Monday 21 March 2005

A thank you note from the unknown wedding guest

Hi there,

you don't really know me. I'm your best friend from when you were five, our mums kind of kept in touch and so you had to invite me to your wedding. Or maybe I'm a close school friend's new boyfriend. Perhaps I just wondered off the street, you didn't seem to mind. Anyway, I wanted to thank you for the great time I had at your wedding.

I enjoyed the ceremony. I could only just pick you out of a police line-up if pressed, so it was hardly an emotionally charged experience for me, but you chose some good readings and it was all clearly heartfelt and blessedly short. The bride looked beautiful, but perhaps she's always gorgeous, I've got no history to compare it to.

Your great aunt's an interesting character isn't she? As I didn't know anybody else and she looked lonely I wound up talking with her for over an hour whilst the photos were being taken. Once you get past her hearing problems she's got plenty of tales to tell; life in colonial India, her work as a court stenographer, her late husband's radar research. She even invited me round for tea if I'm ever passing through Hampshire, I've no intention of taking her up on the offer, but it was nice of her to invite me.

The photographer was a nice guy too. I tried to keep out of his way whilst he was doing the candid shots, I thought it might be a bit disconcerting for you to look back on your wedding pictures in four years' time and see a guest you can't begin to place.

Eight hours into the day I wound up chatting about you with a couple of your friends and the best man (Greg? Craig?). You'll be pleased to hear that even after six pints and several glasses of champagne they had nothing bad to see about you or your wife. You sound like a lovely couple.

I've been to many weddings in the last few years. Some invites came from close friends, some from once close friends, and a few, like yours, came from someone I'm only poorly connected with. There's fun to be had at any free party, particularly from dancing freely and without embarrassment. But it's a furtive pleasure, freighted with a little guilt that I've taken up a space you could have offered to someone more directly connected with you. I was always slightly concerned your face would turn from delight to bafflement as you scanned the ranks of your closest friends and family and spotted me, the unknown. Fortunately you never did.

Thanks again, I had a great time. And best wishes for your new life together. I look forward to exchanging some empty pleasantries at your first child's christening.