It was our three year wedding anniversary on Monday and we did absolutely nothing to celebrate it. We both wondered if that was awful or if, perhaps, since it didn’t bother either of us in the slightest, it was okay.
Our first wedding anniversary was spent with a very newborn Ava. Our second was spent on the brink of moving house and moving to Scotland, and this one came at a time when I still have very little energy in the evenings. Plus we’re not big on leaving Ava so I’m not sure it would have made a difference even if I felt fine.
I don’t know why I feel this way about anniversaries, but they seem a little arbitrary to me. I love making a big deal of birthdays and of Yule/Christmas, but even exchanging cards on an anniversary date just seems…a little silly.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the significance of the date, it’s just that the memory of it seems more than enough. It’s lovely to think, ‘this time, three years ago…’ and we do that often, reminiscing about the many ways our lives have changed and the ways we have changed unexpectedly.
We’ve always said that we would love to go back to The Witchery, where we spent the first night of our honeymoon, but it hasn’t been practical to do so thus far. When I think of our wedding, it’s not just the day itself, but the day before and after too that seem like such an extraordinary moment in time.
Every remembering is different – the way it works with any memory, it changes as we change, its colours different with each review. And every time we remember something different, we are adding to its narrative, to that kind of inimitable, fictive quality that things in the past take on for me. But still, there are things that stand out – individual moments that seem to embody the whole spirit of the day itself, or the days around it. And these are precious and full of magic for me, still.
I remember the apartment I stayed in with my bridesmaids the night before, in the centre of Edinburgh. Upgraded to the very special, very plush penthouse apartment as a gift from the people who owned them, we really did revel in some ridiculous luxuries that night, and it was so fun. We shared dinner and my friend and her newborn son came through, and we all took turns in holding him, and I remember wondering if I would have one of my own by the same time the following year.
I remember the mix tape Cat made which we played the next morning whilst everyone got their hair and makeup done, and I remember arriving at the Castle in Jo’s Mini feeling oddly calm and ready for what was about to happen.
I remember Johnny blow drying my underwear which had been in the same bag as my contact lense solution on the way over and was completely soaked.
I remember getting my dress on in the bathroom of the bridal suite and coming out into the room, and Jo bursting into tears and hugging her and being very touched by such an unexpected burst of emotion.
And the sound of the bells ringing, signalling to those who waited at the top of the tower that things were beginning, and then the sound of the pipes leading us over to the Auld Keep, up the frighteningly uneven stairs until we were ready to enter the room filled wth all the people we love and candles – so many candles!
And then I remember Hollie’s voice filling up the room – her voice and the guitar, singing Sea of Love, perfectly. Lisa crying quietly at the front. Donna’s confident voice reading ‘Assurance’. Managing, somehow, to remember the vows we had each written without stumbling or messing them up.
I remember the photos we had taken at the top of the tower, overlooking Edinburgh. The glass of champagne that was always in my hand, even though I’m not sure I drank any of it. The cake Howard cut with the castle sword. So many people and their lovely faces, wanting to spend more time with each one.
I remember walking over the crisp leaves of the lawn with our photographers and not having any real sense of time passing, or what was happening.
But a wedding day is only a day, after all, and it is surprising to find yourself half way through it and realising it’s unfolding all around you, an event in its own right.
And I remember once we were all in the Marquee, just after the haggis was brought in and the piper made his toast, feeling a moment of such complete tiredness and exhaustion that I whispered to Jo that I might need to sneak off and sleep for half an hour. I was serious – terrified that I would just collapse in sleep at the table – until she told me it would pass. And five minutes later I felt fine again, although I do remember only having the starter and not managing to eat much else.
But then, there was dancing, and more time to talk to people. There was time to hold old friends close on the dance floor and feel grateful for the solidity of their presence. There was the cold October air and the lit up fountain and the people who were smoking outside, and the sweets table and the cake and the coffee and tea and the wine bottles everywhere, and then it was midnight and people were heading home and we were heading to the castle with the other guests who were staying there overnight.
But you know, the next day was just as special. It was the perfect antidote to the force and speed at which a wedding day unravels. We spent the morning having breakfast in the castle with family and friends, and then we went to a rooftop spa where we spent three hours just swimming around, lounging in the Jacuzzi overlooking Edinburgh buildings and enjoying the strange and surreal treatment rooms there.
And then we went on to The Witchery, which was my wedding present to Howard, where we spent the night in the most beautiful suite I’ve ever been in – a kind of Harry Potter-esque, gothic, enchanting set where everything you could possibly want was catered for. Completely and utterly decadent, with dinner in The Secret Garden below, and the most exquisite steak I’ve ever tasted. It was the perfect bridge between our wedding day and the next ten days in Italy, which were busier than we’d anticipated.
So every year I think of those things, or maybe other things, depending on the day and mood I’m in, and I’m thankful for so many beautiful moments to remember and carry with me, thankful that we had this kind of day and reminded again that there can be great value in allowing and creating beauty – and that there is nothing more beautiful than the textures and colours and smells of things that have passed, that exist only within the hearts and minds of those who have been there with you.
You will never be alone, you hear so deep
a sound when autumn comes. Yellow
pulls across the hills and thrums,
or the silence after lightning before it says
its names – and then the clouds’ wide-mouthed
apologies. You were aimed from birth:
you will never be alone. Rain
will come, a gutter filled, and Amazon,
long aisles – you have never heard so deep a sound,
moss on rock, and years. You turn your head –
that’s what the silence meant: you’re not alone.
The whole wide world pours down.
– William Stafford