I thought I was going for lunch. It was actually a wedding. Mine.
My partner had taken a day off work which, in itself, should have alerted me. And I should have wondered why he tapped his watch when my mother rang to wish me Happy Birthday just as we were leaving the house.
True, I was taken aback when he tried to overtake a slow-moving hearse as we neared the crematorium. After all, lunchtime trade in North London restaurants on a cold day in January is rarely brisk. No one minds if you turn up later than you said you would – they’re just grateful that you turn up at all.
But it wasn’t until he turned the car into the forecourt in front of Burnt Oak Register Office that light began to dawn. And when he produced a bouquet from the boot as two sets of friends jumped out from behind the bushes, I knew for sure.
So, reader, I married him. And then we went to lunch.
Everyone – except my mother – thought it was so romantic. She said she’d never get to wear a posh hat now. Even I, a one-time Women’s Libber who didn’t see the point of marriage (just a piece of paper, doesn’t prevent divorce, obey???? for goodness sake!), was moved.
But now, all these years later, I realise that the romantic gesture has not prepared me for my newest incarnation. Mother of the Bride.
Type wedding into Google and you get more than 2 million hits. No wonder M&S include cover for stress counselling in their wedding insurance policy.