I’ve been a bride-to-be for more than a year, and I’m still not much good at it. You’d think I’d've improved with practice, but the terrain of Wedding Land still reserves a multitude of mysteries and surprises.
Take the gift registry. How do you do a gift registry? I’d never personally encountered one in real life before; back home we give angpow (red packets with money inside) and consider that sorted. But a gift registry would make Cephas’s relatives’ lives easier and so a gift registry we must have.
Cephas and I wandered around a department store wielding an ineffectual scanner, bewildered by the huge range of china, cookware, irons, yoghurt makers—I bet you didn’t know John Lewis sold machines with which you can make your own yoghurt at home, but now you do.
We’re even in the slightly unusual position of actually needing a lot of this stuff, as we don’t live together and will need to set up a new household with plates and forks and all the various other necessaries. That made it a little easier—we would register for things we needed, that we would otherwise have to buy ourselves after moving in together.
But people like buying you things you wouldn’t buy for yourself, Cephas’s mum pointed out. So we should choose something frivolous! Cephas went for a beer glass. (Cephas isn’t great at frivolous. I once emailed him while in the grip of a Youda Sushi Chef craze—if you haven’t heard of it, it’s a gloriously mindless PopCap game where you make imaginary sushi by furiously clicking your mouse—and he replied: “I also am in the grip of a craze, an Armenian devotional music and literature craze. It’s far out.”)
I’ve always wanted an ice cream maker. But I found myself contemplating the only type of ice cream maker on display and wondering if it wouldn’t be better to just take down the model number and check out the price on Amazon. If I’m not willing to pay that price for it myself, wouldn’t it be rude to ask my guests to?
We came away with a sternly responsible gift list, the sort of gift list that flosses its teeth every night and always sorts its rubbish for recycling. I’m not sure I’d want to shop the gift list myself, if I were a guest. I’d probably get bored and go off-list and buy the couple a set of placemats with elephants on them.
But figuring out the registry was nothing compared to sorting out flowers. Who knew flowers were so complicated? I hadn’t made any deliberate plan to skip flowers, but I hadn’t thought much about planning to have them either. I suppose if you’d asked me how I was going to ensure the presence of flowers, I would’ve suggested sending out some willing wedding minion to the nearest supermarket on the day to get whatever bouquets they had there. (This is actually one of the options for DIYing your wedding flowers that Meg suggests in the book. It appealed because it’s pretty nearly the laziest option!)
And if that turned out to be too difficult, then I was secretly attracted to the idea of doing it the old-fashioned way—apparently the bridal bouquet only emerged as a Thing around the turn of the twentieth century, and before that brides held prayer books or handkerchiefs. (Another factoid from the book!) I liked the idea of bringing a book along—good for those lulls during the service.
But in all this horticultural non-planning I’d failed to consider one big question: what about the flowers in the church?
Here are the botanical decoration options available in the church where Cephas and I are getting Catholically married:
- Large pedestals heaped with flowers
- Small pedestals heaped with flowers
- Candelabra pedestals heaped with flowers and candles
- Flowers on the pew ends
- Bows on the pew ends
- Flowers and bows on the pew ends
- Flowers on the lectern
- Flowers on the pillars
- Flowers under the altar
- Flowers at the base of the statues
- Small topiary trees
Did I want flowers on the end of every pew, or every other pew, or every third pew? Did I want flowers in the traditional style, or the modern? What was a lectern anyway? Of course the very helpful flower lady asked me all the questions because, after all, I’m the bride! I’m supposed to have opinions about these things.
I was so embarrassed by my total lack of any relevant opinions that I didn’t even broach the possibility of elephant topiaries. Fortunately, Cephas took over, and the flower lady eventually figured out that the opinion leader in the group was not me.
Mind you, I don’t lack for opinions in general. I have plenty of opinions about lots of different things! But in Wedding Land it’s hard to tell what’s an opinion you need in order to be appropriately bridely (e.g. what sort of flowers do you want?), and what kinds of opinions will just make you a pain in the ass (e.g. I don’t want anyone to give me away because I don’t belong to anyone).
But I’d better formulate some of the right kind of opinions, because despite my mad dreams of picking up a couple of gerberas from Tesco’s on the morning of, I find myself booked in for a phone consultation with a florist about bouquets and buttonholes. Day 440 in Wedding Land: still not sure what’s going on, but if I keep repeating “purple and pale pink” over and over again, maybe I’ll make it through unscathed. Wish me luck.
Photo by: Moodeous Photography (APW Sponsor)