I recently went to a wedding that I enjoyed more than my own. Claire and Neil, friends of ours who met twelve years ago at university and who have been together even longer than me and my husband (and we’ve been married for almost 12 years), had finally decided to get married. The wonderful thing about it was that they knew exactly what they did and didn’t want and so did it all their way.
The civil ceremony (complete with music and readings) was followed by a church blessing, which was enlivened by a gospel choir (up on the balcony). The bridesmaids encouraged the guests to stand up, clap, sing and dance. Later Claire admitted that she’d been determined to have a gospel choir at her wedding since seeing the Whoopi Goldberg film “Sister Act”.
When it came to the photographs, the group pictures were done first so that the friends who weren’t needed for the individual family shots were soon free to go back to the bar (contrast this with another wedding where the guests stood around for over an hour watching Bride & Groom, Bride & Groom and Groom’s family, Bride & Groom and Bride’s Family, etc., for over an hour and you’ll understand how much I appreciated this). Candid photographs were then taken of the guests in the bar and then of each table during the meal. The two photographers ensured that no-one was missed.
Each place setting had a party favour consisting of a shot glass full of jelly beans stuck with a small sparkler in the shape of a heart. Later grown men were seen giggling and attempting to write their names with a four inch firework. The figures on the wedding cake were perfect charicatures of the Bride and Groom adding yet another quirky personal touch to the proceedings.
Before the speeches the best man went table to table conducting a “sweep” – a pound a go to guess the length of all the speeches from beginning to end. Guesses ranged from 18 minutes to three hours. Following the speeches (the best man’s girlfriend won – to inevitable shouts of “Fix!” – with 38 minutes), the photographer brought in a large mounted and framed print of the Bride and Groom, taken earlier that day, and with enough white space for all the guests to write messages. It was a beautiful and original memento of a fabulous day.
But what really made this wedding so great was not that it was relaxed, fun, or well-organised (although all of that helped), but that it was so representative of Claire and Neil’s relationship. It really was a celebration of their personalities and their joy in one another and isn’t that just what a wedding should be?