Don’t tell the Bride Went for a Splash

Last night my girlfriend “made” me watch the new series of Don’t tell the Bride on BBC3. I can’t believe it’s over a year since we were asked to get involved.

We were approached by the production company to help the Groom fulfill his desire to get married in his local swimming pool in Staines where he had first met his fiance Hayley. I thought you might be interested to hear about what happens the behind the scenes.

We met the Groom ‘Ian’ and his 2 best men the week before the wedding and they kindly asked me if I would be the ‘vicar’ for the day. As a good sport I naturally accepted. Ian went on to explain that Hayley had taught him how to swim in the local pool in Staines and this is where he wanted to get married – in the deep end.

I then took the three of them for a ‘trial dive’ at the Roehampton Club where we teach our courses in South West London. Much to my surprise they donned some long dresses and pretended to be the brides. After 30 minutes of teaching them some safety skills we did a mock rehearsal in the deep end of the pool. All seemed to go quite well.

On the morning of the wedding we made our way to Spelthorne Leisure Centre in Staines. We were first greeted by the underwater camera team who have worked on many BBC and National Geographic programmes such as Blue Planet. This was a bit of a surprise to me as the filming the weekend before had been done on hand mounted cameras by the producer and a camera man plus one lady recording the sound – we were expecting big lights, make-up artists and the full shebang. It was almost like anyone with a bit of knowledge of a decent camcorder could do themselves.

Once all the equipment was set up by the pool we waited for the brides arrival. One of the production team suddenly gave the nod that she had arrived and was about to walk through. We all hid in one of the cupboards with the equipment so as not to give the game away.

Once she had been escorted to the changing rooms by one of the ‘best’ men we took all of the equipment to the pool. The Groom and Best man were accompanied by our instructor Andy where they erected an arch underwater covered in flowers. They then had to wait underwater with the camera crew for me (the Vicar) and the Bride.

I was taken to the changing rooms where I was introduced to the bride and bridesmaids. To some it up, they weren’t happy. There were lots of F’s and C’s in the air while I tried to hide my smile. Then after about 20 minutes it became apparent that she genuinely wasn’t happy and was consoled by her mother. I was suprised that none of it was scripted as often when you see these fly-on-the-wall documentaries it looks put on.

After the words “F’it” were mentioned I took the Bridge and her Father to the shallow end of the pool. I showed them how to use the dive gear and a few safety skills. They then swam with Andy to the deep end where the Groom and others had now been waiting for about 40 minutes. They were clearly cold, bored and getting short on air.

I jumped out of the pool while Andy escorted them up, put on my shirt and tie and jumped back in just in time to see them arrive. They knelt down in front of me and I went through the cue-cards/vows the Groom had prepared for me.

At the end of the vows the couple shared an underwater kiss and swam back together to the shallow end. One of the bridesmaids who were wearing snorkelling gear shouted to the congration in the viewing gallery above that they were now married. There was a huge cheer including one from the Bride’s mum.

The Groom and Bride then left the building wearing their soggy wedding attire to go to their reception.

A long day but hard work. The only thing that slightly frustrated me was that we didn’t receive any branding or recognition in the programmes, despite liberally branding our equipment and clothes.

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