Wedding watchers tell Rita de Brún how big expense and bad behaviour with the wedding cake can hint that trouble lies ahead
Bad news for bridezillas. Good news for the impecunious. Recent research into the relationship between wedding expenses and marriage duration indicates lower spending can raise the odds of a couple staying together.
You might have read about the Canadian bride-to-be whose story went viral after she took to Facebook to explain why she was forced to cancel her ‘blowout’ wedding after guests refused to pay $1,500 each to attend. It ended with her breaking up with her partner and cutting off all her family and friends who wouldn’t cough up.
This also mightn’t be the best news to broach with Nick Jonas who celebrated his marriage to Priyanka Chopra in a hedonistic haze of glamour, decadence and excess. But it augurs well for his brother Joe, who married Sophie Turner on the cheap at a Las Vegas chapel.
The fact the pair went on to wed again in a fancy French villa doesn’t count. It’s their going low-key for their original wedding ceremony, is what apparently helps their odds of staying married.
Loads of celebs opt for simple. Keira Knightley married in a tiny French village wearing Chanel and flowers in her hair. Olivia Palermo married in a park but upped the glam a notch by wearing Carolina Herrera and Manolo Blahniks. As for Chris O’Dowd and Dawn O’Porter, they played the ultimate low-key card by wearing onesies.
While everyone wishes the best for newly weds, it’s human nature to quietly ponder their long-term compatibility. For clues, body language and social media are often scrutinised. The former isn’t always a reliable indicator, according to Judi James, an expert on the topic.
In her experience what might be more significant is how a couple “appear to be coping with the challenges of their wedding day and forming a compatible ‘fit’ rather than watching a constant stream of idealistic PDAs.”
“It’s the subtler signals of love and passion that tend to be congruent. This would mean small glances or touches and tie-signs, rather than the bigger, more public display signals.”
While selfies are fine, too many are a cause for concern. “This social media flaunting of the relationship and marriage suggests it’s more about the boast and public approval than a genuinely happy and intimate match,” she says.
In recent conversations on Reddit, wedding photographers and videographers shared stories of cake cutting ceremonies gone wrong. When one newlywed overzealously mashed cake onto the face of a seemingly less than pleased other, the general consensus was that this was telling in a negative way.
Ivan Begala, an Italian wedding photographer based in Cork, says the majority of couples he sees are loved up and well behaved. Only once did he witness a bride pushing cake between the reluctantly yielding lips of her husband.
“It’s hard to describe the split-second look on his face. It was as though he would not have expected her to do that. But to the joy of everyone watching he responded by doing the same to her. This delighted the bride and everyone cheered.”
He recites that story with such empathy I suspect he knows first-hand how good wedding day intentions can backfire.
He and his wife now have two beautiful children. Not all couples are so blessed. On their wedding day, some don’t even manage to make it as far as “I do.”
Tony Heffernan, owner of Heffernan Wedding Cars recalls one groom-to-be collapsing drunk during the service: “This happened before he’d taken his vows. Himself and the bride-to-be’s brother were out drinking until 6am that morning. After collapsing he was taken up to bed. I don’t know if they married later. We were all sent home.”
Usually, it’s after the vows are exchanged signs of trouble become apparent, but not always. Ivan Begala has seen brides arrive so late it seemed certain they’d never turn up.
Tom Farrell, registered solemniser with Spiritual Ceremonies has also seen the odd wedding day hiccup: “There was one groom who forgot to bring the paperwork. His bride was annoyed as he’d forgotten the only job he’d been given and the marriage couldn’t go ahead without it.” Tom adds that the happy pair married later that day.
Nerves cause plenty of out of character behaviour too but sometimes what you see on the day is a glimpse of the couple’s norm. Tom Farrell has seen this happen: “One groom went missing for two days then turned up at 1pm with drink on him for a 2.30pm ceremony. The bride-to-be said him disappearing was a regular occurrence. They were a happy couple.”
This story has been amended