Free food? What's to complain about that?
I’ve just entered the Wedding Decade: you know the one, the years between 25 and 35 where most weekends of the summer are taken up by watching someone get married. Luckily for me, weddings are my favourite thing in the world. The standing around, the mass catered food, the forced fun. I love it all. But it seems like I’m in a minority. In fact, I’ve started to notice a phenomenon. Weddings seem to turn usually mild mannered people into complete bitches.
You get dressed up, you go to a big party with free food and probably free champagne, and then you dance to brilliantly bad music and possibly snog someone inadvisable. What’s not to love about that situation? It’s brilliant. But somehow, when you stick a woman in a white dress in the middle of that, it stops being a lovely party and turns into something that all your friends are invited to critique. ‘Wasn’t it a gorgeous wedding?’ I asked a fellow guest recently. ‘It was nice’ she replied, ‘But it was over extravagant. They didn’t need to spend that much, it was a bit much.’ And much as I was shocked at her response, it wasn’t the first time I’d heard similar. ‘It was nice,’ one friend said about a mutual friend’s wedding. ‘We had to stand up for too long, though.’
Once I’d pricked up my ears to it, I started noticing it everywhere. ‘It was tacky’ said one friend, about a wedding I didn’t go to. ‘The bride was drinking and smoking, she even tried to twerk on the dance floor. And there weren’t any favours on the tables.’ Shocking. A friend once made me look through the photos of a wedding that I’d been to but that she hadn’t even attended, so she could point out what she thought was wrong with it, claiming that the bride was ‘too blingy for her age’.
Hearing this barrage of criticism on every wedding my friends attend has made me pretty panicked about planning my own wedding.
Getting too drunk, taking too many photos, not taking enough photos, having too much food, not having enough food – the list goes on and on. Apparently there are a thousand ways you piss off your guests. Despite the fact that they’re supposed to be your loved ones who’ve come to celebrate the happiest day of your life. So why do we do it? I asked one of my most outspoken friends, who explained that she doesn’t think it’s mean. ‘It’s not that I’m not enjoying it, I just find certain things people do at weddings really annoying, like taking photos for hours and leaving guests standing around.’ I asked her if she felt guilty, saying mean things about her close friend’s wedding. ‘Not really’ she told me, ‘It’s not like I’m saying it to the bride.’
Hannah, 30, admits that she likes to ‘assess’ a wedding afterwards, but maintains it’s not about jealousy. ‘It’s not like I’m jealous, it’s just fun to discuss what you’d do the same at your wedding and what you’d change.’ I think Hannah has a point: we’re encouraged to think about our weddings in the abstract long before we’re actually planning them (hence a friend of mine who’s first wedding plan involved saying her vows at Thorpe Park and wearing a leopard print veil). So it’s no wonder that by the time we start going to real life weddings we basically see them as catalogues for our own. But does that make it okay? ‘As long as you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings with it, I don’t think there’s anything wrong.’ says Hannah.
Clara*, 27, who got married eighteen months ago said that she was very aware of her friends bitching about her wedding. ‘We had a winter wedding on a week day because we wanted to keep costs down, and people are rude about it. We spent the money we saved on favours, food and alcohol, which we thought was more important. Most of the people who complained about the wedding weren’t married themselves and don’t realise how much stress they are and the average cost of a wedding
. I think maybe there might be a bit of jealousy, too.’
As I try to wrestle my wedding together I can’t help thinking about the things I’ve heard my friends complain about. Some of the complaints, like standing around too much or spending half the day taking photographs, I’ve kept in mind but others, like the table favours being stingy or there not being tea and coffee on tap? I’m cheerfully going to ignore. At the end of the day, you’re never going to please everyone and someone is always going to have their bugbears. You can’t please everyone, and if you think someone is going to be a problem? You could always try taking affirmative action and just not inviting them.