If you’re anything like me I’m sure you were hoping for a little clarity from last night’s briefing and today’s follow up on the way out of lockdown. Having looked forward to the announcement hoping for any indication about weddings it’s heart breaking that we’re no further on today than we were yesterday really.
Reading through the ‘Plan to Rebuild’ document issued today the only mention of weddings is that the government hope to allow small weddings from the 1st June. How small? None of us know. And how small is small? I received an enquiry recently which described a small wedding with seventy guests. I’d actually estimate seventy to be an average guest number, but then we all have different perceptions on what ‘small’ really means. Does small mean fifty or less? Thirty or less? Ten? Five? I have covered weddings at each of those sizes, and all of them were awesome, and I had a small wedding myself.
Planning your wedding in the midst of a crisis isn’t easy. I can only imagine how stressed you must be, wondering when you’ll have more information, considering when the right time is to make a call on postponing. You might even be reconsidering what your wedding might look like as we all reconsider what the world looks like now. The one silver lining of a crisis is that it can bring into perspective what’s really important to you. What you will and won’t negotiate on. Musing on this and thinking about what it means to have a ‘small’ wedding made me want to tell you about my own wedding, which was also planned in the midst of a crisis, albeit on a more personal level.
Planning my wedding in the middle of my own crisis
When my husband proposed my Mum had terminal cancer. She’d battled breast cancer when I was a kid and then while I was at uni we were devastated when it came back. When she was re-diagnosed they told us her breast cancer was now in her bones. It was a case of managing the illness, not recovery, and more of a question of when, not if the cancer would kill her.
My Mum was a fighter. She outlived virtually all the prognoses given, and ended up having five years with us after that re-diagnosis in comparison to the eighteen months doctors had estimated. Living through that five years was a gift, but in some ways it was like our own personal lock down. We couldn’t make plans for the future easily, we couldn’t go away for a few weeks without worrying about what might happen in our absence. We constantly worried about germs. When my husband proposed, we didn’t know it but we were just five months away from losing her.
Now, as someone who is totally wedding OBSESSED I’d always dreamed of being engaged and planning my wedding. I’d envisioned a long engagement to really relish the research and careful selection of every single element which would make up the day. I’d dreamed of how many dress shops Mum and I would visit, sipping champagne at each one. But quickly I realised this just wasn’t going to happen. What I also realised was that the most important thing, more than any of the details was that she was alive, and that she could be with us.
Choosing what was important
Luke proposed at the end of October and we agreed almost immediately that planning the wedding as quickly as possible was the most important thing to us to ensure we had a good shot at Mum being there to share our day. With this in mind we decided that we would aim for wedding before Christmas (just weeks away) and set about planning.
All the wedding venues I spoke to were booked up years ahead and so we settled on a beautiful local art gallery with a little cafe we all love (Fisherton Mill by the way for any Salisbury locals!). The gallery cafe could only accommodate thirty guests for dinner and we had just six weeks to plan the whole thing, but we decided to go for it.
I won’t lie, planning the guest list was a very tough job. There were a few feathers ruffled and of course, like so many of the other elements it wasn’t what I’d imagined. I was sad to let go of the wedding I’d dreamed of all my life, and I was angry at how unfair it was. I couldn’t help but compare our situation with all the weddings I could see in blogs and on magazines. Planning was bittersweet, but it was a pill I swallowed.
Sure, it wasn’t the planning experience I’d envisioned, but some how I was surprised that it was better. The budget was more manageable planning for catering for thirty rather than eighty, and instead of agonising over the DIY details or which supplier was perfect for the job I had to just keep things simple and go with who was available rather than spending time researching. All of this actually cut out stress even though we planned the whole thing in six weeks.
Everything I could have dreamed of
When the day came it was even more amazing than I could have ever imagined. Even though it was small, even though I didn’t try on thirty different wedding dresses and go to five different wedding fairs it was still the very best day of my life. I would do it just the same if I could do it all again.
It was so so special having the time & freedom to speak to each of our guests beyond just a hello without time restrictions or the pressure of ‘getting round’ everyone. We all sat around just one big table and I remember watching every single person’s face during the speeches. Drinking it all in. All our most important people in one place. No filler, no plus ones, it was just our key people which made us feel so relaxed.
I see so many couples on the day feeling nervous and overwhelmed about who to talk to next, not getting a moment to themselves, feeling like they HAVE to go and speak to Aunt Joan when really they want to hang out with their mates, and we didn’t have any of that. It was just incredibly special and very intimate. There wasn’t the usual pressure over giving speeches to a large room of people. Having a small wedding wasn’t what I’d wanted, it wasn’t what I ever envisioned I’d have, but it made everything more relaxed and even more special.
The following May (after Mum had passed away in the March) we did have a bigger knees up to celebrate with everyone. We put our wedding photos on display and drank the bar dry and danced until the wee hours with all our mates. It felt like a bonus, but I still loved our real wedding the most.
My Darling it will be wonderful
What I’m trying to say here is while planning a wedding in the middle of a crisis is stressful and unfair; while you might need to let go of the wedding you thought you would have, you will be married. You will still have the very best day of your life because you will have got married to the one you love with those you love most in the world around you. And what could be more important than that?
Now, I know that for some of you you’ll still want the big old wedding. Maybe if my Mum hadn’t been ill and time had been on my side we’d have waited. Maybe if I were where you are now I’d think about postponing too. But what I want to let you know by sharing my story is that if you do decide to hang on in there, if you do decide you just can’t wait to be married to the love of your life because that’s whats most important to you….well darling it will be every bit as wonderful as any big old wedding can be. It might even be better.
Photos by Sally Edwards Photography