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Ian O'Doherty: Weddings are all panic, pandemonium and threats to my physical safety . . .

Unlike you lot, I'm not in the office today. Nope, I live far too glamorous and glitzy a life to spend a Friday stuck in the grind of slaving behind a hot keyboard -- I'm off to a wedding instead. In Athlone. Or maybe Arklow, I wasn't really paying attention, to be honest.

In my limited experience, I've learned that there are two types of people: those who approach an Irish wedding with a degree of trepidation, and mad people.

Over the last 12 months, I've been to several weddings -- all at the behest of the missus, who seems to have more friends and relations with every given day -- and when you go as a plus one, it's hard to feel that a) you want to be there, and b) that anyone wants you there anyway.

And so, I've spent more than one afternoon stuck in a hotel bar, sulking and reading the paper while the others are in the dining room having their dinner. Why would I do that?

Well, it's not a case of being anti-social, it's simply because nobody really likes wedding food, do they? And, frankly, I've reached a point in life where I'm not going to do something I don't want to, and if I don't fancy eating something, I simply won't.

This, as you can imagine, has raised certain disapproving eyebrows, but what is the fair thing to do -- get a young couple, already struggling to pay the astronomical costs of a modern Irish wedding, to fork out an extra 40 quid for a plate of food that won't be eaten or simply to inform them in advance that, thanks but no thanks, and they can save themselves a couple of quid that would otherwise be wasted?

You see, I'm the thoughtful, caring, sensitive humanitarian in this situation, yet half the people who attended those earlier weddings looked at me as if I had just tried to snog the bride on the altar. Or worse, the groom.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing but respect for people who get married and those whose weddings I've attended have all been top folk, it's just the process that makes my teeth itch.

And before anyone accuses me of being some sort of anti-social snob, I should stress that I include my own wedding in this list.

On that occasion, there was an interesting clash of cultures. A bunch of my degenerate, morally dubious and invariably chemically enhanced mates descending on north Mayo for what turned out to be a memorable weekend of debauchery mixing it with the wife's guests -- who are normal people -- certainly provided for an interesting social experiment.

But Jesus, the tension of the run-up to it...

Jack L and his compadre Dave Considine -- Considine, you still owe me that pint, you bastard -- offered to sing in the church as a wedding present, which was nice.

Except nobody remembered to actually check to see if they had arrived.

Cue panic and pandemonium, much dark muttering, veiled and not so veiled threats to my physical safety from an increasingly pissed off wife-to-be, until it turned out that the duo were already ensconced in the balcony awaiting their cue.

They provided a musical treat that even moved the priest to comment on how good it was -- although I still don't think he got the sado-masochistic references in 'Hallelujah', (or "that song from Shrek" as one Irish blogger wrote last week) when Jack sang: "She tied you to her kitchen chair and she broke your throne and she cut your hair."

But if you can't introduce a bit of bondage into your wedding song, than what's the point of getting married?

Matters took a turn for the embarrassing when I was subsequently spotted on the wedding video surreptitiously removing the Communion bread from my mouth and placing it in my jacket -- is Communion bread meant to make your tongue burn and sizzle like that?

Jesus, it hurt.

No, weddings are not for the people who are getting married, they are for the guests at the wedding. And they are determined to enjoy themselves.

So, you get aunty Irene, who has indulged in one sherry too many, telling you in a florid and inventive manner the many ways in which you are morally and personally deficient and not fit to marry an Asian mail order bride, let alone her beloved niece.

Then you get the mother-in-law saying almost exactly the same thing.

Then you get the father-in-law reminding you that as they are country folk with country ways, he is an expert with the shotgun and has an itchy trigger finger.

In fact, there is something quite unnerving about someone poking their finger into your chest, leaning close into your ear and whispering: "I can have you killed any time I want, you little prick, and she will never know who was responsible, capisce?" Obviously, the above are mere random examples of what can sometimes be said at a wedding and are no way representative of any experiences your humble columnist may have experienced.

Honest.

Yup, I'll be spending today and most of the night -- at least recklessly heavy drinking isn't frowned upon when you're at a wedding -- convinced people are talking behind my back, and trying to pretend I can't see the father-in-law making shooting gestures with his hands at me every time the wife's back is turned. So, the very best of luck to Gerard and Martina, and may the day go as well as mine did.

But I still don't think I'll be having the meal, if that's okay.

Irish Independent