Sometimes, when I’m talking to the twenty-something girls I work with, it’s fun to tell them horror stories about my wedding.
What? Did someone throw up on the dance floor?
Did your husband grope the maid of honour? The best man?
Did your limo driver get pinged for being over the limit?
No, it was much worse than that. Take a deep breath, girls …
• My dress was made by the mum of one of my school friends. I bought the fabric from a shop in the city, tore a pic from a magazine and Mrs Stolz ran it up on her Pfaff.
• The lady who lived across the street when I was growing up offered to make a veil for me. I’m not a veil kinda girl, but I wore it.
• My mother-in-law-to-be offered to make a tiered fruit cake with marzipan icing. Like most sane people, I hate fruitcake.
At this point the girls I’m talking to wonder if I was:
(a) So desperate to be off the shelf I’d say yes to anything.
(b) Putting together a wedding on $50 as if it was a cruel new reality TV show – Broke Brides Of Brisbane.
(3) Like overly milky tea: weak, with no taste.
The answer is none of the above. I was simply happy to be marrying this particular fella.
And fifteen years later, looking at the pictures, I see none of the hokeyness, just wedding photos much like anyone else’s.*
Because when you boil it down, a wedding’s a wedding’s a wedding. Even people who think they’re being radical (bridesmaids all wearing different dresses! groomsmen in pink suits! couple leaving on a Vespa!), they’re really just fiddling with the details.
These days, the average wedding costs upwards of $40,000. Many brides approach the event as if it’s the Olympic Opening Ceremony. Drama! Hype! Nothing short of perfection will do!
And I get that - except so often, the quest for wedding perfection seems to bring more misery than happiness. Best friends fall out. Aunties argue. Family tensions and spiralling costs mean the joy dissolves, and that initial enthusiasm is replaced by snakiness and resentment.
Settling for ‘good enough’ rather insisting ‘perfect’ might be a better approach.
Sure, I could have fought against the veil (but mum was dead keen for me to wear one) and railed against the cake (I’d have loved a lemony sponge). I could have flown to Melbourne to shop for a fancier dress but would it have made a lick of difference?
Did it really matter that my parents insisted friends of theirs who I couldn’t pick in a lineup got an invite? Fifteen years later, I say no. I’m glad I was a yes-woman.
You see, I believe, a wedding (as opposed to marriage) is as much about your family and friends as it is about you and your spouse-to-be.
Unless you elope, of course. And by elope I don’t mean you and your 30 best friends flying to Phuket for a week-long celebration of you. I mean elope as in the two of you and celebrant and as few witnesses as the law allows. If that’s your caper, then all power to you. It’s your day and no one else’s. Eat KFC for your wedding dinner. Wear animal onesies for the ceremony. Go your hardest.
But once you open the door to anything bigger, and especially if someone else is contributing to the cost, odds are you’ll have a happier time if you relinquish some control.
Unless you’re marrying an actual prince, why behave like a princess? People remember a bitchy attitude far longer than the colour of chair covers.
Think about it: Do you really want to mar the memories with a bust-up with your sister because she prefers flats to heels?
Do you want every Christmas to be awkward because your cousin wanted to bring her new boyfriend (who you hadn’t met but didn’t like the sound of)?
You might want a ‘no children’ wedding, but if your brother is making a big deal about bringing his kids, maybe it’s better to give in and make sure they have crayons.
To quote Michael Jackson (not that he was any expert on marriage): Be a lover, not a fighter.
Your wedding might not be exactly as you pictured it, but if everyone’s happy, it’ll be perfect.
Who had the greatest say in your wedding day? Are weddings about the couple or the friends and family? Or both?