It was a beautiful wedding.
It was beautiful because of the setting, Auchinleck House, an 18th century Landmark Trust property in Ayrshire, once home of James Boswell, esteemed Edinburgh author and diarist, and most famously, biographer of Samual Johnson. Basically, we lived in a stately home for a weekend. Could get used to it - with the addition of some 'staff'. Metaphorically speaking, we were 'below stairs' for a lot of the weekend.
Auchinleck House - nice setting for a wedding.
The Library. This was actually the name of the 40 foot first floor lounge, a room so big it required 2 fireplaces.
One end of 'The Library'
Window in our bedroom.
It was beautiful because of the simplicity and sincerity of the ceremony, conducted by a Humanist celebrant. In Scotland, Humanist celebrants can perform the legal duties of a marriage ceremony. So rather than having to interrupt proceedings at the house in order to dash off to the less than romantic setting of Cumnock registry office to do the legal bit, there was an intimate and personal ceremony in the candlelit study of Auchinleck House. I'm tearing up just thinking about it! In a church wedding, setting aside the issue of whether you believe in the religious aspect or not, I think the ceremony itself can often be quite impersonal and distanced from the couple, because it is a church service and as such is articulated in arcane and standardised language. This gives it gravitas of course. But to sit in a small room, with a dozen people, and watch and listen as your friends say wedding vows in their own words, about 6 feet away from you, was incredibly moving. With no intermediary of tradition or sermon or prayer or priest, the wedding ceremony becomes a direct statement of love and commitment, the kind of which we are rarely privy to.
The study - setting for the ceremony.
It was beautiful because S wove her magic, to create a perfect table setting in the grand dining room. Many of the guests were craftspeople of some kind or another, so have that capacity to effortlessly make things look good. During the morning of the wedding, S and her willing helpers magicked a range of elegant decorations out of a big pile of flowers and foliage, most brought by S, but some also gathered from the grounds of the house.
But most of all it was beautiful because the occasion had a companiable 'DIY' aspect to it. The whole event was created through the working together of a small group of people, united by their affection for the 'happy couple' - admittedly after the herculean task of advance preparation by S & R who were probably knackered by the time it came to the actual event. But during the wedding weekend, everyone mucked in. We divvied up the cooking between us; most of the wedding presents were handmade; C did one of his fantastic 'oldies' discos - or rather, he brought the sound and lighting equipment and his CDs, and then sat back as most of the men, including the groom (ok - and me as well) gave vent to their inner 'cheesy DJ' for a while.
'Blame it on the Boogie' (C's semi-retired mobile disco business) - out of retirement and ready for action! Slightly incongruous setting.
I think perhaps the most important wedding gift on this occasion was the active participation of the guests, given gladly and generously by all concerned. It felt like a gift we all shared in. (If S reads this, she will cry, like she did for a big part of the wedding!).
Ah. Makes me want to get married all over again. (Only joking C!)