This week and next for me are all about tinsel and baubles. It’s officially my 30th year in retail and ‘Christmas in July’… I’ve been doing this for a long time! Going in and out of Christmas events on hot London days does leave you somewhat confused – it’s like the feeling you get when you wake up in a hotel somewhere exotic knowing that you’ll end the day back in your own bed. However, as the boys would say, “that sounds like a you-problem Mum,” so I won’t inflict it on you. It does mean that time for my blog is in short supply again though so today I’m glad I have lots of pictures that show the joy of a simple wedding.
The joy of a simple wedding
After our last wedding a few of you said rather wistfully that you didn’t have any such celebrations on the horizon so let me share this one with you. I’ll start by filling in the backstory for the new readers who’ve joined us. Over the Easter break I went on a very important shopping trip with my special friend Nicky. You see her youngest son had set a date for his wedding and of course as mum of the groom, she needed an outfit. John Lewis & Partners kindly invited us to try their personal shopping service to see if we could find something there which we did and I promised everyone I’d show her outfits in action on the day.
Nicky and I have been close friends since our two sons formed a firm allegiance on their first day in reception at primary school. Our families have grown together over the years and we’ve shared the good times and the bad. In many ways I know her boys better than my own nephews who grew up in London and Saudi Arabia and as families we’ve had lots of adventures together. In fact the first one was a real test. When our boys were 8, 4 and 2 years old and we decided to go camping together for the first time. My dad was in hospital and while we were there, he took a turn for the worse. Nicky and Roy held the fort with our boys and theirs in torrential Lake District rain while we rushed around trying to find mobile phone signals for urgent updates. It was one of the most tense weekends of my life and my dad died shortly after we returned home. There aren’t many fledgling friendships that would thrive after a high pressure start like that but ours did, in fact I think the sudden adversity forged our bond.
And our lives have gone on from there. Over the years Nicky and I have always turned to each other to share the worries that our husbands class as ‘overthinking,’ especially when it’s come to our boys. We’ve always been completely open with each other and there’s never been any sense of comparison or competition either as individuals or as mothers. I think that’s one of the reasons why we feel close to each other’s sons too – we know them each as individuals and they in turn know that neither of us would ever judge them. There’s such a great feeling of safety in that.
As an aside, I know the two dads are going to be reading this and thinking, “but they all turned out fine in the end, we told you you were overthinking.” So I’m going to suggest that just maybe they’ve turned out fine because of all those micro-worries and the little adjustments we made to our parenting along the way. Game, set and match to the two Nickies I reckon.
Anyway you can see why this wedding was special; we’re all surprised that Toby and Liv are getting married at the age of 21 but we’re right behind them. They’re a great pair – they’ve been doing the same Sports Therapy degree which Liv has just finished. Fiercely independent, they planned and paid for most of the wedding all by themselves and so we didn’t really know what to expect. The lovely thing though is that being so young, they didn’t have overinflated ideas or expectations of the day. It was simple and intimate – just a celebration of their love with close family and friends.
The joy of a simple wedding – the build-up
So, if you haven’t been to a wedding this year, let me take you along with me to another one – completely different to the last one we went to but every bit as memorable. Here we are early on Friday morning at Nicky and Roy’s house. Toby’s ushers were starting to arrive so she was busy making endless cups of tea – and she may have been feeling a bit rueful about the extra glass of wine she’d had the night before in a moment of pre-wedding excitement!
Here’s our middle boy, dressed to the nines and you can see that the scones that Nicky had made were disappearing fast into the hands of hungry young men (they’d already munched through the croissants).
It was all hands on deck to get them ready as their lack of experience started to show – they didn’t know how to adjust bow ties… they’d forgotten to take the stickers off the bottoms of their shoes… but they were relaxed and full of laughter. As we approached the time when they needed to leave, I asked Toby how they were getting to the venue. He confessed that he hadn’t thought about that but supposed somebody would have a car… or perhaps they’d order a taxi. When he saw my eyes widen he just smiled and said, “chill Nikki, it’ll work itself out!”
The mood of the day was set – no nerves, only laughter (and as usual Mr MC’s said something behind the camera here that’s being met with mixed reactions!)
Poor Nicky hadn’t had time to get ready at this point but I still think she’ll be glad she has these photos with her gorgeous boys, that’s Josh on the left, Toby’s best man and and big brother…
… we could fill albums with daft pictures of these two from the age of four onwards…
… and when you look at their dads it’s easy to see where the daftness comes from.
The joy of a simple wedding – the service
I glanced at my watch and realised we had to get a move on so we left them to it and dashed home to get ready. Sure enough ‘it had worked itself out’ and when we arrived they were there…
… messing around. The service was being held at The Ashton Memorial in Lancaster – if you’re a Peaky Blinders fan you might recognise it because it’s where they filmed part of the final series. It was built by a Victorian entrepreneur in memory of his wife so in a way it’s a temple of love – and the perfect venue for a wedding ceremony.
I can’t bear being late for anything so as usual we arrived far too early, just as the mizzle started. I know you’re all sick of the heat in the south but we only had three days of it and we’d dearly like to see some summer – it feels as though we’re living in perpetual April here. I’m continuing to rewear outfits I already have so you may recognise this from our friends Glyn and Gareth’s wedding last year.
Uterque top and trousers, SS21
At least I had time to take photos of my other two boys both in their Old Lancastrian alumni ties.
And it was such a pleasure seeing them looking so smart – I applaud their love of vintage clothing for everyday but I often wish they’d make better friends with the iron before they go out.
Here’s Roy who had that very morning insisted that he didn’t have a clue what he was going to wear… so he did rather well.
And I’ve pinched this from Liv’s brother’s photos because it’s such a lovely one of Nicky arriving and seeing her precious son. I think her expression says everything.
(Photo courtesy of James Haygarth)
My boy was proudly showing me his VIP ‘certificate’…
… and seeing him on the front row gave me a tiny glimpse of a day in the future.
I’ve been to other weddings in this venue but never one as happy and relaxed as this…
… although by now word had gone round that the bride had arrived but wasn’t coming in…
… and later we found out why. Like any sensible northern girl she was having a drink and a biscuit first…
… and when she was ready, she appeared.
That handing over moment is always such a touching one isn’t it? It was a short but sweet service, there were no readings; they’d written their own vows which said everything they wanted to…
… and they sealed them with not one but two kisses.
I remember how I used to listen to vows being exchanged at weddings when I was in my unhappy first marriage in my early 20s. Each time my heart would twist because I knew that the promises that had been made to me weren’t being kept. So at every wedding I go to now, I make a point of smiling gratefully at the magical man I’ve been married to for 21 years without a moment of regret. My wish is that in years to come we’ll see Toby and Liv – and the rest of our boys – all feeling the same way.
And so the groom swept his bride off her feet and carried her in the direction of their future…
… with a stop off for photos of the traditional kind…
… and the more unusual – Liv’s bridesmaids included some seriously good women rugby players who weren’t going to be outdone by Toby’s earlier display of strength.
Another photo of my shining star…
… in fact a trio of shining stars.
It’s only the second time we’ve all been together this year so I grabbed the opportunity to record it. There are lots of benefits to having grown-up sons with independent lives but I do miss them.
The joy of a simple wedding – the reception
With the formal part of the day over it was time to relax and we all headed to the local rugby club. Here’s my buddy in her dress, she still doesn’t like having her photo taken but I had to show you the first of her two dresses in action. She’d kept calm despite the fact that as she was putting on the brand new Boden shoes that she’d bought to go with her outfit, the strap snapped so she’d had to quickly scramble around to find something that would work with her outfit.
Can you imagine how you’d have felt and when she called to complain the next day, Boden weren’t particularly sympathetic. When she expressed her disappointment they offered her a refund and a £15 voucher to make up for it. Not good enough Boden considering that she was the mother of the groom; when my contact is back we’ll be having a customer service conversation!
Nicky: Palm print dress (gifted By JL&P, SS22)
Toby and Liv had planned the afternoon just as they wanted it with bouncy castles on the pitches and a bride who wasn’t going to let her dress get in the way of the fun.
Because it was such an intimate gathering there was lots of time for proper conversation, here are the boys with their ‘other mum’…
… and the youngest with Nicky’s mum…
… and Nicky’s dad who isn’t very well so he could only come for a little while – but he was on sparkling form!
We had a hearty rugby club meal of roast beef followed by sticky toffee pudding and then the party really began. These two were undoubtedly plotting mischief…
… just as they always have…
…and our younger two did a good job of getting the dancing started. You can see the free sweet stall behind them – there were lots of innocent touches that reminded me of the days when we used to take our gang of little boys to the primary school disco!
Nicky changed into her evening outfit, I meant to bring something more relaxed too but completely forgot with all the early morning rush.
Nicky: Mint Velvet dress sold out (gifted JL&P SS22)
Mr MC and the middle one had ordered these t-shirts to wear at Toby’s stag do but they didn’t arrive in time so they got their money’s worth by wearing them for his evening do instead – to Liv’s alarm!
Liv changed too and I thought she looked sensational in her simple white dress, still wearing her veil. And so the evening went on with dancing and laughter until the clock struck twelve and our Prince Charming whisked his Princess away.
When Mr MC and I arrived for our brief honeymoon in Prague we found a very gaudy crystal bell on our bed labelled to “the young marrieds” (and of course Mr MC decided the intention must be that whenever he rang it, I would respond. Which I did… but not in the way he imagined!) Anyway because we didn’t really like it we’ve never looked after it but despite curious toddlers, mad pets and various house moves, it’s survived intact so it’s become quite a good emblem of marriage.
At their wedding Toby and Liv had a book where they asked people to fill in thoughts and advice but as it was such a very young wedding, I’m not sure how much wisdom they’ll have received. So it occurred to me that as so many of us here are ‘old marrieds’ now, it might be interesting to use the comments this week to offer them one piece of advice. How is it that young marriages can survive the years like that crystal bell and still chime and shine?
I’ll start with mine and it’s what I wrote in their book on the day. At our wedding, Mr MC and I vowed to put a smile on each other’s face every day for the rest of our lives. We’ve stuck to it and more than anything else, it’s the smiles and the laughter that have got us through. Even on the very saddest of days we’ve somehow managed to make each other smile and that continuing promise gives me faith when I need it that better times will come. So that’s my two penneth for the young marrieds, I look forward to hearing yours, let’s see what we can pull together here. In fact seeing your thoughts come in will make me smile too… as I live through ten long days of Christmas in July!
Disclosure: ‘Love & marriage – the joy of a simple wedding’ is not a sponsored post
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