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Rolling in the aisles

17 July 2018

Sweet, touching, funny tales of 50-somethings’ wedding days

Sally, 52, an estate agent, and Danny, 57, a doctor were married last March

Sally: We had our wedding in a remote hotel in the Brecon Beacons, just as Wales got a big dose of ‘snowmaggedon’. We were only meant to stay one night, but the whole wedding party was stranded. No one had the right clothes, so we were stuck indoors. There was nothing to do but play endless rounds of draughts and Monopoly.

By the third day we were all getting on each other’s nerves – especially the bridesmaids, who didn’t particularly like each other to start with. Then the hotel ran out of food and – worse – drink. Someone volunteered to try to make it to the nearest shops in his Range Rover. To stave off boredom, we took bets on whether he’d return.

He did make it back three hours later, after skidding down various hills. Danny picked up a case of wine from the car, but fell backwards into the snow. He yelped and we all feared the worst. But then he called out: ‘The bottles are fine!’ We had a second celebration that evening – and were free the next day. MP

Lizzie, 57, full-time mum, and Rupert, 55, a teacher, were married in 2015

 Lizzie: I was 55 and seven months pregnant when we tied the knot; we’d met three years earlier.

I had really wanted to find an outfit that made me feel good, despite being so large, but there was nothing I liked in the shops and we didn’t have much money. So I went to the National Theatre Costume Hire department and found a gorgeous devoré coat worn by Vanessa Redgrave in a production of The Cherry Orchard. A friend and I went to Sainsbury’s and stayed up until midnight the night before making sandwiches. We sprinkled rocket over them to make them look professional. I drove myself to the church.

But the wedding was lovely and our perfect son was born two months later. CH

Retirees Ernie, 72, and Helen, 70, married in 2008

Ernie: We both love spending time in Spain, so we decided to have a little wedding blessing ceremony on the Costa Del Sol. We’ve both been married before, so we didn’t bother with the whole legal thing… this was more of an excuse to have a party and meet up with some of the friends we’ve made over the years.

Foolishly, we did it in the height of summer and it was hot. Damned hot! One of those days when it’s too hot to go anywhere except the bar or the swimming pool. Anyway, we’re all standing on the beach with this lovely lady who’s about to bless our relationship when… down goes Helen. There was such a thud, that I thought she’s had a heart attack or something.

The lady in charge called an ambulance, but Helen suddenly looked up and said, ‘Sorry about that. I think I fainted.’ I wanted her to go to hospital, but she made me cancel the ambulance. She didn’t want to make a fuss!

We did finally have the blessing – in the shade – and I insisted that she went to hospital straight after because we were catching the train up to Madrid for a couple of days. I always joke that she was overcome with love for me. Helen always says it was cos her suspender belt was too tight! DS

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Bridget, an office worker, and Brian, a roofer, both 54, were married in 2015

Bridget: Our marriage was a first time for me; third for Brian. He was a bit wild in his younger days!

We’re keen bikers and most of his mates turned up on bikes. After the ceremony, somebody said, ‘Let’s have a picture of you two on a bike’. We jump on and, of course, Brian pulls out into the road. No helmets. A few of the lads joined us and, suddenly, we’re through this gate and into a field. Mud flying everywhere!

My lovely blue dress was looking a bit worse for wear. Brian was wearing the full morning suit and, at one point, his top hat had a clump of grass stuck on top!

Eventually, we headed back, and you should have seen my mammy’s face. ‘I’m not standing next to you looking like you’ve just been at it in the field!’ she chastised me. ‘What will your Auntie Jean think?’ DS

Mere, 60, a doctor, and Mickey, 62, a care-home worker, were married in 2007
Sydney, Australia

Mickey: Even though my first wife and I were still living together, our marriage had been over for a while. One day my wife came home early and… well, I went downstairs and said, ‘Can you give me ten minutes, love?’ She waited outside, and saw her good friend Mere coming out.

When my wife came in, I thought she’d bite my head off. But she threw her arms around me and said, ‘I’m so pleased it’s Merelyn’. The first wife and Mere stayed friends.

So when Mere and I got married, my first wife and her husband, Bruce The Goose, were our special guests.
No falling out. Everyone getting along and having a laugh. That doesn’t happen at many weddings, does it? DS

Becky, 56, an art gallery worker, and Jeremy, 58, a photographer, were married in 2015

Jeremy: My younger brother Des and I have always had a strained relationship; he’s a bit of a good-time lad. I decided we needed to bond, so I asked him to be my best man.

My stag do was a pub crawl the night before the wedding and I worried Des might overdo it. But he was so scared of getting something wrong that he barely touched a drop.

All went well, but as soon as he’d delivered his speech, he went wild, getting drunk and doing a wobbly version of the jitterbug, standing on various ladies’ feet. It was truly embarrassing. But my mates told me what a ‘fun guy’ Des was. It was the brotherly experience I hoped for. MP

Michelle, 58, a housewife, and Kevin, 62, a mechanic, were married last August

Kevin: Michelle and I have been together for almost 20 years and, to be honest, I wasn’t bothered about getting married. My previous marriage hadn’t exactly been a barrel of laughs.

But Michelle was keen, so I went along with it to keep the peace. Even on the morning of the wedding, I was joking about it with my brother, not feeling very emotional – I’m six-foot-three and 22 stone. Then, when I got into the register office, something happened. I started bawling. There was nothing I could do. A few of my mates started taking the mickey, then they started crying, too. Then Michelle joined in.

When I looked across at her, it was as if all the upset I’d had in the past came flooding out. I knew this was the person who’d made me happy again.

Mind you, she’s not let me forget it. The other day she said, ‘Are you going to sort that garage door out? If not, I’m going to upload the wedding video to YouTube’. She’s got me over a barrel. DS

Jennifer, 61, a teacher, and Len, 66, a book-keeper, were married three years ago
Chigwell, Essex

Jennifer: Len and I were just having a small register office ceremony for family, close friends and his elderly, rather deaf uncle Maurice, whom I’d never met.

I’d been told he was quite a character, and as I walked down the aisle, I heard his loud, quavery voice call out: ‘Is that her? What’s that silly thing on her head?’ (It was my fascinator.) I could hear people shushing him. But it was too late – the romantic mood was shattered.

He carried on making awkward wheezy mutterings throughout the ceremony – something about where we’d be going for ‘tea’ afterwards, and wanting to know where the registrar was from (she was Indian, I think) – all rather distracting from our wedding vows.

He was definitely a character all right. But I forgave him and was sad when he died last year. Much to our surprise, he left Len and me his rare stamp collection. MP

Richard, 66, and Lesley, 65, both now retired, were married in 2004
Romford, Essex

Lesley: Richard and I were both widowed quite young and wary of getting married again and jinxing our relationship.

In the end, we had a small ceremony and reception in a little hall, and took along Conrad, our St Bernard Cross – we couldn’t bear to leave him at home. Other friends turned up with their dogs. There was lots of excited barking and tails wagging. Conrad wouldn’t shut up.

When Richard was giving his speech, Conrad suddenly took off, pulling me and my chair with him. I fell off but the lead was still wrapped round the chair leg and he took it across the room, under the main table and out the door, followed by several other hounds, all making a bid for freedom.

Richard came over. ‘I told you getting married would jinx it.’ Happily, though, the rogue dogs were all retrieved. DS

As told to Danny Scott, Caroline Hutton and Monica Porter

This article originally appeared in the August issue of Saga Magazine. 

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.