Friends after marriage: "time and distance doesn’t alter good friendships"
There’s one question a bride is routinely asked after her wedding, when she’s settling into life as one-half of a legally-recognised couple: ‘Do you feel any different?’ Bestselling author Jane Costello tells us how getting married rebooted her relationships with her friends.
‘Do you feel any different?’
The answer for most of us is not really—at least it should be if you’ve married the right person. After my wedding last summer, the thought that I’d found my soulmate, my one true love and someone to put the bins out for the rest of my life unquestionably gave me a nice warm glow. But there wasn’t some seismic shift in feelings, for the simple reason that everything had felt right before the wedding—and everything felt right afterwards too.
There was, however, one relationship that changed for the better as a result of my wedding. Only it wasn’t with my husband. It was with my friends. I’ve always treasured them, that small circle of female confidantes a woman can trust with a secret, call on in a crisis and who know you so well they could tell just by sniffing a perfume whether you’d like it or not.
“The closest any of us get to an adrenalin rush
these days involves running around the house
every morning, shouting ‘TEETH’ and ‘SHOES’!”
But, having reached my forties and had three children, an imperceptible change had happened over the years. Weekends that once have been spent catching up over a bottle of wine or a shopping afternoon—as soon as our lives became dominated by little people—came to an abrupt halt.
This is partly because spontaneity is not a word you associate with having children, as my closest friends and I now do. We might have once spent a summer riding mopeds and water skiing in Thailand but the closest any of us get to an adrenalin rush these days involves running around the house every morning, shouting ‘TEETH’ and ‘SHOES’!
The change was also as a result of geography—life, jobs and marriages had, in the case of my best friend Nina, led to us living over an hour away from each other. All of which meant that sending a spontaneous text asking, ‘fancy a drink tonight?’ was pointless.
Organising a catch-up now involved precision planning, just to make sure that our couple of hours together didn’t clash with karate club, swimming club, sleepovers and an acclaimed, one-line performance in the school play.
Bridesmaids and besties Ali and Nina
“It always amazed me how much had
happened in the interim.
I’m not talking divorces and deaths,
but the casual minutiae of each other’s
lives that we simply used to know”
Of course, when good friends finally get together, it’s as though you’ve never been apart—time and distance doesn’t alter that. But it always amazed me how much had happened in the interim. I’m not talking divorces and deaths, but the casual minutiae of each other’s lives that we simply used to know: Who’d read a book that had made them laugh/cry/want to take up sky-diving. Whose child had been cast as King Herod in the school nativity play. Whose ex-husband had put on the most weight (this was a particular favourite).
Then, in May 2014, shortly after my 40th birthday, the man I’d met three and a half years earlier proposed in Sorrento and I found myself in the delightful and unexpected position of having a wedding to organise. Faced with 14 months of planning, time with my female friends became a priority, not just something to fit in around everyone else.
It simply had to be. Nobody else was going to back up my decision to buy the Jimmy Choos that were invisible below the hem of my dress anyway. Or tell me with brutal honesty that the Jenny Packham gown that was stunning on everyone else looked like a nightie on me. Or indeed be motivated to traipse around bridal boutiques and spend hours looking at shades of mint bridesmaid dresses on Pinterest.
Soon after the engagement, I organised an evening at my house with my two bridesmaids, Ali and Nina, to skim through bridal magazines, talk about colours, lambast the extortionately-priced dresses that resembled my Grandma’s toilet roll holder in the 1970s. We had a tremendous evening, staying up too late, drinking too much and waking up the next morning fizzing with excitement and quite a significant headache.
Jane and her bridesmaids
It was the start of dozens of regular get-togethers, days spent at bridal shops or having manicures, all of which culminated in a thoroughly enjoyable cocktail-making masterclass for my hen night. Fun as this all was, what made it special was not just that it involved doing things that three working mums would never usually do. It’s that we were all together again, laughing, reminiscing and relaxing in each other’s company, just like we used to do before the chaos of real life got in the way.
“It took my big day to remind me:
that spending time with good friends
is one of the greatest joys life has to offer."
It was on the morning of the wedding itself, at Knowsley Hall, the glorious stately home just outside Liverpool, that I realised this simply mustn’t come to dead stop. It’d been too much of a pleasure and a privilege to spend time with two women who’d meant so much to me over the years. So we all made a pact.
Since then, I can’t claim our regular reunions have been a complete doddle to organise—without the framework of wedding appointments, you have to make an effort.
The difference is, that we’re all determined to do so. To still book in for those manicures we never used to have, to meet regularly for drinks and go for lunch every so often. Now the wedding is over, there’s no official reason for any of this, except perhaps the best one. It took my big day to remind me: that spending time with good friends is one of the greatest joys life has to offer.