I’ve been lucky enough to create and officiate at two weddings in three days. They were very different and each had their own challenges!
On Saturday, my destination was Epsom, for a 3 p.m. wedding. This was a one-way journey of 44 miles, via the M25. Although it was holiday time and I expected the roads to be fairly empty, I allowed a lot of time for my journey and left home at a ridiculous 11.40 p.m.
All went fine until I joined the M25, and my Satnav told me that I was now joining the motorway and I could “cruise”.
Cruising was not to be an option. For mile after mile, it was a matter of accelerating to the dizzying speed of 35 m.p.h. before slowing to a crawl, and that pattern repeated itself over and over again.
I had now spent over an hour on the motorway – covering about 10 miles – and was getting rather anxious, but fortunately the traffic problems inexplicably evaporated (as they so often do) two junctions before my exit.
I made it to the Queen’s Stand at Epsom, parked up (after my two-hour drive), quickly ate my sandwiches and composed myself. Still an hour to go before the start.Royal Box, Epsom Downs
The wedding was in the Royal Box, and this proved to be a lovely venue. I doubt if the Queen would have recognized the interior, although I’m sure the views towards the course would have been familiar!The view Her Majesty enjoys on a race day
When the Groom showed up at about 2.30, I asked him about the rings. He paled and realized that he had left them at the hotel. He sped away, but returned in time equipped with the offending articles.
The bride, as is traditional, was late, but otherwise all went well and I could delight in being blessed enough to marry two charming people, very much in love, in a delightful ceremony.
I’m glad to say that my decision to avoid the M25 on my return did not backfire.
An Asian wedding
On Monday, it was a mere fifteen-minute Tube journey for me to Alperton for an Anglo-style afternoon Hindu wedding. In an atmospheric setting, I was lucky enough to marry two excited and delighted young people.Rather different surroundings!
It was my good fortune to have been invited to stay for the festivities (such invitations for celebrants are quite rare!). After the Indian equivalent of tea and biscuits, everyone filtered off, leaving a few of us to kill about 1.5 hours! Anyway, we managed that and, as the room filled up again, after non-alcoholic cocktails, our stomachs were well and truly attended to. (Not too spicily, I’m relieved to say!).
Only then did the bride and groom appear, and they launched straight into the cake-cutting before the speeches. Apparently, there had been a party the night before, with speeches, so this element did not take long. The couple started the dancing off quite beautifully, and the evening proceeded successfully (although without me for the closing stages!).
Perhaps this gives a glimpse of why I choose to be a civil celebrant?
It is absolutely a pleasure and a privilege to be involved in lovely people’s highest moments, and I look forward to many more wonderful occasions like these.
But I don’t look forward to my next trip on the M25!
Michael Gordon can help prepare and conduct a tailor-made civil ceremony in or around London or, indeed, in Europe.