The Wedding Zinger
Just a generation ago a wedding was an excuse for a simple party in a local pub with a few sandwiches. These days the average wedding costs more than £20,000 and requires the kind of detailed planning NASA would consider over the top. Of course, every couple should be free to have their wedding their way and I would happily kill another human being with a hammer to defend that right. But perhaps I’m just a sweet romantic.
Once Susie and I decided it was time to start a family we had a sensible conversation about getting married and our thoughts were in the affirmative. Mills & Boon have been in touch asking to turn these events into a novel. Actually it was rather special but you probably had to be there which would have been weird.
We immediately set ourselves two wedding objectives. The first was to keep it intimate (sounds a bit sexy) by just inviting immediate family. The second was to make sure the experience was enjoyable, relaxed and didn’t cost an insane amount. And finally and perhaps most importantly to write a smug blog post about how super cool we are at organising weddings. Just a few more paragraphs to go and all objectives will have been successfully met.
That was actually three objectives but I’m pretty sure no one noticed.
We chose the Shoreditch Town Hall for the venue as that area of London has significance for us and booked the nearby Hoxton Hotel for a bite to eat afterwards. Once the email invitations had been sent to family members the preparations were complete, leaving me 10 months to obsess over how to style my hair for the big day (I eventually opted for ‘receding’).
My family and I arrived at the Town Hall ahead of Susie and were met by an official ‘Greeter’ named Simon. He greeted us successfully before asking if I would like the use of a tablecloth for the ceremony. I hadn’t expected this. The various pros and cons tumbled through my mind in an agony of indecision. After just five short, silent minutes the flamboyant part of my nature triumphed and I decided to bloody well go for it vis-a-vis tablecloth usage! Simon looked quite impressed and rushed off to fetch the tablecloth from what I can only surmise was a nearby cupboard or drawer.
He returned a few minutes later with the controversial rectangle of fabric and two formally dressed women. Simon greeted me again (unnecessarily in my view) and introduced the Registrar and her assistant. There was barely time to ask if we were paying for the assistant to be here too on this money-no-object-magical-day when Susie and her family arrived outside. Simon, sensing an opportunity to greet people hurled himself downstairs with admirable disregard for safety, pausing only to welcome me and my family to the Shoreditch Town Hall once again.
With the guests assembled, the Registrar asked everyone to stand. All eyes turned towards the door and time seemed to stop for several heartbeats. Susie’s beaming face appeared accompanied by the rest of her body and Dad, Stuart. It is something of a cliché to say the bride looked beautiful but as Susie walked across the room my Mum audibly gasped. In fairness she is asthmatic and had misplaced her inhaler. I wasn’t quite prepared for the immense tidal wave of happiness that hit me at that moment, only marginally dampened by Mother desperately clawing for air while breathing heavily into a paper bag.
The Registrar asked us all to be seated and lit up the room with an enormous smile. As she was receiving £500 for 20 minutes of reading from a piece of paper it would be churlish of me to blame her for enjoying the moment. The next few minutes passed in a blur and as we approached the vow exchanging ‘meat’ of the ceremony I sensed my emotions getting dangerously slippery although in a very, very manly way.
As I held the ring at the tip of Susie’s finger, I struggled not to subject everyone to the epically embarrassing spectacle of a grown man in a cravat sobbing like a little girl. I was taken completely by surprise as I hadn’t wept since watching darling Kenny Branagh give his Hamlet at the Theatre Royal back in ’82. Part of me urged reckless abandonment to the moment while another demanded I pull myself together. This didn’t seem the right moment to inform Susie she was about to commit her life to a man who hears opposing voices in his head and may be borderline schizophrenic. Instead I pressed on with the vows and had just one more to go when I discovered I literally could not speak. So I paused. And paused. And continued to pause while civilisations rose and fell, new galaxies formed and amoeba evolved written communication until finally, finally I managed to croak “I do”.
Susie successfully got through her reading of the vows completely dry eyed. Which is great. Really, really great. I was pleased at the time and definitely still am now. As I say, really great.
Secure in the knowledge our relationship was officially recognised by Hackney Borough Council we set off for the Hoxton Hotel to feast. A variety of lavish dishes were served including a plate of ribs. This is something I had never tried as I was concerned that ripping into the sticky flesh of a rib cage with my teeth may release the inner beast I constantly battle to control. Plus it looked a bit icky. However, I was cajoled into giving it a try so gamely tucked in, eventually declaring it exquisite. At this point, my brother-in-law Steve leaned across the table and to spare my blushes, discreetly let me know that I had been taking ribs from the already eaten pile and had been chowing down on pre-knawed bones. He then discreetly told my parents, his parents, his girlfriend, his brother, his sister-in-law, my brother, my brother’s wife, the waiting staff before discreetly hiring Saatchi & Saatchi to run a global six month advertising campaign in case anyone had missed the news. Having checked my visitor stats for this site, I figure the best way to make sure no on else ever hears about it is to describe it in detail on this blog.
Susie’s dad, Stuart, then made an excellent speech, selfishly making it harder for me when my turn arrived to say a few words. I stood and thanked everyone for coming and detailed Susie’s relentless, determined bid to woo me over the last seven years. As I reached the final part describing how happy I was to spend the rest of my life with her, it may have appeared to the untrained eye that I once again became a little choked. I would like to make it abundantly clear that this was in fact entirely down to a trapped piece of regurgitated rib gristle.
I’m proud that this is one of the very few times anyone has ever written about their wedding day and ended with the words ‘regurgitated rib gristle’.
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