(I've deliberated over putting photos in here, all I have is the disposables and theres no way of showing you them without showing you my entire family! so this post is image free. :( sorry)
Once we were all in the dining room everything became a lot more relaxed. My parents and I had spent quite a while sorting out the table plan, and that was even without having any complex family politics! It was lovely to see everyone start to admire the table DIY bits, to see the groups of people we had sat together start to talk (there were some surprising friendships started), to hear the silence fall as people started to eat.
Between courses people moved around, got air -I may be talking about me here, a Suzanne Neville dress does wonders for your figure, bit it does not allow for a GOOD appetite- and took photos with the disposables.
We had a wonderful time at dinner, from where we were we could see the whole room, it was lovely to let the whole atmosphere wash over me. There was plenty going on on our table, even tho my bridesmaids were from disparate parts of my life each of them had met each other once before the wedding, but none of their husbands had ever met each other, or the best man; so it was great to see them all get on. Our tables camera was finished before dinner was over. When I went off between courses a load of random things happened that I didn't get to know about until the photos were developed!
After dinner we cut the cake, with the boys watching expectantly, I think they thought we would just start serving it up there and then. Then we all started to disperse into the other rooms. The evening guests had been starting to arrive as we had our coffee, there was a buffet people raved about for them in the drawing room.
We had swing playing in the drawing room, which for a large portion of the evening hosted one large family group and a lot of cooing over a new baby.
In the bar, which is two rooms joined together by glass doors, we had a massive iPod playlist playing most of the night, but at about 8pm lovely bridesmaids husband stepped up and started to play for us. This was a very last minute decision for us, he turned out to be the 'entertainment' at my hen do, I had never heard him play before that (acoustic guitar versions of pretty much anything he has a while to put his mind to) and I told James about it, we ended up asking him about 3 weeks before the wedding!
The whole evening was very relaxed, exactly how we had wanted, and I had worried that we wouldn't get. Shock horror, we didn't do a first dance! We had chosen a song just in case, but really didn't want to, fortunately. There's no space that demands dancing, so I don't think anyone noticed. In fact, most of you may find this odd and boring, but there wasn't any dancing. We wouldn't have been bothered if people did get up and dance, we'd cleared a space for it, but no one did. It was a really nice relaxed atmosphere, with family groups and friends chatting together, catching up, and getting to know others.
By about 11ish people were starting to leave, and there were a few groups dotted around and the people who were staying the night sitting around chatting. I was quite surprised to find my parents still up and part of the biggest group, by this point I was just wafting from room to room and gazing around, the same way you do after a really good Christmas day. when the last group left/went up to bed sometime after midnight, the bar staff just cleared up around us while we sat in a quiet corner, listened to our music, finished our drinks and mulled over the day. It was a wonderful way to end the day, sitting with my new husband, in my wedding dress, doing what we would normally do on a Saturday night.