The wedding of well known London ringers, Oliver Cross and Mary Sloman, took place at Mary’s home church of St Mary the Virgin, Prittlewell, Essex on Saturday 26th May. Ringers and friends from all over the country descended on this corner of the country, looking forward to helping this popular young couple celebrate their wedding day. The weather forecast for the day was not very promising but luckily the rain predicted turned out to be light showers and the weather held for the outside portions of the day. The general ringing before the service was run by Mary’s uncle Peter. Ringing guests and members of the local band, were joined by the groom, who looked surprisingly calm but whose nerves were betrayed by his miscalling of half a course of Cambridge Major, much to the amusement of his best man, Ian Fielding! A service touch of Stedman Caters was rung by a band of members of Olly and Mary’s respective university societies (they met at the 2002 ULSCR Dinner); the University of London and Oxford University Societies, followed by a few minutes of rounds until a bang on the door from usher Andrew Cairns informed us that the bride had arrived.
A slight delay on the tower steps for the 10 ringers while Mary, looking stunning in a strapless ivory gown with fitted bodice, made her way down the aisle to Purcell’s Trumpet Tune on the arm of her father David, followed by her two bridesmaids; sister Kath and childhood friend Phillippa. The service was conducted by friend of the Sloman family and retired rector of St Mary’s, Canon Roger Mason who has known Mary for many years, assisted by Rev Frank Smith with music provided by the church choir. After the formalities of the service, Olly and Mary made their way back up the aisle to Widor’s Toccata. Guests were told to exit the church by the side door and gather round the door at the bottom of the tower for Olly and Mary to “burst through”. Upon doing so they were greeted with a rapturous round of applause and much photo taking. The official photographer set about her job and organised everyone with the help of the ushers, even managing to get the whole of Mary’s family together for a photo, eventually! The weather continued to hold for the next hour as the happy couple were photographed with various groups of friends and family, including some very creative photos of Olly, his best man and the six ushers running and jumping whilst wearing shades! The bells were rung during this time by a band of friends from the Society of Royal Cumberland Youths who, spending rather more time up the tower than they had expected, were very grateful for the refreshments which had been laid on in the tower!
The reception was held at The Chichester Hotel in nearby Wickford, where 120 guests enjoyed a fantastic meal. Then came the time for the speeches. Mary’s father David reduced the bride to tears with his touching speech, next Olly spoke on behalf of his wife and himself and thanked everyone who had helped make the day so memorable by presenting them all with gifts. Ian Fielding’s anecdotal speech kept the guests amused and revealed that Olly’s parents know little of his antics in the 10 years he has lived in London!
We all made our way back to the bar while the dance floor was prepared for the evening’s festivities. 42 additional guests arrived for this portion of the evening during which time Olly and Mary cut the cake. After the newly weds’ first dance, the dance floor was packed all evening, members of SRCY showing the rest of us the way to do it, as the DJ played tunes all specifically chosen by the bride and groom. Even the bar staff showed their approval of the playlist, particularly YMCA! It is fairly safe to say that the minimum spend at the bar was achieved as guests danced, chatted and generally enjoyed the evening. At the end of the night everyone made their way back to various hotels in the area, all agreeing that it had been a splendid day. Olly and Mary honeymooned in the Caribbean and returned home to Ealing. We wish them all the very best for the future.
By Becky Bruce