A protest

I won’t name names because I suppose blogging for A Practical Wedding means I’m sort of part of the wedding blogosphere now, but can I just say:

– believing you were French in another life

– secretly wishing you lived in 1750

– old Jane Austen novels (what, as opposed to the new ones?), and

– rustic daydreams

are all four of them COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THINGS. Jane Austen was only born in 1775! She was not French in any way! (If you want 19th century novels by a female author with French in them, try Bronte — to this day I have no idea what was said in several of the conversations held in Jane Eyre.) And if you insist on conflating rustic daydreams with 19th century literature why not go for bloody Hardy or somebody like that.

This is what happens when you fall into the lazy writing habit of speaking entirely in buzzwords. I think it’s definitely possible to write intelligently about style, but as with everything else it helps if you interpose your brain between style stimulus and verbal response.


My sister on weddings

Sister, while watching Don’t Tell The Bride: How come we don’t get married in temples?

Me: Yah hor. I dunno! But English people and Americans used to get married at home too. Like, marrying in church was the more formal kind of option. I think they got married by the minister at home, though, so it’s not like us, where we just kind of do it by ourselves.

Sister: Maybe the minister got too many people to marry so he got lazy and told them, ‘I’m not coming to your home anymore. You come to me.’

Me: I don’t know how getting married in a church became the standard option actually. Maybe ‘cos people watched royalty, like Queen Victoria or whoever, get married in these big churches — ‘cos if you’re royalty you gotta get married in somewhere like Westminster Abbey, right — so they were like, oh, we wanna do that too.

Sister: What about the queen of Bhutan?

Me: Hah?

Sister: (thoughtfully) Oh yeah, I guess the queen of Bhutan didn’t get married in a temple. But what you’re saying is if she did get married in a temple everybody would start following her and get married in temples.

Me: Er, maybe …


Sister: I want to have a magician at my wedding! ‘Cos when you watch Don’t Tell The Bride you think about how you’re going to have your wedding, right, and I was thinking about doves, and of course doves makes you think of magicians, and I want a magician! He’d do all the stuff with disappearing doves. And he’d stand on a stage, in the middle — and everybody would watch him.

Me: But where would you do it?

Sister: In a theatre! With everybody sitting in the seats.

Me: So where would people eat?

Sister: There’d be a buffet outside! And people could take their plates and come into the theatre and eat on their laps …

Me: Your wedding idea is kind of falling to pieces there.


Me: Do you know what my dress looks like? I sent you a picture, right?

Sister: It was … long. And white.

Me: Hmmmm.

Book weddings: Miss Cornelia

Montgomery’s older brides tend to wear navy blue, perhaps because the white wedding dress is so strongly associated by Montgomery with youthful beauty and virginity. In this excerpt we see the recurring preoccupation in her books with the appropriateness of things – Montgomery has a keen sense both of beauty and of the ridiculous, and the one must not be allowed to desecrate the other.

“In about a month’s time. My wedding dress is to be navy blue silk. And I want to ask you, Anne, dearie, if you think it would be all right to wear a veil with a navy blue dress. I’ve always thought I’d like to wear a veil if I ever got married. Marshall says to have it if I want to. Isn’t that like a man?”

“Why shouldn’t you wear it if you want to?” asked Anne.

“Well, one doesn’t want to be different from other people,” said Miss Cornelia, who was not noticeably like anyone else on the face of the earth. “As I say, I do fancy a veil. But maybe it shouldn’t be worn with any dress but a white one. Please tell me, Anne, dearie, what you really think. I’ll go by your advice.”

“I don’t think veils are usually worn with any but white dresses,” admitted Anne, “but that is merely a convention; and I am like Mr. Elliott, Miss Cornelia. I don’t see any good reason why you shouldn’t have a veil if you want one.”

But Miss Cornelia, who made her calls in calico wrappers, shook her head. “If it isn’t the proper thing I won’t wear it,” she said, with a sigh of regret for a lost dream.

Veils are practically definitive of the bridal state, but Miss Cornelia – Mrs. Marshall Elliott as will be – is no less married for the absence of a veil or a white dress. I s’pose the excerpt also points up the bride’s yearning for conventionality – people are anxious to do the correct thing when it comes to weddings, which is why Miss Manners gets so many questions about ’em.

From a purely aesthetic perspective I like a white veil with a non-white dress, though it depends on the shades, I guess. Modern Vintage Bride’s combination of white veil and grey Temperley dress was terrifically chic!

Wedding style in 6 words or less

A thread on Weddingbee (I know, I know. What can I say, reading about other people’s weddings is addictive!) asked posters to describe their (hoped for) wedding style in 6 words or less. I came up with: simple, practical, people-focused, quirky, traditional and multicultural.

I guess a couple of these aren’t really about style — you can have people-focused and practical design, but I’m not sure you can have people-focused and practical style — but I liked the exercise for the reminder of what’s important to me. I’m pretty sure P would agree with all of these — I think the wedding would be quirky and multicultural anyway because we are from different cultures and I’m pretty quirky (my family, with less tender respect for my self-image, would probably say “weird”). All the other things are things to strive for.

“Traditional” is an interesting one. I’m not a big fan of following tradition for its own sake, and a lot of traditions associated with weddings have no good purpose. Think of the white wedding dress — so iconic, so completely pointless. You might say, but why does tradition need to have a purpose? I’d say that there’s no use hanging on to traditions if they don’t have a purpose. They ought to signify something. But I included “traditional” because the whole reason for me of engaging in a wedding is to participate in tradition — specifically, in the customs and practices which have meaning in my culture and the culture of my partner. No to unity candles, yes to red umbrellas.

Don’t Tell The Bride

My sister and I are fans of this series, in which a couple are given £12,000 to pay for their wedding — on the condition that the groom, and only the groom, plans the wedding, in three weeks.

I think the three weeks thing is worse than the bride not having any input (the couple are separated for the three weeks preceding the wedding), but you wouldn’t think it from the series. The episodes are totally formulaic — it’s usually about how rubbish the groom is and how bridezillary the bride is, but how at the end of the day the bride will be happy and forgive her groom because she’s so happy about getting married.

It’s not, y’know, intelligent TV in any way, but despite the stereotypes — obsessive/controlling bride, criminally laidback groom — and allowing for the limitations of the format, which requires drama to be manufactured along predictably stereotypical lines, it’s actually charmingly diverse, with a number of interracial couples and a couple of gay weddings.

And sometimes the show really hits it out of the ballpark. I don’t watch for the drama — my favourite episodes are where the couple obviously really like each other, and the groom is taking it seriously, and the bride isn’t that fussed. You’d think these characteristics wouldn’t be that hard to find, but I guess the show is kind of set up to maximise drama, so you do get couples where they don’t even seem to like each other all that much.

This week’s episode was awesome, though, precisely because the three characteristics for a good wedding (under Don’t Tell The Bride conditions) were present. The couple really liked each other, the bride wasn’t hung up on the details, and the groom obviously wanted to make the day special for both of them.

It was an intercultural English/Barbadian wedding — with delicious-looking Caribbean food; when they showed pictures of the food I sat up and said aloud: “I want to marry this guy!” — and the cutest thing about it was how the bride obviously loved the groom so much. Because I’m ridiculous I sometimes get vicariously stressed for the bride or groom when watching Don’t Tell The Bride, but there was no vicarious stress here because there was no drama. The high point of drama occurred when the bride’s sister complained about how irritating she was being and the bride was just like, “Yeah, but I’m bound to be in a bad mood when I’m not with Rodney.”

How cute is that? The bride was delighted with everything. The groom produced an, er, amateur wedding invitation printed on crumped yellow A4 paper with some clip-art of wedding rings and the bride kissed the envelope: “He’s obviously done it last minute, bless his cotton socks.” The dress didn’t look much like the one she chose (in Don’t Tell The Bride they make the bride choose her ideal dress and venue, just so she can regret What Might Have Been when she sees her groom’s inferior choices), but she danced around in it in delight, pretending to say hello to all her guests. The groom was two hours late; the ceremony was in a church about 10% as pretty as the one her mom got married in; the shoes provided were white flats from Primark for £8 — and she just clearly did not give a shit. She knew what was important. They must have smooched about six billion times when they were pronounced husband and wife.

It was the sort of wedding that reminds you about why, ideally, people want to get married, and it looked enormous fun to attend. I’m probably this starry-eyed because I’ve had two glasses of wine, but all the same, it bodes well for their marriage. Best of luck to Paula and Rodney.

(You can watch the episode here if you are able to access iPlayer.)

Gnome bride

I loooove this lady’s dress. She looks like a gnome. *_*

Click on the picture to see the rest of her wedding. She’s the Martha Stewart magazine crafts editor so unsurprisingly it’s full of very cute crafty details, but I’m really just obsessed with her outfit. It’s just so TWEE. The petals! The sleeves! Her shoes and the flower in her hair are perfect as well. I love it. Sigh!

Mostly something old

A random Google of “The Sound of Music” brought me to this treasure trove of antique wedding dresses: Bolton Museums – Something old, something new, an exhibition run in 2007. The dresses featured are mostly Victorian and mid-20th century.

Deep blue Victorian wedding dressBut what I like even better than the pictures is the stories. The dresses were all made by a Mrs Heaton who seems by all accounts to have been a fine craftswoman and designer, much in demand, and also kind of bossy:

I would like to get married in Smithills chapel.” “Oh no,” she said, “no no. It’s too small.” You see you couldn’t exhibit your dress, you couldn’t show your dress off properly there.

I don’t remember having a choice really in what I wore.

You have to admit it's a dress worth showing off.

The bride who wanted to look like Maria from The Sound of Music is this one:

I hadn’t even remembered that there was a wedding scene in The Sound of Music. But she actually even looks a bit like Julie Andrews, I think! Maybe all old-timey people look the same, though, because of the quality of the photos.

I should do more personal posts! This isn’t so much a record of my year in Weddingland so far; more like “random sort-of-wedding-related things I have found on the Internet”.