Friday, 8 June 2007

2006 - Our Medieval Wedding

It was inevitable that we would, at some time, get married. Marie being Marie, the usual questions arose -
"Where can I go that I'll be able to get into?"
"What happens if I panic on my wedding day?"
"Where can I have my wedding reception and feel comfortable?"

Marie with bridesmaid & best friend Clare,
flower girl Georgina and our own Orla

We decided to get married in our local parish church (begun in the 12th century, it's a wonderful building with many fine medieval features) and booked the date, 29th April. We toured the wedding dress stores - especially the expensive ones! - and possible venues for the wedding reception. We were looking for inspiration for our wedding celebrations. Having attended more than 100 weddings either as church organist or as a performer in a band, I knew that most weddings pretty boring affairs and seldom enjoyed by the guests, and we were determined not to have that! We hadn't any clear idea what we were going to do until we visited a new venue - Blackmoor Farm Manor. This 14th century manor house could have been custom built for a medieval-style wedding. It was also the perfect size for the number of guests we expected to attend (we had decided only to invite those family and friends whom we see on a regular basis) and perfectly located within a short car ride from the church and set in beautiful Somerset countryside. So we decided on a medieval themed wedding.

Our town still has a Town Crier, and he surprised us
by coming to our wedding in his official capacity
to pass on the best wishes of the town's inhabitants!
Once we had set our sights on that, the rest followed - Marie got herself a bespoke wedding dress in the medieval style, I got my outfit. We researched what went on at weddings in medieval times and adapted the findings to our wedding. We organised the menu for the medieval banquet, purchased copious amounts of locally produced mead, hired the period wooden platters and pewter goblets, arranged with the florist the flower arrangements popular in medieval times (only seasonal flowers), and designed and produced the parchment wedding-invitation scrolls complete with the authentic coats of arms of the two families.

Marie with her two sisters, Karen (L) & Kim (R).
Sorry, girls, I think I got the best-looking sister!
Our vicar threw himself into the spirit of the occasion and looked up the earliest written English language version of the wedding ceremony. This had, among other peculiarities, the following lines in the bride's vows, "...I vow to be bonny and buxom in bed and at board...". Marie wasn't sure how her parents would view this section of the medieval wedding ceremony, but she decided to go along with it anyway. On the day, the vicar turned up in the dress of a medieval priest. We were well impressed! He even managed to find a church organist who could play medieval pipe organ music.

Unfortunately, Marie didn't feel that she could cope with horse and carriage transport, so our biggest compromise was the 21st century transport.

Some of the guests pose outside the church.
Marie's anxiety rose as the big day approached - typical, I'm sure, of all brides - but in her case, we had to take exceptional measures to reduce her perceived risk of panicking on the day, and perhaps not being able to make it into the church. We even had a plan B in the event that she couldn't make into to the church - we would go ahead with the reception and get married "officially" at a later date.

The vicar, on the extreme right, threw himself into
the spirit of the event and dressed in authentic
medieval style.

However, to minimise the risk of panic at the church, Marie had her father get a motor-bike and position it just outside the church boundary wall, at Marie's request I hired a disabled person's electric scooter and hid it near the church, and we placed the large pram close by, but out of sight of the photographer.

Elfic the Jester
On the day, a beautiful, calm, warm, sunny, spring day, Marie coped well, and even walked up the aisle of the church without her shoulder-bag (which would definitely not have fitted in with the medieval theme). The banquet had enough choice to satisfy the appetite of all our guests and the fare was exquisite and enjoyed by all. As a token to my Irish heritage, I had booked a troupe of Irish dancers and their performances, on the lawn of the manor house to a backdrop of miles of rolling Somerset countryside bathed in spring sunlight, was superb - almost to a surrealistic extent. None of our guests had been to a live Irish dancing event before, although many had seen televised Riverdance performances. This was followed with much mirth-making from a local professional Jester (we still have them in this part of England). He managed to entertain all from the smallest children to the oldest guests. Quite incredible! Finally, I managed to locate a local band who played medieval dance music and a caller, who would instruct us (in the barn-dance style) what moves to make. Again, I had unwittingly made an inspired choice.

Most of our guests pose for a picture outside the manor house.
The rest are in the bar!
Our wedding night was spent in a huge oak-beamed bedroom complete with giant four-poster bed. The perfect end to what for us had been the perfect day!

Many of our guests had stayed in other rooms at the manor house and the morning we had a sumptuous breakfast together. Then Marie and I put our children in the care of their grandparents and left for our honeymoon. Marie's agoraphobia meant that we couldn't travel to any exotic locations, but we had an enjoyable week touring southern England, having romantic dinners and spending time with just each other - not something we get to do often.


Ruby said...

It looks like such a great day :) and the clothes are amazing!


Sarah♥ said...

I just just googling "agoraphobia" and came across your blog.
I'm a 31 year old women who's suffered with ag. and panic attacks for nearly 9 years now! Sadly i DO NOT have a supportive/caring husband, he only takes pleasure in telling me what he could be doing if he wasn't with "someone like me".


Robert said...

Hi Sarah -

It can be very difficult at times to accept the limitations that my wife's condition has on my life...but, truthfully, she's worth it. However, sometimes it seems as if agoraphobia is the 3rd person in our relationship.

I hope your husband isn't as bad as he seems from your comment...

But keep in touch, there are lots of us who know something of your problem and want you to get better :0)


Sarah♥ said...

Thanks for responding Robert.
How is your wife doing at the moment in her recovery?
Its SOOOOO hard for people who don't have this disorder to realise how debilitating it really is. Its not a matter of "get over it"....or...."its all in your head"...or..."just get in your car and drive!"...the times i hear that on a weekly basis is unreal. I sometimes struggle with the 2 minute WALK to my sons school, i panic while i wait and just want to leg it home, but then worry that "What if" i faint or stop breathing while running home!!!!!! PANIC IS CRAP.

Thanks for letting me rant :)


Robert said...

Hi again Sarah!

Marie's condition hasn't changed much in the past year or so.

And you're right that most people haven't a clue about agoraphobia or panic/anxiety disorder. I don't try to explain unless someone asks me to.

Why don't you have a look at Ruby's blog and Dominocat's? The links are on the "Blogs I like" area of my blog (left-hand side). I don't know Dominocat yet, but I find Ruby very caring and supportive.