Episode 5: the result
Barring disaster, in less than two weeks I will be a married man. The journey from living as a depressed hermit in a concrete shed at the bottom of a friend's garden to finding the woman I knew was the one, to proposing in a picturesque spot beside a salmon fishing river in Scotland, to becoming a father of a beautiful little girl, to taking my vows before family and friends will have taken just over four years yet it has gone by in a flash.
Thanks to you, I now have a suit, shirt, tie and shoes sorted for 1 September - not to mention an even more finely honed set of neuroses after Facebook comments about my beard (I've vowed to shave it off), being an "over-sized model" (I warned the photographer about my unique ability to make hate to the camera) and looking "tubby" (guilty as charged). But whatever the less charitable among you said, I am confident the combined genius of Mr Richard James and the personal shopping team at MR PORTER - allied to what I hope will be the magical properties of a waistcoat - will make me feel taller, prouder and, most importantly, slimmer on the big day.
In the 10 months since slipping an engagement ring on her finger, my bride-to-be has been serenity personified. She's added her trademark culinary flourishes to the menu; she found a jeweller and arranged the appointment for our wedding rings to be made; she's even allowed me to include the lyrics for Elvis Presley's "The Wonder of You" on the back of our order of service. Most importantly, though, she has stood firm under the pressure of arranging a wedding with parents who live more than 500 miles away.
Her calmness has been invaluable given that I was born anxious. On my current list of worries are gifts for the bridesmaids and pageboys. No, scratch that, I'm worried about the bridesmaids and pageboys. We have nine in total, more than the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had at their wedding; nieces and godchildren, mostly under the age of five. It's either going to be the cutest procession the county of Angus has ever witnessed or Lord of the Flies in white linen. Indeed, the only firm decision I have made on gifts is nothing that might double as a blunt instrument at the end of a long day with sugary interludes.
I'm also worried about how many people will come and whether anyone will get round to posting the RSVP cards to my future mother-in-law; the cards I endured so much pain for and paid a small fortune to get printed. On top of that, I'm concerned about my ushers, a more laissez faire group of middle-aged men you would be hard pressed to find. Plus, I'm now having sleepless nights over looking like an idiot in the first dance and developing visible sweat patches under the pressure of being the centre of attention and the heat of the disco lights. But what really brings me out in a cold sweat is the meeting of the tribes - my family and friends and hers.
Thanks to you, I now have a suit, shirt, tie and shoes sorted for 1 September - not to mention an even more finely honed set of neuroses after Facebook comments about my beard
The families will not be a problem; our parents have met and miraculously seem to like each other, plus sundry uncles and cousins on my side have chosen to boycott the occasion for a variety of reasons. Friends might be a different matter, and working on the seating plan has reminded me of a scene in The West Wing where President Bartlet's staff have to hastily arrange place settings for a Camp David summit between the Israelis and Palestinians.
At our wedding, the fault lines will appear not on religious or geopolitical grounds, but on the ability to do social niceties. Her friends are generally young, well-rounded and polite, while mine are almost exclusively eccentrics, deviants or flat-out misanthropes. What has become apparent is that arranging clusters of guests from both sides with more in common than their genus is about as taxing as finding a lasting solution to the problems in the Middle East.
All that said, I am now very excited. Despite my cynical mien, I'm a romantic at heart and I've always wanted to commit myself to the right woman and do it in front of my nearest and dearest. Perhaps it is this long-held desire that's made me think almost constantly about what I'm going to say when it's my turn to stand up.
In true Oscar's tradition, there are many people I want to thank - my wonderful parents, my siblings, my in-laws, the MR PORTER community - and in words that are heartfelt and meaningful. But what I really want is to make my speech while holding our eight-month-old baby daughter. Of all the wonderful things my wife (as she will be by then) has given me, she is the most precious. All I'll then need to ensure is that food is kept well out of arm's reach, otherwise it could result in an early retirement for the suit.