• 500 miles 12 July 2017 | View comments

  • 12th July 2017 | By David Jolley

    This week we were guests at a second wedding of Sue’s best friend. Sue had been bridesmaid 40 years ago – and here we were again but this a confirmation of a relationship that has already stood the test of 25 years together.

    It was a beautiful occasion, themed in turquoise and carried by music and words.

    The setting was non-religious – at Bramhall Hall which is a Tudor Manor House built around a medieval core www.stockport.gov.uk/about-bramall-hall. The ceremony (rather than service) was conducted in the original ground floor chamber. This is rather dark and spooked with models of badly behaved men of the past who were to be executed on the say-so of the lords of this manor.

    A room above still boasts original medieval wall paintings which include eerie figures of spirits and creatures.

    We were an assembly of couples and families showing our vintage, though dressed in finery for the day. Some wore dangerously high heels. There were only two fabulous hats. Our groom was elegantly resplendent in a shining waistcoat which matches his brides turquoise fantastic dress and blue bouquet.

    We brought along lifetimes of experiences – achievements, frustrations, sadnesses and perseverance. There was warmth of friendships and peace as we stepped aside from the fury and worry of the world beyond, just to attend to this matter of real importance – celebration and confirmation.

    The words of the lady who conducted the ceremony were read with calm and clarity, touched with indications of real pleasure in being part of this marriage – though she must contribute to many every week.

    A short personal poem from the bride said much of her feelings for the man she was marrying after a quarter of a century together. We knew.

    The groom’s poem in response was longer, part borrowed and etched in humour – but the shared respect and confidences were clear.

    No hymns because this would not be their way – but tunes and words to stir all our memories and feelings over the 40 years of our adult lives:

    Wild mountain thyme: ‘And we’ll all pull together’. And we all joined the Corries where we could for this entrance anthem.


    Songbird by Stevie Nicks


    Fever by Peggy Lee 


    And then 500 miles from The Proclaimers – for the couple to march triumphantly and the assembly to sing with gaiety and hands together in the rhythm of the song and the rhythm of the march – Been a long way – But more to go.


    No hymns. No reference to God. He’ll not mind.

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