I used to think that getting married was just about the couple involved. You meet each other, fall in love, there's a proposal (or tequila and falling down some stairs whilst attempting a fireman's carry in my case) and the rest of your life awaits.
This has been challenged in recent years as more of my friends and relatives have married after having their children. Some met in their 30's and prioritised babies over tying the knot, for some an important reason for marrying was to ensure they had the same surname as their children and, more poignantly, some married due to a diagnosis of cancer or to celebrate the great relief of an 'all clear this time' post-cancer check.
In almost every case, and in those where friends and relatives have had their marriages blessed, the children have been part of the ceremony. They have been ushers, bridesmaids, ring-bearers and generally 'stars of the show'. My nephew got to sign the register at the wedding of my sister-in-law and her husband. He was just five at the time and wrote his own place in his family's history - how cool is that?
My children often ask about our wedding day and we get the photos out and chat a bit about what happened. There are some things that we leave out - like the half-naked man at the end (thank God it was the top half..), the people in the unlocked bar helping themselves, the 'missing' silver platter that re-surfaced a few years later at a friends buffet, the 'naughty table' who had drinking games as their starter, the person who asked if they could 'crash in our room' because they had forgotten to book one and had run out of money... The answer to the last one was a resounding "no" accompanied by the throwing of money at the situation - what were they thinking?!. Let's just say it was a reception at which people got stuck in to the refreshments.
Around the time of our twelfth wedding anniversary, the conversation came up again and my daughter asked if I still had my wedding dress. When I said "yes", she pleaded with me until I agreed to get it down from the loft and then (after getting through the two massive boxes and reams of acid-free paper it was stored in) instructed me to put it on. Not that I minded - I had given up on the idea that either me or the girls would arrange a 'wedding dress party' like the one Monica had in 'Friends', so it was good fun to wear it once again. And what a laugh we had. My daughter put on a party dress, my son put on his favourite Spiderman pants (well, what else would a modern Page Boy wear?), they picked up the train and we pranced around the house, up and down stairs and through the kitchen while they chanted "wedding, wedding, wedding". My husband was bemused although not entirely surprised; being stuck in with the children on a rainy day often results in one of us being dressed up, painted on or 'turned into something' for their amusement.
Once the children felt suitably entertained, and they had coerced us into showing them our 'first dance' (it was a classic - shuffling round in a circle with one or two twirls to make it look like we were putting in a bit of effort), the dress went back in its boxes and up into the loft. The shoes were put away and the discussion turned to more important things like 'do babies wear clothes when they're in their mummy's tummy?'.
Our hour of make-believe was not quite a wedding, or a marriage blessing, but it was a lovely family moment and, if my husband would like to buy me another dress and some more diamonds maybe we'll do it for real..... Actually I know the answer to that one, better pencil in 'trip up into the loft' for 2024 :)
Soundtrack: Kids - Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue