Everyone loves a wedding. Everyone, that is, except me… and most of my friends, relatives and colleagues. But like taxes and periods, they are unavoidable.
You knew it was coming; the family grapevine had filled you in on the details of the next big wedding. And there it was in writing: The date, a few weeks away; the time, 9PM; and the place, a big 5-star hotel. The thrill? The excitement? … I think not! The thick ivory envelope that once would have promised an evening of dinner, dancing, and romance (or at the very least a good night out) now evokes DREADED FEAR…
Now, it is not that I cannot appreciate the fun (albeit rare) of a wedding; my problem is I find it absurd that people feel everyone needs to be at this kind of event. The Cinderella dream (that dream where everything is “perfect,” right down to the ice sculptures and releasing of the doves) seems to have taken over. The fact that we are also forced to enjoy them boggles the mind — at least this mind!
But unavoidable they are, and so you put on a clown’s permanent grin and off you go. The wedding may be the best night for the bride and the groom but quite frankly it is an ordeal for the guests.
First, the obvious question: “What am I going to wear?” You would probably opt for a new dress as everyone saw you wearing the red dress at the last wedding. You could wear that black number (always a classic) but is anyone going to notice you if you and half the other guests are in black. You decide to buy a new dress. Unfortunately in Cairo, you can count on one hand the shops that sell eveningwear you would actually wear. So you decide to have a dress made. Think of color, fabric and style. Time to go through all the glossy magazines for ideas and find a dressmaker whom you can trust to deliver the dress early enough before the wedding.
You think you have the dress more or less sorted; you now need to book an appointment at the hairdressers. Between work and your otherwise interesting social life you give the hairdresser a call only to find out that he is fully booked on that day because guess what? … All the other guests were far more organized and booked him before you did! After a little flirting (and maybe begging depending on the importance of the wedding), he says he can fit you in but only at 9pm. So you miss the “zaffa”, big deal.
Make–up: you’ll do your own. But then you speak to a couple of friends who tell you they are having their make-up done professionally. You think to yourself “well if I’ve put such in effort into the dress and the hair and I don’t want to have a second hand make-up job” so you book yourself an appointment too.
A week before the wedding, you go for your final dress fitting (or have been super lucky and have found a dress in the shops). The dress is sleeveless and has a big slit on the side. You look at yourself in the long mirror and think, “Hmmm not bad, I’m sure with hair and make up, it’ll be great”. Then… shock horror!! You realize you forgot to call the “halawa” lady! And the manicurist!! Panic sets in as you realize that you have just spent a small fortune for this wedding and that doesn’t include the wedding present! It had better pay off one way or another.
When it comes to seating, that’s another nightmare altogether. Of course etiquette and sensitivities are high in the air, and the seating arrangements might as well be drawn up by the Arab League for reasons of political correctness. The likelihood though is that you will be seated next to that person you’ve been avoiding at Tabasco’s for the past month, or maybe some very conventional looking man in a striped shirt who is so interested in your conversation but just happens to be looking at your cleavage. Worse still, you may be seated next to the person who’s just won the “most boring human being alive award” where you would then be forced to hold that saccharine smile all through the evening. On top of that, you’re not allowed to smoke in front of the adults (even if you’re 35 years old yourself); never overfill your plate at the buffet (doesn’t do much for your image) and never gossip in the ladies room (you never know who’s in the next cubicle). Rules, rules, rules!
Married ladies, you may remember this: the pressure of finding “the one” at the wedding. You have been having conversations with your girlfriends saying things like “oh I hate these weddings, they’re all just meat markets” while secretly you’re dying to meet Prince Charming since you made all that effort to get there. Once there, tante X is just dying for you to meet her socially incapable, spotty, badly dressed son who happens to be of the suitable age for you. You make several trips to the ladies room hoping to be noticed by Prince Charming (oh you know he’s there, he just hasn’t made himself visible yet!). You discretely look around and the only one smiling at you is tante X’s spotty son. In the meantime, every member of your parents circle will give you sad looks of pity as they pronounce that dreaded phrase “o’balek ya habibti”. You just want to vanish into thin air cause you know that if you don’t have a ring on your finger at the next wedding, they will be saying “Eh? lissah mafeesh hagah?”
Unless it was the wedding of a really close friend and was a blast, you wonder to yourself if all that time and money you invested into it was really worth it. You come home with that horrid post-party feeling where your make-up is half done; your hair looks like a dead cat on your head; and your feet are absolutely enormous as a result of prancing around in heels all evening (heels, by the way, I believe were invented by jealous men to make sure their women remained seated next to them at all times!).
Preparing for a wedding can be a stressful and overwhelming experience, but it is important to remember that the day is meant to celebrate love and joy. While the planning process can bring on its own set of challenges, it is important to stay focused on what truly matters and to enjoy the special moments that come with attending a wedding. Whether you are a guest or a member of the wedding party, take a deep breath, relax, and savor every moment of the celebration.
You’re cranky, you complain about the fact that it really wasn’t all that great after all and vow to never to make such a huge effort for a wedding again… until that is… the next thick ivory envelope is dropped off at your house.