I’m thrilled to introduce the first of our new monthly columns from author Lucy Diamond, who is getting married in August.
Here’s how it all began…
“What’s the point of getting married?” he said. “It’s just so…conventional. It ritualises what’s supposed to be personal, signing official documents and formalising everything. What’s the point?”
“Well, I think it’s romantic,” she said. “Making those vows to each other in front of friends and family, celebrating your relationship, saying you want to spend the rest of your lives together. Who cares about signing documents? It’s not about that.”
“It is in my opinion,” he said.
The years passed. They had three children and were very happy together. Still she hankered after a wedding, though. Not because she wanted to be a Mrs, not because of the dress, ring, any of the trappings. She just thought it was romantic. She thought they had something worth celebrating.
By now, their eldest daughter was old enough to ask questions. “Oh, Mum, why doesn’t Dad want to marry you?” she’d say in a pitying way. “Doesn’t he love you?”
The questions made her wince. “It’s not that,” she’d reply, floundering for the right words. “It’s just… He thinks it’s old-fashioned. Kind of.” But it sounded feeble, even to her. “Ask your dad,” she’d say in the end. Let him do his own explaining, she thought.
After ten years and still no sign of a backtrack, she had given up on the idea. It didn’t really matter, did it? They were happy, they were committed to staying together. A ring and a bit of paper weren’t going to change the way they felt, surely? But still a tiny bit of her felt sad, as if she’d missed out on something special.
Then, that summer, he surprised her by announcing that he’d arranged for them to have a night on their own, away from the kids. His mum and sister were in on the plot, booked in as baby-sitters.
They went to Lyme Regis together, just the two of them. The sun shone, and they wandered along the sea front and around the shops, hand in hand. As afternoon turned to evening, they walked to the harbour and sat down on the furthest bench, right at the end of the harbour wall.
The last families on the beach were packing up their things, a few swimmers still braving the sea. They felt far away from the rest of the town out there, just the two of them.
He produced a bottle of champagne and two glasses. “Fancy a drink?” he asked.
She laughed. She loved it that he surprised her after all this time. “Go on, then,” she said. “Trying to get me drunk already?”
“Something like that,” he said.
He poured them a glass each, and handed her hers. “Cheers,” he said.
“Cheers,” she said.
“Will you marry me?” he said.
She stared at him, so shocked she almost toppled into the sea. Somehow she managed a good comedy pause before replying. Well, he’d made her wait this long, hadn’t he? She’d let him sweat a few moments in return.
“Yes,” she said.
Lucy Diamond is the author of Any Way You Want Me, published by Pan. She blogs at http://beinglucydiamond.blogspot.com