If you were to ask me what getting married is like, I would say that it’s a combination of nerves, joy, happiness and excitement. Probably the happiest day of our lives made more so by the circle of love created by family and friends.
Just how many nerves there were surprised me. And, as people tell you, weddings are over so quickly that you really have to savour the moments. Here are a few.
I was nursing a sore throat heading into the big day and dreadfully hoping that I wouldn’t fall ill and have to croak out my vows and look all pale in the wedding photos. But having finally finished my speech and rested up as much as I could, it was over to my parents’ house where I only had to send the best man back once to fetch my silver tie. Back at the house, the girls put on their dresses (blue, red, silver) and the boys put on their corsages and ties and waistcoats and then we were driving down the road to the church and hugging and greeting the guests and waiting for the bride to arrive.
And there she was! Peering round the church door in her blue satin dress with silver chiffon and white lace. And looking radiant and just a little terrified as she stole a quick look to reassure herself that, yes, the groom really was there ready and waiting. I gave here a cheery (and slightly teary) wave and thought how beautiful she looked. The organist played the first few bars of Pachelbel’s Canon in D and we were off.
There’s so much to say. Do I tell you about the part where the page-boy lost one of the rings? One minute they were there, tied lovingly on to a blue satin cushion with gold ribbon and just waiting for the “I do’s” and “I will’s” and then one of them was gone and we were looking round on the floor and L and I were having visions of having to ask the assembled guests, “Does anyone have a ring we could borrow?”
And what a fun service. The priest is an old hand at these events and he delivered one of the best wedding sermons I’ve ever heard. He waxed poetically about our respective journeys, which for L included the Tongarera trail in New Zealand and for me included teaching in Limpopo and peacekeeping in Darfur, and how our separate journeys led us to find each other. At the end he read out a wonderful wedding blessing poem.
And then it was time for the photos and drinks and the reception back at L’s parents’ garden. The marquee looked amazing with the silver and pink lighting and the string-quartet off to one side. And then the speeches of course. L’s dad was in sparkling form and included a lovely poem he’d written for the occasion. After which it was the turn of the best man, my brother, who gave not so much a toast as a roast to the poor groom!
His speech was smooth and delivered without reference to his notes (which were substantial). The most embarrassing part? That would be when he (with the aid of my sister) hauled out a recording of me singing the national anthem on the radio and forgetting the words! (I was trying to win two tickets to a rugby game, never thinking for a moment that this mini-trauma would come back to haunt me at my own wedding.) It was pretty funny but, as I say, dreadfully embarrassing. And then there was the time when I came stone last in the Argus Cycle Tour (I was only 16 and an unofficial entrant). My blogging was mentioned and with the right flourishes it sounds only slightly less embarrassing than forgetting the words of the national anthem on live radio.
My own speech was almost a relief after that. I managed to keep it short and sweet and thanked everyone before toasting the parents for their incredible generosity and all the warmth and kindness they have shown both of us. And then I toasted my beautiful bride who looked radiant (even at seven and a half months’ pregnant) and then quoted from the Roy Croft love poem and another by John Fuller called Valentine. (Not the part where he wants to chase her around the shower for half an hour but the part where he wants to be her only audience, the last name in her appointment book and her future tense.)
And then, all too quickly, it was over and the parents with young kids were heading home and we drove our little car with the tin cans tied behind them down the road. V, my brother-in-law, had done a really good job to make the cans of the extra-rattling variety and my niece had helped to decorate the car with white polish in the shape of hearts and words saying “Love” and “Just Married”.
On the Sunday we left for a week-long honeymoon along the coast (taking in Hermanus and Betty’s Bay). And this past Sunday we opened all the wedding gifts. It was like Christmas except with the two of us as the only ones getting presents. And what beautiful gifts too.
I should also tell you that my book-blogging friends got a brief mention (which I’m happy about). And Di’s monologue on Love (shortened a bit for the occasion) was perfect and had at least one of my friends in tears.
I’ll be back next time with some pictures from our honeymoon (we don’t yet have any from the wedding itself). Here’s one of our holiday reading material (complete with rings).