Ooookay people… Saturday the 21st September was a day on which the sun shone brightly and watched by our closest family and friends Craig and I started out on our journey together as man and wife.
It is only now, some weeks later, that we have finally arrived at a place of reflection. There is no doubt that the fact that we are both of a more mature vintage than your average bride and groom has inevitably meant, that excitement of this magnitude has proved to be delightfully exhausting. However, whilst the benefits of having more years behind you than in front of you might not seem to be particularly obvious, it does at least mean that we have both learned how to savour each and every precious moment as they present themselves. We have not yet seen our ‘official’ wedding photographs but hope that those above will impart a flavour of what was a very special day.
Both Craig and I had exactly the kind of day we had hoped for which, probably owed a lot to the haphazard way in which it was planned if, indeed, any real planning was involved at all. During the months which preceded it, I was frequently assured that a high level of stress is compulsory when organising an event such as a wedding. However, those of you who know me, already understand that I simply do not possess a sense of urgency about anything much, preferring to spring into action only at the point when ignoring what needs to be done is no longer a viable option. Add to this the fact that I also have a Jayne and a Savana then becoming ‘stressed out’ to use a popular vernacular is a state that becomes increasingly superfluous to requirements. Jayne’s expert manipulation of a spreadsheet is the stuff of legend and Savana, a wonderful step mum to my gorgeous grandsons is inclined to make even the organisational skills of the late Margaret Thatcher look lame by comparison.
During the very few moments when Craig and I tried to expand on what we would like to happen during our wedding, we were only ever able to talk about the things we didn’t want.
‘Who will be seated at the top table’ was a question we could only parry with ‘what top table? The dress code was another enquiry we encountered frequently with some of our guests not wishing to clash with the wedding party in their choice of attire. Clash??! Quite how you would manage that particular feat when the bride is approaching sixty-years-old, overweight and wearing her best GOWNS tiara was not something I had bothered to concern myself with to be honest, but I did appreciate the consideration from those who had. The best guidance we felt we could offer on this one was that nudity might be a bit of a stretch but anything else from dungarees to haute couture was absolutely fine.
Let them eat cake? I mean who actually eats any of it? but we were advised that the ‘cake’ is still a popular wedding tradition so I pressed a few buttons on-line, ordered a three-tier jobby from M&S decorated it (and I use that particular term in the loosest sense) with a few bits and bobs from Hobby Craft and ordered a larger pair of spandex for myself.
Had the whole red velvet ensemble collapsed in a heap at our feet as we made that traditional first cut, it would, in any event, have matched our colour scheme. Not that we had originally planned a colour scheme, more like one seemed to emerge after imbibing several bottles of wine, which served to convince me and Craig that our ideas were nothing less than sensational.
Charged with the task of sourcing hats for the boys that didn’t make them look like Freddy ‘parrot face’ Davies, or as if the mysterious ‘Piffy on a rock bun’ had landed, not as easy as you might imagine, Savana was a little less enthusiastic. As always though she rose to the challenge to ensure that our lovely boys looked amazing.
My final choice dress eventually found its way out of the filing cabinet in my office, though by the time I put it on for the wedding I realised that it could have been a bin liner and I would have been just as happy. Becoming Craig’s wife was all that mattered… though I might have drawn the line at wearing anything other than my sparkly blue heels.
Having been able to identify what we wanted the least, the things that had eluded our scant planning process in terms of what we did want, began to reveal themselves in spades during the precious hours of the 21st September. To see the faces of all those who, because ‘life’ sometimes gets in the way, we don’t get around to seeing as much as we should, was something not easily put into words.
Even now some weeks later I can still feel my sisters touch as she wrapped her arm tightly around my own and prepared to give me to my awaiting husband to be. That simple embrace spoke volumes about her unconditional support of this new chapter in my life but, was also able to convey an acknowledgement of the importance of all that had preceded it too.
I remember Craig and I gripped each other’s hands to the point that they began to assume the same hue as my navy blue dress, but was because we wanted to savour every moment by hanging onto each of them as tightly as we could.
We managed to exchange our vows without shedding a tear though, there were a few close shaves during the ceremony. When it came to the point at which we were seated to sign the register I reached out to my grandson for my glasses without which I couldn’t have seen to order a takeaway let alone sign a legal document and I noticed that Craig’s son Jack, was sobbing uncontrollably.
Fearing that this might be because he felt that our marriage signified that he was somehow losing the father he adores I was sad that I couldn’t provide him with reassurances to the contrary. When the opportunity finally did arise to extend a comforting arm towards Jack, he was quick to share with me the poignant reason for his apparent despair. All three boys wore the most fabulous navy blue patent leather winkle pickers to go with their navy suits. Somehow, two of them had picked one shoe of each size meaning that the smaller shoe that Jack had been left with no choice but to force on as a consequence, was crippling him to the point of tears. The fact that Kayden was also wearing odd shoes provided an explanation as to why he had been walking around like an Emperor penguin for most of the proceedings. The best memories are made in a million ways.
Jayne had asked if she could say a few words and I knew that as she stood beside me quite literally quivering from head to foot that now was the time for me to ‘man up’ or risk a serious eyeliner malfunction and possibly shrinking her already diminutive frame in the process.
As someone who prides herself in a modest ability to communicate what I am thinking or feeling I am oddly at a loss to describe what having Jayne with me on my wedding day (and her fabulous plus one!) meant to me. There is no doubt in my mind that our paths were destined to cross and I credit her for more than she probably knows or understands. Her witty and wise words summed up our friendship and journey more eloquently than I ever could. Not everyone would be willing to embrace my daft idea’s, dress up to make ridiculous video’s or even acknowledge that humour has a part to play in grief, but Jayne did and I will remain forever in her debt for her love, support and continuing valued friendship.
As I look back on the ingredients of an imperfectly perfect day, the food was crap, the speeches before Jayne’s were hilarious though not always for the right reasons! People cried for all sorts of different reasons, the DJ asked me what motorbike Craig rode being an avid biker himself, to which I could only reply that it was a red one. My best friends children who understood how much the death of their mum was likely to affect me on my wedding day, brought her picture with them so she could be there in our sights as well as in our hearts. Our little bridesmaid Poppy did a splendid job of waving her magic wand over all the guests, but the real spellbinding magic of that day was that Craig and I got exactly what we wanted, each other and the kind of memories that money can’t buy. Thank you all…for all that you are.
I dedicate this blog to my ‘favourite’ aunty Beryl who passed away whilst I was on honeymoon at the age of 88 years. She was always a huge inspiration to me and faced life with fortitude, bravery and her infectious humour and love of others. I will miss you always xxxxxx