Four weddings and a hangover


Don’t tell anyone that I said this but I quite like wedding shows on tv. Not the endless dross about which bag goes with what hat,what colour the napkins need to be or even watching the happy(ish) couple stress over what the colour of the chair covers should be. The ones I like are the ones where gypsy women get married wearing ridiculous dresses and the ones where bbc tv licence payers pay for two people who don’t seem to know each other very well to tie the knot at my expense. ‘Big fat gypsy wedding is obviously a play on words from the similarly titled movie,but I think it could be just as successful if it had have been named ‘wide brides who’s blokes are inside’ as most of the ‘travellers’ seem to be marrying their brides while on a break from prison. After the weddings the grooms try their best to carry their brides over the threshold of their caravans but can’t do it as the dresses are way too big. BBC3’s ‘Dont tell the bride’ is by far the better of these shows as it focuses all of its attention on what is by far and away the weakest link in any wedding chain,namely the groom. No doubt for months prior to the filming of this programme the bride to be has spoken of nothing other than dresses,venues and table plans,yet the day the film crews turn up she departs for her mothers house and the groom gets his mates round to get pissed. The groom then spends three weeks saying stuff like ” I know, let’s get married at Thorpe park” or ” what she’d really like is a themed wedding” when all along all she really wants is to get spliced in the family church, surrounded by her nearest and dearest and have a reception somewhere half sensible. We get to see the grooms, who are normally hen pecked beyond belief,make the wrong decisions on just about everything from choosing the wrong dress in the wrong size,completely forgetting to send invitations and in one spectacularly memorable episode spending so much on taking his best man to Vegas for a week beforehand,fail to leave enough budget for the brides family to join them. These halfwit grooms also forget major components of the big day such as buying rings, arranging a photographer and even forgetting that his beloved might want her hair done on the morning of the big day. Each week we see the bride turn into bridezilla when she realises she hasn’t got the shoes she wanted, go apoplectic with rage at the colour scheme and threaten to call the whole thing off unless she gets the Rolls Royce of her choice to take her there. In the end though the brides always announce that the groom has been “amazing” and confess to not having been able to do as well if the roles had been reversed. They are,of course simply being polite and once the cameras stop filming the groom gets a fairly hefty kick in the balls from his new in laws while the bride signs herself up on uniform


Unlike the fiascos that I have seen on tv,the four weddings that I have been invited to have all been superbly well organised and last Saturdays was no different and undoubtedly the best.My sister Christine and her fiancé Martin had announced a date for their wedding day towards the end of last year and had chosen January 5th as the date for the big day and it was to be held at Chilston Park hotel in Kent. Armed with my new found wedding knowledge from the aforementioned programmes,I was able to converse before hand about colour themes and table settings as well as organise the proper attire for my children and offer any assistance to the happy couple that I could. Very wisely though all my offers of assistance were declined meaning that my role for the big day would be to simply turn and have a good time.


When we arrived at the venue it’s outside gave no clues as to what would be waiting for us inside as its very understated and almost uninspiring looking.Sure there is a large pond and extensive gardens,but the modern looking outside didn’t give us any clues as to what the inside has to offer and when we followed the signs to the reception area it felt like we had stepped back in time by about 300 years.This is a seriously classy place, no Gypsies here and not a bbc crew in sight. Arriving with an hour to spare before the ceremony,we gathered along with everybody else at the bar and stood at the bottom of a sweeping staircase surrounded by old oil paintings and sculptures while waiting to be called into the room where it was all to happen. The dark lighting of this room was in stark contrast to the Orangry where the ceremony was shortly going to take place and no sooner had we sat down and taken in the atmosphere than we were invited to stand and greet the bride who arrived a few steps behind my nieces who were her bridesmaids and alongside my dad who was giving her away.


After what seemed like no time at all we were asked if anyone present had any reason as to why they couldn’t get married prompting Martin to turn around to glare at us all. Nobody said anything but there were a few sighs of relief and nervous laughs. Then after the vows and the I do’s,that was it, all over. The first two weddings that I had been to were church weddings and I remember them taking ages what with all the hymns but this was over in a flash. That’s not to say that it wasn’t a touching ceremony and there were tissues a plenty on view but it was certainly to the point and probably a relief for the two people having to stand in the spotlight as the centre of attention.After some of the obligatory photo’s were taken we were back into the main hall, champagne in hand and posing for photographs for the next hour or so before we got to check into our room. And what a room it was.I’ve had the privilege to stay in many excellent hotels that had some incredible views. I’ve stood on hotel balconies looking at the pyramids of Giza as well as the valley of the kings and the river Nile and I’ve recently looked out of hotel windows looking over the skyline of London and the palm tree lined persian gulf in the UAE but this room was something else. Whilst the view out of the window may not have been as spectacular,the Queen Anne suite with its four poster bed,only fools and horses style chandelier and antique furniture was definitely the best room I’ve ever stayed in and ever likely to stay in as well. Laying in bed the following morning I imagined what it would be like to have lived like this full time and not just for one night and I can honestly say that I could have seriously got used to it.


After more afternoon drinks we sat down for the wedding dinner which was over 4 courses and was both beautifully presented and exquisite to taste. When the cheeseboard arrived I found my glass topped up with a drink I’ve never had before which has led to what could quite easily be a new love in my life: Port. I’m pretty sure I’ve never had port before, believing it to be an old mans drink but nobody told me it was this good. Luckily for me the waiters served everyone on our table a small glass meaning that not only could I have mine and Cally’s, but also those of my Children too.And their wine. And champagne.There were speeches from my dad and Martin before the best man gave what I thought to be an original and clever speech of his own,the details of which I won’t share but all I will say is that it’s best to keep Martin away from German hotel rooms.


After dinner we had the pleasure of a swing band interspersed by a dj and I embarrassed my children royally by dancing in front of them despite their insistence that I didn’t. For this I am very sorry! Sadly they had to go home fairly early and Cally and I danced a bit more and had a few more drinks but after an early start and several drinks too many,tiredness was beginning to set in so about 11.30 we decided to call it a night. But what a day it turned out to be,a civilised day with family members some of whom I’ve not seen for years and and childhood friends that I’ve not seen for decades. I’m told that there was a guy there that I used to sit next to in primary school and when we were both told this we kind of looked a each other in bewilderment. The bride was beautiful as of course all brides are,my neices looked old beyond their years and the speeches were delivered with humour, great style and timing. It was a great day and will undoubtedly be one of the best weddings I’m ever likely to attend the evidence of which is shown in the photos which have been photographed particularly well by the photographer, Cally and myself. At events like this when the bride and groom have to do the rounds to make sure everyone gets greeted,they managed to do so perfectly while also managing to enjoy their big day with each other. I managed a few moments with her on my own at the bar towards the end of the evening and told her that she looked beautiful, how great the day was, how well organised it had Been and how grateful we were for the magnificent room. Then as we were waiting for the barman to fetch us my last drink of the night the same thought went through our minds at the same time and it was Christine that echoed the sentiments of our Dad during his speech when she turned to me and simply said ” I wish Mum was here”



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