Monday, 30 July 2007

The ties that bind

When something happens that you've been anticipating for months, it can seem surreal when it finally takes place. The wedding of Mike and Emma (beforehand referred to as GEMDAP or Get Emma & Mike Down the Aisle Project) was a certified production number with a cast of thou...well, a couple of dozen, actually.

I've never actually been that heavily involved in a wedding before. Perhaps my own, maybe? Erm, maybe not - bystanders tell me that Katie and I were so laid-back about our own celebration day we were practically horizontal, so maybe not.

We started out at the best man's house, where this picture was taken of the groomsmen:

Ladies, form a queue.

Anyway, I'm not going to say the whole day went without a hitch. There are things you can't legislate for - like the bride showing up at the church without her bouquet. I was outside doing ushering duties and for one second almost suggested, "Can't you just go on without it?" Apparently, that would have been a dumb question - just about every woman on the planet would, with varying degrees of hysteria - have given me a fairly robust slapping for suggesting that one. And I'd have deserved it, too. It did mean I got to walk down the aisle myself to reassure Mike that whilst his bride was here, she wasn't ready.

Thinking about it, it's probably a good job I didn't use those exact words.

Anyway, one high-speed car dash later, her step-father came good with the bouquet - the ceremony went ahead and here's the proof:

What a handsome couple indeed. And before you ask, it is actually a bye-law that if you have a young girl as your bridesmaid, she has to hold the hem of her dress in her mouth for at least 25% of the photos - if only so you can embarrass her 15 years later.

Rushing down to the Welcombe Hotel in Stratford for the wedding breakfast meant we got there about 30 mins before the bridal party, so Katie had a good half-hour of mithering to do (I'm aware that this blog gets some American readers, so that's hopefully a new word for you. Please use feel free to use it in your day-to-day life). She wanted to construct the cake, the dining room wasn't ready - it took a significant amount of Pimms to quieten her down.

And if I do say so myself, when she did put things together, the results were excellent:

The wedding breakfast went well, I think, although I was about to start my duties so was stressing a little. Standing up and talking in front of people is something I do at work, and it normally doesn't phase me at all. But this was different and the pressure was telling - I kept off the wine just to be sure.

I wasn't going to be a formal toastmaster, more a compere, and I'd drafted some notes to link each of the speakers. With an age range of 5 to 89 in the audience, I had to be careful of content. One of my jobs was to say grace, which for me was...unusual to say the least, given that organised religion has never really been my bag. I got through it by studiously avoiding Katie's eyes. My mother, observant Catholic that she is, would be proud.

The rest of the wedding breakfast went on. People were in good spirits, they laughed in the right places (the groom and best man's speeches being highlights) and the business of the afternoon progressed well. Ten minutes after we'd finished, with a particularly pithy quote from me, there was an almighty roar from outside as nine red fighter jets flew past in close formation. I'm assuming it was the Red Arrows - unless EasyJet are allowing passengers to DIY. Damn - 15 minutes earlier and I could have convinced the wedding party it was part of the plan.

That first pint afterwards was like nectar. Actually, it wasn't - it was John Smiths, which I call "I Can't Believe it's Not Bitter", but beggars can't be choosers and I'd earned it.

The reception - evening dress - me in a tux, Katie in a floor length gown. More compering, live music, a table magician, disco - something for everyone. I wish I could have carried on, but by 11.30pm, after running around to make things happen, I was bushed. Someone asked for my business card - they thought I did this for a living. God, no, I'd be in an early grave...

It's great to be sitting here, looking back at it all. Emma and Mike had, I hope, the perfect day. And I enjoyed myself too, as I was able to satisfy the unreconstituted show-off in me.

What impact it's had on my waistline is yet to be seen. That pint of John Smiths was followed by quite a few friends.


Mike Nicholas said...

What a fantastic appraisal of the day. I can assure you it was the best day of our lives and you and Kate played a huge part in that. The day would have been significantly different and only for the worse without your respective talents.
Your pre wedding support and the way you were on the day was fantastic. You were indeed the best MC anyone could ever wish for. Perhaps you should think of a career move if you get bored at the Building Soc!!!

Cheers mate, you should be very proud or yourself.

With Love,

Mike & the new Mrs Nicholas.

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