Weddings are rightfully referred to as ‘The Big Day’, and there’s no doubt that brides and grooms the length and breadth of the land invest so much of themselves in this single day that it’s hard to imagine a bigger event – leaving aside the arrival of the kids, of course!
But there’s a slightly dark side to modern weddings that can sometimes cast a slight shadow. I’m referring, of course, to the guest list. In an ideal world, the bride and groom would sit down and write down a list of who they wanted to share their wedding day. In the real world, of course, the situation gets a lot more political.
First and foremost, parents have to be taken into account. It’s taken as read that the siblings of parents will probably be invited along, but what about neighbours? If Mrs. Smith down the road asked your parents to her son’s wedding, then she probably has to go onto the guest list as a quid pro quo.
Then there’s the work crew. Do you have to invite your boss? Or multiple bosses? So pretty soon, the guest list can become something of a nightmare, and the total to be invited can easily total 50% or more greater than the figure you had in your head.
And while this might seem to be something of an intractable problem, modern brides and grooms have got around it, to a great extent, through the staging of a ‘Day 2’ – a lower key celebration where you can invite anyone or everyone, at minimal expense, and where anyone who might have missed out on the ‘first cut’ can now be included in your celebrations.
So, for example, if you’re just hiring the beer garden in your local pub, or maybe the local GAA club, for Day 2, you can invite the entire gang from the office, and the whole street of your old neighbours. Nobody is offended that they weren’t there for the church celebration, and the fact of the matter is that the second day is often much more enjoyable than the first.
This is certainly the case for the bride and groom and any of the main players. They can rock up in jumper and jeans, without the dreaded speeches hanging over their heads, and simply enjoy the company of friends and loved ones without the countless formalities that sometimes get in the way on the wedding day.
The cost of staging such an event can be very low, compared to staging a wedding. Perhaps a live DJ and some low-cost food platters as ‘soakage’ can be the basis for a brilliant and highly memorable knees-up.
And if budget is not too important, you can add in some nice little personalised touches. Rather than having a formal wedding photographer for example, just deputise ten of your mates as snap-happy stalkers who will spend their day getting those unposed photos that can be absolute gold-dust.
You could also sprinkle an extra layer of sparkle by hiring a mentalist or close-up magician who could mingle casually with your guests and create some real wow moments that will be remembered for a long time to come. It’s a very thoughtful way of saying to the guests on the second day that they’re not some sort of second-class citizens, but are getting the same sort of love and respect as the guests on the big day.
Another big plus of the second day celebration is that it’s almost impossible for anything to go wrong. The wedding dress can’t get ruined by a drunken uncle, the wedding cake can’t collapse, there are no speeches that can cause potential embarrassment to the bride and groom.
It’s simply an impromptu and informal party – that just happens to take place on the day after a wedding – at which people are free to be themselves and to let it all hang out among friends, family and neighbours.
The bottom line from all of this is that if you’re planning a wedding in the foreseeable future, you’re probably inviting a huge amount of time and energy in the elements that will make up a single day of your life. But remember that the best wedding entertainment ideas can frequently work just as well on Day 2 – but in a scaled down version that involves less expense and less hassle for all concerned.
Remember, too, that for a whole variety of very genuine reasons, some of your guests may have been unable to make the actual wedding day. Perhaps your sister’s child was running a very high temperature and she had to stay at home. Hopefully, all will be cleared up on the second day and she can join in the fun.
Or perhaps a guest who was travelling from overseas ran into fog or a delayed flight and missed the wedding. A second day celebration gives them the opportunity to be part of all the action, and share in your marriage in a really happy and meaningful way.
So think about Day 2 as the ‘dessert’ of your wedding day – a fabulously informal get-together with the people who mean most to you, with no politics involved, and no real pressure on numbers.