My biggest wedding regret…

is that one of my best friends was not able to come to our wedding.

I’ve hesitated about whether to talk about this in such a public forum. At first I felt so unbelievably raw, then I worried it would be oversharing if I engaged in a little blogtherapy. But to write about our wedding without mentioning the absence of one of my best friends would be leaving out half the story and play into the cultural tendency to paint weddings as a perfect. Many things went wrong on our wedding day, but this was one that stung.

Four days before my wedding D, one of my best friends, called me to let me know that L was too sick to attend the mini hen party we’d been planning. As the goddess party would be too strenous for L we were going to take the party to her, pamper ourselves and watch Van Helsing, the best ‘so bad it’s good’ film in existence. The perfect send off with three of my closest friends to ease me gently into matrimony. But after I spoke to D and L’s mother, I had to start considering the possibility that L wouldn’t be able to come.

When HWSNBN and I got engaged I never dared to hope that L would be able to attend. She was very sick and to even make plans for the summer seemed like tempting fate. In fact the first wedding argument HWSNBN and I had (the first and definitely not the last) was when I wanted to get married as soon as possible so L could attend. HWSNBN told me that: ‘We have to do what is right for us, L would understand’. And he was right, if I’ve learnt anything it’s that if you start worrying about ‘what if’s’ you’d never do anything. But even though I tried not to look ahead I couldn’t help myself as the day til the wedding ticked into double digits. Maybe L would be able to make it.

Then I had that phone call. D and R threw me a mini hen do anyway as I made desperate wild plans. She could just come to ceremony, act as our witness and then leave. Maybe I could get in a taxi and go and see her on the morning of the wedding. I swung between hope that maybe she would make and despair as I became certain she wouldn’t. Despite my emotional turbulence the funny thing about when the sky falls in on you is that you realise how many lovely people you have in your life willing to pull you out from the rumble.

And I really needed them after I spoke to L on the Saturday. She was not going to be able to come. We talked for almost half an hour, she felt guilty for not being able to come and I felt guilty that she felt guilty. I finally said ‘You know I want you there more than anything, but not if you’ll be in pain.’ When I hung up the sorrow bent me double like a blow. All I could think as I sat sobbing was I’m getting married in four days I really need to pause time until I feel OK about this.

Which I can see a month on is utter bullshit. I’m not OK about this now, and I won’t be in six months, a year or even ten. I will never be OK that my best friend was not able to come to my wedding. Because I know that if there any possibility she could, she would be there. L is one of the strongest people I know, her will equals that of my big sister. She would have crawled over broken glass to see me married. The fact that she wasn’t there means she must be in a tremendous amounts of pain. Then there’s the selfish side of me who’s sad that L the girl who knew me long before HWSNBN came along, who supported our relationship before it even began, L my confidante and my friend who has been present at so many milestone moments wasn’t there to smile at me as I walked down the aisle.

The weird thing was once I knew that she was not going to be able to come I felt  relieved. I let it go. Having her not be there was my ultimate wedding fear. And when it happened, it hurt, oh yes it hurt, but I knew that the worst had happened. On my wedding day although my heart still twinged when I read the note she had written me as I got ready or saw us grinning in the photo montage, I knew the happiness bubbling up inside of me like champagne would cushion me from the pain. The next day after the wedding HWSNBN and I drove over to see her and her mum. We bought them wedding cake (a little squished), ceremony programmes (covered in cake), and my bouquet still fragrant and beautiful. I showed my wedding dress, the confetti still dropping out of it like magic dust. It couldn’t make up for not having her there, but I know how lucky I was to have that moment with her.

If I have any message it is this: your wedding won’t be perfect. Things will go wrong. Maybe your dress won’t fit right, or you’ll forget to take photos with somebody you love, or somebody might act like a twat and sometimes that somebody is you 🙂 (Guilty as charged.) Your wedding won’t be perfect because life isn’t perfect or predictable. Our wedding was bittersweet: joyous and sad, wondrous and mundane, and that is a much stronger mix than perfection.

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