Our lovely Rose made the most beautiful bride yesterday when she married her Fred.
The ceremony in church was the culmination of three days of celebration and blessing to seal the union between them.
Due in church by 9.30am, we were at the Happy House in good time where all but our babies were dressed and ready for their big day out - everyone in a new outfit, hair freshly done, and shoes polished.
There was such an air of excitement. They were off to see their Auntie Rose, Sue's right-hand woman and a key and much loved member of our family, on her big day.
It took several journeys for Papa Dave and Uncle Billy to transport the kids, house mums and us adults - Sue, Brenda and Red Groves , their granddaughter Lucy, volunteer Coral Blackhurst and I all to church.
It was a long wait as the church filled up, by with singers to keep everyone entertained. By the time the bridegroom arrived, the church was packed and overflowing into the grounds outside.
Then the procession started, first the small attendants, then the pageboys followed by the bridesmaids. Each making a lone walk down the aisle, moving very slowly, as an usher takes his steps from the altar end of the church to meet her halfway, she handing him a can covered in the wedding colours, peach and brown, in exchange for a wrist corsage from him. He then escorts her to her place.
It's a rhythmic and charming way to highlight their role and our children were captivated with lots of excitement, cheers and giggles when they saw our lovely friend and volunteer, Auntie Lynn McCluskey, make her entrance as a bridesmaid.
With all the bridesmaids in place, everyone was waiting for their first glimpse of the bride. Eventually, she arrived, our beautiful Rose looking radiant and stunning.
For Sue, who has known Rose ever since she started her charity work her 11 years ago and has seen and helped her grow from a shy young girl into a beautiful, confident, manager, it was a moment full of emotion. I know she loves Rose as if she were her own.
The service lasted for two hours, with our family of 40 children to think about, some as young as four, we quietly moved out of church and made our way to the reception venue where they could run around and play. The MC and do were already in place and when Sue suggested some music for dancing was happy to oblige and our African version of the Von Trapp family swung into action.
They were so enjoying themselves the time flew by and at last the guests from church followed by the happy couple, arrived, and the real party got underway.
There's so many traditions and customs that have to be woven into a wedding day here, which add to the charm. Feasting is essential and with 600 people to feed the caterers had a major job on their hands.
Rose, bless her, found a moment to come over and greet her Happy House family, giving everyone a chance to get a close up look at her gorgeous gown which has been so kindly loaned to herby Hayley Edge, from Blackpool. Hayley, who has never met Rose, responded to our Facebook appeal and offered the loan of the dress she had work for her own wedding.
Thank you Hayley, your kindness ensured our Rose was married in the dress of her dreams.
By five o'clock our children were beginning to flag and it was time to leave the party to go home.
We had all had a day we'll remember for the rest of our lives and wish our Rose and Fred all the love and happiness in the world.
On Friday, after a few days away together, they'll join us for a family party at the Happy House where we can wish them well in our own unique way.