John Slater Photography www.johnslaterphotography.com 07973380318
Just Married! by the Dart
Reader, I married him.
And so far I don’t regret it – although he has now left the country for three months to go and mess about with some boats in New Zealand. “Work” apparently.
The night before the wedding my bridesmaids and I gathered in Kingswear castle for the last supper of my mum’s famous Italian recipe of involtini. A romantic idea perhaps but typically I’d managed to catch a cold and so spent the majority of the evening with my head under a tea towel, over a bowl of hot water. With my sinuses closing over and an extremely attractive swollen eye – some allergic reaction to stress I think – I was beginning to look more like Shrek than the fresh-faced bride-to-be. I headed to bed at 9pm, dosed to the eyeballs and with two sleeping pills in my grasp. I had barely crawled beneath the duvet, before I was out for the count.
I woke at 8am to my mobile ringing. Ignoring the first call, I turned over thinking “I can’t be bothered to get married today” – the sleeping pills were still going strong.
Fortunately, Sarah Bee, my make up artist was more determined and kept calling until I disentangled myself from the blankets. Five minutes later, four bleary-eyed bridesmaids were pulled out of their beds and perched on stools, with their hair in curlers, before you could say “cup of tea?”.
I had heard about Sarah through by photographer, John Slater who had worked with her in London. Sarah, like John, has recently settled in the Totnes area but still works from time to time in London where she specialises in body make up (but is truly fantastic in make up of all types). She is used to making-up celebrities and supermodels – so resident Princess Fiona was going to be a whole new challenge for her! Luckily however, the swollen eye had decided a good night’s sleep was just the ticket and had gone down a little, so that I was simply sporting my normal bags. After Sarah had worked her magic I looked almost human. After John’s artistic eye had captured the image on film, I looked, in retrospect, very presentable.
By this time, autumn sunshine was peeping through the castle windows and there was a sense of drama as I pulled on my dress – a seashell pink Ronald Joyce number from Truly Delightful in Totnes – and mum laced me in. The girls coo-ed appropriately as they watched, lined up in their own ivory dresses of my design and the most expensive headresses I could find – from the designers at Tesco.
We crushed ourselves into my dad’s car in a bundle of chiffon and hydrangeas (wondeful flowers by local florist Emma Vowles) and set off for St Petrox in Dartmouth. A few stops on the way, to re-attach the ribbon to the wingmirrors and bonnet, followed by a final pause at the top of Weeke hill to gather ourselves, we arrived at the church to be greeted by a fresh wind off the estuary and an even fresher Father Will; who had reason to be slightly more anxious than the blushing bride because his wife was several days overdue with child.
I was so focused on silencing my knees, which were chattering loudly together beneath my skirts that the service passed without any tears (from us as the couple anyway – the bridesmaids were hopeless). We left the candlelit church as Mr and Mrs Nick Hutton, grinning from ear to ear, to head to our reception back over the river.
A minor glitch on the way, as the old-school Beetle we’d borrowed from Nick’s brother threatened to break down on the ferry, but we made it in one piece and gratefully downed our first glass of lychee champagne.
.Does attention to detail at a wedding reception really matter? Or is it only the food and booze that people remember?
I had put so much thought into the marquee decor; we had opted for a capri styple marquee in the end from Marquee Master, which had a rustic feel to it and I wanted to see if anyone at all noticed the effort to which I had gone. I say “I” at this point, as opposed to “we”, because, let’s be honest, Nick had had very little to do with it and quite genuinely couldn’t have given a hoot!
Rather than have place names on plain table cloths, we bought our own table cloths for about the same price as renting and asked Dartmouth-based artist Paul Barclay to come up the night before and write everyone’s names onto the cloths in calligraphy. Favours for ladies were horse-shoes, which my bridesmaid had collected from her livery yard and painted silver, whilst the men had glow-sticks. We served drinks from an old wooden dinghy full of ice (the ice kindly supplied by Mike Felton of Caterfood; the boat unburied from Nick’s parents’ garden) and instead of a visitor book we had had three photos of us enlarged in black and white, with a large border where people could sign.
So what did everyone think?
Well, the table cloths went down a storm and were soon covered with red wine stains as Nick’s sailing mates started the obligatory “wine waves” down the length of the marquee. The favours were so popular that I now have a set of shelves solely dedicated to my horse-shoe display at home – along with an unclaimed pair of Karen Miller heels, size 5 – anyone’s? And the boat was a real hit.....mostly with the under 5’s who insisted on sitting in it in their best clothes. So not such of a success with the parents.
But the main thing that people raved about was surprise, surprise, Lainey’s (Entertaining Food) delicious honey and mustard sausages, chicken pate, roast pork – how she managed to roast pork for 120 in the back of a marquee is still beyond me – and the apparent endless supple of alcohol that I had bought, in my panic that we might run out. Since then it has done a 60th birthday, Christmas, my mum’s reading group and a few girly-nights-in and is still going strong.
So yes, we had a good party - a great band – Three Bags Full (love them!) – had everyone up and dancing although I shudder at the flashbacks of my brothers break-dancing on the wonky dancefloor, Nick’s ushers competing to climb the marquee poles and the hi-jacking of the mics towards the end of their second set.
In all seriousness though, it was truly the best day and I would do it all again. But maybe with a year’s rest in between. All that remains is to thank all those dear people who made it utterly marvellous and a special “thank you” to By The Dart for letting me tell you about it.
Mrs H x
First published March/April 2012 By the Dart