Friday, 28 October 2011

Reception Rules - What to do and what NOT to do

Abbey Clancey and Peter Crouch were criticised by well-known tabloid for not sitting on the top table with their parents, choosing to sit with their friends instead.  I must admit, even by tabloid standards, this did sound like a regular hoo-ha over nothing.

Tradition also dictates that the parents of the bride sit either side of the couple.  Last wedding I went to, this was 100% necessary in order to stop the groom's parents fighting each other.  But it doesn't always have to be this way.

The couple were also accused of segregation by serving different desserts to their male and female guests.  Men got fudge brownies while the ladies had cheesecakes.  There is nothing new in this.  The Beckhams did this at their wedding more than a decade ago, serving their gentleman guests sticky toffee pudding while the ladies had Fruits of Forest.

Personally, I'm not in favour of this.  It sounds like the couple are trying to make a trendy,  quirky statement with their dessert, but I think it's just asking for trouble.  You're bound to get a few guests who want the other dessert and will get peeved that they can't have it simply because of their sex.  (As a hardcore feminist, I'm in favour of equality even when it comes to dessert!)

I get quite tired of rules of ettiquette at times.  Whilst there's nothing wrong in good manners and decorum, stupid rules about how men and women must be seated alternately around the table is absolute RUBBISH!  What if you've got a big group of friends, all of the same gender, who want to sit together?  And how about gay friends and their partners?  Must they be forced apart just to acommodate a rule?  Have you got friends you haven't seen for ages coming to your big day?  Would rather sit next to them than your mother whom you see all the time?  Then do so!

What about the kind of wine you serve?  You must have a white, a red and a sparking for the toast.  Oh really?  What if you prefer rose?  Supposing you don't drink at all and would rather not serve any alcohol at all.  (In this circumstance, it is polite to let guests know in advance that this will be the case.)

Anyone who tells you in matters like this that your choice is wrong can't love you very much.  It is your day and you should get to celebrate it in whatever manner you chose.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Keep It Simple, Keep It Real - remembering what it's all about

I was lucky enough to witness the moment when Sir Paul McCartney and his bride Nancy Shevall arrived at Marylebone Register Office, waved to the crowds and then headed inside to say their vows.  When I say "witnessed,"  I acutally mean 'caught on the BBC News 24 channel'.  This very rarely happens to me - being just in time to catch a significant moment - and I can't helped but feel a little proud of this.

The other thing you couldn't help but notice was how happy he and his bride looked.  My belief is that not only were they in love, they didn't have many of the hang-ups of a big wedding with lots of photographers, media attention, and general hullabaloo that weddings seem to attract.  Paul and Nancy had it sussed - they invited only 30 of their closet friends and family to witness their marriage.  They then had a party at home with food and music exactly as they wanted it.  No bending to specific venue suppliers, fussy caterers or overbearing magazine photographers trying to get as many celebs as possible in the one shot.  Perfect!

Having a quiet wedding when you're a celeb is not easy.  Madonna and Guy Richie's nuptials in December 2000 had the world's media circus clamouring at the doors of Skibo Castle in Scotland.  Yet ultimately, all the disruption was for nothing.  Photographers and fans alike were left disappointed by the complete no-show of the happy couple.  Some fans even felt let down that they were not permitted a teensy glimpse into their favourite singer's big day.  Many locals felt peeved at having so much upheaval and disturbance, particularly in the run-up to Christmas, with no reward.  At least Kate Moss had the decency to send everybody in Southrop a bottle of champagne to say sorry for the disruption!

Perhaps the best way to handle public interest in a wedding is by doing it the way that Zoe Ball & Norman Cook, Abbey Clancy & Peter Crouch, and Ed Milliband & Justine Thornton did it: by keeping the celebrations strictly behind closed doors, but posing for fans and photographers for just a couple of minutes.  The public gets what it wants and the couple can party in relative peace.  Alternatively, when Macca married Heather Mills in 2002, they issued one official photograph from their day which was sold to media agencies in exchange for a donation to their chosen charities.

Thankfully, press control is something few of us will ever have to worry about.  However, if you're planning to marry quietly, 'just us two', you may want to consider hiring a good photographer, selecting one image and sending it out a print - an 'official' photograph - to your friends and family who weren't there to give them a little taste of what the day was like.  It will probably help to heal any sore wounds caused by a missed opportunity to party.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Marriage and Motherhood: what's it like being pregnant on your big day?

It's the ultimate sign of commitment between a couple; a day you'll remember for the rest of your lives...  But what are we talking about here?  Getting married or having a baby?

I recently asked a friend of mine what she thought about a bride being pregnant on her weddding day.  "Well," she said.  "If you can see the bump yet, then I guess it's kinda cute.  I mean, it's like a secret between the bride and the groom.  It's the ultimate commitment.  But if she's showing then it just looks desperate."  So, according to my friend, on that basis Lily Allen was cute but Alicia Keys was desperate.

Having kids before marriage, or even without it entirely, is no longer the taboo it once was TF4T.  If anything there seems to be a complete reversal in that couples now want to procreate and have their children participate actively in their wedding.  Take Victoria and David Beckham: notorious for being extremely protective of their children's privacy, they took great pains to include their son Brooklyn in their wedding photos (covered exclusively by OK! magazine) because they didn't want him asking in later years, 'Where was I at your wedding?'

Perhaps I take a far too practical view of these things, but I think it would simply be too much.  When you're pregnant, your energy levels are lower, your hair and nails are devoid of their normal nutrients and feeling like you want to throw up on your wedding can't be a good thing.  I understand why couples feel the need to be married before their child arrives - legally, it makes things a heck of a lot more simple! - but organising a wedding is a full time occupation.  It's hectic enough to organise without having to plan for a baby as well.  My advice: marry before the baby comes if you wish, but please, leave the big wedding celebration til later.  That way the newest member of your family can also be a part of it.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Minding the Monster - In - Law: how to handle your in-laws and other relatives

We've all heard of the woes befallen Heidi Withers in the run up to her wedding and how strongly her mother-in-law to be disapproves of her.  I suspect most of us know someone, or have been ourselves, in that situation.  Managing difficult in-laws, relatives and even friends in the run-up to a wedding can be a nightmare that a lot of international diplomats would balk at.  Here's a few top tips on how to handle them:

Mother-in-laws are a peculiar kettle-of-fish.  They are naturally very protective of their sons and you're the 'Other Woman' who's stealing him away.  (Odd how it's never quite the same with Fathers-of-the-bride.  They seem all too keen to palm their daughters off on the poor unsuspecting bloke who asked for their hand in marriage.)  It can be hard for women to see their mothers-in-law this way, but once you do it can help to create an understanding.  You're on surprisingly mutual ground: You both love this man very much.

Jackie Stallone was a famously difficult mother-in-law to get on with.  Sometimes the easiest way to break the ice with a difficult character is to take an interest in one of her hobbies.  Yes it might involve a bit of sucking up / kissing arse, but if it achieves a bit of peace or even civility then it is definitely worth it.  Finding common ground is generally the quickest way to a friendship.

When Jane Fonda was giving future daughter-in-law Jennifer Lopez grief in the movie Monster In Law, it was the setting of boundaries that finally allowed the women to heal their differences.  Compromise is the key.  We don't always like conceeding ground, especially to pople we don't like, but some times it's the only way.

The last option is rarely popular, but I've gotta say it just the same: sometimes smiling, nodding and giving her whatever she wants is the only way to keep the blue skies overhead.  Always stay your ground - hang on to the things that really matter to you - but anything you're not that fussed about, let her have her way.  Plenty of time for reeping revenge later!