Friday, 21 September 2007

A Married Couple's Wish

This was part of the text of my father's speech - I loved it so much that I wanted to share:

A married couple’s wish

Give me the Grace to accept that on occasions I will irritate my spouse,
In what I do or say;
With my catch-phrases, my hygiene habits, or how I like things done;
In the same way that they in turn will get on my nerves from time-to-time.

Give me the Understanding to realise that just as I have “off” days when I am tired and grouchy,
I cannot expect them to be 100% sunny all day every day,
And help me make allowances for that.

Grant me the Courage to raise the truly significant irritations with them,
And not just grind my teeth in mute and impotent frustration.
But grant me too the Wisdom to know the right time to broach the subject,
And the least hurtful way to ask that they change their ways.

Above all, help me to remember that I am not perfect,
But show me how I can learn, so that I improve with age.

(c) Nigel Foster September 2007

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Wedding, part 2

Well now, where did we get to...?

Oh, yes, walking out as Mr and Mrs Toon. Kristina greeted us with a glass of champagne each, which I managed to juggle (slightly) with the dress and flowers, and we were then whisked off to the grounds to start the round of photographs. I did manage to get about a sip of my champagne down me! (and therewith began the event known as "waving alcohol in front of Jo but not letting her drink it..." Which was actually a good thing, meaning that by the time I got to the wedding breakfast, I was still completely sober, and, after about half a glass of red wine, not actually wanting any more drink. Unlike the reports of the other bride partying at Tortworth that day, who, half way through her wedding breakfast, was falling under the table...)

The photographs were tremendous fun (although I understand less so for John, who spent most of them with one foot on the step below the other, meaning that his leg muscles were whacked by the end!). We had all of the traditional photos (family and friends groups) - a little bit embarrasing that my family pretty much filled the stone stairs we were using, but John's was just a little cluster! We did the throwing of the bouquet, and I'm pleased to say that the person who is getting married next managed to catch it :-) (no, not planned that way - I couldn't see a thing behind me!)

After the group photos, and the pair photos (me and John, me and my father with Lorna), I was taken off by the photographer to have some solo photos done. These were rather fun, and most with the aim of showing off the dress (and avoiding all the cars in the car park!) We'd just come to the last couple, when Daddy came out of the building to say that "Cook says if we don't get the receiving line done now, then we aren't going to get to eat!" Of course, without a watch on, I hadn't noticed time flying past...

We headed through to the atrium where everyone had gathered for a drink, and then Tony said "we just need a photo of you cutting the cake." So John and I disappeared into the wedding breakfast room and posed with the knife whilst Tony snapped away. Finally he was happy with the results, and we went back out for the receiving line.

Barbara was amazing at this point - she knew that we were running up against our time, and, without seeming to hurry anybody, got everyone announced and through in double quick time! Everyone took their seats, and we waited outside the room (to the consternation of at least one guest who saw the doors being shut in front of us) for Barbara to announce us. Then a procession around the room to our seats, and I discovered that it is very awkward to hold a huge train out of the way whilst someone else moves a seat for you :-) We managed it without anything nasty happening to the dress, or it being inadvertantly caught and shortened so that I couldn't move (which has happened to me in shorter dresses than that!)

The food was brought out quickly and efficiently - I rather enjoyed the fact that the waiting staff lined up behind us and all stepped forwards to put our plates on the table at the same time. The food was truely delicious - I'm just rather sad that the adrenalin was still pumping round my system, and I was unable to each most of it (I managed the light starter and dessert, but the main course completely defeated me).

After the food, and the cutting of the cake (well the pushing the knife into the bottom layer, and discovering that there was a very thick rind of the cake...), the speeches!

My father started the proceedings, and, given that he is a management consultant, he did his speech with the aid of a powerpoint presentation (including embedded sound of me doing a church reading when I was 5 years old...) Many references to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and a very funny (if occasionally embarrasing) speech set a very high benchmark for John and Paul to follow.

John's speech was short, sweet and lighthearted :-) He had his list of people to thank, and followed it up with the lovely story of how we met. He finished by giving me a gorgeous ring - a family heirloom.

Paul's best man speech was very funny - stories of himself and John at school, and finishing up with two brilliant pieces of advice: (1) The best way to remember your anniversary is to forget it once; (2) Always remember those three important little words: "You're right, dear."

The formal proceedings nearly over, there was just one little speech left, which was a lovely one from Barbara - she went through the traditional wedding poem (Something Old (the husband); Something New (the dress); Something Borrowed (the tiara); Something Blue (I was stumped here, but she told me to say my knickers....)), and then said that it traditionally concluded with "And a sixpence for her shoe". She then gave me (in a shiny blue box) a sixpence (that I didn't put into my shoe - they were far too comfortable for that!)

We then headed out of the Westminster Suite, to allow the staff to reset the room and the band to set up, and into the Atrium, where they were serving more drinks, and where the evening guests were arriving.

And, once more, I shall pause here, because I'm on another two pages in Word, and I don't want people to have to scroll too far! One more leg to go, and then the Honeymoon...

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Getting married

A week away, and it feels like forever, and like it has gone by in a second.

The wedding seems an age ago, but looking at the photos that have now sprung up over Facebook (a small selection that I have gleaned from other people…), and the official photos, which are now up on the photographer’s website, and the emotions that flood back remind me that it was only 10 (well, 13 now that I’ve actually finished writing this post…) days ago that I became a married woman!

The wedding day itself was a day to remember. I know that they all are for the people involved, but I also know (because I’ve been told by many people, including the Tortworth staff) that ours was extra special. It even started off unconventionally – not only did John and I not do the whole “not seeing each other before the wedding” thing (hopelessly impractical when you live with your husband to be!), but my father stayed over the night before. He had brought Lorna down with him; his gorgeous Singer Roadster, which I have been in love with ever since he first bought her. I had decided very early on that she was going to be my wedding car (not only for the joy in riding and being photographed in her, but also on a practical basis that as we were getting married and having the reception at the same venue, we didn’t want the expense of hiring a car!) After a relaxed night (I was expecting to at least have problems sleeping, but, although I woke up early, I had no trouble getting my head down), and a small breakfast, we packed up the Punto (and with three people, four wedding outfits, my father’s suit, table decorations, banners plus an overnight kit, it was a bit of a squeeze!) and headed up to Tortworth Court.

There, we met Kristina, who looked after us for the whole day, and, with Graham and Sarah, started decorating the Westminster Suite; adding the bright red runners and the fake roses to the tables, and finding somewhere to hang the banners.

We got to see the cheese cake being brought in, and the flowers being made ready to go on the tables. At this point, everything still felt slightly surreal – I couldn’t really believe that it was happening!

Because it was an afternoon wedding, people trickled into the hotel – we all congregated in the bar area, and were able to sit down and have a chat (and even order lunch…). This was really nice – I was able to be with people and talk with them, knowing that I wasn’t going to have much time once the festivities started. One comment that I got a lot was that people were surprised that I wasn’t more nervous – my feeling on the day was that at this point, anything that went wrong would either be fixable, in which case there was no point in worrying about it, or we could do nothing about it, in which case there was no point in worrying about it! I think other people did the worrying for me, though…

I did start getting twitchy at about 1 when neither the photographer nor the toastmaster (well, mistress…) had arrived – they had both said that they wanted to say hello before I went to get ready. Fortunately, both turned up before 1.30, and, with an hour and a half to go, John, Paul, Emme and I went off to get ready (Emme and I assisted by Sarah and Graham) The photographer came in to take photos part way through the getting ready – not a little bit distracting for Graham who was doing my makeup at the time! (I don’t think it helped that I started talking whilst he was doing my lips, either…). It was brilliant to be able to finally wear the dress – I’d been taking many a sneak peek into the wardrobe and gloating over it – and we were very lucky in that the weather wasn’t too hot, which meant that the dresses weren’t too heavy. Sarah helped me work out how to juggle the flowers , the length of the dress and the heeled shoes (I normally live in trainers, so even wearing heels was a novelty!), but the size of the room meant that I was only able to take a few steps before having to turn round (and I got thrown later on when Barbara (the toast-mistress) said that Daddy was supposed to be on the other side – I had to rework everything out!)

Then, suddenly, it was nearly 3; Sarah had got ready (in her gorgeous handmade blue dress), and Graham had disappeared to use the changing room. It was just my father, me and Emme, and at this point, I was starting to get a little bit nervous! Barbara was supposed to appear at 2.50 to take me and Daddy up to the registrar in order to do the last minute checks (one of them being a “You are definitely sure you want to go through with this?” check…) At one point Emme spotted her going in the opposite direction – she seemed to be a bit lost!

She turned up just before 3, and led us down the hallway to the lifts – my first real walk in the dress that was more than a few steps. Fortunately, I didn’t trip too much! Up the lift to the first floor to meet the very friendly (and chatty!) registrar, who seemed quite unconcerned that time was ticking on (at this point, I had stopped being really aware of the time, as I wasn’t wearing my watch…). Then, out onto the landing and down the magnificent staircase, where the photographer took many, many photos… At the bottom of the stairs appeared to be most of Tortworth, who had heard that it was not the usual white meringue wedding and wanted to have a look!

Then, finally, we were ready to go. Outside the door to the Moreton’s restaurant, and listening to the medieval music and the slight buzz of conversation. We had decided that Emme was going to walk in front of us, as the train pooled quite a long way behind, and it would have been a bit awkward for her to squeeze round to her seat without treading on the dress! And here is where I think that Barbara was very cruel. She did her announcement of “Please stand for the Bridal Party,” and the “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” started playing. Emme started making her way up the aisle, and I could hear people turning to look. I started to move forward, but Barbara stopped me, and said “make them wait.” At this point, they’d been waiting for 20 minutes! Finally, about halfway through the piece (when I was starting to worry that we’d run out of music...) she let us start walking (saying “He looks a bit worried now, you can go…”).

And this was the point that I actually did start to well up – stepping forwards with my father next to me, seeing all the people that I love being here for me (and John, of course!). I had to concentrate very hard on the music (plus on the juggle of flowers, dress and shoes…) in order to bring myself back under control. But, despite that, I couldn’t stop smiling, even though I had intended to go down the aisle looking quietly demure – instead I had the biggest grin you can imagine plastered on my face.

I got to the top of the aisle, handed my bouquet to Emme and stood next to John, who had been looking resolutely forwards (apparently there had been a few threats from the best man if he looked round!) This was the first time I’d seen him in his full finery, and I have to say that he looked very fine indeed (and he was all mine!  )

As the music faded, the registrar started the wedding ceremony, using words that we had chosen. For some reason, I didn’t get my usual urge to jump up when the question “do you know of any lawful reason these two may not be married?” was asked – I wonder why! The ceremony was short and simple - we had made a conscious effort not to be too mushy, and I think that we pitched it just right. Emme sang Voi Che Sapete from the Marriage of Figaro, and if she was nervous, she didn’t show it at all – it was gorgeous. Enough to bring another lump to my throat! Then the signing of the register, the actual contract that makes it legally binding. Multiple photographs, on both sides of the table (using a ‘dummy’ register – fortunately the fact that it had blank pages in it didn’t show in the photographs!

Suddenly, after what felt like only seconds since I walked up the aisle, the registrar was asking John to “bring your wife round to the other side of the table”, and we were walking back down the aisle, as Mr and Mrs Toon. I don’t think that the smile once left my face.

And I am going to pause the story there, because it has taken me all week to write this in Word, I’m pretty much at the end of two pages, and I know that people are waiting to read this! Next post will cover the party after, and then I’ll follow up with a gushing epic on our holiday in Norway…

Friday, 14 September 2007


I am in the middle of drafting a long wedding and honeymoon post (easier to do it in Word than on Blogger) - never fear, you will get the full details in due course!

However, I've just been pointed to a three part story from the perspective of a US Cop, an Ambulance Driver and a Nurse.

I read lots of blogs, including loads of medical ones (I have great respect for everyone who can do medical jobs, from the dispatchers who take the 999 calls, the paramedics who are first on the scene and the ambulance drivers, to the doctors (and students) who then treat the patients in the hospital, as these are jobs that I know I could never do) - this story from the different perspectives of those involved touched me deeply, and I wanted to share with you.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Quick post...

Well - just a very quick touch base :-)

I am now no longer Jo Foster, but Jo Toon... (though that name change is going to take a lot of getting used to (I signed into the hotel swimmingpool this morning as Jo Foster, and had to correct it!), and doesn't help that all my email accounts are some derivation of Jo Foster!)

There will be a full post on the day, probably when we get back from Bergen, but I just wanted to say that I still haven't stopped grinning. It was a fantastic day; the weather was (in my mind) perfect - not too hot, a bit of blue sky, and no rain! So many of my friends and family were there, either during the ceremony, or joining us in the evening (sadly, there were a couple of last minute hitches for a few friends and relations, which meant that there were a few empty seats). It was just fantastic to be able to share the most important day of my life (so far) with everyone who is closest to me (and to meet my new extended in-laws {waves to Gerard and Denise :-)} )

It is very difficult to believe that the event that I have spent so long planning for has now been and gone, but the memories are going to stay with me forever :-)

And I did spend about 2 hours when we got back this afternoon cutting up the cheese-cake in order to freeze it in manageable portions!

See you in a week, when we get back from Norway :-)