There was never any question that the first of our friendship group to marry would be my best friend Sarah and her boyfriend, Matt. It was as much of a certainty as the sun rising in the east.
We’d all been friends since the first year, between us studying a range of subjects, and coming from differing backgrounds, but with the shared humour and eventual bond that comes from facing life’s first real adventure together. Sarah and I, both studying modern languages, had bonded over essay crises and shared tutorials, late nights drinking tea and putting the world to rights, and early mornings on the river.
After graduating, Sarah stayed in the UK while I returned to Paris and my French boyfriend, whom I’d met during my year abroad. Even without all the clichés about Paris being the most romantic city and the perfect place to fall in love, Seb and I met in scenes reminiscent of a rom-com — the Champs Elysées, a hot summer night, and a red convertible all make an appearance — and, despite the transition from the heady early days of our relationship to the usual challenges of cohabiting, were on what I thought was a steady trajectory towards engagement, marriage, and 2.5 kids.
The invitation to Sarah and Matt’s wedding made me so happy. They were — and are — made for each other, and I was excited to go back to the UK for the wedding. Seb hadn’t been able to get time off work to join me, so I looked forward to catching up with everyone without having to worry about whether he was following everything that was said. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t hoped that maybe the news of this wedding, plus the news a couple of his friends were also tying the knot that summer, might give us the opportunity to discuss our own future plans in more depth. Still, we were only in our mid-twenties: I figured there was plenty of time for all that.
The wedding was beautiful, perfectly reflecting the couple in everything from music to readings, as well as the reception and speeches. A committed Christian, Sarah had chosen a popular reading from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. So popular, I’d heard it at almost every wedding I attended in my teens as part of the church choir, to the point that it was part of our informal game of wedding bingo in the choir stalls. As such, I’d heard the words many times…