You can plan and plan and plan a wedding. You can tick every box, tie every bow, micro manage to the last flourish of ink on the 86th label of table favours… You can spend months of your life working on DIY table plans, table names (and did I mention those labels?) agonising over the seating plan and table positioning and which confetti won’t cause a bird to explode and in which order the flower girls should walk down the aisle and at what point in the music… And still, something might happen that throws the whole thing into unprecedented chaos and renders at least half your plans for the day completely superfluous…
Now, this may seem a rather melodramatic description for a little bit of rain.
But things quickly escalated to the point where, following the short minutes it takes to make a man and wife, it became crashingly apparent we were no longer talking about a little bit of rain. We were talking torrential, apocalyptic, hammering rain. The sort of rain which gushes down narrow, picturesquely steep stone steps leading to churches and turns the little Devon lanes between Dartmouth and Bigbury into treacherous rivers of stone and mud which eventually have to be closed off by the police. The kind of rain which comes accompanied by 50mph sucker-punches of wind (no match, as it turns out, for my super-strength false eyelashes) and a thick fog which settled itself obstinately over the beautiful sea and island view at our reception venue and refused to get up until the cake was cut.
You may think there’s not much one can do when faced with that sort of weather at a predominantly outdoorsy wedding. Guests were turned away from the dangerously flooded roads and a few never made it to the reception. Our ushers waded through actual quagmires to shepherd guests from cars to the marquees. The caterers arrived to find their oven sitting in six inches of rainwater. Umbrellas were destroyed, the bridesmaids’ beautifully styled hair took a hefty battering… The romantic tractor ride down to the beach for photos never happened and the hay bales we’d hired never left their stacks… So yes, at the time you might think there’s not much you can do… but there is. You can smile, shrug, have a glass of champagne and get the hell on with having a bloody good time. Because even though it’s really raining and no one can see the view and the groom’s elderly grandmother is stranded somewhere on the flooded Devon lanes* and every trip to the luxury toilet trailers takes three umbrellas, four extra hands and a pair of wellies, it’s still your wedding day. The best goddamn day of your life. And you know what? It bloody was.
Despite the weather – and I say that still without quite feeling I’m giving enough emphasis to the word Weather – everyone arrived at the marquee with a smile on their faces. The storm, the bloody irony of six weeks of gorgeous, sunny skies followed by the End of Days, gave everyone something to talk about, something to smile about. As a consequence, the marquee was full of laughter – soggy, commiserating, hysterically-relieved-to-finally-be-under-cover laughter – from start to finish. Luckily we’d splashed (lol) for a larger marquee than we needed, which meant no one felt crammed in, the decorations and fairy lights looked wonderful and everyone being stuck in one place for eight hours meant they had no choice but to bloody well study and appreciate every single sodding grain of DIY wedding prep I’d planned and crafted over the last 18 months… The band were phenomenal, the dance floor was never empty, the food was excellent, the speeches perfect… and after a while the rain stopped and the fog lifted over the dramatic, tumbling waves.
It may have been a bit late for sitting out in the sun with a bottle of bubbly, but it certainly provided a beautiful backdrop for the smokers and the toilet-trekkers. And there’s nothing quite like standing on top of a cliff next to your new husband, watching the ocean crash moodily far below you as the wind streams your veil in creamy waves towards a marquee full of all the people you both love the most in the world.
And, you know, if it hadn’t been raining we would never have been graced with this gem of a photo.