If there’s one thing I learned from organising our wedding, almost 6 years ago now, it’s that – like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill – the bride shouldn’t take shit from anyone.
I also learned that if you plan to disappear from the reception and hide out in a secret location for your wedding night so people will leave you alone, it’s a good idea to make sure you have a change of clothes for the next day, because having to put your wedding dress back on the next morning will make you feel incredibly silly.
Seriously, if it’s your wedding, you should make it yours, not the one your parents, in-laws, friends or old Aunt Hilda want you to have. Not the one you think they would enjoy. The one you want. It’s probably the one and only day you’re going to get that’s all about you, and you’re going to be planning it for weeks, months, if not years, so screw everyone else. Not literally, of course, or things could get messy when it comes to the vows.
That, of course, is not to say that you should be totally inconsiderate of people’s feelings or requirements. But you should really only accommodate the reasonable and genuine ones, a vegetarian option for the meal, wheelchair/buggy access, things like that. If you want to get married in a black dress on a cliff with Metallica playing in the background, do it. If you want to hire David Hasselhoff to give you away, hell, just do it! And don’t go inviting someone you really loathe just because Aunt Hilda will disown you if you don’t, even though she hates them too. Unless Aunt Hilda is incredibly old and wealthy and has been coughing a lot lately.
Why am I bringing up this subject now? Well, we were invited to a wedding about a month ago, and I’m writing this to remind myself of my own advice. The thing to remember as the bride (or the groom if you’re one of those grooms who gives a damn) is that everyone will bitch about your wedding. No matter what you do, who you try to please, they’ll all find something to criticise. For example, if you have a wedding list, they’ll complain about being stuck to a list, if you don’t, they’ll moan about having no idea what to get you, if you go for the money option you’ll be a pair of cheap-arses, if you ask them to give it to charity, you’ll be a pretentious do-gooder. You can’t win, you won’t, get used to that idea. In fact that doesn’t just apply to weddings.
So, all that said, here’s what this particular couple did wrong. Well, not much, it must be said. The whole thing was pretty well organised, tasteful (well, until the dancing/activities got started at the reception, but that was to be expected) and the food was great. There was a bit of griping about some people not being invited, or invited in that particularly cunning way that gets the bride and groom off the hook by making perfectly sure they won’t come. It’s quite an art. But hey, as I said, it’s their wedding, they’re paying for it, they get to pick and choose. Fair enough.
No, the thing they did wrong is much more obvious than that. A great classic of the very slippery discipline of the table plan. The old “it seemed like such a good idea at the time…”
They mixed people up.
At a wedding, you never get to spend time with the bride and groom, that’s pretty obvious. So if you only know a few people there, you will kind of want to stick together. Especially if you don’t see them often, you’ve flown in from abroad just for the wedding, you’ll only be seeing them for a few hours, and among them happens to be your little godson who’s growing up so fast. Nope. We ended up spread as far away as possible from the 5 other people we knew. Stuck at the end of a half-empty table with the very creepy (amateur*) photographer and a young lady who had something of the Luna Lovegood for those who have any knowledge of Harry Potter. Never has there been smalltalk so mortifying.
I know it may seem like a good idea in theory, to mix people up to get them all to know each other, but seriously, it doesn’t work. It’s just painfully awkward. It just ends in a lot of shy and middling attempts at conversation, or if you’re unlucky enough to end up in the vicinity of a Wedding Bore**, in you cringing and smiling politely for hours on end.
So, please, if you’re organising your wedding, make it your own, do it your way, but I’m begging you, don’t try to be smart about the table plan.
*You know, the kind of amateur photographer who is not only incredibly boring as he drones on about technical photography stuff to try to impress you with his knowledge for hours, but who also has a suspicious number of long-range telephoto lenses. And night-vision goggles. For bird watching. Possibly.
**Usually someone’s Uncle Alan, who has so many fascinating and not-embarassing-at-all (and hardly ever slightly racist/sexist/generally offensive) stories about his holidays at nudist camp and all the high jinks he and Auntie Elaine get up to in their spare time.