This weekend I got to experience two firsts and neither were dodgy in any way. I got to be part of a double wedding. No, not two couples getting married, but rather one couple getting married twice. Yup, twice. Our friends, Nu and Mark tied the knot on Saturday, and what a fantastic - and very long - day it was.
Things started off with the traditional Christian ceremony at St Andrew's Church in Clewer, Windsor, where the official legal ceremony was conducted. It was a lovely ceremony and Mark and Nu were dressed up to the nines and looked amazing.
Once we were done there, the bride and her guests (including Claire and I) headed directly to the reception venue, Lillibrooke Manor, for lunch, and for the bride to get ready for the Hindu ceremony. The groom and his guests went to the pub to kill time before his grand entrance at the Hindu ceremony.
Unfortunately, this is where things got a bit boring for a while. If you weren't actively involved in organising this part of the wedding, or tarting and farting yourself up for the next bit, there was very little to do except sit and freeze - the heating wasn't particularly good. I took the opportunity to wonder around and take a couple of pictures of the venue and the room in which the ceremony was taking place.
After a bit of a wait, things started getting interesting, which brings me onto the second first for me - the Hindu ceremony. This is the part I found most fascinating as the Hindu wedding ceremony is steeped in tradition. Warning, some of this may be wrong, but it's my interpretation of what happened and I apologise now if I cause any offence - I don't mean to.
First, the bride entered the room where the ceremony was taking place and was surrounded by family and friends who fed her sweets, tied little twinkly things (they looked like mini wind chimes) to her wrists and generally bid her well for the future. After this, Nu was led out of the room in preparation for the groom's arrival.
Mark and his guests arrived in a dancing procession of sorts to the beating of traditional Indian drums. There was a bit of dancing to the drums outside before everyone came inside for a kind of face-off, with the groom's family and friends on one side of the room, and the bride's on the other. Then members of each family exchanged garlands and hugged in a "joining of the families" kind of mini ceremony.
Once this was over, we all led into the room for the actual ceremony. Once inside and settled, the bride, groom and their parents came in with the priest and the ceremony began. I'm not going to go into the details of the ceremony as this is definitely something I will get wrong and the true meaning will be lost in my interpretation. All I will say is it was fascinating to watch and listen and really gave me the feeling that it's a more meaningful ceremony than the traditional Christian ceremony. It felt the words had heartfelt meaning and weren't just selected from a list in order to comply with various legal conditions. I suspect there are set expressions that need to be said too, but being a Hindu wedding novice, it didn't seem that way. You can find a brief summary of a Hindu ceremony here.
After the ceremony, it was time to eat, drink and be merry. The wedding breakfast was awesome with both the English and Indian palates catered for in an
eat-as-much-as-you-like help yourself buffet. I opted for the Indian cuisine and made a bit of a pig of myself. It all looked so good, I couldn't help myself. As a result, my dancing skills (or lack there of) were impeded by my over-full belly.
All in all, it was a fascinating and very enjoyable evening which I'm glad I was invited to. Thank-you Nu and Mark for including us in on your special day.
For more pictures, check out my gallery.