Wednesday 21 February 2018

Joe O'Shea: I'm getting married in 10 days

With his nuptials mere days away Joe O'Shea imparts some valuable pre-ceremony advice

Have a Marry Christmas: Joe and his fiancée Holly, relax before the big day on December 28
Have a Marry Christmas: Joe and his fiancée Holly, relax before the big day on December 28

Joe O'Shea

The venue is booked, the cake is iced and the suit is laid out and ready to go. The temptation, just 10 days out from our wedding day (in Cork on the 28th), is to switch off and assume that we have ticked all the boxes. All I really need to do now, as the groom, is show up at the right venue with shiny shoes and a smile.

But this is exactly when, according to the experts, your wedding will jump up and bite you on the posterior. Take your eye off the ball for one second and you could be looking at the kind of disaster your less compassionate guests will be gleefully recounting at other weddings for years to come.

Your Big Day will be nothing less than a tragic, cautionary tale for the ages, the legend of That Wedding Where The Cake Ended Up In the Wrong County. Or The Eejit Groom Who Left His Suit in Dublin.

"The week before the wedding is actually when it can get really, really hectic," says Naoise McNally of online wedding magazine One Fab Day.

"You may already be starting to relax because the big stuff is taken care of. But there's a sudden rush of last-minute jobs and details, items to be dropped off or collected, a lot of running around. It gets pretty bewildering and that's when you tend to make mistakes."

Naoise says the key is to stick to the written plan and do as much prep as possible.

"Anything you can look after ahead of the day, do it. Lay out your suit, pack your honeymoon cases and check your passports. Try on your shoes and walk around in them.

Your day is going to be busy enough, and there will be real last-minute hitches, without having to devote even a minute to something that could have been done and dusted seven days ago."

Our own wedding is a winter one, to ensure our friends and family (some of whom have recently emigrated for the second time) can do a family Christmas at home and still make our celebrations.

It is an increasingly popular choice for Irish couples, according to Claire Barry, wedding planner with White Sage Events in Limerick.

Claire says the items that can trip you up in the final run-in include the table plan and the exact guest-list.

"You are bound to have two or three people drop out in the last week or so, because of illness, or they can't travel, or get a baby-sitter. It's very common.

"And that means you have to juggle your table plan at the last minute and let the venue know exactly how many people are coming because you can be charged for those who don't make it."

There are apps and sites that can make life easier when it comes to table planning. These include -- although many couples, such as ourselves, tend to prefer the Lots of Post-Its & Endless Permutations system.

Wedding Planner Claire also suggests that the bride and groom designate a trusted friend or family member to act as a "buffer" on the big day.

"Couples are often surprised by just how many people will come up to them with issues on the day. You can be pulled and dragged in lots of different directions. So designate somebody close to you to deal with that," she says.

"It's also very important do out an entire day-plan, listing times and tasks, which supplier is doing what, directions to the church or reception, where to park, who to deal with in the venue.

"You can put all of the information -- including phone-numbers, times, suppliers, and so on -- on one sheet and make sure it gets to everybody.

"That way, if somebody has a question, they can just look at the sheet or ring somebody other than the bride or groom."

Our own wedding, in my hometown of Cork, will be a relatively simple (we are calling it "classy") affair, a humanist ceremony in the long-room of the Crawford Art Gallery followed by a reception in the Imperial, a much-loved, family-run hotel in the heart of the city.

Friends and family have pitched in to an incredible extent.

The wine has been driven back from France, mother-of-the-bride Sally is looking after flowers and table decorations and my own mother Norma has made the cake and arranged for her Barber-Shop Quartet friends to sing at the champagne (sssh, sparkling-wine) reception.

Another friend, Alex, is doing the photographs and a very close friend of ours, Susan, has agreed to conduct the ceremony (a sort of Joey-From-Friends role for which we are very grateful).

The average spend on Irish weddings is still in the €18-20,000 range. Ours should, with the help of family and friends, come in at considerably less than that.

What we are really hoping for is a great big party, a celebration for friends and family where everybody is relaxed and enjoying themselves.

And no last-minute surprises.

Unless they are along the lines of: "That ticket we got you for the Euromillions? It just won!"

Irish Independent

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