Weddings are the most glorious affairs, I think maybe especially so when you have no role other than to enjoy the day – as opposed to being responsible for who sits where, what species of flowers should be on display, what will the bridesmaids wear, etc. Last Saturday was such an occasion – the wedding of my wife’s god-daughter, Olivia, to Pete.
To get there, we drove through a quintessentially gorgeous Sussex village that not only a has a green on which cricket is played, it also has a small pavilion – with a scoreboard! If it hasn’t been used in Midsomer Murders then…well, then Charles Dickens didn’t write Barnaby Rudge. (Apologies; that’s one for MM aficionados.) The church was beautiful, inside and out, and even the weather behaved, contrary to the forecast. The pub across the road – of course there’s a pub across the road; this is an idyllic English village! – was as agreeable as one could wish. The service went as planned (we went to a wedding years ago where the groom fainted after the vicar twice got wrong the name of his bride) and included an inspired choice of reading, a poem by Bob Marley that begins “He’s not perfect. You aren’t either…”
Of course, one of the keynotes of a wedding is the speeches, notably the best man’s, a tradition highlighted in classic fashion in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral, by Hugh Grant in particular. I remember one wedding we attended at which the best man teed up his remarks by removing an awesomely long stream of paper from his trouser pocket, explaining: “Unfortunately, now I’ve got here to deliver my speech, I found I have brought the wrong one. This was an address I delivered last evening to a local gathering of Alcoholics Anonymous. But I’m afraid it’s the only one I have with me and I therefore apologise to those of you who will be hearing it for the second time in 24 hours.”
There is also always the vexed question of how risqué one can be without upsetting any elderly relatives. A favourite of mine in this regard was the best man who remarked how radiant the bride looked – “As she always does,” he added. “You might say she is the epitome of an English rose. With this in mind I looked up something in a book of flowers and found that indeed there is a type of rose that carries her name. Interesting to read the description, too. ‘Performs well in a bed but is much better against a south-facing wall’.” That may have been a bit much for a maiden aunt or two.
In this instance, while Pete made all the appropriate noises of thanks when it came to his speech, he preceded that with an epic Elvis-like rendition of Suspicious Minds, which pretty much brought the marquee down. Judging by her expression, Olivia seemed to have forgiven the fact that the lyrics to that song aren’t perhaps entirely auspicious for the first day of married life together. The best man was on the money, too, paying tribute to “my good friend Jack Daniels” who’d helped him pluck up the courage to speak. The dancing went on all night – albeit very little of it by me – and the next morning, extraordinarily, I didn’t have a hangover. What a wonderful weekend!