They want something like a Bentley. That was the message I got from someone I know who is arranging a wedding and wanted to see if there was a special car I might be able to get hold of – as a sometime motoring writer – for the bridal couple to use.
Apart from the fact I’ve never driven a Bentley and am unlikely to ever do so, the request set me to wondering about all the extravagance and hoopla that surrounds weddings these days.
In Joburg, it is particularly OTT (over the top), as you’d expect in a jumped-up mining town where you’re judged by the badge on your car bonnet and nothing else.
In much the same way as matric dances have become fashion shows and vulgar displays of wealth so, too, have weddings developed their own arms race to see who can be bigger and better.
And forgive me for being the insensitive male now, but I am so tired of the “but it’s her special day” mantra that justifies all the nonsense: the hand-woven papyrus invitations, the cutesy little WhatsApp messages of Love and Light, the canapes, the jus just so on the main course.
And, not forgetting the two hours at least that bride and groom will spend with their photographer and videographer, producing a Hollywood-rivalling masterpiece.
Does this mean the bigger the wedding, the better (and longer-lasting) the marriage? I don’t think so.
Mind you, I would say that, wouldn’t I? I got married in a simple church ceremony, followed by a reception in the garden of good friends of my wife’s family. Our friend Pete shot the photos. We went off on honeymoon (to a nearby, and cheap, game reserve) in a 13-year-old Datsun 1 200, dragging the traditional tin cans off the bumper and with the sides festooned with comments in shaving cream.
You couldn’t lower the tone of a Bentley with that, could you?
That was 33 years, three months and five days ago. We note that day, still, with each passing year. More with quiet amazement than anything else, though.
Just as important, if not more so, is the anniversary of the day, 18 months before the formality of the wedding, when we became “an item”. We went bicycle riding and, when we returned, after a few sips of Old Brown Sherry (all she had in the cupboard of her flat), we decided we could spend more time with each other.
We still argue, though, about whether it was the 25th or the 26th of August. She doesn’t always agree, though, when I call it “the scene of the crime…”
But every now and then, on one of those days, when the romantic mood grips me, I’ll send her some flowers, with a simple note (courtesy of the lyrics of a song): We’re still having fun, and you’re still the one…
Relationships and commitments should be simple things. They shouldn’t be weighed down with tinsel. Whether my kids marry one day doesn’t really worry me. As long as they are happy and fulfilled in their lives, that’s enough for me.
Whether they make a fortune is not nearly as important as whether they make a difference. And if, one day, I get a WhatsApp message with a selfie attached from outside a registry office somewhere in the world, or from a beach with a barefoot preacher, I won’t complain.
It’s the commitment that counts, not the confetti. But you’re not likely to find that in any modern wedding planner’s guide.