A blog from my associate celebrant Lorna, following her wedding at the Elephant in Pangbourne last weekend. . . . .
"Following cancellations through the last few years, our couple on the 9th of April 2022 finally got to celebrate their marriage in front of family and friends, at The Elephant at Pangbourne, in West Berkshire.
The venue, is boutique in nature in its own quirky style and sits in the heart of Pangbourne high street. A building that does not hide its name as the Elephant that sits outside its doors very clearly states its intentions!
I met John and Helen just a year ago to discuss their upcoming celebration, and thoughts on what they would like on the day. It was to be traditional, personal with elements of fun put into the ceremony, so I set to work on the script for them, and got to the final piece early this year.
The weather in the UK is always a bit of a dilemma, but on the morning of the ceremony, I was delighted for our lovely couple, as the morning was bright with blue skies albeit a little crisp. After their long wait, everything was coming together for them. When I arrived at the reception I met Debbie (the maid of honour) whom I was delighted to finally meet as she was integral to the story of John and Helen. She was also doing a poem in the ceremony so we went through what would be happening that afternoon.
One key phrase that Debbie liked in the poem The Art of Marriage by Wilferd Peterson, especially for the joining of this pair, was
“It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family”.
Helen was upstairs getting ready and John would be arriving soon. I went to the ceremony room and got settled, as Danny the photographer also came into the room to take pre-ceremony photos. Introductions and discussions about different areas of the script, also the standing and sitting times of the couple, were key to getting the best shots.
John arrived looking very dapper, as did Tom his best man. It is an exciting time before the ceremony to get everything ready. Checking rings, readings, going through the vows and reassuring them that everything will be guided and nothing left to chance. It's always funny if not a little dreamlike when running through these parts, our couple's minds will be listening and interacting, but nearly always their hearts will be elsewhere, waiting in anticipation of their big moment in front of friends and family.
I made my way up to see Helen and she seemed calm and reflective. All was in order, apart from the late arrival of Matt who was in charge of the music! When he arrived Chris from the hotel took him through the Bluetooth set up to Matt’s phone and we did a soundcheck – to be honest, I had heard that Matt was a bit of a prankster and was looking to play Nelly the Elephant as his mum walked up the aisle (Helen did warn me about this!). Thankfully when it came to the moment “At Last” by Etta James was heard, and Arthur (Helen’s dad) walked Helen up the aisle and the ceremony had started.
We heard John and Helen’s story, fun additions to guest promises as well as to their vows! The most poignant moment in the ceremony for me was when they had signed their certificate, the witnesses had gone back to their seats and John and Helen were sat at the table in their own little world chatting as if no one else was there – not counting the other 60 guests in the room! I looked at Danny the photographer and we both kind of silently agreed to let them carry on for a few minutes whilst the guests were chatting amongst themselves too. I cannot wait to see the pictures of this most natural of moments.
Finally, we managed to get our lovely couple's attention and get them to the top of the aisle before they walked out to their reception as Mr and Mrs Hammonds, to Stevie Wonder's "Signed Sealed and Delivered" and into the beautiful privacy of the hotels garden, secluded from the rest of the world.
I would like to wish Helen and John all the happiness in the world for now and into their future together. Thank you for letting us be part of your special day.
(All images in this blog were taken by Lorna)
Venue: The Elephant at Pangbourne
Photographer: Danny Feasey
Celebrant: Lorna McIntyre – Knight Ceremonies
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