9 years ago today, I sat in a vintage car in a big white dress covered in butterflies, next to my Dad. My Dad nervously, but somehow easily, sat chatting away to the driver about the Triumph Stag he had owned, that once belonged to his Dad. He went into the complexities of keeping such an old car going and how it wasn’t practical for everyday use.
I looked out of the window at the whirling-past countryside that made Sutton, then Lea Green, then Rainhill all melt and blend together into one.
It was overcast, but warm, good weather for photo’s the photographer had told me, an hour or so before.
I just took his word for it. I had other, bigger things on my mind.
I was 23 years-old and about to get married.
I had been with my fiancé for over three years by this point and we had been living together for 2 years, so it wasn’t an old fashioned affair were I was only going to get to know him after our marriage. I therefore knew I was making the right choice.
Everyone and their grandmother knew I was making the right choice. Even my Dad, who I think took a bit of joy in doing the whole give-the-daughters-other-half-a-hard-time thing, agreed. He didn’t sit there beside me in his beautiful dove grey morning suit and ask me if I was making the right choice – the traditional father of the bride pre-wedding speech. Instead, he sat there, jabbering on about the old Triumph Stag and lamenting its sale.
He didn’t ask if I was nervous – because of course I was. I was nervous about what my fiancé would think of me in my dress and with my half-curled, half-spikey hair. I was nervous of falling over, or spilling a drink down my dress or making a fool out of myself. I was nervous about everything.
I was also sad. Sad that people who should have been there, couldn’t be.
My brother was serving his country as a nurse in the Army, on tour in Iraq. My Granddad Jack was unable to attend, my beloved Nan Renee and Granddad Maurice were both in heaven. My mother could not be there, for lots of unhappy and unpleasant reasons, which meant my sister couldn’t be either.
But so much joy, so, so much joy too.
My grandparents were all represented by my fearless, fabulous and frankly fantastic Nan Ruth (as my husband said in his speech that day, she is basically what I’m going to be like when she becomes a pensioner – and that was fine by him).
I didn’t have a sibling there – but I had my sister in law Claire, who was 7 months pregnant with my gorgeous nephew, Luke.
My Mum couldn’t be there – but I had my Dad there, holding my hand, being there for me every step of the way. He represented both parents for me that day, as well as my step Mum.
There were silver linings and I counted and cherished every last one.
At 3:10pm, a tinny rendition of the wedding march played (for my Dads benefit, I wanted Pachelbel’s Canon) and the guests arose from their seats, heads swivelled around to look at me as I entered the long glass conservatory.
I think then my nerves hit me hardest, but you couldn’t tell. The smile on my face was too bright as I beheld my fiancé, who stood just as nervously, at the top with Colin the registrar. He beamed at me, letting me not have a shadow of a doubt of how much he loved me and couldn’t wait to make me mine before the world.
And I would answer all your wishes, if you asked me to.
But if you deny me one of your kisses, don’t know what I’d do.
So hold me close and say three words, like you used to do.
Dancing on the kitchen tiles, it’s all about you.
I know there are some people who say that marriage is just a bit of paper and what does it matter? I think they’ve maybe missed the point, or they’re trying to justify themselves. For us, it was a way of binding our hearts and souls together for life – declaring before the law, our friends, our family, and strangers even – that this whole “us” thing was for keeps in every possible way – in the eyes of the law, the eyes of our families and before any deity or spiritual force there may be out there. That whatever storm we were going to face in this world, this life, we were going to weather it together. Forever.
So hold me close and say three words, like you used to do.
Dancing on the kitchen tiles,
Yes you make my life worthwhile,
So I told you with a smile…
It’s all about you.
When things get broken – you fix them. Marriage isn’t a consumable, you don’t bin it when it gets too hard or a bit breaks off. You have to work at it and commit to it. As the registrar who married us said – marriage is a fortune that should never be spent.
He then went on to surmise that the key to a successful marriage was to go out to dinner once a week. He goes on Tuesday and his wife goes out on Friday’s. My whole ceremony was full of hilarious moments like these – which were a reflection of us. Fun, young, happy, silly and wonderful.
My step mum hated the way I’d had my hair done and told me that in years to come I’d regret it. It’s 9 years on and I still love it. It isn’t my style now, at all, but it was when I was 23 years old. When I was young and trendy and funky – that was who I was and what I liked and I love it.
My beautiful new husband and I danced and sang and chatted to everyone. It was a whirl of happiness and glittering madness that ended too soon.
Yesterday, you asked me something I thought you knew.
So I told you with a smile ‘It’s all about you’
Then you whispered in my ear and you told me too,
Said, ‘You make my life worthwhile, it’s all about you’
But the best bit was just beginning.
We threw our lots in together. We made a pact to do this life thing together, come what may. We used our love and blind faith in each other as the glue that would hold us together, hoping against hope that we were not the one-in-three marriage that went belly up.
I’ve seen grief that huge make or break couples. No, it wasn’t easy for either of us, or on our marriage, but the glue of love and faith held firm and we stuck it out. Our love for each other getting us through those dark, horrible days.
I’m a better person because of my husband. I am alive today, seriously, because of my husband. He gave me my daughters. He gave me hope, understanding, love, space, closeness, joy, laughter, courage, honesty, thoughtfulness, inspiration, self-esteem, help, encouragement, trust… He made me feel wanted and he made me feel cherished. Not just feel them, but made me understand them as facts, as though they were tangible in the form of a blanket that I could just wrap around myself and forget the world.
He never ditched me off, found me a burden or forgot about me. He didn’t fade into the background or find me a nuisance. I am grateful for each moment I have so far had with him in my life and for the years I know we’ve still got to come.
9 years ago today, I was sat in the back of a cream coloured vintage car, with fabric flowers on the parcel shelf, whizzing along the Linkway. Each mile brought me closer to my happily ever after with the man of my dreams, who chased my nightmares away. To the man, who I would always look beautiful to, no matter how wrinkly, saggy and fat I would get.
To my future, my joy and my love.
9 years and you are still my forever.
Our song, our first dance 🙂