Wedding Report ~ Jonny & Thea: Part Two
21 Friday Oct 2011
Beneath the six o’clock sun, the wedding party started to relax. Sunglasses and sun hats began to materialize as jackets came off, sleeves rolled up and ties loosened. As Tim and Tom produced two further bottles of champagne, even the temporary shock of the cork popping noisily did little to cease the flow of conversation. Like the most charming of waiters, the best man and the usher circulated around the terrace ensuring that flagging flutes were topped up as guests began to explore the garden.
As the sun continued in its trajectory towards the horizon, the line between maturity and juvenility quickly became blurred as adults and children alike tumbled around the garden. Impromptu games were improvised on the spot with rules that they made up as they went along.
Leaving their guests in the capable hands of their best man to ensure they continued to have their drinks topped up and enjoy the frivolity, Jonny and Thea discreetly made their way under the trellis of bunting to have their portraits taken.
Awe-struck children watched in wonder as a chef wandered out of the back door of the kitchen. Scissors in hand, he swerved between the high-spirited frolics on the lawn to reap some fresh herbs from the polytunnel of home-grown organic vegetables.
Adding to the congregation of half emptied champagne flutes, groups of guests began making repeat pilgrimages to the bar and contributing their own tankards of beer, glasses of wine and tumblers of spirits to the evening’s debris. A stealthy waitress occasionally whipped away the empties and emerged with fresh flutes ready to be filled with more bubbles.
The raucous adrenaline from the ceremony faded into the gentle hum of chatter, pierced only intermittently by the wail of a child not wanting the party to end. Relieving grandparents, siblings and friends of childcare duties, the littlest of revellers began to be persuaded towards their beds. Relieving Neave of her flower girl duties, she kissed her grandparents firmly and shouted “See you later!” to anyone who may be within hearing distance.
Having disposed of his waistcoat and red in the face from doing his rounds of making sure everyone fell in love with him, Lachlan stumbled from one group of guests to the next like a weary drunk. With the same look of sympathy, friends and family picked him up when he fell and spoke soothingly to him. During a brief respite in socialising, he returned to the ethereally patient Sally long enough to refuel with a pasta salad before marching once more on his merry way.
A gentle breeze crept into the garden and flowed around bare ankles, despite the sun continuing to beat proudly down upon exposed arms and shoulders. When Tom managed to capture everyone’s attention in his own indomitable style to ask them all to follow him for some photos, the group blindly followed, leaving behind suit jackets, handbags, strollers and more, but never forgetting to take bottles of champagne and pints of lager with them.
The few locals still in the town centre did a double take at the gaggle of people streaming along the High Street, drinks in hand, chatting loudly, happily and unabashedly. With Tom acting like a tour guide, lollipop lady and local historian, he led the party across the road, past the church and through immaculately manicured memorial gardens.
A flicker of panic crossed his face when he failed to see the happy couple as he expected and knowing that they were pushed for time. When Thea’s little head popped around a hedge next to the blaze of a yellow shirt worn by Sam her wedding photographer and friend, Tom visibly sighed with relief, swigged some champagne and continued to lead the group around the path, past the water feature, through a small squealing metal gate and into a secret field overlooking the tiny River Misbourne.
There on a grassy knoll the photographer arranged the merry band into a satisfactory pose. A small boy raced around the perimeter of the park on a scooter, capturing Lachlan’s attention and mocking him with his freedom to play.
Struggling to break free from the constraints of being the centre of attention, he squirmed in his parents’ arms, oblivious to the chaos of image capturing around him. In the end, he was placated with the one thing he had coveted all afternoon: a stiff drink. As the group laughed at the little boy drinking champagne, the moment was captured on film for posterity.
Tom proceeded to round up the group and herd them back towards the pub in time for dinner. The sun made his final farewells as the group strolled back through the historic market place, before taking a final bow behind the roofs of houses and sinking below the horizon.
One lone car slowed to a standstill as forty people streamed obliviously across the main road. Bringing up the rear, a beautiful blonde bride chatted merrily away with the train of her dress in one hand and an empty glass in the other as though it were the most normal thing in the world. The driver smiled indulgently and patiently waited for the party to pass before continuing with his own Saturday evening.
Waitresses looked up with rabbit-like expressions as they were caught tidying away glasses by guests retrieving abandoned property from the secret garden. Inside, the ceremony room in its second incarnation of the day boasted two tables the length of the room laid out ready for dinner, like the most intimate and well styled of school dinners.
Candlesticks, jugs of flowers and yellow picture frames displaying images of the protagonists in their vintage years peppered the length of the tables; little heart-shaped blackboards emblazoned with each person’s name were tied around napkins with tiny slips of purple ribbon; vintage swing top bottles housed gallons of drinking water whilst more champagne circulated around the room.
Looking up at a large blackboard that had, previously in the day, been concealed by a surprise choir, guests scanned the choice of courses scribbled in large chalk letters. Noticing the preponderance of black pudding, beef and rhubarb fool, it wasn’t long before the decision of what to eat had been attributed to the groom’s Lancashire upbringing.
“Ladies and gentleman,” Tom’s voice perforated the bubbling volume of after dinner chatter. “The speeches will be in five minutes, so please charge your glasses and empty your bladders now.”
With guests settled into their seats, the clanging of cutlery to glass and masterly introduction signalled the beginning of David’s speech. Once the applause and hooting had died down, Thea’s emotions began to overflow almost directly that her stepfather began speaking.
Holding on to Jonny with one hand and covering her stepfather’s hand with the other, Thea intermittently swiped away the happy tears that were quick to escape. It was with genuine warmth that David greeted Jonny into the family and with great affection that he gently mocked his son-in-law for already producing a son and heir.
For his part, Jonny admitted that unlike a school assembly, he had actually had to prepare for his speech, as well as explaining how Tom had gone to the wrong pub for the wedding earlier that day and that he would never allow Jo to read aloud again and publicly humiliate him.
It was with heartfelt gratitude that he thanked all of the family and friends who had contributed to not only their wedding, but also to bringing their lives together. With all joking aside, he turned to his sparkling new bride and told her that she was a fantastic mother, a beautiful wife and that he looked forward to spending the rest of his life with her.
Tim started his best man’s speech admitting to being a bit emotional, mainly because flights from his new hometown of LA were extremely expensive in July. And from there the jokes continued, chronicling the day that his brother was born as ‘ugly Tuesday’ to their mutual appreciation of fine booze as they matured together. But alongside the rampaging laughter, Tim also imparted sage advice.
“Please,” he entreated the newlyweds. “Always turn on us, your friends and family, for support and advice, because there’s nothing we haven’t been through or faced. There will always be someone to guide you.”
And with that, he segued into the sweetest parody ever to befit a couple. Capitalising on their mutual rugby playing antics, Tim switched the lyrics of ‘Wild Rover’ to chronicle the relationship that had brought Thea and Jonny to this point.
The newlyweds looked up at their best man with astonished expressions, genuinely moved as his voice rang out with confident clarity. With the gusto of an embattled army, the room erupted into song during each chorus, penetrating the rest of the pub and the sleepy village with the sound of forty invigorated voices singing Irish folk songs.
Hands clapping, feet stamping and fists banging against the tables all accompanied the serenade as every single patron swayed in unison, raising their glasses to Jonny and Thea, and Tim the ingenious lyricist. Wild cheering and glassy eyes completed the ballad and everyone congratulated themselves on the hearty rendition whilst marvelling at such an unusual and spectacular way to conclude a best man’s speech.
In order to prepare the room for its final re-imagining, the party moved back out to the courtyard beneath the now blackening sky. With all children now nestled in their beds, parents indulged in the feeling of high spirits, good food and great Spanish wine. Guys guffawed over cigars whilst girls giggled over glasses of wine.
Beneath the lights twinkling from within upper rooms in the hotel and with the gentle sounds of Frank Sinatra wafting out of windows, Jonny and Thea stood on the steps of the courtyard terrace, giggling between themselves and sharing little kisses.
Patrons of the pub enjoying a meal in the dining room looked up curiously as new guests arrived for the evening and revelled in the newly married status of their friends. On being complimented on how beautiful her dress was by one friend, Thea bashfully replied, “Well thanks, I thought I’d better make a bit of an effort.”
They waited until all the evening guests had arrived before guiding everybody back outside to the secret garden. Ducking beneath a handmade piñata, swinging vibrantly under the arch to the terrace, the guests huddled together in the cool night air as Jonny and Thea donned purple and yellow blindfolds and checked their lack of vision.
With bats in hand, they swung unseeingly at the papier-mâché decoration, usually hitting it and only occasionally swiping at each other. Blow after blow fell upon the poor piñata and still it remained steadfastly robust, even falling to the floor without splitting.
Realising that nothing much was going to happen fast, Tom took his ushering duties to a whole new level when he kicked the piñata hard enough for it to break, but also ricochet off the bride’s face. A chorus of ouches went up, shortly before a cheer as confectionary spilled all over the paving slabs at long last. Amidst the scrabble for candy, a few concerned souls, including the perpetrator, checked that Thea’s nose was not in fact broken after all.
Taking their swag back inside, people chomped happily on sweeties and chocolate whilst strolling through the recently reinvigorated function room, which now had a long buffet lined up against one wall. Handmade desserts marched along the table like a roll call of friends and family; Aunty Sally’s brownies, Fran’s lemon cake, Sally’s cupcakes and Nana Sue’s Battenberg all sat proudly amidst sumptuous smelling cheeses and open bottles of port.
Grateful guests took a slice of cake before heading over to pour a cup of tea from the urns in the bay windows. The drunken mood of Mexico outside quickly dissolved into the cheery bustle of a WI tearoom inside.
A queue formed at the entrance to the room as everyone waited to leave a purple or green fingerprint on a canvas sporting a hand drawn mini similar to Thea’s first car. Dipping their fingers in ink and signing their identity next to the ‘Just Married’ banner drawn on the car, guests cooed over this unusual tradition.
Continuing as the herald who marked the passage of each event in their wedding, Tom introduced the new Mr and Mrs Hutchings into the room and encouraged yet louder cheers. Jonny’s crooked tie and the escaped curls and sagging ribbon around Thea’s dress were testament to the vigour with which they had attacked the piñata. With cheeky smiles they avoided looking round at the expectant faces as they waited for their song and kept their eyes locked on one another.
Their first dance could only be to the one band that had been laced throughout the day. As the underrated but powerful “Don’t Let Me Down” by The Beatles flooded the room, Jonny and Thea took to the centre of the floor whilst the friends and family they had chosen to be with them lined the perimeter of the room.
In the style of a school disco, a chorus of saucy whoops emanated from the crowd as the couple stole a kiss or two whilst twirling back and forth across the room. As the song reached its bridge, Tim and Tom sidled on to the floor with their own beloveds and with little more encouragement the room suddenly filled with dancing couples swaying to the music.
Tom’s nifty iPod skills and the momentous opening chords of Elbow’s “One Day Like This” quickly absolved the momentary silence in the lapse of adequate DJing. The epic soaring sound of strings signalled that moment at a wedding when everyone realises that they’re in love.
Husbands nestled their faces in the nape of their wives’ necks; the oldest of school friends faced each other with a communal shared history welling up between them; relatives looked knowingly at each other over the heads of swaying couples.
Beneath an inky night sky, the notes of the song sailed upwards as arms were flung into the air in adoration of each other, of Jonny and Thea, and of love. Through the course of the day they had been joined by friends and family from around the world, read to and sung at. Glowing expectant mothers and recently born babies accompanied weary new parents to this wedding, because no circumstance would keep them from sharing in their friends’ celebration.
Surrounded by their closest friends and family, and enveloped in their love and support, the winking stars could testify that this would certainly be the one day of the year to see the newlyweds right.