Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Such a Perfect Day...

After my last rather melodramatic post, I thought I'd write about something a bit more cheerful, and as it happens I am feeling a lot better so ergo I am more cheerful. I will probably be returning to my angst ridden state, if only to take the piss out of myself - laughter really is the best medicine I find, but not today. Today is about much happier things.

Twenty years ago today was the day I tripped down the aisle (actually it's a very short aisle so it was a mere few steps) to marry Spouse. So I thought I'd celebrate by blogging my wedding day, which remains the most perfect day of my life. (I know technically I should include the days the children were born, but hell, there was ALOT of pain before they came out, so I'd say the moments they were born were perfect, the rest was not).

As I am also currently writing about weddings, it also seems rather appropriate to delve into the old memory banks to get me in the mood for when I get back to work in a minute...

Spouse and I met at university (this deserves a whole other post as in a few weeks time it will be 25 years since we met. Eek. I can't possibly be that old) and were among the first of our friends to get married, which I seem to remember causing mild consternation at the time. One of them even begged us not to do it - mind you fil wasn't too happy when we announced our engagement either, but then Spouse's brother had just announced his divorce so our timing wasn't the best (-:

Although I grew up in London, my parents took off to Shropshire the year before we got married, so we were blessed with being able to have a country wedding in a tiny church which I still go to when I'm visiting my mum. I'd show you a picture, but my scanner's on the blink, which means you aren't going to get any wedding pics either. Sorry about that.

However, the course to our wedding day wasn't an entirely smooth one. Is it for anyone? I doubt it somehow. For a start, dearly as I love my mother, she is an organiser extraordinaire and gets very definite ideas about things. One of which was that we should send everyone home at around 7pm. This was mainly so she could avoid us having a disco as she hates them. Given a choice I'd rather not have an argument with anyone, but we had invited people from all over the country, most of whom would be staying the night. The town my mum lives in is lovely, but there isn't a whole lot to do after dark, especially not twenty years ago. So I put my foot down and won that one. 1-0 to me.

Then two months before the wedding the woman who ran the hotel we'd booked ran away with the chef, so the business was being sold, about a week before we were due to get married. It was too late to book another venue. My poor mother was beside herself. So was I. But I was totally wrapped up in wedding mania by then and I wasn't at all sympathetic to her suggestion we got a marquee in the back garden. I don't know why, but I thought it would be a bit naff. So I remember having a very teary and fraught conversation on the phone (it's incredibly tedious organising a wedding from a distance of 200 miles I can tell you) sitting on the floor of our new home which was devoid of furniture and fittings and rather summed up the despair I was feeling at the time. My mum was adamant though. There wasn't any other choice really. 1-1.

As it happened she was completely and utterly right. We hired a local firm of caterers, my dad was able to get all the wine he wanted from the local wine merchants without paying corkage (people still talk about the wine at our wedding), and it was a lovely intimate setting on the day. Much much better then being an impersonal hotel. I'm thinking of suggesting it to my girls if they ever get married. So 2-1 to my ma really. In the end.

The second disaster to hit us was the small matter of our wedding rings. Being incredibly naive, when we got engaged, Spouse just took me into a shop in Hatton Garden, which is near where I worked at the time, we chose a ring, wandered off for half an hour while they resized it and that was that. We were so frantically busy before the wedding we'd left buying rings till the last moment. Well. Two weeks before at any rate. We had no time to pop up to Hatton Garden so we went into our local jewellers and ordered two rings. To our consternation they told us the rings would have to be sent away to be sized and would come back in two weeks time. Oh, we said weakly, that's when we're getting married. Luckily, they had an express service. The rings could be back within the week.

Only they weren't. I went in on the Saturday before the wedding. Nope. No sign of them. I then pushed off to Shropshire, leaving poor Spouse and various kind relatives to pay daily visits to the shop to no avail. By Thursday the situation was critical, so my mother suggested I tried the local jeweller, who was unable to sell us rings but helpfully offered to lend us some. I can't have you going up the aisle, naked m'dear, he said in his soft Shropshire burr, to my delight.

Needless to say, despite Spouse having a rare hissy fit in the jeweller's the day before the wedding, we still had no rings, so when he arrived ashen faced at 4pm I was able to whisk him to my new best friend and we were furnished with a pair of rings to see us through the day. Unfortunately I wasn't able to prevent the priest from blessing them, but I did stop the photographer in his tracks by announcing I was giving them back on Monday when tried to take a picture.

So rings all sorted, we were raring to go. Well, I was. As you might have noticed by now, I am a champion worrier(-: However, I tend to do my worrying months in advance. So come the big day I was serene and relaxed. Spouse on the other hand is a seats of your pants kind of person. So he never thinks about things till he has to. Hence he was in a terrible state the night before the wedding, suggesting we ran away to Gretna Green just so we didn't have to stand up in front of all those people (Spouse unlike me, who am heap big show off, doesn't relish a crowd, and the thought of making a speech made him feel physically sick). Tempting as it was, I wouldn't let him whisk me away, but we did spend a very happy evening in the local boozer with all our mates.

I'd like to say my wedding day dawned fair, but sadly it was cold and grey and cloudy. Weirdly enough though, I was so elated all day long I didn't feel the cold at all, in fact I was quite surprised when one of my aunts told me later that she'd been frozen all day.

I can't remember quite how early I woke, but I was up and out and at the hairdressers by 9am. The great thing about getting married in a small town is that everyone I spoke to knew about it. Even though my parents hadn't been there very long, they were sufficiently well known in the town for people to stop me and say, Oh you're the bride. It was a fantastic feeling that. Made me feel like a popstar. The other great thing was the town was also full of our friends and relatives so I kept bumping into people.

When I got back the house was a hive of activity. The lady who'd arranged our flowers arrived with the most gorgeous bouquet of gold and yellow roses for me, and two sprays for my grown up bridesmaids (Mad Twin and my other closest sister both gorgeous in gold) and a little posy for my lovely 5 year old niece. The flower lady was amazing, and lived in a wonderful old cottage somewhere up a Shropshire hill. She took my ideas and produced something really special (and she's just about to go in a book as a result (-:) What a happy house, she declared as she left. And it was. Both a happy house and an ecstatically happy day.

At some point I must have had a bath, as I remember being mortified to be found in my dressing gown when the best man arrived to pick up the button holes (gold of course). Then my second eldest sister pounced on me to do my nails (she's a bit like that, dead bossy), so I spent a tedious half hour waving my fingers out of the window to make them dry. I am champion at smudging nail varnish, so I really didn't want to scuff them. I can remember just being incredibly serene, despite the busyness around me.

Then my niece arrived with her mother, just as I was getting into my dress - very plain, shot silk with lace for the train, made my immensely talented mother. (She also made the cake. I think my girls will have to make do with the bride shop (-: ) You look like a princess, she said. I felt like one too. I was never one to obsess about a white wedding as a child, but without a doubt, I felt incredibly special that day. And I loved wearing my dress and veil and being the centre of attention. Told you I was a show off.

The morning had dragged, but suddenly from lunchtime onwards things seemed to speed up. My brother was despatched to Shrewsbury to pick up an aunt and uncle (long story but basically my aunt made a - we think - bigamous marriage to an American second cousin, then became very difficult. First they were coming to the wedding, then they weren't, and at the last minute, suddenly they were again.) - however he got there and they weren't there. Instead they pitched up at the house as the car arrived to take me and my dad to church.

My uncle - well actually I never really thought of him as such - was a strange looking creature. He had a turtle like head, and a rather dessicated look about him. And I was much taken with the bobbing up and down of his head as he shook my hand earnestly and said in his Californian drawl, Oh, what a beautiful bride. In the meantime my eldest sister was subtly trying to get them into her car, so they wouldn't actually arrive at the church after us.

Then I was left alone with my dad. A moment of high tension for both of us, until we both realised how nervous we were and fell about laughing instead. I had the greatest time with my dad that day. When we got the church we laughed and laughed at the hapless photographer who'd probably never had such an unhelpful subject as my dad, who simply refused to take it seriously and kept looking the wrong way and pulling silly faces. One of my favourite photographs though, is of us holding hands and looking back at the camera, with the bridesmaids framed in the background. Wer'e both laughing, a happy spontaneous moment, from a wonderful wonderful day.

We giggled some more when we got to the door of the church and didn't know what to do as someone had shut the church door. In the end we shoved it open and then walked down the aisle in a matter of seconds (it's a very small church), and then my dad slipped away and I was sitting next to Spouse. Who looked dreadful. He was white as a sheet and looked as if he was about to throw up (I learnt afterwards he'd had to have about four G&Ts to steady his nerves. But he still managed to whisper You look gorgeous, which still makes me go all gooey when I think about it.

The wedding itself was a catholic nuptial mass - a bit of an ordeal for most of our agnostic friends, but I did want a ceremony that had meaning and wasn't over quickly. For our readings we chose John 4:&-13 and Psalm 128 which my parents had at their wedding - one verse of which now seems incredibly appropriate: Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house/Your children will be like olive shoots around your table (hmm, not sure we were expecting four olive shoots back then, but we're not sorry now.) When it came to our vows, I refused point blank to honour and obey, so we opted for cherishing one another instead, which is much much nicer anyway.

After the service was over we had endless photos in the garden. I am laughing in every single one. I just couldn't stop laughing. Every time I turned around someone clicked and took a photo of me. It was like being a film star for the day. And everywhere I turned there were friends and family congratulating us. It was just brilliant.

Then it was back to the house, and Spouse and I scooted straight through to make sure we got to the reception line before any of the guests. The caterers were already in the house and so were my late arriving aunt and uncle. Spouse had never met them before, and hilariously mistook the man solemnly shaking his hand and saying What a happy day for a very enthusiastic caterer.

I can't tell you what we had to eat that day. I don't think I ate very much of it. I was on such a high. I talked and laughed, and talked some more. I don't think I even drank very much. I didn't need to. I was drunk on the day itself.

My ma in law though, did get a little squiffy - she doesn't drink alot and the champagne went right to her head. This led to her having a very tired and emotional moment, so I spent at least half an hour trying to calm her down. Where were the men in the family, you ask? Nowhere. The first of many lessons in how the Williams men will run a mile at the first sight of emotion...

Eventually mil calmed down and Spouse and I worked the room, making a point of talking to each other's families. This was somewhat more daunting for Spouse then I. My family is HUGE. Not only do I have seven siblings, but my mother has five, so there were lots of uncles and aunts to get to know. It took Spouse at least three family weddings to feel comfortable with them all.
He was still stressing about his speech. Me being more stridently feminist in those days didn't see why the men got to do all the talking. So I made a speech too. I giggled my way through most of it, so it probably wasn't my finest hour, and the boys who didn't want to speak at all couldn't understand why I did, but I really didn't see why I shouldn't be allowed to get a word in on my special day. Both my dad and Spouse made speeches which were short and to the point, and the best man did a sterling job of staying the right side of good taste, so after that everyone could relax a bit, till it was time for the disco.

By way of making up for the fact that we hadn't been able to use the hotel, the ex owner, managed to wangle it so we could use the banqueting room attached to it for the evening. So we did, and had the disco there. My mother, having not got her way on the disco, managed to create a compromise and got us all doing Scottish country dancing to get the ball rolling. 3-1 to my mother I think. As fil was keen on this too, they both took it rather seriously. However by the time we got to it, most of our guests had imbibed far too much of my father's incredibly generous allocation of wine, including Mad Twin who was doing the calling. Factoring in also that our generation predates Strictly Come Dancing, not a one of us had a clue what we were doing. So the result was a riotous disaster. But what the hell. It just made me laugh all the more.

The evening passed far too quickly and by midnight we were supposed to have left. But the best man had organised a special surprise for us in the shape of a rolls royce which was driving round the Shropshire countryside for most of the evening so was rather late reaching us. We ended up being sent out after a round of congratulations. Spouse by now was well past the point of rational thought. As we sped off down the country lanes to the hotel where we staying the night, he blinked around him, and said, Gosh, this is a jolly big black cab. Probably the only time he's ever likely to go in a roller. And to this day he doesn't remember a thing...


Marie said...

"Labels: wedding day, perfection, bliss".


Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Seconded. Weird to think that me and him will have been together 20 years next year. Where did that lifetime go?!

Stay happy, be happy, enjoy happy.

Persephone said...

My absolutely favourite bit of music from Royal Shakespeare Company's marathon version of Nicholas Nickleby was the Wedding Anthem, a setting of Psalm 128 by Stephen Oliver. Gawd, I loved the music for that play...

Anonymous said...

Happy Anniversary again!

What lovely and accurate memories of a wild, wild wedding. What a night. The hangover lasted for about a week.

And apologies for the terrible calling - but was coerced into it if you recall.

Here's to (at least) 20 more.

Mad Twinx

Anonymous said...

Happy Anniversary!
My only time as a bridesmaid and still remember it so well! xxx

pierre l said...

What a wonderful description. A late Happy Anniversary, and here's to the twenty years.

Tam said...

It sounds perfectly amazing and I can well believe you have total recall of such a wonderful day. Here's to many more anniversaries!

Jane Henry said...

Thanks for all lovely comments, and Persephone, particular thanks for the wedding anthem, it's beautiful. Lisa congrats on your 20 years too!

Jane Henry said...

Thanks for all lovely comments, and Persephone, particular thanks for the wedding anthem, it's beautiful. Lisa congrats on your 20 years too!