Tuesday, 16 November 2010
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.)