Wedding Report: Natalie and James, Part Five
12 Friday Oct 2012
First time here? Catch up with the rest of this wedding report now.
Beneath the pergola in the middle of the flowerbeds now stood two mighty wedding cakes – one a stunning stack of homemade Victoria sponges; skilfully and lovingly made by Zita, the Mother of the Groom, decked in fresh strawberries and raspberries dusted with icing sugar and decorated with summer blooms. By its side stood a tower of a traditional Norwegian celebration cake Kransekake adorned with tiny Norwegian flags and decorated with stripy green and red crackers. An army of amateur photographers circled the cake table, documenting the contrasting cakes before they were eaten.
Making their way through the mob, James and Natalie’s presence in the pergola sent the crowd huddling ever closer to watch them ceremonially cut their cakes. Tipsy excitement bubbled over as people nestled together cheek-to-cheek, in time to see the first cut of the sponge cakes swipe through the decorations and send a handful of berries tumbling to the floor.
Camera flashes glittered through the evening light capturing Natalie and James’ uncertain, laughing faces as they held fast to the elongated knife. Gordon stepped forward at his daughter’s insistence to break apart the Kransekake in order to keep with tradition.
Breaking the circles into smaller parts, Gordon happily cracked ring after ring even as his daughter attempted to feed her husband a piece of cake, then attached one of the Norwegian flags to the pocket of his shirt.
Natalie’s giddy voice could be heard calling out names in the crowd to come and collect fragments of the Kransekake, distributing small pieces to the circle of outstretched palms. The sound of surprise emanated from mouths of those sampling their first slice of Norwegian cake as people attempted to identify the aromatic flavours before declaring it delicious and diving back in for a second helping.
Huge thanks and congratulations were heralded upon Zita for baking the work of art that was the sponge, and to Terje, Gordon’s very own best man from his wedding 35 years ago. Having not only baked the Kransekake, Terje had also hand carried it over from Norway especially for James and Natalie’s wedding.
With the stack of sponges leaning precariously to one side and the Norwegian cake scattered into multiple shards, Natalie continued to decorate the rest of the ushers and guests with the remaining Norwegian flags.
Clusters of guests orbited around the garden, clutching glasses of wine and Pimms beneath a sky that belied the overcast nature of the afternoon. Evening sunshine streamed into the garden beneath a clear blue sky, the thought of the threat of rain a distant memory.
In the quintessentially English evening, the whole wedding party lingered outdoors, revelling in the joie de vivre and soaking up the atmosphere. From school friends to long lost relatives, university pals to people they’d grown up with, Natalie and James found themselves surrounded by all the people who had helped shape their lives and moulded them into the people they had become
In different shades of brightly coloured outfits and varying degrees of sobriety, their friends and family revelled in the sense of occasion, the bride and groom indulging in the opportunity that their wedding afforded them to have this selection of people all in one place at the same time. The unification of the various parts of their lives for just this one day provoked a mass of embraces, the heartiest of laughs and the pulsating excitement that propelled everyone back inside as Simon announced the imminent first dance.
In the time it had taken them to devour their meals, James and Natalie’s ceremony room had been turned into the site of their evening reception. Gone were the rows of chairs, leaving a vast floor for dancing sandwiched between a bar in the corner and a makeshift stage at the opposite end of the room. Four guys and a girl made up the band who, decked in black, cut a stylish group as they waited patiently for their cue.
Natalie and James led the way into the room, half-heartedly twirling around the expanse of the floor as a pseudo warm up. Around them, friends and family lined the walls of the room until the surge of more bodies trying to get in pushed them further into the room.
The rich syrupy tones of the blonde singer welcomed everyone to James and Natalie’s reception before inviting the couple in question to take to the floor for their first dance. Overexcited cheers screeched throughout the room, people popped up on to their tip toes to see over one another, cameras swayed precariously in the air taking random pictures of ceilings and sides of heads.
The uplifting tones of Temper Trap’s ‘Sweet Disposition’ filled the room; a soft sweet melody crooned out over the racing beat of the song as a unanimous “Aaaaw!” encircled the swaying couple as their audience recognised the tune. With her eyes locked on James’ trusting face, Natalie quietly counted them in and, much to the surprise of the vast majority of the room, the pair began a choreographed cha-cha-cha.
Huge cheers greeted the skipping steps of the newlyweds as they kick-ball-changed their way through the opening of the song. The applause of their astonished guests synchronised in time with the music, encouraging them to be more lavish in their arm gestures and extenuating the twirls and flourishes of their routine.
Natalie, the more natural dancer, continued seamlessly through the choreography even as James killed himself laughing at his inability to keep out of the way of his wife’s train, his mixing up of the cha-cha steps he’d been taught, and missing various beats. Regardless of the imperfections of the routine, or perhaps because of them, the crowd went absolutely wild as the pair traversed the floor, Natalie’s hands covering James’ as they rested on her hips and guided her around the room.
With a dipped kiss, a bow, a curtsey and a flood of applause, the floor filled with swaying guests, all enticed by the display they had seen but in no rush to attempt to compete. Natalie and James collapsed exhaustedly into one another’s arms as a crush of bodies surrounded them. They turned to dance with those around them, all the time holding on to each other even as they divided their attention elsewhere.
As the inaugural song finished, the band launched into the fast paced modern jazz of Paolo Nutini’s ‘Pencil Full of Lead’ and the room exploded with exuberant jivers. Heels kicked out, jazz hands stretched into the air and hips wiggled in time to the music. Arms looped together as partygoers swung each other round in elaborate circles. The grins on faces and concentrated dance moves counteracted the soaring temperature in the room even as the floor rippled and bounced with the fluctuating pressure of the feet bopping back and forth across it.
Natalie and James danced straight out of the room to say goodbye to James’ grandparents, past Natalie’s mum Jean who had her own entire dance routine to ‘Pencil Full of Lead,’ which she was happily executing. Getting their breath back in the fresh air, the newlyweds embraced the oldest members of their wedding party as inside the room the audience cheered vigorously for the band as they launched into ‘Walking on Sunshine.’
A Charleston here, a shimmy there, a twist and a jive in the middle of the room – very rarely had a wedding reception got off to such a swinging start. Oblivious to the customary shyness that wedding guests display, leaving the dance floor to the domain of small children for the first couple of hours, James and Natalie’s friends and family filled the room to the brim as they pulled an infinite amount of shapes.
Gordon took Becky in his arms, twirling her around the floor even as the ushers bounced and jigged around lavishly, arms flying in disparate directions and accidentally knocking recently procured drinks all over unassuming passers by. The sound of raucous voices singing along to the tune, half remembering the lyrics and shouting the words that did come to mind underpinned the blinding job the band did to whip the crowd into a frenzy.
A seamless segue turned Katrina and the Waves into a cover of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Valerie’. As the quintessential beat of the introduction sent the audience into fever pitch, James darted back into the room desperately scanning the crowd to see the singer shrugging her shoulders at him. Sprinting back out of the room he glanced around the courtyard before locating his bride and pulling her back into the centre of the room to hear the chorus of the song had been changed from Valerie to Natalie, much to the delight of the bride.
Surrounded by bopping bridesmaids, groomsmen and undulating uncles in splashes of tartan, James and Natalie threw their arms up into the air and boogied on down. As they shouted the lyrics of the song over the noise in the room with wide opened mouths and huge beaming smiles, James uninhibitedly twirled and span his beautiful new wife.
Right there in the middle of the dance floor, between sweaty brows and flagrant limbs, a wealth of unseen memories that Natalie and James had shared floated between them; memories of dancing to this song on previous occasions, of always thinking of the other when their favourite songs came on the radio, of consolidating a decade of friendship and love, and building a future together of equally happy memories and heart-thumping adventures.
This was a party that would rage late into the night, that would perhaps never really be finished so long as the newlyweds continued to be adored by those closest to them, by the friends and family who had travelled from near and far to celebrate with them. This was a celebration that would span a whole lifetime in addition to an entire weekend. This was a marriage of friends – of best friends – which in the midst of a hot, pulsating dance floor surrounded with love seemed to be the very best kind of marriage of them all.
~ The End ~