After the royal wedding...
PUBLISHED: 09:50 21 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:50 21 May 2018
It was an extraordinary wedding in many ways... no, not Prince Harry's
Move over Meghan, it’s my turn.
My wedding was 40 years ago, and in a couple of weeks I shall be celebrating my ruby anniversary with sandwiches, scones, cream, fresh strawberries, family and my husband... maybe I should have put those in a different order. Actually, no, I think that’s about right.
Our wedding was at 1pm. The day dawned gloomy and so did I. Was I too young to marry at 23 years? But we’d booked the reception, so backing out wasn’t really an option. My bouquet arrived and I burst into tears. I had expected something soft and romantic; instead, the blue and cream array was fixed to what looked like a short crowbar.
My mum tried to placate me and ended up giving me what for. “If you don’t carry those flowers, I’m not coming to the wedding.”
I surrendered. After all, she was having to wear bright pink.
My sister was my bridesmaid and she was in cornflower blue. Looking back, it could have been so much worse. After all, this was the Seventies – avocado bathroom suites, brown kitchens, orange and kingfisher blue sitting rooms.
My husband, my dad and best man Tim were in morning dress, grey tails and top hats. We had struck it lucky again – no flares, long collars or footballers’ extra-wide neckties.
The day before the wedding, I realised I hadn’t done anything about my hair, which was a bit split-ended and shaggy. I went to the nearest hairdresser, who said she didn’t have time to do much but she’d give my hair a cut. It was as near to a pudding basin effect as you could get without adding a suet crust. The hat would cover most of it, I thought.
All decked out in our finery. My dad brought his Cortina round to the front of the house and we set off for the church, which was in my husband’s village. I gripped my floral crowbar and repeated: “This is the happiest day of my life, this is the happiest day of my life...”
We had booked the photographer to take 20 pictures because that’s all we could afford and, after the ceremony, which went off without a hitch (to my amazement) we went outside for confetti and photographs. The photographer asked me to show my garter. I said: “Absolutely not,” and anyway, I wasn’t wearing one. The last thing you want on your wedding day is a dead leg when you cut off the blood supply to the lower limb.
After a couple more artistic differences, the photographer announced that if I carried on being difficult, he was leaving. It was all going so well. Pictures done (I look really miserable on the last two or three), we set off for the reception in a seaside hotel for the wedding breakfast, which was ham salad and cake.
At the time, my husband’s uncle Norman was the butler for Lord and Lady Tollemache at Helmingham Hall, near Ipswich, and he made sure that correct protocol was observed when it came to speeches and seating arrangements. And then, at about 4pm, the bride and groom set off for their marital home in their Nissan Sunny.
Back at our first house, an 1870 semi that had been partly updated, we prepared for a party with friends.
I have no idea why I thought it would be a good idea to make mayonnaise from scratch but I sat on the front lawn, in my wedding dress, dripping oil (I expect it was Mazola – back then I used olive oil only for shifting ear wax) into the beaten egg. It curdled into a cellulite batter and my husband went out to find mayonnaise in a jar. We opened the presents and, far too late, thought it might have been a good idea to send out a list because, although we do like pudding basins, we had been gifted a lifetime’s supply. I still have a couple of them – one for my hair.
With the record player blasting out The Beatles or something similarly dated, our friends began to arrive, carrying bottles of wine and beer, as requested.
The night wore on... and wore us down. A few people had a little too much to drink and a few others thought it wouldn’t be polite to leave the bride and groom to their own devices on their wedding night and stayed until 5am, by which time we were all sitting on the floor in the kitchen, listening to the BBC World Service.
As the first full day of my married life dawned sunny and bright, I decided I would probably look back on my wedding day and, retrospectively, decide it was the happiest day of my life.
Reader, I didn’t.
But it’s up there – along with the births of my two children, the arrival of grandchildren, the marriages of my children, and all the other wonderful moments over 40 years of marriage. Would I do it again? Yes, but I’m not sure I’d promise quite so much. Would he do it again? I don’t know – I daren’t ask.