I start with the beautifully insightful Peacock Feathers. Her words inspire me to be a better person. I am so glad she has been in my life (albeit mostly remotely) for my whole planning process.
And so I leave the floor the the wonderful lady herself.
Years ago, back when my husband and I were at university, we were in the surfing club. One day when were on the beach, debating whether to go into the water in a high wind, we were approached by a camera crew and asked if we would give our thoughts on marriage. They were filming a programme on young people's thoughts on weddings and marriage. Tongue tied in front of a boy I dearly loved but dare not admit, I let him speak first. "A massive excuse for a massive party" he responded, or something very similar "a celebration with our best people". We all laughed. I can see us now, in our wetsuits, dishevelled in the high winds, signing the release form for our thoughts to be broadcast to the nation.
That night, in a grotty room in a surfers boarding house, he told me he loved me. Six years later, on another surfing trip to Cornwall, this time just the two of us, he proposed. Once again, in a bikini and salty clothes, hair dishevelled from a morning in the water, we discussed what a wedding meant to each of us. We were still in agreement that whatever form the wedding took the party was to be a proper celebration - our best people, good food, good wine, good music. And it was.
We didn't have a reserve list. People were either invited or they weren't. There were no waiting staff or hired help (save the caterer and the photographer). If one of the guests wanted a drink, they went to the 'bar' to help themselves. Unless you were a Granny, of course, then there was a team of willing friends to get you one. People didn't faint when it became obvious that they would have to stack their plates up and help each other to trays of tea and coffee. Speeches were given, heckles shouted. Music flowed, people danced like they were at a night club whilst others sat and chatted. There was no segregation of old or young, male or female, school friends and newer friends. As Husband and I started our 'first dance' the dance floor was lined with a circle of support, everyone mingled in together. It was wonderful. And that is what our wedding meant to me - the support and genuine celebration of our love and marriage. In the service, the shout of "we do" that accompanied the vicar's question of "who supports this couple" gave me extra confidence when making my vows.
In a wider context, a wedding means the same thing, only I am the one supporting and celebrating. Be it an old friend, a new friend or a blog friend, we are the layers which surround that couple and give them the confidence to celebrate their love and commitment. Who will provide support no matter how hard things get or how easy the road. Be us personal friends who can provide physical help or online friends who can listen in writing.
And so, on this dark November week, which may well bring snow and wintery difficulties, I wish Anna and her Bean all the best for their day, and their celebrations, and look forward to continuing to form part of the support which surrounds them. Because, for me, that is what a wedding means.