Sunday, June 20, 2010

UK Union

The primary reason for Tom's and my recent England vacation was, of course, his brother's wedding. Between venue issues and catering catastrophes I wouldn't say that the getting hitched went off without a hitch, but in the end the ceremony was as lovely as the bride (and to be honest, is there such a thing as a wedding without a hint of chaos?). Here is the bride (in a stunning, light pink dress with an embroidered bodice and long ruffled skirts) and her groom saying their vows:
At the behest of the mother of the groom I was given an expensive Nikon and became a sort of unofficial wedding photographer. This was one of my favorite candid shots of the evening, of a very love-struck looking groom gazing adoringly at his blushing bride:
Apparently it's custom for women to wear hats to English weddings. I was a little alarmed to hear about the rule, seeing as how I've no experience in hat buying, but was quickly reassured by the mother of the groom that this was to be a casual wedding--no hats required. That didn't, of course, prevent some of the more fashionable guests from turning out hatted--or rather, feathered. Turns out that the definition of a "hat" for a wedding is pretty loose and is rarely something big enough to accommodate one's entire head, usually taking the form instead of artistically splayed feathers or a small, bellboy-esque cap pinned on to the side of the head. Odd.
Me and the handsome best man:
Being one of the only French-speaking guests at the wedding gave me a certain level of privilege because I was able to talk to the Algerian mother of the bride and the three Algerian sisters (and yes, I tried a bit of Arabic, but my skills have slipped a lot since last summer and it didn't go very well). The bride being Algerian (and Muslim) meant that the wedding was a little different than others I've attended. Rather than being held in a church or presided over by a priest/pastor, it was presided over by city officials and held in a beautiful town hall complete with stained glass windows, high ceilings and elegant staircases. Best of all, it was only a five minute walk from the groom's apartment, which came in handy when we ran into him still in jeans and a sweater, picking up canapés about 10 minutes before the wedding. He was so pressed for time that he ended up not putting his contact lenses in until halfway through the reception--a fact that Tom exploited in his best man's speech, saying that Nicholas in his blindness had "married the wrong sister"

The ceremony itself was pretty delightfully brief--basically just a civil ceremony with an audience. We then moved to the reception hall for a dinner catered by a Lebanese restaurant, followed by drinks and dancing. The highlight of the night occurred mid-reception, when the bride disappeared for 15 minutes and reappeared in full traditional Algerian dress, with flowing skirts, metal bracelets and a headpiece (pictured on the right in the photo below, with her mother in the center). The bride, her three sisters and her mother then lead the guests in an Algerian dance, complete with confetti and youyous (the call of celebration that North African women all seem to know how to make). My only regret is that we had to leave before we got the chance to admire the bride's other dresses--apparently she made a few more changes after we were gone.

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