As I was growing up, I was never really sure I wanted to get married.
To start off with, by the time I was a teenager I had already been to quite a few weddings and found them (sorry if you’re reading this after I attended your wedding!) extremely long and boring. Cousins, family friends, wedding receptions. Been there, done that, and have quite a few extremely embarrassing photos to prove it.
I had only ever attended cis straight weddings; where blushing brides in huge dresses met a man in a shiny suit at the altar, and they expressed their undying love for each other in a long, church ceremony.
In my head, I could never quite place myself in that scenario.
As I got older, I realised the reason why I could never picture myself longing to marry the man of my dreams, is because I just happen to be a massive lesbian. I had never seen 2 people of the same sex fall in love before, and grew up being so sure that if I wanted to bind myself to another person, it just had to be a boy – and because I didn’t want to do that, then I just guessed it was in the cards for me.
And then, I met my partner. You know all those awful, soppy things you read about in the books and see in the movies about what falling in love feels like? They hit me. Square in the face. Hard.
So, after moving in together, then adding 2 cats and a rabbit to the mix, I made the decision that I would adore her to be my wife.
It turns out, that decision was the easy part.
No one has ever spoke to me about how stressful proposing to someone is!
First, RINGS! Hats off to anyone who can walk into a jeweller and walk away with an engagement ring that day.
I visited a grand total of 6 jewellers, as well as spending a stupid amount of time reading reviews on the internet about different cuts of diamonds and stones. I even found myself having nightmares about getting down on one knee and pulling out a ring that was 10 sizes too small for her finger.
Eventually, I found the winner. A beautiful, simple black diamond in a white gold setting – too bad I didn’t think ahead enough to actually having her ring size ready. If you have never seen the weird and wonderful techniques wiki pages suggests for you to ‘sneakily’ get your partners ring size, I suggest you check them out ASAP. I couldn’t quite figure out how I was supposed to get a piece of string around her ring finger while she was sleeping and not cause any suspicion. Luckily, my mother-in-law is an absolute gem. We came up with a plan. I purchased the ring.
Then, during dinner in a swanky Manchester bar one evening, my friend asked me ‘so, how are you going to propose then?’
And that did beg the question, HOW was I going to do it? WHERE was I going to do it?? A restaurant? A weekend in the Lake District? The upcoming holiday to Amsterdam we were planning?
I was stumped. After a few weeks of panicking and making a hidden Pinterest board of wild ideas (how the HECK was I getting her on a Hot Air Balloon when she doesn’t like heights?!) – I got down on one knee, in front of the fireplace in our living room on a Sunday afternoon. And thank heavens, she said yes!
You know all those awful, soppy things you read about in the books and see in the movies about what falling in love feels like? They hit me. Square in the face. Hard.
Fast forward to the next important part…the wedding planning!
My partner and I are probably two of the most laid-back people you will ever meet.
Great trait to have in social situations, but apparently not the best for wedding planning.
Despite this, we managed to plan a whole wedding! Our first wedding date was set for August 14th 2020 – but in case you haven’t heard or have been living on a remote desert island, we are currently living through a global pandemic. So, our plans had to change slightly – and in between tears due to the postponement - we set our new date as 6th August 2021.
Anyone who says they thoroughly enjoyed planning their wedding is a big liar. I’m kidding! A lot of it was fun, but some aspects of planning were a challenge. Especially when my partner and I didn’t agree on trivial things such as the cut of a bridesmaid’s dress or the sides we wanted to serve with the wedding breakfast.
The hardest part for me, by far, was constantly having to out myself to people in the wedding industry.
I am absolutely not talking badly about our vendors (or anyone in the industry!), they have all been amazing from start to finish and we couldn’t thank them enough for everything they are doing for us. But there is something I hated about phoning or emailing a vendor to ask about availability, for them to say something along the lines of ‘Congratulations! What’s the groom’s name?’ or even ‘How did HE propose?’ (can you even believe someone still asks that? It’s 2021!).
Ask any of our friends, we are THOSE lesbians who have at least one pride flag up in our house, and spend too much time re-watching The L word. But, the anxiety behind telling a complete stranger that I am a woman who is marrying another woman, felt like a lot. It brought me back to the times I was even too scared to hold a girl’s hand in public, which definitely weren’t my best days so far.
The good news is, planning a wedding in Manchester is great!
Both of us are originally from tiny towns in the middle of nowhere, so we didn’t really realise how many amazing vendors were out there – especially LGBTQ+ friendly ones. I cannot even begin to describe to anyone the feeling I got when looking through a photographer’s portfolio and seeing a picture of two women, intertwined in each other’s arms on their big day. No man at the altar, but guests crying and smiling in the background. Something that I know does happen, but I hadn’t seen yet. Something that made me feel so proud. I remember thinking love IS love, and it is beautiful.
Above: Joni and her wife on their wedding day
When I was younger, I was never really sure I wanted to get married. But despite the anxiety, the ring stress, the tears, the postponed wedding, the fact that I ended up buying 2 wedding dresses (definitely a story for another time) – I finally got to marry the love of my life. As it turns out, meeting another blushing bride at the alter isn’t so bad after all.
This is a Guest Blog, written by our very own Joni Fox (Children's Worker in our Domestic Abuse Department).