This weekend, Dapper and I were looking back over the last year. I remarked, “It has been a really tough one…” and Dapper frowned and commented that he was really sorry to hear that, as he had never been so happy – a sentiment with which I quickly acquiesced.
Because it has only been over the last year that I have recognised that being happy does not necessarily mean having it “easy”. 2012/13 has been exhausting, both physically and emotionally. It has been a rollercoaster ride of emotional highs and lows. There have been things that I would change and people I have sorely missed. But despite all this, I have been undeniably happy.
A year ago today, in a rushed ceremony that lasted a grand total of 17 minutes, Dapper and I became married in the eyes of the law. The wedding was organised in 6 weeks and was somewhat tricky to fix – it needed to happen before I was too heavily pregnant to fit in my dress, and fit around my hectic pregnancy schedule of projectile vomiting. There were no available slots at the registry office, but we were told there were registrars available if we were able to find an approved venue with a free booking. Our first booking was at a very local hotel, who accidentally double-booked us and lost us our first deposit. Our second booking was a little further away, but at the most stunning venue with fantastic staff.
I wore a dress Dapper had bought for me in a charity shop on one of our Scottish adventures. It cost £75, and was too big, but by the time we got married I needed the extra girth! My circlet was made for me by a craftswoman in America, Elnara Niall, via Etsy. Dapper wore his own clothes. My Mum made my bouquet and Dapper’s buttonhole and the experience inspired her to take up a flower arranging course. The lovely Carys put her considerable talents to use on my hair and make-up, and Marius took wonderful photos.
My brother Ben ushered guests in, looked after the music and gave a toast, whilst Dapper’s best friend from school and his wife were our witnesses. We had 35 guests, largely family, although many VIPs were unable to join us at such short notice, including my brother Bobby and his wife Samia, and two of my step-brothers and their families.
Dapper and I walked down the aisle together to our song, The Very Thought of You, by Al Bowly, and whilst we signed the register we played Wagner’s Parsifal. After the ceremony, we had a flute of champagne for each guest to toast, followed by tea and coffee cake, made by Dapper’s 93-year-old grandmother. It was a glorious sunny autumn day, so we had photos taken in the garden.
I think it is obvious from the photos just how happy we both were. I don’t ever recall feeling such joy. There were no nerves and no doubts. Just unadulterated happiness.
And I think that this base of happiness is what has carried us through the last year, with it’s ups and downs and highs and lows. With the new additions to our family, we are undeniably blessed and unquestionably challenged – every single day brings new obstacles to overcome. Combined with certain adversities in our wider lives, and the zombie-like state a general lack of sleep creates in all of us, I think I’d have suffered far more adverse effects without Dapper to lean on. He makes me stronger. He makes me happier in myself – with myself. He makes me feel good about me. And no matter how bad things get, if you’re happy with yourself, you can find a way to get by. Or so I have come to believe.
As the 1947 song tells us, “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is (just) to love and be loved in return.” I always loved the lyrics, but never before realised their truth.
As an aside, as the wedding was rather rushed and excluded so many people we would really have liked to share in our big day, we had planned a big wedding party to tie in with a hand-fasting ceremony this summer. Folks have asked what has happened to these plans, and the truth is that we simply haven’t been in a position to organise a big party; heck, it takes 3 hours to organise a shopping trip to Knowle with the boys in tow, never mind anything more complicated! But we are still planning a hand-fasting for next year. Fingers crossed for a far simpler spring…