Monday, 19 May 2014

The Wedding

It started on Saturday. Ladysolly and I went down to London, and installed ourselves in the Dorchester, where the reception was to be held. Then we went to the Bridal Suite, where daughter.2 and her bridemaids were gearing up for the great event. Lunch was ordered, but we didn't get to eat until four o'clock, by which time I'd eaten all the chocolate and fruit I could lay my hands on.

Then some more gearing up, then ladysolly and I went for dinner at the Chinese place in the Dorchester.

The Dorchester used to be a great place to have lunch, if you went to the Grill Room, where you got a great lunch for £21, and as much bread as you wanted from a huge variety of breads on the Bread Trolley. Since then, prices appear to have massively increased, and the Grill Room is temporarily closed for revamping, with no published reopening date. And I suspect that when it does open, it will be nothing like as good as it used to be.

After dinner, we went back to the bridal suite, where the excitement was increasing as the wedding got nearer - then everyone turned in to get some sleep for the following day.

I was impressed by our room; the bed was very comfortable, and it was easy to turn off the air conditioning, to achieve silence.

The next day, we were up at 8:30, and it was off to the bridal suite again, for breakfast with daughter.1 and assorted bridesmaids. Future husband had been banished by then, so that when he would see his bride, it would come as a big surprise. Ladysolly and I went into the other room to have a look at the Wedding Dress - I couldn't find it, but then ladysolly explained to me that what I'd thought was a curtain, was actually the dress. And what I thought was another curtain, was the veil.

Then ladysolly and I went back to our room, so that I could assemble her into her dress (more fasteners than a flatpack wardrobe), and then get myself into my trusty old black tie outfit, including a special waistcoat, hired for the occasion from Moss Bros, so that I would match the other menfolk. 

At 2:30, we assembled at the foyer of the Dorchester. I was sent back to the room; I hadn't realised that there was a blue cravat in the package, and a handkerchief; I grabbed those and went downstairs again..


I have to admit that I've never worn a cravat before, and hadn't a clue how to put it on, a problem made worse by the fact that, down in the  Dorchester foyer, there was no mirror. One of the women put it on for me, but apparently (no mirror) that wasn't quite right. Eventually, the photographer stepped in and sorted it out.

A brief word about the photographer. His name is Pascal (and I explained to him the significance of his name to mathematicians and programmers) and I'm sure that he was a great photographer, but as the day trundled on, he turned out to have many additional talents - if you want a fixer-upper at your wedding, hire Pascal.

Out in the street where transport was waiting. I don't know what other people used, but ladysolly, daughter.1 and Father Of The Bride were in a big white Rolls Royce with a pink ribbon. Getting to the synagogue took longer than it should have, on account of traffic, so we arrived 15 minutes late. Luckily, they didn't start without us.

So we installed the bride in a waiting room, where the veil was added and adjusted, and Pascal took lots more pictures. Eventually, we formed ourselves into a procession, and made our way into the synagogue to the chuppah. I filled in the time by marching up and down the aisles of the synagogue, saying hello to the people that I recognised; cousins and suchlike.

I stood to the left of the chuppah (the men's side) with the father of the groom, with the groom inside. On the other side, was the bride, ladysolly and the mother of the groom. And the rabbi, who was wearing a Homburg hat just like mine, This is the hat that I wear at weddings, barmitzvahs and funerals; I've never mastered the art of keeping a yarmulke in place. It looks dramatic, and makes me look like The Godfather, which is probably good, because I am the eldest living Solomon.

The chazan sang, the rabbi did the service, the chazan sang some more. The groom drank wine from a cup, the bride drank from the same cup. I cried a bit. The bride circled the groom seven times (closely followed by ladysolly, because someone had to hold the train), rings were exchanged, promises were made, and the Ketubah was given to the bride, who gave it, temporarily to ladysolly for safekeeping until after the party, who gave it to me, and I put it in my room as soon as I could, hidden in my suitcase. The groom stamped on a glass, completing the ceremony, and everyone shouted "Mazel Tov". Then, while the bride and groom did the necessary stuff to satisfy English law for a marriage, I went round the synagogue shaking hands with everyone I could reach and being told mazel tov.

Outside, the four coaches had arrived to transport the 250 guests back to the Dorchester for the wedding reception. Of course, the more significant players in the drama had cars.

Back at the Dorchester, we first went to a side room for the Official Wedding Photographs, of which there were a great many, including lots of unofficial ones. Eventually, we were able to escape and get into the main hall.

It looked amazing - candles and flowers, flowers and candles. Eventually, I found the Top Table, where sits the bride, groom and both sets of parents, and just as I sat down, the bride and groom made their grand entrance.

This was followed by dancing.

Many of our friends aren't jewish - it takes all sorts - and many of those had never been to a jewish wedding before, so they had never seen a Horah before. The rules are simple. You form a circle, and shuffle round. But inside that circle, various things happen. For example, The groom's father and I did a dance in which we whirled each other round and round, kept going by the angular momentum, fuelled by the joy of a wedding. Michael did a Kazatzka. The groom and his brothers did an energetic gallop. I did a high-kicking solo; I would have done a Kazatzka, because I know I still can, but it would have been bad if my trousers had been unequal to the strain.

Then came the first course. I missed that, because at that point, I started one of the main duties of the Father Of The Bride - I am the host, so I have to go talk to people. There were a couple of dozen tables, 250 guests, and I, eventually, went round each one and spoke to everyone there. It took most of the evening, but I wasn't really hungry, having stoked up over the previous 48 hours, and by now being as high as a kite on adrenaline.

By the end of the evening, I had a considerable hoarseness of the throat, from trying to project my voice above the sound of the band, who seemed to consider it their duty to drown out all other sounds, and had clearly never played at a wedding where people wanted to talk to each other.  A few times, I had to tell the man at the mixer desk to lower the volume. The first time I did that, I was told,"No way, we have to conform to the wishes of the client". So I explained that I was very glad to hear that, and since as Father Of The Bride, and Payer of the Band, I actually was the client, I'd be grateful if they could lower the tone to 70 decibels, and then I had to explain what 70 decibels meant.

Then I was called away, to do the Father Of The Bride speech. People told me that it went very well, and they certainly seemed to laugh a lot, but I'm sure that nearly everyone missed a couple of the jokes, such as the "For an occasion" joke (it's clumsy word construction, unless you say it quickly, slightly slurred, then pause afterwards while people try to work out "did he really say that?"). But that's OK; in both writing and speaking, you should always be willing to have stuff that many people in the audience don't get, because those that do get it appreciate it even more.

With that out of the way, could I relax? No I could not. I had 250 people to talk to, to be wished mazel tov by, and (in one case) be asked if I had any other unmarried daughters, to which I replied "Is he a doctor?" 

Old jewish joke. Woman standing on the side of a lake, she's shouting "Help help, my son the doctor is drowning".

So then, more dancing, including the chair dance. The groom sits on a chair, which is lifted for four strong guests; the bride sits on a chair which is lifted by four more. Angie isn't big, but I was still quite surprised when her chair was lifted by four females. And then the bride and groom are danced around the rooom by the lifters, until eventually everyone is too exhausted to go on, and they're lowered to the ground. In Angie's case, the lowering wasn't quite perfect, and she was tipped out while not quite back to the floor, but luckily by the time that happened, she was very close to the ground and she landed on her feet, no problem.

More food, and more speeches - the loyal toast to the Queen, the toast to the State of Israel, the best man's speech by one of the groom's brothers, and the retort by the groom (including many compliments to the bride); all speeches went very well.

More food.

More dancing.

More drinking.

The cutting of the cake.

The eating of the cake.

More food.

More dancing.

More drinking.

By this time, I'd managed to get round all the guests (and to my surprise, some of them remembered me from when we were big in the computer field and asked me stuff about that).

And, eventually, it was 1am, and the  Dorchester staff were hinting subtly that we might start to think about leaving. Then not so subtly.

Ladysolly and I got back to out room, where it took me half an hour to extract her from her dress, and then we went to bed, and tried to sleep. By then I was suffering from an ongoing adrenaline high, and  sore throat, but eventually I nodded off.

The next morning, Mr and Mrs Silver, the two pairs of parents, and most of the bridesmaids, got together for breakfast, followed by packing up and going home.

Truly a most amazeballs wedding.


  1. Nice to see you are still well and Susan looks lovely in that dress. Can't believe that last time I saw Jenny and Angie, that they were still at primary school. And that it's over 20 years since we last spoke.

    All the best


  2. ... wonders who TK is ...

  3. Congratulations to Angela! My how time flies.

    Oh, and sounds like you and LadySolly had a fun day too. :)