Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The wonderful people who made this happen!

I can't not tell you all the wonderful people who were involved in making this such an amazing day. I don't think I can really fault any of them, it was a truly magical day so I want to say thank you to every single one and to the staff at the different venues who I can't list individually.
Base of Operations
Warwick Arms Hotel

Recording the Day
Aliye Mullen photography
Midway Media videography

Bridal Preparations

Utopia Nails slotted me in quickly when my nails were in desperate need of being done.
Makeup by Jodie did the makeup
Naomi did my hair but I've not got website for her, but I can pass numbers on if necessary.
From Me to You Florist

Clothes and Some Table Decorations
The Costume Company

Listening Horsemanship (their clothes and the horse's dress were also from The Costume Company)

Lord Leycester Hospital
HawksRUs provided the owls
St Justin for the quaich
Eden Candles provided the unity candles and rushed them through when there was a mix up with paying.
PetalPot for the confetti

Warwick Castle everything that we had was included, The Costume Company supplied some decorations but the castle did most of it.
The Fool Monty
Bagshot the Magician
Ben the Cake Man (bet you can't guess what he did!) Ben's not doing birthday cakes this year due to his heavy wedding demand this year so doing Dad's cake was a real favour for us.
Chocolicious Chocolate Fountains
Then there was the band and Noel AKA Lord Talbot AKA Warwick Bowman.
If I've missed anyone please send me a message so I can add them in.

The evening reception

The Yorkist in the camp!
We then went down to the Undercroft, I had a quick look in the room whilst no one was in there and was blown away! The room looked amazing, I hadn’t imagined what they would do to it and it was far better than the normal evening banquets. As I left the room I saw that our coordinator had made us some lovely table plans up on Warwick Castle background paper (like the signs you see around the castle) and by the time the guests arrived the staff had a copy each and were helping people to their seats like they’d read it a million times, someone else presented us with the guest book and pens that the hotel had brought to the turnstiles for us. I checked out the toilets – including the gents, much to my nephew’s horror! Obviously I knew where the men were though so it was safe, my nephew was funny because he was so excited to see the basket and asked me if I’d seen it! I sat down for a little bit whilst we waited for the guests to come out of the exhibition. We greeted everyone in, then the MC “Lord Talbot” was announced in and he announced us in with a fanfare and asked us for permission for the guests to sit down, we discussed it for a second before agreeing!

It was nice for the first time that day to be able to sit down and not worry about anything. My youngest was getting a little stressed as she’d been away from me now for the best part of 24 hours (I forgot to say earlier, I found out her grandparents had taken her to their room, when I asked where she was I was told they’d taken her to bed so I left them) so hadn’t had a feed in that time. I’d given her quick cuddles through the day but not been able to do much as I was needed in pictures so quickly afterwards each time. I asked the staff if they could find her something (we had less people than we’d paid for so plenty of food) and then took her for a feed. My dress wasn’t accessible easily accessible, so I had to undo my zip and feed her over the top (my tog was disappointed she missed it, she likes shots like that) she was a lot more settled after that.

It was a brilliant night; everyone had a lot of fun.

We cut the cake with a sword

then had a handfasting.

One of my stepsons was employed as a magician’s assistant and paid £1 for it!

We had a fire show, which I didn’t expect and I always love Monty’s fire shows! During the periods when we weren’t eating Monty took the kids into the corridor and made them balloons which went down really well.

We had some brilliant musicians who were disappointed at the end when we told them that the group consisted of people who were into LARP etc. As we were getting close to the end of the night Lord Talbot asked us to choose three couples to join us in our first dance. Having spent the day with these people there were some very obvious choices! I’m sure we were slightly set up because the instructions were slightly confusing and the caller played a wind instrument so couldn’t call! But it was a laugh!

I had planned for us to get a taxi back so we could beat the guests but the taxi arrived half an hour after people had left and when we got back the hotel was empty apart from people staying over and my brother’s family. So we had the chocolate fountain to ourselves! Mark was a little worried about the cost, although hadn't said so but I knew him well enough, so I called him over and said “I’d like to introduce you to the Warwick Arms deposit” he looked blankly at me so I said “this is the £300 deposit on the Warwick Arms I’ve been reminding Mum about” and I could see the relief on his face as he laughed at another set up! 

I'm going to bed!

As it's getting late I'm going to leave the rest of the report until later. In the meantime, if you want to have a look at more pictures or the sample video, follow the links below. - if you have any pictures you'd like to upload, let me know and I'll pass on the password.

The ride to the castle, the trebuchet and the drinks reception!

The guys stopped the traffic and our procession moved off. The ushers did a fantastic job of getting us through the traffic and everyone who stopped was really good about it. We stopped at Town Gate to direct the guests through. Mark decided he would go through to show them where to go so we waited, then our coordinator came out and said we needed to hurry up if we were going to do what we’d planned as they needed to go. I told the rest of the guests (as we’d kept family aside) to go through and went around with ushers.

We rode down to the top of River Bank and the horse was finding it hard so I got down and pointed them up to a field that is usually unused because it’s through trees. I ran down to the bridge and someone was calling for the best man, I said the ushers too but was told “no they just want the best man” so I asked our coordinator and she said “yeah, who are they” and went to get them.

I went up to Mark and said “what’s going on are we early?” and he said “stop pretending! I know you arranged this and I LOVE it!” I went to the bridge with them and asked to go, my togs/ vog followed me and we were told only 8 people could be on the island so I did a quick count and said “that’s those four, me and the photographers and videographers?” so they said yes! The togs/ vog were over the moon! All four of them were really pleased to be going in. They only did two one minute stints each but I know Mark is still aching from it. The best man got off with trebuchet sickness, he was grey and his lips blue, we were a little worried about him but it passed quickly. When the trebuchet master gave the all clear the bridge was reopened and our guests filed over for some pictures. We didn’t have chance to get many though as we were called to the conservatory for our drinks reception.

I had a message from one of the waiters that our coordinator said do we have a copy of the table plan because they hadn’t been sent one! I asked if I could use a computer and I could get it from wedding path, she asked if I minded giving her my login details so I was taken out the back so I could tell her my password. I got that sorted then turned to Mark and said “You did send the guestbook and pens, didn’t you?” Nope! So I called the hotel, asked for the manager and handed him over to Mark who explained where they were and said if they sent someone to the back entrance we’d send someone over but he said he’d bring it to turnstiles.

We had speeches but I’d forgotten to print mine, forgot it all and made a mess, then Mark pulling faces just away from me put me off, he came over to be a little more supportive but I'd lost my whole train so I finished off quickly.

After the groom’s speech I’d recovered enough for the next surprises.  I asked the three men to put their hands in the air, look at them and tell me what already looked like it belonged to them. Lots of blank faces! Eventually someone pointed out to one that their family crest was on their wrist so they all got the point and I said “that’s because they are! Our thank you to you all is that you get to keep your vanbraces.” Then I told our MC we needed fire “Fire? Ah Monty has fire!” whilst he ran out the room I explained that it was Dad’s 60th just over a week ago and they’d not had chance to do as much as they had wanted because of how close the wedding is so we had a little surprise for him and could people please respond in the customary way. At that point our MC came running back in brandishing a lighter shouting “fire!” so they quickly lit the sparkler and brought it out so everyone sang “Happy Birthday” we asked if they could bring the cake down to the reception so that he could cut it with the sword.

It was then time to move to the reception. I was just talking to our MC and a few of them blokes there, one of the waiters suggested getting a chair down for me as I was obviously struggling by this point. Next thing I know I’m going backwards, I put my hands out to steady myself and two of them grabbed my hands and put a hand on my back whilst someone threw a chair quickly behind me. After a few moments the MC helped me back up and offered me his arm, we walked slowly behind the others and one of the ushers came over and gave me his arm on the other side. As we were walking over one of the horse people came over and said that the horse had calmed down now and was waiting in the courtyard for us. I had some pictures with me on the horse and Mark next to me. The togs had gone through the exhibition with the guests and one of the vogs, the other vog was using her new toy to take pictures of us. I went to get down as the horse sidestepped and had to dismount to the ground, which was the first time I’d done it.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

At the Lord Leycester Hospital

I got to the front and the best man was holding the box as though it had just been chucked at him, so I took it and gave it back to my nephew and got him to stand in front of us.

Stood at the front with my dad and suddenly had to grab Mark’s arm because I could feel the pain building in my legs and back, he could tell from my death grip it was more than just holding him so looked at me and mouthed “are you ok?”

We sang the first song – Be Thou My Vision – which sounded amazing with just a guitar and an Irish lead singer, really got that Celtic feel I wanted. Then my Grandad read from Ephesians whilst I got my sister to quickly look up Declaration of Principles on Mum’s phone, she said she wouldn’t read it so Mum did and did a really good job. We then sang the second song Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) and when everyone sat down our minister said “That’s a modern version of an old song, by the writer Chris Tomlin. Sixsteprecords, Chris’s record company have sent their best wishes and said that Chris is currently on tour or he would have sent a personal message” Mark just nodded like he’d had a message from his Mum or something, I don’t think it quite sunk in until later!

The wedding itself was done really well, it didn’t draw attention to it not being a legal service but at the same time didn’t make out it was one. He even announced us as husband and wife. I think afterwards no one could say we weren’t married, even the people who before hand said “so you won’t actually be married after the wedding?” in fact we had lots of comments about we didn’t need to rush it.

When he asked for the rings my nephew held the box back so the minister put his hand out for it. As he stood up he said “turn around” we did just as the owl flew down the aisle and landed on FIL’s hand. Mark said “I would have wanted to catch!” so I said “it wouldn’t have been a surprise then!”

We took communion from the Quaich, which surprised me because I didn’t know what was going to happen with it. Apparently FIL begged it from the hotel (which I’d told Mark to do!!! He didn’t and FIL had a brainwave to do it lol) had to show Mark how to use it because I’d tried to show him before and he wouldn’t.
The minister gave a message and spoke about “leaving and cleaving” and the passage on the husband being the head but he only did that bit quickly and took his time explaining the next bit where the husband is supposed to love his wife like Christ loves the Church, that he’d do anything for her to the point of laying his life down and that if a husband does this then a being the head is easy because naturally the wife will trust him in everything (personally I think this is God’s ideal and like all things God knows we’re human and it doesn’t always happen like this, He just gives us the ideal to work on) it was all really nice.
We had no signing tree because Mark had forgotten to draw it (despite having the paper ready) and no exit music, the man we had asked to sing whilst we signed refused to sing as we thought we could exit to that… so we left in silence.
We went into the courtyard for photos, this was the first time I’d seen how many people were dressed up. We had five people in fancy dress, one person made her own and for her children, only a handful hadn't. Everyone looked amazing, individually and as a whole group.

We had some pictures with the owls, Mark called me over to him and the two handlers, he was just putting a glove on and they wanted me to pose with him for photos. After he told me to give the owl back and I moved my hand away slightly, stroking his neck and looked sad and was told I couldn’t keep him :(

Then we heard the horse was back so it was back so we went around to where the horse was. I got someone to give out the dancing ribbons. I asked if it was ok for photos with the owl and they said it was as long as the horse couldn’t see him. So I mounted and the owl was passed to me. After a few pictures I gave the owl back and the ushers asked if we were ready to go. It took a little while to get the people behind the horse because everyone wanted to take pictures but as a rescue horse we needed to control his surroundings.

We're married!

I guess I had better write a wedding report. I don't have official pictures yet but I'll add some of my friends pictures. The official ones will go up when I get them back. Aliye said she's never taken so many pictures of a wedding before! I'm taking that as a good sign. My videographers had a sample video emailed to me before I was awake this morning, so I think that's another good sign!

Guests getting ready at Warwick Arms Hotel

Saturday until the ceremony

We had been up until 1:30am getting table stationery done, then I had to go back to my room, shower and wash my hair. I hardly slept and at 7am my daughter, who'd been sharing with me, and I woke up at the same time, looked at each other and smiled. I got my eldest to ring her dad’s room and ask for the car keys as we had no clothes and to tell him we were going for breakfast so wait for us before going down. He decided to come straight down for breakfast though! At 8:30am I went off to find somewhere to do my nails. One shop said they had time to just do a file and polish if I needed hands and feet and get back to the hotel for 10am. Getting calls all the time people worrying about one thing or another! I kept asking if anyone had sorted out bread and wine but didn’t seem to be getting very far! Asked Mum to do it, next thing I know OH has told her not to because he’ll sort it but he’s in the foyer making table markers and doesn’t really move other than to get dressed!

I got back to the hotel and my hair dresser has already done my niece as Mum asked if she could do her to and she’s doing my eldest. Spent the next three and a-bit hours in that room or moving to my room opposite. About 11am, I asked the photographer to take the ring box to the guys and get some pictures with them to cement in their heads that the rings were tied in that box and asked her to tell FOG to come and see me about 12:15. When he came I took him into my room so I could talk to him without anyone hearing. I showed him the ring box, took the rings out and gave them to him. I told him he needed to take them to someone called Gareth at the Hospital who was going to teach him how to catch an owl. He had the biggest grin on his face! I gave him our candles and Quaich and said to tell people he was just taking those over. He came back and said “All done, just got to go…” and tapped two fingers on his wrist which made me and the tog/ vog laugh because we knew what he was going on about.

At some point it suddenly dawned on me that I’d still not got music sorted out so my sister said to give her a list and she’d download it from YouTube and we could play off my laptop but when we left the first song was still downloading! So we had no entrance/ exit music and only our minister as a musician!

About 1pm I asked my tog to help me put my dress on and asked for my nephew to come and see me. When he arrived I said I needed everyone to leave the room, knelt down next to him and said “Do you know what this is?” he said “Yeah, it’s the ring box” so I said “Look…” and showed him it was empty, he looked about confused so I told him that his job was to hold onto that box and not let anyone have it, if anyone asks for it he’s to say “Aunty Claire said it’s my job to look after it” and only hand it over when I said “stop messing about and give it to him” we had some pictures where we high-fived; pretended to whisper to each other and where we did “shh” at each other. He didn’t let go of that box for about half an hour, passed it briefly to Mum so he could wipe his hands as he was getting hot and had it straight back. We did a bit of slow march practice in the salon, me and my sister hitched up our dresses so the children could see what we were doing.

About 1:15pm I had to tell them to send the guests over because I could see lots of people milling outside my room. About 10 min later Mum came to me and said “Message from the minister, hurry up, we’re late” I said I was waiting for the horse but it turned out that OH had said I didn’t need it to get over there(!) so they had to bring him down quickly and work out where to stop to get me on, was funny because it was the first time I’d mounted in my dress and I ended up with most of it gathered under my legs – later on I always mounted by completely exposing my leg. Mum rang FIL to say that we needed them and my brother’s children outside as everyone was now sat.
Rode across to the venue which felt fantastic, although the wind picked up whilst we were going and felt very windy up there! Everyone was waiting outside when we got there which I wasn’t happy about, I asked for people to be moved inside and the people I asked to be waiting outside. Had to explain about three times which order and what they were to do, in the end I lined people up outside the building! Had a little delay as my nephew ran for the toilet. We all entered in silence but it worked out ok anyway.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

History of Marriage

Recently I've been researching marriage through history, mostly because I was trying to find what it would have meant in our era to see if there was anything we could borrow, but the more I've got into it the more interesting it's got and the more I've realised I didn't know. We think we know what a wedding is, but did you know that it's only about 5-600 years ago that what we think of now as a wedding started?

Someone pointed out to me awhile ago that The Bible doesn't actually state what makes a wedding. The link below explains what it was at that time. The contract was between the parents, they threw a big party and then the marriage was consummated.

This one by the same author is real food for thought. Should Christians be making vows? The Bible actually says not to vow so I always wondered how that works with making wedding vows.

By Medieval times marriage was either done in church or privately between the couple or anything in between, there was no set marriage ceremony and all were legal. Couples were encouraged though to marry in church as unscrupulous men would deny they had a private ceremony (this makes me think of the song Paradise by the Dashboard Light) and there'd be no evidence to support their new wife.

My uncle sent me an email, not knowing that I'd been having discussions with some friends about what is a wedding. I had thought about emailing him for his opinion so I think he may have taken up telepathy ;)  so I thought I'd share his answer.

I've done some study on Marriage and how the various regulations developed over the ages. It seems that before the eleventh century when England was born, marriage was simply an arrangement between two families (usually) for various reasons, and occasionally the opinions of the bride and groom were taken into consideration. This is even true in the Scriptures in many cases. Certainly neither the church nor the state had any say in marriage. I guess if you go back to the beginning with Adam and Eve this was also true - because there was no church or state back then. Also in the case of Abram and Sarah; Isaac and Rebecca; Jacob and Rachel; Samson and Delilah; Boaz and Ruth; Moses and Zipporah; Tobias and Sarah and a number of others the selection of the couple had nothing to do with church (or ecclesiastical leaders) or state, it was the couple and their families. In the twelfth century Benedictine monk Gratian who published his fold of formalised marriage in 1140 with a Canon law textbook called 'Decretum Gratiani'. In this he held that consent of bride and groom were important enough to be considered part of the contract of marriage, and their mere presence at the event was not enough to take it that they consented.

In 1563 the Council of Trent decided that Roman Catholics were to accept that marriage is a 'sacrament' showing that this had to be a 'church issue' not just the issue of the couple involved before God and their families. The Church of England under Arch Bishop Thomas Cranmer produced the Protestant 'wedding vows' in 1549, and this is the basis of the marriage ceremony today as described in the Book of Common Prayer. Of course, now that the church controlled marriage, they also controlled divorce as well, but the church tended to take a back seat to this requiring parliament to rule on divorces.

The state got into the business of controlling marriage in 1753 with the act of 'Clandestine Marriage'. This required couples to get married in a church or chapel by a minister, otherwise the union was void according to law. Of course marriages were not considered 'legal' or 'illegal' just a few centuries earlier, since the state had not taken control of the marriage contract those centuries earlier. It also established the reading of banns of marriage before the event. Most couples preparing for marriage already did this, but the act formalised the requirement for this. The state increased it's control in marriage, so control went from the couples themselves, to the families, to the church, to the state.

Eventually the state realised that this was 'much too important' to leave to the church, so the government established the Marriage Act of 1836 allowing for non-religious civil marriages to be held in register offices. This was followed by a central registry of Births Marriages and Deaths throughout England and Wales, which is why the GRO (General Registry Office) of England and Wales has records going back to when this was established in the spring of 1837, and all prior records are held by individual parishes. This meant that non-conformists (non-Protestants who were not Roman Catholics) and Roman Catholics could now marry without having to do so in places overseen by the Church of England, as long as a person registered by the government, the 'Registrar', was present to ensure it was done 'correctly' and everything was in order.

So we see that the marriage event, if history is to be considered, consists of some combination of a) the consent between the couple involved, often given as a promise before God b) the celebration with friends and family, c) the blessings and overseeing of the church and d) the registration with government authorities. It's come a long way since the original idea of it being simply the consent of a couple before God and their celebration with friends and family.

Most couples complete a) at 'engagement', b) at the reception, c) at the consecrated wedding ceremony and d) when signing the official register with the last three usually all on the same day. Many Christians see the church wedding is seen as a mystical event, the making of promises before God in a sacred setting, endowing the relationship with a special "blessed" quality. However, we see that the promises before God need to be made well before the walk to the altar in the church, for if the consent is not already given before God there's really no point walking into the church thinking "Now shall I marry him or not?" or "Shall I really make this decision to spend the rest of my life with her?" That's far too late to be considering these thoughts. It is essential that this is done before the public event in church, and the church event should be a consecration and a public statement of vows that have already been agreed to. Effectively, the promises should have already been made before God before even booking the venue, they are simply repeated at the wedding consecration ceremony.

Anyway, Ann and I have completed a) the engagement last year, d) the legal ceremony in March of this year, and at some point in the future at a date to be announced we will be completing c) the consecration ceremony of our wedding and b) the celebration reception when all friends and family will be welcome.

It's interesting to note that until the Victorian times 'love' and 'companionship' were not a factor in marriage. With more social mobility, there was a growing "distaste" among the middle classes for thinking of marriage as "a family-arranged event for exchanging a daughter into a family for gain". This is according to Jennifer Phegley, author of Courtship and Marriage in Victorian England. Of course they had the fine example of the Love Story of Victoria and Albert, and that was intense, obvious and public. According to Victoria's letters and diaries she was very much in love with her heart throb, Albert.

It's a fascinating topic, I could have posted lots more but I think the links cover most of it. Please come and chat with me about it.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Two weeks to go!

I can't believe we've passed the two week mark! It's pretty scary because at the moment I think two months would be a bit easier on my stress levels!

Last week we went for my final fitting, my dress isn't quite complete but it was nice to get it on at last. I decided that I wouldn't wear my shapewear this time and they've had to take the dress in! Woohoo!!! They've got the two older girls done and I've left a dress so they can do something for the baby as they were having problems finding a small enough model.

We've got our clothes and reception paid off now, then all the little bills started coming in(!) I'm sure they add up to more than the other two...

Right now I'm getting ready to be picked up by the ushers as we're going to do a walk through so they know their jobs as we're going to be really relying on them on the day. Mark also wants me to measure the tables again as he doesn't believe me about how big they are...

I'm about to start work on another post about weddings through history, I've been doing some interesting reading that I thought I'd share!