Monday, 21 March 2011

Nice Day for a White Wedding?

You know what? Despite my grumbling, there are things about London that I really love. Having grown up in a very small, white town (I think there was one black kid in my school of 1,000 pupils) that would give Midsomer Murders a run for its money, I have to say I really appreciate the capital’s diversity – and not just when it comes to our cultural backgrounds. Spirituality, sexuality, general philosophy… nowhere I have ever lived before has offered me such a wide range of views and beliefs when it comes to life, love and everything in between.
When I think about my girl pals I have in London, I see a wide range of women from all corners of the globe – Mauritius, Jamaica, France, Australia to name a few – who have very different ideas about what they want from life, and how they should live it. A lot of them are around my age, and many of them have been in relationships with their other halves for a long time. Which inevitably means that more than a handful of them are married – or planning a jaunt down the aisle in the very near future. And I am pleased to report that, in true London style, they all have very different ways of going about it.
I have mixed feelings about marriage. Firstly, I have seen way too many of my friends get divorced. Secondly, the thought of spending oodles of money to have everyone stare at me for 24 hours sends a shiver down my spine. Thirdly… well I don’t think I see the point in this day and age. Having said that, I still get excited when a friend flashes me a diamond on their finger and relish the idea of buying a posh frock and getting doled up for the day. But having spoken to three girls over the last couple of weeks about their experience of planning and actually going through the day in question, I am starting to feel more than a little apprehensive for anyone who tells me they have exciting news. And, quite honestly, even less inclined to consider it myself.
Take friend number one, a feisty Sheila from Down Under. She loves her fiancĂ© to pieces and cannot wait to settle down with him and start a family. It has been tricky to arrange her own special day from the other side of the planet but, with the help of her girls back home and the wonders of the internet she is getting there. The only problem is her parent’s expectations. A couple of months back she got into an argument with her mother about not inviting a couple of her parent’s friends. It came to a head when her mum proceeded to tell her that she would not enjoy the wedding if my friend did not invite them. Ouch! Said friend is now hardly talking to her mother and has the prospect of getting married with a rift within the family hanging over her head.
Last week I had coffee with a lass I met last month who has recently moved to London from Up North. In passing I mentioned my friends’ predicament. She nodded sympathetically and told me that her mum was hardly speaking to her since they had a misunderstanding about bridesmaid dresses for her special day last year. Her parents had offered to get the dresses made, and when they went horribly wrong, told her they didn’t want to have anything to do with it anymore. So my girl went out and sorted the frocks out herself. Apparently on the day that she got hitched her parents weren’t even speaking to each other because of this. Her sister has since told her that it was all her fault for making them feel guilty about the whole debacle. Er, hello? What else was the poor girl supposed to do, have her bridesmaids walk down the aisle in a last minute purchase from Topshop?
Even more complicated than the guest list and dresses is the question of religion. Does one get married in a church or down the registry office? A good friend of mine who is part Spanish, part French and part English has just got engaged to her partner of 13 years after he returned home following a long period working abroad. She is clearly thrilled despite never being that bothered about marriage. Sadly her excitement has already been tarnished by her in-laws-to-be expectations. My friend is a spiritual woman but does not identify herself as a Christian. Her fiancĂ©’s parents have already made it clear they expect her to marry their son in a church, or at least by a vicar. Naturally she is not comfortable with this and, by saying so, has already been accused by her other half of resisting the whole process. I suggested that they could compromise and have their marriage blessed (as one of my now-divorced friends did). My friend let out a sigh, relieved that there may be a solution after all. But, only weeks after saying yes, she is struggling to meet the wants of family around her, without even having time to think about what she wants from her big day.
So, if you are thinking about getting hitched, be prepared – it would appear to be even more complicated than it looks. And, if you have a pal who has just flashed you a giant rock on her hand, get ready to be there for her. Your friend might be about to get the shock of their life. So, before you go green with envy at their new-found happiness, just thank your lucky stars for being in the position to call yourself single. For the time being, anyway...


  1. I empathise entirely. We had all of those sorts of problems so decided to at least try to get what we wanted and have arranged to go away for it, just the two of us. But my parents are barely speaking to me now, and fail to acknowledge that had we not decided to go away then we probbaly wouldn't even have got around to getting married!

  2. Oh dear!
    Well, I hope you had a lovely time, just the two of you - and the family feud didn't get in the way of doing it how you wanted in the end. Such a shame, and so many people seem to have had similar experiences.