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two hilarious chapters from my new book..

Life Begins At Fifty - The Book
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THE WEDDING

BEING SOMEONE'S FIRST LOVE

Anyone who says the week leading up to their daughter’s wedding is nothing short of downright exhausting is talking absolute tosh.  I was running round like a headless chicken and ended up with a tummy bug, put my back out (due to lugging 4 packs of 2 litre sparkling water bottles in and out of my supermarket trolley), half my eye lashes decided to fall out, I developed a big, fat spot on my nose, and to cap it all, I slammed my foot into the wall as I shot into the utility room with my sunglasses still on!  Yes, with my sunglasses still on, for crying out loud (which I did…quite a lot actually!)   I was in such a rush I’d forgotten to take them off.  Idiot, idiot, idiot!

I was running around at a rate of knots because my lovely sister had kindly offered to do some ironing whilst I went to the hairdressers for a ‘trial run’, which meant I had to magic another house key from somewhere… and find the ironing!  Everything gets cleared away in the wake of a wedding to give everyone the impression that your house is always spotless and you’re an absolute Domestic Goddess, which I’m definitely not.   Anyway, my hairdresser was on holiday so I trundled along to Rachel’s hair salon with her.  The thing is I haven’t had anything conventional done with my hair for years.  Since I discovered that it was naturally curly and all I needed to do was ‘wash and go’ I’ve absolutely revelled in the fact that I no longer have to spend hours blow drying it…but, oh, all this wedding malarkey had got to me, so I thought my ‘au naturel’ look might look a tad wild and whacky.  Oh, I’d give it a try.

Anyway, Rachel and I shot off to the hairdressers.  The thing is I haven’t had anything conventional done with my hair for years.  Since I discovered that I was naturally curly and all I needed to do was ‘wash and go’ I’ve absolutely revelled in the fact that I no longer have to spend hours blow drying it…but , oh, all this wedding malarkey had got to me, so I though my ‘au naturel’ look might look a tad wild and whacky.  Oh, I’d give it a try.  I told the hairdresser I’d like her to try tonging it to make big curls, which she duly did.  Trouble was, me being an awkward customer, I couldn’t leave it at that, so I also asked her to add some bounce and curls on top.  She told me she’d tong it with smaller curls.  Brill!

‘Erm what do you think, Rache?’

‘Oh my God!  You look as if you’ve been electrocuted,’ she shrieked.

That’s the thing with weddings, you always have to have a Plan B, mainly because the Plan A’s have a habit of not turning out as planned.  Problem is, I didn’t have a Plan B for my hair, apart from ‘au naturel’ and that kind of depended on the weather.  If it was sunny, it would look fine.  If it rained, I’d look like Jimmy Hendrix!  Yikes!

As it happened I was saved by Hannah and Vicki, two of Rachel’s bridesmaids.  They came round for supper, and as we was chatted away (about the wedding, obviously!!)  I started twiddling with my hair and rolling it up into a bun behind my head.  They both screeched in unison.

‘You should put your hair up!  That looks amazing!’

‘Noooo, I’ll look like a scrawny giraffe,’ I countered.

‘Here, let me put it up properly,’ giggled Rachel.

I still wasn’t sure, but when Hannah said it took ten years off me, I just thought, ‘Alleluia!’ even though my sensible head told me there was no way in the world that my daughter would  have ‘just  20 minutes’ on the day to do her mother’s hair.  But then, when did sensibility come into wedding planning?  It went into a compartment in my head marked, ‘I’ll worry about that on the day,’ and I found temporary relief in the fact that I’d solved my problem…sort of.

A week before the wedding, my car battery died a death.  The guy from Start Rescue jump-started me (well, actually my car, not me, tee hee) and told me in a very serious tone that I needed to go to Halfords and find out how much life my battery had in it.  Yeah, in your dreams, mate, I’m in the middle of wedding fever, just in case you hadn’t noticed.   Two days before the wedding, just as we were going off to the rehearsal in church, with perfect timing, my stupid car decided to conk again.  Marvellous!  Soooo, the day before the wedding I had to borrow Rachel’s mini.  Fine!  The only problem was that I could not for the life of me get it to reverse, not even if my life depended on it.   The gear stick had to be pushed way over to the left and then forwards and I just could not get it in, so subsequently my car journey was like a spoof off Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.  I could only park where I could get out front ways.  I stopped at the local convenience store and just as I was about to drive away, this very inconsiderate guy decided to pull up bang, smack in front of me.    I had to look busy until he came out and drove away.  Honestly, he probably thought  I was an absolute loony.

I was very pleased with myself when I found a great big space in Morrisons’ car park.   And then the phone rang.  Unfortunately the  Mini is one of those ridiculously modern cars where, when you stop for any length of time it cuts out (and that’s called progress).  Also, I discovered it starts up all by itself if you’ve stopped and are still sitting in it.  As I was yakking away the engine fired up, just like a ghost car…so, hilariously I had to move to yet another car parking space so that it would stop again.  Oh Lordy, I’m surprised the men in white coats didn’t come and take me away.  I was not exactly in the mood for all these shenanigans, as I had 101 things on my To Do list and probably looked like Basil Fawlty as I muttered expletives at it  under my breath.

It was all hands on deck in the days leading up to the wedding:  erecting the marquee, sorting electrics, setting and decorating tables, arranging flowers, creating a circular bar, mowing the lawn, weeding the flowers, dead heading, creating an archway with intertwined flowers, painting signs for the marquee and the ‘car park’, lugging booze out of supermarket trolleys…on and on and on.    Rachel and Kalumn (her beloved) were forever whizzing off into town to get last minute essentials like tea lights or silk flowers… or Limoncello, ha ha!   His mum and her friend spent hours on the flowers in the church, and created flower-filled jars, joined together by rope, for the end of each pew.  They even sewed some flowers around Pippy’s collar (Rachel’s black Labrador) to make her top dog on the day.   Amazing!

The bridesmaids descended upon me the day before, asking what they could do to help.  They were absolute saints, helping me to hoover (remember I had a bad back J), tidy and clean.   They very kindly invited me to the local tapas bar to celebrate the wedding eve with them, but I was exhausted and just wanted to chill out in my PJs.  After all I needed an early night and lots of beauty sleep to look my best for the big day.  Best laid plans and all that!  I woke up wide-eyed at 4.00am, Pippy woke me at 5.00am as she needed a poo (I’d obviously forgotten to take her out last thing at night) and she started howling like a baby at 6.00am as she was missing Rachel and wanted to sleep upstairs in her bedroom, not downstairs in the kitchen.  When I woke at 7.30, I looked and felt about 95.  Greeeat!

I have very sensitive skin, so I’m ultra-careful about what I put on it, but at about 10.00am I decided, to hell with it, I’d put some fake tan on (as you do).  Surprisingly enough, it was a clear liquid, not the dark brown mahogany cream I’d been expecting at all.  Later on, I realised my arms still looked rather pasty… I woke up the next morning, brown as a berry.  Durr!

The only thing I had to do of any consequence on the morning of the wedding was turn on the water for the porta-loos.  Up until that point I’d had a diary which I looked at religiously every day.  In the ‘clearing out the kitchen’ process the day before, my diary went AWOL.  No diary, no reminder!  I only found out the day afterwards that someone had had to ring the mobile number on the side of the loos and ask how to turn the water on.  The last thing the guy who brought the loos told me was to pull down the lever on the morning of the wedding ,as the toilets would always flush (thank the Lord!!!) but if the wash hand basins ran dry, the washers cost about £280 each.   Ker ching!

At 9.00 am Lucy, one of Rachel’s friends,  came through the front door with her make-up kit.  At 10.30am, Ken, our wonderful Chinese photographer arrived, and after that everything was a bit of a blur.  I seem to remember him asking me to hold Rachel’s veil as she was dressing and I smiled at the camera.

‘You’re supposed to be looking at me, not the camera, Mum,’ she giggled.

‘Hah, cute mother,’ guffawed Ken.

Oh Lordy!

I now know why they say, ‘It’s all over like a wedding.’  I seriously don’t know where the day went.  One minute Rachel and the bridesmaids were getting their make-up done, the next 3-year-old Olivia, our little Flower Girl, arrived with her mum and new teddy (good thinking), followed closely by Nick, my ex-husband, and before I knew it he and Rachel were sitting in a cream Vintage car, and me and the bridesmaids were hot-footing it in a 1970s dormobile to the church.   After all the time, energy and effort (not to mention the spondoolees) spent on making this a perfect day for Rachel and Kalumn, as I walked down the aisle to my seat, I remember thinking, ‘Now, I’m ready to party.’

Rachel looked like an absolute princess with her blonde hair swept up into loose curls at the back, a pearl/diamante hair band, an ivory wedding dress with lace panels at the top, a teeny waist band and diamante sparkles flashing from her flowing dress.  She started blubbing as soon as she started walking towards her future husband, who looked handsome as ever in his deep blue suit and waist coat.  Perfect!

When we arrived back at our home, the sun was shining and the drinks were flowing.  Ooh, we do like to party!  One of the best feelings in the world is getting lots of your friends together and just having a massive celebration.  Pippy seemed to think that Rachel’s dress was the ideal rug and kept sitting down on it, which we all thought was hilarious.  Everyone was in high spirits!  It was just simply an awesome day in every way.  The food was delicious, the speeches were both poignant and hilarious, and the dancing was raucous.  At one point I was rocking and rolling with one of the best men (there were 3!) and I tripped over some shoes behind me and, as he put it, ‘You looked as if you were falling off a cliff in slow motion’.  Aaaargh!

The DJ played the best music ever and by 3.00am he definitely thought he was in Ibiza.  As he played the last song of the night, Rachel was on Kalumn’s shoulders, Vicki was on an usher’s shoulders…and well, not one to be left out, I was on Doug’s shoulders (a wonderful guy we met when travelling) and as we all held hands aloft, it was just  an absolute perfect end to a perfect day.  Rachel and Kalumn looked radiantly happy and I know it was definitely one of the best days of their lives.  It most certainly was for me, too!

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