Mel and Jo’s wedding went by so fast it was hard to remember exactly what happened. But thinking back, hopefully everyone had a wonderful time.
The week started off, with Jo and Mel picking up Mel's family at the airport on Wednesday 23rd of July, 2003. Mom, Dad, Jay, Vic and the kids were a bit tired from taking the red-eye flight from Toronto. At least most of them got a rest as we had a good three hour drive to the big house, which allowed them to sleep a bit. Unfortunately Jay had to drive, so by the end the night, he was ready to sleep for a week.
The next day (Thursday) saw the rest of Jo's family arriving at the house. I think everyone got along very well and the dinner was so enjoyable.
The house was massive and had so much character. The gardens were a sprawling 2 acres of wonderful trees and a mill stream. You could wander for hours. Scott and Jo went around the house with the kids looking for secret trap doors and tried to find the right keys to open them with. Carter was a bit frightened as he thought the portraits on the walls actually moved and talked to you. But I think that was Ryan and Mitchell feeding his imagination.
Eventually everyone spent the days outside playing French boulles, lawn bowling, badminton or just sat out and enjoyed the country air. People also ventured into town to get a glimpse of cozy wellington and its surroundings.
Friday came and almost everyone else arrived on time. Raven, Vivien and Nicki were the first to arrive at the house, then came Hubert (Hubie) and Melissa. Next, Dan and Joy, then Joseph and Anita, Raff and Tracy, Cathy, Deb and Jackie ... and more and more people. We were all so excited to see each other. But there was still two people missing...... it was Marc and Susan. Rumour has it that they instructed everyone to meet them at Paddington station around 1pm that day. When the time came and went and they were still not to be seen, everyone started getting a bit worried. Even Susan's sister called from Canada to check up. Finally around 9pm that evening, low and behold the De Leon's finally arrived, but not without a legitimate story.
Apparently when they arrived at Gatwick airport, their luggage had been misplaced and was sitting on a plane destined for Rio De Janeiro. After filling out all the forms to try to get their luggage back, they happened to miss their train in order to meet everyone at Paddington. Without a properly working cell/mobile phone, and in a strange country they had to rely on their wits and sense of humour to make it to Somerset. But they pulled their resources together and managed to get to the house in time for dinner. Everyone was so elated!! And even Hubie offered to provide a suit for Marc for the wedding the next day.
We all adjourned outside with our beers, played night lawn bowling, watched mutant snails devour Hubie's beer and had just generally caught up with the lasted details of everyone's lives. I tried to get everyone to rehearse for the next day wedding, but after a few bottles of wine and several beers, the rehearsal was a bit of a giggle for everyone. How we would be able to pull of a clean procession was the question that eluded me, for a second. Then someone came around with cheese puffs. Eventually we drank and laughed until the wee hours. We were really glad that we had the stables next door for guests to stay at. It really was handy just to walk across the lawn into the stables to rest.
On the Saturday everyone woke up a bit late and we all started to wander to the kitchen to get a bite to eat. It was a rainy day but we were all hoping that the rain would subside at least by 4pm. There were a lot of things still to do, and everyone really pitched in and helped with all the decorating.
A very big Thank You must go to our friends. Vivien, Raven, Nicki and Bavlina helped out with the floral arrangements and Jay, Marc, Sue and Ryan assisted with arranging the Marquee.
By the time, we finally finished with all the last minute arrangements it was already 3:45pm and I hadn't even showered and shaved yet. I guess setting the seating arrangements, sorting the music, aligning chairs for the ceremony and fixing the decorations took a bit more effort than we imagined.
With no time to feel nervous, I dashed off to get ready. Marc, like a true best-man was ready and had all the speeches, rings on-hand and instructed all the people to seat themselves in the long room.
It was 4:00pm and I finally finished getting ready. It was a good thing that Jo was a bit late as well. We were lucky that the registrar was very relaxed about starting the ceremony on time.
Eventually after what seemed like years, we were ready to start the ceremony. Marc started the music, and Carter walked in to the music of "Moon River", from the movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's". Jo and her father followed soon after and I found it very difficult to hold back my tears of joy. She looked beautiful. The room was filled with emotions riding as high as Tsunami waves. Then as Guy Wilkinson (Jo's brother) read the poem, I couldn't help but give a sniffle, which according to others started a massive wave of tears from the females in the room. Honestly, I didn't know.
We exchanged our vows, gave our wedding rings and Jo and I kissed. The ceremony ended with a crescendo of applause from the everyone in the room. Jay and Raven came up and signed the marriage certificates and before we knew it we were married.
We also sat for everyone to take photographs. It was a beautiful and casual celebration that we enjoyed thoroughly. We hope everyone enjoyed it as well.
Afterwards, we all adjourned to the rest of the house for champagne and photos. It was still raining, much harder than it was in the morning. I have to thank Jay, Marc and Hubie for helping take all the chairs from the long room out to the marquee. They were absolutely drenched!
In fact, Marc, Jay and Hubie escorted all the guests to the marquee using these large Moet and Chandon patio umbrellas. It was classic. When it came time for Jo and myself to head over to the marquee, I raced Hubie across the lawn. To the amazement of all the catering staff and guests we sprinted across the lawn in the true style of 100m sprint, but holding patio umbrellas as well. You can guess who won!
At 6:00 pm everyone was finally in the Marquee, drying off. Not long after everyone got stoned at their tables (no pun intended). Marc started off the evening is his normal form. As an emcee I must admit he had everyone very relaxed and ready to party! I think what broke the ice was when he tried to read wedding card that was written in swedish. It had everyone in a stitch. Thanks Marc! We ended up have a great speech from Marc, a sentimental message from Mr. Larry McAvoy and I surprised myself by making a speech that lasted for more than 5 minutes.
Everyone really enjoyed the dinner and the cake was a real experience, especially to cut it. It was absolutely a delicious reception. It finally stopped raining and after dessert everyone went outside to enjoy the sun set on amidst the misty stream.
Our first dance went by without us tripping over ourselves and eventually everyone danced the night away. I have to thank Colin (Itchy) and Scott for helping with the DJ’ing in the evening. We were even treated to fireworks from the Rugby club across the way.
The evening ended with everyone returning to the long room and others wandering around the gardens, playing night lawn bowling (I couldn't see the ball at all) playing midnight badminton (I couldn't see the birdie at all) and just drinking and telling jokes until the wee hours of the morning.
The next morning, or afternoon had everyone returning to the house again for a big barbecue. The sun came out and everyone enjoyed the gardens and simply relaxed in its quiet surroundings. Jay, Vic, Marc and Sue, Dan and Joy went to the local pub to experience the local hospitality. I really hope Marc isn't too frightened of driving in the English country-side. The narrow roads take awhile to get used to! The children even treated us to a magic show and pinata bashing. Eventually the barbecue pits were ready and everyone chowed down to chicken wings, sausages, veggie burgers, prawns salads and more alcohol. Thanks to Raff and Tracy for helping with the barbecue pit!
I have to admit that it was sad to leave on the Monday morning. It felt so nice to be in the house with family and friends and seeing everyone leave on the the Monday made it a bit sad. But we have the memories to remember and I'll never forget everyone's efforts to make this occasion the most memorable event for Jo and myself.
We’d like to extend a big “Thank You” to everyone for coming to our wedding and making it such a special occasion.