It was pretty much the happiest day of my life.
Last weekend, we returned to celebrate our four-year anniversary, but to also retrace our steps and memories of that wonderful day.
Although many women - and, indeed, girls - dream of their wedding day, I did not. The thought of wearing a white dress and walking down the aisle in front of a large audience (some of whom I might not even know) and saying my vows to this audience - words that were so personal and important to me - made me recoil.
Thankfully, we had understanding parents, and aside from the casual, "So, I'm getting married this weekend" email before, we didn't make much fuss of it (though we did celebrate a few months later with receptions on both sides of the pond, in Seattle and Oxford).
But that day in Llandudno, and our subsequent stay at the beautiful Bodysgallen Hall (where we had stayed before), will remain imprinted in my memory forever. It was an unseasonably warm, October's day; I remember the sun breaking through the clouds as we emerged from the ceremony for the photos by Llandudno Pier.
And that's why I'm a little hesitant to tell you about this place. Because it's special. It's mine. I mean, it's not particularly glamorous: several of the once-grand hotels that line the pier now stand empty and derelict. But it's lively and full of character. The pier was bursting with families this weekend. Mothers shouting at children, children jumping on bouncy castles, bouncy castles constructed so that it looked like the giant slide would send you right into the sea ... it was busy.
But as I walked down the pier, hand in hand with John, the edges sort of blurred and I couldn't hear the noise as it happened around me. Instead, I remembered exact places where we had our pictures taken; the man who passed us while walking his dog and wished us the best of luck; the view of the Great Orme behind us as we climbed into spinning teacups in our formal dress for another photo opportunity.
I became obsessed with marking my memories: "This is where we ate fish and chips afterwards!" "This is where the antique fair was held, remember? When the registrar was late?" "This is where we took that photo!"
This time, we did something we didn't have time to do that day: we took the cable car (the longest cable car in Britain, apparently) to the Great Orme summit, and stared out at the misty landscape. For a few, blissful minutes, it was completely and utterly silent (until tourists gathered behind us began to chat excitedly).
At Bodysgallen, we stayed in the sweet Garden Cottage - one of eight, secluded cottages scattered amongst the grounds. Because we arrived late on Friday evening, we ordered room service as soon as we were shown in. Wolfing down the type of sandwiches that might be made if you snuck down to the kitchen of a grand house at 12:00 a.m., we scurried to the bar in the main house, where we had drinks by the roaring fire and laughed at the absurdity of London life when this existed.
During the walk back to the cottage, we craned our necks up to the sky and saw a blanket of stars - something we never see in London, thanks to light pollution. We spun in circles with gravel crunching under our feet, looking for Orion, while identifying the Big Dipper and, yes, even the Milky Way.
The next day, after a leisurely breakfast enjoyed with views over the grounds and a newspaper at the table, we walked to Conwy and came across a small food and crafts fair, where we left as new, unwitting members of the Woodland Trust, before returning to Bodysgallen to dress up and get ready for dinner (Bodysgallen is one of the few hotels I've stayed in that has a dress code for dinner, and I secretly love it).
I slept the best sleep I'd had in weeks last weekend; tucked up in layers of blankets in the Garden Cottage. A small porthole window above the bed gently roused us the next morning, as did the birds settling in the trees just outside our door.
The day of our departure, we walked again and again through the impressive gardens, pointing out plants that were familiar to us after a summer full of our own garden redesign, and pausing to sit in one of the many secluded benches in total silence - holding hands, while admiring the main house. Not usually one for clichéd sentiments, I turned to John and said, "You know? I think we'll still be coming here when we're 80." There was a slight pause, before he responded wistfully with, "I wish that was my house. And that no one else lived in it. And that I had Sky Sports."
Who said romance was dead, eh?
This post was part of November's Travel Link-Up, hosted by Angie, Emma and Jamie. Head over to their blogs to read more posts about "A perfect ..."