I am lost for words. A word. Which I’m not very often. But there you have it. I’ve been sitting here a good twenty minutes now, and I simply do not know where to start.
Not that I’m light on ideas. Because what is a wedding, if not a rich seam of anecdotal gold? So, even as Moss Bros said the immortal words “we’ve lost your husband’s suit”, I remember thinking what a paradox it was that such a major inconvenience could be such a blessing.
Heaven knew, I could write screeds about the business of wedding attire generally and how we flap too damned much about things that don’t matter. Pete needed a suit. Pete has several suits. And as Father of The Groom (and I think these were his actual words) nobody ‘would give a flying one’ where he even WAS, let alone what suit he was wearing.
Then, the next day – the day before the wedding, to be specific – I thought ‘blow me, this really IS a gift’.
Well, where ‘gift’ can be translated as follows. ‘Driving to Oxford, via Bristol Airport, to collect Georgie and her boyfriend Llŷr off their morning flight from Geneva (they are both currently working in the alps) but having them emerge through the arrivals door sans luggage. Then finding out that said luggage is still in Geneva and might or might not make it to the UK on a later flight, and if not, sorry an’ all – it’ll be Tuesday.’
How well I remember, even as I gaped at the airline’s idiosyncratic relationship with the term ‘customer service’, what a gift this little gem would eventually be.
How well I remember, as we begged for food in a local pub, on Mothering bloody Sunday, how the five hours in Bristol would eventually become part of an ‘oh, how we laughed’ family treasure.
I even remember how amused I was when we finally arrived in Oxford only to discover that the contents of Georgie’s toiletry bag had so spectacularly exploded. Run over! We agreed. Either by a Geneva Airport trolley, or more likely – hahaha! – by an Airbus 320.
And then there is The Perennial Hair Thing, of course. I have hair. It’s a Wedding. I am Mother of The Groom. That I have some sort of ‘do’ is non-negotiable.
But is it? Now I’ve seen the photos, I seriously wonder.
Because EXACTLY the same madness overtook me for my own nuptials, in that not only did I rock up looking exactly like Mary Poppins (pie-crust collar, billowing sleeves, prissy late Edwardian-chic), I was also persuaded that I should have a ‘shaggy perm’, which meant I spent the wedding looking like I’d put a finger in an electrical socket and the first weeks of my married life like a cocker spaniel.
And here I was again. This time persuaded that an ‘up’ do would make me look glamorous. It did not. It made me look like an ageing American TV news anchor. Crossed with Joan Rivers. Plus a smidge of Sarah Palin.
And when you throw in the nude courts and flesh-toned ‘shimmer’ hold-ups, I can hardly bear to dwell on it, even now. Ah, but, again, lots to write about THAT.
Except I can’t. Because, like I say, I am completely lost for words. I simply do not know where to start.
They call childbirth an everyday miracle, don’t they? And, perhaps because there’s less in the way of primeval screaming, a wedding – even your own child’s – a pretty everyday event.
Which is why, in my naivety, I thought I knew what it would be like. An amazing day out. A watershed. A jolly. A cause for celebration. A do.
An opportunity to dance the Macarena with your granny. An excuse to drink Prosecco before noon, wearing rollers. A photo opportunity. An Instagram splurge.
A coming-together of two families. A chance to hatch new mother-in-law jokes. To become one. To welcome a new, cherished daughter, officially. To have a little self-indulgent weep.
And Luke and Charlotte’s wedding has been all of these things. But what I wasn’t quite prepared for – what I wasn’t at ALL prepared for – was the overwhelming, all-consuming JOY of it all. A joy so much more than the sum of its parts. Astonishing. Coruscating. Shocking.
You know that thing when your heart is so full-to-bursting that you can’t quite catch your breath? Well, THAT.
And when I find the word for it, I’ll let you know.
First published in The Western Mail Weekend Magazine 12th March 2016