Alex and Andy’s Humanist vow renewal was a “13 reasons why” sort of day. It celebrated 13 years of marriage, tumultuous life events, family. Survival.

Not all ceremonies are big affairs. This one wasn’t. It was held at the beautiful and intimate Blakeney House. The ceremony was small – but it was big on emotion. And commitment. And love.

The back story is one of a life shortening illness. The front story is one of using love as a reason to carry on as normal. Working, bringing up a family, renovating houses, moving around the country, dealing with stuff. Smiling. Loving. Laughing.

The biggest surprise was submariner Spencer’s unexpected arrival at the wedding; the biggest laugh was Cameron’s ‘warm-up’ gig before we started; the biggest smile was Rhea’s as she watched her mum.

And the 13 reasons why to celebrate? Andy and Alex worked on these reasons together and they were hotly contested – especially those relating to cars and handbags! The only one that wasn’t, was the one that championed survival against the odds. There were noisy remonstrations from the guests, and a ‘sincerity’ vote at the end. Andy won, Alex. Andy won! He did!

Alex and Andy said they wanted to tell one another why they still loved each other, but I had no idea what they were going to say as it wasn’t included in the script. And this was where the tears came. Alex loves Andy because he is kind, generous, committed, courageous, loving and a great dad. Andy loves Alex because through it all, his love for her, his home and his family keep him going and he cannot bear to be away from them even for a day.

Tears stopped play for a while at that point, and whilst we mopped ourselves down, and I had a little think whilst passing round the tissues.

My plan had been to do a simple handfasting just between Alex and Andy, but in the end I went completely off-script and collected Cameron and then Spencer and then Rhea and I ‘bound’ all their hands together with ribbons that symbolised triumph and hope. And love.

It was worth it, just to see them all standing there, together, facing the world – and laughing through tears.

Never had those words from Fleabag felt more appropriate.

I was taught if we’re born with love then life is about choosing the right place to put it. People talk about that a lot, feeling right, when it feels right it’s easy.

But I’m not sure that’s true.
 It takes strength to know what’s right. And love isn’t something that weak people do.
 Being a romantic takes a hell of a lot of hope.
 I think what they mean is, when you find somebody that you love, it feels like hope.

Click here to get Andy and Alex’s thoughts on their vow renewal ceremony. I’ll never forget it.