9 months to go
“We have plenty of time” you tell me, eyes fixed on the TV whilst mine gaze down at sleek pages adorned with delicate white lace, pastel floral arrangements, and multi-layer cakes.
“I’m just excited” I reply “and we have plenty to do - dress, rings, cake, music, venue. Will we do it here in Melbourne, or go elsewhere? Maybe somewhere tropical – I’d love a beach wedding!”
“We’re not made of money” comes your response, and I try to hold back my annoyance at the fact that you don’t share my view that we shouldn’t be stingy when it comes to the best day of our lives.
“How about somewhere tropical in Australia – maybe Port Douglas?” I suggest. You shrug and I sense that you’d like me to stop talking over the TV. That’s fine, I’ll plan it myself. I turn back to the glossy pages in my lap and make a mental note to purchase a wedding binder the following day. I’ll make sure that the day marking the beginning of the rest of our lives together is perfect, even if I have to do it all myself.
6 months to go
I need help. Fortunately, my closest friend and maid of honour, Ella, is practical and organised – everything that you are not.
“Wow, someone’s excited” retorts Ella as I my bulging wedding binder lands on the table with a plonk.
“Of course I am. Marrying Alfie is all I have ever wanted, you know that. All I can think about is the wedding and the rest of our lives together.” I beam, leaning across the table. And I really mean it. I’ve been besotted with you since the day we met, always hoping that it would one day lead us down this path littered with rings and floral arrangements and something blues that leads to the alter.
“I know you do, that’s been obvious since day one. But isn’t it a little concerning that he doesn’t want to help?” She replies, a hint of worry flashing across her face. I can’t help feeling annoyed.
“Why would he have asked me to marry him if he didn’t want to?”
“I don’t know, pressure maybe. His mum’s been pushing him to propose for months, and yours. All of your siblings are married with kids on the way, and his brother.” I can’t believe that she would sully our engagement like this.
“Ella, planning and organising just isn’t his thing” I snap “Please can you stop trying to ruin this and just be happy for me?” She pauses for a second, and then smiles.
“Of course. I am happy for you. Now let’s plan this wedding. How about we write a list of Isabella jobs and a list of Alfie jobs? He has to help a little or you’re never going to make it.” I nod, and she grins back at me, pulling the binder to the middle of the table and opening it up. We lose ourselves in a palette of eggshell and ivory satin, red roses, and glistening ocean settings.
I’m satisfied with the progress we make by the time she leaves, and I set out to begin writing my speech. It’s not customary for the bride to speak, however my heart is so full of love that I cannot let the opportunity pass. I want to gather all of the wonderful emotions that I feel inside and use them to sculpt an amorous dialogue so beautiful that the birds stop singing and the palm trees stop swaying. A speech that would bring a tear even to a stranger’s eye, and inject warmth into the heart of even the coldest creature.
I think back to our first date. I asked you out to the zoo, but you insisted on dinner instead. You forgot to pick me up so we ended up meeting at the restaurant an hour after our reservation, and dining in a run-down café instead. Not the best memory for my big romantic speech. I’ll keep thinking.
3 months to go
“Why did we get here so early?” you grumble, glancing up at the screen to see if our gate number has been updated in the three seconds since you last checked.
“Because I didn’t want to be late. We’re meeting all of our vendors in Port Douglas this weekend, and if we miss our flight we’re screwed.”
“No chance of that happening” you snort. I briefly wonder whether I made a mistake adding the booking of the flights and getting us to the airport to your wedding prep list instead of mine, but I only have seconds to briefly entertain that worry before a gate number appears on the screen next to our flight.
“Let’s go.” I say, jumping up and waiting for you to follow. Despite being so impatient, you’re walking several behind me, so I don’t bother trying to strike up a conversation until we’re on the plane. I try to peek past the lady next to me to see the view as we take off, but I can barely catch a glimpse. I wanted the window seat but you wanted the aisle so I’m stuck on the middle. It was difficult enough to convince you to pay the extra to select two seats together, and I’ve learnt to carefully select my conflicts.
“So, how are you coming along with your list?” I ask hopefully, trying to disguise any uneasiness I feel about you getting your jobs done in time.
“Fine” you tell me. I’m still none the wiser, but decide to let it go and focus on this weekend.
“We’re visiting the reception venue for a food tasting tomorrow morning, and then meeting with the florist in the afternoon, as well as making a final decision on chairs and décor. We have cake tasting on Sunday morning, and I thought this afternoon once we arrive we could walk down to see the spot on the beach where we’ll get married? What time are we meeting with the band?” I ask.
“I don’t know” you reply, turning to look at me, as if wondering why I am asking you.
“Music is your responsibility Alfie, it’s on your list” I fume. “I basically ended up choosing the band, so all you needed to do was set up a meeting. Please tell me you’ve done that?”
“No need to get annoyed at me” you mutter, looking hurt “I just forgot, that’s all.” But I am annoyed. My list is more than double the length of yours and I haven’t missed a beat. I think back to what Ella said, and can’t help but consider if she was right – should I be concerned that you’re not getting involved in the wedding planning?
“Alfie, do you even want to marry me?” I blurt out. You turn to look at me, your expression softening as you take my hand.
“What a ridiculous question. You’re my fiancée. I asked you to marry me. I cancelled plans to come to Cairns with you this weekend. And you’re questioning whether I want to marry you based on me forgetting one thing.” I let myself be reassured by your words. Maybe I am overreacting.
“Ok, let’s just call the band when we land and see when we can meet them.” I suggest. You nod, and turn away, and we don’t speak any more of it.
You call the band once we land (after I have given you their number), and fortunately they can meet us this afternoon. It will be a bit of a rush, so we just hope that the shuttle from Cairns Airport to Port Douglas doesn’t take too long.
We make it to the motel with just 20 minutes to spare before we need to leave again. I booked a cheaper accommodation option in order to save more money for the actual wedding, but it’s a charming little place in a convenient location.
“Is this where we’re staying for the wedding?” you ask.
“Of course not” I reply.
“Why not? You just said that it’s nice” you retort.
“We don’t want nice for our wedding night, we want something special. We talked about this.” You shrug.
“I just like it, that’s all.”
“Come on, let’s go and meet the band. It’s going to be an exciting weekend!” And I am excited, despite our little tiff on the plane. I’m excited to be in the presence of the people, the places, the food, and the flowers, that will all come together to create our dream wedding. I can’t keep the grin off my face.
1 month to go
“Just one month to go now. Are you excited?” I beam at you over my morning coffee. We’re sitting at the breakfast bar, which is strewn with notes and lists and photos of alters that have overflowed from my binder. You smile back at me.
“I have table décor and place cards to finalise today. How’s your list coming along” I haven’t dared to raise this question since the plane, so I’m a little nervous asking.
“Yeah, fine” you reply. I’ve been trying to avoid nagging, but with one month to go I need to push a little more.
“Have you sent the final song list to the band?” I ask.
“Doing it today” you reply. I make a mental note to check up on that later.
“Have you booked our flights to Cairns?” I ask. We’re flying to Cairns three days before the wedding, and back home one week after. Having our honeymoon at the same location was part of the deal when we agreed on a destination wedding.
“Yep” you answer.
“What time do we fly? Have you pre-booked a taxi to the airport?”
“Can’t remember” you sigh “and we don’t need to pre-book a taxi, we can do it on the day.”
“Alfie…” this stresses me out too much to hide my annoyance. “Remember when we went to Hawaii and booked a taxi at the last minute, and almost missed our flight? I cannot risk that happening this time.” For a moment, I wonder whether to include that holiday in my speech, as it was the first time I told you that I loved you. But them I remember that you didn’t say it back until a couple of months later, and I decide it’s not the right fit.
“I’ll sort it. I’m off to work.”
“Have a good day” I call out as you walk out of the door.
1 week to go
My beautiful floor-length white dress is in its garment bag, lacey veil, satin heels and clutch bag placed neatly in my suitcase alongside bridal lingerie and honeymoon outfits. I glance over at your bag that I pulled out of storage for you. It’s still empty.
Wedding dress, bridesmaid dresses, groom’s suit, transport, food, cake, venue, band, place cards, chairs… I tick off the jobs in my head several times per day, terrified that I will forget something essential that will ruin our perfect day.
Between the planning and the flurry of excitement, I’m basically useless at work and I’m glad I only have two days left there. Then two days off, fly to Cairns, two days in Port Douglas, wedding, then honeymoon. You’re much calmer, and I have to say it helps to keep me somewhat grounded. Although, I do wish that you would show a little more excitement. And maybe pack your bag. Sure, you’ve never enjoyed packing and have often been one to leave it to the last minute, but surely it’s fun when you’re packing for the biggest day of your life.
“8:30” you tell me, pushing open the bedroom door to where I’m sat on the floor, staring into my suitcase.
“PM?” I ask, and you nod. Finally. With four days until our flight, I finally know what time it’s at. I’ve been asking you for weeks and it’s been a constant worry that I didn’t know. Yet now that I know, other worries begin to flash across my mind.
Every time you’ve been somewhat less enthusiastic about the wedding than I am, or you put off doing something important, I remember what Ella said. I remember the look on her face, as though this wasn’t the first time that she’d experienced concerns for our relationship. For whether you really want to marry me, or if you really love me as much as I love you. I start to worry about whether you will even turn up at the wedding.
Then I remember how you reassured me on the plane. I remember you getting down on one knee at the beach at sunset. How you woke up that morning and decided to propose, so you went out and bought a ring, determined to pop the question that very same day. I realise that I’m being silly. Pre-wedding nerves are common, I’m sure. Not that I would have second thoughts. Marrying you is my dream come true, and I’m sure that you feel the same way, even if you don’t express it so openly and readily as I do.
3 days to go
“Right, all packed” you exhale, as you plonk our suitcases on the ground by the door. I should hope so, too. We’re flying this evening. I’ve been tossing and turning all morning, unable to sleep with all of the excitement, and as a result we’ve both been up since six.
“What time is our taxi” I ask.
“We’ll just book it at the time” you tell me. I turn and glare at you.
“We talked about this. We need to book our taxi” I take a second to gather myself, as I don’t want to fight today. “I’ll book it now. The flights at 8:30, right?” You take out your wallet and remove the tickets to check. I look over your shoulder, phone in my hand ready to call the taxi. Suddenly, I’m filled with a curdling cocktail of anger and panic.
“This says 8:30AM! That’s in an hour, we’ll never make it!” I scream. Your eyes go wide as you read the ticket, and realise your mistake. I try to shake the stress and think logically. What’s the quickest way to get to the airport?
“Right, we’re driving. We’ll leave the car in long term parking. It will be expensive, but it’s our best shot at getting there on time!”
“No way” you reply “We can’t afford that on top of everything else. We’ll get a taxi. I’ll call them now!” You take out your phone and are ordering it before I can argue.
Credit to them, the taxi arrives fairly quickly. But still, it’s a 20-minute drive in peak time traffic and Melbourne Airport is packed as always. We rush to get checked in, luggage weighed and tags on.
“You’ll have to run” the lady at the desk tells us, as if we don’t already know. Clutching our hang luggage, we race through to security, where we politely ask if we can cut the line. The security guard rolls his eyes but agrees, glancing at his watch and tossing us a look of exasperation.
You’re a faster runner than me, so when I make it to the gate, puffing and panting, you’re already there talking to the steward. You turn back and give me a sorrowful look. I gaze back at you quizzically as I head over. Then there’s a roar from outside as a plane takes off, and I know that it’s ours. My veil, my shoes, and my wedding dress are on their way to Cairns without me. Worn out from the stress and the running, I flop into a seat to catch my breath. You join me.
“We’ll go back to the check-in desk and book onto the next flight” you suggest “we have three days, we’ll get there.”
I think about how carefully I double, triple, and quadruple-checked everything, and how you couldn’t even make sure to read our flight time correctly. I think about how you wouldn’t fork out for long term parking so we could have driven here. I think about how you couldn’t be bothered to prebook a taxi even though you knew how important it was to me. I think about how my list was more than double the length of yours and I never missed a beat.
I think about what Ella said: ‘isn’t it a little concerning that he doesn’t want to help… his mum’s been pushing him to propose for ages…He has to help a little or you’re never going to make it’. I think back to our first date when you forgot to pick me up, and Hawaii when I said I love you and you didn’t say it back. I think back to nine months ago when you said we had plenty of time, postponing the planning instead of avoiding the last minute rush like I wanted to.
“We’re not booking another flight” I tell you.
“What do you mean?” You ask, confused.
“We’re not going to Cairns.”
“You mean get married here in Melbourne?” You ask “Everything is booked in Port Douglas. Our guests are on their way there.”
I take a deep breath. I can hardly believe what I’m about to say, but I can see clearly now that It’s the right thing to do.
“I’m saying we’re not getting married. I love you more than I ever thought possible, but I can’t marry someone who doesn’t love me.”
“Isabella, I-” you start in shock.
“Alfie, you know I’m right” I say, decisively. You can see in my face that there’s no arguing with me. My mind is made up.
“I can’t believe this. If I hadn’t got the flight time confused we’d be on the plane to our wedding right now, and we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.”
“Oh Alfie,” I reply, blinking back tears. “We were never going to make it.”