As you might be aware, I get married on 26 August. Here's a blog post about what that means.
Beware, there is very little* HR or leadership or indeed anything professional in this post.
I'm marrying Katie on 26 August at 4.30pm on St.George's Beach in Paphos, Cyprus. In all likelihood this will be my final blog post before then and for a couple of weeks after (we're back for a week or so then go off on honeymoon for another week). Its also not very likely that I'll get much internet access whilst out there so my social media output will drop to minimal levels, as indeed it ought to.
I've been married before, and obviously since divorced (in an exceptionally painful and public way). Someone said to me when I told them I was remarrying that I ought to have learnt my lesson and therefore not do it again. But I look at it this way - I HAVE learnt my lesson, and this time I'm doing it right because of the learning I got the first time round.
I met Katie through social media, when I had my anonymous dating blog and associated Twitter account. We got talking as a result of that and I was due to be near where she lived for an HR conference in Birmingham soon after so I suggested we meet up.
Without getting TOO soppy, I knew even before I saw her that she was the one, from the email and text conversations and interactions on social media. Meeting her in person merely confirmed what I already knew.
And its been awesome ever since. We really do complete each other and yet, as many have commented, we are quite different in our personalities and like yin and yang in many aspects - but this seems to work - opposites attract and all that.
Katie healed my broken heart and somehow made it larger and better than it was before. She embraced my eldest two children and gave me a third. She moved 80 miles to live with me and gave up more than I ever could, and yet has settled well in our area and found friends, work and a good social life.
She's someone who constantly challenges me, both personally and professionally. She refuses to let me rest on my laurels and is regularly pressing me to improve myself in lots of ways, and helping me to do so. She's the best coach I've ever had, and the best friend I've ever had.
She's the parts of me that don't exist, or that are buried deep within me. She's confident, likeable, extroverted, argumentative, creative, loving, passionate and more.
And I love her for what she's been, for what she will be and for how she makes me better. As a couple we work so well its unreal.
I've yet to figure out what, precisely, I offer her in return, but all I do is treat her with respect and do nice things as often as I can and it seems to get me through most days.
The proposal came in March 2015 on her birthday. I took her to Ironbridge in Shropshire, her favourite place, and got down on one knee on the bridge when she wasn't looking, with a ring borrowed from her mum (until I could take her to choose one, obviously). The wedding we always wanted abroad, partly so it made it a smaller and more intimate affair, but partly so it had a fairytale feel to it. We chose Cyprus because of some family connections I have there but also because it was accessible without being too far.
We have 9 guests, of whom 3 are our children. Owen, who will be nearly 15 then, is my Best Man. I couldn't think of a better person to do it. I know what it takes to be my Best Man, and I've spent nearly 15 years growing my own. Faye, 11, and Poppy, nearly 2, will be bridesmaids / flower girls and both will look beautiful.
The ceremony is on the beach with the reception at a local taverna, and then 2 days later we're home. But only for 2 weeks before we head off on a cruise around the Norwegian Fjords, something on both our bucket lists, and something we may actually be looking forward to more than the wedding itself. Poppy will be coming with us but the elder two children will stay with their mum.
And in every blog I've done since I started in March 2015, I've mentioned something at the end - "In other news..." - about what was happening wedding-wise. If you track them back you'll see how things have developed.
When I next blog, after the honeymoon, it'll all be over, and I'll have to find something else to mention in "In other news..."
It will be strange not to have anything major to look forward to and to build towards, but instead to just look forward to married life and the challenges and excitement it brings, and to be one half of a wonderful couple with a great future ahead of us.
Apologies in advance for any soppy wedding photos I share on social media.
And apologies for the non-professional post here, but what's the point of having a blog if you can't write what you want and about what's important to you? Right now, the wedding is the most important thing happening to me - and I'll happily bore anyone to tears about it.
Till next time...
PS In other news, its finally here...