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Special Family Wedding

By Hazel Wilkinson

 There had not been a wedding in our family since Sarah and John got married in Santa Barbara in 1999.

August the 7th was the date in our diaries that was to be a great celebration and Jones’ Family Reunion and Knees-up!

Beverley, Beryl and Allan’s daughter, was to marry Matthew Barber at his family church, and our family were to attend from all parts of England and, of course, brother David from America. He was Beverley’s Godfather at her Christening, and Deborah was Godmother. I knew it would be a lavish affair as I had a sneak preview of the table decorations, candle displays, and floral arrangements when I visited Beverley’s home months before, and her theme was butterflies and feathers in turquoise and silver. Little did I realize how elaborate the “reception” dining room at the chosen hotel would look like. Beverley (a trained window dresser) is very artistic, organized, and her detail and planning was outstanding to make this a special day for her and Matthew. The invitations were hand-made (stamped by Beverley) with the silver butterflies. There were eighty guests and over one hundred forty at the evening reception. Many phone calls were made between Lynda, Beryl, Anita, and myself. “What are you wearing?” “Will you wear a big hat?” Ken said everyone would be looking at his outfit and not at us so why all the fuss; he doesn’t alter, but he did find a tasteful tie in apple green to match my suit, and he told everyone it was his wedding suit (just got it out of mothballs, it was antique like him). [Where do you go to be abused, Ken?] The hotel in Cheadle near to Beryl’s home was booked for the weekend as guests would be staying over, and the reception held there.

On August the 3rd, Ken and I were just about to start lunch when in walked David (fish and chips in hand). He had arrived in Manchester, got a hire car, and decided he would stay with us and rest here, but there was one problem. No luggage had arrived. [What was that line from Sledgehammer? “It always arrives after you do.”] He had checked in at Philadelphia Airport having driven from Beavertown, and his suit for the wedding was in a suit carrier over his shoulder. (He will be often seen going to gigs like that as you will all know.) The guy at the desk said his suitcase wasn’t too heavy so he put the suit in the case and just had his carry-on bag. His overnight flight landed in London at 8:30 am, and he took the shuttle to Manchester and went to collect his belongings, but no case, and there were about ten people all in the same position. He wasn’t too bothered at this point. He was more concerned about the young people on holiday from Japan and Australia who had cases missing. He could at least borrow a t-shirt from Ken! Who cares if it looks like a dress on him? Luckily, there was a pair of Robert’s old pajamas here. Nobody would see him if he sat in our garden.

We paid a visit to our local Mark’s and Spencer’s and stocked up on socks and underwear [David will love your attention to detail, Hazel!], and we found a Super Gents Outfitters in our town, so he bought trousers, shirts, and a couple of nice stage tops, no doubt you will be seeing those. That guy must have sold more in that hour than he had done all month. The guy didn’t know who he was, and it was nice for David to try on—no hassle. Ken sat in the car on the car park waiting and thought we had skipped town. He rested in our garden, enjoyed all his favorite English meals I cooked, and we even had an impromptu concert when he found Deborah’s guitar. He often tries out new songs on us! He enjoyed a couple of long walks (in the sunshine!) around our town. We are surrounded by hills which he loves and visited our Town Hall and purchased postcards. We did have a huge storm one afternoon, and we heard fifty planes were delayed and people stranded. At least he got here. Robert called in to catch up on news after work, and Ken practiced his jokes which will be used at a later date (You have been warned!) The day before the wedding, David decided to head back (one hour) to the Manchester Airport and protest in person as the luggage had still not arrived here. He had a five-hour wait and finally the cases were found, and guess what? All the contents were wet through. It had been left on a trolley in the pouring rain for days, and the other ten in London. At least he was only ten minutes from Beryl’s and the hotel and would meet up with all his family and had time to get the wedding suit pressed, etc.

Anita, Jessica, Phoenix, Scott, and Annabel were all there to greet him. It was a glorious day on the 7th of August (couldn’t be better-nearly 80 degrees), and Robert set off to get into his wedding suit at Matthew’s home only five minutes walk from the church. Robert was an Usher and had to meet and greet guests outside the church and show guests to their places inside and hand out the order of service. He looked great in his navy morning suit, top hat, and silver gray waist coast and cravat. (All the men were dressed alike.) Ken and I set off for the one hour journey in plenty of time, and I took my apple green lace suit (long skirt and coatee) and navy hat, shoes, and bag. We found a car park nearby, and I changed there as I didn’t want it to be creased. Our cousin, Gerald, appeared whilst I was doing my quick striptease but was busy talking to Ken. [Busy just like Shane was when he saw Kimmi make a wardrobe change in the car!] The church was very old in a lovely garden through an arch all trimmed up by the ladies of the church. Matthew and Best Man were having pictures taken, and there was a video expert there. Robert greeted us, and I must admit I got a lump in my throat; he looked quite handsome. We chatted with some of our old neighbors we hadn’t seen since our wedding.

Lynda and family arrived. She looked elegant in a lilac suit [What a lovely color!], large hat to match, and navy accessories. She had son, Mark, and wife, Debbie, and her beautiful grandchild, Rebecca, eighteen months with her and Kirsty (daughter) and Steve and her two grandsons, Liam (twelve) and Ryan (nine). Oh how these children have grown.

Next came Anita and her gang [not to be confused with The Purple Flower Gang] with little Phoenix. “He’s gorgeous!” Jessica looked like a model with red sun dress and cute little white modern flower hat. Scott carried Phoenix. He looks so much like David at that age. (Well, we would say that!) Ken said Annabel looked pretty in her yellow dress and shoes. David and Bobbi Boyce were taking pictures of all the family, and everyone seemed to be arriving together.

There was just time to snap Beryl and the Bridesmaids arriving. Beryl was in turquoise and navy, (Beverley had made her feathery hat) and the Bridesmaids were in turquoise (long satin dresses and chiffon overlay) and carried white roses and silver posies, silver butterflies, turquoise and white feathers with headdresses to match, and a cute Page Boy (five) in matching suit and hat like the men. We were all given buttonholes of white stephanotis and feathers and were ushered into church by Robert where we took our places in the first four rows awaiting for the entrance of the Bride. Matthew and his Best Man were glancing round, and we caught his eye and smiled.

At 2:00 pm, Beverley arrived in a white open-topped (1927) Rolls Royce [Nice wheels!], and as the organ played “Here Comes The Bride” Beverley appeared at the church door on the arm of Allan, her Dad.

There was a rattle of tissues out of handbags. She looked beautiful in a strapless fitted dress in white duchess satin with fitted waist and a train with a lace panel in the back with diamantes. She had a pearl coronet and necklace to match and carried a bouquet of white roses and cala lilies with feathers and butterflies. The church choir led the Hymns, and we sang “Lead Us Heavenly Father Lead Us”. Prayers followed, and then the vows. Matthew answered too quickly, and everyone started laughing, and the Vicar said he was too eager and started again! Rings were exchanged, and there was a reading by Beverley’s friend. Whilst the wedding party went into the Vestry, the congregation sang “Lord Of The Dance”. [That is a beautiful song!] The Wedding March struck up, and we got our cameras at the ready to snap the newly wed couple. Outside the sun was shining, and we had official photos taken of each family group, and chatted with family members. I had trimmed my shoes with gold fan earrings and lost one so I got the children searching amongst the many legs and feet. Anita spotted it the second time lost. It was pretty hard to get pictures of relatives as everyone was mixing and moving around so we decided to head back to the hotel as soon as the Bride and Groom got into the car to go back to the reception.

We were all greeted with Bucks Fizz [I’m sure that’s like lemonade.] and mingled whilst the wedding party were taken to a local country park for more photos. The Master of Ceremonies in his red/black uniform and top hat set up a Greeting Line, and we were all called by names to congratulate the parents and Bride and Groom and take our seats in the dining room. I knew the decorations would be spectacular (Beverley and friends had been there from 7:00 am, and it would have needed an army of helpers to transport the displays.)

There were huge silver candelabras draped in turquoise chiffon and silver butterflies and greenery dripping in silver beads. The top table was draped in turquoise chiffon, and a center piece flower arrangement. The ten round tables each had a huge circular mirror in the middle, and there was a huge vase on each one filled with turquoise sand and huge silk roses and grasses. Even the menus were stamped with silver and turquoise butterflies.

We sat with Anita and company, and we enjoyed the meal and caught up with their news. Phoenix didn’t make it all the way through and was taken up to the bedroom. Speeches were made, a champagne toast, and flowers presented to Mums, Bridesmaids, and the little Page Boy was given his promised “Bat Man Suit”. Robert received a silver hip flask with his name engraved on it. We retired to various areas in the hotel for a quiet hour before the evening guests arrived. Lynda and family and Anita and company retired to their rooms for a rest. They had all had long journeys the day before.

The ballroom was made ready, and we gathered again ready for the Bride and Groom. David had brought a backing tape made by David Alexander, and he started off the evening by singing “I’ll Love You Forever” as Beverley and Matthew danced as Man and Wife. Next he sang “Daydream Believer”, and we got on the dance floor to strut our stuff. “Not a pretty sight!” said Ken.

The guests were thrilled to hear “Uncle David” sing, and he got a great reception. Beryl, Lynda, and I were dancing (You can’t keep the Jones girls down.), but I wish you could have seen Lynda’s grandchild, Rebecca, eighteen months old and already a “star” in her white frilly dress. She stood in the middle of the dance floor right in front of David and took the spotlight moving her arms and legs and ignoring everyone and danced away, and that was her first family party. I think she will be the next entertainer in our family.

The evening flew past with buffet supper and more dancing, and soon it was time for goodbyes. Some guests were staying overnight, and David had to leave very early on the Sunday to catch his flight to Philadelphia and back to Beavertown to tend his horses. It was a perfect wedding and a great family gathering, and as the inscription on front of the invitation said, “United In Love”.

[Many thanks to Hazel for sharing with us “The rest of the story!” ]