I can't say that the build up to my wedding ten years ago was romantic ... at all ... After endless phone calls to a solicitor about probate and how to finalise the paperwork on our house sale, we eventually moved into Poppy Cottage, in mid January 2004.
As charming as it was, the heating system was dodgy and some of the windows were rotten. We had ripped out an old Stanley stove and temporarily replaced it with a wood burning chimera. Despite our toasty stove, the night that we moved in was absolutely freezing. Bitter. Artic. I remembered huddling in bed, wondering had we made a terrible mistake.
On top of that , my husband-to-be's DIY divorce was slow and only came through just weeks before our wedding(s) were due to take place in February - a civil marriage, with a family blessing the following day.
The week after the divorce went through, he was back in court asking the same judge to waiver the standard three month notice to marry. I was worried that it wouldn't get sorted out on time, but felt that we couldn't change the date of our wedding (again), as family had already booked flights (for the second time).
Thankfully, Mr Nice Judge Man signed on the dotted line and we were free to marry – the spinster and the divorcee.
Wedding Day, no 1, February 12th 2004 : Ten years ago, there was very little option for a divorcee to marry anywhere except a Registry Office.The Registry Office in Naas was clean and presentable, but lacking in ambience- in a small retail unit in Monread, with walls painted a lovely shade of HSE washable peach. None of this bothered me too much, as we had put all of our energies on the family blessing the following day. I thought that the civil marriage was just a matter of turning up and signing on the dotted line.
I woke up in my parents house in Co Meath. I put on my beautiful Karen Millen dusty pink number, did my hair and make up, said goodbye to my Dad, saying I would see him at the aisle the following day. I headed off in my Toyota Yaris, with my Mam. We stopped in a hotel in Kill and I went into the loo to change out of my runners into my heels and to fix my face. We picked up flowers in the florist conveniently located beside the Registry Office and headed in.
We were married by a lovely lady, Registrar, Bernie Jacob. Bernie is Deirdre Jacob's mother. Deirdre disappeared without trace, from Newbridge in 1998, aged 18. My Mam mentioned to Bernie that she lived near Kingscourt. At the time of Deirdre's disappearance, there was searches around Kingscourt as she had friends there. I couldn't help but think of Deirdre and all of the family occasions she and her family missed out on. I imagined her pretty face and her wedding day. There was only a handful of people at the ceremony - my Mam, Ray's parents, our two witnesses, Ray's daughter and her friend. There was something powerful and intense about its simplicity, without the usual frills. Many tears were shed that day and I know that more than one of them was shed for Deirdre.
We went for a lovely meal in Kilkea Castle. Husband-to-be was now New Husband. He had one pint with his meal as he was driving to Maynooth to collect his son from the train station later that evening. Meal over, son and friend-who-happened-to -be-a-girl collected and it was getting near bed time. As well as being a bit chilly, Poppy Cottage was small and we hadn't yet sorted the furniture since we had moved in. Not being very good at maths, we couldn't figure out who would sleep where. Our wedding witnesses, (my then boss Breda, who was the match maker for myself and Ray and her hubby Paul) suggested that New Husband, his son and friend-who-happened-to be-a-girl could stay in their house. It seemed like a good plan. Beds were of a premium in Poppy Cottage, so I hopped in beside my Mam, while Ray's daughter and friend slept in the spare room. While I was in bed early, with my Mam, to get my beauty sleep for my 'Big Day part II the following day, New Husband went to the pub with the wedding entourage. Can you imagine the skitting in the pub 'Eh, Ray, did you not get married today ?' 'I did , yeah'. 'Oh right, congrats ... Where is the missus ?' 'She is at home in bed with her mother' ....