The MOB robe is on the washing line, the drone of the dishwasher can be heard in the background, it’s been a morning of moving things up and down stairs, returning everything to its place – and watching photos appear on Facebook.
It’s been a fabulous weekend of festivities. Some friends told me to savour each moment because the time would just fly by and they were right. So I determined to enjoy as many moments as I could and, as I sit here now on this Monday morning and start to process it all in my head, you’re welcome to share some of those moments with me.
On Friday evening, we all gathered in the church for the rehearsal and the pastor casually asked the bride-to-be how many bridesmaids she would have. ‘Seven’ was the answer. He turned to the groom-to-be and asked ‘Have you a best man and a couple of ushers, Dan?’ ‘I have seven groomsmen’ was the answer. The look on his face was a mix of surprise, wonder, maybe a hint of anxiety as he wondered how we were going to fit all 16 people at the front of the church. A funny moment.
Afterwards at the rehearsal dinner, I looked around at this large bridal party and I was thankful – thankful that the bride and groom have so many good friends that they couldn’t choose just one or two, thankful for the laughter and chatter going on as we got to know one another before the more formal proceedings would begin the next morning.
We got home and were preparing for bed when I heard squeals of delight as the robes for the bride and maid of honour were discovered. Another great moment.
The morning of the wedding was filled with moments to remember as we got ready. Things began early with the ring of the doorbell and as I peered into the darkness outside, I saw a figure and heard a voice asking ‘Is this the right house?’ The makeup artist had arrived. After that, it was a stream of people in and out of the house – hairdresser, photographer, videographers, and of course the 7 bridesmaids. Every time one appeared, there were screams of delight from the rest of us as we welcomed them and told them how well they looked.
At one point, I heard several bridesmaids calling for me to go upstairs where one was having her hair styled. I entered the room to find her seated in front of the mirror, the hairdresser still working away at her hair, which was standing out almost vertical from her head. I shrieked – and cameras clicked to capture my reaction. A set-up, if ever there was one! But, apart from this humorous moment, we were largely unaware of the photographer Emma Kenny and the videographer Matt Bonner and his colleague, as they mingled with everyone else throughout the morning, taking candid shots of all that was going on.
An emotional moment for me was when the FOB had his prayer ready and brought it to me so that I could read it. I shed a few tears then, but was glad that it was in the quietness and privacy of my own kitchen so that when I heard the prayer in church later, I was fine.
One of the best moments was when all 7 bridesmaids were ready and stood waiting for their bride to appear. Gemma entered the room and the moment was electric as the bridesmaids saw their bride in all her beauty – and the bride saw all 7 bridesmaids together for the first time. ‘It worked!’ was the verdict of one and all. And it truly had. A moment of sheer joy.
Escorts arrived and the bridesmaids were all whisked off to the church; the videographers and photographer had gone on ahead and so just the four of us Wilsons were left. We stood with our arms round one another in the hallway as the FOB said a prayer of blessing on us and on the day – an intimate moment before we drove off in the family car.
And so it was off to the church. In spite of all the worries about Moira traffic and congestion on the Lisburn Road, we arrived with time to spare – and even had to circle round a a little bit, like a plane waiting to land. A quick photoshoot outside and then it was time to go in. I was escorted up the aisle by Ben Behzadafshar, one of the groomsmen, who walked slowly and confidently, calming my nerves. All 7 bridesmaids entered before their bride, then it was the moment everyone was waiting for as Gemma and her dad walked up the aisle, smiling all the way. We had made it. A moment of relief.
As the pastor welcomed the congregation and the ceremony began, Dan’s mum reached over and held my hand. It was a simple gesture but one which acknowledged the significance of the moment – for the couple, for their families and for all of us. And I was glad.
Friends of the couple participated in the service in many ways, which added to the significance of each moment. ‘Sincerity’ was a word used more than once to describe the wedding ceremony, as the couple exchanged their vows with heartfelt meaning. The pastor, David Dunlop, preached a great sermon from the Song of Solomon, encouraging Gemma and Daniel to give priority to time together and to remain faithful to each other, as they had promised to do in their vows.
The bridal party walked down the aisle – no, it was more like danced down the aisle and, as friends and family chatted briefly before leaving (it was cold and windy at this stage), Dan and Gemma took the time to speak to each one who had come to the service, before heading off themselves. Perhaps it was an insight into why they have so many friends who speak so highly of their friendship – they both take the time for people, making each person feel valued and appreciated. Moments of sharing and genuine friendship.
They were the last to leave but their patience was rewarded by the drive to the reception venue in the lovely car driven by Gemma’s uncle, Robert Mullan.
Riverdale Barn was the perfect venue for the reception, offering beauty outside, warmth inside and lots of opportunity for chat and relaxation. There was plenty of time for guest to catch up with old friends, get to know new ones, take their own photographs or watch the bridal party have theirs taken. Tea and coffee were accompanied by tray bakes made by many friends who had generously and graciously contributed to a ‘chocolate station’ where all the chocolate was Fairtrade chocolate, as requested by Gemma.
Soon it was time for speeches. We had the opportunity to learn more about the couple as parents and friends shared stories. These provided great insights into what has made Gemma and Daniel who they are today. Highlights for me were the message from the absent groomsman – Phil Dunlop, who had not been able to make it from the US – as well as the witty poem put together by the bridesmaids.
Speeches over, it was time to enjoy the meal – a piping hot and delicious buffet which hopefully gave everyone the chance to choose what they wanted. After dessert, the place was cleared for the evening’s entertainment. While music was provided by some of the bands of which Dan has been a part, people chatted happily together, danced with the bridal party or made their way outside to mingle and chat with others. It was very relaxed and people were obviously enjoying one another’s company. As I enjoyed some of the music and was watching Dan playing the drums, it suddenly dawned on me, ‘That’s my son-in-law!’ A proud moment.
The beautiful cake was cut in the middle of the proceedings so that it could be shared with the evening guests who had joined us. Made by Kathy Dickie of Angel Cake Bakery, it was really delicious – and looked amazing, garnished as it was with autumn berries.
The FOB and I had settled in the smaller barn as it got later and Gemma and Dan made their way over to us to say goodbye before they left. I appreciated that so much – just a few moments to share together before they ran through the arch made by their friends and disappeared off on their honeymoon.
Then they were off and it was time to say goodbye to the many friends and family members who had helped make the day so special. In these momentous milestones of life we need the presence and support of those close to us. We were so glad to have so many around us to enjoy the day and celebrate with us.
The day after the wedding, we enjoyed a long leisurely lunch with friends who had come from England and Switzerland – moments of catching up with one another before each headed back to their own lives again.