Thursday, 8 December 2011

Our happily ever after

I am sat watching my husband - hee! - playing tug-of-war with Ender (our dog) and the toy frog that he (Ender) is very fond of, thinking how lucky and happy I am. I am also sat in my pyjamas, which have been my outfit of choice all day, due to a total systems failure after a week of wedding festivities and family frivolity. I have not been too well today, but no matter, we are now a full-blown husband-and-wife team, official both ceremonially and on paper, and are joyful even when I look like I've been dragged through a hedge backwards. That's what love is. Or part of it, anyway.

On the day itself, though, both of us were looking pretty spiffy. Ben was in his gorgeous suit, shiny new tie, and with newly man-scaped beard. I had spent the morning being thoroughly pampered by Ben's cousin's fiancé, Johnny, who made my hair look like something out of Cinderella (or A Cinderella Story, to be precise), along with making the whole thing fun and light-hearted (despite not being nervous as such, I was somewhat... highly strung?!), and sorting out all of the styles for my sisters-in-law, too. Our friend Elizabeth came along to do my nails, and Wren, my brother's wife, helped me into my dress - a fun affair resulting in me getting stuck with my arms flailing out the top at one point! I am nothing if not elegant.

Some married friends and acquaintances have told me that they don't remember their wedding day, or at least the ceremony. I think I remember quite a bit. I remember feeling manic and nervy until about 5 minutes before the ceremony. I remember we played some awesome music, and that Johnny was pleased that we had Blondie on one playlist. I remember wanting some space from all the getting ready noise in the dressing room, and hiding in the bathroom for almost ten minutes, taking my time to "clean my teeth" before returning to the main room in time to don the dress. I remember feeling uncomfortably under-dressed and a bit ridiculous in the moments before the dress made its way over my head, as I was stood in heels, underwear and wearing a tiara, fully made up with awesome hair and nails, in a room full of people. It was strange and a bit disconcerting! I remember how kind everyone was; checking in on what was needed, bringing us drinks, asking people to come to see us (I couldn't leave the room as Ben was at the venue, and we were trying to ensure we didn't see each other before the ceremony - about the only tradition we kept to!), and their general joy and sweetness. I remember how I asked for my parents to come in and see me before we went out, as we'd had no time together that morning really, and how happy it made me to share that moment with them. I remember being told it was time to go outside and get started. I remember feeling much, much happier once I was chatting with my Dad, and pleased to know that he enjoyed the music we'd chosen for the bridal party to walk to. I remember laughing and trying to walk slowly with Dad down the pathway to the gazebo and towards Ben. I was practically running, I think.

Ben and Steven, waiting for our arrival
Dad walking me down the aisle to Ben

And then I remember getting there. Dad "handed" me to Ben, asking him to take care of me, and sat down next to Mum in the front row. Then Ben and I stepped down to the bottom of the front steps to the gazebo, and turned to face where Steven (our officiant) would soon conduct the ceremony, until 'Arithmetic' came to an end. We talked, we laughed, we almost kissed (but didn't!), and I felt nothing but overwhelming happiness, looking at a man who is, was, and always will be, without doubt, the one man I truly love.

The ceremony itself was blissful. The sun shone; happiness radiated; the light was magical. I remember the feeling of warmth and a surreal but nevertheless believable sense of how utterly wonderful this day was, what it meant, for us. The ceremony was entirely of our own scripting - Ben and I wanted a secular ceremony, as we are both atheists, and we wanted something personal to us that also honoured the non-religious but nevertheless traditional aspects of the marriage ceremony - and we included two readings. The first, an excerpt from a Roland Barthes' 'A Lover's Discourse', was read by my dear friend Tim, who flew over from the UK to be with us for our wedding weekend. The second was read by my brother, and is a favourite sonnet of both me and Ben, written by the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. It's actually called 'I Do Not Love You', which probably sounds a little odd, but it speaks to the necessity, inevitability, and simplicity that being really in love entails.

After the readings, we declared our intentions, read our own vows (we both wrote them together, but separately), Steven blessed the rings, and then, after placing them on each other's ring fingers with the words, "With this ring, I thee wed", we were officially Mr. & Mrs. Lloyd. I'm lost for words again now - I remember feeling giddy and like it still wasn't quite all real - but I have to say, we did well with the first kiss. I think if you get heckled, you know you're doing it right.

You may now STOP kissing the bride. Whenever you're ready.

The rest of the day consisted of smiles. Everywhere. We were surrounded by gorgeous people who we love and love us; we were blessed with a warm, sunny day (in December!); we had an entire 12 hours of food, music, dancing, toasts, hugs, chats, wine; we had the most wonderful wife-and-husband photographers in Spanglish Studios; and we were also surprised by an alternative ceremony at our evening reception venue, The Wine Vault (officiated by the awesome Cassie, clad in wizard robe and hat), as well as our car and apartment having been glitter-bombed while we were out celebrating. Utter, utter joy. We are so lucky.

Photo by Spanglish Studios
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