We all know that white weddings can be eye-wateringly expensive and the real cost may turn out to be double the first number you might think of!
When Bro Andy Gough and his bride-to-be Maria started to plan their wedding, they decided on three crucial features: the wedding was going to be white, it had to be local so that their family and friends could attend, and they wanted charity to benefit. So began a most unusual story as members of Andy’s lodge and their partners turned their hands to wedding planning.
No need to hire a wedding limousine, a photographer, pay for flower arrangements or wedding invitation cards – the Caer Caradoc Lodge No. 6346 family simply rolled their sleeves up and got stuck in. Andy’s mum made the wedding cake and a local pub turned its premises over to the couple for the day.
On Saturday, 9th May 2015, Andy and Maria tied the knot before fifty family members and friends at St Peter’s Church in the quiet parish of Rushbury, near Church Stretton. Later on, over two hundred guests joined the happy couple at the nearby Swan public house to keep the celebrations going. Something was still missing though.
Wedding presents were conspicuously absent – no attractively gift-wrapped boxes and packages in sight. Instead, there were some envelopes. Both Andy and Maria had asked their guests to make a charitable donation in lieu of giving them wedding gifts, so raising £1,000 towards the Shropshire 2019 Grand Charity Festival.
As Maria explained: 'Andy and I couldn’t believe how much help and kindness we received from lodge members and their ladies in making our wedding day so special and memorable – it was fantastic.
'Without any hesitation, we both agreed that our wedding gift donations should go to Shropshire’s 2019 Festival Appeal. Freemasonry has come to mean a lot to us both – Andy really enjoys the meetings – his enthusiasm just keeps growing. I enjoy the social side - it’s not just that the ladies get together for supper on lodge nights, but that everyone really cares. Shortly before our wedding I had to go into hospital for an operation – during my recovery someone from the lodge called me every day to wish me well – it cheered me up no end!'
It was straight back to work after the wedding – Andy who runs his one-man plant management and services business is busy working on the M54 extension to the new Jaguar Land Rover factory. Maria, who occasionally drives a coach, is also devoted to her job as a minibus driver for Shropshire County Council, transporting Special Needs children.
With a small amount of feminine persuasion, Andy consented to taking a week off in December for a belated honeymoon break in Turkey. And where did they find their holiday of a lifetime? Where else but in the pages of Freemasonry Today!