Dearest Relatives and Friends,
We are now in our cabin heading for Santander with a rare chance to relax and take stock of the recent whirlwind of events. For us and the numerous friends and family who gathered from all over Europe and the US, the wedding weekend was by all accounts an extraordinary event, one that will remain in the memory for a very long time.
Starting with a day of preparation with a strong team of helpers (mainly members of Ruth’s house in Totnes), the place started to hum with creativity: decorating the huge barn at Coed Hills and preparing the giant bird cage that was to be the first station on our wedding ceremony walk around the ‘estate’. In the kitchen Natalie headed a team of people, including Christian and Jimini and others who came in and gave a helping hand.
Vegetables were chopped and stews were started for the grand meals that were to punctuate the festivities.
Some important guests arrived – Ruth’s sister Ela from Köln with her two sons, uncle Friedrich from Frankfurt and an old school friend Bene, from Neustadt. Everyone who arrived on Thursday mucked in with the preparations.
Friday saw the arrival of Graeme, Frank’s best man from New York – a touching reunion in itself – and many more who came to pitch their tents and/or settle into the bell tents and yurts dotted around the property (thank you to Harriet for providing the ‘glamping’ tents!).
The performers involved in Saturday’s ceremony met for the first time and we had a walk-through and talk-through rehearsal, after which Chris and Amy created the final script.
A grand piano in the barn was never silent. So many talented musicians! Connections were made across families and friends via the medium of spontaneous music making. Frank kicked off an extraordinary rolling barbeque, which Rawley had finished constructing minutes before, with the invaluable help of Devon and later Josh. By the time we had the barbeque we were about 90 people.
Later on in the evening, heavy rains managed to blow down Loz’s tent and soak inside another, but this didn’t dampen the spirit. People just brought their sleeping bags inside and camped out in the chill-out room instead.
Saturday morning started with a breakfast at 9am, followed by singing, which was led by my daughter Lilli, Ruth’s eldest and Helen Chadwick. It was lovely to see everyone coming into the barn and joining the singing!
More people arrived, swelling the ranks to about 130 people, and at around 11.30 we set out on our Randonnée, introduced by Chris Pirie and led by Ansuman Biswas, with his various instruments.
The first station on our walk was to meet our celebrant. We found her in a bird-cage, fast asleep. We had to wake her up.
As we were on our way to the second station, the Menassehs joined us with Leonard in a wheel chair which had long planks of wood bolted to it so he could be carried across rough terrain sedan style.
The second station was in the woods on a very rickety stage, where Mr. and Mrs. Clark took us through some prenuptial rituals to test our compatibility and to equip us for our married life. The group was asked to raise their arm if they agreed that this couple should be wed.
The third station took the group to a pond down in the woods, where they were enchanted by sound and movement beautifully danced by Adele Levi. Meanwhile Frank and I had snuck off to reappear on horseback and in full wedding gear just as the group came out of the woods and was ready to walk towards a stone circle (the wedding dress was made by Caroline Lynch-Blosse). Frank and Ruth rode towards each other from opposite sides of the circle (glad to be led, as the horses were a bit skittish, which only added to the excitement J ), calling out to each other with a Georgian call-and-response song.
Once the group had arrived in the stone circle, we dismounted and our respective children collected us from the outside to lead us into the circle.
Amy took over from this point on and, as our celebrant, led us through a beautiful wedding ceremony, including a handfasting.
The ceremony ended by building an arch of people, through which everyone passed whilst singing a Georgian song that Helen had taught us earlier.
While we were out doing the ceremony, Rawley and the team from Coed Hills set up the barn ready for the Wedding lunch.
The afternoon was a feast for the senses – a beautifully decorated barn, a sumptuous feast, moving speeches, especially the one from Graeme, and a continuous stream of music, kicked off by Lilli singing with Tom Unwin, her father, on the piano. There were contributions from many people, including Caroline Noh, who dedicated a beautiful love song to us, and Theo with his well-rehearsed band!
Then some people left and others arrived…
At 6.30pm we laid the dance floor, and at 7pm, there was a Tango workshop led by Paul and Paras for those who wanted to try out a bit of Tango, later in the evening. After that, we had our ‘First Dance’, and then the evening dance floor was open. Michael Lavocah DJ’d a great selection of music including some Tango but also lots of other music. The dancing never stopped and an incredible evening buffet made sure the energy kept up. Zoe’s Wedding cake was brought in at around 10pm and was hugely appreciated.
It was a very relaxed and happy atmosphere, and by now people were freely mixing across the different circles of friends and families.
There was a fire outside where people played music and chatted, there was dancing inside where everyone was on their feet boogeying, and in the chill-out area the children were playing and later falling asleep while the party went on.
Sunday morning saw happy but sleepy faces at the brunch and slowly people packed up, said their good byes and left.
It is hard to describe the atmosphere throughout the weekend. There seemed to be a hum all through the event. Of course a wedding is about the couple, but it is also about Love in general, and about Community and the connections we have from person to person. We all seemed to be in this transformed state of being, lifted out of the ordinary and into a state of grace. This was an energy created by everyone present, held and channeled into the ceremony on Saturday. We feel blessed by all of you who came and helped to create this wonderful wedding for us. We will NEVER forget this day!
More photos can be seen on our flickr page – we’ll let you know the coordinates soon!
All love Ruth and Frank xxxxxxxxxxxx
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