It went by in a flash. Claire organized the day to perfection. The miserable weather even cleared by Friday afternoon and on Saturday, it was just beautiful and warm.
Claire looked spectacular in her dress. I'm not just saying this because she's my daughter, and certainly not because brides do look great on their wedding day. No, she really looked wonderful. The "bump" only showed in profile!
The wedding ceremony was at the Guild Hall in Northampton, a 19th century neo-Gothic structure that is really quite beautiful. It was moving. Not at all tense -- at least not for me. Claire and Geoff exchanged vows, exchanged rings, signed the register with Charlotte on their knees. Angela read a beautiful poem in English and Emma, Anne, and Louis read one in French. It just seemed so natural and normal and relaxed. Afterwards, we went into the courtyard for photos and then headed to Harlestone for the reception and lunch.
The reception was at the Harlestone Village Institute in Upper Harlestone. Claire had mapped out exactly how she wanted the room to look and on Thursday and Friday family and friends set it up perfectly. Nigel, Geoff's brother, is a caterer and his chef friend Stuart did a fantastic job on the meals (lunch, a buffet in the evening and a barbecue lunch on Sunday!). Valérie's father is a retired pastry chef and he did the "pièce montée", a mountain of profiterolles, Claire's favorite dessert. Niel, another friend, is an extraordinary crooner and DJ and he entertained us all day. The food was great, the entertainment was great, the company was fantastic and the bride and groom were amazing. There were sheep in the meadow for perfect picture backgrounds and a footpath for digestive walks. Perfection.
Sunday, we returned for the barbecue, more conversation, walks, and finally, dismantling. It rained for a couple of seconds just when it was time to start cleaning up. This was a great signal to guests that it was time to leave. Then, the rain stopped for clean-up. Wonderful.
The Lebelle clan (Pierre, Gillette, Anne-Valérie, Frédéric, Laure-Hélène, Paul), Jon and I took a walk along the footpath to the village. We went into the church in the middle of a guided tour, saw some horses, ... Very pleasant.