I was surprised to awake at about 10 am on the big day without (a) a hangover, since every sniff of alcohol since my stag do had produced the aforementioned results; and (b) nerves, even more of a surprise having been asked "are you nervous yet" about a million times over the past week.
Luckily, Paul, my best man, was present (not that present, downstairs in the lounge actually) and he shortly proceeded to make a large cooked breakfast to set us up nicely for the day. As the kitchen heated up under the strain I opened the back door to let some air in only to discover that it was a beautiful day outside and somewhat hotter out there than in the kitchen; said door remained closed.
Having ensured our waistlines would hold our trousers up for the day we settled down to play computer games but just as Dungeon Keeper II was getting good people started arriving. 14 people were due to wear matching suits and half of them were still at my house so quickly every room became a changing room and the shower saw some heavy use. All this chaos amidst the on going mess of the room in the roof (yes, at that point the work had only been going on 2 weeks beyond schedule).
The bad news was that the shower started to leak through to the kitchen again but no time for fixing things like that at the moment. People stacked everywhere, men half dressed and trying to work out how to do cuff links up (if you've never tried just picture a dog chasing its tail for that one) and women standing around hands on hips waiting for other halves (their better halves naturally) to get themselves sorted out.
In the fullness of time it's time for us to set off on our stroll to the church. As I hear things Lorna & the bridesmaids were up a whole lot earlier and spent the entire morning tarting themselves up. We were a a fair sized wedding party walking across Patcham on a very hot day so we drew no few strange looks on our stroll to the church.
Meanwhile, the girls were having their photos taken in the newly decorated hall and the garden at Elaine & Frank's house (Lorna's mum and stepfather).
Much to our surprise some guests were already at the church and all were sheltering in the small pools of shade - the verger had just locked the nice cool church to stop people going in (but it's a church?). It's half an hour before kick off and either the vicar is locked in there or he's not here yet.
Some of my followers had already headed to The Black Lion for a fortifying half and I dutifully chatted to friends and family - mine and Lorna's (none of whom I knew at that point so I figured anyone I didn't recognise must be one of hers, a wrong assumption as it turns out because lots of people pass by to peer at the proceedings, although neither of us remember anyone in the church that we didn't know). Mike had thoughtfully acquired drinks for us as the temperature continued to rise. Still no nerves.
Shortly before kick off the vicar arrives (there's still enough time to toss the coin) to open up and the ushers begin to ush (yes, Stuart is present and Mike is on time, just another wedding day surprise).
It's kick off time and the vicar was trying to get people into the church, I don't think anyone needed my help in that task but they still almost had to drag me back in to take my place. We take our places and wait. Apparently, when Lorna and Bob, her dad, arrived in the horse and carriage they had more trouble getting the outstanding people into the church but finally everyone was in their correct place.
We can start. Paul and I have heard somewhere that it is bad luck to look at the bride as she walks down the aisle (for the groom that is) but we don't know where that came from so we compromise; I'll look forwards until he tells me it's okay to look because she's close enough to not be unlucky anymore (!?).
Much to my surprise (there's really were a lot of those on that day but that's not a surprise) Lorna has a beautiful blue & gold dress on, not the half expected leprechaun green but rather something that fits with the colour scheme of all us in suits and the bridesmaids, I guess that should have been obvious.
Bob looked terrified (or was it relief). No nerves yet.
I'm told the ceremony went faultlessly, which just means no one was paying attention. I know I slipped up o¬n the words, three times, once substituting entirely the wrong word (I'll be worshipping Lorna's bonnie till my dying day, I don't know what it is but it's over the ocean so I'm stuffed there), we did our best not to laugh mostly for the vicars sake, poor love was taking it all so seriously but then I suppose he has to.
Then came the rings, Lorna's hands were hot so her ring wouldn't go on her finger, we were happy for settling for perched on the top half of the finger but the vicar wasn't having any of that, frowning at us he'd settle for nothing but all the way on. After a struggle the deed was done.
We did some kneeling, always kneeling, can't they just bring out deck chairs or something, oh no, kneel down, straight back and make sure you're in too much pain as your muscles start spasming during the interminable vicar waffle to enjoy the rest of the day. We did some singing too, well o¬nce we were reunited with our hymn books (we got separated by cunning vicar design during the ceremony). Incidentally, I know where I got my singing voice from, Wendy. Thanks mum.
At last it's done and we can head back down the isle where the photographer is lurking at the far end trying to take photos - naturally I look that way and am told to look away, so there I am looking into the heavens when the shot is taken.
It's hot as hell outside (kind of appropriate I'd say - another incidentally, the freak lightning strike on entering the church just didn't happen as expected).
My efforts at smiling and squinting don't come out flatteringly on film but I know that was better than hiding from the rain which we'd been having for the previous week.
It's baking and as best as possible people are lurking the shadows so we're trying to take the photos quickly and get off to the reception.
Naturally, there's the obligatory photo with people throwing confetti over us and in our cases blowing bubbles at us, I think I had a wet but clean ear for the rest of the evening.
Everyone waited until the photos were completed to wave us off before getting on the coach for the reception, Lorna's turn to panic about people not being in the right place but these things got sorted somehow.
We're off in the horse & carriage which is very pleasant and sedate, lots of nice people beeping and waving and not just those stuck behind us, now I can see why royalty do their parades, if I'd had a pocket full of changes I would have thrown it for the peasantry. Our driver was a bit of a character and displayed an eagerness to whip the biker on a hog as he accelerated noisily passed us.
At the end of Preston Park we changed over to the white Rolls Royce (with white shag pile interiors!) holding up the traffic again, I'm starting to like this behaviour. It's a slow hall through town and the Roller nearly expired as it finally got into another gear having followed the horses along the London road.
Happily the scaffolding had finally been removed from the front of the Norfolk Hotel and the red carpet is out for our arrival, all I could think about was with all the fuss about whether we want the red carpet out or not it's o¬nly about 4 foot long. Damn, I bet Royalty don't suffer these indignities.
Final official photos with the cake and after some standing around drinking pink or blue stuff (both tasted the same) and talking to guests we did a line up of Bob, Elaine, Wendy, Keith and ourselves to direct everyone into the reception room for food at last (what, that's not the purpose? Oh, yes, we did a line up to welcome our guests...).
Finally, onto the reception...
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