So guys, I guess you wanna hear about the wedding?! It was amazing. But I’d better start at the beginning…
On Thursday last week I caught a train down to London, hopped the tube to East Putney and stayed over at Chrissie’s to allow us to leave for Stanstead airport at 5.45am. I’m not going to go into the details of the following 8 hours, but suffice to say I HATE Ryanair with a passion. It’s most disconcerting that an airline with chairs that look like they’ve been made out of lego bricks (bright YELLOW lego bricks – this does not make me feel “safe”) has employed money-saving tactics to such an extent that, as Chrissie pointed out, the emergency lights on their flights only light up one side of the aisle rather than the usual BOTH. We arrived late, and were very grateful to find that Laura and Rob had waited for us, despite this meaning that all four of us had no choice but to go directly to the rehearsal dinner. The plan was to stop in a lay-by or similar to change, but as we drove past the Pres (Sarah’s parents’ villa) we spotted Phil in the garden, and used the opportunity to nip in and hop into our party frocks!
The rehearsal fiesta was lovely – we ate AMAZING Mexican food, drank punch, played “getting-to-know-you” games and danced. The decorations were fabulous and the company even more so – one of my school friends, Craig and his wife Kirsty, had come all the way from New Zealand for it! It was so lovely to see them again!
After the fiesta we went to the hotel and checked in, walked around to the supermarche to buy wine for the evening, juice and pain au chocolat for our breakfasts, then sat out by the pool with half a dozen of our school friends who were staying in the same hotel, chatting, drinking and nibbling. We went to bed at a reasonable hour, very much needed after our 5.30am start!
The next morning we lay in a little while (comfy beds and shutters to keep out the sunshine!) then breakfasted by the pool. Chrissie and I were first out, so got sun loungers, though I spent most of the morning reading with my feet dangling into the lovely cooling pool-water with my pashmina draped over my head and shoulders against the sun! I must’ve looked a sight, but on holiday I’m really past caring… Laura and I had a swim just before it was time to get ready, then we all met up outside in our frocks and suits to get the coach to the wedding.
The coach driver, Serge was brilliant. He managed to turn the coach in a lane barely wide enough for two cars to pass without toppling us off the sheer drop to our rear in 12 points… then maneouvre a VERY steep hill to the second hotel stop, THEN reverse back down said hill – all without killing us! 😀 Meanwhile, Annie stood in the aisle and danced and led us all in an unenthusiastic rendition of “Going to the chapel and we’re gonna get married” (Sorry Annie, we Brits rarely sing without prior liquid refreshment!) and got us all cheering Serge’s every victory.
The wedding was beautiful. Aside from anything else, it was an emotional rollercoaster – grown men were crying on all sides! The Mayor of Mouzens gave a speech to kick things off. There were readings and songs, poems and sonnets, the cousins sang What a Wonderful World and a friend sang Ave Maria, and Kawika’s dad played and sang a traditional Hawaiian wedding song while his Mum danced. Dave, one of Sarah’s friends from university read my favourite sonnet (116, Let me not unto the marriage of true minds admit impediments) and Annie read Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s How do I love thee? Sarah’s Nan read a piece about the joining of hands that had EVERYONE in tears and her Mum and Kawika’s Mum performed a ceremony to symbolise the joining of the families through coloured sand. Sarah and Kawika’s vows were beautiful and extremely moving. The whole thing was perfect! They left to Here Comes the Sun by the Beatles.
And the bride? She was an absolute vision. Somewhere between Eva Peron and Grace Kelly, in the most astounding dress. She simply glowed.
In EVERY picture my hair’s falling over my face
– I wish someone had told me to tuck it back!
While the photos were taken we had Kir Royale, followed by champagne and nibbles – mini quiche slices, tomato and mozzarella kebabs, mini bruscetta… then the meal kicked in. Before we ate we had speeches – Scott’s was funny, Kawika’s was… cathartic (more tears – I’ve never cried so much at a wedding!) and frankly beautiful. And then we ate.
The girls on our table: Chrissie, me, Jane, Pippa, Nathalie
We started with Melon au Porto – literally a melon with a shape carved out of the top, the seeds removed and filled with port, then an amazing foie gras terrine with salad and chutney. Main course was beef fillet with vegetables and peppercorn gravy. At this point I really didn’t feel I could eat another bite, which made the fact that Sarah and Kawika chose this moment for their first dance a great relief!
After some dancing there was the traditional French choux-bun wedding cake (divine!) and then the cutting of the non-choux cake… which was made of rounds of cheese! It was heaven! I wish I hadn’t been too full to eat more than a few slivvers!
And then there was more dancing – a mixture of pop, two-step, line-dancing, and the traditional British “shoulder-shrugging”. It was muchas fun!
As we left we were each given a paper bag with a quote attached, a bottle of water, alka sltzer and chewing gum for the journey, along with a CD of the wedding playlist. Then the ushers boarded the coach and handed the girls crepe paper flowers. Mine is now peeping down from the top of my wardrobe.
It was the ideal wedding – gorgeous setting, gorgeous people, gorgeous food and gorgeously organised! HUGE congratulations to Mr and Mrs Sunflower (not their actual name, just my nickname for them!) and huge thanks for hosting such a fabulous do!