Was it amazing because the setting was Claire's parents' beautiful home, where we have already shared so many happy times with her incredibly welcoming, generous and gracious family over the years gone by?
Was it amazing because she's a stylist and so (politely) requested that we go to town on our outfits... and we all eagerly complied?
Was it amazing because my talented friend Jasmine set up some seriously brilliant Vanity Fair cover shoot style photography (and thankfully, the bridal party come complete with some Vanity Fair style looks)?
Was it amazing because she themed the day loosely on A Midsummer Night's Dream, a close second in my list of favourite tales, behind Alice in Wonderland (on which we themed her hen do)?
Was it amazing because the theme allowed for tumbling floral arrangements and twinkling crystals hanging above our heads, urns, jars and vases abundant with sweet scented blooms, a marquee worked into and around the existing flora and ornaments of her parents’ garden with an "enchanted forest" feel, escort cards fluttering in the wind on the boughs of a blossoming tree, ethereal bridesmaid dresses, fairy wings for the littluns, colourful canapés appearing from all sides on giant platters, an incredibly genteel croquet and putting lawn for that "Ye Olde Englishe" feel, Secret Garden hideaways, complete with love seats to escape the heat of the sun, or for a stolen moment and photos taken next to a bubbling brook as ducklings floated lazily on the pond?
Was it amazing because of the delicious delicacies served up by her locally renowned caterers?
Was it amazing because there were M&Ms (or were they W&Ws?), which are my absolute fave, with their faces on?
Was it amazing because there was a technicolour photo-cab outside?
Was it amazing because every tiny detail was so magnificently planned, executed perfectly and with such great style?
Was it amazing because the dancefloor was full from the first note until the last thanks to the incredible band?
Was it amazing because the whole place was filled with so much love, friendship and happiness our faces hurt from grinning, our sides hurt from laughter, our throats hurt from singing, our feet hurt from dancing (despite the overflowing flip flip basket) and our eyes stung with happy tears?
Was it amazing because the bride wore blue?
Well... all of the above really.
From the moment I woke up on Saturday 8thJune (not that I'd managed to sleep much, due to my excitement) I was buzzing with anticipation as to how all Claire's plans would come to life on the day. I thought I was holding it together well, until a heartfelt dedication on the local radio station sent me over the edge. Crumbs. A quick reapplication of mascara and I was back in the zone, the hair got bouffed, the dress went on and the hat placed neatly in my lap in the car, all in good time to head to the hotel, meet up with the WonderHens, squeal loudly in reception for a few moments, gush at everyone’s outfits and pose for some photos before boarding the bus to make our way to the ceremony.
As the sounds of the Trumpet Voluntary rang out in the beautiful church (a special one for me as I also walked in to this piece) the bridesmaids (a vision in white tulle and carrying my fave: blue hydrangeas) and the bride entered.
Mr G will vouch for the fact that I did an actual fist pump and an exclamation of “YESSSS!” as she came in to sight. Long ago we’d talked about a delicately coloured dress, I was sworn to secrecy and then it was never mentioned again and I was worried that she’d changed her mind. I was over the moon that she’d stuck to her super-stylish guns and made such a statement with her dress… albeit an understated, elegant statement, but a statement nevertheless.Although, those curves. Nothing understated about those. No siree.
Traditional vows, some emotional readings (a teeny tiny Pineapple Club reference even made it in during Liz’s poem), a few tears, a beautiful solo followed by Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Wedding March (another of my faves) a tunnel of confetti and cheers and we found ourselves waving off the bride and groom in their sleek and shiny Rolls Royce, followed by the ‘maids in their own version and the ‘men in a cream taxi.
Like I said… breathtaking.We welcomed the newlyweds to their top table with a resounding round of applause, laughed along with the amazing video that Sister of the Bride Nicky made as a surprise [watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGcDUzvAcyI&list=FLcXaccfKqeaixNWCo5Mx7EA] featuring a number of rather embarrassed guests (including yours truly in an Annie wig, on a shoe phone and singing out of tune an inch from the lens) and then settled in for a delicious wedding breakfast of salmon ravioli, guinea fowl with fresh veg followed by a trio of desserts, coffee, chocolates and then champagne.
We listened intently to heartfelt words from the father of the bride, emotional words from the groom, impromptu thanks from the bride and a bestman/groomsmen speech comprising five parts (he’s a popular guy) and by then we had cried, cheered, laughed and toasted our way well in to the evening.The bride and groom invited the mother of the bride and her bestie to join in the cake cutting, which was only fair as they worked so hard to plan, make and construct it, and then word started to spread about a photo-cab outside… you can imagine the hysteria amongst Pineapple Club members and the Wonder Hens. Props were grabbed, poses were pulled and shrieks were emitted!
Then it was time for the big reveal… a curtain in the bar/dance/lounge tent was pulled back, the band sprang in to life and the first dance commenced. Cue more tears as the new Mr and Mrs cut some shapes on the dancefloor and shared a special moment, surrounded by their nearest dearest.And then we let the good time roll…
… and roll…… and roll!
In fact they rolled until the small hours when we waved off our newlyweds in a cab to their hotel and we took our leave of the house, letting her parents and sister get some well-earned rest. Although as we departed (at about 3am) there were shouts from Nicky of “if there’s an after party at your hotel call me!”… no chance. I left the hard core contingent in the bar and headed off to our room, which turned out to be occupied by someone else. Cue some curt conversations in reception – whilst wearing two fascinators, a pair of mismatched flip-flops and Mr G’s suit jacket over my (champagne-stained) dress but eventually they found us a new room and I slept soundly until check out, despite an odd blue glow emanating from the corner of the room.
A quick trip to Frankie and Benny’s for a Sunday morning fry up with Katy and R and then we were back in the swing at Ludham Hall, albeit a slightly more mellow swing in slightly more comfy shoes, excitedly talking about the events of the day before, swapping dancefloor/photo-cab/portaloo stories over BBQ’d meats, salads, cheesecake and strawberries. The girls enjoyed a few glasses of fizz (zy water for those on driving detail) as we watched and re-watched the video, pored over the photo-cab pictures, hen do album and wedding guest book messages, that got messier, gushier and more incoherent as the pages went on, while the boys challenged each other to giant Jenga and a putting session over a few hair-of-the-dog beers.Later that evening I snuggled up on the sofa in my PJs and some pedicure socks with a bucket of tea and a
I hope I did it justice.