GOIN’ TO THE CHAPEL OF LOVE.

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I didn’t post yesterday because it was the day of my sister’s wedding. Naturally, I was nervous. Third marriage; bride and groom with a history of jealous obsessiveness, tactlessness and restricted access to former partners. Naturally, I was worried. Will they be drunk? Will they be high? Will they remember today is their wedding day? My fears for their sobriety had already got me fired as Matron of Honour and had motivated my sister to send me an email stating that my concerns were groundless, that I didn’t, in fact, know what I was talking about, that this was the only relationship she’d ever had that made perfect sense; that she was experiencing courtly love just like Tristan and Isolde. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Tristan and Isolde’s story end rather tragically? Tristan died didn’t he? Isolde was banished. It might have been the love of the century but it only lasted for a few months.

‘Stop worrying,’ said my mother. ‘We have to let her live her own life.’ I’m all for that – letting people live their own lives if they actually live their lives on their own – but my sister’s own life blocks my way, filling the rooms of my life with squabbles, throwing my doors open with discontent, crushing me like peppercorns in a mill until all I notice are stones on the grass, not flowers.

I decided to make the best of it. I talked to a friend, a colour consultant, who told me to wear grey tones to the wedding (grey being the colour of neutrality.) I found a blue-grey dress in a vintage clothes shop, subtle, understated. It went perfectly with my black slingbacks. I piled my hair high on my head, holding it in place with a jewelled hair clip. I thought I looked elegant, almost French chic. The new Matron of Honour was hostile, wearing celebratory yellow. Her friends were dressed in varying shades of pink and peach. Their partners wore lilac shirts with white ruffles. The Matron of Honour looked me up and down. “This isn’t a funeral, you know,” she said.

The ceremony took place in a park overlooking the beach. A southerly wind swept up from the ocean, cooling us with a promise of hope. Palm fronds rustled, casting shadows like hands on the ground. Surfers ogled the female guests in their low cut frocks. My sister’s dog, the ringbearer, barked at butterflies. The best man’s baby son blew raspberries.

The groom cried. The bride dropped her bouquet. The vows were exchanged like a prayer to ward off heartache. The groom’s ring took the efforts of 3 people to get on his finger just like that children’s story The Enormous Turnip but in reverse. (The old woman pulled, the little boy pulled, the big dog pulled…)

Suddenly it was over and we were singing I Can See Clearly Now.

I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright, bright, sunshiney day.

Bubble mixture was handed round. The bubbles rose, sky blue and silver, full of light, landing on our heads like kisses. Rosellas in the brush box trees scattered, screeching in protest. My sister hugged me, brandishing a white gold wedding band. It was cold to the touch. “Thanks for coming,” she said, “But what’s with the hair? You look like the love child of Patsy Stone (Ab Fab) and Billy Idol.” Hhmmm.

The reception was fun, illuminating, untroubled as scoops of vanilla ice-cream in crystal-cut bowls. Aunt Davina drank 3 gin and tonics without stopping then fell asleep in the goat’s cheese and walnut salad. Uncle Doug circulated among the women, checking out cleavage. “I can’t help but look down there’ was his catchphrase of the day. The best man’s wife, a dedicated bird watcher, who has published a few books of her sketches of American and Australian birds, entertained us with her favourite bird calls. The stand outs were the Eastern bluebird, the Northern mockingbird and the black-capped chickadee.

The bride and groom danced to Is This Love? by Bob Marley. The wedding cake was chocolate with a white chocolate ganache and lavender flowers complete with vintage Mickey and Minnie cake topper (as seen above.) We ate it with creme fraiche infused with rosewater.

It seems that a wedding isn’t just about the start of a long journey but is a point where life can be re-examined, where it can shift, falteringly at first, then full tilt if you let it. Among the chatter and the chinking of glasses I decided to push that shift into motion. I got my guitar from the car and my son and I sang two songs we knew were favourites of my sister’s. Put Your Records On by Corinne Bailey Rae and Wonderwall by Oasis.

The applause was resounding. ‘I hope you’ll be happy forever,’ I called across the room. My sister told me she loved me. My mind cleared as if I had just woken.

“Well maybe, you’re gonna be the one that saves me, and after all, you’re my wonderwall.”

‘Thank you for letting her live her own life,’ said my mother. This day could so easily have been entitled: The One Where Darkness Descends. Instead it can now be called: The One Where The Big Sister Let The Little Sister Go.

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7 thoughts on “GOIN’ TO THE CHAPEL OF LOVE.

  1. >>Their partners wore lilac shirts with white ruffles. <<

    Jesus, Mary and Joseph! That’s one thing you would NEVER get me to wear … and I did wear Highland dress to a wedding once!

    Anyway … back from Spain and getting everything sorted out. Biggest memory was four of us getting stuck for singing ‘Is this the way to Amarillo?’ on karaoke night … to be told by our Spanish colleagues it should be pronounced ‘Am-a-ree-oh’ !!

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  2. who can say… sometimes two “broken” people need love more than anyone else… i know as i am half of that ill fated union……….
    lovely post…..

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  3. Keith – so glad you’re back. Can’t wait to read all about it. I am killing myself laughing about ‘Is This The way to Amarillo?’ Tony Christie wasn’t it? That song has haunted me for years. My Uncle sings it whenever he can get his hands on a microphone and does this strange kind of shuffling dance. My cousin is called Marie after ‘Sweet Marie” in the song. Love the Spanish pronunciation!

    Paisley- thank you so much for your comment. I really appreciate it. It’s true what you say, everybody needs someone to love, no matter how ill-fated the union may appear. Love can be so complicated, somewhat like traversing a minefield. I wish both you and my sister all the best….

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  4. Tony Christie it was …

    and recently sung Oor mimed to???) by comedian Peter Kay on a TV marathon, which went down so well that a) Peter Kay recorded it and b) Tony Christie re-recorded it.

    But, the best was a video of four soldiers in Iraq made of them singing it, and posted it on YouTube. Pity I can’t find the URL!!

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  5. Thank you, Ms Karen. Despite my misgivings, it was a good day in the end.

    Keith – I’m going to hunt down that video. I’ll send you the URL if I find it. Too hilarious!

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