wedding anniversary special


place settings
The preparations were complete - Sablet red and white and cheerful fizz transported to Sussex from France along with a mega- carton of lavender from Bedoin market; bouquets tied with raffia and name tags hand written to the sound of morris dancers and quacking Sunday geese on Sedlescombe village green; garlands collected from Beech Hill banks and strung by the groom - and I was waiting in the herb garden in my Dosa organza frock. My oldest friend (with whom I had founded the club 'Love For Boys' in Surrey woodland twenty eight years before) played a Bach suite under The Silver Birch which we had made into our church and the Merrow-Smith and Phillips clans converged for Ruth and Julian's wedding. It was 27 degrees. We were already blessed.

I walked down the aisle as the last chorale from the St Matthew Passion drifted across the lawn from the string quartet. Desperate to get to my oatmeal linen and Birkenstock clad man before he disappeared on a whiff of lavender I was going at it a bit too speedily; hurtling towards the big trip (Julian insists I will die by tripping as I am always looking up at the sky. This would have been choice timing). My father, on whose arm I clung giddily, whispered "Take it slowly. This is your big moment!" I drank in the faces and the rare breed sheep, the church we had created from a tree, a field and goodwill and the sound of my very own God; I drank in the man who was holding me and all the unspoken love his squeeze conveyed...and then I was there.

We had been developing our ceremony for many months, with the help of a Montessori teacher who has now gone on to become a professional celebrant. With her guidance, we had asked ourselves some fundamental questions about what marriage meant to us any what it was we wanted to say to those present. We, an ex new-agey therapied-out musician who had so far only found trust in Buddha and Bach, and an ex-catholic aetheist who wept at the perfection of the sight of the first swifts in the sky, a cloth painted by Bonnard, or the sound of a Beethoven piano sonata, also had had to ask ourselves what if any spiritual meaning there was to our humanist act.

The poem 'Come with me and be my love' had got no further than our kitchen where Julian, resting in a declamatory fashion up against the aga, had been unable to get beyond the first line without blubbering, however many times he tried. However, it was deep in our hearts and cropped up three years later in the bonsai form of a valentine blog-comment. My mother refused to read something because it meant nothing to her, the best man thought another something was crap...In the final cut, Rumi, Haydn and plain song were amongst those who made it through the audition process to the tree. The spiritual aspect found glorious expression through my pink and silver clothed Mum playing a portable organ and leading us in hymns, we 'aspired' rather than promised (coming from a broken home such a promise felt empty wheras there seemed to be so much energy and presence in the word 'aspire') and we skipped out, ringed and encircled, held and beloved, towards the champagne as these Native American words sang out:

Go now to your dwelling
to enter into your life together
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.

Moving on to the second lawn and an even bigger tree, we were regaled with spontaneous gifts from our friends: poetry readings (the naughty one that didn't make it to the real thing), a fertility dance, folk songs in large silly hats, and speeches whose words flew away on the breeze but whose meaning was felt. People wandered in and around the offerings getting fairly sozzled.

As the white linen became soiled with early summer salads, lavender bunches dropped to the floor in favour of wine glasses, and the white choccy woccy doo dah cake was cut, the drone of speeches begun.

The Irish country dancing swung, the Dufay Collective sang and on one side of the fairy lit apple tree the hundred strong Merrow-Smith family partied to the background music whilst on the other my equally numerous baroquey muso friends craned to hear the magic. Two people marry; two worlds meet and collide in joy, the bride's studded sandal is lost....A perfect day.

And here we are in our dwelling, three failed ivf's and two divine cats later. Thismorning, on our third wedding anniversary, I thanked my husband for marrying me and he replied:

"Someone had to rescue you"

He has sure done that. And much, much more.

As I write, Julian-three-hamburger-twenty-macaroon -two-paintings-a-day-mammoth-heart- Merrow-Smith is upstairs painting poppy fields and listening to the Archers on wireless broadband in the middle of the vines, and someone just got married to the words:

Go now to your dwelling....

Plus ça change.
ruth and julian


aaahhh! How wonderful. Such a feeling of 'and then they lived happily ever after'!

beautifully written and fabulous photograph! (actually ... a really adorable photograph).

I can't believe we share not only a name but a wedding anniversary! 21 years for me. Sounds like an idyllic wedding and your life sounds blissful too; OM Shanti, long may it continue.....BTW, I did try to comment on the day of this post but could not access the comments box.

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