We went to a lovely wedding the other day. As a family, we seem to be very good at keeping in touch with cousins across decades even if we are rather poor at keeping in touch with them month by month or year by year. As a result weddings and funerals are great assemblies. My Ma had 17 aunts, so there are rather a lot of cousins to keep track of.
The thing that I liked most about this particular celebration, aside from meeting up with the cousinage, was the laid back simplicity of the thing. It was in fact a blessing, the bride and groom had got married on a hill-top the other side of the world a month ago; they’d decided to have their marriage blessed in front of the Cousins this weekend, thus accommodating both sides of their respective families.
So it may have been the fact it was a blessing and thousands had already been spent on air fares, let alone sugared almonds, which encouraged them to opt for the simple choices. No bridesmaids stealing the bride’s thunder. The church service was astonishingly chilled for the rural Church of England. Bells rang the celebration out across the valley. The church had an almost medieval sense of community, with people settling down and turning round to introduce themselves themselves, catch up and place each other in the family tree; it filled with the sound of happy and playful children providing a clear reminder of what marriage is all about. The expression on the face of the bride’s brother as he read “when I was a child, I spake as a child” could be sold for a guinea a bottle.
But the thing that I really enjoyed, apart from the bride and groom’s obvious happiness and her parents nearly bursting with pride, was the simplicity of what used to be called “the wedding breakfast” and what is now called “Afterwards” or “the Evening”.
The wedding breakfast was in a community centre with all the necessities: champagne and bride cake, (and an ancestral sword to cut it with), with much love and much joy, but there were no sugared almonds, no chairs covered in chintz and tied with bows, no marquee, no dance floor, no band. The food was a buffet, so no silver service, (but a glorious summer pudding).
Some marriages, you get the impression, are an excuse for a wedding. The most important thing about this particular wedding, I have no doubt, is the marriage.