Remember the Beast from the East? Remember how tedious it was when you couldn’t get home from work, or when you couldn’t physically wear enough layers to keep your teeth from chatting? Well, just imagine if that was your wedding weekend. Emily tells us how things unfolded over an eventful few days…
I had never been one to dream about my perfect day. I wasn’t a kid who wanted to dress up in princess dresses and march about aged 4 pretending to get married. However, I’d gradually (aged 31) come around to the idea and was marrying my fiancé in Dorset at the beginning of March.
We’d chosen a March date because I didn’t want to worry about having good weather. I didn’t think I could handle the pressure of booking up a July weekend and then checking the weather apps fourteen times a day for the 90 days leading up to it, praying for sunshine. So we opted for early March – imagining daffodils, spring tulips and perhaps a dash of warmth in the air.
About a fortnight before the wedding, we were organised. We’d made our own orders of service, we’d sorted out the table plan, we had the music ready to go. Everything was booked – flowers, cake, band – the whole shebang. But we were also starting to get reports of snow approaching the UK. “Yeh right, the usual scattering of slush” we muttered to ourselves, refusing to believe the weather forecasts were being anything more than slightly dramatic.
We left London to drive down to Dorset 3 days before the wedding. As we got closer to the open countryside, the snow began to fall. By the time we arrived, it was thick. By that afternoon, we were snowed in – as was our vicar who called to discuss the matter. At this point our party consisted of my fiancé and I and my parents – the only ones in the county where we were due to marry – we weren’t hopeful that the remaining 102 guests would be able to get there. Snow was forecast for London overnight (where most of our guests were coming from) and Scotland and York were already man down – taking 12 off the guest list straight away.
Friday morning, we had a call I’d never expected. We spoke to our wedding insurers (yep, we’d got it and I’d laughed at the fact we’d never need it) to consider our options. Cancelling it would get all our costs back, going ahead with any part of the celebrations would leave us with all costs to pay. We spoke to guests – we spoke to suppliers – we went back and forth as to what to do.
What followed, will warm my heart forever. As we began to spread the news that we may be cancelling our wedding, there was an uprising. Through messages and calls, through emails and whatsapps, everybody rallied around. People offered lifts to those who were stranded by South West Trains, people shared spare hotel rooms and opened up their houses, the church laid out a long trail of garden matting so I could reach the door in my heels.
It wasn’t until Saturday morning when we did a final count of those who had made the journey that we decided to go ahead. At 11.30 on the morning of my wedding, I sat with one of the best men pricking tulip heads and rearranging the seating plan for the umpteenth time. Nothing was going to be as I’d imagined – I hadn’t stayed at The Pig the night before with my bridesmaids, I wouldn’t be getting the luxury car at the end of the evening, the cake was yet to arrive – but it was amazing. Everyone was doing their bit -offering their help, driving my fiancé’s mother across icy roads in a Land Rover, whatever they could to make our day happen.
By the time I walked down the aisle (having arrived at the church in my father’s 4×4), I didn’t mind about whether the dress I was wearing was the outfit of my dreams, or whether the rustic gift tags as name places were ideally placed in the centre of each setting, or if the shades of blue all matched on the dresses of the bridesmaids. All I saw as I walked in was the warmth of everyone I knew and loved – smiling faces, people in wellies and bundled in coats – grinning at me as I took each step.
Life lessons were learnt here. I realised that you can plan something to the last possible detail, and it might all go upside down. I found that drastic circumstances often bring out the very best in people. And I learnt that getting married is about people, warmth, love and determination. What a day.
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Images © David Wheeler Photography