How to survive a family wedding

Confession: I hate family weddings. To make it worse I have a lot of family. My one grandmother had 99 first cousins, so this is what I am working with people. I love most of them, but that doesn’t mean I had to enjoy their weddings. I like the weddings of people whose relationships I am emotionally invested in – in some cases I haven’t even met the fiancés. You have to trek to some far off place, get dressed up to sit at the cousin’s table making awkward conversation, and then spend the evening trying to forget the trauma of the email* asking you to buy your cousin’s wife sexy lingerie that she is probably going to be wearing in a few hours.

The problem for the unmarried woman is that a family wedding is just the hellhole from which spews the pity and headshaking associated with spinsterdom. You spend the evening doing the fake laugh/grimace every time someone says “so when is it your turn” or “you better hurry up, your younger cousins are catching up”. Suddenly all real-life achievements are voided by the sight of some 5-year-old spawn pelting rose petals at the carpet, because fuck that promotion, what you need is two years of dirty diapers, 4 hours of sleep a night and no sex.

The one bonus is that the cost of that set of Global steak knives or Smeg toaster (some people have no shame) will be covered by your parents.

Before I managed to get out of the last wedding my friend and I devised a plan: I was to wear a t-shirt saying “I survived the Red Wedding” and have my phone go off during the ceremony playing the Rains of Castamere. I couldn’t do that so I came up with some other ideas to make those 5 hours of your life more endurable.

What not to do:

  • Get drunk. This is okay (expected) at friends’ weddings but not a family event. They probably think you are sad and desperate enough without adding ‘drinking problems’ to the equation. If you must drink always be sure to stay two drinks behind weird aunt Meryl with the 3 cats and Mills & Boone collection.
  • Hook up with anyone. It will be noticed by that one aunt who will tell every other aunt until the grapevine explodes. And, because it is family, you will be expected to date, marry and procreate with best man Barry. There are no hook-ups at family weddings – only future life partners. Side note: hooking up with people at family events is always dangerous when you aren’t fully clued up on family lore. I had one cousin hit on another more extended cousin. No matter how much more of an achiever he is than me, at least I have never hit on a family member.
  • Get involved. It starts with lighting candles and ends with clearing up flower arrangements at 2 am. At my last wedding, my mother was instructed that she was in no way allowed to volunteer me for any shitty duties that are forced upon cousins because they can’t say ‘no’. For example writing names on place cards or having to go to every guest and make sure that they sign stupid cards that have to be shoved into stupid envelopes that have been stuck down in a stupid book**.
  • Do not catch the bouquet. This will lead to many lame jokes and a lot more expectations – as well as an awkward date with best man Barry after you share the sad singletons dance to Lady in Red.

What to do:

  • Wear white.
  • Order a vegan meal and then eat cake.
  • Start a rumour. But when spreading it always start with “someone said”, so people will subconsciously associate the origin with someone else. Pregnancy is always good, and it will make you look way better than cousin Richard’s flat-chested, childbride girlfriend who is supposed to be a rock climber but looks like the most she can hold up is a toilet seat.
  • Put in song requests for inappropriate songs with the themes of heartbreak, infidelity and regret.

Not all family weddings are bad and they might end up being quite pleasant in the end. Who knows? Best man Barry might be inheriting a wine farm or if push comes to shove, you can always look forward to the day when you are planning the seating for the divorce table.

*That was also sent to my mother, brother and father.
** This was a bitch and they would have been a nightmare to take out again. I will bet you a month’s worth of chocolate vodka that they weren’t even read.


For Ann

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