Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Ring out, wild bells!

The bells rang loud and clear over the flat expanses of the Severn Estuary last weekend, as we celebrated the marriage of my younger son and his wife.
Splendidly, admirably unconventional they had actually been married some two months earlier, in a totally private ceremony on the Isle of Skye.

Equally unconventially the bells that rang out were those of the fire alarms, triggered by the fountain fireworks on top of the cup-cake tower. (Special thanks to those who dealt with them swiftly and tactfully.)

The celebration was the occasion for friends and families to come together and, in many instances, to meet for the first time.
I am full of admiration for this bride and groom, who had the courage to do what was right for them, rather than be ham-strung by the Big White Dress, the Cars, the Reception, the Flowers, and the countless 'duty' invitations.

People came together in a relaxed way, shared the cooking and washing-up, the eating and drinking, dancing, laughter and talking (and even a few tears).....and then the sweeping up and recycling of the empties the next morning.

It was the most heartfelt and sincere event I have attended, and I don't think I'm biased!

By way of contrast - how about this?

Big wedding - Almaty, Kazakhstan style.
You get the biggest stretch limo you can find, deck it with flowers, fill it with Bride's huge white dress (plus Groom), add a convoy of only slightly smaller cars filled with vodka-fuelled family and friends. Then you drive the whole convoy round the city, blowing hooters and whistles, stopping at major scenic points for group photos.
You and your stretched party will not be the only ones doing this. The city will be brought almost to a stand-still by almost-identical parties most Saturdays.
You will stop off in the park to release a cage of pure white doves.
Up they swirl into the sky, in a symbolic and romantic sort of way.
But these are homing doves, a neat cottage industry, returning home in time to be boxed up for the next wedding party.

Much as I admire lack of convention I nearly started a tradition at my own wedding.
My husband's Best Man had left his button-hole rose on the kitchen table. I tucked it into my bouquet and passed it to him as I drew level with him at the altar. The congregation apparently saw a rather charming gesture of a bride taking a flower from her bouquet and passing it to the Best Man. Several people told me that they had repeated this gesture at another wedding.
They had not heard what I said to the Best Man.
Of such stuff is tradition made.

Perhaps in future years it will be traditional for the Groom to wear a leopard-skin track-suit for his break-dancing at the reception.
One can but hope so.

(Thanks to Alex Vickers for photographing cup cakes before the alarms went off.)


marigold jam said...

Sounds perfect and how nice that they did what they wished rather than getting caught up in the whole rigmarole that apparently costs tens of thousands of pounds(!) these days. I hope they will be very happy.


pohanginapete said...


I love the idea of people sharing the tasks rather than being there just as guests.


Relatively Retiring said...

Marigold Jam: thank you for your kind wishes. Too often the party seems to overwhelm the ceremony. It was completely right for them to have the small ceremony for just the two of them.

P.Pete: People bond so much better over shared tasks. It was a great weekend and a true celebration.

carol b said...

This sounds wonderful and congratulations to you all.
We did our own thing for our wedding, kept it small and simple...and yes our guests all had their jobs too - it wouldn't have been half as special any other way.

Jane said...

So glad it all went well - i've been thinking of you making cupcakes, but haven't had time to pop round. Next week should be easier - we'll between hospital visits!

Relatively Retiring said...

Carol: thank you. It's great when people have the courage to just be themselves! (And we did see a fair bit of that as the party went on!)

Jane: Oh, hospital? Let me know.
I think I was the only person who couldn't face a cup cake!

Zhoen said...

The kind of wedding I can really get behind, and would enjoy.

Not so much the limo parade.

I suspect a lot of confusing traditions start with a practical solution to a problem, misinterpreted.

Relatively Retiring said...

Zhoen: I agree. I was totally behind this one - all the way!
The limo processions are a good laugh as a spectacle, but potentially dangerous for the participants.
And who came up with the idea of releasing the pigeons, I wonder? Probably practical, as you say....as in: 'While you're up on the viewing point just give the pigeons a good run.'

leslee said...

Congratulations to the happy couple! Glad they were able to do things their way. Weddings have become so expensive and commercialized these days, especially it seems for the young, when things are usually driven by so many other people's aspirations. Some traditions, on the other hand, are lovely. Starting one's own traditions, intentionally or otherwise - even better!

Relatively Retiring said...

Leslee: thank you for the good wishes. Unintentional traditions are the best, I'm sure. Watch out of the leopard-print track suits!

den said...

I love it. "fire alarm bells".
did you all have to hot foot it out in the cold?
Wishing them much happiness.

herhimnbryn said...

Wishing them happy.
We did what we wanted to do on that day and everyone had a great time. No fire alarm bells though!

Relatively Retiring said...

Den and HHnB: thank you for the good wishes. The alarm bells were silenced quite efficiently, but the cheering continued for a while! Hope we didn't disturb all the ducks and geese at Slimbridge, just along the road.

Isabelle said...

Sounds lovely - congratulations to all.