Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The madness of the modern wedding

WE’RE AT the height of the wedding season and, having done four already this summer, I don’t think I can take any more.

It’s not so much the occasion – don’t we all just love those family reunions – but it’s all the crap that comes with it. I tell you what, if there’s a credit crunch going on out there, then it’s not affecting the bridal trade.

First there’s the ‘Save the Date’ card, which arrives anything up to a year in advance, so making it extremely difficult to come up with a convincing excuse to give the event a swerve unless it’s a sudden heart attack the night before.

Then the invitation proper arrives, papyrus made from larks’ tongues bound in silk ribbons. By now they’ve already spent the equivalent of the Zimbabwe’s disabled parking budget. And with the invitation comes to wedding list – or not, as now so often is the case.

You see our devoted couple have already been co-habiting for several years. They’ve got the White Company bed linen and the Jamie Oliver china. Their IKEA kitchen cupboards heave with Nigella bread bins and smoothie-makers endorsed by that little fat one with the daft facial hair. They have no need for the traditional canteen of cutlery, bought a teaspoon at a time by tightwad guests.

So instead they proudly announce that they’re off on a three-month world tour and would we mind contributing to that as a wedding gift? Well yes, actually we would mind. I have no objection to helping to set up a young couple in their first home, but I’m buggered if I’m going to buy their cocktails while they’re watching the sunset in Key West. Instead I’ll send a goat to an African village in their name (even though I suspect it will be promptly eaten).

And then comes the day itself. We have to haul ourselves halfway across the country (at £6 an effing gallon) having booked the King’s Suite at the local Travelodge at enormous cost. Mrs Beelzebub has already invested in a hugely expensive new outfit and Ascot hat so she can take part in the competitive dressing tournament, I’ve been made to buy a colour co-ordinated tie, and the dogs are languishing in kennels more expensive than the King’s Suite at the local Travelodge. We’re racking up expenditure like Cristiano Ronaldo in a knocking shop.

Now you know those precious daughters who start planning their fairytale wedding at the age of six? Yep, it’s one of those. The poor father of the bride has had to remortgage his home just weeks after finally paying it off just to fund this mad extravaganza. The dress is hand-woven by blind virgins on an island off the coast of Narnia, the tiara is modelled on Lady Di’s, the bouquet has been assembled by Monty Don and a team of woodland elves, and the male side of the event is decked out in Moss Bros’ finest (where it costs £18 just to hire a waistcoat for the weekend). And drop one of those top hats, sonny, and you’ll be hit with a collision damage waiver charge that would make an Italian car hire firm blush.

I’d like to say that the church service was an oasis of sense in a jungle of excess. Unfortunately, the vicar was a woman (is that really legal?) and looked more like a McDonald’s chip fryer than an officer of the church. She could have at least washed her hair. The bride, being an amateur dramatic, had rehearsed her vows to the point that she sounded like she was auditioning for Hollyoaks; various other luvvies were called upon to deliver saccharin readings; and the whole nonsense dragged on for the best part of 90 minutes. I could have watched a football match instead.

And then came the photographs. Ah, the photographs. For two whole hours we were staked out on a hotel lawn clutching rapidly diminishing glasses of Pimms while a desperate ballet of in-laws and outlaws was assembled and disassembled by a bloke with a squint who spends his evenings renting out his Thai bride to local pervs with no film in their cameras. On and on it went. It was a nightmare. I was almost tempted to ring Amnesty International.

And then, just as we’re pegging out like Tenko captives, we’re summoned to the wedding breakfast, via a greeting line of air kisses and false bonhomie. Smoked salmon, cold ham and sherry trifle served on tables of ten meaning that we’re crammed in like veal calves and can only eat by performing an elaborate elbow ballet.

The speeches were … well ... not great. Now I know that not everyone likes public speaking; it’s an ordeal even for the professionals amongst us, but if you’re going to choose a Best Man, it would seem sensible to find one who could at least string two sentences together. As for the father of the bride, yes, she’s beautiful and brilliant, but passing around pictures of her naked in the bath, aged seven, is liable to make a lot of people vaguely uncomfortable, and some people subject to signing the Sex Offenders’ Register.

We are then summoned to the dance floor to admire the First Dance. Sadly, as is the fashion these days, the happy couple had planned an elaborate, choreographed performance. Not for them the embarrassed shuffling most of us managed. It was Dirty Dancing done not very well.

Then the cheesy wedding disco kicked in. I’m going to stop here, because I’d managed by now to anaesthetise myself to the wobbling grannies and the kids sliding around in their socks by taking full advantage of the cheap French plonk the groom’s father had shipped home on a booze run.

So that’s Four Weddings and a Funeral. I just hope that the last do isn’t mine.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You took Mrs Bentley? Won't your own Mrs Beelzebub be put out? And what of Mr Bentley?

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fixed the typo, I see :o)

12:42 PM  
Anonymous blackfive said...

Spot on Barry.We were at one last month just as you have described.Next thing it`ll be divource and the poor parents still paying for the flippin` show.

3:13 AM  
Blogger gvl said...

Spot on and so true. Just a reflection of today's excesses....

3:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If they get divorced, do you get your goat back?

8:46 AM  

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