Chapter Fifteen

Once we’d got engaged we had a few decisions to make, such as when and where we were going to get married and who we would invite. I knew Tim wasn’t religious but I also knew Dad and Mum would be distraught if I didn’t have a traditional church wedding. I think that’s what I wanted too. Illogically I wanted a small wedding with just a few people. That didn’t marry up with the white church wedding as Tim readily pointed out. I think he was hoping that would be a deciding factor and I’d forget the church bit. In the end, I suppose inevitably, being my father’s daughter, we had a traditional wedding with a marquee on the lawn of Lakeside and two hundred guests. Tim had a school friend of his, Gordon, as best man and I had my friend, Sarah, and my cousins, Nicola and Alisa, as bridesmaids. The top table was a bit of a nightmare to sort out as I had both my Mum and Tracy and of course Mum’s new partner, Harry, too. Also I didn’t know how well John and Wendy, Tim’s parents would get on with my family. In the end I sat between Tim and Dad with Tracy, John and the bridesmaids on my left and on Tim’s side were his mum, Wendy, Harry, Mum and Gordon. Tracy sorted out the table plan, which can’t have been easy.

Tracy also organised the food and I have to say she surpassed herself with the menu. She also had to contend with several people on special diets. How she found out they were I’m not sure. Maybe they said something on their acceptance letters. Anyway she had to organise a completely different menu for Tom’s parents whose latest fad was to become vegans. So instead of pate, smoked salmon or avocado and prawns they had garlic mushrooms cooked in olive oil, instead of sea bass, chicken Kiev or duck they had some kind of nut roast concoction and instead of cheesecake, pavlova, or chocolate mousse they had fruit salad.

We had to go to three meetings with the vicar who was going to marry us. He was a charming man and fortunately didn’t push Tim into confessing that he didn’t believe in God. Tim said the vicar needed the money and the publicity so wouldn’t do anything to jeopardise it not happening in his church. In fact Tim and Reverend Anderson hit it off and talked mostly about cricket, which they both loved. Apparently he, the vicar, shared his name with a famous bowler who was also called Jimmy.

I wasn’t what to do about a hen night. I’d been to Chloe’s in the Seychelles and enjoyed the place but not the company. Her friends were all stuck up bitches who had very rich parents – otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to afford the trip – who seemed to enjoy scoring points off each other. I was totally out of it with my Pottery accent. In the end I decided to invite a few people out for a meal at The Golden Dragon Chinese restaurant. Chloe and Sarah came and I invited Tim’s older sister, Teresa. I was unsure about Mum and Tracy but in the end invited them both, warning them that the other one was also invited. They both came. Then there was my Aunt Susan and Jaqui, Craig’s girlfriend. I also invited Amy, who was living with a waiter she’d met on holiday in Malaga, and another friend Julia. I was amazed Amy accepted but it turned out she’d needed an excuse to come home to see her Mum and Dad. So there were ten of us seated round a circular table and we had a great time. No-one got drunk and Mum and Tracy got on really well, swapping stories about Dad.

Tim was equally uncertain about his stag night. He felt he ought to ask both my father and his but didn’t know where to go. His father didn’t drink alcohol and mine drank like a fish. He also felt he should ask my brother, Craig, although they had nothing in common and he didn’t think his friends would get on with him either. In the end he decided to do what he wanted, as it was his wedding after all, and so he invited them to his favourite pub where they had great beers and a pool table. Apparently Craig got up everyone’s nose by ordering a bottle of vintage champagne; my Dad went straight onto large whiskies and tried to set up a tab for the evening, which Tim declined; the games of pool were a great success with six doubles teams in a knockout competition. They made sure Tim had too much to drink and I was pleased he’d decided to do it the Saturday night before the actual wedding day, and the same day as my hen party.

Fred chauffeured me and Dad to the church and we arrived spot on 11. The bridesmaids were waiting for us in the porch and came to help me with my train. Two photographers were also there to greet us. One of them started asking Dad questions and I suspected immediately he was from the local paper which seemed to dog Dad all the time. The sun was shining and it was my day so I wasn’t going to let him spoil it for me. The church was packed and Tim glanced round as the wedding march announced my arrival. He looked very handsome in a dark suit. The ceremony went according to plan, after all we had rehearsed it, and we both spoke our lines clearly and loudly. Afterwards as I walked back down the isle I felt wonderful, certain I was radiating my inner beauty. I was a queen.

After some posing for photos at the church Tim and I were chauffeured back to Lakeside where we had to do more posing. The final pictures were taken with just me, just Tim and then the two of us. The guests had been sent to the marquee and were all seated when we arrived. To a man (to a woman) they all rose and clapped and cheered as we made our way to the centre of the top table. Tim took my hand and bowed when we arrived and I curtseyed at the same time. When we sat down the audience – for it seemed like that, like we were actors on a stage – sat down too. Gordon stood up banged for silence and called out:

“I’d like to propose a toast – to the bride and groom, Tim and Sophie, Mr and Mrs Smith.”

And they all stood back up and toasted us. After the meal Gordon read out the telegrams – the usual jokes: “Don’t buy you bed from Harrods, they stand by everything they sell.” that sort of thing. By the time he got to make his speech he was obviously well gone. He had prepared notes but he mainly ignored them, telling a few things from Tim’s younger days that I already knew, moving on to his previous girlfriends, who he made seem very wet apart from one who he claimed was a bit of a nympho. Then he upset me because he intimated that Tim had really dropped on when he finally met what he’d been looking for all along, a girl who was really wealthy. He was trying to be witty I suppose. But if that was his intention it fell flat. And it was silly of me to let it upset me because I knew really Tim wasn’t interested in money.

Dad was also well gone and his speech was overly sentimental but never-the-less it got a good reception. Tim basically thanked everybody for coming in his speech and said a few nice things about the family he was joining and how the past year had been the best year of his life so far. I was pleased because I think he was being sincere. Perhaps I’m too hard on my family, I thought, mustn’t be so judgemental. I then made a speech myself, saying how much I was looking forward to just being plain Mrs Smith, instead of daughter of Mr Cannon, tycoon and rich businessman.

Tim had organised one of the local bands to play after the meal and Tim and I started the dancing going. I danced with my Dad and then John, Tim’s Dad, Tim danced with his Mum and then with my Mum and Tracy – he asked them together – how diplomatic was that! Finally we could dance together – wow, that was lovely.

The afternoon raced past, chatting to all the guests until Gordon, who must have sobered up a bit, suggested it was time for me to change out of my gorgeous wedding dress, which had been a bit impractical for dancing and walking about anyway. I’d selected quite a formal suit in cream linen which I hope would show off the tan I’d managed to acquire. Everyone said how beautiful I looked and then it was time to go.