Copyright 2023 by Pamella Laird
Photo by Dmitry Zvolskiy
could be ‘a fly on the wall.’ But I’m not, I’m
the vicar, so you are hearing this from an on-the-spot, reliable
witness. Through Sophie I’ve heard of her wedding plans in
unfolding steps. We all knew this would be the fun wedding of the
year—with her infectious laughter and mass of auburn
curls—Sophie’s that sort of girl. I’ve seen enough
brides walk up our aisle—I’m now an authority on
the bride’s mother told me, for the past twelve months, Sophie
has had only one thing on her mind—her wedding dress. It seems
husband-to-be, Nick told her she’ll look gorgeous in whatever
she chooses and not to stress about it. He’s a good man I
believe, and has learned a lot about women in his twenty-nine years.
Their wedding will be a remembered delight and I believe they’ll
enjoy a long and blessed marriage.
Nick’s reassuring remark only encouraged Sophie, always anxious
to please, to search through endless Bride Magazines. Helen prolonged
the agonising search by enthusiastically going along with her
daughter’s single-mindedness. They decided that Sophie’s
‘wedding dress of the century,’ will echo Marie
Antoinette as a shepherdess in the Tuileries. And I quote, ‘the
layers of tulle will make the skirt floaty and dreamy enough for a
princess. The boned bodice, lace-covered and with a heart-shaped
neckline will have tiny sleeves.’ It seems, in the end, the
choice of material caused more concern than any style or pattern.”
asked an important question, of her dressmaker, ‘Will this
skirt waft about me and really
my dream dress?’
maker of fabulous dresses, with commendable patience and tolerance replied
sweetly, “I have my secret ways—it’ll be exactly
the skirt you want. No need to worry, and thank you for the picture,
you’ll love it. You’ll need to shop around for the lace
you want for your bodice, think about a gentle white, not too harsh,
or maybe any other colour that you fall in love with. Many brides
these days choose colours, even black, but I’m sure you’ll
feel black is a ‘bride’ too far.”
a relief, Janice, I knew you could do it. Colour? Perhaps the
blue, like mountain mist. You’ll let me know how many metres
kept an eye on Sophie over the weeks and eventually after agonising
days and weeks, I learned all was decided—the pattern for
herself—the ‘dress of the century’ and the style
for her bridesmaids.
fixed on the basics, Sophie and her mother enjoyed traipsing around
the fabric shops until they’d narrowed down the store that
imported the most charming and luxurious of fabrics. Several days
later, Sophie carried a weighty armload of material into Janice’s
won’t bore you with the finer points of the cutting, sewing and
dozens of fittings for a bride who, eventually floating three
centimetres above the floor, was as lively as a balloon on windy day.
Let me tell you about the day.
rained all morning.
house bubbled over with their dressers and four colourful
bridesmaids, in their soft shades of pink, green, apricot and lemon.
Palest blue for the bride. Their special gowns, also made by Janice
in a similar style to the bride’s, had plain, boned tops, the
main variation being that of pencil-slim skirts.
dad, Mark, by the dining room window most of the morning willed
the rain to stop. He had to do something, anything, to help the day
along for his precious only daughter. Her brother Chris, said
something about collecting the flowers from the florist and hadn’t
been seen since. Mark spent a lot of time looking at his watch.
Sophie has everything under control. She has planned for her
bridesmaids to travel in her brother’s car and to wait outside
the church, along with the photographer, a friend of brother Chris.
Fortunately, she’d run her ideas for her own arrival past me
and I’d given my approval.
one-thirty on the afternoon of the fourth of April, I don’t
know how they did it but the four girls stuffed themselves into
Chris’ Jaguar. They are to wait in or near the porch (depending
on the weather), until Sophie’s arrival. Her mother will travel
with Aunt Charley, and her dad in the truck cabin with his brother
her many anxious glances beyond the elm trees towards the cold winds
of the south, Sophie’s plan is destined to go ahead. It’s
only five minutes from the house to the church so she installs
herself on the deck of a truck with a side she can hang on to. She’ll
sit in style on an antique Redaelli chair from their lounge. She
knows this chair won’t crush her Marie Antoinette skirt. It’s
sturdy and solid, enough to keep her balanced on the otherwise
precarious truck-deck surface.
arranged for the wide gates beside the arch and lych gate to be open,
to allow her farmer uncle to drive onto the church green. Three or
four steps and she’d be on the path leading to the main door.
The rain has stopped, but judging by the bumbling black clouds still
threatening, they have to judge the time carefully as no one wants to
see a sodden bride.
the blackness raging on the southern horizon, I feel our bride will
be safe inside the church on her father’s arm before the squall
arrives. Ah! There she is, every bit the queen of the day, high on
her throne as Uncle Geoff negotiates corners and kerbs. The truck
considerately brakes and reverses up to the assembled guests while
our gorgeous Sophie waves delightedly to all assembled in her honour.
stands and gathers her puff-ball skirts, cautiously steadying
confidently to the rear of the deck she peers at the abyss between
her, the lawn and her guests. Having the foresight to see that Sophie
will need both personal and obviously (as it turns out), sensible
help, one of the men returns from the church with a metal step-ladder
that he opens and hastily positions on the grass at her feet.
at the rear edge of the truck deck, her blue colour-matching high
heeled shoes, poke their noses over the edge. Sophie holds the
voluminous skirts of cloud-like tulle away from the deck that she’s
happy to notice earlier, her cousin Mark has swept clean. She peers
down from the truck height to the space between her, the lawn and her
triumphant arrival at the church.
holding up her voluminous skirts, Sophie studies the drop. Dismay
creeps over her sunny face as the reality of the space between her
and the step-ladder, still presents a sure-fire risk of her wellbeing
and decorum. She has no intention of allowing this tiny over-looked
pickle to hobble a shepherdess, the focal point of the day. She looks
soberly at the more than two-metre drop between her and her goal,
then down to the baffled faces of the expectant guests.”
calls to her father standing on the lawn beneath her. He holds out
his arms. She shakes her head. ‘Your idea lass—we didn’t
think that one through.’ Sophie glances over her shoulder at
the darkening of the skies and the realisation that it’s now or
are several encouraging suggestions from the group below with a few unhelpful
cat-calls and suggestions from the younger male guests in the
animated group. The least welcome are those from the teenage male
glances first at her watch, again at the gulf between her and her
beloved then back at the sky and her dilemma. She gathers her arms
full of tulle, walks to the edge and jumps. I’m among the
watchers enjoying the predicament as much as any.
desperate leap of faith is welcomed with yells of delight as her
magnificent skirt acts as an umbrella caught in a high wind and
immediately unfurls over her head leaving every inch of wedding
under-finery exposed to the on-lookers. The cat-calls change to
bellows of laughter and the delighted squeals of female guests. Her
father leads the hilarity.
unexpected steadiness, she lands upright, there is a minor difficulty
in keeping her balance while she pulls her three-inch heels from the
soft lawn. Success! Her face is wreathed in smiles. Her dad strides
to her from the edge of the crowd and with an arm around her waist,
helps her to the safety of the pathway as the guests step back making
room for her on dry ground. The first drops of rain splash onto the
concrete and the laughing throng rush as one towards the church
her bridesmaids clustering around, Sophie is still laughing as the
four young women gather around her in the porch, pat her dress back
to its intended, billowy, shepherdess glory. Wagner’s Lohengrin
Wedding March fills the church—Sophie takes her father’s
arm and looks up to him with one big smile.”
son is a vicar in a North Yorkshire (UK) parish and regaled me with
this story. I’ve tried to keep it just as he told me. I know
the church at Patrington so can visualise the scene for myself.
like to think your readers would not find it impolite.
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won't know where to send it.)
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