And it is great advice, because it does. Only, it’s advice which is almost impossible to follow, as the frequency with which you’re offered it goes some way to proving. I got married to my lovely lady of ten years, Lindsey, last week and it already seems like an age ago. The entire day was like an incredibly rich, vivid dream. Even looking at the pictures now feels like we’re peering in on an event we weren’t part of.
People you know are at every turn, smiling, shaking your hand, kissing your cheek, wishing you well and taking photos. Professional photographers follow you down the street ‘papping’ you as you make your way to church. Your friends and family throw small bits of multicoloured paper at you which end up in your mouth, lodged in your ears and down the front of your trousers. Beautiful, old cars await your arrival, champagne on ice. Red carpets guide you into a building where everyone continues to congratulate you and erupt with applause as you enter the room and head to your table for something to eat. And, to cap it all off, your best mate unearths all manner of embarrassing stories from the past and uses props for maximum impact.
It is, in a word, overwhelming.
Satisfyingly, things went a bit wrong, too. In the church, Lindsey momentarily forgot which hand was her left – twice – and the vicar dropped my ring… twice (and no, that is not a euphemism – something you have to squeeze in whenever the word ‘ring’ is used). At the reception, the photographer ushered us all out to what looked like a beautiful flat piece of grass only for us to find that it had an 80% incline, thus proving particularly treacherous for the older guests and what technically amounted to a request for death-defying stunt work for the ladies in high heels.
My speech was interrupted by one of our pageboys farting just as I mentioned his mum’s name and my big moment in the spotlight also suffered a dramatic loss of structure when we discovered the presents for everyone had seemingly been hidden in random locations throughout the room by the hotel staff.
Our toastmaster also disappeared. That’s understandable – he was a busy man, but choosing the moment after I requested we cut the cake to perform his Houdini act was slightly inconvenient.
My dad, who kindly agreed to make an appearance as Elton John, quite rightly made an enormous song and dance (literally) about my new wife playing the part of Kiki Dee and joining him for Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. Unfortunately, in all the excitement, he forgot to introduce me on piano. I’m not at all complaining as I wasn’t particularly keen on drawing attention to myself, but this did mean I had to sidle onto the stage and sit down at the keys looking a bit like an unwanted, forgotten band member. This must have been particularly surprising for those who didn’t know I played and I wouldn’t blame them for thinking I was either lost, preparing for an ill-judged joke or monumentally drunk (or possibly all three).
But you know what? I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. I just wish someone could have hit the pause button halfway through.