To say I am tongue tied about today’s wedding would be an understatement. In my decade of writing about weddings (yes, I am that old) I have written a lot of wedding stories – I’m guessing well into the hundreds. Each wedding different, each love story completely original and each story a pleasure to listen to. I adore weddings, I adore marriage, heck, I am a hopeless romantic, but I always stumble when it comes to telling the story of people I know. I’m an over-sharer and I worry I’ll tell too much. It’s just one of those weird parts of my job. So, you can imagine how long it’s taken me today to tell this particular story – my own!
David and I have been a couple for 15 years this month – we got together when I was 16, and he was 21. I didn’t go very far to find him, he is in fact my oldest friend Lisa’s older brother! So I have always ‘known’ David. And those 15 years have been pretty busy; we both love to travel so we’ve spent our time exploring Europe, and moving house a few times, and having three beautiful, crazy children, and holding down full time jobs – and the idea of getting married just was never really part of the plan. After our first daughter was born David proposed, and I accepted, but neither of us had much intention of it being any more than just an engagement – in fact I would joke to people that I’d just wanted a diamond!
It wasn’t until two years ago that we began to talk seriously about getting married. I suppose that having lived together for so long and having the children, it started to feel more and more important to make it official, even though we weren’t keen on the idea of a conventional wedding – neither of us enjoys the limelight much and our financial priorities were different to a couple just starting out, so we didn’t want to spend a load of money and have a load of fuss for just one day. So, for the last two years we talked about it, priced things, forgot about it, booked a civil ceremony, cancelled it a few weeks later and eventually after all that, finally said ‘I do’.
Being us, we were never going to go for a traditional or normal wedding day, so after much deliberation we decided we’d just go and do it and tell as few people as possible – a surprise or secret wedding if you like. The plan was to get married in our local council office and jet off on holiday either the same day or the next day. That was as much fuss as either of us wanted – and we almost got it!
I spend my working life surrounded by wedding days and brides with exciting stories of their plans, but at the end of the day that is just not us. We never considered a ‘typical’ day with 100 guests and a live band. Instead we booked the ceremony for Friday 26th June and shared our secret only with our mums, as we wanted them to be our witnesses. After almost killing them both with shock we felt a bit cagey and bad so told our brothers, sisters and dads. I booked my favourite restaurant for us to enjoy a nice meal after the big ‘I Do’, and that was that, our wedding was planned.
To us it was perfect. That morning I went to have my makeup applied by my school friend, Lesley-Ann Watson MUA. She asked if I was going to a wedding and when I replied ‘yes, my own’ she just laughed and said how typical of me it was!
Because our wedding was going to be so informal, I never considered spending a lot of money on a wedding dress. I wore a simple floral dress bought on the high street, with a pair of favourite shoes that were both my ‘something old’ and my ‘something blue’. Myself and my two girls carried handmade posies of summer flowers and I wore some in my hair too. The boys looked cool in open-necked shirts – no ties, no jackets, totally relaxed.
Together with our three children and mums by our side we became husband and wife and then headed to The Brewers House in Donaghmore to meet up with our other 20 guests. Dinner was awesome and the meal was topped off when my mum presented us with a wedding cake secretly made by my amazing mate, Claire. To end the day Kat Mervyn, superstar photographer joined us in one of our favourite places, Parkanaur Forest Park, to capture our family/wedding photos, and although not your average wedding day capture, they are so special and perfect for us.
In total we spent about £500 on the day, no fortune but I don’t believe a wedding day can ever be valued on the amount of money you spend. Being husband and wife, and becoming a family in name as well as in deeds is priceless to me. If I can share one piece of advice of being both a bride-to-be and a writer who specialises in weddings it would be this; don’t ever, ever feel you have to do what everyone else does. Set your own benchmark and follow your own dreams, and never forget the best bit, the person you married will now, by law have to listen to you, forever ;).
Photography by Kat Mervyn Photography.
Hair by Denise at The Salon, Ballygawley.