Wedding Bell Boos

A harsh perspective on how to do weddings slightly better as told by a divorced cynic.

Congratulations! You’re engaged, you’re drowning in a small pit of debt so you could afford the most instagrammable ring, the engagement party was a really fun migraine and your aunt’s opinions on it have shadowed every discussion you’ve had with your parents since, but at last the first bit is done and out of the way.

Finally, you can take a breath. You’ll probably need it, because here come the unrelenting questions about when the Big Day is going to be and the months of planning an event that essentially lasts no longer than 30 minutes and costs more than a new car, only to decide twice with all your heart that you’re going to elope before walking straight into the nearest bank to apply for a small loan to put a deposit on a heckin’ sweet venue right in the middle of wine-country aka rural nowhere.

In between collating 180 variations of the same wedding invites on Pinterest and trying to remember if your sister-in-law is fatally allergic to eggs or just vegan, here’s some more unsolicited advice to consider while planning your ceremony:

Don’t invite nobodies to your wedding

No-one but your very close friends and family who know both you and your partner will give any shits about your wedding, and that’s if you’re good, likeable people— don’t invite anyone who doesn’t know your or your partner’s parents’ names, or your children’s or pets’ names. A wedding is a huge inconvenience for friends and family who don’t know you very well, they’ll be fighting yawns at the jokes in your vows and speeches, so if they don’t give a shit then why the hell are you going to give them free food and booze? It’s not a Facebook friend request, it’s an invite to the most publicly intimate event in your life. A good rule is if you wouldn’t expect to see them at a parent’s funeral then don’t invite them.

Think twice before hiring professionals to take photos and… *dry heave*… video

Not many people want to have voyeuristic lenses in their faces while they’re trying to have a nice time, and you’ll look like vapid morons posing for the perfect shot during something as sincere as a ring exchange or kiss. Your close friends and family would also feel far more welcome if you didn’t put up signs asking them not to take photos (turns out people don’t love spending hundreds of dollars to look good for your wedding to then be told what they’re allowed to do) this might comes as a shock but you’re not celebrities, you’re just two more people getting married who have the same 43-ish% chance of getting divorced as the rest of the population.

If you think about it, if you explicitly don’t want these people taking photos of your wedding then why did you invite them? If they know you well enough and respect you they’ll know whether or not you’re OK with posting pictures online anyway, so what’s the big deal? By the time the photographer actually gets their shit together and processes your lot and you go through those photos and send out the ones you like to friends and family who were at the wedding anyway (~6 months later) the minuscule shit people gave to begin with has surely dried up and returned to the earth. As for sharing them online, again, and I can’t stress this enough, no-one gives a shit. People only want to gawk so they can take notes for their own wedding plans or someone wants to see just exactly how much weight the bride lost on her D-list celebrity inspired diet before being airbrush-tanned and crammed into her one-size-too-small dress. If you miss out on a shot of you both kissing after saying you do or signing the certificate then what are you really missing? You were there, and your kids won’t care, they will be much too busy hating you for not stopping climate change.

Big wedding? Don’t ask people for gifts or to contribute to your honeymoon

If your guests are going to be sipping on bespoke cocktails named after the bride and groom for 3 hours, and can see with their actual real life eyeballs that the bride is wearing a dress that cost more than a first car, don’t ask for handouts now — you should have spent your money on something more important.

Don’t make people sit outside to eat

There are bugs. It’s humid, and freezing, and boiling, and windy, and just have people sit inside where they ideally don’t have to pick mosquitoes out of their mojitos or be scared to death of lifting their arms in case a sniper photographer captures the candid moment their pit sweat caused their $250 shirt to suddenly be 2-toned.

Accessibility matters

All sarcasm and hyperbole aside, people are going to be standing around for hours in shoes they’ve not worn since 2012, and are quickly remembering why they shoved them spitefully toward the darkest reaches of their wardrobe, don’t make them walk up and down stairs, grassy slopes, or uneven ground. Even if you don’t invite anyone in a wheelchair, pretend every single son of a bitch coming along is wheelchair-bound or has a pram — that means ramp access, easy access to well-provisioned bathrooms including disabled toilets and change table facilities. It means spacing tables sensibly so people can easily get past or pull their chair out without accidentally putting a finishing move on your 5 year old niece who is running around bored to tears waiting for the mythical yet reliably disappointing wedding cake to appear.

Live bands are great, sound tests are good as well

If your chosen band insists on having their speakers up to Sonic Boom level they’re trying to mask their talentlessness. No-one, not even very drunk, extremely happy people want to dance 3 meters from a speaker that is distorting with volume. It is exhausting and very unpleasant. People don’t suddenly become deaf if they’re outside, and you’re not addressing the Russian army or auctioning cattle, please lord just use a sensible volume for your music and MC’ing.

While on the topic of MC’ing, not everyone has to give a speech. Just because the father of the groom has a cracking speech he’s laboured over for the past 4 months doesn’t mean the bride’s father will be able to prepare something or even feel comfortable doing so. Everyone shows their love and support in different ways.

I’ve no doubt made it obvious I think weddings are one of the most tedious and useless inventions of modern man, but that’s not my point here. I see a lot of young and even not-so-young couples take themselves to the brink of what they can afford and stress themselves out just to have a wedding. Let me be clear, not to get married, but to have a wedding.

Marriage is very sweet, and when done right it can be one of the most powerful bonds you can form with another person. Unfortunately that’s not what a lot of people have in mind when they get engaged, they think about what will impress others first and sadly sometimes nothing else. Others feel pressure to have a big inclusive wedding because that’s what those around them have done or they’ve been brainwashed by wedding magazines and diamond companies into thinking they need a ‘dream wedding’ which only benefits the vulturous dead-eyed wedding industry. Wouldn’t it be better to pay your mortgage off faster, or to start your marriage with no debt? That would be worth having a hashtag about.

You don’t owe anyone a place in your personal life, and you don’t need to go broke to sign a certificate. You shouldn’t feel pressured into having a wedding that you don’t want either, even if you completely disagree with everything I’ve said here and your partner wants a tiny wedding and you just want to blow the budget then you’re with the wrong person. If you are doing all the planning while they sit back and mumble soft opinions about choices you’re going out of your way to present them with then you’re with the wrong person. These are all crap reasons to leave someone, but if you’re having foundational differences of opinion and priorities this early on I’m telling you you’re with the wrong person and you need to pay attention to those red flags.

Life is brimming with stress you can’t avoid, there’s no need to put yourself in the way of completely avoidable pressure. Enjoy and take time to commit your beautiful wedding to memory, and in order to do so you may need to simplify it, but that should only add to the sincerity and significance of the day.

Professional amateur writer in Perth, Western Australia. All accompanying illustrations are my own.

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