When Andrew met Donna
They got married - eventually
On the steps of Chelsea Registry Office, Saturday, 18th September, 2021, about 1.25pm
We haven’t stopped talking about our wedding weekend. We delight in reminiscing and reliving those vivid moments past, squeezing out every last morsel of detail which we collectively now treasure from our Saturday spectacle. Our picking-over-the-detail discussions have been known to stretch well past midnight, almost unheard of for my darling wife who nearly loves her sleep as much as she loves me.
Hush now, time to chill.
It’s not just sharing with each other. We have an urge to share with others who were part of our wonderful experience. We might have to make do right now by writing our thank you letters and catching-up on the phone. But plans are already in-hand to break bread again with friends and family to rekindle our memories while they’re still vivid and fresh.
Forrest Gump’s Momma was right
Our wedding made me think of the famous quote from Forrest Gump. Sitting on a bench, waiting for his bus, Forrest (Tom Hanks) informs us of his deceased Momma’s view about life,
“Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” This chimes well with my new Focus Course and the law of sowing and reaping. You can’t control what you’re going to get, only the time and effort invested in the first place.
Make a list
Donna took on the role of chief planner, delivered in just over three months. Who would have thought that one of the first items on a wedding list, would be, paint the house? It certainly took the more obvious action of a clean and tidy home to a whole new level.
I jest, but I get it. It isn’t only your vows on display when you decide to get married. We love our life in Notting Hill and that includes the fresh, Obsidian green colour of the front door.
Our planning turned to action during the last lockdown when we started to visit a few deserted hotels, wandering around the empty streets on our push bikes. With hotels only having a skeleton staff, including the wedding planner, the conversation about capacity and layout was often interrupted in my head at least, by thoughts of The Shining. What a fabulous time to call. It was irresistible to sit on a a stool in a deserted bar, looking at the half empty bottles lining the glass shelves behind, with no one to serve them, gently cocooned by the deafening silence of an empty chapel. A rare treat indeed.
The devil is in the detail
Once our hotel was decided, a new level of detail ensued as the menu, flowers, balloons and entertainment was agreed. We changed chairs because we didn’t like the business meeting feel of the hotel’s dining furniture; every chocolate box had a personal message. We were after a party, a real celebration fit for our public declarations. It’s why I chose a party coloured jacket, applauded so brilliantly by the stunning flower arrangements at the hotel, more gently by our button holes and Donna’s clutch bag. My beautiful bride and her dress quite rightly grabbed the limelight, but at least the groom had something to say on this occasion.
My time was spent mostly focusing on what we wanted to say at our wedding. I’ve included our reading, ring words and my final ode to Donna at the end of this newsletter.
It took us over 3 months of dance lessons with our amazing Latin American champion to perform our first dance of 4 minutes and 21 seconds. We decided on a compilation of songs, three of which were shoehorned into a Waltz, Rumba and Cha Cha Cha. We loved it and have decided to continue taking lessons just in case we’re ever invited to another party, where we can strut our stuff all over again.
One of the best decisions we made was to make a weekend of it. We hadn’t expected too much interest on the Friday night at our local Italian eatery. How wrong were we? We’d advertised it as our non-rehearsal dinner, an opportunity for most of our guests to meet and feel more at home ahead of proceedings the following day.
I managed to do an unintentional runner from the restaurant which ended in a phone call from one of our guests explaining that the staff wouldn’t let them leave because I hadn’t paid. I think I’ve been forgiven and the bill has now been paid.
As a maturing couple we had a clear picture of what we wanted. It still included some tradition and I was, quite rightly, despatched to a hotel with my son, after our Friday night non-rehearsal with plenty of our guests.
Tears flowed early on the Saturday morning with one daughter’s makeup issue. When I next saw her a few minutes before the wedding, she was beaming and beautiful. It immediately set me off and I was forced to have a strong word with myself. What was I going to be like when I saw Donna?
I didn’t have long to wait. The doors at the back of the registry office opened and she literally skipped down the aisle to Jack Johnson’s, Better Together. Everyone was clapping along with her jig by the time she found her way to the front to join me.
Time flew and we were soon on the famous stone steps for the confetti shot. It was wonderful. So happy, so together, so in love.
Our white London taxi whisked us away to our hotel all too soon where we were greeted by a grotto of stunning flowers. It was a fitting entrance. Come this way for fun and celebration. (This was after two flights of stairs transforming a dimly lit stairwell into an Aladdin’s cave).
Our children spoke volumes
Our besties were brilliant. A double act of Rhonda and Tina before our main course, David patiently waiting in the wings for everyone to finish eating. It didn’t go unnoticed that they chose to abstain or imbibe less of the delicious wines on offer until they had despatched their duties.
I’m not doing them or their lovingly prepared and delivered speeches a disservice by pointing out that they came with expectations. What didn’t were our five children and the speeches they chose to give. They were disarming and charming. It felt like a coming of age moment for them and us. A public declaration of the happiness and togetherness possible in every family. Their stories were warm and full of joy, times past, easily recounted. They freely admitted that the hardest bit had been deciding which stories to tell.
It capped a perfect day which we will cherish forever. We ate a delicious, dark chocolate truffle, not a coffee cream.
The Road less travelled by
To take the road less travelled by, Springs visions of a grassy wood, With well trodden path awry, Now what? It is my bed to lie, Here or there, I wondered, as I stood?
New journey's start, no time to dwell, My path now neatly split in two, Both routes grow green, but who can tell, Which leads to heaven, the other hell?
We chose together, to live life through. Headlong we travelled along our trail, Friends went and came as they do, Five children's trust we set our sail, Aboard with us, no thought to fail, And time flew fast for me and you.
So here we stand to unify, All doubt is now long gone, We took the road less travelled by, The one just there by the butterfly, Our love and life complete as one.
Our ring vows
Andrew to Donna
I will always be your lover, lover. I will always be your friend. To have, to hold to rediscover, Your honour I will defend.
I'm with you for adventures new. Your strength in times of need. My love for you will see us through, Together we will succeed.
I will be true, protect, uphold, I will not ever fail. This ring, my vows, clear and bold, My love will never pale.
Donna to Andrew
I will always be your lover, lover. I will always be your friend. To have to hold, there is no other, On you I can depend.
We’ve journeyed hard at times my lover, Some darker hours, we won’t pretend. But we’ve made it through together lover, I’m with you ‘til the end.
I’m with you too for adventures new, Although maybe no more camping. This ring, a new chapter for me and you, Together our lives enhancing.
My ode to Donna
I love the way you cry and laugh, The way both turn to tears. I love the way you ride your bike, Resplendent in your gear.
I love the way you sleep at night, Ear plugs and flat lie still. I love the way you love your sleep, Oy, hush now, time to chill.
I love the way you call me names, Foxy, Gorge-Smorge, Smidge, I love the way we starved ourselves, Our 5 day fast on porridge.
I love the way you love me too, Huge heart, so kind and true. I love the way you still can't catch, I love that I caught you.