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Date: 28/08/05

Forever (Mr & Mrs) Young

I seldom get invited to weddings. Well, OK, I seldom get invited anywhere (perhaps I should seek help). But yesterday was our family's Day Of The Year, as my niece Andrea married her fiancé Aidan Young.

The ceremony was held at the Holt Lodge Hotel just outside of Wrexham. It's a great idea to have the wedding in a hotel; it means you don't have to go anywhere else for the rest of the day.

Photo of Holt Lodge Hotel, Wrexham

The weather wasn't too promising: in fact, there were a few spots of rain as we arrived at about 12.45. But we went inside and watched the growing frenzy of the groom, the best man, the usher and the bride's parents as showtime approached.

Finally, at 2.00 pm, we made our way through to the Orchard Room for the ceremony. There are some people who still insist that a wedding isn't really a wedding without religious rigmarole, but I totally disagree. While the ceremony yesterday was far less formal than you'd find in a church, it was no less meaningful for that. It was uncomplicated, true, and it lacked the rhetorical flourishes which are the stock-in-trade of the priestly classes. But there was a sincerity to it, and a joy which has been absent from all the church weddings I've ever attended. Those officiating were businesslike without being bossy, and informal without any loss of solemnity of purpose.

Well, I'm showing my bias again, but it really was beautifully done. The happy couple (there have to be clichés, you know) had asked me to give a reading, with the stipulations that it couldn't be a) religious (which they wouldn't have got from me anyway), or b) mucky (which spoiled things just a tad). So, after the exchanging of rings, I was called forward to read a piece I'd found online. It's usually referred to as the Apache Blessing, but I suspect it of having been written in somewhere like Pittsburgh in about 1972. I honestly didn't expect the round of applause which followed it. Relief, possibly. I know it was for me.

The ceremony concluded with the signing, and then photographic hell broke loose. Having not taken any pictures during the ceremony (partly because I was too tense, but partly out of a lingering sense of decorum), I managed to snap a few. Here's one:

Photo of Aidan and Andrea signing the register

(After the signing. Back row: Jodie (bridesmaid), Andy (best man), Corinne (bridesmaid). Sitting on the table: the flower girls, Caitlin and Morgan)

Afterwards, we made our way out to the bar area, to greet Mr & Mrs Young. Of course, their son Ethan Alexander was present:

Photo of Ethan Young at his parents' wedding

We then found our way to the garden for the photographs. This seemed to take an age, but the rain had gone, so it wasn't too bad. The 'official' photographers were guarding their 'exclusive' quite zealously, but we bumbling amateurs still managed to get a few:

Photo of Aidan and Andrea on the bridge

After all this palaver, we went back inside for the reception. The food was good, and there was a goodly amount of it. This was followed by the speeches, and the toasting of the newlyweds.

Sometime after 5.00, we were gently turfed out for the hotel staff to make the room ready for the night 'do'. I took a stroll around the grounds. The weather by this time was very pleasant indeed (this is when I took the photo of the hotel at the top of this piece). After a while, I needed recharging, so I went into the Lounge to, well lounge, actually. The speakers were playing a pleasant mix of light jazz, which I found very relaxing as I tried to doze in a deep sofa.

Then, at 7.00, we all went back in to the banqueting room for the evening event. There was a disco. I love music, but not at great volume, so I dodged out into the garden again at regular intervals. This didn't prevent me from catching a few moments:

Photo of Aidan and Andrea have the first dance

The bride & groom take the floor.

A photo of Ethan between Andrea and Gemma

"Help! I'm with two pissed women!"

A photo of Aidan eating

"'Ere! This spring roll's empty!"

A photo of Caitlin dancing

Caitlin boogies on down.

As night fell, I stood in the garden looking at the sky

A photo of dusk at the Holt Lodge Hotel

and pondering that, for all the pain in the world, there is still a preponderance of people, things and events which are truly good. Or, as Steve Tilston's song says, "Some Times In This Life Are Beautiful".

(This, of course, was before I uploaded my pictures to my PC and found that everyone photographed indoors had been given such a bad case of 'red eye' that it looked like I'd attended the union of two tribes of zombies. I'm clearly still learning how to work this camera. Thank goodness for Paint Shop Pro, I say).