I have, what can only be classed as, a huge family. Both of my parents come from an Irish-Catholic heritage, and one particular cultural stereotype has endured throughout the ages – there’s loads of us. Without even going beyond the sphere of extended family, I have nine aunts and uncles and twelve cousins, although that number leaps to thirty if you count their partners and their children. Now imagine a good percentage of that descending on a church in the middle of Holborn to witness one of the family becoming bound in holy matrimony to the woman he loves.
The wedding may be a dream, but the whole situation is a nightmare of logistics – the challenges of traversing the city, drunken relatives dancing on bars to Grease Megamix and the brawl that may commence once the mother of the groom hears the best man speech. And, let’s be honest here, the whole occasion is not just about two people professing their life-long love and commitment to each other – it’s a party, the best excuse for families to get drunk and re-connect with one another since the beginning of civilisation. I’m sipping a G&T as I write this! Sloshed second cousins do not make the situation any easier, so here is a few handy hints on how to handle a family wedding in London.
If in doubt, have a drink. And another. But its best to do it in base camp. It’s likely that they have heard fabled tales about London pint prices, yet nothing really can prepare you to pay £5 for a pint, can it? It’s much more reasonable and cheaper to do it in the hotel on the sly.
Be prepared to become a tourist. As a London student, you are used to living life weaving through the streets and sprinting through tube stations; however, remember that the wedding party will only move at the pace of the slowest member, and there will always be that one relative who keeps turning back for whatever they’ve forgotten. You are going to become part of the endless debris that clogs up London’s streets – the only difference between you and the casual sightseer should be your outfit.
Which brings me to my next point. You are unfortunately now going to be branded as a tourist because you are inextricably attached to this huge embolism of people slowly moving through the capillaries of Zone 1. BUT unlike other tourists, you have insider knowledge and a healthy advantage – an Uber account. It’s the only way for a wedding party to move about London. Think of the alternatives – that amount of black cabs would surely lead to bankruptcy, the Overground is constantly shut at the weekend and imagine the chaos that would ensue if your grandma’s fascinator began to wilt on the Piccadilly line. Suddenly, you are the conveyor of souls, a bit like Hermes, or maybe more appropriately Charon. You have the power to whisk up chariots for the guests, an act that will surely earn you a good pat on the back and an extra-large glass of wine. My only advice is to not become a power hungry maniac as you wield your iPhone like a tyrant. You really can’t leave that one relative at home who thinks that Uber is unfair to black cabs and morally opposes it.
All in all, family weddings are great occasions, with memories that you will cherish for posterity. When we become students, most of us will leave our home, our family and our support group of aunts, uncles and the like. These happy occasions are moments of a rare union between a world that we now no longer totally belong to as we continue to march further into our own lives (and our overdrafts). This is especially important if – like me – you have a lot of elderly relatives, and so these reunions, unfortunately, become numbered. So my final tip is just to have an amazing day, and enjoy being part of the best day of two people’s lives.