It's a long, long time since we have been invited to a wedding, at least 20 years I guess, when all my contemporaries were getting married.
A couple of months ago, our neighbours across the landing on our floor announced they were getting married and told us we would be invited to the reception.
They were good to their word, and the invitation duly followed about a month ago.
"It's casual," she said. And added that the bridegroom would be so fed up of wearing a suit all day that he would be in shorts and T-shirt for the evening reception.
So no fancy frock for me, although I did try on a couple of - er - quirky combinations of froth with leggings, and Partner was all set to wear shorts.
But when the evening arrived - it was quite chilly, so we abandoned what we had planned to wear. I went for boots, trousers and a chenille top. Partner went for trousers, and then he decided on a smart shirt and a tie to go with them.
Just as well really. When we turned up, the so-called casual reception was full of very smart Gibraltarians, with men in suits or smart jackets and trousers, and the women in - frothy frocks - and perilous heels that screamed sprained ankle at me. The bride and bridegroom were beautifully dressed - no shorts at all for him, only immaculate black trousers and highly polished shoes. He had relaxed a little and taken off his tie though.
We arrived just after 7pm and it was already nearly full. The bride welcomed everyone at the entrance, and the bridegroom was at the bar ordering drinks for all the guests.
When I say it was chilly, I mean it wasn't roasty toasties. We grabbed a seat outside and relaxed in the evening sunshine, just inside the city walls - the Landport Gate. Looking round, it seemed that most of the guests were family, or Gibraltarian friends of the couple. We felt honoured to be invited into an intimate circle of friends and family.
It was a lovely way to spend an evening. Our thanks to the newly-weds for their generosity at the reception, and we wish you many happy years together.
The bridegroom circulating round his guests
Just inside the gate
This little monkey took a photo of me, so I got my revenge
Not something you see at British weddings - one of the local beggars wandered in - but was rapidly escorted out by the bride
Journalistic anecdote of the day
While writing this I couldn't help going back to my early days as a cub reporter on a weekly newspaper. On Friday mornings there was a general groan as the Saturday weddings were dished out for everyone to type up in advance. I thought it was quite fun, but then, I even enjoyed writing up flower show results.
All the wedding forms were duly transformed into copy, to await the arrival of the photos on Monday from the poor old photographers who spent Saturday morning traipsing from wedding to wedding. (This also provided a check in the rare event of a wedding not going ahead).
Although it might have been boring as hell for world-weary reporters, the write-up in the paper meant a lot to the couple concerned, so everything was double-checked. You would hand the form to a colleague, and then read your copy out loud while they checked you had got it right, included the right flowers, the right names - absolutely essential, details of the wedding dress, honeymoon destination etc etc.
And what you never did - was to refer to the bridegroom as a groom - because, grooms worked in stables. Twenty five years later - this still comes to mind whenever I hear people say 'bride and groom.' A little image sneaks into my mind of a beautifully dressed bride accompanied by a stable boy, up to his eyeballs in manure.
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