Popping the question, on a gondola on a canal in Venice, back in October 2016 seems an age ago. But from that moment to now – just back from my honeymoon after getting married – really has gone in the blink of an eye.
In that time, life has changed completely. From full time 8-day-a-week work to coming to a crashing halt and finally getting an ME diagnosis, it was hardly the smartest time to plan a wedding. But life has a way of throwing curveballs.
As promised, this blog is about how I prepared for the big day and some reflections on the whole thing that may be useful if you or somebody you know is living with ME.
I’ll insert an important caveat here to stave off messages and occasional abuse I receive when talking about certain issues: this is about me and my experience and I accept some people are struggling with much more severe symptoms than me. Right. Onwards…
From the outset my fiancé and I were clear that we wanted to outsource or delegate as much of the work and decision making as possible. On balance, it worked well.
Our ceremony and reception were at one location, and that location also looked after the food and drink and ceremony marquee. The downside was no shopping around for better prices. The upside was knowing they’d just get it right and deal with problems themselves.
Likewise, we went to a wedding clothes hire firm for our outfits. There was the cake maker, the florist, the table and room decorator, DJ and musician – all of whom we met with beforehand and empowered to just ‘make it happen’. And they all did, with zero fuss or drama.
One of the best decisions I made was to ask our wedding venue to create a ‘bedroom’ for me to escape and rest as and when I needed it. We built in post-ceremony, post-photos and post-meal/speeches breaks for me into the day. In the end I only used the last of those when I went for a 45 minute lie down. With hindsight I should have used them all, but the adrenaline of the day was sweeping me along.
Before our wedding day we checked into a hotel the day before giving me ‘wedding eve’ and the morning of our big day to rest, rest and rest some more.
That was actually quite difficult as my temptation was to see everybody, especially those who’d come from far and wide to be there. But it was vital to me being able to make it through the most important day!
Likewise, most of the following day was spent with just my husband in our hotel room. That was so important to allow my body (and mind) time to stop.
From an organising point of view, an online spreadsheet proved invaluable. It kept track of invitations, finances and things that needed doing. We then shared chunks of that with the relevant people and asked them to do it.
The other secret weapon in my armoury was my Best Man (above) who made it his mission to keep everything calm and relaxed and trouble-free before, during and afterwards.
There were two small dramas. One was two days before the wedding when some of the outfits didn’t fit the wedding party. That physically knocked me sideways and proved a good reminder of how even a little stress could shut down my body and bring on pain, brain fog, and a wave of fatigue.
The other was just before the wedding when it emerged my brother’s waistcoat was missing from his outfit bag. Knowing I couldn’t respond with a stress reaction meant (for me) I let it wash over me.
All the wedding day truisms people shared with me proved true:
The day goes in the blink of an eye
You don’t remember many actual details of the day
You don’t get to see or speak to all your guests
But that’s okay!
My fiancé and I had very different experiences of our day. He was very much swept up within it and was always bursting with joy. It was so lovely to see. I felt more a spectator at an event and had to remind myself it was our big day! It sounds weird, but it’s how it was. And I’m fine with that. It’s actually looking back at photographs in the days that followed which has really helped me cement memories of our wedding. Magical, from start to finish.
So what are my key lessons?
Well, outsource and delegate as much as you can. Accept things will go wrong or plans will change, and remember that it’s okay. With a week to go make sure everything is somebody else’s problem and give them permission to make decisions to solve issues.
With a couple of days to go, switch off completely even though your temptation may be to do the opposite.
The rest area at our venue was a godsend. I’d highly recommend it. I’d also take more breaks even though you feel like you’re missing out.
And, finally, remember it’s your day. There are no rules so make it as big or small or long or short or traditional or off-beat as you wish.
In the coming days I’ll blog about the honeymoon which proved the most brilliant way to learn even more about living with ME… as well as being an amazing time for just me and my husband after the intensity of the big day.
Husband! Still can’t quite believe it’s happened. Wow!