Saturday morning, 11am. The bride is fifteen minutes late, just as she planned it. She is ready for her day. The groom and his five men stand in their rented suits with lavender cravats and pocket hankies ($1,500) looking generically awkward/nervous, just as she planned. The bridal car arrives; the stretch Hummer ($2,000) makes a fifteen-point turn in order to get in the church’s ($5,000) driveway. The bride and her five maids spill out, each tripping over in an effort to avoid stepping on her strapless, yet veiled, gown ($5,500). They stand, waiting, freezing in the (unplanned) bad weather in their unnecessarily short lavender dresses ($2,500), each an incandescent orange hue, their hair ($400) and makeup ($300) struggling to remain in place in the biting wind and driving rain.
As the iPod attached behind the scenes begins playing ‘One’ by U2, she appears, radioactive in her luminescence ($50), in the doorway. She then waits fifteen minutes more, as her retinue each pace slowly, sonorously down the aisle in intervals predetermined by Jenny, the wedding planner ($2,000). But first, the ‘adorable’ niece and nephew potter aimlessly down to the altar, confusedly tossing flowers in every which direction while drooling on their custom-made tuxedo ($300) and dress ($500). Speaking of flowers, bridesmaid #4 left hers in the Hummer, and dashes out to get them ($400).
Eventually, relishing in the incessant flash of her friends’ and family’s SLR bulbs, she arrives at the altar, a queer look of joy and resolute determination on her face. Her beau, and his accompanying entourage, are the embodiment of the opposite of their behaviour a week earlier – at the buck’s – as they cheerfully stand by and watch their mate cry like a little girl – right on cue, as the music swells, and the cameras point in his direction, and the videographer ($2,000) zooms in.
The priest ($400) smiles benignly on his supplicants, and begs them to sit. The bride is glad, as she hasn’t eaten for four days and is feeling woozy. The priest then begins to invoke his bog-standard collection of platitudes for the massed horde, which laps them up enthusiastically, as they mirror those seen on every television wedding ever broadcast anywhere. The fifth bridesmaid and groomsman, left with no jobs to do, are asked to make the readings, which are lifted from a list of possible readings offered by the priest, hence have no actual relationship to either bride or groom, as neither are really Christian. They do so, in the stilted, sing-song manner of those who have rehearsed studiously, yet struggle to pronounce ‘begat’.
However, the bride is insistent that their wedding be ‘different’. This caused some consternation, as, when pressed, neither party could conceive of how to do so. Until she stumbled upon the idea of personalised vows in her fifth issue of ‘Aussie Bride’ ($18.95). They spent minutes each googling furiously the best words they could steal from other people to develop their own special vows. Several minutes of ‘loves’ and ‘I will always put away the dishes’-style ‘vows’ later, the priest smiles benignly once again, asks the obligatory questions, receives the obligatory answers.
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After the formalities are completed, the party moves outside, and greetings are made. Then, the bridal party vanish, along with their extended family for the five-hour session of photographs ($7,000 – wait ’till tomorrow) in various locales. During this time, the guests return to their cars to make the hour-long drive to the remote winery where the reception ($200 per head = $40,000) is to be held. The guests arrive (petrol = $40, accommodation = $200), and dutifully place their gifts from the registry ($50-$5,000) on the allocated table. When the in-laws all arrive, they gently prod each other to discover which family spent more on the BBQ/dining set/honeymoon suite, until one father learns what he believes to be the truth, and struts off with a self-satisfied smirk.
The reception hall, clad entirely in white, and featuring a four-piece jazz band ($1,000), is full of tired, bored guests, waiting for the bar to open by the time the couple and their crew arrive.
Another 45 minutes later, the entire bridal party have been introduced and seated, and the eating and drinking begin in earnest. The cake ($1,000) is cut, before it collapses under its own weight. The dance (to Michael Buble’s version of ‘Moondance’) is danced. The groom’s uncle falls asleep in the corner. The fifth groomsman – the bride’s weird younger brother who no one really likes – has been sent to sit in the car after he touched up the maid of honour. The fathers-in-law have come to fisticuffs after one reneged on his responsibility to cover half of the $75,000 bill for the day. The bride, before leaving, tosses the bouquet. The ladies present make their obligatory gestures towards not wanting to stand in the pack before surreptitiously throwing elbows at one another in an effort to walk away the victor. The men present take careful note of which participants are most aggressive…
Finally, the groom carries his new bride upstairs to their suite for the night. Finally, after her day has run itself out, he can have HIS moment. He can nail a chick in a wedding dress. She falls asleep as he disrobes. Just like she planned it. He taps her on the shoulder, and says ‘You awake?’ She doesn’t stir. He contemplates doing it anyway.