Its Friday, its five to five and its….. No, not Crackerjack! But me sitting at my computer, in my study writing my article for the June issue of ‘The Pioneer.’ In the kitchen, the Bride and her bridesmaids are making a Mars Bar Cake for the reception. Jan is finishing getting the guest room straight, ready for our friends Fr. Graham and his wife Barbara to use and yes here I am hiding in my study.
Earlier today I was chairing some meetings for the Rush Green Junior School governing body and one of the staff asked me if I was excited? No I said, just nervous. Frankly I think planning the Royal wedding would have been less of a problem, after all they had an entire Foreign Office and all the resources of the armed forces to oversee the planning and the fine details; all the clergy had to do was turn up and read the service.
Perhaps there was one little difference though in that they were not also the Father of the Bride. No matter how well things are planned there is always going to be some small little detail that gets overlooked and yet comes back to bite you in the rear! Today with just less than twenty four hours to go that little detail was the bride’s shoes.
Purchased at the time the wedding dress was checked for a fitting, guess who forget them when he picked up the dress from the bridal shop? No, not me! I’d forgotten all about them, indeed I even thought they were with Vicky at her house. But NO at lunchtime the shop realised that they had only given me the items on the first page of the computer screen, they had not checked to see if there was a page two to the order and what if anything might be on it.
Panicked phone calls and screeching rubber later and said shoes were safely in my possession and back at the vicarage, I always knew those days in motorsport would come in handy.
I have no worries about the groom not turning up or about the bride being late. Mark knows better than to upset Vicky (or me), and Vicky is getting ready in the upper room of the church. Thus, even if it rains she is already there and in the dry and so are her bridesmaids who are also getting ready in the upper room (got that wrong didn’t I).
Soon it will be 7.00p m and time for the walk through, then I will know if the liturgy that I’ve worked so hard on will actually work in practice. Please God it does as I’ve printed off the service books; no time for major changes now.
Friday evening, sometime after the rehearsal and I’m sitting in the Saffron with our friends and the bridal party, thank the Lord it all seems to work. The only question is do we have two communion stations or just the one; We shall just have to see how many turn up on the day, still if that’s all that is going to worry me overnight.. Good food and good company what more do I need.
Saturday morning, early O’clock, I’m awake, why? Noises from down stairs the Bride is up. Grab some jogging bottoms and rush down to see if everything is ok. Must be nerves she wants some tummy tablets, Jan always has some in the draw, shock horror there are none! Shower dress and out the door, must find a chemist or a shop that does pharmacy. Thank the Lord for 24 hour shops, when I was in business I hated these places for killing my trade, right now they are a life saver.
Six women, one bathroom and more importantly only one shower! Switch the boiler on to permanently on mode and run off to sit in church and pray, Graham comes with me, we both feel sorry for the dog who is left in the house (the cats have long since abandoned ship). Prayers over we walk through the service together and agree that one communion station should be ok.
10.30 – Load the Mars Bar Cake into the car along with the table decorations, the dice, the disposable cameras and the music for the DJ, I’m paying this bloke a fortune and he hasn’t got any heavy metal, never mind just drive. Vicky gets in and so does Graham.
We all want some peace and quiet. Actually I think we just want to keep busy and not stop to think too much. The makeup lady has arrived and taken Jan off to get started, four hours and five women to do. How much ’slap’ is this women planning to use. (As it turned out four hours was not quite long enough, but at this point in time I am blissfully ignorant).
At the Lodge, Fr. Mervyn and Ann are ready to unload the cake that Ann has made. Inside the staff are laying up the tables, time to make myself unpopular by altering the numbers sitting at four of the tables. (Last minute changes caused by health and flights). Joy they are so helpful I’m totally shocked, nothing is too much trouble, everything is exactly as it should be. We help Ann assemble the cake, what a heavy thing it is, and absolutely magnificent to behold.
Mark has hand painted the figures for the top of the cake, I get the dubious honour of placing them on the top (please Lord let me get it right). Now we assemble the Mars Bar Cake, suddenly I’m very hungry. Some loose chocolate drops free and Ann and I dive in; concussion anyone?
Back to home and try to find something to keep me occupied for the next hour or so before I have to
change and get to church, I know I’ll walk the dog. Jan comes back with her makeup done; I open my mouth and put my foot in it! It looks lovely, but there is so much of it, what did she use, a JCB? (At this point I should say in my defence that I have never been a fan of makeup).
1.10 pm At last I am in the church, time seems to be dragging and yet every time I glance at my watch I think where did it go. Slowly people start to arrive; the photographer is with the girls in the upper room and although I am surprised that Vicky is not yet ready to get dressed I dismiss the thought and attend to my own concerns. Just for fun I re-write my speech, hell I’m nervous now I so want it to be right for them both.
2.00 pm and Mark and his best man arrive, I look at Mark and wonder why I am nervous, just before I nip off to the loo for the umpteenth time. Run through my mental checklist and start ticking off the boxes, gradually it all drops into place my only concern other than bursting into tears at the altar is how long Vicky seems to be taking.
It’s time! The Bride may be in the building, but she is definitely not ready, I’m trying to keep calm, but my stomach feels like it is trying to escape from the rest of my body. Calming words from the serving team and fellow clergy are really not helping, not even a stiff drink would help right now, my hands are shaking too much. I creep upstairs trying to pretend to be calm, who am I fooling?
“Everything alright love? If you want we can be away in seconds, I wouldn’t blame you for being scared, but you know everything will be ok” “ No dad” comes the reply, “we forgot the tiara, so we are having to redo my hair”. I want to scream something about forgetting the ***** thing, but I turn around and go downstairs to talk to you all and tell the story about a mobile phone at a previous wedding I took; people laugh I feel better.
Twenty minutes behind my carefully crafted schedule, but at last Here comes the Bride. Can this beautiful vision really be my little girl? I start to choke; I can feel the tears starting to form in the corners of my eyes. Quickly I sniff and look around at the hats and fascinators in the congregation, good lord at least no one looks like they got a second hand one from Westminster Abbey.
Through the welcome and into the first hymn, Vicky’s eye catches mine and I lose it big time. I close my eyes and say a prayer, throughout the service I have to do the same thing. This must be the hardest thing I have ever done, but I have to do it and so I do. In moments it seems it is all over and the speech is also made. I find myself on the dance floor and relief overwhelms me.
Thank you so much for being a part of this special, special day and helping me to get through it.