Wednesday, June 10, 2009

England: Part III

The final main event of my delightful trip was the wedding of two of Dan's very close friends, Matt and Louise. Matt has been one of Dan's best friends (or "mates" as they say) since they were just wee little lads and is going to be a best man in our wedding. I felt really honored to be there and the whole experience gave me a chance to spend some more time Dan's friends, which is priceless to me.

It took place in the countryside in SE England in Essex at a place called Layer Marney Tower (above), and it was beautiful...and old. Not American old - England old, dating back to about the 1500's.

View of the garden from the gatehouse. You can't see it, but there is a pool down there.

It is an amazing property with a HUGE HUGE HUGE house (ahem - Tudor Palace or Gatehouse, as it is technically called) that King Henry VIII  and Queen Elizabeth I once stayed in!!! I was dying with every ounce of my body to sneak into the living quarters area of this house and see what a 500 year old house looks like, but unfortunately, that was not really in the cards. Partly because...well, it would be breaking and entering, but also because there is a family that is responsible for the care of the entire property and they actually get to live in the house. I died a thousand deaths when I heard this and then after I came back to life, entertained myself for hours with thoughts of what their life is like within those 500 year old brick walls that used to entertain royalty and the like. Oh, if walls could talk!

In addition to the ridiculous mansion, there was also a church, which is where the wedding ceremony took place and was one of my favorite parts of the entire event. The church looked like it was pulled straight out of the film Four Weddings and a Funeral. It too dated back to the 1500's and was full of interesting things to look at complete with plenty of dates for me to ooohhh and ahhhh.

Cemetery outside the church. Oh how I do love an old cemetery. I can't help but to wonder about who each person was and how they died - especially when you can no longer read the tombstones. 

Because Dan was the best man, we arrived the day before the wedding to provide any needed assistance. This of course gave me plenty of time to poke around (aka - totally geek out) the church and read all the little historical signs and pamphlets. I'm telling you, there is something about England that makes me obsessed with the history. I...cannot...get...enough.

Tomb in the back of the church. I cannot remember who this guy was, but I am guessing he was important. 

This trunk dates back to medieval times and was really huge, although you cannot really tell from the picture. I honestly love that this stuff is just hanging around everywhere. 

Alright - enough about the buildings...oh la la - it's wedding time. Here you can see Dan thoroughly steeped in his Best Man duties as he watches people arrive. I quite liked getting to see him in a bow tie! Men do look good in suits, don't they?

Here is the bride (and the groom, although hidden) exiting the church, betrothed and all. Because of where I was sitting, I could not get a good picture to same my life, but oh well. It was a beautiful ceremony and I learned a few things as well. First of all, we stood the entire ceremony, which I have never seen before - new and interesting. Secondly, there were quite a few hymns sung in a way that I have never experienced and everyone seemed to know the words. They were very beautiful and again, something new. Thirdly, and my most favoritest, is that woman at English weddings go all out. And by all out I mean, hats, hats and more hats. 

Just look at those puppies! It was one of the greatest things I have ever seen and I cannot understand why this hat tradition has not taken off here in America! I took LOADS of pictures of all the fancy head-wear, but I will refrain from elaborating at this time. All I can say is, they were really amazing hats and about 70% of the women had one on. Loved it. 

After the ceremony we all made our way into this great hall where the reception was set up. Shortly after we all dined on venison (a first for me), potatoes, root vegetables and lots of wine. It was delicious and everything was so formal and perfectly put together, it felt like a really swanky party. And - for dessert?

Huge platters of all different kinds of cupcakes were brought to each table. Each cupcake had a different kind of candy on the top and they were so beautiful all stacked together like that. Note to self...

Shortly after dessert came the moment that my darling Daniel had been dreading all day long: the best man speech. My poor little baby was so nervous all day and the moment had finally come. I knew that it would be a hit as anyone who knows Dan knows that he is a) hilarious and b) successful at anything and everything he attempts, but he wasn't so sure. Luckily, it all went off without a hitch and he had people in stitches the entire way through. 

The rest of the night was spent dancing and having an amazing time. I also seem to have stopped taking pictures, so lucky for all of you this post will finally end :) I again feel so lucky that I got to be there with Dan and all of his friends and that I continue to be exposed to this new world that is exciting and fresh and that I would not trade for anything in the world. And - I can't wait to go back in August for the wedding of Dan's Mom to Jim, her partner for over 15 years. Yay for wedding season!!! And YAY for the fact that next year it will my and Dan's turn!!!!!

ps - the picture above is absolutely disgusting of me...but I like the way Dan looks, so I stuck it up anyway. Could somebody puhLEASE get me into some sunshine??? I look like a vampire...

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