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.
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.