Best Days of Our Lives…

I’m off to a wedding this weekend. The wedding will, I know, be emotional. They always are but this one is particularly special, for reasons I won’t go into here.

I’ve got a new dress and shoes, and I plan to get merry, dance my socks off and enjoy spending time with some lovely friends. I am absolutely confident that the happy couple, Martin and Clare, will have an incredible day. I can’t wait to help them enjoy it.

Inevitably, I’ve been reflecting on my own wedding day, seven years ago.

They say your wedding day is (or should be) one of the best days of your life. Now, at the risk of causing upset, I don’t think mine even makes it into my top five.

That’s not to say it wasn’t one of the most memorable days of my life – but that’s a different category all together.

“Best”, for me, means a day that you wouldn’t change any part of; that you wish you could relive over and over again. I’ve had lots of them. My wedding day wasn’t one.

Before you feel sorry for me (people generally think your wedding day should be the best day of your life, or somehow it says something bad about you, or your nearest and dearest, or your relationship) please let me explain.

My wedding day was filled with raw emotion, love and a huge amount of happiness. But I was actually a bit too emotional and too wiped out from organising it in a few short weeks to honestly enjoy it properly – and with hindsight I’d change quite a lot of it. I’d get a different DJ for starters. And make sure the wedding music worked properly. And organise a better evening buffet. And invite a few different people. And give people a bit more notice.

I had a lovely morning with family and friends, getting my make up and hair done, being waited on hand and foot, posing for photos and generally having a relaxing time with my darling mum and dad and being looked after by my sister.

Then came the big moment – and the best bit of the day, by far, was the actual ceremony. Richard and I had already been together for over a decade when we finally got married  – but it felt like an incredibly charged first date.

He blubbed, I blubbed; it was brilliant! Even our little boy, the ringbearer, blubbed (but that might have been because he was confused; he couldn’t tell who the woman in the white dress was – and why was she kissing his dad?). We had touching readings from close friends, and it was all just as I wanted it to be.

But after that, well, it was a bit of a blur to be honest. I don’t do “centre of attention” very well. Once the wedding ceremony was over, I felt ecstatic – and then weirdly deflated.

We were whizzed off for photos, when I just wanted to sit with my special friends and my mum and dad and have a giggle. It was lovely to see so many people from our pasts and present together, but I worried whether everyone was having a nice time and didn’t relax enough to enjoy the experience. It took a few (lots of) drinks to get into the party spirit, and by the time I was ready to kick on, at about 1.30am, everyone else (including my lovely hubby) was chilling out. That’s always been my problem…timing.

So it was a memorable day, of course – but the best of my life? Sorry, but a few others come higher up my list.

This is not said from bitterness, or in the wake of separation. Quite the opposite, actually. Every day I wake up next to my hubby and thank my lucky stars that I found such an amazing, gorgeous, funny and loving man who, for reasons that evade me still, wants to spend his life with me. Every day he makes me proud to be his wife.

And it’s probably because we have such an amazing life together that I have so many alternative “best days” that I can’t make room for my wedding day!

Now, at the risk of being controversial, the birth of my firstborn isn’t in my top five best days either – but the birth of my second son is. This is nothing, of course, to do with the boys and how I feel about them individually. It’s simply that the two experiences, while ending in the same dramatic style, were like chalk and cheese.

Both births were traumatic; both resulted in potential calamity, with both babies in desperate trouble for different reasons and both requiring extraction via emergency caesarean. Both births, thankfully, resulted in healthy, beautiful, adorable boys.

But the whole day of the birth of Felix was traumatic and awful and something I never felt in control of. I was sick, panicky and distraught. The birth of Oscar, five years later, was everything I wanted (except for the emergency bit). The whole day was calming, funny and an absolute joy (despite similarly intense levels of difficulty, pain and frustration).  Life’s strange, isn’t it?

The rest of my “best days”? Well, I could go on all day listing them all, but I will begin to sound like Judith Chalmers reporting on her best holiday experiences, or a smug cow telling you about all the amazing things I have seen and done. But suffice to say they involve elephants. And a tall ship. And hippos. And parascending. And tents. And water, lots of water. And doing scary things. And doing simple things. And sometimes doing nothing, just watching other people doing stuff.

But they all have one thing in common – they were all days I got to share with people I love; people who mean the world to me; people I would give my life for. And people who I gladly and thankfully share my life with, not just show it to.*

So, Martin and Clare, here’s hoping your wedding day makes it onto the shortlist of the best days of your lives. But if it falls short for any reason, don’t stress – it’s just because you’ve been living best days together for years already.

*The now famous quote “I want someone I can share my life with, not just show it to,” comes courtesy of Martin L, circa 1992, when dumping a long distance girlfriend.

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