A very good place to start

Monday, July 18, 2011

This time last year, things were a wee bit hectic. One might even describe them as fraught. There were dresses to collect, table plans to finalise, visitors to welcome (or not welcome, thanks to pesky visa issues), little cousins to cuddle, flowers to arrange, golf tournaments to throw, wedding rehearsals to organise, friends to coordinate, cats to herd... 

I have declared more than once that I didn't want to turn this blog into some sort of wedding retrospective. A wedding is one day; a marriage, touch wood, lasts a lifetime. And let's not forget that there is more to a woman, in this day and age, than her marital status. There's her shoes, for one thing.

But you know what? For me, that wedding was a big damn deal. If it wasn't for that wedding, I wouldn't have a blog (or a husband, or a rather nice selection of Sophie Conran crockery). And as the Earth comes to the end of its first trip around the Sun with our baby family on board, I too am coming full circle and becoming once again preoccupied with thoughts of that crazy week, and that one mental day. 

So, I thought I'd turn this week into wedding week here on the blog, if that's ok with you.* I haven't fully worked out yet what this will entail, but there will probably be some of my own thoughts and reflections, there will in all likelihood be a bit of nonsense, and there will DEFINITELY be some pretty pictures. That's right - a whole week of wedding porn. Happy days.

And where better to start than at the very beginning: the proposal?

Well, I suppose I could start with our less-than-auspicious beginnings in a dark and dingy bar in Glasgow University Union. Or I could begin with our first proper "date", when Fin took me to a pub for lunch and told me, "when I usually come here with girls, they have paninis". Hmm. Perhaps not.

So, let's just fast-forward eight years or so. It's my birthday, and frankly, I'm pretty sure I know what's about to go down. I wish I could pretend I was oh so shocked and surprised and hadn't an inkling, but keeping secrets is not one of Fin's strengths (this has pros and cons. Birthdays can be an exercise in faux astonishment, but at least I would know within about 2.4 seconds if he was sneaking off for some extra-marital hanky-panky). I like to think I'm fairly perceptive, but it wouldn't exactly have taken Sherlock Holmes to discern his master plan. Let's examine the evidence.

Clue number one: Excessive levels of caginess surrounding Fin's underwear drawer, which I Absolutely Must Not Look In For Any Reason. Suspicious.

Clue number two: Did I mention the going out for eight years part?

Clue number three: Unusual levels of interest in wedding- and engagement-related topics, such as what finger rings go on, etc. Curiouser and curiouser.

Clue number four: The day before my birthday, there is much talk of us going for A Walk. From Fin, from my mum, even from my dad. "Let's go for A Walk tomorrow." "Oh, so you're going for A Walk tomorrow?" "I hope it stays dry so we can go for A Walk tomorrow." To be clear, I have never expressed any interest in going for a walk, least of all on my birthday. Birthdays are for eating cake. Duh.

Clue number five: When we awake on my birthday to torrential rain, Fin is disproportionately dismayed. "Oh no! We can't go for A Walk!" At this point I'm beginning to feel more than a little sick. Oh God. Oh God. This is actually going to happen. Fuuuuuuuuck.

Clue number six: Everyone's acting all weird. This is awful. I'm trying to act normal, no big deal, I always wear this much makeup to go down the High Street, what's your problem? Fin, meanwhile, looks like he's going to throw up. I foresee some good photos later on. Not.

Clue number seven: If Fin fidgets in his pocket one more time I am going to have no alternative but to reach in there, wrench the ring out and put it on my own damn finger. I manage to restrain myself, just. "Are you ok Fin?" "Fine! I'm totally fine! I'm fine! Fine!" Uh-huh.

Clue number eight: [The torrential rain has temporarily lifted.] "Erm, do you want to just come onto the beach for a minute?" Oh God. Oh God. My handbag is stuck on the gearstick. I literally can't get out of the car. Oh God, there are balloons on the beach. Are they for me? Wait a minute, they say Happy Birthday, have I totally got the wrong end of the stick here, oh God oh God oh God.

Clue number nine: This.

The next twenty seconds are something of a blur. Neither Fin nor I has any recollection of what was said. I'm sure at one point he mumbled, "So, what do you think?". He's fairly certain that somewhere in there I said "Yes". My parents were jumping up and down and waving maniacally at us from the window (did I mention this all happened right outside my parents' house?). We retrieved some bubbly and two plastic glasses from a hiding spot in the grass, and my parents' lodger woke up at that exact moment, looked outside his window and had the wherewithal to grab his camera and snap a few shots for posterity. (Impressive stuff, usually it takes me five minutes to fully open my eyes, never mind work a camera.)

I found the whole engagement experience incredibly overwhelming, despite those eight years together; in fact, maybe more so because of those eight years. We had spent so long just being girlfriend and boyfriend - rather successfully, if I say so myself - that the prospect of turning everything on its head and launching into this completely different relationship was somewhat daunting. I think I speak for both of us when I say that, although I strongly believe that getting married to Fin was one of the best things I have done in my life, getting engaged to him was not pleasurable. It was exciting, and momentous, and life-changing, and intense - but it wasn't fun.

Now, the seven months of wedding planning that followed - that was fun...

Did anyone else feel like they were going to throw up when they got engaged? Or just us...?

*Actually I don't care, it's my blog and if I want to waffle on about weddings ad nauseum I flipping well will. Weddings weddings weddings! Ohhhh, that was good...

Top two images from You Wanna Talk Jive's awesome proposal story. Bottom two from our less-than-awesome one.

23 boats moored

  1. Oh totally not just u. I had no idea the qn was about to be asked, but my first response was 'um, eventually, but not right now'. Hello? We'd been together 8 years. It was 'time'! I was just shocked, and a tad speechless. And then I had the icky-blahs about the wedding thing for a couple of months. I got over it tho ;)

  2. The boy proposed on our 2 year anniversary. I remember being in shock (I was kind of expecting it but not at that moment.)I just remember going "is this for real, is this it? I can't believe it," And then I must have said yes but can not remember the literal words I used. Then I was so happy that I made Tiramisu the same day. I remember it was a Wednesday...

  3. Yey for wedding week! And happy anniversary to you and Fin.

    I'm not going to lie, I knew The Question was coming pretty soon(ditto on the acting strange and the disproportionate disappointment when something went wrong) but I didn't think about it. So much so that when we were sitting in our dining room after an incredible meal, glass of champagne, surrounded by candles, meaningful music on, him holding my hand and saying that he wanted to ask me something important, the only thought it my head was 'what's wrong??!!'

    The moment it hit me was when I came back from work 4 days later to find a ring box on the coffee table and the boy trying to look cool whilst reading the paper. What if I didn't like it (he designed it)? I did feel sick right then.


  4. Loved this post, and all things wedding.

    I was on edge too, as I'd guessed it was coming. I came over all shy - very out of character.

    We were on holiday in Venice, had been out for a lovely evening meal, when Andy suggested we went for cocktails at one of the posh cafes in St Marks Square. I said it was too pricey, Andy said he'd put it on his card. His treat.

    Well Andy is a modern man, and insists on going dutch on everything. At the moment it was his treat, I knew he was proposing at the posh cafe.

    He asked me as the orchestra played moon river.


    P.S. I asked him after, why he didnt get down on one knee. Andy said there was a puddle, and he didnt want to ruin his trousers.

  5. That was hilarious. I asked Aidan like one million times till he finally said yes. When he did I just said "really!?!?" very romantic.

  6. Brilliant story, poor Fin, he must have known you knew!
    I had no clue about what was coming. One of my friends suggested before we went on holiday that we might get engaged - my word 'no chance, Ross won't propose for years yet!'. Except he did. I moaned about having to walk to a beach, then felt guilty for moaning. I also may have described it as the worst 24 hours of our holiday, but that was to do with the crappy meal we had afterwards and the boat trip that made me sick the next day. I just sort of forgot about the proposal part, ooops.

  7. Lauren it IS romantic!! My story is very similar, but far too long winded to put here. Both deciding that you want to spend the rest of your lives together is romantic, it doesn't matter how you package it.

    A line in the sand - GORGEOUS. No matter how sick it made you feel Kirsty that's gotta be worth it!


  8. Hilarious. Love it.

    And um, my blog is also Not A Wedding Blog, but every so often I throw in a little tale of weddingness for good measure. If people don't like it, they can bite me.

    Looking forward to the rest of the week!

  9. My husband wrote "Will you marry me" in the sand too. And then had to point to the ground because I was too busy looking at the view. He was amazed as I spend my life looking at the floor.
    I knew it was coming at some point, I just didn't realise it was that day. I couldn't figure out where he had disappeared too for AGES, leaving me on my own before he came back and we walked to the beach together (and he pointed at the ground, he'd been trying to get through to my Dad to ask him first - he didn't get through and just left a very bizarre answerphone message). Apparently the first word I said was No - I thought the almost knock you to the ground hugs and kisses were enough of a yes but apparently not. I feel that makes up for the showing your girlfriend of several years the ring with which you would eventually propose 10 minutes after the bells on Hogmannay. And then telling her that you weren't ready to propose but would get round to it soon (it was over a year and a half later).
    Apparently I ruined several proposal opportunities by being a moody bitch.
    Sorry for the mammoth comment.

  10. haaa awesome story! oh god. oh god. fuuuuuck. oh god. hehehe

    I'm so glad I don't have to go through the process of getting engaged again. Getting/being married is awesome. engaged, not so much.

  11. What a fantastic story!

    I also felt a bit like puking- especially because I was being a total bitch on that day. It was not a fun process. Neither was wedding planning for me... Thank goodness the wedding kicked ass!

    Thanks for planning a fun week- love this!

  12. We got drunk at a beer festival a few weeks after moving in together and at the end I said, "THIS is why I keep pestering you about getting married, fool! We have so much fun together and I just want to keep being us forever." And he looked at me and said, "You're right. We're awesome. We should get married!" Of course I said "really?!" a billion times and he kept saying yes, so that was it.

    There was a nice dinner and a ring later, but thats the real story. Happy to be done with the engagement though. Husband > fiance.

  13. It IS your blog.

    And birthdays are for eating cake. DUH.


  14. I love it. Your description of Fin's inability to keep a secret is SO familiar.
    I knew what was going on but clearly didn't catch on too quickly. I mean, who wants to go for a walk in January? In Wisconsin? On the coldest night of the year?!

    I moaned, but was promised hot coffee and only figured out as he steered me towards the capitol steps that it was really happening.

  15. Yum, the Beer Bar - I bet you're glad you don't have to go there for dates anymore!
    This is such a sweet and honest story, a perfect way to kick off your Wedding Week!

  16. Ours was similar, although fortunately not on my birthday, or I would have 1) for sure guessed; 2) for sure passed out because Mark hadn't asked me by then.

    I do remember the wanting to reach into his pocket and grab the damn ring. It was like, "are you going to propose OR WHAT?"

  17. ooh why surely one of the fantastic reasons for having a blog in to be able to indulge ones whims. Looking forward to a week of weddingness and a very happy anniversary to you both.

  18. So many lovely comments! Thanks everyone! Erm, the only problem is I sort of decided to have wedding week on a whim yesterday and don't seem to have any other weddingy content in my brain... oh dear. Will persevere!

    Nice to know I am not alone in my inappropriate reaction to getting engaged.

    And to all who wished us a happy anniversary, thank you so much - but it's not actually til Sunday, so you will just have to wish us happy anniversary again then :)

  19. Unfortunately, my thought was more along the lines of "Finally!!!", but it was still romantic. He had said last March that he wanted to surprise me with a ring, but he wasn't sure what I would want. Squee!!! (Extra significant since he's been married before and was "gun-shy", so to say, of getting hitched again) So, we got to pick out the ring together, and then he said I could wear it if I wanted to, but that eventually felt funny since there was no real story of how we got engaged. Fast forward to January of this year, after much up-heaving of our life, and we were having our formal portraits taken on the Thursday night of our 1-week cruise and he said, let's try an action shot and got down on the knee and said those four magic words, to which I said YES!!!!, all while the photographer is snapping away! So now we have an "engagement story" and are planning to get married next May. Yay! p.s. - Are baby girls in Scotland still given the name Heather? At least sometimes? :)

  20. Hi Heather, what a sweet story! And yes, there were actually exactly the same number of baby girls called Heather as there were called Kirsty - a whopping 36 of each. Compared to 720 Sophies it's not exactly a huge proportion, but then it's nice to be different ;) One of my friends is called Heather, it's a beautiful name.

  21. As someone who was acting oddly prior to proposing, let me assure you that even if everyone knows it's coming in principle, it's rather difficult to do in practice. It's not like one gets a lot of trial runs at proposals.

  22. I knew it was coming and wanted to do anything possible to stop it happening.

    We were staying with friends and we'd had a horrible day so I decided we should go for a walk by the sea to let the cold breeze blow away our bickering and grumpiness.

    As soon as we got there I knew something was wrong, he was all clingy and kept saying 'let's go out to the edge and look at the sea' - he was either going to propose or throw me off the cliff and to be perfectly honest I would have prefered the latter at that second.

    He didn't have a ring and had just decided about ten minutes earlier to do it. I said I'd think about it and we didn't decide to go for it and order a ring until 3 months later.

  23. Ms Fran, I love your honesty. "to be perfectly honest I would have preferred the latter" - so glad I'm not the only one who wasn't unequivocally blissful. It's a BIG thing, getting engaged, and the fact that we're meant to be at the mercy of our partners, waiting for them to decide when to propose, when's the right time, and then acting all surprised and ecstatic, doesn't exactly make the process any easier.

    Colin - thank you for giving us a male perspective! I know that Fin felt pretty much the same way I did, i.e. extremely nervous and slightly sick. Sounds like it's not any easier being the proposer than it is the proposee (what? That's totally a word).


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