It started in the morning..
I was staying in the local Holiday Inn, so had the opportunity have breakfast with my family and other wedding guests who were also using the hotel as a base of operations. The wedding itself was not until 4pm, so it was actually hard to find something to keep my mind occupied on throughout the morning, to stop me running off, getting changed and being at the venue 300 hours early…
This was compounded by the fact that my usher was coming up on the day, and my best man had to put his Dad hat on to look after his troops with my sister in law. With my sister and mum running off to the hairdressers, it gave me the perfect opportunity to take some time with my Dad. He’s not very well of late, and needed to reserve his energy, so we took to sitting down in his hotel room, and completing a crossword together in the newspaper.
This doesn’t seem like the most adventurous or glamorous way to spend the morning, but it was perfect. I spent those hours with my role model, doing something that we used to do together on quite a regular basis. It was all at the same time familiar yet different, I somehow felt like I was more his friend, more a grown-up. That sounds stupid coming from a 30-year-old, but it was like the start to the next stage in my life.
The nerves were really starting to take hold.
I had lunch with my family, of which I could barely stomach anything. I was then finally ready to go up to my room and get ready. I did so by myself; alone, quiet – it was almost monastic in the way I prepared myself. It actually gave me a huge sense of calm, which in retrospect I really needed ahead of the whirlwind that was to come.
I went down to the venue with the boys, and went through the music with my usher Aaron, who (as Master of Ceremonies) would need to be on the remote control, as well as more importantly doing all the announcements and herding of cats throughout the day. The venue was gorgeous, and soon my nervousness turned to excitement. My wife-to-be was upstairs getting made up, and I was relieved that the only thing we had to send “runners” for, was to sort out where the FotB’s buttonhole
Buttonhole sorted, the guests started arriving. I actually have to say, being a limited seat space; this was actually the most nerve-wracking part, as a good portion of the guests couldn’t really be attributed to “bride” or “groom”, and as a load of my family ran behind, ended up having to ask people to move around so that I could fit them all in together with as little fuss as possible. This was really frustrating but Aaron helped immensely, and Barrie (my best man) helped keep me sane.
I cracked, and decided to dance!
Then everyone was here, and it went quiet, and I had to stand at the front; everyone’s eyes lasered into the back on my head. I cracked, and decided to dance. Uh huh. Well it worked – congregation onside: Dan 1 Nerves 0. Even if she jilted me at this point her family would back me up. Nice.
Then the music started. Sharon went with a piano version of Europe’s “The Final Countdown” (awesome tune no.1). I resisted the urge to peek, right until the end, and when I saw her she almost set me off – she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Her dress was perfect, her hair relaxed yet stylish and her smile re-assured me that jilting was very much off the cards!
The ceremony was gone in a flash, the readings went well, and our vows hit just the right tone: a mix of sincere, loving, funny and very much personal to us both. Hers almost set me off again. While we signed the register we managed to get an orchestral version of Sharon’s favourite song by Starship (awesome tune 2) and I squeezed some geek in with the love theme from the Empire strikes Back (awesome tune 3). Once it was all over, we walked out to a familiar fanfare. Only half way through did most people realise that is was not the familiar fanfare that they had initially thought, and was in fact the Throne Room fanfare from Star Wars. Awesome tune 4. It was epic, and one more reason why I love my wife for letting me get my geek on!
Unfortunately the weather was awful!
It absolutely tipped it down – however, because the venue was able to account for this occurrence it did not dampen (pun intended) anyone’s spirits. Whether by fortune or fate, as confetti rained down over us, the rain outside decided to stop, at least for a short time. So, brolly in hand, we ventured outside with our brilliant wedding photographer, Mark Columbus, to get as many shots that the time and weather would allow.
We managed to get enough to make the difference in the 30 minutes we had, and just as we went indoors the heavens opened again. Someone was certainly looking out for us!
We then had another half an hour to mingle and sip drinks. I was giddy with excitement and pride to have a Mrs Woodward on my arm, and it was humbling to see so many people there just to see us.
Before I knew it, it was time to go into the wedding breakfast. It was weird to see everyone standing up for us, and brilliant too! We had the speeches at the start of the meal, to ensure that they didn’t run on too much and because both my father in law and brother were quite nervous about doing them – this way they got them out of the way so that they could enjoy the meal. The FotB’s speech was great: perfectly pitched with enough humour and sentiment.
Mine was ok, and it gave me the opportunity to tell everybody just how much it meant to be married to Mrs W. My brother’s speech was not a speech per se. He had nothing written, and simply spoke from the heart. For a man who lives his life behind a veil of bravado, it was probably the most touching speech I have ever heard.
Later came the cake cutting (it was simply the most amazing artisan wedding cake from Restoration Cake – thanks Charlotte!) and we took a little break from that point so that the cake could be taken away for cutting. Once cleared, we had our first dance. Now, I expect you are all thinking that I had rehearsed something to rival the best of YouTube. In fact, I hadn’t – I had helped plan so much that I wanted this to be slow, pure and personal. What better than the traditional first dance shuffle?!
From that point on the party really got started. Our DJ, Steve, was amazeballs. Simply the best disco I have ever been to. The night was one big party, and everyone joined in which was awesome. Highlights were the photo booth that we had arranged with our photographer in a side room that was run by a second shooter so Mark could still take snaps through the evening.
Other highlights were spending as much time as I could with our evening guests, air guitar to Bon Jovi, coordinated dancing to Saturday Night Fever, and most importantly my wife rapping Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Babyword-for-word.
The end of the night came all too quickly. I’m still remembering things and just writing this post has made them flood back. The only downside? I can’t write about getting married to you all, but perhaps I can review what it’s like being married from time to time.
** Thanks to you all for taking this journey with me **