There’s a surprising amount of competition for this, from the wedding where I had not only never met the groom but never got to speak to the one person I did know, the bride, to the one which my only memory of is standing in a sweltering corridor at a register office. Strangely, both of those couples divorced within a very few years.
The winner, though, took place in the early 1990s and has gone down in family folklore as ‘The Fridge Wedding’.
I wasn’t supposed to be at this wedding. The invitees were my grandparents and my parents. Unfortunately, my parents were unable to attend. Even more unfortunately my grandparents had reached that stage in life when my grandfather was no longer up to driving even the relatively short distance from their home in Oxfordshire to the wedding venue further south.
Helen and I were persuaded to take Mum and Dad’s place and to drive Gran and Grandad. The wedding was in one of those so-called ‘new towns’ which seem to have been designed as a mess of tiny cul-de-sacs and a complete lack of easily navigable areas. As a result, it not only took an age to find the church, I could not for the life of me tell you where it was.
Inside the church, Helen was very excited at the prospect of seeing the bride. To Chinese people, seeing one is very good luck indeed, but more importantly I think she just wanted to see the dress. The organ struck up and the bride slowly processed down the aisle. Which gave us plenty of time to decide that she looked like a fridge wearing a veil. It is now exaggeration to say that she was about 5’2″ in all directions.
Come the end of the ceremony, we all headed out for the customary photographs – only to find that it had started raining and the only option was to take all of the photos in the foyer of the church.
Fortunately, the reception was in the village hall next door. Here, things got even more bizarre. We sat at our appointed table, among people we did not know but were apparently related to, for what seemed like an age before the best man stood up and said “I am not going to make a speech. Thank you for coming. The food is at the back.”
Sure enough, there was a small buffet of food behind everyone. The guests made a bee-line for it. Which meant that everyone got to the food before the bride and groom.
Having eaten, we all then sat around for another lengthy period of time. So long that Helen and I decided to go for a walk (it had stopped raining). As we did so, we kept bumping into wedding guests coming back from the local chip shop, bearing a wrapped fish supper to supplement the meagre buffet!
Finally, it was time to leave. As we did so, I found myself saying goodbye to a woman wearing a knee length black skirt and a shiny, stripy, top. She looked familiar, but she also looked like a barmaid and I couldn’t place her.
As we walked to the car I asked Helen “Why did we say goodbye to the barmaid?”
“That was the bride, you idiot” she replied, before dissolving into a fit of giggles.