Updated: Aug 17, 2019
I'd like to tell you a secret... six months ago I married my best friend and soul mate Mr Sean Fitzpatrick! I had always dreamed of a big white wedding, set in our local church, accompanied by choirs, a hefty organ, and lots of taffeta. But the reality was quite different, and do you know what? I’m so glad!
On a cold February day (the 15th, I absolutely point-blank refused to get married on the 14th…) Sean and I jumped into my Mum’s car, and drove to a beautiful Tudor house which is the current home of the Registry Office, in Maidstone, Kent. There we met Sean’s aunt, who along with my mum, had agreed to be our witness.
After sorting some minor practical details, Sean and I went into the little nondescript office, and there in the presence of our loved ones, made our vows and signed the register. We were now Mr. and Mrs. Fitzpatrick!
After a few photos, and the obligatory confetti throwing (thanks mum!) we hopped into the car, put the heating on full blast (it was a very cold day, and I was in a wedding dress) and drove to our local pub (stopping off on the way to have a cup of tea, and photo with mum’s westie called Molly). At the pub we met with a few close family friends, along with my brother, sister-in-law and beautiful nephew, and had an intimate, low key yet wonderful meal.
It was important to me that we got married in Kent, besides the practical reason of family living there, it was the place where I had grown up, so it felt a fitting location to say goodbye to the life of a bachelorette and embrace the new adventure of marriage.
As Sean and I live in the South West, most of the organising fell on my Mum (who was more than delighted to play such a key role!). It was such a special day, made even more so by having mum so involved. Our unassuming ceremony, followed by the delicious meal, surrounded by 14 friends, was simply the best way to begin married life. No fuss. No stress. No huge expense. Just us, celebrating our love. What more could you want?
So why the secret I hear you ask? Well, in truth, we hadn’t intended to have just this ceremony. Actually, we were planning on having a big white-ish wedding, or rather a blessing, today, on the 15th August 2017, at St Davids Cathedral, Pembrokeshire, to which all our family and close friends were invited. This was going to be the BIG DAY, and so we didn’t see the need to tell anybody that we actually did the legal bit back in February (we had to do the legal bit due to boring work-related practicalities which I won’t go into).
However, fate or should I say fête, intervened. As some of you will know, back in June, whilst at the school fair, Sean had a rather nasty accident and totally smashed up his leg. Now when I say smashed, I mean, smashed to smithereens! He required 3 hours of reconstructive surgery to save his leg, and months of rehabilitative physiotherapy. We didn’t know when Sean would be able to walk again, and so came to the rather grown-up yet heart wrenching decision to cancel our blessing. What made this even harder was knowing that most of our families (in N. Ireland and England) were going to miss out on seeing Sean and I ‘walk down the aisle’. It was so sad to think that our families may never meet, and I felt awful for Sean’s mum, who was SO looking forward to our ceremony.
Feeling immensely guilty, we stood (or in Sean’s case sat) by our decision. We didn’t need the stress which often accompanies a modern wedding. Our priority, my priority, is to help Sean recover, and get back to his normal life. Marriage isn’t about the wedding day, but the day-to-day, the highs and the lows, in health and in sickness.
Now that some time has passed since we made our choice, I’ve had time to come to terms with saying goodbye to my ‘dream wedding’. I can now look at a picture of a bride without welling up in tears or have a stabbing pang of jealousy. With hindsight, I’m glad we started our married life in such a simple way. Yes, it would have been nice to have a party, but the simplicity of our wedding day meant that we didn’t lose sight of each other, we didn’t lose sight of what we were doing: taking the first steps, together, into our new life as a partnership. Seeing Sean so badly injured, at such a young age, brought this fact home to me. I am the luckiest person in the world to be able to have Sean as my companion through life. I can let go of the wedding day because I'm holding the hand of the person that matters the most, my husband.