liv: Detail of quirky animals including a sheep, from an illuminated border (marriage)
[personal profile] liv
I got home from honeymoon a week and a half ago, and I'm finding myself completely blocked on posting until I've written up the wedding. At the same time I feel embarrassed that I'm still going on about this now it's over. I think I'll just write something, and hopefully that will let me get on to the much more interesting posts I have stashed up, as well as giving me something to look back on in future years. As ever with these endless wedding posts, you are absolutely, entirely welcome to skip if you're sick of it.

In many ways, I am reacting to the wedding as a fairly sizeable project that I've successfully completed, rather than a huge emotional event. Basically, I organized a party for 150 people and then a holiday for the 10% I most wanted to spend time with, and both went off pretty well.

I ended up packing a really huge bag to make sure I had all the odd props and extras needed for the ceremony, and also just to quiet my anxiety that I'd forgotten something vital. Having shlepped it on an annoyingly long train journey through Birmingham, I arrived at my parents' late Friday evening. There was champagne and people who were happy to see me and I think perhaps I felt most like a bride when Dad greeted me with the traditional formula.

I really should have left more than one day to sort out the last details; Saturday was pretty manic. I feel especially bad that I didn't really have any time to do shabbat stuff; I'm not always perfect in my sabbath observance, but this was really the first time since I went to university that I just completely ignored shabbat for an urgent deadline. All the stuff I'd ordered for the reception arrived, though the tables showed up rather late on Saturday, leaving not really enough time to lay them. That the whole thing was possible at all came down to Mum being amazingly organized and putting in a lot of hard work (that really I should have taken on, had I not foolishly agreed to work right up to the Friday afternoon before the wedding). And [personal profile] angelofthenorth and [personal profile] hadassah who showed up with their respective husbands and pitched in with loads of practical help, as well as calming frayed tempers. And Mum's brother D played the Cinderella role of staying in the kitchen providing food for all these people.

Saturday evening there was the ceilidh. [personal profile] jack had really wanted dancing as part of the wedding, but I didn't want a celebration that would go on late into the evening, so we agreed to have the dance the night before. And it was kind of hanging over us for ages, we didn't have a venue and we didn't really know how to go about finding a venue, and because we weren't able to finalize details our guests weren't able to commit to whether they were going to make it or not, so we had almost no idea of numbers. Amazingly, it all came together at the last minute, and I couldn't be more glad it did; it was absolutely right in many ways. No embarrassing disco, no symbolic couple Slow Dance, just a lot of happy bouncy fun. Not everybody could make it, but those who did enjoyed the opportunity to socialize in a relaxed, informal environment and get to know eachother before the ceremony. It was an amazingly mixed group, too, with people [personal profile] jack knows through folk dancing circles and people who'd never been to a ceilidh before. Absolutely all ages – [livejournal.com profile] ghoti brought her three kids, including the fantastically enthusiastic J and the impressively young baby A, while GS, my octogenarian friend from shul, had a whale of a time. I didn't dance all that much because I was busy hugging people, but it was definitely good for me to get away from last minute prep for a few hours. The band found the best pre-wedding dance ever: something with bachelor in the title which had bouncing and hugging.

I had to leave a little early in order to finish sorting out my dress and other bits for the following day; I know it's traditional for brides not to sleep much but I reckoned a minimum of six hours rest was probably imperative. And then in the morning my incredible, wonderful officiants showed up again and helped me get dressed. I probably could have managed on my own, but it would have been really stressful, and [personal profile] angelofthenorth did a much better job of my hair and makeup than I would have managed, not to mention lacing me into the corset. [personal profile] hadassah also gave me the most thoughtful wedding present you could imagine: she offered her husband's services as a photographer. So having decided we couldn't really be bothered with the stress or expense of having an official photographer, we got an extremely talented amateur who did everything in a low-key way and took some incredibly beautiful pictures.

I feel like a terrible cliché rhapsodizing about the dress. But it was a really special experience to put on something that suits me so well. I didn't exactly design it, but it does come out of the dressmaker's interpretation of the perfect dress of my imagination. And then I got to wear Mum's cathedral-length veil over it, which initially had been a compromise but in fact was exactly emotionally right.

Getting the extended bridal party to the Guildhall was a little fraught, mainly because I never really had a clear picture of how many people were going to join us starting from Shelford. In the end we had one taxi extra, which was definitely better than the opposite, and we all made it in plenty of time. The Guildhall was generally very well organized with the exception of not having anyone available who knew how to use the sound system. I think I probably should have investigated this more in advance. In the end we were without amplification, which was ok in that both [personal profile] hadassah and [personal profile] angelofthenorth have plenty of professional experience projecting their voices across cavernous spaces, and because the wonderful friends who contributed music took things in their stride. But it was the first of several minor accessibility issues, which I feel bad about because I put what I thought was a lot of thought into accessibility and it's really annoying that most of the minor problems of the day disproportionately affected disabled guests.

Out of many wonderful things about the day, a highlight was seeing the hall gradually fill up with so many of my favourite people, and admiring their beautiful outfits, and everybody being there to celebrate us. It was definitely the right decision not to have ushers or "sides"; there's a huge overlap in our social circles anyway, and it worked just fine for people to find somewhere to sit, either next to people they knew or people they were interested to meet. We ended up not really making a very dramatic entrance, because we were too busy faffing around trying to get the sound sorted out, and too distracted greeting our friends to hide away. I am still very, very proud that the groom's outfit was as exciting and worthy of attention as mine, though!

The ceremony was just about perfect, The challenge of making up our own thing rather than relying on an established tradition, trying to incorporate cultural elements without parodying religion or wedding customs, has been a really interesting exercise. But anyway, what we ended up with: the amazing [livejournal.com profile] deborah_c played the overture to Pirates of Penzance, a reference to our 29th February anniversary. [personal profile] jack walked down the aisle, then I followed him, then we stood on stage looking out at our lovely friends while the music continued. Giggles spread through the congregation as people started to spot our musical joke, and for those who didn't get it, well, it's music that's appropriately jolly / martial in places and appropriately sentimental in places, so it works for a procession, and it's not a wedding cliché.

We opened the ceremony with something borrowed from Jewish weddings, where the groom unveils the bride to check that he's marrying the right woman, and we continued the theme with circling eachother seven times. Then our parents came up to give us their blessing; Dad read a bit of Donne's Eclogue, a wonderfully genderqueer thing which made reference to the fact that we'd made an effort to get a stunningly beautiful costume for [personal profile] jack as well as for me:
EQUALITY OF PERSONS.

But undiscerning Muse, which heart, which eyes,
In this new couple, dost thou prize,
When his eye as inflaming is
As hers, and her heart loves as well as his ?
Be tried by beauty, and then
The bridegroom is a maid, and not a man ;
If by that manly courage they be tried,
Which scorns unjust opinion ; then the bride
Becomes a man. Should chance or envy's art
Divide these two, whom nature scarce did part,
Since both have the inflaming eye, and both the loving heart?
Dad chose this more or less at the last minute before the actual wedding, and it was a complete surprise to us, but so very apt! [personal profile] angelofthenorth borrowed an idea from her own wedding ceremony and asked the assembled community to present us to be married to eachother, so our parents were involved and part of the celebration but without the sexist custom of the father of the bride "giving her away" to the groom.

The officiants lit a ring of candles around us, representing our hope for a relationship where we'll be together within a circle, but one that is open and permeable to welcome our friends. I think some people were a bit nervous about my very long veil in proximity to the flames, but it was all perfectly safe and we both felt really good about being able to include fire in the ceremony. There's sort of a Bujold reference in there, sort of a chuppah (Jewish wedding canopy) reference, and partly it was inspired by [livejournal.com profile] shreena's Indian wedding and just generally fire has all kinds of good symbolism in various traditions.

[livejournal.com profile] rysmiel read a sonnet of [livejournal.com profile] rozk's, which really expresses how we felt about the wedding as a way to get all our friends together and strike back against geography. It's a little melancholy, but I think that note is right as well, because lifecycle rituals at their best should have some sense of mortality and the loss that comes with time passing. Then we had our communal singing bit; [personal profile] jack definitely wanted that, but it's really hard to find a song that everybody knows other than hymns. I'm really happy we ended up choosing Boom-de-yada from XKCD; I wasn't able to carry out my plan of putting the tune on the PA, so starting it off was a bit ragged, but once it got going it worked really well.

I can't emphasise enough how well the officiants handled our made-up ceremony. They instilled it with a real dignity and solemnity, but also where it was appropriate acted like the dear friends they are with humour and gentle teasing. My utterly, utterly adorable bridesmaid, my little four-year-old cousin, played her part very well, she scattered rose petals around me when I walked up the aisle, and then came up onto the stage to present the rings to us. These were attached to a heart-shaped cushion, which was made for Mum by some charity ladies when she was ill. There had been a bit of stress just before the ceremony when we realized we hadn't quite decided what to do about our engagement rings when putting the new wedding rings on (the answer was move them to the other hand, but making a decision about the ceremony five minutes just before it was due to start was not really ideal).

[personal profile] angelofthenorth did a version of the thing borrowed from Christian ceremonies where the officiant binds together the hands of the bride and groom. Then we made our declarations, using the following formula:
In the presence of our friends, family and loved ones, I [Liv] take you Jack as my husband, to spend our lives together, to value your happiness and ours as a pair, to communicate in good faith and to take your family as my family.
That definitely did feel like the moment when our status changed, because we'd put so much thought into making that be the moment. We kissed. I hadn't really wanted to do the ceremonial kissing thing, but I was talked into it and it definitely fit within the framework we had created.

I had really hoped that my three best friends from college, [livejournal.com profile] darcydodo, [personal profile] pseudomonas and [personal profile] hatam_soferet, would be able to sing something in multipart harmony at my wedding, and in the end it turned out to be possible. They even, miraculously, found stuff that works in three parts: tant con je vivrai, a really pretty thirteenth century piece about eternal love that [livejournal.com profile] siderea found for us, and How great delight, [personal profile] pseudomonas' choice, which he remarked is totally appropriate for us because it's about a couple who love talking so much that they wish they could talk and kiss at the same time. And then my brother the professional poet read us another Donne piece, Love's growth, which expresses the sentiment that realistic, practical love is better than idealistic hearts-and-flowers stuff, plus manages to make taxes into a romantic metaphor!

And then the other highlight of a generally bright and shining day: we formalized the marriage by signing [personal profile] hatam_soferet's breathtakingly amazing illuminated contract. This is obviously modelled after the Jewish custom of a ketubah, but we wrote our own text in English and then [personal profile] hatam_soferet made it pretty. It is seriously an incredible work of art, full of little quirky details (see, for example, my icon) harmonized to make a visually beautiful whole. I am really deeply honoured to own such a thing. [personal profile] doseybat and one of [personal profile] jack's two closest friends signed it as witnesses. I'll try and get a picture of it the whole thing up when I get organized about pictures!

We ended with a tea ceremony, because that's more us and less ritually inappropriate than the more traditional shared cup of wine. We put one of those flowering tea balls into a transparent pot, and when it had blossomed and steeped, we poured the tea into a large teacup which we offered eachother ritually. And then [personal profile] angelofthenorth and [personal profile] hadassah gave a really cool speech in the style of a dialogue, including some references to our geekiness and my former adamantly anti-marriage position.

Transporting everybody back to Shelford was reasonably successful. [livejournal.com profile] fishpi did a really great job of unobtrusively marshalling people onto the coach. We ended up with exactly one coachload of people who needed transport; I'd booked two coaches just to be sure, which worked out somewhat expensive, but overall I'm glad I didn't absolutely insist on getting definite commitments about travel arrangements ahead of time. And I'm pleased we got to travel in the coach with all our friends, rather than doing something fancy and bridal.

Reception was honestly kind of a blur. I think it went well, I think we did the right amount of advanced planning and the right amount of just letting things unroll spontaneously. It was definitely the right decision not to have a seating plan; everybody got on just fine sitting next to whomever they wanted to talk to. There was one other minor but annoying accessibility issue, namely that I'd hoped to label all the items in the buffet clearly so people knew what they were eating, and although the caterers were generally completely wonderful, they sort of fell down on that bit. And my attempt at a dairy-free cake wasn't rigorously enough dairy-free, because there were traces of buttermilk in the margarine, and I should have dealt better with that. But Mum was able to provide food for people with really complicated diets, at least. I think Mum found feeding all those people a bit stressful; she was rushing about in an apron for much of the afternoon, whereas I was pretty convinced people could happily sort themselves out. Several solicitous friends made sure that I found time to get food and eat it in between rushing around playing host. It turns out that eating in a corset is perfectly fine, except that I felt satiated halfway through the meal, I assume my compressed stomach was literally full! So I didn't really manage to sample the cheeseboard, but I do take delight in feeding all my friends with delicious cheese anyway.

The weather was on the point of being unpleasantly cold, especially for the women dressed up in fancy attire (most of the men had jackets on!) I possibly should have provided heaters in the marquee, but I'd gambled that a May afternoon would at least be warm even if it wasn't dry. But we did manage to get some pictures in the pretty garden, and having a friend in charge of the photography made the process a lot less intrusive and drawn out than it might have been.

A few people had to leave before the CAKE, which was a shame but couldn't really be helped. My little sister the chef did us absolutely proud with her triple-layered, rich chocolate cake iced with even more chocolate and decorated with real flowers. And the alternative lemon cakes were lovely too, even if she wasn't especially proud of her icing skills. We didn't want too many formal speeches, and planned things a bit at the last minute. But [personal profile] jack's mother gave an absolutely beautiful speech about how his family first encountered me, and [personal profile] jack thanked everybody and I babbled a bit about how the main point of getting married was to get all my friends together. We managed to fit in toasts to the Bride and Groom and to Absent Friends, so I think duty was done even if it was all a bit haphazard.

OK, that's far too long already; I'll write up the honeymoon (in somewhat less excruciating detail!) later on. But the conclusion is that my friends are absolutely wonderful, and I'm really pleased that I did finally come down on the side of going through with a formal wedding ceremony.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-06 10:52 am (UTC)
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azurelunatic
I love reading about weddings, and yours sounds like it was beautiful. Congratulations again.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-06 11:43 am (UTC)
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
From: [personal profile] synecdochic
I'm so glad that all the details came together to make it such a lovely day!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-06 11:51 am (UTC)
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
From: [personal profile] synecdochic
Oh, yay, I am happy to have been of assistance!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-06 12:21 pm (UTC)
redbird: closeup of my head and shoulders, nude, grinning (grin)
From: [personal profile] redbird
That sounds delightful, albeit chaotic.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-06 10:04 pm (UTC)
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea (Default)
From: [personal profile] redbird
It's the prep that sounded chaotic; it does sound as though it worked out smoothly in the end, which matters. And I do like the Pirates of Penzance bit.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-06 01:15 pm (UTC)
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kaberett
It is really, really lovely to hear about your take on how things went :-) x

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-06 01:22 pm (UTC)
hatam_soferet: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hatam_soferet
Ooh yay wedding posts. Keep on writing!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-07 11:48 am (UTC)
hatam_soferet: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hatam_soferet
You can post anything you like, it's your pretty!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-06 01:56 pm (UTC)
pj: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pj
You say "far too long" I say "excellently detailed". This was lovely to read and sounds even lovelier to have experienced. Congrats!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-10 01:39 pm (UTC)
pj: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pj
:-)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-06 04:45 pm (UTC)
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
From: [personal profile] wildeabandon
This was a real pleasure to read. It sounds like a glorious day!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-06 08:45 pm (UTC)
ephemera: celtic knotwork style sitting fox (Default)
From: [personal profile] ephemera
that does sound like a really lovely celebration of love in it's many forms - you've put so much thought into the event, it's lovely to be able to read about how it came together!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-07 04:25 am (UTC)
purplecthulhu: (Default)
From: [personal profile] purplecthulhu
Sounds wonderful and spectacularly well organised. After this running a small convention would be easy :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-07 09:07 am (UTC)
naath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naath
It was a really lovely wedding, everything seemed to Just Work (tm) (although clearly there was a lot of paddling going on under water it didn't really show through).

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-07 11:51 am (UTC)
hairyears: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hairyears

"Getting all our friends together", indeed: if anything stand above the wonderful things about you, it is that you bring together an astonishing variety of shiny people.

What a shame you missed the cheese: I can assure you that it was good, and I suspect that the best of it was gone before your picnic on the grass the morning after. If so, I offer no apologies other than the word "NOM".

Also: oh, so *that's* [personal profile] rysmiel!
Edited Date: 2012-06-07 11:53 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-07 01:22 pm (UTC)
shreena: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shreena
Yay for you! Also, your mother's brother D was lovely (not that all your family isn't lovely but I hadn't met him before!)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-07 02:34 pm (UTC)
shreena: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shreena
And another thing..

I really really liked your vows. I usually don't like vows written by the couple as they often come across as declarations "I love you so much" rather than actual vows and/or just as silly/not seriously meant but yours were great - they were proper vows, came across as things you were actually pledging/vowing and things that were sensible to pledge/vow.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-12 08:24 pm (UTC)
emma: (Default)
From: [personal profile] emma
That sounds absolutely wonderful, and very much an individual ceremony and celebration to fit you and Jack, and I'm quite moved just by reading the retelling :) And as cliched as it is, I'm dying to see your dress; knowing the dressmaker I know it wil be beautiful but I still want to see it anyway, and you in it :) And Jack's outfit! I don't believe I've seen a picture of Jack before but hopefully you'll be able to share a pic of his outfit too :)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-11-25 07:44 pm (UTC)
ladymondegreen: An icon I made from a screen cap of the Amazing Mumford. Magic and muppets, what's not to like? (Class Act)
From: [personal profile] ladymondegreen
Hello!

Here via [personal profile] deborah_c who responded when I asked for posts about weddings to inspire me. Just reading through it looks like we know a ton of people in common, or know a lot of people at one remove.

This was lovely to read and inspirational. Thank you for sharing it!

(no subject)

Date: 2013-11-26 04:54 pm (UTC)
ladymondegreen: An icon I made from a screencap of Inara from Serenity/Firefly (Glee!)
From: [personal profile] ladymondegreen
We're getting married, though I won't rule out officiating in the future. I'm really pleased that [personal profile] deborah_c thought to point me here.

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Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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