I’m getting married in five weeks. Exciting, huh? Yes. Well, yes and no. I do seem to have got a lot more stressed about it than I was intending to. For someone who is usually quite laid back, I’ve had more “bridezilla moments” than I thought I would over the last few months.
These are the things that have surprised me the most about my wedding planning so far.
The Dress: It’s A Proper One
One of the first things I did was to look for a dress. I hadn’t been sure that I wanted a ‘proper’ wedding dress – after all, I never wear dresses in real life, and those full length ivory things all look the same, don’t they? – but after chatting to a few people, I thought I should at least try the bridal shops to see what was what. My sister, font of wedding knowledge since her own nuptials a couple of years ago, made the appointments. I phoned our mom, and we spent a couple of Saturday mornings together looking at ‘proper’ dresses, despite my protestations that it was only February.
I was surprised to find that, actually, wedding dresses don’t all look the same. In fact, there’s rather a lot to the whole wedding dress thing. I was quickly educated in the difference between tea length and cocktail length; chiffon and tulle. I even went to two different shops. In the second, I was disconcerted to hear myself explain, with some confidence, that I definitely did not want a mermaid.
The second surprise was that choosing a dress eight months in advance wasn’t a ludicrous idea. In fact, explaining to the shop assistants that my wedding was in September actually elicited a pause, the words “September this year?” and suck of air through the teeth. “We have to order it in,” they explained, “and have it delivered to the shop.” Well, ye-es. And that takes nearly a year? But so it has, apparantly. They still haven’t phoned me for my first fitting. I find this quite weird.
The Registry Office: Stuck In The Olden Days
I know the Registry Office is a government office dealing with really important stuff, so they have to do things formally, but they’re frustratingly old-fashioned and pedantic.
For example, their phone calls are crackers. Once we’ve established I am the person they need to speak to, they introduce themselves in full. “Hello, my name is Miss [say, Smith] and I’m calling you on behalf of Birmingham Registry Office.” (Yes, they introduce themselves by their title. It’s like Are You Being Served.) I reply “oh, hello!” in my cheeriest, we’ve-spoken-before-and-I-know-you voice, but it doesn’t stop them. “I’m calling you about your forthcoming wedding…” they say, every time. And despite my “yes, yes, hello, how can I help” responses, they continue. “…to Mister Darren Wright, on the twenty fifth of September, two thousand and ten.” The first time, it took every ounce of restraint to stop myself from getting the giggles. The second time, I had to stop myself from shouting “NO SHIT, SHERLOCK”. Or saying “oh my god! I didn’t know about this!” The third, fourth and fifth times, I’ve been dying to say it along with them, but in a stupid high voice. “Mithter Dawwen Wight! Mmmnty fifth of Thepthemburrrr!” (I did it in my head, anyway. It helped.)
Daz had a weird chat with them last week, too. They were after some extra information and, after they made a big deal about the urgency of receiving this information as soon as possible, he suggested emailing it to them, rather than posting it as they’d requested. The assistant was apparently a bit flummoxed, saying, “well, you could email it, but there isn’t much point – I wouldn’t get it til tomorrow anyway”. Why was that, then? It wasn’t even mid afternoon. Had they got problems with their email? “No,” she explained, “all the emails are read at 9 o’clock in the morning, then they’re all printed out and we each get a copy on our desks. So if you email me now, I won’t get it until tomorrow.” He was baffled. Couldn’t she just access her email now? “No, it’s not my email,” she said. “It’s the office email. Only one person has access to it, and she only looks at it at 9 o’clock each morning.” Whu… why? “That’s just the way we do things.” Well, that’s silly, he told her. “Well, it works for us,” she replied. Bonkers.
Other People: They Ask A Lot Of Questions
Finally – and this is the biggie – managing other people’s expectations has proved to be surprisingly stressful. It’s amazing how much angst can be caused by worrying that you’re going to cause offence to close friends and family simply by making the decisions that have to be made.
Some friends don’t seem to realise what a juggling act the whole thing is. Space at the venue is limited. Catering is expensive, so every detail counts. The reason I need the RSVPs returned isn’t because I’m a psycho bride with a spreadsheet obsession; it’s because if one person can’t make it, there’s a list of friends we’d really like to offer that place to, that we haven’t been able to invite so far. And if one person suddenly announces they’re bringing an uninvited guest, that’s one more place we can’t give to someone we actually know.
The other problem is that, despite waving their hands and saying “it’s your day!”, families do seem to have preconceptions of what their relatives’ weddings should be like. Today, for example, [a family member who will remain nameless] said “are you going to run [a really minor detail] past [another family member]?” Up until this past week, I’d probably have said yes, thinking that I was keeping the peace. Today I just said, firmly, “no! Because it’s our wedding, no-one else’s.” Then laughed through the ensuing couple of seconds of awkward silence. Whoah. I’ve changed.
And lovely though it is that everyone’s so interested, do people (okay, women) really need to know every detail, every day? Even when all that’s happened that week is that we’ve, say, filled in a form for the registry office, I find myself making up other stuff to make my wedding sound more interesting to them. “Er, yeah, phoooo, I’ve been having a good old think about flowers this week. What’s your opinion on gerberas?”
As an aside, I’ve found that some girls – including total strangers – love all the wedding chat. I suppose for those who loved preparing for their own wedding, it’s like a hobby; they know all the jargon and they really care about the finer details of the subject. I am not one of those girls. I didn’t care about those details before, I don’t care about them when I go to other weddings and so I’m not going to care about them for mine either. When someone asks “are you going for a train?” or “what’s your scheme?” and I realise I not only have a clue what they mean, but know what my answers are (‘a very small one’, and ‘coffee and cream’), I find it hard to hide my vague nausea. I’m sorry. I just don’t get enjoyment out of this amount of planning. Yes, it’s a day to remember – and it’ll be a bloody brilliant day – but I’m quite sure that in ten years time, I will neither remember nor care what the height of heel was on my shoes, or how my bouquet was tied.
I’m beginning to read everything the wrong way, too. Whilst the rational part of my brain is sure the constant questions are just well meaning, the other part – the bridezilla brain – just knows there’s a passive aggressive tone to them. “Have you thought about doing it this way?” (where “this way” is a tradition we’re not going to follow) is a line that raises my hackles. No. We’d have mentioned if we were going to do it that way. And what is the correct response to “I went to a wedding recently where they… [did something cheesy]”? Thanks for the advice, but we’re not going to do stuff because your mate saw it in a magazine…? Probably not.
Today I told someone, “well, that’s a nice idea for someone who can be bothered, but put it this way, if it’s a bunch of hassle, then you can rest assured I have no intention of getting myself into it”. I meant it in a light-hearted, funny way, but I sounded like a bitch.