In a word: no. As an unmarried woman in a relationship, it’s expected by most people that I’ll be completely obsessed with the whole shebang. I’m not. After being involved in many weddings – as bridesmaid and guest – I’ve become quite jaded with the whole process.
In this day and age of celebrity magazines and tabloids, people are putting themselves massively in debt to afford weddings way beyond their budgets. Twenty years ago, would you ever have heard of a shop assistant marrying a mechanic in a stately home? No. How about a castle being rented out for the nuptials of a call handler and a travel agent? Err, no. But now, if you don’t spend thousands, you’re somehow a failure. Let’s walk through the day itself and see how things should be…..
Guests are often given a dress code and a gift list when the invitations are issued. With many couples living together before getting married, the typical toaster and iron have now been usurped in favour of money. A wedding I recently attended had the couple asking for money to put in their baby fund. Previous couples have asked for money to put towards lavish honeymoons which, without the generosity of their guests they couldn’t have afforded.
Dress codes are a nightmare for women – you are at the behest of not only what is trendy that season but at what the bride (inevitably it’s the bride who makes such demands) deigns suitable for her big day. We have to find something to wear and then we also have to find matching accessories (shoes, a bag, possibly a hat or a fascinator), as well as paying extortionate sums for beautifying processes like waxing, hair cut and/or colour, spray tan and nail painting. Prior to her godson’s wedding last year, my mother bought – and returned – thirteen dresses before settling on one to wear. She was still accessorising less than twenty-four hours before the ceremony. And before you say it, we do need all that stuff. It’s ok for guys; the worst thing they have to do is get a new suit and maybe a haircut.
As a bride, you have the organisation of the full day to worry about. If you’re lucky, you have a supportive husband-to-be who loves you enough to take his share of the load. If not, you may have a supportive bridesmaid, mother or mother-in-law-to-be (by supportive, I mean nosy). From the moment a woman gets engaged, she has a million things on her mind – assimilating ideas from the various weddings she has seen in magazines, television shows and films. So there’s the venue, the menu, the dress, the guests, the budget and the cake but to mention a few.
Let’s not forget, there’s the hen and stag do’s to attend too. If you’re lucky, it’s a pub crawl in your local town or city but, more often than not these days, hen do’s are an expensive affair that not only require your attendance for one night but often a weekend or even a week abroad plus the spondoolies for a ‘gift bag’ usually containing a t-shirt, a sash, inappropriate playing cards, dares and badges or stickers. Stag do’s often include trips to party resorts, strip clubs, off-roading and paint-balling activity centres and sometimes even prostitutes. A fine start to the marriage, I think you’ll agree.
On the Big Day.
For an 11.30am wedding, as a guest I was up at 8am. Previous to the day itself, I’d had my hair done, my nails done and my spray tan applied. All I had to do on the day was have a shower, paint my toenails, apply my make up and get dressed. Oh, and get to the venue. I didn’t have time to have breakfast. What time does a bride have to get up?
Arriving at the venue, guests mingle and greet each other as if they’re actually pleased to see each other when, in truth, a lot of people who meet up at these dos have spent the last few days psyching themselves up for seeing people they can’t stand for various reasons. They pose for photos, worrying about their hair and make-up and if they’ve got VPL. Depending on who is paying for the wedding depends on who is invited to the daytime do. If a bride’s parents are paying, they often expect their social circle to be included in the big day. So it could be people who don’t even really know the couple sitting beside you.
The guests then assemble in the church (or wherever the ceremony is being held), being told where to sit based on the importance of their relationship to the couple. A service, either civil or religious, is carried out while everyone wonders how long until they can get their first alcoholic drink. The couple make vows to each other, some written by themselves, and everyone in the congregation passes each other looks because they know what’s been said in the heat of the moment during arguments and disagreements.
Bucks fizz is handed out after the ceremony or on arrival at the venue for the reception where yet more photos are taken, inevitably irritating the groom and any other men asked to be in the photos. The female guests eye each other up, discussing outfits and plus-ones.
Sitting down for the meal and the speeches is a heart-stopping moment as guests check the seating plan, hoping they’re sat beside someone tolerable for the next three hours. The meals vary in quality, as do the speeches. It’s obvious that no-one wants to do a speech but because it’s tradition, most people put themselves and their guests through it anyway. Yet more affirmations of ever-lasting love and fidelity follow from the groom. Whether it’s meant or not is another matter. Out of five weddings I went to one year, three of them are now over.
The evening do is a part for also-rans. People who aren’t valued enough to attend the daytime do are invited to the party on the evening. The trend now is to invite also-rans to the church ceremony and then the evening do, only leaving them out of the meal and speeches, some people would say this is preferable. The party tends to go one of two ways: everyone gets slaughtered and gets up to dance or everyone remains reticent and migrates towards their own cliques, spending the night chatting – only moving to go to the bar, loo or buffet. At the last wedding I attended, one man asked a woman to dance. Nothing wrong with that, you may say, apart from this man didn’t know said woman and when said woman’s hubby came back from the bar, he grabbed her arm and literally dragged his intoxicated wife from the dance floor while giving her dance partner the V’s. It was the highlight of the wedding for me but probably not for the people involved or her parents who sat and watched the whole thing unfold looking pretty dismayed.
If there haven’t been any massive scandals like a drunken row or someone making a complete tit of themselves by revealing underwear or chucking up on the dance floor, some of the women who were in attendance will meet at some point or another and discuss who was wearing what, who went home with whom, who cheated on their partner and so on. Some weddings are so infamous for the trouble they cause, they are talked about for years after – long after the marriage has ended.
What’s the solution?
Why are people so bothered what other people think of their day? Why do people waste all of that money on one day? Why do couples feel the need to parade their love around in front of an audience?
I know for a fact one of the brides I was bridesmaid for was not a woman with a large circle of friends, nor did she like being centre of attention but she had a wedding that cost just short of £15,000. She is a shop assistant. Her husband was a manual labourer (yes, I’ve put “was” in there for a reason). They had almost 100 people at their daytime wedding. The bride did not seem to enjoy one moment of her wedding so what was the point in wasting all of that money? In this financial climate, £15k would go a long way to a deposit on a house.
Personally, I’d rather have a quiet wedding, with just me and my beloved. In this time of WAGs and people who are famous despite no discernible talent, people seem to think making grand proclamations on your wedding day is enough to sustain a marriage in spite of all the bumps in the road. Saying “I love you” seems to have usurped the need to show it.
I, personally, would be more concerned about the marriage than the wedding. Who needs a disco and a buffet anyway?
For more posts like this, visit http://elementaryvwatson.wordpress.com/