Getting married is meant to be every girl's dream. It is your one true princess moment and it comes with a regal price tag! From the moment of 'yes' after the grand proposal the invisible yet all powerful wedding machinery gets under way. Once inside it is hard to get out.
I remember for my first wedding I went nuts - countdown calendars, bridal fairs, hand painted stones for each guest and delivering chocolates to their rooms the night before. It is easy to see how a wedding can actually detract from the actual marriage. It happened to me. I was so strung about the finer detail when I stood before God in the church I actually wondered what I was doing there.
It really hit me the day after. I was tearful everyone had left and it had all ended. What would I work on now?! That was the moment also when I realised what marriage was all about.
For me there were telltale signs that things had not got off to a brilliant start...
1 - Iffy sex on our wedding night. My then husband was more interested in watching his favourite football programme so the 'deed' lasted all of a few minutes. Needless to say I was left feeling all alone a la Bridget Jones - not to mention that my painful brazilian had gone unnoticed.
2 - Honeymoon was more about activities than amour. We had chosen asafari - so 6am wake ups and long dusty treks left us nicely tired but not many candlelit moments. Also seeing a leopard kill on Christmas day was not entirely conducive to sex and seduction.
3 - I developed a crush on the safari guide. Maybe it was the sultry savannah or maybe lack of sex or maybe his huge gun but I found myself lusting after the South African dude.
4 - The cliched magic moments somehow felt hollow. Fireworks in Cape Town did not set off a surge of passion; dinner under stars was cute but did not shake the earth.
5 - Going home was a real let down. This was the start of a new life together. Yet I felt deflated. Like something should have changed for better except it felt like it was for worse.
A year and a half later we separated and six months after that our divorce came through.
I then became a romance cynic - love is the stuff in the movies not in real life. I embarked on a series of non love affairs that went nowhere as I was not prepared to open my heart. Funnily enough I made a beeline for South Africans...
Until I met my soul-mate. I knew the moment I met him that he was the one. No questions or doubts. It came out of nowhere when I was least expecting it. Looking at him was like looking back at myself. Everyone said we looked like twins - with our big brown Mediterranean eyes and toothy smiles. A love relationship quickly blossomed into a life partnership.
We decided to get married as it just felt right. The preparations felt totally different this time. More about a love day than a PR event. I was more Bridezen than Bridezilla.
The day itself was a bubble of bliss. We cried, laughed and loved like never before. Me usual control freak did not give two hoots that the train of my dress got a bit trashed or that I messed up my vows so touched by my beau's eyes. It was a perfect day.
We stayed at the hotel till the Monday and then with my beau's work and Aussie friends in town we decided to delay our honeymoon till winter.
It was then that I realised the true value of a honeymoon. Originally it was all about consummation of the marriage and it still has an even more important role.
Its the bridge between the dizzy wedding day and real life. We headed headlong back into our daily routine and I almost crashed and burned. It was like having wedding jetlag. I had a bad case of the blues and could not near saying good bye to my hubbie when he went to work.
The following weekend we had planned a few days in the south of France - a work function in Nice and a bit of late summer sun. The event was femmes en Or. Women of Achievement. Not really my bag - for me it all felt a bit sexist in this day and age. Where were les hommes en or?
But there were some great people who had saved lives of orphan African kids, run business, created art and protected endangered animals.
Actually it all felt remarkably like a second wedding. Big reception, champagne, table plans and a cheesy disco. Two Saturdays in a row we had danced to Black Eye Peas I Gotta Feeling.
Sunday was lazy lie in and afternoon to explore the city. My beau suggested a jaunt to Cap Ferrat and tea at the most prestigious and glorious Grand Hotel with its glittering clientele. The hotel is sumptuous, elegant and charming. The pool sits above the Cap rocks and is run by an 80 year old lifeguard - in truth he looked more 40 due to the Cote d'Azur lifestyle and probably a little help from Mr Botox. He had met everyone in his time there, from Cocteau, Sinatra Chaplain, Picasso....
It was cloudy but warm and we ha the pool to ourselves. We frolicked in the pristine sea water and joked that it was an express honeymoon. The universe must have been listening to us. We were just about to tuck into our afternoon tea when Air France rang to inform us our flight had been cancelled.
Dream come true. Our express moon turned into a mini moon. We checked in - a serene white sanctuary of a room overlooking the Med. It was sexy and spontaneous. Everything a honeymoon should be.
We spent the evening blissing out in the spa and canoodling. Next morning my beau had to leave at sparrow's fart. I then had the day to luxuriate in the outdoor gym and then under the pines on a daybed.
It had been 24 hour whirlwind but it had got rid of my post wedding blues. I felt fused to my epoux. It felt like the seal we needed. To all you brides-to-be I'd encourage you to focus as much on honeymoon as on the wedding day. It is the first time you are properly together alone, far from family, friends and all the circus of marquees, bridesmaid dresses and table plans. It is like the starting block for your married life. The higher you leap, hand in hand, the greater the