Hi everyone, Ashley here
Reflections is our focus for December and this week I have taken the time to reflect on what was the most amazing day of my life last week! This will be a slightly longer email so maybe make a cuppa before you start...
We had the most amazing winter weather forecast for the whole week of our visit in New York....except for our wedding day when they were saying it would rain all day! I kept telling myself that I had to be mindful that you can't control the weather and this was something we had to risk when planning an outdoor wedding ceremony in December! However, a little voice in my head kept saying "This is just typical" and "Why today, when every other day is perfect". No matter how much you practise mindfulness the little devil on your shoulder will still speak to you but, through mindfulness practise, you learn to respond in a better way. My response was to remind myself that if some rain on my wedding day was the worst thing that could happen to me that week, then I was actually a very lucky man! And thankfully, the rain held off until the evening
I became very emotional in the morning talking to my Mum. She is the most amazing and strong woman I know and I am so grateful every day to have her as my Mum. She cannot fly so was unable to attend the wedding but we live streamed it to her and I video called her every hour that day so she was part of our special occasion. Her and my brothers all dressed up to watch it back home in Worcestershire, my nephew even had a bow tie on to copy us! When talking to my Mum it took a lot of strength not to get emotional, lots of deep breaths helped with that! In the last call she told me how much she loved me and how proud of me she was - then I cried!
The ceremony itself was perfect. We had strangers congratulating us before we were even married! When we walked over Bow Bridge to meet our guests and start the ceremony, all I could think was how lucky I was. Not only was I marrying the perfect man for me, but here was Simon's Mum and brother and our closest friends, who had all spent a lot of money to come out to New York and share our special day. The ceremony started and I held it together...until, when asked by the Registrar why he loved me, Simon had her say this -
"Simon, you have said you love Ashley's ambition and determination, he is thoughtful and caring and his enthusiasm is infectious. Simon has said you are not a perfect couple coming together, you are an imperfect couple that has become perfect through respect, compromise, complete understanding and acceptance of each other. Your love together has overcome hurdles and heartache to arise where we are now, in the knowledge you are meant to spend the rest of your lives together".
Needless to say, I cried! He had, in just a few sentences, reflected and summarised why we are so perfect for each other and, although I didn't think it was possible, I felt myself fall in love even more... (I would encourage all of you to take a moment and write down what it is you love and cherish about your nearest and dearest. And if you can, share it with them so they know. They will feel amazing reading it and you will feel even more grateful for the best people in your life).
When we were pronounced 'husband and husband' there was a cheer from from our guests and a cheer from strangers watching from the bridge!
After the ceremony we had an incredible lunch at The Tavern on the Green where there were speeches from Simon's best woman Danielle and my best man Darren. Both speeches reflected on friendship, good and bad times and the journey our love story had made. Darren also mentioned my Dad, who passed away when I was 21. This took me by surprise as it was a realisation that, with all the excitement and joy, I hadn't thought of my Dad that day (despite thinking of him every day normally). I had tears in my eyes and when I told my Mum she said "Don't worry, he was there watching you with a big smile on his face, proud of you like we all are". Mums always know exactly what to say...
In the evening we had dinner on a luxury boat that sailed around Manhattan, and got close up to the Statue of Liberty. On reflection, the evening was the perfect end to the most incredible day, and I had never been happier.
As with all good weddings, a few thank yous -
Thank you to Simon for arranging our perfect wedding, I love you more and more each day. Thank you to our nearest and dearest who made it out to New York to celebrate with us, we know how lucky we are to have you in our lives! Thank you to our friends and family back home who spoilt us with gifts and lovely messages on the day itself, we were completely taken by surprise by this.
And thank you to you, our little SMASH family who have reached out and sent lovely messages, stopped me in the gym to congratulate me and listened to me go on and on and on about getting married
Hopefully, through past emails, I have shown you that my journey over the years has been filled with ups and downs, highs and lows - just like everyone else - but last week was the most incredible week of my life and I am so excited for the future, regardless of the inevitable challenges that will surely come my way.
On reflection, what have I learnt over the past 10 days?
Love always wins
Sam & Ashley
For Body For Mind For Life