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…

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