Cutting the cake was the only Official Wedding Thing we thought we’d have to do during the whole Official Wedding Party. We stabbed the slab, posed for pictures then poised to flee.
But that’s when people started hollering, “Speech! Speech!”.
“Ummm,” gulped Gareth. He briefly thanked our friends and family then we attempted to scurry away, but the guests were still looking at us expectantly. My sister Rhi bellowed from the back row, “How bout we hear from the BRIDE?! It’s 2005, don’t you know!”
The gin and tonic had impaired the part of my brain that makes one think before speaking.
“Yeah! ” I blurted, “Thanks David and Mary for putting on a great party. Especially Mary who ran round organising the whole thing while David played golf and me and Gareth sat on our ARSES!”
There must have been a dozen snowy-haired Friends of the In-Laws all thinking, “How did nice young Gareth end up with this uncouth Australian?”
I don’t normally supplement with alcohol, but both of us had been terrified about the party. All these people giving up their Saturday night because of us? Wasn’t there something better on the telly? Many people relish being the centre of attention but it turns my stomach to ice. What if no one had a good time? What if they thought the ceilidh was naff?
I’ve always hated throwing parties because I feel personally responsible for the happiness of everyone in the room. So keeping fifty people happy, many of whom I didn’t know, well… that’s pressure, baby. But the ceilidh was a brilliant icebreaker. We stomped around the dance floor while the band fiddled and accordion-ed and a tall bossy lady told us what to do.
It was a scorching evening by Scottish standards, soon our guests were red and glazed like Christmas hams. I handed out cards from our wedding gifts so the ladies could fan themselves between dances.
As I surveyed the room most people seemed to be in a reasonable state of happiness, so I started to relax. Perhaps a little too much.
It was time for Strip The Willow and the caller instructed the men to, “birl the girl around a bit”.
“What the fuck is a birl?” I boomed.
To my right stood three small children. To my left was my mother-in-law. Just dandy.
Birl: v. to spin.
I fled to the loos soon after that, remembering just in time that I was wearing my Amazing Squishy Bodysuit Thingy beneath the wedding frock that undoes with three very fiddly clasps in the crotch area. Ladies, be sure to allow yourself plenty of fumbling time if you wear one of these contraptions and have a small bladder. If I’d had another wine it could have been disastrous.
Earlier that day I’d made a few dozen prints from Vegas and stapled them on a big noticeboard, so guests could trace our wacky path to the altar. Every time a guest innocently paused by the display I’d rush over and sprout verbal captions for each picture, like the curator of the Dork Museum.
It was surreal, standing there in the same fancy frock, gawking at photos of me and Gareth and that dude in the Elvis suit crooning into a microphone. It was no wonder I hadn’t felt like we’d been married these past four months. The whole Vegas thing looked so bloody pantomime ridiculous that it couldn’t possibly be for real! But on Saturday night, surrounded by friends and family and semi-strangers, reality finally sank in.
As much fun as eloping had been, celebrating the moment with a room full of sweaty folk was extra special. There were Gareth’s school buddies catching up over a smoke. There were aunties and cousins and golfing buddies. There were little kids who crapped their pants from excitement. There was the Ewins’, without whom I’d never have met Gareth. There were generous and patient in-laws. There was my delirious sister untying balloons, gulping down the helium and bleating, “Does my voice sound funny? Does it? Does it?”.
The evil gin makes me sentimental, so we could blame my misty-eyed antics on that. But as our guests trickled home I felt sappier than a box of Disney DVDs. I’d had a blast and was feeling very fortunate indeed. I queued up one last song on our classy iTunes/speaker set-up and dragged the bloke that I now properly appreciated was my husband onto the dance floor. The belated First Dance for the bride and groom was It’s Not Unusual.
Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh! What a day.