Why stealing the couple's thunder at a wedding is the new trend for the 'me generation'
You’ve been dreaming of your perfect wedding since you were knee-high to a My Little Pony, and now – finally – the big day has arrived, complete with flowers, sugared almonds and Mr & Mrs bunting.
Everything is perfect.
And then, just as the speeches are about to toast the perfection of your union, along comes a couple of guests, approaching the top table. Are they about to proffer their congratulations?
Oh, no. The man gets down on bended knee and proposes to his girlfriend. You are merely the backdrop.
We don’t quite know what happens next, but the photograph – which has been viewed more than a million times on the internet – suggests that the bride treated this intervention with as much enthusiasm as if she had stood in a steaming cowpat on the way into church.
Her smile is broad, but her eyes burn with disgusted indignation that someone has stolen her thunder.
If there is one golden rule about weddings, it is this: however ludicrous and irrational the behaviour of the bride, no one must upstage them. You do not want to be a thunderstealer.
Sandy Moretta, co-owner of the UK Alliance of Wedding planners, points out that this rule is more important than ever, because weddings have been transformed from simple ceremonies on wet Wednesday afternoons into multi-event festivals, complete with their own hashtags and personalised confetti.
“Often, the couple have saved up for a couple of years. It really is a big deal and they do want it be absolutely perfect. The brief we always get is that it has to be better that everyone else’s.”
But however well you plan, there is little you can do to stop a determined thunderstealer, from the mother of the bride with a hat wider than St Paul’s Cathedral and the ex-girlfriend wearing a scowl and sheer scarlet, to the family member who is completely blotto before the service has even started.
At my wedding, one of the guests turned up with an album of her own daughter’s recent wedding, and insisted on showing everyone the pictures. I thought that was a bit off.
At another, a guest whipped out his guitar half way through the service, and insisted the congregation listen to his spontaneous rendition of the “My Eyes Have Seen the Coming of the Lord”, so filled with the beauty of sacrament he was witnessing.
But the modern era appears to have created a new monster: the guest who not only wants to steal the limelight from the lucky couple but plaster their moment of glory across the internet.
Only this week Ciaran Morrison, 26, from Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, spawned a viral video. He was the best man and he pretended to lose his speech, only to dash out the room and play a video. This was an epic production, one that took 60 hours to film, and featured him in various guises trying to hunt down the speech across the lanes and hostelries of Downpatrick. Think “All because the lady loves Milk Tray” without the chocolates or budget.
The entire production was a loving homage to the athleticism and wit of the the best man – not the groom or bride.
The people at the wedding seemed to think it was just swell. And, no doubt, if you were friends of “Mozy”, it was totally hilarious. But I am not sure why we, the viewing public, should encourage this trend.
A lot of the blame must be placed at the door of the Christ Lutheran Church, in Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA, the venue of the “JK Wedding” entrance dance – a skilful, if hideously back-slapping festival of self-congratulation performed six years ago, and now viewed over 89 million times on YouTube. You will have seen it: the groom backflips down the aisle while the bridesmaids dance to Chris Brown’s “Forever”.
And, clearly, the guests want a slice of the action, too.
Mark Niemierko, a celebrity wedding planner, says: “I’ve seen a trend for more and more speeches at weddings. It’s not just the bride, but the bride’s mother, the bridesmaids, the groom’s father; they all want to have their say – and have it caught on the official video and everyone’s cameraphones, too. Sometimes, they forget to talk about the couple, making the speech all about themselves.
“The other awful thing is the guests who want to sing. ‘I must perform at your service, or at your reception…’, and they turn out to be just not very good,” says Niemierko.
With the average budget for a UK wedding now around £21,000 – only just shy of the annual average salary – it is perhaps not surprising that so many weddings have become productions, rather than celebrations. But it just seems a shame so many have become public memorials to our me, me, me age.