What a Bottle of Champagne Can Teach You: Ponderings From My First Wedding Anniversary

Today my husband and I are celebrating our second first wedding anniversary. No, we have not split and then remarried, as the first sentence may imply. Rather we had the extreme pleasure of rejoicing in the start of our married life twice, with two very different, but equally incredible weddings. To mark the occasion we have opened a bottle of champagne saved from the wedding, and perhaps it’s the bubbly, but my mind has wondered onto some very deep lessons this particular bottle has taught me.

Our Champagne Story

My husband is a BASE jumper. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this rather niche sport, in simple terms BASE jumpers are seemingly mad individuals who choose to jump off of perfectly good Buildings, Antennas, Spans (or bridges) and Earth objects such as mountains. Wearing parachutes of course, well at least if they plan to ever repeat the activity. My husband’s participation in this thrilling sport quite often means we load up the back of our station wagon and road-trip it from our home in London through to various jumping sites in Europe.

On a trip last year we made a pit stop in Epernay, or the home of champagne in France. Our goal was to taste varieties of champagne in the local champagne houses, and choose one for our wedding which was planned for later that year. We started with the big names. We toured the never ending cellars of Moet and Chandon, and were whisked away to a world of luxury in their opulent tasting rooms. As delicious as their grand cru, or highest quality of champagne, offerings were, the experience was formulaic. The tour was offered in 10 different languages, shared with over 20 people, and ending in a souvenir shop.

A few glasses of Champagne at the Moet & Chandon Champagne House in Epernay

We decided, after a couple of days of the same experience repeated, to venture out of the city centre. To leave behind the ancient and established champagne houses, in search of an authentic experience. On a long bike ride through the rolling hills covered in vineyards we happened upon a small champagne house. Domi-Moreau was ran by a husband and wife, who had inherited the champagne house. The wife lead us to a small private tasting room, where she offered us many glasses. Each was described with such detail and eloquence, despite speaking only broken English, that the personal pride she took in her product could not be denied. Her husband then, not speaking a word of English, was able to use a map to communicate to us how we could take our bikes and tour the family estate and vineyards.

In the cellar at the Dom Perginon Champagne House

The champagne was exquisite. The experience was unique and fresh, like putting on a new garment rather than a hand-me-down, worn and tattered from all those who had already had it. Like many of the other houses we had visited, only grand cru was on offer, but unlike the other stuffy cellars, this one came with a beautifully charming and original experience. So naturally we filled the back of the car with bottles.

Our Love Story

In choosing our champagne we championed originality, and there is no one more original than my husband. I did not know one man could be the combination of so many contradictions and imperfections, and yet, as a whole be so simply perfect. A man who hears a Belinda Carlisle song on the radio and announces “That’s my jam” while turning the volume knob onto high, a man who meditates twice everyday, a man who chooses to jump off of cliffs for fun. He has found happiness, his path in life, by being true to himself, and being an individual.

In our life together, our love story, we have strived for authenticity as well. By finding a best friend and partner who also believes that we should not “live the same year 75 times and call it a life”(- Robin Sharma), I feel supported in my efforts to be my own person, and create a life that suits our shared dreams. For our honeymoon we opted for backpacking through Thailand for over a month, rather than the package-deal and luxury of a resort. We celebrate our anniversary today by having a picnic on the lake, rather than an expensive meal in a posh restaurant. We make our own rules for love, life, and happiness, and we do it together.

Champagne is Very Educational

The Domi-Moreau Champagne house could make changes, perhaps invest in advertisement, and become the next big thing, available on supermarket shelves everywhere. However, the husband and wife have a simple and fulfilling life of their own design. Bigger is not always better, success is not only marked by dollar signs and following the crowd just leads you to a crowded place.