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The Wedding [Jul. 30th, 2005|05:17 pm]
As most of you are probably aware, Hilary and I got married on Saturday 16th July. It was good, stressful, and went in a blur.

The night before we had the wedding rehearsal, which went well. We figured out what to say, where to stand, that sort of thing. Despite the stomach bug I'd had since the previous Saturday night (which had me in bed until Wednesday), I was feeling mostly better, which was good. Once everyone was happy with what they would be saying, doing, standing and sitting, we all went our separate ways.

Hilary and the Hamnetts went out for a final Hamnett dinner. I dragged all the guys back to our house, and cooked a big chilli. Since the weather was nice, we sat outside to eat (handy since I didn't have enough chairs!), and we chatted to ensure everyone knew what they had to do. Hilary's bits of paper describing everyone's tasks were handed out, which caused a few giggles, a few comments about it being too organised, but thankfully not too many "Oh, was I supposed to be doing that"!

On the Saturday morning, we had the registry office wedding at 11. (We eventually decided that the hassle required to get registers to Magdalen with permission to use them there were too great, so we just arranged the world's quickest registry office thing in the morning). As per my instruction sheet from Hilary, I had a taxi booked for 10.30, and not any earlier as I might've done. As it was, the taxi was 15 (frantic) minutes late! I got to the registry office just as we were due to start on the paperwork, i.e. late....

Ross and Will headed into town to pick up the buttonhole flowers, while Hilary gave me evil looks for being late. It only took a few minutes to fill in the forms, and then we grabbed Alex+Helen and headed into the fancy room. Everyone fitted around the main table, which did mean that the registrar's well practiced speech to "everyone" did end up rather focused on Alex! After a few minutes of talking and vows, everyone signed the book, and we were done. By quarter past we'd had a couple of photos and were back outside! In almost a blur, we were married. It really is quite easy!

We collected Ross and Will, and headed off for a coffee. Since we were all in shorts and shirts (we dressed down for the registry office), we fitted in quite nicely. My stress had largely lifted by this point, so it was a nice break. Hilary then went off to have her hair done, I went to get the certificate photocopied, make final arrangements for the drinks, then headed home.

Once back home, we had a quick lunch, then Ross and I settled down to finish off and type up our speeches. This took longer than expected (especially for Ross), so we ended up having to rush a bit to finish getting ready! Still, we made it out of the house on time, with all the appropriate bits from our lists done.

We got the the church early for our hour early arrival. Since the photographer hadn't arrived, we headed into the chapel to wait for the others. They arrived not long after 3, and we passed the time with people playing the piano. The verger arrived about quarter past, and we sorted things out with her.

When the photographer did arrive, we got a few shots of all of us (me + Ross + ushers = Dom, Dave, Will, Niall). It was quite hot in black tie in the sun, and also just in the chapel, so we tried to stay cool while we waited. Once all the candles were lit, we started letting the guests in.

Hilary was due to arrive for 4, but we suspected she'd be late to make a point. We were therefore a bit surprised when she arrived at 10 to! As Ross and myself waited inside, the photographer got a few shots of the bridal party, and we herded the last few people to their seats.

At pretty much 4 exactly, the west door of the chapel flew open, and the bridal party entered. Hilary looked stunningly beautiful in her white dress, and the red really suited the bridesmaids. We stood at the front for the welcome and the first hymn, but much of the rest of the service went as a bit of a blur... I remember the vows clearly, I have a fair recollection of the readings and music (though I do remember they were all good), but the rest just sort of got lost in the flow! I had remembered people saying that the wedding day would be gone in a blur, but this was the first time it seemed to.

Once the service was over, there was a slight pause while Tom (my boss, who was playing the organ) realised we were ready for him, and then we headed out of the chapel to the triumphant sound of the organ. As we stepped through the west entrance into the bright afternoon sun, the bell ringers started. You couldn't have asked for it to be better.

While the ushers sprinted over the bridge to collect the champagne from Bottoms Up, and the guests meandered over to the New Buildings lawn, we had a few photos taken in the quad. We then headed back into the chapel for a few mock-up shots of the service, which the photographer was very pleased with. Then, we thanked the vicar and the verger, and headed over to meet the guests.

When we arrived at New Buildings, everyone was enjoying the sun and the views, and the ushers were doing a stunning job of supplying everyone with drink. We enjoyed wandering around chatting to people, who were all very impressed with everything. Then, it was time for lots more photos.

The photographer was really good, and managed to get through the group shots far faster than we'd expected. Once we had all the permutations we were after, it was back for some more mingling, and enjoying the sun. Alas, before we could see everyone, and properly enjoy just being around New Buildings lawn on a summer afternoon, it was time for us to head to the Randolph.

When we got to the Randolph, we headed up to our room (the swanky presidential suite, or one of them at least), and took a few moments to relax. After a much needed 10 minute collapse, we headed down to practice our first waltz (for the first time with Hilary in her dress).

We had hoped that the photographer was going to be there for our practice, so he could get some shots of us dancing without everyone in the way. In the end, he couldn't make it in time, so we just danced our waltz through twice to practice. The dress made one bit almost at the end a bit tricky, and the floor wasn't quite as we'd thought it was (it was narrower but longer than we'd expected), so we had to make a few small tweaks. Once we were happy, it was time to head out to the garden bar to mingle.

By this point, people had started arriving for drinks, and Dave had started playing the piano. We mingled some more, chatting to as many people as we could (and largely failing miserably to talk properly to anyone, bah...). About 15 minutes before the dinner was due to start, we formed the receiving line. I have to say that everyone filing past us, wishing us the best etc was probably the largest blur of all. You smile, shake hands or kiss, thank them for coming, make some polite small chit-chat, and then move onto the next person. It's nice to see everyone, and at the start you wish you could spend more time talking to everyone. 80 people later and it's all the largest of blurs!

The meal was very nice, but I wasn't feeling hungry so didn't eat much (though everyone else did seem to clear their plates, a good sign). Ross was feeling a bit nervous about his speech, so ended up drinking quite a bit. The rest of us tried (but largely failed) to reassure him, so we sat around chatting, and watching Dave try to impress Jo.

The band turned up before dinner was quite over, so played some light pieces. This worked even better than we'd expected, as conversation had started to drop off. And then, it was time for the speeches.

Hilary's Dad's speech was wonderful. You can tell he's used to doing speeches, because it was so effortless. He dished some amusing dirt on Hilary, welcomed me to the family, and got in some good jokes. It's only a pity we don't have a recording of it to share :( Then it was my turn, and once I'd warmed up, I think it went well. I kept it short, and everyone seemed to like it... Finally, it was Ross's turn. By this point he was pretty hammered, which seemed to help his confidence, if not always his delivery! He dished less dirt than I'd expected, got some laughs but not too many gasps, and failed to pass out, so that probably counts as a resounding sucess! Throughout this, Dave was acting as master of ceremonies, so got to introduce all the speeches. He seemed to be enjoying himself, and dropped in all the classic wedding speech jokes (they did get the groans!). All in all, the speeches worked wonderfully.

Then, it was time for the first waltz. This went well, with only a few mistakes, and only Ross noticed them :) Everyone thought it looked amazing, though quite a few of them seemed to think that it looked easy. It was only when Bruce started his dancing lessons that everyone realised that part of the point of being a good dancer is making it look easy!

Once we'd had our dance, we invited Hilary's parents, and Dom+Gillian to join us for another waltz. Then, it was time to get everyone onto the floor. The dancing before seemed to have helped, because as soon as we announced the dancing lesson, the floor filled completely with people wanting to try!

We'd brought along Bruce, the OU Dancesport coach to give lessons. Bruce is probably the world's least politically correct person, fills his lessons with random wandering anecdotes, but he's a damned good dancing teacher. We started off getting him to teach a basic cha-cha-cha, which went down well. It was rather surprising quite how many people couldn't manage it though! As we moved onto a more advanced cha, and then to the basic waltz, the numbers slowly thinned, but everyone did seem to be enjoying it.

Because Hilary and I were dancing for so much of the time (together as a demo couple, or with our friends who were struggling), we didn't get around as many people as we'd hoped to see. In no time at all though, we were cutting the cake, then back to dancing, and then it was all over.

Speaking of the cake, it seemed to go down very well. I made a christmas fruit cake last year, which everyone liked, so I was challenged to make the wedding cakes. I duly made 4 in about April, and kept feeding them brandy as required. About 6 weeks before the wedding, I sent them off to get professionally iced, and they came back looking stunning. More surprising to me was just how much everyone liked the cake, both those who knew I made it and those who didn't!

At 12 (which came around much faster than we'd imagined it would), it was time to finish. We had a last waltz, then a last quickstep, and then the band packed up. Dave thanked everyone for coming and asked them to leave, and we slowly started making our way out. We got to chat with some more of our friends as they left, and spy a few potential new couples in the making as some of our friends left together. Then, we drifted into the garden bar, while Dave and Sax had a "piano-off", as they took it in turns to play (not to mention try to impress the ladies). Finally, at half 12, we left the garden bar, and headed to bed.

All in all, it was a great day. There were a few stressful moments, but so many more great ones. However, it did go in such a blur!

Hopefully, we'll get low resolution photos from the photographer in the next week or so. We'll be getting prints of quite a number of them, and we'll wave the digital versions + ordering details around at the time. We are hoping to buy the copyright of the photos at a later stage (once the photographer has got most of the monetary value from them), but that might not be for a year. In the mean time, Dom has been collecting collecting a list of people's photos that are online.