A Look Back: Our Marriage Vows (Part 2)

Our first year of marriage promises reveal more about our personalities and our lives than our vows do, which is why I would love to write vows more similar to these for any future renewal. Our lives moved quickly and before long our focus was again turning, this time to how we wanted to raise our children. Having together broken down and rebuilt parts of each other’s souls before and after our wedding day, by asking the most profound and heart-wrenching questions, we emerged certain of our shared principles and priorities. What we wrote was a manifesto that summed up what it was to be a Catley-Richardson, the new family we had created by joining our names.

This is your life
Do what you love, and do it often
If you don’t like something change it
Question everything
Some opportunities only come once, seize them
Life is not a rehearsal
Enjoy the little things in life – one day you’ll look back and realise they were the big things
When you eat, appreciate every last bite
Travel often –getting lost will help you find yourself
Open your mind, arms and heart to new things and new people
Do not lose faith in humanity
We are united in our differences
All emotions are beautiful
You are part of a family that loves you very much
Life is a precious thing so don’t burn it up start living it day by day
Live your dream and share your passion
Don’t make do, make happen
Strive, don’t settle
Live for love

The manifesto was inspired by Holstee, but I’ve always been keen to have words on the walls of my home, because the written word to me is one of if not the most beautiful, precious human art forms. I incorporated some of my favourite quotations, borrowed from various sources of inspiration in my life, and we came up with a few key statements of our own that were the lessons of our first years of marriage. The manifesto serves to remind us and our children of what we consider the most important truths to keep in mind every day as you live your life. Less than three years on, the manifesto needs updating and improving to better reflect our reality now, so it is a living document.

How far our relationship has come in those short three years. Bubbles and bubbles – referring to prosecco in the bath – has become even more of an us thing, in the bath that we chose in the house we own together, it’s the centrepiece of Jam Jar Spa day gifts from him, and the at least weekly debrief and destress tete-a-tetes. We have embraced the Cotswold country lifestyle and Ben plays cricket when he can. We are absolutely convinced of staycations and local holidaying. We try to live our lives to the full, squeezing as much in as we can at the weekends, keeping in touch with good friends, travelling to see them and family, improving our home and garden, being involved in the community, individually doing the things we love and both striving little by little to realise all of our hopes and ambitions. We love each other completely, without any part of ourselves reserved, unconditionally, for exactly who the other is, openly and freely. When I gave Ben my hand, I gave him my life to keep. And keep my life he does.

Part 1 of the story is here

These are a few of my favourite things (about a wedding ceremomy)

As a guest albeit one with the role of Celebrant to play, having an excuse to dress up, wear makeup and jewellery, coif my hair and sometimes even wear nail varnish!
The mad rush to get out the house and into the car with the husband and kids, even though we sometimes snap at each other in the chaos, it’s so us, and I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s an exciting start to the day!
Reading the script and being impressed with myself and thinking to myself, I’m really good at my job.
These are a few of my favourite things.

Seeing the hard work of the Bride and Groom and their family of helpers, before any of the guests arrive.
Quirky signs using puns of their names and witty personal touches the Bride and Groom have thought of, such as their cut out faces on a wedding bake off trophy.
Checking out and comparing the toilets.
These are a few of my favourite things.

Nervous Grooms, especially if I can make them laugh; and people wishing the Groom luck.
Hearing the reactions of guests to the décor; and guests taking lots of photographs.
Seeing the wedding rings. Hearing the entrance song.
These are a few of my favourite things.

Seeing the Bride’s face (not her dress) as she walks in and looks for the Groom’s face.
Grooms with huge smiles and tears in their eyes when they see the Bride.
The Bride and Groom exchanging a few words when they are reunited at the front (usually sharing how nervous/overwhelmed they are or hot/cold/tired and how good they both look).
These are a few of my favourite things.

The Bride smiling at me. Guests smiling and crying throughout the ceremony, especially gasps of delight.
The ring and vow exchange because it’s such a personal and tender moment between the Bride and Groom we get to witness.
The fact that the rings hardly ever fit easily and have to be forced on (and how keen they are that the ring WILL go on).
These are a few of my favourite things.

Declaring the Bride and Groom husband and wife and everyone cheering.
Seeing all the love for the Bride and Groom in the congratulation hugs and kisses and photographs.
The parents of the Bride and Groom thanking and kissing me.
These are a few of my favourite things.

If I could plan my wedding all over again

My wedding day felt truly magical. It was powerfully romantic and emotional, and reflected our tastes and styles to a tee. But there are still things I would’ve done a little differently if I could do it all over again. I hope Brides and Husbands to Be will find these reflections useful but my final word on wedding planning is that whatever your choices for the day, perfection is to be found in your lovely new spouse, the occaision itself, and the love and happiness you will feel coming off everybody that special day. So don’t be hung up on perfection in the details, quite often the things that go wrong are what we remember most fondly.I’ll pretend I’m granted three wishes like Wedding SOS in reverse.

Change number 1: I know I have a tendency to run late. I should have planned better so that we had less to do the morning of the wedding. I ended up not paying any attention to my fingernails whatsoever! No nail varnish, certainly no manicure :S although it was lovely that my sister painted them for me before the evening meal, mmmm pampered! I had no breakfast to speak of even though I took pastries to the hairdressers with me. I tend not to eat when I’m in business mode. We (mom, bridesmaids, etc.) had to rush exchanging our little gifts to each other at the hotel, so I wish we’d done that the night before too. The rush of the night before was really enjoyable though. Highlights included the best pizza ever (because we were knackered and starving), touching gifts from my mom, and hilarity in the bath involving fake tan and hair bleach. As I prepared to go to bed, in our lovely hotel room, set out my jewellery, perfume, and card from H2B to opened as soon as I woke up, I felt like a princess already.

Change number 2: You can’t control the weather 🙂 but there were things I could’ve controlled that day which I didn’t. I didn’t think I’d have to maker certain things clear but it turns out you can’t be too clear setting out your expectations. We hired a wonderful vintage car, imagining a slow drive down country lanes from the hotel to the village hall. I was running late, but the driver had already decided he’d take the dual carriageway (it felt like it took forever) instead of the country lanes. He was concerened about traffic. As we raced up the A38 with the rain sheeting down, my heart sank. This was not what I wanted 😦 So, make sure you tell your driver the route you want to take! We did have a laugh about the vintage window that wouldn’t close. My sister bless her held the wind up handle all the way to prevent too much rain coming in onto my dress.

Change number 3: Think twice before using a friend or family member as one of your suppliers. Not least because you might really miss them being part of the day as a guest, and feel bad that they are working so hard instead of having a lovely time. I will treasure the few photos other guests took that have our photographer in them! With the photographer you might think you’ve been crystal clear with what you want and don’t want, but again, you can’t be too explicit. Think about which things might appear in the background of your pics unless they’re taken at a certain angle. Our wedding was at a village hall, it was great, but still a village hall. It’s hard to cover up things like strip lights, bins, and exit signs so it’s in your photographer’s hands to make them ‘vanish’ from your photo album 😉

I was relieved that my ideas for an eclectic vintage/country garden/English rose wedding came together so well. A final tip for all you wedding dreamers out there would be choose something quite specific for your theme. My idea of the theme kept evolving. I understood what I wanted but I was about the only one. It was really difficult to describe to the guests what they should wear to fit in with the theme. I stressed about the dress, make up and hair coming together properly and about the colours, oh the colours. I wanted dusky pink, we couldn’t get dusky pink roses so we ended up with slightly peachy roses. I wanted sage green, but what’s the difference between sage and olive green? And then the patterns. Would the lace on my dress match OK with the damask on my mom’s dress and the groom’s Liberty print hankerchief? Breathe. If you’re unsure, keep things simple. If you’re game, go for it. The details make up the overall image of your wedding in your guests eyes. They won’t be judging things item by item. Just have fun. Happy planning!