A very good place to startMonday, July 18, 2011
This time last year, things were a wee bit hectic. One might even describe them as fraught. There were dresses to collect, table plans to finalise, visitors to welcome (or not welcome, thanks to pesky visa issues), little cousins to cuddle, flowers to arrange, golf tournaments to throw, wedding rehearsals to organise, friends to coordinate, cats to herd...
I have declared more than once that I didn't want to turn this blog into some sort of wedding retrospective. A wedding is one day; a marriage, touch wood, lasts a lifetime. And let's not forget that there is more to a woman, in this day and age, than her marital status. There's her shoes, for one thing.
But you know what? For me, that wedding was a big damn deal. If it wasn't for that wedding, I wouldn't have a blog (or a husband, or a rather nice selection of Sophie Conran crockery). And as the Earth comes to the end of its first trip around the Sun with our baby family on board, I too am coming full circle and becoming once again preoccupied with thoughts of that crazy week, and that one mental day.
So, I thought I'd turn this week into wedding week here on the blog, if that's ok with you.* I haven't fully worked out yet what this will entail, but there will probably be some of my own thoughts and reflections, there will in all likelihood be a bit of nonsense, and there will DEFINITELY be some pretty pictures. That's right - a whole week of wedding porn. Happy days.
And where better to start than at the very beginning: the proposal?
Well, I suppose I could start with our less-than-auspicious beginnings in a dark and dingy bar in Glasgow University Union. Or I could begin with our first proper "date", when Fin took me to a pub for lunch and told me, "when I usually come here with girls, they have paninis". Hmm. Perhaps not.
So, let's just fast-forward eight years or so. It's my birthday, and frankly, I'm pretty sure I know what's about to go down. I wish I could pretend I was oh so shocked and surprised and hadn't an inkling, but keeping secrets is not one of Fin's strengths (this has pros and cons. Birthdays can be an exercise in faux astonishment, but at least I would know within about 2.4 seconds if he was sneaking off for some extra-marital hanky-panky). I like to think I'm fairly perceptive, but it wouldn't exactly have taken Sherlock Holmes to discern his master plan. Let's examine the evidence.
Clue number one: Excessive levels of caginess surrounding Fin's underwear drawer, which I Absolutely Must Not Look In For Any Reason. Suspicious.
Clue number two: Did I mention the going out for eight years part?
Clue number three: Unusual levels of interest in wedding- and engagement-related topics, such as what finger rings go on, etc. Curiouser and curiouser.
Clue number four: The day before my birthday, there is much talk of us going for A Walk. From Fin, from my mum, even from my dad. "Let's go for A Walk tomorrow." "Oh, so you're going for A Walk tomorrow?" "I hope it stays dry so we can go for A Walk tomorrow." To be clear, I have never expressed any interest in going for a walk, least of all on my birthday. Birthdays are for eating cake. Duh.
Clue number five: When we awake on my birthday to torrential rain, Fin is disproportionately dismayed. "Oh no! We can't go for A Walk!" At this point I'm beginning to feel more than a little sick. Oh God. Oh God. This is actually going to happen. Fuuuuuuuuck.
Clue number six: Everyone's acting all weird. This is awful. I'm trying to act normal, no big deal, I always wear this much makeup to go down the High Street, what's your problem? Fin, meanwhile, looks like he's going to throw up. I foresee some good photos later on. Not.
Clue number seven: If Fin fidgets in his pocket one more time I am going to have no alternative but to reach in there, wrench the ring out and put it on my own damn finger. I manage to restrain myself, just. "Are you ok Fin?" "Fine! I'm totally fine! I'm fine! Fine!" Uh-huh.
Clue number eight: [The torrential rain has temporarily lifted.] "Erm, do you want to just come onto the beach for a minute?" Oh God. Oh God. My handbag is stuck on the gearstick. I literally can't get out of the car. Oh God, there are balloons on the beach. Are they for me? Wait a minute, they say Happy Birthday, have I totally got the wrong end of the stick here, oh God oh God oh God.
Clue number nine: This.
The next twenty seconds are something of a blur. Neither Fin nor I has any recollection of what was said. I'm sure at one point he mumbled, "So, what do you think?". He's fairly certain that somewhere in there I said "Yes". My parents were jumping up and down and waving maniacally at us from the window (did I mention this all happened right outside my parents' house?). We retrieved some bubbly and two plastic glasses from a hiding spot in the grass, and my parents' lodger woke up at that exact moment, looked outside his window and had the wherewithal to grab his camera and snap a few shots for posterity. (Impressive stuff, usually it takes me five minutes to fully open my eyes, never mind work a camera.)
I found the whole engagement experience incredibly overwhelming, despite those eight years together; in fact, maybe more so because of those eight years. We had spent so long just being girlfriend and boyfriend - rather successfully, if I say so myself - that the prospect of turning everything on its head and launching into this completely different relationship was somewhat daunting. I think I speak for both of us when I say that, although I strongly believe that getting married to Fin was one of the best things I have done in my life, getting engaged to him was not pleasurable. It was exciting, and momentous, and life-changing, and intense - but it wasn't fun.
Now, the seven months of wedding planning that followed - that was fun...
Did anyone else feel like they were going to throw up when they got engaged? Or just us...?
*Actually I don't care, it's my blog and if I want to waffle on about weddings ad nauseum I flipping well will. Weddings weddings weddings! Ohhhh, that was good...
Top two images from You Wanna Talk Jive's awesome proposal story. Bottom two from our less-than-awesome one.