This Saturday in a brief but miraculous absence of rain, I got married. A totally different kind of adventure to the ones I’ve been writing about here, but an adventure nonetheless. For years now I have declared marriage unnecessary, pointing out that three children and a mortgage are commitment enough, and who needed a bit of paper and a cake (I agree that it is unlike me to belittle cake,) to prove that we loved each other? I also developed a phobia of formal weddings – the word ‘favour’ practically brings me out in a rash, and any mention of a seating plan induces paranoia. But over the last few years I’ve chilled out a bit. (I’ve also started to like fruitcake and marzipan a bit more. Just saying.) And so, last year, after a heady night of red wine and tapas, Richard said he had something to ask me, and I grudgingly muted the repeat of Miranda I was watching long enough for him to propose, beautifully.
And the wedding was beautiful too, even more lovely than I expected. I wore a Jane Austen-ish dress (I have ALWAYS wanted to do this, in order to indulge my ‘Emma’ fantasies, but I find it’s a tricky look to pull off in everyday life.) The children were all very excited to be involved, and were delighted to be bridesmaids and a paige boy. I took as long to choose the readings as normal brides take to choose the dress -it took me all of one trip to Monsoon and 30 seconds looking around to choose the dress – and months to pick two extracts from books for Richard’s sister to read at the ceremony. We walked out of the church to New Order’s True Faith, a track that Rich put on the first compilation he made for me, and which kind of sums up what I think about marriage. We had a boozy version of afternoon tea in the church hall afterwards whilst the children ran riot with balloons and hula hoops. It was all strangely wonderful.
I was so happy that Sarah was there, calming me down, being my bridesmaid, decorating the hall and washing up glasses for hours on end, and it reminded me how well we work together. Although work talk was mostly banned in the run up to the ceremony, we found ten minutes (obviously all of our plans are meticulously thought out,) in Luscious Juice Bar to make some more exciting plans for a slightly different direction for Sarah&Alice, of which more to come, when I’ve come out of my Jane Austen/New Order/ pink fizz haze and got down to some work!
But before I de-haze, the readings that we picked, eventually, (well, it took so long to choose I thought I may as well use them twice!) were these:
“Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.” – Erica Jong
“Live each day as if it’s your last’, that was the conventional advice, but really, who had the energy for that? It just wasn’t practical. Better by far to be good and courageous and bold and to make difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance.” David Nicholls, One Day.
I still don’t think marriage is essential, and I still don’t like the idea of very formal weddings. But I do think marriage is a great way of saying: “I know you never put your shoes away, or know where your keys are, and are a bit obsessive about the Tour de France/Grazia/Midsomer Murders, but I still want to spend our time together. I’ve watched you (me, obviously,) give birth three times and no it wasn’t pretty but I can still look at you without the flashbacks. And we may shout at each other quite a lot, and have a house in need of total renovation and three lively children but I am taking the time to tell you, in front of these people, that I love you anyway.”