Our trips home to the UK are always memorable.
Our first return visit in May 2010 featured an en-route wedding proposal and the joy of sharing the news with family and friends. Our second holiday at home in September 2011 was filled with the excitement (or misery, if you're Tom) of planning the wedding, after an initially outrageous but ultimately rather inspired suggestion sparked us to move our wedding forwards from August 2012 to December 2011.
Our most recent trip, the wedding itself, was the best of all however, and thanks to the family and friends who turned out, dressed up, drank down and partied on, the celebration which I expected to just 'enjoy' turned out to be the best day of my life.
To top it all off, Tom might have enjoyed it a little too...
I had set him somewhat of an endurance test - the pressure of the ceremony, the nerves of the Groom's speech, and finally some first dance choreography that wouldn't look out of place on Strictly. For a guy who has never danced in his life and doesn't enjoy public speaking, I can understand why he wasn't thrilled at the thought. He acquitted himself perfectly though and jumped every hurdle with room to spare. His Facebook status on 31st December summed up his relief however - it read, "Married. Phew."
If you feel somewhat hard done by that I've opted not to tell the fairytale from the start, then you can pop on over to Mister Phill's website, who has documented just that in Dorset Wedding : Katie & Tom : Part One and Dorset Wedding : Katie & Tom : Part Two. (But please read the rest of this first!)
So, in no particular order:
1. The Dresses
That's a deliberate capital D for Dresses, because they were the stars of the show! Expertly stitched clothing by my unbelievably talented mother was modelled by three bridesmaids, three flowergirls and three page boys, and as if that wasn't enough, she also created the bridal gown of my dreams whilst I was 10,000 miles away. This is no small achievement and was easily the most discussed aspect of the day, both on the day, and after. It was quite literally a jaw-dropping feat, and having my mother make my wedding dress was one of the most special aspects of the day for me.
I'm very happy to be wearing it a second time, for our Australian wedding party in February. How many brides get to wear a dress created by their own mother, and then get to wear it twice? I think I'm lucky.
A tribute to my bridal gown...
2. The Children
Many thought we were crazy, but very early on in our engagement we made the decision to ask all of the little people that we are closest with to be a central part of our wedding day. Tom is cool 'Uncle T' to no fewer than four nieces and two nephews, and once you add in my godson and his sister, and my best friend's little one, before you know it, you've reached a grand total of nine. Yes, nine children who together have a combined age of 46 and a half.
Whilst this was a recipe for considerable unpredictability on the day, we couldn't have asked for better behaviour, more smiles or greater enjoyment. Of all of the wonderful comments we've had from guests post-wedding, the ones which have warmed our hearts the most have come from the children, not least three year old Ellie's request to please go to the wedding again!
So to Millie, Charlie, Rosie, Emily, Jake, Jamie, Daisy, Ellie and Dora -
you walked perfectly
you smiled beautifully
you dressed impeccably
you danced crazily
and without you all the day would not have been so special.
A tribute to our favourite kiddies:
3. The speeches
I knew I'd cry, and I did. How could I not, with three amazing men all giving absolutely outstanding speeches?
Dad's speech was so heartfelt, I'm certain I will cry every single time I watch it back on the video. He has opened a can of worms with his Newsround stories though. No, the videos aren't on YouTube, and no, I can't even remember the name of the presenters at the time. I'm sure Dad can though ;-)
I'd heard half of Tom's speech before the big day. I loved his heartful words to his family and I laughed for a long time at his 'screwing' joke, which was suitably close to the mark! I continue to re-read his speech from his cue cards. He accuses me of only reading the section about me, which is not true ;-)
After much consideration before the big day as to whether or not I would join him at the microphone, I was very happy to sit silent because, quite simply, I couldn't have said it better myself.
4. The dance
I don't know if you guessed, but this was pretty important to me. After twenty years of dance classes and with Gully in the audience, I needed to demonstrate a little bit of dancing skill at least.
Tom understood this, and so with gritted teeth he very dutifully endured 8 weeks (yes, that's 8 weeks) of dance classes. For me. Altogether now - 1, 2, 3... aaaaaaaaaaaaah! This probably sounds like an eternity for most men, but let's respect his achievement of learning not only 'a dance' (noun) but learning 'to dance' (verb) in such a short space of time.
I loved every minute of learning our first dance and every second of performing it. Tom endured the former and has admited to actually enjoying the latter! Thanks to the crowd for your whoops and cheers of 'Come on Tom!'... this is the picture of the day for me:
5. Mister Phill
A creative master, wedding documenter and one of my photography idols. It was a privilege to have his artistic talents to photograph our wedding, and his images will be treasured for ever.
Phill has written an outstanding blog of our wedding day, which features a conversation between him and two of my good friends. I think this sums up nicely my feelings towards his photography:
“Are you Mister Phill?”
I confirmed that I was in the manner I know best. I took a photograph.
“Katie’s been really excited about this for weeks.”
“Getting married? I dare say she’s been excited a great deal longer than that.”
“No, about being photographed by you.”
Phill, I am already searching for future life events that I might be able to tempt your camera to shoot and if any of my readers are enjoying the accompanying images then please head over to his website and show your appreciation to Phill.
6. The two people who started it all
No, not Adam and Eve - Alex and Fiona. Without them, there would be no 'us', and for that we are eternally grateful.
Fiona was adamant that I should meet Tom. I was adamant that she should be my bridesmind. Both turned out to be great decisions! I couldn't have asked for a more supportive friend to guide me through the hectic preparations and craziness of the day itself. She curled, pinned, zipped, tied, glossed, fetched, carried, smiled, laughed and loved. She is also the only person other than my dad who made me properly cry on the day and despite running around after me the whole day, she also managed to look absolutely stunning herself.
Mister Phill thought he noticed a bit of chemistry between Alex & Fiona.. then he realised they are already married ;-)
We haven't spent a lot of time with our families over the past couple of years, but we've still made some wonderful memories. It meant a lot to us to bring both of our families together for our wedding day, and we hope that it created lasting memories for a long time to come....
8. Our guests
You came from far and wide and you wore big smiles on your faces. We were so happy that so many of you could come from so far, at such short notice, to be with Tom and me on our wedding day. Judging from the photos, it looks like a few of you had a good time in the process?!
9. The rest of our lives
I made no secret in the run-up to the wedding that I just couldn't wait to be married. Saying our vows was the start of a fun and exciting new chapter, and I'm very proud and excited to be Mrs Katie Lister! There is no spreadsheet for the next phase of our lives but here's to 2012....
It seems like I've run over five favourite highlights from the day... I'm afraid this isn't as short an entry as I'd planned. I couldn't leave it at nine highlights so here's number ten to close:
10. My new husband
A few pictures to say a thousand words...
We will never forget 30th December 2011...