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Review: Wedding Vows and Woes

Karen Ann Monsy / 24 July 2009

Who’d have thought, that an upcoming wedding could possibly bring out the worst in people? Well, if you didn’t already believe it, you certainly will after you’re done with Wedding Babylon. Written by Imogen Edwards-Jones — assisted, as throughout her Babylon series, by an anonymous industry informant — this is your 
gold-trimmed invite to marvel at the utter madness of a super-competitive, price-inflated sector of the service industry that is in truth, more guns 
than roses. Welcome to the wedding planning industry.

Mr Anonymous leads the narrative as the ever-efficient wing man/sidekick/ second-in-command (take your pick) to Bernard, who runs the reputed Penrose. The events in the book take place over the span of a single week and are a fascinating peek into the thoughts that run through a planner’s mind.

But what makes this behind-the-scenes narrative most alluring is that as the prologue announces: Everything in the book is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Our faceless narrator tends to digress heavily, but each anecdote is more interesting than the last and makes his innumerable ‘detours’ forgivable. You’ll also appreciate how well researched the book is as all statements are substantiated by current stats, figures and the like. His constant, but subtle, deadpan humour only heightens the book’s entertainment value, which you’ll be pleased to note, is quite high.

You’ll find yourself sympathising with him as he tries to resist the advances of a former client (she’s actually been married three years and four weeks — not that anyone’s counting), feel the same joy well up at the final dress fitting of another bride, or just as embarrassed at the blunt speech of a far-from-prospective business partner with the tact of a circus monkey. 

They undertake a lot, these planners, because in their earnest to ensure the happy couple remains happy, Anonymous, Bernard & Co are ready to go the whole nine yards.

Thankfully though, they draw the line at arranging for a ‘snow storm’ (drugs) for the guests. Still, it’s astonishing how they’re expected to acquiesce every request as though the saying: ‘You can’t make everyone happy’ never existed.

The grand finale of the book is the wedding of a certain Alice to Richard and the run-up to the big day is a classic example of how much preparation — and stress — such a ceremony actually entails. Take Alice alone, for instance. What a charming young lady she starts out to be! But by the time everything comes to a head, she’s at best compared to a spitting wildcat.

And if you thought that was bad, hold your horses — because it’s never over till you’ve met the mother-of-the-bride. Forget the Monster Bride — you’ve simply got to meet Mumzilla. An outright horror, she’s about as unsupportive and demanding as they come. Her atrocious yelling about “everyone ruining what was supposed to be the best weekend of my life” is enough indication of exactly how disillusioned the woman is. I’ve heard of mothers trying to steal the show or living the “wedding they never had” through their daughters — but without doubt, this nutter just takes the cake.

As for the wedding day itself? I don’t wish to spoil the fun, so let’s just say — it was the mother of all wedding disasters. As the chaos wore on, it was a wonder the couple made it to the altar at all and by the end of it, you’re positive nothing can possibly shock you anymore. It makes you wonder: it’s true what they say then, isn’t it? The road to lasting love — it sure doesn’t come easy.

karen@khaleejtimes.com

 
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