…and it was a multi-cultural affair, to say the least!
When Francesca met Alex in 2012, settling in to a new life in a new country was not unfamiliar to her story. Only a few years before this, Fran had left her family in Italy in search of a new life in Oxford, where she learned to speak English before completing her degree and moving to Aberdeen where she now worked and lived.
But little did she know that her life was about to move across oceans once again, this time in pursuit of love!
Alex lived and worked in his native home of Edmonton, Canada, and so for the first 3 years of their relationship they endured a long distance love set apart across two continents. It certainly made for some interesting new methods of dating, as they tuned into Skype daily to sit with one another at meal times, face to face across a computer screen – one person eating dinner, whilst the other munched on breakfast; or else sometimes simply relaxed together on their individual couches watching a film ‘side by side’ – laptop to laptop.
It was not always easy, as you can no doubt imagine! But it does mean that Fran and Alex have now come to appreciate the time that they do share together even more than most.
Three years after that first meeting, Fran finally packed up her bags once and for all and left her home in Scotland to be with Alex permanently in Canada, where the couple now live. But in doing so, she took herself even further away from her close family back in Italy, and so this wedding was not just a celebration of Fran’s and Alex’s love, it was also recognition of the lengths that they had gone to for the success of their relationship, and the coming together of their two families for the first time and in one place at last.
“Oh my goodness, Samantha, I have just read the first draft you’ve sent us and I am sooo emotional!!! It is perfect!! I really love it. Thank you sooo much!!!! I still have goose bumps as I am typing this message to you!! I really love the ceremony you have written for us!! It strikes the perfect balance: it is extremely meaningful without being heavy and it truly reflects who we are. Thank you!!!!”
But for me as their celebrant, this is where things really got interesting. You guessed it – Francesca’s family do not speak a word of English! That is except for one cousin, the very lovely Maria-Teresa who, with Fran’s careful help, became our translator for the afternoon.
Fran, Alex and I worked together to write a ceremony that truly encapsulated their love and the origins of their story. But it was Fran herself who worked even harder, translating the whole service and all four readings into Italian as well, so that Maria-Theresa could help me share their story with everyone who attended on the day.
The ceremony itself took place in Oxford, where Fran had first learned to speak English (thus beginning her journey to finding Alex!) in Raymond Blanc’s exquisite French-inspired chateaux, hotel and restaurant venue, Le Belmond Manoir aux Quait Saison. We stood half indoors allowing the guests to spill out into the garden as the sun shone brightly down upon us. It was simply divine.
Fran and Alex chose to keep their ceremony simple and traditional, with an exchange of vows and accompanying wedding rings, plus a certificate signing to include the Best Man and Maid of Honour. Fran chose three readings, which were all read out by different friends and family members in both Italian and again in English, and her Italian Aunt read out a personal prayer which she had written in honour of Fran and Alex’s love and the role that the Roman Catholic Church will play in their marriage.
After the ceremony, guests mingled with strawberry lemonade and glasses of champagne whilst photos were taken with the bride and groom (which in Italy, means that everyone gets a go posing with Fran and Alex!) Italian cousins giggled and took selfies with Scottish friends who had travelled down to wear their kilts proudly, and the Canadians waved their arms expertly with exaggerated flair, in an attempt to make conversation with their new foreign relatives. Everyone smiled, laughed, clapped and threw their arms around each other in an expression of joy, appreciation and togetherness, regardless of language.
Samantha, we are just starting our honeymoon but I just had to send you a note to say thank you celebrating our marriage in such a fantastic ceremony on Sunday! Everyone loved it! Even my father (and trust me when I say that’s a pretty fantastic compliment!!) My mum LOVED YOU!! Not only for the beautiful ceremony you wrote for us but also for the way you delivered it. Alex and I were so happy we chose you for our celebrant, you really made it special for us!!
I had such a wonderful time sharing this day with Fran and Alex. The friendliness and warmth of them both shone out in every email they sent in the lead up to their day, and our fun catch ups over Skype always left us laughing for hours after. So much so, that when Fran and I finally met face to face on the day of her wedding, the make up artist thought that we were old friends from long ago, so tight was our hug!!
Fran and Alex, I wish you all the best for your life together – now permanently side by side, without need to time a dinner with a FaceTime ever again!
Auguri… to you both, and all my love xx
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