Hilary Fannin: Our wedding story? Met, got a bit sloshed, missed last bus, had two kids

I fear our how-we-met story might not live up to today’s dream-wedding expectations

Three-day wedding extravaganzas are coming back with a vengeance. Photograph: iStock

Three-day wedding extravaganzas are coming back with a vengeance. Photograph: iStock

 

My pal recently received an invitation to the wedding of the eldest son of an old friend of hers. Unfortunately, as the wedding is taking place in a different country and at an inconvenient time, in terms both of my mate’s domestic responsibilities and of her place on the vaccination train, she will be unable to attend the festivities. 

Darn. She’ll be missing out on a three-day event that would have required her to produce many changes of outfit, shoe and temperament (not to mention a significant outlay of cash), in order to fully realise her role as a mature and pleasant guest, smiling her jolly little face off for 72 hours of fun, fun, fun.

There will, I suspect, be many of us in the coming months who, without the blanket of pandemic restrictions to hide quietly under, may find ourselves obliged to slip into our slimming knickers and somehow find the stamina to attend the weddings of our friends’ children. 

Modern wedding-guest etiquette is no longer as simple as coughing up for a toaster from Roches Stores’ basement. Nor is it enough any more to strut your stuff under the disco ball and hope you might get off with the weepy bridesmaid

If, like me, your abiding memory of being a wedding guest involves vague recollections of tottering around a hotel that smells like mashed potatoes and then being herded into a dining room by a moustachioed waitress to eat chicken and chips in a basket and throw shredded-up beer mats at the best man while he’s speechifying, then it’s time to think again. 

Modern wedding-guest etiquette is no longer as simple as coughing up for a toaster from Roches Stores’ basement, borrowing your Aunt Lydia’s fascinator and digging around in your sock drawer to find a pair of unladdered 15-denier tights. It’s not just a matter of hiring a suit and hanging out with your similarly trussed-up mates, picking bits of confetti out of your teeth.

Nor is it enough any more to pop a bit of Wrigley’s spearmint in your mouth, smooth down your sideburns, strut your stuff under the disco ball and hope that you might get off with the weepy bridesmaid who’s currently hiding behind the plastic cheese plant, knocking back vodka and MiWadi. Would that life could ever be so uncomplicatedly innocent and analogue again, my friend. 

I don’t wish to alarm you unduly, but according to my paltry research – I read the cover of a bridal magazine in the supermarket while I was waiting for another customer to stop head-butting the self-service-checkout machine (I do love a bit of unexpected violence in the bagging area) – three-day wedding extravaganzas are coming back with a vengeance. “This is your big day! Make it last and last.” 

Some wedding planners advise happy couples to arrange activities to keep their guests occupied during their extended spell in captivity, among them pottery classes, archery, crazy golf and drilling out their own eyeballs with a Black & Decker

Some wedding planners, while bandying around words such as “theme” and “synergy”, even advise happy couples to arrange activities to keep their guests occupied during their extended spell in captivity, among them pottery classes, archery, crazy-golf competitions and drilling out their own eyeballs with a Black & Decker. 

As I was a long time waiting at the self-service checkout – pomegranates were being volleyed around, Wexford strawberries fired at random, mustard-infused sausages used as cudgels – I went on reading. 

Among the many creative recommendations from the aforementioned planners are that guests be provided, on arrival, with welcome bags filled with items “that speak to the local”, among which, apparently, “water bottles, maps and aspirin are great additions”.

Water bottles, maps and aspirin? Sounds like the contents of a first-aid kit, which, come to think of it, would be a well-thought-out offering to guests reduced to tunnelling their way out of nuptial eternity under the floorboards.

Anyway, I kid you not when I tell you that my pal’s online invitation to the wedding that she won’t, sadly, be in a position to attend includes (as well as photographs and biographies of the numerous groomsmen and bridesmaids) a long narrative penned by the couple, detailing how they met and fell in love and when and where the marriage proposal occurred. 

So it turns out that they met at college, got engaged, became heavily involved in psychedelics and sexual experimentation with extraterrestrials, and then bought a dog before settling on a woodland-themed wedding involving a meet-and-greet barbecue followed by a treasure hunt. (Oh no, sorry, I got that wrong, there were no drugs or aliens; the young couple just, you know, got engaged and bought the bowler.) 

It’s hard to imagine how I might have written an “Our Story” for my own wedding day (register office and bar). “Met, got a bit pissed, went back to his place, missed last bus, had two kids.” Oh God, the romance. No wonder I never got to walk down the aisle wearing a tiara. 

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