A Half-Dozen Healys

The Adventures of Amy, Jason, Seth, Evan, Nora, and Maya

Blog Masthead: A Half-Dozen Healys

Obscure Cultural Traditions: the British Boat Dance

by Guest (Carolyn Owen)

Carolyn: It's wedding day! Today we got up for breakfast at the usual time, but instead of dressing for the beach, we groomed ourselves to look fab for Sarah and Max's wedding. We cabbed down to the wedding, which was held at the Methodist Church in Bournemouth. The service was about 45 minutes long, and had lovely readings and hymns. The minister made a point to say that friends and family help to make a marriage successful, and we all had to vow to support the bride and groom, which was a touching addition to the ceremony.

After the service, we hopped on the bus to ride to the reception at the Langtry Manor (side note: the Manor is named for Lillie Langtry, the mistress of King Edward.) On the bus trip, I chatted with one of Max's friends who informed us that when he and Max were in university, they used to hang out in the dorm in which we stayed in London. Funny coincidences, said we.

We hopped off the bus at the Manor, where we sat in the garden and drank Pimm's with lemonade (think: tastes like Sprite) and pictures were taken. We then moved to the dining room for food, drink and speeches (the first meal the bride and groom share together is called the "wedding breakfast".) The food was interesting; Amy liked it. We started off with fish cakes made up of cod and capers, then chicken wrapped in "streaky bacon" and filled with camembert cheese, and finished with "profiteroles" (cream puffs) with Belgian chocolate sauce. Max, Sarah's father Mark, Katrina (the matron of honor) and Rich (the best man) made speeches...we learned that Max once harassed a border guard in Mexico and that Sarah stashed cheese in the back of a bus (not that we expected any less of Sarah!) It's traditional for the guests to wager on how long the best man's speech will last...someone won at 6 minutes and 30 seconds. Next, we moved to the other building at the Manor for more drinks and dancing. (They also had a sandwich bar at 9:00 so that we could replenish after all that dancing!) Sarah and Max danced to "Good Vibrations," and Sarah and her father danced to Bruce Springsteen. During the evening, we were treated to the British version of must-have wedding songs. At one point, the Brits hit the floor (literally) to sit in rows and "row the boat." This fascinated the Americans in attendance, who took pictures of this "British experience." Jay and Kyle treated us to some all-American headbanging, and Sharon let us take a picture of her "dancing face."

The wedding began to wind down at 11 when Sarah and Max departed for their room at the Manor. We sent them off with cheers and applause, and then danced some more to such classics as, "Walking on Sunshine," "Eternal Flame," and "Yeah." (BTW, Brits get very excited when "Bohemian Rhapsody" is played. A big circle froms on the dance floor and people sing dramatically and sway.) We made it home a little after midnight and tucked our very tired selves into bed. On to Paris tomorrow (we have to get up early to farewell the bride and then take a train to our train.)