'Advice for my darling daughter on her wedding day. From, your mother who might not make it.'

To my beautiful daughter,

Today you asked me about how you should wear your hair at your wedding. You are only 11 years old and I love that you’re already thinking about these things. I was so similar to you as a child – I always liked pondering the future and thinking about things. I have said it before, I am an over thinker and a forward planner; I like to be prepared.

More than anything I want to see you grow up and to be at your wedding.

And that is why I’m writing you this letter. Because I have been diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer my future is uncertain. I cannot promise that I will be there even though I desperately hope to be. What I can promise is that you will be a stunning bride, you have such elegance and poise already.

You are a true classic beauty with your perfect peaches and cream complexion, your fairy-green eyes and your halo of curls. Those curls. They are beautiful. I love how they form natural ringlets. I could play with them for hours. I love stretching them out and watching them spring back into place.

Rachael and her beautiful daughter. (Image: Erin Neale Photography)

You, my darling, will look beautiful at your wedding.

You have such a sense of style and I know that whatever dress you choose, it will be one that is classic in style. It really is important to avoid fads and fashion. If you look at pictures of brides in the 1980s, they are full of ghastly big shoulder pads, meringue style dresses and giant hair. Look to icons like Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn if you need inspiration. Their look and style are timeless.

I have always preferred classic styles too. I loved my wedding dress. Strapless dresses were only just making a resurgence as a wedding style when I chose mine. I didn’t think I could wear a strapless dress as I am so pale but this dress was stunning. Something that is well-made and well-designed will always look good. I chose ‘The Grace’ in the end. I didn’t have any sequins or bling on my dress. It was simple, yet beautiful. I still love my wedding dress after 16 years of marriage. Its was called ‘blush’ - it had a slight pink tinge to it as it suited my skin better. I was told that few women can carry off a true white, but I think you need to have a more olive skin tone for that and we certainly don’t. We are two English roses.

LISTEN: "I do it for my daughter." The sacrifices we make for our children. (Post continues...)

While it is important to plan your wedding day, it is also important to plan your marriage. Too many brides get caught up in the big day and forget about planning for their new life together. It’s important not to get too caught up in every minute detail. I have known brides who have almost had a meltdown over finding the ‘right’ shoes or not being able to get the flowers they wanted at a particular time of year. I heard of one woman who had tulips flown in from overseas as they weren’t in season when she was getting married in Australia. That is such a waste of money. In case you were wondering, my bouquet was made up of roses, lisianthus and stephanotis. Your dad and I chose them together. My advice is don’t be too cheap but also don’t go overboard in spending at your wedding. Put some money towards buying a home instead.


You know I love a party and I love planning parties. Essentially your wedding reception is a big party so think of it that way. If you are happy and enjoying yourselves, your guests will too. I loved planning my wedding with your dad. We did it together and it was such an amazing night. Guests danced all night at our reception and it was so joyous to be swept along in the celebrations.

"I loved planning my wedding with your dad."(Image: Erin Neale Photography)

I wonder about who you will marry. My best advice is to choose wisely. Choosing to marry your dad was the best decision I ever made; no one else could have made me happier. I know you will have high standards and that’s not a bad thing. I think it’s important to tell you that no one is perfect though. It’s also important to tell you that people rarely change. Never marry someone thinking you can change them. You can’t. You are such a caring and compassionate person that I would hate for anyone to take advantage of your beautiful nature. Choose someone who treats you well, respects you, communicates clearly and can argue without being mean or belittling you. Choose someone who has similar interests and beliefs as you. Choose a reader otherwise they will never understand how you can get lost in the world of fiction. Choose someone who will make you laugh. Choose someone who believes in the sanctity of family and the important role family has in your life. Most importantly, choose someone who you will be able to grow with.

And so my darling girl, if I am not there at your wedding because life is not fair, I think you should show off those beautiful curls of yours.

Love always,


Rachael Neale is a 43-year-old woman who is married with two children aged 11 and 13. She is a senior English teacher and she loves life. Rachael was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer in July this year.

Photographs of Rachael are by Erin Neale.