The last few days of waiting were pure anticipation, all bureaucratic obstacles overcome, all arrangements made and confirmed, just the formality of signing a register to go, before the rest of society would acknowledge the commitment we had pledged to one another long ago, we could finally get on with our lives (after yet more visa paperwork) and She could get a job.
All through the weekend I found myself grinning at Her like an idiot and, as if saying it out loud would make it seem less surreal, I would say; “We’re getting married on Tuesday!” and burst out laughing.
I had never thought I’d get to this point and now I was here, it seemed, through all the dreamlike haze, the most natural thing in the world.
I could honestly look inside myself and detect not the slightest doubt, hesitation or indecision.
There was nothing I wanted more than to spend the rest of my life with these two special people and almost before I knew it, The Big Day arrived.
I’d taken the Tuesday off work to get married, and the Wednesday too, for our honeymoon.
Not the wedding of the century then, but nonetheless it was all we wanted, all bar one thing.
Due to one final twist of the bureaucratic knife, we would be having our little ceremony without Missy in attendance. The seemingly immutable laws of the Chief Registrar stated that, without paying an extra £70 to cover “up to 30 guests”, only ourselves and our two witnesses would be allowed in the ceremony room.
Working as we were on a tight budget, paying seventy quid extra for one six year old was not an expense we could justify, although Missy was focused mainly on the reception, (to be held a month or so later, once we could give people rather more notice than we’d had available for the wedding itself) so we played down the day as “just signing some boring documents” and that seemed fine by her.
I got up early and took Missy to school, then made my way out onto the moors to pick up Chris, old friend, wedding witness, financial saviour and one of the people we really couldn’t have done all this without.
After that it was just a matter of going home to get changed and sit chatting, waiting for the hands on the clock to crawl up to midday.
She was already dressed when Chris and I returned and She looked positively radiant, glowing with happiness and, like me, not in the least bit nervous.
We drove into town and parked by the concrete monstrosity that houses the civic centre and registry office, arriving just in time to meet Becca, a former housemate of mine and the second witness to our nuptials.
Whilst Chris and Becca were shown into the ceremony room, She and I went with the registrar, to confirm all our details and be walked through the last steps of a journey that had begun with a misplaced thumb on Facebook, over six months ago and nearly four thousand miles away.
To be honest, I doubt if I would have noticed if there’d been a hundred people in the room, all I remember is looking at Her and speaking the words we were asked to repeat, Her eyes as calm and beautiful as that first day of revelation, looking up at me with an expression that told me all I needed to know, had ever needed to know, that this was meant to be.
We exchanged rings, but even that was mainly for show as they were already ours; She had a small sapphire ring, which also covered the blue part of the “…something borrowed, something blue” tradition and I used my late father’s signet ring, a small way of including him in a day I wish he could have been there for.
And of course, The Kiss.
Then it was time to sign the register and pose for photos, (thank you again to Becca for doubling as wedding photographer for the day) after which the nice lady who recorded our wedding asked if she could read an Irish marriage blessing, which was very poetic and rather sweet.
The whole thing took barely fifteen minutes.
Next thing was to organise the reception, so friends and family that She had yet to meet could come and celebrate with us.
But first, I really thought it was about time I took my wife for a drink.