Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Oxford wedding

A vast wooden door, opening straight onto the picturesque high-street - leads into a secret world of cloistered gardens and ancient stone. Yes, I'd finally got my foot inside an Oxford college (and wished I worked harder at school!)

Where erstwhile students can marry......
And this is Sarah, my clever cousin, marrying the musically-gifted Tom.
Don't they look gorgeous?

Here I am with my cousin Gerald - with whom I shared many a happy (!) game of Monopoly when I was growing up.

And here's the dining hall where we ate the delicious wedding breakfast and I kept looking up, expecting to see banks of floating candles or magical happenings occurring around the portraits, because it was just like being on the set of a Harry Potter film.....

Since I'm a romantic novelist, and since Mills & Boon is currently running a competition to find a new writer - would you like to share your experience of Beautiful Weddings You Have Been To? It might inspire some of the entrants.....


  1. Lovely atmosphere Sharon! And you looked great too! Caroline x

  2. I haven’t seen witnessed memorable weddings – but I watched a very funny wedding, maybe the funniest, in a film.

    Search on YouTube: “Love Actually Wedding Scene”… hilarious, tender, lovely… who wouldn’t like a surprise like that one at his/her wedding? I have to say it, the groom’s best friend had the best idea ever…

  3. Excellent photos, Sharon. I've always wanted to visit Oxford. And many congratulations to the newlyweds.

    I attended a wedding in Spain that was absolutely magical. I've never seen so many flowers; they were strung in garlands. The bride also wore white flowers. During the ceremony, there was a custom with which I was unfamiliar: 13 gold coins were first blessed by the priest, then exchanged back and forth between the bride and groom while speaking vows. I inquired about this and was informed that the coins represented Jesus and his 12 Apostles and symbolized the mutual committment between the couple. It was lovely...

    Firecrackers greeted the bride and groom upon their exit from the church. The couple's first dance had a specific name which, sadly, escapes me. The reception was, friends, Sangria and Spanish Guitars. Male guests received cigars and the women received a flower-scented oil as a kind of party favor. I haven't begun to talk about the food...There was Paella and many types of fish and then the cakes... But I guess what was most different was the time that it took place. The actual ceremony began in the evening and the reception lasted almost 'til dawn.

    It was an incredible, magical night.

  4. Ooh, Dan - thank you. That is really inspirational....

  5. I don't think anything can beat the Spanish wedding Dan shared with us, it is truly inspirational. I can picture it all and I will save that picture for future use!
    The venue for the Oxford wedding also looked lovely.
    Thanks Dan and Sharon.

  6. A wonderful tale, Dan. I loved it too.
    And…do you believe in coincidences, Sharon?! I’m going to attend a wedding… tomorrow afternoon!!!
    Of course, I attended some before but this is a “last second” participation because we met some friends who introduced us to their friends (!!!) - which are going to celebrate their wedding tomorrow.
    And they’ve invited us… could we refuse?
    Moreover… in Italy we have a saying about weddings: “Di Venere e di Marte non si sposa e non si parte” - meaning “On Mars (Tuesday) and Venus (Friday) you don’t have to get married or leave”.
    It’s a sort of superstition so I’m just curious to see how everything goes… because tomorrow’s Friday!
    And there are three keywords I think will make it a special day: wedding on the beach, sunset and candles…

  7. I want EVERY DETAIL of the big day, Michela!

  8. A beach sunset.

    Now that's romance...

  9. Here I am – still dazed for yesterday’s wedding. A fabulous wedding.
    When I knew they were going to celebrate on the beach I got goosebumps because one of my greatest dreams is celebrating my own wedding there. I’m Italian so… Italian people (southern ones mostly) and sea have an indissoluble connection.
    About the wedding… we had a perfect time.
    At 5:30 pm we reached the beach.
    The air was lukewarm and the fresh breeze spread the delicious scent of salt, so typically of summer.
    It was a private beach and there were wooden stairs decorated with scented candles on both sides (vanilla and jasmine). The path leading to the gazebo was freckled of oleander petals. After red roses, oleander is my favourite flower. “On dit que” it’s one of the most poisonous plants in the world and that its nectar is toxic but I love it so much, maybe because of its lethal beauty.
    And anyway they have a tantalizing scent.
    We reached the gazebo where the happy couple exchanged mutual promises.
    During the ceremony they recited (in Italian) the verses of Shakespeare’s sonnet 116: “Let me not to the marriage of true minds”.
    I was shocked. My favourite one – perfetto… It was already enough for my romantic nature.
    The twilight was slowly starting to show its shy face with orange and violet colours.
    We had a very refined dinner at rounded tables (enlightened by candles) - there were about thirty tables all along the white sand which perfectly matched with immaculate silk tablecloths.
    We ate fresh fish, clams, squids, bass and later we tasted a delicious fruit cocktail served in seashells; then a typical Sardinian cake and ice-cold champagne.
    Around 9.30 pm a group of musicians appeared playing guitar and singing Sardinian love songs – which were pretty much incomprehensible since the dialect is very similar to Portuguese language and you don’t understand a word unless you’re Sardinian.
    I understand Sicilian dialect better and it’s also more fascinating.
    We also danced an “unknown music” – meaning that it spread from somewhere but we saw no stereo around and everyone wondered where did the melodies come from.
    The answer is still unknown but the mystery make it enchanting.
    When the bride threw the bouquet all the women had the foaming shore behind.
    It was 11.30 pm and a full moon shined over the black sea and its golden mirror was more intense than the light of day.
    The flight path of the bouquet was similar to a shooting star in the black sky filled with stars... and who caught it? Me (first time in my life).
    I also soaked part of the skirt of my turquoise silk dress into the sea.
    Later the groom, Nico, said that I had been brave because most women sharply stopped before catching the bouquet – afraid of crumpling their dresses! Ironically, I said that he probably wouldn’t have thought the same thing if I completely fell into the water.
    He and his lovely wife laughed.
    I spent the next twenty minutes talking to an adorable French child, Etienne – who was only 4 years old and particularly loved the little roses in the bouquet.
    He suddenly said: “Mes yeux ont la même couleur de ta robe” (My eyes have the same colour of your dress). I stared at him completely astonished and he was so sweet with his blond hair and his little angel face. He will steal many hearts in future!
    At 1:00 am pinwheels coloured the starry night and the bride gifted a daisy wreath for hair to every woman. We left the beach at 2.00 am with our hearts filled with a sweet feeling.
    The whole night had a surreal time, similar to one of F.S. Fitzgerald’s novels, almost a “Gatsby atmosphere” – I was wondering if a Jay Gatsby lurked around, hidden somewhere where nobody could see him.
    But it was just a voracious reader’s fantasy as I am.
    In conclusion, we had a truly great time and… I want my marriage to be like that one someday!

  10. Dear Sharon,
    Your wedding you attended in Oxford looks wonderful. I love Harry Potter so I think I would be in awe of the place.
    I thought I would tell you a bit about my wedding.
    My husband (Dave) and I have been married for nearly thirteen years, and what a day to remember.
    We got married near a beach on the other side of the world in Fiji.
    We were to be married at around 5pm (I say around, as Fijians are so laid back when it comes to time) so Dave went off to get ready in another room and I was pamered with champagne as the hairdresser/makeup artist set to work. His amazing creation, especially with my hair was fabulous. My hair teased into Soft curls swept high on my crown and finished with delicate white flowers. The final touches, my siver tiara and my iceblue, off-the-shoulder, floor-length satin dress made me feel so elegant.
    When I was ready two warriors came to my door to collect me, dressed in their trational dress of: grassskirt, tribal paint and clubs. They led me to a flower covered boat on the other side of the Island (Our hotel grounds covered this small Island) It was a tradition in Fiji that the bride will always come from a different Island.)
    After a short trip around to the other side of the Island, I was carried ashore by two more strong warriors.
    I was greeted by a choir who sang in harmony as I went through a flowered archway and Down the Isle. Dave waiting patiently at the other end. All the while I walked little flower girls threw flower petals at my feet.
    After the ceremony, more champagne and then we had our first dance, serenaded to us by a local band, by the beach as the sun slowly set across the water, illuminating the sky with the most vivid oranges and reds.
    Our meal, a Mongolian BBQ, was divine and we were giving the best seat in the house, upon the terrace over looking the sea. Our table decorated with more flowers and candles.
    After we had finished eating, they presented us with a delicious fruit cake they had specially prepared for us. A wonderful finish to a day we will never ever forget.
    love Diana xxx

  11. Was it TOO MUCH detailed? :-)

  12. Michela - too much detail? No way, this was perfect. - thank you (and I'll let you know when I use it!) I wonder if you have the same tradition about what happens to the woman who catches the bouquet.....?

    Diana, what a romantic wedding! I love your attention to detail and the different slant on a traditional do. Ice-blue satin and flower-decked boats? Mmm.....

  13. Do you mean the woman who catches the bouquet is going to get married soon?
    Yes, we have the same tradition – but honestly I can’t trust it.
    I met women who caught millions of times a bouquet and didn’t get marry.
    Maybe I’ll get married to my future husband in a year or two and maybe not… but it won’t happen because of a bouquet.
    I’m romantic but also realist!
    Glad that you loved the wedding tale – so do you want to use it in a future book? :-)