How to get it right
Why an afternoon beats an entire weekend
The optimum wedding formula is one stupendous day and night
WITH a familiar thud, a fat envelope lands on the mat—the higher the gsm, the louder the thud. I love weddings—all those popping waistcoats, church belters, wild dancers, weird relatives and wonderful hats—but my heart fills with dread when I tear open an envelope and a whole deck of cards tumbles out.
The wedding, yes, the breakfast, yes. The night before the wedding—hmm… Brunch, lunch and/or tea the day after the wedding—for goodness’ sake! All three and I curse romance in all its forms.
I like people very much, both friends and strangers, talking to them, eating with them, dancing with them, pinching cigarettes off them—all the usual wedding behaviours—but I’m no slave to love. The 12 labours of Hercules were a doddle compared to a summer full of threeday weddings.
When my parents were married, the form was a morning ceremony followed by Champagne and cake (a buffet lunch if you were lucky), then everybody scurried home early. Now, they go on into the evening, ending at midnight or shortly after in the civilised world, but have been known to last all night long—this, to me, is the optimum wedding formula, one stupendous day and night.
By all means, would-beweds should arrange a gettogether with family and close friends—it’s rare to have everybody in the same place—but don’t invite the whole blasted wedding party. My mother thinks I’m delightful, but even she doesn’t want to talk to me for 72 hours straight and what you may find charming and novel in my repartee one evening is sure to be repetitive the next.
Furthermore, what’s to prevent the embarrassment of not recognising one’s best bud of the night before, who has, confusingly, changed his/her clothes. The simple act of brushing one’s hair and taking off a cardie can confuse some men. The horror of horrors is the do the day after. I have attended these events. To my shame, I’m enticed by the free food. The Sunday party is a casual affair, a barbecue or buffet. Those who attend are too tired to talk much. It usually rains. There isn’t enough seating. People hang around with friends because it’s less effort; they’d all rather be sleeping than scintillating.
During one such day-after-the-wedding lunch, I was found curled up in a bundle with two girlfriends, near the coats. That’s where all sensible people should be after a daylong shindig—in slumber or travelling somewhere where this will be possible, to recover bright and bushy-tailed for the next joyful celebration of love.
All dressed up and somewhere to go
IWAS raised by my grandmother to believe that there are appropriate clothes for each part of the day and for every type of event. If one wore the wrong clothes, it was a sign of ignorance, mental illness or rebellion and, in social situations, also an insult to one’s guests or hosts.
To offer a single example, if one was invited to a traditional Himba wedding ceremony in Namibia, where, as part of the preparations, the women strip more or less naked and perform ondjongo—settle down, it’s a special dance—and the daytime temperature is often 40˚C, one would still wear one’s morning dress, complete with gloves and top hat.
The wonderful thing about morning dress is that, whether you’re tall or short, thin or stout, it’s incredibly flattering. This is largely thanks to the unique shape of the morning or dress coat, which is waist-length in the front and sides, but curves away gradually to form a knee-length, or below-the knee-length, tail with a single vent (although there are many variations, including the delightfully named weaselbelly).