If you are going to hold a party to celebrate a royal wedding, where better to stage it than under the very spire that inspired the world’s first three-tier wedding cake?
So when the parishioners and friends of St. Bride’s voted in favour of getting together to toast the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the two main requirements were equally obvious: several bottles of Champagne – and a very special cake.
Commissioned by Visit London and presented to St. Bride’s for the occasion, the only base big enough to support its baker’s work of art was our very own baptismal font and it took three strong men to carry it from the Office of Fair Trading building just across the road in Salisbury Square to its final resting place alongside the giant screen, erected in the nave.
And just to complete the ensemble, the whole magnificent confection was surmounted by an edible and iced model of the famous St. Bride’s spire itself. Never mind that the cake soon to confront the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Buckingham Palace was an eight-tier creation – we were not seeking to upstage the principal players, merely to wish them well!
(And to demonstrate the British hunger for state occasions, our monster lasted only two days until the last crumbs were gratefully consumed after the morning service the following Sunday!)
“To decide whether we should hold a party at all, we contacted as many of our congregation, the Marketors Company and local businesses as we could by email,” said assistant administrator, Gloria Lizcano. “And that turned out to be a very exciting ballot in itself. In the end, we got about a hundred replies, with 55% for and 45% against.
“When it was later suggested that instead of an ordinary party, we should go for a full-scale indoor street party, with people bringing their own wine and food to go with the Champagne and cake, we thought ‘why not?’ so I started doing research into finding a big screen and sound system and suddenly it all began to get very exciting.
Christopher Betterton, Mary Walker, Julie Glaser and Claire Seaton all put in hours of work and Christopher came in on Wednesday to install and check on the screen and sound system, again on Thursday to do the bunting and actually got here at 7.30am on the big day to attend to all the final adjustments.
By the time Prince William and best man Prince Harry set off for Westminster Abbey, 65 revellers were spread out around chairs and pews in the body of the church and an impressive cruciform table was clothed and decorated ready for the later festivities.
And unknown to most other party-goers, David Meara and Claire even found time during the celebrations to creep away to take part in a transatlantic phone interview with former St. Bride’s worshipper, Angelynne Hinson, who now broadcasts for a radio station out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
After all the clearing up was over, David added his personal thoughts. “Friday, April 29th, was a day on which the British people surprised themselves,” he said. “The mood was happy and hopeful. The service was uplifting. The pageantry was sublime. The frocks were something else!
“It made me proud to be British and, above all, proud to be an Anglican. The Church of England does this sort of thing very well and the Bishop of London struck just the right note. Thank God we have an Established Church that can provide a rich spiritual framework for such a national celebration.
“At St Bride’s we joined in the celebration with our own Royal Wedding party, thanks to the hard work of our staff team and volunteers. Love and marriage, as the old song says, go together like a horse and carriage. There were plenty of the latter and a young couple were at the heart of the day’s celebrations.
“It did the whole nation a power of good.”
At the party were two couples soon to be married in St Bride’s and perhaps seeking a few last-minute tips – Joanne and Paul, of the Marketors, and Alison and Chris. But Alison ‘s father confessed to having certain second thoughts about bringing his daughter and future son-in-law to the celebration.
“She’s already asked me what I am doing about providing an RAF fly-past,” he said with a philosophical grin.
Written by William Greaves
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