Sunday, January 13, 2008

An Alpine wedding

The summer of 2003 was the hottest on record here in the UK. I think it must have been the hottest one all over Europe, and in the little Alpine village where my sister lives, it was just the same. Andrew and Ann had decided to get married in Switzerland, as they both spend a lot of time there, and love it, just as we all do. Perfect. A wedding in Switzerland.


They didn't want a huge wedding, just people who matter to them, and so the invitations went out, and we all made arrangements to rent houses or apartments in the village. We arranged to arrive in time for Swiss National Day on the 1st August, as there is a carnival to celebrate the day, and my friends and I set off in convoy on the road trip across France, through Germany and down to Switzerland.

You need to know at this point, that I had bought a new VW polo the year before, and it had turned out to be the car from hell. You name it, and it had happened to it, and after many many months of becoming intimately acquainted with every person working for the VW centre, I had a meeting with the manager, and asked if he would be prepared to drive his elderly mother across Europe in my particular car, and I told him that if it died on the way, I would be phoning him at home to inform him that he had to arrange our rescue. He arrived the following day at my door, with an offer of a VW Sharan for as long as I was away, free. Thankyouverymuch.

So we set off, packed to the gunnels, stopping in France to buy the wine, of course, which was stacked under the kids' feet, and trundled, or rather, cruised across France. Kelly, Ros and Martyn's daughter was chief navigator as we entered Strasbourg, and managed to direct me through industrial districts, and somehow, down a track in the middle of the Rhine. I stopped and in a highly controlled and measured tone, informed all in the car that they had 5 minutes to find me a MOTORWAY before I imploded. Their map-reading skills improved, with much mirth, and we reached the Swiss border. Can any one please tell me why there are NO signs to Switzerland in Germany????? One would think that an arrow pointing towards the border is not an unreasonable request.

Hmmm. Where was I?? Switzerland. We whizzed up the mountain to Marge's place, and disgorged all the contents of the car, including many gazebos, wedding gear, table cloths, bits and pieces, and a massive dolls house which I had got for my sister as a present. Just as well the polo was a catastrophe, as we would never have got everything in it. The other families joining us arrived by car, air and train the following day, and we all settled into our little places, and used Marge's lovely home and garden as the gathering point every day to decide what we were doing and when.
In the week before the wedding, we went on wonderful walks with Peter, my brother-in-law, and learnt to take his time estimations with a pinch of salt. Just around the corner usually meant about 5 miles. Diana led the young ones on adventures through the Alps, with picnics and much singing and laughter.

They walked the tickle path - you take off your shoes and socks and go through water, bark, rock, sand and other sundry "feeling" bits around a lake......

Rafting was great fun.......
Trotti bikes whizzing down the mountain....

Ringlis - Inflated rubber rings whizzing down the snow track at the top of the mountain....

Cow carving lessons - they all signed up to carve wooden cows.......

And amidst the laughter and fun - Ginny, Ann's Mum, had made and carefully transported the cake across Europe - we started preparations for the wedding.
Marge had been collecting things in their colour scheme of field flowers, and so had I, and I did all the floral arrangements. The kids spent the evenings on the patio threading glass beads onto wire for the decorations, and mowing the lawn and tidying the garden. My brother-in-law is a master chef, so he was doing all the food preparation, and he asked Ros and Martyn to join him in his kitchen at the Monastery, to help prepare. As they both love cooking, this was an opportunity they leapt at. Cooking with a professional chef is an honour! Marge had worked her fingers to the bone, and had even made co-ordinating cushions for each seat, not to mention the guest towel piles and all the rest. She was amazing. Mum was making her family puddings, and the rest of us.......
Well, let me just say that when absolutely every guest at a wedding is actively involved with making the day special, it adds a wonderful dimension to a wedding. The girls were out collecting flowers and greenery, and the ladies were making up net parcels of Swiss chocolates for individual places. Men and boys put up the gazebos and tables the day before, and, as the guests in Anita's hotel went out for the day, we had a line of people from the hotel to Marge's home, passing the balcony chairs along for the reception. Hilarious. They replaced them the day after the wedding, I hasten to add. The wedding day dawned, absolutely stunningly beautiful. And hotter than you could believe. (Just like the day I got married all those years ago. We also had a reception in the garden of my parent's home.) The tables were set out with the decorations. Flowers everywhere. Refrigerator truck arrived to store the food in the heat. Cake in place. Bride and groom ready. And off we all went to the Gemeindehaus for the civil ceremony. The short service was lovely, and then the photos were taken in the Monastery Gardens, before Ann and Andrew and their bridal party got into the horse drawn carriage for the trip up the mountain to the chapel at the End of the World, for the blessing.

My friend Louise did the service, and she and the girls had printed all the orders of service together, after shopping for the right paper etc in Luzern, and Ann's godmother was playing the little piano keyboard we had put in the chapel. Ginny had decorated the chapel, and Ann's aunt had done the bride's hair. Hikers had stopped by to join us for the service. Unfortunately, Ann's godmother had not realised that the keys were smaller than usual, and burst into the wedding march and hit all the wrong keys. I have never seen a wedding party move so swiftly down the aisle! Thankfully, she plowed on, and got familiar with the keyboard, and it was fine by the time of the first hymn! And no-one fell about laughing. It didn't matter at all, and it was all simply part of a uniquely special day.

When Marge and Peter had got married years ago, there had not been time to arrange a blessing, so unbeknownst to them, we had arranged for Louise to bless their marriage too, and amidst many tears of joy, she did just that. So personal and so perfect.

As Andrew and Ann came out of the Chapel, Peter had arranged for a swiss cow, dressed in garlands, to be there. This is a Swiss village tradition, I think, and it was beautiful. So, after another trip down through the village for people to see them, they arrived back at the house for the reception. The circus had arrived in the village, and was set up across the field from the house, so we had live circus music for the reception, and it was wonderful. It was unbelievably hot, and most people changed into as little as possible, and the 3 girls had a bucket of iced water under the table for their feet!

After a wonderful evening of sharing such a joyful time with our friends and family, Andrew and Ann walked to the hotel for the night, and in the morning, everyone gathered at the hotel to join them for breakfast and to wave them off on their honelymoon in the Italian part of Switzerland. On the little red train.

And then we went back to clear the mess, take the chairs back to the hotel, and flop in the shade.

Perfect. Simple. Beautiful. And this is a very long post. I could have gone on, but let me just add that there were paragliding jumps off Alps, trips to Luzern, walks in Alps, and so many more things to remember. It made us realise just how simple weddings could be, and how they do not need to break the bank, and how important everyone was to the perfection of the day. Every single person there contributed in some way.

Special. Very special.

12 comments:

Barbara said...

You have obviously found something to fill your mind while missing Diane. There you are cycling in Switzerland. Gosh the mountains!
Lovely wedding.

Linds there is an award for yu over at my blog.

Isabelle said...

What a lovely post and lovely memories. When Daughter 1 got married we didn't quite have the reception in the garden (in Scotland, in April) but we did a lot of things ourselves (flowers, cars, invitations) and it didn't cost a fortune and couldn't have been nicer.

Sympathies about the teaching. Find an FE college - much more civilised? Or a private school? There's something about the gang mentality that makes basically quite nice kids behave horribly. I remember it well.

So glad that D arrived safely. We had a catlet crisis yesterday - Sirius stayed out much later than usual and it was dark and cold and we were in a panic - and he's only a cat! (He came in again, though.) Children are even more worrying!

Needled Mom said...

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Loved reading the post about the wedding. What a fabulous event (adventure) for all!

One question -- what happened to the VW Polo?

Kati said...

What a wonderful wedding story! I've always wanted to go to Switzerland .. so will read and re-read this to live vicariously :)

Maybe someday I'll throw myself in a box and mail me to you.

Dawn said...

What a wonderful event! Sounds perfectly perfect. I have also always wanted to go to Switzerland. Someday!!

Morning Glory said...

This was like reading a fairy tale. How incredibly beautiful the scenery is! The very first picture really got my attention - the mountains in the background have a beautiful pink alpenglow.

Crystal said...

What a delightful batch of memories to share with us! And the pictures make the vision complete. I can tell that you had a wonderful time! Thanks for sharing - I'm definitely visiting Switzerland soon :))

Penless Thoughts said...

Oh Linds!!! This was awesome and lovely and breathtaking and wonderful and all the other adjectives you could say!!! How beautiful and how touching. I wanted to chuckle and cry and I love it that you shared this with us. The more you write about Switzerland the more I want to go!!!!
Susan

A Chelsea Morning said...

You have the most amazing adventures, Linds. Even that Volvo sounds like an adventure. LOL

I can't begin to tell you why there are no signs to Switzerland in Germany. Because I can't imagine being in Germany!

Beautiful wedding. And I love those carved cows. I think that cleared up one of my earlier questions, right? Such a relief to discover no live cows were injured in the making of this adventure. :-)

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

It was a pleasure to read about such a beautiful day no matter the heat. I love how everyone worked together to accomplish something so lovely. Wonderful memories to cherish for you all...

Jo and JD said...

What lovely memories. Thank you so much for sharing the beauty of what I would call a fairy tale wedding. Absolutely beautiful.

meggie said...

It comes with the territory of being a mother, to worry about our children... a lifetime committment.

What a beautiful post with lovely photos. My son absolutely loved Switzerland. Left the love of his life there, & has never recovered.