Monday, 18 August 2014

Bagpipes and Roses

Jo and Callum's wedding day was beautiful.  A perfect day filled with love, laughter and a lot of Jäger.

Hang on, I'm starting at the end here.  Let's try again.
After the excesses of the previous day, the morning of the wedding I was up early.  Too early.  Hungover and shaky and in dire need of some air at 6am early.  I slipped out of the bedroom, desperately trying not to disturb Kate who was sleeping soundly, pulled the dress I was wearing the night before over my head, grabbed my cardigan, a pair of sandals and the room key and went for a walk.
Outside the Scottish air was bitingly fresh and I could hear the lonely cry of a kestrel over my head.  I wandered down to the lake and sat there for a bit, drinking in the first hints of what promised to be a beautiful day, then walked up the steep slope to the castle.  My feet were absolutely drenched so I let myself in through the front door and padded down the corridor to the toilets to find some towels.  There were a couple of other early risers around in their dressing gowns, lethargically chasing after small children whilst simultaneously clutching cups of coffee desperately in their hands.  I ran into Katherine, Fiona's sister who was sleepily heading towards the kitchens with her baby.  She gave me a startled look that clearly said, "if you don't have to be up at this time, why on earth are you!"

I was feeling much more clear headed now, so I walked back to the room, took a couple of painkillers for the wine fuelled headache that was pounding behind my eyes and went back to sleep.

A few hours later and I felt so much better.  A hot shower cleared the last of the lingering hangover away, whilst Alex, Carolyn's husband, rustled the four of us up a breakfast packed with scrambled eggs, toast and sausages from the supplies that Jo's parents had left in the kitchen for us.  The wedding wasn't until 1pm so we had a lazy morning of painting nails, chatting and catching up with life.  I haven't seen Carolyn since we finished sixth form, and although I have kept up to date with her news via the wonder of facebook, it is much nicer to be able to actually spend time with someone and hear their news in person!
Finally the time came for us to pile into the cars (we debated the long walk to the Church at the entrance of the gates to the Estate but it was just too daunting in heels) and Alex drove us down.
Drumtochty Church was beautiful, set against a backdrop of the forest and blue sky with the droning pibroch of the bagpipes soaring to meet the birdsong above.  The music greeted us as we paused at the gate of the Church where the photographers were asking guests for pictures before they headed down the gravel pathway.  Every tree lining the pathway had a white ribbon tied to its trunk, blowing gently in the breeze. 
Kate and I held back for a few minutes to admire the building, and then took our seats inside.  The interior was just as impressive, with high vaulted ceilings and lit candles lining the mantles.  Bunches of white roses graced the aisle ends whilst Callum looked as nervous as any groom, dressed in his traditional kilt and sporran.  We had been expecting the Scottish outfits - the previous day Paul had been incredibly excited about the fact that the ensemble came with a real dagger in his sock.
Orders of Service were laid out for us, printed on luxurious cream lustre paper, and soon the wedding party came in to take their seats, looking behind them expectantly every few minutes.
Outside the music changed, the doors opened and flooded the Church with a burst of streaming sunlight, and Jo and her proud father made their way down the aisle, followed by her bridesmaids.  (It's not the best picture below, but it's the only one I have of them walking down the aisle!)
Jo looked stunning.  Kate and I had been placing bets on the type of dress - I had gone with fitted fishtail satin, Kate had said lace with a fitted bodice and flared skirt.  Turns out we were both correct!  Jo was in a fitted satin dress with a skirt that flared from her knees and a diamante belt, with a delicate lace bolero.  Her hair was simply waved with the front sections pinned back and a diamante headband, with a fingertip veil and simple diamond earrings and bracelet.  I'm not good on flowers but I can tell you that she carried a nosegay of white and purple.  I'd seen her heels the day before when she had shown Kate and I around her room.  They were huge.  How she walked without tripping over is beyond me!
The service was simple; a few hymns, some readings and the exchange of vows.  The vicar was a personality - very stern and severe...it's the first time I have heard a reference to HIV included in a wedding service! (For the record, he was talking about the work that the charity that the church supports does), but it did add a bit of an unexpected tone to the proceedings.
After about an hour, the service was complete and the new Mr and Mrs disappeared for a few minutes to catch their breath and get a few minutes alone together.  Outside, we were handed bags of rose petals and formed into lines, ready to shower the newly weds in one of the odder wedding traditions out there.
Straight after the ceremony is always a bit of a strange time.  You talk to people but everyone is a bit distracted, more focused on getting camera's ready, trying to find a good spot and generally keeping half an eye on the front of the church for the appearance of the happy couple.
Finally the two came back around, ready for the family pictures.  By now the wind was starting to pick up a little and Jo was discovering why women don't tend to wear long floaty strips of tulle and lace from their head on a regular basis as it attached itself to her mother's hat every time the photographer's back was turned (I had a cathedral length veil on my own wedding day - they are a pain in the backside).
Then it was time to attempt to choke and blind the newlyweds with bits of dried flower petals. The two handled it like pro's before heading back to get some assistance in brushing off the worst of the debris from their hair, shoulders and dress.
Guests started to gradually trickle back to the Castle, ready for some drinks and canapes whilst the bridesmaids dragged the bride off for some makeup touch up's before the group photographs started.
Back at the castle, we were greeted with one surprise after another.  Jo had clearly gone all out with her wedding plans!  We stepped through the door to be offered a choice of sparkling rose prosecco, peach prosecco, Pimms and lemonade, champagne or a soft drink.  The peach prosecco was divine, but I made sure I sampled a bit of everything, purely to ensure a accurate comparison you understand!
Then there was the vodka luge, shaped in the form of a plane in honour of Callum.  I spotted a few guests trying this out immediately...
The sweetie bar (it was a whole 2 minutes before someone opened the first jar)...
The stand where you could select a postcard, write a message on it and post it back to the happy couple on the date you had randomly selected...
The pianist playing show tunes...
A chalkboard wedding book and holiday destination themed seating plan...
In fact, the entire wedding felt incredibly personalised and individual to both Jo and Callum.  There was nothing there that didn't have something about them marking it.  It was obvious that a lot of time, thought and love had gone into the planning, particularly by Jo, something that Callum did later comment on in his speech.
Outside Jo and Callum were having more photo's done, whilst the guests milled around, snagging canapes from the wait staff (one of the girls, Helen, was particularly adept at snagging one for a top up whenever our glasses were looking a little dry!) and comparing how badly our feet were hurting from our heels already. 
Everyone was also waiting for the perfect opportunity to grab the bride for a quick pic!  The weather held off - a couple of light showers but for the most part it was glorious sunshine all day.
It was then time to head inside the main ballroom for the wedding breakfast.  Places were marked out with love hearts and string, which later on could be seen attached to various items of clothing and necklines (and my wrist) as a useful name badge to identify people with later on!  Favours were mini bottles of spirits wrapped in kilts that we suspected (no accusations here!) may have once been used for the alcohol trolley on an air plane somewhere!
Tall candelabras swathed in flowers illuminated the green panelled room as happy chatter filled it whilst awaiting the arrival of the bride and groom for their first meal as a married couple.  We were sat at a table which included lots of old school friends, and people who went to the boys version of our school.  Topics of conversation involved a lot of reminiscing about our teachers, mutual friends, school productions and old drinking haunts. 
The food was lovely - there was just far too much of it!  I was absolutely stuffed and settled into a happy food stupor as the time that every member of the wedding party dreads approached - the speeches.  Richard, Jo's father gave a beautiful speech about his little girl, reminiscing about her pressing her belly button in front of the television, mimicking Bruce Forsyth and hoping that it would win her prizes.  Callum's was a lovely speech about his new wife, including how they first met at a mutual friends fancy dress party, and then he handed over, very nervously, to his Best Man.
He needn't have worried, his Best Man did him proud.  He struck that right balance of humourous, audience appropriate stories, a hint of 'what goes on tour stays on tour (which took me right back to the stories that Steve and his friends always hint at) and genuine affection.  He did good.
When the time came to cut the cake - a three piece tiered creation with a wonderful topper of Jo and Callum riding a plane like a rodeo bull and a reference to the Friends quote about lobsters - there was another surprise when they pulled out a traditional sword.  I'll be honest - I've seen Jo wielding a big knife before and this made me a little nervous!
borrowed photo
borrowed photo
Straight after the speeches I headed back to the room to change into shoes that were a little more suited to dancing in.  My trip back to the stable block was less eventful than Kate's.  When she headed down there later on she was startled by a deer that ran out right in front of her and then disappeared off into the forest.  When I came back, I followed the sound of music into the drawing room where a singer was belting out Les Mis at the top of his lungs.  His voice was impressive, and it encouraged everyone else to join in with the singing, and some impromptu dance moves.

Jo and Callum looked so happy - it was clear that with the speeches and formality over, they both could now just relax and enjoy the rest of the day.
Back in the ballroom, changes were rapidly occurring to turn it into the all night party space that the guests were clearly expecting!  Jo and Callum kicked off proceeding with a round of Jäegerbombs and that pretty much set the tone for the rest of the evening!
Before the gyrating masses could get properly stuck in though, Jo and Callum had to take to the floor for their first dance.  They sashayed around for a while, clearly on cloud 9 before frantically beckoning for everyone else to come and join them.
Then the dancing started - a mix (to start with) of 70's classics which had an older gentleman continuously grabbing the hand of any lady who had a vague sense of rhythm and swinging her around the dance floor for a bit (I lost track after 5 turns!), mingled with traditional wedding disco tunes from Paul's DJ decks. 
As the night got later and the mood shifted from relatively restrained to full blown party excitement, things just got rowdier.  More Jägerbombs flowed, the mountain goat ended up wearing a hat and by the time it came for Jo to throw the bouquet, the girls were clearly in full fighting spirit!
Girls grabbed partners and swung around the dance floor and around 10 Jo's favourite classic garage hits came on.  It was a party that took me right back to my youth and I was amazed at how many I could still remember to sing along to - it was brilliant!
At about midnight Kate and I called it a night and headed back to the stable block, leaving the party still in full swing behind us.

The following morning we got up late, ate another cooked breakfast care of kitchen supplies, then we packed up our bags, headed up to the castle to say goodbye (quietly, a lot of people were nursing hangovers!) and started the long journey back home.

Utterly brilliant wedding with wonderful people.

Love you Jo xx
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