I hate weddings.
I suppose I could say more truthfully that I hate traditional weddings. The sort with meringue dresses, unfamiliar churches, top hats and tails, bridesmaids wearing matching dresses that really don't suit those who aren't shaped like a fashion model, ushers in kilts, guests in uncomfortable clothes, hats and new shoes, ungainly halting speeches, earsplitting discos run by strange DJs, and a fair bit of drunken incoherence by the end of the evening.
Most of my close friends who are married did the deed in the late 80's and early 90's. At that point, I thought it was the actual marriage service that I was finding particularly objectionable, so I negotiated for an exemption at the next wedding I was invited to, so I could just come to the party afterwards.
It was interesting to find out what the bride and groom's perception was when I proposed this alteration. I had thought that as in other party situations, an apology would be accepted with good grace, and perhaps some relief. In fact, it prompted an unexpectedly serious and in-depth discussion about the roles of hosts and guests in the wedding situation. It appears that non-attendance, especially when voluntary and not due to some other pressing engagement, can actually be taken as a mild insult.
But I found that it wasn't just the ceremony that was upsetting me. The amount of money spent on that perfect day seemed disproportionate to the amount of fun that I was having, or contributing. So, to try to avoid giving offence in future, I spread the word among friends and colleagues and anyone who seemed likely to want me at their wedding that I wouldn't be going to any more weddings, or receptions, or parties afterwards.
With the passing of years I have come to believe that my wedding phobia consists of three separate and independent parts: a) I consider that the emotional content of two-person relationships should remain private, b) I hate seeing (and contributing to) unnecessary extravagance, and c) I don't like parties. The first two reasons keep me away from most wedding-type ceremonies (and had a very large influence on my own wedding arrangements), and the last has been a revelation! I don't like parties!
Everyone is supposed to like parties - the very word implies enjoyment, fun, having a great time. I look back at the number of parties I went to when younger, when I was thinking "Is this what having fun is like? Why, then, am I not enjoying myself?" So now I go to very few parties, host even fewer, and that's fine by me.
Having said all that, last weekend Mr A and I found ourselves at a wedding party. But it was OK, for a number of very good reasons:
- we weren't invited to the ceremony
- it was very low key - in a Sea Scout hall, no hats, no meringue dresses, and a homemade buffet and BBQ
- I was confident that there would be a group of guests that I knew - the couple getting married had also been on the Plymouth-Dakar charity trip that Mr A did, and several others from that trip were there, including Biker Couple whom we had visited earlier in the summer
- we were camping.
Six of us ended up camping - I love camping! - and luckily the weather was fine. In the morning I was looking forward to a cup of tea from Mr A's all-powerful camping stove (runs on anything), which this time failed due to a lack of any fuel at all. He'd emptied it out completely so that he could take it on the flight that brought him back from Europe when his bike failed. So we all went to a nearby cafe and had a proper breakfast. I feel I should record that Biker Couple made me laugh so much over the weekend that my face hurt.