Be the wedding guest they will always remember

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The Independent Online
ISAID in this space yesterday that other people's weddings were more fun than your own. This led to an indignant response from an Independent reader - my wife, in fact. She remembered our wedding day with great clarity and affection, and hinted that if I didn't do the same, there would be adequate grounds for a wide-ranging debate between us.

So I explained that what I meant was that as most of us go to other people's weddings more often than our own (with the possible exception of Elizabeth Taylor), we become better at enjoying them and have more time to relax and get the most out of them.

Slightly, but not very, mollified, she asked me what sort of fun I expected to get out of a wedding, which was more duty than pleasure. I said that was the point - because weddings were formal and solemn, there was more room for hidden amusement. I reminded her that one of the best weddings we had been to had been enlivened by the escape of our small son, who, unobserved by either of us, climbed up into the pulpit where he found a microphone stand to play with. The congregation had been electrified by the sight of a piece of amplification waggling about in the pulpit without any human agency to move it (he was too small to be seen over the pulpit edge).

A smile softened my wife's stern features, and she agreed that fun was available at weddings if you knew where to look.

'Perhaps you ought to make a list of things to do at other people's weddings for people to cut out and consult,' she said.

'You're absolutely right, my dear,' I said. (Agreeing to your spouse's every request does wonders for a marriage.) So here goes:

Sitting behind a small child in the church service and encouraging it to misbehave.

Trying to sing the hymns in time with the organist rather than the congregation.

Going to see the presents, if laid out for inspection, and selecting the one you think is in the worst taste.

Spotting the guest who has come in the most inapposite costume (if it is a top hat and tails affair, there is always some brave soul in designer denim).

Being the first to spot the man in the kilt (there is always one man in a kilt, but never, strangely, more than one).

Being the first to overhear someone say: 'And do you know what? The vicar refused at first to marry them because they didn't attend the church, so they had to agree to come here three Sundays in a row, yah, absolutely monstrous]'

If the service is at a register office, spreading the rumour that the registrar at first refused to marry the couple because they were not regular attenders at his office, and made them come to three weeks of ceremonies before he would conduct the service.

Counting the time it takes to get married and counting the time it takes to have the photographs taken, the video shots taken, the bridesmaids photographed, and so on, and testing the theory that nowadays the lucky couple spend more time having it all placed on film than actually doing it.

When asked by an usher if you are with the groom, saying: 'No - against the bride.'

Studying the faces of the congregation and trying to imagine if their expressions would be any different if they were at a funeral.

Tearing up your order of service into tiny, tiny bits and then scattering them over the bride as she exits from the service.

Getting the best man drunk before his speech.

Ostentatiously reading a newspaper during the service.

Finding out where the 'mystery' destination of the honeymoon couple is on the first night of their marriage. (Not as exciting as it sounds at first, this one, as the answer is always the same: they're staying in a nearby hotel and coming back tomorrow to pack up before flying off to The Gambia or Antigua or wherever.)

Trying to get in the wedding video as often as possible, openly yawning.

Stealing the best man's speech.

Spreading grotesque and untrue rumours about the groom's stag night (all of which are always believed).

Substituting the Gettysburg Address for the best man's speech.

Locating the messages to be read out by the best man and inserting one reading: 'IMPERATIVE YOU STOP WEDDING CEREMONY NOW STOP MESSAGE FOLLOWS WITH COMPLETE EXPLANATION STOP'.

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