Wedding Planning Cornwall
As brides-to-be, we assume every inch of wedding planning takes meticulous time and energy.
But remember, sometimes the most precious, lasting memories of your big day can’t always be anticipated…
I recently attended a wedding in Cornwall. From the perspective of a watery-eyed guest, bride and groom nailed it; no mean feat since they live thousands of miles away in Los Angeles and thus had the added angst of long-distance logistics to cope with. But, apart from the dual-nationality congregation, you’d never have known this was a transatlantic production. If it wasn’t for the night before, that is. As the ever-so-slightly fraught couple did their best to unwind with their guests at the local pub, I got the faintest hint of the inevitable stress that had plagued them right up to the big day. Rumours that the bride had carted two dresses across the Atlantic were confirmed by the groom. And as I reminded the bride to stop and inhale a piece of scampi and a few chips, she confessed that she felt deranged, but would not rest until she knew that somebody had been to the reception venue and sprinkled sprigs of rosemary on all of the napkins.
Bernie and Cecilia
Of course, all the details came together to create one of the most beautiful autumnal weddings I’ve ever seen. But a few weeks down the line, when the newly-weds were falling into the groove of married life stateside, I was curious to know what the bride’s standout memory of the day was. Funnily enough, there was no mention of the dress, nor that rosemary…
This whole episode sparked an epiphany for me: if all those painstakingly planned details are the first to fade from the memories, then surely it’s not worth sweating the small stuff? Keen as mustard to put the theory to the test, I spoke to some married couples from yesteryear and asked them to cast their minds back to the day they said ‘I do’. And sure enough, five, ten even 40 years later, the moments that have stood the test of time are the moments that required no planning at all.
Jane and Adrian
The very definition of a surprise says it all: an unexpected or astonishing event. But, most importantly, something that wasn’t in The Plan. Lara and Neil have just celebrated 11 years of marriage and, while the wedding celebrations included a champagne tour of London on the top deck of a Routemaster, this wasn’t what Lara plucked from the memory bank first. “When I think about our wedding, I remember our surprise at mum and dad organising a choir to sing for us at the church, and Neil’s best man gave us both a surprise when he delivered his speech in the form of a song about Neil! It was one of the funniest moments of the day,” she says.
Jane and Adrian are approaching their five-year milestone and Jane still vividly remembers her dad’s speech, which was a closely guarded secret until W-day. “To my horror, he revealed my very embarrassing confirmation name. I literally held my head in my hands laughing and I still chuckle when I look back at the photos that captured the moment!’
Surprises endure the decades, too. For Sylvia, who married Danny 45 years ago, in an era before digital technology and the ability to capture, edit and share every nano-second of our lives to the world, one of the fondest recollections was a touching surprise. “At the time, Danny was the bandmaster of the town band. Unbeknown to either of us, his band members arrived outside the church as we said our vows, creating an arch made from their instruments for us to walk under as we exited as husband and wife. I often look at that photograph and remember how touched we both were at the gesture,” she says.
Joanne and Richard
The impromptu moments
It’s funny how the moments you dread – the worst-case scenarios – can actually turn out to be the ones that you remember most vividly. Laura and Jon said ‘I do’ nine years ago. “Some of the things that still make me smile are the things that went wrong on the day,” says Jon, “which is why I think it’s important not to let them ruin the day itself.” For this couple, music played a big part in shaping their wedding day, but disaster struck when the band managed to melt the PA and consequently cut short their set. The music they had spent so long talking about was whittled down to a mere three tracks, but did anybody care, or even notice? Did they heck. “In fact”, says Jon, “most of the guests were so oblivious, they thought the band played a full set!”
For other couples, the most feared disaster looming on the horizon is a natural one, but when bad weather arrives uninvited, it’s rarely as troublesome as one imagines. Jane recalls the weather being a big concern in the days leading up to her wedding. “The summer of 2012 turned out to be the UK’s second wettest on record,” she explains. “The day before our wedding the weather was monsoon-like in Cornwall. Then came reports of a Super Storm passing over the county at the precise time we were due to sit down to our wedding breakfast. I was genuinely concerned about the marquee. However, after leaving the church elated at being married, the weather conditions really didn’t matter at all. In fact, I look back and laugh now at the sound of the wind whipping around the bottom of the marquee and catching the eyes of friends who thought we may all disappear in a sudden gust of wind!” And Kate, who married Paul ten years ago, sums up the sentiment echoed by many couples: “I know for sure that if something had gone wrong, I wouldn’t have even noticed.”
Sylvia and Danny
The comedy of errors
This one makes plenty of sense, because the things we remember in life are often the things that have us rolling around in fits of laughter. Thankfully, guests and family members are normally very obliging at weddings. Joanne and Richard exchanged rings ten years ago, but while the day played out with all the bells and whistles of a military wedding, Jo is still tickled today by her friend’s reading: “My friend Alex decided to grammatically correct the reading, as he thought that I’d typed it up incorrectly, only to realise that Corinthians 13: 4:-13 Love is Patient just is written that way. He realised his error as he began to speak, but it was too late!” she laughs. Lara attributes the funniest memory of her day to an unnamed guest who was discovered fast asleep under the piano while the disco blared around her. Jane believes, with hindsight, that sometimes the unplanned moments are exactly what you need to help everyone relax. “I will always remember our wedding band playing the hip-hop classic ‘Jump Around’ by House of Pain and seeing my mum dancing up a storm. It was comedy beyond words!”
And, to prove the point that laughter endures time, Sylvia recalled her father’s blunder in the church at her wedding in 1971. “Given the task of delivering two simple words to say when prompted by the vicar to answer the question ‘who gives this bride away?’, he muttered ‘I will’ instead of ‘I do’. This will always stay with me and makes me laugh out loud today,” says Sylvia.
Kate and Paul
The priceless moments
Then there are simple, fleeting moments that stay with us forever: the permitted clichés that you could never predict, or recreate for that matter. For Jo, it was the simple memory of confetti falling down her dress; Jon will always remember how his bride Laura looked as she walked down the aisle; Kate and Paul remember sneaking off late at night together and looking back towards the orangery where all their friends and family danced and drank the bar dry together; and Jane remembers her voice cracking with emotion when she said her wedding vows to Adrian: “this was the moment it all became a very happy reality for me,” she says.
So, what’s the lesson in all of this? Of course, it’s important to try and make sure your day reflects who you both are. If music is your thing, enjoy finding the best band; if you’re a wordsmith, then allow yourself to retreat from time-to-time in a bubble of vow-writing and speech sharpening; and if you’re known to be a colourful couple, then bask in the fun of creating a grown-up and vibrant scrap book – it’s unlikely you’ll get the opportunity again. But the next time you confront the mountainous lists of things to do, ask yourself this: are you really going to remember the shade of the napkins ten years from now? If you keep in mind that the longest lingering memories are the ethereal ones, suddenly the load will lighten, along with the pressure, and what really matters will come into focus.
Kate and Paul
Laura and John
words Sharon Ryan
Copyright Wed magazine 2017