Here Comes the Bride

3rd June 2016

With so much practical administration to manage as your wedding approaches, it’s all-too-easy
to overlook how you’re going to feel on the day itself. Claire Moulds offers some advice.

One of my clearest memories of my own wedding is standing alone in the bridal suite, after everyone else had gone to church, and being hit by an attack of nerves. Not because I had any doubts about getting married, or about the man I was marrying, but because I had suddenly realised that I was about to become the centre of attention, with all eyes on me as I walked down the aisle.

We all invest so much thought and effort into planning our big day that we don’t stop to think how it will actually feel to be a bride. Certainly, if you’re not used to finding yourself in the spotlight, suddenly becoming the focus of everyone’s happiness, along with your new husband, can be a little overwhelming.

Nobody can predict how they are going to respond emotionally. One friend – a tough, no nonsense prison officer by trade – was visibly shaking, almost in tears and clinging on to her father for all she was worth as she made her way towards the altar while another, after ten years of patiently waiting for her moment, practically sprinted towards her future husband!

And it’s not just you that will be battling with a range of emotions. For my own husband, who hates being fussed over and having his photo taken, the day brought its own set of challenges. At the time I thought his refusal to let go of my hand throughout the service was his way of calming my nerves; I now realise it was to also steady his own.

It’s important to accept from the start that not everything over the course of the day is going to go exactly according to plan. The little flower girl might –in the heat of the moment – not want to walk ahead of you scattering rose petals; the person doing a reading may stumble over their words; the organist might hit a wrong note or two. However thorough your preparations, you simply cannot control everything – and circumstances can conspire against you…

I didn’t sleep a wink the night before as I was so excited, for example; my husband locked himself out of our flat in the process of getting dressed; my hair and make-up artists arrived so early that I barely had time to grab two mouthfuls of breakfast before dashing up to my hotel room to get ready. In the end, none of that mattered.

Equally, some of the things that were entirely out of your hands from the start will surprise and delight you. We married during one of the wettest summers on record and, when I opened the curtains on the morning of the wedding, the sky was dark and brooding. As the day progressed, though, the sun came bursting through the clouds and we enjoyed the best day of weather of that entire year – so much so, in fact, that photos taken over the course of the evening showcase a collection of ever redder faces.

I’d also been worried about my Dad’s speech as he has little experience of public speaking and isn’t entirely at ease at big social events, but it was absolutely brilliant – touching, funny and a great way to reach out to our guests.

While it’s natural to want to play the perfect hostess, don’t feel under pressure to do so at the expense of your own enjoyment of the day. It’s someone else’s job to ensure that people know where they are going, have ample food and drink and make it safely to bed at the end of the evening. That’s what you have ushers, a best man, bridesmaids and the staff at your venue for. I will confess, however, to insisting on checking the reception room before I left for church to ensure it had been laid out exactly how I’d asked it to be. You can’t always step away from being the ultimate perfectionist – and you have to know your own limitations.

Although your wedding doesn’t come with a script, there will be moments that you have anticipated ever since you got engaged. It might be what your father says on seeing his little girl dressed as a bride, it might be the look on your fiancé’s face as you walk down the aisle or it might be the reaction of your guests to the line ‘I now pronounce you husband and wife’. Just remember that these might not play out exactly how you imagined them and that even if someone might not articulate their emotions in the way you’d hoped, it doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling them.

A standout feature of the day, which everyone warns you about beforehand but you don’t fully appreciate until it’s your own wedding, is that it all goes by so fast. We therefore deliberately chose to have an early ceremony so we had as much time afterwards as possible to celebrate with our guests. We also stole moments here and there, just the two of us, so we could drink in everything that was happening and share how we were feeling.

One item on the schedule that can be highly unpredictable is photography. Even though we’d selected a photographer with a relatively relaxed style so we weren’t having formal photos taken for hours on end, the process still took far longer than we thought. I don’t regret it, as we have some wonderful images, but you do need to allow for this and to accept that you might be away from your guests for some time, especially if bad weather complicates the situation.

And, while you might only just have become husband and wife, don’t be surprised if, in and amongst the confetti, cake cutting and first dance, talk turns to the pitter patter of tiny feet. We’d barely made it out of the church before people were asking us when a baby would be arriving, so the pair of you might want to have a few witty retorts up your sleeve.

Mind you, according to a YouGov poll held earlier this year, guests shouldn’t expect the arrival of a stork nine months after the event anyway, as a third of couples admitted to not actually consummating their marriage on the big day itself. Nearly half of those surveyed said that they were simply ‘too tired’, and one in five admitted to being ‘too drunk’. In our case, I found that you never stop learning new things about your partner, even after there’s a ring on your finger, as I discovered that my new husband can sleep soundly through the most violent attack of the hiccups. While I watched over him, debating whether I should wake him, or if it was like sleepwalking and I should leave him be, I couldn’t help worrying that I was about to go from wife to widow in less than 24 hours.

Whatever your wedding night may bring, though, nothing compares to waking up the morning after and finally being husband and wife. Sure, there might be a tinge of the blues as your beautiful dress is sent off to the cleaners, the reception room is emptied ready for someone else’s big day and you realise that, after all the months of planning, ‘it’ is over, but that’s only natural. After all, you’re a bride-to-be for such a long time beforehand – the average couple has 13 to 18 months between the proposal and their wedding day – and you’re a wife for the rest of your life, all being well, but you’re only a bride for 24 all-too-short hours. That’s why it’s so important to fully embrace your ‘for one day only’ role, to overlook any blips, rather than dwelling on them, and to willingly throw yourself into whatever your wedding day brings.

Finally, there’s a reason why people generally say that the day that they got married was the best day of their lives. You’re committing to spending the future with your soulmate, and you’re surrounded by the people you love most in the world – so cherish every single minute.

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