"Are you having any readings?"
"Have you brought some music?"
"Do you have rings?"
The elderly registrar smiles with a hint of relief. At least one traditional feature. She tells those present that photos are not permitted during the actual signing of the register but they can be posed for afterwards.
"Does anyone have any questions?"
"In that case, shall we begin?"
We all stand in our appointed positions. Just the couple and two witnesses. "We asked you because you're the first people we met after we moved here," the bride and groom said. "Also, this way, none of our other friends can possibly be offended at not being asked."
Given these circumstances, H. and I feel deeply privileged to be here.
There are no other guests. They felt disloyal about inviting friends and leaving out family. She doesn't want her family's aloofness to sabotage her special day. He knows his family aren't ready to hear the news. Too much pain to come to terms with yet, too much forgiveness to be granted. This marriage is a right built on wrongs. Inevitable wrongs that had to be righted and could not be righted without some wrongs. We're only human.
He wears grey chinos and a blue shirt that brings out the colour of his eyes and the silver of his hair. She bought a terracotta top for the occasion, as well as a blue-grey skirt. Something new. Nothing old or borrowed. No flowers. This is a second marriage for both. A couple of decades ago, both had a day of white lace, speeches, three-tier cakes and pink champagne. A day to please her husband's family and his wife's tradition. Today is for them alone.
The ceremony takes about twenty minutes. The registrar speaks the vows and they repeat after her slowly, meaning every word. Plain, matching gold bands are slipped on fingers. A tender kiss exchanged. This is a second wedding. The youthful trust has grown into firm intention. The candy-coloured spring blossoms have been replaced with the deeper, earthier hues of early autumn. Passion with compassion.