Today is our second wedding anniversary. It is also the same week that George and I will be separated once more, for two months this time, so I hope you will forgive the fact that this post is more than a little soppy.
I love weddings, I cannot get enough of the romance and I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a wedding where I didn’t cry at least a little bit*. Strangely though, I was never one of those girls who dreamt of a big white wedding. I hadn’t pondered over colour schemes, picked out dresses, and thought about venues. I did want to get married but for me the allure was the actually being married part itself, rather than the big day. George and I had been together for seven years when he proposed and I was beginning to resign myself to the fact that it was never going to happen. I would be lying if I said I was happy about it but I was okay with it. It was fine.
It was my 35th birthday and he had a special day planned. Lunch in one of the most charmingly bonkers places I have ever visited, The Tea Cozy, mooching about Brighton’s lovely sea front, pitch n put, and dinner in the window seat of Riddle and Finns – a gorgeous restaurant overlooking the West Pier. I thought it couldn’t have been more perfect, but I was wrong. We went for a walk along the beach, the tide far enough out to reveal an expanse of glistening sand, and he began to read me a letter that he had written. I’m not very good at taking compliments and even I, believe it or not, think some things should remain private, but suffice to say he thought I was alright. At the end of the letter he asked me to be his wife and I don’t think I have ever said yes to anything so fast, not even cake. I cried (obviously), we took a selfie, and went to get drunk with some friends in a local cocktail bar, The Twisted Lemon.
The next day, bleary eyed and fuzzy headed, we began to talk about our wedding. George was due to leave for Ecuador the following spring for 18 months and we were keen to do the deed before. We were living in a room no bigger than a shoe and we had no money. We had been working hard to pay off our debts and it will come as no surprise to you, married or not, that weddings are expensive. Even the most intimate ceremony costs money and you can’t invite some of your family and friends and not others. For us it was all or nothing, and the all was simply not possible. Even if we had wanted to get in further debt to pay for the wedding, we had nobody to borrow money from.
So it was decided. We would get married, but it was just going to be us. No guests, no fuss, just the two of us. There was only one problem – we needed witnesses. We could have rocked up on the day and grabbed someone off the street but my anxious brain would not have been happy with that so we enlisted the help of some friends from the gym. They were up for it and as luck would have it one of them was a photographer. Perfect.
I bought a dress from the Internet for £30, some (flat) shoes for £20, and got a beautiful bunch of flowers from my local flower stall in Hove. I also treated myself to a hair appointment from Groupon for the day of the wedding, which was a further £19. I’m not much of a makeup wearer anyway so I did my own makeup and eyebrows. George bought himself a new waistcoat for £20 and a lovely tie from a little shop in Brighton North Laines, called Cool Hand Luke, for £12. He also bought himself a new pair of Converse. People think that it is a bit hipster to get married in Converse but from our point of view it was purely practical – he needed a new pair of shoes anyway!
Dress – £30
Shoes – £20
Hair – £19
Waistcoat – £36
Ceremony – £80
Cocktails – £36
There was no horse and carriage, or vintage car for us. We got the bus to the registry office, and I’m very glad we did because we had the opportunity to meet a lovely old lady who told us a wonderful story of how she had eloped many years ago and how she thought what we were doing was wonderful, and romantic.
The ceremony in Brighton Registry Office was short and intimate and afterwards our friends joined us in the local pub. One of our guests was kind enough to buy us a box of cup cakes from an amazing local bakery called Cloud Nine, which was particularly wonderful as we had been on a 30 day sugar fast until that point. They were so delicious, it was like fireworks going off in my mouth! There is absolutely no way that we would have been able to afford a professional photographer so I am eternally grateful to our friend for taking the time that afternoon to take some incredible photographs of us. They are memories that we will treasure forever and, although I am clearly biased, I think they are every bit as good as professional shots. There is no awkwardness – just happiness and love beaming from us in every one.
That evening we revisited the cocktail bar that we went to the night we got engaged, just four weeks before, and later we ambled to a restaurant in the Laines called Fishy Fishy. As we sat in the square eating our meal a busker played our song – Harvest Moon – and we were barely able to wipe the smiles from our stupid faces.
Do I have any regrets? Yes and no. I know that not being able to share our special day with us really hurt some of the people we love most, and that saddens me. I adore a disco almost as much as I adore my friends and family so it would have been lovely to have a big reception to celebrate with our nearest and dearest, but that option simply wasn’t available to us. We did what was right for us at the time and it was beautiful, and perfect, and tiny – just like us.
*The only wedding I have ever been to that I didn’t cry was my own. I was too happy to shed any tears.