Apologies for the lateness of this - I'm a bit rubbish :-)
I'd like to share with you my memory of last Saturday, when two of my most favourite people in the world got married. To each other, not independently.
Saturday the 7th of July started early for me - at about 5:30 am. This was not an oversight, nor was it the result of external influences such as the wonderful aroma of curry wafting through my window from the Indian restaurant next door, or the beautiful but incomprehensible language used by my eastern European neighbours as they argued yet again about whose turn it was to make cabbage for breakfast (presumably). No, I had set my alarm to go off that early on purpose.
The reason was like that Simon bloke who bumped into the Pie man going to the fair; I had to clean and tidy my house before my girlfriend arrived. You see, both me and my gorgeous other half had been invited to join Jay and Ali on their wedding day, so Adrienne (my girlfriend - no, she's not foreign; yes, she is lovely and tall; and yes, every chance we get) was coming over to me as the Wedding was in the town where I live - although the location was a bit of a mystery to me as I will explain later.
Anyway, I had to clean and tidy my house as my girlfriend believes that I am a modern type of bloke with good standards of hygiene and cleanliness. The fact that I am writing this naked except for a dirty old tea towel covering my VIP area - a tea towel I will then use to dry the washing up with later - is neither here nor there. Much like my VIP area. So I got up had a shower, shaved, got dressed in some casual clothes and blitzed my house. In no time at all, it was looking acceptably clean - and I smelt of bleach.
At 9am ish, Adrienne arrived - laden with bags and boxes containing her hand made outfit for the wedding. She came into my house, put her stuff in my bedroom, gave me a snog and we had a cup of tea. It's a little routine we have. The plan was that we would meet the groom, Jay, round the corner for a Wedding day breakfast. We got to the cafe at 10am and found a few other people there: Helen (Jay's sister) was there, sporting a considerable bump - or James, her husband as we all know him. James's brother, Brendan was there with his Girlfriend/fiancé/wife (delete where applicable) whose name is........forgotten by me so I'll call her Lucy. Then Jay arrived with his best man, David - who just happens to be Jay's dad - and with his granddad, Jeff (Geoff?). So we all had a fried breakfast, and I discovered that I like Black Pudding. I didn't think I would, but do you know what? I should think less. It was lovely, and I will be having that again. We finished breakfast and then had to get home to get changed for the wedding.
I was honoured to be ask by Jay and Ali to be an Usher at their wedding ceremony (although secretly I was pinning my hopes on being a flower girl), so I had a proper suit to wear. Now I don't mind telling you; I look damn good in a suit, and I feel good wearing one, so combine those factors with the pride I felt for being a part of my friends special day, and you can understand when I say I thought I would just burst with happiness. Of course, I hoped I wouldn't - it's a rented suit!
Adrienne, however showed me that I know nothing about looking good. She wore an outfit that she had made herself from a pattern, with an amazing hat, and the most fabulous shoes I have ever seen. They were from a company called "irregular choice" (www.irregularchoice.com) and were commented on throughout the day. No-one even mentioned my shoes. Gits.
Adrienne looked stunning. Mainly, cos she is.
The wedding was happening at 12:30, and I had agreed to meet James, the other Usher at the church at 11:45. It had been raining all morning, so we hurried as we walked to the church. When we got there, I was surprised to see that no-one else was there. We stood inside and waited, and even took a couple of photos of each other in our smartness. Still no-one else appeared, and then James rang me to ask where I was.
Imagine how I laughed when I found out that we were at the wrong church! You imagine, cos I wasn't laughing - I was more "oh @£&*!!!!"
I didn't actually know where the other church in Sturminster was. I mean, I've only lived here two years, heard their bells ringing every day......
Luckily, we ran into Helen and Lucy (I still can't remember her name) who knew where they were going, so we walked with them. Neither Helen or Lucy live in Sturminster - or Dorset for that matter - and yet they knew this town better than me!
We got to the church okay, but there was no time to rest, as I had to get straight into my Ushering. James and I were stood just inside the church, handing out the Order of Service and directing people. I was tempted to let my sense of humour off the lead and ask such questions as 'Smoking or non smoking?' or 'are you having the vegetarian option?' - but I limited myself to 'Bride or Groom - who do you like the most?'
Then, with the arrival of the Bride, our Ushering jobs were done, and I took my seat next to Adrienne and the ceremony began.
I would not even dare to try to adequately describe how beautiful the ceremony was. Ali was a vision of beauty in her dress, I'm not afraid to say that Jay looked so handsome and together they were so perfect. As if I wasn't proud enough, I was asked to do the reading of the lesson for the ceremony. It was from Corinthians, a piece that Jay and Ali had chosen. I was so nervous when I walked up to do the reading - especially when there was no bible to read from! Luckily I had printed out the reading and had the piece of paper with me. My voice was shaky as I started to read, but I wanted to do Jay and Ali proud, and I hope I did.
The ceremony went really quickly I thought, and suddenly Jay and Ali were Mr and Mrs Crowder. Who would have thought, all those years after first meeting at an "all you can eat" roadside kebab van, that they would be husband and wife?
Unfortunately the weather was still rubbish, so the usual photos outside the church had to be missed, and we all headed off to the reception.
There's not a lot I can say about the reception - except that it was exquisite. It took place at The Italian Villa, Compton Acres which is near Sandbanks on the Dorset coast. The setting was beautiful - amazing gardens (unfortunately the weather prevented much exploration), and first class service and atmosphere. Everyone was there in their finery; the colour scheme for the wedding was Blue and Orange, and it worked really well. The Bridesmaids wore blue dresses with orange shoes and held orange flowers, and they all looked amazing. One of them, Vicky, had flown over from Australia just for the Wedding weekend, and another was Becs - Ali's best friend.
We had a few photos inside - there was a professional photographer - including a couple of me and Adrienne looking super gorgeous together! Then we sat down for the meal and speeches. Ali's dads speech was lovely - and shorter than most of us expected, and in parts it bought a tear to virtually everyone's eye. Jay's speech was great - humble as always, but really heartfelt and genuine. Jay's dads speech was excellent - funny (a few well chosen pictures of the groom) with lots of anecdotes and a few insights into Jay's past that he probably didn't want revealed!
The food was great - tasty, but small arty portions. I could have eaten two lots of everything. I was really pleased to see that Inspite of hardly knowing anyone, Adrienne was getting on with everybody and was having a good time. So many of my friends that met her for the first time that day came up to me later on to say how lovely they thought she was. I was so proud to be there with her.
After the meal there was a break in the weather for a few photos outside and the traditional throwing of confetti. I was made "confetti monitor" - meaning I got to walk around the guests with two baskets with cones of confetti in, offering them to people. I will admit, that skipping wasn't really necessary.
In the evening there was a disco with live music from a friend of Jay's band. They were really good, and I got to have a dance with my girlfriend - which is always nice. During the evening do lots more friends of Jay and Ali turned up, and it was lovely to catch up with them.
I have missed out so much stuff - like the magician, the hog roast, all the friends that came together to celebrate Jay and Ali's wedding, and a hundred other things that happened that just went to make it a wonderful day.
Oh, I did buy a bottle of champagne to go in our hotel room - but then again, I am an old romantic.
I'll never forget that day. I was privileged to be part of it, and was honoured to be there. And to have my girlfriend with me made it even better.
I said this before, but I'm saying it again: here's to Jay and Ali - Mr and Mrs Crowder. May there lives together be a long and happy one filled with love.
God bless you guys!!