Monday, 4 October 2010

The glory of ABBA

Sharon’s wedding was an absolute delight, which was no surprise to any of us. She exudes a warmth which is so unbelievably contagious that just seeing her happy was enough to make us beam!

The ceremony took place on the roof of a building in deepest, darkest Queens, in one of those districts that they call Skid Row in the films. It was one of those places where an entire community nestles underneath a subway track. A nearby factory billowed smoke and a rather beautiful, yet slightly concerning shimmering metallic dust into the air. I'm not sure I'd want to be breathing that in on a daily basis, but it looked glorious is the sunlight! The views of Manhattan from the venue were stunning. Sometimes you need to get off the island to see how beautiful it is!

The wind was up. Sharon’s voluminous veil billowed around her so much that her maid of honour had to stand behind her for the whole service, keeping it in check whilst looking as inconspicuous as possible! She did brilliantly!

They do weddings very differently over here. There were five bridesmaids and five groomsmen who seemed to have no function other than to stand at the front looking pretty. They come down the aisle in pairs before the bride’s entrance like actors at the end of a play; like some kind of grown up beauty pageant. Just before the food, they appear again, still in their pairs, but this time their names are announced, so they run in waving like only Americans can, whilst everyone cheers as though they were contestants in a game show.

The vicar sounded like Top Cat. There’s little else I can say on the subject, other than I think it was a Catholic ceremony. There were lots of references to God, but I was focussing on the veil and wondering whether the second violinist in the string quartet was Chinese or mixed race.

I suppose the strangest thing to us Brits was watching the bride and groom eating their wedding meal at a separate table for two. It would seem that the Yanks don’t have the concept of a top table. The married couple sit all on their own, looking horribly lonely, separated by an enormous dance floor from their guests. As soon as we saw them, we howled with laughter, because it looked like they were on some kind of naughty table.

There’s also a rather cute tradition in the US where a table of guests will start tapping their glasses with knives; a cue, apparently not for speeches, but for the bride and groom to kiss. Periodically the sound of glass tapping echoed from one corner of the room, and Sharon and Dan duly kissed.

Later in the evening, the Bride is expected to do a dance with her father and the Groom with his mother, which all seemed slightly strange but then again, this is America, and America seems to have more upheld traditions than anywhere else in the world!

Everything had been meticulously planned, but what Sharon couldn’t possibly have organised was the extraordinary sunset which suddenly appeared and framed the view of Manhattan like something from a movie. It was idyllic, and to see Sharon leaping around like a five-year old excited child in front of it was the highlight of my evening.

Other highlights from a wonderful day include seeing Sharon walking down the aisle for the first time and boogying to Dancing Queen at the reception. There are so many differences between weddings in our two countries but it was a huge relief to see that, wherever you are in the world, no wedding is complete without ABBA...

Thursday 4th October 1660, and Pepys met two cousins for the first time. They drank together in an ale house near the Navy Office and then went by water to Whitehall to attend a service at Westminster Abbey where countless bishops in full regalia were doing whatever it is that bishops in those days did. Pepys was angered by the way the congregation responded to them; “But Lord! At their going out, how people did most of them look upon them as strange creatures and few with any kind of love or respect.”

There followed Pepys’ first oysters of the year at the Reindeer, before dinner with Montagu/ Sandwich, where Pepys was shown a model of a ship by a navy man who told him many things, one assumes about boats and shipping, “that I desired to understand”.

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