Saturday, 31 May 2008

And we're off!

It's the morning of the wedding, the weather is looking promising, and I'm waiting with my mother for the florist to deliver the bouquets. All the jobs are ticked off on my to do list, and we're looking forward to a fantastic day. I can't wait to see New Man in the church, and am so excited that we're going to have this great celebration with so many of the people we love.

We have a few little 'extra' touches planned. We have 24 countries represented among the guests (nationalities or places they have travelled from), so we have a display of the 24 flags of those countries at the entrance to the ballroom where we're having the reception.

My matron of honour celebrated her 40th birthday yesterday, so we've got a cake for her which will be presented during the speeches.

My niece is making her First Communion during the nuptial Mass, and we've got a lovely cake and a little present table for her at the reception.

There are all sorts of other little details, and I can't wait to show everyone the things I've been planning.

Tomorrow we're meeting any of the guests who are still around for lunch, then we're off to Hawaii for 8 nights. It's a long journey home, so we're breaking it for 2 or 3 nights in Chicago on the way home.

See you in a couple of weeks...

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Things to do three days before your wedding

Host an impromptu lunch for 15.

Go to Wembley to watch England play the USA with 10 other members of your family and a friend's son and his friend.

Turn up for a fitting for your bridesmaids' dresses to find that they've accidentally cancelled your appointment and the dresses are at another shop 50 miles away (all sorted now).

Move out of your bedroom to make room for the latest guests and prepare to spend your last two nights as a single woman sleeping on the floor in the sitting room.

Realise when the washing machine goes into its final spin at 1:00 am that it's actually quite noisy and you're not going to be very popular if it wakes your nephews. Wonder how you're going to get the rest of the bedding washed and dried in preparation for lending your house to a family of nine while on honeymoon.

And now I must empty the washing machine and see if I can get some sleep...

Monday, 26 May 2008

Things to do 5 days before your wedding

How high on most people's to do list would "prepare and host a lunch for 32 people at your house" be?

I had such a good time, though. My eldest brother and his family arrived from South Africa yesterday. My second brother and his family arrived from the US this morning. They were all here for lunch, along with one of my cousins and her family, one of my sisters and her family, my other brother, two of my oldest friends and their children, a new friend who lives just up the hill and is getting married in September, and the two sisters of one of my sisters-in-law, plus the husband of one of them.

It was meant to be a barbecue, but the pouring rain meant that all the food was cooked and eaten indoors. My two-year-old nephew woke me at 5:30 this morning, which gave me plenty of time to get all the salads and side dishes ready before the guests arrived. My brother and his family went out for the morning, apparently to allow me to prepare all the food without the children getting in the way. Actually, it was a nice thought, and I've been preparing for parties on my own for so many years now that I have quite a good routine and managed fine on my own. New Man wasn't around today, as he was recovering from his stag do in Edinburgh this weekend.

After lunch, we celebrated the second birthday of one of my nephews with a big chocolate cake, then had a baby shower for my sister (due on the day of the wedding - we're hoping this baby will either arrive tomorrow or be late), then my sister-in-law's sister, who is doing my make-up for the wedding, did a practice run on me and the matron of honour. We gave presents to the bridesmaids and ushers, and all the girls were thrilled with their necklaces and wore them for the rest of the day. One of the bridesmaids got to try on her dress and take it home with her, as I won't see her till the day now.

There has been a slight problem with the dresses - when I took another of the bridesmaids for a fitting last Monday, we discovered that the dresses they had made were not the ones we had ordered. The lady in the shop has been absolutely fantastic, and instantly offered to unpick the bodices and remake them in the style we originally chose. It does mean the last of the dresses won't be ready until Friday, but I have faith in this lovely lady.

I still have two more days of work (today was a bank holiday in the UK), but I'm so excited now about the rest of this week. The guests (except for the ones who are staying over) have now gone, I've cleaned up the kitchen, and I'd better toddle off to bed, just in case it's another 5:30 start tomorrow...

Friday, 9 May 2008

As promised ages ago...

I finished preparing our order of service yesterday, so it's fresh in my mind, and I did say ages ago I'd blog what we'd chosen.

I got a CD of wedding music for Christmas, and we listened to it in the car a few times before deciding on the Prelude to Te Deum by Charpentier for my entrance.

Then the first hymn is Lord of all hopefulness.

We're singing the Missa de Angelis Kyrie and Gloria. I have to confess New Man wasn't too keen - he thought nobody would know it - but I talked him round, and we compromised by having the Sanctus and Agnus Dei spoken in English.

The first reading will be read by New Man's sister. We liked the reading from Ecclesiasticus here, but weren't convinced my future sister-in-law would be able to read "her skill puts fat on his bones" with a straight face - New Man does love his food, and seems to enjoy my cooking. In the end, we chose Ruth 1:16-17.

The psalm is the third one here, from Psalm 103. We had the same psalm at my grandmother's funeral, and I'll be wearing her pearls, so I'll be thinking of her at this point in the Mass.

The second reading, read by my father, is Colossians 3:12-17. This was the reading we always used to have at the leavers' Mass at my old school, and my father read the same reading at my sister's wedding, and I think at my brother's as well.

The Gospel acclamation is "God is love; let us love one another as He has loved us", then the Gospel is John 15:9-12.

Having spent ages with New Man looking on the internet, going through the missal and the bible, reading all sorts of different readings and deciding on what we wanted for ourselves, when I went to use my sister's order of service as a template for ours, I realised that our psalm, second reading and Gospel are exactly the same as hers, as is the first hymn. What can I say? My little sister obviously has good taste!

My second brother and his wife are writing and reading the bidding prayers, and I know will do a fantastic job of that.

The offertory hymn is Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven - another old favourite. One of my godsons will be taking up the offertory with his two older brothers.

My niece, who is also a bridesmaid, will be making her First Holy Communion during the Mass. I've found a great quote for the order of service from the Comtesse de Gencé (whoever she was): "A girl's whole life unfolds between two veils: the communicant's and the bride's". She and her parents will receive Communion first, followed by New Man and me.

My father is my niece's godfather, and that weekend will be exactly 60 years since he made his First Communion (liturgically, anyway - he made his First Communion at Corpus Christi). So the first Communion hymn will be Jesus Gentlest Saviour, which was sung at my father's First Communion Mass. I tried googling it for my sister-in-law, so they could practise it together, but the tune which came up was not the one that we're having. Here are the words, though:

Jesus, gentlest Saviour,
God of might and power,
Thou thyself art dwelling
In us at this hour.
Nature cannot hold thee,
Heav’n is all too strait
For thine endless glory,
And thy royal state.

Yet the hearts of children,
Hold what worlds cannot,
And the God of wonders
Loves the lowly spot.
Jesus, gentlest Saviour,
Thou art in us now,
Fill us full of goodness,
Till our hearts o’erflow.

Pray the prayer within us
That to Heaven shall rise;
Sing the song that angels
Sing above the skies;
Multiply our graces,
Chiefly love and fear;
And, dear Lord, the chiefest,
Grace to persevere.

Then there's going to be a second Communion hymn - Fill My House - despite the protests of both my parents, who hate it. I've just always imagined having this one at my wedding, although I think the priest was quite pleased when I asked if we could change the words from "eat my bread and drink my wine" to "eat my body, drink my blood". Again, I can't find the tune on the net, but here are the words:

Fill my house unto the fullest.
Eat my body, drink my blood.
The love I bear is held from no-one.
All I own and all I do, I give to you.

Take my time unto the fullest.
Find in me the trust you seek,
And take my hands to you outreaching.
All I own and all I do, I give to you.

Christ our Lord with love enormous
From the cross his lesson taught
– to love all men as I have loved you.
All I own and all I do, I give to you.

Join with me as one in Christ-love.
May our hearts all beat as one,
And may we give ourselves completely.
All I own and all I do, I give to you.

New Man's contribution to the hymn choices has mostly just been to say yes or no to my suggestions. But one Sunday at Mass, we sang Immaculate Mary, and he turned to me as soon as it had finished and said, "Why don't we have that at the wedding?" So we're having it during the signing of the register at the end, and the one regret that I have is that I won't be able to sing along. I'm pleased to be having it for three reasons, though - because New Man chose it, because I know several of the people who are coming love it, and (most importantly) because the wedding is in May and so we particularly wanted to have a hymn to Our Lady.

Mac won't be able to come to our wedding because she'll be on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, so we'll think of her as we sing the Lourdes hymn.

And finally... we'll be going back down the aisle to Mendelssohn's Wedding March.

Monday, 5 May 2008

This made me cross

This weekend, I spoke to a good friend who was received into the Church at this year's Easter Vigil. She is very happy, has made lots of friends at her local church and is involved in SVP and a number of other activities.

She mentioned that she had been given a couple of really nice rosaries, but said, "I don't know how to say the prayers. I'd like to learn, but at my 'Journey of Faith' course they told me that nobody says the rosary any more, so they didn't teach it to us."

I expressed some surprise, and she continued, "Well, they said it was just used by stupid people who didn't know how to think up prayers for themselves."

I hope she misunderstood whatever point they were trying to make. But I'm furious, and assured her that both my father and I, with our postgraduate degrees, pray the rosary regularly and each carry a decade around in our pockets with us at all times.

I think all the regular readers of this blog are at least as familiar as I am with the rosary, but in case anyone stumbles across this who has suffered the same sort of catechesis as my friend, have a look here to learn how to pray the rosary and here for a brief history of its development.

May is the month of Our Lady, and as good a time as any to learn this beautiful prayer and get into the habit of praying a daily rosary.