WEDDING season is upon us.
Weddings are more political than a general election.
Chances are you’re getting married, you’ve been invited to a wedding, or you’re taking part in a ‘final hurrah’ weekend of debauchery before you lose your friend to their other half for the rest of their mortal days.
I’ve been asked to be a bridesmaid twice within the last two days. One of the dresses is floral and I haven’t worn anything like it since I was 5, missing my two front teeth with a seriously edgy fringe (the fact I will wear it is a testament to the friend who asked me). And then there’s my first African wedding in Paris next month. There’s nothing quite like a wedding to make you sit back and dwell on the ‘life self-assessment’. If you aren’t in a relationship and want to get married, you freak out that you’ll end up like a 21st Century Miss Havisham, surrounded by shoes and handbags. If you’re in a relationship, it raises ‘plus one’ dilemmas and questions of whether your partner is ‘the one’ and desperate attempts to classily catch the bouquet. Weddings are more political than a general election. Couples argue about inviting in-laws, work colleagues, and uninviting friends of the groom who are destined to try their drunken luck with the bridesmaids (we all have that friend).
Weddings are weird and wonderful.
You see your so-chilled-she’s practically horizontal friend turn into a veiled monster with a wedding planner. She’s crying because the serviettes are the wrong shade of fuchsia for the colour scheme and that means she’ll lose the weather roulette and ultimately her wedding will be ruined. Logic at its best. What. The. Fuck. She’s a bridezilla on the quest for the perfect dress. White dress. Off-white dress. Mermaid dress. Princess dress.
To make matters worse, her dragon of a mother is there too. The same mum who caught you both smoking when you were fourteen and you got branded the ‘bad influence’: the irony isn’t lost on you because you are sincerely hoping her daughter won’t catch fire for her sins when she sets foot in the church. Brides have licence to go bat-shit crazy and you have to be there for the daily hug, armed with Kleenex and a hip flask in the case of real-time wedding-planning pandemonium. Of course when she walks down the aisle, it’s like none of the pre-wedding panics ever happened…
I don’t envy brides either.
I’m pretty sure I know who will be bridesmaids at my future wedding to the future man of my dreams. But it’s surely an exercise of favouritism and ranking your friends, asking important questions like:
If I killed someone and had to bury the body, would she ask questions or turn up with a shovel?
How many times has she borrowed my stuff and returned it?
How many of my biggest secrets does she know, and if I got famous, would she sell them to pay for her potential boob job?
Let’s be honest, one friend is always going to get pissed off that they didn’t get asked to be a bridesmaid. ‘We’ve been friends for years’. But the bride is footing the bill for the dresses, and doesn’t want to look second-rate compared to one of the bridesmaids who looks like Tyra Banks’ doppelganger. Then there will be the Maid of Honour who turns into the bride’s minion: organise the hen-do, the bridal shower, be there for the bridal bitch fits, and all the wedding fairs. ALL the wedding fairs. Brides take note when the shoe is on the other foot.
For the men, the highlight has to be the stag weekend. A weekend where social media should be banned to make sure there is a wedding to actually go to. It’s all about the lap dance clubs, the strippers, the drinking until you don’t know your own name, and waking up in a bathtub with a feather boa around your neck with no recollection of how you got there. Don’t forget the best man toasts that should be appropriate for the ears of the over 80s. LADS.
And then the ladies range from civilised afternoon tea parties and spa weekends to walking around town with giant cocks and cocktail dresses, complete with veil. I challenge anyone to walk through the city centre of a weekend and not be accosted by an inflatable phallus attached to a drunken bride or one of her #sqwad. And these weekends are expensive. So I’d better get saving now, and so should you.
One thing I’ve learned from my married friends is that they’re still paying off their weddings, two years on from the ‘I do’s. So when it comes to who makes the cut for the invite, you’re lucky if you get one. My first ever job was to help couples create wedding lists and place wedding stationery orders in one of the UK’s best loved old-school department stores: I once had to count out £15,000 worth of gift vouchers in £50 denominations. ‘We’ll put a variety of things on there, so everyone can afford to get us something’. Your invitation status is determined by whether you know both the bride and groom, or whether you’re basically better than family because they choose to have you at their wedding. Then there are the colleagues who are only allowed at the evening do because if you don’t invite them, you might get that side-eye at work when you come back from your honeymoon looking like a leather satchel. A carefully calculated bar tab is a must.
Your parents weigh in and say ‘he’s your uncle’, and you respond with ‘you made me call all your friends ‘uncle’ when I was a kid, that doesn’t count as a blood uncle’. Invite lists grow and seating plans are reshuffled to take account of ongoing family feuds.
Then there’s the DJ. On the 18:59 from London to Manchester on 4 June 2015, one of my very good friends agreed to be my DJ for my yet-to-be-confirmed future wedding date: ‘I think your wedding will be…interesting’. I agree. 'You like your trap anthems'. The only trap your parents know about is the kind used to catch that mouse in your house when you used to hide cheese sandwiches under the sofa because you wanted turkey dinosaur sandwiches and your mum said no. Choose a DJ who knows his old-school anthems as well as his house tunes. You invite your family appropriate friends.
That struggle will be real…
Weddings are an opportunity to bring everyone together: your friends and family all in one place at the same time. As long as you issue your friends with a pre-wedding disclaimer not to disclose details of those nights out and questionable relationships, you should make it out alive. You get to take photos in your most refined outfits, complete with trout pout and fancy filters, and hashtag #nicedayforawhitewedding, even if you know that bride definitely shouldn’t be in that white dress. It’s an ideal that a lot of us aspire to. Having one person you share everything with, who knows what you look like without make-up and still thinks you’re on a par with Beyoncé. We’re modern and realistic, but we’re also hopeful and idealistic, looking for our happily ever after. Commitment that lasts more than a summer of love, but sticks it out through all the seasons. Suit on. Heels on. Get to the church.
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