Is the prep better than the party?

It seems we’ve gone from training up-and-coming bridezillas by using the phrase “your special day” to framing it as an entire year or so of parties.

Why bother trying to make your wedding day unique? The latest trends seem to indicate that it’s quite possible to have the craic with your friends outside of the day itself, and let the wedding just go ahead as tradition ordains, and your parents want. Let the ‘big day’ be boring – who cares? – you have loads of other opportunities to stamp your personality on the celebrations.

The wedding industry is about the only one that has made money the entire way through the recession, and obviously all its ancillary industries have decided to get in on the act.

Weddings go through fashions, like everything else – we’ve gone from crystal and lace to shabby chic, rustic, and DIY. But the biggest change of all is that it’s gone from one day to at least three, and it’s in the run-up to D-day that most of the real fun is happening.
Clearly, I am not playing this game right.  I’m looking forward to a party, with everyone I love in the one place, for one night only. But if I was doing it right, I’d have at least three major events to be planning, rather than the single one that is already threatening to put me off bunting for life, and, as I type, has driven my husband-to-be to the pub rather than face the job of wording the invitations.

Before the wedding even happens, now, you must have an engagement party. There were quite a few people rather insulted at not being invited to ours (there wasn’t one). Some of the same people were later heard referring to the engagement party of a mutual friend as “the whip-round”. You’ve been warned.

Yesterday’s Herald features photos from the engagement party of Lisa Cannon and her fiancé Richard Keatley. Richard was – beautifully, may I say – all gussied up as a Thundercat. The 80s inspired bash looked like great fun – they even had a massive selection of cakes including a Rubiks Cube cake. Realistically, though, it cost more than our wedding will, and crikey, the work that must’ve gone into it. I have enough trouble trying to figure out which third cousins I know well enough to invite to the wedding, and which ones will never speak to my mother again if they’re not invited. Maybe Lisa and her other half are just more organised than us, or else they’ve – rather cleverly – segmented their celebrations.

Another new one on me is the bridal shower, which has been suggested as the censored hen, suitable for older female relatives and family friends. This is an American affair, involving more presents, and mandatory cupcakes (which you’d really think would be over by now).

You can invite people like your granny and mother-in-law, before the hen itself, and reserve that for the type of friend who understands that what goes on tour, stays on tour.

I haven’t seen a celebrity bridal shower yet, which is surprising – they’re the perfect venue for the type of photoshoot loved by glossy magazines, pastel everything with glittery cupcakes and little blue bags of bling everywhere.

Hens are even getting more elaborate. What used to involve one night in a hostel in Galway, meeting the same stag party in every pub on Quay Street, and rounding it off by going for chips in Supermacs afterwards, has blown up out of all proportion.

Over the weekend, my social media feed lit up with pictures of Rosanna Davison’s hen, at Castle Leslie. Where they appeared to have arrived by helicopter. Obviously everyone looked beautiful – but they have brains as well, because not one picture appeared anywhere online of anyone drinking out of a plastic willy straw.

There’s a lot to learn from the socialites. Maybe the “big day” isn’t that big a deal after all. Maybe it’s best left to doting parents to decide what their money will be spent on, if they’re paying, while you get on with the serious business of partying.

First published in The Herald, 15 April 2014.


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