According to the Bishop of London Sarah Mullally, couples should avoid the “expensive extravaganza” of large weddings.
As someone who postponed his wedding because he wanted an “expensive extravaganza”, I couldn’t have rolled my eyes anymore.
In a Lords debate, The Right Reverend Sarah Mullally urged the government to “encourage couples to understand that marriage itself is far more important than the commercial specifics of a wedding anniversary.”
“The fees for a church wedding or a simple ceremony at the registry office are very modest indeed,” she said. “But the wedding industry is eagerly raising expectations for a big day.”
Mullally is right to some extent, of course. You will have a hard time finding someone who doesn’t think marriage is more important than a day.
But – and it’s a big but – I’m really looking forward to wearing the dress, mocking canapés, and dancing to Wonderwall too. You can take marriage seriously, but you still want a damn good party. The two are not mutually exclusive. And after the year we’ve all had, is it so wrong to have a little fun?
Becky Westerdale (28) and her partner Keeton Smith (29) are also committed to a great task. The Sheffield-based couple have been together for nine years and were originally scheduled to get married on June 5, 2021, when weddings of 30 guests are expected. However, they are hoping for 60-day guests and 90 evening guests, so they have postponed the wedding until June 2022.
“I’ve dreamed of our wedding day for a long time,” says Westerdale. “I always imagined the big party where everyone on the dance floor was dancing, hugging, and singing without worrying about social distancing.”
Becky Westerdale and her partner Keeton Smith
With all Covid restrictions in mind, wedding planning for the original date became “fun”. “We’re getting married in a church, and we were told pretty early in the year that the chances we’d sing hymns were very slim,” she says. “The thought of walking down the aisle with my father in a face mask was also a problem!”
Another benefit of the postponement is that your new wedding date will fall on your 10th anniversary. If you’ve waited this long what is another year?
The What About Weddings campaign group, which called for better government support for the wedding industry and clearer guidelines for affected couples, described the bishop’s comments as “cruel”.
“The wedding sector has 400,000 jobs, 80% of whom are women, and it is frankly cruel to raise expectations after a year without work and little support,” the group told HuffPost UK.
“Nobody raises expectations, people just want to go back to work and support their families. There is currently a real mental crisis in this sector which for many comes with an imminent financial threat. These comments will hurt a large number of people, both couples and businesses. “
The group also said the bishop should consider couples with large families, as well as those who choose to have a large wedding to honor their cultural heritage.
Nicole Matthew, 27, and Craig Andrew, 30, want between 150 and 170 guests at their wedding to celebrate their Caribbean heritage. They have postponed twice from April 2020 to March 2021 and are now planning that their big day will take place on August 24, 2021.
“Both of our families are massive,” says Matthew. “My partner actually has around 40 first cousins. Weddings in our culture are a big deal and one of the few occasions when the whole family gets together. I’m also the first to marry my siblings so it was really important that we all celebrate together. “
Nicole Matthew and Craig Andrew
A big wedding is about loved ones, not the “material side of things,” as Mullally’s comments suggest.
“We really appreciate the support of our friends and family in our relationship, and it’s a way for us to give back and share our love with them,” she says.
Family is also important to Owen Pickrell, 28, and Padraig Doran, 34, who plan to have 160 guests at their wedding. The Brighton couple were due to get married in September 2020 but have been postponed to May 2021. Since the restrictions have not been lifted completely, they have decided to postpone the date again and will now get married in July 2022 at The Ash Barton Estate.
“You only have the opportunity to celebrate a wedding once in your life. So you want everyone who is important to you there, ”says Doran.
Owen Pickrell and Padraig Doran
Her guests supported her decision to hold back for the occasion they wanted, says Doran – far from Bishop Mullally’s comments.
“You get people telling you it doesn’t matter and throwing a little wedding, but they miss the bigger point that we want everyone who is a part of our lives there,” he says. “However, in general, everyone understands that this year has been really difficult and that we should have the wedding we want once government restrictions allow it.”
For Amber Annett (37) and her partner Mehul Vora (40), a big wedding offers the opportunity to unite their international guests. Annett is Canadian and Vora is Indian, but the couple now live in Southampton. They legally married in the U.S. in March 2020 to have their spouse visa in effect, but do not consider it their wedding day.
“For us, the celebration with our loved ones was always the most important part, and we agreed beforehand that we would still call each other fiancés before the celebration. and then we would really feel married, “says Annett.
Amber Annett and Mehul Vora
Their wedding was originally scheduled for November 2020 to coincide with Diwali. They won’t rebook it until they know their families are safe to travel and party.
“For us, weddings are about bringing two families together. I love the quote “Friends are a family you choose yourself, so our good friends are part of that,” says Annett.
“Having grown up, studied, worked and lived in several countries, we have to encourage many people to travel. So our biggest hurdle is waiting for the journey to begin and knowing that it is safe. “
The couple also love to dance and cannot imagine a wedding without them. Annett lived in Scotland for six years so they plan to have a blanket for their wedding. A sangeet – a festival with music, dance and a traditional element of Indian weddings – is also important to Vora.
Annett says that there is “certainly some” judgment in going for a big wedding – and it’s time to let go of it. “At the end of the day, it’s the couple’s choice,” she says. “People should do what is right for them.”