Right. Hope that last one wasn't too awkward. Let's mend fences with a topic that usually makes people feel a bit mushy, shall we? Skip this, if you don't fancy a trip through saturated, overwrought and self-indulgent recollection of an event you didn't witness and perhaps only want to see photographs of.
P and assistants had spent the morning artfully arranging the bunting I so desired in trees at the venue. My mother had strewn the aisle with the petals of roses from her garden and the gardens of my great aunt, our family friend and my mother's friend's business's garden (they got a completely illicit thrill gathering the petals from the business as they did so after dark and assumed everyone around thought they were burglars. Who knew this business of flower harvesting was so darkly entertaining?).
I spent the morning getting beautified with my mother and sister, periodically squinting out the window at the weather, while P and friends battled with lemon and blue gingham bunting. I wish I could have seen them - there is almost nothing more genuine, touching and funny than grown men doing battle with aesthetic principles for a good cause!
The moment I arrived at the venue, the heavens opened. I watched through the trees from the car as people hustled inside to the alternative ceremony location (the tasting room of the winery, how appropriate for this relationship). I had been so calm up until that point, but at that moment I felt so terribly, terribly sad that I couldn't have what I'd been imaging: a wedding surrounded by trees followed by hugs and champagne in the sunshine. The minute I stepped out of the car, it didn't matter.
What I did have was a wedding indoors, with those I loved surrounding us closely, able to hear all the words. The side doors of the venue were open with the trees crowding in. Leftover petals had been hastily strewn over the exposed concrete flooring. I clutched Dad's hand tightly and sweatily, overjoyed.
My boss said to me that the most clear recollection of her wedding, some years ago, was the church doors opening. Everyone turned to look to her, and in that moment she was filled with the joyous realisation that everyone had come to celebrate with her and her new husband. I thought of her in that moment. I felt like there was time to look into everyone's eyes and smile, filled with exaltation that this was happening, that they were there and mirroring my joy. And then I saw P.
He was standing at the front, under a mirror that reflected our friends and family and my own beaming face. It's not fair to describe his face; a private, private moment witnessed by those we love dearly.
I am not a religious person; our civil ceremony was not long. I had believed that I did not need a legal tie to seal our union. What I underestimated was the power of words.
It was the highlight of the wedding for me. My sister's reading, selected partly to gently laugh at the idea of a reading and partly for sentimental reasons, caused my girlfriends to have to share the one square of toilet paper they had between them. She read beautifully through her tears and I was so proud. It transpired that the reading also meant a great deal to P's paternal family; unbeknownst to us, we had connected our wedding to a family member long gone. We so dearly wished we could have met him; serendipitous that we included him anyway.
Our vows. I had felt like a moron suggesting to P that we write our own. But I'm so, so glad that we did. He was funny, sincere and truthful. So funny, sincere and truthful that in fact I forgot myself and planted a kiss on him after he spoke them. I revelled in mine; I had not realised that saying those things out loud would mean so much.
There was more, so much more. But that's all for now.