November 2012. It was a weekend like any other, I was in Bristol visiting Mr. and we were home, at his place. We were having a relaxed day with not much on at all. Over the time we'd spent talking, it had gone dark (as it does early in the day at that time of year) and we hadn't put the lights on. We sat, facing each other, and he went quiet as he held both my hands and seemed to hold them quite tightly. I just enjoyed the moment, a shared silence. After a while, I heard him say - very softly - "Please, marry me."
There was no fanfare. He wasn't on one knee. Because it had gone dark I couldn't see his face very well and I wasn't sure I'd heard him right.
"Are you asking...?" was my response, after a pause to try and make sure he hadn't said something else entirely.
"Yes. Yes, please, will you marry me?" he asked again, clearly this time. I just about managed to get my "Yes" out before just about falling into his arms.
|Ring no. 1|
That was ring no. 1, which I wore with butterflies in my belly for a week. He engraved a heart onto the clamp. It's still a treasured possession, but I don't wear it, as it oxidises!
|Ring no. 2|
The first wedding
We spent Christmas 2012 with my family in Austria, which meant that Mr.'s parents didn't see us at that time. So we invited them to come to Bristol for a weekend in January to celebrate and exchange presents.
Having asked them to come on Friday for a celebratory lunch, I took that day off work and drove to Bristol to meet up with Mr. and his parents just before lunchtime. We met and parked at the registry office's car park. I still remember Mr.'s dad asking if we were sure it would be no problem to park there as we went for our lunch and Mr. smilingly reassuring him that he was quite certain it would be fine... because, instead of leaving the grounds, we walked into the registry office - having a little errand to run before our lunch celebration, which was our legal marriage, at which they were the witnesses!
|On our first wedding day|
Mr. and I were legally married in a tiny room, with a total of six persons present: ourselves, Mr.'s parents, the registrar and the officiant. The room was filled with sunlight streaming in, and the unforgettable moment for me was when Mr. faced me and made his vows with those kind eyes never leaving mine. He put ring no. 2 on my finger again, so the engagement ring became the wedding ring.
For more than two months after we became man and wife in the eyes of the law, nothing else changed. I continued to work and live in Reading and visiting Mr. on weekends, and we attended a pre-marriage course at our church: we just had a heady little secret!
The second wedding
We had set our 'official' date not long after our engagement, but had our legal wedding over two months before the official date because registry offices are apparently very busy places and we just about managed to grab the January date! The date we'd chosen was the weekend before Easter, for the practical reason that I wasn't actually able to finish my job in Reading until the end of March.
|Rings no. 3 - matching wedding rings.|
Engraved on mine: "I am my beloved's..."
Engraved on his: "...and my beloved is mine"
(from Song of Songs)
We're not into formal things. We love people. At our wedding, we wanted to be able to invite absolutely everyone! Friends, family, co-workers: it was to be a day of bringing everyone together. No RSVP's, no gifts, no registries - just a celebration for all. Luckily our Bristol pastor was totally up for it when we asked if we could just get married on a Sunday morning, in the course of a regular church service. This was the perfect solution: for us, there was no building or band to hire, no number of guests to plan for, no seating arrangements or decorating costs. And for everyone who came, an opportunity to hear the Gospel!
For me, my wedding day was also the day I became a member of this new church family in Bristol. They embraced the celebrations with huge enthusiasm! Everyone was dressed up on the day; one lovely lady took it upon herself to make us a wedding cake (we hadn't planned on having one); a professional chef, member of the church, cooked up a delicious buffet lunch so that after the service, everyone could just stay put and eat together.
Memorable moment of the day (although there were so many!) - after walking down the aisle to meet Mr. at the front, he leaned in for a kiss, which I refused... to everyone's great amusement... he made up for it at the end of our vows with a kiss that just about swept me off my feet!
And that's our story, folks.