It was our 20th wedding anniversary this week.
Yes, it really doesn’t seem like it was 20 years ago. No, there’s still no prospect of parole for good behaviour. And maybe it was the best day of my life, although it might have to give way to the births of our three children.
But enough of the clichés.
Our wedding celebrations took place across three countries over a period of six weeks. Between us, we had family in the UK, Malaysia and Australia, so there was never going to be one convenient location that everyone could get to.
So we didn’t try.
Instead we flew out to Malaysia, where the majority of my extended family live, to do the formalities. Back in 1997, email and websites weren’t as commonplace as they are now and there was no social media, so organising all the logistics of a wedding from 6,500 miles away was not exactly unstressful. We owed a huge debt to my army of aunts, uncles and cousins who did all the heavy lifting that we will probably never fully repay, as well as all the other family and friends who flew out to share the day with us.
The photos you see here were all taken in a shoot a few days in advance – it’s a thing, apparently – so, yes, I did get to see Heather in her dress before the wedding. My memory of that day was being repeatedly instructed to show “Less teeth!” by the photographer. But we did get some great photos out of it that set our experience apart from your run-of-the-mill wedding. (Not that any wedding is run-of-the-mill, but you know what I mean.) That included photos of the two of us in formal Chinese dress, which we wore again on our wedding day to participate in a traditional tea ceremony.
The day of our marriage itself was, in truth, a bit of a blur. I remember that it was 38ºC and about 90% humidity. I remember meeting my father-in-law for the very first time on the steps of the church. (That’s a story for another time, one which is far less interesting than it sounds.) I don’t remember much else.
From Malaysia we flew on to Sydney for our honeymoon, where we ended up having to exit our hotel in the middle of the night after a fire alarm. (Like a film trailer, you’ve now heard the best bits.) Then we went to Perth to stay with Heather’s dad and have a party with that side of the family. And finally we returned to the UK, where we had a big bash for our friends in Oxford and then a more sedate family affair with Heather’s mum’s family.
And that’s the story of how we got hitched, 20 years ago this week. Not so much Four Weddings and a Funeral as One Wedding and Four Parties. I think we did okay out of it, even if our kids looked at the photos with us and made pointed comments about how much younger and thinner we both looked …