As I slowly opened one eye and peered around me, my stomach started to tingle. I fumbled for my mobile phone. 6.23am. I sat up with a jolt, a grin spreading across my face. I’m getting married today!
I said a silent good morning to my husband-to-be, and briefly wondered how he’d slept, knowing that the answer was likely to be similar to my own: brokenly.
When I heard my niece and nephew in the kitchen above, I stretched langourously, rolled out of bed and tried to wipe the smile from my face as I went up the stairs.
In the kitchen I was greeted by a chorus of “Good mornings!” and as we all sat down for breakfast, those little butterflies started flexing and fluttering their wings in my stomach, energised by the sunny glow radiating from my heart.
Two hours before the ceremony was to start, my mother, still in her dressing gown, was sitting at the sewing machine, finishing my dress. Armed with a needle and thread, my sister, my best friend and I took turns hand-sewing little tucks in the outer layer of the skirt. The photographer commented that she’d never seen a bride looking so calm and serene with an unfinished dress just two hours before getting married.
I laughed and said, with extreme confidence, “It’ll get finished. I’m getting married today.” I felt calm. I would have walked down that aisle in a paper bag if I’d had to; nothing was stopping me from getting married.
Finally in my dress, veil securely fastened, I grinned at my dad, and clambered into the waiting car. My stomach was in knots, but I chatted away with our driver about his car, about the weather, our travels, everything but the wedding.
As I heard the opening bars of The Lark Ascending, I suddenly felt nervous for the first time. But I was impatient, too: impatient to walk across that grass to where he was waiting for me, impatient to say “I do”, impatient to be married.
I watched as my girls crossed the grass, and instead of waiting for my favourite part of the music to begin, I suddenly urged my dad on. “I want to go now!” I whispered to him urgently. He patted my hand and held me back a moment longer, and then we were walking past the trees, across the grass, past friends and family, to where Tall stood, smiling nervously as I approached.
It drizzled at some point, but I didn’t really notice. My heels got stuck in the grass, but I knew my dress would hide it. I didn’t wait for Tall to repeat the vows before jumping in with my response.
There were probably a thousand other things that weren’t quite right, but I didn’t care. We were married.
And it was a perfect, perfect day.
(Photos by Sinead Jenkins Photography, 2009)