OPINION: Let’s vow to keep weddings small and sensible even after lockdown
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The Second Half columnist Nick Richards says weddings should stay small in scale once lockdown is over
You may be getting fed up of these articles about lockdown elements that we’ll continue to benefit from as we move on from a rather wretched 2020.
Whether it’s the elderly getting better at using technology, wearing masks on buses or keeping our distance in shops, I think we get it now. However, there’s one big plus that I don’t think has been mentioned that’s come out of all this Covid craziness – small weddings.
It’s taken a global pandemic for lovers young and old to be told that they need to trim wedding numbers, something I’ve always believed in. This is all the more relevant for me as this week I celebrated my tenth wedding anniversary and looking back at that special day a decade ago, everything was done with simplicity in mind.
OK, so we had around 50 guests, (current guidelines are no more than 30), but everything about my 2010 wedding was very 2020.
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I’m not at all religious so the location, a hotel, was chosen for practical reasons. We worked out the five main places where everyone would be travelling from and arranged to get pretty much married in the middle.
The service was conducted in a room that, after we’d stepped outside in the early September sunshine for a few photos and a drink, was swiftly turned into the area for the reception. We had a simple meal of roast beef, a few speeches and we sat around chatting into the evening while all the invited children played games outside and ate loads of sweets.
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England began their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign that night and I slipped off with a mate to have a pint and catch a bit of their match against Bulgaria without any fuss.
There was no tacky first dance, come to think of it there were no bands, horses, expensive cars, garters, discos, photo booths, ceremonial knives to cut the cakes, top hats, tails, no army of bridesmaids, there wasn’t more than one best man, nor loads of drunk dancing and no forced pictures of people trying to look happy and no painfully long drive in a convoy of cars from the church to the reception – we all hate those occasions, right?
It wasn’t about being thrifty or saving money, it was just about being practical.
And with practicality now the in thing with weddings, it seems like the era of the tasteless wedding could be over.
Weddings seem to have got way out of hand since the late 1990s, egged on by the Hello and OK! magazine culture, cranked up a notch by programmes like My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and blown out of all proportion by Anthea Turner’s promotional chocolate bars, David Beckham’s thrones and Jordan’s horse-drawn pink bubble carriage straight out of Cinderella.
To be fair, I think we were all led astray in terms of pimping our weddings by attending wedding fairs.
I can see the attraction for some couples who want to get an idea of how to stage their wedding, but the one I attended I just felt like a walking wallet getting more and more confused and alarmed by how much people expected us to spend.
A man at the fair we attended suggested a £300 chocolate fondue fountain would look great in the corner of the room. I laughed and thought to myself that I knew a better place I could shove it
Did we really want to have a cake costing £500 that nobody would eat? No. We arranged for 100 cup cakes to be made locally, bought a brilliant cake stand on eBay and made sure everyone took a couple home.
Instead of lavishing money on a wedding, couples should, in my view, either spend if on a honeymoon that they’ll remember forever or, especially if they’re not yet living together, the deposit on a house.
It’s cliched to say that wedding memories last a lifetime. They don’t. The only thing that could last a lifetime is that unhealthy bank balance and constant regret at uneccesarily forking out thousands. Chucking a load of money at a wedding seems to be the done thing when small and simple has so much more appeal. My pal Chris got married the year before me, invited 30 people and we went tenpin bowling afterwards. Everyone remarked how relaxed it was.
At my wedding we did exchange rings, but after a few months I stopped wearing mine. It wasn’t in case I saw Beyonce in the street and wanted to appear available, I can’t stand jewellery on men and even a simple silver wedding band was uncomfortable and I knew I’d end up losing it!
I have no regrets about choosing a simple wedding. We spent plenty on the honeymoon in London, Paris and North Yorkshire, that I remember very well. I even managed to catch a Norwich City match on a cold Tuesday night at Doncaster. What a romantic.
If you need a reminder of how easily forgotten weddings are, on Thursday, 10 years to the day after I got married in front of the most important people in my life, my parents were the only ones who actually remembered the anniversary.
Oh, apart from Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook made an automated video celebrating our 10 years as we’d obviously announced it on there at the time.
In fact, splashing it all over Facebook was the only thing that was really 2010 about the whole day.