I’ve always prided myself on being a modern girl. I believe that being female means you can do exactly what you want, when you want. The only thing you need to do nowadays in order to be a woman is to damn well say you are, yes even our transgendered friends. You want to join my assigned at birth gender, I’ll be welcoming you with open arms. You don’t have to get married, have babies, have a husband or wife or partner, have long hair, any hair at all, in fact, fuck it, go braid your pubes and live in a tree for all I care. If you are a gingham wearing, cupcake making, baby machine, who bakes her own bread and lives to serve her gorgeous husband/wife and rosy cheeked nippers- lady, you’re all right with me too. Who the fuck am I to tell you that’s not how to live your life.
That being said I never got weddings. I just couldn’t understand it. It seemed a whole sundae of unnecessary fuss topped with a a show off glace cherry. Why we feel the need to shove our love in others faces was quite beyond me, akin to the most vulgar and unnecessary display of public affection, sort of like two homeless people dry humping each other on a bench in McDonalds. I found it deeply, deeply concerning to have met women who have their day planned down to the shade of the napkins, and yet the groom remains a faceless entity, they hadn’t even met him yet. This troubled me beyond words. Fuck the day. Its one day. Surely the most important thing is that the person stood next to you is the one you actually believe you’re okay with being shackled to until one of you dies… or meets someone better looking.
For all my carrying on about being an open minded person, I take marriage seriously. I didn’t want to do it unless I really meant it. I wasn’t about to shoehorn myself into some fucking taffeta meringue and stand there next to some bloke unless I actually did seriously see myself being with him forever. Me and him, we make sense. Love is not a collage of pastel images, skipping down steps, holding hands. And it sure as fuck isn’t a cheesy Hollywood movie where people wait forever for someone they had one brief fling with because they’re secure in the knowledge they’ll be back, in reality, they’d bump into you in the queue at the corner shop and pretend to be on the phone. Me and him, we’ve had some horrible times, and some wonderful times. I love him beyond comprehension and some days, I could gladly batter him to death with a frying pan and hide the body in the woods. But I know him, warts and all, and he knows me- inside out, back to front. He’s seen me at my very best, my very worst, and in between, and he still loves me. We share the tender minutiae of our days, the dreams that will never be, and the hopes that haven’t yet died out. We waited until we’d been together for ten years and then decided that procrastinators never win, and did it.
Fuck me, if it wasn’t stressful beyond all belief. We had a tiny tin pot wedding, immediate family only, in a registry office. That’s it. No reception with a string quartet, no seven foot white chocolate cake carved using diamond knives, no Susan Boyle singing as I walked down the aisle. If most weddings are a four course meal with coffee and mints afterwards, ours was a bag of chips on the way home from the pub. There’s so much to consider though: Where are you going to have it? What room in that building? What vows? What music? What are you going to wear? What time should people turn up? Do you mind if your Granddad wears a boutonniere? (I had to google it.)
It was a nightmare leading up to it. I went through five dresses (all cream and all ordered from high street shops. You can shove your fucking antique lace up your arse) and the one I decided on, on the day, was a bit shit to be honest. I didn’t go on a diet, which was a big mistake, in the photos I look like a blancmange being pushed through a sieve. I tried to bleach my hair and it all fell out. I had my entire body waxed and the beautician fucked it up, leaving me looking like I’d tried to exfoliate with a block of sandpaper. I was tired, and angry. My harvest festival underwear (they gather all safely in) under my dress felt like a thong made of razor wire. But then the day came. I’d had my hair done professionally that morning, and the little genius I went to popped it all up and hid the nasty bits with flowers. Make up covered the festering scab on my chin from the beauty “treatment” (also known as “face fuck”). When I walked down the aisle, in a too tight dress that was hideously unflattering, breasts shoved into what was essentially a muzzle on elastic, I actually felt beautiful. It was my wedding day. It went in a blink, and it was perfect. He looked gorgeous, I felt gorgeous, our families were there, and I’ve never felt so loved.
The thing is, I didn’t get it until after I’d done it. I’m not sorry that we didn’t invite our extended families (my Mother in Law tells me his Aunt and Uncle are quite upset. Well, have fun being upset.) I’m glad we did it in the smallest way possible. But the truth is, it makes sense now. Most of us don’t believe we’re worthy of being loved. Who’s that arrogant? I was and still am in shock, that someone loves me enough to marry me. Not just someone either, but someone whom I love so deeply that if I had to sit in one place, not moving, for a thousand years until he came back to me, I would.
Only one of my friends, my beautiful friend who is like Prozac in human form, understood how I felt. She had exactly the kind of wedding that would have made me take a fist full of tramadol. She wore the big dress, invited pretty much everyone she had ever met, had the food and the DJ and the speeches. I stayed dry eyed throughout the whole shenanigans and then cried like a premenstrual papoose when she showed me her wedding video. The way he looked at her with such tender love and adoration. The way she glowed like she was lit up inside. She looked so beautiful it actually hurt to see her. She made a fuss of me gently, took me out for a day of treats, sent me encouraging text messages and gave me a gift basket full of cheesy goodies (two little rubber ducks dressed like a bride and groom anyone?) When it came to my big day though, my best friend didn’t even text me. My colleagues showed up at the wedding (uninvited) looking around nervously like I was about to attack them with my shoe. Truth was I was delighted beyond words. The thing I couldn’t say, the words that stuck in my mouth like glue, was that I wanted people to make a fuss of me. “Someone loves me! HAHA. Suck it! Bask in my beauty and resplendence, lavish me with adoration and attention for this is my day and I have earnt it you bastards!”
So now I understand. I’m not sorry I didn’t have a gown designed by someone famous and Elton John singing “Your Song” live. I didn’t have any flowers, any bridesmaids, any speeches. There was no reception, no Uncle getting hammered or Dad making a four hour long diatribe about why he loves his daughter. But I felt so fucking special it could have rained, snowed, thundered and my house could have burnt down and I doubt I’d have cared. My grin in all the photos is so huge it looks like it’s going to burst off my face.
So if anyone you know is getting hitched, fuck their warnings about “not wanting a fuss” and turn up at their house with Four Weddings and a Funeral, a bottle of wine and a tiara with feathers on, and tell her she’s having a hen do with you, whether she likes it or not. You won’t be sorry.
Words by Sarah Dunne