We’re back! Sorta…
We got back from Barbados on Sunday, but this morning Kevin flew off to Sydney for five days and my brain is definitely still in the West Indies. So yes, only sorta back, only sorta with it. I’ve been trying to work today, and failing on pretty much every count. If I want to keep Friday free, I’m going to have to really pull my finger out tomorrow!
The Big Day
The wedding was absolutely amazing – we both had such fun! The morning was surprisingly relaxed, really. It all started off with an 8.30am hair appointment, which was pretty relaxing, followed by an hour or so of having my make-up done by my cousin Sonia in my parents lounge, with no one else around as my Mum was off getting her hair done, and Dad was busy ferrying people about. Eventually people – my bridesmaids, Matt who was our photographer for the day, my cousins – started to arrive, the flowers came, and it all slowly started to come together.
I even found a moment to sit down and check last minute emails.
I only had one moment of tension, when I started to worry if we were going to get everyone’s make-up done in time, but that turned out not to be a problem at all.
Thence to the venue, and my Big Entrance! It’s such a cliché, but the ceremony really did go by in a flash. We wrote the ceremony together – I’ll post the whole thing in due course – and I had been concerned that it would turn out to be too long, but it was perfect. Kevin’s cousin, the Reverend Gary La Croix, was a wonderful officiant.
After photos, and spilling wine down my dress – d’oh! – it was time for the Wedding Breakfast. That was a nice chance to slow down a bit, and to look about us and just drink it all in. It was so lovely to have a moment to talk to Kev and enjoy the moment. The food was fab, although I couldn’t eat much with that corset on! And the entertainment – our wandering minstrel, Dante Ferrara – was just fabulous.
The cutting of the cake, which was predictably chocolate, came next.
And then the speeches. Dad did a really lovely, touching speech which was really two Pam Ayres poems, one for Kevin, and one for me. The Groom and Bride chose to speak together, as is our custom. And then The Big One – Chris Vallance gave the Best Man’s speech, which was completely inspired… and at times, a touch embarrassing.
And then, of course, the dancing! We had Diabolus in Musica to do a Tudor Ceilidh, which was a hoot. You’ve never seen so many people look quite so silly all in one spot before!
The best bit was watching the men ‘paw the ground like stallions’. Tee hee!
And before you know it, it’s time to throw the bouquet and leave. I gathered all the unmarried people together, male and female – we’re all equal here! – and stood with my back to the crowd. Then, well, I threw.
Ian was none too chuffed to be the catcher!
Vince recorded his thoughts on the day too, in a typically Vincian way. If any of our guests would like to, I’d be really happy for you to leave a long of a comment as you like, telling us about how the day went for you.
A few people have their photos up on Flickr already, including Ian, Vince, James, Amanda P, Amanda H, Jeff, and Jo. (If you have photos up on Flickr, you might like to join our group and add your photos to the pool.)
I will, in due course, put together a book, probably using Blurb, with the best of the photos and stories, quotes and excerpts from the ceremony, and any other things that come to mind. So please do leave a comment here, and do let me have copies of your photos if they’re not already up online.
Now I am Mrs Suw Charman-Anderson, although I still have some hoops to jump through to make it completely official, i.e. on my passport. Being married is wonderful. It really was the best day of my life. Kevin makes me so happy, and to be able to stand up in front of all our friends and family and declare our love and commitment has been very important to both of us. All the planning and hard work over the last year was so worth it – the day was everything we wanted it to be, and went as smooth as clockwork.
Huge thanks to everyone who helped, especially my parents Rob and Brenda, my Matron of Honour, Kate, and Kev’s Best Man, Chris. And thanks, of course, to my wonderful husband, without whom all of this would have been a very expensive and complex work of fiction.
Kevin and I both agree that the most important part of our wedding day is the ceremony itself, wherein we pledge to love each other for the rest of our lives. As ours is neither a church nor a civil ceremony (the legal obligation having been discharged the day before), we can have a ceremony that we have crafted and which is just right for us. Of course, figuring out what that ceremony is, what words it is made of, is a different kettle of fish all together.
Today I started looking at various different ceremonies. Kevin’s cousin is a Lutheran minister, and he is officiating for us, so I took at look at the ceremony that he’d sent over to us. I also looked at the Anglican Common Book of Prayer from 1928. The latter is much more familiar to me – the weddings I’ve been to have universally been Church of England and have therefore used some variation of this ceremony. This particular version, though, has a poetry to it – it scans properly, it sounds as solemn and heartfelt as it should, it resonates.
Then I dug a little further and found the The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony from 1662, which is still very familiar, beginning as it does with:
DEARLY beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation, to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony…
But which soon goes off on a rather alarming tack:
[...] the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.
First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.
Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.
And then, after a call and response session absent from modern versions, we get to the duties of Man and Wife, in which Men are exhorted to “love their wives as their own bodies” and “be not bitter against them” (gee, thanks!), and Wives are reminded that they are not to plait their hair or wear gold or put on apparel.
I’m pretty sure neither of us want sin, fornication or fear brought into things, and I quite like plaiting my hair and wearing apparel, if not American Apparel.
Going further back, there’s a version of an Elizabethan Wedding Ceremony from the Prayerbook of Edward VI (Reigned 1537 – 1553) (… er, wouldn’t that make it Tudor?), which is also reproduced in a dramatic, if difficult to read, blackletter PDF. The introduction to the PDF tells us that the source for the document is “a true facsimile (probably the only one ever made) of the 1549 BCP [Book of Common Prayer] privately printed in 1896. This book appears in David Griffiths’ Bibliography of the Book of Common Prayer as 1896/5, and is a facsimile of the very first printing of the Book of Common Prayer, Griffiths 1549/1.”
Again, it’s amazingly familiar:
Deerely beloued frendes, we are gathered together here in the syght of God, and in the face of his congregacion, to ioyne together this man, and this woman in holy matrimonie…
There’s some nice period spelling there, but the words are pretty much the same. I will admit, that surprised me, because it had never really occurred to me that the words of the wedding ceremony might actually be centuries old. It’s just one of those obvious things that you never realise until you see it staring you in the face.
I N. take thee N to my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to be bonny and buxom at bed and at board, to love and to cherish, till death us depart, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereunto I plight thee my troth.
Like Stephen, who blogged this in May last year, I was perplexed and amused by the idea that the bride should be “bonny and buxom at bed and at board”. I think I can pretty easily vow to be buxom – it’s more of a state than an act, really – although bonny’s more of a subjective judgement.
It turns out that both “bonny” and “buxom” meant different things back then:
This wonderfully alliterative phrase comes from the Use of Sarum, the earliest English marriage service I have found, which was authorised by the Bishop of Salisbury in 1085. [...]
Originally these words meant something rather different from now. “Bonny” is from the French ‘bon’, or ‘good’; “buxom” is from an old German word meaning ‘pliant’ or ‘obedient’; “board” is where you put food (on the ‘sideboard’) so this means mealtimes; and “bed” simply meant ‘night-time’. So “Be bonny and buxom in bed and at board” meant: “Behave properly and obediently through night and day.” The meanings of these words changed over the years and the church objected to talking about bonny and buxom brides in bed, so we have now lost this vow.
That’s a relief and a pity all at once. For a while I was wondering if I could get Kevin to vow to be “happy and hot at home and abroad”, but thought that might be pushing my luck a bit.
But then, as I read more and more, I started to realise… there are no “I do”s. At no point in any of these ceremonies does anyone say “I do”.
In 1549 we had:
[Name] Willte thou haue this woman to thy wedde wife, to liue together after Goddes ordeinuce in the holy estate of matrimonie? Wilt thou loue her, coumforte her, honor, and kepe her in sicknesse and in health? And forsaking all other kepe thee only to her, so long as you both shall liue?
In 1662 we had:
WILT thou have this woman to thy wedded wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honour, and keep her in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live?
And in 1928 we had:
N. WILT thou have this Woman to thy wedded wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honour, and keep her in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live?
Not a single “I do” amongst them.
Yet in the civil ceremony, there it is, the fabled “I do”:
[Groom], do you take [Bride] to be your lawful wedded wife?
Will you love and respect her, be honest with her, and stand by her through whatever may come?
Next time… Just what is a troth and how do I plight it?
Thank you Lloyd!
Honestly, I have to say that it’s been really hard to figure out who to invite to the day and who to invite to the evening and I’m still filled with fear that I will have forgotten someone important. I just wish everyone could come!
OK, so confessional time. I’m going through that phase of wedding planning that involves the gut-wrenching fear that everything is, in fact, not going to be ok. It doesn’t really matter how often Kevin reassures me that things are going to be just fine, in my head and in my gut, the terror is a cold hard knot that refuses to go away.
The dress is not done. The bridesmaids dresses are no only not done, I don’t have the fabric for them yet. No one has shoes. The veil is not done, nor is the tiara. There are still day invitations to go out. None of the evening invitations have gone yet. I still need to talk to our friend who’s doing the photos about what we want. We need to write the wedding vows and order of ceremony. There’s a half billion things that need confirming. The wedding list need to be written. And my sanity needs to be found – it ran off a few weeks ago and hasn’t been seen since. I know it’s not hiding behind the sofa with a cushion over its head, because I’ve checked.
Friends kindly tell me that I’m more organised than most brides, but I don’t feel organised. I have a huge list of things to do and a Gantt chart, yes, but Christmas is looming, and the list only ever gets bigger, nothing ever gets ticked off, and it all has to be balanced against all the work I have to do.
The most frustrating thing is that all the lessons I’ve learnt have been learnt too late. I wish now that I’d taken a week of in February of this year and made the decisions that I’ve put off til now. I wish I hadn’t assumed that we’d have “plenty of time”. I wish I’d spent more time organising the dresses, and bought all the fabric for everything up front, and had Kevin’s waistcoat made regardless of whether he wanted one or not because now it’s too late. I’ve done things in such a piecemeal way and it’s made life that much harder.
I keep trying to unravel the knot of fear that settled in my gut for the last couple of weeks, but it just won’t go away. So I am focusing this week on getting the really important stuff done – shoes, fabric for bridesmaids, etc. Hopefully that will help.
This is, I think, the phase I’ve been told all brides go through. So if I’m late with the Christmas cards, or antisocial over the next month, forgive me.
Then again, I’m always late with Christmas cards, so you may not actually notice any difference.
With a little over two months to go, last night I had my first wedding nightmare. I dreamt that the wedding was tomorrow, but we didn’t have Kevin’s suit sorted out (we don’t), we didn’t have the wedding bands (we don’t), and I didn’t have the skirt part of my dress (I don’t), but the guests were arriving anyway.
I then dreamt about beading my corset, eventually waking up, only to lie there for ages, thinking about how I was going to bead my corset. Sadly, it’s not the first time I’ve lain away thinking about beading – it’s been playing on my mind lately. Rather than go through all that again tonight, I decided that the best thing to do was to test the beading method I had worked out in my head, to make sure it works. I’m basically doing a bit of a belt-and-braces approach: stringing all the beads together on a doubled thread attached at one end, then using cotton to sew the beads on to the fabric in a sort of back stitch, going through two beads, then back round through the second bead and a new one, and so on in a straight line. When I get to the other end, I’ll secure the thread. That way, if either the thread or the cotton breaks, there’ll be something else to hold the beads on.
I wanted to try the corset on again, just to make sure that it looked ok, but it’s a real bugger to get the damn thing on with no one to help. The little busks (a cross between a button and a hook and eye) on the front are a pain to line up properly, even with the laces down the back loosened as much as possible. I swear I’ve pulled muscles trying to do the damn things up. Once they’re hooked, pulling the laces tight is a piece of cake, but good grief, it’s hard to get the eyes positions properly over the busks.
Anyway, I locked Kevin in the lounge, did battle with the corset, and yes, the beading does look lovely. I can now relax, and will finish off the rest when Kev’s not around and I can sit on the sofa and bead in comfort.
I hope that, at least, goes some way towards calming my subconscious and postponing any further wedding-related stress dreams. Still, makes a change from the “OMG, I’ve got an exam and I haven’t studied for 14 years!” dream.
So Kate, my Oh Matron! of Honour, and I have so far failed to come up with any ideas for what to do for my Hen Party. I’m quite clear on the fact that I do not wish to go on a pub crawl, or go out for a meal, as those are, for the first part, really rather dull and uninspiring and, for the second part, something I do all the time. I shall not be trailing round London’s seedier districts with a blow-up ball and chain attached to my ankle, devil horns perched upon my head or a fake veil entangled in my hair. Nor shall I be getting blindingly drunk, snogging a male stripper or any of the other rather rubbish things that seem to be de rigeur for Hens on their Nights.
Were it summer, I would have simply bought a couple of cases of champagne, several dozen punnets strawberries and a vat of Rhodda’s Cornish Clotted Cream, and had a civilised afternoon on a well manicured lawn playing what I believe to be the most vicious and ruthless game known to man: Croquet. As it will be early February, (that’s another thing I’m not doing – I’m not having the Hen Do the night before we wed. Oh no. Not on your nelly), it will be cold, wet and miserable, and croquet is a game not really suited to mud puddles. Before you suggest it, eXtreme Croquet is not really a variation suitable for a young lady betrothed.
I’m really not sure what to do. I had thought about doing something like a chocolate making course, or wine tasting, or having a spa day, but I don’t want to do anything too expensive. There’s nothing worse than the bride-to-be who says “Hey, I’m blowing 500 quid on a tacky Hen Weekend in some poor unsuspecting city on the Continent and I’d love it if you could blow both your holiday allowance and your savings to be there!” It’s entirely unreasonable to expect one’s friends to fork out a small fortune for one’s own entertainment, and generally speaking, spa days and the like do not come cheap.
I had thought about having it down in Dorset, but realistically speaking, I’m not sure if that’s a goer. Many of my friends are in or near London, and they’d have to either have a long journey home at the end of the day or have to spend money on a hotel. So I’m open to suggestions. It mustn’t be expensive, predictable, or involve sex toys. Other than that, I’m game.
Traditionally, deciding on the honeymoon destination is a choice that the Groom is responsible for making, but Kevin and I aren’t really the traditional sort and we like to make decisions together. But with everything else that’s going on at the moment, figuring out where to go has been a bit harder than expected.
Originally, we had thought that going wine tasting somewhere nice and warm would be a lot of fun, but the last two weeks in February aren’t wine season in Europe. We thought about South Africa for a bit, but then decided maybe not. Chile or Argentina would be a possibility, or even Australia, but I would prefer not to suffer jetlag on my honeymoon – it takes days to get over jetlag properly, and I get enough of that when travelling for work.
Since we started to think about our honeymoon destination, though, our priorities have changed a bit. Both of us are in a semi-permanent state of knackeredness, not just because we’re both very busy at work at the moment, but also because every spare minute is full of something, frequently wedding planning. The emphasis has moved towards spending two weeks somehwere very quiet, where we can crash out and do nothing. We’re just not sure where we want to go, so I thought I’d use the wisdom of crowds, and ask you lot.
Here are our criteria:
- It must be warm. I’ve had it with cold, wet and miserable, and I’m sure I’ll be even more fed up with the British climate by February, so I’d like a bit of winter sun. Doesn’t have to be hot; temperatures in the mid-20s C would be perfect.
- It must be quiet. I want to do a lot of sitting about, maybe a bit of reading, and really very little else. Maybe some leisurely walking, possibly some swimming (pool or sea). But I won’t want to hear traffic noise, crowds or thumping bass. Somewhere where the only other human beings we see are the ones pampering us would not go amiss.
- Countryside or seaside, but no cities. I want to hear nature at its finests: birds singing, insects chirruping, kittens purring. Oh, if only one could hire kittens. *sigh*
- Close to GMT. I really don’t want to have to deal with jetlag, so I’d prefer it if we didn’t have to cross more than two or three time zones.
- Not too expensive. We’ve got a wedding to pay for too, so destinations beloved by the rich and famous are out, as we’re neither.
- Maiden-name friendly. This is a tricky one. Due to having to send my passport away to the Home Office in order to get a Certificate of Approval so that I can marry one of them furriners, and then due to possible work in Italy in Dec, I can’t send my passport away in enough time to get it changed to my married name. (In fact, I haven’t even decided if I’m going to change my name yet – that’s a whole nother post.) But some countries apparently do not let you in if your passport still bears your maiden name. Not sure which ones, need to find out.
I think that about covers it. So, where would you go?
It’s funny how things work out sometimes. It’s been a bit of a strange year, work-wise, with a lot of meetings over the summer that came to naught, and the last month being a mad rush of new clients and new work. Of course, I’m very happy to be busy, but it does rather coincide with the run up to the wedding, so I’m rather short of time to write down all that’s going on. I really do want to keep as much of a real-time record of things as I can, because otherwise all this will be lost to the vagaries of my memory and I feel that I really want to chronicle the whole thing, not just the day.
I’m sure everyone on Twitter will be glad to hear that I have finally finished up the beading on the fabric that will be used as the inset for my skirt. Some people have expressed concern over whether or not it is bad luck for the Groom to see said piece of fabric, but in our flat it would be tricky indeed for me both work on it and hide it from him. (You know your flat is small when even the gas man says “Wow! This is a small flat!”) But there’s no way one can extrapolate from a bit of fabric to the finished thing, and as long as he doesn’t see that before the moment I walk down the aisle, I think we’re good. Kev, however, has said that if we have any bad luck after we get married, that’s my fault. Ah well, I’ll suck it up if it happens.
I’ve been told by my dress maker that the corset is now finished, and I will be collecting it tomorrow, when I hand over the silk for the skirt. Wow. Sounds like some sort of dodgy heist…
I bought 15 metres of ivory silk, enough for the skirt, the stole (which I will have to start beading soon – a beader’s work is never done), and a bit left over in case I decide I want to finish the edge of the veil with perfectly matching biased binding. That would, I must admit, be a right royal pain in the arse, but my perfectionism may yet drive me to it.
The corset will be hidden away, where no prying eyes can see it, but having it this early does give me a good chance to think about and experiment with jewellery and other decoration.
Honestly, shop-bought brides get it so easy. One of the things that drives me nuts is all the tiny little decisions that need to be made. As I’ve blogged before, it took me ages to decide on which beads to use, a decision that was tiny but important. Having to go through that decision making process again and again and again is wearing, and sometimes I feel quite jealous of brides who can afford to blow thousands on a wedding planner and whatever dress and jewellery they like. I’m trying to be stylish and inexpensive at the same time, and it’s really hard work. I want everything to be just so, but sometimes the most unimportant decisions are the hardest to make, because there is no clear reason to choose one thing over another. (The fact that I’m reading The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz at the moment is an irony not lost on me.)
I was explaining this problem to Kevin on the bus the other day, using the example of whether we have paper or linen napkins. Obviously if we have paper, then we can have them to match the colour scheme, but if we have linen they will be cream. Paper napkins come with the venue hire, so cost us nothing, whereas linen napkins are an additional £2.50 each. I was struggling with the decision, because linen would be nicer, but do I really want to blow 200 quid on napkins?
“Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff,” was Kevin’s advice, but that really doesn’t help. The size of the decision is irrelevant, and to say that something doesn’t matter doesn’t make it easier to decide. In the end, Kevin pulled the rabbit out of the hat with a throwaway comment that linen napkins are probably better for the environment, so that provided me with a good reason to sway my decision in one direction. The fact that it swayed it in the direction that it already wanted to go was a nice co-incidence.
Honestly, though, making these trivial decisions is the hardest thing about organising a wedding. The really big stuff, particularly stuff like the venue, the food, the band and the flowers, have turned out to be pretty stress-free decisions, because I was already very clear about what I wanted and the range of option was pretty small. It really was just a matter of finding the right people to do what I wanted. Deciding whether to have round tables or banquet style tables, though, that’s a different kettle of fish.
We still have some big, outstanding matters to clear up, though. Kevin’s outfit for the day, for example. We really wanted something like the outfit Tristan Thorn (played by Charlie Cox) wears in Stardust, but have been unable to find anything like that out there. We looked into getting a frock coat made, but it’s really very expensive. The quality would be amazing, of course, but one has to ask if it is a coat one would wear for years and years after. (Although given that one of Kev’s proudest purchases is a $10 jacket he got from a second-hand store years back, even if the answer to that was yes, I suspect he wouldn’t want to splash out at this point in time. It’s not like we don’t have a lot of other expenses to cover right now.)
Kev has looked at vintage clothing stores but we can’t find anything that we think might stock that style. Much of the stuff up in Camden is more 40s/50s/60s. Costumiers that we’ve found online tend to be fancy dress suppliers, and quality looks a bit shoddy. So we’re rather unsure now what to do. Shame we can’t just borrow the outfit from the Stardust wardrobe.
I think finishing up my dress and getting Kevin and the other males in the wedding party kitted out are probably the two scariest bits left to do. That, plus finishing up the invitations, which we’ve been slowly sending out in dribs and drabs, and getting into the real nitty gritty of organising the big day, and the run up to it. Oh, and immigration. How could I possibly forget the joy that is immigration. I’ll blog more about that little chestnut soon.
It’s strange how much I’ve come to enjoy going to the gym. I never would have expected to be such a convert, but here I am, eight months down the line, still dragging my arse out to the leisure centre first thing in the morning, still using the pushy uppy machine, the squeezey thighy machine, the walkie walkie machine. We get to the gym probably three or four times a week, and it’s finally starting to pay off.
Not that I’ve lost any weight – oh no. I’m still the heaviest I’ve ever been, but at least that weight is more concentrated in muscles and less spread out in flab. I can tell, for example, that I’ve been focusing on my legs because they look a lot less like tree trunks now than they did. Indeed, my thighs no longer scare me every time I look at them (which, if I’m honest, I try not to). My legs still complain like hell when I walk up the stairs at Holloway Road tube station, but they cope better walking up the hill to Highgate.
My metabolism appears to be adjusting too. I’ll confess that I haven’t managed to give up Coke at all, but that seems to be mattering less – my body seems to be processing calories faster. At least, I think that’s what it’s doing, and whilst obvious evidence is thin on the ground, I can attest that I’m not getting wider even though I’ve entirely failed to beat my addiction to lovely yummy tooth-rot-in-a-can.
Overall, I’m quite happy to keep going as often as we can. I frequently grumble about it, of course, because in the back of my head I’m still expecting to hate it, but I’d hate it more if I couldn’t go (although not as much as Kevin). That surprises me, because I’ve never been sporty or outdoorsy, preferring to enjoy the countryside at a sedate pace, usually from the vantage point of a beer garden and with a glass of something alcoholic in my hand. (For some reason, I become deeply attracted to cider when in beer gardens, although not the brands of cider that come out bright orange and are served with ice, as seem to be the rage right now. No drink should be that shade of orange except for Lucozade, and that’s a drink for when you’re ill.)
I suspect the best way to come to terms with this is to just not think about it too deeply. Or, indeed, at all.
Of course, we’re now getting into tricky territory. The dress is under construction, and I neither want to put on weight – or rather, circumference – nor lose any, as the dress is designed and fitted to me as I am now. I don’t think I’m at risk of gaining girth, so long as I keep going to the gym, and if I unexpectedly lose lots of inches I’m sure I can flab up again pretty quickly just by spending a lot more time and money eating chocolate and drinking vodka.
There’s a bit of leeway in the corset, though, because I can adjust that to fit simply by pulling harder on the ribbons that do it up. Well, not me – it’d be pretty tricky to do up your own corset, unless you had some sort of complex winch and pulley system, and even then I think you’d need help. But if I lose an inch here or there it won’t be a disaster, as Kate will just have to reposition her foot in the small of my back and yank harder.
Still, it’s nice to feel that I may, one day, approach a condition that could be considered “fit”. Best not to rush it though.