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X is for X Marks The Spot by Helen
The delightful Amy shared her venue-hunting tips, this post is about the significance of the place you choose or, specifically, how I feel reflecting on ours. It isn’t that practical! More like an ode to the building.
X marks the spot. The spot where St George’s stands; a building which bore witness to so much joy. Our first encounter with St George’s was listening to stripped down folk on an acoustic guitar, before we were even engaged. I was awed by the building, there was an honesty and a fundamental presence to it which I struggle to put into words. It is both unfussy and ornate. The austere wooden floorboards contrasting with the divinely intricate reredos. The unadorned pillars upon which magnificent chandeliers shine. There is a wonderful permanence to the building and a stubborn enduring history. Yet this majestic, imposing venue, still somehow remains secret even those who’ve long lived in Bristol. Tucked off busy Park Street, nestled beneath Brandon Hill. It was the only venue we viewed and it was perfect for us.
On that Maundy Thursday it was the spot I entered almost paralysed by nerves and from which I nearly skipped just a short while later. Tripping up the flight of stone steps, dizzied by the towering cupola. Waiting in the vestibule, heavy with draped velvet. Briefly ensconced before entering the hall with soaring ceilings and my soaring heart. The beautiful windows pale in the chilly grey April day. Marvelling at the acoustics as our best man serenaded us and wowed our guests. The tinkling of the grand piano during dinner and later, the rock band filling the vast space with a punked-up version of ‘Delilah’ (featuring the groom on guest vocals). The contrast of the cosy crypt where our families mingled and chatted over tables filled with Easter flowers and scones.
Oh and a plaque in the gardens which said this:
All photographs here onwards are by Neil Light
I’ve already been back there for a concert. I felt the thrill of the day return as I entered the building and a surge of joy as I took my place in the stalls and looked up at the stage where we’d exchanged our vows. I wanted to tell the rows of people what had happened here, what significance it held for me. This glorious building now wedded to our life.
The setting of your wedding – whether church, barn or beach- is so important. It becomes part of the map of your relationship through which you charter your shared history. It joins the patch of grass on Snowdonia where I said “yes!”, the dingy Swansea night club where we first kissed. We’ll return to the city for our anniversary and make our way up the hill. We’ll linger at the gates to look up at the steps and remember them filled with our favourite people. St George’s is the spot, hidden away in what was once our city, to return to. Like a matrimonial pilgrimage.
NB: St George’s is not a licensed venue. A wonderful humanist celebrant led us in a celebration of our marriage, but we did the legal bit the day before. You can find out more about the building here.