How to get hitched...
All wedding days are fraught with disaster. The veteran of a musical crisis on her own big day, Grainne Cunningham advises on how to avoid the pitfalls
Big day ruined: there's no point in beating yourself up over little things going wrong on the day ? it's best to react with humour and flexibility.
What is it about long, summer days that would make anyone want to drag all of their family and most of their friends into a dark church and then a hotel ballroom for dinner at 5pm, followed by entertainment which is at best indifferent and often excruciatingly bad? Could it be love?
Yes, it's summertime, but weddings are anything but easy. Getting hitched, with its quaint etiquette, zealous attention to detail and dangerous mix of emotion and ambition, is a minefield that's only for the very brave, very foolish or the utterly smitten.
Forget the sales talk about 'your dream day' and remember that behind every frothy romantic fantasy lies a wake of sweat and tears.
Even the most meticulously planned wedding can unravel disastrously -- key family members get lost on their way to the church, bridesmaids quarrel and guests get embarrassingly drunk.
On my own 'big' day, the band failed to turn up, so guests scrambled to grab tapes and CDs from their cars. Another stepped in to improvise as DJ, desperately rewinding and forwarding a tape to find our 'special song' (see wedding no-no's below). After several false starts, instead of waltzing to One, our guests fell about while we danced to I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.
And even when, like Wayne Rooney and Coleen McLoughlin, you spend millions and have top-notch planners, she had to dash through a downpour which was hardly expected in Italy in June.
So with the proviso that no wedding will go entirely smoothly, here are some pitfalls to avoid on your big day:
Hen/stag nights: Any night out where having fun is compulsory is obviously doomed but it would be churlish to skip this tradition altogether.
Definitely, no T-shirts with 'Jenny's last night of freedom' emblazoned across the front, no flashing antlers and no fake willies. And ask yourself, were you ever overcome with mirth at the sight of some bloke, stark naked bar the fluffy pink handcuffs, racing down the main street. Then again...
Guest list: A major cause of stress. No matter how hard you try, you will end up putting more than one nose seriously out of joint, quite probably your mother's. Stick to the 'if you can't please all of the people, you might as well please yourself' rule. Be firm, diplomatic and then choose all the people you want to have at your party. And don't include ex-partners.
Bridesmaids: Try to limit numbers here or you'll look like you're attempting a remake of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
And DON'T put unforgiving clingy satin identikits on girls of different shapes and sizes -- they'll all be miserable.
Instead suggest a colour or look and co-ordinate, while giving them some scope to wear styles that suit them.
Seating arrangements: Put people who know each other together, rather than forcing different groups to "get to know each other".
Your friends and family will have more fun and this adds to the atmosphere in the room.
Free bar: Beware. A friend recalls a wedding where almost all the guests were glassy-eyed and rubber-kneed long before the meal was served.
Don't spend too long on your photographs and serve some canapes for soakage as few will have eaten since breakfast that morning.
Photography: As natural as possible is usually best, if you don't want really cheesy images.
One photographer, who fancied himself as a creative artist, superimposed a picture of the bride peeping around the corner at herself and her husband. At least, it guaranteed a laugh at every family gathering since.
Speeches: Another serious danger zone. The worst mistake is to try and reinvent yourself as a stand-up comic. On this day, the crowd loves you and will forgive emotion, shyness, awkwardness and repetition. But try not to make them cringe, with bar-stool humour, lewd comments about the bride or bridesmaids or embarrassing references to past love lives.
At one wedding I attended, the best man said he hoped there were at least two mirrors in the house because the bride and groom were too vain to share. (The marriage lasted less than two years.) Another groom spent 20 minutes making 'in' jokes only enjoyed by his drinking buddies while the rest of the room yawned. And on another occasion, the father of the bride nearly throttled his new son-in-law after he made endless hints about his daughter's prowess in the sack.
Sincerity, a few genuine anecdotes and thank-yous go a long way. Then sit down.
First dance: Yes, we did it and it provided us with the biggest laugh of the day but, overall, this is better avoided. If you both go off and perfect the tango, you will be mercilessly and justifiably teased for ever more. But, with every eye on you, shuffling around the floor is not ideal either.
Like the day in general, strive for fun, rather than perfection. Instead of following a set formula, add your own personal touches. Anger Management star Adam Sandler handed out Krispy Kreme doughnuts at his wedding. Another celebrity groom had waiters carrying great silver chafing dishes filled with McDonald's hamburgers. And Coleen and Wayne served pizza.
Whatever works for you, it's your day. Enjoy it.
Wedding planner Rosemarie Meleady knows first-hand that what is meant to be your dream day is often anything but. On the morning of her own nuptials, her photographer showed up, stricken faced, to announce that his wife had just gone into labour prematurely.
What could she say but "go, go" but sadly, the generously donated photographs taken by family and friends didn't quite match the images of her special day that she had hoped for.
These days, Rosemarie and her team try to ensure similar mishaps do not mar their clients' weddings. Although based in Co Wexford, Rosemarie has been organising weddings all over the country for the past eight years.
Yet, she insists she has never had to cope with the insatiable demands of a Bridezilla.
"I'm careful who I take on. I have had mothers (of the bride) ring me up and make enquiries and all they are interested in is whether I will be helping them choose their outfit."
Rosemarie usually has more than one conversation with a prospective couple before taking on the responsibility of organising their special day.
And with her experience, she could probably write a book on how to avoid most of the pitfalls. But even with that wisdom, she readily admits that getting hitched rarely goes without a hitch.
On one occasion, she ordered a white chocolate cake for the big day and happened to mention that the bridesmaids were wearing chocolate-coloured dresses.
Somehow the cake lady got it wrong and, to her dismay, a brown chocolate cake arrived. "I broke it gently to the bride, it was a very tasteful cake but it was the wrong colour."
Rosemarie's key advice for the bride and groom is to be prepared to react with humour and flexibility if little things go awry. "You have to take these things in your stride -- something is bound to go wrong," she said.
Her tips for the bride include ensuring she wears a scarf as she slips on the dress. "Trying to get fake tan or foundation off a lovely white dress is not very easy and they should make sure they have no make-up on their hands either."
She recommends breaking in your shoes well in advance, as well as getting a friend to bring along a really comfortable pair in her handbag. "No one will notice them after the first dance and there is nothing worse than a blister."
At the church, flower girls and page boys might look really cute but, in reality, they are often exhausted from the excitement before the bride even arrives. "Try and choose a child you believe will be confident enough to go through with it or maybe get them to hold hands with one of the bridesmaids. If they do have a tantrum, don't let it spoil your walk up the aisle."
Rosemarie advises choosing your priest carefully and have some idea what he is likely to say. "I have heard priests talking about some local person who just died or offering advice to the couple on rows and other inappropriate subjects at a wedding," she recalled.
Couples should also rehearse their vows. "There is nothing worse than having the bride and groom with their noses in a pamphlet. It is nice if they can say those words to each other, rather than mumbling into a booklet," she said.
At the wedding breakfast, she recommends keeping a close guard on the microphone. "You don't want uncle Harry mouthing off about everything and anything for 20 minutes," she said.
On the invitations, Rosemarie has seen some couples ask guests not to buy their outfits in a certain store, presumably because a key member of the wedding party bought their outfit there. She wouldn't recommend this, nor is she comfortable with the recent practice of couples asking for "money only".
"But you can rehearse it as much as possible and still there will be mistakes but they add to it at the end of the day," she said.
For those looking for a little extra help organising their big day, in Ireland or abroad, contact Rosemarie at
thanks cavanb2b, looks great
Is it just me, or is that article mostly an ad for the wedding planner mentioned?
[quote="nbz":2gt05ebx]Is it just me, or is that article mostly an ad for the wedding planner mentioned?[/quote:2gt05ebx]
I thought this too