Thursday, 18 June 2015

A special outfit for a perfect day


Until a few years ago this was an outfit I frequently wore. As a wedding officer* I married 551 couples before taking a sabbatical. I never looked back and pursued another career, but I am still available for the job by request. When my daughter's best friend visited me in November and asked me to be involved in his wedding of course I felt very honoured. I've known him, and his lovely wife to be, for a lot of years and they've become good friends of the family. Fast forward seven months and here we are, waiting for the bride.....



The wedding venue was a scenic old water mill in the Belgium Ardennes, surrounded by woodlands. Friends and family gathered in the sunny orchard and the only sounds that were heard when the bride walked down the aisle came from birds, bees and the murmur of running water from a nearby brook.

Some pictures of the ceremony, and of course the beautiful dress!

The bride's dress had a beautifully draped chiffon bodice, a small train and a lovely embroidered lace detail at the back.

After the ceremony I was reunited with my chauffeur and personal assistant for the day, mr Foxgloves.


That man is always willing to bend some rules, so here it's time to kiss the bride the wedding officer.



We had a wonderful afternoon, met a bunch of very nice people and had lots of cake.


It was also fun to catch up with miss Canal Couture, who was a witness for the groom, and mr Canal Couture, who did an outstanding job as photographer.



Cheers to the newlyweds, and may they live happily ever after!

During all my years as a wedding officer I completely forgot to take detailed pictures of my toga so now was a good time to do so. (When I worked more frequently the gown was kept in a wardrobe in the Town Hall and brought out only on the days when I performed at weddings in said Town Hall or nearby castles and manors).


The bespoke ceremonial gown, sewn by a tailor, is made of lightweight wool suiting with velvet inserts. It is unlined, except for a back stay to balance the heavy velvet collar. I've always loved the pleated sleeves. Speaking of pleats, that jabot is a bit of a nightmare when it comes to ironing! Over the years I learned by trial and error how much starch was needed to prevent a sad and droopy look. Too much starch though and it's standing out at weird angles.....

Of course style wise the toga isn't doing me any favours but when in Belgium, land of brilliant beers and excellent food, one can do without waist definition!




We stayed in the Ardennes for a few days and, needless to say, had a wonderful time!

* Finally a burning question. Native English speakers all over the world, what would you call a person hired by the mayor and sworn in by a judge to perform legal and ceremonial acts at weddings? Is it a wedding officer / registrar / officiant / marriage officer / other?


13 comments:

  1. Marianne, in Australia we call them 'Marriage Celebrants'. You only use a marriage celebrant when not getting married in a church. All religious ministers have the right to conduct a marriage. Marriage celebrants must do a study program and pass exams as well as have their records checked thoroughly by the government. I have several friends who are marriage celebrants and they also conduct naming ceremonies for babies instead of church christenings. They love their job as I am sure you do. I think you look very elegant and important in your toga.

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    1. Interesting, Marjorie! Due to strict separation of church and state in The Netherlands it's not legal to only have a religious ceremony. According to the Dutch civil code it's not allowed to marry in church before all legal acquirements of a civil wedding were met. So it's not one or the other over here, a civil marriage can by choice be confirmed in church, or not. It's a great job and sometimes I'm thinking about writing a book. I've heard so many touching, unique, weird, amazing and sometimes sad stories!

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  2. Such a beautiful wedding and what a wonderful thing to be able to do for your friends. Wonderful.

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    1. It was indeed wonderful, Evie. Surely a day to remember!

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  3. I'm welling up with happy tears again!
    Such a beautiful and special day!
    Even more so because you and dad were there to share it with ♡

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    1. Oh, you softie! It was a lovely day, beautiful memories!

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  4. Thanks for the history lesson, and that shade of blue looks lovely on you. I'm glad you didn't have to tackle making those pleated sleeves! In the U.S. a person presiding over a wedding is a "Justice of the Peace," if it's not a religious ceremony.

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    1. Justice of the Peace, I like the Very Important sound of that! Not sure about the history lesson, maybe I should work on my grammar? As for the sleeves, I'm sure that's easy peasy compared to the gazillion tucks in the JetSetSewing buttonhole scarf ;)

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  5. Loved reading this post! I almost felt like I was there, too, for that special day! You might be interested to know that here in Pennsylvania (in the USA) we have a strong Quaker tradition. For that reason, no officiant is actually required for a marriage ceremony, but witnesses are. Most people, however, do use either clergy or a Justice of the Peace as an officiant.

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    1. Interesting to hear more about the Quaker tradition! It must be so hard for the government to keep track of all sorts of different wedding ceremonies and their legal implications. The Dutch rules are very clear: only civil marriage ceremonies are legally recognised. We require a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 witnesses. Couples wanting a religious ceremony will go to a church later on the day, or have celebrations on separate days.

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  6. Justice of the Peace or officiant usually is for secular. My husband is a minister and can do church or non-church weddings.

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