Posts Tagged: Casa Esquileo de Cabanillas del Monte

Oct 11

The reception

Walking back into Casa Esquileo Cabanillas del Monte nearly took my breath away. The last time I had been to the 18th century estate in Segovia, close to Madrid, the floor was covered with frost and we could see the breath in front of our faces. We could only imagine what it would look like in the summer, filled with all our nearest and dearest.

Now, that day had come, and the place was transformed. The grass looked greener and lusher than ever and flowers decorated every corner. Oriental-style parasols provided some shade from the sun, and an ancient-looking cart had been placed in the corner of the gardens.

And there was the small matter of our 90-something guests, all cheering and clapping as we walked in as husband and wife.

Right then, I felt as close as I’m sure I’ll ever come to knowing what it feels like to be a celebrity at a premiere. You’re wearing a fabulous dress, you’re spent hours on your hair and makeup and everyone is dying to give you compliments and get their picture taken with you.

But it has to be better – because even a film star collecting an Oscar couldn’t have felt as happy as I did right then.

We were finally married! And seeing all those people from different places and eras of your life, all together for one time only, it blows your mind.

As the sun crept towards the horizon I did my best to try and talk to every single one of them.

I grabbed a glass of champagne from one of the waiters walking round with trays, but soon found I couldn’t drink it. I was far too thirsty, so switched to water instead. In fact I found throughout the night I had in total about four glasses of wine or champagne and that was it – I was far too drunk on happiness to bother too much with alcohol.

Or food – I didn’t manage to eat much either, much my annoyance.

Managing a few canapés at the start of the reception was do-able, but when the time came to sit down for our lovely three-course meal of lobster salad, roast lamb, and mascarpone ice cream with summer fruits my appetite had completely abandoned me.

It’s funny, but everyone told me to make sure I enjoyed the tasting sessions we did at my caterers, as I wouldn’t eat anything on the big day.

I scoffed at the idea. Me, not eat? Don’t they know how much I love my food? But they were so right.

The nerves and excitement made it impossible.

I pushed my food around my plate so much that Fernando, our caterer, came over to tell me off. Then there was the head waiter wringing his hands and asking what was wrong with the food and would I like something else to eat?

The guests all loved the food, though – so we were really pleased about that.

After dinner, it was time for the speeches. But we made a bit of a mistake handing out cigars before hand, so there was a mass exodus from the hall to the gardens.

And while everyone was out there puffing away the waiters, thinking that was the end of the sitting down bit, cleared away the champagne.

In the meantime the Spaniards got impatient, and demanded the bar be opened up!

It was all slightly chaotic, but we somehow managed to get everyone back in their seats and be able to get on with the speeches – always my favourite part of any wedding I go to.

I always find it slightly sexist that the bride just sits there and doesn’t say anything, so I was keen to get up and say a few words. I was adamant that I should go first, though as I was afraid I’d spend the majority of the speeches blubbing. I at least managed to keep dry eyes for my own speech – though I did come close to shedding a tear after I was introduced as the new señora de Borrachero and the cheers and clapping seemed to go on for a full five minutes.

My dad spoke lovingly about how pleased he was to welcome J into the family. J abandoned his notes and spoke from the heart to thank all of our amazing friends. My maid of honour said some really lovely things about the both of us. And I can’t repeat a lot of what the best men Jim and Mike said.

After dinner, I threw the bouquet, which landed straight in the hands of my bridesmaid Amy. “You’ll be waiting a long time for the next wedding then girls,” she told us, though her boyfriend Scott did seem very pleased she’d caught it.

And there were more tears when our photographer showed us a slideshow of the amazing photos he’d taken already throughout the day. (He went on to take an impressive total of 8,000.)

Then before I knew it, we were twirling around the dancefloor (well as much as I could twirl in my dress) for the first dance. After all the fretting and worrying about it, it was totally fine.

After listening to every song we had on iTunes that we both liked, we picked a total outsider – Tangerine by Led Zepplin. As soon as we heard it, we knew it was the one. And the little bit of practice we did put us both at ease.

As soon as the last chords ended, our DJ Amos dropped Michael Jackson’s Got To be Starting Something, the dancefloor filled up, and the party really got started.

The rest of the night seemed to pass in a blur. Highlights included the whole dancefloor singing in unison to Bohemian Rhapsody (complete with the rocking out, head banging bit) and Pulp’s Common People – one guest’s comment: “The Trainspotting generation grew up and got married”

I certainly wasn’t expecting the Macarena to go down a storm like it did.

Then there was another surprise from Amos – who did a heroic seven-hour DJ set for us. He put on Mrs Robinson, and the place wend wild.

Somewhere in the middle of this people started invading the dancefloor in fancy dress – which we had brought for people to wear in a photo-booth we’d set up.

And I discovered what the nipping feeling in my hip was, when Phoebe investigated and pulled a two-inch pin from the top of my skirt.

We finished at about 6.30am in the morning, and I’m happy to report we were the last ones to leave. The guests hadn’t quite managed to drink the bar dry, but they’d had a good try.

So that was my wedding. Over a year of planning but in some ways, a lifetime in the making.

I’ve never felt as happy, or more loved in all of my life as I did that day.

I will treasure the memories forever.

Jan 11

It’s decided

Sunday was a special day – we visited the place where, we have definitely decided, we will tie the knot.

Stepping through the heavy wooden doors into the gardens to Finca Casa Esquileo felt so familiar – but this time, with J’s parents Linda and Pepe with us, it felt official.

I think we were both a little nervous about what they would think. Would they like it, or would they think it was just too much hard work?

blog-copy.jpgLike old pros – and with the help of the owner Rodrigo of course – we showed them around.

The pretty garden that’ll make a great place to hold the welcome cocktail. The rustic old banquet hall, with the 18th Century graffiti on the walls. And the old preserved house where we can do the family photos.

For the first 20 minutes it was hard to tell what they thought. But when Linda got her phone out and started taking pictures I knew.

“So what do you think?” I asked her, when Rodrigo and Pepe were busy debating which king of Spain was the best in history.

“I love it,” she said “It’ll take a lot of work, but it’ll be really great. The only thing is we’ll have to be careful to make sure it doesn’t look to empty, but we can work around that.”

She’s right. If you put 250 people in the hall it’ll look cosy. But our 100 people might look a bit lonely.

But that’s a small point. The only other thing we really need to decide is when to start proceedings. In Spain weddings kick off late, and go on till late. But the venue – and the cute little church which is just 100 yards away- would really look better in the bright light of day.

Anyway, those are all finer details. The main thing is, we have our venue. And we have our date – September 17. Two very important things. Now everything seems more real than ever.

Because we’re actually going to do it. We’re going to get married, and we’re going to do it there.

And even though we’re in the grip of winter and your breath freezes in front of your face and your toes are icy slivers in your shoes, I can see it as summer with my heart’s wet eyes.

I can see the tables all laid out, with place names for all the people I love most in the world. I can see my Dad stood up at the top table, thanking everyone for coming (and probably saying something horribly embarrassing, all meant in the best possible way). I can see us swaying across the dance floor, taking tentative steps into the next chapter.

I can see it all – now I just have to make it happen.

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