According to the Office for National Statistics, 42% of marriages in the UK end in divorce. Some see this as a dismal fact, but I always like to look on the bright side. In this case it means there are plenty of people like me out there who are now finding themselves in their forties and in the lovely position of getting married for a second time –and with the opportunity to plan another wedding.
The first time I got married, aged 29, I really had no idea what this entailed. We were pretty rock-and-roll back then and I remember pulling it all together in just over a month. Luckily – and with a lot of help from a few good friends (thank you!), it all came together perfectly. I wore the most beautiful bespoke Gharani Strok dress, all my close friends and family were there and my son Arthur, then only 16 months old accompanied me up the aisle.
On the other hand, we gave next to no thought to the menu, hadn’t tasted the champagne or wine and opted to play down some potentially tricky family dynamics by not organising a party after the reception. Of course, everyone had a brilliant time on the day and with no official after-party booked, we ended up with a few mates in our wedding suite, causing havoc in the hallway with a laundry trolley and ‘the wedding CD’ on repeat. Fortunately it was pre-social media.
There are so many things that I loved about that wedding. But as I find myself planning a second wedding, there are lots of things I want do differently. Firstly, I want to make the absolute most of every single minute. If I think back to my first wedding, I just hadn’t realised how much I would enjoy the actual day itself. I would have liked the day to be longer, to have gone into an evening event. This time after the ceremony and a relaxed summer lunch, I am really looking forward to the wedding party.
Having first married in a hotel in Richmond, it felt really important to me this time to go back home and have the wedding in the tiny church in the village where I spent an idyllic, if slightly chaotic childhood (and some fairly rebellious teenage years) and where my darling Dad is buried. The reception and party will be close by in my sister’s beautiful garden and we are staying at the Lords of the Manor hotel. My family turned this stunning family home into a hotel when I was very young. Managed by my uncle and aunt, my godmother was chef, I have many happy memories of parties in the grounds, my first Pimms at the bar and falling asleep on the hay bales after a barn dance.
Having longer to plan, I have the opportunity to take a bit more care and thought over some of the smaller details that can make a wedding day feel very unique; hand-written place cards, well chosen thank you gifts; I don’t remember giving any before! My sister and I are discussing the flowers, as she has offered to grow and cut them for the event.
The first time I got married it didn’t cross my mind to get fit beforehand or do any beauty prep for the day and remember my tiny dress slipping on with ease. As I am now in my 40s, I am aware that the ‘effortless look’ is going to take a little bit more work. When I consulted my lovely friend Olivia, a personal trainer, she promptly told me that as it was September and the wedding is in June, we should start right away! I was obviously in denial, as I couldn’t believe it would take so long to get fit and toned. But it seems that the days when five hours clubbing and skipping a few meals to ‘do the trick’ are long gone. Let’s just say I am glad I have a few more months to go.