The Cottage Smallholder

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Perfect wedding

the happy coupleI love a good wedding and savour the best ones that cross our path. Call us old romantics but you can’t beat the ultimate celebration of soul mates.

Katherine and Paul married in the Orangery in London’s beautiful Holland Park at noon on a sunny Saturday, September 1st, 2007. They are a great match and it was a wonderful day that touched us to the core. There were moments when I wiped away tears and so many more when I laughed.

We realised that something was massively amiss when our old friend Miles was not leading Katherine up the aisle. He had a heart attack last year and has to be careful not to exert too much. We could see Jocelyn in the front row and she did not appear too worried, which was reassuring. The Registrar explained that Miles had been taken ill the previous evening but was not in a serious condition, lying comfortably in the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

Paul established a hands-free mobile phone link with Miles as the ceremony began and we could hear tinny chirrups just two feet from his daughter. One of his famously bad jokes had her giggling in seconds.

The Orangery was filled with a beautiful combination of lilies and deep red roses. We sat in rows of small elegant chairs to hear the exchange of traditional vows and then those they had written themselves. Uplifting, touching and intimate. Suddenly, I thought of Prospero’s words on the marriage of his daughter,
“We are such stuff
As dreams are made on and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep…”
flamenco guitarist and dancerThen it was out on the lawn for champagne, canapés and photographs. Katherine’s late mother was Japanese so they had included a small part of the Shinto wedding ceremony as the next high point on their wedding day. Intrigued, we all gathered in the marquee. However, some Flamenco dancing had to be quickly fitted in before the guitarist left. Katherine and her three friends proved to be talented Flamenco dancers, even in wedding outfits, shoes removed and on the carpet of the marquee.

We moved from the razzmatazz of Flamenco to the intimacy of the Sansankudo Ceremony with ease.

Sansankudo CeremonyThis is a small part of the traditional wedding ceremony and represents the couple’s dedication to each other. It is the equivalent of our exchange of wedding rings. Nuptial cups of sacred sake are exchanged between bride and groom. They both drink three times from three cups, small medium and large. This enchanting ceremony was conducted by their close friend, Yoshiko Mori, who has officiated at Shinto weddings in the past and who wore a stunning traditional Japanese kimono.

The wedding feast was amazing with superb food and excellent wine. Each table was named after places that were important in the couple’s lives. Ours was Notting Hill. I sat beside Susan, Katherine’s new sister in law and we had a great time.

The speeches were hilarious, especially as Katherine’s godfather, David, was deputised to read the Father Of The Bride speech, which Miles had written longhand from his AandE trolley the night before. David showed us the manuscript, which was like some ancient scribble from an Indiana Jones movie, complete with arrows, edits and annotations. He rose brilliantly to the challenge, while Miles squawked interjections from the speaker phone on the top table.

Then it was the cutting of the delicious cupcake and out onto the lawn again. It was a pleasure to be introduced to Asako who had flown in from Japan to represent the Japanese side of Katherine’s family.

After the reception we returned to the hotel to change and rest before a fun evening in their local pub. We had a good chat with Paul’s lovely mum, Jane, and with our new friends Luis and Donna from Toronto.

Katherine had news of Miles. They had gone from the reception to the hospital in full regalia. Katherine’s dress was a beautiful, glittering and amazing bargain from Oxfam, complete with train. This astonished the nurses and her dad who was in good spirits and so pleased to see his daughter on such a special day.

Thank you Katherine and Paul for inviting us. It was perfect. We ended the day loving you even more.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Glad that you are back and that Miles is doing well.

    Looking forward to our next gastronomic foray.

  2. Katherine Arguile

    Now we’re back from honeymoon and settled back into work and reality, I have a chance to say thank you for such a lovely write up of our day and for being there to share it all with us! Miles is out of hospital and doing very well; we are enjoying wedded bliss as Mr and Mrs Arguile – though with Paul’s new schedule as a chef at The Conservatory in The Lanesborough Hotel, we are learning to make the most of every minute we have together. We look forward to seeing you soon on our next gastronomic adventures. Fiona and Danny – we love you too!

  3. What a lovely Wedding!!!!! Hope your friend Miles gets better soon.

  4. Gosh Fiona,didn’t expect your post to make me well up. How bittersweet. Wonderfully written as ever.

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