The wedding website has now be updated to reflect the post-wedding reality of our present existence. Anyone interested in taking a peek can find it at www.twinkleandjoseph.net (with the name ‘twinkle’ being replaced with a name she uses in 1st life). The username is ‘guest’, the password ‘banana’.
So there we were. Married, with the church bells ringing. Very happy (I was then able to freely talk to *Twinkle* and tell her how gorgeous she looked).
The next 15 to 20 minutes were very surreal. There we were as a bride and groom, surrounded by about 80 people with cameras. These were friends and family who represented so many different aspects of our lives, all gathered in the same place. I was at a loss as to what to do, feeling concerned that I should be ‘doing something’, that I should be making sure everyone felt included. It was a hopeless task though, so after a bit I decided to stop trying to read everyone else’s thoughts / feelings / desires and just *be* with *Twinkle*.
With *Twinkle*s family
With The Tames (and Elaine)
Once the family photos had been taken we proceeded to our car – and what a lovely car it was! I’d seen it in the garage a few days beforehand, but now it was all decked out in ribbon and flowers. ha! That was fun, rolling down the road in the Alvis, waving bye-bye to people in the assumed manor of posh people from the 1930s. 🙂
That was such a happy car journey. Dream-like in its perfectness.
A few minutes later we were at Orcop Village Hall, location of the reception. The forecast rain had not come, and all on was track – let the party commence.
…oh, after a bit more surreality. Brother Stephen led the champagne toast (devil of a job to make it without electrocuting yourself), then there were calls for a speech. I’m not a big one for speeches at weddings, and have been known to do some pretty illegal and stupid things in the past to escape from them. Mind you, the speeches at Catherine and Stewart’s wedding the previous week had been really good, meaningful, and funny (and not too long!).
There was only one problem though: The notes I’d written for my speech were in my rucksack, and that was in the car …and the car was at the church a mile up the road!
*Twinkle* and I had been discussing a few ideas about what we might want to say – THANK YOU being the most important. Thank you to everyone who helped make it happen, thank you to everyone for coming, thankyou for everyone’s support of us as a couple. Really, we couldn’t have done it without you.
Then, perhaps a word or two about how me met (the gatecrashed sushi party), and how we decided to use one another for our studies (*Twinkle* using me as half of a case study for her Masters Dissertation on Intercultural couples, and me using her for speaking practice for my BA Japanese Studies degree).
Finally, a mention of how 2 years living in minute shoeboxes together and then 11 months apart (with 2 brief respites totalling 20 days) really helped us to test the relationship, and become more sure than ever that this was the right thing to do.
As *Twinkle* said, despite the distance and my lack of awareness of her everyday routine (and therefore ability to provide context-based advice), I was still the one that she first wanted to turn to, to share and discuss things with.
I felt the same.
There was also that feeling that we both had (and which still continues with us being parted once again), that feeling that we were together all along. We are with one another at all times – I can feel *Twinkle*s presence. She’s with me now here in Orcop at 10.11am as she goes about whatever she’s doing at 6.11pm in Tokyo.
It’s a first for me, to feel that for such a prolonged period of time.
Following my mini-speech, it was time for the cutting of the cake. When asked by mum what kind of cake we’d like I told her to use her imagination, and as you can see, she has a pretty wild imagination!
As is her style, she made two. A traditional fruit cake (covered in feathers), and a chocolate cake (covered in flying saucers). Both delicious, and both providing a good insight into how mad our family is.
We then had a couple of hours ‘free time’, partly to allow *Twinkle* to get changed into her wedding kimono, a beautiful family heirloom. I also changed into my organic fair trade cotton clothes, which felt much more *me* (should have sorted out my collar though).
When it came to food, we’d decided to make it a bring-and-share affair, and boy-oh-boy was that a good idea! Our guests brought the most delicious dishes, and lots of them (I was frequently made fun of that evening for having worried that there would not be enough to feed everyone).
Main courses and desserts, absolutely gorgeous. (*Twinkle and I ended up taking three huge bowls of desserts back to our honeymoon hotel too 🙂
It was after all the proper wedding things were over with that I was able to truly relax (I think had I not given up drinking last year I would have been completely plastered by this time). It was just a shame that I hadn’t brought my clone – so many people I wanted to talk to and so little time to do so!
It was so good to look around and see happy people everywhere. Groups of friends inter-mingling (“Oh good, good, so-and-so is talking to so-and-so, I knew they’d get on well!”). Some were outside on the grass, sitting on the straw bales, others were sitting at our beautifully decorated tables chatting and eating, or hanging out right by the buffet tables… hmmm, it was nice.
Later on the fantastically talented and very lovely members of Wiffeldy came on to play some lovely tunes …and then get us dancing with a ceilidh!
Ha! That was such fun, I just loved it (as did *Twinkle* and a lot of our guests I think). I love ceilidhs. What a great way to party. Caw blimey. You know what was really nice though, was seeing my in-laws embrace their first encounter with this kind of madness. And other friends too who had never experienced the delights of a barn dance, really giving it their all.
By now it was growing late. What a great day it had been. Just perfect, it couldn’t have gone any better. Like a dream.
It was time for us to retire to our honeymoon suite. We said our goodbyes, and made the 10 minute journey to the Pengethley Hotel …when I realised that I had neglected to sort out a night key, and everyone was asleep (with no night porter). I had visions of us having to go back to mum and dad’s on our wedding night, and having to share the front room with my sister, her husband and a baby (it’s not that I don’t like them…!)
However, after ten minutes of knocking on windows and ringing what I thought was the doorbell, I spotted a half-naked man looking out of an upstairs window. It wasn’t long before he opened the door to us, and we made our way to our lovely suite.
It was so nice to be together, married, eating left-over dessert and opening the many many beautiful cards that we had received. Everyone was so generous with their gifts – we are deeply grateful.
And with that, our wedding day came to a close.
Thank you so much for all involved. You made our day.
Thank you also to my dear cutey, *Twinkle*, for being my dear cutey, who I’m so excited about spending the rest of my life with!!!
Photos: John Dinnen and other guests – thank you
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!)
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.
The drive to Heathrow airport never takes as long as I expect it to. I think of London as being a long way away, but it actually takes less than three hours to get there from Herefordshire, and what with the airport being located just off the M4 there’s not much in the way of traffic to deal with.
Whilst I object to the expansion of UK airports, I couldn’t help but be impressed by Heathrow’s new terminal 5. It was only a one-minute walk from the car to the arrivals gate, and no chance of getting lost.
I arrived at exactly the same time that *Twinkle*s flight touched down; the display told me that that the bags were arriving in the terminal within ten minutes, and 20 minutes after that Japanese businessmen, students and families started to emerge from behind the automatic doors. Any moment now, *Twinkle* would show up.
I must admit I was pretty excited …excited and nervous. I sensed that *Twinkle* had changed quite a bit since I had last seen her, and consequently some aspects of our relationship were an unknown.
And then there she was.
It was a bit funny at first. I’m not sure how to describe it. A bit surreal. We weren’t sure what to make of one another.
But that was before we spent no less than twenty minutes trying to find the car in the huge multi-storey car park. In my excitement I’d forgotten to make a note of where I’d parked, and not knowing my parents’ registration number I couldn’t use the Car Finder machine (the car park has thousands of cameras pointing at every single number plate). Thus, *Twinkle* and I has to visit every single level, before finally locating it on the 3rd.
That reassured *Twinkle* that I was as silly as ever, and it wasn’t long after that that we got back in the groove.
It is soooo good to be with her again. These are really very happy days.
During our six months apart, our conversations were often restricted to ‘issues’ or ‘problems’; with limited talk-time these would naturally take precedence over idol chit-chat and the sharing of niceties, consequently turning the relationship into something that revolved around serious and meaningful ‘stuff’. Now back together, I’m surprised and delighted by how nice it is to just ‘be’ together, to share silly moments or our appreciation of a beautiful view, to make fun of one another, to smile, to be kind to one another, to comfort one another with a hug.
(there’s the real physical stuff too, which I shan’t bore you with. But I’m grinning as I type this!)
All of these things have been lacking since January, and our memories of them couldn’t help but become clouded by the passage of time, the separation, and the dominance of seriousness. Rediscovering the sheer joy of just being in her presence, knowing that she is close by, is just great.
Bridesmaids at Catherine and Stewart’s wedding
We’ve had a really fun 5 days together so far.
On Friday we attended Catherine and Stewart’s wedding, Catherine being a dear friend whom I first met at the Waldorf School, many many years ago.
The venue was the beautiful Walcot Hall, a lovely stately home set in the gorgeous Shropshire countryside.
I was so nervous as Catherine came down the aisle – partly because I knew that in exactly a week from then it would be *Twinkle* doing the very same thing. All those people watching, such an important event, but then I saw her smiling and laughing as she kind of made fun of herself, and I relaxed. I need to remember this for next week I thought. Don’t be too serious!
The civil ceremony was lovely, and had some good comical bits to help set everyone at ease. Catherine looked absolutely stunning, and what a bloomin’ nice chap Stewart is.
The reception was great too. Initially I felt a little out of place, but within an hour or so friendships were forming – and food was on the table (delicious).
At one point, *Twinkle* and I went for a dance in the pitch black garden – that was rather amusing, especially when it suddenly poured down with rain drenching us both!
It was pretty late when we left. Our accommodation for the night was a little two-man tent in a field at the bottom of the drive, and very comfy it was too. The perfect end to a perfect day.
In response to anonymous’ comment on the previous post: you’ll have to bear with us – things are a little busy at wedding central…
Will be back online ‘soon’.
Driving back from Heathrow
At Ludlow castle