I’m getting married in a month. Naturally, I’m looking forward to this momentous event with all of the excitement, trepidation and raised blood pressure that anyone would experience when they’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime event costing them thousands of pounds. But if there’s one thing that I’ve noticed during my two-year engagement, it’s this. There is a lot of bullshit surrounding weddings.
I’ll go to great lengths to sidestep bullshit where I detect it. Consequently, I’ve taken a rather laid back attitude towards what is supposed to be the most important day of my life. I refuse to give myself a nervous breakdown over something that resembles a terrifyingly over-organised birthday party. To be honest, this lackadaisical approach is only partially about refusing to adhere to convention – it’s also about me having no idea what I’m doing. I’m firmly of the belief that when a couple get engaged, the government should send them out a little booklet advising them of correct wedding protocol, a bit like those old Protect and Survive booklets from the 80s, which advised you what to do in case of nuclear war. Instead of duck and cover, it’d have poultry recipes and tablecloth advice. That kind of thing. It would certainly be a big help to people like me who’ve made it this far in life remaining blissfully unaware of All Wedding Traditions.
However, once you get beyond the basics, there’s so much arcane ephemera around marriage ceremonies, much of it of recent invention. For example, someone asked me recently what the theme to my wedding was going to be. They seemed quite taken aback when I responded: “What, inviting all of my friends and family to an enormous piss-up isn’t a theme?” When I bought my boyfriend an engagement ring, I was informed by another acquaintance that this was “very eccentric” of me. Apparently, wanting equality in all things wedding-related isn’t the done thing. Who’d have thunk it? My almost-husband accidentally left the ring in a toilet in Prague – there’s probably a rule about exactly what to do in those very circumstances. Who says you have to follow all these folk decrees? I’m not changing my name, there’s no gift list (sorry, John Lewis), and I’ve invited men to my hen night. I haven’t the heart to tell people that, as per convention, my Dad will be leading me down the aisle. I quite like them thinking of me as a rebel in a tulle veil.
And here’s a phrase to boil your piss – “wedding trends”. If the bridal blogosphere are to be believed, Mason jar cocktails are apparently a must-have – even if you’re having your ceremony in Birmingham, England rather than Birmingham, Alabama. A recent Emerald Street mailout confessed that ‘stealing’ is so totally hot right now. “You’d be shocked by the amount of stuff guests take from weddings – silverware, flowers, votives, the lot” one former wedding planner is quoted as saying. “In fact, the latest trend in the States is to provide lots of goodies for guests to take home so that they don’t steal other stuff, such as pashminas for women and flip-flops for dancing.”
I’m not entirely sure what’s more distasteful about the above statement. The insinuation that it’s not enough for me to spend a family-saloon-sized amount of money feeding and watering my guests but that, if I don’t bribe them with shiny freebies on the way out, they’re entitled to shove the cutlery into their handbags? Or that I’m being told to view my friends as shoplifters in Whistles dresses? Are you with the bride or the groom, Mr Raffles? Maybe it should be a box to tick on the invite – alongside ‘vegetarian’ and ‘lactose intolerant’, I should add “be sure to let us know if you’re a kleptomaniac”.
Your wedding day is supposed to be the happiest of your life but society appears to be determined to ensure that it’s also the most stressful. The proliferation of wedding blogs, wedding websites and wedding trend-setters have encouraged us to turn an event that’s supposed to be a celebration of love into something part Japanese tea ceremony, part Domino rally. Your big day won’t be ruined if you don’t have the right kind of letterpress invitations, or if you don’t have a bespoke dessert table. Perhaps the most radical thing you can do to ensure a perfect wedding is to not sweat the small stuff or even perspire the big stuff.