#09 – Stags and Weddings

Being a Groomsman is more work than it would first seem. But, it does come with some great perks.

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Over the last two weeks, my life has revolved around the wedding of one of my closest university friends, Andy, and his now-wife Mollie.

We’ve been on a stag-do on a boat along the Norfolk Broads, and travelled to Norwich for a weekend of wedding ceremonies and receptions.

It’s been an amazing two weeks.

Throughout my four years at University, I had the pleasure of serving on, what must be, over 150 weddings. During this time, I’ve seen big weddings, small weddings, themed weddings and traditional weddings, but none were quite so personable as Andy and Mollie’s wedding.

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From my experience, weddings follow a set template. And why not, after all, organising 100+ people to attend potentially the most memorable day of your life is an extremely tall order. These events don’t come around every week, so people probably don’t have much experience in planning something so big. Inevitably, most people fall into the trap of organising an event that looks great, but underneath, is the same as 90% of all other weddings. People might change something, maybe you have a hog roast instead of a Sunday Roast, maybe the DJ is changed for a live band, or maybe you decide against a conventional top table. While on the surface it looks like you have a unique day tailored to you, underneath, everything follows the same pattern.

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Andy and Mollie expertly avoided this. They had two weddings, a small ceremony on the Friday for family and their closest friends, and then a big ‘show’ – for want of a better word – ceremony on the Saturday for everyone they wished to share their special day with.

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The Best Man lives in New Zealand and so couldn’t attend. He provided a Skype speech, equally as funny as any conventional speech I’ve seen before; their oldest family friend officiated the Saturday ceremony and brought with his sermon an unmatchable personal element; and a friend the couple met while in Spain, where they worked for a year, made their rings for them from scratch before personally presenting them to the couple on the day.

Every element of their wedding template was bespoke. Even the venue was in the grounds of some family friends who own the most elaborate manor house I have ever visited. There was nothing commercial about their day, nothing so claustrophobically repetitive as weddings purchased out of a catalogue, but more than that, it felt signed and sealed by Andy and Mollie themselves.

I was lucky enough to play my part as Groomsman, which is not the boozy seat of authority I thought it might be. Okay, truthfully, I never expected it to be. I guess on a day as stressful as your wedding day, without Groomsmen and Bridesmaids you really trust, how can you shoulder the overwhelming (I imagine) responsibility of the entire day? So, I did my best to take some of the strain and provide a helping hand without much fuss.

They day went off without a hitch, even the rain ceased for the outdoor ceremony, and I just hope that my day will be as personal and happy as theirs was.

A week earlier, we had a slightly less regimented and precise stag do.

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We spent the day on a motor boat along the Norfolk Broads, which happen to be the longest stretch of waterway in the UK without locks.

It was such a good day, we flew the drone, failed to reverse park a boat, nearly crashed a boat, drank far more beer than it should be legal to do on while Captaining – and I use the term loosely – a boat and it all ended up with a BBQ on a University campus, kind of where it all started for me and Andy.

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I met Andy at University coming up to 6-years ago now. He was the guy lagging behind the group on our first trip to Malham Cove in Yorkshire, taking photos of a waterfall. I wasn’t a photographer back then, I’m not sure I truly am now, but I mean to say I didn’t even have a camera back them, but I waited up for him, introduced myself and for the next three years, we lived together.

It’s funny how things like that happen. We’ve been through really crappy times together, and got to the point of tears through laughing so hard at something so mundane as getting frustrated at non-payable characters in GTA and Fry Cry. I’ve sat in his room and nearly died – that might be a little strong – as another of our housemates experimented with fireworks in our back yard and I’ve learnt more about cameras from him through the years than I have from any magazine or book.

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The truth is, Andy is a better mate than I deserve, and the fact that he allowed me to play such an integral role in his amazing day is something I will never forget. I hope he and Mollie grow happier together with each day; if that’s even possible, and always remember the weekend of the 14/07/2017 for the mirror of their happiness it turned out to be.

Here’s to you, Andy and Mollie Narayn-Barrow.

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