The morning of the wedding was pretty hectic. I’d had this idea that if I tried to prepare everything as far in advance as possible, there would be little to do on the day itself …but it didn’t quite turn out like that!
At 7.20am I was on my way to Hereford to do some shopping. Concerned that we wouldn’t have enough drinks, I’d decided to get a load from the local supermarket, to where they could be returned afterwards if we didn’t use them (although I’d forgotten that alcohol can only be sold after 8am – had to wait by the checkout with my trolley, watching the seconds tick by!).
That trip kind of set the pace for the rest of the morning. I think it was also demonstrative of how I was having problems letting go. Having spent so many weeks planning and organising, I was now finding it hard to trust that the details would sort themselves out. I wasn’t used to having so many people on hand willing to help, and still felt that if something needed to be done I should do it myself (not that I didn’t trust others, but rather because it was my ‘responsibility’ to make sure everything was OK).
In the face of this my brother Stephen did a fantastic job of ensuring that I breathed before the service. I was confined to my bedroom, forbidden from coming downstairs. I was to get dressed, and then sit on my bed and wait until it was time to go.
I more or less managed this, and the last hour or so before the service was actually pretty relaxing.
A memorable moment came at 2.30pm, half an hour before the ceremony was due to begin. I suddenly realised that I could hear the bells ringing at the church across the valley – they were ringing for us! That made me so happy… I thought of the difficulties I’d had in finding the bell-ringing team (in the end I located them through a wild Google search!) – it had definitely been worth it!
All suited up, we then made our way to the church in my little hire-car. *Twinkle* would be following later from the guest house with her father in the classic 1930s Alvis, owned by a neighbour of ours who had very kindly offered his services (and he did so against the odds too – only a few days earlier the gearbox had packed up; he’d put considerable effort into finding another in time so that he could drive us on the day).
*Twinkle*, father, and the Alvis, arriving at the church
Arriving at the church a few minutes later I was stunned – there were all these people there that I knew!
I know it sounds silly (after all, I was the one that had sent the invites out) but it really was amazing. All these dear friends and family members, some of whom I’d not seen in ages, had come together for us. It was surreal in a way, and time and time again I found myself surprised and delighted by the faces that were there. The neighbours had come down to watch as well – these were the neighbours that had donated flowers from their gardens, given us cards and presents, leant us staplers for our order of service, dropped off hay bales for people to sit on, offered their homes for our friends from far away to stay in…
They’re all AMAZING!
Flowers, courtesy of ‘aunty’ Louise and mum – and the neighbours
And this is something that has really touched me: the community effort. I lived in Orcop for about 8 years, until the age of 16 when I moved into that bedsit with the walls that crumbled when I attempted to put a shelf up. Since then, with the exception of the Torquay Years, I’ve always regarded it as home, that safe place that never changes and is always open for me to come back to should I need to.
That’s why that despite the fact that I’ve not ‘lived’ here for 14 years it felt appropriate to hold the wedding in the valley. It was also an area that *Twinkle* was familiar with having visited here several times for little holidays. Looking back on the events of last week, I can see now that it was indeed a very good decision.
Yesterday, I was going through a list of people that had helped make it happen. Not counting those actually present at the wedding, I came up with over twenty local families that had played a vital part in ensuring that everything was in place. As mentioned above there was the car, the flowers, the accommodation, there was also parking at the church (in people’s driveways and also in a field of sheep), local B&B and camp site owners who had been so flexible, the church cleaning team, the chap who mowed his grass next door so people could park on the verge, the provision of an amp for the service, oh, and the Royal Air Force too – they did a low, slow fly past in a Hercules when we came out of the church!
It seemed everyone in the area knew about the wedding, and expressed their support and congratulations.
Naturally, we are both very grateful for the all of this support. …and it feels good, affirming my connections with the area before leaving the UK.
Anyway anyway, where were we? Ah yes, I’d arrived at the church.
Walking down the aisle to take my seat at the front I was again delighted to see yet more familiar faces – caw, this was all a bit exciting really! Everyone was here to share in our marriage commitment.
After a little wait, Mum #2 pressed the magic button, and Pachabel’s Canon filled the church – *Twinkle* had arrived. I didn’t turn around though, too nervous at first, but then I kept on hearing Louise urgently whispering in excited tones to Stephen, “Tell him to turn around! Turn around!”
And so I did.
I must admit I felt breathless when I saw *Twinkle* in her wedding dress. She was the most beautiful bride in the whole world ever, soooo beautiful (OK, so I may be biased). I wasn’t sure if I was going to cry or not, so looked away …but had to look back again. Caw blimey, this is quite a coup I thought. How on Earth did I manage this?
Having had the rehearsal not 20 hours beforehand, we were both pretty comfortable with our lines (although I’m told that we both said “till death us do part” backwards – not that we noticed!). It was good though, it felt very right to be making those promises. I know one or two members of the congregation raised their eyebrows at references to Father, Son and Holy Spirit (knowing that neither of us are active church-goers); they told us so afterwards as well. But as I have written before, I see these elements of church services as just another interpretation of broader spiritual ideas / truths / beliefs that are the very core of our existence, regardless of religious beliefs. ‘God’ ‘Love’ ‘Source’, no matter what your chosen label, it’s still referring to the same thing, and that’s the energy source from which we have come, and the energy source that connects *Twinkle* and I.
I was sooo happy when we were pronounced husband and wife! tee hee. What a happy moment. In fact the whole thing was rather happy.
I’m so glad we got married in that church too – it was the perfect setting, with its cute red carpet and sloping floors. Many people have commented on how much they enjoyed the service, and I must say, it really felt very right.
Mum #2 was in ambidextrous mode, and in addition to being our DJ, she read that lovely chapter from Corinthians on Love – she even did the last line in Japanese (and great pronunciation too!). My sister Emma, and *Twinkle*s friend Mariko from Osaka read from Gibran’s The Prophet (‘Valentine’), giving us the opportunity to think about what we were entering into.
As we signed the register with our witnesses Jess (my sister, with nephew Jamie in tow) and Xinxin (dear friend from Sheffield), so Ruth began to play her piano and sing Al Green’s ‘Let’s Stay Together’. She has such a great voice, just beautiful. Added so much to the atmosphere. Thank you Ruth.
(Jamie is hiding behind Jess)
Following our blessing, DJ Mum #2 pumped up the volume – we receded down the aisle as husband and wife to Mendelson’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba – a traditional and very jolly tune!
And with that, we were married 🙂
(*Twinkle*s take on the whole wedding thing can be found on Mixi!)
In the end, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
6 months apart, followed by 9 days together, then the wedding.
It seems to have been a good combination. I recommend it.
I’ve been thinking about this feeling I (we) have, this ‘being married’ feeling, and wondering how much it is a result of our time apart, and how much it is a result of the wedding itself. My conclusion is that I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter anyway. The feeling is all that matters.
I’m quite surprised by how different, and how good, it does feel. I didn’t really expect things to be very different. I mean, all we’ve done is say a few words and sign a piece of paper, right? – That was the kind of attitude I may have had a couple of years back (historically, I’ve not really felt like the marrying type), but no, it seems that we’ve done much more than that.
There is a strong feeling that this is the start of something new and wonderful. The birth of a family. Our family. Joseph and *Twinkle* Tame (I do a double take every time she emails me from Tokyo using her updated email account). Mr and Mrs Tame – and baby on the way in a couple of years (but already very present in spirit).
We Are Family.
The feeling of family is strong. We laughed and played with it during the 40 hours that we had together after we had made our vows, and before *Twinkle* boarded her flight for Japan.
*Twinkle* Tame I called her. She referred to me as My Husband. We quoted lines from the wedding service to one another, grinning wildly whilst doing so.
The gift of marriage brings husband and wife together
in the delight and tenderness of sexual union
and joyful commitment to the end of their lives.
It is given as the foundation of family life
in which children are born and nurtured
and in which each member of the family,in good times and in bad,
may find strength, companionship and comfort,
and grow to maturity in love…
… *Twinkle*, I give you this ring
as a sign of our marriage.
With my body I honour you,
all that I am I give to you,
and all that I have I share with you…
I felt very happy that I had reached a point where I could make this kind of declaration, surrounded by friends and family, knowing that it was a vocalisation of the true feelings that I had for *Twinkle*.
And you know, it felt important that it was before a large group of loving friends and family. That really struck me – the presence of so many loved ones really did make a difference (of course ideally I would have streamed it live to the world, but the Church of St John the Baptist is yet to be broadband enabled).
I feel that the communal support for us, represented by the presence of those people, and by the cards, gifts, messages and posts on our Facebook walls that we received from all over the world, really added to the sense of us being blessed as a partnership. People were putting their faith in us as a couple – and that mattered a lot. It’s like cement in our relationship.
We became a ‘unit’. If I try and picture the result of the transformation, I keep on getting this image of the dry-stone wall sheep pen I slept in on the island of Crete, in Greece, in 1995.
(marriage = a sheep pen? Hmm, worrying..)
No, but I see this protective circular stone wall that is formed by *Twinkle* and I. We are interlocking pieces, providing one another with support. Able to look inward to our private enclosed space for comfort, love, advice, support and shelter (whilst I can’t see it in my visulisation, there’s probably a wifi-enabled Macbook on a little stone table in the middle of this sheep pen). This is our family unit. In our unity we give one another support in the face of the wind and rain that comes to the island now and then.
There’s a door too, and we love to welcome people into our space. We love to share the shelter (and probably wifi) of our new family with others. Together, we are a source of support for other back packers traipsing around the greek island, and hopefully an inspiration too.
May the hospitality of their home
bring refreshment and joy to all around them;
may their love overflow to neighbours in need
and embrace those in distress.
We also have much learn from our visitors, much to be inspired by.
I’m deeply touched by the investment that *Twinkle* has made in me. I know that I am the recipient of something wonderful and rare, something to be truly cherished. It’s been there for a long time, and I think was the solid rock that gave us something to hold onto when times were tough over the past 11 months (minus 10 days) apart – a rock that really came to shine through the ceremony.
Over the next few days I’ll write more about what actually happened last Friday, and share more photos.
For now though, I’ll leave it here. Any more talk of sheep pens and I may find myself with rather a lot of explaining to do over Skype…
News on the wedding will follow shortly.
In the meantime please enjoy my father’s crazy tomatoes.
They are called Mr and Mrs Crazy Tomato.
It’s now ten minutes to midnight on the night before my wedding day. I dropped *Twinkle* back to the cottage we’ve rented for her parents, where she will spend her last night before she becomes my wife.
It’s been an amazing day. Thinking back over the last 16 hours I feel tearful – we have been shown such kindness by so many, and the day itself is yet even to begin! We are so so grateful. Thank you so much to everyone involved.
The village hall looks great – we have hundreds of metres of bunting – handmade by a friend. There are hundreds of origami paper cranes too, made by *Twinkle*s family (it took three of them several hours to fold them all, but they look amazing). In the church we have some beautiful beautiful flower arrangements made by my brother’s fiancé and mum, using flowers donated by local gardeners. Paper flowers too, made by *Twinkle*s family and fixed to the walls by *Twinkle*s best friend from Japan, Mariko, who arrived from Barcelona at lunchtime. Our guests from the Netherlands have also arrived safely, as has *Twinkle*s second bridesmaid from Tokyo.
I am staggered by the amount of organisation needed just for a party of about 80 people. My head has been buzzing so much I’ve found myself feeling pretty out of it for a lot of the day. Kind of like, in a dream world. Floating, watching as my body goes about doing this that and the other. It’s not been a bad thing, although I know I’ve looked pretty dreadful!
But I really can’t emphasise enough just how much this wedding is a product of many hours of effort by our family and friends. I am so grateful to be able to hand over huge great chunks of organisation to various volunteers. How can we ever repay them?
Following the rehearsal, *Twinkle* and I decided to spend some time together to just ‘be’ and share our thoughts and feelings of what the day gone by had meant to us, and our feelings about tomorrow, and our married life beyond that (and to practice our ceremonial kiss!). The venue was our lovely little hire car (I am anti-car in principle but i do like our little blue Chevy which came as a free upgrade from the hire company and sports a string of wedding flags flying from the back!), and the Moon Inn at Garway.
I recently wrote of how marriage is changing things – and again tonight we noted how we could almost reach out and touch the change. It’s shifting our feelings for one another to a deeper level. The feeling of trust and commitment is really strong – it’s taken me by surprise several times today. (…but I thought I already trusted *Twinkle*, and wasn’t I already committed to our relationship?!”). The past week has been a simply perfect ‘ramp up’ to what will take place tomorrow. The timing could not be better.
The wedding rehearsal was really enjoyable, and natural. It was very relaxed – meaning that it felt appropriate to turn around and put my finger to my lips signalling everyone to be quiet when the priest asked if anyone knew of any lawful impediment to our marriage… tee hee, ;-p We are very fortunate to have Elaine as a priest – she is fantastic, and sets everyone at ease.
If I think of us doing that for real tomorrow surrounded by 80 or so of our closest friends, well, …wow! Just indescribable! How wonderful to be in that environment, sharing our commitment for one another with all those that mean so much to us.
Well, I guess I’d better get some sleep. It’ll be an even longer day tomorrow.
My thanks again to all of those involved in making this happen. In my mind, tomorrow’s event will not just be a celebration of the relationship that *Twinkle* and I are committing to, but also a celebration of community, of mutual love and support, of family, of friendship, and of the general wonderfulness of life.
Our thanks to John who will be taking photos for us at the wedding (so that I don’t have to pause proceedings in order to take a photo of us – although I’d like to!) Here’s one he took yesterday in the garden 🙂
If you’re coming to the wedding, don’t forget you can upload your own photos to our online album.
Friends who are not attending the wedding are also welcome to view the album, although much of it may be repeated on Flickr. Email me if you’d like the address and login details.