ME & My Wedding





Introduction - April 2001

Rob and I spent most of our lives living opposite each other; however, we did not really know each other until New Year’s Eve 1997 when we both worked that night in our local pub. After that Rob contacted me by email, he found my address as we were both studying at the University of Sheffield and both had email accounts there. We kept emailing and meeting up and finally he asked me out at the beginning of February.

My M.E. started soon after we got together. Rob was very supportive and helped me all he could. He read up about M.E. and found information from the internet. He always went to my doctor’s appointments with me.

When Rob got a job in Leeds after finishing university I decided to move with him. I was still studying as my M.E. had prolonged my studies, but I did not have to attend lectures, just submit the course work. I began working part time and we talked about getting married.

I proposed to Rob on February 29th 2000 and he said yes! We did not announce our engagement until April as my brother was getting married in March and we did not want to take the attention off them. By this time, I had been very ill again for several months and had to give up my job.

We planned the wedding for June 16th 2001 as that is my 30th birthday, and we also thought it would give me time to get better.

We planned the wedding for June 16th 2001 as that is my 30th birthday and we also thought it would give me time to get better.


Wedding Plans

Since the engagement my health has hardly changed, and at Christmas I wanted to cancel the wedding due to my health and lack of money. We could not save money whilst I was out of a job. Rob assured me that we would manage somehow and persuaded me to carry on with the plans.

Right from the start I have tried to be as organised as possible and get things done as early as possible as I do not know how I will feel from one day to the next. We booked the church last May; it is the local church where we were both brought up in Sheffield. We also decided to have the reception at the golf club where Rob's dad is a member.

I went out when health permitted to look at dresses and bridesmaid dresses. I was going to have my dress made, but wanted to look for ideas first. One day last June I went into a shop in Leeds and there was a dress just like I wanted and it was reduced to half price as it was an end of line and it was my size! I tried it on and it was a bit big, but the shop assistant said it could easily be altered nearer the time of the wedding. I had lost quite a bit of weight, so this sounded a good idea. I decided to have the dress and collected it a few weeks later when I paid for it. It must have been my lucky day that day as we also found some material for the bridesmaids’ dresses, as Rob's mum had said she would make them.

Everyone has pulled together to help, as I cannot do as much as I would like and we are restricted by cost on many things. Rob's mum has made the bridesmaids’ dresses, my veil, cake and table decorations. A friend is doing the photographs for us and another is doing the flowers for the bouquets and buttonholes. We have made our own invitations, service sheets and place settings.

We have had a few disasters along the way. I bought a headdress and Rob’s mum made me a veil, but on getting my dress out to check the shoes I had bought matched the dress, I discovered that the veil and headdress would not match; the shoes were perfect though!! I had a mad panic and rang my mum and got Rob to ring his mum; they all told me not to panic. We were able to change the headdress, but Rob's mum had to make another veil.

Just after Christmas Rob and I were in town and he said to me, ‘Oh look, that wedding shop has closed down.’ I just said ‘Oh’ and carried on walking, only to come to a halt a few minutes later; it was the shop where I had bought my dress and should have been taking it back to have it altered. Another panic! My mum saved me this time by putting out an email at work asking if anyone knew a dressmaker who could alter it; luckily she found one and I was able to get the dress altered in January.

We have booked the wedding car and a DJ. After a lot of chopping and changing we chose the music and hymns for the church and met with the vicar to arrange the service. I have just had to do a bit at a time when my health allowed.

The invitations were sent out in March and most of the replies are now back; there is only one person so far who cannot attend.

Things have been difficult for me in the last few weeks: my grandfather died at the end of March and my energy levels and general health have been worse. I felt terrible still making wedding plans after my grandfather died, but there was so much we needed to do and things could not be delayed.

It has also been difficult having to let other people make arrangements for me and shop for stuff without me. I feel as if I am not in control of my own wedding, but it cannot be helped.

The wedding is now just eight weeks away and on this page I intend to keep you up to date with the wedding with a weekly countdown – telling you how our plans are going and how my M.E. affects things.

I have asked Rob to contribute to this piece as well, and his perspective follows:


Jane has (gently) persuaded me to write a short piece on the wedding 'from the M.E. sufferer’s partner's perspective'. I'll not repeat the details here as you have read these in Jane's story above this piece.

The one thing I will emphasise though is the importance of planning well in advance. We have done this but it still seems like a mad rush (with eight weeks to go). I'd hate to think what it would be like if we had not tried to sort things out early!

The main worry of course is that Jane will not be well on the day. I think it is important to try and take some of the organisation away from her to give her a rest. However, this is a bit of a 'Catch 22' since she sometimes feels like she is not in control of things – particularly since our families have helped out with quite a lot of the organisation too. This is a difficult balancing act.

One option that can make the day a little less tiring is to have a single reception, rather than the sit-down meal with an evening disco/buffet later. We are getting married at 4pm and following with a hot buffet and later a disco. The original reason was cost, but with hindsight this should help from the M.E. perspective too. It also means there is less of a need to limit numbers and inevitably upset the myriad of aunts and great-aunts that seem to crawl out of the woodwork when it comes to choosing who to invite!

Rob Shaw


Rob and I were not sure if we would be able to go away for a honeymoon because of the cost. Rob's uncle then said he would like to give us some money towards a honeymoon instead of a wedding present.

We looked at many different options and eventually decided on a rail tour in Switzerland. We fly to Zurich and then go by train to our first destination in Hilterfingen. We then spend three nights there in a hotel overlooking Lake Thun. Next we go by train to Zermatt (near the Matterhorn) and spend four nights there. Finally, we get the Glacier Express to St Moritz where we stay for a final three nights before getting a train to Zurich for the return flight. More details on this holiday, and also details of other holidays, can be seen at the Crystallakes website.


'The Glacier Express train is a journey going over the top of Switzerland, allowing you to enjoy the spectacular scenery from the comfort of your seat in what is called the slowest express train in the world. Climb up to 6,700 feet via Oberwald and Realp passing 91 tunnels and 291 bridges. You will see lush green meadows and pastures, rocky peaks, travel over dramatic gorges as the train winds its way through the mountains.'

(Quote from the brochure)


I am very worried that it will be too much for me, but we wanted to do something different. I will have to rest up on the days that we are not travelling and, if necessary, I will be able to sleep on the trains, but I don't want to miss the scenery. I am also worried about spoiling the holiday for Rob if I am not well.

I have started to pack a few things already so that I will not be rushing at the last minute to get everything ready. Everyone keeps telling me that I will feel better for having a holiday, but they do not realise how much effort it will take. We are planning to take one day at a time and just see how things go.



Weekly Countdown


8 Weeks To Go

Most of the daytime invitations have been replied to so we have now designed an evening invite for those we could not have during the day due to numbers being limited for the reception. We cannot print them yet as we are waiting for a new ink cartridge to be delivered; it should have arrived by now.

I still need to get a handbag, but have not been able to get out to buy one.

We have been looking for some shoes for Rob, but he has only seen one pair he likes; he is fussy about shoes!

I asked my uncle if he would do the bible reading during the service and he said yes.

I still need to speak to the hairdresser about my hair and make-up and make an appointment for a practice run. We also need to order the cake, speak to the vicar about a change to the service sheet and make the weights to go on the balloons we are having on the tables at the reception.

I have been trying to get some ribbons to put on the place settings, but have not decided exactly what to get yet; we went to the shop yesterday, but it was closed!


7 Weeks To Go

I have not been too well this week, my energy levels are lower than usual and I have a sore throat that will not go away. I went to the doctor’s and she gave me some antibiotics and said that if they do not get rid of the sore throat she wants me to have a blood test for glandular fever!

Despite this we have achieved quite a bit towards the wedding in the last week. Rob finally got some shoes; he also got some shorts and sunglasses for the holiday. We got the presents to give to our mums and wrapped them up. All the presents for bridesmaids, best man and ushers are now bought and wrapped. I am not usually so organised, but I have bought things as I have seen them and want to get all the little jobs like wrapping out of the way so that it does not get forgotten and left till the last minute.

After several weeks of trying we got the ribbons to stick on the place settings, the only problem being that they only had 95 and we need at least 100, so we have to go back for the rest when they get some. Rob has printed the place settings for the people we know are coming, he just has to guillotine them then we can fold them and attach the bows. He has also printed some of the service sheets, these need folding and stapling together.

I bought a handbag, which I hope will go with my dress! My dress is at my parents’ house so I cannot match them up. I have also arranged to see the hairdresser next weekend to have a practice with my hairstyle and to get my haircut.

Rob spoke to the vicar and has arranged a time for the wedding rehearsal and we are in the process of letting the people who need to attend know when it is.

We have also received some presents this week, so it is getting exciting!


6 Weeks To Go

Rob and I have both got colds so it is difficult getting things done.

It's also been a bit of a disaster week. The chief bridesmaid cannot attend the wedding rehearsal and neither bridesmaid was able to attend the hairdressing practice. My mum was also supposed to go to the hairdressing practice, but something else came up at the last minute. I went to get the rest of the ribbons for the place settings and they are out of stock and they do not know when any more will be available!! Finally, while we were in Sheffield sorting things out, our cat managed to get into the office room and has chewed up some of the service sheets!

On a more positive note, we have ordered the cake and arranged to collect it the week before the wedding. Rob's mum and I made the weights for the balloons at the reception. Rob and I met up with the friend who is taking the photos and sorted out some ideas.

I had my hair practice and was very pleased with the results.

It is very difficult keeping up with things at the moment, as my energy is very low.

I was asked if I am having a hen night. The answer is No, I need to conserve all my energy for the day itself.


5 Weeks To Go

This week has been a bit less hectic, but I have spent two days in bed so things could not be done anyway.

We finally managed to get the last of the ribbons to make the place settings.

I went shopping with my mum on Thursday to look for her outfit, but she did not find anything.

There are several people that we need to telephone to confirm details, but Rob has to do that, as I cannot hear very well so find using the telephone difficult.

We have printed some more service sheets to replace the ones that Timmy destroyed, but we have about another 70 to print and then they need stapling together.

I ordered a guidebook and map of Switzerland for the honeymoon from the AA online bookshop.

We have had some very hot weather this past week, and I just hope it is as nice as this in 5 weeks’ time!


4 Weeks To Go

This week has been quite hectic and I have not felt well, feeling tired, nauseous, dizzy, with headaches and pain. I feel that I cannot keep up with the pace now and I have to push myself, which is making me feel worse.

We were trying for nearly a week to make an appointment for the bridesmaids to have a practice run with their hair; for some reason the shop was closed, and there was a bit of a panic. Eventually I managed to get through and made the appointment. Then I had to arrange to get down to Sheffield so that I could go with them. We were in the hairdresser’s for over three hours, but their hair did look good.

We have now finalised the numbers for the daytime reception; there will be 97 including us. We have made most of the place settings now and my dad is working on a seating plan.

My mum managed to find an outfit, but still has to find a hat, shoes and a bag to go with it.

The map and guidebooks arrived, but we have not had time to look at them properly yet.

We asked if we could travel First Class on the trains during our holiday, but you have to ask for an upgrade a month before travel, so the travel agent said she would do this and ring us. It should have been done on Friday 18th, but we did not hear anything. Rob called in yesterday and found that no one had done it and that it could not be done till Monday morning. As it is on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, we may not get it. We don't really mind, but the travel agent promised she would not forget to make the call for us.

Rob contacted all the people we needed to speak to, except for the DJ; we still need to speak to him.

We went to see the steward at the golf club where we are having the reception to make final arrangements and change some of our requirements. We got some funny looks, as you are not supposed to go in the golf club in jeans, Rob had forgotten and turned up in a pair of jeans! But we did not get thrown out!

The flowers for the bouquets and buttonholes have now been ordered.

I need to get plenty of rest this week as I have really overdone it in the last few days.


3 Weeks To Go

This week has been much quieter wedding wise, but I am trying to keep on top of all the washing, housework, ironing etc. It is very tiring and I have been plagued with a sore throat and dizziness all week.

I finally persuaded Rob to vacuum the carpets, as I do not have the strength to use the vacuum cleaner. Rob hates any sort of cleaning and would rather live in the mess! I still have a lot of ironing to do, but will have to do it in bits as and when I feel up to it. As well as the everyday clothes there are things that need pressing ready for the holiday.

I bought a couple of new dresses this week to take on holiday.

Wedding wise I have spoken to my sister-in-law who is one of the ushers about her duties on the day.

Rob tried to collect his banns certificate from the local church, but the office was closed so he has to go back.

I have just wrapped the last of the presents, one for my uncle who is doing the reading, one for the friend who is arranging my flowers and one for the friend who is doing the photos.

We still have to print the rest of the service sheets and place cards and decide how everyone is getting from the church to the reception. I've been lying in bed at night trying to work out who can get a lift with whom!

I am getting very worried now about how I will cope on the day, I am so tired all the time and suffering with aches and pains. It is difficult to rest when things need sorting out as I end up thinking about them instead of resting! I will get through it somehow, but I don't want to feel too ill or tired.

My mum has booked me in for a therapeutic massage at the physiotherapist’s for the week before the wedding. I am really looking forward to it and hope it gives me some relief from the aches and pains and also relaxes me a bit.


2 Weeks To Go

I am rather fed up this week; I am extremely tired, in pain and suffering badly with dizziness. Everyone expects me to be full of life and really excited, but all I want to do is sleep – except I can't sleep! I am trying to rest as much as I can, but there is much to sort out. Rob has helped this week sorting some of the washing and some ironing.

When we first decided to get married, it was something for me to aim for, something to be well for, but now it is nearly here and I am still ill, it is rather depressing. I always hoped that getting married would be a turning point and that I would be able to sort my life out, but in reality all it is going to change at the moment is my name! I am very worried about how I am going to get through the day and there will be little chance to rest beforehand with all the packing to do and appointments to go to etc.

My sister-in-law and her mum came up the other day to confirm what I want for my flowers; I could not think straight and felt unwell so I don't think I was much help really. I have just spoken to them and told them that as long as they use the colours I want and the style I will leave the rest to them, they know more about flowers than me anyway!

Rob's mum wanted to come and stay this weekend, but we had to say no due to my health and the fact that the spare room is full of stuff for the wedding and going away. She is quite upset.

We are still printing and stapling service sheets and have the last few place cards to finish.

Rob has tried to get his banns certificate, but it has not been written out yet, so he can't have it until next week! We need to ring the vicar and let him know as we said we would send it by the end of May – we cannot get married without it.

I need to speak to people and confirm arrangements for the rehearsal.

We had confirmation that the holiday train travel has been upgraded to First Class!!

I can't decide what clothes to take with me and the current cold weather is not giving me much inspiration. I need to start making lists of what we need to pack; I am so worried that we will forget something.


1 Week To Go

Things are going from bad to worse at the moment. My claim for Severe Disablement Allowance has been refused and I have lost my job all in the same day! Just to add to this, my wedding rehearsal has been cancelled as the vicar is ill and my chief bridesmaid is in hospital in Cyprus!!

My health is no better; I am still in a lot of pain, very fatigued and dizzy. I have been having problems walking, so I am now worried that I may have difficulty walking down the aisle! I am sure something will get me through on the day, but it is not going to be easy.

I am having my massage tomorrow, so hopefully that will relax me and get rid of some of the pain.

I think everything is finished now; it's just a case of confirming arrangements, collecting things and taking stuff to the reception venue and paying people!

Rob finally got his banns certificate after queuing for nearly an hour at the church.

The rehearsal has been rearranged for Wednesday night, but not everyone can make it now.

I am having my legs waxed on Thursday, ouch!

I still have most of the packing to do and the house to clean, I don't know how I will fit it all in as I need plenty of rest too!!

I will let you all know how it all goes when I get back! Wish me luck!!


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