Sunday, 5 October 2008

Loseley Park

Yesterday to the wedding of a friend and former work protégé who, far from seizing the opportunity to absorb my sober tutelage and carve out a sensible career in local government, had wound up teaching me so much (how to do considerably better in the private sector; how to get thrown out of a pub for staging a puppet show with your socks; the health and safety implications of teenage mutant ninja turtles in Danish discos; how crawling on all fours doesn't necessarily render you invisible in the dark.)

It was a generous and meticulously organised wedding, clearly planned by a tasteful romantic. I don't want to make a snap judgement here, but I'd say this may have been the influence of the charming and beautiful bride, rather than of friend-and-former-protégé.

The ceremony was in a relaxed secular format - no hymn singing (probably nobody knows the tunes anymore anyway), but tranquil music choices (Canon in D, Glasgow Love Theme), followed by various moving and thought-provoking readings ("I knew that I had been touched by love when I started thinking in terms of 'we'," provoked the thought that I shouldn't have snatched that last coffee before we left).

The Great Hall at Loseley House, with its panelling, stained-glass roundels and scent of wood smoke, was a timeless setting for the ceremony (it was already 130 years old when the Pachelbel processional was written). The reception and breakfast were held in a lofty timbered barn, the tables invitingly decorated in white and purple with a gift-boxed spirit shot at each place-setting (mine was a very thoughtfully-chosen miniature of Jura malt).

We were at a good table. On one side was Gareth Malone, the choirmaster in the BBC 2 documentary series about reviving school choirs. He swore he wasn't, and his name card said something different, although he admitted that we were not the first to remark on the likeness. Anyway, he was good company and probably sings beautifully. On our other side, best surprise of the day, was the girl with lovely eyes, whom I haven't seen for ages and much miss. With her was her partner, whom we hadn't met. Clearly a man of taste, he seemed very likeable, with a restrained dry humour that hinted at dineability.

I am easily provoked into a diatribe about wedding excess; the absurd amounts that people are expected to spend on weddings now, when a do in our day meant coronation chicken vol-au-vents and asparagus tips rolled in brown bread, washed down with a few glasses of Asti Spumanti; when you could count your friends by your cheese-boards, tin-trays and toast racks; and when at t' end, when all was said and done, there was still change out of' tenner for t' meter.

But it's awful nice being on the receiving end of a really good one, and I'm only sorry we had to leave before the band arrived and the evening celebrations began.


  1. Sounds like it was a warm and life affirming event - as all weddings should be. When Karen and I got married we did it in a tiny village in Wales, with only 6 friends present and had a pub meal afterwards... surrounded by lush, green valleys and unknown local people all wishing us well it was one of the best days of my life.

  2. No hymn-singing? No hymn-singing?! Why... I'm speechless.

  3. I do hope the marriage survives with equal aplomb.

    I think the worst shame of all is the extravagant wedding where everything goes horribly wrong 1-3 years afterwards.

    In fact I don't think anyone under 30 should be allowed to marry. Or go to University. A great deal of heartache would be saved on both counts until people have lived long enough to really know themselves/what and who would make them happy.

  4. Steve, your wedding sounds should do it again some day (I do mean together!)

    Can Bass, I know, I know. Different choir stalls, different canticles and all that. We had such fun choosing for ours; I picked the George Herbert 'a man who looks on glass' one, and sang the verse about sweeping rooms and making drudgery divine at my bride with particular significance. The SS responded with Bunyan and 'Who would true valour see, let him come hither'. I think she won on points.

    Laura, I've never been surer that a marriage will last (inshallah). But I've often thought that I could enjoy - and handle - the academic side of university far, far better now. Something to do with confidence and a broader knowledge base?

  5. Ooh I love a good wedding. But I have to admit I love the hymns too- nothing more stirring than a church full of people you were at school with belting out Jerusalem with tears in their eyes... good times. Thought I'd drop you a line as I'm back under a new alias... hope to catch up with your blog now too!

  6. I know none of yous know me. But I thought I'd add my tuppen'worth...
    Sounds nice. Maybe I've been to that place... but, anyway. I'm getting married. In 7 weeks.In Australia. There will be 5 people at the do, in a registery office in Perth. Then we will have pics taken in a park,then go for some food somewhere. And that's it. Long story (well, not LONG, but somewhat complicated)...

  7. "dineability"...?

    Does that mean you considered eating him?

  8. Chimesey - That's classy. It'll be spring there too I suppose (although I think eucalyptus (eucalyptuses?) are evergreens anyway).

    Rol - No! (The 'dineability' thing originated with a nice, but rather grand, family friend, who once remarked of some newcomers, 'Are they dineable?')

  9. I love a good wedding! Ours was a rather rushed thing mainly as my dad had been diagnosed with cancer and we wanted him at the "do" which he was. It rained and snowed and the Scowly Teen was only 3 months old (she was my something new) but it was a great day. I like the small intimate weddings much better than the grand affairs which seem to be more about how much money they can spend that surrounding themselves with things that really matter!

  10. Amanda - I'm so glad that your Dad was at your wedding. That sort of awareness must have made it all the more special. And I think you win the prize for the most original 'something new'!