Written by Rachael Cheeseman
I am one of the least sentimental people on the planet (not empirically verified, but a fair assumption). You want a hug? No can do, can I however interest you in a derisive snort? Need to talk about your feelings? Pay for a damn therapist. Maybe you just want to watch Titanic and have a good cry; well then you had better settle in for my rant about how a potential real life Poseidon adventure-esque story was ruined by a ridiculously boring “romance”, and don’t even get me started on that whole “there wasn’t room for both of them on the door.” thing.
So it might then surprise you to learn that I love marriage. I love being one half of a double act. I love bailing my husband out when he gets awkward in small talk situations, and I love that he’ll pick up a grudge against someone just because I don’t like them, but most of all I love that the world knows we made a decision to pick each other. Out of all the potential partners we could have chosen, we picked each other and then we made a declaration that we were happy to stick with that pick, forever. Being married is wonderful.
Getting married? Well, that’s another story.
1. You will Start to Rate your Friends and Family Based Purely on Looks
Let’s get the harsh truth out of the way before we go any further: wedding photos are a big deal. You will pay a small fortune for a good photographer and spend a good deal of the blessed day trying to get those perfect shots that you can have blown up, printed, and displayed in your home forever. So, at some point, you are going to start looking at your nearest and dearest and assessing them in the most shallow and brutal of ways. Do you really want cousin Sarah’s buckteeth grinning down at you from above the mantelpiece for the rest of your days? Sure she’s like your sister and you always pictured her as your bridesmaid but those teeth are hard to look at in a wallet sized photo, could you imagine how bad they'd look on a 140x157 canvas?
Or maybe you’ll go the other way. Danielle’s been your best friend since you were old enough to understand the concept of friends, but she’s really really pretty. If you put her in a beautiful bridesmaids dress, is anyone going to be looking at you? I mean, we all remember the Pippa Middleton debacle. We all like to think we’re above such things. We all like to think that they’re our loved ones and it doesn’t matter how they look; we just want proof that they were there, celebrating our special day with us. But on the other hand, Dave has a really weird shaped head, and you really wanted the Groomsmen in top hats and tails.
With any luck you’ll regain your senses fairly quickly and remind yourself that you’re not exactly models either. You are, in fact, being jerks of the first degree. But it’s still an unsettling experience.
2. Everyone will want to Know when the Baby is Due.
Your wedding is a huge deal. Maybe not to anyone else - okay definitely not to anyone else - but to you, your wedding a huge deal. So it would be nice if other people let you enjoy the excitement, the planning, the getting swept up in all that fairy tale crap (there’s that lack of sentiment I warned you about). Wouldn’t it be nice if they could at least pretend to appreciate what a big step it is you’re taking, and how much it means? It would. But they won’t. In fact everyone will be quite happy to act as though your wedding is something to be dismissed. It’s merely a stepping stone on the path of a “normal” happy life, and as soon as you step on one stone, people are pushing for you to leap to the next. When you’re dating, everyone wants you to get engaged. When you’re getting married everyone wants to know when you will start a family. When you have a baby, everyone wants to know when you will have another, when you’ll buy a bigger house, when you’ll be expecting grandchildren, when you’ll retire. It’s like they’re trying to whisk you through all the precious moments of your life and hurry you along to the grave. You’ll be standing at your wedding reception, receiving the congratulations and well wishes of your guests and I guarantee you at least 25% of the guests will make a joke, comment, or will downright demand to know when you plan to start squeezing out the little’uns.
3. It Probably won’t be the Happiest Day of your Life.
You probably have a picture in your head of what your wedding day will be like. I had visions of a stress-free day. No sit down meal, (who needs the hassle?) and no speeches because I hate all that touchy-feely rubbish. Just an elegant, simple affair that moved seamlessly from service to reception to crazy drunken party. And I have no doubt that my guests believed that is exactly what I got. But here’s the thing, you spend so long planning a wedding that when the big day finally comes, you are so obsessed with making sure all your plans go off without a hitch that you might find yourself forgetting to actually enjoy it.
You’ll be stressing about getting ready, making sure everyone else is getting ready, stopping young Bridesmaids and Page Boys ruining their outfits before the ceremony even starts, you’ll obsess over which guests show up and which ones don’t, if rowdy relatives start drinking too early in the day or people start sitting wherever they please instead of consulting the seating chart, and dear God don’t let you’re step father start talking to your mother in law!
If you’re lucky, your Best Man, your Bridesmaids, and your close friends will do their very best to manage all these behind the scenes aspects of your day. Chances are they’ll do a lot more than you’ll ever even be aware of. But that won’t stop you worrying about things. And even if everything goes off without a hitch it’s going to be a long, tiring day. Needless to say when you finally collapse into bed at night ready to celebrate you’re first night as a married couple, celebrating will probably be the last thing on your mind. I don’t know anyone who actually had sex on their wedding night. In fact, had the corset on my wedding dress not been causing me chronic back pain I don’t think I’d have even undressed before passing out in the gorgeous honeymoon suite that turned out to be a total waste of our money.
Don’t get me wrong, you’ll have a wonderful day. It will most likely make your “Top 5 Days” list. But happiest day of your life? Only if feeling manic, exhausted and stressed out are how you get your bliss.
4. Whether you Take His Name or not, People will Disapprove.
Okay ladies, here’s the thing: we live in this weird environment right now where being a feminist is kind of frowned upon. People assume being a feminist makes you a bra-burning, man-hating, aggressive bitch. But, similarly, it’s not okay to be seen as being too “old fashioned” in your ideas. You notice this kind of thing more in certain situations. For example, let’s say you get jeered and wolf whistled at in the street. Half the people you tell will say you ought to feel flattered, and half will be filled with an outrage so volatile the Hulk would look like a stoner by comparison. You can’t let a guy hold a door open for you without someone telling you you’re “setting back the feminist movement.” And you can’t like the idea of a female Dr Who without being called a dyke. And guess what? The decision to take your husbands Surname or not is a bloody minefield of attitudes and opinions. No matter which way you tread, someone’s going to blow up. I took my husband’s name. Not because I felt like I should, not because I had some deep yearning to have the word “cheese” be part of name - although cheese is awesome, so that would have been valid reasoning - and not because I’m somehow fundamentally un-feminist. I took it because it was important to my husband to pass on his family name and I had no particular attachment to my Surname. I wanted us to share a name, to be a team and that was the decision that was right for us. But believe me, it came with plenty of unsolicited advice and views from every direction. “Why doesn’t he take your name, if it’s so important you have the same one.”; “It’s like you’re his property, I think it’s disgusting.”; “You can always give your kids his name but stay your own person.”. Everyone will have an opinion, no matter what decision you make. But it doesn’t matter what they think. Do what’s right for you and your partner, someone will hate it whatever you do so what’s the sense in stressing over it?
5. You’re Wedding Day Doesn’t Matter.
Bear with me. Yes, getting married is a big commitment and yes, you’re wedding day is a wonderful celebration of that and yes, you should have the wedding you want and enjoy it. What I mean by this is that a wedding is just a party. The important thing about getting married is what comes after: the marriage. You could spend thousands of Pounds on the most lavish venue, the finest cuisine and most beautifully tailored, designer outfits. But if you don’t put that same kind of care and effort into your marriage it will have all been a waste. Similarly, having a small scale, quiet ceremony doesn’t mean you love each other any less, it doesn’t make your dedication to one another any less significant. People get carried away with weddings and sometimes they get downright competitive. And for what? To see who can spend the most money being needlessly excessive? Because the more extravagant the wedding the more people will believe you’re really in love? It doesn’t matter. Have the wedding you want, or the wedding you can afford, ideally you can have both but remember that the important part is how you treat each other waking up the next day, and the day after that and all your days together. Because it’s easy to treat someone like they’re your world when you’re dressed up to the nines and everything is so romantic and all your friends are there watching. Treating someone like they’re your world when it’s just any other day is what makes a marriage.
There you go. More advice and opinions you don’t want and didn’t ask for. Get used to it. Everyone will want to have a say in your wedding day, they’ll all feel entitled to an opinion and may well get pretty stroppy with you if you don’t listen. Just stick together and power through. After all, it may well be the only day of your lives where it’s all about the two of you and no one else matters. Enjoy it.