This is Rach M’s wedding report. It is, as you would expect, fabulous, honest, and hilarious, all rolled into one brilliant wedding report. I’m not going to add any more than that because Rach has done such a good job herself, but I do just quickly want to say how much I love that AOW helped her have the day she wanted. That so many of you were there in the background cheering her on is just bloody brilliant. Thank you all for being so awesome. And thank you Rach for being such an integral part of the AOW community.
And on that note, over to you Rach.
Now then! I owe you all a wedding report. After two years of support and encouragement from the AOW community, you girls got me down the aisle sane so the least I can do is tell you all about it. So after all the updates, arguments and lively chats (with family! Not each other, well not always)…we did it! M and I are married. Hallelujah!
We got married on Sat 5th October, which luckily enough turned out to be the only Saturday in October when the weather didn’t turn inclement or torrential…hurrah! Being British, I can go no further without giving you a little weather run-through: grey and overcast, 19 degrees, rain held off until we were in the reception venue. All in all, pretty good weather-wise for the UK in autumn. Lovely.
I started the day in The Rookery hotel in Farringdon, which is the most beautiful place I have ever stayed, EVER. Going through the door there is like stepping through a portal into another world, back in time. I realise I am wheeling out all the clichés, but it’s really something to step off the street in busy Farringdon into absolute quiet, walk over flagstones, past fireplaces and hanging tapestries and the snoozing hotel cat, Lady Grey and pour yourself a drink from a crystal decanter in the honesty bar. If any of you find yourselves in that part of town with time to kill, go in and have a nose. It is wonderful.
Way back when we were first engaged I read Lucy Mangan’s The Reluctant Bride and read that she’d stayed there in The Rook’s Nest suite, because she’d been due to get ready for her wedding in a Travelodge and her mates vetoed that with a whip round on her Hen Do and sorted it. When I realized how close our venue was to The Rookery, it was a done deal for me and I’m so glad we stayed there, it was a total oasis of calm and the size of the room – The Rook’s Nest – meant that it could accommodate all of us and then some, that we could easily call for the next person to be made up, that the photographer could bob around us, that we could lounge about in our stunning Good Morning Beautiful gowns drinking prosecco, and generally reveling in how wonderful we were.
I am still marveling at how calm the morning was. The whole thing ran so smoothly. Our hair and make-up girls (one of whom is my sister-in-law – the brilliant Laura of Laura Marsh Makeup) arrived bright and early and us girls sat in front of a beautiful gilded mirror topped by cavorting cherubs, in our stunning gowns (have I mentioned the gowns?) sipping coffee and prosecco and being beautified. We had 50s music playing the background and…my phone was quiet. Nothing. No panic. Not a bean. I even had some time to reply to the flurry of well wishes from you lovely lot. For a moment I half thought “Everyone has got the right day, right?” when my brother texted me to say “Hear that silence? That’s the sound of everything going to plan!” which is music to the ears of an anxious control freak. So….err, we just relaxed. And I was excited. And nervous.
“What does it feel like?” one of my bridesmaids asked.
“Like Christmas and exams mixed together.” I said. “But with more makeup and cherubs.”
We were ready on time. Our photographer was early. And awesome. My superb Page Boy Jacob (son of my bridesmaid Mel) arrived in time to show us his book of cars before we had to get into our finery. We were calm. It was better than I could have ever wished for.
My bridesmaid Anna helped me into my dress in the secluded top floor bit (! I know. Humour me) of the Rook’s Nest, and then down I went to the other room, where my Dad and brother had just arrived. My Dad seeing me in my finery for the first time is one of my favourite memories of the day.
First photo of me in the dress!
We left on time, amazingly. The hotel staff came to see us out and hung out of the windows to watch us leave. I believe Lady Grey was still snoozing on a 18th Century banquette, so unfortunately for her, she missed the action.
Leaving The Rookery with Page Boy Jacob and Bridesmaid Mel
Turns out there were a lot of building works going on in Farringdon (you wouldn’t know it from the silence inside The Rookery. I swear IT IS A PORTAL BACK IN TIME.) These two lads were standing nearby. The girls said I absolutely HAD to get a photo with them. Love it.
The 1952 Oxford Nuffield Taxi, complete with hilarious driver.
The journey to St Joseph’s Church in Highgate took about 25 minutes. Going up Highgate Hill, I did start to get nervous but I saw my friend Malek storming up the hill in a rush, and when he saw me in the wedding car he exclaimed in delight and mouthed “Sorry!” at me, and sped up. Just seeing him grounded me, and calmed me a lot, as I thought: “my friends are here to see me get married, because I really am getting married! Everyone’s got the right day, everyone’s here.” And I felt great.
“A gell can’t be on time to her own weddin’! I ain’t havin’ that!” said Carlos, our salt-of-the-earf London-cabbie-for-over-30-years.
In the event, I was 7 minutes late. It all worked out great.
The first peek for the back row. Look at that Anna K pout! Beautiful.
Walking down the aisle felt so real. Anna K’s was the first face I saw and that kept me in the moment. When M greeted me at the altar we were both beaming with delight.
The ceremony was exactly what we’d wanted. We both felt it was meaningful, thoughtful and spiritual. Anna K read for us and did such a wonderful job that my Irish aunties were pulling me to one side later, asking me who she was, was she an actress, she read so beautifully..? Starlet. As we stood there and said our vows the church brightened a bit, the sun came in. Cheesy but true.
James’ family is of Jewish heritage and we had arranged to have a Hebrew blessing from a friend of the family. We did the traditional smashing of the glass and everyone shouted their congratulations with “Mazel Tov!”. We loved it. It meant so much to be able to combine the Jewish blessing in with the Christian ceremony.
Thrilled. And surrounded by love.
We walked down the aisle together while the organ played Ode to Joy, and then outside we greeted our guests as quite a few people could only make it to the church part of the day. We were a bit dazed and amazed but so, so happy.
We had our reception at The Old Finsbury Town Hall, where we first met. It is a glorious venue, and we had it all to ourselves. We had a sit-down meal for our guests, and we’d decided to have a theme of favourite TV programmes for our tables. We’d given our guests masks of some of the characters to maximise hilarious photo opportunities. They didn’t disappoint. (If anyone’s wondering, our table was Twin Peaks. My parents were on Fawlty Towers. Oh, yes.)
The Jacob Cat
Photo: Uncle Tom? Or Polly from Fawlty Towers?
The speeches were wonderful. Heartfelt, hilarious, moving. My Dad knocked it out of the park with his, and had me crying with laughter.
“Rachel decided she wanted to study French after watching the Eurovision Song Contest…”…and other great lines.
M had FORGOTTEN HIS SPEECH, as his speech was in his bag, and his bag was back in the church, where it had been left. I was told this at the last possible minute, when he told me he’d wing it with the speech. Have I told you I’m a control freak?
“What bag?” I said, on repeat. It turns out he’d brought his man bag, his day rucksack (Yes I know, to our wedding, slung over the shoulder of his fancy suit. WTF?) that he takes everywhere with him, with his iPad, his medication (he has a chronic medical condition), his wallet and HIS SPEECH, and all of it was nestling under a bench in the church. Whilst we were now at the venue. There was no plan for the bag. There was no plan for the bag. There…oh sod it because on the wedding day you just roll with it. And he stood up and gave the most beautiful speech. So there. Who needs plans anyway? Ummm….
Belly laughs with Best Man Dan’s speech
For our evening reception drinks we had Israeli klezmer music, which culminated in a traditional chair dance that took me by surprise and delight – I chose a photo of this for our Any Other Photo. I was thrilled. And terrified. But mostly thrilled, and now it’s my go-to, shortcut memory for the day. It was bloody brilliant.
Following that, we cut the cake and had our First Dance. We chose “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story (I made this the title of my first ever AOW post) as we went to see it not long after we met and I thought it summed up the conviction of imminently meeting ‘someone’. The dance lessons we’d had in Hong Kong paid off a bit…we’re no Fred and Ginger but I did get a chance to spin my spinny dress that I’d changed into for the evening. Then we had the Ceilidh! It was wonderful to see everyone we loved (including M’s 89 year old Granny!) dancing.
Granny gets into the vibe.
Mum and my brother Rich. She never stops talking. She is talking here, I can tell.
So it was wonderful. It was the most marvelous day we could wish for. But! In the interest of honesty (and the sanity of planning brides) it was not without its bumps and things not going to plan. Our florist was a total and utter nightmare who screamed at me and had me in tears the night before. We got our flowers and it all went fine, but..yeah. There was bag-gate. No plan for the bag. No plan. My Dad posted my wedding certificate into the card cage and my mum was pacing the hall outside muttering to herself about it as we all sat down to dinner and she had to be rescued by our brilliant bridesmaid Anna. We had disappointing dropouts. We had an alcoholic mate turn up to the church sipping out of a can after 2 days and no sleep of being on the tear. He’s a good friend in a bad place but had to be asked to leave. There were tricky family rows in the run up to the day. Two weeks before, M was rushed into hospital and there was talk of surgery, but it didn’t happen. We had a nightmare wedding rehearsal that descended into chaos, as we’d been double-booked with an organ recital. Things happen outside your control. You’ll roll with it. Everything will be fine. As long as you’re there, and he’s there, and you’re surrounded by loving, supportive people, you’ll be blown away by how happy you feel and how lucky you are.
One last word on luck – you lot. Your support is mind-boggling. At 4.19am on the morning before my wedding, I had a dark night of the soul moment, and tweeted “Right, that’s the calm thing out the window.” I was frantic, but you talked me round. Just loading up that feed now is like getting a group hug. You guys.
The most deeelighted Mammy ever.
“Know what I’d love now? A little babby to take to mass wit’ me…”
Me “It’s not like ordering a fucking handbag, Mum.”
Mum: “I know, but…”
The End. For now.
Pictures by Bimala Naysmith