Monday, January 28, 2008

Does this look normal to you?

I have discovered, in my on-going wedding planning frenzy, that it appears to be normal over here to get married at about 10 am, have giant, 3-course wedding breakfast at lunch time (so why they call it 'breakfast' i surely do not know), and then have a full-on buffet dinner in the evening with dancing, etc., thus making the wedding an all-day affair that lasts from 9:30 a.m. (realistically, when people start showing up) to midnight or later. That's a 14+ hour party, people. Fucking 14 hours!!!

This seems to be the norm because whenever I ask for prices for food the venues all hand me a figure in the range of 45-70 pounds per person, and they automatically include the 3-course wedding breakfast and the "disco buffet" for the evening. Who does this??? I have never in my life heard of such a thing.

In the states if you have a morning wedding you have an afternoon reception and everyone goes home at 6 pm. This is much more sensible. They don't hang around until midnight getting drunk and expecting to be fed again like some kind of spoiled zoo animal.

I have been having a very hard time getting any place to quote me a per-head price for
  • a starter
  • a main course

period. no buffet. no dessert. why would anyone have dessert at their wedding? That's what the bleeding CAKE is for!

argh. you people are weird.

oh, and is it normal to not offer your guests a choice of main course for the dinner? every formal party i've been to in the UK (and i've been to a few, what with office xmas dos and all Pirate's formal stuff), and every time the invitation has included a dinner card to send back with my menu selections. But they tell me that at weddings everyone is normally served the same thing! Really? Or am I being scammed?

26 comments:

Sal said...

cake? what's the cake for?

jd said...

14 hour party? hell yeah.

me and the wife went to a wedding in the states, and it was *exactly* like the one at the start of The Deer Hunter. i loved it; probably because me and the other british guy were paralytic by the end of the service.

anyway...

yes, you will eat and drink your own weight in food due to british wedding protocol.

you will not offer any choice of main course (vegetarians are welcome to bring their own lettuce).

you will have a dodgy disco for the evening do. 80s music will be played.

red said...

yeah, that sounds about normal to me. and everyone except the veggies usually eat the same thing.

Rimshot said...

Vegas is calling, C.B.

Veeeegaaaaaaaas!

Geosomin said...

Sounds like a similar thing to the "night lunch" thing they ask for here in farmer country...as though a full supper isn't enough -you've gotta pull out the spread again at about 11 or so.
We didn't have a dance to skip that part...but we were broke students so we just had a supper (all the same) with wine on the table and cake.

It's your wedding. Do what you like. If people are offended...they aren't there for you.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

Hi Sal! Hi JD! Haven't seen you two around here for a long old while! Thanks for stopping by.

Sal: the cake is for eating. It will taste excellent. I know, because I will bake it!

JD: well, we're breaking with tradition then. Our service won't be until 3 pm. After that there will be a nice sit-down meal culminating in my fabulous cake, and possibly a tasteful dance. maybe.

red: really? huh.

rimmer: ew. just, ew.

geo: i like your attitude. thank you! unfortunately mom broke down crying when i said there might not be dancing. balls.

belladona said...

Yes, totally normal.
The vegetarians, if there are any, will be viewed with deep suspicion by the caterers whenever you try to accertain what their dish will be. Most probably on the day it will never arrive at all. The veggies are expected to show a stiff upper lip about this.
If you want some kind of food choice the price goes up exponentially. (Actually if you want anything that happens as I'm sure you've already seen for yourself).
Cake appears to be there to look at, not to eat - at some point when everyone is very drunk there will be some attempt by the servers to hand it round but somehow, you will never get any. Most of it will still be untouched as you dance by it in a conga at 2am. Even though you hate the conga.
Do your best to break away from all this ridiculousness. Good luck!

Delirium said...

Ooooh, I've never been to a wedding breakfast! Maybe it's not really a Scottish thing...

Most weddings I've been to have started lunchtime or mid-afternoon, then dinner (no choice for the meat eaters; lasagna for the veggies)or buffet, then (sometimes) another roll out of food at around 9/10 o'clock.

French weddings seem to come with around eight courses though - complete nightmare, especially if you're trying to save room for some nice French wine, but feel so bloated that you can't eat or drink any more...

Ultimately you should have the wedding you want and not the wedding that someone's trying to sell you, so hold out for that.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

belladona: the scenario you outlined is making me seriously nervous about the whole thing. i don't want any of that!

delirium: whatever you call it it's just a meal after a wedding. in our case, it will be at dinner time, but they still call it a breakfast. i really don't understand this country.

Miss Melville said...

Yeah, this country is a little crazy... but I'm going to say that this wedding breakfast bit smacks of the English. Up here in the far North, weddings happen mid afternoon and the remains of the wedding parties and receptions wind up club hopping at about midnight if the number of kilts and formal dresses on Fridays and Saturdays is anything to go by. And really, I think most people will be there to see you on a happy and momentous day, not because they want silly food.

However, I did speak to your mother today, and she's hell-bent on dancing at her daughter's wedding. You might want to plan accordingly? That, and c'mon, dancing at weddings is fun! You get twirled around by people who are over-the-moon happy for you, and I KNOW you've got some love in your heart for some awful, kitchy music. Don't deny it. But that comes after all the tasteful music and the bridal party hitting the bar. ;)

Chaucer's Bitch said...

The reason there was a possibility of no dancing was that our first two picks for reception venue were too small to accommodate a dance floor. turns out they're also too small to accommodate all our guests as well. so we're going with the bigger place that has plenty of room for dancing and Pirate's already booked the DJ. but only until midnight. after that people can go where they please; i'll be going to bed (lest i turn back into a pumpkin.)

Ezri said...

It smacks a little of the traditional Bermy wedding - though ours usually don't start at breakfast. The ceremony's usually mid-afternoon, and then everyone departs for photos and the venue where there will be a cocktail hour waiting for the wedding party to arrive. Then there's the toast and everyone sits down for a formal three course. Then the dancing begins. Usually it goes on for hours, and then somebody knows somebody who knows somebody who will open such and such club or restaurant after hours, and the beat goes on :)

I've only been to one American wedding and it definitely struck me as a bit too short. But it is really about it being what you want - big or small, disco or ballroom. Even if you do dance the night away, it doesn't have to be overly lavish. My cousin, J, had a lovely buffet at her wedding, and collected sea glass to use for decorations. It was on all of the tables, and she had it tied up in fishing nets to decorate the ceiling. It was simple but beautiful :)

The best is having all the people you care about in one place sharing something special and important with you :-D

Anyway, enough mush! I'm going to have to go eat some raw meat and watch something involving sharks with lazers to get it out of my system...

ziggi said...

Get married in the afternoon, have one big dinner afterwards (yes it is true that they normally only serve the one choice plus 'veggie') and then if you want an evening disco/party (it's not obligatory!) people should be full already!

It's your wedding, do what you want, all the tradition lark is a load of bollox anyway - just do what makes you and Pirate happy.

Simon said...

All the English weddings I've been to start about 12 at the earliest.

Timorous Beastie said...

I've not been to that many British weddings, but none of them have started any earlier than 2 or 3 pm, and none have ever involved more than one meal. This includes the posh one at an Oxford college. There was a late afternoon/early evening meal, then some drinks and then we paid for our own drinks at the bar in the evening. Fuck that providing people with 2 meals, buffet etc nonsense. Scottish weddings, in my memory, always consisted of 1 meal, no choices and lots of whisky.

mary said...

Now listen up Ms Chaucer, this is going to be your gloriously happy day, for god's sake don't have a nervous breakdown between now and then.
I went to a lovely wedding in Ireland recently, a glorious dinner about 6 pm, with a choice of main course.
They served the children first with a different menu so they weren't sitting around getting impatient.
And after the meal we all bought our own drinks and then later on the waiters brought round plated of sandwiches for each table. don't be too worried, it will all come right on the day.

Hannah said...

Huh. The wedding invitation I've just received DOES give choices for lunch. Sorry to throw spanners.

Annie Rhiannon said...

All the weddings like that that I've been to have been too long. By early evening I just want to go back to my hotel room and hide. It sounds like you've got the right idea in America.

Anonymous said...

Personally, those of you across the pond have a screwed up way of doing this. Simple American way of this that you know will work just fine and if anyone bitches or complains, hey, it is your day, your bill and your choice. Do as you want, screw what everyone else says or does.

Make the day what you want it to be and how you want it to be. When we did our wedding, my spouse and I did follow with what people wanted and we didn't like it and were upset at how some of the things turned out. It would have been better if we just did what we wanted and said screw you all to what everyone else was wanting and suggesting. If they want to demand that you do it a certain way, tell them to fork over the $$$$ to pay for it.

Just my two cents.

FirstNations said...

I really like what Mary described. that caterer has a lot of sense.

Have you sat down with his mom and dad and asked them to sincerely tell you what THEY expect? because if you're worried about that aspect of things it's best to get on the same page and talk it over. there might be some valid social considerations there. that way you've at least made the effort to please family by showing your interest. everyone else can piss off.

or show them a real cultural event: rent a school basement, ask everyone to bring a casserole, serve Doritos, play the radio real loud and have a car parked out back with the trunk full of ice and tallboys, Sumas-style! they will talk about it for YEARS. X!

Chaucer's Bitch said...

ez: sharks! With LASERS!! *trembles* that is the best. thing. ever.

zig-a-zig-ah: that's almost exactly what we're doing, actually.

simon: well, we're starting even later than that. which is good. gives me time to SLEEP IN!

TB: thank you. seriously, thank you. that's the most reassuring thing anyone's said yet.

mary: damn did you freak me out! for a second i thought my mom had found my blog! hi, and welcome.

Hannah: yeah, Pirate isn't hung up on offering options, but i really want to, mostly because i would be annoyed if i got an invite to a wedding and wasn't given options.

AR: i tell ya, i'm not planning on sticking around too late. i'm going to be exhausted (as pirate pointed out to me only last night) and i want to go to bed with a wee dram of energy left!

A. Non: unfortunately we physically can't have what we want because we wanted a simple meal and get-together in a pub after, but we couldn't find a pub anywhere in bristol that could accommodate our crowd! so it's going to be the big, posh, hotel do after all. *le sigh*

FN: you make an excellent point. In fact, I HAVE asked my in-laws what their expectations are, but they flat out REFUSE to get involved and just keep saying over and over "do what you like," which is lovely and thoughtful, but not helpful, because i really don't want to step on any cultural toes and embarass the Pirate. Though frankly, I think your suggestion is the best I've heard yet!

Spinsterella said...

if I ever get married (stop laughing!) I want First nations to organise it.

ZB said...

That's a 14+ hour party, people. Fucking 14 hours!!!


Yes? And your point is? You lightweight, CB. If you want an American wedding, get married in America. Sheesh, you're the one after citizenship...

hendrix said...

It's not a fourteen hour without a break party. What usually happens is that you have the service and then the meal/speeches etc in the venue and then at about 3ish (because you have to allow time for people to get to the venue from the church, navigate the meet and greet line, the arguments that ensue when people realise your seating plan means they're sitting next to their worst enemy and all the food/speeches)everyone goes back to their own homes for a cup of tea and a good bitch about the day so far. Then at about 6/7ish everyone pitches up at the venue (again) for the evening "do". Usually if you have a sensible person they will have organised a minibus so that no-one has to be a designated driver.

There are some advantages of having the two get togethers. The first is that people who weren't invited to the service and formal meal can be invited to the evening event. This is useful if (like us) you have such a vast family that to invite family and friends to the formal meal is logistically and financially impossible.

Secondly - and most importantly - it also means that you get to wear two outfits, (I'm talking about the guests here as the bride tends to stick to wearing her wedding dress at least for the first part of the evening). You can dance to Dead or Alive while wearing a large hat but its probably better not to.

I've been to weddings where the day ended once the formal meal was finished and it always seemed like a bit of an anti-climax. The evening event means that a wedding day is precisely that - a day.

The only wedding I went to in Scotland was when I was very young and the bride and groom just hired the whole hotel for the guests from the Friday to the Monday. I don't really remember the service but apparently since they'd organised it so that there was a free bar for that time, I don't think I was alone in that.

Weddings in France are even longer than weddings in Britain. F's sisters wedding started at about eleven and ended at 5 the next morning.

You have the dessert and the cake because the cake isn't really the dessert, cutting the cake is more ceremonial and usually people take a piece home with them (this fits with the tradition of saving the top tier of a cake for the christening of the first child). Therefore the cake doesn't really count as the dessert. Besides which, what's wrong with having two desserts - sounds like the perfect end to a perfect meal to me.

Having said all that - this is your day - do what you want and hang with traditions etc. I just thought I'd give some of the reasonings behind it all.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

Hendrix, your comment terrifies and baffles me.

In America, to invite someone to a reception but not the ceremony is considered INCREDIBLY rude. I could never bring myself to do that.

And I maintain, the cake totally counts as desert. If people want to be silly and not eat theirs, that's their problem. I know no one who takes their cake home with them! Strange people. In America, the top tier isn't saved for the first Christening, it's saved for the first anniversary of the wedding.

llewtrah said...

We're normal! We just like an opportunity to let down our hair, unfurl the stiff upper lip, leave behind the famous British reserve and PAAAARTY!!!

Our long wedding parties are, historically, also a chance for matchmaking and the longer they go on and the more inebriated guests become, the more chance you have of finding guest A knocking off guest B under the main table.

As for wedding cake etiquette, if a guest declines a piece of cake (either to eat in or take away) it is a sign they disapprove of the marriage.