Part 15

I woke up and the day felt special. It was the 9th August 2008; this was the day Simon and I were getting married in front of all our friends and family. This was the day that I thought would never happen to me and part of me couldn’t believe it was true. The night before my two adult bridesmaids – Helen and Johnny - had stayed with me till past midnight, we’d watched a bad chick flick, listened to music, drank wine and gossiped. Helen and I had had a manicure, and I’d also had a pedicure and a rejuvenating facial. O’K so I looked really young anyway but the lady in the shop talked me into it and it was really relaxing. Helen and I had been running around collecting the dress from Celine and Hilary’s, admiring the amazing flowers that Celine was putting together and dashing forth around London. Why did Celine have the dress? I did not want anyone to see it before the church if they were not in the bridal party, and Celine had been in on the colour scheme from the start as she had given us an amazing gift and was arranging the flowers. They were absolutely incredible and if anyone ever wants a recommendation on flowers for any occasion, Celine comes highly recommended. Celine and Hilary had agreed to keep the dress in their house until the day before when Simon had left the flat and only Johnny and Helen were with me. The bridesmaids had been to all the fittings with me and had been instrumental in colour and style choices. So there I was on the morning having a few moments alone, writing a few words for Simon, staring at my dress and feeling nervous. I wasn’t nervous about marrying Simon, I knew and still know that Simon is perfect for me, in the same way that I am perfect for him, I was nervous as we had been planning this day for a few months and now it was actually here, I hoped it would go according to plan.

Simon had found the perfect wedding venue for us to have the wedding on, the Battersea Barge, it needed to involve boats after all. When we walked up to the boat I was fairly sceptical as the path up is very industrial, but once we were on the boat I was sold, the colours on the boat matched my dress perfectly, there was a great stage that I could already see Johnny Wyer on, and the bar sold Murphy’s, an important consideration when there is an Irish heritage in the family.

I phoned up the priest who had taken Dads funeral for us, and asked him if he would bless the wedding on the boat. His reply was very direct, ‘your father wanted you to be married in a catholic church, I cannot go against his wishes, take yourself to see the parish priest, I cannot bless the wedding on a boat.’

I went to the local Parish Priest, Father David and had an appointment to see him, Inside I did not hold out much hope but knew I owed it to Dads memory to try. I decided to reveal the whole plan from the outset as if he said no, better to know now and move on, and best to allow him to say no to the whole picture.

‘The man I am going to marry is not a catholic, I want two of my brothers to give me away, one of my bridesmaids is a man and I don’t want to walk down the aisle to any traditional music. I have only been to this church three times in the last nine years but I want to get married here as I know its what my dad would have wanted.’ I then told him the whole story of my dad wanting to be a priest but his father not allowing it, and how he’s spent his twilight years in a convalescence home for nuns and priests.

Father David listened very attentively, and passed a tissue as a few tears were shed thinking about my father, and then pronounced, ‘I suspect if we marry you here you might come to mass a little more often, what date would you like, and when can I meet your intended?’

I went home to Simon in a slight daze and told him that he had agreed to marry us. Simon smiled although was admittedly slightly disappointed as he had liked the idea of being married on the boat but acknowledged my need to get married in a church out trumped his liking of getting married on a boat. I then suggested that it would be symbolic as we would be married in the church and then celebrate on a barge, signifying the way that marrying Simon was going to take me away from the land and turn me into a boat dweller. He laughed and told me that I always found the drama in situations.

All the pieces were in place, Greg, Helens man, had suggested London buses from a wedding he had been to and we had the church booked with two heritage London buses to take our guests across London. As they were coming from all over, Stockholm, NZ, USA and parts of the UK we had asked them to do a tourist route to show our guests places of interest. Helen and Johnny were going to do there own commentary, although on the day many people have told me that Helens commentary far surpassed anything Johnny did or didn’t say, but that said his speech later made up for it. Ben, a friend and colleague of mine, had organised a band for us (again I can highly recommend this to anyone who needs a band), my cousin Deb was singing in the church and Ben was accompanying her. Carol had given Simon and I a lesson in foxtrot for our first dance (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds The Ship Song) Celine had the flowers under control, everyone had accommodation, all had been planned to the last detail, no seating plan required as we were having a buffet (one the boat was two small for a sit down meal and two the politics of organising such a plan were too much, so we took the easy way out and said anyone could sit wherever they wanted with whoever they wanted). The DJ was booked from 11.30 with a list of our favourite tunes for dancing to guide him on his way. So why was I nervous? Undoubtedly there were nerves with sadness as I was sorry Dad had passed away before this occasion having had a lifetime of him saying he would die when he’d walked me up the aisle. I had always retorted by saying I did not want his demise taking the limelight at my wedding, but having thought I’d never get married hadn’t given it much thought. Still I knew Dad had liked Simon, one of the last times I saw him in hospital when he was still able to recognise me he had demanded I collect his best suit as he was coming to mine and Simon’s wedding, at this stage Simon had not even asked me. I think he knew that Simon was a match for me, and passed away happier for knowing this. Still as I wrote a few words for Simon and thought about my Dad a few tears trickled down my cheeks. Before I got carried away the doorbell went and Helen and Greg were there, Greg was taking my suitcases to the hotel to check in for me, and Helen was there to get ready. Johnny arrived shortly afterwards and the day begun to take shape. I remembered what Celine had said to me a couple of weeks before, once the day starts just go along for the ride, things will go wrong but don’t dwell or you won’t get to enjoy the day. I jumped on the steamship of the day and let the ride take me. Phill and Claire arrived next. Phill is another good friend who also happens to be an amazing photographer, he was being the wedding photographer and the photo’s he took that day were amazing, I don’t like photos of me, but I love these photos as in them we all look great. Another recommendation for anyone looking for a photographer, the photos are not the cheesy wedding photos but have an edge to them and Phill does a great job of making you feel at ease, and ensuring he knows everyone’s names and gets the right pictures. I was all full of just take a few shots but don’t worry about the group, Phill was firm in saying you’ll want these to look back on; you need to take the traditional groups for your own records. In retrospect I’ll admit he was right. My hairdresser turned up, and she had been brought up on a boat for some of her teenage years so the whole land to boat theme was working together. Karen, my good friend, arrived to do my make up, a million thanks to her for a great job, which included covering up the bruises still remaining from the boat work the week before. It was raining on and off throughout the morning, and around one I decided to cut the tags on the John Lewis birdcage umbrellas and use them, but the rain did not ruin our day, and amazingly enough after the event we ended up with all six umbrellas, in fact somehow we had seven, only Sabrina and Johnny know the full story of where the extra one came from and they will take that to their graves.

Steve turned up with Will, my cousin from the USA, and finally Tom arrived with Carolyn, the third bridesmaid. Phill kept taking photos and Helen and John magiced up the odd glass of fizz and snacks to keep the party fed and watered. Finally I put my dress on and everyone was suitably impressed, they all said it looked amazing, I felt great but had no long mirror to look in. still the persons opinion that mattered most to me that day was Simons, and I would get that soon.

Celine and Hilary turned up smiling and with the most amazing bouquet of grand prix roses for myself with grand prix roses in hand bags for Helen and Carolyn. John had a special grand prix rose for his collar with feathers and then they disappeared off to the church. The car arrived, a classic 1960’s Rover P5B, identical to Simons car in NZ only Black with maroon lining. That meant Simon and Nick were at the church as he had collected them from the Marina and brought them in. The car then took Phill and Claire up the hill to the church, to keep the camera out of the rain along with Karen, it came back for the bridesmaids and Will, then I was left with my two brothers, Tom and Steve, they both looked as nervous as I felt, but Tom said Dad would be proud, and we all grinned at each other. They both agreed I looked amazing and we were off.

We got out of the car and arranged ourselves into a good order on the porch of the church, Father David was waiting smiling, and he continued to smile throughout commenting that this was an unusual but fun wedding. We got into the order for the walk down the aisle and Ben started to play the opening to the wedding march.

‘Ready?’ said Father David

‘Just wait for the music to change,’ I replied. Then I heard the move into the tune I’d asked for, Ben had suggested the short medley as he knew the opening of the march would make everyone stand up and he was right. I walked down the aisle smiling and felt surrounded by love, at the end of the aisle I could see Simon grinning away at me like the cat that got the cream, I knew he liked the dress. Finally Deb sang the line that everyone recognised, ‘that’s why the lady is a tramp,’ and the congregation laughed. I knew that our day was going to be one to remember.

The dress was deep red, with black lace covering the fishtail skirt that became a train. It had a deep V neckline, and Celine had helped me find a vintage fascinator that the technology teacher, Louisa, at work had added black lace to, turning it into a veil. For those who are fashion curious it was an Ian Stuart Bride dress, the bottom half was Sancerre and the top was Nocturne as I hadn’t liked any one design, but the two together worked for me.

The service was perfect, the two mums did a bidding prayer, Simons father did the same reading we’d had at Dad’s funeral, Corinthians 13 love is, and I will never forget Simons mum walking past us after her prayer saying ‘you look stunning,’ with a big smile on her face. I had worried about people’s reaction to a non traditional dress but everyone agreed it looked fab, but I had still to see it. Simons’ brother Nick commented that Simons face when he was me for the first time was a picture, and he looked like the cat that had got the cream. We lit a candle for Dad and although a poignant moment it didn’t make me sad, I just felt like I was doing the right thing and I was delighted to include Dad in the service. We went to sign the register and there was full length mirror, finally I saw myself for the first time, I looked pretty hot if I say so myself.

We walked down the aisle and everyone started to clap and cheer, you could feel the love in the room, and it was an amazing day in our lives. Simon has since referred to the small print that I didn’t notice when he wants to get his own way, but I know he’s just trying to be funny. He is also very proud of the fact that Phill captured the moment on film when he squeezed my derriere in the church whilst the service was going on; bless him for his rebellion in the Catholic Church.

We got in the car after the photo session and made our way across London to the Battersea barge for the celebration, and what a celebration it was. A million thanks to all who came, you all made it such a special day, I will never forget a minute of it and one of my favourite things is to go through all the photo’s Phill took and relive the memories. A special mention must be made of the Greek/Swedish party who became everyone’s new best friend by the close of the party, the next day they even got Damien and my mother dancing in traditional Greek style in a London restaurant. Everyone enjoyed the party; the speeches were amazing, ands someday soon I hope to be able to post Johnny Wyers’ on the site as it was absolutely perfect. The dance went really well, thanks Carol for the lesson we looked professional, at least that’s the excuse everyone used when they didn’t join in with us. The cake of cheese got eaten and many people awoke the next day with a sense of happiness and head that was slightly fuzzy from being slightly over –refreshed the night before. Simon and I danced the night away and managed to talk to all our guests (we hope), it was a day we will remember for the rest of our lives.