Thursday, March 29, 2007

Love shouts and whispers

When I married my husband in Burnt Oak Register Office we seemed to be in and out in a matter of minutes. It may have been because we were the last couple before lunch and the Registrar was starving. More likely, it was the absence of hymns and prayers that sped up proceedings.

The Register office my daughter is to be married in is a far cry from the Portacabin where I got hitched. It’s a Grade II listed building that cost £2 million to restore. The press release put out by the local council when it opened for business last year said:

The Old Council House was designed and constructed under the supervision of Robert Smirke between 1823 and 1827. The neo classical building features a spectacular marble tiled staircase, a beautiful internal courtyard and a number of ornate rooms in the Greek revival style.
Much of the original furniture is still in place alongside a number of oil paintings dating back to the 18th century. Many of paintings were specially commissioned for the building, depicting scenes from Bristol's historic past.
The building is located on one of the most important historical sites in the city and archaeological work during the restoration uncovered medieval walls below the existing building and unearthed a medieval gold ring.

How appropriate is that for a wedding venue?

Anyway, it seems that couples are now encouraged to pad out the civil proceedings with poems, songs or readings, especially if they are getting married somewhere as splendid as the Lantern Room and inviting busloads of guests. I think the Registrars want everyone to feel they are getting value for money, which is a refreshing change from many of the other service providers I’ve been in touch with in my role as MOTB.

The daughter isn’t sure. We’ve both looked at various websites and the same inevitable suggestions come up time and again. Sidney’s The Bargain, Shakespeare’s sonnet 116, Donne’s Good Morrow, Barrett Browning’s How Do I Love Thee. I remembered poems that the daughter loved when she was younger and suggested Love Shouts and Whispers by Vernon Scanell - although I also pointed out that since the daughter and fiancé met at the school where they both teach, The Young and Hopeful Lover might be more apt.

It begins:
I knew that I would have to wait
Years and years before
I carried, as my bride, Miss Hyde
Through my own front door ….

And goes on:
But now I’m told she is engaged –
And this you’d never guess –
To Mr Tench who teaches French!
I’m shocked I must confess

Bizarrely, the daughter has now decided she doesn’t want anything that rhymes. Suggestions gratefully received.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Who's on the A-List?

My husband says there should be a rule about weddings: never invite anyone you haven’t met at least three times.

It’s seems as good a rule as any – although since we (as the bride’s parents) are formally sending out the invitations to our daughter’s wedding that would rule out most of the bridegroom’s family including his parents.

The invitation list has been causing me a great deal of angst. Most of the time I feel like a one-woman peace-keeping force.
The husband feels that the wedding is a joyous occasion and he would like the friends who have watched our daughter grow up to share it with us. (Besides, he believes that he who pays the piper should be allowed to call at least part of the tune.)

My daughter and her fiancé feel that it’s their wedding, not ours, so their friends and colleagues should take precedence. (I can see they have a point.)

The daughter doesn’t want aunties, uncles and cousins. The fiancé does. My husband says his sisters will be upset if they are not invited. I point out that we were not invited to his niece’s wedding.

The trade-offs begin. One family friend equals how many of the groom’s mates? Is a cousin worth two aunties?
The List changes every day. Wozzers has broken up with his girlfriend so he won’t be a plus one. Tim and Susan are back together. And so it goes on.

There are, in fact, three lists. One for the ceremony and reception. One for the reception. And one for the party in the evening, to which everyone who has been to the ceremony and/or reception will also be invited.
The invitation cards have now been ordered. I just pray there will be enough to go round.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Oh my ears and whiskers

I am beginning to feel like the White Rabbit. Or possibly Alice after she’d eaten the magic mushroom. Pressed for time and losing my sense of proportion. The reason? My daughter is not getting married next year. Instead, the wedding is to take place in ten weeks’ time.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that they’ve scaled down their plans.

So far:
√ the register office is booked
√ the school where they both work has agreed we can hold the reception there
√ the dinner ladies can’t do the date but I have a choice of two local caterers who can
√ my husband has found two photographers, ditto
And that’s it.
But at least we can now get the invitations out – if only we can settle the Auntie Question.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

What not to watch

5 films to avoid if you're having nightmares about your daughter's wedding

Kill Bill
The Wedding Singer
The Runaway Bride

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Hurl(e)y Burly

Marriage is the result of the longing for the deep peace of the double bed after the hurly burly of the chaise longue

Not much deep peace yet for Elizabeth Hurley. As weddings go this must be one of the longest ever. And the most expensive.
First came the secret but legal civil ceremony in the library at Sudeley Castle. Then the blessing in the church in the castle grounds. Now she’s in Rajasthan, probably being decorated with henna (is this a henna night?), in preparation for the traditional Hindu ceremony: her bridegroom will arrive on a white horse leading a procession of elephants and camels while she waits, decked out in a jewel encrusted sari. So far, so Bollywood.
At least this belt and braces approach to marriage means she won’t have made the same mistake as fellow celeb Jerry Hall who thought she had married Mick Jagger on a beach in Bali. But when the romance had died and divorce was on the cards it turned out their ‘marriage’ had never been valid under English law.
So what happens if my daughter decides to join the growing numbers of those who wed in far-flung sunny corners of the world instead of rainy Britain? How can she avoid making the same mistake as Ms Hall? I’ve discovered that overseas marriages are legal in the UK so long as you comply with all the marriage laws in the country you get married in. But – unless one of you is in or attached to the British Armed Forces – you won’t be able to register your marriage in the usual way.

You can have it recorded, though, if one or both of you is a British citizen and you married in a country that the General Register Office accepts formal notifications from. (They’re called Article 7 countries and there’s a list on This involves paperwork. You have to get a certified copy of your marriage certificate from the local authorities in the country where you married. You must take this to the British Embassy in that country. They translate it, possibly for a fee, and forward it to the General Register Office in the UK (another fee). The documents are then held by the GRO so that you can ask for a copy of your marriage certificate if you need it for some reason – such as getting a divorce or proving to a high street bank that you are not an international criminal and money launderer.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Chocolate Heaven

There may be something to be said for a proper wedding after all – heavenly chocolate cakes. I have just stumbled across

who make glorious chocolate wedding cakes like the one above. And they are based in Bristol – just on the daughter’s doorstep.

Just one cornetto

We were sitting by the side of the Grand Canal when the gondola drifted by. Seated inside were a bride and groom in full wedding regalia. The gondolier was singing. They were smiling. We went on tucking into our pizza.
The pizza and the wedding were real enough. But the rest was fake. This wasn’t Venice, Italy. This was The Venetian in Las Vegas.
To be honest, my memories of ‘the wedding capital of the world’ are anything but fond. The husband and I were nearing the end of a two-week fly-drive holiday with our teenage son in tow. Nobody was getting on very well with anyone else.
The son was outraged that we had taken him to Vegas but he couldn’t drink, gamble or do anything remotely interesting. The husband was cross that I’d refused to do my share of the driving. And I hated the heat. And motels. And my husband. (Not necessarily in that order.)
So when my daughter suggested getting married in Las Vegas I admit I was underwhelmed. Since then I’ve done some research.
Clark County issued 112,631 marriage licences in 2006. That’s a lot of weddings. In Vegas you can have an Elvis Blue Hawaii wedding package with ‘Elvis’ performing the ceremony and singing his hit songs. Apparently, ‘This Las Vegas wedding ceremony is highlighted by a lush tropical set, hula girls dancing to Elvis' rendition of the Hawaiian Wedding Song, and theatrical fog and lighting effects. Your guests may even want to sport their best luau-wear.’
Or there’s the gangster themed wedding which includes the Godfather as the Minister plus an Italian waiter, theatrical lighting and fog (why fog?). You also get a classic bouquet with five flowers (I assume that’s five kinds of flowers, otherwise it would be more of a posy) and a live webcast during the ceremony. Now there’s an offer you can’t refuse - unless you prefer the helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon. Prices start from $3350 and for this the happy couple, plus two guests, a minister and a photographer fly over Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam, landing in the Grand Canyon on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River. Here you exchange your wedding vows (you can write these yourself if you like), enjoy a champagne picnic and pose for the photographer. Oh, and a Johnny Cash impersonator can sing at no extra charge.
All together now … I keep a close watch on this heart of mine