I left you at the end of the last blog having fed lasagne to rather more than previously intended on Thursday night after which a large number disappeared to quiz night at the Hare and Hounds. I reluctantly declined - need - really need! - to pace myself.
Friday went past in a blur - folks, friends and family arriving and helping with a million jobs, church flowers and pew ends to do with the Intrepid Granny and beautiful flowers arranged in dozens of jam jars by Elizabeth Jackson and Lady H. The amazing origami crane chandelier went up and lights hung from posts and trees and bushes around the garden and the marquee. Land Rovers were borrowed and taken to be valeted (Il Presidente's wife commented on the return of her's looking immaculate that she thought she ought to sell it whilst it looked so clean and beautiful!). And in the midst of it all, lovely Elaine Thomas is painting nails whilst number 4 seems to be plucking everyone's eyebrows. And suddenly it's nearly 6 o'clock and time to head off to the church for the rehearsal.
We must have arrived at church like kittens tumbling out of a box, but Jonathan Singh, our lovely vicar, created an aura of calm (and not a few giggles) whilst he took us through our paces. Would I like to read the lesson from the floor or the pulpit? No question, how many times in my life will I get to stand in a pulpit! Then we're all off to the Hare and Hounds (again!) for a big curry evening for 70-something of our guests, most of whom have travelled from London and some even as far away as New Zealand to be here. Lots of folks to meet for the first time including my opposite number, the mother of the groom and her husband and a whole posse of aunties who were very much a part of the groom's childhood. All lovely and everyone is just so happy.
There is always a tipping point at these evenings when you have to decide whether it's too much like good fun to go home and be prepared to pay the price the next day or whether you put your sensible head on and go home before it gets messy. Uncharacteristically I did the latter - on the wedding day you see, in the words of Aerosmith 'I don't want to miss a thing!'https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ss0kFNUP4P4
Most massive and important things in life involve a lot of nerves and worry but on the morning of the big W I only felt a tremendous bubbling of excitement, a desire to do everything at the run so that I could pause just for a few seconds to take a mental snapshot of the joyfulness around me. David Robinson from the Story of O arrived early to do hair as well as Giles Rocholl who had also been with us the day before to capture every moment on camera so that I don't have to rely on my jumble of memories of the day. Land Rovers were pimped with white ribbon whilst James Brown and his team arrived early to lay up the tables after the leaky marquee episode of Thursday, helped most ably by the very useful groomsmen and their partners. Beautiful cheese was laid out by the lovely Gilly from The Cheese Board and then Ninny accompanied by Skip and Mrs Broccoli arrived with the cake - wow! It is truly the most stunning wedding cake I have ever seen - unconventional with not a dot of royal icing in sight and utterly magnificent.
Finally it's time to dress and I absolutely love my outfit and hat - thank you Jillian Welch and Jessica Robinson! Even though later on, after hundreds of hugs, my hat may have slipped to a jaunty angle, it didn't matter. I loved it! The bridesmaids looked beautiful and sparkly and then the bride - with barely a touch of make-up and wonderfully tumbly hair - appeared in THE dress. Totally different, utterly gorgeous.
The weather, finally, had decided to play ball and though a tiny shower threatened before retreating over Sutton Bank, we arrived in church in our cortege of immaculate, beribboned Land Rovers without getting damp. Just walking into church on number 3's arm (again) I could feel the palpable anticipation of the guests. My already-one-of-the-family son-in-law, married to number 2, sat beside me in church whilst we waited for the wedding party. Stocko - one of us already and very much loved by us all.
There are very few weddings I have ever been to where guests have remarked afterwards about the seriously top vicar but Jonathan made the service inclusive, fun, loving and tender. Sophie Reed sang 'Somewhere over the Rainbow' like an angel, I got my pulpit moment with the reading from the Book of Ruth and Annabel topped it with Pooh and Piglet. And then we're back down the aisle, me on the arm of Sean, father of the groom with my beloved sashaying back down the aisle behind us with Sean's partner, Jane in his absolutely fantastic Scottish kilt ensemble (hence so many parcels arriving from Scotland in the last couple of weeks) including the Barr tartan, dirk and sporran.
So I've had to divide this blog in half because it's going to be a long one (sorry!) and I haven't yet had time to sort through the thousands of photographs from the day so here's a taster and you can listen to Aerosmith in the meantime. More to come ...
A beautiful bride and her gorgeous Dad.