Having met her new lover's significant others, High50's dating columnist, Louisa Whitehead-Payne, is as ready as she will ever be to go to a wedding where she will be sharing the Delightful Dick (her new man) with Godzilla, the widowed mother of his goddaughter, as well as his former wife, who she is calling Mrs. Ex-Dick.
The event is at the gothic and grand Amberley Castle, which everyone has had to travel to because this was simply the only castle that would do such a huge number of guests, according to Godzilla.
There is no escape from her and the significant others because we are staying there. DD is 'in loco' father-of-the bride. I push all comparisons with Hogwarts and its attendant witches to the back of my uncharitable mind.
Focus, focus, focus on the bride, who is delightful, and be lovely. Focus and be lovely. My mantra for the day. I am ashamed that I need one.
A Glacial Godzilla
The decor is perfect for mid-winter: white, sparkling and ... wintery. We are about three hours early and seek out Godzilla to see if there is anything we can do. She is warm to Dick and glacial to me. Yup ... she is definitely competing for his affections, as I suspected.
Our room is next door to Godzilla's and I am tempted to lure DD into noisy, shouty sex. Mantra, mantra, mantra: focus and be lovely. Maybe later.
We dress. DD looks really good in his D&G and he seems reassuringly attracted by my leggy Michael Kors/Jimmy Choo outfit (so he should be, at two thousand pounds!). A couple of rehearsals of his speech, which is about her father and about marriage in general.
He resists the temptation of being funny in favor of warm-hearted sincerity, which I think says a lot about how delightful he actually is. I know how emotional he feels about his old friend, the bride's late father, and he can't get through the rehearsal without choking up. Which, I keep telling him, is fine. People always cry at weddings.
We go down together, and then we part. He is now in the bridal party and will stay there for the next four hours. I feel bereft. And jealous. Mantra, mantra, mantra. Focus and be lovely. Happy face on and mingle.
DD's Significant Others
Mrs. Ex-Dick is elegant and pretty in petrol-blue Roland Mouret but, joy of joys, Godzilla looks more than slightly muttony in puce Hervé Léger. I breathe out just a little.
At the drinks reception, I latch on to one or two people I have met before and decide to leave the significant others to their own devices.
Then the ceremony begins and, for better or worse, all mean-spirited and shallow thoughts evaporate. Unexpectedly, I have to push my emotions aside and work the 'maybe later' thought like a slave-driver.
My father, who I loved truly, madly and deeply, died six years ago and I still miss him to bits. We used to talk and talk about everything together. The father-daughter connection, with attendant sadness and loss involved in that ceremony, hit me with force as DD escorted his goddaughter down the aisle.
Shed a tear, OK. Wedding appropriate. I bury the deeper stuff and repeat the mantra: focus and be lovely. Tears can come later.
Two people vow unbreakable love for each other and you can see it in their eyes. I am all too aware I broke my vows. I hope that their union will be unbreakable. But mine didn't turn out that way. I can feel the pain in my newly-mended, formerly broken heart and the feel the need to grieve for my own marriage. Can't cry; I'll never stop. Mantra, mantra, mantra. Maybe later.
Focus And Be Lovely
After the dinner, Delightful Dick's speech brings cheers and compliments. He is in his element later, with so many people he knows and many that he loves. Reunited now, he ensures I am included and introduced.
Despite that, I can't help but feel I am only a small part of his life. And maybe that is the truth of it. Jealousy spikes viciously again. Mantra, mantra, mantra.
Despite prodigious quantities of the best champagne, I hold it together for the rest of the evening. The wedding is a huge success and everyone has a wonderful time, most importantly, the bride and groom. Good old mantra.
At about 2 a.m. we get to bed. Both exhausted, one with honorable duties elegantly accomplished and one with the effort of seven hours of self-control. Not a scrap of energy for competitive, noisy sex. Breakfast the next morning passes without event but I need to bolt to my own home as soon as I can to deal with my repressed emotions.
The dating game is a big challenge but not half as hard as meeting someone you really like and starting a deeper relationship. And weddings can stir a lot of things up, so don't go if you can't cope. I had no idea I would feel like this.
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