On the second Saturday of this year I received an email from a chap called Richard asking whether I could perform a wedding within 6 days. His friend David and David’s fiancée Alyson had “been trying for a long time to get married” and could I call him that evening? To say my curiosity was whetted is an understatement and the next evening I called in at Richard’s house to meet with him, his wife Chloe and the groom, David.

David and Alyson had intended to marry last Summer but it hadn’t happened for some reason (something about going on holiday instead!). Alyson had told David that she wanted to marry before she was 40, and her birthday being the following Saturday meant David had decided to take on the role of knight on a white charger (or do I mean the genie in the bottle) and that Alyson’s wish was his command. He was aware that a legal marriage ceremony was impossible at such short notice but I reassured David that the ceremony in which their friends and family witnessed them making vows written specifically for them, and exchanging their rings, would feel just as “real” and valid as any ceremony anyone had seen before. He, in turn promised to book in to the register office at the first opportunity after the surprise ceremony.

Did I mention that Alyson wasn’t to learn about the wedding until the night before?

The dress and rings had already been bought and Alyson’s birthday party had been booked at Glyn Abaty Golf Club so all that was needed was for friends to rally round and order or create such wedding necessities as the flowers, a cake and table decorations. David’s friends rallied round and helped, and the local florist came up trumps adding all sorts of extras when they discovered what this last minute booking was about. The small upstairs room at the golf club was transformed into a pretty floral arbour, the stage was set.

The night before the wedding, Alyson had a few friends round to mark the beginning of her birthday weekend. It seemed odd when David slipped out around 11.30pm, leaving Alyson with her friends, her Mum and a letter telling her – in true “Don’t Tell the Bride” style – that her wedding had been arranged for the next day, and next time she saw her fiancé would be at the wedding! I can’t tell you what her reaction was since I wasn’t there, but I can tell you that she looked as radiant as any bride I’ve ever seen as she walked into the club (which was a convenient walking distance from home!) on her father’s arm.

Photos were taken by Arwel Davies, a family friend, music was operated via a friend’s phone and speaker, and in the introduction I talked about love, and that this ceremony had been arranged not for show, but because this man wanted to marry this woman more than anything else in the world. David then read a poem he’d selected from my book. This is it;

I Belong in Your Arms, by Deborah Brideau

I have found a place
Into which
I fit
And securely with no doubts,
No fears,
No sadness,
No tears.
This place is filled
With happiness and laughter,
Yet it is spacious enough
To allow me
The freedom to move around,
To live my life
To be myself.
This wonderful place,
Which I never believed
Really existed,
I have found
In your arms,
Inside your heart,
Inside your love.

Yes, even the celebrant had to hold back a tear or two!

After repeating their vows, Alyson and David exchanged rings then created a sand sculpture with their children. Signing a certificate with parents and family created a great photo opportunity and the ceremony was then over. The happy couple made their exit down the stairs to the clubhouse/restaurant where they were given a few moments to recover.

Friends and family were delighted with the ceremony that David arranged for his wife to be. I think that some of the pleasure for some of the guests was from the knowledge that they’d helped make the event happen, rallying round David as he did his best for the woman he loves.

A large table had been arranged downstairs in a square for the thirty or forty guests, where this party looked set to run on into the night. I was invited to stay and celebrate with them, and tempting though it was, I knew that my time there was done and it was time to get home to share a celebratory meal with my own partner.

David and Alyson went to the register office the following week and booked their legal ceremony for March. The whole process will have been completed within three months, now that’s what I call a low stress ceremony!