Weddings aren’t what they used to be, which is a relief for people who don’t like sexism, crude humour, drunkenness, ill-fitting outfits, unimaginative food or seething family tensions.
None of which were even hinted at the wedding of my grandson Sam and my new relative Mrs Becky Cross, mainly, I think, because all the youngish people I know (especially Sam and Becky) are more sensible than I ever was, not to mention more thoughtful, intelligent, enterprising and – which, I realised at the wedding, is the most important social virtue – much kinder too.
So, in keeping with the kindly mood established by the happy couple (‘happy’ being, so far as I could see, an accurate description rather than a wedding cliché), everybody was nice to each other, enjoying the company of, in many cases, strangers and delighted by the just-in-time end of the Covid lockdown.
Which could sound dull but really isn’t, particularly when you consider that the alternative might be a wedding in Walford, Emmerdale or Kabul during the massacre season.
This ceremony was in rolling green countryside near York in a set of old and very attractive agricultural buildings repurposed to look completely unlike the cramped and charmless register office where I was married in the 1970s and which, as I remember, mainly overlooked the council’s rates department.
Since then, and excluding pandemics and climate change, much has changed for the better. English wedding-goers have started to understand the concepts of smart-casual clothing, ecologically-aware confetti-throwing and acceptable hair arrangements (as a reminder of how bad things were, you could look at wedding pictures from the 1970s and 80s, after first reading a trauma warning).
Other things didn’t need to change; bridesmaids in uniforms so glamorous that you could imagine them breaking into a West End dance routine, a bride wearing a lovely white dress with a lacy train which was so definitively a wedding dress that it couldn’t be repurposed into anything else and its future is secure.
There was even a wedding cake tiered, though not in the usual way, by Sam, who, unlike most men in the last century, knows how to bake very well.
But I think the most impressive improvement was in the quality of the wedding speeches. These have been, in my experience, minor ordeals to be got through with the aid of stiff drinks. Here, everybody, especially Sam and Becky, said what they had to say very wittily and intelligently and without recourse to boorishness, cheap cracks or showing-off.
Taking the long view, which, at my age, isn’t quite as long as it used to be, I can see, based on the wedding speeches alone, a union of two families who, being blessed with rare intelligence and goodwill will continue to enrich each other’s lives, just like the Montagues and Capulets didn’t.