We love holding weddings here at Clavelshay Barn because each one is individual and different. Our philosophy is to do whatever the couple want and to make their day memorable.
I had not met Claire, the bride, until the day before the wedding as she lives in Scotland. We had, however, spoken at length on the phone and exchanged e-mails. From our phone conversations I knew this was going to be a slightly unconventional wedding party … and was so looking forward to it. As a former opera singer, she sounded extrovert and fun and that’s what the wedding would be like … and I was happy to go along with her wishes. When we met, she was exactly as I imagined, complete with pink hair!
As Claire & Dave had actually married in Scotland, the idea was to have a humanist ceremony here for family and friends, and this was to take place on our lawn, overlooking the valley.
The day dawned bright and sunny and soon friends and family arrived to help set up the ceremony space on the lawn. Mother of the bride was given instructions to pick masses of cow parsley en-route and obligingly did so, arriving with cloudy armfuls. Claire arrived with a car load of flowers to put on tables and outside. All was going well, with everyone helping make the perfect setting for the ceremony. Claire had made 660 paper cranes which were placed on the lawn to make a circle, which we had mown earlier. Very useful having stagehands as friends, as all the guests pitched in to make it look as Claire had imagined it.
The celebrant was a former opera singer who had been Claire’s singing teacher, known by Claire as “The Duchess” . The ceremony was planned for 1pm. At 11.45 The Duchess swept in and immediately demanded a rehearsal with the groom, who had not yet arrived. A brief exchange of words followed between Claire and the Duchess which resulted in both getting upset. I quickly realised that my job was to keep them apart and keep the peace in order that the wedding went ahead as planned. Claire carried on getting things ready on the lawn and The Duchess retired to her car for lunch, where I encouraged her to stay. I then brought out a glass of Pimms for The Duchess, which seemed to help smooth things over.
Time was marching on and the wedding dress had still not arrived …
Eventually the wedding dress arrived and Claire disappeared to get ready, calling for friend Hilary to help lace her into her corset. Claire had told me about her bridesmaids dresses being black but I was not quite prepared for the dramatic fit, nor for them carrying toy dragons and smudge sticks rather than flowers!
When Claire walked across the lawn to Dave, followed by their lovely children, Edward & Juno, there was hardly a dry eye in the place. A beautiful hand fasting ceremony followed, with The Duchess pulling out all the stops and being the perfect celebrant. She admitted later that she had been very nervous beforehand and hadn’t known what to expect.
After drinks outside, all went into the barn for the wedding breakfast, and the day flew by.
Thank you Claire and Dave for allowing us to share your very special day.
P.S. Did I mention the 3 wedding cakes, including the 50 shades of grey cake? All beautifully made by Dave’s Mum –which was probably above and beyond the call of duty.