Thursday, 19 May 2011

Weddings

April was the month for weddings. I allowed the one on the 29th of April to pass me by; well, all those red coats and big teeth vying for attention. The best thing about it was the day off work. It was a fresh spring day and the last thing I wanted was a slob-out on the sofa watching sweet William and Kate getting hitched. This is what we did instead:
A sharp rewind to 25th April heralds our wedding anniversary. Beaming like idiots, Martin and I look back fondly to our special day. Our wedding was a quiet, gentle affair and one that I shall cherish for all its charm and whimsy. One might say ours was a fairytale wedding:
Made more so by this simple fact: I ended up marrying the giant.
Let’s rewind once more - to April 16th and the day we were lucky enough to witness one of the happiest and loveliest of brides declare her love for the luckiest of men.
Here she is
My niece, Isolde.
The service was held in the grounds of her father’s medical practice in Bollington, Cheshire. A large country property named The Waterhouse. It was a perfect day to be married: windless, yet fresh and without the full glare of the sun allowing the guests to be dazzled by the bride’s beauty alone.
We shared in the groom’s adoration as she moved through the pillars of trees on her father’s arm. Her smile was sparkling. We were intoxicated by her happiness as it shone everywhere. A sensation which touched the new-born maple leaves overhead, their branches bowing in arcs of brilliant green. We strained our necks to take in the frothy swirl of her dress as it spilled from her nymph’s waist. As decorative as filigree, as delicate as Victorian lace. A detail of tiny pearl beads dotted the scalloped neckline of her bodice and while the dress covered her d├ęcolletage demurely her bare arms swung free tracing a ballerina’s sensuality and grace on the air. We were excluded only as their love became a closed embrace, a pact - sealed with red lipstick.
After the ceremony, we queued to meet her and showered her with confetti and compliments. Once we made our way inside the marquee we were struck by its mellow dazzle: diffused lighting and bright white tablecloths made our faces glow like waxwork. We found our seats and created ease with our admiration of the impossibly pristine china teapots and cups and saucers. It was Isolde’s wish to have afternoon tea and here it was – a granting of steaming brews; impeccably sliced smoked salmon sandwiches and vanilla-scented scones dusted with powdered sugar waiting to be split and filled with dark jam and clotted cream. Centrepiece bouquets decorated the tables yet were moved to one side to accommodate tiers of miniature cupcakes - each one iced with a tiny mimic of red and pink roses. After our meal the fine vintage china cups were replaced with slender champagne flutes glowing with effervescent amber as we waited for the speeches.
Her father spoke of the day she was born and how he rode through the village on a bicycle wearing a yellow rose in his lapel giddy with joy. He read out Auden’s ‘Anthem for St Cecilia’s day’ and through its ebb and flow we held onto the sincerity evoked in the reading of these four lines:
Blessed Cecilia, appear in visions
To all musicians, appear and inspire:
Translated Daughter, come down and startle
Composing mortals with immortal fire.
We learned of her childhood need to know what life was for and of how she blurted out in answer to her own question that “life was for singing and dancing.”
It was easy to believe in that answer once the candles had been lit and the wine flowed and the head table moved to make way for the swing band. The mother of the bride is my dear sister and so invigorating it was to watch her shed a mixture of panic and loss and take to the dance floor in polka dots and pearls and shimmy and twirl as she once did when she was young.  

Polka Dots and Pearls

As Auden’s poem might suggest, we are easily startled by immortal beauty as it appears to us in all works of great art: in the transitions of light and shade in a Turner landscape; the yearning strings of a Mozart aria or in the closing couplet of a Shakespearean sonnet. Nothing, though, can beat the real thing, that mortal flesh and blood thing. And here at this amazing wedding it graced each of us as we breathed in what we saw: the swishing, swirling grace of Isolde in her snowy dress; a groom stunned by love; my sister and her uninhibited warmth and kindness; a tiny flower girl alight with wonder. Beauty was love and it was there that day. It belonged to the old - to me and my big friendly giant:

And will forever belong to both Isolde and Matthew.

Of course, this is a food blog and wouldn’t be doing its job if it didn’t acknowledge the source of all that wonderful food. My sister, Nancy, spoke with high praise for her caterers The Smokehouse in Cheshire. The scones were a delight: plump platforms of perfectly baked dough with a sensuously soft crumby bite and just the subtlest hint of vanilla. An amazing member of staff named John shone with professionalism when he sourced no fewer than 24 tea-strainers and had no problem taking charge of the sumptuous vintage china tea sets that had made their delicate way from Harrogate. An Afternoon Tea that we shall never forget.
And yes, this is a food blog but acknowledgements need to shine on a certain vintage wedding dress shop: fur coat no knickers which, I am told, exists off Carnaby Street in London. Isolde’s dress originates from 1950s America and shopkeepers Emma and Laura darned on beads and petticoats to restore it to its former razzle dazzle.  How privileged you might feel to wear an outfit that would have once clung and swayed on the figure of a Hepburn clone in those glamour-greedy days. And how privileged we were to watch Isolde perform this role with such style and poise.
All wedding images apart from Polka dots and Pearls were produced by my talented brother, Tom.
The official photographers were expert wedding photography duo Nouvel Amour (my nephew, Daniel and his partner, Dot).

4 comments:

  1. Bravo, Wendy! Funny - you never really liked tea parties as a child!! Thanks for using my pics - nice to see them helping to tell the tale of a very special day.

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  2. My dear girl, have just seen it. Thank you.

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  3. Wonderful day, wonderful family!!
    Thanks for reading x

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  4. From the Best Man.....
    What a lovely blog!

    Lovely words Wendy, capture a very special day.
    And Tom, Dan & Dot's photos are breathtaking.

    And, yes, you really are a wonderful family.

    It was my privilege to be there.

    Chas. X

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