I can’t wait to hear absolutely no wedding bells in the New Year. I am at the age where most friends and family have made their hikes up the aisle. I’ve endured the endless wedding preambles, the inordinate expense of charades from Hens to End, the awkwardness of being a single pringle at too many days out and the general pain in the arse that are weddings. With the exception of a small few, they are homogenous and vanilla.
There have only been three, in my entire life, that I have thoroughly enjoyed. One of those was part due to the fact that it was held under a blazing Italian sun surrounded by a mixed crowed of Irish and Italian guests. The setting and crowd were a brilliant mix. They couple flew a group of Irish dancers over for the after dinner entertainment which really got the crowd going. From start to finish including the serenada party a few nights beforehand, and a next-day get together, it was a really good event. It had a very Irish feel in a very Italian setting with great food, drink and style high in the Abruzzi. It would take an epic wedding to contend with it for my #1 wedding of all time. And sure how about the fact that the Italian groom’s name was actually Paddy? I kid you not.
The close second was one held in an old lodge (not an orange one) in the centre of an estate just outside Belfast. Again, there were céilí sets, a pig on a spit, lots of good mixing and mingling outdoors with the verdant backdrop of the estate giving a most unique feel to the day. There was no usual hotel claustrophobia nor the awkwardness that goes with being placed at a ‘single-table’ of outcasts that the bride and groom feel you belong to. A pal’s wedding in Kilkenny set the tone for relaxed fun and very enjoyable day all down to the approach of the bride and groom who just wanted themselves and their guests to have ‘the craic’ for the day. That we did. It was a fine day out in Langton’s. Really top wedding.
These were all events where the couples in question made a concerted effort to let people mix and enjoy themselves. They weren’t designed as showpieces but yet they were stand-out brilliant in what they achieved. Don’t get me wrong, all the others have had high-points, from beautiful beaming brides to succulent ‘Beef or Salmon’. There have been elegant looking invitations and swish hotels. Mothers of brides have scrubbed up well and complimentary bubbly on arrival has gone down well. Happy couples have looked happy and it was an honour, in a way, to play a part in what was the greatest pantomime of their lives. From dancing to the Saw Doctors overlooking Clew Bay at a wedding in Mulranny to having the finest wedding meals Ireland has to offer at Cabra Castle in Kingscourt, there has been some element of enjoyability to them. The format is all a bit samey though, don’t you think?
And they were before this new era in which couples think it’s ok to invite just one person to the event. It’s the most common of courtesy to give people an invite ‘with guest’ rather than try scrimp on a place at the wedding by giving singles, separated and widows an ‘admits one’ ticket. In fact, it makes my blood boil. It shouldn’t be done for any party, so why decide to make weddings even more awkward for people by insisting they come alone? Let them choose whether to bring a friend or not, or don’t bother inflicting your Big Day on them. The courtesy of choice is all that should be given. Although I have not taken up on the ‘with guest’ option on a number of occasions, the invites that were to me only, are unforgettable for the wrong reasons.
So with 2019 looming, I have decided in advance that there will be no more wedding pain endured. There are two people whose weddings I would happily be part of, but neither are about to get married, never mind engaged any time soon. They’re far too happy in their respective love lives for that sort of carry on, and hear hear to that I say. It’s their sort of uncomplicated, no need for conventionality of aisle-walking type of love that I celebrate and admire.