Lancelot and Geuenivere
In the Arthurian legends, the romance between Lancelot and Guinevere was one of great passion and danger. Unlike Romeo and Juliet, whose love was forbidden by family rivalry, Lancelot was Arthur's First Knight. He was like a brother to the King. Guinevere, as we all know, was Arthur's Queen. By consummating the relationship, Lancelot and Guinevere not only betrayed a best friend and husband, they betrayed the King and their country as well. What they did was not out of lust or weakness, but they were soul mates and as hurtful as the act was to Arthur, he knew it was right for them to be together.
I was not surprised Melissa and her husband-to-be William chose a Lancelot and Guinevere theme for their wedding since William's best friend Paul, was Melissa's first husband. Melissa told me Paul and her families are from Europe and are very old school, so their marriage had been arranged from an early age. She and Paul had had been unable keep up the pretense for too long and they separated less than a year after the marriage. Even before their marriage was over Paul had begun to notice what an amazing chemistry Melissa and William had. Though they tried hard to hide it, it was only a matter of months before Paul initiated a divorce. Amazingly though, Melissa, Paul and William all managed to remain friends.
The invitations were printed on scrolls of parchment and closed with a gold faux wax seal embossed with a fleur-de-li. Inside was a formally worded invitation to the marriage of "Lancelot and Guinevere" (Melissa and William). The details of location, date and time were given along with the instructions for the guests to dress in period costume. The contact information for a local costume shop was also provided.
Everyone gathered in the reception hall that was right next to the church. All the guests chattered about how fun it had been visiting the costume shop and trying on different outfits to select the perfect one. I felt like a princess in a long, flowing gown of green velvet, a wreath of dried heather in my hair and an 18K gold celtic-style necklace. Everyone felt like actors a movie especially when make-up artist put on some finishing touches. A troupe of musicians played medieval chamber music in the background.
A buffet table had been set with a light selection of foods for the guests - trays of cheese and crackers, sliced apples and pears, meat tartlets and sliced vegetables. There was fruit juice, wine, sparkling water, fresh coffee and various fruit teas.
An hour later, a heralding trumpeter sounded a half dozen notes and announced the ceremony was about to start. Guests were handed little packages wrapped in purple tissue as they filed out of the reception hall and into the Gothic-style church. The pews had been decorated with purple and white bows and garlands of red roses, morning glory and ivy. A harpist, in a stunning medieval gown of ivory satin played a beautiful period peace as the processional began.
William looked magnificent in a tunic of purple and gold velvet brocade trimmed with gold. He wore ivory trousers and purple satin slippers. His short cape of purple velvet was lined with ivory satin and embroidered with gold fleur-de-li. On his brow was a circle of twisted gold wire and at his side was a beautiful basket-hilted sword. The minister walked before them dressed in a black medieval priest's robe.
The ushers were dressed in colorful satin waist coats with swords at their sides, like Medieval knights and the bridesmaids all wore beautiful flowing gowns of purple and ivory satin with golden belts girding their waists and wreaths of dried lavender and ivory roses on their heads. They separated at the altar and took their places.
An adorable ring bearer, carrying a rose shaped ring pillow of purple satin, was dressed in a medieval page's costume. Behind him, his little sister tossed out freeze dried rose petals as she skipped down the aisle. She looked so cute in her little ivory brocade dress and a wreath of ivory silk flowers on her head.
Melissa wore a gorgeous Medieval gown of ivory crushed velvet with lace sewn down the front and trimming the long elegant train. The gowns sleeves were close fitting on the upper part of the arm, widening to angel-like sleeves below and were trimmed in lace. She wore a golden crown set with aurora borealis crystal and a veil of sheer purple silk over her ornately plaited hair. She looked so regal!
Paul was dressed in a rich tapestry tunic of gold and purple with symbol of a crowned lion on the breast. The crown on his brow twinkled with jewels of purple and gold. His legs were clad in gold hose and he wore black velvet slippers on his feet. Paul looked every bit like King Arthur with a serious and determined expression on his face as he walked Melissa up the aisle, placed her hand on William's arm then bowed and backed away from the altar.
The ceremony was brief, but emotional. Melissa and William read the vows they had composed expressing the love they have for each other and their gratitude to Paul for finding it in his heart to make it possible for a pair of soul mates to be together. After the groom and bride placed the wedding rings on each others hands the wedding party made its recessional as the guests followed cheering and throwing designer hearts made out of rice. Melissa told me later, they were the only thing the church would allow them to use because it would not injure birds or cause people to slip. Each heart is made of bits of rice mixed with water-soluble glue and would be crushed into powder if stepped on or would dissolve in water.
While the bride, groom, wedding party and families were having pictures taken by the professional photographer the guests returned to the reception hall, chatted, ate, drank and danced to the music of a live band.
An hour later, the heralding trumpeter sounded a half dozen notes. He announced the approach of Sir Lancelot and Lady Guinevere and for everyone to assemble outside to greet them. At first I wondered why we had to go out, but I soon I found out. Both of them rode on the back of a beautiful, white, Percheron horse! Everyone was suitably impressed and took lots of photos. William dismounted then helped Melissa down and they went inside.
The tables had been covered with purple damask linens and set by the caterer with elegant ivory and gold plates and gold utensils. Each place card was set in a holder shaped like a miniature gold goblet. An ivory favour box decorated with golden silk roses sat on each place. Inside were chocolate coins embossed with a fleur-de-li and wrapped in gold foil. Each table had a disposable camera so the guests could share special memories of the reception with the bride and groom.
The first course was light salad with pine nuts and currants or a hearty vegetable soup. After everyone was served, Paul stood up to make a toast. Not only did he wish the couple a happy, long life together, he also announced his own engagement. She was his true love, whom he had known for many years and was finally moving to be with him. Melissa got up, ran over to Peter and hugged him with tears of happiness in her eyes. If I did not know them, I never would have believed such things really happened.
The couple had their first dance between the first and second courses. After that was the father daughter and mother son dance, then the wedding party and after that everyone else.
Everyone was given a choice for the main course of either honey glazed Muscovy duck, brazed Cornish game hen with rosemary stuffing, or twelve bean stew. The meal was served with round loaves, rice pilaf, sliced carrots, green beans almondine and grilled asparagus. Of course there was ale, wine, and cider. Everything was delicious.
We all learned traditional medieval dances and had an incredible time. A photographer wandered the hall taking pictures of the guests enjoying themselves. When it was time for the bouquet toss Melissa went up to the balcony overlooking the hall and flung the flowers over her shoulder. The single women ran after it like a pack of rugby players trying to catch a long pass. It was certainly fun, but I didn't have a prayer of catching it unless I wanted to get trampled. William got a surprise when he went to remove Melissa's garter. She wasn't wearing one! Everyone laughed at the mischievous grin William had on his face while making a thorough search for it. Finally, Paul took it from his tunic and handed it to William.
Melissa's parents made a surprise appearance at the reception. Melissa's eyes were filled with tears when her father gave a short speech that he loved his daughter and he realized her happiness meant more to him than an outdated tradition.
The exquisite four-tier cake was decorated with sugar sculptures of doves, fleur-de- li and roses. It was almost a shame to cut it, but it was so delicious. After everyone had been served a piece of wedding cake everyone danced some more until the bride and groom departed.
We all went outside to see the happy couple off in a fairy tale carriage pulled by two white horses. They were on their way to a romantic honeymoon at bed and breakfast in a Welsh castle. Everyone received a dove floating candle before they left, as a memento of the event.
A week later I received a thank you note and an envelope of pictures. The URL of the couples' an online album was written on the back of the thank you note, so that family and guests could view all the memories of their glorious wedding day. Even without the pictures it is a day I will never forget.