The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

Celebrating your Wedding Anniversary

on October 5, 2013

I am definitely that person who whoops with excitement upon hearing the announcement of an engagement. What is there not to love about someone’s happy news? Such great news is infectious and I think it would only be a true cynic who wouldn’t allow themselves to be swept along with the romance of it all even if statistics do say one in three marriages end in divorce.

As a child I never swanned around with a pillow case on my head dreaming of my own wedding because let’s face it, at that age it’s not about the getting married per se as for the chance to wear a nice, big Princess frock and that’s not something you get to do everyday. Today, when we see a radiant bride (and you see them an awful lot around Singapore, randomly having pre-wedding photo shoots about town), #1 and 2 will call out ‘Look Mummy, it’s a Princess’ and we’ll stop and admire her. They never call the Groom a Prince though.

Up until the age of 26, the weddings I had been to were of the Chinese banquet variety hosted by parents of the Bride/Groom or both. It never seemed unusual to me that guests would turn up, hand over a Lucky Red Packet to the hosts, sit down with whomever they chose, ate (usually ten courses), drank (always Carlsberg, a bottle of red wine and a bottle of Asti Spumanti – the height of sophistication), toasted the Happy Couple when they came to your table, ate some more, drank some more and left. All within three hours. That was quite normal. Of course for the Happy Couple, there’s a lot more traditional rituals that happen outside of the banquet celebration but the actual banquet celebration is mostly about the parents. Apparently in recent times there’s now a karaoke interlude during most wedding banquets. Lovely.

I think with your own wedding, there’s so much going on and emotions are running so high that a lot does pass you by in a haze. A very happy one though. Our wedding was a civil ceremony at Blackbrook House, Belper, Derbyshire (www.blackbrookhouse.com), a location inbetween where our families lived and London. It was an independent venue and we were lucky to stumble across it really because the owner, Lavinia, offered a bespoke service that helped us to combine some Chinese elements into our wedding which was important to me because I wanted my family to feel comfortable having only ever been to sit down and eat Chinese banquets before. I loved thinking about planning the wedding, a real legitimate reason to look through the Bridal magazines. Something you would never dare do before an engagement ring was on view for fear of being labelled weird or desperate. There’s also something deliciously voyeuristic about seeing what other Brides get up to from the properly ostentatious to the simple and fuss free. I like how everyone does it differently and I like how creative people can be. It may not be for you the amount spent on flowers or doves at dusk symbolising your ever lasting love but it’s their day so why not. Too much choice, like with all decisions, can send a Bride slightly mad and it can be so easy to be swept along with things when a very persuasive wedding planner gets in on the act. I think it’s best to know beforehand exactly what you want so that your day really is your day.

I’ve now been to many weddings and all hold a special memory. There’s the wedding where the bride gave an exceptional and funny speech but to do otherwise just wouldn’t be her. There’s the wedding where the bride wore an amazing amethyst jewel toned gown. There’s the wedding where the Groom wore a pale blue suit. There’s the wedding where the Bride wore five dresses and four were made by herself. There’s the wedding where the first dance was a classic House tune. There’s the wedding where the Grooms danced perfectly in synch. There’s the wedding where for years the Bride insisted the first song would be Glenn Medeiros but in the end it wasn’t. There’s the wedding where Ms Beefy was my plus one and stayed sober because I was preggers. There’s the wedding where only a privileged few were invited. All and many others have been unique and great occasions, thank you for inviting us to share your special day. Then there are the weddings I’ve missed out on because I’m out here in Singapore, I’m sorry for that too.

As it was my wedding day, then of course I’m going to say it was a great day! The things I remember quite clearly include that feeling of happiness when you see all the people who you love and mean something to you in one place; the look of pride and relief of Mr Li that finally at the age of 33, I was off his hands; the neverending smile my Mum had for me; the effort that Big Brother Li had made to come from Hong Kong with nephew #2 and my much loved Kowloon Aunt; the support of the Bridesmaids and Best Men; the effort of Our Jenn mobilising a busload of our family from Newcastle. Then there are the smaller details such as being unable to have pre-ceremony champagne for fear of the dreaded Chinese drinking ‘glow’ spoiling wedding photos; laughing inappropriately during the vows; not holding the bouquet at the correct height as detailed in the wedding magazines; being able to finally have a drink and get round to seeing everyone; the new mother in law taking away my gin and tonic when she deemed me suitably inebriated; nephew #2 asleep the whole way through the ceremony, no wonder it was so quiet; dancing to Kate Bush ‘Wuthering Heights’ with my Hairdresser. I could go on but just these memories makes me smile.

Then there are the things that I didn’t get to see such as Mr Steamer getting so steaming he had a nap on the lawn in the dark; my Hairdresser getting so steaming he orders a cab to the train station and back to the hotel because he forgot what he was doing there; Nana Moon and Ms Beefy getting so steaming they somehow end up with Uncle Monkey in their bed; a nameless guest getting so steaming he has a chew on my new Father in law’s ear in the hotel bar.

Like with most things, you only appreciate the effort that goes into organising a wedding when you’ve done it yourself and now I would take even more time to appreciate the flowers, the table settings, the entertainment and all the surprise elements carefully thought through by the Bride and Groom, it may be exactly what they want but it’s also to please us as their guests. People the Happy Couple have asked to share their day with and for me, there is huge appreciation for those who attended our wedding because it’s no small thing for people to make the journey and put in the expense to celebrate with you.

Our wedding celebrations then went on tour up to Newcastle where we celebrated with a Chinese banquet (sans karaoke) organised by Mr Li and Big Brother Li with 110 guests, most of whom I had never met before let alone Husband. It still puzzles me how Mr Li knows so many people for such a quiet man. This was a rather less glamorous affair, the Bridesmaids and I (one coming straight from school) got changed in the store room of the restaurant. Lovely. I have to say though that Richard Lee (www.richardleephotography.co.uk) did an excellent job of our second lot of wedding photos and most importantly made up for that missing shot of just me and the Bridesmaids that the Best Men were responsible for making sure happened at the Blackbrook House wedding but didn’t and it was typed up in the Bridezilla notes and everything for them. No, I’m never going to forget that Uncle Monkey.

Last month Breaking Bad actor, Aaron Paul, was quoted as saying ‘Marriage is easy’ but to be only four months into a marriage then I should hope that it still is. Marriage, like any long term relationship is not easy. Getting married is. Although when you’re in the midst of wedding planning and seemingly faced with a lot of choice and decisions and pressure then you may not think so. But I think getting married is the easy part as you bask in the warmth of all the well wishes as you make it publicly official the commitment you probably made to each other a long time before a precious gem was presented to you.

No one gives you advice on how to make for a successful marriage and what works for one couple would drive another apart but I have always been aware of the saying ‘a marriage needs working on’. What is meant by that? Surely if it needs working on then it’s not the right relationship and perhaps we shouldn’t be married after all. Whether you are married or happily unmarried in a long term relationship, at some point the unglamorous Big Life Issues come in to play and stir things up causing a temporary less harmonious partnership. Perhaps in previous relationships this may have sent you bolting out of the door. What makes it different now is that as the grown up, mature, people we are, we will stay and resolve these Big Life Issues as difficult as it may seem because the person we are committed to is worth all that we give up and compromise on. In the old fashioned order of things, most people get married before having children and the shock children bring to your otherwise ordered life is a huge adjustment. It’s now not just about you and Husband/Wife/Life Partner. Before children when you had the time, energy and finances to indulge in all sorts of fancy stuff to keep romance a bubbling of course relationships are easy. After children though when priorities change, your energy levels nosedive and finances are stretched, is when work is needed on the relationship that came first.

Today is our 6th Wedding Anniversary, mere fledgelings in the journey of married couples. Last night we went out for dinner to mark the occasion by ourselves and today we’ve been out for lunch to celebrate with #1, 2 and 3. We’ve dug out the wedding photographs to share with them and in doing so, reminded ourselves of what a special and meaningful occasion it was too. We’ve come a long way since then and we hopefully have a long way to go. It has been hard at times but that’s just life and it’s how we respond that matters. I’ll probably never fit into my wedding dress again, perhaps a good thing because there’s no guarantee that husband wouldn’t come home to find me just casually wearing it around the house just to get a better cost per wear out of it you understand.

I secretly hope that when we come to celebrate our tenth anniversary, we’ll be able to do so with our very special Bridesmaids and Best Men who made the whole journey a lot of fun and a lot less stressful.

Happy Anniversary Husband!

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