Celebrity weddings: gaudy carnivals of vulgarity and revenge

As the nuptial season looms, let's not forget weddings' true joy: gawping at the excess

Share

It is nearly June, which means two things: Wimbledon and weddings. The bank holiday weekend is traditionally the start of peak wedding season. For twenty and thirtysomethings, though not exclusively, the summer months from here on in can be one long round of Mr and Mrs games and fancy dress, marquees and Reiss dresses, first dances and “Come on Eileen”, eccentric B&Bs and hungover brunches.

This is no bad thing. Everyone loves a wedding. Even the bitterest churl cannot fail to be moved by the joyful sight of two people declaring their love and embarking on a life together. For the happy couple, it is the start of something new and exciting; for everyone else, it’s pretty much the same old very nice thing each time – a chance to drink all day and dance all night with friends and family.

And while attending the wedding of someone you hold dear is hard to beat, reading about the wedding of someone you have never met is its own particular pleasure. In general, the further removed one is from the couple in question, the more there is to pore over. For the amateur social anthropologist the wedding offers much to feast on – the seating plans, the speeches, the family dynamics.

Wedding etiquette – wediquette? – is an industry in itself, with endless manuals and magazines rehashing the rules about veil length and top hat height, even though they have not changed in centuries. Not that one needs a manual. Since everyone has been to a wedding, and many have had one, there are an awful lot of back-seat brides out there.

The national obsession with wediquette – and it is, I think, a particularly British trait – explains why Lady Weymouth’s Revenge made the papers yesterday, in the kind of episode that occasionally canters off the pages of Tatler to remind everyone else how weird the aristocracy is.

To recap, when Emma McQuiston, as was, married Viscount Weymouth last year, her in-laws-to-be boycotted the ceremony. Lord and Lady Bath were angry about their son removing a mural from the ancestral home, Longleat. One can only imagine how upsetting it must be to lose a mural from a wing one doesn’t live in, just like that. In any case, Lady W, who has insisted that the murals were not binned but were “carefully preserved” in storage, has now put on an exhibition at Longleat which features as its centrepiece her wedding dress and a full-length oil painting of herself as a bride. She has essentially restaged her big day and stuck it in her in-laws’ former sitting room, which is quite the comeback. It also has all the things that wedding-watchers like best in other people’s celebrations – familial tensions, vulgarity, revenge.

A fascination with the nuptials of strangers also explains why the news of a 25-year-old man breaking off his engagement to a 23-year-old woman made headlines around the world this week. There is no good time to call off an engagement, particularly not when the betrothed in question are Rory McIlroy and Caroline Wozniacki, world-beaters in golf and tennis respectively.

The sports stars began their relationship more than two years ago and, like many excitable twentysomethings with a giant profile, frequently lived it in the public eye, attending each other’s events, tweeting pictures of their nights out, their mornings in and, in January, their engagement. It followed that when they split, that too would be a public event. McIlroy called off the wedding just days after the invitations were sent out, realising that he was not ready to commit. It is a brave thing to call a halt before the wedding train truly gathers steam, even braver, arguably, when he knows that the world is watching.

The weddings and, as it turns out, non-weddings of sportspeople hold a certain fascination. Blame it on the Beckhams. Ever since their gaudy carnival of romantic commitment in 1999, complete with doves, thrones and matching white, then purple, outfits, watching footballers get married has been something of a national sport.

Like the Longleat spat, it’s a class thing, an excuse to gawp at how the other half lives. When it is two sports stars getting married, the intrigue doubles. Are they competitive? How do two champions learn to compromise? One hopes we will never find out. For all that an engagement or wedding is a public declaration of love, at its heart is a private contract that concerns only two people, however many others might be watching.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Magento Front End Web Developer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Front End Web Developer is re...

Investigo: management accountant

£250 - £300 per day: Investigo: Growing international marketing business requi...

Recruitment Genius: ORM / Online Reputational Consultant

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ORM Consultant is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Facilities Manager

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of educat...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Burning vehicles are seen near the village of Ghajar on Israel's border with Lebanon January 28, 2015  

Israel vs Hezbollah: Why another war is unlikely

Maya Gebeily
Sammie Welch, 23, was given a note praising her parenting skills with Rylan, three  

Praising a stranger for looking after their child isn't kind — it's the parenting equivalent of cat-calling

Sophie Zadeh
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore