Having made the decision to usurp our parents and have a quiet wedding of our own, on our own terms.
First thing the next morning we went to the British embassy to get the relevant forms required to marry in Germany, which was surprisingly easy.
After we left the embassy we went to a variety of bureaucratic offices and queed up to sit in front of a variety of bureaucrats until in true German style every forms had all the relative stamps and seals.
However when we went to the registry office we came up against a brick wall.
“You must wait for 6 weeks” the registrar said
“But we’ll be back in England in six weeks” I retorted
“I’m sorry” he said “but it’s the rule”
“but we’ve spent most of the day queuing in dreary offices getting seemingly endless forms endorsed with many and varied stamps and seals and none of the faceless bureaucrats once mentioned a six week rule” Dorcas stated angrily
“I really am sorry” he repeated “but I can’t help you”
Dorcas was about to go again but I intervened
“Thank you anyway” I said and guided an unhappy Dorcas towards the door
“However” the registrar called “I know someone who could possible help”
“Oh?” Dorcas exclaimed
“It would be conditional” he continued
“On what” I asked
“On you being Christians” he replied
Claus, The registrar, directed us to St Georges Anglican Episcopal Church in Westend and we were soon in a cab driving along Bismarkstrasse through Charlottenburg in the direction of Spandau.
It was a very pretty little church, modern looking with a high sloping tiled roof.
We looked at each other and both nodded our approval simultaneously and walked up the path to the doors.
Claus, had phoned ahead and made us an appointment with Pastor James Morgan, who turned out to be a very jovial Welshman not at all dissimilar to the late Harry Seacombe.
“Welcome, welcome” he said when we walked through the doors,
“You must be Ben and Dorcas?”
If we were impressed with the outside then we were doubly so with the interior.
It was light and modern but in a traditional way and was as far removed from St Lucy’s in Bushy Down as it was possible to get.
After the introductions were made we sat in the pews and the Pastor said
“Well I’m not sure I can be of any more help than Claus was, it’s just a bit short notice”
We went on to explain why we had come to the decision that we had and the pressures of the big family wedding that had built and built and finally led us to take the course of action we were proposing.
“We haven’t made our decision lightly”
“Oh I’m not questioning your motives” he said “but it’s just not something we do,
It’s Thursday now and I understand you’re going home on Sunday, It’s just such terribly short notice”
Dorcas and I were both crestfallen.
“Come on both of you let’s have a coffee” he said
We were sitting in his office drinking a very decent coffee when he asked
“Where is home anyway?”
“We live in Bushy Down, it’s a small…..” I began
“Oh I know Bushy Down” the pastor said with delight “and St Lucy’s”
“Really?” I said “I normally have to explain where it’s near”
“I’ve been there many times, the Reverend Oliver was my Verger for five years before she got St Lucy’s” he said “we remained friends until the end”
“She was well loved” I said “and very much missed”
Katie Oliver had passed away earlier that year.
“So sad” he said with melancholy
“She was such a lovely person, I was in the Village for the funeral” He paused in order to gather himself
“Listen why don’t you both stay and have dinner with me and my wife Clair? She’s from Finchbotton by the way” he said his joviality fully restored
“So am I” Dorcas chipped in
“Excellent” he said “you’ll have lots to talk about then, let’s go and surprise her then”
We had a marvelous evening with the Morgan’s, good company, excellent food and a liberal amount of alcohol thrown in for good measure.
We were fair steaming by the time we got in the taxi.
But amidst the friendly banter, reminiscence and over indulgence Pastor Morgan agreed to marry us on Saturday morning.
When we woke up the next morning the realization of what we had done suddenly dawned on us as we lay cuddled beneath the duvet.
“We’re really doing it aren’t we?” Dorcas said as she hugged me
“Yes I think we are” I replied
“Cool” she said
After a few minutes she suddenly went rigid.
“What about witnesses?” she said with real alarm in her voice “or a bridesmaid?”
“Well…..” I began but she was already making a call and heading for the bathroom.
“Helen!” she said
After half an hour sitting in the bathroom with the door shut talking to Helen, Dorcas emerged and was much calmer.
“Helen was a great help” she said “I feel much better now but we need to go shopping”
So I took her to the Europa Centre where I sat watching the Water Clock as I drank a pint of Guinness.
I watched the glass bowls empty over and over again while she was buying a dress for the wedding which I wasn’t allowed to see and then she chose me a suit which I wasn’t allowed an opinion on.
On Saturday morning we were up early and got downstairs for breakfast as soon as they started serving.
And all the time we were there breakfasting Dorcas kept fidgeting and looking at her watch or fiddling with her phone.
She hardly ate a thing in fact I ate most of hers as well.
I guessed it was just pre wedding nerves so I didn’t say anything I just enjoyed the extra helping.
We had been in the breakfast room for about an hour and I had just poured myself another coffee when all of a sudden Dorcas leapt up and said
“Come along, things to do”
“What?” I replied “I haven’t finished my coffee”
“No time for that” she insisted “Let’s go”
Well, a lesser man may have thought that if that was a sample of what was to come he might be making a mistake, but not me, I just attributed her demeanour and tone to the same nerves that provided me with two breakfasts so I trotted out after the excitable little minx.
When I caught up with her in the reception I was just about to make myself comfortable on a luxurious sofa when my sister Helen and my best friend Gary came bustling through the front doors.
Dorcas squealed and ran to embrace Helen.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you”
She screamed as she kissed and hugged my sister
In the mean time I went over to Gary and asked
“What are you doing here? How did you….”
Then it dawned on me, Yesterdays long conversation in the bathroom between Dorcas and Helen.
They had obviously hatched this plan.
“We couldn’t miss it mate” Gary said accompanied by a man hug
“I even suffered the budget air redeye just to be here”
And much to his chagrin he would be returning that night by the same mode.
With all the squealing and giggling from Dorcas and Helen we had attracted the attention of Christophe, the hotel manager, who we had come to know quite well over the previous week.
I caught his eye and he had that look on his face that all Hotel Managers wear when something has occurred that he was not expecting.
So I spent the next five minutes explaining the circumstances of how we came to be in his reception and causing a commotion.
“You are getting married today?” he asked and vigorously shook my hand and then kissed Dorcas on both cheeks
“That is wonderful news”
Then he repeated the process with Helen and Gary, he couldn’t have been happier if we had been his own kin.
I went on to explain that my sister and my friend had only flown in that morning and would be returning to England that evening.
“Ach so” he exclaimed and raised a finger “Ein moment” and went over to the desk.
After a few moments converse with the receptionist he returned to us brandishing a key card.
“The groom must not see the bride before the Church, I think” he stated “So the gentlemen may use this room as a dressing room”
“Thank you so much Christophe” Dorcas said and kissed his cheek like he was a kindly uncle.
Gary and I left the hotel at 11.30am in one of the two cabs Christophe had secured on our behalf and made our way to St Georges Church in Westend.
When we walked in to the Church it was as I expected, largely empty.
Pastor Morgan and his wife Clair were standing by the alter, and there was an elderly man, who I presumed was the organist as he was seated at the organ, other than that there was only Gary and I.
I stopped suddenly and said
“Rings? I haven’t got any rings”
“Don’t panic” Gary said “I’ve got them, Helen picked them up from your house last night”
I relaxed again and we continued up to the alter where James and Clair welcomed us.
A tall gangly young man then came to join us
“Ah Sebastian” The pastor said “come and meet the groom and best man”
Then he turned to me and said accompanied by an inclination of the head
“Sebastian is going to video the service so you have something to show your parents”
By the time the organ started playing the bridal march a small congregation had assembled and I recognized a handful of familiar faces among them as being from the Hotel, one of them was Christophe.
Even the registrar Claus was there.
But my eyes were quickly drawn to my bride to be. Dorcas, and she looked absolutely stunning.
The ceremony itself seemed to pass by in an instant but at the moment we said I do I felt complete.
After wedding breakfast in the Hotel restaurant Helen and Gary had to leave for the airport which despite the fact we would be home the next day was a tearful farewell.
We returned to the bar for another drink before we retired and when we reached the reception desk Christophe was there waiting for us and said
“Mr. and Mrs. Overton, please accept with our compliments an upgrade to one of our deluxe suites for your wedding night, I have already taken the liberty of having your personal belongings transferred from your old room” and handed me a key card
“Oh wow” Dorcas said and planted another kiss on the cheek of the “kindly uncle”
before we went upstairs to consummate our union in a luxury suite.
I awoke first in the pale winter light of dawn with Dorcas cuddled into me with her head on my chest.
And when she stirred I said
“Good morning Mrs. Overton”
“Oh I like how that sounds” she said and kissed my chest
“It doesn’t sound as classy as Fox-Martin” I suggested
“No” she agreed “but I like it a lot”
“I love you Dorcas” I said
“I love you too” she replied
And we made love in the half light.
Later we reluctantly had to leave our luxurious suite and the comfort of our duvet and begin our journey home as Mr. and Mrs. Overton and break the news to our respective parents that there will be other things to talk about for the foreseeable future.
It was all going to make for a very interesting Christmas dinner at my mums.
Definitely worth it though.