Today is a very special day.
The day of the royal wedding between Prince William and Catherine Middleton.
I’m sat watching the TV as I type and at the moment the discussion is all about the dress. Then we cut to a sweeping view over the London skyline followed by a shot of the inside of Westminster Abbey filling with guests in their finery.
Everybody loves a wedding. For Kate this is the day she becomes a real princess but every girl on her wedding day has her chance to be a princess.
I remember my “princess” moment. In fact my day was made up of a myriad of tiny moments and precious memories.
Before the day itself there is all the planning.
I listened with interest to the reports of how Catherine had definite ideas about how she wanted the wedding to look, especially the trees that lined the nave of the church, the flowers used and their meaning. It is a bride’s prerogative to have the day she desires.
For me I always knew I wanted a dress with “something blue” as part of the design. I wanted to make it myself and I only ever tried on one other wedding dress and that was my mother’s, my standby dress if I irreversibly messed up my own.
The blue in my dress took the form of silk flowers around the scooped, ruched neckline and the tiny fabric covered buttons that ran down my back. I also made bow ties for my two page boys with the same material and the shade of blue perfectly matched my Ceylon sapphire engagement ring.
I had a bouquet of silk flowers so I could continue the hint of blue theme, there aren’t many naturally occurring blue flowers to choose from. The bouquet still sits on a shelf in my bedroom today.
Other details I remember from the day are making sure I got to the church on time. Andrew declared if I wasn’t there on time he wouldn’t wait!
My dad and I walked to the church from my mother-in-laws house as it was only yards away and just across the road. We had no official wedding video but there is an amateur recording of me and my dad arriving on foot and having to back track quickly as Andrew and his brothers were still outside the church being photographed and I didn’t want to be seen by them before my grand entrance!
The service was reasonably informal and I will always treasure the sight of my two small nephews, my page boys, sitting on the floor in front of us drawing while we listened to the reading and sermon.
Then there was a time after the meal when Andrew and I looked across into an adjoining room and spotted his brother having what we later referred to as a “Bailey’s moment”. He’d found somewhere to sit away from the hustle and bustle and have a private celebratory drink.
We didn’t have our evening reception until the following Saturday. The wedding took place in Andrew’s home town, where we had met and the evening “do” where I had grown up. It was a chance to wear my dress for a second time and invite even more family and friends to celebrate with us.
So on our actual wedding day Andrew and I managed to slip away fairly early in the evening and head off home together. Not many people know that I made him carry me over the threshold in the traditional style when we arrived!
We shared another secret as we then headed off to another hotel for our wedding night. I always had a dream of going back and celebrating an anniversary in the future, maybe a special one, just the two of us.
Our wedding was nearly 17 years ago but now I’ll never be married for more than sixteen years, seven months and six days. That thought hit me pretty early on. We will never celebrate twenty years of marriage or reach our silver wedding anniversary. I felt cheated by that thought and still do. To reach these milestones is an achievement.
Our anniversary is just over a week away on the 7th May, and it’s my next big hurdle to overcome. We never made much fuss in the past but part of me is already dreading how I’m going to be on that day.
As it happens the boys and I have been invited to a friend’s fortieth birthday party that day and it is being held in the church we got married in. I think it’s quite fitting to celebrate a happy occasion along with some of the friends who shared our own special day all those years ago.
But the trouble with grief is you never quite know what is going to trip you up. You can be fine one minute and the smallest thing can knock you off your feet. Sometimes you can’t even put your finger on what set you off again. Somehow all the tiny details align and you realise the enormity of the whole picture. It’s overwhelming.
Last week I found Easter particularly difficult. Death and resurrection. I cried at every service but fortunately I was surrounded by friends and felt comfortable to let my true feelings show.
As I’ve been writing this William and Kate have become man and wife. The world has seen the dress and watched them publically affirm their vows. They are now continuing their festivities with family and friends.
I wish them well and pray they have a long and happy life together. Today has been such a grand occasion but I hope they remember the tiniest of details, treasuring their own special moments from this day.