WEDDINGS are a time of joy - as well as bringing a couple together they unite families and friends in a manner unlike anything else.

It is unfortunately true that Spectator has been known to groan when a new invitation arrives but inevitably by the time the big day arrives he is fully in the swing of things and enjoying himself as much as everyone else.

And not even the most curmudgeonly character could fail to be moved by the lovely story of Bedale bridesmaid Nicole Hutton and her selfless efforts to ensure best friend Elizabeth Upward's wedding was a memorable one.

The bride and groom were tying the knot in Law Vegas - and it was too expensive, too far and too much of an ask to expect their nearest and dearest to attend.

But Elizabeth - who lost both her parents recently - reckoned without Nicole, who secretly arranged to surprise her when on American soil.

She even sent Elizabeth a decoy text message at 10pm UK time the night beforehand - but even then the surprise was far from over.

When the trio arrived at the luxurious Bellagio Hotel they were greeted by a crowd of friends and family - and as a stunned Elizabeth went to hug them, they parted to reveal her brother who had travelled across the Atlantic to give her away.

Surprising only to Nicole, her efforts have just won her the title of Britain's Best Bridesmaid, beating 500 nominations from other brides across Britain.

“It really was the most magical day and Nicole took all the stress out of it for us,” said Elizabeth afterwards.

Friends like that are rare indeed. Congratulations, all three of you.