Four weddings & a beach.
Pasties on a beach, canapés with Vicounts, watching a vaudeville stripper, prancing about with a world champion dancer, today’s weddings are as varied as the people who organise them. I enjoyed each of these events, yet I’ve never understood why people spend months planning to get their wedding perfect in every detail, spending fortunes to emulate Royalty for a single day. Our wedding didn’t cost much, was organised in an afternoon and for years we were told it was the best people had ever attended; we were simply ahead of the curve, these days such home made events are normal.
At the first wedding we’ve recently attended, we rubbed shoulders with countesses and lords for two days. It began with flair as hundred guests wearing top designer clothes sauntered past tourists crowding the medieval streets leading to the famous abby. The choir, the stunning service, the extraordinary building, created a powerful memory. In the private gardens where bishops and monks once walked, half, or about four hundred, moved between stalls serving canapés prepared on the spot by top chefs, sipping champagne from the host’s vineyards. Some hours later, a privileged two hundred drifted off to an ancient banqueting hall be served excellent food and listen to too many speeches until my wife and I left them to dance all night. The next day, an intimate forty five of us picnicked under willows boarding a lazy river until it was time to drive off to Paris, Bordeaux or La Cote D’Azure.
From our vantage, but not the other guests, the second wedding was frantic. Four of us slogged for three days shopping for such items as cooking pots and string, preparing button-hole bouquets, flora displays, creating attractive table displays, setting up games, erecting fun-tents, cooking for two solid days a huge range of complicated dishes the young couple ordered, cleaning dung from the field their hired marquee stood in, erecting way-markers leading guests to the remote location, ensuring other guests got the most from the stunning event which wore us four out so much that, needing energy for the party, we drank perhaps a little too much. We watched a Burlesque stripper. The groom’s sister, a world champion dancer pulled me from dancing with my wife and for far too long for my old body, we threw ourselves into a delightful frenzy before her husband half my age pulled her away. After a very late night, we four, yes, we four again, rose early to put away or toss away food, pack everything up, clean glasses, plates, dishes and almost everything, then clear the field of flecks of plastic, cigarette buts and paper so the incumbent animals wouldn’t choke on them, and take bags and bags to a dump an hour’s drive away. Those intense days broke me, reviving my stroke symptoms.
The last wedding was easy. There was no second plan, there was no stress, there was no attempt at anything more than making a fun party, it was natural, amiable, spontaneous. After a delightful ceremony in an ancient Celtic church, forty of us picnicked upon a beach, drank organic rose, frolicked and swam. That evening we enjoyed a buffet in the hotel and everyone but me stayed up very, very late. Having created flags, sculptures and seaweed displays, eventually helped by a clutch of children, it was too much and I was driven to hospital whilst everyone continued enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of for two more days.
But what fun! Despite the enormous differences, love flowed between those three couples and their guests. Perhaps my strongest memory is standing under a cherry tree in blossom outside the church in which we had been married, showered by the love of those who loved us. Love is transformative. Love is something we need to remind ourselves to plug into as much as we can and it is simple. The love of sunlight falling on a counter, the love of a busy bumble bee, the love of accepting yourself as you are. The love of life; for in the turmoil, we forget this simple magic.