50 Reasons Why Our Wedding Will Always Be The Most Heavily Themed Monty Python Wedding Of All Time

Hi, I’m Gemma and I met my husband, John Wood, through the Monty Python dating Facebook group that he set up. John’s rather passionate, to say the least, about Monty Python, and after his divorce in 2010, he was determined that his next girlfriend/life partner/wife was going to be as big a Python fan as him. At first, he tried to find her via dating sites, starting with ladies who listed Python among their interests. But that didn’t work, so he decided the only way to do it was to set up his own Python dating site! So in 2014, he simply created a dating Facebook group for Monty Python fans which he called “Pythonesque Dating” which I joined, and the rest is history as they say! Here’s a selection of what was on show on the day – there was much more than this but I think you’ll get the idea… For those interested, the wedding itself cost about £20,000 and the Python items I had commissioned or made myself added another £10,000 to the bill.

More info: pythonesquewedding.co.uk

Proposal

Not one to do things by halves, John found the most perfect and most appropriate way of proposing; he went down on one knee in front of two members of Monty Python, Sir Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam, in 2017 at a fundraiser at the Roundhouse in London, hosted by Sanjeev Bhaskar. What a surprise it was for me, as you can clearly see in the photo. There was only one date that would make sense for the wedding: 5th October 2019, Monty Python’s 50th anniversary. And guess what, it was a Saturday! This was obviously meant to be! Let the planning preparations for the most heavily themed Monty Python wedding ever in history and, for all time, begin! Photo credit: John Wood

The Invitation

Not only did I send all the guests a ridiculous “Save The Date” video that encouraged them to join the Wood Party (from the “How Far Can A Minister Fall?” sketch), but the invitation started life as Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding invitation with all the details crossed out and our details written in instead, as a reference to the cover of “Another Monty Python Record.” Photo credit: Gemma Wood

Scroll

It is traditional for brides to send their husbands-to-be a message on the morning of the wedding. I sent John a card whilst he was getting changed, but it was no ordinary card. It was a Holy Grail-style scroll attached to an arrow, just like Prince Herbert shot out the window in the “Holy Grail” film. The words were: “To whoever finds this note, I have been imprisoned by my father, who wishes me to marry against my will. Please, please, please come and rescue me. I am in the tall tower of Swamp Castle.” Only joking… I can’t wait to marry you! John, I love you more. See you soon. Gemma xxx”. Photo credit: York Place Studios

Silly Road Signs

The wedding was held at The Ravenswood in West Sussex, which was happy to tolerate our overly long set-up and take-down times, for which we will always be extremely grateful. At the entrance to the car park, I put a road sign that I had specially made that read, “Something Silly’s Going To Happen,” and further down the drive, another sign that read, “Beware of Vicious Gangs of Keep Left Signs in the Area” from the “Keep Left Signs” sketch, along with three real Keep Left Signs and by the entrance to the building, there was a newspaper sign that read, “Man Turns Into Scotsman” from the “Man Turns Into Scotsman” sketch. Photo credit: York Place Studios

St Looney Up The Cream Bun & Jam

John and I labored for days, without any carpentry skills or experience, to make this St Looney Up The Cream Bun and Jam sign (from the “St Looney Up The Cream Bun and Jam” sketch), having bought the wood online. It also references the “Rat-Faced Git” sketch with the disemboweling party, the next event to be held after the wedding. Photo credit: John Wood

Statue of David

To further help people understand what sort of wedding this was going to be, on their way into the building, they were greeted by a cardboard cutout of the statue of David with a figleaf over his privates, as in the Terry Gilliam animation. Those that dared to lift the figleaf saw John’s head in place of David’s privates, and the message, “We’re not going to allow this sort of smut at the wedding.” Photo credit: John Wood

Coconuts and Lupins

In the reception room where the guests had drinks before the ceremony, I put a large basket filled with coconut halves and a sign that read, “Horse Rides,” from the “Holy Grail” film. I also had some lupins in a vase on display, but they, unfortunately, had to be artificial because lupins are not in season in October. I dyed them the same colors as they appear in the “Dennis Moore” sketch. Photo credit: York Place Studios

The Ceremony

I have to hand it to Crawley Register Office because they allowed us to “Pythonize” the wording of the actual wedding ceremony, and they even joined in! Firstly, I arrived at the Monty Python theme tune (“Liberty Bell” by John Philip Sousa), which ends with a fart noise which cracked up the guests, informing them in Python’s inimitable style that this was not going to be like any wedding they’ve ever been to before. After the part where the registrar asks, “If any of you has any reason why these two should not be married, speak now or forever hold your peace,” she then said, to our surprise, “I only ask because no one expects the Spanish Inquisition.” Then, referencing the “Happy Valley” sketch, when John was asked, “Do you take this woman to be your lawful wedded wife?”, he replied, “Perhaps…” which, I think, caused the biggest laugh of the whole day. “Oh, say you do!” I pleaded, to which he replied, “Yeah, alright.” We sang the well-known hymn, “All Things Dull and Ugly,” which caused loads of chuckles amid the singing. The ceremony was held in the medieval-looking Baronial Hall of The Ravenswood, which was perfect because it gave it a “Holy Grail” feel, so pointing down to us from the ceiling was a huge hand of God. Two banners in medieval style proclaimed, “This is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let’s not bicker about who killed who.” Having been pronounced Mr & Mrs. Wood, instead of walking past the guests to have confetti thrown over us, John picked me up and ran out of the room with me! “The Mattress Sketch” had begun! Photo credit: York Place Studios

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The Ceremony Booklet

The guests were given booklets that contained the order of the day/ceremony and the words of the hymn. The front cover was designed to look like “Monty Python’s Big Red Book” but was changed to “John and Gemma’s Big Wed Book.” Photo credit: York Place Studios

Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch

I felt the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch from the “Holy Grail” film would make a wonderful and memorable ring holder, so I bought a basic one from Etsy, painted it gold, and bejeweled it. It worked a treat on the day! Photo credit: York Place Studios

Mattress Sketch

After the ceremony, the guests were ushered through to another room that looked like a bed shop. They were then shown a video we had filmed a few weeks earlier of John carrying me, just as he was when we left the Baronial Hall, across fields and running along the street in Ealing Broadway (the exact spot where Python filmed this sketch in 1969) and into the bed shop when we reappeared in front of the guests with John still carrying me. He put me down, and then we performed “The Mattress Sketch,” with Gary Byrne, Best Man, playing Mr. Lambert, Jonathan Gash playing Mr. Verity, and Lee Gash playing the unnamed Michael Palin and John Cleese characters. (It’s on YouTube). Photo credit: Hy Money

Listening Booths

After the sketch, guests had a chance to look around the room where many of my Python exhibits were on display. I created listening booths 4 and 5 from the audio-only “First World War Noises” sketch on the “Matching Tie and Handkerchief” album, which must be a world first. They came complete with a CD player and headphones so guests could listen to the sketch, just like in the sketch itself. I pushed the boat out even more by creating album covers of records mentioned in this sketch, and others, that have only ever been mentioned but have never actually existed, i.e., First World War Noises by the French and the Germans and The Ronettes Sing Medieval Agrarian History, both from the “Matching Tie and Handkerchief” album, Bing Tiddle Tiddle Bong, Monaco’s Europolice entry by Chief-Inspector Jean-Paul Zatapatique from the Europolice Sketch, Pleasures of the Dance – a collection of Norwegian carpenters’ songs compiled by Oscar Tritt from “Another Monty Python Record,” and Cardinal Richlieu’s version of “Don’t Sleep In The Subway,” impersonating Petula Clark in the “Historical Impersonations” sketch. Photo credit: John Wood

Homage to 5th October 1969

Paying homage to the broadcast of the first episode on 5th October 1969, I rented an old TV from a props company and had the very first episode playing on it on a continuous loop. Beside it was an original October 1969 copy of the Radio Times, open on the page that listed the first show that happened to include a photo of Carol Cleveland (see below), plus a (plastic) dead crab and a (plastic) block of butter (about the “Can You Tell The Difference Between Whizzo Butter And A Dead Crab?” sketch). Next to the television was also a 1960s desk calendar set on 5th October 1969 and a 1960s clock, set at 10:55 pm, the exact date and time of the first broadcast. Photo credit: John Wood

Posters

I designed many posters that were on display all around The Ravenswood throughout the wedding, but here’s my favorite. It’s the “Being Eaten by a Crocodile” Olympic event poster that I imagined from the “Contractual Obligation” album. (The poster isn’t actually creased; the creases are part of the design). Others I imagined were “Are you Tall Enough To Be An Archeologist?” from the “Archeologists Sketch,” Germany vs. Greece philosophers’ football match, a public information poster about the problem of cannibalism in the Royal Navy; and a poster advertising the interview with the filmmaker, Sir Edward Ross. Another poster I just had to do was of Graham Chapman as the Colonel saying, “Stop That! It’s Silly!” Photo credit: John Wood

Warning – Fresh Fruit!

I put some fruit in a bowl and cordoned it off with yellow tape that I had specially made that read, “Warning – Fresh Fruit” from the “How To Defend Yourself Against A Man Armed With Fresh Fruit” sketch. Photo credit: John Wood

Marcel Proust

I recreated every detail of the scoreboard that appears in the “Summarizing Proust” sketch, as well as adding bunting. Photo credit: John Wood

The Cheese shop

It was a must that “The Cheese Shop Sketch” had to be referenced, and I felt the best way was to display a cheese board, devoid of all cheese. I also found on eBay a copy of “Rogue Herries” by Hugh Walpole mentioned in the sketch and placed it next to the cheeseboard. Photo credit: John Wood

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Silly Notice Board

I decided to create a notice board with silly notices on it such as the calling cards of companies mentioned in sketches, including those for Confuse-A-Cat Ltd from the “Confuse-A-Cat” sketch, the undertakers, Arthur Sodgen of Prestatyn from “Monty Python’s Previous Record,” “Bicycle Repair Man” from the sketch of the same name, and “Pet Conversions,” also from the sketch of the same name. Photo credit: John Wood

Dead Parrot

Here is one dead Norwegian Blue in a cage. Photo credit: John Wood

Silly Clothes on The Lower Peg

On the Lower Peg (referencing the “Meaning of Life” film), I hung up a blood-stained white coat (a reference to “The Barbershop Sketch”), a judge’s wig and robe plus lingerie (a reference to “The Cross-Dressing Judges Sketch”), a lumberjack’s shirt (a reference to “The Lumberjack Sketch”) and a jacket with a FRAUD insurance company “Never Pay” insurance policy in one of its pockets (a reference to “The Insurance Sketch”). Photo credit: John Wood

Silly Tidbits

I bought a slice of strawberry tart in plastic and added a few plastic rats’ tails as a reference to “The Dead Bishop Sketch.” I also put on display, on a sales tray, plastic larks’ tongues, wrens’ livers, chaffinch brains, jaguars’ earlobes, wolves nipple chips, Tuscany fried bats, otters’ noses, and badgers’ spleens about the “Life of Brian” film. Photo credit: John Wood

Flower Arranging

This is an example of Mr. Gumby’s flower arrangements I put on display for our guests to enjoy. Photo credit: John Wood

Hungarian Phrase Book

I bought an actual Hungarian Phrasebook and added two pages, with the text of the same font as the book, that included the famous Hungarian to English translations, “My hovercraft is full of eels,” and “Drop your panties, Sir William; I cannot wait until lunchtime,” etc. I also created the book “Ethel the Aardvark Goes Quantity Surveying” and “Olsen’s Standard Book of British Birds – the expurgated version.” Photo credit: John Wood

Penguin on your TV

I put a penguin on top of the TV referencing “The Exploding Penguin Sketch.” Luckily, it didn’t explode. Photo credit: John Wood

Embroidered Killer Joke

The item that took the most time to create was the embroidered, framed killer joke in German from “The Killer Joke” sketch. It took me the equivalent of two months of full-time work! Photo credit: John Wood

Cannot Be Seen

Our brilliant photographer, York Place Studios, took perfect advantage of one of the posters I designed, which references the “How Not To Be Seen” sketch. Photo credit: York Place Studios

Upper-Class Twit

In reference to “The Upper-Class Twit of the Year” sketch, I recreated the medal that appears at the end of the sketch. Photo credit: John Wood

No. 1 The Larch

The wedding would not have been complete without a Larch poster from the “How To Recognise Trees From Quite A Long Way Away” sketch. Photo credit: John Wood

The Comfy Chair

The Ravenswood kindly let me use one of their armchairs which I put on display as “The Comfy Chair” from “The Spanish Inquisition Sketch,” together with its information panel. Photo credit: John Wood

Another Dead Parrot

I contacted the artist who made the enormous dead parrot which was used to publicize Monty Python’s farewell at the O2 in 2014, and asked him to make a smaller version for the top table at the wedding. It was 9 feet/2.75 meters long! Photo credit: York Place Studios

16-ton Weight

Python sketches often ended with a 16-ton weight being dropped on people’s heads, so I asked the same artist to recreate one for us. We suspended it over the guests’ heads while they ate their meal. Photo credit: York Place Studios

Always Look On The Bright Side

You can’t have a Monty Python-themed event without referencing the song “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life” from the “Life of Brian” film, so I had this neon lights sign specially made for the wedding. Photo credit: Hy Money

Fish with Faces

Since “The Meaning of Life” is my favorite of all the Python films, I just had to have the fish with faces opening scene at the wedding somehow. Luckily, I found a prop maker who could make goldfish with faces I suspended in an empty fish tank with invisible wire. I added Botticelli’s Venus in the fish tank as a reference to how “The Dead Parrot Sketch” begins and stuck on the outside of the fishtank a “Fish Licence” from the sketch of the same name. Photo credit: John Wood

Albatross

As a reference to “The Albatross Sketch” in “Live at the Hollywood Bowl,” I dressed up a male mannequin to look like John Cleese in ice-cream-sales-girl uniform and had him holding a replica of the albatross (specially made for us by a prop maker) on an ice cream tray. No choc ices were anywhere to be seen! Photo credit: York Place Studios

The Bishop

I created this poster from the ridiculous titles of the hilarious spoof film, “The Bishop,” that appears in Series 2 Episode 4. It was tricky matching the exact font used on the original show. Photo credit: John Wood

The Last Supper

I “adjusted” Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” to include three Christs, a kangaroo, 28 disciples, and jelly, as per “The Last-But-One Supper” sketch. Photo credit: Hy Money

Smuggler’s Suitcase

Referencing “The Smuggler Sketch,” I filled a suitcase that had “Zurich” and “Swiss Air” stickers on it, with old clocks. Next to the suitcase are three Finland brochures referencing the “Finland, Finland, Finland” song. The suitcase doubled up as the place for the guests to put their wedding cards and gifts. Photo credit: John Wood

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The Table Plan

Continuing the “Election Night Special” sketch theme, the table plan comprised political party rosettes representing each table, namely the Sensible Party, the Silly Party, the Slightly Silly Party, the Very Silly the top table was the Wood Party. At each table setting, guests were given a rosette to wear that corresponded with their political party. Photo credit: York Place Studios

Silly Table Decorations

I let my design skills run wild with the table decorations that included a silly booklet entitled “The Brand New Mr & Mrs. Wood Papperbok,” the cover of which was designed to look like the “Brand New Monty Python Papperbok” that gave the menu and lot of other silly things; a Watney’s Red Barrel beer mat from “The Travel Agent Sketch,” wine glasses that looked like the Holy Grail itself and, of course, a box of Whizzo chocolates for each guest as a reference to the “Whizzo Chocolate Company” sketch (larks vomit and crunchy frog not included). Photo credit: York Place Studios

Carol Cleveland

John e-mailed Carol Cleveland, often called the “7th Python”, to tell her about the wedding a few days before the 5th of October, and her reply was, “I’m only disappointed that I haven’t been invited as your special surprise guest.” After telling John she wasn’t able to attend anyway, she actually turned up to everyone’s surprise and was such fun, posing for pictures, etc.! She is such a lovely person! It was so surreal to see her there, and John and I, still, can’t get over it, asking ourselves if that really did happen! Her being there was mind-blowing and made the wedding even more special if you can imagine that! Photo credit: York Place Studios

Spam

The first course of the meal was Salmon Mouse, naturally, from the “Meaning of Life” film, and the dessert was Strawberry Tart without so much rat in it, from “The Dead Bishop Sketch,” and Spam was served with the main course. Carol ate some for the first time in her life! Photo Credit: John Wood

Spam Board

Creating this Spam Board from the famous “Spam Sketch” was a real labor of love that took ages to make, mainly due to getting the spacing right between the letters and then having to glue in each one. It is the one item of all of them from the wedding that gets the most attention online. Photo Credit: York Place Studios

Squashing the Cake

Everyone cuts their cake, and Python represents breaking tradition and being different. So, as a reference to Bronzino’s Cupid foot squashing the titles at the beginning of almost every show, we decided to squash the cake and the nasty plastic traditional wedding couple figurines on top of it with afoot. It was a vegan cake as John is vegan, as were several other guests, so caterers served them a squashed cake. Photo Credit: York Place Studios

Lumberjack Cake

The rest of us were served a slice of our lumberjack cake that was, of course, a reference to “The Lumberjack Sketch.” The cake, which looked like three large logs on top of each other, came complete with suspenders and a bra draped over one of the branches. The cake topper that we had specially made was Bevis, the lumberjack, with his best girl by his side (sometimes played by Carol Cleveland) but with John and me’s faces. Photo Credit: York Place Studios

Sit on my Face

Unfortunately, Carol missed our “Mattress Sketch performance,” but she did see our performance of the “Sit On My Face” sketch. It was so surreal to be performing it to her! Lee Gash and I held up the words on big boards so John and friends could sing along to this vulgar song and then turn around and bare their bums, producing a huge laugh from the audience, obviously! Photo Credit: York Place Studios

Spot the Looney

In the ladies and gents loos, I put a large “Spot The Looney” sign in reference to the sketch of the same name above the mirror. Photo Credit: York Place Studios

Albums Playing in the Loos

Playing continuously in the loos were the “Are You Embarrassed Easily?” sketch from the “Previous Monty Python Record,” and an excerpt of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto from the “Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Goes to the Bathroom” episode. Note the poster telling you not to flush your budgie down the loo because they breed in the sewers. Eventually, you get evil-smelling flocks of huge soiled budgies flying out of people’s lavatories infringing their personal freedom. Photo Credit: John Wood

Opened by Gary Cooper

I designed a blue plaque placed at the entrance to the loos that read, “Classic Silbury Hill – These toilets were opened by Gary Cooper in 1957” in reference to Michael Palin’s immortal words from the “Holy Grail” album. Photo Credit: John Wood

Silly Walks

I had a road sign made that showed a silhouette of John Cleese doing his silly walk with the words, “Silly Walks Zone,” and we placed it on the way to the loos, encouraging guests to do a silly walk on the way to or coming back from having a pee. Photo Credit: John Wood

Certain Death

Also in that same corridor was a medieval-looking wooden signpost that I made that showed the way to “Camelot” in one direction and “Certain Death” towards where the reception was being held, from the “Holy Grail” film. Nibbling the shrubbery at the base of the sign was… the Killer Rabbit! Photo Credit: John Wood

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