Thursday, April 06, 2006

Colonel Moseley on Weddings

What ho! Spring seems to be on its way, judging by the snowdrops in the garden and the slap of wedding invitations onto the mat when postie calls each morning – or rather early afternoon most days, but that’s another issue altogether. Presently the mantelpiece in the morning room at Moseley Towers is awash with stiffies. The Mem and I seem to be invited to the impending nuptials of half of South Birmingham and surrounding counties.

It takes me back to my younger days – a time before Carol Vorderman took Maths “O” level. I remember being a young subaltern, back on leave from India and first catching sight of the Mem at a tennis party somewhere off Oxford Road. Letty Titterfield, of the Snitterfeld Titterfields, was a beauty and quite a catch. She caught my eye playing doubles with her sister Bunty. Later she offered me seed cake at tea and that was that: there followed courting for six months, a year’s engagement, three dinner services, several toast-racks, marriage in St Mary’s and a sit-down wedding breakfast for one hundred and fifty at the Plough and Harrow. Then off we went to start wedded bliss in married quarters with the Regiment in Poona.

Sadly, wedding planning seems to involve as much forward planning, stress and sheer terror for all concerned as the D Day Landings. It seems unfair that no campaign medals are awarded in recognition. Although my views on its logistics and consequences may have tarnished somewhat since my own Great Day, I still feel able to share with you my top ten tips and pointers on weddings:

1. Always look at the prospective bride’s mother. It may not be conclusive, but it’s often a good indicator of what’s in store as regards looks and attitude,
2. Try to hold the stag or hen night at least a week before the big day. This should allow enough time for cuts and bruises to heal, hangovers or even alcoholic poisoning to be treated, bail to be arranged and groom, or perhaps the bride, to be shipped back from Tierra del Fuego,
3. Avoid little-known hymns at the service. Fewer folk go to church nowadays and an unknown, tuneless dirge or embarrassing, happy-clappy, folk-rap hymn only adds to the discomfort and feeling of desperate unfamiliarity,
4. Clapping in church when the knot has been tied is not very English,
5. Get a professional photographer or video maker. Do not entrust Uncle Norman to create your record for posterity. Unless you are very lucky, he will screw it up,
6. Make a conservative choice of best man. Better a dull but competent best man’s speech than an amusing but controversial account of premarital sex and other lurid, past dalliances,
7. On the whole brides should avoid crinolines, ra-ra skirts, Doc Martens, exposed mid-drifts, fluffy mules, piercings, tattoos and anything resembling or that could be described as a “meringue” or “blancmange”,
8. Couples should be dissuaded from writing their own vows. Such expressions of intent are usually nauseatingly sentimental and recklessly optimistic. Just because they say such things on “Friends” does not mean they play well in Birmingham 13,
9. Avoid serving or drinking cheap and nasty sherry, wine or champagne at the Reception. It only ends in tears, nasty stains and probably a fight. It’s better to supply or consume less of something decent and, beyond that, to have a pay bar, and
10. Consider avoiding the whole grisly business, saving the money to use as a deposit on a house and eloping to Gretna Green or St Lucia.

The Mem instructs me to express the hope that this should not put you off the fine institution of matrimony. I need a drink. Chin, chin!!

*this piece first appeared in Birmingham 13

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