When we got back to the farm, J and I posed for a couple of photos by the car, and then parted. I met the hair and make up ladies, who had been having a cuppa while waiting for me, and we went up to the room.
I hadn't realised the importance of this time - the reason there are so many photos of people getting ready when you see wedding photos online. There aren't many rituals in life now, especially for the non-religious. But this time - I felt the weight of ritual; the importance of what we were doing. I felt like I was taking part in something significant and old. Most of these hours were spent quietly, with only some music on at the very end. I enjoyed the quiet very much.
My mum and J's mum had their make up done while my hair was put in rollers, and then I was made up and dressed. Best ladies popped in and out with logistical questions and moral support - and also with a big bag of snacks. I love the photo of everyone looking at the photo album (a gift from hen party friends with photos and words from each, given to me by best lady G the night before to read "once you're in bed, before you go to sleep") and tucking in.
My friend A, who was doing a reading in the ceremony, came up with a sixpence for my shoe. My lovely auntie came up and cried and hugged me over and over.
Hannah the photographer came and went, as did Adam the videographer, documenting this quiet time. Eventually, all best ladies came and said that it was time for them to go up the hill, to string some bunting a few minutes ahead of time. I asked one of them, Liv, to stay with me.
When I had been helped into my dress and my veil had been pinned on, Liv bought up my flowers and dried them off. "Do you want to see yourself in the mirror?" asked the hair lady. I hadn't even considered what I looked like, with no big mirror in the room, I'd only seen my face. I went to the mirror in the corridor and stood silently for a few seconds.
That was me, sure enough. Cool dress, great hair, lovely make up. Incredible flowers. Veil, shoes, the works. I looked like a pretty awesome version of me. I said only one word...
And everyone in the room, who had evidently been holding their collective breaths in silence, started laughing. "We thought you'd started crying," said the hair lady. My dad came up to see me, and I remembered to put the sixpence in my shoe (where it promptly fell out, and was reinstalled in the bouquet).
Someone suggested that it was time to go down. "Is there anyone down there?" I asked, suddenly wondering if the guests had arrived. Liv looked at me and laughed again: "Claire, everyone is down there!"
Make up: Carly at Another Little World in Yeovil in Somerset - uses only natural mineral make up. Brilliant brilliant brilliant. And also so sweet, lovely - such wonderful company during that time. She even bought me a little present - a wooden heart with the word 'love' on it which she left for us to find after the wedding.
Hair was by Kim Lane of Signature Hair in Somerset. Now she doesn't have a website and all I have is an email address and phone number, which I'm not sure I should put online. So if you want a brilliant hairdresser based in Somerset, drop me a line and I'll put you in touch with her.
The dress was by the wonderful wonderful House of Mooshki, and as you know, was won in their incredible Christmas 2011 competition, in association with Love My Dress. Gratitude does not cover it. I love them.
Flowers by Marsh Mallow Flower Design, also in Somerset. Aren't they goddamnned awesome? Bec at Marshmallow is a genius.
And as ever, all photos by the genius Hannah Dornford-May