They say that your wedding day is the best day of your life. That brides are so blissfully happy they don’t notice the small details, the little things that don't go to plan. But, I did notice and I wasn't blissfully happy. Instead, I felt guilty.
I felt guilty for having negative thoughts on what was supposed to be the happiest day of our lives. I felt guilty for wanting to complain on the day to the suppliers who hadn’t done as we had requested, especially after saving for three years to afford their services. Most of all, I felt guilty for not seeming happy and obviously worrying. It was not that I wasn’t present on the day, it was more that I was too present.
Weeks before the day itself I knew things weren't right. I had started to worry about what could and would go wrong, about forgetting something and panicking that the wedding wouldn’t be unique and creative enough to stand out from others.
I blame Pinterest. I knew the emphasis should be on celebrating with your loved ones but, Pinterest blurred my vision. For all its helpful inspiration it offered so many overwhelming choices and showcased so many beautiful ceremonies that I began to question all of my decisions. I felt that couldn’t afford to recreate everything that we loved.
I also felt acutely aware of how much money we and our families were contributing towards the wedding. Despite wanting to keep it as affordable as possible our elusive dream of an English country garden celebration demanded a lot of money from us all.
My anxiety soared two days before the wedding when three people pulled out. One was a +1 so that was more of a seating-plan annoyance than anything but the other two were our friends that we had wanted to be there. They both had understandable reasons for not making it and though we knew it wasn’t their fault, I couldn’t help feeling sad and disappointed, emotions that I didn’t expect to feel before our big day.
This feeling rapidly intensified, I began panicking that more people would drop out on the day and that our already modest wedding (of about 90 people) would start to look embarrassingly small for the venue. At the time, my (logical) other-half reminded me that it was quality over quantity and why did it matter if we had a small wedding anyway? Irrationally, an image of me walking out to a pathetic looking audience in a grand room kept playing in my mind.
On the morning of the wedding, problems started trundling towards us thick and fast. I woke up groggy after being kept awake into the early hours by a noisy family in the hotel room upstairs. Then we were late getting to the venue for our hair and makeup thanks to slow-moving family members and a confused SatNav. Then the makeup bags disappeared, once these had been located (in the groom’s car), the florist arrived to deliver the bad news that we hadn’t ordered enough centrepieces for the tables. Those previous worries of mine rushed back but so as not to dampen the day or upset my bridesmaids I tried to stay calm and work out a solution. In the end, we made new centrepieces using elements from the others, making everything much smaller than originally planned. I told myself it was a disappointment but not a huge issue in the grand scheme of things.
The ceremony was a nervous blur but went well (no jilting), as did the photographs in the sunny weather. In fact, that part of the day, with the sun-drenched drinks reception and lawn games in the walled garden, was one of my favourite moments. But this glee was short-lived as when the food was served I noticed some of the dishes weren't what we had ordered. The meal looked so cheap and lacklustre, which made me feel embarrassed. I still resent paying as much as we did for it. Against my new husband’s wishes, I complained to the head waiter who seemed shocked but tried his best to rectify the situation.
After dinner, I realised we'd unknowingly booked an incredibly amateur DJ. He played one song three times and tripped the sound fuse box three times, sending the place into a power cut each time. Looking back it is quite funny but at the time I felt mortified. There is nothing more tragic than seeing your guests leave the quiet dancefloor when moments before they were laughing and joking as they swayed to Sean Paul.
Ultimately, I believe it was the expectations that screwed me over. I think I put too much pressure on it to be a perfect day and myself to be the perfect, happy bride when actually, in reality, an event of this magnitude rarely runs smoothly and people feel all sorts of emotions at weddings. Some would say the disappointment I felt when things went wrong is a completely understandable emotion when you have worked and saved so hard for something and certainly not something to feel guilty about.
Really we were lucky that it was never anything too major that went wrong. We had no massive dramas or family issues and mostly it was just frustration over smaller details that guests didn’t notice anyway. Looking back, there were so many happy moments that I just wish I could do it all over again knowing what to expect and to relax, ignore the problems and enjoy it more.
And to perhaps sack the DJ for a Spotify playlist.