Today was the day that I got to attend my first ever English wedding. Now given the things I have said in the past, it might come as a surprise to you that it was actually the wedding of an English colleague of mine, someone I met at work and who has since become an actual friend, even to the point of being one of the first people here to invite me into his home for a little dinner party. The beautiful bride is someone I had gotten to know over the last few months, and I was so happy for the couple when they announced their engagement and then invited me to the wedding on top of it.
Somehow, I had forgotten about the hats. It was totally surreal, like something out of a movie, to be at a wedding at which the men were mostly dressed in morning suits and the women were mostly wearing fascinators if not full-on hats. I shocked a few locals by mentioning that where I grew up, it was considered disrespectful to wear a hat in church. “Even for a wedding?” several of them said back to me. They didn’t seem to comprehend it when I noted that hats (or fascinators) were not normal attire for North American weddings.
Other differences from any wedding I had ever been to: the bride and groom had chairs and sat down (I never could have done so in my wedding dress!); those in attendance sung hymns; the bride and groom moved around the church for different parts of the ceremony; there was a real trumpet for the Purcell trumpet voluntary recessional.
The day was beautiful. The weather was gorgeous, and the champagne reception outside in the garden was amazing. I teared up both during the ceremony and during the speeches at the reception. There had been a snafu and I had not ended up on the seating plan, but unlike previous experiences in England, room was found for me and even my dietary restrictions (I’m a reformed vegetarian but still only pescetarian) were accommodated — no problem. I had hoped to slip away at some point and get some work done, but the day was just too beautiful and that was not to happen.