Here’s a theory: The fancier you make your wedding invitations, the more you increase the expectation that the wedding will be of corresponding fanciness.
Like a few months ago a friend of Gareth’s got hitched. The event was announced by a posh, creamy envelope swishing through the mail slot. The two of us gawked at the invitation in horror. The embossed lettering. The silk ribbon. The date spelled out in proper words. The lack of exclamation marks.
Finally, Gareth broke the silence. “How SHIT were our wedding invitations compared to this?”
We really did have rubbish wedding invitations. Some background if you’re new around here – Gareth and I eloped last March in the madness of Las Vegas. This was followed by parties in both Scotland (July) and Australia (October). Neither of us have ever been comfortable with being the centre of attention at social gatherings. For example, I loathed birthday parties as a child. Why give your classmates insight into all that dysfunction? Why try and meet their lofty expectations vis-a-vis party games and party food when you will no doubt fail them before you can say Home Brand Lemonade?
I initially felt the same about our wedding festivities. At least if your kiddy party was a fizzer, you could pap off the blame to your parents. But now we were the grown-ups, and I was consumed by this imaginary pressure to provide a Good Time for All.
Luckily Mary, my Mother-in-law-ship, was on the case – she’d organised the venue, the food, the flowers and the ceilidh band. All we had to do was the invitations. I knew Gareth was my soul mate the moment he uttered my exact fears: “We better not make them too fancy, we don’t want to get people’s expectations too high!”
I think I may have set them just a tiny bit too low by knocking up the invite in Microsoft Word in ten minutes. We did jazz it up with a photo from Wedding Part I complete with Elvis impersonator, but the effect was lost once it had been churned through the photocopier.
And for the final note of crapness, I mailed them off in poo-brown envelopes that I’d found up the back of the stationery cupboard at work, so ancient that I had to glue them shut.
Invitation before spellcheck.
Wedding Part II turned out to be a nice event. A good time was had by the guests in proportion to the expectations set by our lo-fi invitations. I never really stopped think how rubbish they actually looked until Wedding Part III.
The Mothership was at the helm this time and called me up to ask, “What are we doing about invitations?”
“It’s under control,” I said breezily, “I’ll just edit the date on the Scottish invite and email it to you. All you have to do is hit Print!”
“That doesn’t sound very classy.”
“People don’t expect me to be classy!”
When we arrived in Australia the week before the Big Day (which is now actually a year ago. I’m right on the ball with these blog entries, hey?), I was calm and serene. I was not feeling in the least bit stressed about the connubials. After all, I was a veteran by then! I was more concerned with catching up with friends and getting my mitts on my first decent mango in two years.
But this all changed at Jenny’s house. She was cooking us dinner when I saw the familiar picture on her fridge. Gareth, Elvis and me. But it was in colour. On fancy marbled paper. With elegant fonts.
“Oh no,” I squawked. “Is that the wedding invitation?”
“Sure is! Your Mum did a great job eh?”
“She did do a great job! That’s terrible!”
“Why?” “It’s far too fancy,” I whined. “It’s too nice. It sets false expectations! People will show up thinking it’s going to be a really fancy wedding but it’s just a wee party with me trying not to burst out of my dress and they’re all going to be disappointed and HATE me!”
I should have known The Mothership wouldn’t just stick the invitation through the photocopier. She always has to do things properly. Now I had to deal with all this pressure.
I started thinking about my friends who were travelling from far flung corners of Australia for the party, and calculated that the greater the distance one had to drive to get to a wedding, the more one should expect to be shown a good time! I’d say this expectation increases by a factor of ten for every 100 kilometres travelled. And the prettiness of the invitation made it look like a Proper Event. Before when it was just a crappy Word document, I didn’t have to take it seriously. I didn’t have to worry about Wedding Politics, and who I had or had not invited; who I had or had not offended. I didn’t have to think about the Family Issues I’d been ignoring for years, with the paternal side feuding to the point of Jerry Springer-ness (actually I wish they would hit each other over the head with chairs; some mild concussion or amnesia would do everyone some good).
The Word document meant no pressure and low expectations, so I’d be able to tell any offended parties, “Oh you didn’t miss out on much! It was just a naff little party!”. But now I was wracked with guilt and panic. The Mothership reassured that my worries were unfounded. People weren’t expecting a Broadway production – they were just happy to come along and catch up with everyone; to eat and drink and find out if my Scottish husband was real or imaginary. But for the days leading up to Wedding Part III I was a melodramatic mess. It had taken six months, but I was finally having my Bridezilla moment.