his best friend's wedding

As the best man said “we’ve known each other since we were kids, and I’m very honoured and proud to be standing here today” , we all turned towards his wife, inclining our heads and expressing a silent “awwwww!” . Partly as we were genuinely moved by the best man’s words, but also as a gesture of support to his wife – we all know that it’s nerve-wracking to have your husband make a speech at a wedding, and we wanted to reassure her that he’s doing a great job.

image credit doonbeglodge.com

I’ve done the head inclination and  “awwww!” countless times over the last decade of wedding attendances – it’s one of the many quiet but lovely rituals that pepper the day, like the tear-accompanied “wow….” that we all share when the bride walks into the church and the genuine glee as we applaud when the priest announces that the couple are married (it really shouldn’t be such a surprise every time, it’s what we’re there for)

image credit Breaffyhouseresort.com

There are other gentle, reliable rituals throughout the day, some enduring because they are wonderful, some because, well, they just endure. Like reading out “telegrams” from people who couldn’t attend. Except they’re really e-mails now, and could have been sent directly to the couple. And nobody ever knows the senders, but we give a little clap, we play along, it’s part of the template.

image credit castleleslie.com

As is taking photos of the couple cutting the cake. Where do those photos go? Do people go to a photo shop and get them developed out and put them in their photo albums? Or send them to the bride and groom so that along with their perfect professional cake-cutting photos, they now have two hundred other photos with red-eye and shiny foreheads and fuzziness and someone’s uncle standing in the way? Or do they just sit on phones and cameras until the next cull to the recycle bin…. But we still take the photos, it’s a ritual, it’s a template that we’re all comfortable following.

image credit heavenlycakes.ie

There are so many others – chatting in bathrooms and exclaiming over the baskets of  handy essentials like plasters and headache tablets (or one wedding I was at where the bride kindly provided flip-flops), dancing enthusiastically all the way from the table to the dancefloor when a good song comes on (I think Daire O’Brian pointed that out, it’s so true and so wonderful to watch), forming a circle around the bride and groom swinging in and out like a big, swirly, inebriated octopus , taking off high-heels at the end of the evening to dance in bare-feet or above mentioned flip-flops, and grabbing, no, inhaling the “afters” food like ravenous people who haven’t just finished a five-course-meal two hours previously.

This wedding that we recently attended was truly wonderful – a much loved couple finally walking down the aisle, to the delight of all the guests, followed by a lavish feast in a beautiful setting (good enough for a former Beatle!).

The groom and three of his friends have been in a band for many years and took to the stage for a set during the evening, while the remaining friends looked on.

I watched the watchers, my husband in their midst. They stood shoulder to shoulder, arms joining them closer, like rugby players during the national anthem.

none of the above is my husband

They were so genuinely joyful to be there in each other’s company, proud of the groom and his band on stage, revelling in the moment and revelling in being part of this group of friends for the last two and a half decades. 
They have known each other through house-moves and breakups, through travels to the other side of the world and nights out in the local,  through weddings, christenings and funerals. Late night pints are being somewhat replaced by afternoon playdates (though not entirely) and the proud dads are already talking about how soon their annual trip to a Liverpool game could include the next generation of still-tiny supporters.  

his dad thinks he has promise, premiership here we come

I’m in awe of this group – they are funny and fun, kind, thoughtful, and above all, loyal. They are the kind of people you want to sit next to at a wedding. And just like wedding rituals endure, so too do these friendships.  

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