Mr and Mrs Shipley. Wow that feels weird. (In a nice way!)
With confetti in our hair and big fat grins all over our faces, we were chauffeured down the lane to the marquee and all our guests. As we stepped out of the car, we stopped for a minute to just breathe, take it all in and pick dried petals out of my cleavage. Then hand in hand, we walked into the marquee.
The first thing I saw was the pig – the hog roast looked amazing. And then our friends and family, who were sipping champagne and pimms, all cheered when they saw us. And thankfully, the barman was straight over to us with champers (I think he knew how much I needed one. The way I'd flung him my final list of things to do just before I put my dress on might have given him a clue.)
Sorry vegetarians - but it was amazing!
After a bit of mingling/knocking back fizz, the hog was ready to be carved, so everyone took their seats. But before we all got stuck in, the inimitable Aunty Dy stood up to say grace, announce that she was a vegetarian and hoped we all enjoyed eating the pig, (I felt so guilty that the only veggies were also pretty much our only relatives. But I did make her a veggie curry to make up for the presence of a 'dead animal' as she put it.) Then quite brilliantly, she started a rousing chorus of All Things Bright and Beautiful - the hymn that was missed off at the end of the service. For the first time that day, the tent roof was raised. I suspect they heard us in Telford.
The vegetarian's missed out in my opinion, the hog was delicious. After months of calorie counting I was thrilled to get stuck into two great big, hot porky baps, in the most unladylike manner possible.
Next up came the speeches, which left the whole marquee awash with salty floods. Mom amazed me by standing up to say a few words – bless her she’d given me away so was being both mother and father of the bride. And it was such a lovely speech, I was so proud of her. She then presented us with a lucky horseshoe which was very sweet.
(Top tip for everyone, Lancome Waterproof Mascara holds up very well indeed.)
Then my husband (squeal!) stood up and reduced me to tears again with some lovely words. I was wringing out my napkin at this point. Then, not one to keep quiet, I stood up to say a few words/be over emotional/weepy in front of everyone in the marquee. And finally the Best Man did his bit.
And this was priceless. We all knew the speeches would be a tearful, emotional moment and there really wasn't a dry eye in the house. But no-one expected the best man himself to crack - he must have been very nervous because as he reached his last sentence, he filled up and cried. I was later told this completely threw the whole ‘who will cry first sweepstake’ into complete disarray.
My husband reduces me to tears for the first time in our marriage. In a good way. (ps doesn't the bunting look nice! well done Emma!)
An emotional mother daughter moment
Just before he wept, the best man wheeled out some very embarrassing childhood pictures of the groom.
A view of all our guests while they were all still behaving themselves
After the food and the speeches and the weeping and the toasts, the party rapidly went into full swing. And for once, it wasn’t just my mates who were in party animal mode.
We’d invited Mom’s neighbours, partly out of politeness because we had plonked a very loud party tent in the middle of their quiet hamlet, but mainly to thank many of them for their help. Bernard’s car park, Bridget’s bell-ringing (and unexpected tippex dash) and of course the Kennedy’s family church had all been vital parts of the day.
What we hadn’t expected or anticipated was just how much they were all up for a party. But then I guess it’s all very quiet in the country. The last bit of excitement they had was when a shire horse fell over and couldn’t get back up.
As they all started arrived, it took me a minute or two to recognise them – I only ever see them in their countryside outfits of bodywarmers and wellies. Chris next door looked completely different – when ever we see her she is usually either straddling a horse or is up to her armpits in it’s faeces. And here she was, looking rather glam and dancing to Lady GaGa.
Bernard had made an effort and was wearing a suit – he’d even dusted off the wood shavings and left his forklift at home. He normally goes to bed at 8 o'clock and he stayed up well past 10. Possibly because he was transfixed by some of the ladies dancing. Or my mate Kirsty randomly doing press ups. Or Bridget the bell ringer giving it some wellie to a Kylie track. Not sure which.
Then there was a bloke who I have only ever seen once before and lives in a nearby cottage - he was flinging himself around to Queen, trying to force pregnant Best Girl Claire to jump up and down with him while loudly demanding the DJ played ABBA.
But the real wild cards were Sally and Bryan from the farm over the road. Sally danced solidly all night. She literally didn’t stop. She was like a cross between an excited 18 year old at her first festival and an over-enthusiastic aerobics teacher. And she was determined to get everyone dancing – I kept spotting her wrenching people’s arms out of their sockets as she dragged them to the dance floor. To be fair most people were up and dancing, but there were a few stragglers who were quite happy to sit with their drinks and watch everyone else behave like loons, including the Best Man’s dad. When she asked him up for the third time, he had to tell her he couldn’t because he had a wooden leg.
Meanwhile, her husband, Bryan-who-keeps-kestrals-hawks-and-owls, and taken on the characteristics of the birds of prey that he keeps, and had a watchful eye on the pork pie cake. Suddenly and without warning, he pounced on the pie and proceeded to work his way through it, giving daggers to anyone who came near it. It was his pie now.
Elsewhere in the tent, our friends were making their own entertainment. Knowing how much my mates love fancy dress, I had brought a selection of comedy masks and fake moustaches for people to mess about with after they’d had a few. I thought they’d make funny photos. And I was right.
I looked around the room and Alan Sugar was having a dance, Simon Cowell was behind the bar, (then later showed off his Russian dancing skills) and Prince William was doing something unspeakable to Kate Middleton. Everyone else looked like a drunk chuckle brother. Cue hen-do flashbacks.
Just take a look at some of the pictures. Brace yourself though:
Our first dance was Fly me to the Moon by Frank. Followed by that song from the film Team America (the one that's got really rude lyrics - luckily everyone thought it was some sort of Neil Diamond ballad) and Better Together, Jack Johnson
And now, I must apologise because the photos go a bit downhill from now on. I blame the jaegermeister shots. And the tequila.
Bell-ringer and tippex runner Bridget with party animal neighbour Sally (watch out world!)
Guests start attaching fake'taches
Ross the DJ, stagename Dr Feelbad, feels up my husband
It was always inevitable that I would hitch my skirt up for some dancing and high kicks, here I am tucking it in my knickers
Remember on the hen do we all learned the moves to hit me baby one more time? well this was our moment to show off our new skills. Badly.
A modern day Pans People no? Note the straws behind ears for microphones
Weird Dame Edna
The groom spots an opportunity when Bryan's not looking and gets stuck into the pie
Josh performs 500 miles (with a little help)
Will and Kate
A slightly less royal Will and Kate
Barman 1 - "what the crikey are they all doing?"
Barman 2 - "I have no idea, just keep smiling and dishing out the tequila"
Remember how this table looked when I set it up? Look at it now. Like a racoons teaparty, why did I bother?!?
At around 1am, after a rousing chorus of Carly Simon’s Nobody Does it Better from the remaining drunken strugglers, we reluctantly pulled the plug on the Dr Feelbad’s laptop. The barmen were packing up, the bride and groom were exhausted and the drunks looked like they needed to get to bed.
My husband had booked us a lovely mews suite at a hotel pub in Much Wenlock called The Gaskell, and that’s where we sloped off to. I felt terrible though, the marquee was trashed, and I’d left a trail of mess through Mom and Rob’s house. Every room had a pile of my wedding paraphernalia scattered through it. But bless Mom, she didn’t bat an eyelid, just chauffered us to our wedding night telling us she’d sort it all out.
So off we stumbled - tired but deliriously happy. My dress looked like an old dish rag, the flowers had fallen from my hair and the groom had a hole in the bum of his trousers.
It was safe to say that our wedding day had been a roaring success.