Donna recommenced her Nurse training at Redhill General Hospital in early 1983, and moved into nursing accommodation. I was still living in London, and Donna’s parents were in Uganda, and the wedding was to be in Leeds, at the catholic church in Horsforth. Organising a wedding and reception when no one lived in the vicinity was difficult! Consequently we made a decision to have a small wedding and not invite the extended relations on both sides and ended up with about 23 guests. We set the date for 16th July 1983.
Eileen, Donna’s mother made the dresses for the bride, bridesmaids, and her own dress whilst living in some difficult circumstances in Uganda, all without a pattern, and without measurements or a measuring session. Everything fitted perfectly, such is her skill at dressmaking! I had made the decision to hire top hats and tails for the men from a supplier in Brighton. This was a decision that I ended up regretting. On the day I found that I couldn’t get into my suit, and so I swapped it with my best man, Andy Rose. Unfortunately the trousers were still too tight and showed off more than was decent.
Lawrence and Eileen arrived in the country in early July, and Donna and I went up to Yorkshire a few days before the wedding to finalise everything. The reception was to be at the Hogan’s house at 20a Outwood Lane, Horsforth, but because Lawrence and Eileen had been in Uganda for the last six months, there was quite a lot to do to get the house ready. So we joined in doing some painting on the house, and helping with some maintenance to the drive, just to add our list of things to get done before the wedding!
Chris had volunteered to do the food, which was fantastic of her as she was also a bridesmaid. Since the reception was at the house, the costs were kept to the barest minimum. The only expense was Donna had asked if we could go to and from the church in a horse and carriage.
Unfortunately my brother David, and Georgie were not able to make the wedding as Georgie was expecting her first child that weekend! However, it was a joy to have Eileen’s parents over from Canada, and to my surprise three of my work colleagues also made the trip to Yorkshire.
We didn’t have a ‘stag’ or ‘hen’ party, but the night before the wedding the bridesmaids, best man and ourselves had a meal in Horsforth, it was lovely to all be together. Once we had sorted out which cars everyone was using to get to and from the church, and ‘small’ details like that (!) we were able to truly relax and celebrate! Donna ended up being pushed around Horshforth in a supermarket trolley!
On the morning of our wedding, Donna went for an early morning walk with her father across Ilkley Moor, which was very special. We were married by Canon Father Justice, who was a very kind and gentle man. We had overlooked a few details however. With so few guests singing hymns was a challenge. In retrospect we perhaps should have asked the church choir if they could attend. The hymn singing hit two problems during the ceremony. The first was that Lawrence’s mother always fancied herself as an Opera singer, somewhere everyone got out of time and Canon Justice stopped the proceedings and asked the organist to restart the hymn. Finally, since the bridal party formed half the congregation, when we went to the vestry to sign the register, only a dozen people were left to sing the final hymn! These little hiccups didn’t affect our joy, or spoil the ceremony at all.
It was a great reception as almost everyone knew everyone else. Predictably the best man made many jokes at my expense. After the speeches and the cutting of the cake we made our departure as we were heading to North Yorkshire for two nights. We both would have liked to stay and have a party with our family, but it was a couple of hours drive in ‘Tin Lizzy’. One amazing, joyful and precious day!!