As some of you know, J and I met quite some years ago now on Plenty of Fish while I lived in Canada and he lived in the UK. Skype dates quickly turned into the sort of whirlwind romance Taylor Swift might sing about. Many Skype calls, flights and letters later I moved to England to be with him, and it was the best thing I ever did.
Two years after moving here, 3 days before Christmas, he took me to the place I had declared the most beautiful spot in the world – the top of Winnats Pass in the Peak District and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. I said “of course I will!”
As we had to be married to live on the barracks of his next posting we had a small, tweed affair at the registry office in Cambridge with close family and friends that spring. Two years later, after saving loads of pennies, having our original venue fall through 6 months before and arranging for all my Canadian family and friends to fly over we got to re-live one of the happiest days of our lives – this time with the white dress and all the trimmings.
I wrote a very personal ceremony which his cousin delivered and we said our handwritten vows to one another surrounded by all those who we love and who love us while sheep grazed on the wet, Derbyshire hills behind us. It rained the whole day in British fashion, and yet it was wonderful. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
My dad lead me down the aisle and handed me off to ‘the only man he’s ever approved of’ to the song ‘Then’ by Brad Paisley. Seeing J standing there, and the emotion we both felt is something neither of us will forget as we continue onto new adventures together, forever by one another’s side as husband and wife.
The ceremony encompassed hearty laughs, family jokes, heartfelt words, many a proud look from parents and was sealed with a triumphant kiss and a refrain of ‘Circles’ by Jana Kramer.
After the ceremony surrounded by our best friends we trudged up a slippery slope in stiletto heels – armed with brollies and laughter- and didn’t let a few raindrops stop us making the most of a magical day. In the climb I must have put my heel through the lace of my dress causing a rip a few inches wide near the bottom but no matter. My dress now bears the stains and wear of a wedding day well spent.
We spent the next part of the day enjoying the company of all those who had travelled so far to celebrate our love with us – some having driven hours from different parts of the UK and some having flown from Ontario and Nova Scotia – while we shared a toast, some ord’oeuvres and the children roguishly helped themselves to chocolates off the too-tempting-to-resist cake.
I had to ask our photographer to snap a quick pic before all the chocolates mysteriously disappeared! Someone asked me afterwards if it was meant to look like we were sitting on a snowflake in a bowl of Poutine – the fact that the chocolates kind of look like fries, gravy and cheese curds is completely incidental!
This is also the point in the day when I began to rethink my choice of a mermaid style dress as after a 1/2 hour trip to the loo with determined bridesmaids in tow I decided I would not be tinkling for the rest of the evening. And though we didn’t go to bed until nearly 2am – I was resolved in my decision and stuck to it!
We managed to tell parts of our story and ourselves through all the little details – from leather suitcases and love letter table numbers tied with string (which included Hogwarts, Cambridge United FC, London and Maple Leaf themed envelopes) – to the personalised plane cuff links I surprised him with on the morning of our special day.
Our sweets table featured Canadian treats like: Jolly Rachers, Oh Henry bars and butter tarts and British Rosy Apples, Tangfastics and a giant Bakewell Tart – as we were so near to the pastries’ namesake town the day wouldn’t have been complete without a Bakewell.
The butter tarts lasted about ten seconds!
Sprinkled on the tables were plane confetti’s cut from maps and hearts made from Florida travel brochures. Florida being where we met for the first time and where we have spent many happy memories together.
Milk bottles sat on aged books at every table and each held a handful of gypsophelia and sunflowers – my favourite flower – which our auntie Pauline thoughtfully arranged for us.
We stole a few moments to ourselves before dinner to take in the postcard-perfect landscape and our superb photographer duo preserved these loving seconds for us to keep always.
Our flower girl (whom we’d forgotten to send down the aisle earlier) ushered the bridal party into the Orangery with her basket of dried rose petals – where a very British afternoon tea and some equally touching and hilarious speeches awaited from our best man, our maid of honour and then J and myself to one another.
When I watch back his vows, and the speech he spent hours upstairs writing one night I can’t describe the sense of sheer love and respect I have for him. When I see his cheeky smile, how he talks with his hands and the way he looks at me – everything about him just makes my heart happy.
Following dinner were times of merriment, conversation and cocktails until the clock struck seven and the father daughter dance begun.
My dad, who lives back home in Canada, who truly is my biggest fan and cries at every single airport goodbye – even after I’ve lived here for 4 years – swayed with me to Carrie Underwood’s ‘Girl You Think I Am.’ And the words You think I’m brave. You think I’m fearless… I wanna be the girl you think I am… really hit home.
He then put my hand in J’s – knowing that near of far, I would always be in good hands. J held me close while Brad Paisley’s ‘Then’ said all the things I feel every time I look at him. Because somehow, when I think I couldn’t possibly love him more, I do.
We enjoyed an evening of dancing, pizza, sparklers and kisses. Later in the night I even ended up doing an impromptu rendition of ‘Circles.’
At 1:30am we finally said goodnight to our guests knowing that we had made memories that will last us a lifetime of drinking tea together, and travelling to new places, and dancing in the kitchen and couch snuggles. Memories that in 50 years, 80 years time we can look back on and say ‘And I thought I loved you then.’