Rosie came up the aisle to Lauda Jerusalem, sang by a choir made up of their various musical friends – including our old music teacher, the legendary Mr H – and accompanied by the organ and a brass ensemble. Rosie is a Christian, Adrian is an atheist but he is organist for the church. They were both therefore very much at home in that place and conducting the service was Peter, a retired vicar who helped me out with some book research last year. He looks like an ordinary kind of vicar, but is really very eccentric. Really he is the sort of clergyman who ought to be Archbishop of Canterbury or preferably Pope, but being a Humanist I don’t think my opinion counts for much.
We sang the first hymn, which I forget the title of. It was a classic one, familiar but I was too busy moving into position for my reading. At this point I realised that my paternal Grandmother wasn’t there. This saddened me greatly, as she has been very ill in recent months. She was very disappointed that she was unable to bake Rosemary’s cake (Granny has baked and decorated a cake for every notable event within the family as far back as I can remember) and she was worried that she shouldn’t be able to attend. I knew she would be devastated not to have made it and Rosie would be upset too. Then suddenly towards the end of the hymn Granny appeared, not in the wheelchair that had brought her to Andrew’s funeral in May, but hurrying along with a walking stick. Hooray!
Peter the vicar is rather disorganised. Indeed, Adrian once had to conduct a Christmas service when Peter failed to show up. Things began to go a little askew during the wedding when I moved into position for my reading on queue but Peter went on apparently having forgotten me entirely.
Highlights of the actual marriage included Peter asking Rosie if she would take Adrian as her wife, Rosie telling Adrian to “Just shove it on!” when he was struggling with the ring, Rosie drawing blood from Adrian when, engrossed in reading her vows, she mistook the base of his finger for his knuckle and both Rosie and Adrian whispering “She’s behind you!” when Peter became confused as to the whereabouts of his former curate, Camilla, who was waiting to give the blessing.
I thought it was a nice touch that we were asked, not only whether or not we knew of any just cause or impediment but also whether or not we would support R & A’s marriage and help them in their future together. We had to chorus “We Will” in reply.
At some point (I was sat waiting at the front of the church facing the congregation for some time, thank God I wasn’t stood up!) I got to do my reading. It was a new translation of that famous bit from Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, by Rosie and Adrian’s friend Charles, another retired vicar:
I may speak all the languages of earth and heaven, but if I have no love in my heart, it’s just like the old religions with the din and noise of gong and cymbal. I may be a ‘Man of God’ and be able to understand and explain all the wonders and secrets of God’s way; I may trust in God with all my heart, trust him as Jesus told us to trust him; but if I have no love in my heart, all this is worthless.
I may give everything I’ve got to feed hungry people; I may be branded as a slave for what I believe, but if I have no love in my heart, I get nothing at all out of it.
This is what love is like. Love is never in a hurry, and it’s always kindness itself. It doesn’t envy anybody at all; it never boasts about itself. It’s never snobbish or rude or selfish. It doesn’t keep on talking about the wrong things other people do; remembering the good things is happiness enough. It’s tough – it can face anything. And it never loses trust in God, or in men and women; it never loses hope and never gives in.
Love holds good – everywhere, for everybody, forever. See that you put love first.
The choir sang another song (I was glad) while they signed the register. My mother looked particularly fetching in a dress from Monsoon – my Mum is about the least fashion-conscious, no-nonsense dresser in the land. She almost fell out with her own mother when she wanted to wear plimsols instead of heeled shoes for her own wedding in 1974. However, last Saturday she looked extremely glamorous. I only hope that I will look nearly so good when I am 183.
Rosie and Adrian joined in with the choir while the various witnesses did that bit. There was another reading by Adrian’s Mum (the Shakespeare, Marriage of Minds bit), another hymn or two and another song by the choir, during which Rosie and Adrian exchanged loving gazes. Then we all proceeded back down the aisle to the tune of Handel’s Zadok the Priest which was really incredible – it is a great piece of music, but a choir of perhaps two dozen, an organist and the brass ensemble made it sound like Royal Albert Hall stuff. It was really very powerful.
I must say that I was a little scornful - well scornful isn't quite the word, um, something like scornful but toned down significantly - about Rosie's desire for a bells-and-whistles traditional church wedding but it really did blow me away. I think it helped that everybody involved knew the couple very well - the clergy and the choir were all at the wedding breakfast. It was just lovely.
Much to my surprise I felt tearful with joy for what was happening! Rosie and Adrian are so good together and I love them both very dearly. This hasn't been changed at all by their being married, but the wedding gave us all a chance to celebrate feelings that we have had for a long time. And to be honest, it wouldn't have been the same had they done this much earlier: There's nothing magic about marriage which makes people strong and steadfast. But everyone who knows R & A well has already had a chance to witness that there is a magic between those two people that makes them strong and steadfast and the marriage was a celebration of that.
Hmm, difficult to articulate but what I mean to say is, it was perfect.