Wedding Report: Franky & Carl, Part One
13 Monday Feb 2012
Carl looked troubled. He stood anxiously in the hallway, watching the groups of guests streaming inside under the porte cochere along the red carpet. They approached him with warmth, familiarity and excitement as they filed through the pale blue walls of the lobby beneath opulent skylights.
A delicious sense of manufactured history greeted the guests, knowing that unlike other historic mansions with ancestral lineages, Heatherden Hall had had its heritage created for it. A corridor of famous faces watched over the arrival of the wedding party with movie stills from films shot in that very space adorning the walls.
It was not generations of aristocratic gentlemen that had helped Heatherden evolve, but the whim of directors and producers. Throughout the 20th century, the house had been moulded and transformed into whatever set was appropriate for the film currently in production. From Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to Lara Croft, Heatherden Hall had hosted many spectacular moments in the course of its life.
Carl managed a weak smile, embracing his friends and family as they approached, hugging and kissing them with nervous greetings. A collection of groomsmen lingered nearby like a well styled boy band clad in suave dark suits and silver ties, waiting for direction and remaining alert to any last minute glitches.
Wandering through to an anteroom decorated in art deco black and white colours, the sound of friends and relatives greeting one another with excited fervour soon hummed throughout the Georgian style room. An epidemic of loud conversation spread through the French windows into the conservatory and spilled out on to the terrace overlooking the gardens.
In the shadows of majestic pine trees the temperature plummeted to represent the freezing January temperatures, but out in the sunshine guests basked in the beams that banished the most punishing part of the wintry air. Groups of fashionably dressed guests and gaggles of toddlers and children paraded along the veranda in the bright midday sunlight.
Huddled inside pashminas but sporting designer sunglasses, groups of friends and recently reacquainted family members lined up for photos in front of the carved stone balustrades of the terrace. From elaborate millinery to gravity defying heels, each pocket of posing patrons sported the cutting edge of wedding guest chic.
A glimpse of flickering candles and rows of empty gilded chairs in the neighbouring Hitchcock Room increased the atmosphere of anticipation even more. The appointed hour ticked ever closer on a triumvirate of clocks simultaneously telling the time in London, New York and Sydney.
The double doors of the anteroom opened beneath a plastered pediment and a confident voice invited guests to take their seats in the ceremony room. A mass of bodies politely squashed through the doorway as individuals attempted to simultaneously remove their coats, find a seat and organise their kin amidst the scrabble for the optimum view.
Row upon row of golden chairs began filling with the vibrant colours of exemplary outfits and the flash of overexcited cameras. As the final few guests filed in from exploring the grounds, the hum of conversation filled the room with equally as much warmth as the unrelenting afternoon sunlight.
A gang of repurposed glass jars on top of the large ornamental stone fireplace sported the softest pink blooms. Slips of ribbon in pink, teal and grey wrapped themselves around the curves of the reimagined vases, shining amidst a sea of bashfully glittering tealights.
Carl stood at the front of the room beneath grandiose columns, vast painted canvases and richly patterned decorations. Despite his palpable nerves, he remained the picture of cool, looking both suave and dashing in his well-cut suit. He tugged at his cufflinks occasionally, subconsciously willing the woman who had given them to him as a wedding present to join him at his side and get this enormous moment out of the way.
It was an entirely oblivious moment in which he received a hipflask from his best man and anxiously took a mouthful of the rich liquid within. Chagrined by the guffaws of watching witnesses, Carl turned his back to the room of onlookers before taking a sheepish secondary gulp to quell the adrenaline coursing through his body.
Children waved small handmade banners of celebration whilst sucking on lollipops as adults whispered excitedly to one another. The sound of a camera shutter, an excited giggle, an over-exaggerated shushing and quiet reigned amidst the vast room.
A moment of toing and froing and then the sound of the registrar’s voice inviting the congregation to stand preceded the beloved trumpeting of the Pearl and Dean theme tune. A knowing titter ran up and down the rows of guests who waited with bated breath and cameras in position.
Silent anticipation crashed over the room as the cinematic tune dramatically climaxed and left the air soundless. Someone stage whispered, “She’s done a runner!” and a self-conscious giggle escaped from one or two people. Hundreds of pairs of eyes remained transfixed on the doors at the back of the room, their suspense building to fever pitch.
The sound of Hans Zimmer’s beautifully arranged glockenspiels broke the silence, filling the room with the uplifting melodies of You’re So Cool as the large double wooden doors opened. Carl remained patiently looking forward, unaware of Jesse racing down the aisle towards him in unadulterated joy to see his dad. Nicola and Izzy appeared hand-in-hand, entering the room at a more elegant pace than the youngest member of the family.
Between Nicola’s short slate grey dress and Izzy’s full length layers of teal tulle, Franky’s sister and daughter embodied entirely the gentle colour scheme as they sported pale pink bouquets and sparkling accessories. Behind them, Donna and Sarah followed in full-length pewter gowns, wrapped in silver pashminas with beautifully coiffed side buns and dazzling smiles.
Hans appeared in the doorway with a staggeringly beautiful bride on his arm. Exuding the timeless elegance of old Hollywood glamour, Franky looked resplendent in floor length lace and a spray of ostrich feathers. From the flawless perfection of her glowing cheeks to the slight swagger in her hips when she walked, every molecule of her being appeared ephemerally more beautiful than she could know.
A bouquet of white calla lilies lay over her left arm whilst her right arm looped through that of her stepfather. Her beautiful rouged lips curled up into an enormous smile and as she surveyed the guests nearest to her, her tongue poked quickly and cheekily out in excitement.
As they began their ascent up the aisle, the sequins and beaded embellishments on Franky’s dress glimmered beneath the afternoon sunlight streaming through the floor to ceiling French windows. The snug velvet of her coat and flush of feathers around her chin framed her face with bridal wintry glamour.
The mass of faces watching her entrance followed her footsteps with mesmerised avidity. It was as though their very souls were bewitched by the vision of her, lost in the anticipation of her face and the impressive grace of her impeccable style. Smiles washed over the faces of the crowd, as though acknowledgement of her beauty was infectious as she passed by.
“Wait, hold on, I think we need to slow down,” she whispered from the corner of her mouth to her stepfather. Having already reached the halfway point of the aisle they both dropped back a pace, taking their time to reach the registrar’s table.
An audience of hundreds of faces watched intently as Franky reached the top of the aisle and drank in the sight of Carl absolutely beaming with pride at the sight of his exquisitely glamorous bride. An enormous smile spread across his face as he took in the sight of her porcelain face, gently rolled hair and sweeping elegance and nodded appreciatively.
The True Romance soundtrack faded away into nothing as the bride and groom exchanged exalted smiles. A quiet joke exchanged between Hans and Carl caused Franky to throw her head back with laughter. She slipped out of the velvety luxury of her coat and handed it to her bridesmaid as the rest of the guests took their seats. The scraping of chairs accompanied the sound of Jesse’s oblivious excitement before he made a beeline for his parents.
Taking their seats in front of the registrar, Franky scooped Jesse on to her lap. Nestling her face into his hair, she whispered little words into his ear as her arms circled his waist and held him tight in a cuddle. The contrasts of Franky’s dark hair against Jesse’s sandy locks made her son look even more angelic as he watched Beverley, the registrar, begin the ceremony.
Continue to Part Two.