I bloody love a good wedding. Sadly, my advancing years mean that most of my friends are now married off, and the inevitable round of second marriages haven’t encroached into my regular Spring / Summer schedule yet. Marriage is for mugs, of course, and I urge people not to go through with it in a tongue-in-cheek-but-actually-serious fashion. A good friend once said to me that the only difference marriage brings to a relationship is that it makes it quite pricey to walk away from. But, y’know, weddings are pretty cool.
Factor in a small person, and they’re not quite AS much fun. Mainly because one or both of your number are prohibited from getting tanked up in a corner and staying conscious for the hardcore nighttime elevenses of chip butties. You have to dance with a small person if they’re of walking age, and piss about on the floor clearing up abandoned chunks of chicken nuggets and mash if they’re of weaning age. You have to tell old ladies the vital stats of your child, and they usually can’t hear you, and they usually assume your child is the wrong gender. And that’s the good bit, before you get to all that you have to make it through the ceremony itself, praying to Christ that the small person doesn’t prove themselves a massive liability.
When I was 15 weeks pregnant with Moo, we went to my beautiful cousin’s wedding in Alfriston, East Sussex. It’s picture postcard stuff – if you’re a fan of a tea room and a backdrop of the rolling South Downs Way, have yourself a little trip there. Hell, the local zoo has a Hello Kitty teacup ride and that’s enough of a draw, surely? Anyway, I digress. With weddings, you know quite quickly if it’s going to be a good one (i.e plentiful cake and decent table favours). This had all the hallmarks of being an absolute peach, and it was. I had just about steered through the murky waters of early pregnancy nausea, and felt confident that I could enjoy the day without periodically needing to lay down, or carb load (ideally at the same time, in front of The Apprentice or GBBO).
I tend to go quite heavy on the eye makeup so that my eyes don’t get lost in the marshmallow-y, undefined puff that is my face. I therefore try to keep public crying to a minimum, saved only for carol concerts at Mouse’s nursery and workplace disputes. I’d given myself a little pep talk to not lose my teary shit and open the floodgates but I was almost a goner as soon as I saw my cousin at the top of the aisle. Everything about her was breathtaking, and she looked so blissfully happy. Her mum then gave the most astoundingly perfect reading about love, and putting up with each other in old age. Love is a fairly good shout for a wedding ceremony reading, who knew?
The registrar began the legal shizz. The building was light, airy, bedecked with wildflowers and bunting. Instead of straining to hear the words, the acoustics were perfect – I may as well have been right at the front with them.
“Do you take this woman…”
“Do you take this man…”
I LOVE love.
“May the wedding rings that you have exchanged today…”
Hang in there, tears. We’ve bloody got this. In the words of baby Mark Owen aka James Bay, hold back the river.
It is Mouse, of course. Mouse suddenly has something to impart, in this acoustically blessed room.
“Just shush for a second please poppet. Look at these pretty flowers / the hair of the lady in front / my toenails / anything. Just shush.”
“Where’s baby Ariel?”
What? Who the fuck is baby Ariel? I deploy my standard issue answer for such questions. “Probably at home with her mummy, sweetpea. Now, just -”
“But where IS she? Did her mummy get that coffee or did that machine just break?”
Conversations with my daughter are often hastily matched bubbles of excitement, where you may get as little as 10% of a scenario and have to fill in the blanks and then discuss it at great length.
“Um, well…yes.” I try the tactic that NEVER works, whereby you acknowledge that a question has been asked but refrain from giving it any airtime at all, in the hope that your child will suddenly adopt the memory of a goldfish and 1. Stop asking, and 2. Just shush, as per previous instructions.
Slightly louder this time: “Mummy, I said, where is baby Ariel and her mummy?”
I wonder if I can get away with rummaging in my bag for a hoop mint (sugar free polo) to buy her silence. Then, applause, thank god. Rapturous applause – marriage has happened. The metaphorical knot has been tied. We stand and clap. “What’s she on about?” I ask my husband.
“We were in Waitrose queuing at the coffee machine. A woman was in front of us with her baby, called Ariel, and Mouse tried to shove her face in the pram to say hi. This was about a month ago, mind you. And the machine did break, actually. Right as it was my turn. I may have done a swear.”
I tuck this nugget of recollective genius away. The brains are strong with this one, no flies on her, etc. Probably a good idea to start curbing the swears now, though. I snap my mind back from cussing and baby Ariel because people are standing to leave, and I remember I can’t walk in these heels. “Wasn’t he well behaved?” says an old lady from three pews in front as she mooches alongside us up the aisle. The groom? The father of the bride? My husband? Oh, you mean my daughter. Yep. And this floral garment is a dress.
Later, during the aforementioned Good Bit, I sit stroking a belly that contains a tiny Moo and an embarrassing number of scones. I watch my husband grab Mouse by the arms and fling her around in wide circles on the grass. It’s a lovely scene, providing he doesn’t break any of her limbs (who would do such a thing? Well, me – see my blog post #2: Injuries). We’ve all agreed that Ariel is indeed at home with her mummy, and her mummy did get a coffee from the machine, and of course Ariel can come to the next wedding with us. The baby in mummy’s tummy can come and the old lady who called her a boy can come. I feel like we’ve just played a rudimentary game of “name your ideal dinner party guest list*”.
I bloody love a good wedding.
*Mine would feature: Me, Tom Hardy, Sandi Toksvig, Alan Rickman (sob), Mel Giedroyc, Truman Capote (double sob), Christina Hendricks, and Superhans (in character).
-SJW June 2016