Wednesday, 2 April 2008


I guess everyone thinks their wedding is extraordinary, but ours really was. Mainly because it involved so many people's time, energy and talents and it was all done with such unstinting goodwill.

Theo had hired one of his young singer-songwriter proteges, Harry Penny to help with the get-in at Manor Hall on Friday. Liz and Al came over with enough fairy lights to rival the Blackpool illuminations and stayed to give us a hand. Later my mum, my godmother Tish, Theo's parents and sister and Poppy, Theo's best man all turned up to help and apart from a few last minute whoopsies, it all went reasonably smoothly. (The linen tablecloths we thought we'd organised didn't materialise, but the students let us use their rolls of paper table cloths, gawbless'em. Never again will I whinge about the lack of parking in Clifton during term-time. Also, the order of service wasn't printed because the print shop had closed for the Easter holidays, but the one round the corner did the whole run as a last minute emergency before they closed for the weekend at a cost of less than 20 quid). Our celebrant, Susan Osman, arrived and we did a run-through, then went home to await the arrival of the hoards.

The eve-of-wedding family warm-up as Pizza Express was lovely, albeit marred for me by the disappearance of my voice. I'd felt the beginnings of a chest infection coming on the night before and by Friday evening it had got a grip of my larynx. Knowing the signs, I realised with a sinking heart I was going to struggle to be heard during my wedding. I spent the dinner talking by text message in a vain effort to preserve what was left of my voice. I knew it wouldn't work.

Theo spent the night at Poppy and Diccon's flat in deference to tradition, so I woke up alone at five thirty am, mind already getting geared up for the day ahead. I gave up trying to sleep at seven and went for a run the quiet of early morning. I'd hoped it might help unclog my chest, but no. Still, it was a wonderful lift to the spirits to see the Avon Gorge and Clifton Suspension Bridge outlined in the sleepy Spring sunshine. I got back refreshed to eat breakfast with my sister, brother-in-law and four niblings.

The morning was punctuated with people coming and going bearing clothes, shoes, tiara and ironing board; (Liz - she ironed my dress and stole too, bless her); flowers (my Hot Flush co-singer Laura - she and her mum had grown flowers especially for my bouquet and it looked magnificent); more flowers (Tish and Dan dispatched to get tulips for bridesmaids and button-holes); food (for the wedding buffet) and photography (Theo's ex, Jemimah came to take pictures of me getting ready). I did feel a bit like a princess as Tish painted my toenails, people brought me tea and Mum did my hair (it started badly but luckily Jemimah's experience with long hair and her words of advice helped save the day there). I didn't actually feel at all nervous or even excited. I was pre-occupied by the devastation of my vocal chords and really, just wanted to get all the preparation out the way so I could be with Theo again.

A flurry of Salisbury relatives and taxis and we were off to the registry office. My efforts to make a big entrance in all my finery for Theo were slightly dashed by the necessity of filling out forms together prior to the ceremony, but I was so pleased to see Theo (who looked utterly gorgeous in his suit) and anyway, I kept on my coat to preserve some semblance of surprise.

The registry office ceremony was short but sweet. It was a busy day for weddings, with two coming out as we went in and two more waiting their turn as we emerged. But the slight conveyor-belt aspect of it all didn't detact from the significance of what was happening for us and as we said the legal vows I could hear sniffing from our assembled families behind us. We were signed and sealed.

Theo and I elected to fill the hour and a half until we had to go to Manor Hall with a sojourn in our hotel room. I will draw a discreet veil over it. Some things should remain personal.


When we entered the dining room at Manor Hall with our entourage of twelve bridesmaids and pageboys and ring-bearer behind us, that was the moment when emotion almost got the better of me. All these people we knew gathered together for US and the sound of my lovely friend Ali Orbaum applying her incredible voice to our chosen song, Feeling Good accompanied by another friend, Toby Field on the keyboard. It really was beautiful.

The ceremony itself was sublime. Susan excelled herself with her moving choice of words and immaculate delivery. My singing group, Hot Flush gave us rousing renditions of I'm A Believer and I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) and Joe Volk's solo song was just gorgeous. As Poppy and Becky passed us the rings which Theo's sister Hermione had made us as her wedding gift (she'd also dressed the stage and made my engagement ring...I wonder if we'd have actually managed to get married without her...) I thought, this is it..we are joined together forever and felt overwhelmed again.

The food...the incredible really was a sumptuous feast, our guests had excelled themselves with their offerings. Meats, fish and cheeses, pates, quiches, salads, sandwiches...and topped off with the most incredible cake, made by our friend S. It was three wonderfully tilting tiers of chocolate, sponge and ginger respectively, decorated in an array of harlequin colours (including the Bristol Rovers blue and white quartiles, heh!) and topped off with a bright pink feather and crystal arrangement. The whole thing was a gift from Joe and S and Liz and Al. We felt so thoroughly spoiled.

And the wine...! Loads of it, red, white and pink and lots of fizz. Tim, my former stepdad, my dad, my godparents, my friends Jon and Sarah and I suspect various others had all brought bottles and bottles of the stuff. So much, our guests couldn't get through it all, even when we gave a few cartons to our bands for their riders. A veritable cellar's-worth has been laid down for us by Theo's dad and we've taken several bottles of leftover Champagne with us to enjoy on our honeymoon.

The open-mic nature of the speeches lent itself to a slightly unconventional round-up of speakers, all completely different and all highly enjoyable. Poppy as best man took the first turn ("Theo said Kate was way out of his league and when we met her, we realised he was right...")
Theo went next ("I've got this two-word phrase I say when something is so supremely wonderful there are no words left to express it...I use it now as my toast...Kate Salisbury!!")
My Dad ("what a fabulous itinerary for your honeymoon travels and I'm deeply touched and grateful to be going with you...")
Me (I had written a song called Do You Know My Man? to the voice wasn't up to it, Hot Flush stepped in with their excellent harmonies and I simply played the guitar and worked a treat)
Theo's Mum ("with all that intelligence, my brilliant son could be pompous and arrogant...but he chooses to work with underprivileged children with kindness...and as a husband I know he will be as endlessly giving and selfless as his own father..")
My Mum (who quoted us a beautiful French hymn about love)
And - slightly unexpectedly - my Aunty Frances (who got her own back on me by singing the On Top Of Spaghetti version of On Top Of Old Smokey as I had done at her wedding thirty years earlier)
Then a hugely funny and touching video-taped speech sent online from Argentina by Beans, Theo's original best man. The film was edited to perfection and Beans delivered it with aplomb.

In all the rush to get downstairs and start partying, we almost forgot to cut our magnificent cake, but cut it we did and after a brief photo session with Jemimah, we went downstairs and opened proceedings on the dance floor with Feist's My Man, My Moon then left DJ Pete and DJ Tasch to do us proud with non-stop floor-fillers (apart from the reggae numbers...Tasch decided quite quickly to abandon those).

Next door in the band room, SJ Esau's quirky one-man pop machine was fantastic, Angel Tech were extraordinary and Babel just superb. We danced until my feet felt like they were being cut to pieces in their unaccustomed diamante high heels. It was worth it. Miles The Munter DJ'd between bands, James Statick mixed the sound and Tony "The Voice" Hutton stage managed. And despite our efforts to at least cover their expenses, none of the bands would accept a bean. They drank plenty of wine, though and polished of the Weapons Strength ginger beer (our gift from Matt and Sarah...ahem, sorry the barrel went missing...)

By eleven we were exhausted, but the whole thing had been utterly fantastic and everyone entered into the spirit of the occasion and WHAT an occasion. If this is a rather long blog entry, apologies. But it's something we want to have fixed on the page and in our memories for the rest of our lives. Wedding of the century. Admittedly, I may be biased. But we couldn't have done it without so many people getting involved and that fact, plus the momentous and joyous commitment we have made to one another has added up to the most incredible end to one journey and the most gloriously auspicious beginning to another.

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