Stretch MacGibbon’s guide to getting married in Irlanda

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Marriage. A thing you want to, have to do or are forced to do by men wearing cloaks, carrying wheat, petrol and matches. These days in the modern world people do it for many reasons such as convenience, tax breaks, the betterment of the human race, religion and of course love or extreme like. However, the joining together of a man and woman, a woman and woman, a man and a man, or whatever the fuck Presbyterians do, is not just about the union, it tends to be about the fucking wedding. The day and organisation consume all. Living in Ireland for so long now, this munki has experienced first, second and third hand the weird norms of an Irish wedding. This piece is inspired by the traditional bride ‘pulling a pint of Guinness’ idea that I nicked off someone else. Anyways, let’s start with that.

The Bride

It’s princess’s special day. Everything is in place. Big day. Time to shine. She has been dreaming of this since she was little. However, fully aware that she is also a powerful woman, that she makes a valuable contribution to society and strives for equality in a country that thought all that equality bollocks was sorted during the marriage referendum, she is faced with the next challenge. Fucking wedding photographers.

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They see her glowing, radiant and think about an angle. I know, picture her pulling a pint of Guinness. Like IN HER WEDDING DRESS! MAD! Talibanesque elderly male relatives look on, for this is no place for the OTHER women in the party. They nudge each other and chuckle at the lovely lass slumming it with the pint. She gamely pours the pint and gets instructed by the men on the intricacies of Guinness pouring as if its her first time in a bar. Look at her, they think, a woman! Doing work! The slobbering photographer slobbers, “gorgeous, gorgeous, look over here.” They look on, thinking, ha, she won’t be doing much more work when he gets her knocked up, will she? While gnashing their teeth and dreaming of a quick death.

When she leaves they turn around and demand Audrey or Sheila throw on a pint of the black, not Donal. No, Donal is not allowed. Donal, you are a shoddy barman. Go to Dublin and serve them feckers.

The Groom

Normally just left like a hoover in the corner of a restaurant. Noticed by everyone but ignored with the same fervour. After leaving the Church, Synagogue, Mosque or whatever Wicker Man vibe Presbyterians go to, grooms cease to have function. He has a few options, grin and bear it OR get paralytic drunk. The bride can look forward to bookends of a beautiful wedding ceremony and on the other side, probably the worst sex of her life. That’s if fuck-nuts is able to distinguish between this day and any other in his pointless fucking existence. At some point the groom and his groomsmen, who are friends, siblings or just people who are not female, will pose foolishly for a photograph by asshole wedding photographer (I am confident, I am wedding photographer) in which they will smile and laugh in a way they never have before and the resultant image will haunt the groom as he tries to remember if he even liked those people.

The Bridesmaids

Wear what I want you to wear bitches! HA!

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The Church

I am saying these words. I am saying these vows. Does she really believe in God? Does he believe that these vows are actually in the eyes of God? Does she know that is impossible to prove that a metaphysical prophet is watching this and even if it is, that it will swallow whole the plethora of lies that we have just poeted at each other? Do we know a detailed history of this priest officiating? Has he/she done unspeakable things in the past and are we tainted? Does “I give you my ring” sound a little off? Why am I shaking so much? HE does look handsome though? SHE does look beautiful today? Is this the last time we’ll fancy each other? Should I tell him about the baby now or after the ceremony? I suppose she won’t be upset that I got a vasectomy yesterday? Kids? Fuck that. How do you tell the flower girl that she has no soul? Is this the right forum to even bring that up? Why is she crying?

Relatives

Don’t invite them. Just don’t invite them. Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, DON’T! They are like a pack of fucking toddlers waiting, waiting for something to happen, then nothing happens, so drink and then nothing happens, then food and nothing happens, then more drink, then drown the fuckers out with obnoxiously loud music, then the tantrums begin. Also, known for having a genetic predisposition to traditional fare. So when they think the sandwiches are coming out and suddenly their faces turn to “what the fuck is this Indian shit?” but eat it because Irlandians may not be geniuses but they lead the planet in understanding the term ‘soakage.’ The fuckers then laugh at the speeches and you can see it in their faces, they’re  wondering whether they actually like you and you wonder how many of these people you’ve ever had a conversation with. Parasites! As you say goodbye to them, you honestly can’t imagine a time in the future when you won’t look at them and think, “How much per head did I spend at that wedding? Auntie Betsy, you owes me some wine girl.”

Close relatives

Not sure what to do. Not sure where to stand. Not sure who any of these people are. Grown-up humans will suddenly experience goldfish syndrome, wondering what the right thing to do is under the glare of an expectant family. The pressure on siblings especially will be so strong that they will slowly regress to an emotional state between the ages of six or seven. Like a child of that age they will think that they could cause some serious damage to the morale of this wedding and this ‘next drink too many’ might just be the catalyst. Also, like six or seven-year-olds the chances of them having any memory of the devastation caused are slim. Best to tell them you are getting married in Rome and that your whatsapp isn’t working. A mixture of pride and disappointment mixed with empathy and jealousy. Nice.

The Music

Make do. Whatever. Wedding people would dance to a small ugly child crying. There are no amazing wedding bands or DJs. They all play the same shit, and are historically supposed to finish off the set with some Abba, Agafuckingdoo and the National Anthem. This munki gave our DJ some discs with the music we wanted played at the wedding. Slightly blind he got our wedding song right (see below), but kept picking the one after the one we asked for on the disc. At a friend’s wedding the band didn’t show up at all, leading the grooms father to form an instant vigilante group, complete with baseball bats and hurls to go looking for said band. Calls for CDs were put out. Does anyone have some music? In stepped Dr Ballantine Baines of this parish announcing that he just might have some music in the car. That music was the “Pulp Fiction” soundtrack. To this day, I can still see those faces of the elderly relatives as Amanda Plummer screams,

“Any of you fucking pricks move and I’ll electrocute every mother-fucking last one of you!”

The Drink

Be careful not too drink too much, Manys the child has been conceived on a drunken wedding night where a drunk penis and an inebriated vagina have conjured up a wedding baby. This baby will inevitably be a lifelong disappointment.

The Wedding cake

Get one you fucking like, an ice cream cake, a Battenberg. maybe one filled with profiteroles with a few shots of rum and a line of cocaine. That should get you through this awkward social experiment. Actually, don’t get a fucking cake. Why are people so obsessed with cake. It’s just cake, get over it. It’s big, it’s brash and designed to sit to the left of your pelvis for the rest of your miserable cake-eating life. Cake! Fuck cake.

The Fucking Sing-song

Deeply disturbing shit when a bunch of people with a reservoir of crappy musical knowledge try to put on their own version of Live Aid even though not one fucker among them has the requisite talent to enter even a local pub competition, nevermind mingling with the professional set. Then again….Ed fucking Sheeran. There was a sing-off at my wedding where both families decided to sing different songs at the same time. It was like some horrific psychadelic 70s movie. I felt like Starsky and Hutch in the satanic/voodoo episode where they lost their minds on the dancefloor, except my suit was shitty and safe. Whenever a sing-song starts, I get this creepy feeling down the back of my neck that at a point when things are getting quieter and more reflective, when eyes become misty and whiskey is sipped, when the candles are low and the shadows make everyone look beautiful, strong and soulful, human cat strangler Glen Hansard will appear and fucking empty his nail-bitten emotional tanks into our faces like a traditional Irlandese money shot. Prompting bedtime. As I close my eyes and wait for sleep to come, I feel the clammy Hansard-hands around my throat, whispering “Make art Stretch, make art.”

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How’ya young one. Me other guitar’s in the wash. What time you off school?

So what happens next

Well, basically, assuming you haven’t been burnt alive by Presbyterians, if you’re lucky you will both remain in love for ever and ever, have rich conversation, exciting adventures and create new versions of yourselves that will make the world better. But, essentially one of you will bury the other.

Now, here’s your Wedding Present!

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