Other People's Weddings Are Putting Me Off My Own
The Debrief: Expensive hen dos, bride-zillas, stress and crying... weddings don't sound that great, tbh.
Last year there was one. This year there are two. It’s official – I’m reaching the age when summers are taken up by weddings and already I’ve decided that everyone else’s wedding is putting me off my own.
Admittedly, this rite and I didn’t get off to the best start: my first wedding memory is being bollocked for getting grass stains all down my bridesmaid’s dress after, aged five, roly-polying down a hill in front of the chapel. Since then, though, my attitude towards weddings hasn't particularly improved...
To be clear, I’m not blaming any individuals getting married. What I’m blaming is the larger issue of a nation OBSESSED with weddings! It’s so nuts right now that you don’t even have to go to a wedding to experience it, just turn on the TV. Be it My Big Fat Gyspy Wedding or Don’t Tell The Bride, 10 minutes of Four Weddings will show you just how easily our obsession can be exploited for primetime entertainment.
As soon as we see it through this prism of entertainment, something gets lost. Take, for example, my poor mate – a single child with divorced parents – who, when trying for what felt like the thousandth time to create a seating plan that would please the agendas of her still bickering, bitter parents, burst into tears in the pub.
All because her beloved’s best friend excitedly announced he couldn’t wait for the reception as he’d never been to ‘an Eastenders-style, bust-up wedding’ before.
It’s so easy to turn a life event into a cliche you’ve seen on the telly, and it’s so easy to compare weddings to hilarious scenes in films where the bride ends up crying. But actually, it’s not TV or a film – it’s someone’s special day.
And it’s not just the weddings we’re obsessed with. I went on my first hen do last year and now would happily call time on my hen career (’cos being a hen is actually a full-time job). Admittedly, my arrival on Planet Hen was a little special – it was in Vegas, and the initial costs made me feel sick. Yes, once I got into the swing of the pool parties, the whole thing was worth it.
But no, this isn’t something I can repeat, regardless of how many people want their hen dos to be more and more extravagant. I’m now at the stage where my engaged friends class European city breaks, music festivals and countryside retreats as normal.
They’re all lovely in principle, yes, but potentially bank-breakingly bonkers when you have one of each in ONE summer. And even more bonkers when you remember there’s also the actual wedding to get to – but my issues aren’t all about the monies.
I know that as soon as you put the word ‘wedding’ in front of anything, the pounds multiply. And if the bride isn’t asking you to go to France for a week, she’s guilt-tripping you into doing other stuff: it seems the average wedding asks way too much of the people they’re inviting to ‘celebrate with them’ (and that’s aside from the itemised gift list).
Take, for example my cousin’s wedding. Growing up I adored my cousin, but as she set about executing her dream wedding, this role was abused when I was forced to sing at the reception. There wasn’t any kicking and screaming, but I made it clear I didn’t want to do it.
And yet, all my protestations were met with arguments that made me feel guilty for not wanting to perform. When planning a wedding, guilt is as important a currency as the pound.
On top of the guilt-tripping, there’s the obsession with originality. I’m all for celebrating two people making a life-long commitment to each other but ‘we’re bringing the shaman we met in India over to bless the wild boar we’re roasting for the Wed-fest banquet’ seems a bit much.
We just want a big party and for everyone to get drunk, thanks. And when it comes to my own, will my guests be disappointed if there’s no shaman? Am I supposed to serve mead? It’s all crazy, and hilarious, and really off-putting.
Of all the weddings I’ve seen, though, my favourite is in Sharon Horgan’s Catastrophe. Semi-pragmatically marrying the father of her unborn baby (whom she met on a one-week stand), the pregnant bride rocks up in an outfit so terrible even the groom can’t hide his horror.
Everyone knew the situation so no-one could take it too seriously and it was just beyond refreshing – perhaps my wedding could be deliberately shit! Perhaps that’s the answer!
Maybe a small service in a damp village church followed by sandwiches in a pub so awful there’s only ‘Unhappy Hour’? But then I remembered that even a deliberately shit wedding isn’t on the cards right now, only other people’s ‘special days’.
As more and more of my summers are spent attending other people’s weddings, and as my cynicism increases with each and every one of them, I can see my own dream of sending ‘we got hitched’ postcards to my unsuspecting family and friends disappearing. The money, the stress, the pressure, the idea that you have to make it the most special day anyone’s ever experienced... it all just leaves me a bit ‘meh’.
I’ve always loved the idea of ‘eloping’. Initially, I liked the romance of it, the secrecy and the intimacy, and the idea that you and the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with can run off and have a mini-adventure before the big adventure of your marriage begins.
But now, in the face of the hen dos and the seating plans and the general scrutiny every wedding is under, it’s becoming less of a dream and more of a necessity. And where’s the romance and the adventure in that?
Then again, maybe I just need to return to my five-year-old self, find a page boy to roly-poly with and not give a fuck.
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