The dresses had arrived. The hymns had been selected. The letter of apology had been sent to St David’s Hotel and Spa.
It was time for Sarah to get married.
I drove home to Wales and headed straight to the gin cabinet.
I say gin cabinet… I have now learnt to refer to it as the ELDERFLOWER cabinet.
‘Just pouring myself a refreshing elderflower cordial!’ I smiled breezily at my parents, unscrewing the cordial bottle with my right hand whilst surreptitiously pouring Gordon’s with my left. It is a skilful act that has taken many attempts to master. Like an alcoholic Jackie Chan.
‘Are you sure that tonic water and limes really go with-‘
‘WHY YES! That’s the beauty of elderflower… It goes with everything!’
I then charged off to my bedroom before I could be questioned further.
I stared at my flushed and slightly mad reflection in the mirror.
Sarah is getting married. MARRIED. Is this the end of life as she knows it? Good God, what if she gets a perm? And starts going to oven glove conventions?
KEEP YOUR SHIT TOGETHER, GABRIELLE. Now is not the time for the bridesmaid to get cold feet.
I must accept that my partner in crime is moving on.
The final parting of Pegleg and Bitchtits.
(Note: for those that don’t know, the nicknames Pegleg and Bitchtits stem from a girls holiday we took to Magaluf in 2010. Along with the entire population of Bridgend. Hundreds of rowdy Welsh eighteen year olds keen to drink their own body weight, sleep with strangers and stick fireworks up their arses.
Sarah badly sprained her ankle one night and needed to be taken to A&E.
However, we chose not take that option… As that would waste precious drinking time! WHEEEY!
Instead we decided to fashion her a homemade splint, consisting of ripped up bed sheets, kirby grips and TWIGS.
The result was outstanding- Sarah mincing around the clubs in a little mini dress, with a gigantic club foot.
I don’t remember how I acquired the name Bitchtits but suspect it has something to do with my penchant for tossing my bra off in clubs and lassoing it around my head. Or the time I whipped both my breasts out on the dance floor and banged them together like a pair of bellows).
Five hours later and it was time to head to church for the rehearsal.
Unfortunately, I was also seven elderflower’s down and could barely see straight.
‘I’M OFF TO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD!’ I called cheerfully to my parents, doing my very elaborate ‘sober’ walk down the driveway, which looks rather like I’ve soiled myself.
I arrived to find Sarah and the three other bridesmaid’s huddled outside, looking rather stressed.
Apparently some prankster had managed to blow the fuse in the church, so we would be conducting the entire rehearsal via candle light and the torches on our iPhones.
I could feel a horrendous bout of ‘church giggles’ rising up inside me, a condition stemming from my school days.
For instance, the time when the vicar read out the Bible story of ‘The Miraculous Catch of Fish’ and referred to how Jesus ‘seized his tackle’.
We were ushered inside.
Now, our local reverend is a lovely man…. But one gets the impression that he is not actually a real vicar. More like an actor playing the role of a vicar in a Carry On film.
‘Right then!’ he cried, rubbing his hands in excitement.
‘I’m going to start the service by revving up the audience!’
‘The congregation, Allen’ Sarah’s mother worriedly corrected ‘We’re in the house of God’.
‘Yes, that’s the badger!’ He beamed, bounding up the aisle.
‘And then I’m going to take to the stage-‘
‘Yes, yes PULPIT’.
By this point, us bridesmaids were finding it very hard to keep things together and had resulted to quietly crying tears of laughter behind our Bible’s.
It was during the vows, when the vicar instructed Sarah and Alex to hold hands, adding ‘I’m a two-hander man myself!’ that I completely lost it and had to call it a day.
The Night Before
Armed with dresses, hair products and 40 tonnes of make up, we arrived at Sarah’s mother’s house to stay the night.
A strict two drink rule had been installed (‘There’s nothing worse than a drunk bride, Sarah!’) so I had taken it upon myself to smuggle us in a bottle of vodka in an Evian bottle.
Like a scene from Malory Towers, we sat in our matching pyjamas, sniggering and taking it in turns to have a swig.
Just before bed, I blearily peered my head round the door of Sarah’s old bedroom, a place where I had spent half my childhood.
Dear God, the antics that went on inside these four walls.
The time aged seven, when we laughed so hard at a ghost story we made up- ‘The Haunting of the Naughty Teapot’- that I physically wet myself and had to ask for some spare pyjamas.
Our elaborate games of truth and dare- such as when Sarah dared me to go outside and walk bare foot across the garden thorn bush. Which I did and promptly fainted when having my foot seen to with tweezers.
The pillow fight, where I overzealously hurled a cushion through the air, with all the strength of a male shot putter, managing to take the bedroom light out clean from its hinges.
Or as thirteen year olds, when we made a ‘snogging scale’. This hideous piece of work was a scale of how far we had ‘been’ with boys, ranging from a peck on the cheek to a cheeky finger.
It was unfortunate that Sarah accidentally wrote this on the back of a piece of Religious Studies homework, that she later asked her mother to help her with.
Ahh, fond memories.
The day had dawned.
I mean, I may be biased but she looked achingly beautiful. Some people are just made to pull off a wedding dress and Sarah is one of them.
I fear that I would end up looking like a baked potato wrapped in a doily. And probably stumble up the aisle with a fag in my mouth.
Stood outside the church with my fellow bridesmaids, a crowd of onlookers and the vicar (who was doing vocal warm ups) we eagerly awaited her arrival.
‘Can ducks change sex?’ piped up the vicar behind me.
‘Because I’m looking at that duck pond, see. And there were most definitely three girl ducks there last night. But now there’s one girl and two boys.’
‘Allen, now’s really not the time for-‘
‘THE ROLLS ROYCE WONT START!’ came a cry from the distance.
The beautiful old car intended to take Sarah to the church had given up the ghost right at the crucial moment.
‘I know!’ piped up a helpful villager. ‘It’s a downhill stretch from the house to the church… We’ll roll it!’
Horrific visions of Sarah hurtling down the lane and straight into the duck pond flashed before my eyes.
Panic stations set in.
I then decided that I desperately needed to pee and wondered whether I would go to hell for squatting behind a gravestone.
However, just as I was hitching up my dress and handing myself over to Satan, the Rolls started and Sarah arrived. A smiling vision in white, linked arm in arm with her older brother.
Now, I am not a crier. I never have been.
As a toddler, my parents took me to see The Lion King at the cinema. Apparently, the gut-wrenching scene where Simba’s father dies caused me to burst into such raucous laughter that I had to be taken out.
But looking at Sarah and Alex stood reading their vows, I suddenly found the floodgates opening.
‘DEAR GOD, WHAT’S HAPPENING?’ I whispered to the girls, as snot violently cascaded from my nose.
The best man valiantly reached for the tissue in his breast pocket, before realising that it was actually sewn in.
‘And now, Gabrielle will do the reading’ smiled the vicar.
I looked at him with a mixture of panic and hysteria, before deciding to blow my nose in my flower bouquet.
I slowly climbed the pulpit.
‘Once upon a time, there was a boy who loved a girl’ I began in a shaking voice.
‘And her laughter was a question that he wanted to spend his whole life answering’.
I then proceeded to make a strange strangled sound, somewhere between a honk and a moo, before stumbling through the rest of the poem.
Then they did it. They tied the knot.
Before we knew it, we were heading out into the sunshine, throwing confetti onto the newly wed couple (which unfortunately got stuck to my sweaty palm and ended up being thrown over myself).
‘That vicar was brilliant’ beamed my father ‘We’ve already booked him for your wedding’.
‘OH HA DE HA HA’ I crossly replied, cannoning off in search of booze.
It was a dazzling reception. The worlds biggest marquet, decked with flowers and copious amounts of champagne.
Alex had written such a moving speech- detailing how Sarah used to run away from him in town, throwing her chips at him, that she had to read it for him.
There was also a blinder of a slideshow, including a rather embarrassing photo of me sat fully clothed in the bath, clutching a bottle of red wine. Followed by my red thong being publicly returned to me, that I had lost on the hen do.
I wish I could remember more of the night but I apparently consumed two hog roasts before passing out at the buffet table.
God knows what I was dreaming of, but when my friend woke me with a cry of ‘Gabby, get up! It’s Sarah’s wedding for God sake!’ I replied with ‘IT’S IN THE CUPBOARD UNDER THE KITCHEN SINK’ before passing out stone cold again.
My dearest Pegleg. In the words of Mr Bennet in Pride and Prejudice- ‘I cannot believe that anyone could deserve you. But I heartily give my consent’.
Or perhaps a W.C. Fields quote would be more appropriate- ‘Everybody’s got to believe in something. I believe I’ll have another beer’.
Your faithful hound, Bitchtits xx