Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Colleen's "no frills" wedding & agoraphobia

Ten months ago, when Collette got married, Colleen and Jim
suggested that they might get married this year in Malta. There was little further discussion about their wedding until a month ago. Then, out of the blue, they announced that they were going to get married in a month's time, somewhat closer to home – in Taunton.

That was a month ago. They got married today.

Their wedding plans caused much disappointment to many of the members of both families, because they decided to get married in Taunton registry office with just parents, their partners and two of their friends present. Other family members were told not to attend as Colleen and Jim just wanted a small wedding. At the groom's stag night, his brothers and best friend let it be known to me and my sons-in -law that they disagreed with the happy couple's choices.

In the evening, Colleen and Jim asked all their family members to go to a local pub for a carvery meal.

In choosing the venues for both the wedding and the evening get-together, Colleen totally disregarded Marie's agoraphobia. Carla and Collette had done the opposite – only booked their venues after ascertaining that Marie would be comfortable there. Colleen also paid scant regard to my feelings, since I had to attend without my wife. Because I wanted to make her day as enjoyable as possible, I didn't mention any of this to her – and I discouraged other concerned family members from doing so, too. (Jenna, who wed in Belfast, also got married in a venue which she knew was inaccessible to Marie, but she believed that Marie would probably not be able to cope with the journey.)

Just after midday, Colleen and Jim entered the registry office.

There was no photographer, so I took photographs. It is possible that Colleen and Jim hadn't wanted any photographs – they didn't say.

Colleen's mother, Sandra, also attended, accompanied by her partner. She was surprised to learn that only five of us had been invited to the ceremony.

She shed a few tears during the brief proceedings, as did the groom's mother.

When the ceremony ended, we all went to the pub across the road for a couple of drinks. Then we wnt back across for a couple of group pictures (the one below was taken by Sandra's partner).

It was only 1.30 and the evening meal was arranged for 6 pm. I went home and returned to Taunton a few hours later, accompanied by Jenna, her family and my two young children. The rest of Colleen's family made their own way there.

Just over 40 relatives were at the evening meal. The pub was large, quite comfortable, but lacked ambiance. The food was awful, but not wanting to upset the newly-marrieds, no-one complained. There were no speeches or any other formalities. Dress was casual – no fancy frocks or smart suits. Again, although not asked to do so, I took photos, so that Colleen andJim would have a pictorial record of events.

Colm arrived after the meal and stayed for a couple of drinks. He was in very good form and brightened up everyone's evening.

Some people left quite early, but Colleen's sisters and I and our respective families stayed till 9 pm (as late as we could stay with young children on a week night during the school term) leaving Colleen with some of Jim's family, none of whom had any children.

It had all been a very low key affair.

Expecting to have to pay for or contribute to up to six weddings (I don't expect Colm to wed), I decided some years ago that I would give each of my children a sum of money sufficient to cover the cost of a modest traditional wedding. Each recipient could choose how to use this money. They could add to it or keep part of it. Colleen and Jim decided to spend as little as possible on their wedding and save the rest. It may not have pleased everybody, but it was their choice.

Ultimately, Colleen's and Jim's happiness is the most important consideration, and they both looked happy on “their day”.


rosiero said...

As long as the bride and groom were happy, that is the main thing. I know it can be difficult for relatives, if they want the full works, but at the end of the day, it is the bridal couple that should decide. It was a shame Marie could not go, but then Colleen and Jim should not be made responsible.

KatduGers said...

I have to say, this is the route I would take if I was lucky enough to get married. Such a lot of emphasis is put on the "big day", and not on the rest of your lives.

I'm glad it went well for them though.

Stop by my blog - you have an award to pick up!

Robert said...

Hi rosiero - Colleen's sisters were mainly upset because they were excluded from the wedding ceremony, but they still rallied round & turned up in the evening to make her day as enjoyable as possible.

Although I have always told my daughters that Marie is MY problem and not theirs, I'm not very impressed that Colleen & Jim were happy to accept money from Marie & me without making the slightest effort to accommodate Marie.

Robert said...

Thanks for the awards, KdG! I totally respect my dughter's & her husband's choice of the type of wedding day they wanted. I just feel that they could have done so much better if they had picked a decent eating place! And I still think they should have at least made an effort to accommodate my wife.

Anonymous said...

Weddings can be wonderful occasions yet they can bring misery and animosity to families. My sister got married in Ireland and didn't invite any of our family at all. She's divorced now but that's another story!

CJ xx

♥ Kathy said...

I think they should have considered your wife too. I'm sorry she had to miss it. The pictures you took look great and I'm sure many years from now they'll look at them and be happy they were taken. Congratulations on another marriage taken care of! 6. Wow :) What a great dad!

Casdok said...

Congratulations to the happy couple. So sorry your wife had to miss it all.

Robert said...

CJ - Perhaps it's a youth thing - you think the whole world revolves around yourself..

Kathy - I'm sure that she'll appreciate the pics in years to come if not sooner.

Casdok - thanks for your kind comment.

Coffeecup said...

It's hard to fathom when people break with tradition and go it alone like that, and play it down as if it's nothing significant. I think we expect the bride to want to be the princess on the big day and have everyone there to adore and make it special. I empathise that Marie must have felt terribly left out and I think you're such a tremendous loving guy that it must have torn you in two today.

Oh well, that was that, maybe one day they'll wonder if they made the right decision.

Anonymous said...

We went "no frills" fourteen years ago and we have ne regrets at all.

Anonymous said...

Hi Robert,

I for one couldn't comment on Colleen's decision to have a low key affair. If I'd had my way its the sort of thing I would have done as I just don't like big affairs but came to a compromise in the end. I hated having to give a speech and the whole formality of the thing from cutting the cake to the first dance. I am though a grumpy paranoid sod.

But as you outlined it was very inconsiderate not to take Marie's situation into account. Even more so when you only have to cater for a handful of people. Not just Marie but also effected your own day too.

I'm so glad you took photos. In time these will be invaluable to them both. Again I have to admit on my wedding day I did not bother with a photographer but since then I have been extremely greatful that guests did take photos that we now have.

Now I hope you take a well earned rest and get saving for Orla's big day.

All the best


Robert said...

C/cup - I don't have any issues with the couple having an informal wedding. My only gripe was that they didn't cosider Marie & to an extent, me. And they upset brothers & sisters by banning them from the wedding ceremony.

If they ever regret not having a bigger "do", then they can renew their vows in as grand a manner as they wish.

Robert said...

MTAE - MY first 2 weddings were "no frills" affairs & there were no regrets. My last one (and it WILL be the LAST one!) had lots of frills & very enjoyable it was too. You've got to do what's right at the time, don't you?

Robert said...

Nechtan - At her wedding, my 1st daughter neither hired a photographer nor asked anyone to take photos for her. She's regretted it ever since.

I REFUSE to think about Orla's wedding for AT LEAST 13 years!

Turf Dad said...

Robert, Robert, Robert, you're on the hook for 6 weddings? That's funny. You're BETTER than the Tooth Fairy!

Kit Courteney said...

Totally agree about them having the day they wanted, but how much nicer it would have been for the FATHER of the bride to have had his WIFE with him.. if that had been taken into account.

Such a shame that Marie could not be part of the big day seeing as you are a married *couple*... I bet your photos are very well received all round.

Robert said...

TD - I never thought of it that way!

KC - Marie & I feel the same as you. Ironically, Marie is 10 times better at photgraphy than I am.