“Lil Fatty’s gone!”
I looked over at my panicked bridesmaid, then at the slightly ajar door where my toddler no longer stood.
“But the music hasn’t even started,” I cried.
The music started.
“Shit,” I muttered, not a word I’d expected to use on my wedding day. “Just stick to the plan. Send in page boy number two.”
I looked down at my three-year-old nephew.
For weeks he’d been told his ‘very important job’ at his Aunty Ali’s wedding was to hold Lil Fatty’s hand while walking down the aisle.
Now he looked at his father, confused and slightly terrified.
Unperturbed, my brother shoved his son through the door, then hurried off out the back so he could slip into the hall and see him arrive from the other end.
I took a deep breath.
Ok so that had happened.
It was our turn.
“Um Ali, the door’s locked!”
One of my bridesmaids was desperately pulling at the door through which my nephew had gone.
It had locked behind him.
I looked at my bridesmaids.
Four pairs of beautifully made-up eyes stared back at me.
They had nothin’.
Wasn’t the purpose of bridesmaids to solve problems like this?
I looked at my dad, standing next to me.
He looked back at me anxiously, as if to say ‘Are we up now Ali Cat?’
I’d been to that many weddings and seen the visions in white hovering in distant doorways, ready to make their appearance.
Was this what it was actually like?
Panic and confusion?
I didn’t have my problem-solving hat on.
Just my veil.
The photographer’s assistant came to my rescue.
“I’ll go around and get them to unlock the door,” she said.
“Please,” I answered, starting to focus. “And let’s bring the boys back and re-start the music.”
‘We’ll just start again,’ I thought to myself.
My son and nephew reappeared, the former screaming, the latter still confused.
“Sssshhhh,” I whispered desperately, for I could hear the faint strains of our song.
It was in full swing.
We’d missed our cues.
We waited an eternity for it to stop – again.
Our guests had heard it twice now.
My nearly hubby knew the song, he knew the cues.
He’s sprung tears when Lil Fatty had made his first appearance but now they’d dried up.
With no bride in sight, Learner Dad had begun to panic.
But we eventually got it right and, by the time my turn came, it was all but forgotten (until we hit Waikiki for our honeymoon and heard the song playing in every second tourist shop we entered).
So that was my wedding day.
Learner Dad did find tears for me.
He also sang me a song.
Master Nine danced solo to Gangnam Style – all five minutes of it – surrounded by dozens of gorgeous women in short floral dresses (a fact I’m sure he’ll appreciate even more watching the video back in later years).
As for Lil Fatty, his premature stroll down the aisle was his unraveling.
The second trip ruined him, left him screaming the Town Hall down until my poor nominated brother-in-law carted his indignant butt right out of there.
But his protests fell on deaf ears.
Because his mum and dad got married anyway.
Someone shoved me toward the dance floor.
“Go on, you haven’t had a dance yet.”
Confused I wandered toward the faint strains of All You Need is Love by The Beatles, a song Learner Dad and I had agreed was a ‘must play’ for our wedding reception.
I tried dancing with some of the other people on the floor – a friend who seemed to be inexplicably back with an ex-boyfriend, cousins I hadn’t seen for years – but they all looked at me strangely.
I wandered outside.
People were milling around, many of whom I didn’t recognise.
‘Must be Learner Dad’s rellies,’ I thought, confused.
I glanced down at my wedding dress.
It looked dirty.
And I was wearing a cardigan I hadn’t seen before over the top.
“You don’t know what’s happened, do you?” a tall woman asked me smugly.
I looked at her blankly.
“You passed out under a tree, five minutes into the reception,” she said. “It’s all over now.”
I began to panic.
Was this true?
I’d only had a couple of champagnes.
Had I missed our whole wedding reception?
I ran around outside in a panic and eventually found Learner Dad.
“What’s going on?” I asked hysterically.
He sat on the ground and pulled me down to sit next to him.
OMG! I was wearing jeans UNDER my dress.
“You got drunk, abused the crap out of me and passed out,” he replied.
I stared at him open-mouthed, not only because of what he’d just said but because I realised he had hair!
If you haven’t already guessed, this was a dream.
I woke up sobbing with regret, desperately wishing I could get my wedding reception back.
Thankfully I can.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a drunk bride and it hadn’t even occurred to me whether or not I’d drink on my big day, so the nightmare came out of nowhere.
And it’s not the first.
In another, I walked down the aisle only to realise at the other end I’d forgotten to write my vows.
Then there was the one where I glanced down at my engagement ring on the day to find my rock had gone, leaving only an empty claw where it used to be.
I’ve had that one more than once actually.
And then there was the one where I was clad in a red dress with my hair out and crimped, beside my dad who was wearing a T-shirt, shorts and runners.
What does it all mean?
The dreams have come regularly over the year and a bit I’ve been engaged.
None of them have happy endings.
According to one dreams dictionary, dreaming of a ‘wedding’ indicates you’ll soon be attending a funeral.
Dreaming of a ‘bride or bridegroom’ means I need to take a look at my relationship.
That perhaps I have feelings of jealousy.
Well, unless Nic Natainui is finally responding to Learner Dad’s man crush, I’m not sure I have too much to worry about there.
And dreaming of being ‘drunk’, according to the dictionary, indicates I’m worried about embarrassing myself in front of others.
I’m not a stressed bride-to-be.
If anything, I think of my upcoming nuptials with a grin, and sometimes, I’m embarrassed to add, even a girly giggle.
But maybe it’s a touch of excited anxiety that’s generating the dreams.
They’re certainly not memories of weddings past.
Let’s hope they’re not predictions of a wedding to come.
Otherwise I’m in trouble.
And our guests could be in for a treat.
“I don’t know if I want to wear a wedding ring,” Learner Dad said seriously.
I looked at him.
“Just joking!” he laughed, poking me in the side.
He’d made this joke about eight times now and I was beginning to wonder whether he was actually trying to tell me something.
With five months until our Big Day, it was time to start looking at wedding rings.
Although my groomzilla was across everything – “You get your flowers organised this week please” or “Al, have you booked your hair trial?” – he hadn’t once suggested we pencil in a trip to the jewellers.
And he greeted my own prompting to do so with a shrug and ‘I guess so’.
And then we’d forget about it.
Learner Dad does insist he’s joking about not getting a ring.
But would I care if he chose not to wear one anyway?
I’m not sure I would.
After all, Prince William declined to wear one, a royal aide quoted as saying His Royal Highness ‘…isn’t one for jewellery’.
But is it just jewellery?
Is it not a symbol?
Of eternal love (the whole endless circle bit)?
And that you’re now off the market?
With Prince William’s wedding watched by millions of women around the world, I’m disinclined to think he refuses to wear one because he wants to appear ‘single’.
But for some men, that could be the case.
You wear a ring, you become a marked man.
It’s a woman’s elegant way of urinating permanently on her property, leaving a visible ‘scent’ for all the bitches in heat out there.
And wedding rings do come in handy for the single gals, believe me.
I was one for a long time.
But it’s not just women marking their men.
Wedding rings were originally only worn by wives, as a sign that they were ‘owned’ by their husbands.
This can be traced back to ancient Egypt.
They only became popular with men here in Australia during World War II.
Those in service began wearing them as light reminders of their wives and families at home.
I decided to employ a bit of reverse psychology on Learner Dad and suggested we ditch the whole rings idea, told him I wouldn’t wear one either, saving him any discomfort and both of us a little bit of money.
He met me at the jewellers that day.
Then he found out he had to wear a flower on his wedding day.
Do unmarried men really not know this?
Am I marrying the biggest ocker ever?
I shot his complaints down quicker than you can say ring a ring a rosie AND a pocket full of posie…
And once he’d googled ‘grooms’ and satisfied himself it was normal and not some weird new thing I was insisting upon in order to embarrass him, he was ok with it.
And if anyone thinks my groom looks remotely feminine on his wedding day, well, I’ll eat my veil.
He stood there nervously, moving from one foot to the next as he waited.
He smiled and joked with the people around him until, suddenly, everything went quiet.
She was here.
As she walked down the long aisle towards him, his eyes filled with tears.
People began nudging each other, whispering, crying themselves.
They were crying inside the cathedral and outside the cathedral.
And in loungerooms around the world.
I am of course talking about the wedding of Prince Frederik to our formerly-known-as-and-now-princess Mary Donaldson.
It was the day tears became mandatory for grooms – across Australia and Denmark at least.
There was never a more romantic moment, one brides across the globe wanted their spouses to emulate the moment they appeared, in their own mists of lace and flowers.
A long-time reporter of the royal affair, I went into my own friend’s lounge to watch the wedding a bit of a cynic.
‘Once a playboy, always a playboy,’ I’d thought of the dashing prince.
But the moment his eyes welled up for Our Mary, well I fell a bit in love with him too.
I mean, this was better than Cinderella.
Never mind that Prince Frederik may have actually been sadly weeping his playboy ways goodbye, his tears became the benchmark.
Learner Dad realised this himself at a wedding we attended recently.
“Look, he’s crying,” guests started whispering as the bride began her journey towards the groom.
The whispers made their way to Learner Dad, who turned to look at the groom himself.
Along with just about everyone else.
Emotional groom was stealing bride’s thunder.
It didn’t seem to matter though, as they were both in a world that included only each other.
“Wow, what if I don’t feel the need to cry? Is that bad?” Learner Dad asked me afterward. “Did you hear everyone whispering about it?”
“Oh I reckon you will,” I answered, thinking of his full emotional breakdown on our loungeroom floor the night he proposed.
I prayed it didn’t go that far this time.
“Would you care if I didn’t?” he said.
I thought about it and you know what?
Despite my gushing about Prince Frederik’s royal salty tears, that was all before I’d met my own prince.
If Learner Dad simply beamed happily at me during my long walk to becoming his wife, I’d be just as touched.
Besides, with Li’l Fatty in his size two tux, four insanely spunky bridesmaids, and my dad, who’ll no doubt be tearing up himself having waited 36 years to walk me down the aisle… I’m not sure either of us will be the centre of attention for too long.
Learner Dad walked into the loungeroom and tried to stifle a laugh.
I was down on one knee, pushing a hand weight out behind me.
“Don’t you dare laugh at me,” I declared, quite seriously.
I was already feeling self-conscious.
After months of telling people I wouldn’t be going on any fad bride diet, I had succumbed.
To be fair to myself, it wasn’t really a fad diet.
Firstly, I had eight months until the wedding meaning, if I wanted to drop a few kilos, my target would be a breezy single kilo every three months.
And secondly, as someone who puts food up with sleep and music as my three favourite things, I simply don’t do diets.
Besides, I didn’t want to look unlike my regular every day self to Learner Dad.
I had to retain some of the double chin and big boobs he fell in love with.
I was just watching what I ate.
And apparently, doing weights.
“It’s not funny,” I reiterated to Learner Dad. “You should be doing it too.”
Not satisfied with my own pledge for self-improvement, I’d given Learner Dad his orders too.
A kilo every month until the big day.
He’d made a couple of half-hearted starts, but I suspected his real efforts would come in the form of a bunch of Tony Ferguson shakes approximately nine days out from our nuptials.
There are both pitfalls and upsides to getting into shape for your wedding.
One of the obvious benefits is the actual ‘getting into shape’ bit, the eating good healthy stuff and getting out there and doing some exercise.
Another is getting ahead of the photographer, who will jam an extra five kilos on to your frame in every single shot.
But there can be negatives too, especially if you’re taking it very seriously.
I remember going to the cinema with my regular movie buddy in the weeks before her wedding, where she nibbled miserably on carrot and celery sticks while I munched into a choc top.
You don’t want the fun of planning a wedding to be overshadowed by the pain of not eating.
Then there’s the piling the weight back on bit.
How bittersweet to walk into your wedding all Miranda Kerr, only to return from your honeymoon all Kirstie Alley (on a bad day).
As a guest at many weddings, I can say I’ve never seen a bad looking bride.
I’ve seen some who’ve lost staggering amounts of weight.
And even the opposite.
One relative stopped breastfeeding two months out from her wedding and stacked on two dress sizes (fortunately for her she could afford to add weight and looked the better for it).
Others have walked the aisle with the same fabulous physique they carried a year before.
Either way every bride I’ve seen managed to look like herself.
Just her best self.
Now where are those weights?
“I’ve put her up on Facebook already. Is that bad?” I heard someone whisper after the bride had walked down the aisle.
I was shocked.
Dozens, possibly hundreds, of strangers were privy to this poor bride’s photos before she’d seen one herself.
Before she’d even actually got married.
I remember hearing recently of the wedding of a fairly well-known Tasmanian sportsman.
Guests had been instructed not to post photos of any part of the wedding on any social networking sites.
I’d also heard of another wedding where guests were required to hand their phones in until the end of the reception (I can only imagine how that went down!)
Now I’m not sure my soon-to-be hubby and I are that fussed about where our photos end up at this stage.
But it warrants discussion.
I mean, what if someone posted a shocker?
Sure, the page boy might look cute, or the bridesmaid might look hot, but if the bride’s in the background sneaking a ciggie or trying to pluck a wedgie before taking the long walk down the aisle, well is that really fair?
Or, she’s spent all day having her hair and make up done, all year trying to squeeze into the dress, only to be put up on the internet with her damn eyes closed (by the chick standing next to her, who is pretty happy with how hot she herself looks in this particular photo).
And, as for the groom, sure it may be sweet he’s crying but if his tears are accompanied by streams of snot then does anyone really need to see it?
If the marrying couple has invested every shred of time, energy and money into this particular day, then surely copyright must be theirs?
But perhaps there are benefits to having your big day broadcast by all and sundry.
What if a guest has taken a pearler, one of those candid shots your own photographer missed, and one that you’d have shared over and over, perhaps even had printed and framed, if only someone had posted it online?
And, if you’re looking smoking on your big day, then surely a little tag on Facebook, where your exes often linger, can’t be a completely bad thing?
I’m not sure Learner Dad and I will ever really care enough to make a big hoo-haa about it for our wedding.
But then again, I’m not sure we’ll have to worry now.
With most of our guests loyally subscribed to this blog, it’s probably no longer an issue.
At first, I didn’t plan to have bridesmaids.
I suggested to Learner Dad we simply employ our two children as attendants.
Master Seven could stand up one end with him, and Li’l Fatty could accompany Poppy Pete and I down the aisle.
Master Seven and Li’l Fatty probably wouldn’t throw the wildest Hen’s do.
But I liked the simplicity of this.
I also liked the idea of not having to choose bridesmaids.
Learner Dad often teases me about the number of close girlfriends I have.
They’re scattered around the world – London, New Zealand, America.
Around Australia too – Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne.
They even stretch to both ends of Tasmania (hey Brig!)
If I could afford 12 bouquets, 12 sets of shoes and jewellery, and a whole fleet of wedding cars, I would gladly ask a dozen of them to line up beside me.
That and if Learner Dad had that many friends himself!
In picking my bridesmaids, I quickly narrowed it down to eight… to six… to four… before moving quickly back up to six again… and then finally settling on four…
They are four of my closest gal pals – school friends, flatmates, work colleagues, girls I’d done bridesmaid duty for myself and girls I kept in close contact with.
I knew I’d picked the right team.
But I was still worried.
What about the once close friends I’d lost contact with?
Or those I’d recently reconnected with?
There were also newer friends I suspected I would only become closer to as life went on.
When I confided my concerns to Learner Dad, he frowned, suggesting that being my bridesmaid probably wasn’t anyone’s main goal in life.
And I quickly realised he was right.
Many of my friends, mid-30s and already no stranger to the pastel chiffon, would be glad they’d avoided another run as bridesmaid.
They’d be relieved to not have to worry about speeches, uncomfortable shoes and dancing with strange, often shorter, men.
So, on that note, to the four who got stuck with the role and all that comes with it, my beautiful brunette bridesmaids, let the fun begin.
As for me, it’s time now to turn my selection criteria elsewhere – the guest list.