Later reading on websites and forums told me I should have launched enthusiastically into the planning right away – but I did not. Why was that?
…I suppose the chief reason was that I had not expected the proposal – and I certainly hadn’t been waiting for it. Marriage, let alone weddings, couldn’t’ve been further from my mind. So the first thing we had to do once we were engaged was get used to the idea: get used to the exciting, tumultuous feeling of knowing we were going to marry each other, knowing we would become husband and wife and spend the rest of our lives in each others’ arms… Incredible!
Of course, other people asked about the wedding. There would have to be a wedding, of course: that was how people got married, and it never occurred to either of us not to get married surrounded by our loved ones. Very well, there would be a wedding. When?
Now, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge may have been able to pull off a wedding in 5 months (or even Guy’s parents, 30 years ago), but we didn’t have the resources, and I still had a degree to finish. So we decided to wait until the spring/summer after next (the year 2012), and settled on May, the month of the honeymoon of our relationship, the month of punting, Pimms and revision on Somerville quad – the month where the Oxford year ended and the celebrations of freedom and progress were underway. Besides, the last two Mays had had beautiful weather, gloriously hot and sunny.
So we had 18 months to go before the wedding, and that left plenty of time to enjoy ourselves. We didn’t need to start planning the wedding until a year before, I decided; even the guidelines in various wedding-related media didn’t think so. So we happily put the wedding aside and got on with affianced life for a while.
It started slowly. Around March 2011 the degree was winding down, and I had started my thesis writing. My mind began to wonder to my next project – the wedding. My preliminary thoughts were not about the big things, the date or the venue or what I would be wearing, but about the niggling concerns I had about not really being bride material. I bite my nails, climb and cook and lab my hands to shreds and, quite frankly, knew nothing about hair and makeup. And yet I was supposed to be beautiful, bridal and the centre of attention. Heavens!
I tried to curl my hair using some heated curlers my grandma gave me, only for the curls to fall out as I went along. Undeterred I read tips and watched demonstrations, only to have them fall out again. I bought soft rollers and did this:
But I was clearly in need of hair help… My mum’s friend Hilary had a go twisting bits of hair and clipping it, and did this:
And my mum’s hairdresser had a go with straighteners and did this:
And then my mum had a go:
I also started trying to stop biting my nails and bought a metal nail file. It was clearly having some effect because a couple of months later, visiting my mum, she noticed, and told me how she had been going to “have a chat with me about that”!
Food was also on my mind. I decided I wanted to have a blackcurrant sorbet as a palette cleanser between courses: or even better, a cassis sorbet! Blackcurrant sorbet had been a speciality of Somerville’s, as well as many blackcurrant desserts, and I wanted to recreate Formal Hall. Cake came to mind too, and I trawled the internet for interesting cake recipes, ran trials, and did my best to make Guy fat. I finally emailed the St Hugh’s chef to ask for his delicious recipe for a cheese pate I’d had at formal there three years ago.
Around this time, a friend of Guy’s who had married last summer linked me to ‘the forum’ – she had gone there for inspiration only, but I joined, and soon began to use it for chatting, socialising and planning. I set up a planning thread and started this blog on wordpress.
The planning had begun.