Sunday, 18 August 2013

Days We Will Remember

I went to a wedding recently.
It was a small, intimate affair. Home-made in the very best sense of that two-edged phrase, a wedding that, without flouting any rules, adjusted to be what the bride and groom wanted. For one thing, the whole day had been transported several hundred miles south of the bride's home parish to enable the groom's elderly parents to attend, a gesture that was greatly appreciated.
(No easy task that, re-locating a wedding.)

It was a warm summer's afternoon. A perfect time to get married, and the perfect sort of day for a wedding. A lazy August afternoon, warm and still. The village was sleepy as we walked the hundred yards or so to the medieval church of St Mary Magdalene, and standing beneath the short, square bell-tower looking out over the ancient gravestones, the world seemed to me a timeless place and all of us just part of a continuum.

The bridegroom and best man arrive

The groom and his best man - his son. arriving on bicycles that probably predated their combined years, had their trousers tucked into their socks, their jackets flying. A few people had gathered on the street outside and, at the couple's request, all the guests were waiting by the ancient church porch, so an enthusiastic cheer went up as they swept through the gate.

The bridal car had paused half-way up the church laneway, so everyone inside also witnessed the groom's arrival, and as the bride emerged from the car, helped by her daughter, the groom stood and watched, his face a picture of contentment. It was just as they both had wanted.

I paused to take a few photographs as the guests made their way into the church.

Then the bride and groom walked down the aisle together, hand in hand.
Beautiful as they both looked, Jane Austen might have said that neither them were in 'the first flush of youth', but the bridesmaids certainly were, and sitting behind them in the church, I felt as if they had stepped straight out of one of her novels.

During the service, it was impossible not to feel how happy the bride and groom were to be there, making a lasting commitment to each other on a summer's afternoon. Impossible not to share that happiness.
Just what weddings are all about, really, but somehow more poignant for those not in 'the first flush of youth', those who have instead arrived at this place after long, hard and separate roads.

Weddings are usually lovely, and when they are small, intimate and hands-on, perhaps they are even more so. The groom's sister had found the bicycles, plundered her kitchen cupboards to supply their chef, lent wonderful old jugs and vases for the church, ferried guests to and fro and hosted a garden buffet lunch; his brother performed at the ceremony reading a poem and, later, the 23rd Psalm; and his other sister arranged armfuls of flowers - supplied by his mother - into the aforementioned jugs and vases. His son was the best man - a role he carried off with aplomb; his three daughters were bridesmaids alongside their new step-sister, and his nephew wielded his nifty camera to record every moment of the day.

The groom's mother

With the church bells pealing out to celebrate another new marriage, everyone laughed, threw confetti and took more photos. Champagne was produced from a lovely old trunk in the Rolls Royce and the couple toasted each other and - bedecked with coloured paper and roses - kissed again.

Later everyone repaired to the lovely Edwardian house they had rented for the week, to relax on the terrace or by the pool with glasses of bubbly and smoked salmon canapes before sitting down to the 5-course feast that had been prepared.

Nothing ever goes according to plan. In fact, to quote the groom's eldest daughter, it would be less memorable if it did. Needless to say, the chef got roaring drunk, but not before he'd cooked most of the evening's wonderful menu. Someone else stepped in to cook the fillets of lamb at the last minute, but it didn't spoil anyone's enjoyment, and well-timed, funny speeches from the groom and his best man kept everyone amused during the hiccup, while the rainbow of fruit on the beautifully original wedding cake brought forth oohs and aahs of appreciation. As the menu said: 'After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations' (Oscar Wilde).
The evening ended everyone sitting on the stairs while the bride's best friend played the piano and sang.
I don't think there was a dry eye in the house.

Later, on my way to bed, I paused to look up at the cloudless sky. The Milky Way was stirred through the darkness like a wisp of foam, and amongst the millions of stars I saw one plummet through the sky like a diamond in freefall. I hoped the bride and groom had seen it too, and made a wish.

I expect they had. It was basically encapsulated in the poem they'd included in their wedding service. 

I cannot promise you a life of sunshine;
I cannot promise riches, wealth, or gold;
I cannot promise you an easy pathway
That leads away from change or growing old.

 I can promise all my heart’s devotion;
A smile to chase away your tears of sorrow;
A love that's ever true and ever growing;
A hand to hold in yours through each tomorrow.

Two loving arms to shelter and protect you,
The knowledge that I need you more than ever,
And all the happiness that love can give you
As, hand in hand, we walk through life together.

I made a wish for them anyway, just in case.


  1. I love home-made weddings. So much more personal than the usual run-of-the-mill factory churned out affairs. The poem is beautiful. I wish them all the luck in the world.

    1. Thank you Eileen. I agree with you, and summer and home-made weddings go together like strawberries and cream. I will pass your good wishes on.

  2. What a beautiful description of what must have been the happiest of days! Wonderful photographs, lovely original ideas for their own special day, and a real treat to feel part of the day by reading your blog. May God bless the happy couple in their future together! Fantastic!

    1. Thank you! It was a lovely day and I'm so glad you enjoyed reading about it and seeing the pictures. Thanks for your good wishes for them too.

  3. Beautiful writing of what sounds like this couples perfect day. Really enjoyed reading about it.

    1. Thanks Anna, and thank you for leaving a comment! So nice to see you here!

  4. It was a beautiful day. Thank you for such a poetic description of our wedding. We thoroughly enjoyed it and hope everyone else did.

    1. It was a lovely day - I hope I've done it justice! I'm so glad you both enjoyed it - after so much hard work and thought to make it all happen so beautifully. I'm sure you've seen the good wishes above!

  5. This sounds like a thoroughly delightful wedding. Love your photos of all the girls in their lovely dresses and the bride of course.

    1. Thanks Mairead. Delightful is the right word - it was. I'm glad you like the photos - they all looked totally fabulous.

  6. Just looks perfect .... exactly my dream for a wedding day ...
    and the poem is very beautiful

    1. I think and hope it was just what they dreamed of too! Everything about the day was lovely. The poem is just right, isn't it!
      I will send on the email contact that you asked about. I'll add it as a separate comment here as soon as I get it.

    2. Thank you for a lovely, apposite, heart-warming and beautifully illustrated (in thought, word and picture) write-up of the day. It was great to be there.

    3. Ah - thanks for the comment. I'm glad you enjoyed the write-up as well as the day! It was lovely.

  7. This must be the nicest wedding tale I have ever read.

  8. Writing and photos all lovely. Please pass on my best wishes!

  9. I love the poem, too.

  10. Ah lovely.
    But should I ever marry, and I doubt if it is one th cards, I should like a walkers' wedding, in sensible trousers and polished boots. The groom here seems to have had the best of the outfit deal. He can wear those clothes again and agin, and each time they will recall the joy of the day. her dress will probably hang ina plastic shroud in the wardrobe.


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