The Unconventional Bride: Beware The Wedding Mafia

Lizzy Dening didn’t spend her childhood fantasising about getting married. Now she’s engaged and navigating the weird world of weddings. Send help.

The first week after getting engaged was heavenly. We clinked glasses of fizz with our nearest and dearest, I made utterly hilarious jokes about not being able to use my hand because of my ring-weight (I know, I know, but people were generously tolerant) and almost drowned in an avalanche of ‘congratulations’ cards. We smiled to ourselves: this must be what getting married feels like. How wrong we were.

A word of warning to those whose partners have liked it and recently put a ring on it – beware the wedding mafia. I’m aware that makes me sound like a frightening old crone in a fairy-tale, screaming ‘turn back’ in hoarse tones as the hero heads into battle, but, seriously, watch out. There is no such thing as a wedding designed by two people.

It starts with the parents. Ours have gone from saying: ‘it’s your day, you must do what you like,’ to ‘But you MUST have a lovely car/cake/pair of Swarovski-encrusted doves’.

Invitations are one of the thornier issues – it’s amazing how people you’ve only met once suddenly need to be there for the full day (even though one of them has Madonna-level dietary requirements) or else the whole family will be torn apart indefinitely. Before you know it, your intimate gathering of 15 close relatives has swollen to Super Bowl viewing figure levels, and your main worry (aside from where the hell is the money coming from?) will be whether the crowds will be able to hear your vows.

The worst part? The dress. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve bought one that I’m not 100% sold on, just so that people will stop offering to take me to bridal shops. ‘But you get prosecco!’ they cry, dragging me bodily towards the sort of shops that would look down on post make-over Julia Roberts, let alone a grumpy journalist with an aversion to princess dresses, a phobia of exposing her upper arms and a budget of around £500. (And this is coming from someone who would crawl through an abattoir for a chilled glass of fizz – such is my dislike of boutiques.)

Married friends are desperate to get shot of (I mean, generously donate) their hand-folded origami crane bunting and six hundred personalised tea light holders currently piled floor to ceiling in their spare room. Single friends (usually those you’d least expect) always seem to have a secret wedding inspiration Pinterest board and tales of woe about wedding regrets of their sisters who scrimped on the video package and are now divorced.

Don’t get me wrong – I know that everyone who has provided a marital opinion has the very best intentions and want us to enjoy our day, but it’s just that… I don’t want to hear it.

My friend’s son has a Babygro that reads: ‘my mummy doesn’t want your opinion’. I wish they did similar engravings for engagement rings.

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