Friday, September 14, 2012
Past perfect - anniversary
It's our wedding anniversary today. Twenty one years since we stood in the doorway of the Brynmawr Chapel at Betws y Coed, rain lashing the porch and the wind sending ladies' hats skyward. There wasn't a chink of sunlight all morning - we have no outdoor photographs - and yet it was perfect in its way.
Friends still talk of our wedding - for many years some actually asked to see the video! The highlight was Mrs Morgan (on the organ) who was stone deaf, wore a knitted bobble hat and played All Things Bright And Beautiful as the congregation sang Lord of all Hopefulness.
Then there was the party who arrived late and got changed in the back pews. And a couple from Conwy who arrived by tandem - another did the same but rode from Northumberland. The minister forgot his lines and missed a page of the ceremony - and to cap it all, one of the bridesmaids was our dog!
If all this sounds wacky, it would give a slightly wrong impression. In many ways it was quite a traditional wedding - but the the delight of the day was the way it was so relaxed. The hymns were off-key, the weather was foul, some people were late - but no matter, it was wonderful.
I've often pondered about weddings since - not just at the expense, but the amount of time and effort invested in seeking a putative 'perfection' - as if one little hiccup will ruin the day, be an omen of disaster. Some cultures invest extraordinary amounts - I attended a Hindu wedding last year which had, quite literally, over a thousand guests, the celebrations extending to days. It was an amazing experience, and I don't want to criticise (I was delighted to go) but I was struck by the contrast to our own, and wondered if we had missed out?
I don't think so. We hired Cobdens Hotel in Capel Curig for the weekend, putting up friends and family and asking others to make the trip rather than buy presents. After the ceremony we served Cawl y Caws (soup and cheese), before taking a walk (and getting drenched) in the mountains - in the evening we had a traditional banquet. I remember my father in law foisting drinks on the guests and fretting the whole the whole affair hadn't cost enough!
In fact, it cost about two thousand pounds - cheap even then, but more than I was comfortable accepting as a gift. The next morning we walked with friends and family to Cwm Idwal, before they departed: my family to the North, Jane's to the South; none of them lived in Snowdonia. That was why we had chosen it - and because we loved it too.
I listened the other day to a reading on Radio 4 in which the narrator claimed our experience of time hastens exponentially as we age - that our first twenty years feel twice as long as the second, the next twenty, quicker still. I sense there's some truth in that - but it misses the point about happiness. Time goes more slowly when we are malcontent.
Twenty one years - is it really that long? Of course we row occasionally, we've had our ups and downs and countless other hackneyed descriptions of married life. But I never regret that day, not for a second - it made us who we are, as surely as our childhoods and our children. It was, I know for sure, amongst the best that's happened to me.
Happy anniversary Jane - I love you dearly.