I like to think I’ve lived a bit in my life. I’ve found myself in some strange and weird situations over the years.
But nothing, absolutely nothing has come close in terms of total surreal-ness to walking down the aisle. It was a total slow motion, out of body experience.
And the nerves really did kick in at that moment. I think I held onto my dad’s arm for dear life as we stepped into the church.
There was no danger of crying. I felt absolutely stunned. I knew everyone would be looking, but it was just weird to feel every pair of eyes locked on me, some of them already shining with tears.
Suddenly I felt my jaw wobbling with nerves. Then I gazed to the front of the church and saw J – more handsome than I’ve ever seen him in my whole life. And I will never, ever, forget the look on his face as I walked towards him.
When I arrived at the front of the church – which had been transformed into a sea of beautiful white flowers and greenery by Linda – we kissed, (though maybe we were supposed to wait till the end of the ceremony for that?) and all my nerves evaporated.
The ceremony was conducted in Spanish, which didn’t turn out to be such of a problem for our non-Spanish speakers as we would have thought. I think it helped that we had a lovely string quartet and a soprano to break up the chunks of talking.
Afterwards, many people told us that our priest, Padre Mariano, had such presence and a great way of talking that it hardly seemed to matter that they couldn’t understand him.
The Spanish speakers found his words during the sermon heartfelt and relevant. Thumbs up all round.
When it came to the vows, we dispensed with the usual “for richer, for poorer” stuff to tell each other why we wanted to marry each other, in our native languages. It felt more real that way, though it was all I could do to stop my voice from choking when I told J why I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.
We also had two readings – one in Spanish and one in English. This was my surprise for J – I got his brother-in-law to read out a particularly romantic section of J’s favourite book Lord of the Rings, which he had read to me long before we’d got engaged. I’d never forgotten it, and it seemed the logical choice. J was certainly touched.
It was my little nephews and niece who stole the show, though. They were the most adorable group of flower girls and page boys, although there was a slightly dodgy moment when my brother’s little girl Isabella tried to grab the photographer’s camera then screamed her head off when she wasn’t allowed to do so.
The other only hiccup was J’s ring. As I placed it on his finger it caught on his knuckle. Nothing strange there, you might think. Apart from the fact that it wasn’t actually his ring.
In the car on the way to the church his sister Alicia accidentally dropped the two rings. His got stuck under the seat, and try as they might, they couldn’t get to it.
In the end my friend Jane stepped in and let them borrow hers, but poor Ali was distraught. She gave the reading in Spanish – delivered beautifully – but if you looked at her knees you could se they were shaking. That’s how nervous she was that I would realise the ring wasn’t J’s and get upset about it.
I was totally oblivious, though. And Before long Padre Mariano was wrapping up the ceremony by asking each of our parents what they wished for us in our life together.
My mum, who has hardly ever spoken in public, got the whole church laughing when she answered simply: “All the happiness in the world and many many children.”
We were the last to leave the church, stepping out into a rain of rose petals and what seemed like a hundred camera flashes. We stood there, rooted to the spot.
“What are we supposed to do now,” I asked no-one in particular.
“Kiss,” someone helpfully suggested – so we did just that.