Ben and I originally met though my ex, although it was four years until we actually ever spoke to each other. We vaguely knew who each other was, but had never really spoken because we were in our own worlds and other relationships at the time. Funny thing was we even went to the same high school and most likely had brushed past each other over a hundred times but never knew each other existed.
The first time we got together was Christmas 1998 at a friends party. I had no idea who was going to be there. Then there he was. It was like meeting him for the first time. Hot flushes, nervous giggles. I couldn't believe this cute guy wanted all my attention!
I wasn't looking for love when we met. I was 18, fresh out of school and not long out of a long harsh relationship. The last thing I wanted was Mister Right but he fell at my doorstep and I sure as hell wasn't going to turn him away!
In February 2002 Ben decided we were going on a holiday. All I was told was to bring a change of clothes for the week, togs, and a nice dress. On the night of Valentines, we had a stretch limo to Cowrie where we had a stunning sea food course with sparkling white wine. He kept staring at me all night I got paranoid I had something on my face, to which he answered, "Can't I stare at the one I love?" he looked so nervous. I thought it was the sea food!
After dessert, we were taken back to our cottage where we then left for a walk along the beach. He then stopped, told me how special I was to him and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, got down on one knee and proposed. There was a beaming beach light behind me, which reflected on Ben and the beach like the perfect moonlit night. I was so happy and excited I squealed, jumped up and down and said yes. Of course I hugged him. We were so lost in the moment that we totally forgot about the ring until we were about to walk back to our cottage. It was perfect.
We had over a year and a half to book and prepare our wedding. We didn't start for a while though. Most of the organising was done in spurts up until the last 6 months. From there most of my time and energy was spent on the wedding.
The best part of the planning was the menu selection for the reception and choosing my dress. The food was just all to die for so it was hard, but fun. My dress was by far the easiest because it was the first one I tried on. I did try on others, but it I kept on going back to it in my head so I knew it was the one.
I had a lot of trouble at the beginning of my preparations just trying to find people to rely on and trust. I had a final falling out with a woman I called my best friend who I had always dreamt of being my Maid of Honour and then the other two bridesmaids pulled out February 2003. I was emotionally shattered and lost. My mother kept telling me it was times like this that you really find out who your friends are....and she was right. It was in fact these times that the people that really cared for Ben and I really came through.
Being the first of five in my family, I was the first to get married so we had to get it right. As you can imagine there were quite the arguments on whose wedding this actually was (apparently not mine!!), how it was to be done and so on. I am definitely glad it's all over now so we can all be human again with each other.
I surprisingly had a really good sleep the night before. No stimulants to help me sleep either! I think I was awake for half an hour just sitting up in my bed just gazing at my dress with a silly smile on my face before my dad came to wake me. Then the hair and make up ladies informed us they were 1/2 hour late, and then they didn't start for another half hour. I was the most serene during this time! My bridesmaids were way more nervous and anxious than me. I was just so happy the day was finally here.
I had arranged to borrow some jewellery from one of my bridesmaids...but on the day we decided none of them really went with my dress. They were gorgeous antiques but just simply clashed. So I used a crystal necklace I had bought for my hens, but still had no earrings...Dad was going to the shops so I had to think quick. I asked him to pop down to the local crystal jewellery shop while he was at Castle Towers. I gave him some money and a very brief description of what I needed. He came back no later than an hour later with his groceries...and my earrings. They were absolutely perfect.
Then it was my turn to get ready. Almost the whole 6 months I have been the same body weight. I especially took note the last month before the wedding and I swear I never moved a kilo. Then come the wedding day, I ate and drank plenty...but when it came my turn to sit in the hot chair, I must have sweated out all the calories and energy I had! My clothes were absolutely soaking when I changed into my dress (for which I was only wearing a G under. So when I slipped my dress on, it was loose!!
I was just about speechless in the car on the way over to the church. I couldn't stand looking at my dad much. My throat was so choked up with emotion and anxiousness, then when I tried to speak or look at him, I almost lost every time.
We had a Nuptial Wedding at St Michael's Catholic Church, Baulkham Hills. My father's Uncle was the Celebrant, so it was very simple, personal and meaningful.
When I got down the aisle, I couldn't look at Ben. I didn't hear a word the priest said. It was like I had gone deaf. I was totally consumed in the moment and in utter disbelief that it was all happening. I, Leanne Collins, was actually getting married to Ben. I was so happy I was stunned! Once we said our vows, I was the happiest woman on earth and returned back to earth.
I was in my element. Everything I planned, happened. Everything I wanted I got. Everything I dreamed, I had. The one man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with was beside me, holding my hand, just as happy as me.
We had a dinner reception at Leichhardt's Le Montage. There are truly not enough words to describe the night we had. We had been there a few times before for dinner and had seen the room, but nothing could prepare us for what we were to experience. It really blew us away. Not one thing went wrong or didn't happen that was supposed to. I just wish we had a video camera to record everything! It was romantic, stylish, suave and sophisticated. I kept everything in theme, red and white. All chairs had a white satin covering with a bow, white tablecloth, and a red rose centre piece. Organza and fairy lights were looped on the ceiling, with the matching organza and fairy lights draped behind the bridal table. The room was simply stunning. My dream reception. I truly felt like a princess marrying her prince.
The day was perfect, simple, elegant, traditional and an everlasting memory. However, like many others before us have said, it just went too fast!
For our honeymoon, we went to Palm Cover for three nights, staying at Angsana Resort and Spa. Then we went to Green Island for 5 nights. It was by far the best holiday we have ever been on. The weather was constantly around 30 degrees and always humid. We snorkelled every day and went to all the sights. Would love to go there again.