Jayne Dawson: Mega-weddings are not a marriage made in heaven

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Well then, there’s a big event coming up.

Pippa, the other Middleton girl, the one whose rear end we came to know very well at the royal wedding, is getting married herself in a week or so.

It’s a private affair but, really, what the heck does that mean?

Certain papers are featuring Pippa daily: Pippa visiting the florist, Pippa holding a wedding napkins meeting, Pippa on a pre-wedding walk to the newsagents to buy some chewing gum. All of that.

Who’s she marrying? Dunno. ’Snot the point, is it? Weddings are only big news for the bride. So very big, and complex, and expensive. Really, if you can organise a wedding these days, you can easily run a country. The skill set is similar. And the budget.

As it happens, it’s not just Pippa. There is a wedding being planned in my family too. It’s the daughter. And we are having some fine times, going on expeditions to choose her frock and her flowers and such.

Only this weekend we arrived at a venue and the daughter turned to me with a happy smile and said: “We’re doing really well, we haven’t had a row yet.” And it was true. Unusual, but true.

A lot of the time though she talks to me in a language I am unwilling to understand, about wedding perfume and personalised favours and bridal makeup packages.

I’ve learned to ride out the storm. I know that, eventually, she will come to a stop, say: “I’ve been reading too many wedding blogs?” and my real daughter will be back in the room.

But that doesn’t mean I am escaping wedding duties. Already I have been put in charge of sourcing the world’s supply of ivy, and using it to create a woodland glade, which must be at optimum freshness at the vital hour. And, no, I don’t want to come and scrape the ivy off your house.

I would be quite stressed about the whole thing - except that my sister is good at everything, so I am simply turning over the task to her.

My own wedding was different, of course. I did my own hair, and the bridesmaids’ hair, and anyone else who fancied having their hair done, since I was in possession of the only hairdryer. Makeup was whatever was in my makeup bag - a Miss Selfridge pink glittery eyeshadow, as it happens.

A woman on the next street made my dress in a fabric chosen by my mum, which turned out to be the kind of nylon lace that normally hangs at windows. And she made it roomy round the shoulders so that I would be able to move enough to eat my dinner comfortably.

But it was all fine. Except for the bit where I got locked out of my mum and dad’s house. In my wedding dress. And had to wait an hour until they turned up with a key but, hey, how we chortle about that now (I’m lying, it still makes me furious).

But that kind of disaster is not going to happen to the bride of 2017. Everything is too well choreographed. And even while trying to block them out, I already know far too much about wedding trends for this year: greenery is in, but photobooths are out; winter weddings are in but hippy chic is out; cocktails with pressed flowers are in but chocolate fountains are out; denim jackets with Mrs ...Whatever written on the back are in but faux fur stoles are out; Farrah Fawcett hair is in but buns are out; French pastries are in but naked cakes are out….somebody stop me, I’m exhausting myself.

Those wedding blogs are dark and dangerous things. Their pitfalls are being recognised in the most unlikely quarters - even Country Life magazine has warned against them, reminding the readership that a wedding is not a competitive sport, it’s about getting married.

Who knows? When even the posh folks are turning against them, the days of spending the equivalent of a house deposit on just one day could be numbered.

Except for Pippa’s wedding of course, hers is clearly going to cost a mint, but something tells me she can afford it - wonder if she will have any ivy going spare?


At first it was a novelty, even a clever idea.

“Ooh, that looks good” we would say as our chips arrived at our table in a little plant pot.

We would feel like we were living the high life as we chomped our way through a burger served on a breadboard or a ploughman’s lunch presented on a bit of slate.

It meant we were eating in all the right places, we must be because there wasn’t a plate in sight.

Nothing so ordinary. Every morsel leaving the kitchen was brought to us in something repurposed.

It was good for a while. We even made a mental note to try it ourselves at home, and kitchen shops began to sell little plant pots, to make it easy.

But then doubts began to creep in - how were those rustic bits and pieces made hygienic? Wasn’t it hard to wash that many pieces of slate? Wouldn’t something ceramic, round and with gently sloping sides be just more ...convenient to eat from, and dishwasher friendly?

So good news on that front. The chips-in-a-plant-pot phase is over. The best places are using plates again.

Not normal plates though - don’t be silly. These are plates created by the chef themselves, after a crash course in pottery. Yes, it is no longer enough for a chef to be really good with the food , they have to be potters too.

Expect anything - except a round white plate with gently sloping sides.


What a wonderful world. Really, despite everything, it is.

Only a wonderful world could organise an International Dawn Chorus Day to celebrate the sound of birdsong.

And only a wonderful world could contain Radio 4, which broadcast birdsong live for seven hours throughout the small hours of Sunday.

Thankfully most of us recognise that the dawn chorus is a thing of miraculous beauty.

There are people who complain about it, of course. Those who rise and close the bedroom window with a grumpy thump to shut out the sound of a blackbird really going for it.

But I can’t understand that. The number of songbirds is diminishing, the dawn chorus is becoming fainter.

Where I live, most songbirds are drowned out by the sound of woodpigeons, not the most musical of sounds, but still lovely in its way. I never close the window on it with a grumpy thump.