The Wedding Gene

Brrr, somebody please turn off the fridge, it’s cold in here.
Hope you all had a sterling weekend and at least seventy of you won the lottery.
By my maths today is monday, which means it’s time to post yesterday’s Sunday Times column.
Shhh, don’t tell the bride.


There is a gene some women have, I think they must be born with it, like blonde hair, or pigeon toes, it’s simply part of their coding. I call it the wedding gene. From the second they can walk and talk they start to think about their wedding day. I suppose what with the location, photographer, DJ, dresses, seating plans and menus, there’s a lot to arrange. These things don’t happen overnight you know, some weddings have been known to take up to twenty or thirty years to plan.

I think most guys would be horrified to discover how many girls keep a file from an early age, that they fill with pages torn from magazines with ideas for future dresses, bouquets and colour schemes that have caught their eye over the years. For most girls with this gene, the proposal will have barely slipped from their guy’s lips before their minds wander to the thick file they can finally action.

Which is why I was so evilly-pleased to hear about a somehow more crazy than all the others, British wedding reality TV show, called ‘Don’t Tell The Bride’.

The bride and groom are given the equivalent of around R150k to plan their dream wedding. But there’s one small catch, which actually turns out to be a rather big catch. The brides get shipped off to Scotland, or Leicester or Curmudgeon, or Skulduggery or some such other small British village far, far away, and the soon-to-be groom gets three weeks to plan the entire wedding with the help of his best man and a few mates.

No surprises here, but of course that’s where it all goes horribly wrong. Every woman always imagines their wedding planner will be a very camp gay man, not the front row of the Stanmore Rugby Team.

The narrator of the show says things like; ‘Eddie, the best man, is a kitchen fitter by trade’, and my heart sinks for the poor bride who is no doubt sitting somewhere in a corner in Cornwall or Rainsalotborough, drinking gin and weeping quietly.

In one episode, I watched in excitable-horror as on day one of planning, the groom-to-be looked into the camera earnestly and said: ‘I should know what she wants for her wedding because she’s been talking about it for the last three years, but I’ve done my usual bit and switched off when she’s been talking about it. And now I must be honest, I’m pretty clueless.’

So the wedding massacre begins, as each episode a poor gormless groom and his (not always the) best man (for the job), traipse around England trying to plan a wedding. Imagine a group of six year old boys given free range in a kitchen, tasked with preparing dinner for twenty. It’s a bit like that – messy, horrific and often ending in tears and a visit to the emergency room.

It turns out that men don’t necessarily need to spend years filling a plastic sleeve file with inspiration for their big day, it comes to them naturally. ‘What if Jackie sky dives down to the church?’ asked one best man. And so, on her special day, Jackie, who previously had never really considered jumping out of a plane, and to be honest, wasn’t all that great with heights, did a 10 000 foot free-fall into her wedding ceremony in a muddy field, wearing the three-sizes too big, meringue of a dress that her stylistically challenged and possibly blind fiancé had picked out for her. Hey, she was lucky, if the groom had things his way there would have been coloured smoke coming off her shoes as she descended, but fortunately for her, that was an extra the Kirkintilloch Sky Diving Company didn’t offer.

‘Hey, what about a mechanical bull at the reception?’ suggested another eager groom. ‘We should totally get a stripper pole on the dance floor!’ said another. And who needs a band when Dave’s got his ipod, and Kev can fart the whole of ‘Here Comes the Bride’ if he goes for a curry the night before.

I watched as with every bride-dream crushing decision these men made they high fived with pride at how well they were doing. While back in LostHopesandDreamsfordshire the bride-to-be wondered what her wedding dress was going to look like, and whether she’d have a two or three tiered cake.

The way these boys do it, you have to wonder what all the fuss is about. They even make menu planning look easy. There’s biltong for starters, steak for main course with ribs as the salad, and strippers for desert. Well done, chaps.

And so each wedding unfolds in some kind of macabre spoof of a real wedding. And on the big day when all is revealed, the brides all cry, oh how they cry. It would be a miracle if any of these couples make it over the threshold intact. ‘Honeymoon in Stoke City, babe? I hear Arsenal are playing there this weekend.’ And cue more tears.

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