Nichola Tuohy, 46, will likely never forget her wedding day. For very different reasons than for most women.
In 2014, the mom of three and care worker from Hornchurch, Essex, met online with her future love Darren Ferne, 40, a customer services adviser.
In just five weeks Darren proposed.
“I was in love and blown away, but it was too soon,” Tuohy told The Sun. “So when he asked again three months later, on Valentine’s Day 2015, I said yes. He was my perfect man.”
They set the wedding day for July 9, 2016, and began the preparations, expecting 80 guests.
The day before the ceremony, they had the rehearsal.
“When the vicar said, ‘You may kiss the bride’, and Darren kissed me, I felt ecstatic,” Tuohy said. “It had gone perfectly and the best part was we got to do it all again for real the next day.”
They never did.
The wedding day was hectic.
“I woke with a huge panic about how much I had to do,” Tuohy said.
First stop: Makeup. She was booked at a local department store.
It took longer than she expected, but the bigger problem was Tuohy wasn’t satisfied.
“When it was done it didn’t look like me. I wanted to cry. I felt like an extra from Towie [semi-reality show],” she said.
She only had 90 minutes before the ceremony was to start.
She decided to go home, wash off the makeup, and do it herself.
When she got home, she found out her parents and two younger children, Grace Isabella, 8, and Max, 7, hadn’t left for the ceremony either.
The parents didn’t approve of the wedding and decided they wouldn’t go. And so it was up to Tuohy to get the children to the ceremony too.
She packed them in a car and drove to the hotel where she planned to get all of them ready in her room. But she couldn’t get in. There was a payment issue. Another delay.
“I was in tears at this stage as I could see the clock ticking and knew I didn’t have long to get myself and the kids ready,” she said.
Finally, they let her in. Then she realized: she’d left Grace’s flower girl dress at home.
“I started crying. I had a bare face, no makeup on, no dress on, no flower girl dress, and half an hour to get ready,” Tuohy said.
She looked at her phone. She got a text. It was from her bridesmaid—she couldn’t make it to the wedding because her children were sick.
Battered by her misfortunes, Tuohy called Darren, in tears.
Darren was at the church with her oldest, Alexander, 20. Guests were already getting seated.
Darren told her to hurry up.
“That just stressed me even more,” Tuohy said.
With 30 minutes to go, Tuohy decided to put herself, the children, and her dress in the vintage wedding car that was waiting to take her to the church. She would put the dress on when she got there. Then she realized the vintage car had no seatbelts.
“It was only supposed to be taking me, but now I had the kids I knew I couldn’t put them in a car with no seat belts,” she said.
She would have to drive her own car. She would first need to calm down. The church was 20 miles away. “I didn’t have a hope in hell unless I drove like Lewis Hamilton,” she said.
It started to dawn on her that she wouldn’t make it.
“I had a wave of panic and, exhausted, I just lay down defeated,” she said. “My heart sank when I realised I’d missed my own wedding. I had jilted my groom without meaning to.”
Tuohy returned home. She picked up the flower girl dress and, with her wedding dress still in the trunk, drove straight to the reception.
“Darren was livid,” she said. “He’d been left standing in front of the guests, pleading with the vicar to wait but there were more weddings taking place.”
When the DJ came asking for payment, Darren just walked out.
“In the end, there was no big showdown—we just drifted further apart and split up,” Tuohy said. “I knew it was because of the wedding and so did he. I just hope that one day he can forgive me.”