Happy Days

This week, I want to take a short break from my usual tales of gardening and cats to share what has been a very special weekend. A good friend of mine had chosen to combine her son’s first birthday and his naming ceremony with her own wedding, and D and I were lucky enough to be invited.

We were told the wedding reception was to be a 1950s sock hop. Sock hop??? Initially, my heart sank – did this mean fancy dress? I am rubbish at fancy dress. I texted V to ask her what a sock hop was and was dressing up compulsory. “It’s not compulsory”, she assured me “but don’t be in a hurry to decide until you’ve checked out some of the dresses. They are gorgeous!” I duly Googled it, to find a sock hop was a 1950s school dance, where the dancers were asked to remove their shoes and dance in their socks, to protect delicate gym floors. Being a dancer myself, you’d think I would have known this, but my general knowledge is as bad as my fancy dress. V was right about the dresses though – lots of full circle skirts and netting – a dancer’s dream.

As the wedding drew nearer, I was embroiled in the move and the resulting work in house and garden, and suddenly, with a week to go, I had no dress and I couldn’t remember if I had reminded V that I didn’t eat meat. I didn’t want to worry her so close to the day and figured it would be fine – surely there would be other non-meat eaters at the hog roast reception? A frantic dash into York solved the dress problem too. It wasn’t the beautiful 50s frock that I could have bought online if I had been more organised, but it was pretty, fitted me well and had a nod to the era with a full, fairly structured skirt. Mum lent me some shoes and I was ready to go.

Detail from my dress


Oh, the joy of going to a party that was just an hour up the motorway in Darlington! It would have taken over 5 hours from Aberdeen (and did, for the friends who came down for it). V had thoughtfully laid on a coach from the hotel to the registry office and then on to the reception as well, making life even easier. The service itself was interesting – the bride came in to ‘In the Still of the Night’ and the newly-weds left to ‘All Shook Up’ – a whole new experience. V looked beautiful, in a white, 50s dress with red trim, the groom extremely dapper and their birthday boy cuter than cute in his waistcoat and suit. His naming ceremony was simple but moving, and combining the two really felt like a special beginning to their little family.

And then on to the village hall for the reception. We had been warned that they would be starting with a children’s birthday party and, for those of us who were child-free, V had suggested we kill an hour in the pub. We popped our heads in to say hello and very quickly decided that she was right – the children were all having fun, but it was mayhem – there was even an indoor bouncy castle. When we went back outside, we saw another group from the party, all dressed up, on the village green eating chips. Chips … ooh. Ignoring the voice in my head that was reminding me I would pay for it at slimming club next week, and still concerned about the whole hog roast thing, I looked at D and he looked at me. Should we? Yes, it had to be done. Why do chips always taste better when eaten outside with a wooden fork?

We just about made it back from the pub in time for the speeches. The father of the bride spoke about the love that was in the room and nothing could have been more true. It was palpable – so many people, not all knowing each other, but all gathered together to wish this family well for the future. The groom, who had been nervous about giving a speech, said some beautiful things about his new wife and how they complemented and grounded each other. And then the bridesmaid talked about growing up with V as a big sister and about sibling relationships – something any of us with brothers and sisters could relate to. Telling her little sister that, if she touched her bike, a swarm of wasps would come out of it and get her did seem a little cruel though. V swore she didn’t remember saying it, but do we believe her, I ask?

I realised when queuing for the food that there was nothing obviously veggie in apart from the different salads, but I figured that would be fine – there was plenty. However, the bridesmaid appeared and beckoned to her vegetarian wife, who was just ahead of us in the queue– “Psst! There’s veggie haggis in the kitchen.” So we had a whole extra non-meat eating party in the kitchen – where all the best parties are.

Once the tables were cleared, the band struck up – and what a band. If you are into 50s music, have a look – the Baldy Holly Band http://www.thebaldyhollyband.com/.

The Baldy Holly Band, backstage before the evening reception. Photograph reproduced with kind permission of the Baldy Holly Band


The first dance was to Presley’s ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love with You’. That song makes me cry at the best of times – combine it with a wedding dance, especially one where the baby joins in too to make it a family affair – and my make-up was bound to suffer. And then the dance floor filled, as we all enjoyed a rollicking good party. Dancing is a huge part of mine and D’s relationship – it was how we met. We have V to thank for that too, as going to Ceroc classes was her idea – I only went along to keep her company, never dreaming that I would meet anyone there that would change my life the way D has. So it seemed fitting that we danced at her wedding. And how we danced. As I am writing this the next day, everything aches but it was so worth it.

The night ended, as any wedding with a Scottish bride should, with some Scottish music and everyone dancing together in a circle, V, her husband and son (now fast asleep in his sling on her back) in the middle. It summed up the whole day, really – this family, surrounded by those who love them, all celebrating their togetherness and it was a privilege to have been a part of their day.






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