England Travel

Southampton and Chilworth: A Manor Wedding

The reason we took our trip to the U.K. to begin with was to attend a wedding.

Matthew and I took a train from London to Southampton. Well, trains. We learned at Victoria Station that our train was not going to be running – members of the RMT (The National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers) were on strike. We were informed to take a train to the next station outside of London and switch over there. Shortly after arriving at that station, we learned that the train we needed wouldn’t arrive for hours. The sun started slipping behind the horizon.

We scouted the boards and decided to take a train back into a different station in London, and finally found a direct Southampton-bound train.

Somehow, after all of this, we got into Southampton earlier than we had originally expected. It was dark, and late, and we couldn’t really tell where we were. A cab took us through the dark streets to the venue, Chilworth Manor, and we settled into our hotel. We met up with friends we hadn’t seen since we moved from Orlando to Seattle and anxiously awaited the arrival of the soon-to-be-wed couple.

There were hugs, tears, laughter, and sheer delight. I sat in the hotel lounge, drink in hand, surrounded by the couple’s family and friends. My thoughts turned to the man who was sitting next to me, eyes gently gazing at the strangers around him, the curl of a slight smile on his lips.

Oh, how I am looking forward to this moment.

When it’s our turn to sit surrounded by family and friends. When I get to look around a room filled with so much love, filled with people who’ve known us through good and bad, people who are filled with so much love, holding the hand of a man I love.

I kept patting Matthew’s hand and receiving quizzical looks. I wanted to tell him how this feeling in my chest pulsed strong and powerful, like it was going to burst through me. Instead, I kissed his shoulder. This was the time to celebrate others and our time would eventually come.

The bride and groom kissed goodbye one last time before my friend’s future husband was playfully escorted from the hotel. The rest of us sat and chatted until the bar closed.

The next afternoon was bright and cool and beautiful. We sat in a room bathed in light, with red and white decor all around. Their ceremony was intimate, with the two reading poems about strength, attentiveness, and unwavering support. They cleared each other’s eyes and cheeks of tears. They smiled encouragingly when the other began to fumble their words. They held each other’s trembling hands.

And then it was over and it was time to enjoy the night with the group.

After dinner and speeches, we had the option of staying in the dining room for dancing or venturing across the hallway to enjoy a few play-money gambling tables. Within our goodie bags, we received vouchers for some chips if we chose the latter.

Despite how quickly I lost all my chips (Blackjack is not my thing) and that the DJ only knew songs that were preformed before 1990, the night was wonderful.

More than once, that feeling in my chest would crash into me.

Excitement, anticipation, love, happiness, hope, anxiety, joy.

There are so many moments where I look at the man whose been by my side for nearly four years now, and just think, yeah, you.

This time next year, we’ll be two months shy of our own wedding. Starting this month with the joining of two wonderful people has filled my head with planning, hopes, dreams, and anxiety. Even so, the love of two people brought Matt and I on a trip halfway across the world to experience so many unique things together.

So cheers to Lindsay and David – thank you for giving us an excuse to make this trip.

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