Posts Tagged: panic

May 11

The serious stuff

“You do know what it means to get married in the Catholic Church, don’t you?”

The priest fixed stern eyes on us both as he said these words.

“It is forever. There is NO divorce here.”

I tried to sneak a look a J, but he was staring straight ahead. Poker face. I had a sudden and terrible urge to laugh.

I didn’t expect it to be like this – the filing of our wedding paper work.

It was the second time we’d tried to do it, at the parish office which was handily five minutes walk from our house.

The first time had been comical. We’d turned up with the priest who was going to marry us, and he’d presented us to the priest in charge of the office.

“These two people are in love, and they want to get married,” he said, sweeping his arm towards us grandly.

“So?” asked the office priest.

“They want to file their paper work,” said our clergyman, looking a little puzzled.


“Well, and nothing, that’s it.”

The office priest looked at us like we were all idiots.

“But they need two witnesses!” he said.

Turns out we were idiots.

Well we were back with our two testigos. Sarah – one of my best friends in Madrid – and Chucho – J’s fishing partner. And there was also baby Nikko – their cute little seven month old son. He cheered up the office priest no end.

So while Nikko munched through several rice cakes, unceremoniously spilling crumbs on the floor, we handed over our birth and baptism certificates and told him the info he needed to fill in the form.

Which was pretty slow going – but we got there – a good 40 minutes later.

Then came the moment when he sent Sarah and Chucho out of the room, telling them that he needed to see if we would “pass the exam”

I started to panic. What was this? Was he going to test us on the stations of the cross? The names of the disciples? Or ask me my favourite bits from the bible? This was going to end badly.

But no. He was just going to give us a good talking to on the seriousness of the lifelong vow we were going to make.

We happily told him that, yes – we understood perfectly. We were ready, we were legally able to marry and we came freely – no one was obligating us to get married.

Then it hit me – this man was the only person who had given us a talking to about the lifelong commitment that is marriage – a warning, if you like.

Probably he would be the only person who did so.

Is that because we’ve been together for a long time (well, six years at least, known each other for nine) or because we’re a bit older? Or is it because we’re so made for each other that no-one thinks we need a warning – it was obvious we would get married and live happily ever after?

I like the last option, myself.

In any case, we passed the test, so the priest called our witnesses in one by one to talk to them. I started to get nervous again.

They weren’t married. Would he care about that? Would he find out Sarah was divorced and call the whole thing off?

I needn’t have worried. He didn’t ask Sarah if she’d been married in the past, so she didn’t tell him. In fact, the priest assumed she was married to Chucho, on account of baby Nikko (That tends to happen a lot in Spain, she says.)

Not missing a beat, she informed him they weren’t married, and added: “but don’t worry, we can fix that in the future.” What a pro.

Before I knew it, everything was signed off, and we were one step closer to being married.

And J didn’t run for the hills after the priest’s stern words. Not even a tiny wobble. Well not on the outside, anyway.

Feb 11

Get dressed

It’s a funny feeling the first time you try on a wedding dress. There’s your face in the mirror, staring back at you – but it looks as though someone has photoshopped your face onto someone else’s body.

A body swathed in white satin, or tulle or lace, or whatever. The body of someone who’s definitely getting married.

dress-blog-story.jpg“What do you think?” asked Eva, the nice – but brisk – lady who was helping me.

“I like it,” I told her.

“Yes, but is that because you really like it or because it’s the very first wedding dress you’ve ever tried on?”

Ah, she was smart, that one.

I’d gone to my first ever wedding dress trying on session with a mixture of trepidation and excitement. After all, it’s meant to be the most important dress you’ll ever wear, right? I love shopping, most of the time. But I really hate it when shop assistants are breathing down your neck and asking you if you need any help. And there was going to be plenty of that going on.

I know what I like when it comes to clothes usually. But it’s not like I have a lot of experience with wedding dresses. How am I supposed to know what I like in that department?

Most of all I was just worried the underwear I was wearing wasn’t nice enough, but I don’t have a lot of white stuff. Why I got it into my head that I had to wear white I don’t know. It wasn’t like any of it was going to be on show.

My mother-in-law Linda accompanied me to the posh-looking shop, which was handily close to my office. I arrived before her, and like a total chicken, waited outside for her to arrive. Posh shops always put me on edge.

Once she arrived, we went in and were sat down with the assistant, Eva, who took my details. When she found out my wedding is in September she told me it was just as well I was looking for a dress now, as they usually need seven months for the whole process. Seven months? Crikey, if I’d known that I would have started looking earlier.

“And you have to remember,” she told me. “We don’t work in August so you’ll have to have your dress practically ready for the end of July.” Ah, yes, I forgot Spain as good as shuts down for the whole of August.

After flicking through the catalogue at lighting speed, we selected some dresses to try on. But there was absolutely no way we would have the time to try them all – as we only had an hour, right from the moment we walked through the door.

The whole experience was quite surreal, not helped by the fact that I kept giving Eva electric shocks (caused by friction or my brain short circuiting, I’m not sure which). And we were slowed down a bit by the fact she kept getting her pin cushion tangled up in the dresses.

I must have tried on at least six, and they were all perfectly nice, but I didn’t have a “wow, this is the one” moment. Which apparently will happen at some point, according to nearly everyone I know who’s been through the process themselves.

I left almost feeling like it would have been better if they’d all looked foul apart from one, then my mind might have been made up.

When I went to bed that evening my mind was swimming with thoughts of wedding dresses. What if I never find one I like? What I pick one that looks just OK, and end up hating it?

The thing that put me off a little about the shop was that I felt a bit “production line bride”, the same sort of feeling I got when we went to visit our first wedding venue. The whole place was full of brides racing to find the perfect dress before their allotted hour ran out. It didn’t seem fair that things seemed so rushed when we were all potentially spending so much money.

It was an exciting experience, but it was also – dare I say it, quite stressful. No wonder I couldn’t get to sleep that night.

In the end I told myself to stop being so silly. I was getting married one way or another. It didn’t matter if I wore a bin bag, it was still going ahead.

I’ll find the perfect dress in the end, won’t I?

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