So, my previous post was about Prince Harry’s & Meghan Markle’s wedding and of course it made me think a lot about my favourite wedding ever: my own wedding in July of 1999! Of course, ours was not nearly as grand as the royal wedding, but we had really made a celebration of it, with our families and our friends and for me it really was one of the very best days of my life.
I was looking at pictures of our wedding but by far most of them aren’t digital. The digital pictures we do have are only a handful of images we have scanned and pictures taken with my father in law’s digital camera (digital photography was just getting started at the time). The pictures taken with the digital camera were of low quality and the camera also failed at times, giving us pictures that were overexposed, blurry or too dark. No matter, I have collected some of my fave digital images that we have and just can’t resist posting my wedding day story here!
Mr Esther and I had already been living together for 3 years before we got married. Why bother getting married, you ask? In my heart I just knew I had found the man I wanted to be with forever (that still holds true today!) and yes, we were already totally committed to each other. Getting married was just something we eventually wanted to do as well. We wanted a celebration of our love for ourselves and for everyone around us, to cement and clearly state to the world that yes, we were in this together forever. We celebrated our wedding on our 7.5 year anniversary of getting together; I was 29, Mr Esther was 28.
The morning of our wedding we got dressed in separate rooms (we didn’t spend the night before separately, that would have felt weird). We had invited our immediate families and my best friend at the time to come over to our house for a brunch to start off the festivities. When everyone was there, Mr Esther came into our bedroom and saw me in my dress for the first time (that was a very special moment!) and then I walked down our little hallway to the living room where I was greeted by our guests. Another very special moment!
We left everyone in our house to enjoy a brunch while Mr Esther & I and our two best friends came with us and the photographer (not a professional, but someone who did it as a hobby) to help with our wedding pictures being taken. Our pictures were taken in Delft, which is where we were also getting married (we lived very close to Delft at the time). Here are a few that have been scanned over the years…
We got back to our apartment and there we picked up all our guests for the short drive to the old city hall of Delft (the building pictured above). As parking was tricky for the center of Delft, we had rented this old bus for the whole family to travel in, while we travelled in a vintage Rolls Royce.
In The Netherlands you can’t get married with only a religious wedding, you always have to have a civil ceremony. In addition to our families, other friends had also come to city hall to witness the event. We had met with the woman who was performing our ceremony a few days before our wedding. She gave a little speech about us, spoke about marriage and then we said our “I do’s” and signed the registry.
Afterwards we were led to a reception room, where we received out first congratulations, before we went on to another venue.
When we exited city hall, the church bells of the old church opposite city hall (where Dutch royals are buried!), started ringing for us, which was pretty cool.
My father was a theologian and minister and I have been baptized and grew up going to church. However, over time I have come to see myself more as a humanist and Mr Esther is an atheist who has only ever attended a church service in my presence. So, we didn’t want an official church wedding. We did want an extra blessing on our marriage and I really wanted my father to perform that ceremony. We went from city hall to a nearby wedding venue where the ceremony as well as our dinner & party would be held.
My father had discussed the ceremony at length with us and, although the structure was based on a church ceremony, we were also able to reform it in such a way that suited us. Mr Esther and I, for instance, never used the word ‘God’ or ‘Jesus’, we had bible readings but also poems, we had classical and ‘secular’ music, my father gave us a blessing (Aaron’s blessing to be precise) after we had exchanged our vows and put on wedding rings, but there was also the presentation of a special wedding gift for us by my in-laws. It really was a very special and deeply personal service and, like Harry’s and Meghan’s service, it had the theme of love and the Song of Songs (Song of Solomon) at the heart of it. “My beloved is mine and I am his” was the theme. The fact that my father was able to perform this blessing for us remains one of my most cherished memories.
After the service there was a cutting of the cake (just one overexposed digital picture)…
…and as the weather was great we all went out in the sunshine for coffee and eating of the cake and just relaxing a bit after all the excitement (while inside the staff revamped the room from a ‘church’ to a dinner room with round tables).
This was also the venue where lots of group pictures were taken, including one with my brothers and sisters (and lots of other fun pictures, that I don’t have digitally).
We had a buffet dinner afterwards (with yummy Indonesian food). Dinner also included some speeches and presentations of a few gifts.
And then from 8 pm onwards, we had big party (where even more people joined in the festivities). We had a DJ and seriously, from the start, everyone participated in the dancing and fun. We had our first dance to U2’s “All I want is you” (more of a shuffle) and after that everyone joined us on the dance floor.
Some people had also put on acts for us. We had asked people not to give us any wedding gifts separately but if they wanted to give us something, to give money so we could spend it on a honeymoon. One of my brothers had coordinated it all. Friends had thought up a quiz and with every correct answer that Mr Esther and I gave, a letter was turned and together the letters would from a word. We got 2 or so questions wrong but in the end we had enough correct answers to figure out that the winning word was ‘Portugal’. Our families and friends had booked us a honeymoon to Portugal as a wedding gift!
My family had also organized an ABBA act: family members in the background wore masks and were the backing singers and dancers, my mother was in a blonde wig as Agnetha, another family member was in a red wig as Annafrid, my dad was guitarplayer Björn (or Benny) using an ancient bed pan and Mr Esther’s uncle was Benny (or Björn) on an ironing board as a keyboard. They sang and danced (choreographed!) along to ABBA’s “Gimme gimme gimme” and screamed “Mr Esther after midnight” to follow that line. It was a helluva lot of fun to watch.
Mr Esther and I were also lifted on chairs and carried around…
At midnight the party ended. We thanked everyone and right after that we were surprised with an emotional ending: everyone was given a candle and stood around us in a circle while the song “You’ll never walk alone” was played (and everyone joined in singing). This was something my mother had organized (just like the ABBA act had been her doing) and it was a perfect ending to a perfect day.
Harry and Meghan’s wedding may have been great but ours was better! I am still so happy that we celebrated our love like that and the love we received back was overwhelming. My wedding is a memory I will cherish in my heart forever.
So, dear readers, what about you? Did you have a wedding? How big or how small? If you’ve never been married, would you ever want a wedding? Or are weddings just not important to you? An inquiring mind would love to know. 🙂