A Bride’s Dilemma

By Janey Womeldorf

We got married in a 16th century church in an English village so tiny, the only other thing it boasted was a pub and a post office. (Some might say, what else do you need?) My husband is American; I am English. When my husband realized that the quintessential English pub with its roaring fireplace, low ceiling and cozy ambiance was within walking distance of the church, excitement gripped him. “The Americans would love it,” he gushed. “We should have the reception there.” As idyllic as it sounded, I could not get my head around the image of a hundred of our family and friends piling out of the church and all marching in their heels and finery off to the local pub – comical on a sunny day; nightmarish in a thunderstorm. My heart was not up for such a risky, albeit memory-making, venture, and we settled instead for a local hotel. (As it turned out, we had glorious weather on our wedding day and could have all gone to the pub after all.)

We booked the church for 2pm – the pub still ideal for any guest fancying a quick bite or pre-service tipple. (Thankfully, everybody still showed up on time and sober.) The hotel outdid itself and 27 years later, there is only one thing about the entire day I wish I could change; in fact, just thinking about it makes me squirm. I guess nobody’s wedding day is perfect though and compared to others, my squirm moment pales in comparison.

I remember watching a talk show once where people shared their wedding-day cringes. One bride was just about to say her vows when she heard the familiar pop and fizz of someone cracking open a beer. I laughed out loud when I heard this, only because our guests drank beforehand at the pub. Go online, and the internet will reveal a slew of stories: The fainting best man; a dropped ring; the inconsolable baby; the infant who releases an unmistakable bodily sound; and the child who announces something inappropriate during a silent prayer – all laughable, only if it’s not your wedding, or your child.

We made the controversial decision not to have young children during our ceremony. We did, however, enlist the services of a professional nanny and only one couple expressed offense. They still came though, sans kids, and stayed for the reception and party afterwards. I guess they got over it.

England and America have different wedding traditions, both of which we included. As is normal in both countries, the groom’s family and friends sat on one side of the church; the bride’s on the other. Such an American-English divide had not happened since the Revolution; thankfully this one ended up in a harmonious tie. In England, it is frightfully inappropriate for the groom to kiss the bride inside the church – even if they are married. We balked this British norm, but as we puckered up and leaned in for our daring smooch, an almighty gasp rose from one side of the church.

One American tradition I wished I’d embraced was having the bridesmaids and ushers walk in before the bride. We don’t do this in England; I wish we did; the anticipation is magical. On the flip side, one British tradition I wholeheartedly support is paying for the dresses and tuxedo rentals. I don’t understand the cheek of inviting someone to be your bridesmaid and then expecting them to pay for their own (usually expensive) dress. What is all that about? In England, you pay for the bridesmaids’ dresses, (probably the reason most brides only have two), and the tuxedo rentals, and you buy them all a gift. In our case, the guys in the wedding party all got to keep their ties. The problem was, they were American and didn’t know this, so all those beautiful silk ties we bought got returned and lost forever in the pockets of their rented tuxedos–a shame, but still not my squirm-worthy moment.

The American tradition that the Brits embraced with gusto was clinking the glasses. In America, clinking a glass obliges the bride and groom to kiss. In England, when someone clinks a glass, it’s a request for silence because it means they are about to give a speech. At the sound of the first clink, all the Brits diligently put down their knives and forks and stopped talking while all the Americans cheered and my husband and I kissed. The Brits loved this and started clinking away like crazy people. I barely ate a mouthful. Looking back, I wish I hadn’t even eaten that.

We served roast beef at our wedding and at the end of the meal, my husband rose to give the first speech. The videographer periodically panned the guests but kept the lens focused mostly on us, regularly zooming in for facial close ups to romantically capture our every smile and loving gesture. The problem was, a single shred of beef, the size of a tree, had lodged itself between my two back teeth. As I gaze lovingly at my husband, oozing with pride during his heartfelt speech, the camera films my face contorting and one cheek systematically bulging as my tongue painstakingly attempts to sideswipe and dislodge the uncooperative piece of meat. A cow chewing the cud had nothing on this bride.

The reality is, when every moment is being immortalized on camera, what are the options for a bride who gets something stuck in her teeth: A. Reach for the toothpick and gouge away? B. Bend under the satin tablecloth for a quick floss, hoping nobody notices? C. Grin and bear it, ignoring the tree trunk stuck in your teeth? Or, D. Never eat beef at a reception. All I know is that 27 years later, every single time I watch our video and see me doing “my ugly chew,’ I ache to reach into that screen.

Maybe we should have all marched to the pub after all.

About this writer

  • Janey Womeldorf Janey Womeldorf once went to work wearing different shoes. She now freelance writes and scribbles away in Orlando, Florida. It’s probably best.

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2 Responses to “A Bride’s Dilemma”

  1. Rose Ann says:

    LOL….funny and relatable!

  2. Linda O'Connell says:

    Oh my, I can only imagine. Enjoyed your story.

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