Beaus & Belles
These days love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage, but it was not always the case. Marriage was a social function, a way to forge social alliances and keep wealth in the family. Over the centuries marriage has meant many things to different people and laws have changed to reflect that. At different times through history, in different parts of the world, people have been prevented from marrying the people they love. Social traditions produced conveyor belt weddings, a reflection not of the wishes and personalities of the individuals, but the expectations and demands of the family.
Here are five couples who have done it their way, for them it's all about the love – for them Love Wins.
The weekend they met, Beth was through to the second round of University Challenge which was 'exciting and slightly intimidating' Moira says. She wasn't intimidated for long 'Beth proposed on my birthday in 2012 by using magnetic scrabble tiles on the fridge door. I had been badgering her for a while!'
Moira said yes to the magnetic approach and they got married at Brighton Town Hall in the Regency Room in 2013 (they did the administrative conversion to a marriage on 23 January this year and it is backdated to 1st November 2013.) Kyara, Moira's daughter, was their bridesmaid, their dads gave them away, their sisters were their best women and their mums the witnesses. Everyone they cared about was included.
For Moira “It was all about sharing the day with the people in our lives. There was no dress code it was all very personal to us and this influenced everything. The meal after the ceremony at Indian Summer was a highlight, filling our favourite restaurant with family and friends was very emotional. We named the tables after female bands/singers. The place cards were guitars handwritten by us. Music plays a very important part in our lives and was central to personalising our day from the ceremony to the party. We have the lyrics 'I was made for you' from our wedding song "The Story" by Brandi Carlile engraved inside our wedding rings.” Moira and Beth spent their first anniversary at Indian Summer and continue to be their most enthusiastic patrons.
“Make your day what you want it to be and try not to give in to the expectations of others.”
Cathérine and Matt met at the penultimate gig of the swamp rock band ‘Penthouse’ at the Hobgoblin in Brighton. Matt proposed to Cathérine at the Edward Burra exhibition in Chichester on his 40th birthday. “2012 marked our 10 years of being together and I turned 40, and going to art exhibitions always brings out the romantic in me”. Cathérine remembers it well “He lured me away from the museum's shop to show me “a special painting” upstairs. How could I refuse?!”
The couple married at Rye Town Hall on 17th November 2012; “Rye, the place of our annual pilgrimage to ‘Rhythm Riot’ rhythm and blues weekender. It is also the lifelong residence of Edward Burra so how fitting.”
They only had a small budget to play with but they organised the whole event themselves and personalised it by incorporating their passion and taste in music, film and vintage fashion. Cathérine said “The service included music from classical to jazz to rhythm and blues, to David Lynch's ‘Twin Peaks’ score. To continue with the ‘Twin Peak’ theme we had a reading from our actress friend Lisa as the ‘Log Lady’. John, musician, poet and mutual friend, was given the honours to introduce the wedding couple (in absence of a best man’s speech). The whole day went fantastically well. We couldn't stop laughing. Our standout moments were the intimate moments in the back of the "chauffeur"-driven 1960 Buick Invicta on the way to the ceremony and being escorted through the cobbled streets of Rye by the local town crier Rex, wedding party in tow.”
“It is your day, do it your way.”
Jennifer first spotted David's good looks at six form college in Clapham, South London. The attraction was mutual and teenage love blossomed. In 2008 David proposed marriage “on one knee and in his pants!” How could she resist, the answer was yes! “we love each other, and I felt the time was right.”
Jennifer and David married in Belair House, a Georgian mansion in West Dulwich, London. The venue had a sentimental significance for Jennifer, not only was it minutes away from their childhood homes, it was the venue for her parents' wedding reception in 1970. Like her mother before, the bride wore a traditional white dress with a cerise pink twist. This was their perfect day and what made it so special was “being with everyone I loved and enjoying every detail I planned”.
Jennifer still enjoys the memorabilia of the day. “ Every table piece is stored in my box, including the gone off chocolates! The menus and price lists from the venue (so one day I can order the wine) and last but not least the bikini I wore on my honey moon in the Maldives, as it made me feel like a Bond girl'”
"Push the boat out, it's your day – enjoy!”
Dave met Jem at a house party in Brighton “He'd passed out drunk in my bed - quite forward!” A risky strategy that paid off and they were married in Brighton Town Hall in 2010. “we'd often discussed marriage when drunk, but usually came to our senses in the morning until Gay pride 2009 when we both agreed (no one actually asked the other one) and still felt the same in the morning!”
It's not always easy organising a wedding with so many different friends and family members to pander to, but Dave and Jem's joie de vivre carried them through.
Dave said “We'd already bought a flat together, so the life long commitment thing was already done, the thing that put us off was the whole problem of who to invite/not invite, what with weird family situations etc, so I suppose it was more about having a massive party and to hell with anyone who didn't approve!” And what a party they had. The reception took the theme of a street party, well, if it was good enough for the Queen why not. The party had everything you'd expect from a Great British street party: bunting, trestle tables, supermarket flowers, gingham, everything was mis-matched. “After our first dance, the tables had to be taken down straight away because everyone got up to dance!”
“If you're all loved up and deliriously happy on your wedding day, so will everyone else, but plenty of booze helps!”
Xavi & Jelena met when they were working at a fancy country club in New York. Although beautiful, it wasn't her looks that first attracted him 'it was her clumsiness, she was so natural and unpretentious”. The feelings were mutual and it was Jelena who eventually proposed - “It felt right, my answer was yeah, why not?" They married in Jelena's hometown of Zagreb in 2010. Just like Xavi & Jelena the wedding was unpretentious “the less people, and the less prepared the better. It was all improvised. Our parents meeting for the first time was the most hilarious culture clash we've ever seen.”
Being an art photographer Xavi didn't want the classic family line up shot. “As we walked out of the registry office we found some knights and snapped some shots with them, went out for an aperitif and then for an amazing dinner at our favourite restaurant in Zagreb.”