May 2009 Archives -

A Great Reception

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The Caricature!

We entered a reception room full of chatter and clinking glasses. I hadn’t seen the room for a day, and it had transformed into a hive of activity, stuff bustling and guests chatting. The welcome drinks were in full flow, the tables looked fantastic (with each place having a lottery ticket that for some couples won them £70 free) and the caricature we’d commissioned was attracting a lot of attention. In the corner of the room near the bar, Sav the magician was beginning to literally work his magic. He was a great local find that, it turned out, was well-regarded, very friendly and utterly brilliant.

We slowly and separately made our way through to the large outside patio where Jac, ever attentive, was valiantly trying to get people together for photographs. The videographer was already mingling in her own unique way, making the huddles of people she focused on in turn have perhaps their most politically-correct discussions to date, in case they were broadcast on national television.

My gaze turned to the golf course directly in front, which looked amazing in the bright spring sunshine. After a few minutes of mingling, I spied a golf cart parking up – which turned out to be for the bride and groom! We boarded and drove off round the greens in front of us, no doubt annoying the golfers pitching away while Dan the photographer tried desperately to keep up. The only thing that stopped us was the enormous bunker we nearly headed straight into.

A few minutes later, smiling cheekbones aching and all photo-ed out, we returned and as our names were announced over the tannoy made our way through the 10 tables of hungry people, being cheered all the way. If you ever have self-confidence issues, I’m not sure anything could beat that. We took our seats, and the feast began.

Kissing in a bunker...Ninety minutes later, I had still barely eaten a thing and begun to check that everything was alright for the guests, mingling through the tables until it was finally time for the Groom’s Speech. Happily the champagne had doused any nerves I could have had, and within minutes there was laughter and presents filling the room. Glyn (the one-day-only chauffeur) seemed especially pleased with his double football shirt combo – one for him, one for his 1-year-old son, each personalised with their surname. Ushers, best man, families, friends, bridemaids – they were all thanked, and the speech ran into 15 minutes before it closed with an introduction to “someone who will lie convincingly for the next few minutes” – the best man Jac. I was in for a mauling.

In fact, it could have been worse (although I should stop saying that – everyone looks at me suspiciously and asks why…). Jac gave a truly brilliant speech, highlighting the highs and lows of our lives together with confidence and hilarity. My mum and dad learned things they never knew about me, and friends were particularly impressed with his description of me playing rugby as “Hagrid running at them down the touchline”. By the end of the speech, everyone was a winner – he even managed to fit in how brilliant the bride and groom were, although he could have expanded even more on that point… 😉

All agreed that the speeches went down a treat, and after dessert we cut the cake. There’s no instruction booklet for cutting a wedding cake – all I could do was imitate what I’d seen others do, which was to needlessly ruin an amazing cake while people took pictures and cheered. In fact, afterwards (because I’m like that), I looked up why people cut wedding cakes in front of cheering people – but I’m none the wiser (although apparently it started with kissing over a Wedding Pie – which sounds a much worse idea). Nevertheless, we took a few minutes to pretend to cut the wonderful thing, and then it was time to boogie with the evening guests.

Well, actually, it was time to get nervous about the first dance. We, we’re not ashamed to admit, are not lightening on our feet – I often mention I’ve got the rhythm of a Catholic, although no-one ever knows what I’m on about. So at 7.30pm, after many of the evening guests had arrived, DJ Tony pressed play – and the world slowed for a few minutes. We’d chosen Heaven (Candlelight Mix) by DJ Sammy, which is a nice slow number – but we hadn’t realised how slow, thereby extending our terrible waddling by at least a minute more than needed. It was a strange but great experience though – in those few minutes, it was as though there was no-one else there – a bonding, if you’ll pardon the slushiness.

Mmm... chocolate

Mmm... chocolate

At the end of the song, in the corner of my eye I noticed the enormous chocolate fountain revolving into action, and made a beeline for it as soon as the first dance finished. Paul D had very kindly donated it as a wedding present (from Original Chocolate Fountain Company), and frankly it was astounding. An enormous fountain was surrounded by marshmellows, pineapple, eclairs – the list goes on. And the whole thing revolved and lit up like a.. well, a revolving chocolate fountain.

Tony Murphy, DJ extraordinaire, pumped out the tunes until the early hours, and everyone danced, drank and had a lot of fun. I’ll gloss over this part slightly, but only because it all got a bit blurry. At the end of the night, Tony played a final song and Michelle and I danced inside a large circle of friends and family. It was a great moment to end a great day.

The only downside to the whole occasion was that so many people came (the numbers were up to 170 by 9pm) that we didn’t really have time to talk enough to everyone. So, on behalf of both of us – THANK YOU! They say that who you are is defined by the people you surround yourself with – and if that’s the case then our friends and family must be pretty awesome. You’ve all played a part in who we are, and we are very grateful to those that came.

And then we slept for four hours, woke up aching and chafing, accidentally threw some cufflinks in the hotel car park bin and got driven to Heathrow at 7am for a flight to Thailand. Not that I’m complaining – the honeymoon was amazing…

This is the second part of a three-parter about our wedding. Feel free to read the other two – Part 1 – Getting Hitched and Part 3 – Destination Thailand.
There are photos too – Official Wedding & Reception and Unofficial Wedding & Reception and Honeymoon.
Oh, and a Honeymoon Video. I spoil you.

Getting hitched

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Here we go...

Here we go...

“I now pronounce you husband and wife.”

All that preparation, all that work, all that worrying over forgetting the vows – it was all over. We were married!

Michelle and I have been 8 years in the making, but the last two months have been a whirlwind, culminating in 48 hours of frenzied planning to make sure nothing was forgotten. After checking the final preparations at the reception the previous night, we were separated to prepare ourselves for the big day. I went out for a a Last Supper at zizzi with the best man Jac and most of the ushers. We spent a lot of time discussing plans for the next day – where to park, who to usher where, precisely how much chocolate would be in the fountain, that kind of thing. I gave them a token rubbish present – Usher and Best Man boxer shorts, which they all promised to wear the next day. They perked up a little when I told them it wasn’t their main present, as did the lady next door to us who was looking on in horror.

And then a couple of hours later it was Jac and I, back at home and bedding down (separately, of course) for the last night of singledom. It would be natural for me to lie awake for a while, marvelling at the big event rthe next day and worrying about what would happen. As it was, I logged into the land of sleep within a few minutes. After all, it was too late to change anything now…

I slept surprisingly well, and was woken at 7am by the pattering of bloody rain on the window. “Brilliant,” I muttered, although there was a theory (thanks to my mother, who sent me copious weather reports over the week) that it would clear up by lunchtime. And so it did, earlier than planned. By 9am, the sun was shining through the clouds and Jac was busy thoughtfully preparing breakfast – a lovely touch that, when I told Nick about it by text caused him to write back, “For Christ’s sake, marry Jac.”

At 10am, the Cutting Edge film crew (of 1) turned up, ready for film the preparations for a documentary we’d excitedly signed up to a few months earlier. The camera was comically large on her small frame, and she swung it around for about half an hour, filming Jac and I struggling with how on earth to tie cravats and Nick actually ironing. Proof!

While I was doing up my shoelaces, she zoomed in and asked a few deep-and-meaningfuls on marriage and my expectations. I rustled up a few reasonable answers, and then she was off – off to make Michelle nervous as well.

And then, it was time. We all gathered the buttonholes that had been delivered, collected the Orders of Service and bundled into three separate cars and one scooter specially for faster orders. We travelled in convoy to the hotel and pub next door to the church, where I booked in for the night and the ushers homed in on the bar for a quick half-pinter. Mum and dad were also there, all dolled up and nervous, so after popping in to see them I met Jac and the ushers by the car. “Right,” said Simon H, “let’s get you married.” We began the march (well, slow meander) to the church.

Confetti Aplenty

Confetti Aplenty

It was a funny feeling, sitting down at the front of the long line of pews, waiting for the bride. I’d seen countless others sitting there, looking nervous, knees tapping, eyes furtive and darting. As I took my place after greeting guests with an introductory “I’m getting married”, it dawned on me that it was my turn in the hotseat, with the eyes of the whole congregation burning into the back of my head. I’d like to think it was my laid back attitude to life – rather than the Bach’s Rescue Remedy that I had downed earlier – that got me through it. To tell the truth at 1pm I was a bundle of nerves, but at 20 past, with still no sign of the bride, I was over the worst of it. Jac certainly helped with encouraging words, although our “comical” discussions we had to calm the nerves were worryingly captured on film and microphone…

And then she was there, a vision of wonderfulness in a stunning long, full-trained dress – and everything sped up. The 45-minute ceremony felt like ten minutes, and we were out in the sunshine quicker than you could say “Da Vinci Code”. Greeting everyone now with “I’m married”, we ploughed through the photographs and head for two glasses of champagne and Glyn’s shining Jaguar, ready to cart us off to the reception, half a mile away.

Glyn was a great chauffeur,  taking us the scenic route so we could down enough bubbly nectar to see us through the rest of the day. And it was a hell of an afternoon…

This is the first part of a three-parter about our wedding. Feel free to read the other two – Part 2 – A Great Reception and Part 3 – Destination Thailand.
There are photos too – Official Wedding & Reception and Unofficial Wedding & Reception and Honeymoon.
Oh, and a Honeymoon Video. I spoil you.

Linkblog – May 25th to May 27th

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Links between May 25th and May 27th:

Just so you know, this is an automated recent overview of the Linkblog, a collection of interesting links I find on my travels. The archives are here: