Rebecca Sayce: Love and joy on the big day worth all the tears and stress
With my head in my hands and tears streaming down my face, I remember my mother and father saying ‘it will all be alright in the end’.
This was just one of my many wedding planning-induced breakdowns in the run-up to the big day, and my poor parents had become quite adept at dealing with my hysterics.
Over the years I had seen many of my friends pulling their hair out over table plans and rocking mascara streaks after trying to diffuse yet another bridesmaid dispute, yet nothing could have prepared me for how stressful planning my own big day would be.
And no matter how many times I was told all the stress would be worth it, as I sat sniffling on my parents’ couch, I just couldn’t see a scenario where this would be possible. I had always been quite the fan of organisation and planning, a trait I inherited from my no-nonsense, queen-of-the-spreadsheet mother. There’s not a task in the land you could hand her that she couldn’t write a comprehensive list for - laminated, of course.
I’ve always been our friends’ get together organiser, busily rallying the troops and forming various group texts to plan our next outing. From holidays abroad to simple pub trips, I’m usually the one trying to hand out a detailed itinerary - whether they want me to or not.
It was because of this I thought that wedding planning would come easily, and that there was no way me and my now-husband would be ‘that’ couple umming and ahhing over flower arrangements and cake tasters.
Boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Over two and a half years of planning, I lost count of how many arguments we had over the wedding budget and our differing ideas. I still sometimes cringe over yelling at my poor husband that there was no way he was booking a magician when we hadn’t even sorted a venue. Or the time we didn’t speak for a day over a wedding breakfast playlist. My carefully bullet-pointed to-do lists quickly went out the window in favour of muttering ‘oh no’, or something a lot more expletive laden, and chaotically booking vendors and returning phone calls last minute, usually while hot glueing decorations together and burning myself repeatedly.
As the big day loomed ever closer, every little hurdle or task that we would ordinarily brush off seemed like the end of the world had come knocking at our door. Most of our discussions about the wedding ended with ‘well, at least it will be over soon and we can go on honeymoon’ instead of excitedly counting down the days.
And still, I kept being told ‘it will be alright in the end’. The night before, I was a nervous wreck. I stared at the TV screen in my parents’ living room, not taking in a single thing in favour of fixating over everything that could possibly go wrong in the next 24 hours. Maybe the cake wouldn’t turn up, or maybe I’d open my dress bag for the hundredth time and somehow it was covered in mystery stains.
I barely slept a wink, tiredly combing through the days’ schedule ahead in my mind and mentally packing and unpacking my overnight bag.
An unusual sense of calm fell over me as I munched on bagels, pastries and fruit with my bridesmaids and family the following morning, although in hindsight I think I had reached an undiscovered level of stress that masqueraded as serenity.
Time slipped by quicker than I thought it ever could, and before I knew it we were in the car making our way to the venue in our stylish slippers, dressing gowns, and full faces of makeup combination.
As we arrived and rain started pouring (the only thing I didn’t stress about was the weather surprisingly, you can’t really control autumn, no matter how many lists I write) I think the wedding planner could feel the immense levels of terror radiating from my body.
“Honestly, it will all be alright in the end,” she told me. Why did everyone keep saying that? And which crystal ball were they consulting? We were still battling with zips, errant flower crowns and missing earring backs when the registrar came to call us down from the bridal suite. Standing arm in arm with my dad outside the barn doors, my arms and legs shook uncontrollably as I awaited the dreaded walk down the aisle. I had spent weeks worrying about tripping over my train and falling flat on my face, and with my wobbly legs it seemed inevitable.
But as soon as I saw my partner at the end of the aisle, every worry and woe I had harboured for months on end seemed to simply melt away. With a new spring in my step, my dad had to hold me back from running down the aisle to greet our guest’s smiling faces and finally tie the knot.
The day slipped by like a dream, filled with twinkling fairy lights, woodland flora, delicious buffets and a disco over-run with 80s classics, hip hop and emo hits, a real reflection of the mish-mash of guests we had attend. Every little detail, from the decorations to the guest favours and schedule, were accounted for with not one mistake in sight.
It felt as if I floated through the day in a love-filled bubble, taking everything in and yet barely doing a thing. My partner and I took an hour to walk around the venue’s gardens, and we barely spoke a word. The love we had received from everyone around us had left us speechless.
As we finally collapsed into bed at 1am, weary from a day of dancing and drinking, my husband and I both wished we could do it all over again, despite wishing the day away for weeks before.
All the years of stress that we had willed away had culminated in a day so perfect we couldn’t think of any way it could have been bettered. It’s true what they say, it really is the best day of your life.
It turns out all our friends, family, and wedding vendors were right. It really was alright in the end.
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