What I Wish I Knew About My Wedding Day

You’ve read the mags, visited the forums and planned your wedding day with precision. But that doesn’t mean it will all go smoothly says recent bride Jennifer Gibson
Near disaster? Pah, it made things memorable
Near disaster? Pah, it made things memorable
Being a happy, relaxed bride...no matter what happened
Being a happy, relaxed bride...no matter what happened
Taking a moment to appreciate the day
Taking a moment to appreciate the day
Jennifer and Iain
Jennifer and Iain
Jennifer
Jennifer

There are a lot of things people don’t tell you about your wedding day. Not least, how quickly the best laid plans can go awry. I thought I had everything firmly under control. I’d written briefing notes for the venue, the band, the caterers. I was exhausted from trying my dress on, fixing my hair, finding the right shade of polish to complement my look. I never wanted to see a posy of flowers again. But what I didn’t know – and was about to learn on my own wedding day that took place at Mansfield Traquair in Edinburgh a year ago, is that you should always expect the unexpected when the big day itself arrives. Here are a few of the things I wish I’d known about…

Time becomes fluid
The day arrived and the alarms went off early. The trip to the hairdresser was completed at a leisurely pace with Bucks Fizz in hand; the make-up appointment and the visit from the photographer for the obligatory ‘getting ready’ shots were done and dusted with two hours to spare. Plenty of time, I thought. But suddenly, the cars were outside. From serenity came panic. My bridesmaids were engrossed in sticking double-sided tape to their armpits, my mum was having a hat versus fascinator dilemma and I was still in my dressing gown. I started to go into meltdown and didn’t have the sense to stop and think at the time that people will always wait for the bride. The cars can’t leave without you. Panic not.

You’ll draw a crowd
I was expecting the tourists taking photos outside the ceremony. I was, after all, getting married in Edinburgh city centre during the international festival. What I was not expecting was a thirty strong crowd blocking the pavements outside my parents’ house, waiting for the bride to emerge. Me. They were waiting for me. People I hadn’t seen since primary school, people who were coming to the evening reception but wanted an early glimpse, people who brought their kids for the traditional Scottish ‘pour oot’, where money is thrown from the window of the bridal car. This, I had not been warned about. It was a happy, if nerve inducing, surprise.

You’ll forget things
The car had barely pulled away from the house when I looked down at my hand and saw that I was not wearing my mum’s wedding ring. It was my ‘something borrowed’. Our driver radioed ahead to the car containing my mum and the bridesmaids but sadly, mum was also not wearing her wedding ring. It was in the safe at home, where she’d put it to ensure she didn’t forget to give it to me. Not a foolproof plan. Cue a frantic phone call from dad to the ushers, who then had to run around amongst the guests frantically trying to borrow something which would be suitable. I ended up with my cousin’s gold wedding band, which didn’t really match my platinum engagement ring. But hey, it was borrowed. I thought it was the end of the world, but did anyone notice? Did they heck.

The coolest of you will crumble
I was determined to be a relaxed bride. No Bridezilla moments for me. No running to the toilet to be sick. No terror. But when I arrived at the church a little earlier than I expected those ten minutes of waiting to go inside were the longest of my life. By the time I stepped outside I was as white as a sheet and shaking like a leaf. Thank goodness for bronzing powder. Make sure someone is waiting outside the venue with a big brush and some slap. You may well need it.

Things will go wrong
You think you’ve got it all under control…but there’s no accounting for other people! My wonderful dad provided us with one of the most memorable moments of the day before I’d even made it to the altar. He managed to stand on my cathedral length veil while walking me down the aisle, ripping it violently from my head and leaving it tangled around his legs. He fell and we only narrowly avoided it going up in smoke on a strategically placed hurricane lamp. There was thankfully no fire (that came later, after the meal, when one of my fl oral arrangements went up in flames thanks to a fast burning candle). The point is that at the time you feel like these events have ruined everything, but in hindsight they did the opposite and made the day more special.

You’ll end up barefoot
Perhaps other brides are more elegant than I. I’m the sort of woman who’ll never avoid the opportunity to dance and, as any Scot will tell you, heels and céilidhs don’t mix. Not even when they’re custom made heels which cost more than any other pair of shoes in your wardrobe. Mine were beautiful and cost as much as a mini-break. They also ended up under a table by the time the band had struck up their second song. One guest later remarked that they knew they were at a brilliant wedding when she asked to see my shoes and I had to go and locate them. It seems that people like to see a relaxed bride, waving her arms in the air while skipping around in her stocking soles. Who knew?

Time flies when you’re having fun
Iain and I spent a year and a half planning our wedding yet the day itself seemed like the shortest in history. When we arrived at our hotel at the end of the day, all I wanted was to do the whole thing over again, without the nerves. My advice? Take a moment. Find some time in your day to just be with your new husband and soak it all up. We managed to find five minutes at the end of our post-ceremony photos, when we went up to the street, hung over the railings and just watched our guests in the garden below. It was wonderful.

That it really, really will be the best day of your life…so far
I’m not prone to schmaltz and sentimentality. I made my friends promise never to use the words “your special day”. But it really was a special day. Everyone says it’ll be the best day of your life – and it was - but I hope I’ve still got a lot of life to look forward to. We’re currently planning a luxury weekend away for our first anniversary and I hope that’s going to be pretty special too. But our wedding is most definitely up there as my number one highlight so far. Turns out, if you let go and remember to breathe, getting married actually is a lot of fun. Even if it doesn’t quite go to plan...