Tuesday, 13 October 2009

The biggest event yet!

Those that say time flies when you are having fun have definitely got it right this month! It feels like only yesterday that I was making invites and putting plans together and before I knew it the wedding has been and gone!

One month ago my childhood dream wedding took place – I can honestly hold my hands up and say that it was truly perfect – more than a girl could ever want and I genuinely felt like a princess for the day.

We decided to make it personal and hold it at a one of a kind venue, my parent’s house in the South West of France. We are exceptionally lucky that they not only have a beautiful stone farmhouse (check out http://www.leperchoirdespaons.com/ to see for yourself) but they also have a large barn which just happened to be empty and was the perfect place to seat 100 wedding guests for an intimate, yet fairytale wedding.

The past year has made me realise just how lucky I am to have such supportive family and friends – with everyone jumping to help out and be part of what turned out to be the most special day of our lives. OH took no persuading when I suggested the venue and true to promises – it provided the most magical wedding reception that no guest could possibly forget.

Logistically it was a potential nightmare having to house 100 guests in rural France – however the ‘Queen of organisation’ – aka my Mum – dutifully rose to the challenge and befriended the majority of the region’s B&B’s, villa’s and hotels as well as roping in some accommodating friends – and we managed to painlessly (almost without conflict – it wouldn’t be a wedding without it) put up each and every visitor. With the build up lasting nearly a week – more and more people arrived, some from all over the world, to help hang fairy lights, tie flowers to bushes, put up bunting, direct portable toilets – and the final result was breath taking – it was a hive of activity and the partying started well before the ‘big day’!

The morning of the wedding - having slept for approximately three hours – I piled on a mountain of de-puffing-anti-bag eye cream a cosmetic counter had persuaded me to buy a few weeks earlier and felt a familiar feeling I only previously associated with my four legged friend. The flip, flopping, sick feeling in my stomach that usually signalled an event! Having felt pretty calm and relaxed in the week leading up to the ‘big day’ – every nerve I should have felt decided to descend all at once – however after an hour of bridesmaid cheer all butterflies (or great big bats as they felt like) luckily fluttered away and left only excitement in their place with the thought that in a few hours time I would be walking down the aisle to my future hubby!

Whilst the bridesmaids may disagree I think I managed to refrain from too many ‘Bridezilla’ moments – a couple of near strops calmed down by one of the girls – and a little bit of OCD about my hair being perfect – but other than that the ‘getting ready’ seemed to be quite relaxed and enjoyable. Time really did fly though and my carefully written out itinerary whizzed past in a blur and before I knew it I was being tied in to my beautiful wedding dress and crammed in to the authentic – but quite tiny old French Citroen!

Whilst I made a promise to leave the horses hundreds of miles away at home – I can’t help but compare the day to my eventing days! The previous night’s sleep (or lack of it) and the nervous morning was the exact same feeling I get before an event – a combination of fear and excitement. The months of preparation and then on the day the final spruces – then the three main phases of the wedding, whilst you may think me bonkers read on and you will see what I mean!

Part one, the beautiful, elegant phase of the dressage... we chose to have a church wedding in a gorgeous little medieval French chapel. I wondered whether I would get a good mark for my first centre line so walking down the aisle I kept as straight as possible but had a couple of wobbles on the new heels, luckily supported by the arm of trusty Dad! Remembering my practice test (rehearsal the day before) I tracked right at the end to come face to face with an emotional hubby to be. Thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the test (ceremony) without losing any marks for going wrong and despite a little over exuberance from the bridesmaids in the singing, we came out feeling like the judges (100 + in the congregation) would give us top marks.

Next on to the show jumping, or the sit down meal in this case... It’s the phase that some people dread – you never quite know what the food at a wedding will be like but as in my last event at Brightling I finally found myself feeling quietly confident that this would be a good round! We had hired one of our favourite restaurants to do the catering and they exceeded expectations – despite not having a huge appetite due to my corset style dress I still managed to consume the whole plate of my dinner and enjoyed every minute of it! As did, it seemed, the rest of the guests! The speeches took place afterwards and were the perfect balance of emotion, humour and cringey moments that wedding speeches simply have to be! I nearly punched the air again - I do believe that was a clear round!

The fast, fun, fabulous bit of the day – cross-country – or in my case the party... We had a brilliant band playing which got at least 90% of the field on the dance floor for the duration of the night – there was slow dancing, funky dancing and downright stupid dancing – it was a bit hot and sweaty, but the most amount of fun and despite having my expensive dress trodden on, on numerous occasions, (think same feeling as when horse takes big chunk out of brand new saddle!) I was sad for it to end. An exhilarating clear round, a few wobbly moments as drunken guests teetered precariously on ridiculously high shoes, and over the optimum time having not pulled the plug on the music until 2.30 am – but a clear none the less!

As I sat with new hubby in the early hours of the morning I deconstructed the day as I would an event – the highs and, well there were no lows, re-living our favourite bits, trying to work out who it was that was found passed out in the bush a few yards from the house, who had lasted longest in their heels (I had long before changed in to flip flops!!), who had been seen sneaking off with who! It really was my best event yet – I felt like I had won the class, won the regional’s and won the finals all in one day! Nothing could have been different – the spectators were fantastic and the people behind the scenes were phenomenal, top marks for turnout on everyone and no injuries! If all the disciplines came together on this one day to create the perfect performance – let’s hope that next event season can bring the same for me and Ernie!

Signing off for the first time as Lauren Barber! (eeek that looks weird!!)

As published in http://www.manage-my-horse.com/ October eMag.