7.30pm and we had fully set up. It was all looking amazing, and just needed Lou to fetch the cake up the next morning.

    Yet still no sniff of a bar and phonecalls resulting in answerphone messages. Were we to have a ‘dry’ wedding? Oh well, at least there would be bubbly, wine and hot drinks and I knew enough people who could dash to the wholesalers in the morning if all else fails..... Panic not, dear!


    Quick visits ensued from the two sisters-in-law and their families, Dad and Bren came to collect his suit before returning to the hotel and at some point, I think, we grabbed a bite to eat. Mike called in with  Delphine and Gareth ( YAY !!!!) and they too headed off to the same hotel– cosy set up eh? ;0)


    So, just Mark to get packed and head off there too....


    I gave him his gifts, which he insisted on opening before he left. I had created a slideshow on a digital photo frame which he didn’t open until he was in his room, but he relished unwrapping all the little daft prezzies I had put together as a survival kit, trying to guess what each little parcel was from the clues attached. He then presented me with a gift bag... Inside was a beautiful little Pandora charm (hang on, I don’t HAVE a Pandora bracelet!!!!) in the form of a love letter. So sweet! He told me part 2 of the gift would come the following week, on my birthday...... Ohhhhhh, so I don’t have a bracelet YET !!


    At around 11.30pm and after a scary medical moment for us which left us scared and me debating whether my last few hours as a Miss would be spent in A&E (I’d tell you but it’s YUK and definitely a TMI thing !!), Mark went to join the rest of the jumbled up but wonderful family at the hotel.


    With fear over my immediate health coursing through my veins and trying to downplay it all, I expected to be wide awake all night, so figured I may as well begin making the buttonholes and corsages for the following day. Anyway, thanks to the wonderful Google, I discovered there should be no need to panic, immediately felt verrrryyyyy sleepy and snuggled up in bed.



    The Big Day Has Arrived !!!


    Benefitting from a solid 6 hours sleep, I awoke at 7.30am, fresh as a daisy and incredibly calm. The usual morning caffeine and nicotine injection ensued and my first call of the day was made to the bar people. Answerphone. Obviously! Urgent message left. OK, no sweat, there won’t be anyone in the office at this time on a Saturday anyway- I’ll just try again later.... And 10 minutes on, I did. A voice ! An actual, human, living voice !!! About blummin time !!! Long story, but no worries– everything WAS ready at the hall following a 10pm rushed set up and yes, they had all the instructions for the prep and serving of my bottles. Nice one..... Serve from 4pm then. What?! You aren’t licensed until 6pm ????!!!!! Why the hell didn’t anyone tell me that before???!!!! Yes, I think you HAD better just send away any council employee checking up on you.... This is my wedding !!!


    And yet, despite the slight drama, I remained as calm as a mill pond and began making the two dozen buttonholes and corsages– I’d leave the 4 bouquets until later.... No rush, no stress....


    Chloe got Summer up, ready to take her to her dance class and remarked how relaxed I seemed. Yup. Indeedy. Could that be something to do with the fact that it’s 9am and I’m already on the pink bubbly? Who cares lol!


    SIL Sarah and BIL Slim arrived, armed with yet more sparkly stuff. Things were looking good !!! I poured them a glass of pink each, topped mine up and we had a quick chat whilst I carried on with the flowers. They casually dropped into conversation that NOTHING of my dad’s suit fitted him, so he had dashed to the bridal shop in the desperate hope that they could rectify things. Oh, and our scruffy little beloved pooch had made his first kill that morning, so Slim  cleared the garden of Pigeon debris... He’s a good ‘un, that one !


    They left, Jenna and her fella Matty arrived, George and Katie rose from their stinking pits and my niece Manon and her boyf John came. Suddenly the house felt very full and busy!

    The living room was awash with youths drinking beer and beautifying themselves– straighteners, make-up and nail setting machines littered the floor.


    Mandy arrived earlier than planned at 12 noon to get me ready. There I stood, unwashed, still necking pink bubbly and feeling no sense of urgency whatsoever as I completed the BM bouquets..... 3 hours  until the ceremony was surely PLENTY of time to bath and feed Summer, feed myself, make my bouquet and get looking bridal, wasn’t it?    

    Everyone mucked in to get Summer sorted and do eachothers hair and make-up and at 1pm I finally got shoved towards the bathroom to have a quick but thorough dip– legs and bits shaved the day before so a quick scrub and shampoo sufficed whilst John made me some toast and I was finally ready for my preparations.


    Now, what I have failed to mention thus far was the weather forecast. I had, for 3 weeks, avidly followed it on around 7 different internet sites and to be honest, things were looking pretty dire. With low temperatures and rain forecast for every hour of the day, I wondered whether the money we had spent on outdoor furniture, convertible cars, outdoor games and the icecream van would have been better spent on wellies. Still, I had some lovely white umbrellas so at least they would get some use.


    As I sat looking out of the bedroom window whilst madness ran through the house, Mandy started to apply my make-up. I noticed how quickly the sky kept changing– one moment, blue skies, with fluffy white clouds, and the next,  gusty winds,  ominous looking cumulonimbus and an outlook as grey as my colour scheme. Absolutely NO idea of how it would turn out in the next couple of hours...


    Finally made up and with hair almost done, the cars arrived to collect me and my girls. I heard Dad’s voice downstairs and hoped that he was suitably attired now then realised I had yet to get into my LACE UP dress. Thank heaven’s Katie’s friend could get me in it, as it was now 2.30pm and Mandy had yet to go home and get herself ready, too!!!!


    I text ahead to Sarah explaining I would be a little late (something I really hadn’t wanted!) and realised that my laid back approach all morning was now coming back to bite me on the bum! Jenna saw me in my dress, and I knew from her reaction and comments that not only had I made the right choice for myself, but that the dress would probably spend the next few years hanging up, waiting for her to wear it on her big day. Proud moment!


    The girls were all sorted and looking stunning and Dad hollered upstairs “You coming then, bird, or what?”


    Dressed and now 20 minutes behind schedule, I made my way downstairs to be greeted by not only Dad but also Stuart, the lay preacher who was to drive one of the beautiful old autos.   

    A quick window closed and door locked check, and, with some difficulty, we bundled into the cars. What a bumpy , slow, noisy, but thoroughly enjoyable ride we had! Despite one quick twinge of nerves earlier followed by a squirt of rescue remedy, I was still very relaxed. In fact, I was becoming terribly excited– a huge relief, as I had always anticipated having a mass panic attack at this point!


    Ten minutes later, and there we were, pulling up at church.... The sun was shining and there was a throng of well wishers waiting on the wall outside. How lovely!


    Eleanor greeted us outside and began to talk us through things, then I realised her mike was turned on so the  entire congregation could hear us chatting!


    And so we made our way to the big old doors....open already, I could see all our loved ones lining the pews. A deep breath in, and we waited to be led in by Eleanor.


    Wait a moment..... We are standing on the steps with the doors open! That means everyone can see me before the BMs have started their walks! And yikes!!!, it also means we will hear the music that makes us blub ! Oh no!!!

    And blub we did.


    The very moment the first bar played, Dad and I crumbled. 

    The choir led the walk, followed by Eleanor, and then a pause whilst Summer waited her cue. She’s done it !!! Look at the darling go !! Absolutely amazing– even the hardest of guys amongst the throng couldn’t hold back their tears. What a star !!! 

    Katie and Jenna each followed in turn, beaming all the way.... Beautiful!!



    And now, having stopped the snot fest in its tracks and giving Dad a supporting arm squeeze, we waited for our music. Etta James’ voice filled the church with the most wonderful resonance and we were off, making our steady way towards my handsome H2B who was waiting eagerly at the end of the aisle. Who, BTW, along with his father, thought my dads wobbles were due to being slightly inebriated! Like a character from Wallace and Gromit, I had the broadest, most excitable and, quite frankly, ridiculous grin on my face as I greeted guests on my way towards the altar.



    And there we stood, side by side and smiling from ear to ear as we prepared to make our vows in earnest.


    As a bride to be , you are repeatedly advised to take your time, soak up every moment that you can, as it will be over in a flash. How true those words are.

    In the merest blink of an eye, it was over.

    We sang, we listened, we giggled as we made our promises to eachother (that bl88dy ‘with my body I honour you’ made us –and Eleanor– snigger AGAIN!) we heard my fathers do their readings, we exchanged rings and there we had it... We were Husband and Wife!!!

    All six of our parents were invited to see the signing of the register, which was an extra special bonus for us. Mum had had her videocam glued to her hand and face throughout and just managed to catch me signing the register before the battery ran out. Shame it couldn’t have lasted 5 minutes or so longer– perhaps if she hadn’t spent so much time accidentally filming the floor it WOULD have hahaa!!! So as man and wife, we made our way back to the altar to be joined by our children and dance our way out of church to Stevie Wonder’s Signed, Sealed, Delivered...... Absolutely wonderful!!!



    Everyone beamed, the kids and fathers had done us more than proud and we had finally achieved what at times had seemed highly improbable..... 14 years after our first meeting, we had made the most sincere, important promises of our lives. I knew then hat life could not get much better than that, and that I would NEVER have this feeling of sheer elation again.


    Hugs, kisses and confetti shots done and everyone headed off to the reception, leaving Mark and I to enjoy what we could of a glass of Moet in the car..... I did warn him it was a bumpy ride, but he hadn’t expected to arrive at the venue looking like he had peed himself!



    And so, for the next few hours we partied harder and happier than ever before.


    The food went down a storm, the speeches ran smoothly (even if I did cry 3 times during mine!!), Dad and I each sang swing standards with the band, everyone gorged on icecreams and sweeties and we all had an absolute ball! From having a huge conga line, to an impromptu karaoke session, to leaving it so late to nervously cut the delicious and rather stunning cake that we were already dripping with sweat and half addled, nothing could have been more perfect.


    We took to the dancefloor for ‘our song’, Thankyou (for loving me) by Bon Jovi. If anyone watched or joined us, I was too wrapped up in the moment to notice.


    Our loved ones were with us, and we felt the presence of passed family with us. Love filled the air and there was more singing, dancing and kissing by everyone than I have ever or am likely to ever see again.


    Exhausted, a wee tipsy and with the children tucked up in bed a few minutes earlier, we arrived home around, made a cuppa and Mark unlaced my dress. We giggled as we found confetti in my navel,  had to CUT some of  the diamante spirals out of my hair then set about opening all our cards and gifts. Yes, we knew we had to be up relatively early to clear up at the venue but who cares? We were on a high and wanted it to last as long as possible.


    By 2.30am we went upstairs. Mark had made it clear that we WERE going to consummate our marriage and I hopped into bed  within a couple of minutes of him. He asked me a question, and before I had given my answer, he was snoring. Yep, exactly as I had expected and to be honest, I was too darn warm and knackered to do anything about it! Besides, we had that spa suite to look forward to......


    The Early Days As Mrs S :


    We woke on Sunday morning with only the very mildest of hangovers, amazingly, and headed off to the venue to clear up, leaving the children in their beds.  There, we were met by Mum, Mike, Gareth and the marquee team returning the hall to its former self. Sarah and Becky arrived and the venue was completely clean and tidy by noon, ready to hand over they keys. We thanked Colin the Hall caretaker profusely and he informed us 2 couples had been to see it all set up on the Friday evening and had subsequently booked their own wedding receptions there ! Fantastic !!!


    Back home, another clear up began. The house was a TIP !!! That sorted and bags packed for the hotel, Summers school stuff organised for Jenna to take her the next morning and instructions left for each of the children, we went over to Lous to find everyone waiting there for us. There was a beautiful buffet laid out, a Just Married banner pinned to the table and bottles of champers at the ready. A wonderful couple of hours passed and we dropped  Chloe back at her mums before making our way to our hotel for the evening.


    Dinner was booked for 7pm which we realised was now only 15 minutes away– postpone until 8pm! Mark nodded off on the worlds most enormous sofa, and I took advantage of the hotel wi-fi to browse guest photos which had already been uploaded to facebook. We headed downstairs for a lovely meal then returned to the room to make the most of the facilities. An hour later, the bath was almost filled and we got in it, grateful for the relaxing soak after a crazy yet phenomenal few days.


    The next day, following a late breakfast and a stroll around the grounds, we checked out at lunchtime and spent the afternoon chilling before collecting Summer from school to be met by a host of congratulatory hugs from staff and parents.


    On Tuesday, we drove to Sleaford in Lincolnshire to visit his Mum at the cemetery. I took my bouquet along with Katies, some extra lilies and planted some of the poppy favours around her headstone. Oh how I wished she had been with us. Then to Lincoln for a brew with Becky before again returning to collect Summer from her after school Street Dance class.


    Wednesday morning was sports day, followed by a great pub lunch then a trip to the circus with Summer and Maxim– my first ever time at a circus !!!!


    The following day wasn’t spent in York as planned, as the wee one had fallen ill in the night but she recovered by Friday lunch and we watched her perform her dance routine at the summer fair.

    Saturday 29th, married one week and I turned 39. After Sums dancing class, we headed off to the local Academy for their inaugural music festival. What a fabulous day we had, too..... Circus skills practise, funfair rides and a beer tent! We rocked from 2pm until the night ended at 9.30 with a firework display..... Fan-flippin-tastic!!!!


    So there we have it, the start of my life as an Old Married.


    Mum DID get her hat, I DIDget myself a shiny new gorgeous husband and everyone had the time of their lives..... Job well done !!!



    If you have managed to make it to the end, Thank You and well done !


    Oh, and one last thing... yes, I DID get my Pandora bracelet !!!!



    Posted: 12 Jul 2013 17:28

    Re: ~~~~ MUM-WANTS-A-HAT GOT MARRIED !!!! ~~~~ Warning: Flash heavy, long report !!!!

    Love your dress, your flowers, the church, your BM dresses, your cake, the bar turning up, the ice cream... dammit, I love it all!!!

  • Posted: 12 Jul 2013 18:58

    Re: ~~ MUM-WANTS-A-HAT GOT MARRIED !!!! ~~ ***NOW COMPLETE !! ***

    That was a thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish. I can't believe the roller coaster ride you had before finally tying the knot!

    the flowers looked amazing-can't believe you did them yourself! I've also got no idea how you managed to organise all of that plus keep the family organised and remain so chilled out! What a hero! 


    Congratulations to you both and I hope you have a long and happy marriage! 



  • Posted: 12 Jul 2013 19:20

    Re: ~~ MUM-WANTS-A-HAT GOT MARRIED !!!! ~~ ***NOW COMPLETE !! ***

    This is simply beautiful, and terribly, terribly HUMBLING.  Everything screams LOVE (and FATE), and if I don't watch it I could write the entire post in caps lock.

    You're one seriously amazing lady.

    Oh, sod it, caps lock here we come: I WISH YOU ALL THE HAPPINESS IN THE WORLD.

  • Posted: 12 Jul 2013 19:31

    Re: ~~ MUM-WANTS-A-HAT GOT MARRIED !!!! ~~ ***NOW COMPLETE !! ***

    Wow, wow, wow, thoroughly enjoyable! Congratulations again.

  • Posted: 12 Jul 2013 20:01

    Re: ~~ MUM-WANTS-A-HAT GOT MARRIED !!!! ~~ ***NOW COMPLETE !! ***

    I am one of those people that usually just skims the wedding reports and looks at all the lovely pictures.  I read every word of yours and WOW it's just lovely! I did get some very watery eyes at some bits, your whole story is a beautiful one and I wish you and your family all the happiness in the world.


    PS I tried that dress on and it is fabulous! 

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