That's happy tin wedding anniversary to my brother and sister-in-law who got married in light drizzle ten years ago today. That means it's also ten years since the only time I've ever been a best man, and also a decade since my mum last wore a hat. Special occasions, weddings. I suspect that the happy couple will be celebrating today by taking the children to swimming, or ballet, or brownies, or whatever it is they do on Thursdays. It's a far cry from the pre-school pre-nappy pre-family world of 1993, the day their future began. For better, for richer, in health and unparted.
Based on my admittedly limited experience, I'm pleased to be able to offer the following tips and advice for a happy and successful wedding day. And if any of those here present can show just cause why these tips may not lawfully be complete, let them now speak in the comments box or else hereafter for ever hold their peace.
• Make sure the weather's nice. Ahh, if only weddings could be booked the week beforehand when the long-range weather forecast might actually be reliable. But no, you have to book months or even years early and then risk an unexpected downpour in mid-August or freak snowfall in May, and the forlorn looks on the faces of the bridesmaids as their tiaras droop and dresses wilt. The rain just about held off ten years ago, which was just as well because no marriage should dissolve that quickly.
• Get your hair cut beforehand. The bride and bridesmaids spend practically the entire week before a wedding at the hairdressers. Alas I didn't, and so I appear in all the wedding photos with a haircut that even Gary Rhodes would have refused. I'd failed to realise that those wedding photos would be framed, albumed, videoed and generally revered at regular intervals for the rest of my life. Mistake. As for the hired morning suit complete with cravat and matching buttonhole, alas, there was nothing I could have done about that.
• Make sure the wedding video captures the spirit of the day rather than dictates it. There's nothing worse than a wedding you can't see in real life because some jumped-up media student is attempting to hijack proceedings in the name of art. My brother's wedding video was fairly inobtrusive on the day, but if anything it's been more obtrusive since. Still, by leaving the room at the appropriate time I've managed only to have to sit through the whole thing once. So far. And nobody's recorded the Vicar of Dibley over it. Yet.
• Hold your peace. It's not funny to put your hand up or cough or shout at that point in the wedding service when the vicar asks if the bride or groom have a bit on the side they've not yet told anyone about. It's bloody tempting, but it's not funny. And you'll never get as far as that free meal at the reception if you do. The only unwanted face from the past at my brother's wedding was Tanya who he'd had a bit of a scene with on the stag night, but then she was inflatable and we didn't want to let her down.
• Don't read the best man's speech from a script. Is there anything more cringeworthy than a series of unfunny childhood anecdotes and blatant sexual references strung together in a monotone drawl (pause for laugh)? No, be brave and deliver the speech of your life from a set of notes, dropping in ad libs about the events of the day where possible. It helps, of course, if the happy couple grabbed the wrong hands during the ring ceremony and then flew to the reception in a big chopper. And if your brother first met his wife at a Christmas fancy dress karaoke night while dressed as a turkey, well, that's comedy perfection innit?
• Try to avoid 'that' question. I must have been asked 'that' question scores of times at my brother's wedding. "So, when is it your turn then?" Come prepared with numerous comedy replies, like "Maybe in 20 years time when the bridesmaids are older", "What a shame you're already married auntie" and "Ooh, they're playing Lady in Red again, do you fancy a dance?"
• Beware 'Oops upside your head'. Wedding DJs have a collection of records that no self-respecting person could ever like, except that after two glasses of champagne, half a bottle of wine and three hours at the free bar they suddenly sound like musical classics. At this point you'll find yourself on the dancefloor amongst a crowd of relatives old and new, singing along to Agadoo or the Timewarp or worse. Hope and pray that the media student with the video camera has gone home long before everyone sits down on the floor and starts rowing.
• Don't think about how much it's all costing. It may be one of the most expensive days of your life but, well, you only do it the once eh? Hopefully. Plus you get to end the day with all the toasters, fondue sets and crystal decanters you could ever want. And, if you stay together long enough afterwards, the money you save through the married couples' tax allowance will more than pay for the dress, the church, the vicar, the reception, the honeymoon and getting the car repainted after some idiot writes 'Just married' on the back using nail varnish.
• Love one another. Because that's the point, isn't it? Happy anniversary.