Thursday, 3 January 2008

His & Hers


Getting engaged...what I have learned so far:

-There is a strict order in the conversation following the announcement:
1. Congratulations! Have you set a date?
2. Can I see the ring?
3. Where's the wedding?
And sometimes...
4. Are you pregnant?

-People are nicer to you.
-Parents are proud.
-Parents are relieved.
-A slight smugness is unavoidable.

Getting married...what I have learned so far:

-Almost everyone loves a wedding and wants an invite, including people you can't remember actually having met in the first place.

-Designated tracks are laid down for the wedding train; once you get on, it's impossible to get off (without pulling the emergency chord and the fine is usually a lot more than £50).

-The wedding industry is a money-gobbling, cost-multiplying, taste-destroying, guilt-inducing, many-tentacled monster and should ideally be avoided.

-It is fatally easy to cause offence, even before you've sent out the invitations.

-A groom who helps make the arrangements is a rare and beautiful thing.

Having been a guest at up to thirty weddings so far (most marriages still intact) and waitressed and sung at countless more, I went into this happy enterprise feeling reasonably confident I could spot and avoid the pitfalls and sashay towards the Big Day with little more than a light heart and a sparkle on my left hand. My betrothed is already scoring top marks when it comes to thinking up ideas, suggesting practical ways forward, solving problems and generally pulling his weight on the wedding-planning front. What I hadn't quite bargained for was the sheer quantity of advice from all directions, the unexpected and diverse ways our efforts to save money (but invite as many people as possible) could be scuppered and how tricky it can be to navigate around the W whirlpool.

Anyway, we've managed to borrow a venue for free, so that's a good start. We've designed our own invitations on the computer and they have mostly gone out with the Christmas cards. Unexpectedly, the frock and attendant accessories are already sorted (thanks to a generous mother and girlfriend), the vows are composed and the post-nuptials suite is booked at a local hotel (online, saved 10%, didn't mention it was for newly-weds).

Next missions: procuring beautiful and meaningful (but inexpensive) rings and getting the groom to get a haircut. The second of these will definitely be the toughest to achieve.


It helps me to maintain a grasp on the enormity of what Kate and I are undertaking by conceptualising our route to wedding glory in Sports Journalese. Hence, our score so far:

Days engaged: 84
Days to W-Day: 86
Screaming rows: Nil
Admonishments: 2 (me) 0 (Kate)
Teary moments: 0 (me) 2 (Kate)
Parental guilt trips: 2

Nothing separating the team at the moment them. I’m sincerely hoping for the aggregate to favour teary moments over admonishments come March, but it’s too early to predict right now. Unsurprisingly enough the admonishments have been earned by those classic wedding traps: male indifference and male unwillingness to spend money. Though seeing as it’s mainly her money in the first place why I should care if she wants to throw it away on a classy hotel room on the wedding night when the same amount could stretch to a week in the Aegean is anyone’s guess. Actually, the fact that Kate earns twice what I do is a key factor in the lack of any screaming rows in the match so far: if she can’t afford it then there’s no way I can. So there’s no nagging to spend £2,000 on flowers, and the decision to go big, cheap and cheerful was enthusiastically adopted as a game plan early on. Hence we quickly settled on a formation of registry office, blagged venue, BYO buffet and asking friends to DJ/take photos/decorate - though the lack of church service did earn a parental guilt trip (from my mother).

However, complacency must not set in. I have learned that no matter how early on in the day the groom must not be lulled into uttering those fateful words: “whatever you want my darling.” Contrary to popular belief these are not the correct words. Oh no. The groom must be ‘involved’ in all things, and having just woken up and still the wrong side of a cup of tea is no excuse. I must be prepared to discuss the vows at a moment's notice. The second admonishment was thus earned. But once the vows were written and rehearsed it turned into a teary moment of love-struck poignancy. The moment reminded us both of why we wanted to make this commitment in the first place. So, not a bad save really. Tackling that tricky haircut during the run in is going to be a much tougher proposition.

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