We chose to view our wedding as the first day of our marriage. The marriage was - and remains - the main thing. And has been a work in progress since its 'launch' 26 years ago today.
On our respective Facebook pages, we are receiving the usual barrage of congratulatory messages, some of which imply that the success of our marriage is due to the 'fact' that we never argue.
We argue a lot. I mean can you really believe that someone who writes this opinionated blog is going to have an argument-free marriage? My husband is a strong-willed man. But, as Kate Reynolds (Téa Leoni) says in The Family Man, "I choose us."
So let's just unpick this for a moment:
- We got married on a shoe string budget. Neither of our parents had any money, so we paid for it ourselves.
- The ceremony was brief and to the point. It took minutes.
- It was held in my mother-in-law's granny flat above to my brother- and sister-in-law's house.
- I made the lunch (coq au vin) that followed, which was held downstairs.
- I made my own outfit out of fabric I bought from the designer I worked for (at staff discount) and it was something I could use again afterwards.
- My MIL made the cake.
- My SIL made the dessert (kiwi fruit pavlova) and took the photos.
- Bride and groom walked into the 'venue' together. We had no retinue (no bridesmaids or best men).
- We had no alcohol, due to the presence of one alcoholic and one recovering alcoholic.
- Just family and very close friends were in attendance - fewer than 30 people in all.
- To be honest, there are things I would do differently if I were to do it over again - it was one of the most stressful days of my life, because I took too much on myself.
By the end of the ceremony we were just as married as anyone who has spent £15000 (because that's apparently the current UK average according to figures cited on Radio 4 the other day) on the ceremony. Our 4-day honeymoon in a small-town hotel a couple of hours' drive from the city was lovely, too, in spite of the fact that we both got food poisoning on our last day!
Many of our friends and family have had magnificent productions on their wedding day. And I confess to occasional twinges of envy. But we started our married life without the massive debts that can result from the lavish event. We were stone broke, but we were stone broke together and everything we have today, we have acquired together.
Something else that I've noticed is that planning the wedding can become so much the focus of the relationship that, once the wedding is over, some couples can feel quite bereft. Everything happened so much faster for us, that we didn't have time to develop that level of attachment to the occasion. We had been planning to get married in December 1988. But we realised at one point in April that we had no reason to wait - there wasn't going to be additional budget or resource freed up during that time. So we gave ourselves six weeks to bring the whole thing together and got on with it.
So, much like a lot of projects, we had very little time. We had next to no money. We weren't in a position to produce anything shiny. We didn't have a big team of professionals, or an outsourced vendor. We faced a lot of opposition and naysayers who told us that it couldn't and/or shouldn't be done. We were a pair of amateurs who had never done this before, and were too naïve to realise how utterly ill-suited we were to the task at hand (or each other, come to that). We had a few (unpaid) helpers, some willing, some decidedly not so.
We have had better, worse, richer, poorer, sickness and health. We have had disasters, catastrophes, we have had slow-burning, insidious challenges. But we stubbornly resolve every time to release a patch, an update.
The project had a rather inauspicious start by average standards. But it is enduring, because the team is committed. :)