A Pedestrian Wedding - John Lafferty

Photo: basia and john. The Marriage of Basia Palka and John Lafferty

The day dawned, as wedding days do, with the two of us feeling excited about the plans we had made to get married in public - legally binding and all that in the local registrar?s office in Paisley. Maybe a wee explanation here. You see we went up a hill above Tayvallich on midsummer?s eve in the year 2000 and declared ourselves to be for each other for ever and toasted our betrothal with whisky and champagne before coming down to a life together. At the time we decided to adopt the new name of Badolki. A White Russian colloquialism for baggage, which is what we both brought to the relationship. Anyway it didn?t please our respective daughters that we had not had a ?proper? wedding with family and friends and a good old reception.

which is why we found ourselves on 18th May 2007 waking up on our wedding day after having made arrangements for the events of the day:

Planning and Preparations

Photo: basia. We would be at the registrar's by two o?clock, with Basia, her bridesmaid and flower girls arriving in our camper van decorated by myself and driven by Basia?s brother. I would walk there from the house with my friend Frank who was my best man. Everything was planned to be accessible by walking so the photos would be taken by the River Cart a couple of minutes walk from the registrar?s and the restaurant for the post ceremony meal was across the road.

The evening reception was booked in the nearby Church hall with a local caterer and a very versatile band whose fiddle player is a work colleague. We bought a couple of cases of fizzy pink wine from a wine club for the toasts in the restaurant and the proprietor was happy to put it in the chiller overnight at no extra charge.
I think the fact that we went around personally and negotiated the deal face to face helped in so far as we are such a charming couple and lucky B?s to boot.

The Day Arrives

Photo: walking to wedding. On the day we awoke to an overcast sky and torrential rain and it was bad enough for me to be seriously considering a visit to the pound shop to buy umbrellas for all the guests. But then the luck of the B's came through and by the time of departure the clouds had parted like the Red Sea for Moses and we arrived at the registrar's in sunshine.

The ceremony was one of the most emotionally charged experiences I've had and at one point I thought I wouldn't be able to speak. We had written our own vows and reading them without faltering was a challenge for each of us in turn. We did manage though and I think our emotions had ignited a fire among the guests because several had their hankies out.

Photo: dinner. Afterwards it was out to the pavement and a walk along to the riverbank for photos. Our friend Roman, who is a professional photographer, had brought his equipment and was taking the photos as a present to us. The session went well but the wind began to pick up as it got nearer to the time of the meal booking so as soon as the last photos were in the can so to speak, everyone headed back along to the restaurant.

What lucky B's we are. Just as the last couple of people enter the restaurant the rain came on again. No problem for us who were seated with our guests in the friendly family atmosphere of the Antica in Silk Street looking forward to a selection of Italian style dishes and some tear jerking speeches by several guests. Basia's uncle from Poland, who has very little command of English, had kitted himself out in full highland outfit to give her away and surpassed himself by making a brief but emotional speech which he must have rehearsed for hours beforehand because he probably didn't understand half the words he was saying. Basia's daughter Marianna had us all in tears as did my elder daughter Ruth who had written a poem to express her feelings.

The rain was off again as the guests made their way to the hall for the next phase. The reception was no less a success than the earlier parts of the day with help of the staff from REDDS who did the bar and catering. The band was exceptional with a repertoire covering rock, folk and ceilidh and we had a compilation of love songs on CD which I had put together for the intervals. Basia and I had brought several bottles of Polish vodka and made our way from table to table with a tray of shot glasses which we filled for our guests and joined them all in a round of toasts. Unfortunately this meant we did have a bit more vodka than was necessary but it only added to the overall merriment.

Photo: cake. We?ve had nothing but praise from everyone who came since that evening so we must have got it right. I personally think that our lack of fuss and general laid back attitude helped in that respect. The cake was a winner also. Made by a lovely lady cake maker at Flour Power in Old Dumbarton Road whom Basia had commissioned, it had two tiers with four figures representing our daughters, Amy, Marianna, Nina and Ruth on the bottom and two representing us on the top. When it came to the cutting of it and the distribution among the company the luck of the B's came back onstream and it was like the feeding of the five thousand in the bible story. Everyone got a piece delivered by the four small children present and each of them got a daughter figure to keep or consume as they saw fit. I think they all actually ate them on the night. As the midnight hour approached and guests began to drift off home we organised a clean up of the hall and walked hand in hand back home where family and close friends had gone ahead of us to party until the early hours of the morning.

I didn?t mention that we had a phone call a week before the wedding from the chef at the restaurant telling us he?d fallen out with the owner and was giving up his lease and had to cancel our booking. Did we panic ? No way ! us lucky B?s sprang into action and spoke to the owner and negotiated a new deal as good as the previous one. And the dress was also a stroke of luck. We were in Bristol at a friend?s 60th birthday party and came across it in a market. Next day s we were leaving for the airport we were passing one of these budget shoe shops and there in the window was a pair of shoes just made to go with the dress. How lucky can you get ?

Photo: guests. Don?t get me wrong bye the way, the baggage we brought into each other?s lives is still there to be dealt with and a daily basis but it?s how you let these things affect you that make life tolerable or not. Some of the things we did on a shoestring for our wedding would have cost others a fortune and left them starting out with a burden of debt in their new marriage. A wedding should be for and by the couple conjoining. If you get yourself tied up in image and trying to please or impress parents and friends then your doing it for the wrong reasons in my opinion.

Your friends will love you and support you whether you feed them sausage rolls from Greggs or smoked salmon canap?s from one Devonshire gardens as long as you are honest and sincere in the giving. Our wedding cost us about £3000 and it was brilliant. We had a great day and so did everyone I've spoken to since.

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