In December 2014 I joined a dating website to test the water. I had been single for a while when I became ill with M.E. and those of you in the same boat will know that that can seal your fate in the dating game. Too many strong, long term relationships crumble as a result of this trying illness and so starting a relationship didn’t seem easy or advisable.
I received quite a few messages online on the dating website. I only bothered to respond to those who had clearly read my profile. I’d said “Life since university hasn’t quite gone to plan!” and a few men commented on that fact and agreed with me. Mr Tree Surgeon was one of them. I only told a handful of suitors what my diagnosis actually was.
I received some pretty vile messages when I published my dating blog posts, about how I couldn’t possibly be as ill as I said I was if I was able to start dating someone. I replied to one in an open letter here.
I struck gold with Mr Tree Surgeon. There is simply no other way to describe it. The chances that my little dabble into the dating world whilst so unwell would work out were minuscule.
The Final Countdown
Fast forward to 14th October 2017 and we got married surrounded by our family and a handful our closest friends. Now being out of the house for more than a few hours is EPIC for me, so we had to have that in mind when we started planning our wedding day. I was torn between wanting to completely kick against the restrictions my health imposes and not wanting to do anything that might trigger a setback or even a relapse. In truth our day was probably as M.E-friendly as it could be.
We drove the two and a half hour journey to Suffolk on the Wednesday before the wedding to allow me time to rest and recover after the journey. We stayed in a quite Airbnb cottage just 10 minutes away from the venue.
The venue was perfect for us; exclusive use for the whole weekend. We arrived on the Friday at 1pm and we didn’t need to check-out until 12pm on the Sunday. It was brilliant for me that I got to wake up on our wedding day and know that I only had a few metres to travel to get the the ceremony and the reception and then back to bed again.
We had wanted somewhere where we could stay with our families for the whole weekend to make a real Wedding Weekend out of it. We looked as far away as Wales for such a venue but fell in love with White Dove Barns near Beccles in Suffolk. The Marsh Farm Estate where the wedding was to be held allowed for up to 40 of our guests to stay with us. It was exactly what we wanted.
The bridal suite where I got ready was a mere 10 metres or so from the aisle in the ceremony room! Perfect for weak and feeble legs!
I had skirted over my health issues with our registrar over the phone and she was incredibly caring and kind. She ensured that a chair was ready and waiting for if/when my legs had had enough. (As it happened I managed to stand throughout the short ceremony – you can see me wobbling/swaying a little in the wedding video though haha!)
As I’m sure you’d already guessed it was rather an emotional day!!!! The first line of his vows promising to love and see me for who I truly am [and not the just the poorly person I have come to see myself as] nearly ruined my expensively made up face! And then the speeches…my Dad’s speech…
The ceremony room became the reception room and so I was still so near to the bridal suite that I could nip back for Purple Time or little rests as often as I needed throughout the day. I REALLY thought I’d kick against needing to rest and that having to rest on my own wedding day would upset me feel so unfair, but in truth I didn’t feel like that at all. I was even more sensible than I usually am!
There were only 6 members of staff, two of whom we’d met a few times before The Big Day and who knew about my health. They had met us at our food tasting and then when we arrived for the wedding weekend they celebrated the fact that I wasn’t using my walking stick! It made me feel like they really did care. Weddings have become so much of an industry now; almost churned out by venues one day after the another. We definitely didn’t get that money-grabbing vibe from our venue.
I even managed to dance a little (or a lot for me!)
I was so sensible all day, making sure I drank A LOT of water. I didn’t even get through one glass of prosecco, but then I never was a big drinker. I got plenty of fresh air, sat down more than I stood up and ultimately didn’t let the panic rise up about how on earth my body was going to get me through the day. I managed to push aside my fears about the days and weeks afterwards being ghastly and full of ‘payback’ and suffering. The staff and registrar commented a few times about how calm I was and how laid back we were about the finer details. I explained that when something as huge as losing your health upskittles your life you couldn’t give two hoots about whether each table runner was the same length or what wet weather would do to your hair and make-up. It was all an absolute dream just to be there.
My poorly little body did me proud. I imagine a combination of rest and adrenaline and the happiest emotions ensured that I didn’t have to miss out on my own wedding day as I’d feared.
I have had a lot of messages saying that our little love story is “inspirational”. I’m not entirely sure that it is but I admit that at one time I never imagined I wouldn’t be single and living with my parents in a ‘granny annex’ next to their house. I will not tell you to keep hold of hope. I, myself, find such talk so very patronising. It is your life and your journey. But if our story gives you a little glimmer of hope then I’m glad I shared it.
It was our perfect day and our perfect weekend, even with the grotbag that is chronic illness.