Wedding Season...a time for dress-fittings, hair styling, gift buying, tantrum throwing, shop hopping, floral arranging, food tasting, table setting, crash dieting, disaster dodging and complete fits of mania. And that's just the guests. Can you imagine what the bride goes through?
My weekends have been spent traveling around the country attending these fabulous little affairs. By little, I mean a 400-guest-event. A thousand people is usually considered a 'fair' amount. The most interesting element of beau monde weddings are the people. It's not the bride or groom; but the guests that really pull the whole show together.
The venue, bridal couple and decor may be different at every wedding, but it's the guests' conduct that's always the same. As an observant wedding watcher, I am going to tell you a little about what goes on behind the traditional society wedding.
When it comes to fashion, every woman will plan on what to wear for months prior to the function. Something that was just 'lying' in her cupboard simply won't do. She can't buy a dress off the rack; imagine the horror if someone else pitches up in the exact same outfit. So the next best thing is to fly over to Dubai and buy a gorgeous gown that she knows no one else in South Africa will have. If that's not possible, she will buy R3000-a-metre fabric and have one of SA's leading designers make her a customized gown. And it doesn't end there. There are matching shoes to be bought, clutch bags and jewellery. There are also all the pre-wedding parties to dress up for. Once the outfits are organized, hair appointments and make-up trials are set up for the week. One really has to look their best at someone else's wedding. It's like an episode of 'The Real Housewives of Elite South Africa'.
The wedding reception is a place to celebrate the blissful union with family and friends, and also to dissect every little thing in between. And I mean every thing. The wedding-guest-turned-critic will break down and analyze every tiny component of the reception - the serviette holders, the colour of the tablecloths, the welcome drinks, the height of the centerpiece and the future mother-in-law. Then there's the food. Every guest somehow turns into a judge from MasterChef, fastidiously tasting and reviewing each dish with their newly 'evolved' palette. It's a rare occasion when all parties are entirely satisfied with the meal.
Weddings are also the perfect hunting ground where doting mums search for prospective daughters-in-law (without their son's knowledge or permission). Having a creamy complexion, green eyes and brown hair will put you on top of the eligible bachelorette list. When approached, the first thing these young single ladies will ask, "Is he cute? What car does he drive?". Weddings *sigh*...the site upon which solid and sincere relationships are built.
Finally, there's the dreaded but amusing chitchat. It's funny how the exact same conversation loom arounds every wedding I attend. Gossip is the actual centerpiece of each table; shadowing it with an equal amount of flattering and disparaging remarks. There are standard questions and comments that spread through the voluble (female) crowd.
If you don't speak wedding talk, this is what you can expect to hear:
^Did you see what she's wearing? It's lovely/hideous.
^Who designed her gown?
^The bride looks like such a sweet/sulky/ person.
^They make such a nice pair or
^She's far too nice for him. Probably just married for the money.
^The food is so bland/delicious.
^Don't they have anything else to drink?
^What's for dessert? (Usually said right after a hearty 5 course meal)
^Have you seen any nice patterns?
^The decor is so old fashioned. Have they not heard of stretch draping?
Said to young pretty lasses:
^Are you single? Can I hook you up with my nephew/cousin/son/grandson?
^You're taken? When are you getting married?
^You're married? When do you plan on having kids?
That's just the word exchange within the first fifteen minutes. I suggest you take some Aspirin along, you may need it after the 4-hour-affair. I have five more weddings to attend this season. Wish me luck!