My Brother is a married man!
A whirlwind trip to England started with a fantastic stag do (that’s a Bachelor Party, Americans) organised by Frank’s good friends Richard and Keiran. I’d been feeling like I was failing in my best man duties when they started organising the festivities, but I soon realised that they were the right people to do it, and they did Frank really proud. We found ourselves in rural Herefordshire late on a Friday night, after just landing in Heathrow. The weekend was mainly outside, situated at a fantastic campsite in rolling hills. That’s about all that was suitable for this blog. I can say that by the time we left on Sunday, I had absolutely no idea what time zone I was in!
After a short break in Devon we drove up to Loughborough, via Bath. I wanted a walk around my old stomping grounds from University times, and Christa had to find herself a cute hat. We stopped for cake first, then walked through the high street as memories of uni life flooded back to me. It seems weird visiting now that my life is so different. All the places are very familiar, but the feelings are all gone. I still think that Bath would be the top of the list if I ever decided to return to the UK, and luckily Christa seems to like it there too. We walked around the promenade above the gardens, looked at Pulteney Bridge, bought a hat, then headed for Loughborough.
We arrived in Loughborough on Wednesday, just in time to join Frank at his circuit session at the high performance centre. Last time I came to visit I did the same thing, and couldn’t move for days afterwards. I was reassured that I’ve actually been training well, because this time I was only sore for a day after! Christa also joined in and held her own.
We didn’t have too much to do in the run up to the wedding. Mum and Dad had been really busy helping Frank and Vicky out; they’d made wedding favours in the form of little pots of chutney and jam, and they’d made the entire wedding cake by hand too.
I had a lot of speech writing to do. I was really confident of giving a good speech, but the closer we got to the wedding, the more nervous I got. It’s a big responsibility to summarise and display your relationship with your big brother in front of an audience. I spent a lot of time rehearsing my speech to Christa, to the point where she could also spew it straight back to me!
The morning of the wedding. Frank, like me, is a quiet and calculating person. He doesn’t show his emotions on the surface. He went for a run in the morning, and seemed to come back a lot happier. We sat around eating a smoked salmon breakfast with the family before we started the manic process of getting ready.
My one responsibility was to bring the rings to the Church. This was something I took very seriously. What Frank had failed to appreciate though, is that I’d taken it upon myself to make sure I could fool him at least once during the course of the day. I managed to convince him on the drive to the church that I’d forgotten the rings, making Dad pull the car over, as Christa and I (in the car behind) cruised on by holding the rings up for them to see. Mission accomplished.
The Church filled quickly with Vicky’s family and mine. The Baddick side of the family has grown a lot since I last caught up with everyone, and now a good majority of my cousins have small children. Nayomi, a cousin I haven’t seen for a long time said it best “Frank can’t be getting married because he’s still eight years old in my mind”. It’s amazing how quickly time marches on. The ceremony was conducted by Vicky’s Dad’s cousin – he was warm and engaging during the service, and it was amazing to see how much time he’d put in to learning about Frank and Vicky. He really warmed up the church and changed the catholic-heavy ceremony from something unfamiliar to an amazing celebration of marriage. It happened very quickly – 30 minutes later, the rings had been blessed, the veil lifted and a kiss at the altar. We exited the church to cold February sunshine before Frank and Vicky departed for Swinfen hall in two beautiful cars.
I’d only seen pictures of the hall before the wedding day, but as soon as the gates opened and we saw the grounds, I knew why Frank and Vicky had chosen it. We greeted them on the steps with confetti, then celebrated inside with champagne and pimms. We did some photos outside with almost the whole family, and then some smaller ones with just the ushers. Soon enough the mingling was done and we headed to the dining room. I knew Frank would have been most concerned about the food, and it was really excellent. Something I’m hoping to emulate next year at our wedding. Four courses with flowing wine went by very quickly, with me nervously sitting next to Mum and worrying about my speech.
The worrying about my speech paid off, and I delivered it smoothly. I’m pretty sure it went well; no one left crying, and Frank gave me a big hug at the end, so I was relieved. I could relax after that, and celebrated with wedding cake washed down with copious gin and tonic. The band Frank and Vicky had chosen played 90’s British indie rock hits from open to close – it was the soundtrack to Frank and I growing up. I wasn’t expecting to be so happy about the music choice, but it really finished off the evening perfectly in my mind. I was amazed how few of the songs Christa knew – another country and a couple of years difference really changes music choice!
This has been a difficult blog post to write – the emotion of the day trumped any of the actual events. There were smiles from breakfast until the last slowly sipped glass of single malt at midnight. It was perfect.