OK, so it went on more than I thought it was going to. There were a lot of lists, and a lot of thanks to cover. Sorry. I hope you had a seat.
It looked something like this.
He didn’t boo them – he boo’d them.Not because they were bad, you see – in fact Andy was in the choir and was recording it at the time. Yes, Swing Low and Flower of Scotland as recorded in the choir loft. You can listen to it on Audioboo here.
You should have seen the look David (my new father-in-law) was giving me during Swing Low… he thought they were just going to do that one! No-one had any idea that either rugby anthem was on the way… and David genuinely thought it was just going to be the English tune. The look said “bloody sassanach”….
We had the most wonderful day of our lives and we can’t thank enough all the people who played a role in that. Thank you.
For pics of the day:
- Dapple’s – a couple from the pub and plenty of crackers from the party – especially nice from the DJ’s vantage point.
- Graham’s – lovely shots in the church pre-match, the bride’s arrival and a couple from the crows-nest of the choir loft, then party shots and some from round the piano
and if you’re on facebook check out Alison Clough’s, Siobhan Furlong’s and Alicia Blum-Ross’s.
And a few of mine here.
If you know me at all, you know that I love good process and planning. And graphs. And lists. I make lists. And then lists of lists.
Check a search for Groom Speech online and you, broadly speaking, get a series of links that would lead you down the path of banality. Luckily, I don’t need to use any of these suggested “jokes”, romantic notes or pre-prepared prose. I have a list to rely on. Having said that, if you’ve got suggestions, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of crowdsourcing so bung ‘em in.
Of course, I get the easy job: thank people, make multiple mentions of “my wife” to rapturous applause and remember to toast the beautiful bridesmaids. I’m told that the BF, David, will have some things to say. He usually does. Based on what he said about the other daughter, FSIL Sarah, on her wedding day, it should be the most entertaining speech you’ve ever heard. No pressure David. And then there’s the BM, Steve. Such a good and supportive job so far. Such a good stag do. And I have every confidence he’ll deliver with aplomb.
Right. Better get it written then. Now, which ppt template to use…
PHEW – I’m glad i got that out of my system. better now. woke at 5.30 with a stonking headache – a sense of excitement, apprehension, trepidation and a list of things that need to get done. oh, and Old Red Eyes by The Beautiful South going round my head. pre-match nerves are a good thing though, right? – otherwise you wouldn’t enter the field of play geared up and ready to go.
anyway, tension always builds when you’re in the last days approaching a big product launch… the FMA conversion process being the most valuable project I’ve managed and this is definitely going to be the biggest party I ever have or ever will organise.
Rehearsal tonight. That’ll help calm everyone down then.
Less than a week to go now. Excitement with the FMA is so intense she will, actually, burst unless work can take her mind off next Saturday. Obviously I’m still completely unruffled. Looking forward to the skiing though. Oh, and the cakes (there’s going to be a good selection) and the party. And maybe the church bit. And all the rest to come…
The “Last Last” Syndrome has kicked in good and proper. The last saturday night out as a single man. The last haircut (sorry mum, I was never going to go back to the short, back and sides). The last friday at work, the last time of going to church, … the list goes on.
BUT, enough of all that. Firstly, I have to show you the BEST rsvp. My hat, real and virtual, tipped to Uncle George.
The first step for most inquisitive people is simply to try googling it… and google has some pertinent suggestions as to the real meaning of The FMA:
- The Family Mediators Association – perhaps she’s likely to work wonders in bringing the Ayers and the Clough clans together.
- Facilities Management Association – yes, she’s good with the cooking and the cleaning.
- Fulfilment Management Association – feeling fulfilled is so important, and so difficult in this fractured world, I’m glad she’ll help me get there.
- Franciscan Mission Association – odd one this one… is there a group of ninjas called Francis who she sends on missions? or perhaps she directs the friars where to do good works?
- Florida Medical Association – I don’t think I’d be marrying her if this was the one. Although, nurses…
- Filipino Martial Arts – involves a lot of hitting you in the knee-caps or biting your ankles – and then nursing you on an NHS ward / nannying your children.
- Japanese Manga character the Fullmetal Alchemist – She is part-machine, with that ever-present sense of focus, after all.
It wouldn’t be a stag do if nobody got injured – and I mean more than the battering taken by our livers.
At last night’s choir Andy hobbled in and revealed that, having eschewed the sensible taxi in favour of more shenanagins on Saturday night, he was then required to walk back to Banbury Farm. But, being a towny, he hadn’t factored in that it would be dark – pitch black, in fact. And that’s when accidents occur. See image of what happens when you’re inebriated and fall into a pothole. There is also a vague memory of taking a nap in a hedge for a while. Unsubstantiated.
An open letter to those in Charlbury in the last 48 hours:
It was a simple recipe and one that worked tremendously well. Blokes, booze and banter. Thank you all for coming and for contributing to such a celebration of, er, whatever it was we were celebrating.
Another b, barrels, used well for drinking from and, earlier in the day, the over and under kind used with some success against the clays. The speeches at the end of dinner were great – and would only be better if I could remember what was actually said.
And finally I must give my thanks particularly to the brothers – BM Steve and FBIL Ferg – who combined brilliantly to organise everything. Gentlemen, I can’t thank you enough.
If I don’t see you before, see you in 20 days.
big love. that is all. carry on. as you were.
It’s my stag do this weekend. A tremendous job by the BM Steve to organise, communicate, chivvy and chase, ably abetted by the FBIL Ferg. Looking forward to it and I’m honoured by the number of guys who can make it. Either that or lots of them are feeling the same as Chris B said to me this afternoon: “I’m really quite excited – I mean, I don’t often have big weekends where you do things like this any more.”
Fi’s hen do last weekend was a cracker, by the sounds of it.
She came back elated and overflowing with the love her friends had poured out. The master-stroke was the board-games theme and the excellent work put in to create “Fiopoly… or Fiona and the Ginger Ring”. That plus the imported follicle extensions… good work ladies. I’m sure that the chaps have put equal creative thought into, er, how many pints they’re going to buy. which is nice.
Last time for everything: It’s when you’re in the run up to something that you start counting the time left. 12 more sleeps ’till we go on holiday, christmas eve eve, the last time i’ll go to the office before i’m made redundant, the last time i can go to the loo before I have to sit through yet more interminable warbling from the soprano oh why oh why did i ever agree to come to the opera i hate the opera, etc … you know the kind of thing.
I’ve not been getting any of these realisations, but I can feel they’re coming. Fi, on the other hand told me she has. So, over dinner, I asked “what kind of things?” “Well,” she says, “like just the other day I thought, that’s the last time I’m going to have my bikini-line waxed cut as a single woman.”.
No, not what I had expected either.
In other news, my dreams are getting weirder. Yesterday’s was a mishmash of inappropriate and embarrassing sexual relations, the problematic launch of a google product (why specifically a google product, i have no idea) and dealing with the fact that I was terminally ill. Other than that, it was a perfectly pleasant night’s sleep. I blame it on the copious amount of parmesan I had eaten before bed. cheesedreams rock.
Also, met the photographers on Tuesday – and they’re cool. The best thing - AND THIS IS FOR ALL YOU GUESTS – they don’t want to be standing around so they’re more than happy to be taking family portraits or pictures of couples during the evening. It’s all digital, naturally, so getting good shots is what they’re about, and Susie and Harley wanted us to actively encourage you to go up and ask them. We get a copy of everything they do whatever happens and however many pics there are – so if you’ve ever fancied having a serious professional (and usually advertising/fashion) photographer take a snap of you, dive in.
And finally, never mind the photographer, there’s a futurologist in the family, and an artistic talent, to boot. I’m so impressed with Stella FNIL (5)’s vision of what the wedding will look like – I particularly like the attention to detail of the high heels and hair lengths, and I’m now seriously thinking about a bow-tie and two-tone blue suit.
OK, so firstly, CAKES!!!
Yes, I said cakes. I think we forgot to put it on the info sheet with the invites, but we’re going to have a cake table. No official wedding cake – but a WI-style cake table for you all to bring cakes. There may be judging of them (the FMA’s sister Sarah (FSIL) wants judging because she thinks there’s a rosette in there for her) – and there will definitely be cutting and eating. But, the message is – if you want to – make a cake and either deliver it to Riba the day before, the morning of, or bring it to the wedding. I love cake.
Secondly, the Count:
Thank you to all those who’ve replied already to the invites that went out. If you haven’t then popping an email to firstname.lastname@example.org would be good – and then if you wish to send a formal, old-school note, feel free.
Interestingly, my team win on the rapid response, but the clough team pulls it back later in the week and we end up with, after Week 1, ayers rsvps just ahead. on email. BUT, if you add in the postal replies, then the cloughs have it by 13 – 7. Which means, of course, they come out as Week 1 Winners at 32 – 28.
Conclusions? Not sure. But does it suggest that the clough ‘massive’ is slower off the mark, less email friendly, a bit more formal, but as a whole have got into their stride? Or am I just, surprise, surprise, over analysing the data? Or, am I just applying unnecessary KPIs?
This week lots of things happened. The best of which for me was spending some of friday afternoon with the best man sorting him a morning suit (black tails, dark pinstripe, grey waistcoat and grey tie in case you want to join us) and getting ourselves to Riba to join the FMA in a food tasting with catering queen Bobby and an arrangements discussion with organiser extraordinaire Julia.
Yesterday we met with D2 to hand over the final invites they hadn’t/couldn’t put in the post. 90% have gone out and the others will early this week. We have to thank my good friend Mr Max Gadney who did a wonderful job of helping us to come up with an idea which was close to our hearts. We love walking, and mountains, and the Lake District… and Wainwright. Also thanks Max for, er, bending the copyright rules (it’s a homage, we’ll make a donation).
In case you wondered, it’s the north western fells, Grassmoor. The ascent from Rannerdale via Red Gill.
To all the people who’ve commented how much they like the invites: please make sure you send an email saying how many of you are coming, whether you need to put kids in the creche and if you have any special dietary requirements other than vegetarian.
And finally, I tried on a ring this week. One of those that measures your size.
I’m R +½. Which seems appropriate.
Reason 1: The FMA has a near-encyclopaedic knowledge of Big Brother (the early series) and random 80s pop. So much so that she spent aimed of Friday night competing with old uni friend Sang (and those who know Sang know that’s a feat). It’s a daunting and worrying trait.
Reason 2: The FMA has never seen a Lethal Weapon, Rambo, Die Hard and only one of the Indiana Jones films. I shall stop there to save her blushes. I ask you, is that natural? Eh? I mean, what was she doing? Reading books??
Reason 3: As shown by last week’s experience at the marriage preparation session, we are supposed to be panicking by now. I am supposed to be getting nervous, planning is supposed to be stressful and the FMA is supposed to be obsessing about the bridesmaids ribbons matching the ushers’ retinas. None of this is happening. Yet. Last week’s key milestones included booking the honeymoon hotel (the Kristiania in Lech in Austria) and I seem to have been signed off not only by the Papacy but by the Islingtonacy as well. Bureaucracy? Shmureacracy.
Reason 4: Stag do. Seems like plans are coming together nicely. Steve the BM is at the helm with Ferg FBIL providing excellent support. However it’s not the organisation I’m worried about. It’s the possibility that there may be a barbers in Charlbury. I may have to bribe them to go away for the weekend.
Perhaps I speak to soon – perhaps it is still to come. Perhaps I *should* be worried.
Yes, we have the certificate to prove it. We have officially passed the course. Admittedly the FMA got an ‘A’ and I got a ‘C+ could do better if he didn’t spend his time making gags’ but I imagine that’s not a surprise to anyone.
If you don’t know, if one wishes to get married in the/a Catholic church then one must do a course with Marriage Care. Sounds oppressive, right? Sounds like a hurdle to go through and a hoop to get over? (or similar) Well, we were surprised to find it a lot more fun than that. Basically it’s a relationship advisory session – with a focus on commitment, conflict resolution and communication – with 10 other couples – with two session leaders who were the wry, witty, realist and humane Ingrid and the mildly distractingly attractive 30sthg lawyer Shellane. There was lots of chat and no role playing. Or praying. Or group hugs. Thank you Ingrid and Shellane, it was well worth while. But get the heating fixed.
Oh, and to all the other couples who are pulling their hair out because the ribbon from the bridesmaids dresses doesn’t match the ribbon on the stationary … Ffs, get a grip.
In other news…
Gifts: We’ve gone vouchers from John Lewis, good booze from Highbury Vintners or charitable donation to my mum and dad’s charity ‘Kimberley Kids’ which supports township kids in South Africa. More info on the Wedding Info page.
Flowers: sorted. Venue, RIBA: sorted.
Dress code: I’m delighted to hear that a number of guys are joining me in morning dress. The more the merrier – come on gentlemen, it’ll be cool. Ladies, glamour is good. Kids, fancy dress is good. Actually, fancy dress gets big points for anyone who is brave enough.
Invites: We’ve been gathering address details and getting stuff sorted. Most people who need to have the day free know by now … and the formal confirmation of that will be with you next week.
When I was a much younger man, I got married. A variety of circumstances and choices meant that I invited less than half of my extended family, *and* chose not to invite any children. Everything’s easier with hindsight, isn’t it?
So, this time the invitation list is going the other way.
Family – My parents have been good enough to pull together the extended family list, *with* all the kids invited. And when you’re 38 your cousins have a lot more kids than they did 15 years earlier. Most of them I’ve hardly ever met but BDMs (as the newspaper guys call them) are the significant points where families get a good excuse to come together.
Friends - Of course, the other thing about being 38 is that you have a lot of good friends you’ve built up over the years. What with the entire Ayers/Curran extended family and the Clough clan there’s a pressure on numbers. We did think of hiring the O2 centre, but thought that we’d just have to draw a line somewhere. So we’ll be welcoming everyone we can for a good knees-up and obviously, if you don’t get an invite, then it just means we don’t like you enough.
Formal invitations – will be coming out in a couple of weeks.
Catching up – Let’s be honest, the day I’m getting married isn’t the best time for having any kind of decent conversation with all the people I haven’t seen for a year, two.. five or, in some cases people that I’ve hardly ever met. So I shall be taking the regal approach – introducing the FMA and looking forward to talking properly another time. Forgive me (us) if we don’t get much time to catch up.
In the meantime, this week has been one for another kind of list:
Gift List – If you feel that you’d like to give us a gift, that’s lovely and you’ll find all the details on the Wedding Info page (also on the tab at the top of this page). If you think we’re too old to be getting gifts, or you want to give it to your favourite charity, then that’s wonderful too.
We’ve already got two houses worth of stuff to fit into one and you know what I’m like about trying not to buy loads of new things, recycling etc etc … so at the moment we’ve got a few larger items from John Lewis in mind (the HD projector is the best idea yet) to which you could make a voucher contribution if you wished. The other list we’ve set up is for Highbury Vintners (that way we’ve got an excuse to open some good stuff when you come and visit). Of course, the FMA would love it if you bought a lifetime supply of golf stuff for me too. Titleist pro v1s, since you ask.
And finally, as this has been such a dry update. Here’s something from Dara O’Briain to lighten the mood:
For the first 18 Christmases of my life I was a single man.
For the next 13 I wasn’t.
For the 5 Christmases after that I felt single even if I wasn’t. But mostly I was.
This Christmas was something of a contrast. It passed in a contented whirl. Splitting three celebratory days across three locations, I found myself at home on the night of the 25th. Home alone. And not in a Culkin way.
As I went to bed I noticed the odd but satisfying serenity in feeling happily alone and yet not.
This is the last Christmas I will be unmarried. Ever.
I feel a daunted excitement even on typing that. Knowing that every Christmas eve, day and boxing day from now on will involve a heady mix of Ayers’s and Clough/McVeys … So different and so similar. And sometimes none of the above when myself and the FMA escape to foreign lands.
You know sometimes you don’t know how a decision will feel, and it’s only when the decision is made that you can tell? Well…
For the next 50 or so Christmases I’ll be with my wife and our family.
Which is nice.
Last Thursday morning Fr Gerard woke early, scoffed down some shredded wheat and made sure he was ready for when the post was delivered.
When he heard the postie stamp his feet outside the presbytery front door, he rushed to snatch up the clutch of post as it fell through the letter box.
Discarding the church heating bills, Fr G frantically flipped through the pile looking for the letter that would determine the fate (or at least the date) of the Ayers/Clough wedding. There hadn’t been this much excitement since he was sent those Kylie tickets for the O2.
And there it is!!
He grabs up the letter with the seal and rips it open to see what the Diocesan guardians have to say after their investigations into Ayers marriage v1.0.
Will they give the all clear? Can plans proceed and dates be set? Or do they need to dig a little deeper?? Fr G can hardly bear the tension.
But there it is, in plain black and white!
Yes! It’s a Yes! “Wahey! Geronimo! Fandabidosy!,” he shouts and rushes to the phone. Luckily he has me on speed-dial so gets straight through and gives me the good news.
Ok, so perhaps that isn’t exactly how it happened. But why let the truth get in the way of a good story?
Either way, and despite knowing that everything was fine, it was still a great relief to get the Papal signoff to get married on 27th Feb, and very good of Fr Gerard to make sure he called as soon as he found out. It means we can now crack on. And it’s exciting.
The time is also set now at 3.30pm in St Joan of Arc.
From there we jump on some routemasters down to RIBA in Portland place, so although you could drive, I’d recommend public transport if you can. More details on parking etc will be on the wedding info page as and when we have them.
The half-way point is passed with 11 weeks to go till W day. Don’t know what all the fuss is about really, everything’s under control.
Photographer decided. Susie Barker and Harley Evans of www.barkerevans.com are the winners. Although there wasn’t much decision in the end. Their, er, pitch to the FMA was so successful I think they may be hiring her for marketing in future. But with an excellent track record and having shot no less than TWO of our friends’ weddings with great results, we can relax and put ourselves safely in their hands.
Speaking of photographers, I came across this story from our friend Helen of Finsbury Park: Helen went to some friends’ wedding in Birmingham. They’re black and they found their photographer on the web. Somewhere in the conversation it came up that they’re black and the snapper commented “oh, I’ve never done a black wedding. Not a problem though.”
A little odd, you might think, but they let it pass. Until, that was, they got the photos back. All of which showed the people framed against Carribean backgrounds. Which he’d photoshopped in, one assumes, to make them feel more at home than they would do against the grey skies of Droitwich or the subtle colours of Solihull. Yes, beaches. And waterfalls.
“I’ve never even been to the Carribean,” said the newlywed.
He refused to change them or hand over the original files. They didn’t pay him and made do with the audience material. We may enter into a contract of some detail just in case I’m against the background of a raging sea, and arctic expedition or The Cloughs are pictured against a scene from Highlander.
The site’s changed. Better or worse? Comments below please.
New “Wedding Info” page too.
And finally: thank you @AndyGardiner for the hashtag. It’s a Twitter reference keyword. Ours is: #rifiwedding