An Ode to 2020 Weddings
04 Nov 2020
Bride-to-be Kate Owens should have married fiancé James Dillon in July, celebrating their wedding at her family farm in Herefordshire. With a second national lockdown from November 5 to December 2 taking place, she pens an ode to 2020 weddings and all the things that should have been
Image: Kate and James celebrate with their immediate families on what should have been their wedding day
So, here we are: lockdown 2.0.
I think the fact this might happen again was in the back of all our minds, but we never quite knew if and when it would arrive. This is another major blow for the UK wedding industry. When weddings were reduced to just 15 people, it didn't seem like it could get any worse. But now, more and more couples around the UK are postponing their weddings, some for a second or third (or even more) time. I feel so much, not only for all the brides in my position that have been forced to put off their weddings this year, but also for all of the suppliers and those who make a living from the wedding industry.
I can’t help but thinking what should have been this year and I keep imagining the past six months, if Covid-19 hadn’t entered our lives. I also can’t help feeling bitter and jealous; jealous of my brothers and their wives for both being able to have their dream wedding and jealous that apart from the other brides in my situation, no one else knows what it’s like to have the biggest day of your life taken away from you, snatched from your grasp and the feeling of not knowing when you may be able to have it again.
The newly engaged couple
I say brides and not grooms (although, I am sure there are some grooms who feel like this too), because, as a bride-to-be, I did not only start thinking about my wedding day the day I got engaged. Nor was it when I met my fiancé. No, it was before that. As an only daughter, my parents and I have always discussed the big plans for my wedding day; the food, the flowers… my dress. That’s right - my dress. Not only did I just talk about this with my mum, but also my dad. Dad is mine and my mum’s own fashionista, our own ‘Gok Wan’, if you will. For years he has been giving us fashion advice and helping us with our clothing choices for example, helping me choose between a round cut black pointed stiletto and a square-cut one. Most women, let alone men, wouldn’t even notice this difference, but my dad definitely can... (and I believe he went for the round-cut on that occasion). Anyway, it only seemed natural that my dad would help me choose my dress. Having his approval that I had found the right one was so incredibly important to me.
My thoughts wander back to earlier in the year and I imagine the parallel life and year that should have played out. The hen-do’s that should have been attended, the dress fittings that I would have got nervous for and the other weddings we should have attended. The moments we should have remembered forever and spoken about for years after; the funniest best-man speech, the food we would have devoured and the crazy dancing that would go on into the night, and perhaps even that one guest who maybe should have got a taxi home a little earlier after going too hard on the champagne at the beginning of the day.
Kate and James on what should have been their wedding day
And finally, I think about my own wedding day and what should have happened. This year, we still celebrated the day, both my immediate family and my fiancé’s immediate family all got together and raised a glass (or two) to our should have been wedding day. I bought a gorgeous new white dress, and we cracked open the bubbly at 1pm, the time when my dad should have been walking me down the aisle. A lot of tears happened that morning, I couldn’t help but keep thinking about what ‘should have been happening’.
If you are in the same position where you've had to move your big day my advice is to stay hopeful. I know that's easy to say and I often have days where I feel completely numb about our wedding which has been moved to the start of next summer. But seriously, it’s important to stay hopeful. Keep researching centrepieces and favours for the guests, or perhaps which reading to have during the ceremony (this is still something I need to nail down). Look at the delay as giving you some extra time to perfect your wedding day. Our days will come, and when they do, they will be worth the wait. They may not be as big as we once hoped for, but they will still be filled with the magic and love every wedding day should be.
My should have been wedding, July 2020:
The waking early and nervously, and creeping down the landing to find my mum also, already awake. Pouring myself my first cup of coffee for the morning and perhaps tip-toeing across to the marquee in the field to have my first peek of the day. I know that I wouldn’t have slept well, I am terrible at turning my brain off, I get too excited about weekends sometimes which hinders me from sleeping well, so I know that on the night before my wedding, I wouldn’t have got much sleep and that adrenaline and excitement would be my fuel for the day.
Next, my bridesmaids would slowly drip in (except for the one that I asked to stay over the night before, due to her awful time-keeping, I thought it best to keep her close by). And my dad would be mooching around in his dressing gown before he and my brothers perhaps finish off the last minute ‘outside jobs. Hair and make-up would arrive and slowly by turn, the girls would filter through and get all "Glamified". Finally, I would take the seat myself and let my amazing hair and make-up artist work their magic and get me wedding and aisle-ready.
And then... dress time. I would slip in and get my mum to help do me up, before having my veil fixed and final jewellery touches placed. My dad would be called to the room to finally see his little girl on her wedding day, before he gives her away.
I would love to say that it wouldn't be a final, mad rush to the church (which incidentally is only a mile away), but with five bridesmaids and my mum getting there too, I can imagine there would be some final manic rushes, and of course - to make sure everyone remembers their bouquets.
And then, mine and my dad's trip to the church, hand in hand until we arrive and it is time to walk to the entrance of the church, with the help of my dad with my dress to make sure it doesn't drag on the ground. Hearing the string quartet inside and knowing that the church is filled with all our closest friends and family, the butterflies begin to stir in my tummy again. And of course, the knowing that my fiancé is waiting inside for me, and it is finally time for my dad to pass me over and for me to become a wife and marry the love of my life.
The music momentarily stops, before my entrance music begins. A final look at my dad, our eyes already wetting, as we have both thought of this moment for so long, and this moment finally symbolises, that I will now become another man's responsibility and I will be taking a new name. (Yes, I know that this is a very traditional view of marriage, but this is always how I have viewed it.)
And then, we step in the church and proceed down the aisle, the ceremony will fly by, not least without some tears when we exchange our vows and I realise that I have finally married the man that I love so much, and I can finally call him my husband. Taking his arm as we turn to walk down the aisle as husband and wife, our friends and family standing and applauding, we've done it and now.... it's time to party.
The rest of the day whizzes by, hugs and kisses to everyone, copious photos taken and trying to have a quick word with all our guests and thank them for coming. After sitting down to the food we picked out months and months ago and then the speeches, followed by more photos and more mingling.
Day turns to night and the evening passes in a flurry, guests leave and more guests come and then it's time for my husband and I to hit the dancefloor and have our first dance. I still can't believe I get to call this man my husband and tomorrow will be the first day of the rest of our lives together. More drinks and more dancing and before you know it, the marquee has slowly depleted and we are soon to be the last few standing. A last look around and a sense of awe that our day has come and is almost over. And then finally, with heels in one hand and my husband’s hand in another, we stroll back to the house to sleep off the confetti, champagne and.. the best day of our lives.