Step-by-step: Wedding Day

As my wedding day drew closer I realised I didn’t really understand how the day would go down. I knew the obvious bits: you get married, you get lots of photos taken, you eat, guests watch you dance, then you drink. But as an adult I’d rarely been part of a wedding party and so wasn’t sure what the full process entailed. So I thought I’d write rough details of what I experienced on my wedding day, for any future grooms (don’t do it! Lol, etc). The times here are mostly accurate for the early parts, but gradually become best guesses as the day goes on:

7am –  Alarm goes off. The wedding isn’t until 3pm. My parents won’t arrive here until 12.45. But I have a lot to do, and the last thing I want is to end up rushing.

7.30 – Still in bed

7.35 – Up, and realising the house is a pigsty. I’ve only been on my own for 20 hours and have been out or sleeping for most of that. How did this happen? Is this the final, impotent death roar of an unmarried single man?

7.45 – Go for a run. I want the endorphin release/stress relief of exercise, but also, I run anyway, so I’d like a few things today to seem routine.

8.10 – Return from run. Knee is sore, which doesn’t bode well for all the standing and dancing that I’ll be doing. Dancing, oh god. I’m happy to dance on a night out, when I’m steaming, among my friends, and with a beer bottle in each hand to give my arms something to do. But tonight I’ll be sober, with just me and the wife on the dancefloor, and 70 people watching. The thought of that makes me sweatier than the run did


8.20 – Do a bit more exercise while watching the extras from Warrior, which is getting me hyped for punching and kicking, or whatever you do at weddings

9.40 – Somehow ended up re-watching Warrior now that the extras have finished, and eating breakfast. I’m ready to kick a face off during my speech

10.30 – Practice speech. I started working on my speech weeks before the wedding, but finished it two days ago and still haven’t read through it. Last night, with the house to myself,  I planned on reading through my speech, ironing my shirt, and looking out my cufflinks. Instead, I went to Alien War, had some beers and watched Warrior. Which is different. I read out my speech in front of a mirror, and am appalled by my facial expressions, posture, enunciation, and delivery of jokes. The rest is fine

11.00 – Try and multitask, practicing speech while washing dishes. Speech gets soggy.

11.10 – Attack shoes with stone. My Clarks have smooth soles, which are fine. Unless you have to walk on a smooth surface. You know,  like carpet or laminate can lead to tumbling disaster. I sit in the garden in my shorts, scraping a stone along the shoe bottoms and hoping the neighbours don’t think I’m a psycho

11.50 – I’m rushing. Despite getting up four hours ago. I suck

12.10 – Ironing a shirt

12.30 – Shaving a face

1.25 – Attaching cufflinks, which takes three people and 10 minutes

1.30 – Another five minutes to fold and straighten a pocket square. How can Fonzworth Bentley find the time to do this?

1.40 – Driving to hotel. By the time I see my house again, I’ll be bringing my wife into it

2.00 – Arrive at hotel. Spot friends in bar. A pack mentality kicks in and I rush to join them, as if I can hide out with them and not be the centre of attention. Apart from this tendency to hide, I feel little other tension

2.05 – Spot who I think is the photographer. Sit down beside him and hope I’ve identified the right person. I have. Unexpectedly, I’m taken outside and shot, so to speak. I get my solo photos taken at a pond outside. My friends sit with their backs to the window, thankfully unaware of this photo shoot, as no doubt they’d do their best to put me off

2.15 – Return to herd

2.30 – Videographer arrives. I worry that saying hello will mean that he’ll start the camera up and follow me around. I’m absolutely right. He follows me back into the bar. As I’m walking in I gesture to my friends to watch what they’re saying. I feel like an actor. Also, a dick

2.40 – Already I’ve developed a pat answer. When someone asks I’m nervous I give the default reply, “Nah, not really, but I might be soon”, as if it’s a crime to feel relaxed. All the guests have gathered at the bar. The registrar arrives and I don’t recognise her. The registrar, the photographer and videographer are all going to play very important parts in the day, but I’ve only met them once each, months ago. None of them seemed familiar at first

2.50 – We’re instructed to enter the ceremony room. When the bride walks in, all heads will turn to stare as she’s escorted in by her dad. She’ll be preceded by classical music and bridesmaids. By contrast, I walk in among a group of people, the only sound is talking, my best man trailing somewhere behind. The ‘ceremony’ part extends to the entrance, but only to the bride. Sexist

2.51 – I realise me and my best man are standing in each other’s spots. Which would make it interesting when the bride arrives to find my stepdad waiting for her

2.55 – Make nonsense small talk with best man, try to find something to do

3.01 – “This was supposed to start at three, what’s happened?”. Time goes slowly when you’re standing at the front of a room with your back to everyone

3.05 – Music starts, bridesmaids enter. View blocked by photographer. I’m the groom, and I still have to fight for a good view? Weddings truly are about the bride

3.07 – Bride enters. Thankfully, I don’t cry. Continue to angle around photographer

3.10 – Listen to registrar. Try not to make daft comments. Damn my need to ruin serious situations

3.15 – The first reading. It feels weird to stand here and not have anything to say yet

3.18 – The second reading. I feel like staring at the reader puts them under pressure. But looking anywhere else makes me seem uninterested. I think about this and pay little attention to the words being read

3.20 – Vows. Finally, a chance to speak. I’d worried about getting my vows wrong, or stuttering or mumbling or saying the wrong thing. I’ve seen the episode of Friends where Ross says the wrong name at the altar. I had horrible visions of blurting out the wrong word from picking up some background conversation. “I take thee, wedding”. Funny things can happen under pressure, but I make it through

3.25 – Sign register (not sign registrar). Miffed that the wife (!) gets to sit down, while I have to lean over. I lean weirdly, like how I imagine a man-dinosaur hybrid to pose. This pose seems to appear in more photos than any others. I am ashamed of my spine

3.30 – Done! Just like that. Even with adding two readings to stretch the time out, we’re already finished. I kiss the bride (as you do) and exit. Well, try to—the photographer stops us halfway down for a photo. I’m sure I’ll be glad of that photo, but it seems strange to pause here

3.45 – A barrage of photos begins. Cheesy smiles, angled stances. I’m mad self-aware, but that seemed to mostly go away here. I guess when you know you’re in the spotlight you just have to accept it. My bridewife and I pose at a pond, at a brick wall, at some trees, at some stairs, on some stairs, on a couch. People swap in and out of shots, the whole experience is a blur

5.00 – Speech time. So horror time. I had been worried about doing my speech. Then I talked myself into a comfort zone (“It’s only 25 people, you know all of them, it’s no worse than a large family gathering”). But the father of the bride’s speech was good, and the bride’s little sister read one that brought people to tears. I felt pressure to perform. The ops manager clinked a knife against a wine glass. I sat and stared at the glass, as if I could sit there for so long that people would forget what I was supposed to do. Eventually I stood and stared at the guests, still in silence, like the King’s Speech. I said “Oh god”, and went quiet again. Then I dipped into my pages and launched in. The A4 paper I held looked huge in comparison to the bride’s father’s fancy notecards. My paragraphs, kept short for easy reading, now looked labyrinthine, inked edits  confused me. But I made it through. Having never read the speech out without stopping to edit, I assumed it was quite short. I even mentioned its shortness in the first paragraph. Somehow it lasted 15 minutes

5.30 – Meal time. Wine time. No more speeches time. Now I only have dancing to worry about

7.15 – Waiting at the bar for the room to be turned around for the reception. Guests start to arrive in a seemingly constant stream. I quickly learn my next automatic phrase, “Yeah, today’s been brilliant…it’s just going by really quickly”

7.45 – Announced into room for first dance (Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s version of Over The Rainbow). Or, more accurately, ‘dance’. We turn stiffly, in slow circles, hoping the DJ will soon announce that the rest of the wedding party are to join us.

7.50 – Onto second dance (Stand By Me by Ben E King). Reinforcements have arrived. Now dancing with mum. Etiquette of dancing with bride’s mother, bride’s stepmother and head bridesmaid completely forgotten. Focus is on getting off dancefloor

7.55 – Third and final song request is now playing (Shake A Tail Feather by Ray Charles). Attempts at shaking tail feathers result in varying degrees of success. Booty is shaken. Most of us are reminded that we are very white

8.00 – Dancefloor escaped

8.05 – Hang around bar looking needy/thirsty, hoping someone will buy me a drink. Not to seem presumptuous, but of all the things I thought I’d need for my wedding day, I didn’t think my wallet was one. Thankfully, someone responds to my puppy dog eyes and a beer is soon in my mitts. Note: if you are a bride, take money with you. There seems to be far more of a culture of getting the groom drunk than the bride. Alternatively, just be bold and demand a drink, it’s your wedding day after all

8.10 – At the reception, being the groom consists of making attempts to speak to people you’ve barely seen, while fending off drunken women demanding you dance with them. Normally I don’t like to dance, or speak to people I don’t have to. Tonight, I’m doing both

9.00 – The buffet arrives (rolls and sausage, rolls and bacon). I spot them coming over the shoulder of people I’m in conversation with. By the time I get the chance to reach the buffet, I see one remaining roll and sausage. I want it, it wants me. I get within arm’s reach. I realise it’s actually a roll and bacon sitting on the wrong tray. Nooo! The day is ruined.

9.30 – I run out of beer again. I vaguely remember someone buying me one earlier, but I never actually saw the drink. As if by magic, the man in question appears and gives me a pint and Stella and a bottle of Peroni which have been awaiting me. For some reason I feel the need to quaff both quickly. It soon becomes apparent that this was a bad idea

10.00 – Am being spun on the dancefloor by an 8 year-old. She stops and walks away, the room continues to rotate. I stand there for what feels like ages, unable to see clearly.

10.20 – The wife and I make a break for our room for a few minutes rest. Once there I realise how tired I am. The last few weeks have been busy, today was emotional, and I’ve had some wine and a few beers. When you’re in the reception you don’t notice the fatigue, being so caught up in talking to people or trying to find a way to escape the dancefloor. With two hours left, we head back downstairs

11.00 – The booze is clearly having an effect. Every conversation is animated, everyone loves everyone else, groups of dancers have become larger and more energetic

11.45 – Watch, appalled, as my male friend and my mum indulge in some booty-shaking on the dancefloor. Hands are placed on torsos. I am unimpressed

12.30 – Proclaimers time! I’d been dead against having 500 Miles as our final dance song, as undoubtedly it’s been played at a million weddings. Still, it’s a good, fun song, and is brilliant when drunk. The Mrs and I jump around like idiots to it. I am very drunk now, despite not having a huge amount of booze

12.45 – The music is off, the lights are on, show’s over. Some people mill about, but I’m done. I mumble some goodbyes and take to bed. Seconds after getting into the room, the suit is off and thrown over the couch. This may sound passionate, but is just the act of a tired, drunken man demanding sleep. I collapse into bed and stay awake for no more than a few minutes before I pass out. Romance

And that’s that. I left the hotel the next day with a new wife, a fancy ring and a hangover. The day was great, as I mostly expected. What I didn’t expect, however, is just how quickly it goes by. Lots of married people warned me it would be fast, but I didn’t believe them. Every wedding I’d been at before had dragged in. As the groom, however, the day goes by so much faster. The next morning I felt like I must have drunk all day—I couldn’t remember many of the details. The events I could roughly remember (or this post wouldn’t exist), but who I spoke to and what about, who I danced with, these kind of things never became any clearer. The finer details just got washed away in the pace of the day.

If I have any advice to future grooms, I’d go with: get a videographer, watch your alcohol intake, and learn your speech. I haven’t seen our wedding video yet, but I’m so glad it exists so it can help piece together memories of the day. It’s easy to get drunk when you’re tired and someone else is paying for the beer. You need your senses working if you want to remember the day (assuming you do want to remember). If you know your speech you can look at the people you’re talking about and not the page. And you can freestyle a little if you know what you’re coming back to.

Oh aye, and hit your shoes with a stone


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