Elliot and I met in 2007, at a shared friends birthday party. After that, he moved away for a while but when he came back to Hastings, he rented a room at my daughter’s dad’s house and we started to notice each other a bit. Elliot is extremely shy and I am just a bit dim about other people’s opinions of me, so we went around liking each other for ages before we realized the feeling was mutual. We started dating on May 8th 2011 and got engaged when on New Year’s Eve 2012. We set our wedding date for the 14th October 2014.
We stayed at different houses the night before so we could get ready separately. I spent the morning at my mum’s house with my sister, daughter and the rest of my bridesmaids. The morning passed in a flurry of dresses, make-up and warm pain au chocolat, with less stress and panic than I’d suspected there might be, other than getting rained on a bit on the way to the car. Our wedding was taking place at a venue called the Azur, which has stunning views as it’s basically on the beach. Incidentally, it’s featured in the movie Byzantium (quite a lot of it is filmed in Hastings, where we live), so if you want to see what the room where we got married looks like, you can see it in the scene where Saoirse Ronan’s character is playing piano.)
Arriving at the venue, I waited with my mum for my interview with the registrar (for those of you who are not English, they have to do a last minute interview before the ceremony to make sure it’s all above board.) I was feeling pretty nervous by this point, but happy nerves. Eventually the Master of Ceremonies said it was time, so I went into the hallway and joined the rest of my bridal party. My morris side was there to support me and they kicked things off by processing in, accompanied by live music. My bridesmaids Sue and Lou went next, followed by my twin sister and my daughter, who was scattering rose petals.
At that point, I realized I’d left my bouquet in the kitchen sink. There’s a rather funny photo taken at the point I told my mum this; she looks horrified. Finally, it was my turn, so I took my mum’s arm and we walked in. I could see Elliot waiting for me, looking awesome in his suit. We did the part of the ceremony where my mum gave me away (when I first asked her to give me away she wasn’t keen on participating in what she viewed as an archaic idea of male ownership of women, but I pointed out that to me, it was more like saying, ‘I’ve spent my life loving this person and now it’s your turn; I’m trusting you to look after her heart.’ Then she was OK with it.)
The ceremony went pretty flawlessly, Elliot came in too soon on one of his vows and ended up saying “I will” twice. When it was my turn, I did the same thing as a little joke. We signed the register and processed out of the wedding room under the tradition arch of staves my morris side does whenever one of us gets married. We had some time then for drinks and congratulations and for photographs. We got several with our Lucky Sweep. It’s a dying British tradition that a chimney sweep at your wedding brings good luck and this particular sweep is the one who cleans the chimneys at my mum’s house -he used to make the brushes dance out the top of them to entertain me and my siblings when we were children. Since it had stopped raining and was actually quite beautifully sunny, we went outside for more photos, taken by Matt; the son of a friend of ours named Barny who had quite a hand in getting us together, since he was the one who told each of us that we liked each other and this is what resulted in our first date.
There are always an enormous amount of photos taken at weddings, so the photo-taking went on for some time and took up most of the gap between the wedding and the meal. I got a lot of compliments on my dress, and most people were surprised to discover it had been made for me by a very good friend out of about £30 worth of curtain fabric (we had a very low budget for our wedding.) We’d paid for a special package provided by our venue, the Azur, called the ‘Grand Wedding for a Grand’, so £1000 got us the venue, the master of ceremonies, a three course meal for 50 guests and the use of the venue for our reception at no extra cost. They were even happy for us to bring our own buffet for the evening. The meal options were very nice, a choice of gnocchi or winter root soup for starters, chicken breast in Marsala wine or (actually, I’ve forgotten what the vegetarian option was because I didn’t eat it) for the main and warm chocolate brownie with mint ice cream, or apple crumble for dessert. Elliot bucked the menu, he said it was his wedding day and he was having steak, so he did. There were some rather envious looks when it was brought in sizzling away on a hot stone platter.
The meal was of course followed by toasts, which we kept limited. Elliot’s cousin Be made one, since he was the best man -it was well put together and very funny. It is also the reason large numbers of people now refer to us as ‘Lizziot.’ My mother made a speech full of in jokes for me, which was very sweet but lost on most people, especially as my mother is a very quiet speaker and most of the room couldn’t hear her. Elliot wasn’t going to make a speech but ended up doing it off the cuff after our Master of Ceremonies announced him as doing one (obviously assuming he was planning on it.) It was short, simple and perfect. While dinner was being digested we took the chance for some more photo’s and then went back inside to socialise and welcome our evening guests.
Our evening entertainment was a fantastic ceilidh band called the Sugarloaf Band and we had a whale of a time dancing the night away to their wonderful Irish music. Elliot and I had our first dance alone, consisting of an awkward shuffle in random circles because neither of us can waltz. We did actually try to get lessons but our teacher kept cancelling on us due to laryngitis, so we gave up. Fortunately with ceilidh dancing you have a caller giving instructions, so it doesn’t matter if you don’t know the dance, it’s just a load of fun. It’s also not that easy in a fishtail dress.
We spent a happy evening chatting to our guests as they enjoyed the dancing and buffet, and all the guests that weren’t Elliot’s family commented on how many of the guests actually were his family -Elliot has a very large family and we had them visiting from places like Denmark and America as well as all over England. For our wedding cake we’d selected a chocolate cake shaped like a caterpillar. I thought it would be a waste of money to buy the usual fondant covered fruitcake that you usually get at weddings and I figured a party cake from our local Marks and Spencer’s would do fine (and it did.) Since Elliot’s cousin Sam had used a sword to cut the cake at his wedding, I’d been joking to Elliot that we should outdo him and use an axe -I was quite surprised when he suddenly produced a giant battle axe (courtesy of Be.) We duly used it to decapitate the caterpillar, which was funny until Be said ‘Now it’ll never be a butterfly’ and my daughter started crying. I think she was pretty tired and overwhelmed by then.
All good things come to an end and eventually we had to go home. Surrounded by joy and good wishes from our loved ones, we piled into a taxi with all the gifts, which we wouldn’t open until the next day. We got back happy and exhausted, made some tea, got into bed and watched Armageddon, since it was on TV. It was a perfect day and I couldn’t have had it go any better.