Dan & Gill become Mr and Mrs Sumption
Saturday 1st February 2003


You are gathered here today to find out a bit about what went on at our wedding. On the left you will find links to some photos (and eventually a bit of video) and other stuff. Below I will try to recount the day as I remembered it - my memories are necessarily patchy, due to alcohol, excitement and general rushing-aboutness, so I'd appreciate it if you could add any memories of your own to help me comprehend what really went on that day. You can either email them to me or fill in the guest book on the left of this page (putting them in the guest book will make them public). Speaking of the guest book, I'd be grateful if you could stick something in there before you leave - it's nice to be able to see who's visited. You don't need to write anything profound, profane will do just fine.


Dan's side of the story

I guess it all started for me a night or two before the big day. Until then, although I'd been aware of our approaching wedding, I had no idea what it would really mean to me.


The first thing that hit home was the weather. It suddenly turned nasty in the middle of last week - or so news reports said. Here in Sheffield, everything was fine, but in a reversal of normal patterns London and East Anglia were apparently snowbound on Thursday. We began to worry that our many guests from the South-East might not make it. Jenny and Mike had reportedly spent an unsuccesful day trying to travel the forty miles or so from Suffolk to London.


However, my Mum and Dad had a clear run up the M40 on Friday, and arrived with us late afternoon. Rowan left to stay at Cath's for the night. Later in the evening Mark, Hannah, Ed and Anaïs arrived on an undelayed train from London - more good omens. We sat and slurped wine for a little while before going to bed early. My sleep was interrupted with nightmares: mini-buses full of friends careering off the road in black ice, something which I'm glad to say never came to pass. I also lay awake wondering whether all the details would be OK - I was particularly worried that people might not like the music, or it might be too loud, but after an hour of similar circular thoughts I realised I was probably worrying about a tiny percentage of the people coming, most people would like it just fine and those who didn't could put up - it was, after all, our big day.


I awoke at 6.30am, realised that I was unlikely to get back to sleep and, besides, had plenty to do, and leapt out of bed. First on my list was a walk to the Post Office depot - I had an uncollected parcel which was gnawing at the back of my mind, so I climbed about a mile up the hill and back to collect it. On the way I saw that last night's snow (yes, it had at last reached Sheffield) had melted away except on the highest points - more good news.


In the parcel was a battery charger, a gift from Sony to go with my digital camera (it's a long story...) perfectly timed. When I got back home I plugged it in and put the battery on charge - brilliant, now I was going to get some pictures of the wedding after all.


The rest of the morning was a bit of a blur. Despite getting up at 6.30, I barely had time to squeeze it all in. Perhaps that's because I decided to make Nigella's American Breakfast Pancakes and croissants for our guests, before dropping Gill off at Cath's, collecting our wedding "cake" from the baker's (actually, we'd left it a bit too late for a cake - instead we had a pile of 60 chocolate brownies, cut in half to make a glorious 120 squidgy chocolately rectangles, plus a gingerbread man for Lola), collecting all of my gear (and Lola's) together, loading the car and getting Ed to shave my scraggy two-week beard into something a little more stylish.


All of this was supposed to be finished by 10am, to give us a good hour to reach the Earth Centre by 11. In the end, Ed took the last errant strands off my face at around 10.45, we jumped into the car and made it to the Earth Centre around 11.20. I realised I had very little idea what to do next, so I asked for permission to drive onto the site, then crawled across the bridge at 5mph, hazard lights blinking, to drop off various things (brownies, boards [to stack brownies on], presents, CDs, flowers, button-holes...) at the Castle View conference centre.


I drove back across the bridge, leaving Dad and Mum to chop up and stack brownies. They did a wonderful job, creating a geometrically-correct pyramid of chocolate blocks piled on top of a mirror, sprinkled with icing-sugar and topped with two Playpeople with a passing resemblance to Gill and myself.


Back at the River View hotel I unloaded the rest of the car and collected the keys to our rooms (one for Gill, Lola and me, one for the kids). I unloaded the rest of the car and got into my wedding gear, assisted by Lola. I was getting increasingly confused - in that sort of mental state that you reach when you know there are lots and lots of things for you to do, have already done lots of them, and have forgotten quite what the "and lots" entailed. I was vaguely aware that I was supposed to be asking Richard to do something with flowers and buttonholes, so I looked for him but didn't find him. Then I decided to go back over to the conference centre to check up on everyone there.


By this point people were starting to arrive for the main event - I said fleeting and half-dazed hellos to Jenny, Laura, Alex and co. in the Hotel reception before striding across the bridge, my coat-tails (if they can be called that) flapping behind me in the wind. At Castle View I flapped around looking for people - no Richard, so I started to get needlessly worried about flowers and buttonholes. No registrar, so I couldn't do my pre-ceremony talk, nothing really for me to do except worry that I ought to be doing something. The conference centre manager, Steve, wanted to know who was operating the CD player during the ceremony... another job for Richard (at least, I think that's what Gill said)... damn, where was he?


I made another quick back-and-forth trip to the hotel... checked out our room, it was occupied, yay, Gill's here at last! I tried to go in by found June and Cath barring my way while Gill screamed "don't come in!!!" - at least we held to some wedding traditions. Richard was in the room opposite - I informed him of his duties, of which he was blisfully unaware, and he agreed to come over and check out the CD player in a minute.


Back at Castle View, Mark had found the bar and bought me a double brandy - the start of a long decline. The registrar was looking for me - I went up to the suite where the ceremony was being held (brandy in hand) and confirmed mine and Gill's names, dates of birth, fathers' full names, etc. He asked about the music and I explained Richard would be here soon.


Down at the bar Ed had chipped in with the double brandies - a part of me said that this might not be a good idea, but another part said "it's your wedding day, what the hell!" - I sipped on it as the traction engine/train pulled up outside and the first of the guests started to filter in. Sipping turned to gulping as I realised I was needed upstairs and the ceremony was soon to begin. I was to sit at the front of the room and stand facing the door when the bride made her entrance.


The ceremony passed incredibly quickly. I guess I was nervous, but I rode over it all with a kind of "what will be will be" attitude. I was happy, excited, a little giggly. I passed my still and video cameras to friends to capture the moment, waved, made eyes and directed discrete comments at people in the audience, and in no time at all heard the opening chords of "The Whole World Window" signalling that the bride had entered the building.


The next part seemed to stretch out the longest, listening to the music play, at any moment expecting Gill to arrive, until finally the registrar said "ladies and gentlemen, will you please stand for the bride". I stood, faced the door, and saw Gill, tears welling in her eyes. I felt overcome with love and just wanted to give her a big hug, which I think is pretty much what I did once she made the sedate walk through five or six rows of chairs.


The registrar read out some words, I kind of heard them but was much more engrossed in Gill, looking at her, cuddling her, sharing smiles and other emotions. Still, the words sounded good. And then came some more words which I had to repeat, and which Gill had to repeat, and then more again, this time spoken to one another. Because we didn't have rings (another, very long story...) the registrar had added some extra words to replace those about the rings, and they were truly beautiful. He really did seem to have gauged the mood, and added sentiments which really had some meaning for us. Lots of people came up later and complimented the wording of the ceremony.


(to be continued...)


Thanks for reading this far. Don't forget to check out the links on the left, where you can look at photographs and video of the day, find out more about the venue or the music played during the ceremony, see what's left on our gift list and sign (or read) our wedding guest book.